Depression is a Killer,with Gary ‘Japper’ Donaldson


contributed by Gary D. aka Japper

In the beginning of 2019 I came across a facebook post that took my breath away. It was written by a man I didn’t know and went like this:

To all my beautiful friends . I’m sorry but I have chosen tonight to die. I love all of you and sorry it ended this way Shit happens. Goodbye love you all.

With my heart in my throat I sent a direct message to him, asking him if he was okay.  He did not respond for days. And when he did he was brief.  Rather lamely, I wrote him that I was happy he was still here.

The seed had been planted though and we soon followed up with a long conversation where we got to know each other a bit more, and I got to discover the rare gem this man is as well as the disease he is courageously willing to talk about.

“I need to tell this story. If I can save someone’s life it is worth it.  I live it, I get it, not sure I can beat it but let’s try and save someone. This is an epidemic that needs to be talked about and addressed.”

A passionate guy with a smile that lights up a room,  Gary has been battling depression and consequently suicidal thoughts for the latter part of his life. At one time he was always the happiest person in the room, earning him the nicknames ‘Smilie’ and ‘Japper’, and depression was an impossibility.  What happened?
“Depression crept into my life when I got my divorce. People always say their divorce was bad, but I win bad, hands down. 25 years of marriage was gone with the snap of the fingers. It stayed messy and cruel on a daily basis for three years. There was no letting up.

Then I fell in love with a beautiful woman. The days of fun and happiness were back and abundant. Yet in the background was a silent killer creeping into my life. I was like a duck swimming, so calm and happy on top, my feet paddling like crazy underneath. It had got me, depression was now a daily part of my life.

I fought it with happy thoughts and fun things but inevitably it attacked my mind relentlessly. Alcohol was my out. Drink and forget the bads and remember the goods. It was a daily fix to my problems. It didn’t solve anything, just paused my depression briefly.
I remember going on antidepressants for the first time. I didn’t like them. I felt they flat-lined me. No highs, no lows. No sad emotions and certainly no happiness. It wasn’t me. My emotions were hidden deep inside me with no release. So my daily battle with depression had entrenched itself in my mind. Again I was calm on top yet paddling like crazy underneath.

Sleeping was difficult and focusing was nearly impossible. You tend to fake happiness to the people around you, silently crying underneath. Depression I like to say is the devil: attack, attack, attack. It is relentless with no mercy.
Along came another incredible woman who is still the most beautiful person in the world. She taught me spirituality. I experienced many moments with a peaceful mind. Meditation, exercise, and even praying slowly became daily fighters against the devil. This almost worked. I was close, yet so far.
Then came my last battle. It was so cruel that I didn’t want to live. I had no job, no money, no home and of course, no girlfriend. That was a bad week. I saw no purpose for myself. I had lived a great life and had done everything a man could ever want to do. I had two beautiful children now grown up. I actually was at peace with myself. I believed the road out was too difficult to begin again. Leaving the world was the simple way out. I chose it.
My post saying goodbye was sincere, I was checking out.
Then along came the overwhelming support of my friends. They are the most beautiful people in the world. Their compassion and love was so beautiful. They made me believe that perhaps I had a purpose to pursue.

I’m not overly religious, but spiritual yes. Is there a God? I believe there is. I believe that in my final moments God gave me a choice to live or die. I was seconds away from death, perhaps only inches. That close, I chose life, at least for now. But it is a daily battle where I’m happy one moment and crying the next.
God knows I’ve been to the bottom choosing death yet for some reason have chosen life. For now. So I’m going to tell my story and listen to anyone suffering from this dreadful disease. If I can save one life that will be a win. I’m going to try.”


Today, Gary is coming out of his shell to reach out to others about depression and suicide.  For him, some days are great and others are really challenging and the two seem to flip flop as quickly as the snap of a finger.  He has survived suicide attempts and great losses due to depression.

He is ever grateful for the support, concern, advice, and love he has received from the people around him.

“A person gets thrown curve balls in life, and sometimes we find it very overwhelming. Friend’s help and support is a blessing. I will suggest that whether it’s me or someone you know or love, carry on ,share a moment. It doesn’t take long as you have proved to me with your kindness. Loneliness is a huge mental part of depression. To be lonely is crushing, it’s a deal breaker. Be a friend, it works.
In ending, again thanks to all you beautiful people out there for your support. You bring tears to me, and happiness in my heart.
Love you all so much.


contributed by Gary D. aka Japper


Secwepemc Restorative Justice Coordinator Edith Fortier Sheds Light on Our Homeless Crisis



contributed by Bing images

Edith Fortier, Restorative Justice Coordinator for the Secwepemc Community Justice Program, has been an advocate for the health and well being of others since she was a child looking after her younger siblings. She grew up looking out for her classmates, standing up for those who were being bullied, and helping others with school work.

Edith has been working as a Restorative Justice Coordinator in Kamloops for 20 years and previous to that as an Aboriginal Justice Worker assisting clients on probation or parole.

Her role is vast and includes networking with BC Native Courtworkers, First Nation Court, Schools, RCMP, Crown Counsel, Probation Office and the Parole Office on an ongoing basis to promote and discuss restorative justice and its process. She assists in the coordination of the Secwepemc Community Justice Program (SCJP) facilitators and volunteers. She receives referrals from referring agents and coordinates funding.

In this article, Edith talks about our homeless people: life skills, employment, housing needs, crime, addiction, single parenting, unresolved trauma, and mental illness.  Having such a great level of experience and knowledge on the subject, I have opted to simply let Edith share with us in her own, well-written words:

“What do homeless people look like? Do they walk the streets all day rain or shine with all belongings in a buggy? Are they veterans with PTSD, or recently divorced and no longer have a home?  Maybe they are a student or many students sleeping on the floor, couch surfing, or sharing one apartment to get an education.  Maybe they are a business person who is well dressed but sleeps in his car.

Many people have not learned necessary life skills growing up as some of the younger generation may not know as much, due to too much technology and failure on my part to teach them skills. Some of them are highly intelligent and need to be given an opportunity to prove themselves.

It is a challenge watching people struggle and helping them find solutions without enabling them. There is a lack of available resources. I find funding for clients and help people to participate in programs or training. I often wish I had enough money to help individuals and organizations on a bigger scale instead of short term. The struggle is real for some people.

I often look at ways I can help others whether it’s helping them to find shelter for one night,  telling them which organizations offer meals, and sometimes where to apply for housing or employment. I learned about the storage bins people can place their belongings in for a night or a week at no cost as many were affected when the greyhound depot closed and could no longer store stuff in the lockers.

When housing needs are required, individuals may struggle with how to complete the contracts, leases, forms, and references. Many are not sure where to access internet or services to get housing. At times individuals will have little to no furniture and be unsure how to ask for help from having low self esteem and often they settle for little or no basic needs.

Poverty and lack of access to affordable housing are a significant cause of homelessness. Many choose between paying rent or mortgage and bills or food. Some move to a warmer climate such as Vancouver or Victoria so they can sleep in a tent or low cost rooming houses.

Sometimes crimes are committed because over the winter the homeless need a place to stay and three squares a day, even if it is in custody.

I know some people frown at homeless people because they might not understand why they became homeless. Some homeless people get involved in prescription/illegal drug or alcohol to mask their pain, or gambling which is often followed by addiction.

What benefits do the doctors or pharmacists/drug companies receive when they prescribe or dispenses drugs/medications? Sometimes if medication is prescribed over a long term a person can become addicted and need the drug to function. After my surgery I had a doctor wanting to prescribe me painkillers and I said I don’t need them.
There are single dads working and taking the Respectful Relationships Program, finding babysitters, car seats, strollers, and taking the bus with their children after work. It is  challenging but they make the commitment to take part in the program to better themselves. At times advocating for the young, single parents to assist them with the services they require is part of my job.

There are lots of single parent men caring for their children. Today, lots of grandparents are raising their grandchildren instead of the parent, which is a pretty sad inter-generational impact of the residential schools.

Young people have lost their way, choosing the wanna be grown up gang lifestyle, having children when they are children, choosing addictions over their children. Young adults struggle with their parents kicking them out of the house and they have no place to live. One young lady was kicked out of her mom’s home and sadly she committed suicide the same day.

There is lots of unresolved trauma. Often children, teens, and young adults are told ‘don’t talk about it’ and grow up and tell their children the same until an individual breaks the cycle of becoming aware of the trauma and learns new skills of coping with the many struggles of life. The residential schools were a form of terrible genocide which some individuals don’t discuss, rather, they get professional counselling, attend residential treatment facilities, or find support groups to help.

Mental illness is a factor. When individuals struggle with mental health issues even their caregivers, parents or families take advantage of them financially, causing the individual to have no place to live. This is a codependent situation in which the parent has control over their adult child, controlling their life by using money, even to the point of having the children’s inheritance of a home taken from them so the parent can rent it out and keep the money.
Some Child and Family Agencies and other professionals are not sensitive or aware of the current issues, going by the book so to speak, causing more pain than good to some degree. At times workers can have all the education or degrees, but no experience or knowledge in real life, and that impacts the future generations.”

Edith is a wealth of knowledge and I will be following up with her again in the future to discuss these kinds of issues further.

She enjoys helping others and seeing them successfully completing programs and learning life skills.  Her passion in life is to give people hope and brighten their day even if it is just a little.

Edith would like to thank all the people who volunteer or make donations to help others.







Rockstars, Monsters, and Red Bulls, Oh My! What In The Heck Are We Consuming? Part 2


photo from shutterstock

What happens when you combine energy drinks with alcohol? You get what our youth are calling ‘Jagerbombs’, a popular party drink.
A Jägerbomb is sold with a pint glass of Red Bull and a separate shot glass of Jägermeister, a German herbal liqueur. The glass of Jägermeister is then dropped into the Red Bull.
The effects of a Jägerbomb made with an energy drink are similar to those of other drinks that contain both caffeine and alcohol. The caffeine has a stimulating effect on the central nervous system, whereas alcohol has a depressing effect. Consequently, some of the effects of alcohol intoxication are masked, making the drinker believe he or she is less drunk then they are.
This can lead to dangerous amounts of alcohol in the system.
There have been reports of drinkers being hospitalized after excessive consumption of Jägerbombs due to the effect of excessive caffeine.
In the UK in 2014, a teenager suffered three heart attacks and temporarily ‘died’ on her bathroom floor after she downed ten high-caffeine Jagerbombs on a ‘two-for-one’ promotion night.
According to medics, the high levels of caffeine in her system took control of her heart rate causing it to accelerate dangerously out of control. She ended up in an induced coma and spent weeks in the hospital until being fitted with an internal defibrillator.
She has since courageously warned other young people to avoid the drinks. You can read the full story here:




photo from pixshark

In this next article, published in 2017 by NZHerald, researchers warn that mixing alcohol with energy drinks can seriously increase the risk of injury. Scientists believe the stimulating effect of caffeine encourages people to stay out longer and drink more volumes of alcohol, according to a review of 13 academic studies. The researchers found 10 of the 13 studies, published between 1981 and 2016, linked drinking a mix of alcohol and energy drinks with an increased risk of accidents and fights.
Mixing energy drinks and spirits can also cause heart palpitations, problems sleeping and feeling tense or agitated. The findings are published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
You can view the full article here:
In my opinion, partying is fun no matter what your age is. Drinking alcoholic bevvies can be fun and tasty! But I don’t understand the need for energy drinks? First of all, they are disgusting, they taste like cough syrup.
What is wrong with the many alcoholic beverages available without energy drinks added?
Why not party and get drunk without the heart palpitations and increased risks involved?
Just sayin’.

🌸 Helping YOU learn how to live that Chemical free lifestyle by ditching and switching 🌸, with Fafa Domlan


Eurydice Fafa Domlan, via contributed

Eurydice Fafa Domlan goes by the shorter version, Fafa.  She does a live broadcast every evening where she covers useful and interesting topics in hopes of helping others make healthy improvements in their lives.

Fafa is open minded, curious, and positive, with a vast scope of all walks of life gained through her unique upbringing.
She was born and raised in Togo, West Africa. At 18 years of age, she went to university in Springfield, Missouri before moving to Paris to work.  At last, seven years ago,  Fafa moved to Canada to be with the love of her life!
Now she is a busy mom of three and married to her love.  Her family is Catholic, feeling that faith is important in their day to day lives.  She has found a way to balance her important role as mom with her need to share her gifts with others.

“When I was younger I wanted to be a lawyer because I wanted to defend people and basically help people. Now I found a way to do that while still doing my most important job of being a mommy. That way is through my health and wellness business that I run when my kids go to bed.

Through my business my hope is to create a movement of people, especially families, that are empowered to make the best decision for the health and wellness of their families. And one way to inspire people is through my live videos that I do every weekday on a variety of topics ranging from health and wellness to mindset.

I do live videos every weekday, so Monday through Friday. On Mondays or Tuesdays I love talking about the power of positive mindset. The rest of the week I talk about health and wellness, common issues, so my audience can learn as I am learning.  I bring them the results of my research into a topic.”
On Fridays, Fafa has started to cover success stories of people who have gone from rags to riches to motivate her audience to believe in themselves.

On Wednesdays now, she has partnered with me to bring thought provoking research on very important issues in our society.


contributed by Fafa Domlan

Her favorite thing about doing her business is helping her audience.

“Recently I did a live on alternative ways to deal with insomnia and when a lady reached out to me for help, I was able to direct her and the next day she said she slept very well. These kind of testimonials are my Why!

My vision is to impact even more people through my business every day, but most of all inspire people to live their best lives and be their best self and to achieve financial freedom.

My dream is to create a platform where I can help and educate people on their health, wealth, and wellness, while also showcasing people’s stories . I believe everyone has a story to share and that sharing people’s stories can inspire others.”

Fafa doesn’t have a name for her vlog yet. Right now it’s just her name Eurydice Fafa Domlan. Here is the link to her Facebook page.

For short yet inspiring videos to help you reach for your best self, connect with Fafa via the link above where you will see times and topics posted for her evening broadcasts!


Hannah Grace Finds Healing and Happiness Through Horseback Riding

hannaadngraceHannah Grace and Grace, via contributed

When Hannah Grace moved from Nanaimo to Kamloops at seven years of age she was miserable.  She felt she was leaving behind the only world she knew, including her best friend.  To make things more challenging, her parents were getting a divorce.

That was when Hannah’s mom decided to put her into horse back riding lessons.  According to Hannah, horses were the only thing at that time that made her happy.  She always talked about them and watched all the horse shows she could.  Her room was covered with pictures of horses.

Now a beautiful 16-year-old student attending Westsyde Secondary School,  Hannah is still riding; she is currently assisting instructor Crystal Moore in opening an equestrian center called Gratus Equestrian.

“My first horse Trigger was the best first horse ever. But as I grew he didn’t, and I eventually grew out of him.  At that time I was boarding my horses at Kamloops Therapeutic Riding Center. That’s were I met my beautiful mare Grace. She’s the best horse in the whole world. The bond we share is unbreakable.

This past summer I’ve moved to my own place where I’ve now got six horses on the property. Our property is a 10 acre ranch in Black Pines on the river. I’m so blessed to be living where I’m living and having all the blessings that I do.

The one thing I absolutely love doing is jumping with my mare Grace. When I’m jumping I feel like I’m in slow motion and flying, there’s no other feeling like it.

One of my best friends Crystal Moore and I have dreamed of starting an equestrian centre. And now we have done just that. I just want to give others the thrill of riding a horse and experiencing the relationship that can form between a horse and rider.

I love horses so much. When I’m on my horse she makes a choice to allow me to ride her and have fun on her back. When I’m on her back I’m making the decision to trust an animal 10 times my size. I know that I can always trust my horse, especially when I have a bad day.  I always to talk to her and she’ll always listen.”


Horse Trigger and a pint sized rider on a beach in Kamloops, BC

Crystal Moore has years of instructing riding lessons for all ability levels and she is working with Hannah on the new equestrian center.  She too is driven by giving joy to riders:

“I love working with Hannah, she is so talented. I am truly blessed. Our property is dreamy. We have the beach and river in our back yard! We have a few young rescues that we are bringing along. I think we are both really focused on enjoying riding and sharing that joy with others!!”

You can ride with Hannah and Crystal and their horses at Gratus Equestrian!

Pushing Past the Programming….or, The Rantings of A Crazy Lady, I Will Let You Decide



We enter this world a clean slate.  A new computer, barely touched, not even turned on yet.

We are born into a vibration.  A vibration of our time, our society, the people around us who are carrying the vibrational context of our ancestors and our culture.

Our subconscious minds immediately begin to soak this all up at lightening speed. The vibration becomes a part of us. We carry our history and all of the truths of our family around us.

We are programmed to fit into the role we are given.  We are taught that things are right or wrong, good or bad, and shamed and punished when we step outside of the boundaries. What is good or bad? Relative to what? And right or wrong? Who decides this? In our culture, a group of men, long dead.

We are taught that things are linear.  There is a beginning and an end to everything, every task, every life, every process.

Is this true? Because I personally view this reality as circular, eternal, a constant flow of energy that doesn’t die but transforms itself over and over.  Tasks do not end.  They are built upon.  Every small step is a part of an endless staircase.

I was programmed to believe that doing what I’m told makes me good.  And that because I can read out of a book and answer questions I am smart. And the kid beside me who can’t read well but can build things is stupid.

Stay with the herd, draw within the lines, follow the rules, do what you are told, and for lord’s sake don’t feel great about yourself, that is conceited!

Being different is risky.  And there is always a lack.  A lack of love, a lack of money, a lack of opportunities, lack, lack, lack. “Eat your bread crusts, people are starving in Africa!” (because there is a lack).

I prefer this: “Eat your bread crusts, although there is an abundance of food in the world, there is an uneven distribution of resources because people are greedy!”

No one ever informed young me that we live in an endlessly abundant universe.

No one said, “here, take all of these crayons from God and color all over your paper and off of your paper onto the walls and the house and the sidewalks because you are allowed, in fact it is your divine purpose to share your unique gifts with the world.”

No one encouraged me to make mistakes, or let me know the bigger the failure the bigger will be the jewel in the palm of my hand.

No one encouraged me to share my whole truth, just the parts deemed acceptable.  Not the ‘dirty’ stuff.  That shameful muck was to be buried deep inside and grow and fester, eventually bubbling out in the form of an eating disorder, a mental breakdown, and alcoholism.

How can we own our truth, know ourselves, forgive, heal, grow, and free ourselves if we are programmed to suppress parts of us and our experiences?  We sit in quiet shame.  At the bottom of a bottle or a table of fast food or a joint or a porno or or or or…..

That was quite the crescendo.

I was taught to look after the needs of those around me before considering my own.

Well, that’s just stupid.  Think about the pebble on the water.  The ripple effect starts in the middle of the circle people, come on!

As I age I identify the walls around me one by one and consider how to take each one down.  We were all programmed while we were young and developing.  We do things and think things and believe things without even knowing why.  Without having been given the option of choosing.

It is exciting to recognize the walls around us.  It can be terrifying to break them down and push past the boundaries that we have known for so long, that are such a part of us.  But we can.  The net will catch us.  And we are totally worth it.

Push past the programming!




Rockstars, Monsters, and Red Bulls, Oh My! What in the heck are we consuming? Part 1


redbullphoto from shutterstock


I don’t think it is news that energy drinks are sold in local stores across Canada.  Or that young people are consuming them.  Or even that these drinks have high levels of caffeine in them.

But have you ever read the ingredients?  Have you read the disclaimers?  What are the health implications involved? How are the high caffeine levels affecting our youth?

I went to our local corner store with my teenage daughter recently and happened to look at a can of Rockstar.  I was horrified when I read the disclaimer and concerned when I read the ingredients on the back.

My daughter told me the kids at her middle school buy them and consume them regularly.  Last week, she said, a student had already drunk three Monster drinks before 9 in the morning and was too shaky to play his guitar in music class.

At my workplace, my 20-year-old welder told me about the jager bombs the people his age drink at parties, mixing these highly caffeinated beverages with jager.

I had to know more.


rockstar2contributed by author

I reached out to CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and to my surprise and delight, I received a response. One of his producers informed me that Dr. Gupta has covered this issue quite a bit. He shared one article with me, about  What that energy drink can do to your body

According to this article, health experts are generally concerned about the safety of these drinks while the American Beverage Association stands by their safety.  Here is a shortened version, quoting what I found to be most interesting….

“Most energy drinks typically contain large amounts of caffeine, added sugars, vitamins, legal stimulants such as guarana, taurine which is an amino acid that’s naturally found in meat and fish, and L-carnitine, a substance in our bodies that helps turn fat into energy.

Overall, the concern is that these vitamins, amino acids and herbals are often in higher concentrations than naturally in food or plants, and the effects when combined especially with caffeine may be enhanced.”

The American Beverage Association issued a statement from the group that said many people around the world have safely consumed energy drinks for more than 25 years.

“The fact remains that energy drinks have been extensively studied and confirmed safe for consumption by government safety authorities worldwide including a recent review by the European Food Safety Authority. America’s leading energy drink manufacturers voluntarily go beyond all federal requirements when it comes to responsible labeling and marketing practices, including displaying total caffeine content — from all sources — on their packages.”

In conclusion, the safety of energy drinks is currently a matter of debate among health professionals and health authorities.

The caffeine content however, is measurable and well studied.

I reached out to Laura Kalina, a Registered Dietitian, Nutrition Coach, Food Systems Advisor, and Business Mentor, known locally as the founder of Kamloops Food Policy Council.

Her voice on the phone was strong, passionate, and very articulate. She was unbiased with a focus on facts and education.  She sent me information about caffeine published by the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

Here is my shortened version:

“Caffeine is a stimulant that affects both children and adults with side effects such as irritability, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, and afternoon sleepiness. These effects are more pronounced in children due to smaller body size.  Children who consume above max levels of caffeine have shown greater anxiety, inattention, restlessness, and emotional behaviour.

Health Canada’s maximum amounts of caffeine guidelines:

age 7-9, 62.5mg/day

age 10-12, 85 mg/day

13 to adult – 400 to 450 mg/day

For preteens and teens with hormonal fluctuations, caffeine can cause insomnia, restlessness, irritability, nervousness, headaches, tremors, extra heart beats, increased calcium leached from bones, breast tenderness, and more.”

I looked up the amounts of caffeine per energy drink for 3 common drinks found in our local stores.

1 can of Monster Energy Drink 160mg

1 can of Red Bull 80mg

1 can of Rockstar Energy Drink 160mg

So, back to the student in my daughter’s music class who had consumed 3 Monster drinks before 9am and was too shaky to play his guitar?  Well, you can do the math. My personal worry is that our children are not good at maintaining safe levels of moderation. Perhaps 1 drink is not bad – but 3 would appear to be dangerous.

What happens when you combine energy drinks with alcohol?  You get what our youth are calling ‘Jager Bombs’, a dangerous party drink.

To be covered in Part 2 of Rockstars, Monsters, and Red Bulls, Oh My! What in the heck are we consuming?