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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Life IS good... A tribute to my dad 29 years later...

I received a really nice compliment from my cousin the other day.

She said, "Jenn, I love how you always do nice things for people."

THAT, to me - is one of the biggest compliments I could ever receive.
That compliment, to me, means that I am being my father's daughter.  I'm living as he lived and as he taught me.

My dad was one of those guys that would give you whatever you needed.  It didn't matter if it was his last or only.  If he had something that could help to make someone else's life a little easier, giving it to that person made him happy.

I know this first hand, because I am his daughter.
I am the "little girl" that, when my dad came into some money, didn't even have to finish the "I would like  want." sentence and my daddy was providing it to me.  He wanted me to be happy.  A bit spoiled, yes - but happy.

That is who he was.

Although this is my self proclaimed Mental Health Month
because my dad took his own life on this day in 1984,
I didn't want this post to be about how he died.
 I wanted it to be about how he lived,
 so that when people read this post they think,
"Wow, her father was an amazing individual."

Was my dad the absolute perfect person on the planet?
Well, he was my daddy, OF COURSE I thought so!

I do know that if he talked the talk, he walked the walk.  If he said he'd be there, he was there.  If he made a promise, he kept it and if you needed something - he would find a way to provide it to you.  No questions asked.
He wanted others to be happy.

This is how I think of my dad.  This is how many thought of my dad.
He was just a nice guy who did for others with no agenda.
This is the person I try to be. 

As an adult, or at least someone who is older and is supposed to know better, I wonder how he was able to hide his pain so well for so long.  He always smiled and joked around.  He always seemed happy.  I never knew of his demons.  I don't know if anyone did.

If I could have saved him I would have done my damndest.... But here we are.  I didn't know my dad needed help.  Even if I did, I don't know if I could have helped him, but I CAN help someone else out there... Someone who may read this.  Someone who may be lost or feel that it's just not worth it.
It IS worth it...really.  All of it!  Even the crap.

This month, I've sought out anyone who was willing to share their personal experiences on mental health with me... with you.

This is all I could think of to do to honor my dad.  To do as he would do.  Reach out and help another person.  Not only with my own personal experience of pain as a suicide survivor x2, but for others who experience pain in their own way.
For me, the sun rose and set over my daddy,
and to this day I love and miss him as I live and breathe.

This is my gift to my dad.  
My tribute to him, on this day.
29 years after he chose to leave this planet.

Today, his death will not be remembered with the sorrow of loss, it will be celebrated with the hope of saving another. Even one.

If you are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts - please don't give up or give in to the feelings.

You are worth it.  You are loved.  Life is worth it.  Really.

No matter what problems you are struggling with, hurting yourself isn't the answer.

Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a counselor at a Lifeline crisis center near you.

Someone does love you and someone WILL miss you and hurt terribly.
Take it from me.  I miss my dad every day.

Thank you for reading my blog.

I send you all love.


In loving memory of my daddy, 
William Robert Cooper ~ August 8, 1942 - March 28, 1984

My Dad and I...  Many years ago

Monday, March 25, 2013

One kind word can change everything...

Throughout this month I've had several guest bloggers share their words for my version of "Mental Health March".

Those words, although difficult to pen, have been shared with the kindness of heart in an effort to help another.  Those words have made a difference to many already.

That does my heart really good, as this is my way to honor my dad.

I focus on the words right now, 
because it really is amazing how powerful a few simple words can be.
Sometimes without the speaker / writer ever knowing their impact.

A few years ago on this date I was really sick.

I was in the hospital waiting for tests.  I was scared and at the hospital alone. I had no idea what the doctors were going to tell me this time.  Nothing to that point had been positive.  It was like an entire cumulation of crap had been thrown at me in ways that seem so far away now.

Things were tense.  I was emotionally brittle.  Physically, a train wreck.  The doctors kept giving me more and more pills and sending me for more and more tests.  I was always sick.  I couldn't walk.  I couldn't sleep.  I felt awful all the time, yet I still had to function.  I had to be mom.  I had to go to work and perform well.  It wasn't easy.  None of it was.  
I was not feeling fabulous about anything, and it showed.

While I was in the waiting room I remembered it was a friend's birthday, so I routinely sent off a Happy Birthday text and continued on waiting for my testing.  A bit later, my text announcement went off.  As I read the words before me, a smile formed on my face.

It doesn't matter what the words were, or the meaning behind them.  What mattered is that those few nice, unexpected words were sent as a gesture of pure kindness when the writer knew I was having a tough time.

For me those words made me smile during a time I hadn't been smiling much.  Those words made a difficult day a little easier.  Even if it was just for a little while.

I never told of this until now.

People don't always know the power of their words, good or bad.

Small gestures of kindness seem to be overlooked in a world where people become jaded at such a young age.  It's nice to have a reminder that just one smile, one kind word could make a positive difference in someone's day.

...even if it's just for a little while.

So as  you go on with your day, think about your words and how the things you speak or even type could make a positive difference to another.

Because you never know who's crying on the inside.

Thank you for reading my blog!

Have a wonderful day!

Love & Hugs


Sunday, March 24, 2013

We the Broken by Cassi at Fire and Rabbits (revised from August, 2012)

This post originally ran last year on the anniversary of my brother's suicide. I have revised it only by taking my initial lead in out and changing it for this month's Mental Health March.

Her words continue to be her words.

I absolutely, positively LOVE my Cassi girl over at Fire and Rabbits.  I joke and say that I act like her internet momma, but I'm too young to be her momma so I'll settle for being her really cool internet auntie.

Cassi is another that I've latched onto for dear life.  I love her, truly will be here for her any time she needs to reach out.

This post brings me to tears each time I read it.

It's a perfect example of WHY I chose to do Mental Health March, in honor of my dad.  To help even ONE person with simple words.

And now, I give you the lovely Cassandra...

we, the broken

Jenn has given me the humbling and honored task of writing a guest post about something that is close to both our hearts on this important anniversary for her.  I wish that neither of us had anything to say on this subject, but sometimes life chooses your strengths for you and God puts you exactly where you need to be, even in times of abject weakness.  I’ve struggled with bi-polar, mania, and depression since I was a small child, and never has it felt like a blessing until now.  The dirty secret about being suicidal is that once you reach a certain point, you don’t care about anything anymore.  Well, except for dying.  You care about that a great deal.  You don’t believe what anyone says to you.  The words of comfort roll off and hit the floor.  The platitudes of PSA’s swarm and retreat, meaningless.  Making the decision is freeing and empowering.  And selfish. And cowardly. 

That’s what no one explains: to seek help is brave.  It’s scary.  It feels unnatural.  When you reach a point where your survival instincts are turned off it’s a terrifying journey to ask for help.  To admit brokenness.  To admit defeat.  I can say all this with absolute certainty because I’ve been there.  I am there.  I live everyday as a person who has to ask for help. 

A year ago this September was my sixth attempt to end my life.  In the hospital, after the cobwebs began to clear, I wrote in my journal:

October 3, 2011

I think one of the biggest things I have to do to get well is let myself remember what I did.  I have to confess to what I willfully and intentionally did to my family and to my body.  I have to put all the ugliness on paper.

Then I have to forgive myself for it.

I remember spending time with my grandmother and mother that day, all of us wondering what to do as my depression worsened.  My lights were barely flickering and any signs of life were becoming harder and harder for my family to see.  I’d been lying to them for years about my condition, pretending to be well and functioning when inside I was slowly unplugging.  They thought I was at the beginning of another cycle of depression that we could cut off at the knees, and secretly I was trying to organize my life enough for my death.

I stayed with a friend because everyone was worried I was too depressed to be alone. I went along with this because I knew they could take care of my dog when I was gone.  I also did not want to die in my mother’s home, or in mine where my dog might be alone for days.  I zombied through an afternoon with my mother and grandmother feeling like a petulant child mumbling automatic answers to empty questions.

I went back to my friend’s house and showered and put on makeup, trying not to consider my fat, pale form repulsing the people who would have to get my body.

I took eight beers from the fridge and hid them in the guest room, feigning tiredness and excusing myself for the night.  I started with the Klonapin first, 27 pills washed down with cowboy cold Lone Star beer.  Then the Atenolol for good measure, also 27 pills.  Then I fell asleep with my dog curled up on my feet.  I woke up about three and realized I hadn’t done enough so I went to my friend’s medicine cabinet and took 24 Walgreen’s brand 12 cold and sinus pills then 18 Aleve 12 hour cold and sinus pills, then 8 more Aleve.  I remember they spilled on the floor.

Then I slept.

The rest is a blur—my friend found me around four the next afternoon and wondered why I was still in bed.  She called poison control and we went straight to the ER.  I know my mother and grandmother were there.

No one could understand how I had lived.  Even my liver enzymes were fine.

I was sent to a mental hospital, again, numb and lethargic and angry.   The first five days were spent detoxing out what I took and trying to get my bearings.  My nephew was born a few days later.  I looked at his little face in the pictures my mother sent and wanted desperately to re-join the living:

October 3, 2011

Today I laughed with my fellow patients.  I mourned their losses in a group, and I began to see how lovely We, The Broken, can really be.  We reflect and expand and contract.  We tell the truth about our own shame and guilt, and we admit the courage it takes to heal from deep wounds.  We accept that sometimes the only answer is “it is what it is” and that has to be enough.

I have victimized myself and my family for too long.  I have used my illness as a tool to manipulate and be an observer in my own life.  If I had only understood that being well doesn’t mean that problems go away and the waves of life stop crashing.

I no longer have to put on a brave face.  I can be brave, courageous, fearful or scared and know that I am loved so completely that people are willing to fight for me.  Everyone, including me, is a person who is loved deeply.  We have mothers or fathers, brothers or sisters and friends who care for us when we do not care for ourselves.  There is an army of love out there, people who are fighting their own battles to understand what brought us here.

The most obvious thing I see in my journals from the hospital as a person now struggling to live and be well is that I was never, at any time, alone.  I had people holding me up—in prayer, in support, in tears, in compassion; I was surrounded by love.  It was seeping into all the hollow places I had allowed my depression to eat away over the years. 

I guess that I’m the tough love version of suicide prevention.  I’ve earned my stripes in a terrible way so I can use tough love.  If you are struggling, ask for help.  It’s scary.  I get it.  But the consequences of staying the way you are is more far reaching than you can understand right now.  I know what it’s like for your brain to be clouded in depression—nothing anyone says makes sense—but listen to them anyway.  They love you.  They love you more than you love yourself, most likely, and they are your advocates right now.  Let them be until you are well.  Let your army fight for you.  There isn’t a big secret to life somewhere that you missed but everyone else knows.  Life is for living, even if it sucks sometimes.

I live with the damage I’ve done to my family and friends every day; the trust that’s been broken, the wounds I’ve administered with select intent, and the shadows of things that I can’t undo.  I’m okay with that, because I’m living.  I get to wake up every day.  I get to write, I get to paint, I get to listen to music and eat good food and hold my nephew and see bluebonnets and have my heart broken. I got to turn 33.  I didn’t think I’d do that.

Who cares if I’m in a million pieces most of the time?  I’m beautiful.  My life is beautiful. 

Even shattered things can reflect light.

I’m determined to be very open about my struggles and victories, and if you have any questions or comments please visit my blog Fire and Rabbits or e-mail me at  You’re not the only one who feels lost.  I can say with all honestly I know exactly what you’re going through.  Let someone help you.

Thank you sweetie for sharing this!

Please go visit my lovely Cassi's blog at:  Fire and Rabbits
and her Facebook page at:  Fire and Rabbits

Thank you again, Cassandra.  Your story touches my heart in such a way I can't even clearly state.

Be well, young friend - your heart and spirit are amazing - as are you.  I am in awe of your strength.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

No matter what problems you are struggling with, hurting yourself isn't the answer. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a counselor at a Lifeline crisis center near you.

Someone loves you and someone WILL miss you.  I promise! 

Never, ever give up.


Smoochies to you all!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Living in the Dark By: I Will Get Up Again and Again

Some people on here I've latched onto for dear life.
Not because I want to ride anyone's coat tails - because that's not my style, but because I see something in them in some way that draws me to them.

It's no different with today's guest blogger.  I've latched onto I Will Get Up Again and Again for my own personal reasons.  Mostly because I want to see her continue to get up.  I want her darkness to fade and for the sunshine to fall gently on her face as she smiles and says out loud... 
"It's a good day!"

I have been reading I Will Get Up Again and Again for several months and I like to think I'm one of her biggest cheerleaders.  Even if I don't always outwardly express it.

Her story is one of consistently choosing to get up every single day.  Even when it's like living in the dark.

I give you  I Will Get Up Again and Again:

Readers of my blog know that I’ve struggled with various forms of depression and suicidal ideation off and on for several years.  Consistently since my youngest was born in 2002. The intensity spiked up ten notches after I had gastric bypass and the ability to absorb medication properly came to an abrupt halt in 2004.

Some days I believe I am the Queen of Suicidal Ideation.  I imagine my psychiatrist believes the same thing.  Several years ago, shortly after I was released from a short inpatient hospitalization, she said to me “Do you really believe you will eventually kill yourself?”  I can’t even tell you what my response to her was.  What she said next, I know I will never forget.  Ever.  It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to process.  I didn’t process it.  I didn’t even let it affect me.  She was right.  I knew it.  And just like many other areas things in my life...I stuffed what she said...deep down in the ‘don’t go there’ emotional bin.  

It wasn’t until about 18 months ago, when she said it to me again, that it dug deep. Even deeper than the first time. When I left her office, I spent another hour sitting in my car.  Processing what she said.  The depth of her comment.  And how incredible hard it was to hear.  

“__, I’m not convinced you won’t kill yourself.  And that haunts me each night.”

This was a continued conversation regarding medication, the lack of being able to take them, being at the end of another failed attempt, and pure frustration for both of us.  

I had no hope at that point and the pros/cons of being hospitalized was thrown around. To hear Dr. KSB confirm she didn’t have that hope, was a bit devastating.  Initially, few years earlier, it didn’t have the same effect.

I contemplated never going back to see her.

I made an appointment with a psychiatrist that specializes in gastric bypass, whom I had seen when I was in the hospital, whom had done an evaluation on me prior to my WLS, and whom even though I didn’t like...I did trust his knowledge was extensive.  It was a 6 month wait to see him.  I was desperate when I scheduled that appointment.  The appointment came and went.  He confirmed that I was seeing one of the best psychiatrists and that I needed to continue my treatment with her.  He gave me his recommendations and sent them to Dr. KSB.  Telling me to follow-up with her in a week or two.  He also, added several dx to my permanent chart.  That appointment was a year ago.  None of his recommendations were options at the time.  Dr. KSB has left the one recommendation as a last case scenario.  Agreeing that the only way she would suggest it being an option, would be if there was an attempt to end my life.  It would be, as he said...”LAST CASE SCENARIO”.  
And so...I continue to see her.  She knows me. I know her. She trusts me (I think). I trust her.  
And she knows that filling me with all sorts of medications is not an option.  
At my last appointment with Dr. KSB, we discussed the current state of my marriage.  My husband and I are both patients of hers.  Once again, she told me ‘my gut tells me you would not survive a separation or divorce’.  Damn as much as I know that. It is harder to hear it.  Once again, I sat in my car for a good hour after my appointment trying to process what she had to say.

Currently, mental illness waxes and wanes in my life.  There are a few good days here and there.  There are suicidal days where I’m holding on to the last bit of the frayed string, trying everything in the book to stay alive.  Some days all I can do is lay on the couch and watch my dogs play, listen to my children's voices, fighting against everything to hold on to their sweet voices.  Praying and hoping against all hope that the depression will lift.  Leave me alone.  At least for a day.  

A few weeks ago, I wasn’t suicidal.  I had more than an entire day without the constant thoughts of hurting myself, the bad thoughts, the self hatred, and self harm impulses.  Just sadness.  Sadness that this is my life.  The next few days, I wasn’t so lucky.

That is the nature of this beast.  The last 18-24 months this has been my life.  It is a constant battle to get up every day.  Some days, the darkness lifts.  

Everybody Hurts by REM rings a bell.  I woke up thinking about this song this morning.

And so....I leave you with that.

Everybody Hurts.
Everybody Cries.
Hold On.


And I will add I've had a bad week of suicidal ideation.  Self harm crap has been sky high.  My BFF informed me I'm to negative and need to try to increase positive in my life.  And while I know she is right, when every ounce of my energy is taken by going to work....there is nothing left.  Excuse?  Sure as hell is.  Bit it is where I'm at.  I have went as far as have plan in place and need to be talked down off the ledge by one of my Orlando Moms.  She gets this place.  I know she does.  And somehow that makes it that much harder.

Thank you, my sweet G for sharing your story. You know I just want to hug you through the computer every single day.

Please go on over and visit G on Facebook at:
 I Will Get Up Again and Again
And her blog page at:
I Will Get Up Again and Again 

Keep getting up girlfriend!

Thank you all for continuing through this series.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

No matter what problems you are struggling with, hurting yourself isn't the answer. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to talk to a counselor at a Lifeline crisis center near you.

Someone loves you and someone WILL miss you.  I promise!

Never, ever give up.

Lots of love,

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

What is Bipolar Disorder? As lived by MB at Living as a Bipolar Mom

We're going to jump in a different direction today... 

My motivation for Mental Health March (again, in memory of my dad) is to bring to light the many areas of mental health that some of us are unaware of - or miss completely.

So many people have been regarded as weird or not right - when the fact is that they're doing the best they can every single day to just be.

Today, I give you a post by Living as a Bipolar Mother.  This gives you a little glimpse into the day to day life of a mom just trying to put one foot in front of the other every single day.

Sometimes we need a reminder that "Normal" is just a setting on the dryer.

And now....MB at Living as a Bipolar Mother:

Bipolar Disorder doesn't care about your bank account, where you live, your race, sexual orientation or ethnicity.

Webster’s defines bipolar as “having or marked by two mutually repellent forces or diametrically opposed natures or views”.  That doesn’t sound very good does it?

Bipolar disorder is even more fun than that.  Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that affects 5.7 MILLION people.  That means approximately 2-7% of the American population suffers.  20% of those with bipolar will die through suicide.  Our life spans are reduced, we run the risk of our children developing our disorder, many are obese, most patients take lithium and many receive an inaccurate diagnosis.  Women and men suffer equally from bipolar, yet women tend to have more mixed episodes and rapid cycling.

These are the stats from the DBSA.  These are some scary statistics.  20% out of 5.7 million people, approximately 1,115,000 individuals, will take their own lives at the hands of bipolar.

That is more than Schizophrenia.

This rate is reduced greatly when proper and adequate care is received.  Yet with the current state of our medical system, mental illness falls through the cracks and many patients are left feeling as though this is “all in our heads.”

I am a wife, mother, daughter, friend and human.  I am also bipolar.  Bipolar doesn’t define me, it is simply one part of who I am as a whole.  Bipolar isn’t just in my head, it is in my body and affects me in every way.  It affects my relationships, my ability to communicate, my eating, my sleep, my weight, my ability to function.  It’s like watching your body and mind do things that you would never dream of doing, yet you do them; sometimes repeatedly.

I hate when I scream at my kids, yet there are some days that is the only way I can communicate.   I hate how I can never seem to get up with my alarms, all 4 of them.  I am not joking- I have an alarm clock, my phone, my iPad, and my iPod that all go off multiple times to multiple alarms.  I hate that my weight is defined by my medications side effects.  I hate (with extreme passion) that I have to evaluate every mood, the good ones and the bad ones, to see if I am cycling.

While bipolar does not define me as a person, it does define how I react to the world around me.

There have been days I felt like an exposed nerve.  Every word, emotion, feeling was a scrape against that raw exposure.  Feelings were so intense I couldn’t contain them inside myself.  Tears, screams, movement- all out of my control.  I have many ways to describe mood instability as I spent years silently suffering and trying to explain to those around me what I was feeling.  I have felt myself slipping down this glass wall, fumbling for a hand or foot hold, yet there is nothing to stop my fall.  Once I land at the bottom, I stumble in the darkness, feeling my way along until the light appears.  The light can appear in mere hours or it can take months.  Then once stability returns I walk the tight rope where one misstep can send me back down the glass wall.

Mental Illness is scary and intensely isolating.  For both the patient as they try and heal and the family and friends surrounding them as they come to terms with it.  The stigma is horrid.  No matter how many celebrities announce their diagnosis, the rest of us suffer mostly in silence.  I mean who wants to walk around with this flying on their freak flag?  I try an approach my disorder with humor, cause if I don’t I will cry.  All day, every day.

With all I have said and gone through, I am one of the lucky ones. I found a medication cocktail that works beautifully.  My wallet doesn’t like this cocktail, but hey it’s only money.  I have a fabulous psychiatrist who cares for me as well as a beyond amazing therapist who guides me through the ‘jungle’ of bipolar.  My medications aren’t causing any serious issues (like lactating boobs 3x their ordinary size or 25 lbs extra on my backside like my previous medication did).

I am able to experience a full range of emotion 
that is well within the realm of "normal."
Speaking of normal, what the hell is that?
Normal doesn't exist!
It is a fallacy created by those people 
who want you to conform to their way of life.

Bipolar is the ultimate finger to that thought process.
In fact being bipolar is the ultimate finger to most things in daily life.
I like to think of it as a way to keep the husband on his toes.

~MB, Living As A Bipolar Mother.

As I say every single day... AWE... I am in total and complete AWE of how my fellow blogging community has stepped up to share themselves this month.

Thank you again for sharing, MB, and for giving others a small glimpse into your life.  I, for one, adore you :)

Please go check out MB's Facebook Page:  Living as a Bipolar Mother 
And her Blog Page:  Living as a Bipolar Mother

To all of always, thank you for reading my blog!


Monday, March 18, 2013

"What the Hell are You so Gotdamned Happy About?" by Katy at I Want a Dumpster Baby

With every new guest post I state how absolutely humbled I am that fellow bloggers have so generously come forward to share their stories on my blog for Mental Health March.

Today is no exception.
I absolutely love and admire Katy from I Want a Dumpster Baby.
She's been through it from one end to the other, and now she has all she's dreamed of.  She eats, sleeps, breathes and drips gratitude.
I  L.O.V.E.  that!
I'm soooo incredibly humbled, excited... Ahhh, I don't even have enough words other than THANK YOU, KATY for allowing me to share one of your most touching posts.

Guys...I hope after reading this you'll really see that life IS worth it!  You may be at rock bottom, but there's no other place to look while you're there, other than UP.  There is a bright tomorrow.  There is good out there and it really is yours.

Now, I give you the ever adorable Katy from I Want a Dumpster Baby....

"What the Hell are You so Gotdamned Happy About?"

I get one question consistently from my blog and FB page and actually, in the past few years, in real life.  It's some iteration of, "How are you so upbeat all the time?"  Or, "How are you so grateful after everything you've been through?"  Or, "What the hell are you go gotdamned happy about?"  People sometimes don't like it when you are happy.  Sometimes, though, they want what you have. 

This is surprising to me as I don't think of myself as someone who is shiny happy all the time. 

I'm not so upbeat all the time.  Things suck sometimes and that is just fine.  So what?  It sucks, I get in a bad mood, I hate everybody and myself.  I think people tend to think if they complain and say something sucks and feel sorry for themselves, that they are not living in gratitude or light, but it's not true.  I believe we have to feel and accept the darkness in order to feel the light.  TO REALLY FEEL IT.  For a while.  And then we go on to find something, anything, to be grateful for.  The shit passes.  It really does. 

I get in dark places.  I've been in VERY dark places in my past, even after getting sober, it took years to get to a place on contentment and gratitude that I've found today.  I've been in bad relationships, bad jobs, and just unhappy with myself and my life.  And while  it may have taken longer than it "should" have, I got out.  The only way to change your life is to CHANGE YOUR LIFE.  Make the change you want to see happen.  I'm not getting all Tony Robbins on your ass, but dammit, stop whining and do something about it.  I say that to myself all the time.  It all comes from within ourselves. 

I only know what I live.  I go to AA.  I work the steps.  I find 5 things to be grateful for every damn day.  GRATITUDE WORKS.  Nothing else worked for me.  NOBODY wants to go to AA or a 12 Step program, but based on the emails I get, many of you want to fill the hole in your soul.  I cannot stress it enough.  Everyone needs something. 12 Step Programs don't fill that void for a lot of people, but I do hear over and over and over and SEE IT working for so many who resisted so hard at first.  Give it a chance.  What have you got to lose?  Don't make excuses, just try something different. 

I fill it the hole in my soul with universal love, helping others, and gratitude for all I have today.  It takes a lot more energy and stress to be angry and bitter.  I AM LAZY.  Living in gratitude and hope takes less energy than holding onto resentment and anger.  You know the saying,  "holding onto resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other guy to die"?  The 12 steps have given me the gift of being able to let go of resentments and THAT, gives me freedom.  I see resentment and bitterness in people and it is such a turn off, I'm repelled by that garbage.  It's toxic.  And it just so happens I like to be happy.  Living in gratitude helps me do that.

It's not easy, it's not all shiny puppies and rainbows and unicorns and rainbows and polka dots and SPAZ DANCING ALL THE TIME.  Life is hard.  How we choose to approach it with our attitude makes all the difference in what that can look like.  Don't cover anger and hurt.  FEEL it.  FEEL it.  FEEL IT.  And then work through it. 
That's my basic response to so many that have reached out to me.  If you are struggling with gratitude and with finding something to be excited about waking up for.  Find one thing.  ONE THING.  I focus on having a roof over my head many times. Being a free woman - I am not locked up anywhere. I have food to eat.  Any furries that you have that love and depend on you.  The list can then go on and on.  Just keep doing it.  Keep choosing hope.  Every day.  That's all I need to worry about is today.  Tomorrow is a whole different deal.  If I can do my best today and be grateful for all I have, I am a successful.  And success from where I'm standing feels pretty gotdamned good.

Happiness really is a choice.  It may not be right in front of your face.  You may have to peek around corners and work really hard - but its sooooo worth it!

Life REALLY is sooo very good!  Live it, Feel it - ALL of it!

Thank you again, SO MUCH, Katy!  I love you to the moon and back!!

If you don't already know Katy, please go on over and visit her Facebook page:  I Want a Dumpster Baby
and her blog page:  I Want a Dumpster Baby

...and as usual, thank all of you for reading my blog!

Big Smoochies,

Friday, March 15, 2013

It’s Better to Know - Guest Post by Razorblade Brain

With each guest post, I am more and more in awe of the ease in which the words of such a difficult topic seem to flow in an effort to help others.

Today, I'd like to thank my lovely friend,
at Razorblade Brain 
for her incredibly well written post.

Most of us have mental health issues right under our noses -
that we don't even know are there.
Some people are getting help, while others are being hidden away.

When I was growing up, I could remember seeing only seeing Uncle Bobby once or twice - but that's it.  We always knew he was in the house, but no one ever saw him.  He was my great grandmother's brother.  They kept him hidden away because he had a "hair lip" and was schizophrenic.  I never knew as a kid that he was mentally ill....  One of the reasons I so relate to this story....

I now give you, It's Better to Know by Razorblade Brain:

My great-grandmother ate out of the cat’s bowl. 
True story.  All us kids had heard how bad Gramma Libby had been.  We’d also heard the stories about how she had undergone electric shock therapy back when it was not very humane.  But regardless, she was harmless to us all now.  She was weird in the way that all old people are weird to small children, but if I hadn’t heard the stories, I would’ve never guessed that she was schizophrenic.

For a great majority of my life, I thought that she was the only person in my family with mental illness.  And I never even considered that she still had mental illness.  It was something that she had a long time ago that caused her to be paranoid to the point that she wouldn’t eat anything that hadn’t  been deemed as safe by letting the cat eat it first.  She was fine now.  Everyone in my family was fine.

Almost no one in my family was fine.

My grandmother (Libby’s daughter) suffered from extreme anxiety.  She had several nervous breakdowns dealing with raising 5 daughters and being married to man who kept having heart attacks and finally died from one.  Out of those 5 daughters there was depression, OCD, nervous disorders, night terrors, and alcoholism.

My mother was one of the daughters.  But I never knew that she had any of these issues.  I didn’t really know that any of my family had these issues…until I had my own. 

I think that the entire family’s mental health issues weren’t fully dealt with before I had my problems.  In a way, it seems like the tirelessness with which my mother fought for me and fought for answers, opened a gateway to the rest of the family to get help and to deal with their own illness.  In a weird backwards way, I’m kinda proud of that.

I’ve been diagnosed with everything under the sun from several different therapists, but the diagnosis that finally “fit” was PTSD.  I had been through several different events of sexual abuse and through a devastating weather event.  Yet even though that diagnosis fit and is tied to the sexual abuse that I endured in a way, I think that I can look back at the family history on my mom’s side and realizes that no matter what happened or didn’t happen to me in my life, I was going to be mentally ill.  It was always going to be something.  Mental illness has a pretty strong incidence of heredity.  That’s not to say that everyone who has a mentally ill family member before them will become mentally ill, but there is a higher chance of such.  I think that had the rest of the family had the opportunity to be treated for their illnesses, the signs of mine would’ve been recognizable and gotten quicker treatment.

I remember what it was like in the beginning when we didn’t really know what was going on and it was terrifying.  No one really knew that we all had mental illness.  Everyone kept their own experiences secret and blew everything off as “Oh, my nerves were just acting up again.”  Having the panic attacks that I did without anything to attach them to or blame for was terrifying and frustrating.

Now that the stigma of mental illness is lessened (still have LONG ways to go), it’s easier to look at history of family and to seek treatment.  To keep yourself in “check” and watch for signs and symptoms and to make sure you know what to do in case you feel that you need some help.  And although there is no sure fire 100% way to completely prevent sexual assault, there are tons of available resources now to deal with the aftermath.  And recovery is never easy, but it’s easier if you know.  It’s easier if you know what’s going on and know where to get help.


~Razorblade Brain

Thank you again, Jessi, for guest posting for me!
We don't always see the signs, or even know that we or someone we love needs help.

Posts just like this are one of the biggest reasons for Mental Health inform one more person, who may not know....

As always, thank you for reading my blog.