Anchor Your Day ~ a mental health blog by Counselwise ~

“I Yam What I Yam”

My father used to love the expression “I yam what I yam,” quoting from the infamous Popeye. He would often say it in jest, and looking back, I suppose I inferred that it was sort of a “what you see is what you get” type of saying.

Our past; our childhood and lifetime experiences shape us; it will bring to us a very individualized way of processing the world that is unique to us. I suppose we can look at this saying in two ways. When we apply it to ourselves, we have a greater ability to say “Well, while it is true that I am what I am, there are times when perhaps I am doing something that is no longer in my best interest or can be hurtful to others.”  If we become aware of these behaviours and move to change them, we can shift from the expression of “I am what I am,” to more of “I am what I choose to become” and we are not so bound to our past.

We can also apply this saying to others in that they really “are what they are.”  And because of this, we at times will need to remind ourselves of two things: that people show you who they are early on and that we cannot change another person, only ourselves.  A valuable lesson to learn at any age 🙂


The Presence of Hope

I am an avid reader and always have a book on the go. A good friend recently recommended a book to me entitled “The Home for Unwanted Girls” by Joanna Goodman. A novel set in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, there were many reminders for me of having grown up in Vankleek Hill, Ontario where the blend of French and English existed as part of our childhood.

Every book has the potential to affect you in some way; this quote especially touched me: “Elodie closes her eyes. Maybe I’ve died, she thinks. The feelings inside her are too good, unfamiliar. There’s sadness, too, of course. This she accepts as the most natural, inevitable aspect of her life. Sadness lives in her cells, alongside her sense of injustice and outrage toward Sister Ignatia and God. These things cannot be transcended. They are as much a part of her being as her limbs and her organs and Nancy. But tonight, there’s something else: hope.”

For anyone who has ever experienced trauma and lives with its aftereffects; it is to know that it becomes cellular; a part of you. But as it exists as a part of you, so then does resilience, so then does courage, so then does hope.

“The Home for Unwanted Girls” by Joanna Goodman is a worthy read.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash



When a Break Up Happens: Resource

Going through a break up at any stage in life is difficult. We have to be able to try and stay distracted from the desire to completely shut off from the world, while not staying so busy that we completely avoid the feelings we need to process. We have to try and balance the advice of “the less contact, the better” that we instinctively know we should adopt, while at the same time needing our ex for support during a time we feel most vulnerable.

A relationship ending throws us into the stages of grief, and the feelings that come from that loss can feel very invasive and at times overwhelming. I recently heard about an app called “Mend;” it features daily audio training, practical tips and community support. Although many people rely on their support network during challenging times, it is also validating to be connected to others who are also going through something similar, at the same time. Sometimes, it is through the normalizing process of discovering “Okay, someone else is going through this right now too” that leads you to feeling connected and understood.

To check out the app:

There is also a blog with articles and interviews:

Photo credit: http://Photo by Trym Nilsen on Unsplash

Feeling Grateful

Today marks a month that I have been writing and sharing my blog. Although for a better part of a year I had wanted to begin the blog, certain self-inflicted roadblocks were in my way: 1. I tend to be introverted and when I was in a doubtful space, I would ask myself “who would want to read anything I wrote anyway” (we all have self-doubt sometimes!) and 2. the technical side of anything tends to overwhelm me (just ask my kids when I bug them about the most minor questions concerning my phone!)

As it always helps for me to feel informed, I ordered “Blogging for Dummies” by Amy Lupold Bair and Susannah Gardner and after reading that, felt better, but still overwhelmed with the learning curve of software programs, cyber-security, RSS feeds and so forth. And so I hired a web designer to get me going; she helped re-vamp my website, set me up

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Anxiety Fact #2

Anxiety is adaptive. Because we are pre-programmed to worry, anxiety conforms; it is a system in our body that helps us to deal with real danger. When we see a car come into our lane up ahead, or a bear steps into our path while hiking, anxiety keeps us safe. It alerts our fear response to kick into action, which in turn, helps to try and flee the danger. Seeing anxiety in this way can help us to appreciate the difference between true danger (real threat) and perceived danger (our fear triggers).

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.” – Mark Twain

Information for this post and a great website:

Photo credit: http://Photo by 223 223 on Unsplash



A Great Resource

A website recently came to my attention. It is called Big White Wall and it is an online peer support and self-management tool for youth 16+ and adults experiencing mild to moderate depression and anxiety. What I really liked about it was that it is available around the clock, it is anonymous, and is staffed by “Wall Guides” who make sure the community is safe and supportive. They have a section where you can post questions and get feedback, a creative section where you can post pics and see other people’s contributions as well, a section called “Useful Stuff” which has many articles to choose from, and a section where you can sign up for courses (usually 3 to 4 weeks) on a variety of topics. All completely free to those living in Ontario!

These are some of the stats:

  • 70% of users saw improvement in at least one aspect of their well-being
  • 46% of users reported sharing an issue for the first time
  • 51% of users reported less mental health-related time off work using Big White Wall.

Here’s the link:

Photo credit: http://Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

PTSD explained

In a recent article I read titled “The Vicious Cycle of Post traumatic Stress: 4 Cornerstones of PTSD” by Sally Nazari, PsyD and featured on Good Therapy, she talked about how PTSD symptoms can often occur after experiencing a traumatic event. Dr. Nazari writes, “Many different types of events can be traumatic. Trauma responses can follow any major change disruption in a person’s life.” She goes on to write, “In the time immediately following a trauma, many people have experiences of PTSD. In some cases, those experiences decrease over time and the person naturally recovers. It can be helpful to think of PTSD as a process where something got in the way of that natural process of recovery.”  

I especially like the last sentence as it helps to normalize to people that very often times their PTSD has developed as a result of not having been able to work through the acute stress response

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Things I Have Learned in High School: Guest Blogger!

Today my blog is written by a guest; my eighteen year old daughter, Layne 🙂 While recently on vacation, I invited her to write a post for my blog; I gave her “carte blanche.” What she came up with was quite insightful. Good job, kiddo!


Things I have Learned in High School

  • Your self-worth is most definitely not based on “likes.”
  • Having quality friends is more important than being popular.
  • Very few boys are emotionally mature – their actions are usually never about you.
  • No one really cares how you look; they’re usually too focused on themselves.
  • Doing your own thing is far more enjoyable than following a crowd.
  • Any drama will be irrelevant in, like, a week. Just stay out of it.
  • Be nice to your teachers; they will be nice back.
  • Where you fit in the social hierarchy in high school really does not matter in life.
  • Don’t be afraid to look silly; do what you do with confidence.
  • The really cool people aren’t the popular ones.
  • Always look forward.

Nature Unplugged

I am an early riser; as part of my own “anchor to my day”, I like to take a daily walk with my dog. This is often quite early in the morning, “dawn’s first light” type of early, and I am pretty good about ignoring the phone in my pocket. I have come to observe over the years that my walk is always where I do my best thinking and I notice things that I would not have paid attention to had I been plugged in. In the spring for example, the predominant noise in the air are the birds, vocalizing their praises to the warmer sun, and yet this time of year, all I can hear are the crickets. Curious as to why, I googled “what is the meaning of crickets chirping?” and I have now learned that it is only the males who chirp as a mating ritual. I guess they are expecting a long, hard winter. 🙂

There are times when my day seems overwhelming in front of me and so beyond my better judgement,  I pull that darn phone out of my pocket and fire off some texts or answer some emails. I can’t recall a time when I didn’t regret that decision as I come back from my walk much preoccupied and far from feeling peaceful. And so, I have pledged to myself to “be in nature unplugged,” to give myself the gift of contentedness, and reflective thought to begin my day. At the very minimum, I can at least give those crickets the audience they deserve.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Joseph Barrientos on Unsplash

Podcast: Other People’s Problems; Unhealthy Behaviours

In a recent podcast I listened to called “Other People’s Problems,” with therapist Hillary McBride, she was showcasing a session with “Maggie” and had this to say about the problematic behaviours we sometimes choose to help us cope with stress and hurt.

Looking at these [unhealthy] behaviours through the lens of emotional regulation, these are all things that [Maggie] is doing to manage her low mood or depression. There are all sorts of things that all of us do to manage a low mood, to boost us up a little bit. And the feeling of doing something indulgent actually gives us a sense of relief, again, maybe reward and excitement……… it’s not unusual for people to use behaviours that can become addictive like eating, using pornography, gambling, shopping; any behaviour that creates a dopamine rush in us. That those can be ways we can actually disengage in life and numb out as a way of avoiding pain, sadness, responsibility in life. So we want to make sure its not creating dysfunction.”

I resonated especially with this last sentence; when we

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