One step back, a lifetime forward: Danny Ritz

This is just a reminder to everyone mental health is a daily battle. It was, is and always will be for me. Despite my Christian up brining, moral influences and standards, I was hit hard.

If you ask most anyone who knows me, they will tell you I am a happy person, always smiling, laughing and joking around. Needless to say, for many many years, I was a very good actor. From high school into adult hood, I struggled daily with getting out of bed, and finding a positive reason to keep my eyes open. I struggled dearly with depression, anxiety, very low self worth and at times suicide.

This sent me down a very painful path of faking emotions, being a chameleon in social settings and not being who I am to try and fit in. I began trying to keep people close by substituting material goods for genuine connection, because I didn’t think anyone would truly want to be friends with who I am. This was a never ending cycle of doubts, fake relationships and surface happiness. No matter where I was, I was never truly happy.

I met a lot of great friends, but could never keep anyone close. This took me into a world of chasing money thinking it would buy me happiness. This proved to be the worst move I could have made. I ended up working in a highly destructive world of industrial trades. Don’t get me wrong, I met and have a lot of great friendships through it, but it destroyed me. At my height, I was making 6 figures, with 6 figures of debt and nothing to show for it. I lived in complete denial hoping to put up a wall of material goods to hide the pain I lived with every day, and I could somehow become happy.

But, this slowly began to change. I was able to find/fall in love with axe throwing and this was my release. This was my escape. This was my happy place. I was not judged, not stressed and could just let go. This led to a career change where I took a massive leap of faith, with a 50% pay cut. But, I had realized that money was the mask I thought I needed. This was never shown to be more false than the coming months would prove. In 10 short months I went from being the most angry, jaded person I have ever been, to a genuinely happy person. I now have a career I love, amazing woman in my life and something of value to my name.

Don’t get me wrong, I still battle with negative influences and thoughts daily, but they don’t have nearly the same hold on my life. I am able to wake up, get out of bed looking at the world with a true smile on my face. I am eager to see what each day brings, and I can’t thank those who have held on through these massively hard times without even realizing the impact you have had on me.

This being said, don’t stop talking, because no one knows the extent of the battle you are fighting, and no one ever will. If you can read this, you will never have to be alone. Reach out and I will never turn away from a conversation from someone hurting.


A Beautiful Struggle: Kylee Crosby

Depression for me has been the lifelong companion that always seems to creep back up, despite the distance I create, at the times of my life when I have the least space for it. This is me – real, raw, exposed, struggling in the wee hours of the morning to keep up with my tendency towards overcommitment, while simultaneously fighting the urge to give into that dark spiral that so easily can consume one’s being.

While each individual struggle is unique, all I can speak of is my own and the universal truths I have found through mutual understanding. Depression, as conceptualized, can ignite states of extreme hopelessness, sadness, physical pain, loneliness, and misunderstanding. It can create disassociation in which the experience of life is that of watching a movie, where observation from the outside is the only place belonging can be found. It can partner with insomnia and an inability to live outside of one’s thoughts. It can facilitate incapacitating anxiety, unreasonably high standards, and internal reflection to a fault.

However, I have chosen to see my struggle as a gift, and in times when it comes back for a visit, I welcome the reminder of how far I have come and the special perspective it has provided me on the world. My journey has provided me with the strength of solitude and revealed the value of self-love. It has allowed me to embrace my reflective nature and to explore the core facets of humanity. It has nurtured the ability to feel emotions in their most extreme capacities. It has reinforced an empathetic, open heart, and the necessity of love for each person we encounter. Lastly, it has provided the platform for countless connections of unparalleled depth with beautiful souls who similarly exist within this spectrum of struggle.

I am grateful, mindful, and strong because of this beautiful struggle I have been blessed with. 

Items & Ego: Cassie-Jo Shadlock

This morning I was driving downtown. I was at a red light on Garry St. I looked to my left & saw a man sitting on the step of a building and it was apparent he was homeless. No, he wasn’t begging or “bothering” anyone as some people may call it. He was keeping to himself, head down, fading into the background, as it was apparent he was telling himself he deserved to do.

What I will say is that he was a human being & it broke my heart into a million pieces to see the look in his eyes. He could barely stand to make eye contact with anyone for fear of being judged, not belonging to society, or just wanting to disappear.

How do we look at another human being like that & not feel anything? We find every reason to tell ourselves that this is just the way it is. 

You can find all of his faults, call him weak, or judge what he may have done to get there.  You may lump him into an category based on our own fear of unfortunate circumstances or the racism we have come to find far too normal. All in an attempt to make us feel better about our own demons.

I was on my way to a job that I love, freshly showered, after starting my day with a hug from my mom & my belly full of breakfast. Can you imagine living any other way than you are now, cutting your privileges down to a quarter & still trying to appreciate the gift of life?

Some good friends and I were given an opportunity to come back from vulnerable situations and not let a dark path become permanent. We had love and support throughout our journey but some people aren’t always given that privilege.

I am grateful everyday, but especially today for being here, a life not based on the quality or quantity of items & ego.

I am thankful that I have seen this man & the many men/women out there, who (we have to remember) are not just versions of someone who “once was” important at one time in their lives. All I ask is the next time you see someone in the state that this gentleman was, try & change your thought pattern!

We can use some love right now,  All of us!

3 Times My Mental Illness Changed My Life (for the better): Laura Hudson

The best way I can describe my depression on my worst day is an inability to cope; a lack of resources – being thrown into a gladiator fight wielding a spoon.

In those moments I look out and see my friends and the rest of the world with their suits of armour and swords parkouring their way through life as I watch from the corner, back against the wall, spoon clutched tight to my chest.

It’s a feeling of being unequipped. Like going scuba diving armed with a snorkel mask; the frantic treading of water, one arm flung over the side of the boat, choking back salt as everyone else gracefully swims below, air tanks attached securely to their backs.

But would you believe me if I told you that even after all of that, and knowing that for the rest of my life there are going to be many more days clinging to the side of that boat, that I wouldn’t trade it for the world?

Here is why.

Hitchhikers Improv Presents: Embrace the Unusual

We are so excited to support Hitchhikers Improv group on their quest to acknowledge and improve mental health in our community.

This amazing and talented group of individuals share many beliefs that we value as an organization:

  • Vulnerability is the first step to improving your mental health.
  • Passion and art can act as a healthy outlet for improving yourself.
  • Who you surround yourself with becomes your support system and your influencer.
  • Sometimes the people who strive to entertain others may be the ones who need the support themselves.

Check out the video below and visit their website for any upcoming shows.

Hitchhikers Website


Stories behind our clothing

Our clothing has always been deeply rooted in the vision of our initiative.  It is not only a way for someone to show visual support to the mental health community but acts as a conversation starter.  Our clothing is more than just fashion; the stories behind the designs aim to be impactful.

Our clothing is available now at ‘Soles of Whitmore’ on Albert St in Regina.

Join the conversation.


The Window: Marcia Fisher

In a reaction to the loss of a loved one, I decided to switch gears within my practice and focus on creating pieces that allowed myself to work through the grief. This work took shape and resulted in The Window: multiple weavings which are all roughly 6’ in length. The weaving process was repetitive and therefore held a meditative quality. This work has as much emphasis on the process as its concept; though the completed work is a physical representation of the internal battle of a loss, the process is what guided me through the grief in real time.

The strong importance of this process came to me only after the work was completed. Through reflection, I saw that The Window was an important step towards facing what I did not want to; in the weeks between losing my loved one and beginning the weaving process, I inadvertently kept myself busy with activities which would not bring up thoughts of the loss. Starting and following through with the weavings put a personal pressure on dealing with every aspect of my grief. It was my personal method for nursing the emotional exhaustion I felt.


A loss never leaves you. It is possible that it becomes more comfortable and familiar to your being, but it never leaves you. These pieces stand for what cannot be put to words. They stand for what is gone, but not lost. It is a physical recognition of the internal struggle that cannot be seen to the outside observer. It is a meditation on loss and a material representation of the ability to come to terms with it. It is an attempt to put to materiality what cannot be seen or touched, but is certainly present. It is an ode to the elusive, deep understanding that the loss of a loved one is only a physical loss.

Marcia Fisher

Take A Minute: Ashley Berstein


A lot of people don’t know about the mental struggle I have battled in my past (and still do in my present). I suffered from an eating disorder for many years, it is not something I have made very public because it is something that I will never let define me.  From this struggle, I learnt a lot about myself, but most importantly about my strength and resilience that I never believed I had. I treat my body with so much respect now. Food is fuel. I listen to my body. If it’s over-worked, I rest it. If I’m hungry, I eat. Overcoming this mental illness wasn’t easy and it wasn’t done overnight, in fact, it will probably be something I always have to deal with. The most important thing I’ve learnt is that I’m not alone in this struggle, I’ve met and became close with so many amazing people who have helped me fight off my demons.

My Recipe: Jenna M Warren

Understand Us, the mental health initiative has started a campaign trend called Share Your Recipe as well as Vulnerable Is Beautiful. Ending the stigma against mental health is life changing, literally. After spending almost 27 years of my life with undiagnosed depression and anxiety, the battle wasn’t always easy, but I was always learning and sometimes barely surviving. Here’s my vulnerability.. I mean recipe.

Let’s Talk: Braedon McLeod

This is an important day for many, many people, including myself.#BellLetsTalk day is a chance to start a conversation about something that affects millions of Canadians — and people around the world — every single day.

My struggle with mental illness, namely anxiety, started in the fall of 2014 at Thanksgiving dinner with my family. Out of nowhere I just felt trapped, scared, and like I couldn’t breathe. I’d never experienced something like it before. It lasted for 17 hours. I had to miss work the next morning, which snowballed into me being fired from my job. Since then, there are some days where I’m short of breath, stuck in my own head, and constantly worried that everything is out to get me. There are some days, too, that I am completely content and ready to tackle the day ahead. You don’t know when it will rear its ugly head. It just does.

A little more about how it affects me. I’ve had times where I’ll be driving from Saskatoon to Regina. Suddenly I’ll feel panicked and like I am in immediate danger. My chest will tighten. I’ll feel trapped and like I’m going to pass out at any moment. Seemingly irrational to you; very real — in the moment — to me.

One thing I’ve learned though, is that it all passes. I feel like I’m dying in the moment, but it passes.

I would not be able to battle this alone, and I am thankful every day for the support group that I have.

UnderstandUs teams w/ Regina Firefighters for Movember

Regina Firefighters and UnderstandUs have teamed up to raise awareness for mens mental health.  We created shirts to fundraise for mens mental health which sold out immediately.  We are very excited to be working with such a great group of individuals that are so committed to breaking the stigma of mens mental health.  Please show your support by donating or coming to the Movember party.

The Movember Party is Wednesday November 25 @ 7pm at the Rugby Club with a 20$ Ticket.

If you would like to donate to the Firefighters Movember team then follow the link below:

Donate to Movember


Naming the Elephant in the Room: Victoria Sutherland

 I have depression. There. I said it. Holy shit, the elephant in the room has been named! I won’t tell you that I suffer from it, but instead I’ll say I deal with it. Much like an addiction, admitting is the first step and it’s taken me two decades to finally do it. I, along with many other people had bought into the stigma. I spent 6 years obtaining a psych degree (yes, I see the irony in this) so I knew all about the signs, symptoms, treatments and knew that someone with depression isn’t broken or fucked up. Yet, I didn’t want to be labeled as someone with a mental illness. So, instead I gave excuses for my illness – “I’m just feeling down for some reason”, “it’s just a bad day/week/month”, “I’m fine but I just need some time away from everything”. Not once when I had an extreme reaction to a negative event did I think “hmm maybe this is something bigger.”