It Didn’t Happen

So, if you know me by now, you know that I suffer from OCD and anxiety. It has been crippling at some points and sometimes is very hard to deal with. However, I have stumbled upon a method that has decreased my anxiety significantly.

I was grocery shopping the other day, and as I had loaded all my groceries into my cart, ready to put them in the trunk of the car, I noticed something on the cart handle. It was a brown mark. My brain immediately started disasterizing things and saying that it was from a baby that was sitting in the cart. I started to panic, because I had touched that handle before touching all of my groceries that I just bought. I thought they were all contaminated and that I was going to get sick if I handled them or ate them. Then a thought popped into my head – why not just pretend it never happened? Just go home, put all your groceries away and move on with life. Don’t sit around worrying or even avoid touching the groceries. Just move on! To my surprise, this worked fantastically. I was able to put that mark on the cart handle behind me and move forward with my day.

I was at work yesterday and I was sitting talking to a patient. She revealed to me that she also suffers from OCD. We chatted for a while. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a sticky mess on the arm of the chair I was sitting in. Again, irrational thoughts began flooding my mind. And then I remembered… it never happened. That was final, nothing to worry about, nothing happened. My fears and churning thoughts began to slow down and I was able to rationalize my situation.

As our conversation went on, I decided to tell the patient about my newly discovered method of defeating anxiety. I explained to her about the shopping cart handle and the arm of the chair. I told her that if you just convince yourself that it didn’t happen, thus re-focusing your mind, the anxiety will subside. It really surprised me at how well it worked.

Re-focusing your mind is key. By accepting that your crisis is in fact not a crisis, you can begin to focus on the rest of your day. If you believe that the troubling issue didn’t even occur, you are able to move on.

So, I encourage you try it. When something is really bothering you, just say in your head “this just simply didn’t happen”. It might seem a bit silly or unorthodox, but I have found it works wonders.


Ashleigh Singleton

Don’t Let the Bullies Win!

Bullying is an epidemic. Everyday, thousands upon thousands of people are bullied for their race, gender, creed and sexual orientation. Bullying has driven thousands upon thousands of people to self harm and suicide. What are we going to do about this epidemic?

I myself have recently been the victim of bullying. About a month ago, I came out to the world as transgender. This was not an easy step to make. I spent weeks prior agonizing on how I was going to come out to my dad, to my siblings and to my friends. Fortunately, I have the most amazing father who accepts me and my transition fully. My brother Christopher and his wife Michelle have also been very supportive. And, I can’t say enough about how my friends have rallied around me and been there as amazing supports.

However, not everything about my transition has been sunshine and rainbows. Albeit, I am very blessed to have so many people around me that care and love me, I have faced bullying and discrimination. I have been called derogatory names. I have been told that my transition is a transgression. I have been told that I am loathed. These kind of things really broke me. These sorts of statements drove me into a rut of depression, anger and suicidal contemplation. I thought that I was never going to fully be accepted for the person that I really am, and that I would be rejected for life.

I broke down in front of my dad the other day because of this bullying I was experiencing. Because of one bully, I thought that the world hated me. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. I felt sick to my stomach for being transgender and finally living my life the way I believe I was meant to. I wondered if I was ever going to be fully at peace for who I am.

However, my dad made a very good point. He explained to me that by reacting to the bully’s words, I was feeding his methods, and he would just continue to say hurtful words towards me. As long as I was giving him a reaction, he would continue. My dad is a very knowledgeable man, and is seldom wrong. So, I went home that night and I took some time to really think. I realized that yes, my dad is correct. If you react with tears or anger, you are fueling the bully to continue insulting you. Those who have been bullied are hurt and don’t know where to turn. But, if WE can stand up to our bullies, not give them a reaction and just ignore what they are saying, they’ll get bored and move on.

So, I am saying right now, Don’t Let the Bullies Win! If you are reading this and you are being bullied, please know that you are a loved, important and beautiful person. The bully has no control over you unless you let them. I know it’s hard to just turn around and walk away, but you will find that it really does work.

I am making a decision here and now that I will no longer fuel my bully’s attempts to hurt me. I don’t know what is going on in his head, but I am making the choice to turn around and walk away. I will no longer react with tears and anger. I am a stronger person and I know that I am loved and accepted for who I am by the people that matter!

So, to my bully: See ya! You will no longer have any power to hurt me.



The Power of Positive Thinking and Re-framing Your Mind

Positive thinking is very powerful. I have learned that if you have a positive attitude, that you will be someone that people want to be around. No one wants to be around a negative person. I have found that simply saying aloud when I wake up in the morning that “I am going to have a good day today”, it gets me started on the right foot and the right frame of mind. It sounds so simple, but it works. I challenge you to look in the mirror and smile. A simple smile can release serotonin in your brain, which creates a “feel good” property. It literally makes you feel good. If you feel good when you start your day, you are more likely to be positive and upbeat. So try it! When you get up tomorrow morning, tell yourself that you are going to have a good day, that you are going to make it the best it can be. I think you will be pleased to see how well it works.

I recently found myself in a very low place. You could read it on my face. People around me were noticing that I was down and upset. One of my dearest friends said to me “Alex, when I see that you are down, it makes me feel down too.” That really upset me, because the last thing I want to do is be a negative influence on my friends and the people around me. At first, I was really hard on myself and had negative thoughts, saying to myself that I simply was not going to be around the person anymore. I really internalized what she had said, and I started to beat myself up.

Then, I made the realization that I control how I act and how I display my emotions. I control my state of mind. So, at the point where I was personalizing and beating myself up, I gave myself what I call a mental “ass kicking”. I activated my positive thinking abilities and initiated positive self-talk. Self-talk is very powerful. For instance, negative self-talk can tear you down, while positive self-talk can build you up, increase your positive mood and re frame your mind into a better state. So, in my situation, I said to myself “I am going to pick myself up and present myself with more positivity. I want people to enjoy being around me and have fun with me.” That slowly helped me to re frame my mind. I made the conscious decision that I wasn’t going to sit around and mope, I was going to ensure that the people around me were feeling good. So, in fact, I picked myself up and enjoyed the rest of my day, laughing with my friends. On the car ride home, the one friend told me that she saw such a change in me and she was very happy that she got to spend more positive time with me. It was a really good example about the power of re framing your mind. Like I said, YOU have the power to re frame your mind when you are in a negative situation. Pair that with positive thinking, and you’re set!


Ashleigh Singleton

It’s Not All About Me

Today I am writing about an issue I came upon recently. One of my biggest flaws is that I personalize things that really don’t have anything to do with me. It is something that I have really realized in the past little while.

To give an example, I was on Skype with my sister in law the other day. I am planning on going over there for 5 days next week. She mentioned that Cadence had a rash and a possible viral infection. I was worried that my trip would be cancelled if Cadence was ill. I phoned my dad in tears because I was looking forward to the trip for a very long time. Later that evening, my sister in law said that the trip was still on. This made me feel great, my vacation was coming!

I was riding in the car with my dad yesterday and he made a really good point. See, I immediately thought about myself and my trip when I found out Cadence wasn’t feeling too good. I panicked, thinking that this trip that I had been looking forward to for so long wasn’t going to happen. Really, I should have been thinking about Cadence. Is she okay? How sick is she? When is she expected to get better? Are some of the things I should have asked. Instead, I thought of myself and what would happen to ME personaly. I should have been more concerned about Cadence’s health.

I also personalize a lot of situations with different friends of mine. A lot of the time, I will get stressed out, thinking it’s my fault that someone is struggling or isn’t able to meet for coffee. I feel like I have done something wrong, when really, I am not even related to the real situation.

So, it is my goal to start analyzing my behavior more. I want to realize when I am being selfish or thinking about just myself. The world does not revolve around me. Everyone is going through their share of issues, just as I am. It doesn’t mean I am at fault, though. I am going to start thinking of others first, before I make it anything about me.

I encourage you to do the same. Look at how you react to situations that are really not under your control or don’t have anything to do with you. Think of the person in the root of the issue and be understanding that they need to deal with things as well. It’s not always about you.

I am constantly working on my flaws, and this is just another step in my journey.


Ashleigh Singleton


Labels. What are they? Do they define who or what we are? Or are we something bigger, greater than a simple word or two? This was my dilemma.

Yesterday, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was feeling quite down about it and thinking “great, another diagnosis, another label that I am” You hear on TV all the time about people with PTSD. Veterans, police officers, paramedics, etc. They are portrayed as people that are crippled by their experiences and that is how they have come to their diagnosis. So, here I am, thinking that I have now been added to the group of people that have been through trauma and have difficulties with it. I was upset because it is another label that the world defines me as. Now, I am no stranger to labels. I have schizophrenia. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Anxiety. So, adding PTSD to the list really rattled me.

I found it very difficult to get out of bed today, in this mindset. I moped around my apartment and barely did anything. I talked to a close friend on the phone but had nothing to say as I was so depressed. “I am sick of the labels and diagnoses.” I said to myself. However, I managed to get dressed and take the bus to my Wednesday evening Toastmasters group. I played a role tonight in the group where I had to count “filler words” as people were speaking. That was a good thing because it enabled me to focus on something other than my own internal thoughts. As the meeting went on, I was asked if I would like to get up and share some of my comedy. I was obliged at the request. I got up in front of the group and I spoke about why I do comedy. Then it dawned on me. I am not a label. I am not a diagnosis. I am a woman, a comedian, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a friend. I have value. Yes, I have schizophrenia, OCD, anxiety and PTSD. Who cares? We as human beings are NOT defined as labels.
I get up and do standup comedy because I want to break that stigma about mental health and its labels. When I started doing comedy, I learned that my illness isn’t a death sentence. Today I learned that you can label me with any disease on the planet, that does not define who I am, what my passions are and what I care deeply about. Diagnoses do not determine my success in life, the friends I make or my happiness. I choose to do standup comedy because it makes me happy. It makes others happy. It chips away at that stigma of labels and diagnoses.

We are not defined by our illnesses. We are intricate, intelligent, loving human beings. We all have a different life story, different interests, friends and family that love us.

As I stood in front of my fellow Toastmasters, I began to tell them that I have schizophrenia but that I wasn’t nervous because the voices in my head laugh at everything I say anyway. I began to tell them jokes of my experiences and different aspects of having a mental illness. What did my fellow Toastmasters do? They laughed. I felt that rush of adrenaline and sheer joy that I was making others laugh, making them feel good and showing that I am not defined by any of my diagnoses. I began to feel good about myself again. I began to feel worthy. Yes, I have been faced with some trying things in life, but there is no way that I am going to let these things define my happiness or my life.
As the evening ended, I was awarded the “spark plug” award for the person of the evening that energized everyone and made an impact. Getting up in front of everyone as they applauded me, I finally knew who I was.
I am not a label. I am not a diagnosis. My name is Ashleigh Singleton and I am important, loved, cared for and compassionate. Yes, I have PTSD. Who cares?

Ashleigh Singleton

The Way I See It Stand Up Comedy

The Way I See It
In 2016 I was presented with the opportunity to take a unique course for an organization called Stand Up For Mental Health. This is when I met the amazing David Granirer. David is a stand up comedian and founder of Stand Up For Mental Health.

Going into the course, I was facing a long bout of depression. I took the course in hopes that it would benefit my public speaking skills. What I got from it was something so much more, so powerful. At first, I started out slow, not feeling like I was able to laugh at what I was going through. But, through the teachings and wise words of David, I started to realize that my illness is not a death sentence, that I can laugh about it. The course lasted for 3 months and at the end we did a show at the White Rock Playhouse Theater. I had been so used to doing public speaking, but this was a whole new experience. I will never forget walking on that stage and feeling so supported and encouraged by the audience. It was very empowering and I delivered my set, to cheers and applause.

Fast forward to January 2017. For the last year, I had been asked by many people when I would be doing my next stand up comedy show. I never really thought about it, figuring it was just a one time occurrence. However, as the new year started, I thought of an idea to have a “reunion show” for the White Rock stand up comics. I was fortunate at the same time that someone walked into my life and really believed that I could be successful at stand up comedy. At first, I was skeptical. Did I really want to start doing comedy again? Then I remembered the feeling, how it felt to get on that stage and make people laugh. Through a lot of encouragement, I decided that stand up comedy is something I really want to do. I ended up helping plan the reunion show. There is no greater feeling than having people appreciate and laugh at what you have worked so hard on. I realized that this was a whole new way for me to help others.

Thanks to the inspiration of a friend, I went back and read my jokes, forming a set list for the reunion show. Now, I am happy to announce that I have four stand up comedy sets lined up in the next 3 months. I have found that doing comedy really makes me happy and it’s something I can do for my own enjoyment. That feeling, the rush of being on stage is a feeling I crave. I know it’s not going to be all puppies and rainbows, but it is a new journey for me that is already progressing and I am getting a lot of enjoyment out of it.
We all have a purpose in life. As much as I love being a Peer Support Worker, stand up comedy is something I can do in my spare time and it’s something that I do for myself, something that makes me happy. To make people laugh is a big passion of mine, and I know by sharing my story through comedy, I am helping a vast array of people. I look forward to what the future has in store for me in stand up comedy.


Selling yourself short

Selling Yourself Short
I was recently presented with the opportunity to do some pretty important training for my job as a Peer Support Worker. The task seemed very daunting to me, and everything inside my head told me “you can’t do that, you’re not good enough” and “you will fail, don’t take it”. I ended up listening to what my head was saying and said that I was not capable of the training.
Fortunately, I have some amazing people in my life that support me constantly. My dad being the main one. He explained to me yesterday about me selling myself short. He said that sometimes I hastily make decisions, thinking I’m not good enough or I can’t do the task at hand. My dad said that that is selling myself short and not giving myself the chance to do things that I am actually capable of doing and that will better me in my career. I miss opportunities to move forward because I am constantly holding myself back.
So, yesterday I was doing some thinking about the whole situation. I realized that there are many times in my life where I don’t do something because I think I can’t. Riding the bus. Going to events at the Whale House. Facilitating groups. What my dad said, made me realize that I CAN do so much. I need to stop using the word can’t and replace it with CAN. I CAN ride the bus, I CAN go to events at the Whale House, I CAN facilitate groups, and yes, I CAN complete the training that I will be taking. I CAN and I WILL.
So, I encourage you to take a look at your own life and see where you are selling yourself short. You are capable of much more than your head lets you believe, as am I. Take time to make decisions, don’t back out immediately because you don’t think you’re good enough or you can’t do it. Have faith in yourself. We as individuals are capable of amazing feats.
Keep your head up high, don’t listen to those thoughts that undermined you. You CAN do it, and you WILL do it.


Fighting on

Fighting On
As the year 2016 is soon coming to a close, I find myself reminiscing about my mental health journey. It has been full of ups and downs, many victories and some very trying times. However, I look back at where I was a year ago, and it is amazing to see how far I have come. It has been my goal this year and heading into next to really challenge myself in terms of my anxiety. I can say with pride that I have done that so far this year. I started off the year with taking the Stand Up for Mental Health class. To say it was life changing would be an understatement. David Granirer taught me that it is possible to laugh at what we are going through and not to treat our mental illness as a death sentence. When I started the class, I was quite depressed and lacking hope. However, I came out of it at the end a new person. I have more confidence, a new sense of humour and a whole new feeling of hope. I am so grateful to have taken the SMH course and meeting David because it was truly life changing.

This past summer was also a big victory, thanks to some amazing staff at the Whale House and my amazing friends. I was able to tackle my bus anxiety. I finally realized that people wouldn’t take the bus if the seats were as bad as my anxiety says they are. I watched people get on the bus and sit anywhere, not obsessively looking at their seat to see if it was "clean". With this new understanding, I managed to ride the bus to and from the Whale House almost every day of the summer. I can finally step onto the bus and quickly find a seat, sit down for the duration of the trip and not get up every few minutes to check my seat. It just doesn’t bother me anymore, and if it does, I quickly shut those
thoughts down.

In the past year, I have also been making some decisions to better my physical health. The biggest change I made was to stop drinking pop. What a change! I never realized how much pop I was drinking until I lost 30 lbs. in the first 6 months of not drinking it! I am constantly getting people commenting on how I have lost weight and it is encouraging. One of the problems with some anti-psychotic medications is the side effect of weight gain. I have gained a lot of weight over the last 15 years. But! I have lost quite a bit in the last year. It is something that I continue to work on.

One thing that I joke a lot about is eating with my hands. I would eat EVERYTHING with a knife and fork. I would use a Kleenex to take my medication. I would eat pizza with a knife and fork. I would eat sandwiches and garlic bread with a knife and fork. I would eat potato chips with a fork. However, just in the last 2 or 3 months I have really challenged
myself to start eating with my hands again. What a huge success! I think the biggest victory was going to the Peer Support Worker training day and eating my bread roll with my hands. NO one noticed but I gave myself some credit because that was a huge step. When I went to the island to celebrate my birthday with Christopher, Michelle and Cadence, I shocked them by eating my pizza, taking my medication, eating snacks and sandwiches all with my hands. Now at home, I eat my potato chips with my hands. I take my medication straight from my hand. It certainly is less cutlery to do! (haha) and also another step at not letting my anxiety control my life.

Probably my biggest success this year has been training to become a Peer Support Worker. It's been a very interesting time studying. However, I have realized that it is my passion in life to help others. It took just over 2 years to complete all of the training, but on December 2, 2016 1 graduated as a Peer Support Worker. There were times where I thought I couldn't do it and I couldn't finish my practicum. But, I had the support of so many people. I shadowed some amazing Peer Support Workers who taught me so much. I had great classmates who were always a support. I had my dad pushing me along, encouraging me to have a positive attitude, even through the low times. When I step off the IPU after a shift, 1 look to the sky and smile because I know I have found my meaning in life. I have finally found where I am meant to be. As my mom was a nurse many years ago, I know she is so proud of me going into the hospital to help the IPU patients. I have a job doing the very thing that I love. There are many opportunities coming up after the holidays!

I hope I haven't rambled on too much. I just wanted to share some of the changes and victories I have had in 2016. I notice that when I am out with people, things don't bother me as much as they used to. Riding the bus. My weight. Eating with my hands. Those are just a few examples. I have made SO much progress over the last year, and I feel like a whole different, better person, than I was a year ago. I feel like I have grown immensely and battled my illness with great victory.

So, my message to you is to keep fighting! There will always be the hard times. There will always be struggles. But! If you stay strong, determined and have a positive attitude, you can accomplish so much. Take things one day at a time — don't expect a complete overnight success. There is so much hope out there. It took a lot of trying and determination for me to make it to this point, but I know you can do it too. Keep your head up high. Be proud of who you are, and tell those people/things that try to shut you down, that you CAN do it!

Ashleigh Singleton


There has been a major change in all our lives with the recent US election. Quite frankly, I have been disgusted and dismayed at the actions of some. Trump winning has sparked a lot of hate and ugly feelings for many people. The US is divided. We all get on Facebook and complain about how much we hate Trump or Hillary. We attack each other for petty reasons, we argue, we fight and we hurt each other. We discriminate against others for voting for the opposite candidate. We spit hateful words.

This is not right.

We live in a wealthy country, we have nice houses (and apartments), we have food in our cupboards, running water and electricity. We have nice clothes and shoes to keep us warm. We have every electronic toy known to man, cell phones, computers, tv's, etc. We are not starving. We are not in the middle of a country in civil war. It is safe for us to walk the streets and be who we are. We can love who we want, we can say what we want and we can do what we want. That's pretty damn good if you ask me.

Please, please, look at your life and realize how blessed we are! We have it all! We don’t have to worry about when our next meal is going to be or if we are going to have clean water to bathe in. We can walk down the street and not have to worry about car bombs. Think about it people... we have it good. So, stop the hate! Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. We all have free choice. It is not right to insult someone because they didn’t vote the way you did. It is not right to discriminate against certain people because of their skin colour, nationality' or sexual preference. We are better than that!

What we CAN do is love each other, because we are all going through this together! We all face the struggle that is at hand. Let's just try and be a little nicer to each other. Have some compassion. A simple smile goes a long way! We as humans need to support each other. Enough of this hate garbage.


Blessing in Disguise

Blessing in Disguise
So, I have written pretty extensively about my journey over the last 16 years, dealing with Schizophrenia and OCD. I have found though, that I was wrong in my initial thinking that mental illness is a death sentence. When I first started hearing voices and was going through psychosis, I thought I would be turned into a drugged up drooling zombie in a padded room. This scared me so much that I went for 2 years without telling anyone that I heard voices. However, my journey has been very' different than what I thought it would be. I was very fortunate to have the Early Psychosis Intervention program parachute in right at the beginning and they brought a lot of hope and answers to what I was going through. I also from the start have had a very strong support network. So, along with medication and a lot of hard work, I have blossomed into this successful, intelligent young woman, who lives in her own apartment and pays her own bills. I have realized that having a mental illness has actually been a blessing in disguise. For the last several years, it has been my goal and fight to erase the stigma that is associated with mental illness. There just simply isn't enough knowledge out there for people who are struggling, and they continue to struggle because of that. No one wants to talk about mental illness or disclose that they have mental health issues.

I go to high schools, colleges, meetings, workshops and even the RCMP and 911 dispatchers and I do talks about how far I have come. It is so great to be able to bring hope especially to youth and young adults that are struggling because I was once there myself. I have really been blessed with an amazing father as well. We are pretty well known in the mental health community. We have been dubbed "a great tag team" and we do a lot of talks together, me sharing my story and my dad sharing from a parent's perspective. We get all these cool opportunities to share our story all over the place. We have talked to thousands of family members, mental health professionals and people going through psychosis themselves. This is such an amazing opportunity to have. My dad and I are able to go out and change lives. We bring hope to so many people where there once was none. We bring strength to families and the idea that with psychosis, recovery can be expected. You have no idea how much I love being able to do that. My dad and I have touched so many lives.

So, I would definitely say that having a mental illness has been a huge blessing in disguise. If did not go through everything I have in the last 16 years, then I wouldn't be changing lives. I wouldn’t be bringing hope to people. I wouldn't be going to high schools and helping kids who are going through their own personal hell. I get to fight stigma and be a beacon of light to not only people with psychosis but also their families. How awesorne is that? Without everything. I wouldn't have such a strong bond with my dad- I wouldn't be as close to him as I am now. There are so many amazing things on the horizon for my life and I have made it so far. It is my life goal to help others and show that mental illness isn't the end of the world.

So, if you are facing a mental health diagnosis, remember, it is NOT a death sentence. There IS hope. You CAN recover- There is so much positivity and a future out there for you.