Thursday, November 29, 2012

Benefit Concert

If you're in the Ottawa area, and love live music, while helping out a not-for-profit company - this post is for you!

This Friday night, November 30th at the Elmdale Tavern, there is an acoustic showcase benefit concert, in memory of Janet Vachon, and in support of the Distress Centre of Ottawa & Region (us!)

One of our volunteers, Jessica, has been organizing this show, and has put together an awesome array of local musicians such as:

  • Apocalypstic
  • Claudia Acoustic
  • Tenaj
  • Tara Holloway
  • Fiona Noakes

I wanted to hear why Jessica decided to host this event, and this is what she said:

"I chose to create the Acoustic Showcase Benefit Concert for many reasons. The event is close to my heart because it is in memory of a dear friend who was part of the music community. It also combines the talents of 5 bands in Ottawa showcasing their music. All bands have a significant connection to the cause in one way or another and we are hoping to raise awareness and money to support the efforts of the Distress Centre to help people in crisis. I also believe music is a beautiful way we can bring a community together to support each other and remember that we are not alone."

Cover is $10 at the door, and the doors open at 8:30pm.  We hope to have a full house for the showcase - to both honor the passing of Janet Vachon, and to support the Distress Centre. 

Hope to see you all there!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

National Addictions Awareness Week

November 19-25th is National Addictions Awareness Week.

Addicition is the continued use of a mood altering substance or behavior despite adverse dependency consequences, or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviors.
(Source Wikipedia)

Addicition is a long road where someone abusing a substance cannot find the original "high" or euphoric feeling they got the first, second or third time they tried it.  The dosage becomes higher, it becomes more frequent, and while said individual is on the search for that feeling, their world around them is falling apart.

  • They may have started isolating themselves from family & friends
  • They may be burning through bank accounts and savings to pay for the addiction
  • They may be stealing from others to pay for the addiction
  • They may be owing a lot of money to their drug dealer(s)
  • They may be having trouble thinking clearly or solving easy problems
  • They may start dealing with anxiety, depression, or irritation
  • They may start blacking out, forgetting where they are or leaving where they are without knowing it
  • They may start having legal issues like being arrested
  • They may not see the danger in driving or working under the influence
  • They may not see any of the above, or realize they have a problem
  • They may start seeing their addiction of a way of suicide

So how do you help?

One of the best ways you can help is to be there to encourage a treatment plan.  Changes like breaking an addiction have to come from the person that is addicted.  They need to make that choice for themselves.  Even going into a treatment plan has to come from the individual, unless court ordered.  Many addicts will lose a lot of their support during their addiction, making it hard to see the treatment options.

There are many resources are available in our areas including:

Centre for Addiction & Mental Health

Amethyst Women's Addiction Centre


Dave Smith Youth Treatment Centre

This list is certainly not exhaustive.  At the Distress Centre of Ottawa & Region, we have many more resources for yourself or for another person.  Do not hesitate to call and ask for a resource from us at 613-238-3311.

Addictions can happen at anytime to anyone.  The person does not need to be facing a terrible trauma in their live to become addicted.  Some people simply experiment due to peer pressure, and they get tangled in the mess.

Addicitions are not always drugs either.  They can range from smoking, alcohol, gambling, sex and more. 

Make yourself aware of what addictions are out there, and if you ever feel the need to talk to someone about yourself or some one else in your life, please call us.  We're here for you.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Younger Callers

We'll talk to anyone at the Distress Centre of Ottawa & Region.  Often we hear from younger callers, dealing with a wide range of issues.

A younger caller may be putting on a brave face with those around them, but are struggling inside.  Children may feel as if they will not be taken serious or understood, and while they'll try to ignore it or deal with it in their own ways, they often lack coping skills that we as adults know about.

Sometimes we often wondering if the behavior we see in children of our own or a friend/family member, is normal.  What is normal?  Things to look for are loss of appetite, isolation, severe withdrawl, emotional changes (anger, hysterical, crying all the time), and anything regarding drugs, alcohol and sexual activity.

Relationships with family, friends are important to younger callers.  They get their morales and values from you, from their peers, from television.  Asking about what qualities are important to them in friendships is a great question for kids who may be struggling with friends.

We get calls about bullying.  It's a hot topic these days, and we encourage our callers to speak about what is going on in their lives, what's happening at school. 

We also get calls regarding abuse.  We are obligated to report any abuse towards a child. 

Children may be confused in regards to their sexuality.  Our volunterers create a safe and respectful place for the caller to explore what they are feeling and going through.  GLBT (Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Trans-Sexual) youth are at a greater risk for low-self esteem and suicide.  We're on alert for statements like "I'm so tired of people n ot accepting me"  "I wish I could change" and "No one cares about me".

Eating disorders are high among younger girls who want to be thin and pretty like the Hollywood actresses and artists they idolize.  There is often presssure from sports, ballet, gymnastics to be thin, and tiny, and can take a real toll on a vulnerable child.  The Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence was recently quoted saying:

"I’m just so sick of these young girls with diets. I remember when I was 13 and my friends thought it was cool to pretend to have an eating disorder because there were rumors that Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie were anorexic. I thought it was crazy. I went home and told my mom, ‘Nobody’s eating bread—I just had to finish everyone’s burgers.’ I think it’s really important for girls to have people to look up to and to feel good about themselves.”

Remember to keep the lines of communication open for your children - whether it's with yourself, or with us.  And for yourself as well - sometimes parents need support with what is going on with their children, because as much as you are Super-Mom & Super-Dad, your kids are your Kryptonite.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Stay (Relatively) Stree Free This Holiday Season

The malls, the crowds, the commercials, the kids whining, the out of town relatives, the parties, the food, the presents...........

(Go ahead and scream, it's okay!)

We're 40 days away from Christmas, and it seems like the holiday season comes around earlier and earlier every year.  Trees are up in stores the day after Halloween, holiday tunes are playing on the radio stations, and Santa arrives in the malls across the city this weekend.

It's enough to make many of us extremely stressed out, like there aren't enough hours in the day, or enough dollars in your bank account, and like you just haven't got it right.  Maybe you or your partner aren't working and there is the added anxiety of how you are going to make Christmas work.  Maybe there is someone who is sick in your family, and aren't sure if they will make to the holidays.  Perhaps someone in your circle of friends is dealing with substance abuse, and you aren't sure whether to have them to your party, or how to deal with them when they're there.

While we are here for you 24/7, to talk about any stresses relating to the holidays coming up, we've complied a few tips to help you be less stressed this year.  By no means, will these suggestions work for everyone, but a little support can sometimes go a long way!

1) Make a budget & stick to it!  Stick with a set spending amount that won't make you stress this holiday season.  Remember, it is the thought behind the gift.  Are there kids in your life that you're buying for?  Look for gifts that keep them interested & occupied.  Little girls love anything they can make to show off - one example is a "Make Your Own Headband" kit.  10 headbands already made, and the little girl can decorate it with flowers, glitter, fabric and other things that come in the kit.  Add some accessories and extra stuff from Dollarama and you have a great gift for less that $30. 

2) Simplicity is best!  You do that big holiday party at your house every year, and go all out?  Keep things simple and classic.  Check out some easy DYI ideas on Pinterest using items you already have at home.  Or, again, hit up Dollarama, who has been bringing in some name brand items for $3.00 each, and their decorations are fabulous!

3)  Recruit Helpers!  Don't feel as if you're in this alone.  Get your family, friends, and kids to help you out.  Have tons of baking to do?   Recruit friends into a Cookie Exchange and stick with something simple.  Having the big dinner at your place?  Do it potluck style.  Don't refuse someone if they want to help with preparations or clean up!

4) Exercise!  It doesn't have to be a class at the gym every day, but at least 30 minutes every day, do some sort of exercise.  Have kids?  Put on some holiday tunes and have a dance party in your living room.  Like to see the lights at night?  Go for a brisk walk with someone!  Enjoy yoga?  Use free Youtube videos to do some deep breathing and stretching.  Your body and mind will be happier!

5) Get in some YOU time!  We're in the car, travelling back and forth from different households during the season, but remember that you need time for YOU.  Choose 1-2 days where you can just put your feet, and relax. 

6) Get your shopping done early!  Ask people you're buying for, for 3-5 items they're wanting by November 25th.  This gives you lots of time to get out and get your shopping done.  Does the thought of shopping with hundreds of people in a crowded mall turn your stomach?  Shop online!  Many outlets provide free shipping, along with a guarenteed arrival date before Christmas Eve.  Make a deadline date to get your shopping done.  Ask a family member or friends to watch your kids for an afternoon while you go out and play "Santa"

7) Volunteer!  Believe it or not, those who volunteer during the holiday season feel at peace with everything else in their lives.  While we're starting to accept applications for our January training classes, you can choose to volunteer with other holiday organizations liked Operation Rednose or the Salvation Army Kettlebell.  Then, apply online at to become a volunteer with us in 2013 :)

Hopefully some of these tips will help you relax a bit over the holiday season.  Remember that being with those you love & cherish is what Christmas is about!

613-238-3311 is how you can reach us 24/7 to talk about your holiday experiences, and if you are having anxiety or stressful feelings.

Monday, November 5, 2012


This past weekend, over 25 volunteers going through their 59 hours of training, took part in the 2-day Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training workshop (ASIST).

This workshop is about helping caregivers (meaning you, who has the ability to care for another individual) become confident, comfortable & able to recognize those in risk of suicide ideations, and to intervene through active listening, reflection, and helping that individual get to a safe place through these steps.

The workshop started off with an introduction video, and some chatting about what we were seeing in the scenarios.  Everyone was eager to voice what they were hearing from the actors, and how they felt they would start talking to the individuals at risk.

We then broke into 2 groups.  We were asked to share a story about how suicide has made an impact in each of our lives.  Through tears, pats on the back and a lot of "thank you for sharing" statements, we were all able to breathe and move forward with our training.

Hearing about suicide is a scary, surreal thing for people.  There are a lot of leftover questions that mostly get left unanswered.  There is guilt surrounding the "I never saw it coming" and "I wish I could have known so that I could have helped".  There is fear associated with "If X could take her life, then maybe other people I know are at risk".

We worked through the scenarios from the video we watched, each taking turns to explore the risk at hand, understand what the person is feeling and going through, and contract with them to keep them safe.

We were asked to close our eyes, and envision our normal drive home from work, or school.  That traffic is really backed up on this ride home.  That as you approach the bridge you cross to get to the highway, you see someone standing on the edge, staring down at the concrete.

How would you react?  Would you feel capable enough to get out of your car to try and get the person to talk, to get down from the bridge?  Could you handle the level of personal and reflecting emotions?  This is what the workshop is about - being able to help that individual step down from the bridge. 

At the Distress Centre of Ottawa & Region we don't have Facetime or Skype to be able to see our callers, but we hear the distress, the despair, and the feelings of hopelessness, grief, loss and desperation in their voices.  We apply the same tactics we would helping someone face to face, as we would on the phone.

At the end of our workshop, we were asked how we felt about what we've learned, and everyone was in agreement saying that they would feel more comfortable, confident and would be able to help someone with suicidal thoughts.

We were also told to do something nice for ourselves after both days - caregivers also need to take care of themselves.  We had people who went shopping for retail therapy, those who went to yoga, those who went out for dinner with a loved one or friends, just to take a breather again.

The ASIST workshop prepares our volunteers and  staff to take on these calls, as 10-20% of our annual calls revolve around suicide ideations.

ASIST isn't just for the Distress Centre family - anyone can take this workshop.  Businesses, corporations, management teams, organizations, teachers and school staff are encourage to look into taking the ASIST workshop.  You'll be thankful you did, even if it were just for one person in your life.

Call our office today to inquire about booking your ASIST workshop at 613-238-1089.