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.

There are no words

I listened to S Town this week.  I knew early on in the first episode what would happen to John.  He said he couldn’t describe his darkness in words, but I think he did a damn good job.  Maybe that is because I could relate to the darkness John experienced at times.  I could relate to the highs as well.  Manic Depression, Bipolar, is a beast.  It will alter your life.

Unfortunately, I believe some people battling this beast will not ever respond well to the solutions of this mental health world.  Not enough medicines or therapy can “cure” those genius’s who suffer so deeply at times.  John was one of these people.  So were Einstein and Van Gogh.  Don Mclean sang it true in “Starry Starry Night”: “How you suffered for your sanity” and “This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you”.  John was beautiful.  Beneath his crude language and disparaging look on life, was a genius.  He was an artist.  I believe true, genius artisans suffer from this world the most.  John expressed the beautiful side of  him through his hedge maze, gardens, and especially his clock “work”.

Minds like John’s, Einstein’s and Van Gogh’s just do not understand this world.  I’m not a genius by any means on their level, but I totally get it.  Those of you who do not experience the darkness as these men have, and so many people today, do not understand.  Your practical minds cannot understand the beast that can tear up your mind and skew the world into this dark, tornadic hell.

John tried to cry out for help so many times.  Bibb County did not have the means to help someone like John.  They do not have access to the medical community or even the literature to help someone like John.  I believe he tried medications once early on, but they dulled his brilliant brain and he could not express himself as well as when he is without the meds.  I have experienced that throughout my life.  I have been over medicated at times to the point I was a hollow shell, numb to the world around me, almost as bad as the depression I battle.

A large group exists that believe you will go to hell if you commit suicide.  To those living in the darkest depths of this world are essentially in hell.  The world can be too much for them.  Any place would be better than this living darkness.

For the majority of those battling mental health, I believe solutions do exist.  Research and medication have  come a long way.  More people, famous or not, are speaking out and trying to reduce the stigma.  However, it is still not enough.  I was looking at a company the other day that sponsored three different cancer fund raisers and nothing close to any mental health fund raising organization.  Mental health touches just as many people.  But it will take time.  It took a long time for people to recognize the scope of cancer.

In many instances, it is too late.  Teenage suicide attempts and completions are on the rise.  They are the second leading cause of death in this age group.  The Jason Foundation (jasonfoundation.com) is one such entity battling the epidemic.  Many states, including Alabama, have passed the Jason Flatt Act.  It requires school to include training and education in suicide awareness during the in-service training.  It stands to reason since educators, coaches, etc. end up seeing  our kids more often than we do as they get older.

Suicide is tragic no matter how you slice it.  I am not saying that it cannot be prevented with those like John, Einsten and, lets not forget, Robin Williams.  I just think that the darkness in these brilliant minds is too much to bear.

Remember, it is Mental Health Month!!!!

 

In a Flash

“Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past.

Behold, I will do something NEW , Now it will spring forth;

Will you not be aware of it?

I will even make a ROADWAY through the Wilderness, RIVERS in the desert”

Isaiah 43:18-19

I saw this scripture on Meg Moore Tully’s blog telling the beautiful story of her and her husband’s journey through cancer.  I didn’t know anything about it until I saw a FB post and a couple of pictures with her and some of her oldest and dearest friends.  I love to read people’s real stories.  I learn so much from each one.

This was the first scripture that she posted.  It it home.  I felt like I had been hit by a steamroller.  FINALLY, I HEARD GOD.  It had been so long.  Late night and early morning prayers; nothing, just darkness.  I have been falling in a black hole for months now.  So many days I just wanted to curl up in bed and not make breakfast for the kids.  My work is very flexible and I would find my self procrastinating to get there and finding any reason to leave early.  I was restless and tired all at the same time.  I have “lost” myself in a LOT of Netflix and Amazon (great, by the way).  Dennis has been pulling the weight of both of us for so long.

But, something happened right before I saw this scripture.  I had hit a new low of which I’m not proud.  I was so ashamed and mad at myself.  I had hurt someone very close to me.  I broke her heart and trust. UGH!!!

Then my friend Meg came along, sharing herself and  the healing power of God.  I am moving closer and closer to the light everyday.

When I was working on my Christmas “card”, I initially began looking at some of those sites where they will ecard them for you.  Then I found out I had to pay money.  The whole point of displaying my family for all of FB to see was to do it free!!!  So then I got on Picasa.  I am not very talented when it comes to picture programs.  When I say I spent all day…I DID.  Somehow I couldn’t figure out how to get the text onto the page of pictures.  I did it once by accident but I changed the picture.  Two hours later I pushed a button and VOILA , text!!  I was going to put a “?” after Dennis and my names but my daughter said it was gay.

During my project, I had a lot of time to think of why we do this as a society.  I picked a picture of each child over the last year because we are never in the same place at the same time.  And, truthfully, I have had enough of trying to get all four of them to cooperate for one second TOGETHER.  I looked back on old Christmas photos of the kids.  Sometimes they were dressed to the nines with hand-made smocked outfits.  They had to be JUST RIGHT!!!  Then when we moved to Fairhope, we had to do the beach picture.  Once we were finally there and relaxed, and responding to Irene Gardner’s toy squeaker, it became fun.  Those are some of my favorites.

Back to my point.  Nineteen years of Christmas pictures.  Nineteen years that have literally gone in a flash.  Where did it go?  What have we been doing in between these “perfect” flashes of our lives at Christmas?  Actually, all the time now due to FB.  We can all show the flash in the pan part of our picture perfect selves.  What happened right before and after that picture?  Who was yelling, crying, laughing, taking their smocked clothes off?  Even in my card this year I had to use an older, younger version of Dennis because I could not find a recent one until I found the one in here.  All he does is snap chat his children and sometimes me.  I hate it because right after it finishes, my phone has the camera facing me.  That has got to be the worst view of yourself: 4 chins, wrinkles and no makeup!!!

Again, I digress.  This year has been especially hard on us.  Moving schools, meeting new kids.  I am out of my element because I haven’t had the best opportunities to meet the girl’s friends parents. I have for a moment at prom pics or stuff.  It’s hard to start over at 50 even though I only live minutes from my hometown. The girls are not involved in any school sport.  That is always my way of socializing.  Dean is a different story.  I know all his friends parents.

This has been tough and lonely.  Depression makes you tired.  The thought of ever having to drive north of 459 for anything now is daunting.  I can barely get my head off the pillow.  If I go past 459 I would actually have to take my yoga pants off and put on something somewhat presentable.  I work in an old house full of men and surrounded by chickens.  I do get to see an occasional deer:).  I have not made the effort.  Once you are spiraling, it is so hard to climb back up. UNTIL…God yelled in my ear with a megaphone and told me something NEW was happening.

Of course I am looking around every corner.  And, of course God is laughing at me because he has put a carrot in my face and told me to wait some more.  But when He does show it to me, it will be in a flash.  It will feel like no time has passed since I had been moaning and groaning, asking where God went when He said he was giving me something NEW?

Everything is a flash of time.  When my mother passed away, Bishop Stough, who had been Bishop of Diocese of Alabama way back when, did the funeral.  He and mama had gone to highschool together and were age-old friends.  He had such a sweet soul.  I remember one thing of his 30 minute Eulogy: that the time between when she died and when I would see her again would be in a flash of time.  When I see her, I will not remember the anguish of her loss.  I will not remember being sad that she has not been able to see my children grow up.  BUT, she has.  She has been over my shoulder the whole time, cheering me on, wishing that she could tell me that this disease I fight (which she fought too) is going to be one of the biggest blessings of my life as well as my family’s.

So, in a meandering way, enjoy this flash of time.  Enjoy each flash.  They go so fast.  And remember, God has something NEW for all of us.  I am not good at remembering verses. But I say New, Roadway and River every morning and pretty  much all day long.  I am trying to learn to stay in the moment and not lament my past mistakes and failures and worry about the future.  Those three words keep me grounded, if only for a flash.

Merry Christmas,

Lulu

 

FULL CIRCLE

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I had a date with my husband for the first time in FOREVER last night.  It was the perfect storm.  All the kids were out and about and taken care of.  Well, John was laid up in bed after having his wisdom teeth taken out:)

We didn’t go far; just down to Billy’s.  We wanted to stay close in case John needed us.  It wasn’t fancy either.  It was just us.  There are times when Dennis and I are the only ones at home but that is not always conducive to really sitting down and talking about what is going on.  There is always a pile of laundry or bills to pay or sales calls to make.  Their is too much clutter at home to clear your head and talk about us.  These are the times when we reconnect, recharge our marriage and find out something new about each other.  I wish we could do it more often but in reality, with four children, we just don’t have that time.  We have to wait for the perfect storm:)

In the past week, I have had lunch with my high school English teacher whom I have not seen since 1985 and  with my cousin who is like a sister to me.  My sisters don’t live in town and my cousin and I are just as close if not closer. I used to be her nanny.  Her youngest child’s diaper was the first one Dennis ever changed:)  I also got to spend some time with one of my oldest BFFs doing flowers for the church.  This is the church in which my grandmother, mother and  I were all married.

Between AWARE, my church and my friends and family, I feel like I am truly able to give back now.  When you are sick, be it physical or mental, your only option is to take from those who can give it to you.  When it is a physical illness, it is easier to take the help given to you.  That is not the case when it is a mental illness.  It is hard for people to understand why you can’t just go fold those clothes or make up the bed or unload the dishwasher.  Those are easy things to do right?   Why can’t you just do them?  Because WE CAN’T.  WE NEED HELP.

I still get depressed and manic.  That is just a part of myself I have come to terms with.  But I have tools to get better and I know when to ask for help before things get too bad.  I am not cured.  I am in remission.  There is no guarantee that I may not have to be hospitalized again.  You will know it when I do because I will share my journey with you.  I have a new voice now.  I have a new outlook and a new goal:  to help you understand that DEPRESSION IS AN ILLNESS.

AWARE is out of the honeymoon phase now.  The momentum of the tragedies has waned.  The number of new members on the AWARE page has dwindled.  BUT WE ARE NOT GIVING UP.  We are in it for the long haul. We have some great things planned for the fall.  If you have seen the comedian on Ted Talks who talks about his depression you are in for a treat.  He has agreed to come speak in September.  We need help though.  We need you.  We need you to help on a planning committee.  We need help finding a venue and someone to sponsor that venue.  Let us know if you want to help.

Being a Birmingham native and being gone for 10 years, I see things with a fresh eye.  My experiences from my time away have pushed me to help this community make some changes.  My English teacher laughed and said she may be embarrassed to be seen with me.   I know I have ruffled some feathers but change doesn’t happen without growing pains.  Every single person in the community if affected by mental illness and suicide.  Don’t kid yourself.  That mom next door who is perfectly made up each day and has her children dressed to the nines each day is absolutely miserable.  I know because you have told me.

We need the city’s and school’s support.  We don’t want them to cure depression or prevent suicide.  We need them to work with us and let us use their venues and email lists.  If they don’t I will be entering in every single contact I have from all  6 school’s directories myself.  Anyone want to help?:)

A plethora of reasons exist as to why we moved back.  One of the main ones is my illness.  I needed to be near better hospitals and doctors.  It has been a hard move on the children.  I will not sugarcoat it.  I second guess myself all the time whether this was a good idea or not.  But I don’t think I would have been able to fight this illness had we not been able to make some changes.  I know God had his hand in it. I know deep in my heart that this move will have a positive lasting impact on my family and this community.  It already has.  I have come full circle.

Enjoy this beautiful day.

 

 

 

 

Adversity vs. Anxiety

DSC00466For all of you who have taken AWARE’s online survey on village living.com, the results show that the number 2 worry you have about your children/ community is the stress that is put on our children at such a young age.

As I sit in the stands during baseball season I hear a lot of parents talk on this same subject.  All I can think of is which came first the chicken or the egg?  When did it get this way?  Did the stress start in high school and worked its way down or did it start at rec league and start its way up?  I have been gone for 10 years so I cannot say.  I have a few solutions but I know y’all don’t want to hear them:)  My husband might get mad.

So I will approach it from a different direction.  When my children were young and I knew early on I could only handle so much before things got to me and I had to retreat, I decided to keep things simple as far as children’s activities go.  I said one activity per child per season.  OH, and no travel outside the county.  So far so good except where games are concerned as they get into high school.  Since they didn’t have so many activities we were able to all be home for dinner a lot.  I didn’t realize how precious that was until now.  They are older and while they still only do one activity per season, they are practicing or playing almost every day of the week.Sit down dinners are few and far between but just as precious.

I see these young families rushing to special coaches for all of their sports.  I hear of first grade girls on waiting lists for private tumbling coaches so they can make cheerleading in jr high to high school.  I saw my daughter practically kill herself the week she tried out for dorians.  The stress on these children to excel at such a young age is scary.  There are only so many spots on the teams once you get to high school.  Why not just let them enjoy the activities while they are young?

Academic stress is another topic.  When we registered my son John in the high school, we had to figure out what classes he had that might not count, etc from his old school.  I saw that there were three different diplomas for high school graduation.  At the time I did not think much about it.  I thought is was kind of silly but John wasn’t going to Harvard so I wasn’t too worried about it.  I didn’t ask any questions.  This year I went to the freshman orientation about registration.  When they got to describing the three different diplomas I have to admit I zoned out.  I did hear the tidbit about the colleges to which you apply have no idea from which diploma you graduated. What?!  I get all the AP and advanced and points or something to get into the big schools.  Why push advanced and super advanced diploma on top of it?  See?  Undo stress.

I saw a Facebook post where a mom of a young child had already talked to a counselor about what is required of the different diplomas.  Undo stress.  Again, where did it start?  Did the school board decide we needed more diplomas or did a parent who heard about it from another school approach the subject?  I don’t know.  I have been gone for 10 years.  It is probably not my place to say.

Mountain Brook is a community of overachievers without pushing it to the limit.  If this community’s second major concern for their children is stress, it has to start at home.  Take your child out of that extra training class and take him or her to get ice cream.  Ask your child what they want.  Get to know your child.  Parents say they don’t see depression/anxiety in their child.  We are such a busy society now that we don’t just sit and listen and learn the cues our children are sending us.  If they want to push themselves in a sport or a certain diploma tell them to go for it.  But tell them to do it for themselves not for you or for what your friends will say or what their friends will say.

I am not pointing fingers because I find myself doing the same thing.  But I did spend time with them in their younger years.  We didn’t do extra coaches/trainers.  We were at home.  I am glad because now that they are in jr high and high school I don’t see them anymore.  They are always at a school activity.  I have to pay more attention when they are at home.  It is tough because I know there is a lot of social pressure and stress just being a teenager.

Our children will be gone before we know it.  What do we have to show for it but an empty wallet and memories of driving all over the southeast so our child can play a sport better at the age of 10.  But who stops it?  I hear parents every week at rec sports fussing about this same problem.  Who is brave enough to put their foot down on this merry go round and slow down.

Don’t let your child grow up under so much stress that they don’t enjoy their school age years.  Let them be kids.  Hug your kids, tell them you love them, tell them they did an awesome job and take them to get ice cream or frozen yogurt.:)

 

 

When I think I am the worst mom in the whole world……

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My Inspiration Through Life
Everyone in life will always have one person they look up to. My mom is a huge role model in mine. Her name is Louise Wilson Null but, we call her lulu for short. She is a stay at home mom but, that isn’t all she does. My mom loves to read. One time she read 160 books from Christmas time to March. Also, she loves to exercise. She runs, walks, does yoga, and sometimes a spin class. I will always look up to my mother. She is always reliable, honest, kind, and she helps and supports me in whatever I do, like dance.
Some people say I look like my mom. I can understand that but, we have two totally different personalities. My mom is very small, pretty, smart, and outgoing. She has these big beautiful round hazel eyes, a smile to light up the world, and she has short curly brown hair. Lulu will always be petite and muscular since she comes from a family that isn’t very tall. Most moms have a very fashionable and instyle wardrobe. Well, my mom isn’t like that. Yoga pants, tennis shoes, and a t-shirt is my moms everyday clothing. It may not be all fancy and in style, but that’s just my mom. I may look like my mom, I might not act like her or dress like her but, she is still and perfect inspiration to me.

You always know that one person who has such a kind heart well that’s my mom. She is so helpful when I get sick and, I am very appreciative of that. Whenever I am stuck on homework she is always there to help me especially when I don’t understand. When I had a bad day at school or trouble with friends she is always someone I can talk to, and very kind hearted. I love my mom and I don’t know what I would do without her helpfulness, her smart brain, and her kind heart.
Last year was not the best year for me or my family. I had sculiosis surgery July 14, 2011. After that around August or September I got really sick. I really needed someone at that time and it was my mom. She was always there to boost my confidence up. That was really helpful because I had a hard time doing that myself last year. My mom was so helpful with school work, carrying things for me, and when I needed advice on something. I couldn’t have gone through any of this without my mom. I am so thankful to have her.
I am so blessed to have a mom like I do. She is so helpful, kind and smart. I really admire her helpfulness and her support. Like in school and dance, it really helps to have someone there. I hope to pass on her helpfulness and kindness to others everyday like she does. I don’t know what I would do without my mom. I might take her for granted but there is so much more to her than just taking care of me and my sibiings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tragedy, Loss and Insensitivity

Yesterday, Birmingham lost another soul to a senseless tragedy. My heart goes out to his wife and children. My heart hurts for them profoundly.
I mentioned before, how could a “caveman” be depressed? He provides for his family. He has responsibilities to put them through school and pay for their activities. It is for those same reasons he can be despondent. This man lost his job. How was he supposed to take care of everybody? I am afraid he expected it and had planned this. I cannot say for sure because I am not him. But statistics show that some thought goes into it and a particular instance causes a person to act on it.
What truly broke my heart about this was the insensitivity of certain people who chose to post this on facebook. One who claimed to be a friend posted a picture of the parking deck yesterday morning. I was stunned. They noted they were close to the family but couldn’t say who it was because not all family had been notified. Why put it up there at all? It was already posted all over the news as some gunman out to harm others. We talk about sensationalizing suicide as being harmful. This was harmful: to the family and friends of this troubled man.
I am so sad about this tragedy.
It hurts deep in my soul because I understand the despair this man suffered. I also know it could have been stopped. Not by his wife who was almost too close to the situation. It could have been stopped because more could have been done about information being put out their about depression and suicide. This is precisely why AWARE was created. We want to erase the stigma about depression. We want to notify the community of ways to battle it and survive. We want to discuss the reasons why people turn to drugs and alcohol to mask their depression. It also gives them courage to attempt to take their lives. We want every one to be AWARE of the signs and symptoms of depression and other mental illnesses and challenges people face that cause them to see the only option is to take their life.
Their is a questionnaire on villageliving.com about what you as a community want to know about these issues. Please take the time to fill it out. Let us know your concerns. Help save a life. NOT ONE MORE is our “motto”. Let us keep our friends and family members alive by being AWARE of what is going on in our community.