Thankful Thursday: January 2019

Welcome to the twenty-second installment of my Thankful Thursday series – starting this month, I’ve decided to do it monthly! A little easier to synthesize what I’m thankful for and lessons I’ve learned, and it also helps me because of my giant course-load at grad school right now. ‘Cause let me tell you, 13 hour days 3 days a week is cray, and so is traveling out to UBC 4 days a week (case and point: I started writing this on Thursday and it’s now Tuesday that I’m posting).

This month, I’m focusing on gratitude for the start I’ve had to this new year. It’s been a great start to my second semester of grad school (despite the crazy workload), and I’ve made some more progress on the somatic symptoms of my anxiety this month as well.

Here’s my Thankful Thursday for the month of January!

Things I am thankful for over this month:

  • The weather. It has been the least-rainy January here in my recent memory.
  • Related to the nice weather, we’ve got daffodils earlier than ever before.
  • I started my half-marathon training program, to prepare for running my third BMO Vancouver Half Marathon in May, and my second Scotiabank Half Marathon in June (half marathons 5 and 6 in total!). It’s been going really well, and I’ve had some lovely meditation time on the seawall, (mostly at 5:45 am thanks to my schedule, so not as many photos as usual!).
  • I visited my parents in Calgary and for Christmas they got me this reading shawl from Indigo that is LIFE:
  • The fog has been AMAZING.
  • Joy took me to Botanist and we shared an “experiential drink” called Deep Cove. They actually blow the glasses into pieces of found driftwood so that they fit perfectly!

And the main theme of this post, mental health wins in January.


I’ve talked about this before on Instagram, but not much on the blog yet. I have dermatillomania, a mental health disorder characterized by picking at imperfections/zits/scabs etc. on the skin. For me, this means I primarily pick at my acne on my chin and forehead, often without even noticing it, and especially when I am distracted or anxious. I do it most often when I am reading or driving.

A friend suggested gel manicures as a possible solution – having longer nails makes it more difficult to actually pick. I’ve been experimenting with gel nails for a few years now to help with how brittle my nails are (an annoying side-effect of low thyroid and iron). I’d never really noticed the link between my picking frequency and my nails before, but I’m definitely noticing it now. That’s my first mental health win for January!

And it’s super nice that the manicure I currently have has been going strong for 6 weeks now! Here’s a little chronological collage:

Top left: First day; Top right: four weeks (usually the longest it lasts); Bottom left: five weeks; Bottom right: six weeks

Seasonal Affective Disorder

My second mental health win for January is that I seem to be beating Seasonal Affective Disorder! Last Winter was a particularly bad one for SAD for me. I think it was partly because my thyroid levels were low and I didn’t know it, but this year I’ve started taking vitamin D every day, and I think it’s helping. Or at least the placebo effect is! I’m also working hard to keep exercising and to get enough sleep, so that helps too.

There you have it!

So, that’s my Thankful Thursday list for this month. I hope it inspires you to make your own, and get on that gratitude train!

Peace and love,


“Died by” vs “Committed” – A Reflection on Suicide Nomenclature

Recently I read Jennifer Niven’s young adult novel, All the Bright Places, which deals with suicide and mental illness.

What I thought of the book

Overall, I loved it. And you can read my review of it over on my book blog. Fair warning: it’s one of my only not spoiler-free reviews. It’s a really good, mature-ish, YA (young adult) novel. It’s creative and fun, but also dark and serious.

The reason my review is not spoiler-free is because of the topic of this post. One of the characters dies by suicide, and his girlfriend, as a narrator, writes it as to “commit” suicide instead of “die by.”

You need some back story.

Before I get to some of the reasons why this nomenclature difference is important, I want to explain why I’m writing this post. A few years ago, the difference in wording was brought to my attention (not directly) by another mental health advocate in my sphere. It made complete sense to me, and since then, I have been vocally challenging anyone who uses “committed” instead of “died by.” And very often, people ask me why it matters. That made it clear to me that the phrasing needs more attention. This novel made that clear to me as well, as does any time I encounter “committed” instead of “died by” in reference to suicide.

My history

First of all, I have never attempted suicide or seriously contemplated it. I do, however, experience intrusive thoughts related to suicide, which I talk to my counsellor about.

I have also had several experiences with a person in my sphere dying by suicide. Never a close friend or family member, but I don’t think that matters.

Please, if you are a person with more authority on this matter than I am, share your thoughts and challenge mine if they need to be.

So, why does this matter?

First, think about instances where we use the word “committed.” People are “committed” to institutions, like prisons or hospitals. Crimes are “committed.” Most often, we encounter this word with a negative connotation.

But suicide is not a crime. It is a tragedy.

“Died by” vs. “committed” suicide – the difference

Saying that a person committed suicide gives their passing the connotation of a crime. Which it is not. It is unfortunate. And terribly, terribly sad. It is heartbreaking. It hurts other people. But it is not a crime. And most times, it is not even a choice.

People who die by suicide are not criminals. They are not inherently bad. They’ve just lost the battle with a disorder, just like people who die from cancer or heart attack have lost the battle with a disease. I would argue that people who die by suicide are far closer to victims than they are criminals.

What I’m doing

Every time I encounter the phrase “commit/committed/commits suicide,” I challenge it. Vocally. And I invite you to as well.

The thing that I find most interesting is that in her afterword, Niven uses “died by suicide,” not “committed.” I wonder why she chose the other wording in the story. I wonder if perhaps she thought it would be more realistic for a teenager to not know the right wording. I don’t know.

But I do think that writers and bloggers and mental health advocates have a duty to treat mental health and stigma with care. Words are powerful. Don’t get me wrong, I think Niven does a very good job of this for 99% of her novel. But any time a person reads the word “committed” instead of “died by” before the word “suicide,” it teaches the reader, subconsciously or not, that that is the word you use. Conversely, the same can be said about choosing to write “died by.”

In a world where there is still so much stigma associated with mental illness, perpetuating as much health-centred, person-centred, and less-negative vocabulary is important.

Let’s work to end the stigma, and help people who suffer with various mental disorders and who experience suicidal ideation or thoughts of suicide.

Peace and love,

– Bee.


Thankful Thursday 2: Sunny Vancouver Spring

Last week I shared the things I’d been grateful for in the preceding week for the first time, in my original Thankful Thursday post. Welcome to the second week of my new habit, with a new dose of sunny gratitude!

This week’s post continues the segment, but it’s shorter now that the introductions are out of the way.

Here’s my Thankful Thursday for the Sunny week of April 20-26, 2018!

Things I am thankful for this week:

  • I have taken a lot of joy from the podcasts I’ve listened to (this week, mostly Modern Love and Nancy)
  • I crossed the distance threshold in the half-marathon training program and have started to taper – I ran 20km on Sunday and the longest I have to do now until the race is 10km

It Has Finally Been Really Sunny in Vancouver!!!

(This one deserved its own header)

Continuing the list…

  • I went to the chiropractor on Tuesday because my hip has been acting up and I feel MILES better now
  • My doctor called to follow-up about my thyroid results – this is HUGE. My levels are low and I need to increase my medication dosage. This means that my significant issues with depression and tiredness might not have been just SAD – they could have also been caused by my low thyroid! Post upcoming on this for sure.
  • My dad did mine and my husband’s taxes (having a parent who’s an accountant is a godsend – thanks Dad!!!) and I’m getting a huge refund (Thanks, university tuition credits!)
  • Andrew and I booked our flights to New Brunswick for this summer so we can visit friends and family
  • Found out that my dad and step-mom are coming to Vancouver for work and a visit really soon!

There you have it!

So, that’s my Thankful Thursday list for this sunny week. I hope it inspires you to make your own, and get on that gratitude train!

Peace and love,


Lexical Abandon’s Life Lately

I recently read a blog post by Bethany Menzel, a Vancouver blogger, called Life Lately.

For reference, here it is.

Life Lately

I do a lot of talking on here about my status with my mental illnesses, but not with my life just in general, so I thought this would be a fun little update post about life for me now!

But… before I get to the “lately” questions, I figured I’d share a couple of updates on my life, because it’s been full of excitement these last couple months!

I got accepted to UBC’s Master of Education in Counselling Psychology program. Starting in September, I will be attending part-time (while I  continue to teach full-time) with a specialization in School Counselling. The end game is to become a high school guidance counsellor. It should take me about three years!

I also accepted a  full-time continuing contract teaching for West Vancouver Schools (SD 45). This is a huge step for me because now, after four years of teaching, I’ve finally got that coveted job security I’ve been talking about. Right now it’s looking pretty certain that next year I’ll be teaching at the same school I’m at this year, which has never happened for me before! I’ll also know what subjects I’ll be teaching in May or June, instead of the day before school starts! It’s a breath of fresh air.

Finally,  I just went on a Spring Break trip to Cuba with my mom!

Andrew’s not big on hot vacations and has a lot going on at work right now, so after not being able to visit my mom for a year, it was the perfect occasion for us to travel together! I had never been to Cuba before and it was absolutely amazing. Perfect beaches and weather. Now if only Vancouver could get itself together and start getting sunnier, life would be totally grand…

Lately I am…

Eating for breakfast: Oatmeal made with milk and mixed with a little maple syrup. I used to think oatmeal was disgusting, but milk makes a HUGE difference (over water). I’ve also found the most amazing brand of oats, Rogers. The kind that I get is called “Original Porridge Oats and Healthy Grains.” It’s a combination of oat flakes, wheat bran, oat bran, and flaxseed. It’s DELICIOUS. I buy it at London Drugs, and unfortunately I’ve never seen it anywhere else.

Reading: Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson, Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, The Wide Window by Lemony Snicket, and The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (translated to English from Chinese by Ken Liu ). If you’re  interested in what I’m reading, I have a fully-dedicated reading blog over at Paperback Patronus, or you can follow my Bookstagram account at @paperbackpatronus. I’m in a book club, and the Liu is our March pick! We’re meeting this weekend to discuss.

Wearing on repeat: Jeans and floral, spring/summery tops. My heart is still in Cuba even though Raincouver is coming at me with a vengeance. Good thing I’ve overfilled my vitamin D stores, because otherwise I’d be risking an SAD relapse.

Inspired by: Jenny Lawson. See my upcoming book review of Furiously Happy for more details. But, suffice it to say that she’s an amazing mental health advocate, and her writing is both super hilarious and super relatable and uplifting.

Doing before bed: Reading. As always.

Listening to: The Gilmore Guys podcast (I’m late to the train on this one) and several other amazing podcasts. The podcasts I most regularly recommend to people are Homecoming, Serial, Reply All, The Pitch, Science VS, Sounds Good with Branden Harvey, and The Chasing Joy Podcast.

Wishing I was better at: Getting out of bed shortly after I wake up. I’m hoping this is just lingering effects of SAD and I’ll start getting up and doing some yoga before work soon. 

Trying to stop: Wasting my time on my phone and eating (as much) dairy. I’m doing Ali Edwards‘ One Little Word project for 2018. The word I chose is “presence.” It’s a work in progress. On the dairy front, I’ve been having stomach problems since about June of last year. It’s the next thing that’s been suggested I cut down on. We’ll see.. like I said, milk in oatmeal has been a life changer for me. Anyone have any favourite milk alternatives (coconut? cashew?)?

See you soon…

That’s all for now! I hope you enjoyed; I plan on doing this type of post at least a couple of times a year!

I’m also really feeling like I’m out of the woods on my SAD funk. So, I’m hoping to get the next post in the self-care series up in the next week or two!

Peace and love,