Monday, June 24, 2013


If you are one of the few people in this world who are fortunate enough to not have lost someone or something in your life, that you have not experienced grief from, you are in a very small percentage.

The majority of the world has experienced grief in one way or another.  Through the loss of a loved one, a traumatic experience that has taken a life too soon, the loss of a job, finances, a home.  The loss of a child or a pregnancy.  The loss of a parent or sibling.  Loss of health.  Retirement.  The loss of your family pet.  Loss of a relationship, friendship or marriage.  Loss of an era of time (ie: graduating college).  Loss of safety.

Grief, like most things, is a very unique experience for each person, but with many similarities at the same time.  Grief is a natural response to loss - the more significant the loss, the more intense the emotions and grieving will be.

How you grieve is dependant of factors, sometimes out of our control - coping skills, personality, your morals & values, what you're grieving over, WHO you're grieving over, how you manage your day to day coping skills.

You may have heard the old cliché "Time heals all wounds".  This is very true in the case of grief.  There is no "normal" grieving period, because as we mentioned, it's a highly unique experience for each person.  Some people could have closure within days, others it could take weeks or months, sometimes even years. 

You may have also heard about the "Stages of Grief". 

  • Denial "There is no way this is/has happening/ed"
  • Anger "I can't believe this happened!"
  • Bargaining "Please, make this not happen, and I promise I will.........."
  • Depression "I don't think I can deal with this"
  • Acceptance "Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise"
Not everyone will experience each stage.  Sometimes, people have been dealing with something for so long, that they are more emotionally and mentally prepared for the outcome of the loss.  Also, the stages of grief won't necessarily fall in order as stated above - there is no textbook cases, as there is no textbook case of loss.

What can grief feel like on your body and mind?  Many people use the word "numb".  That you're just in such disbelief that you don't really feel anything.

There can be feelings of guilt, sadness, anger, fear, and yes, even happiness (if someone has been sick for a very long time, and the loss of them has ended a period of suffering).  There can also be physical symtoms present with fatigue, loss of appetite or vice-versa (eating to cope), flu-like symptomes (aches & pains) nausea and more.

How can you get through a time of grief?  Support from your family, friends, co-workers can be a great place to start, as they are the ones who know you the best.  You can speak with a therapist or join a support group.  You can also turn to us here at the Distress Centre.  We take many calls from people who have suffered a loss either recently, or in the past that they are having a hard time coping with. 

If you need someone to talk to, we are here for you.  You don't have to go through this loss alone.  613-238-3311 anytime of day or night.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Take Care of You, Too!

If you're a caregiver of sorts, or a family member of someone who is suffering from a disorder or illness (mental, physical, psycological) you may have in your caregiving experienced what is known as "Compassion Fatigue".

Compassion Fatigue is simply that - exhaustion that has escalated from being a caregiver in someone's life.  Compassion comes from within, and while not everyone will experience Compassion Fatigue or "Secondary Trauma Stress - STS", those who do can feel the effects in their home life, work life, and personal life.

What does Compassion Fatigue look/feel like?  In everyone, it's different, as it is a stress, and stress is not the same for each individual.  There is typically a negative effect on said person's emotions, and they reach a point where there is little to no desire to continue assisting those they have been.

Symptoms of Compassion Fatigure can include (but are not limited to):

  • "Bottled up" emotions
  • Voicing excessive complaints
  • Isolation from others
  • Excessive blaming of others
  • Complusive behaviors (overspending, overeating, gambling, etc)
  • Poor hygenine
  • Chronic physical ailments (colds, flus, etc)
  • Depression
  • Fatigue (tired, sleeping longer than normal)
  • Unfocused
  • Angers easily about simple tasks
  • Cries easily about simple tasks
  • Lack of interest around hobbies and activities that once loved

So how can caregivers get through and even prevent Compassion Fatigue?  There are many ways, and each individual will have to work with themselves to find out what works best. 

One way is to maintain a diverse of your own social support through family, friends, colleagues and even pets, which helps promote a positive state of mind. 

Discovering your own stress levels, and your triggers can also be helpful. 

Using your breathing to calm your stress levels.  Deep, consistent, steady breaths help the mind flow properly, and can aid in deceasing stress.

Get enough sleep.  Proper sleep (6-8 hours a night for adults) is extremely important.  When you're physically tired, as well as mentally exhausted, everything can seem like a task and a half.

Gaining perspective on what you do and do not have control over is key.  Does the person you are caring for have a terminal illness?  Does he or she have a mental illness that they have been and will be suffering from for the rest of their lives?  These things are out of your control. 

Decide what is most important in your life.  Try making a list of what you need in your life to get you through your stressful times (positive things) and a list of the things that could stand a change.  Analyse this list with someone you trust.

Encourage dialogue daily.  Talking about your stress can help vent the negative feelings.

If you find yourself in a deep state of Compassion Fatigue, we are here for you, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Simply pick up the phone and speak to one of our amazing volunteers at 613-238-3311.

Compassion Fatigue is nothing to be ashamed of!  Call us today to get support during this difficult time.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Father's Day

Father's Day is just around the corner, and while many celebrate with their Dad on Sunday over brunch, sports, BBQ'ing and other Dad-related stuff, others find themselves grieving the loss of their father, or dealing with a traumatic past or present experience.  Some may never have even met their father.

  • Perhaps you're a single mother, dealing with a child who has been acting out in their father's absence? 

  • Maybe you're someone who has been battling on the front line from physical, mental or sexual absuse from your father?

  • Maybe your father has been suffering from a mental illness for quite a long time and you're a primary caregiver in his life?

  • Perhaps your dad is dealing with substance abuse (alcohol, drugs, etc)?

  • Maybe you're a teenager or young adult who is having issues surrounding your father and you don't know who to talk to about them?

  • Maybe you've recently lost your father and are having a hard time with the thought of Father's Day coming up?

Whatever the case may be, taking the time to listen to what Father's Day brings forth for you, is what we're here for. 

If you need someone to talk to this Father's Day, we are here, as always.  613-238-3311.


Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Suicide Is A Scary Word


It's a dark, scary and confusing word, one that people have not always openly talked about.  A word that is simply tragic.

In Canada, with a population of 32,245,200 (stats from 2009) there were 3890 reported suicides, and 5-25% more in unreported suicides.

1.6 million people, or 5% of the population experience thoughts of suicide.

What leads someone to wanting their life to end?  Each individual is different in their reasoning. 
  • Feeling like there is a lack of people who care (friends, family, etc)
  • Bullying
  • Feelings of not being good enough
  • Rejection
  • Isolation
  • Hopelessness
  • Lonliness
  • Traumatic experience
  • Pain associated with a disease
  • Mental illness such as depression, anxiety, schizoprenia, bi-polar, etc
......and many other reasons that someone may feel like they have no other option.

Did you know what the term "Johnny committed suicide last night" is a politically incorrect term?  Years ago, before the Criminal Code of Canada removed it, a person could be charged for a suicide attempt, should they live - but in 1972, this law was removed from the Criminal Code, thus making the term "committed suicide" incorrect.  "Taking their life" is one of the more appropriate terms when speaking of someone's suicide.

But how do you know when someone is experiencing thoughts of suicide?  Courtesy of the LivingWorks guide, there are signs to watch for:


* Giving away possessions
* Withdrawl from family, friends, school, work
* Loss of interest in hobbies
* Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs
* Reckless behavior
* Extreme behavior changes
* Impulsivity
* Self-mutilation


* "I won't be needing these things anymore"
* "I can't do anything right"
* "I just can't keep my thoughts straight anymore"
* "I just can't take it any more"
* "I wish I were dead"
* "Everyone will be better off without me"
* "All of my problems will end soon"
* "No one can do anything to help me now"
* "Now I now what they were going through"


* Lack of interest in appearance
* Change/loss in sex interest
* Disturbed sleep
* Change/loss of appetite, weight
* Physical health complaints

How do we on the phone lines, hear the telltale signs that someone is exeperiencing thoughts of suicide?  Every single one of our volunteers have gone through the Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training workshop (ASIST) which teaches the art of understanding, assisting and connecting to the person calling.  We are trained in suicide prevention and will do everything we can to help the caller find their reasons for living; feelings, hopes, beliefes, values, attitudes or skills, family, friends, pets, organizations and activities could all be said reasons.

As we've learned from society, and the reporting of suicides, is that it's not one specific age group or demographic that wants to end their life - it can be anyone - your neighbour, your family member, your teacher, your co-worker.  It can be someone as young as 9 years old, and it can be someone in their 90's. 

How can you help someone who is experiencing suicide ideations?  Listen.  If the person is in immediate danger of harming themselves, get emergency assistance immediately!!  If the person is willing to talk to someone about their feelings, we are here, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, NO MATTER WHAT. 

Remember, you are not alone.  There is always someone caring & supportive on our lines, ready to listen.