Fuck Mental Illness

Maybe I shouldn’t share this here – it’s my business page after all right, I should keep things professional. But I’m not working at the moment and don’t know when I’ll be back to it during all of these imposed restrictions due to Covid-19, so I’m going for it – in hopes that by sharing I give someone else the courage to do the same.

Yesterday, April 21st, 2020, I had a panic attack unlike any other panic attack I’ve had in my 39 years (and yes, there have been several). And it was really over nothing.  I jumped from a moving vehicle, and then walked crying and barefoot down Abasand hill. I’m sure a lot of you driving past were curious about the sobbing barefooted woman, but you all kept to yourselves. I kept walking.

4 times along the walk, I considered just leaving the sidewalk. Running into traffic. Ending it. But then I would look down the hill towards the hospital. And I kept walking.

As I got to the overpass I paused. There was no way I’d survive a jump off the overpass.

But then I looked at the hospital again.

And I kept walking.

At the hospital doors, a woman was smoking a cigarette. The first person who seemed to notice me the entire way down. She asked me hun are you ok? And I just sobbed no. “Are you going to the er hun? Please do” …. I just sobbed a thank you I am not sure she heard, and kept going.

As I got into the hospital doors, I fell apart. I am terrified of hospitals on a good day. I am so socially awkward I don’t like being in front of strangers without the security blanket of my camera or my husband. I was alone, and I was frightened.

And I opened the doors and was face to face with people in suits, and masks and I was sobbing uncontrollably, and I just needed to talk to someone “We just need to put this mask on” snot and tears were filling up my mask, I so desperately just really REALLY wanted a hug. Like more than fucking anything at that moment I needed to be comforted, embraced, held. But of course nobody is alllowed to do that to a stranger during all of this and I was ushered to the emergency room, given some ativan and sent home with a note to call my dr and go on drugs and see a therapist.

Admittedly, I’ve avoided medication and therapy now since I was a child. I hated it – I hated how it made me feel. I hated therapy especially, because my counselor told my abuser something I told her and I was severely beaten for it. Since then I have never truly been able to open up to anyone in person. I could do text therapy, does that even exist? the webcam shit would be too hard for me even. I would literally need a therapist to see a therapist.

I know that I am not alone in this. So many of us are struggling. Isolation exacerbates mental illness. My mental disorders are not new. This is something I have struggled with for most of my life – stemming from an incredibly abusive childhood and first marriage, as well as family history of mental illness. I have PTSD, bpd, and crippling anxiety. I can USUALLY self cope. I keep busy, I freaking LOVE my work and that is why every winter I struggle because I’m not booking. But now I’m still struggling, because I am still not booking. I miss it. I miss the people. I miss just getting out of the house and doing something for ME. I miss forcing myself out of my mind for a bit, and doing something else. I’ve been trying to come up with other hobbies to distract me as much. I took up cross-stitch, have done shit tonnes of colouring with the kids, am doing their home schooling, even did some baking. It just isn’t working. It’s funny, I told the crisis counsellors yesterday, “I’m in the BEST place in my life right now. I was abused as a child, I was abused in my first marriage, I’ve been beaten and raped and I’ve been drugged and abused – and I am in the BEST place now. I have four incredible kids. I have a husband who does EVERYTHING for me. I have a job that I LOVE. So Why am I the most sad?? I just don’t understand it?” And the crisis counsellors told me that is the vicious bitch (maybe not in those terms)  that is PTSD. It doesn’t have reason to manifest itself when you’re feeling better, it just does.

And so now I am resorting to drugs,  and therapy, and it kills me.  But It was that or the overpass.

I really want to reach out to all of you – I know this isn’t a pleasant post but it’s a real one. I know I am one of the lucky ones too because I have a HUGE support system of people that love and care for me. I worry so hard about the ones who don’t.

I worry a lot lately about so many people. The second schools closed the first thing I thought about were the children in abusive households. Who no longer have a safe space to go to. Or people stuck in homes with their abusive partner. I know there are resources out there but let me be the first to tell you most people stuck in those situations will NOT access them out of fear. I know as a child I wasn’t even allowed to use a phone, or have a quarter for a payphone, or go outside – and I definitely did not have a tablet – explain how those kids can call a help line? I know as an abused woman, my partner had hidden all the phones and then had my infant son in one arm and a knife in the other and was threatening to kill me. I had to have my 5 year old run to the neighbours and call 911.

Now consider what would have happened then if all of this had happened then. Would she even be brave enough to go to someone elses’ house when the media is shoving down our throat to stay clear away from anyone who isn’t family? At 5 years old would she have been able to do that? It was brave enough for her to do it when she considered them healthy, can you imagine if also making her afraid was the fact they might be sick too?

This happens everywhere. In every community. So What I want to ask of you all is look out for your neighbours and your loved ones, even if you can’t physically be there with them, keep tabs on them, ask them how they are doing and TRULY listen and pay attention to signs. Do VIDEO chats with them if possible, not just phone calls so you can see whether they are showing signs of depression or abuse or self harm. Especially, the government should be reaching out to those who live alone and might NOT have a support group of their own. Maybe start doing welfare checks during all of this – because I guarantee this will be a pandemic of mental illness for LONG after covid-19 is killing people. Mental illness can’t be “cured” like a virus can. It takes years and years of retraining your brain or medicating to cope. It just doesn’t go away. You can’t just fix it. So there will be people suffering from all of this for many years – even once things (if things) go back to “normal”

Look out for EVERYONE. Show EVERYONE love and compassion and kindness. Do not say anything cruel to ANY PERSON because we are all struggling. Every one of us has had our order disrupted and lives disrupted. From the rich to the poor, people of every colour, every orientation, every religion, we ARE ALL HUMAN. Be kind, especially during all of this and then ALWAYS.

If you are stuck in an abusive household, shoot me a message at karlarae@foxandbirdphotography.com or on my Facebook page to order a complimentary 5×7 print (I really don’t have any for sale). Just write in your subject line COMPLIMENTARY PRINT ORDER and in the context your name and address. I can forward it to the authorities. I know that isn’t much and I really wish I could do more to help you but it might just help get you out of this situation you’re stuck in.

We are all in this together and I for one can not wait for this all to be over so I can get out there and start hugging again. What the world needs now, is love. 


Girl I seen you. I was in a truck as a passenger also having a horrible panic attack and I wanted to tell the driver to stop because I could see you felt just as bad as I did. I’m sorry I didn’t, not that I know you would have got in with everything going on but to know that you weren’t alone either. Thanks for sharing this. Even though it now has me in tears. I thought about “that girl” all night and hoped she made it to the hospital.

I’m so sorry you were in the same boat!!! I hope that you were able to calm down from your panic attack. Sending so much love Jennifer. And yes, I made it there and today was a better day <3