The Flawesome Award

Image from Sophia Ismaa

I was nominated by Elizabeth for the Flawesome Award. Elizabeth blogs about mental health and lifestyle topics over on The Uncustomary Housewife. She is one of my absolute favourite bloggers. I hope you will all go follow her and read her work. Elizabeth, I think you are fantastic and it means a lot to me that you thought of me for this award. Thank you.

About the Award

Sophia Ismaa created the Flawesome Award. I could paraphrase, but she said it best:

“It’s time to celebrate the flaws that make you awesome. How many times do we see an award that celebrates all things bright and shiny and sunny in a person? How often do we forget that our weaknesses can be a strength? Our flaws make us human, our flaws tell us more about who we are, and in turn we turn those flaws into awesome strengths. In short, our flaws make us #flawesome.”

( From: https://sophiaismaa.wordpress.com/2018/08/31/the-flawesome-award/ )

I believe we learn a lot from what we perceive as flaws, so I think this award is pretty amazing.

Rules of the Flawesome Award

  1. Link back to the creator – Sophia Ismaa Writes
  2. Display the award
  3. List 3 flaws and turn it into a strength
  4. Tag 10 other people

My Flaws & Strengths

I have difficulty discussing my strengths, so this wasn’t easy for me. I decided that given this is a mental health blog, I would take this opportunity to focus on ways in which my mental illnesses have created strengths in me. Bear with me because I don’t want anyone to think that I believe illnesses reflect badly on those who have them. Having an illness doesn’t mean you are flawed. I think illnesses are a part of life. My grandma used to always say, “everything happens for a reason”. I wouldn’t go that far, but I do think we learn things and adapt from hard times. I am going to focus on ways that mental illness negatively impacts my life that have brought about positive lessons for me.

I can be withdrawn

The flaw: My depression and anxiety disorders often lead me to withdraw from my life. I can seclude myself, not seeing anyone for months. This can negatively impact my relationships with friends and family. It also leads me to feel lonelier and more isolated which causes my depression and anxiety symptoms to worsen.

The strength: I value my friends and family above all else. I have always been someone who cares deeply about the people in my life, but my seclusion further emphasizes the importance of my social connections. I am hyper-aware of how much my loved ones mean to me. In a world where we can sometimes veer towards selfishness, I see this focus on others as a strength.

I worry excessively

The flaw: I spend much of my time anxious and worried. My anxiety is severe and impedes my functioning in very real ways. My head is always spinning with “what ifs” and worst case scenarios. I can react negatively to events, information or stimuli I am not expecting. My worry has affected my mental and physical health, and many aspects of my life.

The strength: I am organized and prepared. My files are in order, I know where most of my belongings are, I have checklists for everything and I keep an updated calendar. I worry about all sorts of possibilities arising, and I often work hard to prepare for things. This means when I go on road trips I have a binder full of directions, restaurant menus, festivals and events, addresses and phone numbers. Being organized and prepared is a coping mechanism I need to stay afloat when I am anxious. Organization and preparedness help me avoid surprises and be ready for things that come my way.

I’m not where I thought I would be

The flaw: Some of my plans for my life haven’t worked out. As a result of my mental illnesses, I am low functioning at the moment. I am 26 years old but I’m not able to work, I’m very dependent on others and some aspects of my personal life have been put on hold. I am not able to contribute financially to my family. I’m not currently able to take care of myself independently.

The strength: It took me a long time to accept that I might have to let go of things I had always planned for. I have had to re-evaluate some of my preconceptions about life. I have come to accept that it is okay to rely on others, we all do sometimes. We don’t exist independent of the help we are granted. Independence remains important, gaining further independence is a major goal of mine. But I no longer think it’s a flaw to need help or ask for it. Likewise, I used to think that ambition was a universally important character trait. I now realize that ambition sometimes comes at the expense of happiness. We can become lost in our ambitions, I’m sure I have. I have an appreciation for prioritizing the things I find most important and I’m no longer judgemental of anyone who is taking time to find their footing. It is okay to just be. There is a lot to be said for a life of balance.

My nominees

These are the bloggers who I want to recognize for their work. I hope you will go visit them on social media and check out their blogs.

To the bloggers: I’m sure many of you have already received this award. There’s no pressure to keep it going, I just think you are wonderful.

Ain’t No Atlas

@no_atlas

https://aintnoatlas.home.blog/

Dr. Ashley

The Panicked Foodie

@PanickedFoodie

https://thepanickedfoodie.com/

Brian & Chelsea

Two of a Mind

@Brian_ToaM & @Chels_ToaM

https://www.twoofamind.com/

Carys

Carys Emma Blog

@carys_emma_

https://carysemmablog.wordpress.com/

Fiona

The Fractured Light

@fracturedlightx 

https://www.thefracturedlight.com/

Joan

My Best Friend Adeline

@joansenio1

http://kindness-compassion-and-coaching.com/

Khadra

The Good The Human

@TheGoodTheHuma1

https://thegoodthehuman.wordpress.com/

Lindsay

Seeds in the Wasteland

@seedsinthewaste

https://seedsinthewasteland.wordpress.com/

Nicole

Navigating Darkness

@ItsNicoleCarman

www.navigatingdarkness.com

Sam

Mentally Speaking

@MaddDawgDailey

https://maddawgvlogsblogspot.com/


 

Thanks again to Elizabeth for nominating me. It turned out to be a great exercise for me to identify strengths and lessons I have gained.

Take care,

Fiona

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Blogger Recognition Award

Photo by Jess Waters on Unsplash

I’m very touched to have been nominated for another blogger award. Nicole from Navigating Darkness has nominated me for the Blogger Recognition Award. This award is given between bloggers in recognition of each other’s work. It means a lot to me that my writing is being read and appreciated by amazing people like Nicole.

Nicole not only blogs candidly about her mental health, she is also always coming up with ways to bring the mental health blogging community together in advocacy and awareness initiatives. I believe she is still accepting submissions for her post series “Taking Care of Your Mental Health During the Holiday Season” which I will be contributing to. She has also created The Mental Health Awareness Project (MHAP). The MHAP launches in 2019 and aims to raise awareness through monthly mental health topics which bloggers can contribute pieces to. You can also find both Nicole and the MHAP on Twitter at @ItsNicoleCarman and @OfficialMHAP.


How the Blogger Recognition Award works

  1. Write a post to showcase your award
    2. Give a brief story of how your blog started.
    3. Give two pieces of advice for new bloggers.
    4. Thank those that nominated you and link their blog
    5. Select other blogs to give the award to.

How Like As The Waves Started

I’ve written about the origins of this blog before and to find out all the details you can visit my post for the Sunshine Blogger Award. It’s worth noting, brevity wasn’t something I aimed for in that particular description.

I began blogging in response to the overwhelming support and encouragement I received from friends and family after beginning to share openly about my mental health on Facebook. I began sharing updates with my loved ones from the hospital in 2017 and the support I received completely floored me. I have always loved to write and wanted an outlet to do so. After my wedding last October I was looking for something meaningful to do with my time. I started Like As The Waves in November 2017 and am so glad I did. I am learning and growing from writing about mental health and mental illness. I am also glad to be connecting with some inspiring and supportive people who I feel privileged to get to know online.

Advice for New Bloggers

It is strange for me to offer advice to new bloggers, given I feel like quite the newbie myself! However, as it is part of the award, here are two things I try to adhere to as a blogger.

  1. Be yourself.

Always be yourself. The blogs I admire most are written by people who write with an authentic voice. Sure, there is a lot of information out there on how to best run a blog, but none of that advice will work for you if it isn’t true to who you are. Write about what feels important or interesting to you in a way that is true to who you are. Your blog will be much more compelling that way. William Shakespeare wrote it best, “this above all: to thine own self be true”. That quote has been my absolute favourite since I read Hamlet many fortnights ago. Honest, I even have a necklace with that quote engraved on it. (Bonus piece of info – did you know my blog title is the opening words to my favourite Shakespearean sonnet? More on that in a blog post soon). Point being, I think blogs are best when they are backed by honesty and passion. The best way to fuel those in to your blog, in my humble opinion, is to be yourself.

  1. Don’t be afraid to share your work

Your blog is probably pretty awesome, make sure others know it exists. I am still painfully bad at promoting my blog, but I do try to always share the pieces I write. I suggest acquainting yourself with Twitter if you haven’t already. While I was pretty excited to write a blog even when my readership was mostly just one person (hi mom) it has been nice to connect with a broader community on Twitter. By sharing my work and seeking out the work of others I have made some great friends and learned a lot.

If you are a mental health blogger starting out on Twitter, the @SickNotWeak and @KeepTalkingMH communities are a great place to start looking for other advocates to engage with. Start using their hashtags #SickNotWeak and #KeepTalkingMH for your own tweets and search out those hashtags for awesome community members to follow and connect with. Nicole’s new project @OfficialMHAP is another great community to connect with on Twitter, use the hashtags #MHAP and #MHBlogFam.

Probably the most gratifying response I receive from my blog is from family and friends. I often feel vulnerable or embarrassed when I share my blog posts on Facebook for them to see, but I try to do it anyways. It’s been great for the people I care about to get to know me better, and has allowed some of them to feel comfortable opening up to me about their own struggles.

My nominees

Here are some of the writers whose blogs I am most grateful for! If you choose to make a blog post about this award, please let me know so that I can read your responses. I would love to hear what advice you have to share for other bloggers.

I hope anyone reading will check out these thoughtful writers and their blogs.

Anja

The Calculating Mind

@CalculatingMind

https://calculatingmind.wordpress.com/

Anja is a mental health advocate living with Bipolar Disorder. She writes from a mixture of personal experience and insight into broader issues. The intersection of research and personal stories makes her blog a favourite of mine. One of her recent pieces, “3 Assumptions Mental Health Providers Should NOT Make”, spoke to me on a very personal level as someone who has been on the receiving end of those harmful assumptions. She is also a great presence on Twitter and perhaps the only other person who I know to have gotten excited at receiving a DSM-5 as a gift.

Elizabeth

The Uncustomary Housewife

@UncustomaryHW

https://uncustomaryhousewife.com/

Elizabeth is a longtime blogger who writes about her Bipolar Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety, along with other lifestyle topics. I love her blog not only for her own brilliant pieces about mental health, but also for her Not Alone Series which features stories and interviews from other individuals with mental illness. She is also wonderfully geeky and her love of Broadway makes me infinitely happy.

Jaaron

Worn Pages and Ink

@wornpagesandink

https://wornpagesandink.wordpress.com/

Jaaron is a book blogger and close friend of mine. Long before I read any other blogs, I was reading Jaaron’s! She has a knack for relaying the essence of books. After reading her recent review of “Tin Man” by Sarah Winman I wasted no time in running to Amazon to order a copy! I’m forever jealous of her beautiful books organized by colour. Most importantly, she is a beautiful person, amazing friend and talented writer. If you love books (or want to read reviews that are sure to make you love books), hop on over to her blog.

Khadra

The Good The Human

@TheGoodTheHuma1

https://thegoodthehuman.wordpress.com/

Khadra’s blog focusses on mental wellbeing. She is a trained counsellor whose blog is uplifting and informative. She frequently shares insightful advice on maintaining mental health and supporting those who are struggling. Her recent blog “How Would You Respond? Part 2” about responding to self-harm beautifully captures how to be helpful to someone who discloses their self-harm to you. She has also recently co-created the Mental Health Crisis Angels (@MHCrisisAngels on Twitter). The Mental Health Crisis Angels are a group offering peer support through Twitter messages. You can find out more about this amazing initiative here.


Thanks for reading! I hope you will show some love to the amazing blogs I linked to. Thank you again to Nicole for nominating me, it was fun to put this together. I will be back, hopefully later this week, with a new blog entry.

Take care,

Fiona

Sunshine Blogger Award – Like As The Waves

I’d like to thank the ever kind Nicole of Navigating Darkness for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award. Nicole’s newly revamped blog is always an interesting read so you guys should definitely check it out.

My understanding is that the Sunshine Blogger Award is a way for the blogging community to show each other support and appreciation for each other’s blogs. Each person who is nominated answers a series of questions from the person who nominated them and in turn nominates more bloggers. I am grateful to Nicole for recognizing my blog and enjoyed answering her questions. I hope some of my nominees will keep this chain of gratitude and recognition going, I look forward to hearing their answers and looking in to the blogs they choose to nominate.

Here are the rules of the Sunshine Blogger Awards.

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and link to their blog.
  • Display the Sunshine Blogger Logo in your post or on your blog.
  • List the rules in your blog post.
  • Answer the 11 questions that are provided to you by the blogger who nominated you.
  • Nominate 11 bloggers.
  • Provide your nominees with 11 questions (different from the ones you answered).

 

My Nominees

I am so in awe of a plethora of bloggers. I am going to stick with mental health bloggers today. Here are 11 of the many that I admire. While I’m not including bloggers who were nominated along with me, I haven’t checked if the people below have been nominated already. My apologies if some of you have already been nominated, as I’m sure you have been! I hope some of you reading this will check out these fantastically written and deeply insightful blogs.

Andrew, Rise Above the Ashes – https://riseabovetheashes.wordpress.com/

Anja, The Calculating Mind – https://calculatingmind.wordpress.com/

Ashley, Mental Health at Home – https://mentalhealthathome.wordpress.com/

Ida, Around the Ward in 80 Days – https://aroundthewardin80days.com/

John, The 3 of Me – https://the3ofme.ga/

Linla, Hello Linla – https://hellolinla.com/

Mercedes, This Is My Life on Anxiety – http://thisismylifeonanxiety.com/

Seeds in the Wasteland – https://seedsinthewasteland.wordpress.com/

Susan, My Loud Bipolar Whispers – https://myloudbipolarwhispers.com/

Terminally Nice – https://terminallynice.wordpress.com/contact/

Writing Out My Storms – https://writingoutmystorms.com/

Thank you all for your contributions towards our ongoing discourse around mental illness and mental health. I am inspired and motivated by your writing.

 

Questions for My Nominees

  1. What is your favourite book?
  2. Which of your blog posts are you most proud of?
  3. What quality do you value most in others?
  4. What is your best joke?
  5. Who is someone who had a big impact on your life?
  6. What’s one aspect of blogging that you dislike or find challenging?
  7. If you had to choose one meal to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  8. What is your least favourite movie?
  9. What is your favourite scent?
  10. What is one way that you cope with bad days?
  11. Where is your favourite place?

 

My Answers to Nicole’s Questions

  1. Briefly describe the moment when you decided to start a blog. What made you want to start? Did something or someone inspire you?

Keeping this brief proved impossible, but here is how I decided to start my blog.

I started writing my blog in November of 2017. I wouldn’t say there was one specific defining moment that lead me to begin blogging about my mental illness, it was more of an accumulation of small moments over that year. In January 2017 my depression was at an all time low and I was hospitalized. I had been struggling more than usual and secluding myself. My friends and family knew I was ill, I have always been fairly open about my depression and anxiety, but I was avoiding communicating with them.

When I was admitted to the hospital I was completely terrified. I had been hospitalized just once before and that previous hospitalization had been a traumatic experience. Suddenly I knew I had to be transparent with my friends and family because I would need their support to get through my hospitalization. So, I started posting on Facebook. I let my friends know when I was admitted and gave them a bit of an update every day I was in the hospital. In response, my family and friends rallied, they made sure I wasn’t alone if I didn’t want to be, they showed me how much they care. But also, I started receiving messages from friends telling me how my writing about these experiences was helping them face their own mental health challenges. I knew I had to keep being open about it.

Screen Shot 2018-08-02 at 5.39.17 PM
One of my early Facebook posts that lead to me starting this blog.

I was released from the hospital after a couple of weeks. But I was still not stable and was readmitted in March. I went back to giving my Facebook friends a daily update during that time in hospital and they kept telling me how much it helped them. I even started to get messages from people telling me they never understood mental illness and that I was helping them understand it better. This was heartening. I also started to notice that blogging was a release for me. I began considering to write a blog but 2017 was busy, we moved in to our house in April and I married my husband in October. Blogging was far from a priority.

After the wedding I started to look for a new project to dedicate myself to. I had been planning the wedding for two years and suddenly there was a gap in my time, I needed a new meaningful activity. I had continued to be very open with my friends on social media and I was continuing to receive positive feedback from people of all sorts. I took the plunge and I’m very glad I did.

  1. What is one thing that you want everyone to know about you?

One thing I want for people to know about me is that I receive fantastic treatment and have an amazing support system. My husband Tom takes care of me in every way possible. I have caring, generous and accepting family members and friends who help me make it through tough times. I see a psychiatrist at least once per month. I have completed three group therapy programs in the last couple of years. I have worked with social workers, a psychologist, a case worker, occupational therapists… Point being, people can struggle even if they are getting the best care. I am being supported more than I could ever ask for, but I am still struggling. I have made some progress, but not much sustained progress, and I am still in a lot of pain and distress every day. It is too often assumed that if someone is struggling with their mental health they must not be receiving proper care. Or, even worse, we assume if they are receiving treatment and support than they must not “really want to get better” or “aren’t trying hard enough”. The truth is, even when we have the best of support and treatment at our disposal, recovery takes time. Everyone is different. I’ll admit, I do get tired of the assumption that my doctors and support system aren’t doing enough for me or that I am not trying enough solutions or trying hard enough.

  1. Tell us one way that you are a good blogger. Stating that you are not a good blogger is not an acceptable answer because every one of us has good qualities. Maybe you raise awareness for something. Maybe you’re good at coming up with ideas for posts. Maybe you love working with other bloggers and supporting them.

I am honest. That’s one thing I think that makes me a good blogger. I try not to veil any emotions or hide any messy details. I am as honest and open as I can be about what it feels like to be me and the things I care about.

  1. What is one of your biggest goals that you wish to achieve with your blog?

This might come across wrong, but I don’t really have goals for my blog. When I started the whole thing I just thought that maybe a couple of people would read it and find it meaningful or informative. I have already been floored by the amount of attention and love I have received for the blog. True, my readership on the whole is quite low. But a few of my pieces have been shared quite a lot and I have received such positive reinforcement. Every time I hear from someone that what I wrote helped them I am just so touched and grateful, it’s what keeps me going.

  1. What is your favorite TV show?

Choosing just one would be impossible! My favourites are probably The Office, Game of Thrones, Gilmore Girls and Downton Abbey. I love stories and TV is no exception. I have been watching quite a lot of TV in the past couple of years while my energy has been so low, these are the shows I keep coming back to.

  1. What is one country that you would like to visit, and why?

Italy is at the top of my list. I could tell you it was because of beautiful monuments and the culture… But honestly, it’s mostly about the gelato! That’s not to say that I haven’t always wanted to see Tuscany, the Trevi Fountain, the Amalfi Coast, the Colosseum… These are all necessary stops along the way, you know, to fill in the time that I wouldn’t be spending eating gelato, pizza, gelato, pasta and more gelato. I mean, who didn’t read Eat, Pray, Love and wonder why Elizabeth Gilbert ever left Italy? Ireland and France are also high on my list. My husband and I had to cancel our honeymoon to the Caribbean (probably Jamaica) in favour of nearby Québec City because of my anxiety, so I am also hoping to be able to go to the Caribbean with him some day.

  1. What are three material possessions that you couldn’t live without?

I see this in two different senses. There are items I couldn’t live without because of their function and others I couldn’t live without because they are meaningful to me.

Function
  • My oven: I love to cook and bake. I would be hopeless without an oven.
  • My iPod: Sadly, my beautiful iPod classic is on its last legs. I won’t be replacing it with a new version or putting my music on my phone. I need my iPod. I have already begun my desperate search for a fully functioning iPod classic. I’ve been using it for something like 12 years, I would be lost without it!
  • My bath tub: I can say this from experience. When Tom and I moved in to this house last year there was a tiny bath tub that I barely fit in. I rely on baths. It was of the utmost importance that we get a bath installed, ASAP. And my amazing husband and father-in-law did! In those interim months I didn’t know what to do with myself when I was panicking or very low and needed the warm embrace of a bath. I don’t function well without it.
Meaning
  • My wedding & engagement rings, and my stuffed animal pig “Pandu”: Forgive me this triple item. My husband is my whole world and I will never get over that he chose me to spend his life with, flaws and all. My wedding and engagement rings are a material reminder of how lucky I am, how in love we are and that I am never alone. Why the pig stuffed animal? When Tom and I first starting dating we were making a stop at a pharmacy when I saw an adorable stuffed pig. He got it for me, we named it Pandu, it was his first gift to me. I ended up losing it during one of our moves and searched desperately for years to find it, even emailing the head office for the pharmacy chain to no avail. When Tom decided to propose he did an extensive online search, searching through thousands of photos of stuffed pigs. He eventually found it and ordered it for me. His plan was to give it to me as part of our proposal but when the delivery arrived at the house I googled the name of the company it came from and realized what he had done. I still feel awful for ruining his romantic proposal plan, but it was still such a meaningful and romantic gesture that meant the world to me. That is how a pig stuffed animal named Pandu became as important to me as my wedding and engagement rings.
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Here I am with my engagement ring and my favourite stuffed pig “Pandu”. This was taken the night Tom proposed.
  • My copy of Peter Pan: This book has been a favourite of mine for as long as I can remember. I even broke a tooth as a kid jumping off of a tall piece of furniture, convinced I would fly. I adore Peter Pan, it is so beautifully written. My copy is cloth bound edition with the original illustrations. I take it out and read a few pages regularly. I read the whole book at least once per year. It was my escape as a child and continues to be now.
  • My red blanket. During my first time in a psychiatric hospital ward back in 2010 my dad drove for hours to come visit me and brought me a cozy red blanket for my hospital bed. Nothing ever seems so bad when I wrap myself in that red blanket.
  1. If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be?

This one is pretty easy for me. I would want the power to heal others. I would want to be able to help others escape from their pain.

  1. What is your drink of choice? It can be non-alcoholic or alcoholic, or feel free to list one of each.

Grenadine. (Hands up if you get this reference from The Office!)

  1. What are three personality traits that you like about yourself?

I like that I am caring and I am creative. I also like that I value learning from one another more than sticking to my own beliefs and assumptions. I struggle to choose qualities I like about myself, but these few I am quite fond of.

  1. What are your hobbies or some things that you like to do in your spare time?

I love to cook and bake. My favourite things to make are pie, homemade pasta, ice cream, pizza and veggie burgers. I also love to read, I fill my bookshelves with lots of novels and when I can’t decide on a new book to read I re-read the Harry Potter series. I love spending time with my husband, my dog, and my family and friends. I love playing board games, especially when I am well enough to get together with friends to play games. Perhaps more than anything else, I love singing. There was a time when I was going to pursue musical theatre as a career, I sang, acted and danced every day. I miss that very much. I have wanted for years to get back in to community theatre productions, but it’s not possible right now. But nothing could stop me from singing.

Thanks again to Nicole for the nomination. Thank you also to my nominees for their fantastic blogs that inspire me all the time.

Take care,

Fiona