Don’t fall prey to the holiday blues

Every morning and evening I log into my computer or cell phone to check my various social media apps. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram — It’s all the same. All I see are messages of despair or people asking others to leave notes of hope and prayer. It seems like everyone is sad this time of year, and I get it.

The holidays tend to make people a little stressed and depressed. It’s a time of reflection and thoughts of the future. And if 2016 was any precedent, the future doesn’t look really bright. That, in combination with the pressure of gift giving, family, and work, it can all get overwhelming.

Women’s Post explains some of the reasons for these holiday blues, and offers a few suggestions to beat them — however, it should be known that the best cure to the December depression is to spend time with those you love, whether that’s family, friends, or your dog.

Fiscal frustrations: This is the biggest factor contributing to holiday blues, especially if you are a parent. No mother or father wants their child to get less than others. And when you have a mom, dad, sister, brother, and then your aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, and coworkers — it all adds up to big bucks. Stockings alone can add up to a hefty bill. When you are counting your pennies (and even when you aren’t), gifts can get expensive.

Remember that expectations for gift giving are never as high as you think. A simple book, pair of socks, or even homemade cookies will put a smile on someone’s face. If you can’t afford to give everyone gifts, do activities instead.

Inability to be with loved ones: This is by far the hardest thing to deal with during the holidays. If you’ve recently lost a loved one, let me first say that I’m terribly sorry. Whether it’s because you’ve experienced a recent death or are miles away from your family this December. The holidays will be really tough. There is no denying it, and there is no “cure”. If this is the case, the best way to handle it is to call up some good friends and invite yourself over. Don’t feel ashamed to say “hey, I’m a bit lonely this holidays, can we get together sometime for some drinks or coffee? Or would you like to come over for dinner?”

If that’s not possible, try skype or calling those you are missing. Otherwise, do things you find enjoyable. Take yourself out to the spa or to a fancy dinner. Don’t stay at home watching sad movies — unless you find it cathartic. Ultimately, know that there are people out there who love you and care for you. That’s all that matters.

Review of past year: A lot of people start to panic around December when they realize how little they’ve accomplished. It’s almost the new year, and there is still so much to do! You have to cook for Christmas dinner, but also get that gym membership you promised yourself 12 months ago. What about the job you’ve been searching for? All of those unfinished projects? All that weight you wanted to loose?

I’m here to tell you to STOP IT! It’s December, and there is no way to change anything right now. Instead, focus on all the fun you will have this month. Go eat at nice restaurants, visit with friends, and go to a museum. Who cares about the missed opportunities! Take advantage of your holiday. All of your decisions and everything that you’ve done over the past year has accumulated in you being you. And you are amazing!!


Above all else, remember that you are a wonderful human being who deserves to have a wonderful holiday season. Try not to sit in the dark and feel sorry for yourself. Get out there and enjoy life. Kick those holiday blues in the butt!

The SAD reality of the winter blues

Does grey winter skies and snow storms give you the winter blues so badly, you feel like you don’t even want to get out of bed? If so, it might be more complicated than the weather. You may be one of many sufferers of Seasonal Afffective Disorder (SAD), a subtype of seasonal depression.

University of Toronto assistant professor and director of CBT Canada, Greg Dubord says, “SAD is often dismissed as the “the winter blues”, and seen as an excuse people living with Depression are accused of making for their condition.”

Seasonal Depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that affects people seasonally. Harsh Canadian winters and more research into SAD has led many people to come to understand this mental disorder and to learn how to combat it. It can be a real struggle for those who feel unmotivated, constantly exhausted, and depressed in the wintertime; yet, these feelings (or symptoms) are often dismissed as a change in the weather.

What is it?

SAD is a form of major depression that occurs in one specific season, and was formally name in 1984 by Norman E. Rosenthal at the National Institute of Mental Health. Most people experience seasonal depression in the winter, though some people have the disorder in the spring.

Seasonal depression is considered a subtype of major depression, but differs from the traditional mental disorder because it arises at a specific time of year and returns annually. According to the Mood Disorders Council of Manitoba, two to three per cent of Canadians suffer from SAD compared to less than one per cent in the United States. Women experience symptoms more commonly than men.

What are the symptoms and signs?

Common physical side effects include fatigue, insomnia, oversleeping, food cravings, weight gain, anxiety and “a heavy “leaden” feeling in the arms and legs.

But, it’s the psychological effects that effect people more commonly. According to Dubord, these include “feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day; feeling hopeless or worthless; losing interest in activities once enjoyed; having difficulty concentrating; feeling irritable and/or anxious; having difficulty getting along with others; avoidance of social situations; being hypersensitive to rejection; and having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.”

Bright light creates serotonin, which is absorbed by the retina and through the pituitary gland. The lack of this specific hormone also causes drowsiness and exhaustion. When a person isn’t exposed to a particular amount of light, it can cause depression or SAD.

What can you do about it?

“Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), in combination with light therapy, is considered the best overall treatment for addressing both physiological and psychological vulnerability to SAD,” Dubord says.

A combination of methods helps to manage the symptoms of SAD which includes traditional major depression therapies as well as specialized light therapy. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that helps patients recognize and isolate certain thought patterns in order to challenge or alter them. It is commonly used to treat mood disorders.

Other methods of therapy include exercise, improving sleep patterns, making sure to have social interactions, and planning outdoor activities to get fresh air and enjoy oneself. Planning winter trips to sunnier destinations can help if that is possibility and actively. Possible outdoor activities include ice skating, snow shoeing, a winter walk, and a sleigh ride.

Thanks to some great technological advancements, products exist that can help alleviate symptoms of SAD. A light box, for example, helps to regulate the internal body clock by providing light at any specific point the person needs it — the morning for example.

A light box is a fluorescent light device that produces a light intensity of 2,500 to 10,000 lux at a distance of 1-2 inches. The common length of time for light box therapy is 30 minutes, ideal for a morning routine. Light boxes can be found in the form of an alarm clock, desk lamp, a floor lamp, and a ceiling light.

Which stigmas prevent people from pursuing treatment?

The “winter blues” is a common term used when someone feels down during the snowy season and is often mislabeled for SAD. This confusion causes people to misunderstand the severity of their symptoms.

“Like depression, there is a stigma associated with SAD that interferes with people’s willingness to seek diagnosis and treatment.”

The fact that SAD only arises at a specific time during the year, and then its symptoms virtually disappear, exaggerates the stigma.

Whether you are experiencing the “winter blues” or seasonal depression, know you are not alone.

My hysterectomy story — Part 4 in a 4 part blog series

I spent one week in a fog of depression. If anyone else has been through it, you’ll know that being alone after surgery can be defeating.

I had been venting to my ex, who had patiently listened to me whine about feeling alone and wondering why my friends didn’t dote on me as I had expected. There were no cards, no offerings of soup and not even cheap flowers from the corner store. Weren’t people supposed to bring you something when you are sick, I asked.

His answer was simple. “You’re not doing yourself any favours by thinking this. Just be glad that they visited.”

At first I was a little annoyed. Visiting was routine. We went out for lunch on a regular day. How could that make me feel special?

But as the words absorbed in my mind, their strength resonated.  Was I building up disappointment in my own mind?

I had truly expected to be pampered while I was sick. I was looking for acknowledgement that yes, I had lost a part of my body that is the key to all life. Wasn’t I supposed to expect attention?

But then I realized something – I don’t need attention. I never have.

I was losing sight of who I was – the strong, independent woman who relies on no one, but who is strong enough to lend a hand when others need support. And now I had allowed myself to become weak. A victim of a simple procedure that rendered me healthier and yet I was crying about a host of unmet expectations, built by myself. I was drifting through unhappiness created by me.

Suddenly, the fog lifted and I could see myself again. Was I still disappointed? Yes, I will always feel a little twang of sadness when I look back on this situation. A sappy card would have given me that little bit of bliss that I needed.

So now I know better. When someone is ill, or in a state of recovery,  I will show up with a token of thought on my way to visit. Because I have always chosen to live by these words: always treat others the way you want to be treated, even if they don’t.

I’m better now. Still strong and still independent. But wiser.


My hysterectomy story

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

My hysterectomy story — Part 3 in a 4 part blog series

I’m a fast healer. Two days after having a laparoscopic partial hysterectomy, I was driving. Walking was possible but I tired easily and I could only walk very slowly.

I had no pain to speak of. I took a prescribed anti-inflammatory but no pain killers. I had some cramping in my stomach and the tiny cuts were a little sore, but I was not in pain.

Four days after the procedure, I went shopping. I bought shoes and two belts that went around my slim waist and hips wonderfully. I felt great.

But I cried a lot. I was lonely. I had lots of well wishes before the surgery. Lots of emails and calls and offers to help if I needed help. And really, these emails and offers got me through the actual procedure so they were not in vain.

After the surgery, I waited. But truthfully, people are busy. Their lives go on and although the offers are given with sincerity, the actions don’t always follow suit.

I longed for a gaggle of girlfriends to come over on their own accord, make me tea and talk about the loss of my uterus. I wanted chat about what I was feeling and have some much needed girl bonding time.  But I suppose having a group of girlfriends show up with Entenmann’s lemon strudel  is simply just part of a script from an old Sex and The City episode and not reality.

I received text messages, and a couple of phone calls with more offers. But I wasn’t sure how I could really call someone and say, “Can you visit me today?”

Few visits eventually came, some sadly with a feeling of obligation in the air….and I played the good hostess. The cancellations were difficult. It made me realize that sometimes it’s better not to tell anyone in advance, so when they don’t make an effort, it’s because they didn’t know. And there are no let-downs.

Ironically, my ex came through for me.  It was a surprise since we hadn’t talked in a while, but he remembered the surgery. He offered the help and he visited, helped me, and fed me.

Tylenol 3 can help with the physical pain. Naproxen, which I actually took, helped with the physical inflammation. A smile from someone who makes you a cup of tea and sits with you while you are at your most vulnerable is the medicine that strengthens your heart…and once the main part of your body is strong, the rest can heal.

My theory is that my body heals itself quickly out of necessity. It knows that I’m an independent person who must rely on herself, so it supports me in that way.  Fast tracks my recovery so I can get up and start living again. And in many ways, this is good.

My ex, well, that was a bonus. Who knew? Why he’s my ex, you ask. Well that’s a story for another day.


My hysterectomy story

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

My hysterectomy story — Part 2 in a 4 part blog series

Surgery was a success. Dr. Grace Liu performed a laparoscopic partial hysterectomy at Sunnybrook last Tuesday.

I remember being in the operating room and Dr. Liu chatting with me as she held something over my mouth and nose. Then I vaguely remember waking up and asking, “Did she do it laparoscopically?” and touching my belly. The answer given from who I suspect was a nurse, was “Yes.”

The next memory was of being in bed with a nurse asking me a ton of questions and I finally got annoyed and gave up answering. I remember thinking, Why is she asking me so many questions? I can’t even speak…

Five residents came to visit me and asked me the same question asked by the nurses who looked after me for the 30 hours I was in the hospital. “How is your pain?” I was confused. “I have no pain,” I kept answering.

Truthfully, there was no pain. Discomfort in my stomach area when I moved and some cramping, but nothing I would call pain. Perhaps the years of dealing with extreme cramps that would be considered pain to the average person without my condition had made me immune.

When Dr. Liu came to see me the day after surgery, she looked stunned. “Look at you!” she said. “You have colour in your face!”

I thanked her and she shrugged it off. And I thought to myself – such a skilled surgeon who took out an enormous growth of fibroids from my uterus without having to cut me open. It was a procedure I was told was impossible from other medical sources. Her modesty and wonderful bedside manner made the entire experience almost welcoming – as much as surgery can be.

My recovery was not about physical pain but emotional pain. That’s my next blog.


My hysterectomy story

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4


My hysterectomy story — Part 1 in a 4 part blog series

It’s been a while since I posted. I spent a year and a half working on myself and my career and then I was in a place where I could make a long awaited decision. I have decided to have a partial hysterectomy.

I’m blogging about it because it’s a women’s issue and I wanted to share my experiences with other women who may be in a similar situation.

Fifteen years ago, irregular periods, hot flashes (yes, at 30!) and unbearable cramps led me to a specialist where it was determined that I had fibroids. They’re common, I was told. Just leave them alone and if they grow too large, then I’d eventually have to remove the uterus.

I was young and decided I could live with the symptoms because I wanted to keep the chance of having a child.

But the years passed, and the fibroids grew. I dreaded the week every month. The cramps lessened but the flow increased and for three of the days, I was incoherent. I was exhausted and even the simplest tasks took longer than usual. Last year, I knew it was time to make the decision.

Although I don’t have children and after next week, the option to give birth will be gone forever, I haven’t given up the privilege of becoming a mother.

All of my lives I have believed that being a mother to a child doesn’t necessarily mean giving birth. It means loving and caring and mentoring, helping one to grow. There are many children without a home in this world, and if I’m meant to be a mother, I will adopt.

So next week, I will be in the hands of a skilled surgeon who specializes in non-evasive operations. She will go into my uterus through three tiny incisions in my abdomen where a morcellator will dice up the fibroids so they can be removed through the incisions. There is a 30% chance that this procedure may not work, and only then will she opt for a bikini cut.

Am I scared? Yes.

In about nine days I may be able to blog again and let you know how it goes.

Keep reading….



My hysterectomy story

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

GAYPOST: Terrifying threat letters sent to Kingston lesbian couple

In a disgusting display of the hatred for gay and lesbian people that still boils under the surface of many communities two letters to a lesbian couple in Kingston surfaced on image sharing website Imgur on Thursday. One would assume that in Canada, a country that has long since legalized sodomy and more recently gay marriage, this level of intolerance would have been all but stamped out — instead we see the same level of vitriol one might expect in Kill-the-Gays Uganda.

The letters include threats, slurs, and a menacing tone that is downright chilling. The letters demand that they [sic] “leave this city, before it is too late, for you” and informs them that this group has been “following” them for “several months.”

The first letter informs them that they will “strike” and that these are not “empty threats.”

Most terrifying of all is the assertion that the couple being harassed should not bring this matter to the police because the hate group has contacts within the Kingston Police.

As of press time the Kingston Police have not responded to our media inquiry on the matter.

The second letter contains explicit threats of chasing gay people with BB guns, lamenting the fact that real guns are difficult to acquire in Canada as they would prefer to use lethal force.

Below is a transcript of the two letters along with the photos of the originals sourced from Imgur. Be warned that these letters contain explicit language and disturbing depictions of hate-based violence.


“Lesbian bitches,

We are a small but dedicated group of Kingston residents devoted to removing the scourge of homosexuality in our city. We know you and have been following you for the past several weeks and we wish for you to leave this city, before it is too late, for you. This will be the first of many reminders, each escalating to higher and higher levels of harassment and derailment. Since we have nothing personal against you, only against your sexuality, we suggest you move to more conductive climes like Vancouver, or preferably San Francisco.

Our base, head office in Deep South, has been energized by the recent US Supreme Court decisions legalizing same sex marriage. We feel that unless homosexuals reconvert to heterosexuality that life under this planet, under the umbrella of our Lord Jesus Christ, will become unbearable. Having observed you, we feel that you are committed lesbians unlikely to convert, hence this (first and only) gentle attempt to make you move.

If you do not, and take this letter to police, as we expect, we will know about this, since we have contacts in Kingston Police. Our efforts to relocate you will escalate. We wish to avoid this scenario. We are primarily non-violent, but use violence surgically to persuade people. We hope you understand without us painting to lurid a picture.

In the last several years we have relocated a few people like you from the Kingston area, through a set of incentives and effective persuasion. Please join their ranks ASAP. We will watch and wait, and then strike, at home and office, as need arises. These are not empty threats. MOVE, or else!

Thank you for your attention. We await effective action on your part, ASAP> You are not going to be safe at home, office or anywhere else if you ignore this message! However if you take this seriously, and make attempts to move, someone from our organization will contact you to make your relocation easier financially. If, additionally, you persuade another couple like yourselves to move, we will provide them financial assistance and yourselves a bonus for your help. We are a committed bunch and come hell of high water, we will move you out. Best under congenial circumstances, don’t you think?

In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, our saviour.”


The second letter:


As a followup, we had a group meeting yesterday on how to best deal with you. Some of our younger members want to have some fun chasing “lesbos”. We have brought them some BB guns and today they are doing target practice, so that they can hunt you down. It is regrettable that in Canada, real guns are hard to find, so BB it shall be. I can assure you BB pellets hurt!!

This is thrilling for the youngsters not so much to older members who would rather see serious action rather than playing with BB guns. However youngsters also want to have their fun, and what better targets than you?

Take our previous letter seriously or fun and games will turn into deadly serious action.

Below are the photos of the original letters posted online, click for full size:



You can follow Travis on Twitter at @TravMyers for more information on this story as it becomes available.

30 disturbing and disgusting tweets about Jason Collins coming out


Jason Collins shocked the world this week by becoming the first openly gay pro athlete (besides baseball player and inventor of the high-five Glenn Burke who was out to his teammates) and has been met with hate from ignorant people along with the praise he has received.

The hate being spewed at him is sadly not a surprise.

This collection is not intended to change any minds. The people who wrote these tweets think that what they are doing is okay and right, and it would take a lot more than simply holding up a mirror to them to get them to change their minds.

This collection of tweets is intended to open the eyes of anyone who is passively indifferent to gay causes or may be on the fence about vocalising their support for gay people in their lives.

Gay people wake up every day knowing that there are millions of people in the world who hate them for what they are. Gay people in other countries wake up every day unsure if they will be alive at the end of it. Kids here in Canada are bullied to death with words like these.

After reading these please do your part to let your friends and family know that you support gay people and gay rights. Send a positive tweet to Jason Collins, for example, or just do something simple as update your Facebook status to say that you love and care about the gay people in your life.

These are 30 disturbing and disgusting tweets about Jason Collins coming out.

Jason Collins should die

Jason Collins is a Faggot

Jason Collins is disgusting, certainly not a hero


Jason Collins will burn in hell

It is attitudes like these that make his coming out all the more important.

Hopefully someday soon a gay athlete, actor, politician, or person won’t require the fanfare, but until then every single gay person needs the reassurance of your love and support. Their life could depend on it.