Choosing Grateful

A couple of months ago, I got to take my daughter on a quick trip to Florida to visit my parents. The first full day we were there was thankfully the most beautiful, perfect day ever. Blue skies, white sand, a little breeze, and a very excited 4-year-old. Watching her run back and forth to get water for the sandcastle her Daddy O was building for her, getting to chat with my Mom, and feeling the sand between my toes was a little slice of Heaven on earth.

We had just gotten settled on the beach the second morning when I got a text delivering heartbreaking news about a good friend. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t hold back the tears and began thinking of what I could’ve said or done differently to give her more help and support. After talking to my mom about it and accepting that there was nothing I could do from where I was at other than pray, I decided to take a walk. Josie and my mom went with me, and it didn’t take long before Josie’s endless chatter and excitement over finding shells and running after seagulls helped me to feel better. After a bit, Josie and my mom headed back while I kept walking and looking for shells. The waves were a little more rough than the day before so finding shells was a little harder, but then I found a little tide pool that had some of the tiniest shells I had ever seen and I spent a good amount of time hunting for them and clearing my head.

On my walk back, I saw another pretty shell and when I picked it up, I was so excited at how beautiful it really was. It was a small lightning whelk, one of my favorite types, whose shape was perfectly intact and the most beautiful shade of soft white. If was like the Audrey Hepburn of shells. It was like finding the perfect pair of red high heels when you weren’t even shopping for shoes. Or finding your favorite bottle of Pinot Noir on sale.

And then it was gone.

When I put my hand back in the water to get the sand off of my elegantly beautiful shell, the pull of the wave pulled it right back into the surf. Immediately frustrated and devastated but still hopeful, I frantically looked for the shell while trying not to look like I wasn’t playing with a full deck of cards. After about a minute, I knew the chance of actually finding it was extremely slim, but there was that part of me that kept thinking, “If you keep looking just a little bit longer, you might find it.”

So I did. I kept looking for another couple of minutes. And then it hit me, like the wave that robbed me of my find: by focusing all my attention and effort on that one small shell that slipped out of my hand, I was completely disregarding the handful of beautiful shells that I was still carrying. Not to mention the ones I had found the day before.

How many times have I done that? Focused so much on what I didn’t have anymore, or even what I didn’t have in the first place, that I lost sight of what I do have. Finding people or things to blame instead of finding people or things to thank or be thankful for. Choosing to be ungrateful over grateful.

I think back to finding out that my baby would have Down syndrome. How easily I could’ve chosen to be mad at God for taking away my “perfect” baby or focus what my baby wouldn’t be able to do in his or her life. To find all of the negatives that were likely going to flood my life because of that extra chromosome.

If I had done that, would I have been able to rejoice in all the ultrasounds and tests afterwards that showed a healthy, growing baby? Would I have been able to feel the excitement that came with each passing week that brought me closer to meeting the newest member of our family? Would I have been able to through my hands up in victory when the doctor announced that I had just given birth to the boy I had prayed for?

Probably not. Because an ungrateful, negative mindset does not lend itself to finding positivity, let alone joy, in such things.

Having a grateful, positive mindset doesn’t mean that you aren’t affected by the wide-range of hardships that life brings. It doesn’t protect you from feeling the hurt, disappointment, sadness, or frustration that comes with life’s downs, such as losing the most perfect lightning whelk shell or learning of an unexpected and life-changing diagnosis.

We all know that life is far from perfect. Everyday brings challenges and obstacles that can rob us of our sense of safety, security, happiness, etc. Some of those things are small, some are ginormous. Some affect us for a minute, some for the rest of our lives.

Unfortunately, we cannot control the next snag we hit, the next hurdle we have to jump, or the next tragedy we face. We can, however, control how we respond. It doesn’t mean that we can necessarily snap our fingers and poof! change our feelings, but it does mean that we can choose to be grateful for what we do have. And that will be different for everyone. For some is might be a relationship, for some it might be their memories, for some it might be a prized possession, or for others it might be the hope for a better tomorrow. I don’t think it matters what you choose to be grateful for as long as you choose to be grateful.

One thing I’ve learned about having a grateful, positive mindset is that it doesn’t just benefit you. It will also absolutely have an impact on those around you, especially the people closest to you. If I had continued being frustrated about losing a shell I had in my possession for all of 30 seconds, I would have been sure to affect Josie and my parents. I mean, how would they not be affected by a pouting 38-year-old woman?

Or this evening when my darling son pulled the plate of deviled eggs off the counter this evening and I immediately expressed my frustration by loudly saying, “NO! NOT NICE!!!” and giving him my best disappointed-mom look while I cleaned up the mess. But then instead of staying mad about the six delicious eggs I had to put down the garbage disposal, I chose thankful for the 4 that were salvaged. (And for the 3 that I had eaten when I was making them.) The result? A pleasant, enjoyable family meal was had by all.

Life is hard. There will be ups and downs. I hope that you will choose to be grateful for your ups.

Listen Up

“What’s the difference between hearing and listening?”

That’s one of the questions I ask my students when we do our lesson about whole-body listening. There are usually a few students that are able to answer that question fairly accurately – usually because their teacher had recently gone over the same lesson with the class and they were actually paying attention.

I’m sure that there are some much better ways to present the technicalities of the difference between hearing and listening, but I like to keep things pretty simple (not just for my students but just as much for myself). Hearing just happens – you don’t have to work at it or try to do it. Noises and sounds hit your ears and stuff happens in your brain without you really thinking about it, but you don’t really pay much attention to that “stuff”.

Listening takes work. Listening takes thought. When my students and I talk about whole-body listening, we discuss how important it is to make sure your eyes are looking at the speaker; your ears are listening to what the speaker is saying; your voice is quiet/off; and your body is calm.

I’ve done that lesson for several years now with some variations for the different grade levels but the overall content and message is the same. But then last year, during one of my 2nd grade classes, we added in another step: Your brain is thinking.

It was one of my “duh” moments in my job. “Duh” your brain is thinking about what is being heard when you’re listening. That’s exactly what the other steps are designed to do – to help the listener focus on the speaker so that her brain can really think about what is being communicated.

After I finished having my “duh” moment and questioning if I really needed to teach that fifth step, I realized that the answer is a resounding, “YES”.

We are surrounded by distractions. It can be as simple as a mosquito buzzing in your ear or a bird chirping in a tree nearby. It can be as complex as a major life decision buzzing around in your head waiting for you to find the right answer or trying to decide between the Tempranillo or the Grenache or if you should just stick with the Cabernet. And then there are the parts of our lives that might be so ingrained into our daily routines that we don’t think of them as a distraction: TVs, phones, tablets, children, spouses, the never-ending to-do list.

As a school counselor, I’ve been trained to listen. I’ll be the first to admit that when I first started the Skills class to become a counselor, I was a horrible listener. Horrible! I was the worst about thinking of my own response before the other person finished talking or playing a game on my computer while I was talking on the phone. After A LOT of instruction and practice, I like to think that I’ve gotten pretty good at keeping my visual focus on the person talking to me, staying quiet as he speaks or takes some time to reflect on things, keeping my body calm even when what I’m hearing makes me want to grab the person by the shoulders and shake some sense into her, and of course, listening to what the speaker is saying. When a student is talking to me, I am consciously working to minimize my distractions. I am not looking at my phone or my computer. I am putting my mental to-do list aside and being as fully present with the student as possible. I am repeating things back to the student to make sure I understand what she said, and sometimes to help her understand what she said. I am working to help the student feel better, and if possible, figure out solutions to whatever issue he or she is facing.

Do I stay in this stellar-counselor-whole-body-listening-mode all day every day? Absolutely not. I am 100% guilty of turning off that whole-body listening. I let those distractions right on in. Do I try to really understand every completely fabricated story Josie tries to convince me is true? Ummm, no. Do I look at Moses every time he’s hanging on my leg because he wants another snack? Ha! On the rare occasion that someone actually calls me on the phone, do I give my full-fledged attention to that person? I wish I could answer yes to that one, but I have the bad habit of checking emails, looking for the latest toy Josie can’t find, or trying to figure out what snack Moses is currently wanting. To expect myself or anyone else to be a model listener at all times is simply unrealistic. However, I know that I can and should do a better job of listening.

This is where I want to challenge you as I’m going to challenge myself. The next time someone is talking to you, I challenge you to stop what you’re doing. Stop typing even if you haven’t finished the email or text. Stop looking at the TV. Turn it off. Stop looking at your phone. Put it down. Face down so you can’t see who that next text is from or that you got a new Facebook notification. Just stop.

Then, listen with your whole body:

  • Look at the person talking to you. Keep your visual focus on that person the best you can.
  • Listen not only to the person’s words but also pay attention to nonverbal cues such as tone and body language.
  • Let the person talk without interruption. Not only does this help you to listen, it also communicates respect to the speaker. 
  • Keep your body calm. Now is not the time to start cooking supper or looking for your car keys so you can make your escape.
  • Think about what the person is saying. If you find yourself thinking about how you’re going to respond to a comment, stop. Put your focus back on the person’s words, not the ones you want to say. You’ll get your chance to respond and will want the person to do the same for you.

Why am I challenging myself and others to work to on our listening skills? Because listening is one of the most important things we can do for others and for ourselves. Because listening is a essential part of communication, oftentimes more important than the talking part. Because communication is key to establishing and maintaining relationships. Because we all need someone to really listen to us. Because, for many of us, we have young people watching how we listen to them and others and will learn do to the same. And because when we don’t listen, we miss out on more than we may ever realize, especially from the people who mean the most to us. So listen up…

Figuring It All Out

I can remember being younger and thinking that 38 was old. I also thought that by the time someone was that “old”, she would have her life figured out. She would know who she was, who she loves, what she loves to do, what works for her and what doesn’t, and so on.

Yet here I am, 38-years-old and still feeling young and dumb. I mean, I have a few things figured out – who I love, what I love to do, what doesn’t work for me – but I’m still trying to figure out so much and how it all fits together: How to be a good wife. How to be a good mother. How to be a good daughter. How to be a good sister. How to be a good friend. How to be a good counselor. How to be a good person. How to take care of everyone and everything in my life and take care of myself, too. I’m doing my best to do all of those things the best that I can, but I still find myself feeling like I’m floundering through it all. Probably because when I’m giving more attention to one role for whatever reason, I feel like I’m letting the other roles down. Specifically, I feel like I’m letting the people involved in those other roles down. Especially when I’m doing something to take care of myself.

I am very aware that I put a lot of pressure on myself. I always have. When I do give myself a break and give myself permission to give less than what I feel is my best, I typically end up feeling disappointed in myself rather than feeling relief from having done less.

I am also very aware that the people in my life who love me would do anything to help me where I need it. I do like to think that I do ask for help more now than I did before, especially when it comes to my kids. However, I know I don’t ask for as much help as I should because asking for help usually comes with feelings of guilt. I feel like I’m putting the others out or keeping them from doing other things that they would like to do or have on their own list. Plus, I feel like I should be the one taking care of others, and it’s uncomfortable for me to have others take care of me.

Then I internalize it all. All the stress, all the uncertainty, all the pressure. Sure, I’ll vent to people here and there, but then I end the vent session with something like, “I’m okay” and then try to shift the conversation to them. And then I usually end up feeling bad for dumping my problems on them. I’ve even apologized to my counselor for pouring out all of my troubles onto her. I also internalize the stress, uncertainty, and pressure I experience from listening to other people’s stressful situations. (I guess that could be called secondary stress?) I don’t want to tell them that their stress stresses me out because I don’t want them to feel like they can’t talk to me and I also don’t want to add to their stress. But it affects me even though I try not to let it.

Then I find myself running on empty – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Like I literally don’t have anything else to give to anyone in any capacity. That is not a good state for anyone to be in, but that exactly where I found myself Friday morning. As I listened to the sound of my husband playing with the kids, I was lying in bed crying and telling God that I needed a break and that I needed someone to take care of me for a minute. I’ve learned that God’s timeline for answering prayers is not always the same as what I think it should be, but He always answers them at the right time. Friday was one of the quickest turnarounds ever. Not even an hour later, Tyson was hugging me and telling me that I was going to take a break and that I had to let him take care of me for the next few days.

Last year was the first time I realized that taking time to myself is one of the best ways I can take care of myself. Of course, I’ve spent the last 9 months wondering why it took me so long to figure that out. (It finally dawned on me that up until Josie came along, I had a lot of time to myself that I didn’t have to ask for.) Thankfully, I have a husband who loves and understands me and knows what I need before I can figure it out myself. He knows that I get to a point where I need some time off. Some time away to rest and read and sort through my thoughts. That’s why he booked a hotel room for me last night. That’s why he got frustrated when yesterday morning took an unexpected turn and I didn’t get to start my mini-vacation until 11:00 a.m. instead of 9:00 a.m.

When I woke up this morning, I felt rested and refreshed and ready to sort through the sea of thoughts that had finally calmed down in my head. I’ve come to realize that I’m 38 and don’t have it all figured out, and that’s okay. For me, it’s probably very likely that I won’t have my life figured out for a very long time, maybe ever, because my life is not static. It is constantly changing. Sometimes change comes fast and unexpectedly, sometimes I can see it coming and have time to prepare. Sometimes change brings happiness, sometimes it brings hardships, sometimes it’s barely a blip on the radar. Some change brings stress, some change brings relief. Regardless of what’s coming with the changes that will happen in my life, it’s up to me to keep myself physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy so I can be ready for whatever.

That means I have to keep working on giving myself permission to not have it all figured out and that all I can do is my best. I also have to remember that my best might look different from day-to-day. I have to make regular appointments to see my counselor even when I’m feeling mentally well so I can maintain that. I especially have to remember to ask for help and leave the feelings of guilt at the door when that help arrives and just be thankful for it and accept it. Basically, I have to do the one things I’m constantly encouraging other people to do, and that’s to take care of myself so that I can take care of others. One day, I really might get it all figured out.

Share the Load

Several days ago, I asked Tyson to read something. Before I showed him what it was, I told him that I wanted to know what his thoughts were on it and that I wasn’t trying to “tell him something” by having him read it. Because I was driving and he was the passenger with no means of escape, and because he loves me, he agreed to read “it”.

“It” was the comic You Should’ve Asked by a French cartoonist named Emma.  The comic centers around the idea that women typically take on the mental load of a household, meaning they manage the household as far as making sure appointments get scheduled, the house is clean, laundry gets done, food is in the fridge, etc.

After he read it, his first response was that it was hard for him to believe that I wasn’t trying to tell him something. I expected that and told him that I honestly just wanted to know his reaction and his thoughts to the comic. I explained to him that I had read the comic months ago and knew what my thoughts were, but I really wanted to know what he thought about it. I wanted to hear the other side of the story.

What followed was a great conversation. Did we agree on everything? No. Did we each get a chance to share our thoughts? Yes. Did we listen to one another? Yes. Was I lying when I told him that I wasn’t trying to tell him something by having him read the comic? A little. Our little family takes a lot to manage and I was hoping the comic might give him a glimpse of what it’s like inside my brain when it comes to our household.

Did the conversation end with us making a list of everything that needs to be done on a day-to-day, week-to-week, or month-to-month basis for our family and then splitting it in half? No. It did end, however, with us each having a better understanding of what we both bring to the table to ensure our family is taken care of.

It also ended me telling him how grateful I am that I have a husband that I can have this kind of conversation with. That I have a husband that loves and respects me enough to listen when I bring up things that could easily lead to an argument if he wasn’t willing to listen and respect my point of view (whether he agreed with it or not). And I am also extremely grateful that I have a husband who does do a lot to help out around the house. Did I mention that he does his own laundry??

One of the things that I didn’t like about the comic is how it portrays the man as an oblivious schmuck that expects the woman to do the woman’s work while he has a drink. While I do know that there are men out there that are exactly like that, Tyson is not. I know that there are a lot of men out there that are very involved and play an active role in their family. Does Tyson always do exactly what I would like for him to do and exactly how I would like for him to do it? No. But I choose to focus on the fact that he does a lot for me and our kids instead of how he didn’t load the dishwasher right. I think that there’s a lot of danger that lies in not recognizing and appreciating what your partner does do and instead focusing on what he or she is not doing.

Then yesterday something magical happened. As I was getting Moses ready for bed, Tyson came to the doorway and said something. I thought he said, “I’ll take him” and I responded with, “I’m fine. I’m almost finished.” He responded with, “I said I’m going to take something off your mental load. From now on, I’m going to take care of Moses’ laundry. I’ll do mine and his, so you just have to worry about yours and Josie’s.”

And that, people, is real-life love and respect in a real-life partnership. It’s amazing what can happen when two people share their thoughts and really listen to one another. In this case, the mental load, and the laundry loads, got shared.

My Own Story

Currently, I have 10 blog drafts saved. Ten times I’ve started writing, and ten times I haven’t finished a post. When it comes to writing about my family, especially my children, it’s really not hard. The words to describe them and my experiences with them come to mind easily and it doesn’t take much for me to type them out. When it comes to writing about myself, on the other hand, it’s hard. It’s hard to get my thoughts straight in my head, and it’s even harder to type them. Sometimes I find myself thinking that if it’s so hard, maybe it’s a sign that I shouldn’t write a post about myself. But then I think of why I started this blog in the first place – to not only help myself, but to hopefully somehow help others through my experiences.

Then there’s the issue of where to start. I know I could stick to writing about my experiences as a mother, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Being a parent is hard and I know I can use all the support I can get when it comes to raising my children. The thing is, I’m not just a mom. I’m a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend, and a school counselor. Sure, I could write about my experiences as being any one of those things. But there is one thing that has been weighing on me to write about for several months.

Mental health.

I know mental health has been getting more attention lately because of shootings and suicides, and I am thankful for it. It’s a topic that I’ve become increasingly interested in and passionate about. However, mental health still has such a negative cloud surrounding it that most people are very hesitant to talk about it on a personal level – including myself. When it comes down to it, mental health is a topic that people seem to be willing to talk about when it is applicable to other people, but it is because of that that I think that there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding. For me, mental health is deeply personal because of my work as a school counselor but more because of my experiences. So before I write any other of my thoughts about mental health outside of myself, I feel that it is important to share my own story, as hard as it may be.

So here goes nothing:

This past spring I started going to a counselor. I had thought about going to a counselor a couple of different times over the past decade or so but never did, and after a while, the things that were bothering me and the hard feelings I was having seemed to get resolved.

This time it was different. I knew that I needed professional help. It’s like the difference between a summer cold and a sinus infection – when the over-the-counter medication isn’t enough and you know it’s time to go see a doctor to really take care of the problem.

Before I continue, let me be clear on one thing: My life is wonderful. I have been blessed with amazing people whom I love and I know love me. I have a strong Christian faith, go to church as regularly as I can, and pray daily for myself and others. I have a loving, supportive husband and two healthy children. I have a strong circle of family and friends that love and support me. I have the best dog in the world. I have a career that is fulfilling in so many different ways and also provides financial support for my family’s needs and wants. I have the security of a safe home and reliable vehicles. I have an almost-full wine rack. I have a lot of great things in my life. Aren’t all of these things enough? Shouldn’t all of this be enough for me to be happy? Why did I need to go see a counselor?

Because life is hard. It’s busy and stressful and overwhelming. Over time, I found myself feeling like I was drowning in the sea of being a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and counselor. I love all of the roles I play in this life, but to fulfill them well takes time and energy – mostly mental and emotional energy.

And because I have depression. It’s not an excuse, it’s a fact. It’s no one’s fault, just like it’s not my fault that Moses has an extra chromosome. Just like someone who exercises regularly and eats healthy foods might still have a body that doesn’t produce the correct level of insulin her body needs. I’m not a bad person because of it no more than a diabetic is a bad person. Even with all of the blessings in my life, my brain doesn’t just “do” happy easily. It doesn’t mean that I need to be committed to a mental hospital because of it just like Moses doesn’t need to be institutionalized because he has Down syndrome. It just means that I have to do things differently so that I can feel and be happy and fully enjoy my life.

I was first diagnosed with depression when I was around 21. I can remember going to the student health center at college and telling the nurse practitioner that I wasn’t feeling okay. After telling her about how I had been feeling and filling out a questionnaire, I was told that I had depression. I was scared, sad, and relieved. Scared because I didn’t quite know what that meant for me. Sad because there was something “wrong” with me. Relieved because I was finally going to get help to feel better.

I was prescribed an antidepressant and left with an appointment to see a counselor. The medication worked like it was supposed to. The appointment with the counselor did not. Part of my depression was low self-esteem and body image issues that I had been battling for many years. The first counselor I went to was beautiful and thin and proceeded to tell me about how either she or her daughter had been models. The next counselor I went to gave me some worksheets. I’m not sure I even talked much to him that day, and I never went back. I was done with talking to counselors. Besides, the medication seemed to do the trick to help me feel mentally healthy. I didn’t know it then, but I still had a long way to go.

Fast-forward almost ten years to when I started the counseling program. In the decade before starting the program, I had been through A LOT of ups and downs (I’m talking mountains and valleys). During my time in the program, I was not only learning how to help others, I was also able to learn more about myself and work through many of the issues that I struggled with. I learned so much about mental health and even more about how counseling works, especially that there are different approaches to counseling. That’s when I realized that the counselors I had seen previously used approaches that just weren’t a good fit for me. I learned how to talk about and work through some of the issues that had been haunting me. It was also during this time that I met a person that provided me with the sense of love and security I had been searching for since leaving my parents’ care.

For a while, my depression seemed to be in remission. I was able to stop taking medication and was able to maintain a healthy mental state. After Josie was born, it was as though she was my antidepressant. Watching her grow and find excitement and happiness in the little things of everyday life was every bit as good as Zoloft.

When I went back for my 6-week check-up after having Moses, I already knew I had postpartum depression. No, it was not because he had Down syndrome. If anything, my new little baby boy was just another light in my days. It wasn’t even because of the fiery pain of having mastitis multiple times within a 3-week period. I had postpartum depression because that’s how my brain reacted after having a baby.

It wasn’t until this past spring that I knew I needed more than medication this time. Yes, medication helped me be able to function like a more or less normal human being. What medication doesn’t do is get rid of the daily stressors of my hectic life. It doesn’t solve problems for me. It doesn’t listen to me and then help me figure out changes I can make to actually get rid of sources of stress or solve problems.

Unfortunately, saying, “I’m going to a counselor” is almost like saying, “I’m crazy”, and not in the fun, adventurous way. I know that mental health is a very real thing, just like physical health. However, it’s also often dismissed or minimalized or stigmatized in such a negative light that many people do not fully address it, perhaps out of fear of being labeled for going to see a counselor or psychiatrist, or maybe because they don’t know how to go about improving their mental health. If I tell someone I went to see the doctor, there’s little to no reaction outside of asking if I’m feeling okay. When I say I went to see my counselor, there’s a very different reaction – it’s almost like people panic because they don’t know what to say although they could respond with the same question of if I’m doing okay. That in and of itself actually put more stress on me, but in the end, I knew I had to go talk to a mental health professional.

As much as I love my husband, my parents, my siblings, and my friends, they couldn’t help me with those things, either. Not because they didn’t want to, but because they aren’t counselors. They aren’t trained to listen to me ramble on with unconditional positive regard. They listen with unconditional love, but that’s not the same thing. Listening with unconditional positive regard means that no judgment is cast about what I’m saying or feeling. It means that I don’t have to censor my words out of fear of hurting the person listening. It means that I don’t have to cut out certain parts of the story out of fear of disappointing the person listening.

Talking to a counselor is also different because she doesn’t say anything to intentionally or unintentionally minimize my experiences or feelings. She doesn’t tell me that I should just accept things as that’s how they are or tell me what works for her which should also work for me. She doesn’t get uncomfortable when I talk about very personal issues and try to change the subject.

She listens. She points out things I say repeatedly or inconsistency in my thoughts. She reframes what I say in a way that helps me to understand how I really feel but couldn’t (or didn’t want to) pinpoint it on my own. She helps me as I start to figure out what I could do to get myself back on track. She doesn’t solve my problems for me, but she helps me figure out how to find the solutions that will work for me.

I think what helped me as much as talking to my counselor was knowing that I was taking an active responsibility and role in helping myself get better. No one else can do it for me.  No one else can “make” me happy. That’s all on me, and I’m working on it every day. I think that’s where mental health takes such a personal turn – it really is up to the individual to make improvements whether by taking medication as directed by a doctor, talking to a counselor/therapist, exercising regularly, meditating, praying, getting enough sleep, or a combination of multiple things.

I hope that mental health will become more understood and positively accepted as part of a person’s whole health in the coming years. I’m not saying that everyone who has a mental health issue broadcast it for the world to know. I do hope that anyone who is having a hard time mentally or emotionally look to get professional help and know that it’s no different than going to a medical professional for a physical health issue. If someone you know is taking steps to improve his or her mental health, give that person all the love, support and encouragement you can.

Finally, I didn’t write this so that anyone will feel sorry for me any more than I wrote it so that anyone would label me as crazy. My genuine hope is that it might help to normalize and prioritize the subject for mental health for more people. If you want to feel sorry for me or call me crazy, I obviously can’t stop you, but I will ask that you pray for me while you’re at it. 😘