On the day of the walk as seen by a Sashbear volunteer

Toronto – Sunday May 29th. 6:45 am. Lynn, Mike, and a bunch of Sashbear volunteers are meeting on the Lakeshore for the Walk. We have been working for months in preparation for the event. The day has finally come!

We get the brooms, cleaning products, paper towels, and latex gloves out, and we enthusiastically start the day. The tables in the registration gazebo are now clean and we cover them with an orange plastic cloth. Orange is our colour, one of Sasha’s favorite colors. It brought sunshine to her darkness.

The stations are ready – Pre-registrations, walk-ins, volunteers table, sandwich boards carriers, t-shirts, water bottles, team flags, door prizes, promo and donation tables, speakers’ corner, photography “booth” with a bench and a big white bear… we are all set to go!

9:00 am. Registration starts. It is not long before the whole area looks like an orange sea, as each person registered is now wearing an orange t-shirt bearing the Sashbear logo. By 10:00 am, we have close to 500 excited registrants, laughing, crying, chatting loudly, meeting new people and people they had met at previous walks, waiting expectantly to start our 4th 5K Borderline Walk.

Local artist Michelle Ronchin, aka R. Shelley, officially launches the event with her new song, written in loving memory of her friend Sasha Menu-Courey, daughter of Lynn Courey and Mike Menu, who at 20 years old took her own life. That was 5 years ago. Sasha had been diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or, as we sometime prefer to call it, Emotional Dysregulation. She could not take the pain anymore. Tears spill down many faces. The moment is intense and moving. Michelle has done it again! This year with Be There, following Save Your Life, the song she wrote last year to honor the memory of Sasha.

Among the special guests, Dr. Blaise Aguirre, Medical Director of McLean 3East, in Boston, and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School is our keynote speaker. Eight people came from Boston to support us! Sasha was at McLean 3East when she took her life.

At Sashbear, we make big waves! Big waves to raise awareness about the emotional pain those with BPD go through, day after day, every day. Big waves to fight the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health. Big waves for those affected by this dreadful disorder, BPD, the ones suffering with the disorder, and the ones who love them and try to be there for them.

Life is never easy with BPD, but Sashbear, with offering loving support, counseling, resources to gain understanding ... has already impacted and saved many lives, and we will save many more. Borderline is not a death sentence any longer! We can beat it! Together, as one!

By Christianne
Sashbear Walk volunteer and Family Connections co-facilitator 

  • We are all doing the best we can and we can all do better...
  • Let's remove stigma from mental illness and Borderline Personality Disorder...
  • We are all in this together, you are not alone...
  • Validation before problem solving...
  • Emotion Regulation Disorder is the new name for Borderline Personality Disorder...
  • Let's teach DBT skills in schools...
  • Let's intervene, let's intervene early...
  • Show me compassion and empathy first, don't just tell me how to change
  • Let go of judgments and believe in me so that I can believe in myself
  • Accept me so that I can better accept myself
  • We are all doing the best we can and we can all do better next time
  • Take care of yourself then you can attend to others
  • Be mindful - Observe, describe, participate effectively
  • Observe your own emotions rise and that of others, pause then engage effectively
  • Strive to be wise, not just rational or emotional
  • Change what you can, accept what you cannot
  • Validation is not agreement
  • Validate, Validate Validate
  • Be supportive, let go of judgements
  • We can't control having strong emotions but we can change how we respond to them
  • Hope is everything and is always there even when I cannot see it
  • BPD is more common than Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder combined 6%
  • The suicide rate of BPD victims is 400 times that of general population
  • BPD is the third leading killer of young women between the ages of 15-24
  • 1 of 5 seek help, 4 of 5 benefit from treatment
  • 4,000 young people die by suicide per year in Canada
  • I am not the disorder. I am a person
  • Stop the Stigma - by Speaking Up
  • Living with BPD is like not having an emotional skin
  • Genetic vulnerabilities and invalidating environment could lead to BPD
  • Breathe
  • Mindfulness is not what you think
  • Mindfulness is being present moment to moment
  • Mindfulness is just observing, paying attention to non-judgement
  • Patience, trust, non-striving and acceptance
  • Mindfulness does not come by itself..it takes practice
  • Let your breath be your anchor to observe thoughts as they arise
  • Observe thoughts as they come and go like waves on the ocean
  • Pay attention to what you are actually paying attention to
  • What we frequently think we become
  • Turning my auto-pilot off
  • Only that day dawns to which we are awake - Thoreau Walden
  • It is a radical act of love to just just down and be quiet for a time by YOURSELF
  • You are HERE!
  • Make each moment count!
  • I am a valuable part of all that EXISTS
  • I am Love. ALL is Love
  • The practice of mindfulness is not to follow your heart but to train your heart
  • It's OK, let it be
  • Smile at thoughts, they are empty. The only power thoughts have is the power you give them
  • The benefit will come to your life with consistent mindfulness practice everyday
  • Whatever you do to make it mindful!
  • Kindness is pure wisdom
  • Mindfulness is free or craving, want or hate
  • Be gentle to yourself as well as others
  • When you feel connected to someone that connection gives you purpose
  • Practice kindness whenever possible. It's always possible - Dalai Lama