Andrew’s Training Blog: Ride This Road Together

I’m back. I think. Back from the brink of losing myself. Suicide. Overdose. Both were in the cards for me. I guess you could say I seized the opportunity to change, and got my life in order. When you’re dealt a bad hand you can either fold or bluff. So, I bluffed my way back to good health. Fake it ‘til you make it, they say. I wasn’t oblivious to my steady deterioration over the past six months. But, unaware of my potential for change, I felt helpless to take control of my life. My mind was clouded. I had […]

Shoppers Drug Mart LOVE. YOU.: A Mom Fighting Stigma — Chelsea’s Story

Chelsea Moon is a 30-year-old recent university grad and mother of two, who is joining the Ride Don’t Hide movement for the first time this year. She’s riding for herself, her daughter, and all Canadian families who live with mental illness. Chelsea’s oldest child, 9-year-old Ali, is an active kid who loves to dance, spend time with her friends, and help her family in the garden. Ali also lives with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which means that she can have trouble focusing, and become overstimulated from activities like going to the grocery store or out for dinner. ADHD is […]

Andrew’s Training Blog: Extreme

I remember how it came on. Fast. Without warning. Suddenly, I was all fired up, as if I’d just been jump started. I turned on some music, cranked the volume, and then began dancing. I couldn’t help myself. I was overcome with a desire to move. An hour passed before I finally took a rest. Lounging upright on the couch, my body swayed wildly to the music pumping out of my speakers. I jumped to my feet, turned the volume up a notch, and then headed to the kitchen to brew a cup of coffee. I did a quick jig […]

Mother and Mental Health Advocate: Candice’s Story

After losing her brother to suicide and living with her own mental health challenges, Candice has found a renewed sense of purpose and reason to care for her mental health: her daughter. Candice is no stranger to the fear of stigma that surrounds mental illness. “A lot of the stigma was in my own mind,” she confesses. “I worried people were going to judge me or that people were going to think less of me—that I wasn’t competent.” After opening up about her experiences, she came to realize that sharing her story made support and connection possible. “Once I actually started talking, I didn’t feel the stigma. I […]

Andrew’s Training Blog: Setbacks

Setbacks happen. You can plan to your heart’s content, but as John Lennon so accurately put it, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” So I had my first setback last week, time to move on. As an individual with a serious mental illness, I know overwhelming stress often leads to relapse. I suppose I lost insight. The accumulation of academic and extracurricular commitments, combined with mounting personal stresses, pushed me over the edge. Depression ensued. It seemed my aspirations of riding twenty kilometers in this year’s Ride Don’t Hide would go unfulfilled. But I don’t give […]

Shoppers Drug Mart LOVE. YOU. Blog: Rina Varley

In August 2012, a few months before my 47th birthday, I was finally given a label for something that has made me feel different my whole life. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which means negative thoughts and beliefs loop constantly in my brain, and can even prevent me from doing things I really want to do. I’ve had periods of my life where I can’t manage well, can’t work, or even get out of bed. During these struggles, my behaviour has been viewed as unprofessional, weak, or even self-indulgent…by ME! But thanks to the help of my family and friends, […]

Andrew’s Training Blog: Until the Sun Rises

I’ve come to realize, over the years, that learning acceptance is the first step to living a life beyond mental illness and addiction. Sadly, I have yet to fully accept that living with serious mental health concerns means facing certain limitations. I expect a lot of myself, and I have big ambitions. So, it’s difficult to accept that the future I once imagined myself living may never become a reality. Recently, I’ve been reflecting on my search for acceptance. I suppose learning to accept hardship is like learning to ride a bike. It’s a gradual and, at times, exacting process […]

Andrew’s Training Blog: The Unruly Mess I’ve Made

“It is only when I lose contact with the painting that the result is a mess. Otherwise there is pure harmony, an easy give and take, and the painting comes out well.” –Jackson Pollock I relapsed. It was inevitable. Having stretched myself too thin, the stress of a growing workload pushed me over the edge. So, I sank into a depression. There I was, just a few days into my training and already curled up on the couch in a state of complete despair. I’ve gone for a couple rides this week. I ride to distract myself. I need a […]

Andrew’s Training Blog: Ten Thousand Hours

They say you have to put in ten thousand hours of practice to master a skill. I don’t have ten thousand hours, so I’m going to put in thirty hours. Thirty hours to master riding a bike. When I was told the idea for this blog involved training to ride twenty kilometers in this year’s Ride Don’t Hide, I was hesitant. I haven’t ridden a bike since the age of ten (twenty years ago). Initially, I wanted to ride the beginner’s route, however, having mulled it over, I’m now determined to leave my blood, sweat and tears on that twenty […]

Shoppers Drug Mart LOVE YOU Blog: Pharmacist shares her perspective on mental health

Photo: Leona Acaster with her husband, Brad (left), and colleague, Colleen (right), at the 2013 Shoppers Drug Mart Ride Don’t Hide “Through my professional life, I’m very fortunate to have face-to-face contact with people who are living with mental illness.” Every year, Leona Acaster organizes extravagant fundraisers for Shoppers Drug Mart’s Ride Don’t Hide, a community bike ride hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association to end stigma and raise funds for mental health programs and services. Featuring live bands and silent auctions, Leona’s annual fundraisers typically draw up to 150 attendees. Leona is a Shoppers Drug Mart pharmacist. “Through […]

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