Speaking as someone who suffers with depression and as someone who has people in her life that suffer from depression, I would like to share my thoughts on both sides of the situation.

For those of you who follow me on social media, you know I love memes.  I love funny memes and punny memes and sad memes and thought provoking memes.  Most of all I love inspirational memes.  I see memes as a way of condensing my thoughts into something more manageable and memorable than a blog post.  They speak volumes in a few amount of words that stick with you.

That being said, I saw a meme today that really struck a cord with me.  I will attach it to this post when I am done.

First, as someone who suffers with depression, I often feel alone.  Even when I am surrounded by people that I know, for a fact, love me more than words can say.  I adore these people, I would do anything for them.  I know they would do anything for me.  Yet, somehow, at times…I still feel alone, even with them right here.  That is part of the lie that depression tells you.  It tells you that you are alone.  So alone that you may as well be invisible.  I have tried antidepressants and they do not help me the way they help so many other people.  I practice cognitive behavior therapy.  That works for me.  It helps me to pull myself out of that negative, dark place that I find myself disappearing to.  It means more to me than you will ever know when someone sends me a message or a text.  I feel like I am seen, like I am really here.  But when I receive calls, that can be an entirely different thing.  Oftentimes, I shy away from the phone when I see someone calling.  I love them.  I want to talk with them, but I am too tired emotionally to interact.  I call back when I am out of that place.  When I am back to feeling like my emotional happy bank is full again.  That is another thing about depression.  The highs and the lows.  They can be brutal.  I hear all these suggestions, like express yourself in your writing or paint a picture. But when you are in that dark place it takes so much to do anything creative.  So do you now what I do?  I make myself get out of my bed and I make the bed!  I make it so well that there is no way I will climb back in, messing up my beautiful artwork.  Did I just call making my bed beautiful…artwork?  Yes.  Yes I did!  I made it and it is beautiful.  Then I make a cup of coffee and I put it in my favorite coffee cup.  My daughter got it for me for Christmas.  It says, ‘Isn’t she lovely’.  I take a sip of that yummy goodness and I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment because I made it.  And I made it well.  And it is good. Then I put on clothes.  Like, real people clothes.  Not pajamas, not work attire, but go for a walk kinda clothes.  Even though I know I probably won’t go for that walk, I put the clothes on anyway.  It gives me more options for what I may want to do that day.  After my coffee and some breakfast, I brush my teeth and then brush my hair.  Maybe put in a braid. I feel better. Not great, not write a novel or paint a canvas kinda better.  But I am up and I am alive and I am taking care of myself, kinda better.  No one can do that for me.  But do you know what you can do?  When you see me post that I made my bed, know that I did something amazing.  Tell me good job.  Celebrate with me.  If you come by and see that I am up, dressed and bed made, hug me for a job well done.  Hugs are a saving grace during depression.  Even when I am in my dark place, a hug shines in a little light.

Now, speaking from the place of someone who has depressed people in her life.  That is a tricky part.  Because I cannot know what they need, since their moods and feelings go from high to low.  If I send them a text and they do not respond, I know not to take it personally.  I know that they saw the text and smiled a little.  I know I let a small bit of light into their world.  And I know that they will reach out to me when they are in a better place.  I know that I can be here for them, when they need me.  Hug them, be here for them and reach out to them without expecting anything in return.  A kind word, a kind text, a kind meme, a hug.  Those are the things I can do.  Well meaning advice only upsets them and causes them to crawl deeper into that dark place.  They feel like they are failing at life because they cannot do the things you are advising them to do.  Advice is only to be given when it is asked for.  That is a very difficult thing to do.  As someone out of the dark place, I want to share the ways I escaped it and how I keep it at bay.  But sharing those things with someone who is not ready to hear it, only hurts them.  It’s like taking someone who can’t swim and throwing them in the deep end.  It doesn’t work out very well and teaches them to fear the water.  You have to wait until they step into the shallow end and wade around the water for a bit.  You have to wait until they see you swimming and they say…can you teach me to do that?  Now, when that happens, do not try to teach them to swim.  Send them to your swim coach.  Let the professional teach them.  Remember, your job is to offer a kind word, a kind text, a kind meme or a hug.  And  now, the number of someone who can best help them.

So those are my thoughts on this subject from both sides of the coin.  Please never give up on those battling mental illness, but remember the boundaries.  Reach out without expecting them to reach back.  Just because they don’t respond, doesn’t mean you are not making a difference in their life.  Reach out and keep reaching out.  Don’t give up.    Like the meme says, When “I” is replaced by “We”, “Illness” becomes “Wellness”.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read.  x

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Oh, where to begin.  Starting over is never easy.  The last time I started over it was exciting.  I had a plan.  Well, sort of had a plan.  More like, I had a man.  I have always had a man there to take care of me in some way.  I lived on my own when I was a teenager.  I moved in with my best friend three weeks after graduating high school.  She and I had been besties for 6 years.  It was exciting and new, but within a year I had struck out on my own.  I lived in a small condo that was on the border of foreclosure.  I rented from a nice man and his wife for a year.  I didn’t make much money and nearly starved to death.  My average weight is 125.  I met a nice man at work.  He was 15 years my senior.  My weight was down to 104 pounds.  He fed me and I married him.  I knew from the start that we married for the wrong reasons.  I moved into his home, when to his church, learned to like many of the things that he liked.  I conformed to his way of life.  By the end of the relationship I found myself going from being a sheltered housewife to a bounty hunter, then a makeup artist at a department store.  Two children and nearly twenty years later we divorced.  I ended up in another long term relationship.  I moved from Texas to Delaware to be with him.  I ended up on welfare until the state offered me a career opportunity.  I did the schooling and became a Certified Nurses Assistant.  I worked in home health and took care of mostly elderly patients.  Many of them over 90.  After a few years they would pass on and I would be devastated.  I stayed in that relationship for 5 years.  He was a quadriplegic.  That was why I chose to become a CNA.  I conformed to his way of life.  It ended and I wanted to move to Maine.  My dream was to live in a little house by a lighthouse and write.  Maybe work as a barmaid.  But my kids were grown and renting a house in Texas.  My daughter and her husband, my son and his then fiance’ (now wife). They had an extra bedroom and asked me to live with them while I got on my feet.  So I did.  Maine could wait for a while.  I missed my kids.  It was the most amazing year, living with the four of them.  I got to know my son in law and daughter in law.  I love them.  In fact, she is one of my closest friends now. We talk about everything.   Within a month of moving in with them and anxious to heal and figure out who I was and what I wanted, I fell right into my next relationship.  I wasn’t ready for a relationship but I didn’t know that at the time.

We would do the long distance thing for a year and then I moved to California to be with him.  I moved into his apartment, learned the ropes of travel, learned the art of public speaking.  I conformed to his way of life.  Are you seeing a pattern here?  This relationship ended, too.  I am still broken over this one.  I am still in love with him and he is still in love with me, but we both know we did the right thing.  Personal reasons that I will not go into.

So here I am.  But this time, my mind is different.  I was in cognitive behavior therapy for the last year.  The state of California offered to help me after my suicide attempt.  They offered me free therapy if I was willing to become a case study.  I agreed.  It made a huge difference in me.  I am starting the workbook over.  The last time I worked through it, I did it all from the perspective of one trying to save a relationship.  Now I am doing it from the correct perspective.  I am doing it so I can heal.  So I can be stronger, more in touch with that little voice that tells me when something is wrong.  I can look back on my life and see that in almost every heartbreaking or devastating situation I found myself in, I heard that little voice first.  I would argue with it and try to reason away my concerns.  I don’t do that anymore.  I listen now.  I seek out that little voice now through prayer.  This is not a get out of jail free card for the ones who have chosen to hurt me.  It is simply me taking responsibility for my own poor decisions.

I admit, I am scared.  I haven’t been ‘on my own’ since I was nineteen years old.  And really, this is the first time I have been 100% single since I was a teen.  Not someone hurting over a recently ended relationship and falling into new one immediately.  I am not open to being taken advantage of due to my vulnerability.  I am vulnerable, my emotions are raw, my mind still goes in and out of feeling independent to feeling like a scared little mouse in a the middle of a herd of elephants and looking for a safe place.  Then I remember, I have one of the strongest support systems one could ask for.  I have a hundred arms ready to give me a much needed hug.  I am at a place in my life that I have never experienced before.  And I am eternally grateful for the friendships that have stayed intact since my last break up.  He introduced me to a world of people that welcome the hurting, the lonely and the scared.  They not only welcome you, but once they take you in, they never let you go.  I have blessings that have remained from all the difficult situations that I have somehow put myself in.  Something good has always come from any of the bad in my life.  And I am so very grateful.

So here I am.  I have gone from a life of luxury and travel to one of very low pay, lots of hard work cashiering and time to focus on me and heal.  I paid all my bills this month and had money for food.  My son and his wife have taken me in until I can get on my feet.  I wake up to people who love me and encourage me every single day.  I get hugs and I love you’s.  I have a place to work, with people I consider friends.  I feel loved every where I go. I have an online community who supports me.  And most of all, I have me.  I am learning to love me and believe in me.  I am taking it one day at a time.  Some days I fail, some days I cry and some days I smile.  And other days, like today, I do it all.

Thank you for taking the time to read.  I love you all.  x

We all grow, we all learn, we all change.  Sometimes it is difficult for us to change. Sometimes we hold on to all the negative ways of viewing the world around us, because it is comfortable.  I’ve heard that referred to as our ‘comfort zone’.

Interesting that we would find negativity comfortable, but oftentimes we do.  It can be a scary thing to view something in a different light.  I have found that change can be good.

There are also going to be people in your life that do not like you.  Even if you love them. They will say things to you like, ‘you need help’.  Unfortunately, they don’t really want you to get help.  They just enjoy saying that to you and making you feel like something is wrong with you.  When you do finally get help, they will remove you from their life.  You were easier to deal with, when they could put you down.  Once you make changes and find your strength, you are of no use to them anymore.  And that is okay.  Hopefully, one day they get the help they need, too and decide to reach out to you.  Don’t let them deter you from making the positive changes in your life that bring out the best in you.  You will find new people entering your life.  Negativity draws negativity.  Positivity draws positivity. You will suddenly find yourself surrounded by very different people and it’s beautiful.

Here is another wonderful thing that will happen.  You will have people that have removed you from their life because they are positive and your negativity wasn’t welcome there. Now that you are positive, they recognize it and welcome you back with open arms.  They will be open to helping you stay on track with your new outlook.

I am in the process of change and some days the struggle is real.  These changes are foreign to me.  It’s much like learning a new language.  At first the words feel strange and you are concerned that you are mispronouncing them.  But over time, and with much practice, you gain confidence.  The next thing you know, you are fluent and it all comes naturally to you.  I am in this part here.  The part where some have removed me from their life and others have welcomed me back.  And all the positive people are happy to help me in my journey.  They are genuinely thrilled to see the changes that are taking place and they are patient with the slip ups.  They lovingly guide me back onto the road.

I am grateful for all of the people from my past who helped mold me into who I am, the good things and the bad things. I am grateful for the people in my present who are helping to shape the person I am becoming.  I know I will forever be changing and evolving, but I do believe I am developing my core friends.  The ones in for the long haul. The ones who will help me continue to stay grounded while exploring the ever changing world around me.  My likes will change, my tastes will change, but my heart will be strong and stay the same through it all.

Just remember that the winds of change will blow the leaves around, pushing some away and pulling others closer to you.  The winds of change often muss your hair.  But mussed hair can also be sexy.

the-winds

The Ghost of Thanksgiving Past

Posted: November 24, 2016 in Uncategorized

I miss my childhood Thanksgivings.  So for just a moment I am going to play the part of the ghost of Thanksgiving past and take you back to that place in time.  That special place in my life that I will never be able to get back, yet I can hold onto in my memory.  I know I have cousins who go there, in their memory, every Thanksgiving, too.  They’ve told me. They’ve told me from a different perspective.  They said they would excitedly wait for me and my family to come up.  They had missed me, just as I had missed them.  So here we go, back in time…

It was so early when I the light came on, shining bright in my twelve year old eyes.

“Up and at em,” said Daddy.

I could hear my mom in the background, “Don’t forget your pillows!  I know you.  You’ll want to sleep in the car.”

I grunted as I sat up and looked around the room.  It was clean.  My mom always made us clean the house before we traveled to visit our huge family that lived six hours away.  I asked her one time why I had to clean before we traveled.   She said she didn’t like coming home to a messy house.  That didn’t make any sense to me then, but as an adult, I find myself doing the same thing.  I laugh a bit as I write this.

I climbed out of bed and got dressed.  Once I’m up, I’m up.  I could feel the butterflies in my stomach as the excitement built.  “I can’t wait to see my cousins!” I thought.  I brushed my teeth, grabbed a poptart and climbed in the car.  It was packed and ready to go. I had my pillow with me and my little brother in the backseat.  We fought on and off for six hours, as we always did. Mom’s arm flailed in the air in the backseat as we ducked and prayed she’d miss. Sometimes she got me though.  We would play the alphabet game. That’s where one of you sees the letter ‘a’ on a sign or something and you call it out.  It would get challenging on certain letters like ‘x’ or ‘v’.  That’s when you would pray for other cars to show up on the road so you could look at their license plates in hopes for your letter.  I loved playing that game.

I knew we were getting close when the car started to jostle on the dirt road.  I’d see grandma’s filthy outdoor dog, Sam.  He was a farm dog.  He was a good dog.  He loved being outside. He would chase the car all the way to Gran’s house. I’m not sure when we started calling her Gran but that name held so much love for me.  I loved my Gran so much.  I loved her hugs, her cooking, the quilts she made, her home, the sound of her voice saying my name, even when I was in trouble.  I loved the love her eyes held when she would look at you.  A room full of people, up to eighty one time, and you were all she saw in that moment.  You knew you were loved when you spent time with Gran.

I excitedly looked to see how many cars were there.  How many of my cousins would be there?  Did they miss me, too?  What adventures would we have?  What trouble would we get into?  How many fights would there be and over what?  Most of my cousins were boys and that worked out well for me, as I was a tomboy.  The minute the car stopped I hopped out and headed to the house, only to hear both of my parents call my name and order me back to the car to get my own suitcase.

I grunted, but did as I was told.  Stopping only to scratch Sam behind his ears.  He licked my arm and ran off.  As I walked into the trailer house I could smell the food cooking. Tomorrow would be Thanksgiving and that’s when ALL the family would arrive. Each would bring their best homemade dish.  I saw Gran and ran over to her, receiving the warmest, best hug.  She told me to put my things in my room.  She lived in a trailer that was connected by a small trailer and then another long trailer.  It formed a capital letter ‘L’.  My room was in the very very very back.  The last part of the trailers.  I would walk past a big refrigerator and a big freezer, near a bed.  Then turn down the last part of the ‘L’ and go through a huge closet, then two more small rooms until I found myself in the last room.  She had the bed made up.  The room was so small that the bed was against the wall on three sides.  She kept a little radio in there and there was one small light on a small dresser and a door that led outside.  The little trailer windows were covered in frost.  There was snow on the ground just outside them.  It was freezing in the little room so I turned on the small heater that was plugged into the wall.  I couldn’t wait to climb under the freezing cold sheets and quilts later.  It always took a while, but I would eventually get toasty warm.  I loved the quilts she made.  I still have several, even today.  I treasure them. I miss my Gran.

It wasn’t long before a handful of my cousins that lived nearby would whisk me away on adventures untold.  But the real excitement was the next day.

I woke up in my warm bed in my cold room.  I could smell coffee and bacon.  Gran was always up before all of us and cooking.  I didn’t want to leave my warm bed but then I remembered she was making chocolate gravy!  I hadn’t had that in ages!  I got up right quick with that thought and headed into the kitchen, barefoot and in my pajamas.

“Mornin’ Gran.”

“Mornin’,” she said then smiled.

“Did you make chocolate gravy yet?”

“I’m fixin’ to.  You wanna help?”

I nodded.  She had me get out one cup of sugar, 1/4 cup of cocoa, tablespoon of flour and vanilla extract.  I watched her put it all in the saucepan, cover it with water and start stirring with a wooden spoon.  That quickly became my job.  I remember thinking my arm hurt from stirring.  I didn’t realize cooking was so much work.  It gave me a new appreciation for all food that would be presented in a few hours.  She had homemade biscuits but I didn’t like biscuits so she also had white bread for me.  I broke it up and placed it on top of my chocolate gravy.  I loved the taste, the texture and the aroma.  So very good and I missed it!  It was too rich to eat too many bowls of it but I always tried to eat two.  A bit greedy I suppose.

I could hear the cars pull up on the gravel, snow and sludge outside.

My heart raced as I peered out the window.  My cousins!  A couple here and a couple there, finally my main group that I ran with were all assembled.  All boys.  After we ate we would walk across fields and silos until we got the huge house that my uncle built.  We would play outside and have to take our shoes off when we came in.  Sludge and white carpet do not mix.

We would play in the attic bedroom that two of the boys shared.  We could hear the grown ups in the music room downstairs playing gospel music.  We could feel the vibration of the drum beat.  We could hear them singing.  Looking back, I wish I could have appreciated how special it was.  I just never knew how much I would miss it one day.  But back then, we thought it was boring.  We had to hear those songs at church and we were always at church. There was always some function or revival.  Couldn’t they play something modern?  So in our boredom we would find other things to do.  We would listen to Elvis albums and hear my cousin do a spot on Elvis impersonation.  We would play dangerous games that should never be played.  Like, let’s take our aunt and uncles perfume and cologne bottles and turn out the lights.  Now let’s try to find each other and spray each other in the dark.  It was all fun and games until someone got sprayed in the eyes.  He screamed out in pain and we all tried to shush him thinking the tears would wash it out. But the music stopped, as did the crying.  You could hear a pin drop between the thuds of my uncles feet on the stairs as he climbed to the room.  He didn’t even ask questions.  He just lined us up and swatted our asses and said to behave. He took all the perfume bottles and cologne bottles, glared at us one last time and left.  We all rubbed our backsides and glared at the one who cried.  He sheepishly wiped his red eyes and asked if we wanted to go back to Grans for dessert.  We did.  So off we went in the darkness back past the silos, the high school, the park and wait…what was that?  A sewage drain thing.

The boys ran over to it.  It looked like a drain ditch, but it had sewage in it.  I had never seen one of those.  Then the boys decided to dare each other to jump across it.  I couldn’t let them outdo me.  I had to prove that girls could do anything boys could do.  Problem was, they had on normal coats.  I had on a long, girly, dress coat.  They all made it.  I got tangled up in my coat.  As we walked in the door, the grownups who stayed behind instead of going to my uncles for the music, all held their noses and yelled, “What is that smell?” The boys all laughed and pointed to me.  My Gran ran me off to the bathroom.  She took my coat and clothes to wash them and made me take a shower, immediately.  She left me my flannel nightgown. I took my shower.  When I got out, I was freezing,  so I did my favorite thing.  The heat came into the trailer through a vents on the floor.  I put on my nightgown and sat on top of the vent.  I sealed my gown to the ground with my butt and my feet, then my hands on the sides.  The heat came on and my gown filled up like a hot air balloon.  Ahhhhhhhh, the warmth was wonderful.

I heard the boys asking if I was done yet.  I came out and ran to my room.  It was freezing in that place.  I climbed under the quilts and shivered.  The boys all came in and piled on the bed with me.  They helped keep me warm.  I’m sure it wasn’t on purpose but I welcomed it anyway.  We turned on the radio and the country music was gone.  It was Thanksgiving night and that meant the Christmas music started.  We listened to Bing Crosby as we watched out the windows.  It began to snow.  We told ghost stories about great grandpa’s ghost making the rocking chair rock in the next room.  Sometimes it actually would rock.  We didn’t know if it was the older kids playing a trick on us or if it was really Great Grandpa.  Either way it didn’t matter.  We were happy and we were close and we were together.

I miss those times and I miss those loved ones.  But as I sit and reflect, I still feel the warmth.  The warmth of the heater, the warmth of my bed, and the warmth of the love that we shared.

Happy Thanksgiving

 

When You Pray For Me

Posted: November 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

My favorite thing you do, is pray for me.  I appreciate that you let me pray for you first each night.  Because the last thing I want to hear before I fall asleep is the sound of your voice praying for me.

Whether we are happy or whether we are frustrated with each other, we pray for each other at the end of the day.  We pray out loud.  I love that we show each other, even when we aren’t happy with each other, we still love each other.  Love always overshadows disagreements or misunderstandings.

My heart swells when I hear the blessings you hope for me.  I feel so loved when I hear you say all the things about me that you are grateful for.  I am so honored to belong to someone who treasures me the way you do.

I will live today as I live every day.  Enjoying life, helping where I can, loving my family and friends and excited to hear you pray for me just before I drift off to sleep.  Thank you, baby, for loving me this way.  pray-for-me

Irish Slavery

Posted: June 27, 2015 in Uncategorized

I know I haven’t written a blog in a while.  I am ready to get back to blogging.  This one will be a short one, though.   My book, Ireland Calls My Name is finally available in paperback and for the Kindle at Amazon.com.  Here is the link for the USA.  There are also Amazon links for several other countries available, including the UK.  Just look me up on the Amazon most familiar to you.  I am also posting a pic of the banner I will be using for my book signing tables.  My boyfriend, Kyle Hebert, set up my first book signing in Ireland July 8th.  I will also be doing my first panel along with another book signing in August in Hawaii.  I also received my first picture of a reader with my book in hand.  I am so excited for the world to learn the truth about Irish Slavery.  My book also has supernatural elements.  Let’s see how this thing goes.

Here is the link for my book on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B010E46QCC?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

I am writing about my book.  I have 11k words to go and my god…they are the hardest words to write.  Why, you ask?  You are so close to the end, you say.  Just write them and be done with it already…

Well, guess what?  If you are not a writer and you are a reader you need to know some things.  You may never ever understand them but I will do my best to explain them to you.  Do you know why?  It is because you are my friend.  You are the one I am writing for.  You are special and loved beyond measure.  You are the reason I have not finished this book and put it out there for you.  I know you will read it and fall in love with the characters.  I know you will not be able to but the book down for wanting to know what happens to them.  And you will die a bit when the book comes to an end, even though, yes, there is a sequel.  Your heart will sink and a sadness will envelop you and that breaks my heart.  Do you know why?  It is because I do not know how this book will end or the path it will take.  I dread sitting down to the computer and reading the next words that are inevitable…I dread the end, I dread the next chapter…hell, I dread the next paragraph.  Slaves lived through so many horrifying conditions.  My God, what will they experience next?  Will they escape or die?  OMG  I hate the waiting and writing to find out.

I honesty feel that I am writing the story of my ancestors.  Does that make me crazy or well intuned?  I don’t know and honestly, I don’t care.  I feel what I feel and I write what they tell me.  So one day, you all will read these words and wonder…”Are they truth or are the fiction?”  Guess what?   Odds are, they are someone’s truth.  I think it is my family’s truth but, alas, I will never know for sure.  All I can do is write what I dream and go from there.  I will finish this story, no matter how hard to see the things play out in my head.  I will see the end and I will write the sequel. It will move you and make you think.  And that is all I want.  I want the world to know what happened and I want the world to think about it.  I want YOU to know what my family experienced.  I want YOU to know what happened in 1649 and what Oliver Cromwell did to my people.  I never want my ancestry to be forgotten.

So, yes, I am still writing. And yes, It is coming along slowly.  It is quite burdensome to write about atrocities that my family experienced just so I could exist.  Now there is a thought.  What did my ancestors endure, just so one day, I could exist?

Thank you, forefathers and foremothers, for all of your sacrifices, just so one day, I could exist.  ❤

Thank you for reading.  X