In the summer of 2019, I curled up on my back deck and wrote the story of Pixie and the Bees. At that time, I had been living with constant nausea, body pain, headaches & overall discomfort over one year.

After numerous blood tests, ultrasounds, an endoscopy and weekly visits to my very patient family doctor, I had finally accepted the diagnosis of anxiety disorder.

It wasn’t that I was opposed to any stigma attached to having anxiety, it was that I couldn’t comprehend how physical my symptoms were. And okay, yes, I also felt ashamed that I wasn’t able to ‘keep it together’. What I hadn’t quite realized yet was that all of my years of ‘keeping it together and pushing through’ exasperated my anxiety to the point that it caused an entire collapse of my body.

Writing my experience down was a huge step in my healing. Throughout my life, I have used writing as way to process and work through challenging situations. I believe fully in the healing powers of writing. But I also believe in medication, counselling, and community activism.

Support Mental Health Services


For the entire month of May, 50% of every Pixie and the Bees purchase via my website or in-person, will be donated to the Canadian Mental Health Association, Halliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (CMHA-HKPR)

Pixie and the Bees Fundraiser for CMHA
CMHA empathy

The first week of May is Mental Health Week. The theme this year is around empathy. If there’s one thing that I believe the world is in desperate need of right now, it’s empathy.

I am eternally grateful to those who were able to meet me with empathy while I was struggling the most. 

(warning: mention of suicide)

Mental health supports are important to me for more than just my own experience living with anxiety.

In May of 2014, my ex-partner and father of my kids took his life. At the time, our kids were 7 and 10 years old. I’ve written about the impact of his death at great length but the truth is, his death was not when his mental health first impacted our lives.

In our 13 years together, despite ongoing challenges with mental health and addiction, he was quite adamant that he had no interest in seeking help; that private lives were private; that we had to deal with our problems on our own. As frustrating as this was at the time, I can now see that there was an incredible amount of fear behind this. And heck, I get it. Making a decision to seek treatment is terrifying. Healing is a messy and painful process. This is why no one can make someone commit to treatment.

Still, as the survivors of suicide, we are left with an ongoing list of unanswered questions, such as:

  • Would he still be alive today if he had sought treatment?
  • Would he have sought treatment if he hadn’t felt such a stigma around it?

We’ll never know.

But I do know that organizations like CMHA save lives and they are consistently under-funded. I also know that having a supportive medical team and community agencies has been the saving grace for myself and my children.

Help me give back and support mental health services by purchasing a copy of Pixie and the Bees. It will also give you an inside look at what it is like for someone to live with an anxiety disorder. (psst. that’s the empathy we need right now)

Erica Richmond


 Erica Richmond, the founder of Open Sky Stories believes that words have the power to provide connection & healing. She lives in Peterborough with her two teens where they find adventures in every day life. Erica has published two books: Pixie and the Bees and The Mail Art Stories Project: Mail Art in the Time of Covid-19. Follow Erica on Instagram for daily writing inspiration and real-life stories.