Stop The Stigma – Mental Health

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There’s seems to be so much buzz around mental health awareness lately, and I couldn’t be more proud to hear about it. It is making my heart, and mind so happy. Everywhere I look there seems to be a meme, poster, or post related to mental health.

Time To Change launched their February 1 2018 awareness campaign, then soon after Bell’s Lets Talk followed suit. (In case you are wondering where it is all coming from).

Both campaigns are working towards a similar goal to put an end to Mental Health stigma and discrimination. They are providing people with an abundance of resources, and empowering people to Speak Up. I encourage everyone to get involved. Every effort made leads to results, so let’s all stand up and make one ginormous impact together.

I am sure at some point we (Mental Health Conquerors) have all felt the negative effects of stigmatization at some point, including myself.

I went many years without seeking professional help because I was trying to do the impossible by braving it out. I was forcing myself to just ride the highs and lows the best I could, but eventually it led to maladaptive coping techniques and major mood instability. I was extremely fragile at my lowest point, and when my partner couldn’t deal with my withdrawn and disconnected state…. He left. This sent me spiraling into a bottomless pit of darkness, feeling utterly empty, dazed, and alone. (With that being said, my heart and mind forgave him, not every relationship is meant to work out. He came into my life to teach me something, then his purpose was done.) The weeks that followed are a blur, I remember feeling numb, and lacking a significant amount of energy that I couldn’t even bring myself to do the simple everyday things that took little to no effort to do before. I knew I couldn’t survive like that; I reached out to my doctor for professional and medical help. Bless her soul. After trial and error with medications, and psychotherapy, I started feeling like myself again, and I am back stronger than ever. What was my point of me telling you all of this? Oh ya, it had to do with the stigma surrounding psychiatric medications. It’s the main reason why I never reached out for help after all this time.

I was afraid of what people would think. I knew some important people in my life would disapprove of medication therapy mainly due to ignorance and/or lack of education. All it took was a little research on my part, and teaching about mental health to start changing people’s views.

Taking medication is not the “easy way out”, it requires commitment and effort, but more importantly it helps me to really live each day. It is absolutely no different than taking medication for a physical illness. I take it because I have a chemical imbalance, and you possibly take medication for a biological (or chemical) reason related to the cardiovascular, respiratory or any other related body system. Just because I have a bad day, it doesn’t mean I forgot to take my medication. I will have ups and downs just like anybody else in this whole wide world. Medication has and will not change my identity or who I am as a person, instead they have helped to relieve the symptoms of the illness. No, they are not a “happy pill”, in-fact they don’t make me happy at all; they decrease the threshold of the low state and help prevent future relapse. Sometimes you just have to face the fact that I (or you) might have to be on medication for a lifetime. Sometimes there is no “fixing” it, instead it is a matter of learning to function and survive with it. Regardless, it is not a sign of weakness. It is a sign of strength. Taking care of yourself is the most rewarding thing anyone can do for their mind, body and soul.


| Now lets talk – education |

What is Stigma and Discrimination?

Stigma is a negative stereotype. Stigma is a reality for many people with a mental illness, and they report that how others judge them is one of their greatest barriers to a complete and satisfying life.

Stigma differs from discrimination. Discrimination is unfair treatment due to a person’s identity, which includes race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability, including mental disorder.

Stigma is the negative stereotype and discrimination is the behaviour that results from this negative stereotype.

Credit: CMHA

What can we do to STOP the stigma?

  • Know the facts – Educate yourself about substance use and mental health problems
  • Be aware of your attitudes and behaviour – We’ve all grown up with prejudices and judgmental thinking, which are passed on by society and reinforced by family, friends and the media. But we can change the way we think—and see people as unique human beings, not as labels or stereotypes.
  • Choose your words carefully – The way we speak can affect the way other people think and speak.
  • Educate others – Speak up. Find opportunities to pass on facts and positive attitudes about people with substance use and mental health problems.
  • Focus on the positive – People with mental health and substance use problems make valuable contributions to society. Their health problems are just one part of who they are.
  • Support people – Treat people who have substance use and mental health problems with dignity and respect. Think about how you’d like others to act toward you if you were in the same situation.
  • Include everyone – People with mental health and substance use problems have a right to take an equal part in society. Let’s make sure that happens.

Credit: CAMH

Bell’s – Lets Talk (Stopping Stigma)

Language matters – Words to watch out for: “Schizo”, instead say a “Person with schizophrenia” or “Crazy”, instead say a “Person with a mental illness

Educate yourself – Stigma has been around for a long time, and knowing the facts and myths about mental illness can be a great way to help end the stigma. Read about facts and myths, and become a stigma buster.

Be kind – Simple kindness can make a world of difference. Whether it be a smile, being a good listener or an invitation for coffee and a chat, these simple acts of kindness can help open up the conversation and let someone know you are there for them. Expressions like “You’ll get over it” and “Just relax” can minimize how a person is feeling. Instead offer your support and say “I’m sorry you aren’t feeling well.” Ask what you can do to help.

Listen and ask – Mental illness is a very common form of human pain and suffering. Being a good listener and asking how you can help, sometimes just even being there for people you care about, can be the first step in recovery.

Talk about it – Break the silence.

Credit: Bell Lets Talk

Did you know?

  • 1 person in 5 in Canada (over 6 million people) will have a mental health problem during their lifetime.
  • 1 in 7 Canadians aged 15 and older (about 3.5 million people) have alcohol-related problems; 1 in 20 (about 1.5 million) have cannabis-related concerns; and some have problems with cocaine, speed, ecstasy (and other hallucinogens), heroin and other illegal drugs.
  • Mental health and substance use problems affect people of all ages, education and income levels, religions, cultures and types of jobs.

Why do people develop mental health and substance use problems?

There are many reasons why people develop mental health and substance use problems:

  • Some are genetic or biological—people are born with them.
  • Some come from people’s experiences—such as stressful situations in their childhood; at school or work; or in places where they lived with injustice, violence or war.
  • And sometimes we simply don’t know why a problem has developed.

Regardless of why and how they develop, mental health and substance use problems are health problems—just like cancer, arthritis, diabetes and heart attacks.

So why are people with substance use and mental health problems looked upon differently?

Stigma refers to negative attitudes (prejudice) and negative behaviour (discrimination) toward people with substance use and mental health problems.

Stigma includes:

  • having fixed ideas and judgments—such as thinking that people with substance use and mental health problems are not normal or not like us; that they caused their own problems; or that they can simply get over their problems if they want to
  • fearing and avoiding what we don’t understand—such as excluding people with substance use and mental health problems from regular parts of life (for example, from having a job or a safe place to live).

What are the effects of prejudice and discrimination?

Prejudice and discrimination exclude people with mental health and substance use problems from activities that are open to other people.

This limits people’s ability to:

  • get and keep a job
  • get and keep a safe place to live
  • get health care (including treatment for substance use and mental health problems) and other support
  • be accepted by their family, friends and community
  • find and make friends or have other long-term relationships
  • take part in social activities.

Prejudice and discrimination often become internalized by people with mental health and substance use problems.

This leads them to:

  • believe the negative things that other people and the media say about them (self-stigma) have lower self-esteem because they feel guilt and shame.
  • Prejudice and discrimination contribute to people with mental health and substance use problems keeping their problems a secret.

As a result:

  • they avoid getting the help they need their mental health or substance use problems are less likely to decrease or go away.


Additional Resources

Bells Lets Talk – Ways to help; Speak Up
Bells Lets Talk – Ways to help – Tool Kit (How to Speak Up)
Mental Health Commission – Information about Stigma and Discrimination.
CMHA – Information about Stigma and Discrimination.
Mental Health . org – Information about Stigma and Discrimination.
Psychology Today – Information about Stigma
Time To Change – Time to Talk
Mend The Mind – Myths about Mental Illness
CMHA – Myths about Mental Illness
Disordered Living – Myths about Mental Health Medication
Mental Health . gov – Myths about Mental Health Medication

Understanding the impact of stigma on people with mental illness (Article): https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1489832/

Mental Health Stigma: Society, Individuals, and the Profession (Article) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3248273/


Please Like, Comment, and Share – It is always greatly appreciated.

Rachel Page ♥

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Free Apps – Mental Strength

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Mental Health Applications

TalkLife – A safe social network to get help and give help.

Vent – Express your feelings with people that care.

ReachOut – Online Support Group app & Blog for Chronic Illness Patients.

Pacifica – (free, android and iphone) – tool to help track mood, goals, health, CBT exercises, thought patterns, and relaxation exercises.

 

 

7 Cups of Tea – (free, android and iphone) – connect through chat to a trained listener to discuss any problems you may be having, to vent, or to get some advice or resources, or just to talk. Free, anonymous, and confidential. Also can be used in your browser.

Headspace – (free, android and iphone) – for mindfulness meditation.

What’s Up? Mental Health App –  App Store: What’s Up?     Google Play: What’s Up?
A fantastic free app utilizing some of the best CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) and ACT (Acceptance Commitment Therapy) methods to help you cope with Depression, Anxiety, Anger and more!

MoodTool – Designed to help you combat depression and alleviate your negative moods, aiding you on your road to recovery.

FearTools  – An evidence-based app designed to help you combat anxiety, aiding you on your road to recovery. This application is especially useful for those suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Phobias, and Social Anxiety Disorder.

Fabulous – Embark on a journey to reset your habits. A science-based app, incubated in Duke’s Behavioral Economics Lab, that will help you build healthy rituals into your life, just like an elite athlete.

Always There – (free, android and iphone) – App from KidsHelpPhone to get support on the go, safely and anonymously.

Be Safe – (free, android and iphone) – create a safety plan for yourself that you can access quickly in times of need.

Mindshift – (free, android and iphone) – help cope with anxiety by learning how to relax, develop more helpful ways of thinking, and indentify steps to help take charge of your anxiety.

HealthyMinds – (free, android and iphone) – track and support your mental health, learn individualized strategies and patterns of your moods and solutions, stress busters and relaxation

Hello Cruel World – (free, iPhone only) – 100 alternatives to suicide or self-harm behaviors

Buddhify – (nominal one time fee, android and iphone) – 80 guided meditations and mindfulness exercises.

Rise up + Recover – (free, android and iphone) App to help with eating disorders – food, dieting, exercise, and body image.

Recovery Record – (free, android and iphone) App to help with eating disorders, added by recommendation of other students.


Suggestions are encouraged!

Please comment, like and share – It is always greatly appreciated. 

Rachel Page 

A List – Self Help BookS

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The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson
You Are Bad Ass – By Jen Sincero
You Can Be Happy No Matter What – By Richard Carlson
Mind Over Mood – by Dennis Greenberger and Christine A. Padesky
The Five Love Languages – By Gary Chapman

The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook By Edmund J. Bourne, PHD
Lean-In by Sheryl Sandberg
How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man by Steve Harvey 
Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Coleman
Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy   By David D. Burns
Outliers: The Story of Success By Malcolm Gladwell
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success  By Carol Dweck
The Purpose-Driven Life  By Rick Warren
The Road Less Traveled  By M. Scott Peck
The Power of Positive Thinking   By Norman Vincent Peale
The Power of Your Subconscious  By Joseph Murphy


If you have a recommendation, I would love to hear it.  

Please Comment, Like and Share. – It is always greatly appreciated.

©rachelpage.blog

Lets Talk – Therapy

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My Personal Experience with a Therapist.

Therapy. The idea was quite daunting to me; confiding in a complete stranger made my social anxiety meter rage with fear. When things started to spiral out of control (or so I thought), I was desperate to try anything.

It was one of the greatest decisions I ever made.

She has helped me in an abundance of extraordinary ways. She has helped me make connections between my thoughts and reality. She always knows exactly the right questions to ask. She really seeks to understand, and challenges my thought processes. She opens my eyes to new perspectives, and provides me with valuable insights. She has made a significant impact on my life, and I am internally grateful for her guidance and support.

Keep in mind – sometimes finding a therapist, that is right or you, can be a bit of trial and error. You have to find someone you can trust wholeheartedly, and feel comfortable enough to fully open up to and allow yourself to be vulnerable with.

I understand that there may be financial constraints that may hinder your ability to access this type of resource or service (which is a big part of why I created this blog – a project that will hopefully come to light in the next couple of months, so stay tuned), but there is are many organizations that help connect you with “non-profit support services”. Just do a quick google search of the Mental Health Association or Organizations in your location! Hospital websites also provide information about available services that are located in their district. I will also list a few websites at the end of this Post.

Here are a list of common questions I had when I was debating
seeking help from a therapist.


WHY should I seek help from a Therapist?

  • You’re experiencing unexpected mood swings
  • You’re undergoing a big change.
  • You’re having harmful thoughts.
  • You’re withdrawing from things that used to bring you joy.
  • You’re feeling isolated or alone.
  • You’re using a substance to cope with issues in your life.
  • You suspect you might have a serious mental health condition.
  • You feel like you’ve lost control.
  • Your relationships feel strained
  • Your sleeping patterns are off.
  • You just feel like you need to talk to someone

Credit: Huffington Post

WHAT can therapy help me with?

Therapy helps individuals, couples, and families address personal difficulties by allowing you to talk openly and confidentially about concerns and feelings with a trained professional.

Therapy may be useful if:

  • You’re facing situations causing you stress, anxiety and upset.
  • You are experiencing intense or uncomfortable feelings such as anger, sadness, fear, frustration and depression.
  • You are behaving in ways that don’t fit your normal pattern, don’t serve your needs, or are problematic to you or others.
  • You are thinking thoughts that are peculiar, hard to understand, out-of-control or disturbing.
  • You’ve experienced a traumatic event, such as sexual abuse, domestic violence, a serious accident or a criminal injury.
  • You are dealing with a relationship issue or family conflict.
  • You’re going through a difficult life transition, such as the death of a loved one, a life-threatening illness, divorce, separation, or a mid-life crisis.
  • You are challenged by family issues, such as parenting, child-rearing, adolescence, and aging parents.
  • You need help with an addiction such as smoking, alcohol, drugs, sex or gambling.
  • You have an eating disorder.
  • You are facing difficulties with matters of gender identity, sexual orientation, racism and oppression.
  • You wish to explore spiritual issues, questions of meaning or matters of faithCredit: Psychotherapy Ontario

HOW can therapy help me?

  • Understand your mental health condition
  • Define and reach wellness goals
  • Overcome fears or insecurities
  • Cope with stress
  • Make sense of past traumatic experiences
  • Separate your true personality from the moods caused by your condition
  • Identify triggers that may worsen your symptoms
  • Improve relationships with family and friends
  • Establish a stable, dependable routine
  • Develop a plan for coping with crises
  • Understand why things bother you and what you can do about them
  • End destructive habits such as drinking, using drugs, overspending or unhealthy sex

Credit: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

WHO provides Therapy or Counselling?

Many kinds of mental health specialists may provide talk therapy. Some common professionals include:

  • Psychiatrists (MD)
  • Psychologists (PhD, PsyD, EdD, MS)
  • Social workers (DSW, MSW, LCSW, LICSW, CCSW)
  • Counselors (MA, MS, LMFT, LCPC)
  • Psychiatric nurses (APRN, PMHN).

Your ability to talk honestly and openly with your therapist, set
clear goals and make real progress are the most important things. Think
of your relationship with your therapist as a partnership. The two
of you will work together to help you feel better. You do not need
to feel ashamed or embarrassed about talking openly
and honestly about your feelings and concerns.

Credit: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

HOW do I get the most of my Therapy?

When you first begin therapy, make a list of the things that are bothering you and the issues you would like help with. Bring it with you to your first appointment. You might include:

  • Issues in your family or other relationships
  • Symptoms like changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Anger, anxiety, irritability or troubling feelings
  • Thoughts of hurting yourself

Credit: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance


Additional Resources:

Ontario Society of Psychotherapist : Why choose psychotherapy?

American Psychiatric Association: Psychotherapy

Canadian Mental Health Association: Getting Help

American Psychology Association: Understanding Psychotherapy

Credit: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

National Institute of Mental Health: Help for Mental Health

Mental Health America : Find Help

Please Comment and Share Mental Health
Resources available in your Country.

Compulsive Worrying – Coping

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I have a confession, I am a compulsive worrier.
Ever since I can remember, I have always lived my days worrying about pretty much anything and everything.
I would imagine the absolute worst case scenario, conjure up a detailed motion picture movie in my head, and then I’d believe it as if it were currently happening. Negative assumptions would be preceded by a slew of negative feelings, which would be based off this unrealistic reality.
Eventually this thought process became very destructive and started to affect many different aspects of my life, and well-being.


Signs of Symptoms of Panic Attack Disorder:

Palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
Sweating
Trembling or shaking
Sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
Feelings of choking
Chest pain or discomfort
Nausea or abdominal distress
Feeling dizzy, unsteady, light-headed, or faint –
Chills or heat sensations
Paresthesia (numbness or tingling sensations)
Derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization –
(being detached from oneself)
Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
Fear of dying

Signs of Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder:

Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge
Being easily fatigued
Difficulty concentrating or having their minds go blank
Irritability
Muscle tension
Difficulty controlling the worry
Sleep problems (difficulty falling or staying asleep or –
restless, unsatisfying sleep)

Signs of Symptoms of Social Anxiety:

Feeling highly anxious about being with other people –
and having a hard time talking to them
Feeling very self-conscious in front of other people and worried about -feeling humiliated, embarrassed, or rejected, or –
fearful of offending others
Being very afraid that other people will judge them
Worrying for days or weeks before an event where other people will be
Staying away from places where there are other people
Having a hard time making friends and keeping friends
Blushing, sweating, or trembling around other people
Feeling nauseous or sick to your stomach when other people are around


I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Unless you are a close friend, or family member, many people have (and will) find this shocking to believe. I became very good at keeping my feelings locked away in the closet. What people observed was a total inaccurate interpretation of how I actually felt. Inside, I felt like my brain was caught up in a storm of constant, repetitive, and racing thoughts, but that didn’t stop me from smiling. It was on fire. Eventually the anxiety led to Major Depression (and the smiling ceased to exist – for a while), which I will discuss another time.

The greatest accomplishment for me was being able to recognize that there was an issue, and that I needed help beyond peer social support, journal writing and self-help books.
There is so much stigma circling around mental illness, when it’s merely no different than any medically diagnosed condition. It should be treated with the same level of priority and importance. Medication, psychotherapy, and support groups are okay. No one should feel judged or embarrassed to seek support. The only way to break the stigma is to talk about it, spread awareness.


Here are some things that have helped me manage my cyclic worry:

Create a list – Identifying the things you are worried about allows you to acknowledge them for what they are (just thoughts), and it allows you to do something about them (or perhaps nothing at all).
Analyze (but don’t over analyze) – Determine whether your thoughts are productive or non-productive. Productive in the sense, can you do something about it now? Non-productive thoughts are typically worse case assumptions, “what if”, that cannot be changed.
Embrace Uncertainty – Accept your limitations, and let go, focusing on the things you do have control over and enjoy.
Bore Yourself Calm – Repeat the negative thoughts in your mind until they lose their importance, resulting in boredom.
Stop the Clock – Worry creates a sense of urgency. Become mindful, and focus on what you observe in the present moment. Practice mediation, deep breathing, music therapy, and/or journal writing.

Ask, “What can I do in this present moment to make my
life more meaningful and pleasant?”

Check out : Rejuvenate your Mind and Body with These Simple Practices
Lastly, Talk About It – I have to say, I am very thankful of the support I have in my life. I have the most amazing family and friends. BUT, sometimes we need professional support, in the form of psychotherapy, or talk therapy through certified therapists, psychologists and/or psychiatrists. Recognizing the need for professional help is key. If you notice your excessive worrying, or anxiety is starting to affect multiple areas of your life (ie. work, personal, relationships) then it’s highly suggested you reach out for additional support.


Helpful Resources

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Canadian Mental Health Association

Anxiety.Org


Rachel Page ♥

Please comment, provide feedback, like and share – it is greatly appreciated. ♥

No Blog Day

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I have had zero motivation to write a blog today.

I spent the better part of morning tirelessly trying to think of something, anything to write about.

I take comfort in knowing that I am not the only one that struggles with this ordeal.

What gives you guys inspiration?

My blog will be a place where I post material that people can relate to. Material that speaks truth and honesty. A place where we can all learn from each other and gain a deeper understanding, and perhaps new perspectives on life, love, and everything in-between. My vision is to create a space where people feel comfortable and free to discussion their feelings, views and beliefs honestly. A cozy atmosphere where people feel confident and safe to come for guidance and support, a place where we can lean on each other.

I recently turned to Pinterest for some inspiration. It has such great ideas.

Some topics, or personal experiences, that I will (probably) be discussing in the near future will be:

The horrors of online dating
Apps I live by

Nursing Notes
List of things that made me happy this month
Simple Pleasures
Someone I admire
Products I love
How to get through a break up
Unhealthy Relationships
Learning to embrace change
Organization / Productivity
First date Tips
Journey with painting
Stay in date nights
Dating on a budget
Deal Breakers in Relationships
Cancer   
Depression and Anxiety
My Love Language
Story of Compulsive Worrier 

Random thoughts, feelings, and views

Those should keep me occupied for a while.

Rachel Page ♥

A Letter to my Bully(s)

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It has taken me until now to be able to face up to the wrongful ways in which you treated me or acted towards me.

The mental abuse was like knives to my heart that has left deep scars that have only ever partially healed.

No one should have to endure that amount of suffering, for any reason, at any time in their lives.

I can recall countless times that I was humiliated by crude comments, degraded by the spread of false rumours, scrutinized by what I said or didn’t say, and belittled to make me feel less important.

Your cruelty made me bitter, unable to trust anyone, not even myself.

I was left feeling inadequate, empty and alone, and in complete silence.

There were days where I was terrified to go to school, struck with fear of the monsters that would be waiting for me.

I became fearful; I isolated myself from the world and people.

I lost interest of the simple pleasures of life.

I was only a young girl;

I felt helpless, worthless and alone.

I felt persistently sad, and empty. I became tirelessly worried but unable to sleep from the constant worry.

My weight greatly fluctuated between a battle of eating for comfort or feelings sickened with nausea from the overwhelming emotions. I became preoccupied and uncomfortable with my body-image.

I hated myself!

If the constant depressive state wasn’t enough, the anxiety was eating away at my mind and body.

I became highly anxious to be around people. Fear of being judged, rejected, or humiliated.

I would avoid places where my fellow peers would be.

When I did attend school, I would often tremble in fear.

Middle School and High School are supposed to be filled with joyous memories, but unfortunately mine are only of pain and suffering.

I remember the name calling, the shouting, and the hurtful messages written to me on object with permanent marker. I remember the disgraceful flyers (hundreds of them) that were spread around my High School, the disgusting signs and notes left on my locker, and the online mental trauma and empty threats.

I lost total self-esteem, self-confidence; I lost myself and the ability to love myself.

I started to act out, losing respect for my parental rules.

I started on risky journey and experimented with smoking, alcohol and drugs.

I cut myself to feel something, anything.

But with any life experience, good or bad, there are life lessons to be learned.

Because of you,

I gained insight and perspective.

I grew with strength and perseverance.

I vowed to always be kind, respectful, conscientious, empathetic, and soulful.

I learned to love blindly, wholeheartedly, and deeply.

I learned so much about the value of relationships.

I grew.

All because of you.

Thank you.

Today, I love myself.

Most importantly, despite everything, I forgive you.

-Rachel Page ♥

Please comment, provide feedback, like, and share – I truly appreciate it! ♥

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