​’Finding Elena’ NOW AVAILABLE

Well, here we are, my dear friends. I’m finally able to take a deep breath and say, “It’s finished! My book ‘Finding Elena‘ is NOW AVAILABLE.


This book is a huge accomplishment for me. I have poured my life, my heart, and my soul into these pages and I am overwhelmed with excitement that it is finally published. The continuous work I have put in has finally paid off.

I am also very grateful to my family, my friends and my publishing team for all of their support, love, and efforts to make this book possible. I could not have done it without them. My family has been there for me every step of the way, and I could not be more in debt to them for everything they have done for me. My friends have been there for me and shown me so much love even when I was down, and I am grateful for their kindness. My publishing team has been diligently working hard to make sure my standards were met and that the book looks amazing.

I am just so thankful to be able to do this, and so blessed to be able to share it with all of you.

So here it is. ‘Finding Elena.’ My heart and soul splayed out on white pages for you. My everything in the grasp of your hands. Get your copy today!

Finding Elena is available on Createspace. Soon to be available on Amazon and Kindle. Here is the link:





Labels. What defines them as acceptable? What makes them tolerable in our society? A label is a defining term that is used to describe someone or something. It’s a word that people can identify with because it’s a generalization of a certain group of people, a look or behavior or belief. A label can be useful, but for mental illness, it can be degrading, demeaning and hurtful.

In the last 6 months, I have accumulated some pretty harsh labels: Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Depression. I know, scary right? I never even expected to be hit with one label, let alone three. Three mental illnesses trapped inside my body, making me feel this inexplicable feeling inside. Three mental illnesses…


The Labeling Theory is how people identify with their own self-identity. This self-identity could be influenced by the terms used to classify them. This theory was popular back in the 1960’s, and 1970’s; modified versions of the theory have been invented as well that are still popular today. “Labeling theory is closely related to social construction and symbolic-interaction analysis. Labeling theory was developed by sociologists during the 1960s.” (Wikipedia, 2017)

I find that associating with my labels helps me to identify my problems, but it doesn’t teach me how to fix them. I mean, the whole point of recovery is to get better right? Solve the problems, get back on track, that sort of thing. Having a label that doesn’t do anything to fix the problem is kind of pointless don’t you think? I’m all for wearing my labels proudly and showing the struggles I have overcome, and wearing my labels comforts me sometimes, but I somehow still end up unable to function some days. How do I deal with that?

My labels do nothing for me, really. I find that they make me worse. I wear them proudly on the outside, but on the inside they make me cringe. I hate having labels. I hate being those labels. I hate when people use my labels to define who I am. That is something that I will NOT tolerate. I am not a label or a bunch of labels. I am a person. A person of value. A person who needs some help. A person who desires to be happy and loved.

I got off track there a bit, sorry. Back to my discussion on labels. So labels tend to be words that can seem general to others, but to those of us who actually identify with those labels, it’s not so nice. We overthink and stress about being the label we are given, and it drives us crazy. We don’t want to, but we can’t help it. It’s our natural reaction to being worried about what people will think of us when we have to have the “mental health conversation.” Especially with someone, we may be interested in having a relationship with. Warriors, you know what I mean. Happens EVERY time.

Having a label can lead to other things such as stigma and discrimination. “The lives of people with mental health conditions are often plagued by stigma as well as discrimination. Stigma is a negative stereotype. Stigma is a reality for many people with a mental illness, and they report that how others judge them is one of their greatest barriers to a complete and satisfying life.” (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2017) SEE? Proof that having a label can affect how others treat people with a mental illness.

Here is another longer and more detailed description that explains the effects of stigma on a mental illness. It correlates to having a label because the label is what gives people stigma in the first place. “There are significant consequences to the public misperceptions and fears. Stereotypes about mental health conditions have been used to justify bullying. Some individuals have been denied adequate housing, health insurance and jobs due to their history of mental illness. Due to the stigma associated with the illness, many people have found that they lose their self-esteem and have difficulty making friends. Sometimes, the stigma attached to mental health conditions is so pervasive that people who suspect that they might have a mental health condition are unwilling to seek help for fear of what others may think. Experiences of stigma and discrimination is one of their greatest barriers to a satisfying life.” (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2017)


Now, I hope you’ve all learned something here because I have. I learn new things about mental illness every day. I learn about how many people have had it for so long, how many people developed a mental illness so young, and many other things. It’s mind-blowing for me to try and understand all of it. I wish there was a way to consume a lot of information about one topic at a time but the only way to do that is to read. One page at a time. So I guess I just have to keep reading and talking to other people who want to share their stories with me.

One significant thing I have learned that I can leave you with is that from having a mental illness, or rather, three mental illnesses, is to NEVER look at the labels. Look at the substance, the human substance. The human substance is worth more than anything. People are worth so much more than their mental illness and their label. A label is just a word. Do not be afraid of those of us who have a mental illness. Chances are (100%) that we are more frightened than you are.





My Biggest Trigger

People always say to stay away from your triggers. People always say not to run back to what broke you. People always say to stay away from danger. But did people say that sometimes the danger you should stay away from would be the people you shouldn’t have to stay away from? Did they tell you how painful it would be to struggle between wanting to stay away and staying close to them because that’s all you’ve ever known? Did they tell you anything at all?

I don’t want them to be a trigger for me. I don’t want to hurt people. I don’t want it to be this way, but it is. It has to be this way. I have not come to fully understand this until now. My biggest trigger is my mom and dad.


Detachment from your primary caregivers is the one thing that can ruin a family. It sucks the life out of every member of that family and takes its dreary toll on them over the years. I mean I could tell you about how much it sucks but I won’t. The words ‘detachment from your primary caregivers’ should be frightening enough.

Being Borderline has made my family’s life hell for most of my life. My detachment has made my family suffer through so many years of trying to understand where they went wrong or how they could help me more. This, in fact, is somewhat untrue because my family has helped me in more ways than I can count. Their love and devotion to try and understand me have been present since day one. They also didn’t go wrong. They did the best they could with what they knew, and that was it.

Being detached from the people you love is definitely a difficult thing to be because, the farther away you are from them, the harder it is to connect with them. That familial connection is so important. For my family, there is a minimal connection. We fight daily about the smallest and biggest things that mean nothing and everything all at the same time. I mean really it’s quite the war.

This war amongst my family members and myself has been happening for as long as I can remember. I was detached from my parents and siblings even as a child. I just did not have a bond with them like I did with my grandparents. My grandmother and grandfather were the centers of my world, and they still are. We would spend every second together; laughing, playing, singing, cooking, doing chores, gardening, swimming, going on adventures, learning; basically everything. As Julia Child’s husband would say, they were “The butter to my bread, the breath of my life.”

The ‘Golden Years,’ as I like to call them, were short-lived. Seven years. They lasted for seven years. Once my grandmother passed away, my grandfather and I were never the same. I bottled up my pain while he freely let it show. I don’t know how he did it, but he found peace. I wish I could say the same.

In any case, the dynamic between my parents and my siblings has suffered a great deal. I am…detached, for lack of a better word and for the sake of using the correct terminology. I have yet to understand why this detachment still exists, but I do know that the reason I was detached as a child was that I was so close with my grandparents. I know this hurt my parents a lot, and I have so much sorrow inside for what they have suffered, but I do not regret and will not apologize for the wonderful times I spent with my grandparents.

I’ve noticed just now as I’m writing and re-reading what I have already written is that I am telling a very skewed story here. I mean, yes I had a great time with my grandparents, but there were also wonderful times with my parents and siblings once they were born some years later. I can just see the joy and love in my mother and father’s eyes as we play a family game or do something together as a family without arguments. Those moments make me happy too.

I realize now that I’m rambling (sorry), about my crazy family life. I guess I’m just hoping things get better so that we can get back to laughing and having fun as a family. I miss those days. I miss being able to share my happiness with my grandmother; my grandfather and I get so lonely without her sometimes. We miss her so much. So much…

Some days, I feel as though my family is too broken to be fixed; too hurt and destroyed to be glued together again. Other days we are soaring through the day on good terms and having the time of our lives. Well, at least this is how I feel and see things. I hope my siblings and my parents see this too.

If you or your family life is in danger of being torn apart by a member of that family who has a mental illness, please seek help. Our family has looked into it but has not decided on anything yet. This is from someone who is the only family member with a mental illness and the only family member who is seeing a social worker and a psychiatrist. It’s a way to alleviate some of the pressure and the pain off of the shoulders of yourself and your family members so please, go seek help if you need it. There is no shame in asking for help. Do not feel less than anyone because you did. You need to do what is best for you and your family, not anyone else.




“My skin is so thin that the innocent words of others burn holes right through me.”

“She was too quiet or she was too loud. She hated with every fibre of her being or loved with every piece of her heart. There was no in-between. It was either all or nothing.”

“She was a beautiful dreamer. The kind of girl, who kept her head in the clouds, loved above the stars and left regret beneath the earth she walked on.” ― Robert M. Drake

“A tattoo is a true poetic creation, and is always more than meets the eye. As a tattoo is grounded on living skin, so its essence emotes a poignancy unique to the mortal human condition.” ― V. Vale



I can feel the cold liquid is spread onto my forearm and the stencil is placed on it. I can hear the buzzing sound of the needle start up beside me and I clench my teeth. This is going to hurt. The buzzing gets closer to my body and I start to shake. I sense the familiar feeling of the needle scrape against the surface of my skin. Instant pain. I gasp and flex my forearm muscle but it’s no match for his strong hands keeping me from moving. After a few moments, I calm down, letting the pain of the needle continue its path to creation.

And then numbness creeps up and overcomes me. It consumes my entire being and shows me a light at the end of the dark tunnel my life has turned into. The sensation of releasing myself into the hands of someone else’s conquering power gives me the rush of adrenaline like no other. I don’t want to feel, I don’t want to be. Whisk me away and do everything you can to keep me from drowning in my own sorrows and tears.

The pain of the needle becomes one with my body and it feels as if it is a part of me; a part of my being. The consistent hum finally settles my nerves and gives me a sense of place in the world; a sense of belonging to the earth. I can almost taste it.

The feeling of that needle keeps me from screaming. The etch of the design on my skin is my way of coping; my way of not self-harming but still getting the feeling of self-harm in some way. It’s a soothing feeling, one that I can identify as safe. Safe… Safe from… Safe from I don’t know what yet. Maybe from myself; from my own demons that fester inside of me. These demons bury me in their infestation of despair and loneliness but I am able to breathe fresh air again through the injection of the ink.


“Wear your heart on your skin in this life.” ― Sylvia Plath

“Death is the easy part, the hard part is living and knowing you could be so much more then you’re willing to be.” ― Robert M. Drake

“Sometimes the most beautiful people are beautifully broken.” ― Robert M. Drake

“We swallowed the chaos because we knew we didn’t want to be ordinary.” ― Robert M. Drake


If you’ve ever gotten a tattoo, you’ll know what I’m talking about. You may even agree with me when I say it’s a coping mechanism. It’s also a way of expressing to others in a creative way what means the most to you and what you have suffered through during your lifetime. Recently, or rather extremely recently, I got another tattoo. It’s a peonies flower with the roman numerals XVI. That’s the number 16. It represents and serves as a reminder to me of the 16 days that I spent in the psych ward.

When I look down at my skin, it brings back vivid memories of things I will forever unwillingly remember; but it also helps me live through tough times. To look at my tattoos and know that I will survive is freeing for me. They give me strength to face whatever bullshit is being thrown at me that day, that week, that month or even that year. They are my security blanket and I am not ashamed to admit that.

Over the past three years, I have gotten quite a few tattoos and piercings. For some people, they are rebellious and unacceptable. For others, they are ugly and a waste of money. For me, they are my story. My tattoos are what have saved me from self-harm. My tattoos have made me feel human and real. My tattoos have made me feel like me.



What’s your mental health story?

Everyone has a story. Everyone has their own way of telling their own story. These stories need to be told. These stories are what make us who we are and who we will become in the future.

I want to dedicate this post as an open invitation to anyone who wants to be a part of the conversation about mental health. Please comment below the post in the comments section if you would like to have your story featured on my blog. Don’t worry, you don’t have to write a lot, just as much as you want and you can write what you want to share.

I would be happy to publish your stories on my blog and accredit your work to you. If you are interested, please email me at, with the subject line “ATTN: BLOG SUBMISSION” and I will be sure to post it.

I hope you will share your stories because we all need motivation to keep going. We all need support and we all need to be heard and understood. I want to share your stories so you can be heard and understood too.



Studying Abroad Options

Hi guys!

Okay so, this post is going to be more conversational than my other ones, mostly because I want to share my ideas and hear some of yours about studying abroad. In light of this, I would love any feedback you guys have for me. Just comment below the post!

Sitting here in a local coffee shop, I’m looking through all the school websites for each institution offering my program, which is Journalism (if you guys couldn’t guess it already).

Now for discussing options, there is a list of places I have to choose from to study at. Here is the list I found on my school website with all the schools that offer journalism in partnership with my university here in Toronto:


Copenhagen – KEA Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (Denmark)

Ondence – Lillebaelt Academy University of Applied Sciences (Denmark)

Aarhus – Business Academy Aarhus; VIA University College (Denmark)

Cheltenham – University of Gloucestershire (England)

Bristol – University of the West of England (England)

Salford/Manchester – University of Salford (England)

Dublin – Institute of Technology Tallaght (ITT Dublin) (Ireland Republic)

Aberdeen – Robert Gordon University (Scotland)

Umea – Umeå University (Sweden)

Enschede – Saxion University (The Netherlands)

Hirakata/Osaka – Kansai Gaidai University (Japan)

Auckland – Unitec Institute of Technology (New Zealand)


All of these universities offer Journalism; or rather have a ‘School of Media Studies and Information Technology’ and they sound so inviting and interesting! I’m having a really hard time deciding where I want to go. I mean, I’ll be there for (hopefully) an entire year, if not a whole semester so I want to make sure I pick the best one for me.

I’ve already looked through some of my favourites; dreaming of the day I get to hop on the plane and go. My top three all time favourites are:

  1. University of Salford
  2. Robert Gordon University
  3. University of Gloucestershire

I’m having such a difficult time choosing between these three. They all have beautiful campuses and in depth courses about writing and photography and audio journalism. I wish I could study at all of them and more. It would be such an amazing opportunity to do that but I know I can only pick one.

So, since I am very undecided, I’m asking you for your help. Which school from the list above or my ‘top 3’ do you think is the best and why? Let me know in the comments below. Your input is much appreciated.




Studying Abroad Letter of Intent

I would like to give you an update on how my letter of intent is going for the selection process to study abroad. The due date for the applications to be in is February 27th, 2017. We are required to fill out a formal application, send a copy of our most recent grade transcripts, and write a one page letter of intent answering four questions. This is what I have so far for my letter:


February 27, 2017

To the Selection Committee,

This is to clarify that I, Elena De Luigi, am interested in studying abroad for one year. This is my letter of intent to demonstrate that I am an optimal candidate to study overseas.

  • How the courses at your host institution abroad will enrich your Humber program?

The courses that I will take at my host institution will provide me with the tools and skills I will need in the future. The courses I choose will have to align with courses I would be taking at Humber during those semesters.

  • How the study abroad opportunity will positively contribute to your personal and professional goals.

I believe that studying abroad will be a large contribution to the kind of journalist I aspire to be and will become. To experience what life is like in a new country I’ve never visited before excites me. The learning opportunities there are in and out of the classroom are vastly widespread, so the education I will receive will be well rounded and focused. It will be quite the experience to live in a foreign country and to see how people interact with each other and the media.

  • How you plan to be successful in the courses offered at the host institution.

I plan on being successful by devoting 150% of my effort into my education. I come from a family who has done well in university and I will not settle for anything less. I am committed to studying hard and making sure my grades are well above average. I will develop study systems to help me for tests and exams. I will spend the majority of my time at the library and in class doing everything I can to be the best student.

A successful student also means a healthy student. I will make sure to take care of my health by making sure I get enough sleep every night, drinking lots of water, eating healthy foods, going for runs and doing yoga, going to the gym and spending time with the new friends I will make. It will be an adjustment for me but I am willing to work to make it as smooth and pleasant as possible.

I know that my host institution has all the facilities and the resources to help make all their students feel welcomed and comfortable at their university.

  • How your experiences studying in another country will help to bring an international/global perspective to Humber and/or your community.

The experiences I will encounter while studying in another country will enrich my perspective of international/global communities by giving me a deeper understanding of their lives. Each country, even each city has a different dynamic to it and it is my belief that I can bring some of that with me back to Toronto and to the Humber community and share it with them.


I am hoping to be done soon so I can have a full first draft to edit. I’m also hoping a few people will take a look at it so that I can be certain it is top notch for the Selection Committee. Of course, the questions will not be included in the final letter, but I wanted to make sure I cover every aspect of what is expected of me so that I can study abroad. I am so excited!

Also, please feel free to comment below with any feedback. It is greatly appreciated.