#IWillListen Even If You’re A “Lunatic”

27 Mar

Disclaimer: This isn’t my normal humorous post. The crash of Flight 9525 in the French Alps has saddened us all deeply, and, as we know, I can really only express myself through words.

This week, a 27 year old German pilot flew a plane full of 150 innocent people into the side of a mountain, on purpose.

The news would be heartbreaking enough on its own, but this morning the New York Post reported that the young man suffered from major depression, a condition he had seemingly been affected by for years. The Post reports that German police found a torn up doctors note, excusing the young pilot from work the day of the massacre. It went on to detail the fact that he had recently been having trouble in his relationship. They paint a picture of a troubled human being, on the edge of complete despair, who had no way out. (You can read the NYP article here: http://nypost.com/2015/03/27/killer-co-pilot-had-hidden-illness-from-his-employers/?utm_campaign=SocialFlow&utm_source=NYPFacebook&utm_medium=SocialFlow)

Please understand, my following comments are not to be misconstrued as “excuses” for the behavior of this man. His actions were selfish beyond reproach, unforgivable, and as a believer in life-after-death, I know he will suffer greatly for what he has done. I want you, my dear reader, to understand that I cannot, and will not make excuses for what has happened.

And yet, here we are. A nation where one in three people suffers from a mental illness, and yet when we hear about depression in the news, it’s in relationship to a “lunatic.” That, I have a problem with.

I am not a lunatic. Neither are you. 9.95 people out of 10 who suffer from a mental illness are not lunatics. I’m not ashamed of my disease, but it frightens me that those people who are not comfortable talking about it, or those who do not have it under control, might be. If the only conversation we have about mental illness comes after a tragedy like this, the tragedies will continue to plague us. I try to be a passionate and vocal advocate for people with mental illness because I know many are unable to discuss it the way I am. My only hope is that the voices of those of us who are ABLE to talk about their disease will soon become loud enough.

I wish that this misguided soul had the support group of doctors, friends, and family that I have. That’s my wish for everyone who suffers from this disease. But he didn’t. So instead of focusing on what a “lunatic” he was, perhaps we can start focusing on the underlying issue here: mental illness, either directly or indirectly, affects is all. (By the way, cancer is the other disease that basically affects every single one of our lives, and how many times a day do you hear that word?)

I wish, truly, that I had been able to lend my support to this young man in his time of need.

If you need a shoulder, or an ear, or even an understanding glance… I am here, and #IWillListen.

I’m Afraid of the Dark

3 Dec

Normally, night time is my favorite time. There are pajamas, and DVR’s, and cute four legged kitties to cuddle with. I’m also a bit of a night owl (thanks, Mom!) and I get my best ideas in the evening.

But lately, something has been… off. Nighttime is starting to feel oppressive, like all the worlds troubles suddenly light up and remind me of their existence. When the sun starts to set, and I crawl into my bed (basically my favorite place in the world), I begin to think about all of the things I haven’t accomplished, all of my faults… all the bad stuff. It keeps me awake, and I don’t like it. My bed, once my sanctuary, has started to become my prison.

I’ve always had a hard time turning my brain off, and now it’s getting worse.

What do you do when you can’t sleep? Does nighttime make you sad?

So, I Wrote This…

16 Jul

…which really shouldn’t come as any surprise, since I write everything that’s on this blog… but this is different. This is for… public consumption, I guess? It’s part of a script, for an event, that’s going to be attended by some pretty important ladies. And since writing for me is SO PERSONAL (like, I pour basically my whole heart into it, and then once I finish I need to take a nap because it feels like I’ve given blood, or a kidney or something) I wanted to run it by all of you so you can tell me if it’s bad. Because if you don’t, my boss might. (She’ll make that “I’m really disappointed in you” face that’s worse than yelling because I’m from the Midwest and I have a guilt complex [and also because of my anxiety issues])

So this.. thing… is being called a “reflection” – a time to (derp) reflect and not be a fancy businesswoman in a power suit and Louboutins, but just a person. Tell me if it’s bad? Or hokey? Or if you like it? But don’t lie to spare my feelings (because my boss won’t… and, again, I’d rather not see her disappointed face.)

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

Fine lines, crows feet, hairs that are out of place? Or perhaps a little too much here, or not enough there?

We’re trained by outside influences, and even, let’s admit it, each other, to see our flaws – the bad stuff. The things we want to fix.

How about today, instead of judging ourselves harshly, criticizing our “flaws”, we look into our mirrors and see the beautiful (and sometimes not so beautiful) events that made us who we are:

Years of wisdom from our friends, family, and mentors. Millions of smiles at weddings, and baptisms, and brunches. Hair out of place from the wind blowing through it when we put the top down on the highway. The cupcake from your best friend’s birthday that you SWEAR went straight to your hips. And the figure that your grandmother gave your mother, and she passed on to you.

You, my friend, are the sum of many parts, the product of years of sculpting and design. Your body reflects hardships and pain – and yet it mirrors the laughter and joy you’ve been privy to, the dark clouds always giving way to shining sun.

Each of us have been given a precious endowment–our contribution to this world is that we are uniquely ourselves, and we must treat this gift, and the gift of the other wonderful women in our lives with respect, with honor, and most of all, with love.

And so, when you look in the mirror, do not see the flaws – see the beauty that comes from wisdom, struggle, and triumph. See the exquisiteness in each other.

Don’t Let The Haters Get You Down

20 Mar

I had a particularly traumatic high school experience (seriously, if you think bullying doesn’t exist in your kid’s school – you have another thing coming), but I was very fortunate to have a mother who instilled in me some very important ideals, including:

People come into your lives, and they leave – for better or worse – but these people are put in our path to teach us something.

The folks at Wal-Mart teach you how not to dress, the rebound guy teaches us that life is indeed worth living after heartbreak, and the friends you lose along the way… well, I guess they teach you what you can and cannot tolerate in other people, be it friendships or relationships.

In the three years I’ve lived in Houston, to be completely honest, I’ve lost A LOT of friends. People I thought would never walk away did. Some of these people, I trusted with deep, dark secrets. A few of them I miss – but many, I don’t. Because these friends taught me what I can’t tolerate (cattiness, pettiness, competition) and led me to people who have shown me what I need (unconditional support, honesty, and an occasional “chin up, you’re fucking awesome” text). And you know what? They made me understand what I deserve. (Nothing less than absolutely, 100% the best.)

The saying goes “don’t let the haters get you down” – but the truth is, the haters have the most to show us. And it pisses them off when you don’t get mad – you get more awesome.

Finally.. Peace

3 Dec

Ten weeks ago, I knew I would have to write this post. I knew the cancer would take my friend Marcy…. and about a month ago, it did. I’ve struggled, since then, to put my thoughts into words, because, to be honest, I’ve been really, really angry.

I was angry at God, for taking Marcy and leaving so many awful people to pollute our Earth. 

I was angry at myself for not being able to make it back to Atlanta for her memorial service.

I was angry at the people who told me she would understand why I wasn’t there.

I was just flat out, honest-to-God, no-holds-barred PISSED OFF.

About a week after she passed, I had what my Mom calls a “come to Jesus meeting” with Marcy. I laid in my bed and I sobbed and told her all the things I was angry about, and when I was all cried out, I realized that from now on, she’s always there for me. When I have a problem with no visible solution, she’s there, waiting for her chance to talk through it with me. There’s no voicemail in Heaven, and certainly no busy signal. When I need her, she’s always there. 

Does that make me sound crazy? I guess it might. But my Mom read this book about asking your spirit guides for advice and help… and as ridiculous as it sounded originally, I like it now. I mean, I don’t expect my Grandma to pay my light bill from the great beyond, but knowing that she (and Marcy, and all the other wonderful people we’ve lost along the way) is there is very… calming. 

While I wish that Marcy could be with her family this holiday season, I take comfort in knowing that she’s at peace, in a place where pain doesn’t exist and there is no disease. And when I hear the Luke Bryan song “We Rode In Trucks” on the radio, I smile, because I know she’s with me in that moment, and reminding me that while she is gone, she is not very far away at all. 

In Honor of My Hero

20 Sep

In 2006, I received a phone call that changed my life. I was required to do an internship to graduate from college, and knew if I was gonna do it, it was gonna be somewhere warm. So three days after Christmas, I packed up and moved to Atlanta, GA, where I’d never even visited, for an internship with Atlanta Motor Speedway, in marketing & promotions.

Motorsports is a male-dominate field, which kind of makes sense, but my boss was female. And she was a power-house. She’d been recruited by the track from a race team, moving to Atlanta and living in one of the condos above the track until her place in Charlotte sold. She was in that condo when the big tornado blew through, caused millions of dollars of damage, and was subsequently rebuilt faster than a flash to prepare for the upcoming race.

From the moment I met Marcy Scott, she was my idol. Here was a woman who ran with the big dogs, knew how much shit to take before she flexed her muscle, and was an absolute PR genius.

I spent five months as Marcy’s intern, and in that time, we became friends. I like to think she saw in me a little bit of herself. I ate my first sushi with her, downed garlic-butter rolls at Scalini’s, and experienced some of Atlanta’s finest sports venues in style. 

A handful of years ago, I found out she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. What would be devastating to anyone else became a personal challenge to Marcy. And she kicked its ass. For a while. Without going into too much detail, because it isn’t necessary, my friend Marcy is losing her battle. Cancer is a fucking asshole.

Reading the posts on her Facebook wall reminds me of what an amazing person she was. I am SO LUCKY to have been her student. She was never too busy for my questions – even after I left Atlanta. Truly, she became my professional inspiration and mentor. 

My heart is breaking – because her family doesn’t deserve this, because her kitties don’t deserve this, because the NASCAR community doesn’t deserve this… but mostly because Marcy is and always will be such a positive influence on so many people. It breaks my heart that a new generation of interns will never get to learn from her. I guess I was just really, really lucky.

Bless you, Marcy. May your journey be as painless as possible. I, for one, cannot wait to see your beautiful smile again.

You Aren’t Alone

3 Aug

More than anything, I hope you all know that I understand how lucky I am.

Five years ago (or more?!) a tiny grey and white kitten plopped her way into my life and my heart, and saved me. She saved me. I can’t explain it any other way. She prevented a suicide, because she needed me.

Since then, I’ve adopted another kitten (FALSE – he adopted me), I moved from a relationship, to living on my own for the first time, to living on my own 1200 miles away from my parents.

Some days, my friends think I am the craziest girl on earth. They love my fat, lazy cats… but they don’t GET them.

My best friends can wrap their minds around it. It may not make perfect sense, but they see my four legged friends, and they feel something. I may be a crazy cat lady, but somewhere along the line, those cats meant something.

Listen, I don’t claim that I can spot depression a million miles away. Sometimes I have a hard time looking past myself.

But tonight I realized that maybe that tiny grey and white cat, and her obnoxious black and white adopted brother saved me from something more than myself.  Maybe, they pushed me in the path of people I could help… to remind they weren’t alone, to hold on to in the middle of the night… to remind this beautiful soul that any time, any where, any reason, that I was on high alert.

It’s a horrible, scary thing to face alone, this depression. No one should have to see it by themselves. I am SO LUCKY, to have a baby sister who will drop everything to deal with me. Most days, I don’t deserve her support.

I just want this one, beautiful soul, to know that regardless of how ugly the depression monster is, that I will be there. I’ll stand next to her. I’ll lose sleep, sanity, and everything else….. to help her. She isn’t alone. She’s protected.

 

What I wouldn’t have done to have someone tell me I wasn’t crazy.

 

xoxo

ss

Everything Happens For A Reason

11 Jul

So Sunday night, I was sitting in my Mom’s kitchen, telling her I wished I had a month off to figure out what exactly I want to do with my life. Fundraising is a tough business – especially in a city like Houston, where we all compete for the same dollars. Hearing “no” all the time beats you down. And of course, being the way I am, every day that we DON’T find a cure, I feel guilty, like it’s my fault. Logically, I know I’m not a scientist – but it’s still incredibly difficult to talk to people with a life altering, chronic illness every day and not feel some sense of responsibility for their ongoing suffering.

Today I lost the job I moved to Houston for.

I almost wish I could tell you I’m devastated, that I don’t know how I’ll live. I would be lying.

This job has drained me for 2.5 years. Despite the amazing people I’ve gotten to meet, the incredible patients whose lives I’ve touched and been a part of…. I feel a tremendous weight off my shoulders. Will I, at 28 years old, finally find the job I was meant for?

The funny thing is, when I was in Wisconsin last week, I went to my Grandma’s grave, and we had a little chat. (I talk to her all the time, but somehow sitting at her headstone, I feel like I’m within arms reach of her again.) I reminded her that the last time I saw her alive, she told me I would find a job I love (I hadn’t told her I was even looking) and I asked her for her help again, to point me in the right direction. 

A few days later, I had that conversation with my mom. And today, I find myself sitting here, with the world wide open, and an opportunity to find my calling.

I am truly a lucky woman. Everything happens for a reason.

Life Is A Burden

5 Jun

Ein Ende mit Schrecken ist immer noch besser als ein Schrecken ohne Ende. -Sophie Scholl
(Better an end with terror than a terror without end.)

One day, not so many years ago, I looked over the edge of the cliff that was my life, and I knew that with one short step I could fall forward, into the oblivion, and perhaps into peace.

For reasons that are still unclear to me (maybe I’m too brave? or not brave enough?) instead of taking that last step toward an untimely end, I backed away from the edge and sought the help I so desperately needed.

Not everyone is that lucky. People around us live day in and day out with voices inside their head pointing them to one conclusion: the only way out is to jump.

Suicide is a topic we tiptoe around. It happens every single day, in every single state, and yet we still whisper the word, like even saying it out loud will push someone into it.

It happened today, in a tiny town in Southern Wisconsin, to a person I didn’t know well, but who was loved by many – evidence of this overflows on his Facebook page, and the pages of those who held him dear.

I can’t even fathom the grief these people are feeling – the blame they may be shouldering for his loss. I keep thinking, if this person had been my friend, what would I do? Could I have helped? Would they have called in the middle of the night if they needed me? Would I have answered?

The pain I feel for this man’s loss, and the pain I feel for his family, friends, and the community we shared, overwhelms me tonight. I don’t have any advice – having been on that edge, I know the hopelessness he felt, I know what the voices sound like, and I know there was nothing anyone could’ve done for me. Suicide is a conscious decision that will be made without thinking of those around you. It is the ultimate act of selfishness. And yet – we cannot place blame on the victim. We have no right to judge something we do not understand. You can’t look into someones eyes and understand their pain.

Every day, 88 people in this country take their own life. We have a moral obligation to put aside our judgement & fear and support our fellow human beings through their times of crisis. This ability to help, to lend an ear, or a shoulder, or make a call when our friend can’t do it themselves… this is what makes us innately human.

If you are in crisis – there is help. Making this call is truly the bravest thing you can do.

1.800.273.8255 – www.asfsp.org

And if you’ve stumbled here and are grieving a loss… please know there is help. The web is full of first hand accounts from survivors – you don’t have to suffer your sadness alone. Here’s a good place to start. http://www.afsp.org/i-am/grieving

One parting thought. 90% of suicides are caused by mental illnesses that can be treated with medication. It’s time to share our stories, and shed light on this dark disease. I am always here to listen.

One Giant Leap For This Girl

8 Mar

I moved to Texas two years ago, and since I left Milwaukee, I haven’t seen a therapist.

I thought my anxiety was “under control” and not “ruining my life”. In the last few weeks, I’ve come to discover that I am wrong, wrong, wrong.

I don’t sleep unless I’m drugged up. I dread work because my phone anxiety is becoming overwhelming. I feel frustrated, helpless, and hopeless.

If there is one thing this girl is NOT, it’s helpless.

So, I just submitted a request for an appointment with a psychiatric group here in Houston. They’re supposed to call me to schedule an appointment within one business day. (Yeah, I submitted an online request. That’s how bad shit is getting around here!)

(also, a Google search recently revealed that I am not alone in this weird phone-anxiety-bullshit. THAT was a relief. It’s very isolating to think you’re the only person who suffers from a certain kind of crazy.)

Cheers to taking a step forward and regaining control of my mental health! Maybe, if you needed a push to see someone, this was it.