I talk honestly and openly about my experiences with mental illness, fibromyalgia, and chronic fatigue syndrome through the lens of feminism, fat acceptance and process theology. I also do recipe and book reviews. My mission is to spread the message that hope is always real for a better life, despite living in a world that is often very harsh.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Ethics and Repentance

Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives.  (Matthew 3:8)
Last Tuesday, I spent the day in Macon taking a continuing education workshop on certified peer support ethics. The presenters kept reminding us of the Hippocratic oath, which begins with the famous phrase, “First, do no harm” and I kept wondering to myself, “Why doesn’t this apply to mental hospitals?” 

It seemed to me that the staff at the last hospital I was in thought that as long as they weren’t hitting us, then they were being ethical, but there are other kinds of abuse other than simply physical.  Ignoring, gaslighting, coercion, calling people names, condescending tones, raised voices can all be a part of emotional abuse.  I consider chronic understaffing, poor training, and no deescalation skills as the breeding grounds for emotional, spiritual abuse and neglect.

Now, not all hospitals are the same - a few mistakes everywhere is expected, but the last hospital I was in stood out - the chronic understaffing meant that  all the patients had to stay in a fairly small room to be watched, people got angry that they had nothing to do all day and then the staff got defensive and started telling us that we were acting like children.  At one point, I thought there was going to be a riot and was genuinely scared. 

It seems to me that as long as we look at people as dollar signs, as objects to be bought, sold, told what to do, and drugged, then the mental healthcare system will be guaranteed to harm  their patients, the opposite of the Hippocratic Oath.  I am not against medicine or safe spaces, but I am also for the ethical treatment of human beings no matter where they are.  I believe that the concept of safety should apply to the whole person and should promote holistic healing, not further PTSD.

dictionary.com defines ethics as, “the branch of philosophy that deals with morality. Ethics is concerned with distinguishing between good and evil in the world, between right and wrong human actions, and between virtuous and nonvirtuous characteristics of people.”

It is evil to view people as an “other.”  Whether calling someone an, “illegal,” or a “mental patient,” the separateness causes the worker to put the other person down and believe that “those people” are not quite as human as they are, which leads to abuse and even death.  In a capitalistic society, it is the almighty dollar that always comes first - that is why we have not passed gun control, despite the horrifying number of public shootings - politicians favor the NRA’s money more than the people they are supposed to serve.   
How do we begin the undoing of capitalism?   
Our very nation was built by people who were bought, sold, and considered property.  It seems to me that this is the way the insurance, drug companies, and politicians view people with disabilities and if a disabled person is a person of color, then the risk of being abused or killed goes up even higher.  

This country needs major reform in all areas of life.  I do not believe it is ethical to view people as property or as objects.  It is not ethical to continue taking money from the NRA when the people are crying out for change.  Parents should not carry the fear that their  children will  be killed during class.

In the Bible study I attended just last week, we talked about how the kings of Israel always needed prophets to keep them in check. 
“People in power need truth tellers,” we said. 
I believe we must ALL tell our leaders how sad we are, how sad our society has become, how angry everyone feels - every person in our country is in a state of trauma and so to try to separate us into groups of an “us” and a “them” is even more demeaning and offensive.  Our country is struggling with a collective case of PTSD.


 When are we going to come together and say that community and love and kindness should be our focus, not guns, money, or false ego?  The American Dream was always just a mirage, anyway; what about a Human Dream instead?

A land without "others" and a land where all people are valued. It is fitting that this recent shooting happened during the Christian season of lent, for only a period of political repentance will bring about positive change.

How many children have to die before the politicians realize that there is no other - we are all connected, we are all struggling with trauma, we are all on the brink of insanity. A news reporter the other day said that the shooting was the result of mental health stigma, however, it is not the people with mental illness that we need to fear but the politicians causing the stigma in the first place.

Our society is standing on the brink of something potentially great - let us choose to systemically repent and change our ways.


Thursday, February 8, 2018

Writing Was My Saving Grace


They were so absorbed in their “God projects” that they didn’t notice God right in front of them, like a huge rock in the middle of the road. And so they stumbled into him and went sprawling.  (The Message Bible, 325)

The two writings below feel very special, almost sacred, to me.  They helped me and they helped my peers.   The first piece was when I was in a super angry, emotional state and the second piece was written when I was still partly sedated from the night before.  I’m amazed that my writing was still pretty good considering I wasn’t “in reality:”

“I already am the person I want to be.  Just because there are areas for me to work on doesn’t mean that I am not already the person I want to be.  I am proud of myself because I am taking care of myself. I have been responsible with letting my work know where I am.  I resent the idea that I am not already a success in my own way.  My emotional outbursts may be extreme but they are a normal traumatic response to an abnormal situation.  It is traumatic to live in a society where the number one reason for people to be killed by the police is to have a disability (50% of all cases of police violence involve a person with a disability).  I want to know how to constructively handle the rage I feel at living in such an unjust society.  I know my strong emotional outbursts are due to inner shame towards being here and I need to work on that.  It would help if my current strengths were noticed instead of just my weaknesses.”

(yes, I did, in fact, use accurate statistics in my hospital writing.  I cracked my peers up that I was so serious.)
***********

“Funny how a crisis can make you see what is important to you.  Usually when I am hospitalized, I clothe myself in shame but today I am happy because it made me realize just who I love.  I’ve always said that I would never go back to the hospital - my goal was to be done. Now my goal is to do whatever it takes to stay alive, for I have people to love, animals to cuddle, books to read and books to write.  The world needs to know of the resiliency found in people who have mental illness.  Those who are beautiful glow with an inward light no matter where they are.  Those in houses with many lights will still never be able to see the light unless they are ever able to close their eyes and become one with the true beauty of us all.”

(I can’t remember her name but the woman sitting next to me wrote “thank you” after reading what I wrote.)
***********
Writing was my main way of taking care of myself in the hospital. The expressive arts therapist had noticed how important my writing was and so saved it for me when I was transferred to another unit.  The fact that he remembered and gave it back to me is something I will always be grateful for - few places are all bad and he was a good one.  I used my writing to remind me of my goodness and what I valued, and I used it to ask myself questions about what I thought was going on with me.  I would love to do a workshop on the power of journaling one day - I absolutely feel that the journaling I did in the hospital worked saving magic - having something that I was good at reminded me of my worth and confirmed that despite being in a stabilization unit, that I still had strengths.  Perhaps most importantly, it gave me hope and it encouraged my peers.  


I left the hospital knowing that despite everything, I had a purpose and that purpose was to write.  The same thing happened when I left the trauma therapist - I told her I needed to get on with my life and start writing and she agreed.  The way I currently feel is that while my mental health struggles are not fun, if they give me a purpose and a talent, then they can be redeemed.  There is something special hidden in the deepest pain if we will take the time to fish it out, analyze it, throw away the parts that are no longer useful, and stand in awe of the strengths that shine despite having developed in mud and muck.  Writing is my way of polishing myself and turning my dirtiness into a diamond.













(Captain Marvel from 

Captain Marvel: Earth's Mightiest Hero Vol. 1 by (Text) (Text) (Illustrations) (Illustrations) (Illustrations)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Message To Youth: It's All Okay

“It’s exactly the same no matter what a person’s religious background may be, the same God for all of us, acting the same incredibly generous way to everyone who calls out for help.  Everyone who calls, ‘Help, God!’ Gets help. (The Message Bible)  

Sunday night I went back to the church I grew up in and talked to the youth group about mental health. It was a surreal experience to know that X-Files is still popular and cosplay makes me cool - it was not so cool to be a nerd in the mid 90s.  I am trying to not think about my own youth group years with regret. I did feel victorious eating dinner with the teens like a normal person; I was so stuck in the eating disorder back then, memories of teenage meals are not pleasant.

I thought I would share some of my notes.  I tend to write a lot to prepare for a presentation but never get to cover nearly all of it.  I focused on giving encouragement to decrease the sting of stigma even more so than usual.  
~~~~~~~~~~
No matter how intense or scary your experience or feelings are, know that God loves you and it is always possible to get better and to move toward the life you want. No matter what.  You may have to change your exact course, but a better life is ALWAYS possible.  

IT IS ALL OKAY

My story - always intensely sensitive and cried easily.  Yelling, loud noises, not enough sleep were top triggers.  As a teen, I struggled with thoughts of hurting myself, mood swings, restricting food as a way to feel in control; only told a few - I wish I had told my parents.  I was deathly afraid of the stigma and of hospitals. 

COLLEGE IS STRESSFUL
College is often when people first get diagnosed. 

IT IS ALL OKAY!!!!!  

College is tough - for many it is the first time that they have been on their own.  It introduces so many changes and freedoms and questions.  If you start struggling with intense stress, or urges to self harm, make an appointment with your college’s mental health center - that’s what they are for.

In College, I had more intense anxiety, panic attacks, more restricting, more mood swings, so anxious I couldn’t memorize music and had to change my major.  The first summer I came home I was severely depressed and had no motivation or energy.  

The importance of setting a goal - College was very hard for me-I didn’t know how to manage stress, but having the goal to finish no matter what is what kept me going.  I am very proud to have a degree.  

What keeps you going?

I continued to be  in and out of mental hospitals until I got to the point where I no longer wanted to go to the hospital anymore - I took a class called DBT and it taught me skills that help prevent crisis and keep me well. In the last eight years, I have only been hospitalized once.

Shame  - I knew that something was wrong but I struggled with a lot of shame for many years.  Because I so did not want to be “sick” I would stop taking my meds once I started feeling well and then I would relapse.  

It was only when I started looking at what keeps me well instead of what are my problems are and once I started learning skills that I could do on my own to help myself that life really started turning around.   The focus on wellness is part of my job and training as a CPSI don’t look at myself as sick anymore, but as someone with mental health challenges to overcome.  I look at what keeps me well as living skills instead of as coping skills.  I don’t think of myself as “mentally ill,” although I do acknowledge that I have some extra limitations (we all do in some way).

I see a therapist, psychiatrist, a nutritionist a few times a year, facilitate support groups, participate in the community (church, The Rise Theater), art.

A large part of prevention is doing those things that keep you well and reaching out when you notice signs that things are not as well.

More tips to help with stress…sleep, balanced eating, positive affirmations, mindfulness, relaxation, not abusing drugs/alcohol - THEY ALL HELP

Getting help is strong

Peer Support can be life saving.  I desperately wish that someone had introduced me to peer support when I first started experiencing high anxiety.  

Focus on your wellness and strengths.  
What’s right with you?  What keeps you well? 

I leave with these thoughts:

Consent: Everyone is in charge of their own body. Don’t assume anything - yes means yes.

Life is better the more I reach out, the more vulnerable and authentic I am, and the more I serve others. 

Don’t play “the comparison game.” Comparisons will make us miserable.

I’m on disability but I still have a full life.  I work low hours because I’ve found that helps me stay well.  Our worth is not found in our jobs - we are inherently worthy as children of God. 
~~~~~~~~
Of course, only life’s experience will truly be able to teach any of these lessons, but it is my hope that some of the teens can learn these lessons sooner than I did.  I am so grateful that I can be honest and transparent with people - I find life to be so much fuller when I can give all of myself to the world and not just a thin facade.  I really do believe that life is meant to be full and enjoyed, although getting there takes a lot of hard work.  This hard work is definitely worth more than all of Trump’s hotels and golfing courses, bless his little, tiny heart.






















(My goals for January)

Link Love:
when we compare ourselves (unfavorably) to others, we often beat ourselves up for not trying hard enough. It’s much more likely that the differences we see reflect an uneven playing field—a reality that Americans just don’t like to accept. Hard work just isn’t enough sometimes.

Huiting Xie - Strengths-Based Approach For Mental Health Recovery
Instead of employing the traditional medical model which emphasizes on pathology, focusing on problems and failures in people with mental illnesses; the strength-based approach allows practitioners to acknowledge that every individual has a unique set of strengths and abilities so that he/she can rely on to overcome problems. [...] Firstly, everyone possesses strengths that can be utilized to improve quality of their life.  Secondly, the consumer's motivation to have a better life stems from the focus on their strengths.  And, finally, all environments contain resources that help consumers develop their strengths.


Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Mindfulness Makes Life Worth Living

“May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that our believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope! (336, The Message Bible) 
Cause-and-effect assumes history marches forward, but history is not an army. It is a crab scuttling sideways, a drip of soft water wearing away stone, an earthquake breaking centuries of tension. 
Solnit, Rebecca. Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (p. 3). Haymarket Books. Kindle Edition.

When I first got out of the hospital, I was pretty miserable with intense PTSD. My goal was first to begin the day in a positive way, then the goal became to begin and end the day feeling well and then finally, the goal was to be positive during the middle of the day too.   It was hard but misery is a wonderful motivator.

Many people know that a gratitude practice is one of my main wellness skills.  I do want to say though that I do not force my actual feelings.  Negative feelings are valid feelings and often to move towards positivity, one has to first acknowledge and honor where one is in the present moment, which includes misery, anger, fear, anxiety, etc. I do not lie and say I am grateful for things I am not, I just try to find a few things each day that actually make me feel better.

People ask me all the time if mindfulness works because it feels like nothing is happening, no progress being made, and I say yes.  I think of mindfulness like water wearing away stone.  For years, it seems like nothing is happening and then one day, you realize that you are standing in the Grand Canyon and that you are grateful.  

Yesterday I marched in the MLK Black Lives Matter Parade, representing people with disabilities, and there was a moment in which I took in the joy of seeing all the activists together and I thought to myself, “without mindfulness, life would just crush the soul” - with so much awfulness in the news, I feel like it is even more vital to take joy when we can.

I used to have a friend who would often say, “I GET to do this” about every little thing, including boring or troublesome stuff.  I thought it a bit much, especially his attitude towards unpleasant things but lately, I have been thinking it too.  Yesterday I had a few hours before work and I was shocked to discover that instead of thinking, “oh no, I only have this short amount of time,” I was thinking, “I get to have all this time.”  Life seems richer, fuller this way.

Today I see life as full with artistic growth.  Even though technically I have a lot of limitations, I see myself as incredibly privileged.  My roommate and I talk about our privileges a lot and it seems to me that often the people who appreciate their privilege  the most are those society would deem as still not having that much. I can honor where I am and still acknowledge that I am so much better off than many people with the same disabilities. 

Whiteness should not be a privilege and our limitations should only be our imaginations.

I will leave you with these words from the march: 

Disability Rights Are Civil Rights! 
Don't Roll Back Our Rights 
No Nursing Homes - Our Homes
Don't Dis My Ability












(My favorite picture from the march - one day I'm going to get this quote by Audre Lorde tattooed)



Link Love:


(I found the article helpful.)




Sunday, January 7, 2018

An Anxious Revelation

“The story doesn’t end with Jesus. It continues in the lives of those who believe in him.  (The Message Bible, 240)
How do you recognize a panic attack or being triggered?  How can one cope with hearing or seeing scary things?  I had an experience the other day that I felt compelled to write down afterwards and share.  So many people ask me questions about recognizing panic attacks, being triggered, coping with hearing or seeing things that I thought some people might find how I handled a recent intense experience calmly interesting.  (BTW, these are the kind of things we sometimes talk about at a Hearing Voices Network group.)

I was sitting on the couch reveling in my new found peace and coloring.  All of a sudden, I felt a great sense of clarity. “It doesn’t matter what I do,” I thought.  “Life really is like in Ecclesiates, there is nothing new under the sun - all is vanity of vanities.  The only thing that really matters is being kind  - everything else is just icing on the cake.”  I wanted to run and tell everyone, 

“Stop worrying so much.  Stop trying to be perfect-the only thing that matters is being kind! Seriously, that’s it!” 

My whole life I have been an incredibly morbid person - in the past, I had trouble setting long range goals because the awareness that nothing is certain and that death is always a possibility has always been strong with me.  A lot of people are in denial of death, while I have always been a little too aware.  There are so many things that I want to do but now I know that I do not need to stress over whether they will ever get accomplished or not.  All I can do is my best and as long as I am kind and striving to do the next right thing, then I am following God’s will. 

The realization is such a relief.  

Getting books published, performing, speeches, art - all of that stuff is nice and important in its way but none of it is as important as just being loving and kind every day.  As long as I keep my goal on sharing God’s loving kindness then everything will work out.  I don’t mean work out as in everything going my way, but that I will be able to accept what happens because I will be in peace.

I wanted to tell people my good news but I was also afraid that people would think that I’m crazy - that this was just another psychotic episode.  Like a self-fulfilling prophecy, I started to get paranoid.  While I knew no one was behind me in the house, I had to turn around several times because I knew Shadow Man was behind me (a figure that comes to me when feeling extremely anxious).  I started feeling more and more fearful as the visions of Shadow Man got worse and worse.  And then I experienced more clarity - 

this is the beginning of a panic attack and I need it to end! 

So I took my klonapin (normally I try to avoid taking it but the paranoia was serious enough that I felt taking it was the responsible thing to do).  Still, I wondered why was I having all of this anxiety right after a beautiful moment.  I really wanted the clarity to be real, but I feared that this was a bad psychosis naturally following a more positive psychotic state, when I had another light bulb moment:

I was triggered!  

During the time I was having the spiritual moment, I was also watching a show where someone was in a mental hospital and had just gotten a shot.  Watching the scene brought back memories in Peachford when I had a similar experience and how scary that was and so the show turned what had been a beautiful moment into a really triggering moment. Once I realized that the paranoia and hallucinations were the result of triggered trauma, I laughed.  (There is a reason why I normally do not read or watch media about mental hospitals or mental illness - it’s just too real for me.)

The great thing about anxiety is that its cure is to simply recognize that one is going through a panic attack or an anxious spell - recognizing it for what it is takes its fearful power away.  Now I knew that I was not going crazy, my earlier spiritual experience was still valid, and that it had only turned sour because of my own internal fear coupled with being triggered.  With this recognition, my panic attack passed, I laughed in relief, and I finished doing the dishes.

Now that I am getting better at deescalating my voices and visions, I think they’re pretty cool (sometimes).  I mean, I do not like the paranoia and the fearful visions but I also feel like I get a richness of life experiences that a lot of people do not.  I think it is pretty amazing how a person can just be casually sitting on the couch and then the next minute be immersed in a spiritual, mystical experience.  Sometimes I wonder if all the prophets simply had schizophrenia.  I imagine another beatitude where Jesus says, 

“Blessed are those who are open to new voices and visions, for they shall experience God.”
"Blessed are those in the mental hospital, for they shall have an understanding denied to many.” 
  “Blessed are those who do not seem blessed, for their ego shall be small.”


Sometimes I worry that I am not as humble or meek as I should be but I feel like in this world where people of unusual experiences are usually put down that my ego and enthusiasm is a type of social justice response.  It certainly is an exercise in vulnerability.  Poor Trump just doesn’t get it at all - he doesn’t want scientists to use the word, “vulnerable” and that to me is the greatest shame of all - if there is one group that is blessed, it is the vulnerable.  Jesus was so vulnerable that he allowed himself to be killed.  He wanted his followers to be vulnerable, like children.  We are not blessed when we inherit money but when we allow ourselves to be so vulnerable that healing amid pain can happen.  Sharing our unusual experiences is a beautiful thing, and believing that only money is true power is a type of delusion in itself. When I see Trump, I see a lot of sadness and I do not see power, except in the most fake way.  Trump is like fool’s gold, but the true riches are found in the people who are open to new truths, even if they walk the Haldol shuffle.
("She will rule over you clothed in love."  A blackout poem I made recently from Genesis.)












Link Love:

Hope Is Real! January 2018 Newsletter

Also, check out my new "teen resources" page - let me know if you would like for me to send it to you as a pdf.

Anxietycoach.com -The Key to Overcoming Panic Attacks
(I have found this article to be really helpful and true.)
Why should I accept a panic attack?Because the more I resist panic, the worse it gets.  The more I develop the habit of acceptance, the more progress I make toward my goal of overcoming panic attacks.

Brene Brown - The Power of Vulnerability
The other thing that they had in common was this: They fully embraced vulnerability. They believed that what made them vulnerable made them beautiful. They didn't talk about vulnerability being comfortable, nor did they really talk about it being excruciating -- as I had heard it earlier in the shame interviewing. They just talked about it being necessary.They talked about the willingness to say, "I love you" first ... the willingness to do something where there are no guarantees ... the willingness to breathe through waiting for the doctor to call after your mammogram. They're willing to invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They thought this was fundamental. 
CDCRadio - Sarah Silverman's Response to a Twitter Troll is a Master Class in Compassion

Sunday, December 31, 2017

New Year's Gratitude For A Hard Year

Everyone I meet - it matters little whether they’re mannered or rude, smart or simple-deepens my sense of  interdependence and obligation.  (The Message Bible, 307)

2017: this will always be the year of the Donald Trump election and so politically it is a terribly sad year for progessives.  Oh yes, it’s seen an increase in activism and more Democrats are now getting elected in conservative areas but still, it seems like such a tiny consolation.  

Objectively, this seems like a horrible year for me too.

In one year, I became single again after a two-year serious relationship, had a relapse with a traumatic ten-day hospital stay, which included a major psychotic break.  I had PTSD so severe that I startled too easily to drive for a few months.  I am now working the bare minimum hours at work and was declared still disabled by the government.

Or was I?  

I am not disabled in spirit.  

This year I had to confront a lot of issues that needed confronting and I have come back stronger.  Don’t get me wrong - each depression where I am not in reality and every ended relationship is definitely a type of death, but it is also a birth into new discoveries and new enlightenments. What I let go I needed to let go, even if they were painful. I participated in two weddings, which made me realize the kind of romantic relationship that I want for myself.  My relapse humbled me, as I had become more arrogant during my time of denial over not being well again.  

I am no longer willing to let myself settle in romance and I have come to peace with my disability.  I see now that working low hours at a job is not a bad thing if it keeps me well.  I had always wanted to be an artist when I grew up and so I can see now that being disabled actually frees me to pursue some of my dreams.  I am working on promoting myself more in regards to giving presentations and resources.  I am embracing my calling as a peer support worker and as a writer.

I made a lot of big, positive changes this year - I go to bed much earlier than I used to now, I became vegetarian, cut down on milk and caffeine, added more fiber, protein, and water to my diet.  I try to write something every single day. I got rid of about half of my clothes and other things too. I am very proud of these accomplishments

I read some fantastic books and I co-hosted a fabulous book discussion potluck about race and feminism by focusing on the book, Sister Outsider, by Audre Lorde.  Lorde’s work is still so relevant and I encourage every modern feminist to read and study it.

Other books I read this year that I recommend are:


(also, the documentary about Baldwin - I Am Not Your Negro)

(both the novel, the graphic novel, and the movie)

(autobiography, the Netflix documentary and her Amazon show, One Mississippi.  This is the year in which I fell in love with Tig Notaro.)
(It really was life-changing!)



Web MD made a short documentary about the theater group I am involved with and I have performed several times this past year.  I have reignited my passion for the performing arts.

I have learned to set major boundaries in all areas of my life - friends, romance, work, family.  I have a better understanding of how to take care of myself.  I know now that I am not so important that I should not skip an event if I am overwhelmed and tired.  I MUST take care of myself first.

While I may not work at my main job as much as before, I have continued to progress professionally, as I now publish a monthly mental health newsletter and continue to make resource pdfs (check out my "Mental Health Cheat Sheet" on this blog.)  I am going to pursue putting some of my art in galleries or coffeeshops.

This year I have grown in my transparency.  I publish a gratitude list almost every night on Facebook - this became all the more special to me when I got out of the mental hospital.  The hospital really distilled some truths for me - that while I am not eager to experience more psychosis, I can recognize its mystical, spiritual benefits.  That above any job, I am called as a writer, activist, and artist.  That a commitment to authenticity gives the gift of freedom to myself and others.  I came to know a peace in regards to being disabled and I came to recognize my own inner strength.  I have seen the power of positivity and for the first time, I went to the hospital still feeling grateful for myself and not ashamed.  

I took the first training in the American South for The Hearing Voices Network and I currently help co-facilitate an HVN support group in Tucker.

I discovered some great apps: BlackOut Bard, DBT Travel, Recovery Record.  I also discovered a new type of trauma therapy, called Rapid Resolution, that dramatically changed my life for the better.  I rediscovered my passion for Dialectical Behavior Therapy.  I got a tattoo of the DBT motto: “a life worth living.”

When I think of all that I have accomplished this year, I am in awe.    

The world is awful and wonderful at the same time.  It is not good to live in denial but it is not good to wallow in misery and traumatize ourselves either.  This past year has really been focused on finding the balance. 

I cannot save the planet.

I cannot personally change any politician’s heart or prevent every horrible policy from being passed.  

Most likely, many people will be dropped from Medicaid next year and that is truly tragic.  

AND YET, 

I must not become so mired in the misery that I lose sight of my own privileges.  I can fight for justice while not catastrophizing my own situation.

The new trauma therapist taught me that watching news and after news about situations out of my control is a type of trauma in itself and that it may be better to focus on the specific issues I can influence instead of everything that I cannot.

I do have a few goals for 2018: to have my artwork displayed in some sort of public space besides The Rise Theater, to get higher paid speaking gigs, to start working on altered books again, to publish my poetry, to cook more, to try stand-up, and to take better care of myself. 

If I am exhausted, I will stay home.  

If I am sad, I will let myself cry. 

If I am uncomfortable, I will enforce my boundaries. 

I will take chances and enjoy life, as I balance out the knowledge that no year is perfect and that there are bound to be some sadness and frustrations in the new year too.  I will learn more hard truths and experience more disappointments, but I will also grow strong and become more of the person I truly am. 

Today I am grateful to be who I am, despite all the pain.  I am excited to embrace the new me that was reborn when I died due to depression last year.  We all die multiple deaths while we live - if we are lucky, we will see them as gateways to growth, instead of graves to linger in.  Let us linger in love instead and embrace life next year.













Link Love:


(the article that made me not want to support the movie)

(the article that convinced me to stop eating meat)

(this therapy changed my life)

I first heard at the Hearing Voices Network the link of psychosis to trauma, and this changed my view on mental illness and allowed me to feel more compassion for myself and others

When you own your disability, you become proud. You regain your self-confidence and don’t waste any time trying to pretend or hide (your disability); you value your time and make the most of it. You become less interested in pity and more attuned to self-reflection and self-approval. Complaints and feelings of inadequacy cease. You become kind to yourself and rejoice in your individuality. You rise into the understanding that having a disability means that you are competent and not incompetent. Self-gratitude becomes a daily and natural practice. When you embrace your disability, comparisons end, enhancing your focus and enabling you to function at your best. Your disability becomes simply a merit badge of challenges overcome and the ability to succeed