I remember it like it was yesterday. The first time we spent time together alone. You picked me up in your fancy car. And I made fun of the giant tablet you called your phone. Our first stop was the grocery store. You were going to cook me dinner at yours. Then we drove in to the countryside. That’s where you lived: away from all the noise and bustle of the city. We passed farms and empty land and saw the sky meet the horizon. And as we approached your house, I remember feeling shocked.

The sheer size of the place left me in awe. Then we went inside and the shock came again. As we entered the foyer, I saw the high, vaulted ceilings and the dark wood panelling. It was impossible to miss the carefully curated art as you walked me to the kitchen. There were doors with ceiling to floor glass that led to your patio. As I opened the door and stepped out, I yearned to dive into your perfect, shimmering pool. I sat for a moment on the patio furniture that looked like it had never been used. Soaked up the sun as you brought me a glass of water.

I joined you in the kitchen as you prepared our meal. Enjoyed the easy way you could make me laugh and the way the words rolled off your tongue. Noticed the gleam on all the marbled surfaces and the silver of the stainless steel. When we finished eating, I decided I wanted to continue exploring this place where you became the man you were.

I went up the spiral staircase to the bedrooms, opening each door, careful not to disturb what lay inside each room. As I entered yours, I noticed your bookshelves and took my time reading all the titles. Running my finger along their spines, I carefully chose one to take off the shelf. I sat myself on your bed and had already begun to read when you came into the room. You lay your head on my lap, asking me to read aloud.

As I began, you simply lay there. I remember being conscious of your head resting on my lap, of your ears listening to my voice, of the sound as I turned each page. But as I continued to read, comfort settled in.

I glanced down to see you with your eyes closed, half-smiling. You may have been listening or partially asleep but, I continued on. I don’t know how long we sat on your bed, me reading aloud and you laying on me. But finally, you opened your eyes and said it was probably time to take me home. And I remember feeling a pang of sadness.

All this was etched into my brain, hiding in a little corner, waiting to be remembered. And what a lovely day it was: to spend a day with you and to simply read out loud to another human being.


the written word.

there are times I want to write.
an urge comes over me
like something needs to be said.
so I sit at my computer and wait
for the words to come.
and yet, I falter,
as I often do.

writing is my therapy.
the emotions I try so valiantly to deny
have a way of coming to life
with the written word.
so I sit at my computer and write
hoping to learn:
about myself, about others,
about life.

words can be like knives
or like a simple song with a
perfect melody.
and here I seek to find the song,
rather than the knives
from fear they may destroy.
so I sit at my computer and wait
for the song to be sung
with the faintest recognition
of a sweet, melodic sound.

there are times I want to write.
but the words make little sense.
everything I hope to say
is just a glimpse too far from reach.
and so I sit at my computer and write
as little and as much as I can.
praying that, in time,
the words on the screen
show the truth behind the lies.

human kindness.

In a world where a human being can go to a gig and set off a bomb killing 22 innocent lives and injuring countless others, it can be difficult to believe in human kindness. Or maybe that’s just the pessimist in me. But the awful truth is that there are humans out in the world who lack empathy… who just don’t think about the people they’re going to hurt. Or perhaps they do and just don’t care. That’s probably worse.

I’m not just talking about people setting off bombs and using guns to shoot school children, though. I’m talking about the person who told you you’re not good enough, the bullies who called you fat and ugly, the partner who cheated on you. I’m talking about all the fundamentally hurtful things a person can do to another. The things that break people apart.

At some point, when you’ve been hurt by another person, it becomes difficult to distinguish who is kind. Genuine. Empathic. Understanding. It’s hard to distinguish the ones who want to hurt and the ones who hurt by mistake. And then something small happens that restores your faith in humanity.

I know that’s a loaded phrase: “restores your faith in humanity”. But it seems apt in the world we currently live in. Where there is endless suffering from one end of the earth to the other. Where even the earth itself is suffering because of things like greenhouse gases. In this state of chaos in which we currently live, even the smallest of gestures can do just that: restore your faith in humanity.

I’m lucky. I don’t shy away from admitting that I live an extremely privileged life. There are people around me who support me. Resources I can turn to when I need them most. Finances available to me because I have lived in countries that are among the wealthiest in the world. Despite being an ethnic minority where I currently reside, I don’t fear for my life. And yet, difficulties arise.

In comparison to others, my difficulties aren’t even a blip on the radar of global issues. But we live in a world where we compare ourselves to those who are most similar to ourselves, and in that world, we all have hard times. It’s like the common saying goes: “There’s always someone who has it worse off than you”.

Today sucked in my world. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, I’ve had worse days. We all have. But customers at work were driving me up the wall, I was experiencing knee pain, I was tired, I was hungry. Small things but, they add up nonetheless in my world. And then that small gesture.

I’m aware that this post may sound insensitive. It may sound overly privileged. Like I’m complaining about “first world problems”. But that phrase was coined with good reason. I live in the first world. My problems are indeed first world problems. But they’re still my problems. And today I needed a small gesture to get me out of my constant state of rumination and anxiety. Luckily, I got that.

To the human beings who make the gestures, big or small, this is a thank you. Because despite my pessimism and my anger and my anxiety, you remind me that there are still good, loving human beings out in the world.

At this moment, there are 6,470,818,671 people in the world. Some are running scared. Some are coming home. Some tell lies to make it through the day. Others are just now facing the truth. Some are evil men, that war with good. And some are good, struggling with evil. 6 billion people in the world. 6 billion souls. And sometimes, all you need is one.
-Peyton Sawyer*

*Yes, I’m aware this is a One Tree Hill quote. Sue me. I like teen dramas.

feeling small

Everybody has those days: you wake up and you just don’t want to face the world. There is too much chaos and destruction around you. You’re afraid that if someone so much as even blows on you, you’ll topple over. The alarm going off is begging you to turn it off so you can go back to hiding under your covers.

These are the kinds of days that make me feel small. I am vulnerable, fragile, a thing that needs taking care of. Back when I was a child, that was my mother’s job. As mothers do, they coax their little ones out of bed, make them breakfast, give them a little push out the door and say, “Have a good day!” And it’s comforting to know that someone believes you can face the day.

As an adult, there’s nobody to hold your hand. You’re the one that has to push yourself to brush your teeth, eat, shower, get out the door. You’re the one that needs to tell yourself to have a good day, to do the best you can at whatever you do and just simply make it through the day. It’s your responsibility. To those depending on you at work or college, to the community, to yourself.

I think I’m currently in a state of Peter Pan syndrome. Afraid to grow up. And though I’m no longer a child and I don’t live anywhere near my parents or my family home, it still feels like I’m that small.

Honestly, responsibility scares me. I reminisce about days when my only problems were whether to go down the slide or on the swings. When homework was to write a hamburger paragraph as opposed to a 10,000 word literature review. The age when I felt carefree, happy, unconditionally loved.

That’s not to say I don’t feel those things now. I know my family loves me, I have an amazing group of friends, there are blissful moments of carefree action and I’m generally quite happy nowadays. But, it’s easier to feel those things when you aren’t stressed about your next big assignment, what to cook for dinner, money, relationships. And I yearn for that feeling; and when I do, I feel so small.

I think, ultimately, it’s important to feel small sometimes. Otherwise our level of healthy narcissism turns pathological. That doesn’t make it any easier or more comforting though. Feeling small is incredibly difficult. And it comes in different forms for each person. But I also think it’s important to acknowledge when you’re feeling small. Vulnerability is tiresome and frightening but, it can teach you a lot. Or so I hope.


We all know what this day means. It has been years since Bell first began this initiative and it picks up steam every year just before the big day. Then the day comes and people use the hashtag all over social media and everyone using Bell as their service provider sends more texts and calls more people than they ever would on a regular day. Which is great. Every 5c counts, right?

That is true. It’s great. This day marks a day where almost every person is concerned about mental health. Or… feigning concern. At the very least, they’re contributing donations to mental health initiatives. But like I say every year, it’s just one day. And the talk about mental health has a way of disappearing after that one day.

Just over a year and a half ago, I became a mental health professional. I never thought the day would come where I actually get to help people who are struggling but, here I am, doing it. And as a psychologist, I get to do so much more than that.

I get the privilege of hearing unique and heartbreaking stories. I get the privilege of being the first person they come out to. I get the privilege of watching them cry because they feel so hurt.

I also get the privilege of seeing them walk a little bit lighter on their feet at the end of a session. I get the privilege of noticing the first time they uncross their arms. I get the privilege of advocating for them when they need it.

Mostly, I get the privilege of being there for them. Of helping them hold all their hurt. And sometimes, that’s all they need.

The phrase, “I’ve never told anyone that before”,  is pretty common in my line of work. Through all the crap clients are trying to get through, they also have to deal with feeling like they can’t talk to anyone. Because that’s the stigma of mental health. It makes us cower… hiding our “worst” selves for fear of rejection.

Today is about breaking that stigma.  About letting our demons roam the earth with us. About letting the people in our lives help us fight them off.

As I do every year, I urge those struggling with mental illness to talk to somebody you trust. Even a little bit. A friend, your parents, siblings, a teacher. It makes a world of difference just having one person know.

And for those who might be doing just fine right now, check on your family and friends. If you notice someone seems off, ask them about it. Even if you don’t, ask them. I know it isn’t usual to ask someone “How’s your mental health lately?” but, maybe it should be usual.

Mental illness isn’t afraid to take control of us. Not in the least. So we need to take back control. Do your part today. Be a human being and talk to someone. And listen. And tomorrow, keep doing the same.