GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!!

asger81

TIS THE SEASON!!!  It’s that time of year.  It is frantic, hectic, joyous…and magical, hectic, scary.  You have so much to do, right?  The holiday parties…work, school, church.  Thanksgiving AND Christmas.  The music starts earlier and earlier each year.  The shelves are stocked with ornaments, clothes, table decorations.  EVERYTHING must be perfect.  Or, does it?

For most people, this is a scary time of year.  The sun is gone, the demands are higher, the children are HOME!!!  What are you going to feed them while they are home all the time?  It is overwhelming and depression can suck us right back into that hole.

But, we are not going to let that happen this year.  Our mental health “problems” will not take us down this year.  We are going to embrace these feelings, share these feelings.  We are going to give ourselves a break.  Those of you battling these demons, don’t you hate me right now?!    Had I read this last week, I would have hated me too.  But, I held on.  I trudged through the thoughts which have brought me whirling down the hole before.  I GAVE MYSELF A BREAK!!!

I spent some time with a friend of mine who is battling the demons right now.  I know what she is going through.  Her thoughts are running wild:  guilt, shame, fear, and loneliness, to name a few.  I just listened.  I can do nothing to change the thoughts in her head right now.  I can listen while she works through her thoughts.  She needs to release them and analyze them.  She didn’t need me to say “you’ll get over this”, ” take a walk”, “write in your journal”.  When you are feeling like her,  those are not the things you want to hear.  You do not want to hear “read your Bible”, “God will take care of everything!”.  Where is God now?  Why is He doing this to me?  That is what she is thinking.  The only thing I can tell her is there is “the other side”.  By the way….God is there, you will see when you look back on that dark time.

In the past year, I have decided to quit using my Mental Illness as an excuse not to do things.  Someone once told me not to use it as a badge of courage.  Well, hell yes I should!!!   Of course, I had to do it in my own time.  Fall is a hard time for me.  Sixteen years ago, Dean was born, we were transferred to Nashville, and my mom died.   Every year it hits me like it was yesterday.  Every year I tell myself I will not let that year get me down.  This year I almost did.  But, I embraced the sadness.  I embraced the good memories sixteen years ago. I stared depression in the face and said: “not this year”.  Of course, that was about a week after feeling absolutely miserable.

We who battle CAN DO THIS!!!  We can take our badge of courage and turn it around to fight it….for ourselves and others.  Embrace how you feel and let it go.   I know this is a hard pill to swallow.  You may not be able to do that right now.  But, give yourself a break.  Let your family and friends know you are not feeling well.  Tell them you need a wide berth right now.  You do not necessarily want to be physically alone.  Hang out in the den with everyone.  You can still have your demons run through your head.  You have the right to feel bad.

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!!!  Bring cups to a party instead of that amazing dip you bring every year.  Bring something premade.  Don’t bring anything at all.  There will be plenty of food left over.  Take the “it has to be perfect” mantra out of your head.  Hell, play sick and don’t go to the party at all.  IT IS OK!!!

Try to enjoy this time of year.  GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!!!

So…Need some help?

The mental health system is a mess. Yes, we are working hard to reduce the stigma of mental health, but are we offering solutions and insight on how to get the help you need? I have not found many published solutions. Psychiatrists numbers are low. It can take weeks, even months to get into see one. If you are thinking of a career change, Psychiatry may be the way to go!

My hope is to help you navigate the muddy waters of the system. It is difficult and confusing. I will also offer tid bits of solutions that may help you on a daily basis. I have days when I don’t even want to follow even the smallest steps to feeling better. THAT IS OKAY!!! GIVE YOURSELF A MENTAL HEALTH BREAK!!!

In the mean time, PLEASE turn to someone if you feel on the edge of losing control. It may be one of the hardest things you ever do. Message me on this site. I am not a professional, but I have a good ear. I understand the thoughts going through your head. I feel sure they have milled around my brain.

I have heard a saying: Do not give up until the miracle happens. Hang in there…the best is yet to come.

Love is Contagious

In the past week, Birmingham lost 2 prominent figures: Dr. Thomas Wilson, Mr. Bob Esdale. These men have represented all that is good in humanity. They loved unabashedly everyone who crossed their paths. They gave back to Birmingham all they had received. They have raised families who continue to make lives better. In the midst of chaos, they have been the anchors which keep us steady.

As we gather together to mourn the loss of these friends and family, I am reminded of the memories I shared with each of these men. Tommy was my uncle, my dad’s brother. He was one of “Those Wilson Boys” tribe; an elite group of misfits. He was fun, funny and always had a smile on his face. He would hold court, smoke his pipe and greet you with one of the greatest smiles I have ever encountered. He loved his family fiercely and they in turn loved just as hard. Even though I live in the same town, I do not get to see them enough. But they welcome me with open arms each time. He was the last of “The Boys”, leaving my dear Aunt Mimi to hold down the Wilson Fort. She alone has been able to whip Birmingham’s ass into shape.

One of my most favorite people in the world, Mr Bob Esdale, went to Heaven as well. I LOVED THIS MAN!! His daughter Mary is one of my oldest friends. They became my backdoor neighbors when we were in 6th grade. Hurricane Bob entered my heart and never left. I have special spots in my heart for people like him. I am not one to show outward love to those even close to me, however, he was able to draw me out of my shell. His big bear hugs could sustain me for weeks. I could feel his smile. Does that make sense? Just like Tommy, he loved completely and unconditionally. His kids love just the same. I had the chance to spend some time with Mary and other old friends last night sharing Bob stories. At times, not a dry eye was to be found. Other stories drew gut splitting laughter. He exuded shear goodness. I have no other way to express it. I know each of you knows someone like him.

Do you see a common thread among these men? LOVE. So many ways to define love exist. So many ways to express love exist. So many levels of love exist. It is there for the taking. If you are fortunate enough to know someone like these men who loves hard, keep them close. They make everything in your life better. Let down your guard and truly experience this love if only for a minute. You will be a better person for it.

CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

If you are reading this, you made it through the holidays.  That is awesome!!!  It is a very difficult time of year.  Stress increases, depression increases, and so does the rate of suicides.  BUT YOU MADE IT!!!

Give yourself a pat on the back.  Don’t worry about New Year’s Resolutions, you just accomplished one.  Every day you push back the darkness and conquer those “thoughts”, you are a winner.

Holidays are not easy for me either.  However, I believe this was my best year yet.  This year I have decided to take a closer look at Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  It would take me forever to explain it.  I am learning new skills to battle my “bad” recordings and replace them with positive ones.  It is complicated and time-consuming.  It is working on that “in the moment” stuff.  It teaches you to rewire your brain when you are faced with difficult situations.  I have read about it and even tried it before, however, it didn’t really hit me as the thing to do at that moment in my life.

Now, I want to attempt it.  It is different than normal therapy.  You take a more proactive role in improving yourself as a mom, dad, spouse, friend, co-worker, etc.  I will keep you posted…in the meantime, take care of yourself and those around you.

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!!

asger81

TIS THE SEASON!!!  It’s that time of year.  It is frantic, hectic, joyous…and magical, hectic, scary.  You have so much to do, right?  The holiday parties…work, school, church.  Thanksgiving AND Christmas.  The music starts earlier and earlier each year.  The shelves are stocked with ornaments, clothes, table decorations.  EVERYTHING must be perfect.  Or, does it?

For most people, this is a scary time of year.  The sun is gone, the demands are higher, the children are HOME!!!  What are you going to feed them while they are home all the time?  It is overwhelming and depression can suck us right back into that hole.

But, we are not going to let that happen this year.  Our mental health “problems” will not take us down this year.  We are going to embrace these feelings, share these feelings.  We are going to give ourselves a break.  Those of you battling these demons, don’t you hate me right now?!    Had I read this last week, I would have hated me too.  But, I held on.  I trudged through the thoughts which have brought me whirling down the hole before.  I GAVE MYSELF A BREAK!!!

I spent some time with a friend of mine who is battling the demons right now.  I know what she is going through.  Her thoughts are running wild:  guilt, shame, fear, and loneliness, to name a few.  I just listened.  I can do nothing to change the thoughts in her head right now.  I can listen while she works through her thoughts.  She needs to release them and analyze them.  She didn’t need me to say “you’ll get over this”, ” take a walk”, “write in your journal”.  When you are feeling like her,  those are not the things you want to hear.  You do not want to hear “read your Bible”, “God will take care of everything!”.  Where is God now?  Why is He doing this to me?  That is what she is thinking.  The only thing I can tell her is there is “the other side”.  By the way….God is there, you will see when you look back on that dark time.

In the past year, I have decided to quit using my Mental Illness as an excuse not to do things.  Someone once told me not to use it as a badge of courage.  Well, hell yes I should!!!   Of course, I had to do it in my own time.  Fall is a hard time for me.  Sixteen years ago, Dean was born, we were transferred to Nashville, and my mom died.   Every year it hits me like it was yesterday.  Every year I tell myself I will not let that year get me down.  This year I almost did.  But, I embraced the sadness.  I embraced the good memories sixteen years ago. I stared depression in the face and said: “not this year”.  Of course, that was about a week after feeling absolutely miserable.

We who battle CAN DO THIS!!!  We can take our badge of courage and turn it around to fight it….for ourselves and others.  Embrace how you feel and let it go.   I know this is a hard pill to swallow.  You may not be able to do that right now.  But, give yourself a break.  Let your family and friends know you are not feeling well.  Tell them you need a wide berth right now.  You do not necessarily want to be physically alone.  Hang out in the den with everyone.  You can still have your demons run through your head.  You have the right to feel bad.

GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!!!  Bring cups to a party instead of that amazing dip you bring every year.  Bring something premade.  Don’t bring anything at all.  There will be plenty of food left over.  Take the “it has to be perfect” mantra out of your head.  Hell, play sick and don’t go to the party at all.  IT IS OK!!!

Try to enjoy this time of year.  GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK!!!

It’s Hard to Cry for Help

Dear Readers,

It has been a long time since I posted.  I’m sorry I didn’t write during Mental Health Month.  I wanted to, but I couldn’t get the right words together.  Also, my life has been very good lately.  My moods are even, my relationships with my family have improved.  I am working very hard to fight those demons.  They try to get me, but I am in a good place and strong enough to fight back.  However, in response to the recent tragedies, I feel compelled to explain the darkness that these artistic geniuses fight, in combination with the highs that most people see.

This darkness, this depression, goes far beyond what most people understand about mental health.  It is hard to express in words.  People who do not suffer this deep emotional pain, simply cannot fathom this feeling of being stuck into quicksand.  Sufferers of this kind of depression withdraw into themselves.  They feel they cannot relay the shear misery that is rolling around in their heads.

The thing about this mental illness is their friends, family, and fans only see and hear them when they are in their highs.  All the quotes in the news state “They were so happy”, “I just talked to her yesterday and she sounded wonderful”.   These people are con artists.  They have perfected the art of hiding the demons in front of everyone.  They can make you believe their life is just perfect.  However, they cannot express in words the darkness they experience.  They shut themselves away.  They may say they just need some rest after working extremely hard for so many days.  Their friends and family just tell themselves “She just needs a break”.  They don’t question it.  That is how she has always been and she comes back.

Look back at all the famous, brilliant artists who have taken their own lives.  They thrive on their highs.  They shine so bright for their friends, family and fans.  No one ever sees the darkness because they have become experts at hiding it, explaining it away as being “tired”.  I believe they are Empaths.  They take on the misery of the world, of people downtrodden, any kind of tragedies other people are suffering.  It becomes too much.  It is so overwhelming, and they do not know how to express it to “normal” friends.  They may express something “dark through their art.  Looking back on these artists, they usually have periods when their creations are just a little “off”.  People explain it away by telling themselves “she is in one of her moods”.  They don’t want to disappoint anyone.

I know this is wordy.  It is very hard to convey the darkness.  You only see the good side.  They are energetic, the life of the party, they shine in the limelight.  They try hard to keep that high, but eventually they crash.  Some days that can push through it.  But there is that one day they cannot see beyond the pain, shame and loneliness.  They have to stop the sinking, being sucked up in a black hole from which no one can pull them out.  The misery has to stop.

Not everyone who suffers from mental illness suffers this badly.  But, they still do not feel they can explain the darkness.  We only see them when they are doing well.  Stigma is a big reason.  Healthcare is another.  It is expensive to see Psychiatrists and Therapists.  It takes over a month to get into seeing a Psychiatrist as a new patient.  Psychiatrists are in short supply these days.  So, they go to their Internists who doesn’t know the ins and outs of drugs that treat the different levels of mental illness.  They do not understand the chemical imbalance of their patients, northe chemical effects of most antidepressants and mood stabilizers.  The patient becomes frustrated.  Most sufferers tend to self medicate.  It is a vicious cycle.

What about the kids who suffer, who are taking their own lives at such young ages.  We MUST start this dialogue with the younger kids.  Teach them to express themselves at young ages.  Start their day off with writing three things for which they are grateful.  They do not have to share it with others.  It is a way to start the day off with a positive note.  How about having them write three good things that happened during their time at school at the end of the day.  Train the teachers to look out for signs.  These signs are subtle, but they are there.  When the children get older and switch classes, teachers can tell the next teacher for that child that something seemed off.  Two hours of inservice training is not enough.  The vocabulary the school requires is very PC and, honestly, sounds dorky even to me.  However, a fine line exists between helping children and setting off some kind of chain reaction.

I believe each school should have a therapy dog.  After a recent tragic event at my daughter’s school, they brought in some therapy dog, and she said it was very helpful.  Birmingham has program called Hand in Paws.  You can  get your dog trained to be a therapy dog.  They send them to hospitals, nursing homes, schools and even work places.  If you think your dog would be a good fit, call them.  Donate to them.  It is a marvelous concept!!

It also begins at HOME!!!!  I know both parents work in the household now.  Sit down dinners are a thing of the past.  Families travel all over to watch their children play baseball, basketball and soccer.  Kids goofing off in the neighborhood doesn’t exist anymore.  They are now with personal trainers.  Parents, young children should not be working with weights, etc.  Their bodies are not equipped for that.  I try to get the kids to put down their phones when we go somewhere or are sitting around at home.  They fuss, but I think they actually like the excuse.  We parents watch each others children excel, and have a thousand colored ropes around their necks at graduation.  They all post “I cannot wait to see what the future holds”.  EXCELLENCE takes precedence over peace of the heart and togetherness.  Enough of my soap box.  You have heard it before.

Suicide is the SECOND cause of death in teenagers.  It is rising.  We must start at the beginning, be proactive, break the wall that your child has built around his or her self.  Don’t worry about “upsetting” them.   I would rather piss my child off than bury him/  her.  Teach them early how to handle adversity.  Don’t solve their problems for them.  They will never be able to cope.

This has been a long and wandering post.  However, these things need to be addressed and shared.  Begin early with your children.  Savor those sweet moments when you and one of your children just wants to sit and talk nonsense.  Just sit and listen.  They are not asking for solutions.  They are solving the problem by talking about the issues.  THEY CAN DO IT BY THEMSELVES.  You only need to be the backboard.DSC_0340

 

 

 

 

Mother’s Day

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Rose Mamoo

When I think of Mother’s Day, I think of flowers and my mother, “Rose Mamoo”.  Mama was no ordinary mother.  She didn’t make our lunches or write notes on a sticky pad and put them in our backpacks.  She gave us 2 quarters a day so we could ride the bus to and from school.  When the Mt Brook City Schools stopped offering buses, she almost went into mourning.  Carpool line was a form of punishment for her!

I didn’t have the smell of homemade Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies waiting for me when I got home.  She did not like the kitchen.  “If you can read, you can cook” was her motto.  Mama had a couple of set menus during the week: chicken and rice on Mondays (cooked with lots of butter, salt and pepper);  still a family favorite at my house.  Fridays were spaghetti night.  She would make the sauce (not Italian style, but Mama style).

But, Mama was a blast in the eyes of my friends.  If she were alive today, she would have already written at least one editorial about  how silly “helicopter parenting” was.  My friends loved coming to my house because she left us alone.  Let’s not forget the epic spend the night parties at my house: spaghetti for dinner and Krispy Kreme donuts in the mornings!!!(Her secret recipe? putting butter on the donuts and re baking them in the oven).  It is a wonder I do not weigh 300 pounds.  She wasn’t big on curfews by the time my brother and I got old enough to have one.  She said “nothing good happens after midnight”.  Truth was she could not stay awake past 8 o’clock.  She had done that for years with my older siblings ( who are 8, 11 and 13 years older than I am.  I never had a reason to sneak out or stay out late for the very reason, mostly because my friends curfews were at 11 or so.

Mama had her demons and she battled them ferociously.  I remember those days shou would give in and not get out of bed.  I couldn’t understand it and that scared me.  But, one day, mama realized that to take care of us, she had to take care of herself.  She learned how to play golf so she could spend some quality time with Daddy.  He was always at the hospital, but the lure of 18 holes drew him like a siren.  She also played every week with her best friends.  Once the pool opened in the summer, she dropped us off at 7 in the morning and picked us up at 4 in the afternoon, playing golf or bridge as many days as she could.  AS I said, getting out, doing things for herself and with her friends, helped her be a better mother for it.  One of Mama’s excursions was her trip through part of the Appalachian Trail.  I was always mortified when she walked around with a backpack weighted down so she would be ready for her new adventure.  However this told me to always have a goal to achieve, a reason to get up out of bed every morning.

Mama taught us being active was one of the answers to staying out of the dark hole.  She would take us on endless hikes at Oak Mountain and The Bankhead Forrest.  I remember bologna sandwiches on white bread with a lot of mayo or peanut butter on wheat bread with the jelly soaked straight through to the baggie; OH!, and don’t forget the apple juice boxes.  She would also push us on the day hikes that left each day from the Eeseola Lodge in Linville, NC.  We would visit Emme, Daddy’s mama.  I will never forget the countless treks up and over Grandfather Mountain.  We even tackled a thunderstorm or two.  She would lure us with the treat of seeing Mildred the Bear.  Next thing I know we were climbing very steep ladders on the side of a mountain!!!

Mama’s first love was art.  She dabbled in painting and other forms until she fell off a ladder and broke her right arm.  Her visual arts hobby was no more.  She then threw herself into teaching us all kinds of art and crafts.  I loved it.  She was doing something with us!!!  She would also take us downtown to CAM each year.  Who remembers that?!  My favorite  memory was making the big tissue flowers!!!  Mom was a big art history buff as well.  During my elementary school days she would present slide shows to my 5th, 6th and 7th  grade teachers.  Mama was not Betty Crocker or Patty PTO, but she donated her time so we, as students, could learn a bit of history through the arts.   I didn’t appreciate the impact my mother had on so many people.

Mama’s greatest impact were the roses she grew on the side of the Green Valley Rd.  150 of them!!!  Her pride and joy was working hard to provide beauty to everyone around.  The power company came to the house to notify us of the trees they were going to cut down.  She asked them to cut another 20 feet into the property so she could start her garden adventure.  5 years later she planted her first rose bush and the rest is history.  She did have a deal with the greenskeeper at Mt Brook Club to confiscate some of his VERY potent pesticide.  Between that and the license she received from Montgomery for the chemicals she used, it was no wonder she died of lung cancer.  She never failed to wake at 5 am, drink a cup of percolated coffee, then began watering her roses.  It was just too hot to work with them after 9.  Even when mom was going through chemo, she would get up, put her backpack full of pesticides on her back, and tend to her roses.  Passerbys would often drop a gift off to mama to thank her for the beauty she shared with everyone.

Today, I am a mom to 4 healthy children.  I have my dark moments as well.  The kids still don’t get it sometimes, but that is ok.  Being their mom has forced me to face the dark side and fight it head on.  My children need me more than they think.  I owe it to them, as their mom, to fight.  I am so blessed to be their mother.  I want to make lasting, funny, endearing memories like my Mama did.  HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to everyone.

summer 2003

My water bugs