Fifty One

I did another thing.

That seems to be a theme…doing the things.

I’ve really been digging having fun “fashion coloured” hair, and when it came time to visit my salon again, I started thinking about switching it up and what I could do.  I really love the pink, I do, but there are SO MANY other fun colours out there to try!!!

Enter the INCREDIBLY AMAZING Creative Director of my hair aka my stylist @hairbyjesseray for bringing this to life:

    

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I’M SO IN LOVE IT’S DISGUSTING

You can also peep my Wear Your Label “Anxious but Courageous” sweater!
So cozy, and don’t forget that you can use code MAYETTE10 to save 10% off your purchase! 
Your support honestly means the world to me!
ALSO!  Wear Your Label has some new stuff for spring, so check it out here!

Happy #SelfCare Sunday, Marshmallows!

❤ ❤ ❤

 

Forty Nine

DISCLAIMER: There is strong language used in this post.  #SorryNotSorry for it.  I’m fed up.

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I started this blog primarily as a fashion blog.  To essentially play dress up with my favourite outfits and share them all with you.  I’ve always been complimented for my sense of style, so it’s been fun to share my creations and to gather inspiration from others!  For a while now though, I’ve been finding my love of the fashion world dwindling, and after this past week, it’s safe to say: fashion can FUCK OFF.

Yep, I said it, and part of me can’t even believe it, but there it is.  Now I think I understand better why some (most) women hate shopping for themselves. I am feeling SO defeated and just…nothing positive, so I won’t even express those feelings out loud.


Since I started my medications about 2 months ago for my depression and anxiety, I have gained a significant amount of weight – about 12 pounds.  It wasn’t super shocking; I expected this knowing weight gain was a potential side effect. While that might not sound like much, in 2 months on my 5’5″ frame – that’s a lot… and honestly, I hadn’t really given it much thought; if I did, I would redirect those thoughts in a positive direction.

👉👉👉  re: cute little belly is cute.

Standing in *generic store name here* though, I found that an impossible task to do. I could not escape the extra weight in those lovely 360 degree mirrors.  You know, those mirrors that I swear to GOD are designed to highlight every “flaw” you have and implant a deep-seated hatred towards yourself – one that has you walking out having spent more money than you intended when you walked in in an effort to curb the loathing.

Walking in wearing a size 6 pant with room in the waist, having to choose size 8 and 10 from the racks, and struggle to gain the cooperation and permission of my newly thicker thighs, I felt a very familiar disgust towards what I saw in the mirror.  I gave up.  I just stood there in my skivvies, bare and vulnerable, going over every inch of my new body with a fine-toothed comb.  I’ve been working SO HARD on building and promoting self-love and positive affirmation when I gaze at my reflection, and all it took was 5 fucking minutes in a dressing room to unravel all the work I had done.  The industry that I had so loved before had enormously let me down.

I was disgusted; disgusted at the dimples and extra rolls that stared back at me, and disgusted at myself for having fallen back into this trap of negativity.

That disgust SHOULD be directed at the companies who clearly don’t know how to size clothing anymore (how can I be 3+ sizes at one fucking time?!), but my disdain immediately went to my newly developed ponch and I wanted to just admit defeat and cry.


In talking with others, and in seeing different posts on the internet regarding this exact topic, I just wonder… How does the fashion industry think that it’s okay or even necessary to vary clothing sizes so greatly? (Anyone else remember when they were one size in every single store, but are now probably any variation between 4-6 different sizes?) How can they do so knowing how this will absolutely affect girls and women psychologically?  Anyone in fashion familiar with the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”???

WHEN DOES IT END? WHERE DO YOU DRAW THE FUCKING LINE?!

Had I been younger, this experience would have had me revisiting my ED tendencies. I’m struggling to keep those thoughts at bay even now…

Fortunately, there is always a silver lining.  For me, it’s that I have my eyes wide open to the stats and the struggles that I was so blind to in my privilege before.  My whole life, even previous to my dealing with anorexia and bulimia, I have been tiny statured by nature.  I was always able to go into any store and find something that fit, and that I felt great in.  I never understood why some people hated shopping.  I never recognized the struggle that others faced because I couldn’t relate to it..and I have no problem admitting that now.  I was naive.

While we’re here, let’s review some stats, shall we?

  • According to a 2002 survey, 28% of girls in grade nine and 29% in grade ten engaged in weight-loss behaviours (in a class of 30 students, that’s roughly 8 to 9 people).
  • 37% of girls in grade nine and 40% in grade ten perceived themselves as too fat (in a class of 30 students, that’s roughly 11 to 12 people). Even among students of normal-weight (based on BMI), 19% believed that they were too fat, and 12% of students reported attempting to lose weight.
  • In a survey of adolescents in grades 7–12, 30% of girls and 25% of boys reported teasing by peers about their weight. Such teasing has been found to persist in the home as well – 29% of girls and 16% of boys reported having been teased by a family member about their weight.
  • Body-based teasing can have a serious impact on girls’ attitudes and behaviours. According to one study, girls who reported teasing by family members were 1.5 TIMES MORE LIKELY to engage in binge-eating and extreme weight control behaviours five years later.
  • In a study of 14–15 year old adolescents, girls who engaged in strict dieting practices were 18 TIMES MORE LIKELY to develop an ED within six months than non-dieters, and had almost a 20% chance of developing an ED within one year

  • At least 30 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder in the U.S.
  • Every 62 minutes at least one person dies as a direct result from an eating disorder.
  • Eating disorders have the highest morality rate of any mental illness.
  • 13% of women over 50 engage in eating disorder behaviours.
  • 16% of transgender college students reported having an eating disorder.
  • Eating disorders affect all races and ethnic groups.

These stats (and others) can be found here and here.



More than anything, I’m fucking angry. This bullshit that if you’re not between the sizes of 000 and 3 that you’re not valid or worthy is just that – BULLSHIT.  That if you don’t look like the woman on the cover of a magazine, you’re not acceptable.  You know, that woman who doesn’t even look like the woman on the cover of the magazine? Yeah.

FUCK these societal standards and FUCK these oppressive fashion standards.

What’s unacceptable is how the modern fashion world operates in tandem with society; what’s NOT is YOUR BODY.  I find my love of the fashion world diminishing because I can no longer cater so heavily to an industry that literally propels itself on the destruction of the very demographic it’s created for.

It’s not that I didn’t realize these things before.  It’s that I ignored them, turned a blind eye, because I felt like they didn’t directly affect me.  All you have to do is flip open a history book to see how productive that mind-set really is…

So going forward, this is what I want you to take away from this rant:

I can’t say that I won’t ever do any fashion posts again.  It’s not true, and I’d be lying to myself and to you if I said it.  But I will do my absolutely best to shop consciously and create in a way that is body positive and inclusive.  I’m still learning and growing myself.  I hope you’ll allow me the space I need to expand my thinking, and the constructive criticism that will help me get to a better place.

Women can be vicious creatures, especially towards one another.  I hope that we can create a #GuildofGirls who pledge to stand up for and support each other, while standing against those who seek to pit us against one another and tear us apart.

MOST IMPORTANTLY:
You don’t have to be thin to be worthy of happiness, love and acceptance; you don’t have to be thin to BE happy and loved and accepted.

You don’t have to strive to look airbrushed 100% of the time.  You don’t need to keep hurting yourself to fit into a mould that isn’t even REAL.  A favourite quote of mine is: “Beyonce doesn’t even look like Beyonce.”  Cut yourself some slack.  You are a bona fide beauty just the way you are.

That cellulite, those belly rolls, those angel wings (aka extra flap of skin under your arms) – EVERY SINGLE WOMAN has at least one of the above.  It’s normal, it’s okay, it’s beautiful.  You don’t have to be ashamed of these parts of yourself.

IT’S OKAY TO STRUGGLE WITH HOW YOU FEEL WHEN CHANGES HAPPEN TO YOU AND TO YOUR BODY. I’ve been struggling to accept my new body, but I’m trying, and that’s what matters.

Unfollow those IG accounts that have you uttering hateful things about yourself every time you browse them.  Stop reading magazines if the only reason you’re picking them up is to measure yourself against what you’ll find inside.  Respectfully ask those in your life to refrain from commenting on your body, and be okay with letting negative people go in order to maintain your own sanity.  Seek out body positive people in your life, and in your social medias.  Reach out and ask for help, or lend support to others who are needing it.  We are all in this together more than we even realize.



“Your body is not the enemy”. No. It absolutely is not.

You are SO MUCH MORE than what you look like.


Cover photo courtesy of Wear Your Label
Shirt available for purchase here.  Use “MAYETTE10” to save! ❤

 

Forty Eight

Hello!

I have the most exciting news!!!

As most of you know by now, I’ve opened up quite a bit over the last couple of years about my personal struggles with Mental Illness. A huge catalyst of being able to do so has been Wear Your Label – an extraordinary, rapidly growing, Canadian company that fights back against the stigma of Mental Illness/Mental Health in pretty cool ways.  Along with some stellar threads that showcase positive MH slogans, they also donate 10% of net profits to partner initiatives!

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Their conscious clothing line has given me my own strength; it’s allowed me to take back ownership of myself and not just be seen as the obstacles I combat each day.  It’s also introduced me to a safe community of people that I can look to if everything were to blow up in my face.

Having said that, I am SO SO SO incredibly excited to be able to share with you all that I’m “officially” a member of the WYL family!

I have been chosen to represent them as a Brand Ambassador for 2017!  

My heart is exploding with joy, excitement, and gratitude at the phenomenal year I know lies ahead. This is a company I’ve deeply appreciated and supported, and I’m happier than a kid in a candy store to have this opportunity to further spread Mental Health Awareness with some really awesome people!

There will be some perks along the way, I promise  — like this promo code!

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If you want to help to break the stigma behind Mental Illness and promote healthy conversations about Mental Health, use code MAYETTE10 when you check out to save 10% on your order!  Head on over to http://www.wearyourlabel.com and treat yo self…Or a friend or family member  Share the love and spread the word!

I just want to say  Thank You  to everyone who has supported me, without judgement, who allow me to be me (in whatever that entails), and who continue to support me. I honestly can’t thank you enough, and I hope you’ll stay on this journey with me

Exciting things await this year so please stay tuned!

I can’t wait to generate conversation and hopefully spoil my Marshmallows along the way!

❤ xoxo
Mayette

 

#BellLetsTalk

Hi Marshmallows!

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It’s one of my favourite days of the year  

Just a few years ago, I would have had a very different reaction for this day (hint: it wouldn’t have been excitement…). I would have done everything I could to spend the day like a hermit and avoid conversing at all costs.  It’s a dark place to be in when even you’re afraid of your mental health struggles.

However, today is a different day and a different time; the further I come on my mental health journey, the easier it gets to talk about the obstacles I face and advocate for abolishing the stigma so others feel safe in sharing their stories, too.

So – #BellLetsTalk about how it’s OKAY to make noise about Mental Health.  It’s OKAY to struggle and talk about those struggles.  It’s OKAY to have bad days.  It’s OKAY to give an honest answer when someone asks you, “So how are you REALLY doing?”.  

Donning my #AnxietyAlliance tee proudly from @wearyourlabel to let others know that I’m anxious, too, and it’s a welcome and safe invitation to enter a conversation about it

All of us have hardships and struggles, and lately my anxiety has been a real big one for me.  I’ve had crippling days; days where I can’t get out of bed, let alone even think about leaving my house.  Days where I feel like I’m not good enough for anything.  Days where it all just becomes so overwhelming.  Days where I honestly think things will just never, ever start to get better.  But they do, and they have.  Had I known that reaching out for help and telling my story to someone sooner would have resulted in my healing beginning a lot sooner, I wouldn’t have suffered in silence for so long.  My eyes were also opened to just how many incredible, supportive, loving people I had around me when I allowed the walls to fall and the dam to break, and I am so SO grateful for each and every one of them.  I would not be able to so openly stand up and share my story today if not for them all.  I may not even have been standing here at all.  ALL my love and support right back. xoxo

And I want you to know, if you’re reading this and struggling, that it’s okay to not be okay and it’s okay to ask for help if you’re ready to take that step. You are valid, you are worthy, and you’re so NOT alone in your journey. Whether you realize or not, there is a community of warriors and of survivors that will take you by the hand and support you every step along the way.  

It takes a lot, for a lot of people, to talk about what they have experienced or what they are going through, and so I just want to throw out a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has shared their story today.  I’ve seen so many brave, inspiring stories full of strength on my News Feeds…far more than I’ve ever seen – and what an incredible sight, indeed.

Your openness, willingness, and trust is helping to pave this road so that those who have come before us, those who are with us, and those who will come after us will have a much smoother journey. From someone who has only recently taken the first steps toward the sunshine, that is something so amazing.

Today is not just for today.  Let’s keep the conversations going for the next 364 days. Not all of us struggle with mental health obstacles, but we all have mental health to take care of.

All my love to all of you XOXO Never be too humble to reach out.

Forty Two

Trying to get back into the swing of things since my “birthday weekend” last weekend.
It was a total blast, BUT…. I wanted to blog my other outfit and I totally forgot to take good photos while in it (aside from the tipsy photos I got with HORRID lighting that make me look like a demon coming out of the depths…) — So… now that I’ve got my laundry complete, I’ll be shooting that outfit next.  Better late than never, right?

ANYWAY.

On a positive note, I bought the MOST AWESOME shoes for myself ’cause you know, when it’s your birthday, you TREAT YO SELF.  If you can’t afford to frost your ears, fingers or neck (like me), then you frost those feet instead!  I feel like that’s a lot more practical, anyway.

Peep these babies from Skechers – seriously.

So. much. bling.  So. much. sparkle.  SO. MUCH. HAPPY.

Also, they’re called the Shiny Dancer? WELL OBVIOUSLY that fits the bill just perfectly!
(shout out to my 16 years of competitive dancing!)

The next pair I get is definitely going to be these – the Bright Idea – Elevated.  I was really torn between these and the Shiny Dancers, but if the decision involves bling or no bling …the bling will ALWAYS win out with me. 

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Aaaand, my shirt came in!  I was so excited to see a package on my step from Wear Your Label.

This is the “I ❤ Me” tee.  It’s soft, and comfortable, and a daily reminder to love yourself –  and I think that makes it just one of the best t-shirts out there.

As an extra perk, it’s also currently on sale 😉 … get it here !

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Here’s a better view of these beauties for you:

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It’s also Mani Monday!!! I decided to have some fun and try to do emoji nails LOL.  As you can see, it turned out pretty hilariously.  I thought I was using the smallest brush possible, but apparently I was NOT.  It’s all good.  They still look pretty sweet – from far away.

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All the best to you for the rest of your week! 

Thirty Two

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I just wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts on this particular photo today.   Kayley Reed (of Wear Your Label) had posted it to Instagram the other day, and it really struck a chord with me.

As soon as I saw it, I just sat there, mouth gaping.

“HOLY SHIT”, I thought. “This is exactly what I felt but could never have put into words.”

Because I’ve been that person.

I’ve been the girl who spent hours upon hours staring at her body in a mirror and scrutinizing every single millimetre of canvas.  The girl who only knew how to spew hateful things at what she saw in the mirror because she was taught by the media that it was ugly or disgusting.

I’ve been the girl who starved herself; the girl who would pass up the foods she loved or quality time with her friends for supper because she couldn’t bear to see that food turn into fat.  Who binged and purged, to fit a mould that wasn’t even designed for humans; to have her shoulder blades and hip bones jut out, like a picture frame corner stretching a mesh screen.

The hatred and sheer loathing that roamed around my head – I’m not skinny enough, I’m not hairless or smooth enough, I’m not tall enough or my skin’s not dark enough.  My nose isn’t small enough, my lips aren’t big enough.  I’m not “womanly” shaped or curvy enough.

You know what?

I AM EVERYTHING ENOUGH.

I am pretty enough, and curvy enough.  I am brave enough, and bold enough.  I am smart enough, and strong enough.  I am brilliant enough, and inquisitive enough.  I am fierce enough, and loyal enough.  I am kind enough, and I am honest enough.  I am complete enough.

I AM EVERYTHING ENOUGH, and I have had enough with the absolutely ridiculous pressures and standards put on women and girls in society today.  It’s not attainable, it’s not healthy and it’s NOT important.  What is important is your happiness and your feeling of self-worth (and yes, your health is absolutely important, too).

It has taken me almost 29 years to love myself, in a world that should have been teaching me to do just that from the day that I was born.  So my advice is this:

Love your cellulite (booty dimples), and your stretch marks (tiger stripes). Love your bread rolls, your sushi rolls, all your rolls (from enjoying wonderful food with family and friends). Love your chin hairs (wisdom tinsel) and your back hairs (stray eyebrows). Love your crows feet and your laugh lines, and all the random lines that are earned over time (they are radiant records that you have laughed and felt joy).

Love and treasure every one of your “imperfections”. You grew into them, grew up with them and you continue growing with them. They are a part of you.  Embrace it all, wholly, because without it – you are not you. And you, as you are, are perfectly imperfect. Speak out of love to yourself.  Speak out of positivity to the girl you see staring back at you in the mirror.  Be proud of what makes you unique. Be proud of each marker that shows you have lived and are living.

You are so much more than this spaceship you were born into; you are the soul within it. You are the accumulation of your experiences; the love and the laughter that lights up your face, the tears and the heartache that show you your strength and courage. You are the empathy that lends a helping hand, the compassion that comforts another in need. You are the wisdom that sees another through, and the encouragement that embraces a moment of weakness. You are the knowledge that instills pride in others, and the kindness that births a grin.  You are a beacon of hope to someone in darkness, and you are the light of jubilation to someone morose.

You are incredible, and a mirror or a scale cannot show you that.

You have always been beautiful because your true beauty can not be physically altered.   So hug yourself tight, forgive your past remarks, and begin to love every single square inch.  You owe it to your soul, to defy what you’ve been subconsciously taught and realize that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way you look.  You are still the most beautiful word.

 

Twenty Eight

Photo 2016-03-29, 4 54 20 PM

I wore my WYL tee to Zumba tonight.  This was a personal big step.

It’s always been tricky for me to broach the subject of mental health (especially when it comes to my own), much less wear it on my chest like a neon sign.

I’m now pretty convinced that they should add “magic” to the list of what goes into these shirts.  I’ve never felt as confident in my class as I did tonight.

There’s something about wearing a shirt that says “It’s Okay Not To Be Okay”: implying that I’m human, that I live with Depression and/or Mood Disorders, that I am sad/down/confused/lost a lot of the time simply because of the way my brain is wired…

…and yet, here I am: singing, smiling, laughing, dancing, [sweating my arse off]

GENUINELY having the time of my life.

It’s a reminder, a humbling moment.

It’s not always grey skies and rain clouds.  There are times of sunshine and unicorns and lollipops.  And I’ve come to realize that I can be free, and I can be ME, by focusing on the things that coax the sun out from behind the clouds (like Zumba!)… and being okay with sometimes not being okay.  It’s not a crime, it shouldn’t be taboo – it’s all a part of being a living, breathing, growing soul.

Even though I saw curious eyes drift over to what I was wearing, nothing was said.  And that’s okay.  I wasn’t expecting any conversation to happen, but I know that unspoken words speak volumes; if by wearing this magical t-shirt to my class I encourage another woman to accept and love herself for her own rainy days … that would be something amazing in itself 🙂

I really need to get on ordering more of these wonderful pieces!

Twenty Three

Heads up.  
This post is going to be very serious, very long, very personal and probably very controversial.

This past week has been an interesting one, and a trying one, emotionally.  It’s been tough dealing with being sick (thankfully the meds I got have righted that wrong!), but it’s also been nothing short of exhausting as a whole.  With all of the news surrounding Kesha and her incredibly horrifying journey, I can’t help but relive my own.

It’s not something I talk about very often.
If I’m being truly honest, it’s not something I ever really talk about at all.

But I think I should.  I am not the only one who has endured this hell in silence.

I adore Wear Your Label, and all that they stand for.  You’ve heard me say this before.  When I wear their clothing, I feel like a Super Woman.  I feel like I can speak with a voice that bellows across mountains.  I feel like I can conquer any obstacle in front of me.

I feel free to tell my story.

“It’s Okay Not To Be Okay” is such a powerful slogan because it carries so many applications to life.  There are so many reasons that it is okay to not be okay, and one of those reasons is because sometimes really shitty things happen to us.

Incidentally, my shirt from WYL showed up a couple of days ago, and so it felt like as good a time as any to bring awareness to this arduous battle that so many have endured; a staggering amount of those in deafening silence.

Only 6 of every 100 sexual assault incidents are reported.  SIX.
That means 94 cases out of every 100 go silent and unheard. 


When I was 16, I lost my identity.  I was sexually assaulted by a person in a position of power.   His job description was that of a person who shapes the mind of an adolescent teen.  Someone who passes on knowledge and wisdom, and who is branded as a generational empowerer.  In layman’s terms, a teacher.

He should have known better.  He should have recognized his actions and the repercussions they would have on a mind still growing and developing.  He probably did.  In fact, I’m absolutely certain he knew exactly what he was doing.

He just didn’t give a shit.

He saw a teen, with cracks and open wounds, and weaselled his way in.  He found a way to earn my trust, and simultaneously break it for every other man who would enter my life.  He induced unexplainable anger for years to follow.  He snapped me in half like a twig.

But that’s not the worst of it.

The worst was protecting him, in fear of being judged or getting in trouble.  Even after being confronted about what had happened, still I denied it because I felt an inclination to protect him as a person.  (How messed up is that?)

The worst was when the police showed up, forcefully entering my home, verbally abusing me and confiscating MY property as evidence to their case – further indulging me as the perpetrator, and not the victim that I rightfully was.

The worst was the absolute black hole of despair that I was thrown into, the suicide attempts and the following mistreatment from the medical community that I was subjected to – which did nothing to serve as a support for me, but rather as a further beating with the bat of the piñata that I had become.

The worst was seeing the damage it did to my hero, my mother.  To see the shame and guilt on her face, for doing the right thing and alerting the authorities but feeling like she had let me down when she saw that I was not being protected the way that I should have been.

The worst was having to go to court.  To be immobilized by fear but reassured that everything would be okay – only to be shamed and accused of being a liar.

The worst was having to live in the same community as this person, and exist in fear of him retaliating against me for sharing my horror and not keeping my mouth shut.

The worst was still having to live with the notion that it was somehow all MY fault, even after it was proven otherwise.  Even after I’d had countless professionals tell me that I am not in any way to blame for this man’s actions, that I am in absolutely no way at fault for what has happened to me.

The worst is living with the after shocks of this traumatic experience, and the small but significant ways that this demon reappears into my life.

The worst was feeling like a complete failure as a woman in my relationship because I could not bring myself to have sex with my partner.  Every time we tried, I felt violated and dirty.  I felt broken and disconnected.  Even though we’d been sexually active previous to my assault, it affected our intimacy for years after the fact.

Reading the news articles and reactions from people involving Kesha’s court trial breaks my f***ing heart.  I’ve been in her shoes.  I am living the damage of the image our society has created.  I am speaking out and telling my story in solidarity with her and so many others who have walked, and are walking, in these shoes with us.

1 in 4 women living in North America will be sexually assaulted within their lifetime.  
ONE. IN. FOUR.

When you say things like, “She had it coming”, or “She must be lying”, or “It’s unfair to brand him a rapist before she proves he actually did it” – you further perpetuate the notion that it was HER FAULT.

When we glorify a person’s image as a perpetrator, we turn the whole notion of what we are fighting for upside down.  Too often, victims are patronized and belittled when they should be recognized and protected.   Too often, the perpetrators bask in the lime light that they should not be entitled to.

In Canada:
Only 1-2% of ‘date rape’ sexual assaults are reported to police.
Only 2-4% of all sexual assaults reported are false.
60% of sexual abuse/assault victims are under the age of 17.
15% of sexual assault victims are boys under the age of 16.
HALF of all sexual offenders are married or in long-term relationships.
80% of assailants are friends or family of the victim.

Sexual assault is far more common than people suspect it to be.
Most sexual assaults are not committed by a stranger, but rather by someone close to the victim.

I was a victim, but I am not any longer.  I am a survivor.

As with all darkness, there has also been light.

The best has been rediscovering myself and reclaiming my identity as a person.  Having a sense of self and worth has been so crucial to the healing process.

The best has been having a partner who understands what I’ve gone through and holds me together when I crumble.  Having someone who has been patient and loving towards rebuilding our intimacy in a safe and trusting environment; who doesn’t get upset when I tell him “No” because I am dealing with the internal aftermath of my assault.

The best has been being able to smile again.  When terrible things happen, I fully understand that black cloud that moves in over your life.  That presence that makes you feel like you will never have a reason to smile ever again.  I promise you, you will.  The fog will be lifted, and the sun will shine once more.

The best has been the strength and ongoing support.  I am not strong alone.   My strength is an accumulation of the love I have received from my family and friends, my community, my tribe.  From the stories and people that emerge from their own darkness into the light.  From those who fight alongside to end the stigma surrounding sexual assault.

Together, we are strong.  Together, our voices will carry.

We Must Be Swift As The Coursing River
With All The Force of A Great Typhoon
With All The Strength of a Raging Fire

Fifteen

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#BellLetsTalkDay

There are so many different sides to this story.  So many depths, and facets to mental illness.  So much behind the stigma, and so much more behind the warriors who are challenged by it every single day.  This is just the view from my side of the fence.

Handle With Care.”  There are times that I wish I could affix this label to my forehead before leaving my house.  Some days it would just make things so much simpler…but I’m not looking for pity or sympathy.  I simply seek to find understanding, just as countless others do.  Understanding that we are humans.  That we having feelings and emotions.  That we have an organ that has carved a different path for us than others.

I’ve been told that I come off as a very confident, put together person, and some days I’ve honestly had to laugh at that sentiment.  “I’M confident and put together?!”  Tell that to the laundry basket of mismatched socks sitting in my closet…  Or the crumpled pile of kleenex that didn’t quite make its way to the garbage tin.  I am not always confident, or strong.  I have moments where I feel more fragile than a dried rose petal.  Sometimes these moments last for just that, moments.  Sometimes they last for hours, days, weeks.  I’m not ashamed of the days that my sun doesn’t shine quite as brightly, and you shouldn’t be ashamed of yours either.  Yin does not exist without yang.  My light does not compete with the dark that sits beside it, or the fleck that rests within it.  They are both a part of me, a part of my life, and so I am learning to love both of the halves that make me whole.  I am seeking a better understanding of my inner self so that I can more appropriately share that with others; to break through the glass plate that separates us from each other.  To remove the barrier, to create dialogue, to lift the stigma off and my fellow warriors up.

Every person has a past, a story.  Whether that story is available in the public library for checkout or in a private home library depends entirely on the person.  Each of us fights our battles in our own way.  Some people eagerly share their stories, while others have a hard time even reading it to themselves.  Whichever way you face your own battlefield each day, know that you are not alone in your fight.  We all have our battle wounds.  You are NEVER alone, and it is OKAY to not be okay.  Each scar is a reminder that we have survived.  We have overcome.  We have conquered.  We are BADASS.

Living with mental illness is not easy; in fact, it’s incredibly difficult.  To always be fighting an internal battle that no one else is witness to;  to carry not only everything heavy within you, but to also have the extra burden of the stigma that society has created towards it.  It’s like carrying around a backpack full of textbooks that nobody else can see. It is arduous and punishing, and you are NOT alone.  We are in this together.  Do you know how remarkable and courageous you are to wake up each day and fight against the demons within you?

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with a mental illness, or are just prey to the trials that life brings – always remember, it is okay to not be okay.  Every single one of us is faced with struggle at some point in our time on this Earth.  Every single one of us has a strength within that we are unaware of.  You are a warrior.  You CAN conquer.

As we open up the lines of communication and start our conversations, let’s remember one thing – something that one of my favourite blondes delivers on a daily basis:
“Be Kind to One Another.”

I encourage anyone out there struggling to seek help in a way that you are comfortable with – whether that be a hotline, a doctor, a friend or family member.  There are avenues out there available to you, and people out there who want to help.  ❤

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The shirt and bracelets in this post are from a pretty awesome little Canadian company, founded on the East Coast, called Wear Your Label.  I first stumbled upon them last summer and fell in love with what they set out to achieve – and are surely on the fast track to doing so.  They’ve created a clothing line to get the conversations about Mental Health Awareness flowing, while giving back in support of mental health initiatives.

Check them out at www.wearyourlabel.com or on social media @wearyourlabel !