This video is about confronting guilt with DBT skills and core values. You are worthy and don't deserve to feel guilty for existing. Here I talk about feeling guilty for accepting financial help, but this can be anything. My next video will get into opposite action and guilt.
Here's a list of core values if you don't know yours: https://jamesclear.com/core-values
If you’ve ever been even a little depressed, you’ve most likely been advised to exercise. Those of us who have chronic mental illnesses hear this so much, we often start to resent the people who bring it up. If you’ve ever laid in bed, staring at the ceiling wishing you could go to sleep and never wake up, you know that getting up to go to your local ZUMBA class feels as likely as getting up to go present an award at the Grammys.
And yet, after years of depression, hypomania, panic attacks and distressing thoughts, I am a complete convert. Now, I exercise one or two hours a day. I’m also on five psychiatric medications. I’ve graduated from the local hospital’s Dialectical Behavioural Therapy program. Plus, I see a therapist on a regular basis. Exercise is not a miracle cure, but has been an important part of my recovery. And when I say exercise, I don’t mean jogging or soul cycle or bootcamp or even yoga. I mean hanging upside down on a metal pole from your right knee pit.
After 26 years of abhorring sports and exercise in any form, I’ve become addicted to pole dancing, and it’s saved my life. Before I started aerial arts (aka dancing in the air using a pole/silks/hoop/monkey bars on an elementary school playground), I always hated hearing the “have you tried exercising” line. During the high episodes of my bipolar disorder, I had enough energy to pull myself to the gym and onto a treadmill. Then my low episodes would always come back. They would make something as simple as walking down the street into a physical challenge. Once I started my first mood stabilizer, my hypomania vanished immediately. This left me with nothing but groggy depression and constant anxiety.
While my doctors played trial and error with my meds, my boyfriend dragged me to the community centre once a week. He would play basketball with his brother while I tried out the ZUMBA class across the hall. Fortunately, the ZUMBA instructor at the Trout Lake Community centre was more than an expert in Brazilian jazzercise. She was also a pole instructor at the studio down the street. She was my gateway into the world of lifting your entire body weight up off the ground in a fun, sexy way. With no previous experience in anything physical and a history of lying in bed crying, I was always the worst in the class.
But when I saw my instructors do things that seemed to flip gravity the middle finger, I felt hope for the first time in a long time. The possibilities of pole dancing gave me a reason to wake up in the morning. If I was dead, then I’d never be able to learn how to climb the pole or spin really fast. It might seem trivial, but this excitement was enough to wipe out the lingering suicidal ideation that my medication couldn’t seem to touch. I was going to be strong and wild and upside down, and I couldn’t wait.
Flash forward two years. The excitement of being strong had turned into something troubling, and my mental health began to crumble. This time, it was pole dancing that was chipping away at my mental wellness, one class at a time. I had forgotten about the girl years prior who could barely walk fast enough to keep up with her friends. I was now comparing myself to girls who had never known chronic mental illness, and had also been training as dancers or gymnasts since they were small and malleable. I’d leave the pole studio in tears after failing to swing my body upside down on the pole with my legs perfectly straight and my toes perfectly pointed. I was disappointed in myself for not getting certain “tricks” that my friends managed to pull off. I started dreading class, knowing that I would probably fall or fail yet again.
The aesthetic of pole dancing had become much more important than how it made me feel. I found myself trying for a perfect Instagram pose instead of for my own satisfaction. One of the side effects of my medication is increased sweating. I began to hate my pills for making me slide off the pole, taking for granted the fact that these were the pills that had stabilized me and allowed me to show up to an exercise class every single day.
A few days ago, frustrated as my sweat sent me sliding down the pole yet again, I nearly screamed as another dancer tried to turn off my fan. I reminded myself of the person I was before all the meds and the therapy. I left the room in shock and took a serious look at who I was becoming. How had I let the thing that had given me hope and inspiration become my main source of stress and negativity?
Pole dancing had given me a creative spark as an artist. Throughout my mental illness, I worked as a musician and songwriter. However, I had gotten to a place where I no longer felt curious about music. Instead, I felt frozen, comparing my own music career to those of my peers. Dance was another way to express myself that was separate from the music world, where I felt judged and discouraged.
I even felt brave enough to connect the two worlds. My hope was that my excitement for pole would turn into new-found excitement for music as I learned a routine to my own song and turned it into a music video. I worked hard with my instructor to learn new moves, and bring them alive with emotion. The version of me that you see in the video is enjoying the process of turning movement into meaning, and I’m giving the choreography every I’ve got.
When I watched the footage back later, I was a little disappointed. I wanted my fellow pole dancers to see my “Jasmine split,” my “hood ornament” and my “stag handstand.” The filmmaker, who is not a pole dancer and had never seen the routine before, captured instead the flow of my movements, the interesting shapes my body makes, and look on my face as I danced. The part of me that has become obsessed with nailing the moves was louder than the artist inside of me. I cared more about what other pole dancers would see when they watched the video than what anyone else saw.
For two months, I sat with the video, not sure what to do. I thought that if I released the video, people would think that I was a failure for practicing pole for almost two years and having no fancy tricks to show for it. But as I write it down now, it’s clear to me that I’ve lost my way in my struggle for perfection.
Last week, I sent the video to the pole teacher who choreographed the dance with me six months ago. She immediately sent me a message back. “I’m so proud of you. I love it.” I watched it again and realized that the filmmaker had captured the healthy parts of pole dance. The movement, the emotions, the flow. The picture perfect poses were not important. My obsession with them was turning my favourite coping skill into another source of insecurity.
Today, I’m sharing the video with you. I’m trying to look at it the way that I looked at my first pole instructor, as she gracefully did what I would later learn was a simple spin. A couple of years ago I could barely get out of bed. The fact that today I can dance at all is a cause for celebration.
Feeling lonely this Valentine's Day? Or maybe you aren't alone but you want something free and fun to do? Help us film our live sets at the adorable Goorin Bros hat shop in Yaletown! Space is limited, so please only RSVP if you really intend on showing up. This set will be featuring songwriters Lajla Jean, Sydney Beau, Sarah Jickling and her Good Bad Luck and Randi-Lee Browne, and is sure to be heart breaking and full of hope all at the same time.
Non was kind enough to ask me how my year was, and I let him in on the ups and downs I’ve been experiencing. Listen!
The holidays always kills me, and when I found out that I was being discharged from my psychiatrists office, I honestly cried. I've learned so much about medication over the past few years and I had to cut like twenty minutes out of this video! I'll definitely be posting more about my experience with meds, but for now this is a good quick preparation before you start any medications. I am alive today because of my medications, but man... it is not an easy process. I am a little all over the place in this video because this time of year always turns my brain into a marshmallow, but hopefully you get what I'm trying to say! I'll be posting more videos soon, and I have a music video coming out next month!
CW: Suicide. The ER sucks, the psych ward sucks, the medication side effects suck... what now??? This is the final instalment of my short series on talking about suicide and my thoughts on spiritual leader Teal Swan's suicide advice (which I learned about by listening to the fantastic podcast The Gateway = https://tinyurl.com/yc2j9w3e). It might seem like I'm being a little pessimistic when I talk about the state of things in suicide prevention resources, but I don't want to sugar coat anything. It's honestly ridiculous that so little attention goes into something that kills so many people (it's the number one cause of deaths in Australia for youth between the ages of 14-24). We are going to be the ones who change that, by talking about it, and working really freaking hard to stay alive even when it seems nearly impossible. Much love, Sarah.
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At Thompson Rivers University last Thursday Beyond the Blues was held, raising awareness about mental health and wellness.
Monique Goward, a project coordinator with the B.C Schizophrenia Society and, Heather Silvester, a program manager for Crisis and Counselling of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), helped organize Beyond the Blues with other partners from the Mental Health Advisory Committee Both their respective organizations are very supportive of the event for its opportunity to have open discussions about mental health and services available for those who are struggling.
“Beyond the Blues is a CMHA initiative that happens annually, it reaches out to High School Students, talking (to them) about anxiety, depression and risky behaviour,” Goward said.
At Beyond the Blues Silvester said they also offered free mental health and wellness screening for youths and adults. Resource tables from many of the mental health agencies in town were also set up around the TRU gymnasium, providing a one-stop shop for attendees seeking information on services.
“So that was really valuable for the public to be able to pick up information, make connections and just be able to win prizes, we had draws on every table so that was great,” Silvester said. “Lots of good conversations.”
Throughout the day Goward estimates that well over 100 people passed through the event, from TRU students to younger and older members of the community, with a high number of First Nations members in attendance. Goward said that she thinks they reached a lot of different demographics and hopes to reach even more people next year.
“The response was really positive for the people I spoke with. They felt it had great value for our community, as lots of it was taking materials home to share with family members, so I think there was great value (overall),” Silvester said.
Goward agreed with Silvester and added that the feedback she received was praise for bringing the conversation of mental health to the forefront while engaging with the wider public.
Both of them also hope for more involvement from SD 27 for next year’s event throughout the district actively encouraging and facilitating students from all over to attend this important event. Silvester said that Beyond the Blues help students recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness earlier in their friends, family and loved ones and is a unique opportunity to educate young people.
“This year we had ReachOut Psychosis Tour Band, it’s part of the BC Schizophrenia Society, they came up from the Lower Mainland and gave a performance of music and self-disclosure, trying to break down this stigma of mental illness and talk about it,” Goward described.
A big act to bring to Williams Lake, Goward feels that, through their music and sharing of personal stories, they are very in line with the themes and topics they seek to address at beyond the blues. Mental anxiety, illness, and self-medication were all topics the band’s lead singer, Sarah Jickling, covered with a heavy focus on youth, which Goward said was exceptional.
“I think it was a great success this year and I think it planted seeds for the future. This is just going to ripple out (into the community),” Goward said.
For Silvester, the more they advertise and promote this event, the more they break down the stigma that too often surrounds mental health. When that happens she hopes more people will seek out their services and find their way to a healthier, happier, life.
CW: Suicide. We need to talk about suicide a hell of a lot more than we do now. This is part 2 of my short series on talking about suicide and my thoughts on spiritual leader Teal Swan's suicide advice (which I learned about by listening to the fantastic podcast The Gateway = https://tinyurl.com/yc2j9w3e). I do go into some of my suicide attempts and why I am CERTAIN that suicidal thoughts are not your body's way of telling you to move on to the next life. If you are feeling suicidal or hopeless, watch this. If you have recently overcome suicidal thoughts but are still feeling shaky, maybe skip it. I do go into some details about the response that the body has to overdosing. I think it's important for people to know this. I recently learned that 90% of suicide survivors regret their suicide mid attempt. This was my experience as well. If you are living with suicidal thoughts, just know how strong you are for fighting your brain every day. It's so exhausting. Much love, Sarah.
** CW: SUICIDE** I recently listened to the podcast The Gateway (listen at : https://tinyurl.com/yc2j9w3e) and learned all about spiritual leader Teal Swan. She has been someone who is very vocal about her opinions on suicide and how it should be treated, and after listening to it my mind was buzzing with thoughts. This is part one of my thoughts on Teal Swan's suicide advice, where I talk about whether or not the crisis line is helpful, and why regression memory therapy isn't the best advice for people who are suicidal. Part two out next week. In BC there is also a crisis chat line if you don't feel like talking to anyone: https://crisiscentrechat.ca/ Remember to be blunt if they are saying things that aren't helpful, or request to talk to someone else.
This video is for people who want to be a songwriter but are worried they aren't good enough or don't know where to start. It's also for anyone who has lost faith in their own songwriting and are questioning whether or not they are good. These are things that helped me when I was going through music school ( I did not finish it by the way).
Hey guys! This is my first video post in a LONG time (as in pre-bipolar recovery), and I'm super scared to post it. I've been wanting to start a video series about mental health and self care and music for a while, especially because all the teenagers I meet on the road are on youtube and I want to continue to communicate with them even if I never see them again. If you guys have something you want me to talk about, sing about, whatever, then please post it in the youtube comments. Also, if you have something you are scared to release, post it in the comments or dm me on instagram @sarah.jickling.
p.s. This is the best way to support me, because spotify only pays $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream even if you pay them $15 a month. Also, remember that all the prices on this site are in Canadian dollars!
If I had to live through going to Earl Marriott Secondary, putting me on the main stage at SeaFest is the least White Rock can do! Seriously though, Seafest is cool and highschool was a nightmare. Come see me and we can do some musical group therapy.