Category Archives: Alcoholism

PULL YOURSELF UP BY THE BOOTSTRAPS

Since 1998, the suicide rate has increased 25% in this country. Mental illness continues to plague our society and it continues to be gravely misunderstood and judged harshly. This week we lost 2 very successful folks who were in the spotlight, yet how many left us that will not make the headlines???

When my sister took her own life last September, I received a few texts from friends who commented on her mental health issues, insinuating that those were the precursor to her tragic act. My first reaction was to defend her, saying it was NOT mental illness that caused her to take her own life. And I have to ask myself, why did I feel the need to defend her mental health so staunchly? My answer is because for the most part in today’s society, depression and anxiety are shunned, thought of as “bad” or something that we possibly have control over. Resources and funding to help the mentally ill are consistently being cut as the disease spreads like a wildfire through America. And the less resources the mentally ill have, the more end up homeless on the street. When I first arrived in San Francisco in 1992, I was astounded how many folks were wandering the streets. By the time I finally left SF in 2010, there were literal camps of homeless below the freeway on 13th street. My heart simply could not take seeing them all on a daily basis. How in the name of all that is GOoD can we call ourselves the greatest nation in the world when these serious problems plague our society?

For many years, I personally suffered from SEVERE depression and anxiety. My depression was SO crippling at times that my good friends who had compassion and an inclination of what I was enduring would come and stay with me, just so I could find an iota of comfort and/or not harm myself. I can’t pinpoint exactly how, why or when my depressive episodes and anxiety lessened. All I can say is that I AM SO ETERNALLY GRATEFUL THEY DID because those snippets of hell, those dives into the abyss of unimaginable sadness made me understand exactly why people like Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade hung themselves.

My mother suffered from depression. My grandmother was heavily medicated for 45 years of her life for mental health issues. My great grandfather had my great grandmother committed for her mental health and then he took his own life. So, was(is) my tendency towards depression and anxiety genetic OR as my sister Barb had mentioned often, learned bad thinking? Quite honestly, I’m not sure if there is a definitive answer to the cause of my own disease. I have come to attribute my own depression towards being born ultra-sensitive in a society that doesn’t nurture sensitivity. A great book I read to help understand this was “Self Care for the Self Aware” by Dave Markowitz. I also kept deep, dark secrets for many years. And I also used drugs and alcohol to avert my feelings. Since I ceased using drugs (all street and pharms) and alcohol 18 months ago, my depressive episodes have decreased significantly. AND I attribute my “recovery” to having great counseling as well as digging into those places and secrets held inside that haunted me for years. Most importantly, I became willing to open up and not hide anything any longer, and that included my anger and sadness which I believe turned inward was a huge cause of my blues. I decided that I didn’t care what anyone thought of me or how I chose to live my life any longer. I decided that I was going to unconditionally love myself…. AND get a dog!!! So, my “fixes” may not be permanent, nor may they be yours. The most important thing I can suggest for those suffering is to not be afraid to find some help, to find a compassionate ear and last but not least, DO NOT LISTEN TO PEOPLE WHO TELL YOU TO “PULL YOURSELF UP BY YOUR BOOTSTRAPS”! As a society, we owe this disease a lot more attention. And…. we owe those who suffer chronically from it A LOT MORE COMPASSION.

 

Also posted in DEATH, Depression, Depression, Drug Abuse, IGNORANCE, MENTAL ILLNESS, RECOVERY, SPIRITUALITY, TRAUMA Tagged , , , , , , , |

TIME TO REMEMBER

It’s been a while. It’s been a long while. My fingertips have missed hitting these keys. Anyone who is a writer or knows about writing knows that inspiration is necessary for the words to emerge. I’m hoping that today is a day where my thoughts translate into a message that helps people discover their potential, their passion, their true nature of living as a Spiritual being having a human experience.

A friend posted this meme on Facebook a few weeks back and I hung onto it in essence to bring forth a message of hope to those who are searching for their place in this seemingly crazy world. When I think back about my life as an innocent, before the world told me who I should be, I see a sweet little girl who loved to play with her kitty cat. I see a little girl who LOVED to be outside in nature and fresh air. I see a little girl who absolutely hated to wear a dress and loved to get dirty. I see a little girl who was very in tune with what was around her and very much focused on love. Unfortunately, a lot of what I experienced growing up was not a positive environment for a child to be raised in. This was not my parent’s fault for they did the best they could. I have long ago forgiven them. AND I have learned that life is always what you make of it and that our experiences can either be used to enhance/enrich our life or they can be a deterrent to our growth. I do believe all in life is meant for our growth. When we have what we may perceive as a negative experience, I believe our job is to look beyond what we are disturbed by and question what we can learn from it. My lessons always seem to be around tolerance and patience, two things my mom always accused me of not having enough of 😉 As far back as I can remember, I have always been a rebel. Children of alcoholics are often deemed anti authoritarian.

Back to the meme… We grow up in a society that seemingly already has quite the established structure of what we should do and be in life. I remember knowing as a child that I was artistic; I loved to write, loved to paint, love to sing and play music. I also remember knowing that I would not bear a child. After years of rebellious behavior as a teen, the time came for me to possibly follow suit. Was I going to college? Was I going to get THAT perfect job, get married, build/buy a house, purchase all the proper insurances, have 2.5 kids and live happily ever after enslaved by someone else’s idea of what my life should be? OR was I going to follow my heart and my dreams and live a life that I designed, not one that society designed for me? For many years I struggled with the fact that I did not live in the “norm”. Like George Carlin suggested many times in his comedic routines, I have ALWAYS QUESTIONED EVERYTHING and came to my own conclusions about what worked for me. Once I did my own investigation, I found that my ideals usually didn’t follow what society favored… Nonetheless, I persisted not withstanding many challenging times both emotionally and financially. But I sure learned something from every single experience I had and it has made me the happy and confident person I am today. And although there are many people I know that poo-poo my at times gravely outspoken nature and free-spirited way of living, what matters most is that I AM HAPPY. And as the Buddha said to his students who questioned THE way to happiness… He said, “There is NO way to happiness. Happiness is THE way”! My motto has always been do what makes you happy as long as you are not hurting anyone else. So when people ask me what I do, I answer that I work every day to maintain my happiness 🙂

So to all the younger folks who might be reading this, I advise you to FOLLOW YOUR BLISS! Take the time to find out who you were before someone told you who you SHOULD be or what you SHOULD be doing in this life. My advice is to first cut your social media time in half. Throw out your TV and read books about real life people who do real life things to change the world! Don’t focus solely on building the bank account because any wise soul knows that money does NOT, and will never buy happiness. Do what you love and enough money to support your passion will follow. Don’t wait for retirement to travel. Go outside every day and consciously breathe in fresh air. Take a spontaneous road trip. Climb a mountain or swim in the frigid ocean. Take the road less traveled. Watch the sunrise and/or the sunset. Do something/anything that makes your heart sing every day. Life is short. Carve out your own path, be proud of it and NEVER look back!

REMEMBER… Life is a journey, not a guided tour 😉

Also posted in CAREER, CAREER COUNSELING, FOLLOW YOUR BLISS, GOLDEN RULE, Life coach, LIGHT, SPIRITUALITY Tagged , , , , , , , , |