Tag Archives: Mental Health

GOING LIGHT part 1… digitally disconnecting

We like stuff…

Make stuff.

Buy stuff.

Make faster, shinier, more impressive stuff.

Buy new stuff.


Replace the word stuff with items of your choosing… Make car. Buy car. Make faster, shinier, more impressive car. Buy new car. What other stuff do we do this with? Phone? Computer? Shoes? Underwear? Pretty much everything?

Some stuff we buy and use. Some stuff we buy and don’t use. Some stuff breaks fast. Some stuff lasts forever(ish).

I’m newly bothered by the stuff, even though there is a lot of stuff that I like… guitar stuff, skateboard stuff, biking stuff, art stuff, power tool stuff, stuffy stuffy stuff stuff. Had enough of the word ‘stuff’ yet? I usually end up buying more stuff than I actually need (as my wife likes to say, “How many guitars can you play at once?”) One bit of stuff in particular bothers me lately… my ‘smart’ phone. It’s one bit of stuff that can do loads and loads of stuff. It makes me smarter via its instant access to the internet. Its G.P.S. prevents me from getting lost. It keeps me up to date on the glorious lives of my friends and family thanks to instant social media access. It is a camera that is always with me, a book of addresses and phone numbers, a calendar, a mobile TV, a whole stack of newspapers, and my entire music library. But I don’t like it. I’ve started to ask myself – why do I need all this stuff on my phone? Why do I need it with me all the time?

It’s convenient, yes! But, what bothers me is that my mobile smart device has become a digital distraction. I find myself distracted from the people around me… checking social media accounts, reading emails, watching funny videos, playing a game, or watching a show. Have you ever had that realization that you are out for dinner with family/friends and you are all busy on your devices instead of enjoying each other’s company? I have. I don’t want to be distracted anymore. I want to be present.

So begins my plan – Get rid of the smart phone. Get a simple/dumb phone. See what sort of an impact this has on my life.

I have chosen to go with the Light Phone 2. It is a sleek , modern-looking phone that only does phone calls and messages. Well, it also allows you to set an alarm, use a calculator, and in the future it might allow you to play some music too. But, no apps. No YouTube. No social media. No camera. No games. No email. No INTERNET!!

I’m not giving up social media, YouTube, and all that other stuff. I’ll just do it at a computer, at a time of my choosing. I’m admitting to a lack of will power when it comes to looking at my phone, but fear not, there will still be pictures of my dogs on Instagram!

I’m not saying that everyone should do this. I might even end up hating it myself! There will be advantages and disadvantages to this choice. I’m just going to give it a try and see what happens. And for those who are interested, I’ll blog about the experience here.

Youth and mental illness.

“You keep finding dead ends to what you thought were good beginnings”

Life can be agonizingly difficult during a depression and/or anxiety episode. I am lucky that my experiences are limited to ‘curable’ episodes (typically lasting a few months). For some people, the symptoms never go away. I am also lucky to be an ‘adult’ in my 40’s with a fair amount of life experience, a loving family network, and a large (very large) amount of therapy and medication behind me. It must be so hard for children experiencing the same illness. It’s a testament to the strength of the young that any of them make it through at all. It is this strength that we now see rising up again and again in the form of youth who are coming forward and talking about their experiences with mental illness. The courage of these young role-models never ceases to amaze me as they make use of social media platforms to get the word out there… “mental illness can and does affect anyone! So, let’s talk about it…”

So I turn the rest of this blog post over to a talented young (13 years old!) advocate called Olivia. This is her ‘Slam’ poem in which she bravely and insightfully shares her experiences with some very problematic mental health. Her words speak for themselves, so I will say no more…

At just the age of 4,
I was already having anxiety about every little thing in my kindergarten class.
Whether it was taking the attendance down
or sharing something in a circle.
I always felt nervous.
At the age of 8,
I felt the need to be perfect with all the work that I did
because the last thing that I wanted was
to be laughed at.
When a test was being handed back,
I could feel my teacher’s eyes burning on the back of my head.
I could see a gleaming red ‘A’.
But later in the day,
peers were telling me that I did worse than them
as my worth was merely something to compare to.


At the age of 12,
I was more worried about the routine I had to do every night than my homework. All my books must be an odd number.
My laptop must be clean.
My bed needed to be made perfectly.
These routines anchored each passing day
and tricked me into thinking that my anxiety would go away
Now, at the age of 13, all of this combined is my reality.
Every little thing you can think of in a day, make me nervous in some way.
Even simply getting on the bus…
All I can think about is the hundreds of things my bus driver might say to me.
Before a presentation,
I find myself slowly shaking to the point where its uncontrollable. I can see the sweat on my hands leaving marks on the table. 
And then my name is called…
I find myself slowly moving to the front of the class.
I feel like a deer in the headlights,
waiting to be hit with the stares of my peers.
If one little thing goes wrong in my day,
my brain latches onto that memory
and keeps on thinking about it for two weeks…
until it finally goes away.
Only to find that it comes back haunting me 
the next day.
If I get invited to go somewhere
My thoughts go to every situation imaginable.
Just thinking about that
makes me feel so ashamed because I just want
to go somewhere
without having to say “no”


Anxiety is like going through a maze.
Except it never ends.
You keep finding dead ends to what you thought were good beginnings.
No one is around you trying to help because they can’t see you on the inside.  

…You feel truly lost without anyone.

“1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental illness in a given year. As people get older, their mental health often gets worse. But, not many people talk about it because there is still… a mental health stigma which creates stereotypes and offensive comments. This can lead to many dreadful outcomes. We must speak out because…

…there shouldn’t be any shame.”

Written By Olivia

Mental health advocate

Age 13