How my love for the beach saved my broken soul…

Thank you for stopping by….

I thought I would share a little bit about who I am & how I decided to start this journey of self discovery, healing and happiness.

Born in Southern New Brunswick, Canada along the Bay of Fundy, where the World’s Highest tides ebb & flow with the moon’s cycle, I’ve always felt most at home on the beach, with the sound of waves crashing against the shore.

As a child, I spent many summers along those shorelines, running in the waves, watching hermit crabs, building sand castles and looking for unique beach finds.  Little did I know that some 30+ years later, searching those very beaches would help me to find a new path to life and peace of mind.

I was blessed to have a wonderful mother, who not only worked hard to take care of myself and my younger brother as a single parent, but worked hard to give us memorable experiences.   We grew up knowing that we were loved, cherished and cared for. Mom always made sure we had experiences to shape our views of the world, through Scouting/Guides, Air Cadets, music lessons, school activities as well as family activities and outings with friends. 

Our family vacation were spent around New Brunswick, camping in Fundy National Park or another campground, swimming, hiking, learning about nature, about our local fish, sea life, fauna and flora as well as learning how to be empathetic to the world around us. 

Me, on the New Brunswick Northern Coastline.
My 4 legged side kick, Poncho, on Campobello Island, NB

As I grew older, I continued to find peace and solace at the beach. It was a space I could clear my head, quietly reflect on the whatever was going on full speed in my head and relax. As time went on, life also got busier. Life has a way of taking you on a road, sometimes with so many twists and turns, you get lost trying to find your way back. This was my road to travel.

Soon, University became my focus. It took me inland to Saint Thomas University, in Fredericton, NB. Long forgotten was the peace of mind I found at the beach and soon became a whirlwind the chaos of university course load, working, dating, friends, family, parties & life brings.

I was focused on a university career that I really didn’t have a clue on where I would take it. I was already working in the health care field, amassing the required work hours I needed for a degree in Psychology & Gerontology. I went to classes, worked, spent time with friends, and slept. I had little time for “mental health.” In fact, back then in the mid 1990’s, mental health wasn’t even mentioned with the exception of skipping a class and calling it a “mental health day”, which it truly was. Some of us would get so overwhelmed by the workload required that the only thing we could do was just shut ourselves into our dorm rooms and hope the Anxiety would pass.

By 4th year, I was living on my own, working 40-50 hours a week with youth at risk, seniors and those with mental illnesses, going to school full time and still trying to BE everything to everyone I cared about. I was exhausted.

Life in my 20’s was both a blessing and a curse. I met the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with, little did we know, life had other plans. I was finishing my undergraduate and was planning a future towards Medical School, working as a specialist in Dementia and Senior mental health.

Then the world came to a crashing halt. This man, who I thought I would grow old with, that I would love forever, was diagnosed with Cancer. A rare form of bone cancer that had developed in his cartilage in his hip. At the age of 22, he started going through Chemo treatments and I started trying to keep it together so he could focus on beating this damn disease!

Patrick & myself, 9 months into dating, June 2001

It would be 3.5 years from the day I met him until Cancer took him. My world spiraled. Nothing felt right, life pretty much sucked. Although I loved my job as an Activity Director at a nursing home, I wasn’t mentally engaged enough to do a truly good job. I realize now, how deep into depression I had sunk. At 26 years old, my world had fallen apart.

Feeling broken, alone, sad, heart sick, I began to feel physically ill from all the stress, I already had a couple of chronic health issues, psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis & Depression didn’t help these conditions at all. The stress caused many days of pain, side effects from medications and a loss of interest in life. I gained weight, worked way too much, slept too much and lived life very little. Then I got seriously ill and wasn’t able to work myself. It would be 10 years after Patrick had passed before I would truly find some light again to help me find my way out of the darkness.

My first step to finding my way back to living was finally meeting those people in person who I had been chatting with for 10 years in an online young widows support group. No one thinks that in your 20’s, you will lose a spouse. No one thinks how much that loss shapes who you become as an adult. No one realizes both the physical and mental toll that takes on how you view the world, how you respond to others, interact with society, how society treats you after. This group of people got it. They had all experienced the heart wrenching loss of their spouse, how their world broke down around them, nothing felt right and it never felt as though it ever would. By meeting them, it felt right to be with these people who just understood and had no judgement. I didn’t feel so alone.

Fort Lauderdale 2014 Widdabago

The next step was to get back to spending time with family and friends. I had friends who had faded away as I went through these life changes. Some not knowing how to talk to me, not knowing how what they could do to support me. Some friends stayed and were there and loved me even when I didn’t love myself.

I was diagnosed at 32 with Chronic Migraine Syndrome as well as Fibromyalgia & Osteoarthritis. Chronic pain had forced me to stop working. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t leave my house for days on end, and I was in such agony, my mom would hear me on the other end of the phone line sobbing. It felt like another set back, like life just kept kicking me in the head & the heart.

I began to spend time with a coworker who was also going through her own struggles with Chronic Illnesses and misdiagnosis. Over time, we shared our stories, researched and shared our methods of coping with the chronic pain. One of her ways to help her was to beach comb, looking for pieces of sea treasures, whatever they may be.

Myself, Lisa & Larry

How could I have forgotten how much peace the beach gave me? How could I forget how much healing the sound of the waves could bring, the call of the sea birds would make me smile, the joy of finding treasures left by the ocean swells to collect and admire?

Lower Duck Pond, Campobello Island, New Brunswick

This is just the beginning of how I found myself, of how I reworked my life to include being happy, mentally healthy, finding adventure wherever the waves send me and bringing my love for the ocean & beach into a creativity I never knew I possessed.

Just like a piece of sea glass that is tumbled through rough seas to be deposited on a lonely beach for someone to discover & treasure, I felt like my life was very similar. Tossed into darkness, thrown around by heartbreak and despair, finally deposited into a quiet spot where I could find a way to just be, this is just the beginning of my story and where I came from.

I look forward to sharing more about my journey and to sharing what my love for the Ocean has done to help heal my soul……

“Go to the Sea, To leave your Troubles & Find your Treasures.

Published by eastcoastseagems

This is my story of how the love of family, friends, the peacefulness of the Beach and a little piece of forgotten glass thrown away so many years ago helped me to find a joy & purpose again; how I found a love of life and living again after many years in the darkness of Chronic illness, Depression and Loss.

4 thoughts on “How my love for the beach saved my broken soul…

  1. Well written Salisha! I am happy to have know you in possibly the darkest time of your journey and it brings me joy to know that you are finding your way back to peace and joyful living!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Debbie, you definitely met me while I was in my spiral downward. You and the rest of the palliative team were Angels for both Patrick & myself. I can never express my thanks enough to you for doing what you did so well. 💗

      Like

    1. Thank you so much! I made a plan, and I think I’m well enough to take on the task of sharing my journey. I have so many people who I want to incĺude in this story. It’s hard not to rattle on.

      Like

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