Louise's diary

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Dear diary,

I can't wait to share my mental health journey; hopefully, I will find some relief along the way. 

- Louise


Saturday, September 11th, 2021 @ 10:10 a.m.

This week has been hectic between returning to the office and the dwindling days (I'm already missing the long summer days!). I felt stressed and overwhelmed. After telling a doctor about it, he recommended that I contact Relief. He thinks their services could help me better deal with my symptoms. I wasn't sure whether it would be helpful, but I figured I had nothing to lose, so I messaged them on their Facebook page. I was surprised to talk to Sophia, a mental health worker who kindly gave me the information I needed. It reassured me to know that I could contact her again if necessary. She also told me about a walk they are organizing for mental health. I will look into it this weekend! Maybe I could even take Billy for a walk..

- Louise


Tuesday, September 14th, 2021 @ 6:35 p.m. 

Sunday, after having "baked" Ricardo's vanilla cupcakes (I don't understand why I keep trying, I always end up getting them burned), I went to find out about the Relief Walk event.

I thought it was a great idea to unite people, take care of yourself and help others! In addition, if you register before September 19, you can be the first to listen to their podcast and gain access to a yoga and meditation session. Not sure if I like yoga, but why not!

It tempted me to take up the challenge with my friends, but since they are always busy with their boyfriends... I registered alone! I'll ask my neighbor if I can take his dog Billy out, so I don't get too lonely.

I thought to myself the other day that I am less overwhelmed with my thoughts when I walk. It helps the hamster wheel calm down a bit, which feels pretty relieving! Especially after a day of working from home, it allows me to breathe. Anyway, I can't wait to do this walk. Fun times ahead!

Until next time dear diary,
- Louise


Friday, September 17th, 2021 @ 6:22 a.m. 

It was hard to wake up this morning. Usually, I snooze my alarm 2-3 times to get 10 more minutes of sleep, but today I shut it off 30 minutes before it went off. Unheard of for me!

2 options: work emergencies woke me up or I just can't wait for FRIDAY! 

I don't have any big plans this weekend, I'm going to talk to my friends and family about the Relief walk and why I've decided to participate.

I've realized I don't have enough time for myself. Work is taking over my life! Even after I get home, I'm still thinking about work and I don't even have the energy to make myself something to eat. What's funny is that I can find the energy to say "yes" to a colleague or to answer my emails. But this weekend is FOR ME. When I walk, it doesn't take energy, it gives me energy! And even better, I can contribute to a cause that is so important to me. I'm crossing my fingers that my loved ones will support me by making donations!

I lost track of time! I need to get ready for work!!
Note to self: don't forget your JUST BITE bars!!

See you soon,
- Louise


Tuesday, September 21th, 2021 @ 4:47 p.m.

Yesterday, I received the Relief backpack in my email which really motivated me! Our Mondays should typically be like this more often, it would help us start our week (at least for me)

I haven't had time to listen to Petrona Joseph's podcast yet where she discusses her anxiety and depression with a Relief mental health worker, Édouard I think. I'M SOO EXCITED! I'd have liked to hear Sophia's voice, I'm convinced that she has a soft and pleasant voice!

I've thought long about the weekend of October 2nd and 3rd and decided to do a 20km walk. 10km each day will be easier. I'll bring Billy, my neighbour's dog. I love this labrador, sometimes he tugs on his leash too much but his presence comforts me!

To prepare myself, I'm going to walk shorter distances everyday and gradually increase the number of kilometers. I'm not used to walking long distances so a little preparation can't hurt!

I even made a to-do list on my phone:

  • Continue to spread the word
  • Register to Hatha Yoga with Christine
  • Order a pair of "Happy" socks from Horace
  • Read the article on Relief about the benefits of walking
  • Pack my equipment: a water bottle, a snack (Nature Valley or Just Bite), my sunglasses, headphones and walking shoes. 

With all of this I should achieve success! I hope this pause in work will last a little longer - crossing my fingers and toes haha. 

Talk soon,
- Louise


Thursday, September 23rd, 2021 @ 11:57 p.m.

Here we go again, I can't sleep. Okay, this time around, I know why though.

I told myself that I would walk every day, at least 20-30 minutes, but I haven't done anything since the beginning of the week. I completely forgot that I had an appointment with my financial advisor and that I had to help my little sister moved her new sofa. Instead of walking, I found myself running everywhere!

ANYWAY, every time, it's the same story.

I always want to do more, even when it's supposed to be fun. I never learn from my mistakes. Maybe I just like running around. Anyway, my body doesn't like it, and it makes it very clear to me!

Argh, I get so angry at myself sometimes! I need to calm down otherwise, I won't be able to sleep.

Yesterday, I laughed at myself when I read the Relief article, which mentioned that overdoing is not a good mix with mental health. NO KIDDING!

Instead of walking 20 km, I'll walk 10 km. 5 km on Saturday, 5 km on Sunday. I feel bad about lowering my kilometers that I had set for myself. But when I think about it, I feel relief. I'm just going to have FUN and it will be just as successful!

I ALMOST FORGOT THE MOST IMPORTANT PART, I received my first donation today !! An anonymous donation of $20. Only $80 left to raise, yay! I think it's my colleague, Vanessa. I chatted with her about my participation in the Relief walk during my coffee break. I should keep talking about it to the people around me!

On that cheerful note, I'm going to sleep. Maybe I should count donations instead of sheep; perhaps it would work better!

Sweet dreams dear diary,
- Louise


Sunday, September 26th, 2021 @ 5:20 p.m.

I have just returned from my walk at Mont Royal Park with Billy, and it has been a while since I felt so RE-ENERGIZED!!! The sun was so warm, and the view of Montreal was still beautiful. I love Fall so much (even if the thermostat plays with my nerves sometimes)!

When I think back to the yoga practice offered in the Relief backpack, it didn't give me much peace of mind!

I felt embarrassed, caught in the impostor syndrome: me, a girl who has always been scattered in ten million projects, who never stops thinking that it sometimes prevents me from sleeping, who always neglects her health because of stressful work.

My colleagues had said so much to me about yoga that I was, to say the least, disappointed. But hey, I've only done it once. It's not the fault of my teacher Christine who was excellent and so sweet! It was just me swearing behind my screen; luckily, it was on Zoom.

I'm MAYBE exaggerating a little; the child's posture made me feel good. It was very comforting. If someone asks me if yoga is good, I would say to give it a try to find out if it's right for you.

On the other hand, going for a walk with Billy is the key to peacefulness. Emergencies and demanding customer demands no longer exist. I feel calm and relaxed. This furball is having so much fun running around that I always end up walking longer!

I dread going back to work tomorrow, but I can't wait to take my walk with Billy next weekend! I'm counting the days until the Relief walk; it's going to be fun!!!

See you soon!
- Louise


Tuesday, September 28th, 2021 @ 9:07 p.m.

I have the Monday blues! I have ZERO motivation. That feeling of renewal didn’t last long at all… It seems like it never lasts very long!

I spoke to my mom on the phone yesterday. I chatted to her about my participation in the Relief walk and she said, “what’s all this about mental health, you don’t have any problems!”. When we hung up I had no energy left. No matter what I do it never seems to be good enough. I feel misunderstood. I was even afraid to ask her for a donation despite only needing another $20 to reach my goal!

I remembered that Sophia, the mental health worker at Relief, sent me a message to say that I could contact her again if I needed to talk. So I did!

I immediately called their support line at 866 738-4873. It went to voicemail but I left a message and they called me back fairly quickly. Sophia wasn’t available so I spoke to another counsellor, Jean-Sébastien.

He reassured me by telling me that it was normal to have ups and downs. He also reminded me that we often get ahead of ourselves but that it was important to listen to our own needs and go at our own pace. And he encouraged me to continue writing in my diary! Writing really does calm me down. Putting my experiences into words seems to really help me feel better.

Don’t give up Louise, you can do it!

Goodnight dear diary,
- Louise


Thursday, September 30th, 2021 @ 12:59 p.m.

STOP! My fingers have been furiously typing away on my keyboard since this morning and I may just end up breaking it. Luckily I’m working from home today so I can have as many mini meltdowns as I want without anyone hearing me (except maybe my neighbor downstairs)!

I have the words of Jean-Sébastien, mental health worker at Relief, in mind: “When it all gets too much, STOP! Take a break, stop what you’re doing, set everything aside”.

My laptop is closed. My second screen is off. My notifications have been disabled. A one-hour lunch break to be by myself: now that’s the dream!

I used the time to open my package. My super cute pair of Horace socks have arrived! I can’t wait to wear them for my walk. And it means $5 more for Relief!

By the way, I couldn’t BELIEVE it when I realized we had raised more than $57 000 for the walk! My neighbor must have heard me cry out this time, I’m sure of it! There are so many people who have signed up: solo, with family, between friends or even among colleagues. It’s incredible!! I can’t wait!!!

And to think I felt so lonely and burned out… now I’m back on my feet, ready to tackle anything!! Alright, time to head back!

See you soon,
– Louise


Saturday, October 2nd, 2021 @ 2:06 p.m.

I’M READY! This weekend I’m taking time for myself and only MYSELF. I’m off to walk 5 km at the Mont Royal Park. As for tomorrow’s walk, we’ll see where the day leads me.

All my things are ready: my water bottle, my JUST BITE snack (not to mention my favorite Nature Valley cereal bar), my headphones, my rain jacket, and my walking shoes with my Horace socks.

I’m also going to pick Billy up! I’m so happy that my neighbor has allowed me to take his dog with me. It’s so much more fun when you have a walking buddy!

I even created a playlist with all my favorite music in case I finish Relief’s podcasts before the end of the walk!

Note to self: don’t forget to take a photo and to share it on my social media with the hashtag #theReliefwalk and to tag @myrelief.ca.

Fingers crossed that someone I know gives me 20 dollars!

On that note, off I go!

See you tomorrow,
- Louise


Sunday, October 3rd @ 5:32 p.m.

YES! I did it! What an amazing feeling.

It’s a little crazy when I think about it. Walking was simply a way for me to get from point A to point B. Nothing more. I never thought it would become a way of taking care of myself. And then, on top of doing something for my mental health, I also contributed towards something bigger than myself by participating in the Relief walk. As I'm writing this, I even collected $100 thanks to my fundraiser. I am on top of the world, or as my younger, way cooler little sister would say, flexing hard!

In addition to the walk, something else that I’m super proud of is the fact that I tried yoga out for the first time. Not so much for the yoga as such, because honestly it didn’t exactly blow my mind, but rather because I went ahead and tried something new. Exploring the unknown has always stressed me out. As I write this, I realize that being stressed out by the idea of doing yoga may sound counter-intuitive but hey, here we are. Either way, I wanted to face my fears and I succeeded!

But what made me happiest in the last few days was listening to myself and setting my own boundaries. At its core, that was my real goal.

― Was I too ambitious with my commitment to walk 20 km in 2 days? I simply reassessed my goal.
― Received emails from my boss on a Saturday morning? I disabled my notifications.
― The laundry basket is overflowing? Uh… ok, no. I should maybe do some laundry. I’m running out of clean clothes!

Anyway, all this to say that I’m done putting everything before myself.

Look at me go. I’ve got this!
- Louise

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