Catatonic Conversions

by | May 17, 2024 | Blog

Dear Friends of Boundless:

The research on the effectiveness of Boundless supporting teens with anxiety and depression is delayed about ten days.

I know how disappointed you must be not to read research over the May long weekend. So instead, I thought I would write a little ditty about Toronto’s Michael Garron Hospital’s Anxiety Clinic, a group that just spent the week here.

Kevin, our guidance counsellor, described the session with a touch of levity,

“It was a circus of apprehension. All overcome. Laughing at ourselves turned the tide.”

The Boundless staff were met with all sorts of red herrings, obfuscations, delays, excuses and total meltdowns over grades.

“The wind is too strong.”

“My hair shall be ruined.”

Honouring the ghost of Martin Luther King Jr., the kids managed to overcome.

“We’re going to be so tired.”

“I am not stepping in that canoe.”

“My stomach hurts.”

Yet the gang pressed on.

Between bouts of puking, nausea, interminable delays getting out of bed, the wind that was evidently too strong shifted in one pivotal moment.

A non-swimmer, when asked to float in the rapids, went physically limp at the prospect. She shut down with such vehemence that she collapsed in a heap of flesh, smack dab in the middle of the boreal forest, like a toddler refusing to be picked up.

Another student, seeing this display, was unconvinced. She bellowed to all that would listen, including the prodigious black flies who took delight at their newly discovered catatonic target,

“She’s just being a bitch.”

This unfiltered masterpiece was met with uproarious giggles, and instead of humiliation, the barb had the opposite effect.

The numb student popped up like a vampire greeting the evening from a coffin, and exclaimed,

“F..k this. I’m doing it.”

She plunged with a purpose into the maelstrom of the rapids. The group rallied around her, and everything changed in an instant.

The thing about anxiety, which is fight or flight, and also synonymous with avoidance, is that you cannot talk a person through their demons. In many cases, they must be yanked. They must move their body. They must feel connected to their world. Once anxiety is overcome, a new era dawns. Fear itself is no longer feared.

That night, the group was camping by a small waterfall. Sitting around the hearth, one young man noticed the sun setting in a cloudless sky, utterly awestruck. The benefit of being at 45 degrees latitude is that our star goes to sleep slowly, providing enough time for teenagers to abandon the warmth of the fireplace for something bigger.

The lad screamed, “We gotta catch this sunset!” The group moved in lockstep to the rocks perched over the river. One of the kids started humming Bohemian Rhapsody within everyone’s earshot. More joined. Soon, a spontaneous Queen Concert erupted, scattering every trace of organic life.

And then, total silence. Lasting 15 minutes. No smart phones. No Tik Tok. No gaming. No vaping. Just being. Connected.

It is quite possible that the world changed forever for these young people in this instant. A glimpse of what life can be if you lighten your load and forget yourself.

Thank you, dear supporters, for standing behind all of this.

Happy long weekends to you all.

With warmth and bug bites,



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Steven Gottlieb
Steven Gottlieb