Wait For It… (approx. 4-5 min. read)

It’s been ages since I wrote a blog, but I feel like it’s time. Not only am I feeling like my brain is my friend again, but I also have this huge event coming up and if you’ve been following along, you know that I don’t do huge events. Heck, I don’t even do small events, but this one is really important, this one signifies that everything I’ve done regarding mental health; including what I’ve done for myself is starting to pay off.

As some of you know I decided to write a book about what it was like to live with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) about four years ago. I know, it’s taking me longer than I thought and I’m pretty sure the reason for that is because when I started, I had so much healing to do, but I’m getting close. When I started writing this book I didn’t know that I still had healing to do, because everything that I read about PTSD & C-PTSD told me that I would always feel hyper-vigilante, that I would always suffer from depression and other stress-related illnesses, and they were right.

Trouble was they forgot to mention that there were different levels of hypervigilance, depression, etc. Luckily, I found out over time, that if you do the “work,” you can get back to almost “normal.” It takes time and a lot of work; grueling work, but if you face your past, literally stare it in the face and scream back at all the nasty shit that happened, I honestly believe you will start to heal.

I balked at facing my past for a very long time because I never wanted to go through the things, I endured in the first place and facing my fears meant having to go through it all - again. This kept me deep inside my illness and my depression and I felt like I never knew what was really going on inside me, or who I was.

Instead, I did what a lot of people that have mental illness did and that was to spend decades trying to pretend that I was normal. As well as trying to convince myself that the thoughts that plagued my life were just lies and made up stories, as I’d been told by my parents.

Fortunately, so much has changed, especially in the last year and I feel like I have a new lease on life. Sure, I still have mental illness and I still get panic attacks and flashbacks, but I’m learning how to get out of, or past them faster and because of that I’m able to get on with living my life, instead of avoiding it.

Which brings me to the main reason for this week’s blog…

I have been invited to be a guest as a mental health advocate at this year’s annual Hat’s On For Awareness gala. “Hats On For Awareness is a local charity that raises funds to further the reach of mental health programs which enhance the lives of those living with and affected by mental illness and addictions.”

They believe “that mental health is a vital component to overall wellness, and we need to make it a priority in our personal, business and community lives. We need to raise awareness regarding these illnesses, consistently battle against the stigma they hold, and the stigma they hold, and fund the research and programs to truly achieve Mental Wellness For All.”

This is an incredible event and…

wait for it…

I said yes without thinking about it!

This is an amazing feat for me because if you’ve been following along, you know that prior to this event, I’ve always made excuses as to why I couldn’t go to something, but something in me has changed. I truly believe it’s because I haven’t had to defend myself to anyone in quite a long time. I’ve surrounded myself with people that love me for who I am and even though they don’t understand my mental illness, they try. Because of that, I have been able to go to therapy and work on getting over my past without any form of criticism and if you’re like me, you know that we get a lot of criticism We’re told to “get over it,” that “it” was in the past, and those statements make us try to “get over it,” instead of working on our traumas and getting on with our lives.

…whatever it is that’s changed, this past couple of months I’ve been out doing something at least four times a week, whether it’s going to the library, my DBT group, therapy, or to have coffee with friends. This is remarkable because a year ago, I was lucky if I felt well enough to get out of the house once a month.

Don’t get me wrong because I’m still having anxiety, especially about going to this incredible event, but it seems to be more controlled. Besides, the “Hatsquerade” is a gala to raise money for mental health, so if there’s anywhere I should feel safe, it will be at this event.

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.



Just in Case You Were Wondering What I've Been up to. (approx. 7-8 min. read)

It’s been ages since I’ve been able to write a blog and I figured it was time that I let you all know what’s been going on with me because I’ve been on a roller coaster ride like none other.

First off, I got some really nasty emails on Christmas day from the only members of my family that were still talking to me and it triggered something in me, and I ended up getting really sick. It started as horrendous pain in my hips and legs and then there was pain all over my body. Next I started to lose the use of my legs and it wasn’t long before I needed a cane for walking because I couldn’t lift my feet and had to drag them along the ground when I tried to walk. Then my mind started to go, and I couldn’t figure out what the words to things that were common in my everyday life, such as spoon, fork, coffee, bath, etc. It was horrendous.

Following that I started to lose the use of my hands, starting with my left one and by the beginning of May, trying to do anything with my hands was a struggle, especially things like holding a pen, or a cup of coffee. I tried to pretend that it wasn’t as bad as it was, but my husband Gary wasn’t being fooled at all and he told me later, that he was really worried that he was going to lose me.

When my symptoms first started I saw a physiotherapist, because I felt the pain in my hips was related to (all) the work we were doing on the house, but he told me he felt that my issues were systemic; my whole body, not an injury from building our house. So I left his office and got in touch with my family physician and over the next couple of months, I had 5 panels of blood done, a Lyme serology, an EKG, a full body x-ray and I had been put on the list for a full body MRI.

It had been two and a half months since my pain had started and I felt like a friggin pin cushion, but I finally had a diagnosis and that diagnosis was Lyme disease. I was so relieved because the pain that was running rampant through my body had been and still was unbearable. I had been to the emergency department three times in just over two months, but all three times they sent me home saying “there was nothing going on in my body that would cause me any pain,” and to take Advil for pain – if I needed it.

I waited a few days after I’d received the diagnosis from my physician before calling to find out when they were going to start treating me but she said she wasn’t sure. She went on to say that the public health department had called her; not only to scold her for doing a Lyme serology in the “middle of winter,” but to tell her they still weren’t willing to see me unless I tested positive a second time.

In North America we have a two-tiered test for Lyme disease and if you’ve read anything in the news you will also have read that the testing for Lyme is antiquated and extremely inaccurate. Currently it’s a two-tiered test, with one of the tests being an ELISA and the other being a Western Blot and if you don’t test positive for the first test; the ELISA, they don’t even do the Western Blot. Furthermore, they don’t very often get a positive on the ELISA and when they do, they make the patient do the test again, to make sure it isn’t a false positive.

This is what happened in my case and my family physician said I needed to do the test again in order to be seen by an infectious disease specialist through the public health department.  

I had started doing research on Lyme as soon as I got my diagnosis and I wasn’t surprised that they were making me jump through hoops, but I was starting to get pissed off. It was now the end of March and I’d been in excruciating pain for over three months and although I had a diagnosis, I was yet to be treated.

Two weeks after my Lyme diagnosis and almost four months after my symptoms reared their ugly heads, I got an appointment to meet with an infectious disease specialist. Unfortunately, she told me that my symptoms weren’t part of Lyme disease and even if they were, it was impossible for me to have Lyme disease because she said there were no ticks where I lived. I tried to tell her that I was pretty sure I’d been bitten by a tick when I travelled to New Brunswick in 2016, but she dismissed me like I was some sort of imbecile when I told her I’d only had flu-like symptoms; that I never saw a tick or a bulls-eye rash. What confused the heck out of me was when she said we needed to close the chapter on Lyme disease because it was something else.” I asked her what that something else was and she said she wasn’t sure, but she said they were going to do some tests in order to find out.

I left her office crying my eyes out because I’d been dismissed like a naughty child and I STILL didn’t have anything to help me with the pain I felt all over my body. I walked towards the front doors where Gary was waiting for me and when he saw me, he was fuming and wanted to head straight to our physician’s office, but he knew that after the way we’d been treated over the last three plus months it would only be a waste of time, so we headed back home …to wait for them to call and let us know what was next.

Another month and a half went by and I continued to decline, but even though I was leaving messages for the infectious disease specialist and my family physician, no one was returning my calls. I was starting to show symptoms of Alzheimer’s, such as memory loss, difficulty finding words and putting sentences together, and my husband and I were getting really fearful.

I researched as best I could and when all else failed, I joined a Lyme group on Facebook but when I read through the posts and found out that I wasn’t the only one not being treated for Lyme disease, I felt like there was absolutely no hope, and I started to give up.

Then one day shortly after I’d almost given up on getting any sort of treatment, I saw a post for bee venom therapy (BVT) on my Lyme group’s Facebook page and well - the rest is history!

It’s now been just over three months since I started BVT and I’m walking without a cane, my hands are almost back to normal and I’m speaking in full sentences again. And – wait for it… I’m writing again and not just blogs. I’m almost finished my survivors guide to living with PTSD, plus I’m working on a couple of other books; one being a fiction based on a true story, called “The Turquoise Lockers; A Story About Incest, Sexual Abuse and Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).”

Once again, I have come out on the other side of adversity. Despite (more) threats from nay-sayers and getting sick with another illness caused by the stress from said people, I have proven to myself that I’m not just a survivor, I’m a thriver. Additionally, going forward, I will no longer allow threats to stop me from living my life or telling my story, because after all, it is MY life, MY story and MY truth.

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.

P.S. I’m going on hiatus for a month so that I can (finally) finish my first book but if you need me, just send me an email @ https://www.davinalytle.com/contact



https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/lyme-disease/federal-framework-lyme-disease-conference/audio-recordings/public-forum-1.html - especially around 27:10

I need to ask a favour... (approx. 1 min. read)

It’s been quite a while since I wrote weekly blogs and, in the beginning, I blamed it on the fact that Gary and I were building a house, but then I got sick. It started as a debilitating pain in my hips, then spread throughout my body and now I’m struggling to do everything from putting on my socks, to walking.

After months of doing blood tests and x-rays, I tested positive for Lyme disease and not just once because they made me do the serology twice to make sure it wasn’t a false positive.

As you may know the outcome for living with Lyme disease isn’t good, but I’m one hell of a fighter and I’m not going to let this get me down. I start intravenous (IV) antibiotics tomorrow, Thursday April 11, 2019 and I will be tethered to a PICC line for 21 days. They’ve told me there are lots of nasty side effects, but and it’s always a big but with me, if you send lots of positive thoughts and prayers, I truly believe that with your help, I’ll be able to overcome the side effects, as well as beat this incapacitating disease.

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.

I Really Need to Get Something off My Chest! (approx. 5 ½ - 6 ½)

I Really Need to Get Something off My Chest (approx. 5 ½ - 6 ½)

Honestly, I’m not sure where to start but I know that I must get this off my chest.

I’ve always felt like the black sheep in my bio family, and I’ve even joked about it, but I didn’t know to what extent until it was confirmed in some emails, I received on Christmas day of last year (2018).

I already mentioned the emails in question in another blog** but instead of addressing them, I tried to do what my husband, Gary told me to do and that was to ignore them. After all, it was Christmas day and we’d just moved into our new home the night before and it was supposed to be a joyous time for us, not ill-fated, but back to the emails.

I opened them one by one and read the offensive words that lay before me. Each email confirmed that I had always been the black sheep and as I read through them, my heart went from being filled with Christmas love to feeling like someone had punctured it with a sharp sword. Not only did they say that I didn’t belong, but they also accused me of lying about my past; the worst thing was that they told me not to respond. If I did, they threatened they would seek legal advice and try and have me charged.

I closed the emails and as the tears started to pour down my face, I started sobbing …I always thought these family members would always have my back and they were the last of them, so that meant I truly was an orphan. Gary came over to me, put one of his hands on my back affectionately, and said what’s wrong babe? As I turned to look at him, he glanced at what I was reading and the next thing I know was that he was throwing up his hands in anger and asking me why I had opened something I knew was probably just another insult?

The next hour or so was spent arguing over my family and how they have treated me over the years, and if I’m completely honest, it’s what 95% of our arguments are about, but this time was different. This time he said that if I continued to let my family treat me like shit – he was done. He said that no matter what I do, they continue to attack me, and he said he wasn’t going to sit around while they killed me.

He was being a little dramatic, but I got what he was trying to say and that was that he believed the stress surrounding my family was the cause of my health issues and he suggested as he had in the past, to use the nasty emails as permission (from them) to finally move forward and get on with my life. So instead of answering the emails, I tried my hardest to ignore them.

As December turned into January and January turned into February, the words played over and over in my head like a loop in a sound machine stuck on play. As the months rolled by and we got into March, the need for me to respond only deepened, but not only had they threatened to take me to court if I responded, they also made stipulations as to how I could respond. So, I wasn’t quite sure what to do?

The stipulations they made were that I wasn’t allowed to respond to each individual one on one; that it had to be a “recorded mediation for further consideration,” their words, not mine. Additionally, it had to be recorded because they wanted to be able to replay it and look for “deviations,” because that’s how the police found out whether a person was lying or not.

Gary was totally against it, and he wanted, and still wants me to cut ties; once and for all. He’s known me and my bio family for over forty years and he believes that no matter what I say to “certain” family members, they will turn it around and make me look bad because that’s what they have always done in the past. Me, well, I always give people way too many chances and I couldn’t seem to let it go.

So, there we were in March and a health issue I had started with the end of December got progressively worse and I decided I better rid myself of some stress and you guessed it, I decided to start with the emails.

I answered the first one last Saturday; March 11, 2019, but because I used the word insults, the person told me that they weren’t going to read any further, and reminded me about the “recorded mediation,” being the only way of communicating. I amazed myself by showing an immense amount of strength and wrote back that if we weren’t going to communicate like adults then I felt that we were at an impasse.

Then I sent the second response and the only way I knew how that person felt, was that they kicked me out of a mental health group they were admin. for, and it made me wonder what had changed their feelings for me? Did they truly believe that I was making up my mental illness, like the rest of my bio family?

The third letter was the hardest to answer because I was pretty sure I was wasting my time, but I really wanted to resolve this issue; once and for all, so I sent that one as well, only to be completely blocked on social media by them.

…but and as you know, it’s always a big but.

I answered their emails and addressed their concerns and if they want to discuss anything further with me, I told them I’d do it one on one, but when it came to a “Bashing Davina session?” I endured those for decades every time I went to a family get together and going forward, I’ve decided that I will never take part in those kinds of sessions ever again.

…and I have to tell you that Gary couldn’t be more pleased!

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.

What Do You Do When You Hear Something Go Bump in the Night? (approx. 4½ - 5½ min. read)

If you’ve been following along you know that two years ago my husband, Gary and I were forced into making a decision we didn’t want to make and that was to sell our house and move further North. Gary had been forced into retirement from the company he spent 29 years working for and he couldn’t find a job that wasn’t physically demanding, so we figured this was our only option. It was a tough decision, but after crunching the numbers we figured it was the only way for us to live in our own house, instead of renting from someone else.

We priced everything out, enlisted the help of friends and family and designed a house that would enable us to live mortgage free. Trouble was, the U.S. decided to put tariffs on just about everything we needed, plus it was a record year for forest fires in Canada, so it ended up costing us quite a bit more than we planned. Add the fact that friends and family fell through and the fact that the weather seemed to be against us, and we ended up going over budget; not a lot, but enough that our plans for Gary’s retirement have been delayed.

It didn’t take him long to find a job, in fact, Gary found a job after his second interview and he started this morning. It was hard. It’s been almost two years since he’s worked outside of the home and I’ve really liked having him around, but as we all know life doesn’t always go the way we want it, and this was one of those times.

…but that’s for another blog.

After he came in and kissed me goodbye, I tried my best to go back to sleep. Part of me felt guilty because I haven’t left the house to work since I got held up, but the other part of me was terrified to be here without him. Sure, he’s been gone for short jaunts to go grocery shopping or pick up stuff for the house, but not all day and the thought being without him was totally freaking me out.

It was early, so it was still dark, and the darkness always made sleep elusive for me, especially when I was feeling this fearful…

I rolled onto my side, pulled the covers up over my head and reminded myself that we’d been here on the property for almost a year and other than some materials being stolen, nothing else had happened, but then I heard this thumping noise…

When I first heard it, it was quite low and I had to strain my ears to hear it, but then it got louder and louder and it sounded like someone was walking around on the veranda that surrounds the house. I pulled the covers off my head and strained my ears to hear where the noise was coming from, but instead of it getting louder, the sound stopped. Again, I told myself to stop catastrophizing and pulled the covers back over my head so I could go back to sleep, but there it was again …thump, thump, thump, thump.

I threw the covers off me once again and sat up in bed like a child waking from a horrible nightmare; afraid to move, but also afraid not to move. I sat there trying to tilt my head towards the sound, almost as if I thought it would help me to figure out where the thumping was coming from, but the incessant pounding had ceased, again, and that scared me even more. My mind kind of got away from me and I worried that whatever was making the noise knew that I was sitting there listening to it, and it was trying to be quiet. I was imagining the worst. In my mind, I could see the dark figure lurking outside my bedroom door bracing himself to bash my door down and as I sat there in the dark listening every pore of my body open up and I started to sweat because I knew I was heading towards a full-blown panic attack.

I reminded myself of the steps I use to calm myself when anxiety rears its ugly head and I listed five things I could see. It was extremely difficult because I just wanted to hide under the covers and keep my eyes squeezed shut, but I turned on the light, quickly glanced around me and said the words out loud. Light, Laddie, cell phone, ashtray, cannabis tin. Then I listed four things I could touch, three things I could hear; not including the thumping, two things I could smell and one thing I could taste.

It was difficult; it always is when I’m lost in the fear, but I went through my grounding list, rolled onto my side, pulled the covers back over my head and told myself to stop being silly and go back to sleep.

Almost immediately I heard the thumping and again I sat up in bed, but when I was met with silence for the third time, I realized that there was no one out there trying to get in, it was my heart thumping in fear.

The thought made me chuckle out loud because I’d terrified myself by being afraid of the sound my heart was making because I was frightened. It was just too funny, and I know it’ll be a good reminder the next time I hear something go bump in the night.

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.






It May Be a Game Changer but It's Not a Life Sentence (approx. 4 – 5 min read)

I can’t believe it’s almost the end of January already, but here we are with another new year. To me, it’s kind of like a clean slate, and I was wondering what your plans are? A new exercise goal, plans to learn something new, or maybe a course you want to take? Whatever it is, I want you to know that you’ve got this.

Having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a game changer, but it isn’t a life sentence. Sure, it makes a survivor think differently and there are side effects like hyper-vigilance and flashbacks, but with perseverance, you can live a fulfilling life with this illness

…at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Since my diagnosis in 2005, I’ve found lots of articles that say I’ll never get over post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD), but I’ve also found lots of articles that say that I can live a fulfilling life. It might be difficult, in fact, it’s proving to be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life, but I’m choosing to stay positive, as well as focusing on moving forward.

The first two years after I got held up, I barely left my home. I ordered groceries online and made all kinds of excuses to my friends about leaving my house because I was absolutely terrified to go anywhere. My home became my comfort zone and I never felt trapped, I just felt safe, but then things started to change.

Don’t get me wrong because it was years before things started to change, and I went to all kinds of therapy appointments in hopes that something was going to snap me back to my old reality. Unfortunately, most of my appointments ended in disappointment, but then I started Trauma Incident Reduction (TIR) therapy and that’s when things really started to change.

Through TIR therapy I uncovered the source of the nightmares I’d had most of my life and I had a major breakthrough. I’d been terrified to go to sleep for years; it wasn’t just the nightmares, it was the sleep paralysis and finding out the source; the reason I was having them, took all the power out of them. Fortunately, I haven’t had those nightmares since, or sleep paralysis of any kind.

Another thing that’s helped me to move forward is keeping a gratitude journal. I had, and still have this huge hole in my heart, and the need to find a way to see the positive things that are happening is intense, but sometimes it seems almost impossible because of all the negativity going on around me.

This particular gratitude journal promised that it only took five minutes each day to counter negative thought loops and end each day feeling happier. There’s a place to write three things you’re grateful for; three things that would make your day great, as well as a place to write a positive affirmation starting with “I am,” and I found the perfect time to do it was while I was having my morning coffee. Then just before you go to bed, you finish off the day by writing down three things that made your day amazing, as well as one thing that could have made your day better.

I remember the first day of writing in this journal like it was yesterday (May 30, 2016 – I checked my journal) and the three things I wrote down that would make the day great was getting outside for five minutes, working on my book and starting the HASfit 90-day warrior workout plan. After I finished writing, I got up, made myself a coffee, grabbed a joint and headed towards the front door. Keeping in mind that at the time I wasn’t even opening my blinds or curtains, let alone going outside.

Xena, our dog (at the time) was standing beside me wagging her tail and if it weren’t for her, I probably would have closed the door and called it a day, but instead, I took a deep breath and opened the front door. Xena went through the opening so quickly that the screen door caught her on the hip, but before I could tell if she’d hurt herself, she turned and stood there wagging her tail at me.

I told her to hang on while I set the timer on my phone for five minutes, I took another deep breath, and then I stepped outside. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. The sun was shining, and I could see the kids across the street playing in their backyard and the sound of laughter helped me to feel safe. I told myself that if they could be out here; unafraid, then so could I, and I sat down on the top step of our landing.

The next thing I did was light up the joint I knew was going to help with my anxiety and I proceeded to sit there until the timer on my phone went off before getting up and heading back inside. It was terrifying, but it was also exhilarating and I’m proud to say that each day starts off pretty much the same way today. Sure, I have my moments, especially when I get a lot of hate mail, but for the most part, writing down the positive things I want to happen, keeps me in the here and now.

So, what are your plans for moving into 2019 with a positive attitude because I’d love to hear them?

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.





Letting Go of the Balloons! (approx. 5 -6 min. read)

It had been seven months since I’d had any contact with anyone from my biological family and I was doing pretty good. Sure, I missed some of them, but I had resigned myself to the fact that because I continued to talk about my past, none of them would be in my future, and they confirmed that over Christmas.

The confirmation came in the form of emails and they were pretty nasty.

After I finished reading the emails, I tried my hardest not let them ruin mine and Gary’s (my husband’s) Christmas. I told myself that the people that wrote the emails don’t know the truth; that they’re speaking out of ignorance, and there was no way I was going to continue to let it get to me. Instead I would make it the topic of my next therapy appointment, which was only days away, and I went back to trying to enjoy Christmas with Gary.

When the day for my appointment finally came, I printed off the emails, read them over the second time, and then stuffed them into my purse. The words ripped through my heart just like they did on Christmas day, but I tried not to let them get to me. Instead, I kept telling myself that I needed to discuss them with Paul; my therapist, and he would know what to do.

When I got to Paul’s office, he welcomed me in and offered me a seat across from him, which I took and before he could ask me how things had been going, I pulled the emails out of my purse and started reading them. I went straight to the nastiest parts of the correspondence and as I shared the venomous words before me, he shook his head and said that my past has nothing to do with the people that sent the emails, and that I needed to ignore them. He reminded me that continuing to involve myself in this kind of drama wasn’t helpful in my recovery. Not only that, he reminded me that the negativity was incredibly damaging to my health and as I stared back at him with my right eye bulging from the recurrence of central serous retinopathy (CSR), I realized that he was right.

Paul went on to say that I needed to stop worrying about other people and start taking care of me and he pointed to the emails I had in my hands and said, “Let go of the balloons.”

As the words spilled from his lips, they hit me the same way as when he told me to ask myself “What do I know for sure” when I’m catastrophizing. It was a huge epiphany and I knew those words were going to help me to move forward, especially when those words reminded me about a good memory from my past.

The memory was from years ago; my oldest daughter had just turned three years old, and all she wanted for her birthday was to release balloons into the air and watch them float away. So I asked Cheryl, one of my best friends to help me fill some balloons with helium, and then we watched as my daughter released them into the air. It was one of those profound moments that you never forget; being with loved ones and doing something that created such joy for everyone. My daughter was overjoyed, and I remember watching her wave her hands up and down with excitement, almost like she was trying to fly along with the balloons.

It was a great memory, and I still remember Cheryl and I standing there with my oldest, watching as the balloons floated away and disappeared into the horizon. Consequently, when Paul said that I needed to let go of the balloons, it took me back to that moment in time and I knew I could use his words as a mantra to help me move forward because that was such a joyous time in my life.

Going forward, I’m going to let go of the balloons…

I’m going to work (really hard) at letting go of the bad parts of my past and remembering the good…

And I’m going to start taking care of me and stop worrying about people that don’t know any of the facts.

Stay safe, stay strong and remember to let go of the balloons. Thanks for following.

I Said I Was Going to Do It and I Did! (approx. 2-3 min. read)

It was a long hard year but I’m proud to say that I fulfilled my main goal of 2018 and that was to move forward. Last year; 2018, marked thirteen years since I was held up and then diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and considering that thirteen is one of my lucky numbers I decided to make it the year to make a significant change in my life.

If you’ve been following along, you know that the change I’m speaking of was to start making my life about me instead of making it about everyone else. It meant moving forward with the people that believed in me, as well as learning how to say no and to stop trying to explain myself or my symptoms. Because my life changed on that fateful day in 2005, and some would say it changed for the worse, and that it was when I lost my mind, but they’re wrong; the shape of my brain may have changed, but I didn’t lose my mind. In fact, I found it and a lot of the memories I had buried for self-preservation started to come out. The trouble was that when I started talking about the memories that were coming forward and the abuse I endured, I was accused of lying and I lost a lot of the people I believed were by my side prior to my getting held up.

…I’m not really sure why, but I believe it was easier for certain people to turn their backs on me instead of drawing attention to themselves by asking questions and losing multiple people, instead of just losing me, but I’m only speculating.

The good thing that’s come from all of it, and the reason I’m sharing it, is that I succeeded in moving forward. I remained strong this past year and when I was asked to defend myself and my mental illness, for the umpteenth time, I said no. I didn’t falter; not once, even though the year ended with hate mail from three people I care deeply about.

…but that’s another blog.

I’ve become stronger and I’ve learned how to believe in myself and the decisions I make instead of doubting myself all the time. I no longer find myself looking for approval or having to bounce my ideas off someone that cares more about how my decisions will affect them instead of how they will affect me.

Not only that, I’m finally able to trust in the love coming from my husband’s family and that’s huge. For me it feels like love and attention have always come at a cost and knowing there’s a family that loves me for me instead of what I can do for them, makes me feel like I finally belong.

Going forward the decisions I make will continue to be about myself and what is good for me and I truly hope you will do the same and make your life about you because it’s time. You and I may be living with mental illness, but we’re warriors and I believe that if we stick together the sky is our new limit. Let’s make 2019 about us and learning how to live our lives authentically, instead of worrying about everyone else. Happy New Year!

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.




“So, What Do You Know for Sure?”(approx. 2-3 min. read)

I’m in love with my new therapist!! I never, ever thought I would say that about a therapist, but this one has helped me more in two sessions than almost anyone else I’ve seen over the years and I truly think he’s going to be able to help me get past my past; I’m going to call him Paul for the purpose of this blog.

One of the biggest struggles for me is believing in myself and I’m sure it’s a struggle for anyone that was abused. Our abusers make sure that they discredit us so that no one, and I mean no one, will believe our story. They manipulate us into thinking that we can’t think for ourselves, and when we do think for ourselves, they criticize our decisions and bash us down so that we don’t know what to think. They make us doubt our ability to make a decision and we feel the need to question almost every thought that goes through our heads.

Its what gaslighters do, period, and that’s the reason I decided to give therapy another chance. As you know, I’ve been a victim far too long and I knew it was time that I came up with some solutions to shut those deceitful, voices down before it’s too late to enjoy my life and that’s what Paul is teaching me to do.

During our first session, Paul told me about a sort of tradition the local farmers do when they meet up with each other in the farm fields. He said that they lean with their backs up against their property fences, look at each other, and say, “So, what do you know for sure?”

I don’t know about you, but my brain is always in overdrive and a lot of the time it feels there’s this constant buzzing going on, kind of like a hornet’s nest that’s just been knocked out of a tree. It’s loud and raucous and I feel almost like I’m going to come unhinged as the negative thoughts bounce around inside my head trying to find a way out.

During these moments, there doesn’t seem to be anything that I know for sure.

…but and it’s a big but, I’ve used Paul’s words quite a few times over the last two weeks and those six words are starting to work at helping me silence the buzzing. I’m starting to believe in myself for the first time ever and I’m no longer basing my existence on rumours, especially the one about me having Munchausen’s syndrome. These things I know for sure.

Stay safe, stay strong and try to remember to ask yourself what you know for sure the next time someone is trying to get inside your head. Thanks for following.


Are You a Victim of Gaslighting? - August 16, 2018

It Might Be a Horrible Thing to Say, but Try Not to Judge Me… (approx. 5 - 6 min. read)

Eleven days ago, I was sitting in front of my computer while I was waiting for my (new) friend Bethany to answer her phone at the local hardware store. It was a Saturday, so I knew it would take a while, but I needed to check on an order. I’m not good at just sitting doing nothing while I wait; so, I decided to check my emails while I waited, and as I scrolled through them to see if there was anything important, I saw an email that made my heart skip a beat.

I clicked on it and when the email opened, I saw that I’d been tagged along with some of my biological family. It was surreal because as you know most of my family hasn’t talked to me in years, yet here I was tagged in an email.

As the “spinning wait cursor,” or “beach ball;” as some people call it, started to spin I wondered to myself if it was the news I had been waiting for?

I realize that some of you might think that’s a horrible thing to say, but please don’t judge me. Most of the people following me, and reading my blogs, know how I’ve been treated by most of my family, and they get it. But, and it’s always a big but, if you haven’t been following me, you might not understand my reaction so I’m going to suggest you check out some of the links below before reading on.

Anyway, when the spinning wait cursor stopped turning, there in front of me was an email that said,

Hi Folks;

We heard the news about Uncle Steven last night. Sending special love to you all this morning. I don’t have email addresses for everyone so hope you’ll pass it on.

Love and hugs,


At the same time, I was processing what I just read, I heard Bethany’s voice say ‘hello,’ and instead of saying it back to her, I uttered the words, “I think my father died.” I heard Bethany say what, and that brought me back to the task at hand and instead of repeating what I had just said, I asked her when my order for kitchen cabinets would be coming in.

She asked me to hold the line while she checked, so I took advantage of the opportunity and quickly typed a reply to James asking how my father died? Shortly after I’d sent my reply, Bethany came back on the line and told me my cabinets would be arriving the end of the week. I distractedly thanked her and hung up the phone. All I could think about was the email because part of me knew what it meant, but I needed to know for sure.

An hour went by, and I just couldn’t seem to concentrate on anything except for the email, and I found myself checking every half hour to see if there was a response from James, but there was nothing.

As I watched the hours tick by, I became aware of a persistent feeling in my gut and I knew there wouldn’t be any more emails. A couple years back I had been told by someone in my family that certain members of our family were concerned that I would show up at said family member’s funerals when they died, so I totally expected the silence.

Days went by and still, nothing, no phone calls from anyone in my biological family, and I felt completely alienated. I thought there would be people that would reach out after hearing the news about my father, but like it was with James, there was only silence and it felt like a huge betrayal to me.

Over the next three days, I googled Steven’s full name at least twice every day to see if there was anything about his death, but it wasn’t until the fourth day that an obituary finally appeared.

As I opened it and started reading the words in front of me, I realized I was holding my breath. So many people had told me that I would miss him when he was gone, that I would have regrets but as I started reading, I knew that wasn’t the case. The first sentence was that Steven had died peacefully at a hospice close to where he lived, so that meant he had suffered in the last hours, if not months before his death and I didn’t really need to read anymore, but I did.

After I’d read the obituary, I got up from the computer, walked into the bathroom and shut the door behind me. It was as automatic as putting a car into first gear, and I can’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t gone into the bathroom to cry; it’s almost like I’m ashamed to show my feelings.

What’s worse is sometimes I can’t cry unless I get into the shower and turn the water on, but that day, I sat on the seat of the toilet and started to whimper immediately. Then my whimpering turned into sobs and my sobs turned into blubbering and as I sat there with tears running down my face, I started to think I’d lost complete control of my senses because I cried for hours.

Not because I was sad about my father’s death, but because I was sad for me. Sad that things hadn’t been different between him and me, and sad knowing that nothing can or will ever change that because now he’s gone.

…but, and like I mentioned earlier it’s always a big but; I don’t have any regrets. I feel stronger than I have in decades, and the sense of freedom knowing that he can never criticize or lie about me (ever again!) has given me this incredible feeling of elation, and I’m going to run with that …like the friggin’ wind!

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.













**Names have been changed to protect certain individuals.

It Feels like I’ve Been Holding My Breath... (approx. 6 – 7 min. read)

About fifteen months ago I wrote a blog called, “Leaving the Shire.” Since that time, my husband, Gary and I have packed up and moved our suitcases nine times while we set about building a house and sometime over the next four weeks, we’ll make our tenth and final move into our forever home.

It’s been extremely difficult, and the expression “living like a fish out of water,” describes how I feel to a T. I need order and control over my environment, especially when it comes to my safety and we've stayed in places over the last four hundred and sixty days, that have made me feel less than safe, but I feel like I'm different. I'm fanatical about locking my doors and unless I’m outside in the yard, my doors are always locked and if I’m in the yard, I need to be able to see the door that I've left unlocked. Which means that if I’m in the front yard, the front door is unlocked but the back doors are locked, and when I'm in the backyard, the back door is unlocked, and the front door is looked.

 This obsessiveness, for lack of a better word, to always have my doors locked may seem like a little much to most people, but I’m afraid of the outside world and most of the people in it and if I didn’t have a bird’s eye view to any compromised doorways, I'd be afraid that someone would enter my house without me knowing. If that happened, I would start this battle in my head about whether I was safe going inside the house and the only thing that would quiet that battle was to verify that I was safe - beyond a shadow of a doubt. Verifying that its safe means grabbing a large kitchen knife and doing a full-blown search of every nook and cranny of the house, and I mean EVERY nook and cranny. Because until I've done that, I won't be able to settle in or feel safe.

 I've tried to be different and not to be so obsessive about making myself feel safe, but it’s either I do the search, so I can reassure myself in order to let the fear go or I obsess about it until I eventually give in any way. It seems to be completely out of my control and unless I confirm, in my mind, that there is no one hiding in the closet or under the bed waiting for me to go to sleep …so that they can rape or murder me in the middle of the night, I’ll lie awake all night in fear.

And don’t go trying to tell me it’s irrational, because there’s a part of my brain that knows that it’s irrational, but there’s a bigger part of my brain; the amygdala, that’s relentless in trying to convince me that I’m being rational. It’s inexorable and my brain continually reminds me that bad things have happened to me before and they can and will happen again.

 Anyway, here we are at the end of October 2018. October 20th should have been moving day, but due to many, many circumstances beyond our control, our house isn’t ready and I’m thinking that it’s going to be at least a couple more weeks before we’ll be at the point that the city will give us our occupancy permit.

 It feels like I’ve been holding my breath in anticipation forever and I’m about ready to burst. My health has taken a severe hit and I’ve just filled a prescription for Metformin for the first time in three years because I’ve got Type II diabetes again. Plus, the fact that I can’t be in the cold for more than thirty seconds before my fingers are white and tingling from Raynaud’s syndrome; another stress-induced issue and I’m not sure how much more I can take…

Most everything about the build is back on track and we're almost done, but our heating source has been back ordered and the place we ordered it from has no idea when it will arrive. In fact, when Gary drove down to the place we purchased it from to find out what was going on, the guy that owns the store admitted that he had been avoiding Gary because he didn’t know what to tell him …without a heat source, we won’t get our occupancy permit and we'll have to find somewhere to live out the winter – again.

The worst thing about not being able to finish the build and get our occupancy permit, is that the insurance company that's providing our builder’s risk insurance, told us they won’t insure our house unless we’re working on it. They said that far too many people get to the stage we’re currently at and for one reason or another, they aren’t able to finish their homes. Whether they’ve had financial issues, or not enough time, some people can’t complete their build and instead, they burn down their homes to claim the insurance. Hence the reason insurance companies are protecting themselves by cancelling the insurance until the homeowners are able to start building again.

If our insurance is cancelled, we will be at risk of losing everything, and I keep trying to tell myself not to stress; that everything is going to work out, but it’s a constant struggle to win the war that's raging inside my head. I try to remind myself that things have worked out up until this point, but my overactive, catastrophizing brain seems to have another agenda and I’m not sure how to take back control of my thoughts. I can’t seem to get the negative thoughts out of my head and like I mentioned previously, it’s really starting to cause a lot of stress to my body and I need it to stop before I end up with another stress induced illness.

 …which brings me to the main reason for writing this week's blog.

 For the last six years, I’ve been pretty much trying to deal with my PTSD symptoms on my own. One of the last people I saw for help, told me they felt sorry for me?? Not only was what they said extremely unhelpful, it sent me spiralling into an abyss that's taken me years to climb out of. 

…but, and it's always a big but with me, I decided to give it another try and called the local mental health unit this past week. Apparently, they have a program that’s covered by OHIP; which is the provincial health plan in Ontario Canada, and I have my first appointment on November 6th, only seven days away. I’m really not sure what to expect, but it’s been ages since I have talked to anyone outside my “circle” and I feel that anything I do at this point to help me move forward will be beneficial in helping to lower my stress level, as well as my blood sugars.

 Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.


P.S. In case you’re interested, here’s our timeline:

 House to Trailer (Knight’s Beach) (81 days)

Trailer (Knight’s Beach) to Trailer (Property) (11 days)

Trailer to J&C’s (friends) (23 days)

J&C’s to Best Western (Laddie’s training) (7 days)

Best Western to J&C’s (38 days)

J&C’s to Mom & Dad Lytle’s (77 days)

Mom & Dad Lytle’s to E’s (friend) (5 days)

E’s to Billy & Joe’s (names have been changed) (51 days)

Billy & Joe’s (names have been changed)to Our property (167 days and counting)









Living with an Invisible Illness with a Very Visible Dog – Part Two (approx. 8 – 9 minute read)

If you’ve been following along you know that we’ve moved away from all things familiar and we’re building a house. It’s been extremely difficult because I’ve never lived more than sixty kilometers from where I grew up, but I think I’m doing pretty good.

Ever since we moved here we’ve been going into “town” to do laundry and pick up groceries once a week; mostly on Thursdays. For the first month or so, Gary, my husband would stay with Laddie, my service dog and me while we did the laundry, and then we’d all do the grocery shopping before heading back home.

As time passed, and the months rolled by, I got more comfortable with my surroundings and Gary started leaving Laddie and me to do the laundry while he did the running around. It made a lot more sense for Gary to do the running around while I was doing the laundry because it meant we were taking less time away from building the house.

Now don’t get me wrong because it was really rough at first and I had to ask Gary to come into the laundromat to check out who was there before he left me alone. If I didn’t feel comfortable, he would stay with me until I did. I started bringing my journal, so I could write about how I was feeling instead of acknowledging the people around me, and it really helped – still does. I’ve found that when my head is down, and I’m not making eye contact with anyone, people pay way less attention to Laddie and me.

Honestly, you’d think that people would get that he’s a service dog and that he’s working, but his jacket makes people curious instead of deterring them from making contact with me. It’s awful …I even had a cashier in the local hardware store walk towards us and ask us if it was okay to give Laddie a treat – with TREATS in her hand!!

Gary isn’t even allowed to give him a treat and here was this stranger approaching us and as well trained as Laddie is, he couldn’t help but be interested in the delicious smell emanating from this person walking towards us. I was absolutely mortified because Laddie started wagging his tail and turned away from me and almost immediately my anxiety started because I had absolutely no control of the situation and neither did Laddie.

In fact, I had to scold him to get his attention back on me and you’d think that would have given her the hint that she was out of line, but no. Even after I told her no, she kept coming at me exclaiming that he was so beautiful, and she just wanted to give him a treat.

She even felt the need to explain to me that they were good treats, but I digress…

This week I decided to go into town to do laundry by myself, it wasn’t really a choice, it was more about practicality than anything else. The weather’s turning cold and we still need three to four weeks to finish the house before the city will let us live in it and I’ve come to the realization that taking Gary away to help me do laundry isn’t conducive to getting our house finished. So, yesterday I woke up feeling pretty good; especially mentally and decided that even though it wasn’t Thursday, I was going into town to do laundry.

I’ve learned over the last decade or so to push myself when I’m having a good day, and to back off when I’m not. I’ve found that it causes less stress; therefore, less physical illness, and it’s a good way to challenge myself and help me to get the best out of my life, even though I’m a post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), survivor. So off I went.

The drive into town went fairly well and I only gave one guy the finger for following me too closely (that’s a story for another time), but as I got closer to town my anxiety started to get the best of me. I tried to focus on my breathing, but I have a lot of trouble trying to concentrate on my breathing when I start to get anxious, so I turned on Evanescence so that I could sing. I love singing and when I sing, breathing seems to come naturally, so I cranked the tunes and sang along with Amy Lee; the lead singer of Evanescence for the rest of the drive.

When I got to the laundromat the parking lot was full, so I knew it was packed. I thought about turning around and going back home but quickly dismissed the idea because I knew I would be disappointed with myself if I didn’t at least try to do this by myself.

I walked through the door, spotted an empty washing machine and headed towards it; I needed three machines, but one would get me started. I walked over to it and told Laddie to lie down in front of me, and he did, but he started rubbing his head against the ground as he always does when he first lies down. I know it’s because of the harness he wears when we’re out and the fact that he hates it, but he needs to wear it to prevent him from pulling. Unfortunately, a lady standing about ten feet from me noticed what Laddie was doing and she tried to spark up a conversation by asking me if his Halti/harness was new?

I didn’t think she was talking to me at first because I was lost or at least trying to get lost, in my own world, so I heard her repeat the question and that’s when I realized she was talking to me. It’s strange because Laddie was the only dog in the room and part of me knew that the question couldn’t have been for anyone else, but I have a habit of zoning out when I’m stressed. I turned to look at her and said no, he hates it, and then I went back to loading the washing machine – hoping she would get the hint and stop talking to me.

I finished loading the machine, all the while feeling extremely conscious of the people around me. I knew that once I was finished loading it, I was going to have to look for more empty machines, as well as a place for me to sit. So, I dragged out the task of putting detergent and coins into the machine for as long as I could.

Once I was done, I looked around to find two more machines close to the one I’d already chosen, but like I mentioned the place was packed, and I had to use machines in different areas of the room. Which for most people isn’t a big deal, but all I could think about was what if I forgot where a load was, and there were a couple of times when I panicked because I honestly couldn’t remember which machines I had put my stuff in.

Once I was finished loading the last two machines, I spotted a chair that wasn’t that close to anyone else’s chair, so I headed over to it and sat down. I instructed Laddie to lie at my feet, which he did and then I proceeded to pull out my journal, so I could bury my nose in it before anyone else tried to spark up a conversation.

Unfortunately, or should I say, fortunately, the guy sitting in the chair to my left asked me how long I’d had Laddie? I turned towards the voice, wondering where this conversation was going to go and saw this kind old face smiling back at me, and the answer spilled from my lips before I knew I was talking. Then the kind face asked me why I had a service dog and the answer to that question spilled from my lips just as quickly and it was actually the truth.

When I’m feeling as anxious as I was in that particular moment, I usually tell people I’m training Laddie. I’ve found that it’s the easiest answer to give people because it usually ends the conversation, but for some reason, I told him that I had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and how I ended up with the illness.

Unbeknownst to me, the lady that had asked me about Laddie’s Halti/harness was listening in on our conversation and when the man got up to check on his laundry, she came over to me and told me that she’d recently been diagnosed with PTSD.

As she told me about her diagnosis and how relieved she was to finally know that there was a name for what has been ailing her for decades, she started to cry and when anyone cries around me, I cry - I just can’t help it. The next thing I knew we were standing in the laundromat, tears streaming down our faces, totally oblivious to anyone around us. We realized that we’d found a connection because of PTSD; something that usually alienates us from other people and the next thing I knew I was giving her my contact information and telling her to call me.

Who would have thought? I challenged myself to push my limits and nothing bad happened to me, more importantly, I’m pretty sure Laddie and I ended up making a new friend.

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.

Just Because We Have PTSD, Doesn't Mean We Can't Dream! (approx. 8½ - 9½ min. read)

You ever think about building a house? I did, especially when I saw a house that had some of, or all the features I thought the perfect house should have. I would turn to whoever was sitting beside me at the time and say, that’s going to be mine when I win the million. It’s not that I wasn’t grateful for what I already had but I believe that it’s always nice to dream.

Fast forward to September of 2016 and it started to look like that dream might become a reality. My husband, Gary was forced into retirement by the company he’d been with for almost thirty years and we couldn’t afford to stay where we were. Gary and I had both been married to other people before we got together, and we’d had pretty nasty divorces. Needless to say, we were both starting over from scratch and we had a pretty hefty mortgage. Add the fact that I’m on disability into the equation and we knew we had to make some serious changes.

At first, we built an apartment in the basement of our little house on Safari Road in Millgrove, Ontario. We thought that the rental income would help to cover our expenses so that we could continue living there. The trouble was, we didn’t take into consideration what having a stranger living in our house would do to my mental state. Especially when I couldn’t control who they brought into the house, or the fact that they weren’t as diligent with locking the front door as me.

Leaving the door unlocked one time probably wouldn’t have been a big deal for me to get over. I probably would have gone through two, maybe three weeks of steadily checking to see if it was locked and then slowly tapered off until I wasn’t checking at all. It’s how I’ve become accustomed to dealing with my triggers, but just as I was starting to get comfortable, I would find the door unlocked - again.

It was awful and as the first month stretched into the second, I found myself getting less and less sleep.

Around the end of the second month of having a tenant, Gary’s part-time/full-time job slowed right down, and we decided it was time to stop struggling with everything and put the house up for sale. It was a difficult choice because we knew we’d have to move out of the city in order to afford another house, but for us, it was inevitable.

Some people said we could move into an apartment but living in an apartment is not an option for us and never will be. First of all, I’m way too afraid of people to live in an apartment building. I barely leave my house now and I know that the thought of not being able to get out my front door, or to my car without meeting up with at least one person would be detrimental to my mental health. Not to mention that Gary didn’t want to live in an apartment either, especially during his retirement years. He’s a tinkerer and not having a place to tinker or grow a garden would make his retirement years miserable and that’s just not what life is about.

So, we told our family and friends what we were up against and even though they were upset about it, we set about looking for a house. In the beginning, we looked fairly close to where our kids and their families lived, but we couldn’t find what we were looking for, so we expanded our perimeter by two to three hours and went North instead of southwest.

We looked for months and couldn’t find anything we could afford, and that was when we started talking about building our own home. We knew it would be hard, especially because of our ages, but after crunching the numbers, we decided it was our best option.

The next step was to find a piece of property and we were pretty specific about what we wanted and that was at least five acres, with as few neighbours as possible. We also wanted enough space to have a forty by forty vegetable garden, as well as enough area to build an outbuilding for Gary to tinker and build things in.

You would think it would be difficult to find, but it wasn’t long before we found the perfect spot. It’s ten-acres; seven acres of which are protected by the conservation authority, so there’s no possibility of anyone ever building behind us. Furthermore, the property to the right of us is also protected by the conservation authority, so we’ll only have one neighbour …and because of the size of our property, there will be just over two hundred feet of bush in between us and them. So, it’s perfect!

Since we found our little slice of heaven, it feels like life has been a whirlwind! It’s been so busy! I’ve been in charge of all the building materials and making sure that everything is here when we need it; not a minute early or a minute late. It’s a new build so there is nowhere to store material but if we don’t have it here when the guys need it, we’re having to cut the work days short, and the warm weather isn’t here long.

Then there’s the organizing of the cement truck for the footings and the pumper truck to pump the cement where it needs to be. Let me tell you, I almost lost it with these guys because they were absolute jerks! The driver of the pumper truck had a blowout and wasn’t able to make it to our place until 5:00 pm - on a Friday! He seemed to be okay with it, but the guy loading the cement on the conveyor belt was less than amused and kept letting the belt go dry. This, in turn, made the cement shoot out of the hose in chunks which made Gary’s job extremely hard.

Then there were the roof trusses, which are a structural framework of timbers that are designed to bridge the space above your living space as well as provide support for your roof. We ordered them in June and we still didn’t have the trusses the beginning of September. The company we ordered them claimed they were having issues with some of their machinery, as well as some staffing issues, but we needed to have our trusses to move forward – it was imperative.

The house we’re building is built on cinder blocks and has a crawl space instead of a basement, which means the insulation has to go in the floor instead of in the walls.  Once the floor is down, it has to be covered so that it doesn’t get wet, and without roof trusses, it was going to be difficult to move forward without damaging thousands and thousands of dollars of work.

Gary and I discussed the dilemma we were having with the manufacturer of the trusses and we felt that Gary should step in. Luckily once Gary read the supplier the riot act, they were able to build our trusses and get them to us the next day!

Last but not least there was the company that delivered the cinder blocks…

I don’t know if you know much about cinder blocks, but they weigh about thirty pounds each and they’re quite large. We needed just under a thousand of them; nine hundred and ninety-two of them, and Gary figured he could move three at a time in the wheelbarrow. I worked it out and he would have to make three hundred and thirty trips. Each of those trips was walking approximately one hundred feet and I’m thinking it would have taken days.

I couldn’t see Gary doing that because not only would it be exhausting, we didn’t have the time. So, I negotiated a lift truck into the quote the company gave me so that the blocks could be placed around the foundation instead of at the bottom of our driveway.

When the driver showed up with the blocks, there was no lift truck and you’re not going to believe what I did next. I called the company and told them to take their blocks back to where they came from!! Gary was standing beside the driver when the driver’s boss called him and said that the customer was on the phone demanding they take the blocks back. The driver turned to Gary with an astonished look on his face and said your wife is telling my boss you don’t want the blocks.

Gary told the guy to hang on and came to find me because the Davina he knows is non-confrontational and he just couldn’t believe that I had said that to anyone especially a stranger. When he found me, I had this cheeky grin on my face and I told him that is was all straightened out and the lift truck would be arriving to move the cinder blocks within the hour.

I still have that cheeky grin on my face lol! It’s like I’ve grown a set of gonads since we moved up here and I feel different but in a good way. I’m not sure how to explain it, but I feel stronger and a lot more confident. Sure, I’m still afraid of my own shadow, but I feel like there’s been a positive change in my life. More importantly, I’m starting to believe that I can live a fulfilling life despite the fact that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will always be waiting in the shadows to try and de-rail my dreams.

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following. 


What the Heck Was I Thinking?! (approx. 5½ - 6½ min. read)

It’s been almost four months since we moved away, and I’ve been doing really well. In fact, two of my closest friends said that I sounded good; different, but good. One of them even said that I was beginning to sound like the old Dee and because she’s known me for decades, I thought I must be doing well for her to have noticed. So, I decided it was time to push my limits and try to do something I used to do prior to being held up.  

I asked around and found a farmer’s market about 20 minutes from where we’re living and decided to ask a girlfriend if she wanted to go with me. Keep in mind that when I asked her I was having a good day; one with very little anxiety. Plus, the fact that she and I were sitting on the deck at the trailer having a few glasses of wine and I was feeling pretty brave.

We’ve always had a vegetable garden during the summer and we’ve always grown things like corn, beets, peas, swiss chard, tomatoes and lettuce, but as you know we’ve been far too busy building a house, so I wanted to go to a farmer’s market. That way I could push the limits and face some fears, as well as get some grocery shopping done at the same time.

When the day came things weren’t quite so kosher, and it was all I could do to not make an excuse as to why I couldn’t go, but we needed vegetables, so I went.

When we arrived at the farmer’s market, there were cars parked everywhere and I immediately started to panic. We found a place to park about a block away from where the market was, so I parked the car and reluctantly got out and then I walked around to the back of my SUV and opened the hatch to let Laddie; my service dog, out of the car.

Laddie was sitting there looking at me with those big hazel eyes and I reached out and put both my hands on his neck in hopes that I could ground myself and he took the opportunity to lean forward and lick my face. I placed Laddie’s jacket on his back so that he knew he needed to go into work mode, and as I reached around him to fasten the clips, he licked my face again.

Some of you might think that his licking my face is gross, but I love dogs and I see this as his way of putting his arms around me and giving me a reassuring hug. He’s a dog and dogs know that you’re stressed before you do, and he could smell the sweat and stress hormones emanating from my body and licking my face was his way of saying, hey, it’s okay, I’m here.

I finished putting his jacket on, gave him another pet on the side of his neck and told him to jump down out of the car. He jumped down and the next thing I knew we were walking in the direction of the market and hundreds of people.

There were people everywhere and I thought to myself that if I had come alone, or with Gary, I would have turned around and headed back the way I came – without hesitation. But I wasn’t with Gary, I was with a friend and she didn’t know the extent of my PTSD, so I tried to pretend I was okay and I started to walk towards the crowd. Unfortunately my heart wasn’t on the same page and it started to race and that was when the sweat started seeping out of every pore of my body. 

I reminded myself to breathe, and then I took my eyes off the crowd and moved my attention to Laddie. I told him to watch me, which was his signal to start working and then we both started moving forward. My legs felt like they were made of rubber and I was really unsteady on my feet. I sensed the tell-tale signs of a panic attack and my head felt like it was literally going to fall off my neck and topple to the ground.

My only thought was that I had to get out of there, but how? We had just arrived and other than making up an excuse that I was sick, there was no getting out of the predicament I had gotten myself into. I was worried that if I told my friend that I wanted to go back to the car and wait for her there, she would ask all kinds of questions and I didn’t want that, so I forged forward.

Later when we talked about it, she said she had no idea that I was freaking out, only that I was walking so fast, she had trouble keeping up with me.

Honestly, I don’t remember much because when I’m that freaked out, I kind of go into a… zone for lack of a better word. It was almost like I was detached from my body and watching what I was doing from a spot over my head; like I was a bystander and all I wanted to do was get the heck out of there!

The worst thing about the situation was as I was trying to work my way through the crowd, people kept mumbling under their breaths (loudly), that dogs weren’t allowed. Not only that, they either cringed as they made contact with us, or they felt it was okay to touch us.

Their ignorance made me really angry and I felt like screaming at everyone to get out of my personal space, but instead, I kept walking forward. With each step, I told myself over and over that I was okay; that the exit was getting closer and then I went into the zone.

If you don’t know what the zone is, it’s my safe place and when I’m there nothing else exists except getting myself to safety. I feel like I’m not fully aware of what I’m saying or doing when I’m in the zone, only that I need to get to safety and apparently this time what I did, was race ahead of my friend so I could get back to the car.

Once I got home, the disappointment in myself and the fact that I couldn’t do something as simple as going to the market, set in and I couldn’t stop crying. I had been in a good place and I really felt like I was ready to be “normal” and do the things that most people are able to do and the realization that I wasn’t ready yet, and might not ever be, really bummed me out.

…but (there always seems to be a but - lol) and it’s a really big but, I stepped way outside my comfort zone and I survived; I may have triggered myself, but I survived. Next time and there will be a next time, I’ll go earlier in the morning so that there aren’t so many people, and I’ll pick a much smaller venue.

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.

So... Let's Just Say That I Am Making It All Up (approx. 3 -4 min. read)

If you’ve read the comments left on either of these two blogs: I’m Back and Stronger Than Ever, or I Am Down, But I am NOT Out, you know there are people that think I self-diagnosed my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

So, for the purpose of this blog, I’m going to give the nay-sayers the benefit of the doubt and say that I am making all of this up. I’m going to pretend for a moment that their intentions are honest and that what I actually have is Munchausen syndrome and not post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Before we start though, I’m going to clear up the name of the illness because it isn’t called Munchausen syndrome, or Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) anymore. It’s now called factitious disorder (FD), or factitious disorder imposed on another (FDIA) and it’s a mental disorder in which a person seeks attention by inducing or feigning illness in another person, typically a child.

The nay-sayers, pessimists, and cynics are claiming that what I have is FD. That all of the illnesses/injuries I’ve had throughout my life have been self-induced or are figments of my over-active imagination, so I’m going to focus on FD; not FDIA.

In people with FD, the presence of symptoms only occurs when the person is alone; never when they’re with a physician. In fact, most people with FD end up going to multiple physicians and or, hospitals trying to get people to believe them and their forged symptoms.

Their medical history is inconsistent, yet extensive and most people diagnosed with FD are unwilling to allow family or friends to meet with their medical professionals. The professionals believe that the reason for this reluctance is that people with FD are concerned that their deception will be uncovered and people will find out that they’re lying. Consequently, people with FD always make sure to go to their appointments alone.

People with FD are willing and eager to go to the hospital to have tests done, and they will go to multiple physicians or clinics to obtain treatment if their own physicians don’t believe them.

People with FD have identity and self-esteem issues and I believe it’s because the risk factors for FD are having a personal or family history of neglect, abuse, serious illness or other maltreatment.

The National Health Service (NHS) in the UK identified possible causes of FD to be:

· Emotional trauma or illness during childhood – this often resulted in extensive medical attention

·  A personality disorder – a mental health condition that causes patterns of abnormal thinking and behaviour

·  A grudge against authority figures of healthcare professionals.

The NHS also believe that FD may be caused by childhood trauma, such as parental neglect or abandonment and as a result, the child’s unresolved issues with their parents cause them to fake illness. The NHS isn’t really sure why a person reacts this way, but they believe that it could have to do with masochism; a compulsion to punish themselves because they feel unworthy and undeserving.

FD is a fictitious illness, and for the most part, the disorder has no physical manifestations or appearances. So, when a person is constantly saying there’s something wrong, and there’s never, ever a definitive diagnosis for their ailments, it’s pretty easy to figure out that a person has FD.

The only illness that I’ve been diagnosed with that doesn’t show itself physically is PTSD and theoretically, I could be making that up, but illnesses like shingles, Type II diabetes, Reynaud’s syndrome and torn rotator cuffs are visible and pretty hard to forge.

But and it’s a huge but, let’s just say that what I have is FD…

FD is associated with severe emotional complications and people that are diagnosed with this disorder are at risk of death or other health problems because of their purposeful actions of trying to harm themselves.

Subsequently, people that are diagnosed with FD are at a higher risk for substance abuse, as well as suicide attempts and I believe that survivors of FD don’t need ignorance or bullying, they need help and support.

In conclusion, whether I have PTSD, FD, or some other mental illness, it’s still an illness; whether I’m making it up or not. In addition, if these people really do love and care about me; like they claim, why aren’t they offering me a hand up instead of constantly kicking me while I’m down?

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.






Are You a Victim of Gaslighting? (approx. 5 - 6 min. read)

The first time I heard the term gaslighting was about three years ago and I didn’t think it had anything to do with me or the abuse I’ve endured. I used terms like manipulation or brainwashing to describe my reality, but let’s look at the word and where it originated because maybe it is a better term for describing what happens to someone that is raised around a narcissist, or narcissists.

It’s an odd word and I wanted to know why we’re using the word ‘gaslighting?’ Like I said, to me it was brainwashing, not gaslighting, but then I did some more research and it makes total sense to me why they use this particular term.

First of all, I found out that a gas light was a form of artificial lighting, that was used prior to the invention of electricity. Gas lighting had quite a few flaws like leaky pipes, low gas pressure, fires, and suffocations, but it was a popular method of illumination for centuries.

Now I’m sure you’re wondering what this light has to do with psychological manipulation, and I’m going to start with the Encyclopedia Brittanica. The Brittanica defines gaslighting as an ‘elaborate and insidious technique of deception and psychological manipulation, usually practiced by a single deceiver, or “gaslighter,” on a single victim over an extended period. Its effect is to gradually undermine the victim’s confidence in his own ability to distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong, or reality from appearance, thereby rendering him pathologically dependent on the gaslighter in his thinking or feelings.’

The definition goes back to the late 1930’s where a British playwright, named Patrick Hamilton created a play called “Gas Light.” His play was about a form of psychological abuse where false information was presented to the victim, with the sole purpose of making the victim doubt their own perception or memories.

Then in 1944, Arthur Hornblow Jr. produced a film adaptation of the play called, “Gaslight,” where Gregory, the husband, manipulates Paula, his wife, into thinking that she’s going insane. Gregory leads Paula to believe that she’s seeing and hearing things that aren’t really there. Gregory kept switching the lights on and off in the attic which made the gaslights dim and brighten to create the lights to flicker. When Paula expressed her concern about the lights, Gregory would tell her it was all inside her head, which made her believe she was losing touch with reality. Rendering her pathologically dependent on Gregory in his thinking or feelings.

Gaslighters tell blatant lies and you know that they’re lying, but they’re trying to set up a precedent to keep you tottering on the edge of their reality and yours, so that you don’t know what to believe.

Gaslighters deny that they’ve said certain things, even though you know the truth, they deny it - outright. They want you to question your reality and at the same time brainwash you into accepting theirs.

Gaslighters use the people and things that are close to your heart as bullets, that rip through you causing mass destruction of your life and the relationships in it.

My gaslighters attacked the very foundation of my being by telling my kids that I never wanted them. They told them I had Munchausen’s syndrome and that I was incapable of taking care of anyone but myself and they used things like my moving away as proof that I never loved them.

Gaslighters wear people down, but they do it slowly and deliberately so that you aren’t even aware that it’s happening to you.

Gaslighters say one thing and then do another.

Gaslighters try to confuse you by praising you for something they previously criticized you for. They want you to question everything that you do in order to keep you tottering on the edge of your reality.

Gaslighters accuse you of being a gaslighter to discredit your character and to distract you from seeing them for who they are.

Gaslighters are masters at what they do, and they know exactly who they can manipulate into joining their army. As you know, my gaslighters have convinced all of my biological family that I’m not right in the head, that nothing I say is the truth. In fact, I just turned down another mediation to prove myself and the things that have happened to me because I know my reality and they can no longer manipulate me.

For decades, I let gaslighters manipulate my every move. I was terrified to make a decision on my own and I had to bounce ideas off everybody, before making a choice. I was so afraid to make a mistake that would shame my biological family that I found myself unable to make a move without asking someone what they thought I should do.

In fact, when I discovered that my second husband (he’s now an ex), was cheating on me, I found myself standing in a phone booth trying to figure out who to call? I had undeniable proof that my ex-husband was cheating, yet I had to bounce that proof off someone before I made the decision to leave him. Worse yet were the people I chose to bounce the idea off of because I knew they would turn it around on me, but I decided to reach out anyway.

It was decades ago, but I still remember taking in a deep breath before putting a quarter in the slot. I dialed the number and waited for someone to pick up, hoping it wouldn’t be the step-parent, but it was. I briefly described what was going on and told the step-parent that I was standing in a phone booth, but all I got was, you’re thirty-five years old, it’s high time that you figured this shit out on your own, and then the line went dead.

I remember crying and feeling completely lost, but I got through it, just like I’ve made it through so many other troubled times. I believe that phone call, so many years ago was the start of my breaking free of the gaslighters that were destroying my life.

Since then I’ve distanced myself from the gaslighters and nay-sayers, as well as their version of the Stepford wives. I’m done being subservient to anyone or being so perfect and obedient that outsiders think I’m a robot spewing other people’s truths instead of my own.  

Stay safe and stay strong, and for goodness sake, get yourself far, far away from the gaslighters in your life.








"911 Operator, What's Your Emergency?" (Approx. 10 - 11 min. read)

Not sure where to start…

Last Friday shortly after my husband, Gary, went to bed he came limping out of the bedroom with a look of excruciating pain on his face. I immediately got up, went over to him and asked if there was anything I could do? He said, cramp, oh god, cramp, went into the bathroom and shut the door behind him.

I waited a couple of seconds, then went back and sat down. Gary had been complaining quite frequently over the last couple of weeks about cramps in his legs and his one arm, so I didn’t think much of it. I figured it had something to do with the fact that he was working so hard physically, and it had been really hot.

A couple of minutes went by and I heard this really loud thump and I knew in my heart that it was the sound of his body hitting the floor. I called out to him expecting him to say, it’s okay babe, I slipped, but nothing came back, except this deafening silence.

I think I was on my feet and racing toward the bathroom before he had a chance to respond, so when I got there I knocked uncertainly and called out to him again. I don’t usually call him Gary, I call him babe or lover and I heard myself say, babe, again, before pulling open the door.

The bathroom in our trailer is just under twenty-five square feet. The toilet is on the right of the door, the sink is on the left and the shower runs along the back wall with a floor to ceiling sized linen cupboard to the right of it. The shower stall is raised about six inches off the floor and has a track that holds three glass doors that retract into themselves, and there is a small bench, and I mean small, on the right side of the stall.

There lying half in and half out of the shower was Gary; my rock. His feet and legs were outside of the shower, and his upper body was slouched against the bench, with his head cocked to the side in an awkward position.

As I leaned over his lifeless body, I remember saying babe, oh my god babe, babe, over and over again, trying to get some sort of response from him. I put my hand on his shoulder and shook him gently, but he didn’t even groan. I remember thinking to myself that I must be dreaming, that there was no way that this could be happening, and then I slapped him on the side of his face (gently) like I’d seen so many other traumatized people do on T.V. and begged him to wake up.

I’m not sure how much time lapsed but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t more than a couple of seconds and I raced to where I’d left my phone. I picked it up and dialed 911 as I headed back towards the bathroom, all the while talking to Gary, so he could hear my voice. I’m not sure when I’d started crying, but the tears were spilling down my face and onto the screen of my phone and it was hard to focus on the numbers. I remember thinking that I needed my glasses, but I told myself there was no time, that I had to get back to my husband.

When I got back to the washroom, I tucked the phone in between my chin and shoulder so I could hear when the operator picked up. Then I put all my effort into lifting my husband out of the shower. I wasn’t really sure why I needed to get him out of the shower, because he looked pretty comfortable, but there was something telling me to get him out of the shower.

I knew I should be making sure Gary had a pulse, but instead, I was hellbent on getting him up. My thoughts went to all the times I’d been watching a movie where the actors weren’t quick enough to start cardiopulmonary resuscitation CPR, and I’d yell at them to hurry up! And it made me realize that I’d been way too hard on them.

When you’re seeing a situation like this one, as a bystander, it’s easy to stay calm and know what to do because you’re completely detached from the situation, but when you’re in it? When you can literally feel the adrenaline coursing through your veins, like lava streaming down the side of a volcano? It’s dreadful! I couldn’t seem to think rationally, I was pacing like a caged animal and I just couldn’t stay focused long enough to figure out what I was supposed to be doing. 

Then somewhere out of the abyss, I heard a voice say, “911 operator, what’s your emergency?” and I started rambling about a million miles an hour, telling this woman that I couldn’t get my husband to wake up.

Again, I felt like I was in a dream, that it was all so surreal; this man is all I have in the world. He’s my friend, my confidante, my rock, and here he was lying in a pile, completely void of all colour and not moving or showing any signs of life.

I’m not sure how much more time elapsed, because I was in such a state of panic, but Gary lifted his head up and looked up at me. I couldn’t have been more elated, and I smiled at him, but the look he gave me, stopped me in my tracks because he was angry. He heard that I was speaking to someone and when he realized who I was talking to he told me vehemently that he didn’t need an ambulance and that I needed to hang up the phone.

He told me later that he had absolutely no idea that he’d blacked out, and he was sorry, but at the time it almost made me lose my mind and I told him he was going to the hospital whether he liked it or not.

I heard the operator ask me if that was him; was it my husband that was speaking and if he was conscious. I told her he was, and she said to keep him comfortable, but not to give him anything to eat or drink. She went on to say that the ambulance was on its way and then hung up, but not before telling me to call back if anything changed.

I reluctantly put down the phone because now I was alone, and I was so afraid that something bad was going to happen to my man before the paramedics got there. I turned to Gary and asked him to wrap his arms around my neck, and then I gently lifted him out of the shower and onto the toilet. He sat there for a few minutes to make sure he wasn’t going to pass out again, and then I helped him stand up.

I wanted to just hold him at this point, but I knew that I needed to get him onto the bed, just in case he lost consciousness again, so I put my arm around his waist and guided him towards our bedroom and onto the bed.

I covered him with a blanket, gave him some ice chips because he said he was thirsty, and then went to look out the window to see if the paramedics had arrived yet.

Once I realized that I was alone with my thoughts I really started to cry. I was so afraid that I was going to lose my soulmate and I needed to talk to someone, but I was all by myself. I picked up my phone and dialed my oldest daughter, but before it rang, I hung up. We hadn’t talked for months and I was pretty sure she wouldn’t answer, and in my present state, I knew I couldn’t handle the rejection.

Here I was, once again, completely alone with my thoughts; wracking my brains out, trying to figure out what I had done to end up where I was in my life? I just didn’t get it …even if I didn’t have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and it was Munchausen’s syndrome like my biological family keeps saying it is, what family would abandon their own because of a mental illness?

I took another look outside and then headed back to check on Gary. He had absolutely no colour in his face or his body and I was so worried. The thought that something was seriously wrong with my husband entered my head for what seemed like the hundredth time since I heard him hit the floor less than ten minutes earlier. I had never seen him look so deathly pale and I mumbled something about checking to see if the ambulance was here yet and left the room again to go and check.

I was beside myself. I kept pacing back and forth, I couldn’t stop crying and poor Laddie was following me so that he could do his job, but I was too worked up to do anything other than pet him and tell him to go and lie down.

I realized at some point that I’d need a ride back from the hospital, so I called a friend who ironically moved up here from the city, last year; just before we purchased our property. She was still awake, even though it was after midnight and she reassured me that they would be right over. She was true to her word and within five minutes, she was here with her husband and youngest daughter to offer their help and support.

I checked on Gary again, then went to see if the ambulance had gotten there yet, but it hadn’t, so I went and sat on the bed beside my man. He said something to me, but I had to ask him to repeat himself because I couldn’t understand him. He was slurring his words and it sounded like he was wasted but I knew that he wasn’t. I reassured him that he was okay; more for me than for him, and then went and checked to see if the paramedics had arrived yet.

It took a total of twenty minutes for the paramedics and the fire department to arrive and by the time we got Gary to the hospital, I was fully triggered and in fight or flight mode. It turned out to be heat exhaustion and after giving him two bags of I.V. fluids, an Ativan to stop the incessant cramping that taken over his body once he got to the hospital, some potassium, and some calcium, they sent him home.

He’s been doing amazing since he got home and he’s making sure that he’s drinking the home-made electrolyte juice I’ve been making for him. He’s also promised to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day and is back working on building our house, but my head is totally messed up.

All I keep seeing in my head is my man lying unconscious, pale as a ghost and not responding to the sound of my voice. I keep feeling the fear around the fact that he could’ve died and I’m having trouble functioning. I’m terrified to go to sleep at night for fear something might happen, and I’m afraid to nap just in case he forgets to drink and take care of himself and the heat kills him this time.

Yeah, yeah, I know that he didn’t die …clearly, I can see that! Trouble is I’m having a huge issue trying to get my brain on the same page. It keeps showing me what went down, like clips from a movie and I’m having a really hard time trying to convince myself that he’s okay and that this won’t happen again. Worse yet, my brain is trying to convince me that the outcome will be so much worse next time.

…but, and as always, it’s a big but, I will get through this. I know I will because I have always gotten through it in the past. I just need to stop listening to the nay-sayers and cut myself some slack. This is just my PTSD taking over and I need to keep telling myself that I’m having a normal reaction to an abnormal situation and keep moving forward.

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.

P.S. Thanks to the local paramedics, volunteer fire-fighters and 911 operators – you guys rock! You helped us through a traumatic time, traversed our construction site like you’d done it a dozen times and you were so kind and compassionate. I know its part of your job, but I want you to know how much we appreciate how well you took care of my man and me!

P.S.S. Thanks to my friend and her family for her kindness and compassion as well. I’m not sure I will ever be able to repay her for treating Gary and I like part of her family in our time of need, but I will definitely try.

I Finally Found My Group! (approx. 8½ - 9½min. read)

Almost thirteen years ago I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After my diagnosis, I spent the following three to four years going from one mental health provider to the next; I was trying to figure out how I was going to get my life back. I listened to therapists tell me that if I did the work, I would get better and the work they were talking about was cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

During my first year of therapy, I went to a Cognitive Behavioural Centre in Oakville, Ontario, twice a week. In between my appointments I was supposed to do homework that the therapist assigned to me and that was to drive to a place that terrified me and sit there until I felt no fear.

I had been held up at my place of employment and I was terrified to go outside my front door, let alone go and sit somewhere amongst the public, but I tried. It was horrific, and I truly believe that my PTSD got worse instead of better during that first year.

After spending what seemed like an interminable amount of time going to this particular therapist, I asked to see someone else. I believed that if I could get into group therapy along with other survivors, I would find out what helped them get through the triggers, etc. and I would start to heal and be able to move forward.

Trouble was, there were no groups and the reason they gave me for not having any support groups was that “they,” being the mental health industry didn’t think PTSD group therapy would be helpful. They said that they didn’t think a group of survivors would get any benefit from group therapy because we would probably just sit around feeling sorry for ourselves, instead of exchanging helpful ideas.

At this point in my therapy, it had been just over two years since I’d started and instead of getting better, I had gotten so much worse. In fact, I was so terrified of the outside world that the only time I left my house was to go to therapy appointments and I didn’t understand their reasoning behind group therapy, at all.

So, I searched for a PTSD survivor group myself, but couldn’t find anything. My husband suggested that I start one, but I just wasn’t in the right headspace to put myself out there and instead kept going to CBT therapy.

Fast forward to August 8, 2015, when I created www.davinalytle.com and started writing about what it was like to live with PTSD.

…it was hard – in fact, it was terrifying! I had been the victim of death threats for decades, so I’d always tried to keep my identity and whereabouts hidden. Yet here I was being told that the only way I would be able to gain interest in PTSD and have a book published on that topic was to have a platform. I started a page on Facebook called I'm Still Here - A Survivor's Guide to Living with PTSD and then I signed up on Twitter.

I’m not sure how long it took for the first person to follow me, or for me to follow back, but it wasn’t long before I had that support group I’d been searching for. Most of the people I made contact with were also living with mental illness, and the rest were advocates, so there was no need for us to explain ourselves or our symptoms to each another. Which is something we have to do to almost every other person we know or meet and it’s incredibly frustrating.

It’s been three years since that first person followed me and I’m happy to say that I’ve developed close friendships with quite a few twitter followers even though up until last Saturday, I had only met a few of them face to face. I’ve been able to draw on their strength through their tweets and they’ve been able to draw on mine. In the beginning, we’d write a post and add a smiley face, then it would be an animal or a flower and then as we became closer to someone, we’d add hearts and emojis blowing kisses, but we were still just acquaintances.

Over time, I got closer and closer to these people. I shared my thoughts and feelings with them and they shared their thoughts and feelings with me as we tweeted about the types of days we were having, as well as the challenges we were facing. It was incredibly comforting because instead of getting sarcasm and insults, we got love and support. Which brings me to the reason I’m writing this week’s blog.

Back in March of this year when Gary (my husband) and I were staying at his parent’s place, I sent a request to some of my twitter family to see if anyone wanted to get together and meet face to face; a meet and greet so to speak.

The response I got was amazing and before I knew it there were almost thirty people and their partners interested in coming. I set out to find a spot for us to meet and then I threw a couple of dates at everyone to see when the best date would be to meet. After only a couple of days we’d decided to meet at Bronte Creek Provincial Park on July 28th; which was this past Saturday, and then we figured out how to set up a Facebook page so that we could open the meet and greet up to anyone else that wanted to come, that lived locally.

As the day got closer people started to cancel left, right and center and the night before the meet and greet, I had only heard from three of them to let me know they were coming. Honestly, I was okay with barely anyone coming because I was extremely anxious about driving two and a half hours to meet up with a bunch of people I’d never met before.

To be frank, if I wouldn’t have organized it, I wouldn’t have gone. I hate (I know it’s a strong word, but it’s the only one that fits here) being around other people, especially crowds and I told everyone a long time ago not to invite me to anything unless it’s a small gathering – really small. In fact, me myself and I are all I’m good with a lot of the time, but I was hoping this was going to be different.

The night before the meet and greet I was so anxious that I barely slept, and I was looking for any excuse not to go, but Gary and I had offered to pick up two of the people in our group, so we had to go.

The drive was pretty uneventful and even though I took a change of clothes, there was no stress sweat, which amazed me!! Our first stop was the Oakville train station to pick up warrior #1, and then West Oakville to pick up warrior #2 and then we headed towards the park, chatting about how excited we were to finally meet each other. There was a little confusion over which parking lot we were supposed to meet at when we got there because there were three parking lots, so my phone went off quite a few times. One of the women, that had been invited by another warrior posted on Facebook that she was already there, and she’d found a bunch of tables under a grove of really large trees, so we would have lots of shade.

When we got to the correct parking lot, I saw a woman sitting on a table in the centre of about six or seven more tables, and I was pretty sure she was one of our group. I don’t know where I got the courage, but I just walked over to her and said are you so and so and she said yes, so I waved the rest of our group over.

It was incredible because I felt absolutely no fear.

We all found a spot to sit and if I remember correctly we all sat down at our own table, as there were six of them …well except for me because I brought a lawn chair.

In the beginning, we kind of sat around making small talk while we were waiting to see if anyone else would show up, but after about twenty minutes, we figured it was just going to be us. The woman that had saved the tables; we’ll call her Rose, introduced herself to the rest of the group and asked if she could make a suggestion. Rose thought it would be a good idea to go around the circle and introduce ourselves one at a time, saying as much, or as little, as we wanted, and to make it easier for us, volunteered to go first.

I was sitting to the left of Rose and there was only one person in between us so that meant I was going to be the third person to speak. As I sat there listening to the first two warriors I realized that I was actually listening, instead of panicking about the fact that it was going to be my turn soon.

Usually, I would be on the brink of a panic attack; shaking so hard that my head felt like it was literally going to become unattached and fall off, but here I was listening.

This was huge for me!!! I wasn’t worried about what I was going to say or how I was going to say it because as I looked around the circle, I saw that I was among friends. Everyone was listening intently and nodding their heads in agreement and it felt like I was home – like I was finally among family.

All in all, there were seven of us warriors, nine if you included Gary and we sat there for four hours talking about the one thing we all had in common and that was mental illness and there was absolutely no judgement from anyone.

… as I’m sitting here typing out the words that have been bouncing around inside my head since Saturday, and reminiscing about how I felt during the meet and greet with some of my tweethearts, the tears are streaming down my face. Not because I’m sad, but because I’m so bloody happy; not just for me, but for all of us. I believe that we’ve all found a place where we belong. A place where we can be our authentic selves and work on our journeys to recovery and self-love.

Thanks for following. Stay safe and stay strong.

Thirteen Plus Years and They're Still Calling It the Elephant in the Room... (approx. 9½ - 10½min. read)

I had a huge breakthrough and I want to share it with you. It didn’t come easy, in fact, it’s been years in the working, but it was definitely worth the wait!

As you know I’m a people pleaser and I’ve always put other people’s feelings, as well as their needs before my own. I didn’t do it regrettably, I just did it because I thought it was what I was the right thing to do.

For the most part, I didn’t even realize I was doing it, even though there were people that pointed it out, but what did they know? I’m an empath and I do things for other people, that’s just who I am, or should I say was? Because I’m not that way anymore.

I wasn’t actively working on changing anything about myself or working on recovery of any kind. I figured moving away from all that I knew was enough stress to deal with, and I was concentrating on making it through the move, but who would have known what was in the wings – so to speak.

Two days after we got to our property, my husband and I were sitting having a drink and he received a text from our kids. It was national wine day and it was a picture of the three of them holding up their glasses and toasting him. I waited for my phone to go off because it was the kind of text that usually came to me, but nothing. I thought maybe I was sitting in a dead zone, so I got up and walked around the trailer looking for a signal.

When I found a signal, I stood there in anticipation …minutes went by and still nothing. I turned to Gary and told him that something was wrong, but he shook his head and said no. Then he gently put his hand on my arm and reassuringly said that everything was okay and that I was probably reading into it.

His reaction was the gentle reminder we had agreed on when he thought that I was catastrophizing. I’ve asked him to help me to be more aware of when I’m not thinking straight, and this seemed to be working. I smiled at him, reminded him that they hardly ever text him and when they do, they send me one too, but he continued to reassure me that it wasn’t intentional.

An hour went by, and then another, but still nothing and I couldn’t help but start stressing about what I’d done to upset them this time. I just couldn’t concentrate, and I sat in complete silence as some movie (I can’t even remember which one) played on the T.V. screen.

After what seemed like an interminable amount of time Gary announced that he was going to bed and came over to where I was sitting. He got down on his knees, put his head on my lap and asked me if he’d told me that he loved me today, and I told him yes. I stroked his hair before I told him that I loved him back and then he got up, kissed me on my lips and he went to bed. We do this every night; it’s become part of our nightly ritual and I cherish it, but that night I just wanted it to be over, so I could have some time alone with my thoughts.

I waited about ten minutes to make sure Gary had gone to sleep and then picked up my phone for what seemed like the hundredth time. I knew it was on and had a full battery, but I still checked it to see if somehow, I had missed a call or a text, and that’s when the tears started. As they spilled down my face, I wracked my brains trying to figure out what I had done this time because it wasn’t the first time they had given me the silent treatment.

I thought long and hard into the wee hours of the morning about what I might have done to upset them, but I couldn’t come up with anything. Except for the fact that they might be mad we moved away, but that didn’t make sense because they were the first ones to move away; one of them forty-five minutes away, and the other just over an hour.

I felt so hurt and confused and the hopelessness of the situation made me cry even harder and the next thing I knew Gary was walking towards me. I’m not sure I’d ever cried so hard in front of him, and it was a long time before I was able to stop, but he just held me close to him.

The next morning, I tried to call my kids, but there was no answer. I left messages, and I’m pretty sure I followed them up with a text or two, but by the end of the day I still hadn’t heard anything, and I knew something had to be wrong. In the past, they had always called me back …well except when they were ignoring me.

I started questioning myself as I always did when someone didn’t return my calls. I asked myself what I might have said or done to upset them, but I couldn’t think of anything.

Over the next week or so, I continued to reach out to them, but still nothing and I just didn’t get it. What had I done? Every waking thought during that week, was about them and trying to figure out what I’d done to upset them. Trouble was they wouldn’t call me back, so I was left completely alone with my thoughts to try and work through it.

More time went by and each morning when I rolled out of bed, my first thought was about them. I would think to myself - is this going to be the day they’re going to forgive me and let me know what I had done to upset them? Would this be the day they decide to accept me back into their lives?

It was dreadful, and I cried every day for just over a month.

Then one night while Gary and I were sitting talking about the situation between the kids and me, he said he didn’t understand why the kids felt the way they did? He said that I was a really good mother; that I had given my kids my life, but now it was time for me to take it back.

What Gary said to me really hit home and it got me thinking about myself and what I needed. Throughout my life I have always done for others because I never thought I was worth it - why would I? The only real family that’s supported me throughout my life is Gary and his family and I question their love for me and whether I’m worthy. Why do they love me when nobody in my family does? Are they blind with love because they haven’t seen the real me yet or is it because they have seen the real me and they know how good a person I am.

Honestly? These are some of the things that keep me awake at night because I never thought I was worthy of anything, especially living. At social gatherings, I would be questioned, interrogated and then accused of lying and doing things like self-diagnosing my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and, no matter how many times I answered certain questions, they would be thrown at me again and again; almost like someone was hoping I’d slip up and give a different answer.

…but as usual, I digress.

This past weekend after months of being ignored by my kids, I received an email asking me if I was willing to talk about the “elephant” in the room with a mediator. I’m not sure what the “elephant” is, or why they’re calling it that, but I’m pretty sure they’re talking about my PTSD. The email basically told me it was my last chance to “prove” my side of the story.

My first thought was that I’d better comply with their wishes, because I didn’t want to lose them, but then I felt this unfamiliar feeling towards them, and that was anger.  I’d been miles and miles away from everything I’ve ever known for months, being completely ignored and the first contact I have is an email telling me I need to set up a date for a mediation. It said that I would have to back up my claims even though it also said they would be mostly anecdotal based on the fact that most of my evidence spanned over multiple decades. It also said that the conversation was going to be recorded and “fishiness” wouldn’t be tolerated.

I’d had a lot of time over the previous two months to be alone with my thoughts and I know the old me would have complied, but the new me? Not a chance. For the first time in a very long time I’d been able to spend time focusing on myself and what I needed and I knew that being interrogated by a bunch of nay-sayers wasn’t going to be part of my future.

For goodness sake - it’s been THIRTEEN years since I was diagnosed with PTSD and my future needs to be about moving forward and I can’t move forward if certain people want me to keep talking about the elephant in the room.

Especially when most of the talking will be about trying to prove that the elephant exists!!

Honestly, it’s ludicrous and as I write this blog, I’m reminded just how much I’ve changed. The old me would be back peddling and begging for forgiveness, but not this time, or ever again. I’m not afraid of what people will think anymore because I don’t care what anyone else thinks.

Let me say that again because it feels so darn good – I DON’T CARE WHAT ANYONE ELSE THINKS!!!!!!!!! I’m suddenly aware; completely aware of how I’ve been allowing other people to treat me, and it’s almost like a switch flipped inside my head.

The best thing about all of this, was that dying by suicide never entered my mind once, and what transpired was one of the biggest triggers I’ve had in a long time. I’ve never been clearer and more present about what I want or how I see myself moving forward. I am so done with the nay-sayers and I hope they know that the time for trying to decide whether they’re with me, or not has passed …and if that means cutting ties with certain people, then that’s what it means.

Today marks the beginning of the next leg of my journey and the one thing I’m sure of is that I will never let anyone make me feel unworthy or inadequate again, because I deserve so much better than that. Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.

I'm Going to Repeat This Until It Sinks In... (approx. 5½ - 6½min. read)

I know I’ve written about this week’s topic in the past, but I truly believe that it’s been exponential in helping me on my journey to recovery, so I'm going to say this again ...and I'm going to repeat myself until it (finally) sinks in. Not necessarily for the caretakers of loved ones that are living with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but for those of you that are living with PTSD.

But wait, that doesn’t give the rest of you permission to stop reading - it just means this blog isn’t about you. It’s about the people you love and if you want to know how to be more supportive, instead of hindering the one you love, please keep reading.

Fellow survivors - this blog is for you. It’s for those of us that are living with PTSD, so I don’t need to discuss what it is, how a person gets it, or why PTSD affects some people while others get away unscathed. You; the person this blog is directed at, knows what PTSD is and what it’s like for people like us to live with, so I’m not going to cover that in this blog. *

What I am going to go over with you is how I, myself, am learning how to live with PTSD and its symptoms, in hopes that it might help you as well.

Are you ready – I mean really ready? Because what I’m about to tell you won’t be easy, but it is the most important step in learning how to live with PTSD, especially when it comes to accepting yourself.

Here it is… YOUR LIFE IS ABOUT YOU AND NOBODY ELSE – did you get that?

Just in case you didn’t I’m going to repeat it - YOUR LIFE IS ABOUT YOU AND NOBODY ELSE. It doesn’t matter whether you have PTSD or not – the decisions you make should be ones you make that help you to move forward, not decisions that pacify others.

Your life is about you, and you alone, and I know that what I’m saying might be hard to digest but stick with me. You need to stop letting other people tell you how you need to live your life, or how you should deal with your PTSD. It’s your life; no one else’s and unless the person giving you advice is also a PTSD survivor – they know nothing about what it’s like to be a survivor. Moreover, they have no idea how much we; being empaths, take their criticism to heart and in order for us to move forward, we need to put an end to their criticism.

Now don’t get me wrong because I know it isn’t easy to stand up for yourself when it comes to a mental illness like PTSD. Most of us grew up around narcissists and the only thing they taught us was to pacify them to keep the peace. It didn’t matter what the cost or how detrimental it was to our well-being, it was literally all about keeping the peace, so we stayed quiet.

I myself was quiet until about three years ago, but then I started implementing the advice I’m going to give you into practice. I’m not going to lie, or candy coat it - it’s been rough. But; and it’s a big but, I don’t believe I would have come half as far with my healing and recovery if I wouldn’t have made these changes and made my life about me.

I started by distancing myself from the people, places, and things that exacerbated my PTSD symptoms, such as triggers, anxiety and/or depression. I told myself that it didn’t have to be forever, just until I felt strong enough to face these stressors without triggering myself or causing myself anxiety.

It wasn’t easy – believe me. We, as in you and me, have been people pleasing other people for the better part of our lives …for us, that’s all we’ve ever known. Disappointing certain people, while I was growing up meant that I would have to endure some kind of suffering, whether it was being ignored, being locked up, or worse… but I know that they can’t hurt me anymore.

You’re going to have many moments of doubt; I did. The uncertainty of doing something so unfamiliar is going to plague your mind like a disease with no cure. I had all kinds of conversations with myself …first I would be telling myself I was doing the right thing; that I was a good person, but in the next breath, I would hear myself repeating their words; useless; waste of space; attention seeker.

It was so difficult at first, and I spent the better part of every day – for months (years in fact) questioning myself and whether I was being too harsh. Like you, I live in my head; constantly questioning everything …am I safe? …did I say something wrong? …moreover, did I do something wrong?  Honestly, for me the list is endless, but I reminded myself that this wasn’t about anyone else – it was about me. My brain is injured and from now on my life is about learning how to live with that injury and either a person gets it, or they don’t; it’s that simple.

I’m done trying to defend myself to anyone – no matter who they are. I have PTSD, and this is my new normal. It shouldn’t matter that PTSD changed me and that it affects my day to day living – I’m still the same person underneath it all and I believe you should feel the same way.

Surround yourself with people that love you for who you are; flaws and all, because they will help you on this journey. They will help you to believe in yourself and that will help to give you the confidence you need in order to live your life for you, instead of continuing to live it for someone else.

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.

*If you need to know more about PTSD, or how it’s affected my life, please feel free to explore my website, as well as checking out these articles I wrote about PTSD: