Throw-Back Thursday

In June of 2004 my little girl was 6-years-old. I turned on the TV to the Weather Network for a bleak forecast of rain. I was also reminded that is was election day. Muttering to myself about having to make the time to vote Rian pipes up, “I vote for sunny.”


A few days later, Rian remarked that her brother, then 4-years-old, still had skid-marks. I was doing his laundry and don’t recall skid-marks. Confused by this statement I asked her to clarify. She said, “You know, skid-marks. Like the one that’s shaped like a happy face.” Laughing I straightened her out – her little brother has birthmarks, one of which looks like a happy face.

alexi birthmark

Can you see it?

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Here’s a close-up.

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In Pursuit of Good Health


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Ah yes, the eternal battle for me and my kind. I should exercise. Everyday. Even if it’s just a walk around the block. It would do wonders for my mental health as well as my physical well-being.


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And I could stand to lose some weight. You see, the anti-depressant I take, Cipralex is notorious for weight gain. And gained weight I have. About 25 lbs since starting Cipralex. Oh, and another 25lbs that led to a diagnosis of under-active thyroid (it runs in the family). So that’s 50lbs I’ve put on in the last year and I hate it.

I hate that I had to buy new clothes 4 sizes bigger than I’ve ever worn before (not including when I was pregnant). I hate that I went up 2 cup sizes (yes, 2) in less than 6 months (do you know how expensive bras are???). I hate the way I look. I hate the way I feel. There’s a lot of negativity swimming around my brain about my body and it’s profoundly affecting my fragile mental state.


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So, what’s a girl to do? Well, diet obviously. Here’s the catch – when a person goes through an anxiety attack or a bout of depression guess what their body craves? Salt, sugar and fat – pop, chips, chocolate, cookies, cakes, fast food. All of the things that are dieting no-nos.


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Trying to cut these foods out of my diet has proved extremely challenging. You see, once I’m experiencing an anxiety attack or bout with depression I start to crave. I’m not talking about the kind of piddling craving you get after seeing an ad on TV – “Gosh, I could really go for a Coffee Crisp right now.” No, this is an all-out, pregnancy-style “If-I-don’t-have-a-Coffee-Crisp-in-the-next-2-minutes-someone-will-pay-the-price-with-their-life” kind of craving. And I cave. Every time. So much for watching what I eat.

My therapist recommended the 5/2 diet – for 2 non-consecutive days a week you only consume 500 calories. I did this for about 2 months. For breakfast I ate fruit. At lunch I had salad with minimal dressing and supper was salad with protein, usually shrimp. And it worked. I’m pretty sure I lost about 10lbs (I don’t own a bathroom scale, I think they’re evil contraptions, so I don’t know for sure). However, my family was paying the price.

I wasn’t making them follow the diet. That would be just silly. No, what was happening was my anxiety was heightened on the days I was only eating 500 calories. I was even more antsy and short-tempered. I would rock in my chair (it wasn’t a rocking chair) and shake my hands in a vain effort to rid my body of the anxiety. I began to experience vertigo with greater frequency. Once I realized what was happening I stopped the diet immediately and gained back the 10lbs. I’m pretty sure he brought some friends to the party too.

So, what to try next? Well exercise of course. I’ll let you in on a little secret – I hate exercise. As a kid gym and recess were my least favourite times of the school day. I don’t enjoy organized sports. I’m uncoordinated and I hate the pressure of having a team full of people counting on me “for the win”.


I always say, “I don’t run. For any reason.” Image courtesy of


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So last year, at Christmas time, I had the brilliant idea of getting me and the kids a family membership to the local YMCA. It has a lovely weight room, cardio facilities and a pool. One activity I actually enjoy is swimming. I really believed that paying the monthly membership fee would be all the encouragement I needed to go regularly. After all, I’m not in a position to waste money on unused amenities.


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In the new year I made an appointment with a personal trainer. She helped me create a work-out plan and for a couple of months I went quite regularly; 2 to 4 times a week. Then it happened. I had an anxiety attack while on the elliptical machine.

I hadn’t been feeling that great mentally that week, but I decided to push through the bad feelings and follow my work-out schedule. I did my cardio warm-up then went and did the weight machines. I was not having fun and just wanted to go home, but it was time for my 20-minute cardio round so I dragged myself to the cardio room. I decided to try the elliptical machine for something different. I usually stuck with the bike or the rowing machine but thought a change of pace might help with my funky mood. Within minutes I was feeling nauseous. A few more minutes and my head was spinning. In less than 5 minutes I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. I didn’t want to be anywhere where there were people.

The need to escape was all-consuming. I had to get out. I shut the machine off, grabbed my water bottle and walked to the change room as quickly as possible (without drawing attention to myself). I didn’t bother changing my clothes, just grabbed my bag and bolted for the door.


If only it worked. Image courtesy of

I struggled to maintain the work-out routine I had created. People (those crazy souls who enjoy the gym) kept telling me that once I got into a routine I would love going to the gym and wouldn’t want to miss a day. They were wrong. Although I did try to go back a few times I experienced the same panicked feeling every time I walked through the doors. I decided to hold onto the membership for the summer thinking the kids might make of use it (they didn’t) but I never went back to work-out again.

I went in in July and told the lady behind the counter I needed to cancel my membership. When she asked why I chose to be honest, “I have anxiety attacks every time I walk through the door.” I told her. She was very understanding and asked if I knew what triggered it, but since I didn’t there was little she could do to help. She cancelled the membership immediately. I felt a great deal of relief.

So, what have I been doing to get some exercise? Well, I’ve tried a couple of home workouts and, well, I hate them. I’ve tried getting together with a friend for walks in the bush but it hasn’t worked out. Walking in the bush is one of the few forms of exercise I really enjoy.

I have stopped eating after 7pm on most nights, which helps with my food consumption (this wasn’t really a choice, I’ve been suffering with acid reflux and if I eat after 7pm I’m up all night with severe heart burn).  But an exercise regime eludes me.

Until I figure something out, this is about as active as I’ve been…


According to my Goodreads account I’ve read 42 books so far this year. I still have 8 more to read to reach my goal of 50. Image courtesy of

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Sunday Funnies

sunday funnies bannerzitscontent.phpWhat’s the point in having teenagers if you can’t mock them once in a while?

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A Few Small Changes

Since I’m changing the purpose of my blog I thought I’d better make a few small changes. Just little ones.

Like I’ve changed the catch-phrase from “Raising kids with mental illness with love, affection and humour” to “Learning to thrive with mental illness with love, affection and humour.”

I’m going to change the About write up a little bit, too.

Just little changes. And, really, they’re mostly for me, but since I share the Madhouse with you I thought I’d let you know.


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Hello, Again

I have started this post a thousand times in my head, but every time I sat down to write it the stomach ache would start. The voices in my head would say “No, no, no. That’s just stupid.” The negativity committee (consisting of real-live voices from my past) would start their droning, “Who’s going to read it anyway? You can’t write anything worth reading.” And the fear would consume me.

Today I am writing through the headache. Past the nausea. Skirting the voices. Today I am writing.

There’s a quote I remember reading once upon a time that, for the life of me, I cannot find again. It goes something like “the only thing harder than writing is not writing”. I can declare this to be true.

These past months when I have clammed up and shied away from the keyboard have been very difficult for me. I’ve drowned myself in books (I’ve even taken to reading Dickens, without a teacher standing over me) and saturated myself in TV (I finished 8 seasons of the BBC’s Foyle’s War in 3 days).

I have allowed myself to believe that my voice is irrelevant. I haven’t been able to stick with the original purpose of the Madhouse – providing informative and supportive posts for parents with kids with mental health issues. I drifted off course and started posting about my own mental health issues or silly stories or just whatever was on my mind that day. I feel like I failed.

And maybe I did, but there’s only so many times I can post about the kids having difficulty getting on task. There are only so many words that can be written about where to get support. I can only focus on the Madness for so long before it weighs me down.

I have a few of blogs I read regularly (there are tons more I enjoy reading, but these two are my go-to blogs), Did That Just Happen, Single Working Mother and Me, Myself and Kids. I consider the authors, Kate, Kasey and Larry respectively, friends and I enjoy reading about their families and their thoughts on current events. If I enjoy reading their stories, maybe, just maybe, people enjoy reading my stories even when the focus isn’t on mental health.

That being said, I have decided to continue blogging (or in my case get back at it). Not every post will be about mental health (my apologies to those who have only subscribed for that reason), but since mental health is a major part of the Madhouse I will continue to discuss it with candor and (hopefully) humour. I will also indulge myself and write about current events or things that cross my mind. Or a new recipe I really enjoyed. Or the dogs. Or butterflies. Or whatever.

The writing may be a bit rusty. I have to dust off the laptop and wipe the cobwebs off the old braincells, but I’m determined to write. and by writing I will succeed. And if, in my indulgence, someone who reads it is enlightened, or finds a chuckle then I have been more than successful. I will have won.


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A little thanks to Larry at Me, Myself and Kids for the inspiration to write again.

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Happy Canada Day!!


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Surviving the Madhouse

sunday funnies bannerHave you ever done this with your kids? This is standard procedure in the Madhouse.


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Sunday Funnies

sunday funnies bannerFor all the great men out there who play an active role in raising their kids, or someone else’s kids….

Happy Father’s Day!!


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Sunday Funnies

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It’s Victoria Day Weekend in Canada!! Woo hoo for a 3-day weekend.


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If anyone is curious about Victoria Day check out last year’s post Sunday Funnies on Monday.


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Adventures With My Teen Daughter

Today I received an unusual phone call from the doctor’s office. The receptionist asked me for Rian’s new Health Card number.

A resident of Ontario must have a health card to show that he or she is entitled to health care services paid for by OHIP. The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care pays for a wide range of services, however, it does not pay for services that are not medically necessary, such as cosmetic surgery.
from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care website


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“Umm, can you hang on while I find my purse?” I said. I hunted for my purse, found her Health Card, and sure enough Rian’s card expired in early April.

The receptionist advised me to take her and enough paperwork to prove who she is to the nearest Service Ontario office as soon as possible. I gathered her passport, Social Insurance Number card, birth certificate and all the court documents stating I have sole custody. I set them with my purse, in plain sight, and planned to take her after school.

On a side note, I’ve been suffering with severe anxiety attacks all week and it’s been a challenge leaving the house. So this outing was a big deal for me.

2b6b43e91ab4fb0a974b122c36aa3e8fRian arrived home from school around 3:15pm, as usual, and she and I headed d0wntown to the Service Ontario office. One of the nice things about living in a smaller town is that it only ever takes 15 minutes to get anywhere so we were there in no time.

Even better, there was only one person in line ahead of us. Woo hoo!! When our turn came I told the lady behind the counter that my daughter’s health card had expired. I told her I was advised to bring all her I.D. and everything under the sun to prove she’s my daughter.

The lady chuckled. She told me that since Rian is now 16  all she needs is her ID, in this case her passport was sufficient, and proof of address. Which I did not have.

The lady asked if Rian had received a package from the Ministry. I said “No, not that I know of. Rian, did you get any mail a couple of months ago?”

“Ummmm, maybe. I got some mail a couple of months ago but I didn’t know what it was so I didn’t open it.”

I hung my head as the lady laughed.

Rian and I left the Service Ontario office. Once in the van I asked her about the mail and showed her the government of Ontario logo explaining that the envelope would have that symbol on it. She recognized it right away.


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“I think it’s under my dresser.” Because who doesn’t keep all their mail under their dresser?

Once we arrived at home she went searching under her dresser, but it wasn’t there. I suggested she look under her bed.

She rolled her eyes at me, “It wouldn’t be under there, mom. I always put that stuff in that pile right there, beside my dresser.”

Of course, how silly of me.


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