Me, the virus and a whole lot of free time…

It’s been awhile since I last wrote

There’s been a lot to process and adjust to

I was advised pretty early on to stay home

Which I’ve done

I’ve been home for 43 days

Every day I’ve struggled with anxiety and/or depression

It’s been one thing or another

As someone with mild agoraphobia I find it pretty ironic that being cooped up has me feeling anxious

Now all I want to do is go out and see people

I’ve had a few meltdowns

I feel afraid that if I do catch this virus, I’ll be one of the people that doesn’t make it through

I’m afraid that if it comes down to it

And we’ve run out of ventilators

I’ll be cast aside for a healthy persons survival

I’ve often thought and regretted having done my Lemtrada treatment

Which has made me extra vulnerable at this time

I keep thinking that if I hadn’t done it

Then maybe I wouldn’t have to be so cautious

I wouldn’t have the added worry of the blood disorder that I got as a side effect

There’s a whole lot of what ifs and coulda beens

It’s the lack of control that is particularly anxiety provoking

Which I’m sure is the case for many people

Who are not anxiety sufferers

I’ve been thinking a lot about the kids and youth who aren’t in school

I feel sorry that they’re stuck at home and I worry about the impact this will have on their mental health even when this is over

I keep thinking that the repercussions of this will be felt for many years to come

Economically, socially, emotionally…

And well

We’ve been pretty lucky thus far

We’ve been spoiled

Living in a society and part of the world where we don’t have to worry as much as others

So I’m not really sure I have a handle on how to adapt to this weird new ‘normal’

I’m not sure anyone does

I know that I can only take it day by day

Minute by minute

I can only focus on the right now

I can’t worry about tomorrow because it’s not here yet

I am grateful for being able to make art

I am grateful to have my partner being my contact with the outside world (for groceries and meds and etc)

I am happy that my family is still healthy and safe

And more than anything

I am so fucking grateful that Covid-19 didn’t happen last year amidst losing my mind and all that 😬

Stay safe everyone

For now…

I participated in my first art show

How wild is that?

Two years ago, I would never have thought this would have been in my future

Leaving my job was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done

There will always be an empty part of my heart because of that

The loss of it felt so strong

No one prepares you for the grief that comes with that

And as hard as that was

I was lucky to have found something that gives me peace

Back to the art show

I was so anxious in the days leading up to it

The day of was a nightmare

I felt physically sick

I told Joey I couldn’t do it

That I wouldn’t go

I felt like a fraud

Everyone would know that I’m not an artist

I’m not ‘one of them’

Somehow I made it there

We set up

My hands were like ice

My skin felt like it didn’t fit right

I looked around

In awe of the sheer talent of the artists around me

Real artists

What am I doing here?

This is going to be horrid

And then somehow

It wasn’t…

People perused the artwork I’d made

The artwork that has saved my life

The first few customers

Terrified me

I was so nervous I even made something up when someone asked about my process

How embarrassing

More people came

They bought stuff

They gushed over the artwork

My artwork

My face grew hot

I said thank you

But I wanted to say I’m not a real artist!

More people came by

More people bought stuff

The compliments I received were mind blowing

Some of the vendors bought MY artwork

Loved MY artwork

🤯

Mind blown

I sold over 25 pieces of art that day

I left there with a goofy grin on my face

I was exhausted

And so amazed

Things like this don’t happen to ME

I’m the one who gets MS

Who gets a rare blood disorder because of a treatment I had to undergo for MS

I don’t get the happy endings

Maybe the art show was a one off

Maybe I won’t sell anymore

Maybe it was all a fluke

Those are still the thoughts on a loop in my mind

And in spite of that

I still paint

I still decoupage

I find poems that resonate with me

I create art

And I’m kind of an artist now

Maybe one day I’ll say that without madly blushing

For now

I’ll just use the heated cheeks as a reminder of how far I’ve come

And that’s good enough

For now…

Kid, I hope you’ve finally found some peace

I started working with youth in 2008

Up until that point

I sort of dabbled in working with different populations

At a youth shelter, I found my place

It just felt right

Since then

I had worked exclusively with youth

Mostly homeless and/or at risk youth

Eventually I worked out of Mississauga as an outreach worker

Anyway

I have this thing that I do

I read the paper in the mornings or at night

If a headline catches my eye

That something happened in one of the areas that I worked in

I read it

Sometimes it’s about a young person who was a victim of crime

Or a perpetrator

Sometimes it’s about no one I know

Today

It was about someone I think I may have known

His name immediately caught my eye

And while it was spelled incorrectly

His age adds up to who I remembered

He was killed in a violet crime

He was of no fixed address

It all adds up

But all I keep thinking about

Are his vivid blue eyes

And the protective way he took care of his little brother

Sure I remember other things

Like taking him to court and working through his anger with him

Being upset that he got arrested again

Or something else

But I remember more about the long stretches his mother would leave him and his little brother home alone to fend for themselves

While she went to Florida with her boyfriend

With no food in the house

Under the guise that his grandma was watching them

I remember his dysfunctional mother calling me

Alternating between crying and yelling at me

That she couldn’t handle him

Wanted him to move out

I remember when I had two clients scheduled for court on the same day and time

So I figured I’d just drive them both home

No biggie

Until they told me to drop them off at the same location and went off together

If it’s you that was in the paper

If it’s you whose life was snuffed out far too early and much too violently

I’m sorry I couldn’t have done more to help you

I’m sorry that I couldn’t prepare you better for what was coming next

I’m sorry that life treated you unfairly from the beginning

I’m just sorry

And I promise to remember you

With your vivid blue eyes

And the way you wanted to protect your little brother

Rest In Peace, kid

You deserve to finally have some peace

‘To be calm is the highest achievement of self’

Today is my anniversary

Notice I didn’t write ‘ours’?

Because this one

Well it’s entirely mine

Today marks exactly one year since I would rather have died than continue to live in the state of panic I was in

It might seem dramatic

I don’t know if I can explain the pain I was in

I remember my mom talking about how I was then

And she winced recollecting the sound of my crying

It was without a doubt the worst time of my life

That’s saying something

Since I’ve been through so much

Its strange to some people

That I would pick Multiple Sclerosis and the unknown

I would pick ITP and the biweekly bloodwork

I would choose those things in a heartbeat

I would choose those things if it meant never having to go through a mental health breakdown

Today

As I write this I’m in a much better place

Both literally and figuratively

I’m not freaking out at Humber’s unequipped emergency department

Pleading

No

Begging for someone to help me

Today

I will not focus on what I couldn’t do then

No

Today,

I’m at my home

That I share with my husband of 12 years

My two dogs

Vinnie and Benny.

I woke up this morning

I brushed my teeth and washed my face

I had coffee and breakfast

I rearranged some furniture

I did some art

Now I’m writing this blog

It’s all so unexceptional

And I am so fucking grateful

The time the internet turned against me..

So I nonchalantly commented on a Vice Canada article about whether or not Don Cherry should be fired for his xenophobic comments.

My comment was solely on the story and agreed that Don Cherry has gotten away with this behaviour for too long and should be fired.

The amount of hate I got was a little startling.

I’m a lot older than the typical person who gets cyber bullied so I’m a little removed from this sort of thing.

People immediately went after me

They went after my appearance firstly.

They stereotyped me for my hair colour.

They called me fat.

Said I was dumb, stupid and so much more.

Instantly, I wanted to hit back.

After all, that’s what you do when you’ve been attacked.

But I quickly learned it was getting me nowhere other than infuriated.

I deleted my comment.

Not because I don’t stand by it (because I do)

Not because I can’t handle the criticism (because I can)

But because this war behind a computer or a phone or whatever

Is not one I can win.

That anyone can win.

People become so brave they will literally say anything or do anything.

Frankly, it makes me afraid of the world we live in.

How scary is it when you can’t even risk speaking your opinion for fear of retribution?

This speaks to something so much bigger than internet trolls out for blood.

This is a not a liberated society.

This is totalitarian.

If you dare to step out of line you risk facing the wrath of the legions of people willing to do and say whatever it takes to make their mark.

While I can handle the criticisms, I can’t handle the anger and anxiety that explodes inside of me as a result of such an encounter.

I was so angry at the words they were tossing around.

Not because I’m hurt by them but because someone else might be.

Some teenager might be reading along in agreement and see the inflamed ego it caused and the hurled insults and bullying that ensued.

They might not have the self security to hold strong to their own beliefs.

And that is the biggest tragedy of all.

‘Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.’ Olivier Wendell Holmes

Feeling speechless

I didn’t think this year could possibly get worse

The universe took that as a challenge

It got so much worse

I’m home from the hospital now

I did things this week that I didn’t think I would ever be able to do

I should feel proud

Instead

I feel resentful and saddened

That I had to do them at all

After two days of immunoglobulin infusion

My platelets are still low at 28

From what I remember, this might mean that I have Immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)

Refresher:

ITP is a bleeding disorder where the immune system mistakenly destroys platelets

Platelets allow us to not bleed excessively

It seems like a really big fuck you to me

I hate blood and needles and anything to do with bleeding

And the universe said

Well, here ya go

I won’t know for sure until next week

But of course I’m thinking the worst case scenarios

I’m convinced I’m dying

I’ve never had that fear before

The universe laughed

And said ‘now you do’

I’m scared

I’m sad

And I keep thinking I just can’t take any more

But I’m scared

That the universe

Will take that too

As another challenge

And I’m just not up for it

‘Life is a cruel teacher. She’ll test you first and give you the lesson later.’

This is me after 2 days at St. mikes emerge getting IVIG treatment, 20 plus hours at Humber’s emerge, blood tests in the high double digits, uncomfortable beds and a long night where an elderly Italian woman was wailing my name along with some other choice words and howling the night away. Oh yeah and I’ve been waiting for my antidepressants since 6am. Life. 🤷🏻‍♀️

‘And here you are living despite it all’ Rupi Kaur

There is something infinitely terrifying about needing any type of replacement for your blood

When the doctors first told me my choices were steroids or a hemoglobin infusion, I felt panicked

Immediately stories of tainted blood flooded my brain

I became very aware of my own mortality

Catastrophic possibilities of bleeding in my brain

Or bleeding to death

Were all I could think of

I also thought of everything I would be leaving behind

Joey

My parents

My sister

My nieces and nephews

I thought of all the things I might never get to see

Maybe I’ll miss Lisa getting hitched

Or my nieces having boyfriends

I’ll just miss out

On life

I thought about Joey

And how it might be easier for him without me

But then I thought of him moving on with someone new

Someone not sick

It was soul crushing

He’s mine

I thought

We’re supposed to grow old together

To retire in a hot place

And I broke down

I ugly cried

Hard

I’m not ready

It’s not my time yet

Then I thought of 6 months ago

About how many times I said I would rather be dead than dealing with my panic disorder

Maybe I jinxed it

Maybe I brought it on myself

Maybe I put a challenge out to the universe

But see

The thing is

You can’t be held responsible for things you say under duress

I wasn’t myself

I didn’t mean it

I was scared

So many factors

But I did wish it

So many fucking times

And I did mean it

It was so painful

I remember thinking death has to be better than this

Anything that makes it stop

You know?

That was 6 months ago

Today

I’m an artist who has shows planned

Today

I am a wife who wants to live out her future with her beloved

Today I am a daughter and daughter in law who wants to spend time with her family

Today I am a sister and sister in law who wants to share more laughs together

Today I am an aunt who can’t wait to see her nieces and nephews grow up and become who they were meant to be

Today

I want to live

Through the pain

Through the sadness

Through the blood tests

Through the infections and fevers

Today

I am going to fight

Because I want to

‘Okay, you made me scared, you did what you set out to do And I’m not prepared, you really had me going there for a minute or two’ The Tragically Hip

Scared is different from panic

Panic is unwarranted

Panic is your body misinterpreting signals

Panic is reading everything as danger

Scared is a reminder of what we have to lose

Scared is a prayer on our lips

Scared is being alive

It’s okay to be scared

Sometimes it’s even expected

Sometimes I struggle to sort out in my mind what is ‘normal’ fear and what is my panic disorder

Yesterday I felt my heart beat fast and I felt panicked

Surely it meant something was wrong

Maybe I was bleeding in my brain

Maybe I was going to feel the way I did last week

Maybe I would receive bad news

Today is different

Today I am scared that my blood levels won’t improve

Today I am scared that this could turn into something worse

Today I am scared to miss out on anymore of my life

And tomorrow

Is another day

That I can’t be afraid of

Just yet