It’s Been Awhile

It’s been awhile
Since I could say
I loved myself as well
And it’s been awhile
Since I’ve gone and
Fucked things up


It’s actually been more than awhile since I have felt compelled to write, which is a sign of how well things had been going. My daughter has been home for three months and things were going well. She was back in school, she was reengaged with family and she was stable. There were moments, there were issues and we were managing them…until we weren’t. Perhaps a more accurate description would be that we were managing and my daughter wasn’t.

There was one questionable injury, then another self harm that she refused to acknowledge or admit and she eventually ended up with eight stitches on the top of her foot because of something she stepped on. She was never able to explain how she stepped on something with the top of her foot, but her response is always to deny, deflect and direct the blame elsewhere. Who knew that she spent so much time watching CNN; following and emulating Donald Trump!

She stopped taking her medication, stopped sleeping and stopped eating properly, but refused to admit it. She met a new friend online, someone that she is obsessed with as a friend or possibly a girlfriend as she struggles to find her identity. My daughter is vulnerable and would be an easy mark for a predator but after meeting her new friend and hearing portions of their conversations we are confident that she is another social misfit searching for a friend. Harmless in many ways other than the fact that the two of them are feeding off of each other’s insecurity.

She is getting far too familiar with the police in our area after several late night “walks” where she in inappropriately dressed, ends up injured and bleeding with my wife and I wondering what the hell happened. There have been no fights, no blow ups and it seems that no matter how hard we try to validate and support her, to put our relationship with her ahead of everything else we keep taking giant steps backwards.

My daughter doesn’t want help, she is refusing it and some of her behaviour is controlled and manipulative. Mental health is a factor, but the power that the system has given her has gone to her head and she is a raving narcissist with a lawyer to back her up. I am worried about my wife. She is an incredibly strong woman, but I think that she is getting close to her breaking point…be it breaking down, or completely losing it on our daughter and then not being able to forgive herself for the fallout.

I am at a loss as to how to proceed.  Tough love, self-harm, relationship first, validation, boundaries, a suicide attempt, living in a shelter, forced hospitalization, a nervous breakdown…

The system didn’t cause my daughter to have a mental illness.  The system created the monster that lives under my roof (for now at least). The system has created a soul sucking experience that makes it almost impossible for families like mine to get their loved ones the help that they need. The system has ensured that she won’t get help until she hits rock bottom and is forced to come up for air or drown…I just hope she is still breathing when that happens.


Let Me Up (I’ve had enough)

I believe you baby, I know you wouldn’t lie

Like a dog won’t bark, like a bird won’t fly

Yeah pretty little baby, you’re a weapon with eyes

I know what you want, but it’s a surprise

Let me up – I’ve had enough

………………………………….Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

I am trying to figure out if I have reached a breaking point and am prepared to step back or walk away completely. I am struggling because we have been through so much with her, have fought so hard and have endured with the mindset of “this in mental health” and “she’s our child” and “we will never give up on her”, but in the last six weeks or so some things have been coming to a head and that have me wondering if it is time to tap out, to say “Let me up – I’ve had enough”.

When your daughter spends an enjoyable weekend with her family and ends it by alleging that we were so drunk (my wife and I don’t drink) that she had to care for her disabled sister is that the enough?

When your daughter calls her mother a fucking asshole and that it was too bad she didn’t die when she had cancer (my wife is a cancer survivor) is that enough?

When your daughter spends time with you, runs up and literally jumps on top of you because she is so happy to see you and then proceeds to tell everyone else that things aren’t going well with her parents in that enough?

When the system gives her a lawyer who caters to her every whim and gives her lies and delusions a legal voice, a CAS child worker who she is able to manipulate (the same child worker who believes that she has my daughter under control), a mental health system that allows a treatment center to abandon her when things became difficult and now can’t help because of consent issues is that enough?

When the only psychiatrist she is allowed to see when she is taken to hospital by police and/or EMS refuses to listen to anyone else’s opinion (including other Psychiatrists) and contradicts himself by first blaming us and later saying that she needs to be locked up for her own protection, but can’t/won’t try to have her placed in secure treatment is that enough?

When the mentally ill child is allowed to refuse treatment that you have fought so hard to get her, is offered space in the child protection system even though she needs help not protection and the system is shutting you out and allowing her to happily careen out of control is that enough?

When your daughter appears to be working directly with a cop who doesn’t know the facts or the backstory, seems to believe all of the lies that my daughter is spewing (did I mention pseudologia fantastica) and is not only enabling her but conspiring to become one big happy foster family is that enough?

The answer is that I don’t know for sure, but for the first time in this descent into hell I am contemplating giving up. I have often wondered “what’s the point”, have thought “why do we keep banging our heads against the wall” and have wanted to scream at my daughter “why are you doing this to us”, but it has always come back to she’s my daughter, she needs help and that this isn’t her it is mental health.

What’s different now? Part of it is an accumulation of things, death by a thousand cuts, the straw that broke the camel’s back or whatever cliché you would like to use. Part of it is that I feel like a dog that has been beaten down so many times that I can’t muster the energy to stand up and growl so I just want to lay down and whimper. Perhaps it is just finally sinking in that despite two years of fighting, scratching, clawing, begging and pleading for help we can’t do anything.

The straw that broke my back? Realizing that your child wants a new “family” because her parents care too much and want her to get help. Realizing that everything in the legal, healthcare, mental health and child protection world is lined up to let it happen. Realizing that maybe not seeing her will hurt less and let me heal before I break.   Maybe, but can I do it and if I do will it break me completely.

Made of Scars

This one came from looking, this one opened twice

These two seemed smooth as silk, flush against my eyes

This one need stitches, and this one came from rings

This one isn’t even there, but I feel it more because you don’t care

Yeah, cut right into me

Yeah, because I am made of scars

Yes, I am made of scars

Stone Sour

It was the title of this song that drew me to it, before I even heard the words or parsed through the lyrics I knew that I would write about it.

My scars define me and for better or worse they have shaped the person that I am today. You can’t see them because the important ones aren’t physical, but they are there nonetheless.  I will often look inside the recesses of my mind and seek them out.  In times of sadness I will replay the moments that sliced deep holes in my emotional consciousness.  In moments of anger I can feel blood pulsing behind the jagged tears that ripped into the very core of my being.

By their very nature scars are a dialectic concept.  Scars represent healing and renewal. Scars represent injury and pain.  Scars can be both things at the same time, depending on how someone perceives them.  If you think about it, we are all “Made of Scars” both physical and emotional.  Some scars are bigger and more obvious than others (this one needed stitches), but in many cases it is the hidden scars that are the deepest and most impactful (this one isn’t even there but feel it more because you don’t care).

There are scars in my life that I have come to grips with, that have healed over and even though they may ache from time to time, I will go to them to remember that I am stronger and better because of them.  I have cut out that particular cancer and while I may never forget, I have healed and moved on, having grown from the experience.  There are others that have healed, but life events cause me to pick and claw at them from time to time.  They will bleed a little and then close back up.  I can deal with those and hopefully someday allow myself to let them heal over completely.

Then there are the ones that will become scars one day, but for now they are either open wounds or fragile scabs that can be torn off at a moment’s notice.  These are the ones that I worry about, the ones involving my daughter.  While I have accepted a lot, I have learned to deal with a lot, at times my acceptance is covered by a deep internal scab that is barely holding on.

My daughter has her own scars. Her arms, legs and face are becoming a web of physical scars as she injures herself.  She has been glued, stitched and stapled…but apparently not enough to force her into treatment.  It is her lack of emotional scars that I worry about the most.  She won’t seek help for those injuries, she won’t start the healing process and allow scar tissue to form.  She picks at those emotional scabs as soon as they start to heal and then literally cuts her flesh to make the pain go away.  I fear for her safety, that she is going to be too emotionally and/or physically wounded to heal.

If that happens, I’m not sure the hole left from my heart being ripped from my chest will ever heal enough to leave a scar.


Where Do We Go From Here?

“Where do we go from here?

Stop dreamin’ ’bout the shiny gun

Where do we go from here?

No, I’m not the only one

Where do we go from here?”


It has been almost sixteen months to the day since my daughter was apprehended by Children’s Aid, on my birthday no less.  She was suffering from a mental illness and as bad as the accusations, the hospitalizations and self harming were while she was home they got worse.  We managed to get her into a treatment program and she stabilized.  We engaged with Family Connections and learned a new language and a new way of communicating with her.  Then the treatment program dumped her in a hospital because she was to difficult and the downward spiral began to slowly accelerate, picking up steam and as of today we have almost come full circle.

Children’s Aid had determined that they are out of options.  My daughter is running wild, AWOLing almost daily, jumping off bridges, cutting herself with abandon – her wrists, legs and face requiring stitches, glue and staples.  She has an incredible pain tolerance, an obsession with police, a complete disregard for her own safety and my wife and I are afraid for her life.  The child psychiatrist at Lakeridge Health in Oshawa and his Crisis Team don’t think that her actions are risky so she comes in, they stitch her up and ship her out.  CAS doesn’t know what to do to her and had determined that the best place for her, the most stable place for her is back with us.

Sixteen months of hell and we are back where we started, except my daughter’s behaviours are more extreme, her mental health in infinitely worse and we are at a loss of where to go from here.  We have a publicly funded healthcare system in Ontario. If my daughter had cancer, she would have been cared for.  If she refused treatment the system could deem her incapable of making that decision and force her to get help.  Does allowing the mentally ill child make decisions about her mental health treatment make any sense?  Apparently it does to lawmakers in Ontario.

Where do we go from here? I have no idea, but stay tuned…it is bound to be a bumpy ride.

The Mountain


This has been one of those days.

My daughter was taken to an emergency psych unit after cutting her wrists, leaving a suicide note and jumping off a bridge. We found out when I called to talk to her about plans for that evening and she wasn’t there – apparently letting a child’s parents know that emergency services had taken her to hospital wasn’t something they thought of.  At least she was safe and after hashing out the communication issues with the group home it was agreed that we would know about any updates as soon as they did, because the hospital wouldn’t talk to us.

They kept her over night, but as soon as she was seen by a Psychiatrist she was released. Apparently her thought processes, actions and behaviours were normal enough for the “Doctor” to let her walk out the door.  Did I mention that this was the same Doctor from my post “Stigmatized” for whom I have no patience, have no respect for and who’s name needs only to be mentioned to send a wave of rage crashing over me?  Of course we also weren’t told of her release and whereabouts until we called the group home for an update, after all we are only the parents…why would we need to know what was happening?

This series of events came on the heels of a successful overnight at home, some good conversations and a sense that we were starting to make some real progress.

Every time I think I’m over it
I wake up in the bottom of it all again
I’m still survivin’, keep climbin’
Keep climbin’ the mountain

Three Days Grace

The problem with this particular mountain is that every time we thing we are close to a new plateau, we get hit by an avalanche and have to start over. Every time we think that we have a climbing team that we can work with someone decides to cut our safety line and send us crashing down to the bottom again.  I’m not even sure what’s at the summit of this mountain, but it can’t be worse than the hell hole we’ve been climbing out of.

Family Connections taught me about emotional dysregulation, how to radically accept, how to be more empathetic and helped me find a new level of self-awareness and serenity. My wife and my friends and these skills are the only solid footing I’ve been able to find on this climb.  Our publically funded healthcare system is an avalanche trying to bury us, the “experts” have been tampering with our climbing gear and our daughter is a gale force wind that constantly changes direction and is determined to blow us off the cliff face, but tomorrow is a new day and a new climb.

Bicycle Race


I want to ride my bicycle, bicycle, bicycle

I want to ride my bicycle

I want to ride my bike

I want to ride my bicycle

Bicycle races are coming your way

So forget all your duties oh yeah!

One of the first things they tell you in Family Connections is that you have a right to “healthy selfishness.” Um, okay but what the hell does that mean?  In the simplest of terms, it means that you need to look after yourself.  You need to take time for yourself.  You need to remember that you are important and even when you are up to you ears in the chaos surrounding your loved one you need to make time for you.

When I was first introduced to the idea of healthy selfishness I thought that it made sense in theory, but the reality was that with the stress of work, with my wife’s mother’s health issues, with my father’s health issues, with an adult disabled daughter and my other daughter’s mental health challenges time for myself was a luxury that I simply couldn’t afford. So I suffered.  My sleep suffered, my eating was terrible, I was an emotional mess and I was becoming utterly useless.  I was an empty shell going through the motions at work, doing what I had to do at home, being where I had to be when I had to be there, but I was ineffective.

I was too tired to sleep, too tired to work, too tired to effectively help the people I needed to help and I was sure as heck too tired to exercise, but I did it anyways. For me exercise was one thing that I could force myself to do that was for me and that didn’t require any real mental focus or concentration.  Then a funny thing happened – I was tired so I slept better, I slept better so I felt better, I felt better so I ate better and that downward spiral slowed, stopped and reversed course.

I discovered a love of spinning, not only was I enjoying it I was actually keeping pace with seasoned triathletes in terms of watts and cadence.  My daughter used to cycle competitively, but I hadn’t been on a bike in years.  I was only spinning, but I loved the effort, the sweat and the challenge of “Power Cycling” classes at my gym.  When I was on the bike I was able to shut out the world, I was able to practice mindfulness, to live in the moment and I found off the bike I was more in control of my emotions and my life.

I’ve become a bit of a junkie (hence the blog title) and I look forward to two hour spin classes, I am buying a road bike to take my newfound passion outdoors.  I have added running into the mix and if I can find the time to improve my swimming I may even contemplate a triathlon (probably a pipe dream, but 50 pounds ago I didn’t think I’d even be where I am at now).

You may think that you can’t find the time to look after yourself, but the truth is that if you want to be effective you can’t afford to not find the time for yourself.  For me it was exercise – pushing myself to the point of exhaustion forced me be in the moment, forced me to push away the outside stressors and give myself that mental pause and relief.  It doesn’t have to be exercise, but it does have to be something that is strictly for you.  Something that will take you away from the chaos so you can recharge your batteries and so you can reset your perspective.

Once your oxygen mask is secured, you can help those around you confidently and effectively.




Radical Acceptance

Sometimes you put your hands in the air and say take your best shot motherfucker I’m gonna die one way or another so abandon your mission collapse your resistance it’s not surrender it’s transcendence accept radical acceptance

…Rabbit Junk

Sometimes a song title just hits you over the head and screams at you, begging for attention and Radical Acceptance by Rabbit Junk was one of those. It has been some time since my last blog post and a lot has happened to my family. We moved closer to reconciliation; we started to rebuild trust; we were able to have real conversations about real issues and getting real help. Then as quickly as things improved, those moments of happiness, those feelings of hope were dashed and we were back to where we started.

We had taken steps backwards before, but this time it was different for me, I was at peace with the situation and instead of just espousing the mantra “it is what it is”, I truly believed it. The difference for me this time was that I had radically accepted the situation, knew what my limits were and was willing to live with the consequences. What is radical acceptance? To me it is completely understanding and accepting a situation from the very core of your being. When a problem can’t be solved, when a situation is outside of your control, radical acceptance is the only way to avoid getting stuck in suffering. I don’t know how to describe the feeling other than to say that it is “freeing” and you will know it when it comes to you.

So what happened to bring me to this conclusion?

First we had a breakthrough of sorts. Our daughter started reaching out to us, calling us almost daily and requesting time with us – first in the community and then at home.  When we were spending time with her things seemed almost normal again.  We did family things – Christmas baking, cutting down and decorating a Christmas tree, making meals together, going to the gym.  When she was at the group home the chaos continued and escalated – she had an unexplained gash on her head that kept getting reopened every time she was AWOL, she was seen jumping off a bridge and taken to Lakeridge Health by police, she went for a “run” in minus fifteen degree weather wearing shorts – but with us she was settled.  Of course the professionals at Lakeridge listened to the mentally ill child rather than the police and didn’t hold her on a Form and allowed her to leave without getting proper treatment for the gash on her head.

Christmas was fine, including an overnight at home, she was asking for more visits and we were contemplating pushing her to come home to a more settled environment. An environment that multiple psychiatrists had said would be more stable and beneficial for her treatment and recovery.  Then at the same time she was asking CAS for more access, was asking us to advocate for more access, she made new allegations of abuse and was telling CAS that she was faking being happy while at home.  Playing both sides, trying to create the chaos that would get her the attention she seemed to be addicted to.

So we called her out on it. We arranged a meeting with ourselves, with CAS, with her and the staff at the group home to let her know that what she was doing wasn’t going to work and that it wasn’t okay.  She reacted as we thought she might – negatively.  She kept telling us that “we knew what we did”, but wouldn’t say what it was when pressed, she told us that she wished we would die, but she also cried when we told her how much these repeated allegations and lies hurt us.

The end result is that we no longer have any contact with our daughter and the out of control behaviour continues. We could have avoided confronting her and contact would have continued, but there are limits and boundaries and this was one of them.  My daughter has a mental illness and she needs help.  Getting her to a place where she will get help is going to take time, require sacrifice and pain.  It hasn’t been easy, it won’t be easy but we will persevere…we have to for her sake.


Let’s Go Crazy

lets go crazy

So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills.    You know the one, Dr. Everything’ll-Be-Alright.      Instead of asking him how much of your time is left.    Ask him how much of your mind, baby.…….Prince

Another day, another psychiatrist, another opinion and still no help in sight. After a year of trying to find a Psychiatrist or a treatment center willing to help my daughter I truly believe that the mental health system in Ontario is designed with the signature song by Prince in mind.  Dealing with the system has been a nightmare and at times has me wondering if I am going to retain my own sanity.  The various levels of government in this country take an incredible amount of tax revenue from people.  In exchange, one of the core things that they are supposed to provide, the sacred cow that the sheep in Canada feel can’t be touched is healthcare.  Yet my family has had multiple hospitals turn their backs on us, a treatment center abandon us and now the “great hope” for answers has declined admission.

We had been waiting for the admission meeting at CPRI in London, Ontario for months. This was where the so-called experts had pointed us to, the place where we could get a real diagnosis, where we could get answers about what exactly my daughter was dealing with and put us on the right path to getting her meaningful help.  There was no back-up plan (although we pushed for one), all roads led to London and in a fitting connection to an earlier blog post, this road was yet another Highway to Hell.

We went in with optimism and hope. We left with yet another opinion from yet another psychiatrist, yet another comment about how complex my daughter’s case was and more platitudes about how well we seemed to holding things together, but no admission recommendation.  Oh, there was also an AWOL, a river, the involvement of the police K-9 unit and my almost 16 year old daughter crying and screaming on the roof of a vehicle.  The problem is that none of this is enough to force my daughter into treatment.  With all of the history, all of the false allegations, the self-harming, the continued downward spiral there still isn’t enough going on for a Doctor to force treatment and for a judge or review panel to keep her where she will be safe and can get meaningful help.  C’mon man (Sorry – was watching football and this segment came to mind)!!

The laws in this country and this Province say that if a child wants to follow Prince’s advice and “go crazy” then that’s okay. My daughter is too young to drive, too young to drink, too young to smoke, too young to sign a contract, too young to consent to sex, young enough to be coddled by the law as a young offender, young enough that we could get charged criminally if she doesn’t go to school.  She is however old enough to refuse mental health treatment options, old enough to block people from access to medical information about her and old enough to have her own legal counsel.  In essence, she is old enough to “stay crazy” because that’s what she wants to do.

I understand that children have rights. I also understand that the mentally ill have rights.  What I don’t understand is how the legal and medical systems in this Province and this country allow a fifteen year old girl with a mental illness to repeatedly block attempts to help her.  I know that at one point in our history the mentally ill were treated poorly, but now the pendulum has swung too far over to the side of the spectrum.  There needs to be more balance and Psychiatrists and other mental health professionals need more tools and more powers to be able to force people to help themselves and before you get your knickers in a knot I’m taking psychotherapy not shock therapy!

At the best of times children are restricted by society in a myriad of ways because their reasoning skills and experience are lacking. They just aren’t developed enough or experienced enough to make decisions and choices that can negatively affect their lives.  When you add mental illness into the mix, why do we give them the power and ability to be their own worst enemies?

If I wasn’t in control, if I hadn’t learned about mindfulness and radical acceptance through Family Connections I would have absolutely gone crazy by now…but I endure, my wife endures and we endure in a battle of will against a child who is too ill to understand and a system that is too broken to care.

One Step Forward


You held me up, held me down Made me crazy, then you brought me around Were my darkness and my light You were my blindness and my sight Were my shelter and my storm Made me cold, then you made me warm… One step forward and two steps back Nobody gets too far like that

The Desert Rose Band

We were making progress! My daughter had started to come around again.  It started with a staff supported visit to see her grandmother at the hospital with us there on Thursday.  The next day there was another hospital visit, but with us and without staff.  Then on Saturday and Sunday she came home for a period of time each day.  There were no blow ups, no allegations and a sense of cautious optimism started to creep into the back of my mind.  The following Monday the police picked her up off of a bridge and took her to hospital where she was kept overnight and released.  We thought that the grand experiment was over, that she couldn’t handle the idea of contact with us again and that we were back to the usual cycle again.

To our surprise, the next weekend was a repeat performance. We were with her for a fairly long stretch on Friday and Saturday.  She was reconnecting with friends, with us and with the life that she had been missing for over a year.  She was talking about trying a full weekend, about going to visit her grandparents out of town and that initial cautious optimism started to grow and almost became actual hope – something I hadn’t had in a very long time.

She came over for dinner on Sunday (homemade vegan burgers) and then wanted to hang around afterwards. Everything was fine and my wife left for a short while to pick someone up at the hospital and then it started.  She declared that wanted to go and was going to walk back to the group home, or take the bus.  I told her I would drive her…she said no.  I suggested that the group home could have someone come and pick her up…she said no.  I tried to validation, I reached into my bag of Family Connection skills but there was no way to connect with her.  I didn’t get mad, I didn’t escalate but I couldn’t break through to her.

My wife came home – wondering what had happened – and she couldn’t reach her either. My daughter called the group home and they had as much success as we had.  In the end she walked out the door wrapped in a blanket, determined to walk the fifteen or twenty kilometers back to the group home.  We didn’t try to restrain her, we didn’t follow her…we let her go because that was what out gut told us to do.  The police picked her up and took her back, she left again and the AWOL dance continued for much of the night.

What exactly happened?  My wife thought it was a set-up, that she was orchestrating an event that would help her in court.  I opted for a more benign interpretation – emotional dysregulation – some small thing had triggered a big reaction.  The next day she called me and when I asked what happened the explanation was “I had an episode, you know me – they happen” and while it still didn’t help us determine what the triggering event was, it was a reason that I could live with it.  I thought that was the end of it, until the allegation came.

She told her therapist that we had held her down and cut her back up when she had been home on the weekend and that was why she took off. As was the case previously, she had taken a wire, or scissors or something sharp and cut herself repeatedly to provide physical evidence of the act.  Children’s Aid was contacted and after they interviewed her they came to the same conclusion that they always did.  False allegations and she was hurting herself to try and support her claims.  We’ve heard that record before and I didn’t particularly like it the first time so the repeat performance wasn’t any better.

We had made real progress, I had progressed from cautious optimism to hope and then we were back where we started again. Why?  Was she just being a manipulative bitch determined to hurt us – in line with the adjustment disorder diagnosis?  Did she have a psychotic break – in line with the questions around schizotypal?  Was she too ashamed of what she had done to us over the last year to face us and needed to push us away – in line with borderline personality disorder?  Was she compelled to make someone believe her stories – in line with pseudologia fantastica?  Bipolar?  Aspergers?  Is it some weird, untreatable combination that means she will never be able to lead a happy and independent life?

We have no idea. With a myriad of diagnoses the professionals have no idea.  Over a year in and we are further behind than when we started this journey.

How many more steps back can we take before we fall off a cliff and find that the way forward is blocked forever?





Life happens. Death happens.  Accidents happen.  If you are lucky, courage happens when you need it most.

This was an emotional Thanksgiving for my family (for my non-Canadian readers we celebrated Thanksgiving on October 9th).  We went from hope to despair, from apprehension to fear and from thoughts of celebrating to thoughts of death.

It was going to be a good day. My daughter had agreed to come to Thanksgiving lunch with the family which was a huge step for her.  We were nervous (how would this go, would she talk to us, would she make allegations, was this a good sign or a set-up), but optimistic and hoping that this was a small step towards some type of reconciliation.  We were driving to my brother-in-law’s house when we got the call – there had been a car accident involving my wife’s mother and my daughter.

We immediately changed course and headed North to the area where we thought the accident had happened and it wasn’t hard to find. The roads were blocked off and at the top of a rise we could see at least three ambulances, fire trucks and close to a dozen police vehicles.  This wasn’t a minor fender-bender, my mother-in-law and daughter had been hit broad side by a police car, their car had been spun around three times and ended up off the road.  All of the airbags had deployed, a rear wheel was snapped off and they had to cut my mother-in-law out of the car because the impact had been on her side of the vehicle.

To get this out of the way I will say that at this point we don’t know exactly what happened to cause the accident – the SIU is investigating and no information is being shared. While we have our suspicions, it may be weeks or even months before fault or blame is assigned and to be honest right now it doesn’t matter.

My daughter is fine – shaken, sore, bruised – but fine. She has been released from hospital.  My wife’s mother was taken to a nearby hospital and transferred to a major Trauma Center with multiple injuries.  The accident was ten days ago and she has seemingly been to hell and back – in Critical Care, on life support, delirious, her heart and blood pressure racing, her lungs not working properly and needing a blood transfusion…but she survived and it looks like she will live.  There will be long term challenges, she may never have full mobility again, but she will live.

This post is about courage and I chose the song I did because of the passing of Gord Downie – a Canadian musical icon and front man for The Tragically Hip. It seems that the country is in mourning and using a Hip song, using this Hip song to make my point and as a tribute to him felt right to me.

There’s no simple


For anything important

Any of us do

And, yeah, the human


Consists in

The necessity

Of living with

The consequences

Under pressure

Under pressure

The Tragically Hip

Why courage? Now that the worst appears to be over I have had a chance to reflect on the last ten days and there has been a lot of courage.

Gord Downie showed tremendous courage and grace when faced with a diagnosis of terminal brain cancer. He continued to do what he loved, he fought for causes that he believed in and he tried to make a difference.

My daughter showed courage by agreeing to try and move forward and be with her family. I can’t exactly speak to where her mind is at, but knowing the mental health challenges she has faced and knowing the swirling chaos that has surrounded her reaching out was a huge leap of faith.  After the accident she blamed herself and she was petrified of seeing her grandmother lying in a hospital bed, connected to tubes and wires and machines because her thoughts immediately went to her grandfather who had passed away on her birthday – something she still struggles to deal with.  Despite this she had the courage to come and visit her grandmother, to sit by her bedside and spend time with her.

My mother-in-law had the courage to continue to fight and to live in spite of the pain she was in. After a year in which she saw her granddaughter spiral out of control from mental illness, had a stroke, suffered congestive heart failure, was told she may never walk again and had to be cut out of her car after a police officer hit her broadside she could have given up.  She could have thrown in the towel and said “No Más”, but she had the courage and will to live despite the pain she was and is in.

My wife has shown a courageous strength that I have always known she has, but I still marvel at it and don’t know how she does it. A disabled daughter at home, a mentally ill daughter living away, one parent gone and the other in a critical care unit – she hasn’t broken down.  She is an emotional person, but she has the strength and courage to stay strong and composed because her mother and her siblings and her children need her to be that way.

I wish that the Sick Kids Center for Community Mental Health in Toronto had the courage to look past my daughter’s behaviour and keep trying to help her, but they didn’t. Apparently the leading children’s hospital in Canada doesn’t think that complex mental health patients are treatable.  We had faith in them and had they had the courage to try our lives could be very different today.

The courage that I am most thankful for is actually the courage that wasn’t there. My daughter has talked about suicide, has had thoughts about suicide, has made a list of ways to kill herself and I am thankful that didn’t have the courage to go through with it.