I felt like I was daring myself to cross some arbitrary line in the sand, and once I did, there would be no turning back. Canadians' perceptions of who I was, and certainly their knowledge of my life story, would be forever altered. Even if only a few dozen people heard my story, it felt big to share personally and publicly.
Exercise, active living and healthy eating are not the first step in living a healthy lifestyle. The base needs to be set before anyone can live a healthy lifestyle. This is the problem -- most people are not equipped to live healthy. Education is important to health, and more than anything, mental health is critical.
After what feels like a lifetime of battling drug and alcohol addiction, and my own tenuous mental health issues, three years ago -- at the age of 47 -- I finally found the strength to tell my wife and adult son that I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Like too many other survivors of childhood sexual violence who decide to go public with their disclosure, I have lost contact with my mother and my siblings as a result. If you really want to know how to destroy an already fragile soul, take away the one thing that a survivor of sexual violence needs most -- connection, which equates as validation and worthiness.
We're conditioned to act like we don't need sleep or weekends, only fleeting validation for that campaign that just hit market and a swig from the company whiskey bottle. I had never much subscribed to the notion of Toronto's permeating anxiety, however, until I returned from a much-needed trip over this past holiday break.
I felt fortunate to witness this incredibly awkward moment was because it illustrated to me an important lesson both in human frailty and in human resilience. It was one of the worst possible things that could go wrong -- followed by a surprising and excellent recovery which I saw as tremendously reassuring.
About one in five people have some fear of going to the dentist, often stemming from a traumatic experience. Even general life anxiety can manifest into fear of the dental chair. Many of these people cancel appointments or avoid dental visits altogether. And for those who do come in, it's often when a dental issue is far more advanced and harder to treat.
Life was good. Until it wasn't. Because something that I can only refer to as stroke-like symptoms started to take over me, seemingly out of nowhere. A Mumford & Son's song blared in the background (I had just come home from a month long tour across the southern U.S. with them,) as I started to lose feeling in the left side of my body. First in my hand, palm and up my arm, then in my foot, calf, thigh and entire left leg. I wanted to tell my guy that something was happening to me, but I struggled to get any tangible words out of my mouth.
The film is, on the surface, about a botched space mission that leaves Matt Damon stranded on Mars. It's also a film for anyone who's found themselves thousands of miles away from the life they'd planned. If you've lost a child, lost a spouse, survived a crime, been disabled, been diagnosed with a critical illness, you likely have had moments when you feel alone on a strange planet with no guarantee of making it back home.