Life begins on the other side of fear…


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When I moved to Texas, every mile I put between Indiana and myself brought me closer to a new reality. At the time I thought it was just a move across country. 

I spose if I am to be crazy honest, I knew more was happening. I just thought I had time, and I could try to heal and give my marriage one more shot. That decision wasn’t fully in my hands… There are always two sides and two people with choices to make.

It’s weird. While I asked for a separation, for a year to heal and to see if I could be part of a relationship within a marriage constraint, I was shocked when the decision was taken out of my hands. I’ve been broken for so long I almost don’t have any idea when I felt whole last. I just knew I needed a hell of a lot of time to begin to feel like a person.

People have asked me, “when you say broken, what does that mean exactly?” My immediate response is silence. How do you answer a question like that when you’re so broken that thoughts in your own head are fragmented?

I’m a writer.

Writing is not what I “do” so much as who I am. To go a single day without writing is like forgetting to eat food, to breathe air, to think a concrete thought. I have a plethora of journals, notebooks, a blog. I’ve gone two years without writing more than a handfuls of pitiful thoughts and all pertained to my chronic pain or to my brokenness. I’ve just stopped being a person inside. I stopped being me.

I’ve become an expert, thanks to chronic pain, at faking it. I can make just about anyone believe I’m fine, that I’m having a great time, and that life is going along okay. It wasn’t much of a stretch to cover up all that life was throwing at me either. To a few I would be honest, but not TOO honest. I never wanted to be the kind of person you see across the room and take a deep sigh and resign yourself to getting through the conversation.

I’ve always wanted to be organically and authentically real. The kind of person that regardless of where you meet me, what’s going on in life, regardless of commitments, kids, or circumstances, you will always know that I’m the exact same person, that my smile is quick and genuine, and if there are tears, it’s because life is too painful to be covered, not because there’s a ploy for attention or sympathy. I have an aversion to pity. My life has had some significant challenges and I never want anyone to see that before they see me; somehow thinking I want attention for it.

So I’ve retreated. I’ve not reached out and attempted much in the way of friendships since arriving in Texas. For anyone who knows me, my larger-than-life laugh, my excitement at meeting up with friends, the idea that I’ve kept home, mostly to myself aside from family, it’s probably hard to imagine.

I’m grieving. I’m grieving and learning to voice it. I learning to name it. I’m learning to call it for what it is and not what I have labeled it as. Trust me, these are two very different things. For example: I’m learning to say, “I’m grieving the loss of the idea of being married to one person for my entire life.” NOT “I failed at my 21 year marriage.”  I’m grieving not having the dream life (I never had) but tried to convince myself could still happen if I just put in all the effort in for both of us. I’m grieving not being fought for and desired as I needed. Grieving that I wasn’t enough because I was broken.

IMG_0886.JPGThen I’m grieving the loss of my second home, the one I ran to when I needed to escape the hard stuff life was throwing at me. I would “run away” from home and to the local community theater stage. I’d leave my reality behind and assume a character, and let the kick ass girl who never got a chance to knock around in the real world, loose for a while. I learned to stuff myself down into a tiny pocket so that all the roles of motherhood, illness, troubled marriage stuff and the leash of jealousy my husband noosed me with, and be a version of myself I could only be there.

Once, when I was so broken and felt nothing like the girl who once dreamed of taking on the world, I named that girl so she could still exist. My fear was I’d forget she ever existed if she didn’t at least have a name. I named her Kate. Trust me when I say it was literally a life saving tactic. There were days I would talk out loud to myself, in the car alone, and say, “Kate, you’ve got to take over here. I’ve got nuthin left.” I’d let the tears slip and maybe I’d ugly cry there alone in some parking lot. Before I got out of the car, Kate would firmly be in control and somehow I got through the day.

I tried to explain Kate to some people. No one really ever got it. Some thought maybe I was schizophrenic, probably many thought I was troubled. One person, however, did. Always has, does, and will. I’m blessed beyond belief for that friendship. It’s then I discovered that I wasn’t crazy, I was just compensating for the harshness of reality and protecting, coping, preserving who I was so I wasn’t compromised. I needed to separate myself into two halves, lock off Kate, to make sure she was untouchable, all in an effort to ensure that when the day came and I could actually begin to heal, I’d still have my core left. I spose it’s sort of like a seed bank, where you store away the core heart of your plants so that if they die, they have the means to begin again.

I still have time on my side. 21 years was a long time, and three kids extra to love, but at 43 I’m not even halfway through my life if my genes get a say in it. I am now free to begin to heal… and to unlock Kate. We can begin to be one and we will strengthen and grow my soul back again. My prayer is that as I learn, grow, and flourish once more, I will bloom and create a life so amazing, I never again will need to preserve a core, locking the precious parts of my heart away.

IMG_8006.JPGAs I stood on a windy, sunny, cloudless ocean beach in October last year, I heard the still small voice calling me to a new life.  I knelt on that beach and let the waves wash me clean. I let the waves dull all senses and fill me with strength.

As soon as I left my revelation beach, I was filled with determination, but the fear set in anyway. Terrified I flew home and made it my reality. I tell my kids that the very best things in life begin on the other side of fear. Without risk there is no reward. I waited a long time before I took this really big risk, but the rewards are already beginning. I have health in ways I never imagined I could ever gain. My chronic pain is changing monthly. I am more whole than I’ve been in 10 years just health wise alone.

There have been now 9 months of hard. Some days are so hard I can barely lift my head off the pillow and face the world. I do though. Every single day I face that day. I’ve had a few days where the physical health was so hard that I gave in. I let the pain talk and dictate. Nine days out of ten, however, I always rise and face the day, no matter what it brings.

If I’ve been silent, and you wondered why, I really can’t tell you… but I can tell you that I won’t be forever. Today I sat down and really wrote for the first time in years, letting my heart outside my chest and onto a page. For the first time in forever, I feel whole.

Divorce, regardless of how hard you try to be kind and humane about it, the process sucks. It’s hard and there is no way to not make it feel like your entire life is being judged and ripped to shreds. It’s bloody. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are lying.

I do not wish my Ex any ill will. I do not wish him harm or strife. I do, however, want to jump ahead 9 more months when this thing will be finalized and the ability to heal completely underway and more possible.

I baptized each of my three kids with the verse from Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you declares the lord, plans to prosper not to harm you. Plans for hope and a future.” I am clinging to these and claiming them over my children as they ache in pain and struggle to work through this. I claim it for myself, knowing that on that beach on the shores of Galveston Island, TX, I heard the answer being echoed back to me as I prayed for Him to hear me and deliver the gift of His promises to us.

I pray over my Ex. I want him to learn from the mistakes within our marriage that drove us apart. I pray he can learn, grow, and push forward and have a beautiful and happy life. I know that it gives me absolutely no peace to wish him anything less. He’s not a bad human. We were a bad match. No amount of me doing 110% of the work to make it work out would ever end in success. It sucks. I wanted it to work. I wanted my kids to not go through the pain that is our reality. I can not do that and It’s okay.

Standing on the beach that day, I’ve never more clearly heard from God. He did not lay a hand on my shoulder and speak into my ear. Instead I have learned to hear Him in ways that fill my emptiness to overflowing. I heard Him in the crashing waves, the foam popping as they receded. I heard Him in the wind, strong and sure. I heard Him as I saw how the wind beneath the gulls kept them high above the waters. He lifted them, as He will and has lifted me. I watched them dive head first into a darkness and come up with fish. He provided for their needs if they just trusted their guts, instincts, and the fact that God had fish when they needed it. I saw God in the dolphins, who arched above the water and blew out hard, sending spray high up, and knowing they took in the life filling oxygen waiting for them at the surface.

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I saw God in the sea shells with little hermit crabs crawling upon the sand, hauling their protection with them. God was in the warmth of the sun against the wind. He was in the rustling of the grasses upon the bluffs behind me. He was in the hidden treasures found as I dug my toes in the sand.

I took my kids back to the exact spot God spoke to me. I asked Him to do the same for them. For them to feel Him there. I asked Him to meet them where ever they were in life and to wash over them peace and comfort. He did, and so much more. He knit the four of us together in ways I can not express in words. He blessed us. We searched for shells to bring home and filled a terrarium with dry sand to be a home for those treasures. We created a whole theme in our living room that reflects the promises God gave to us and the sand, shells, and pictures remind us that he is with us every day as He was on the beach that afternoon, as the sun set brilliantly.

We now regularly go back, and always to our spot. It’s healing. It’s free of the world and it’s our mountain top. It’s where we hear from God and gain perspective. They ask to go often. Being only 45 minutes from our new home, it’s going to be a constant for us. They now all have a “happy place’ to think of when called upon to need one. There is no way to express it. God came through for us in ways we didn’t even know we needed.

So here I am. I am standing fully inside a ring of fear. NOT fear that God doesn’t have it covered, just fear of the unknown. I try hard to not be fearful. I’m a work in progress. I will get there. I’m just not there quite yet. I spend a lot of time praying. I spend a lot of time sitting on a porch and not doing anything. I spend a lot of time doing what observers would assume is just spacing out. I think maybe it’s mindfulness. Maybe meditation. I’m just acknowledging the thoughts I’m thinking and allowing them to be heard and not stuffed down inside me. For the first time, they have a right to simply exist. 

I think I get the verses that say, “In everything give thanks.” It’s not that I am saying thank you to the hard stuff, per se, but thanks that God is walking it with me, holding me up, and letting me know I am far from alone doing this life thing. I also sense that it’s okay to be afraid. What’s not okay is for the worry and fear to control my heart, my choices, or how I treat others.

Being kind is not a choice. It’s part of who I am and WHOSE I am. So every action, reaction, and choice I make needs to be weighed against that. It’s okay to walk out the door in the morning and have absolutely no idea how I am going to get through the day. Sometimes I only have enough strength for the minute I am in. I’d love a whole day’s worth of strength, heck a week’s worth in one shot; but the fact I can do one minute, then the next, then the next? Well those add up to hours, then days, then weeks.. And before you know it, I’m actually doing it. I’m making progress.

Last week? I wasn’t sure I could do it even minute by minute. I’ll be honest with you. I was on a breath by breath status. 

My oldest daughter tried to die. She still has scars. There are broken capilaries in her face and bruising around her neck. I wasn’t home. She called me in the midst of her attempt and I was not capable of doing anything but sitting in a chapel near where I happen to be taking a class, and just exist. I did that for hours. I just sat there and survived. 

I had to swallow my pride and ask for help getting home. I couldn’t drive. I was stuck, simply putting all my focus on one breath after another. Her decision to try to make an exit is not something unusual or that I’m not used to. Frankly, it’s a part of our lives. Her brother, sister, and I probably have PTSD from living a life where this is a normal thing for us. Suicide watches are just part of what we do. Mental illness sucks. It does not, however, mean I love her less.

Ive been praying for a release from God to leave the person I was behind. She is a shell of a woman. I’ve decided to change my name back to what it was the last time I felt confident in who I really was. I’m going to allow myself to voice the fact I need that. I’m going to claim it. Soon I will change things back to my maiden name and the name I was before I met my husband. I’ll return to “Chrissy Pettys.” As silly as it may sound to someone people I need to do this for me to move forward. It’s actually biblical. When people went through transformations by God, they were given different names. I’m reclaiming myself. I hope you can remember I’m still the same person and not let the name throw you off. Maybe you will understand why.

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If you’ve wondered where I’ve been, why I’m silent, or how life is going in Texas, I share this with you. We are doing good, overall. Texas is good for us. Family is everything. I love finally being near my brother again after 25 years. I have his kiddos to love on and to really become an Auntie to. I absolutely am falling in love with my sister-in-love (“law” seems harsh) But it’s not sunshine and roses. I’m living in a thorny thicket bush and it hurts. I’m not going to stay in the bush though. One day at a time, minute by minute, I will rise.

Thanks for your prayers. Thanks for those who’ve reached out. Thanks for those who’ve given me space. Thanks for just being you and letting me know that I can pop back into life at any point and you’ll pick up right where we left off.  

-Chrissy

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The hell that I’m in…


Hell. A place different for every person, and yet the same for all.

Willing yourself out of a hell-hole is fruitless. You can no more decide to get up, toss the cot depression has forced a deep slumber in, than the ocean can decide to leave it’s bed. Those who reside on sunny beaches do not understand. Lying on a sandy towel is far different than drowning in the sea’s bed.

I’ve not been able to write. For a writer to not be able to write, it is a very specific kind of hell. The way I keep the world from running me over like a Mac truck is to restrain it and contain it with words. Forcing life to conform to a page; insisting that it take up residence within letters, words, and sentences; it takes the helplessness away.

I’ve never written like other people do. I’m kinda an odd bird. Most people have a vague idea what they want to express, feel a burning desire, and then grab a pen and paper or the keyboard to sketch out what they want to say. It maybe only be an outline or a cluster of words or quotes, but they have a clue.

I’m not really sure how to do that. Writing possesses me, not me it. Authorship dictates what I have time for; what priority my time and obligations get to number in rank, deciding what I will do, in which specific order, to secure my release. Sometimes it can be freeing and heavenly. Sometimes it can be an impatient beast, moody and demanding. Regardless, I live within the parameters that it calls upon my soul in order to keep this life thing rolling along.

keyboard-1176257_960_720Usually I sit down, place my fingers at the keyboard, and I relax. I don’t look at my screen. I stare out the window, maybe watch a bird or a squirrel do their thing. I let my senses loose; let them carry me away while slowing my heart rate slows to a crawl, and, like a burst of life giving breaths, words spring forth and I begin to write.

Now is not the “usually” time in my life, not by a longshot. Now is hell.

Mother’s crave quiet. Mother’s crave the beauty of stillness.

Authors fear the stillness of fingers on a keyboard and the quietness of their minds.

The ability to not be able to write has not just squashed my voice, it’s murdering my wandering soul. I am no longer able to think. I can’t breathe. My lungs have a mountain of hopelessness sitting atop them.

Exhaling. All I can do is exhale. Panic rises with each bit of air that leaks out.

What happens when there’s no more air to release? Tears, sweat, then blood.

Blood begins to take the air’s place. Life giving blood pours out every crevice. Every drop empties me of the will to even try.

There was a time that words were like grains of sand. They flowed from my fingers, escaping regardless of whether I wanted them to or not. Now? What once was life giving, the act of putting words to the page, has turned on me, and, for every word that goes untyped, it punishes me.

I’ve become hollow, empty, depressed. I fell into a hole and I cant climb out.

I’m in a bottomless, wordless, hellish pit that light refuses to enter. The entrance is  sealed with nothing but a password and I can hear the mocking laugher, mocking the fact I have no words to offer.

I must escape. Much longer in this wordless hell and this damned place will become lethal. the last words that will be written will be, “The end.”

Sometimes sitting in the mud is the right thing to do…


Watercolor, art therapy, by my daughter, Lindsey, 16. Used with her permission. Her personal take on living with bipolar disorder, anxiety, OCD and depression.

 

I’ve been rendered completely wordless the last few weeks. I’ve been in a dark place; one with a lot of ugliness and not a lot of sunshine. Some of it is legitimate and understandable. I’ve got some real crap and sometimes crap just stinks. No use calling it by some flowery name. Just like a rose is a rose by any other name and still smells sweet, crap by any other name is still crap and it’s gonna really stink when you go to wash it off, especially if you really dig in and do the dirty work of cleaning it up.

Some of it is me throwing a pity party, I may as well own that. Some of it is weariness, exhaustion, and fractures in my life where I wasn’t quite broken; places that used to be held together by sheer will, but the the bonds of my “will” wore off.

I fell apart.

It is what it is, and justified or not, I’ve dug myself in and wallowed.

It occurred to me I feel a lot like a little girl who fell in a mud puddle in her new pretty dress. I first was in utter shock and horror. Oh NOOOOOO!

…Then tears of not just sadness rose up, but anger; intense, hot, all consuming… of which a person could be either torched to ash or refined by the fire. This was NOT happening!

…Next? I was so angry I refused to get up. What was the point? The dress is ruined! Nothing can ever make it white and new again.

…Furious, I splashed the damned puddle, as if beating the crap of life was somehow gonna get back at it. Laughing at me, it got even by leaving me feeling more livid as the splashes got me mucky where I had actually still been clean.

…Eventually, anger spent and rational thinking returning, still a bit drippy, a whole lot dirty, sheepishly getting up from the mucky pool around me, this girl will go about figuring out how to do what’s next. It wont come easy. “She” will be still mad and muddy, she will still be dealing with the stink for a while, but moving in the right direction, a good cleansing cry and maybe a little rain will right some of it. Later a good long hot shower will wash away the remaining ick and a fresh perspective and dry clothes will allow “her” to carry forward, maybe even better than she began.

Right now? Right now I am still sitting and I’ve just finished a good splashing fit.

There are many word pictures people use when they are in this space. I am using the mud puddle because I am at a full stop, and I feel really mucky and angry and I am in a place where I don’t even WANT to get up. I’ll get there. I know me. I just need to sit here long enough to really hate the mud. Once I really hate it enough I will get up, wipe off the bruises and clean off the mud, I’ll look for scratches on me and tears in my dress and begin to not just wash up, but mend the wounds and fix the rips.

I already know it’s gonna be okay. It really will be. Wanna know something? I don’t want to hear it. So, don’t explain it. I just need to sit here a while. I need to do this.

Here is the thing about mucky places, once in a while they need to be sat in.

Don’t tell me why I am wrong. I’m not. Sometimes you need to sit in the muck, really look around, take it in, acknowledge that it is exactly what it is, mucky, dirty, crap; then intentionally say, “Yeah, so, now what?”

The feelings are real. They are valid. They show up, as they always do, for a reason, and at some point the reason will refuse to be ignored or stuffed back into the closet or under the rock it came out from. So feel it. let yourself live in the now, in the moment, in the mucky place and say, “Wow, it really sucks I fell in this mud and I am really damned angry I got mucky and tore my favorite dress.”  Forcing a smile and saying a fake, “No biggie, It’ll wash,” only works for so long.

Sometimes sitting in the mud is the right thing to do. Sometimes getting right back up, brushing yourself off, and bouncing back right away is the right thing to do. How do you know the difference? Eh, you’ll know. Just remember, ultimately, it really will be okay, and you can get to that end game in many different ways. No path is wrong nor right.

Mama DOES know best!


IMG_2234You know that old saying, “Mama knows best”? Never, EVER let anyone tell you that you don’t know something. You are with your child day in and day out, and if you feel something is off, wrong or isn’t going the way that seems natural or normal or right in any way, draw your claws and demand to get answers. “Let’s wait and see how this goes,” is not an answer I take kindly to. I’ll do the try and wait game for a small time, but be prepared to hear from me, a lot, and never go away until you are ready to move forward to the next step. I’m not going away. Oh, and forget to get back to me about tests or setting up appointments? Yeah, that does NOT go well in my book; you just entered my hit-list side of the notebook.

Moms DO know best. They know when their kid is being dramatic or attention seeking and when it crosses the line into seriously real. And, whatever you do, don’t tell a mom (me) to parent something that is your (the doctor’s) medical turf. If I say a medicine is screwing with my kid, I know it because I know my kid. I also will have done a lot of legwork on the home front to document and try to figure out which meds are likely the culprit. The changes in personality or behavior are not because I am slacking in parenting.

Let me direct you to some notable paperwork, dear sirs. It might be one of those drastic side effects they have listed at the bottom of the sheets that say something like, “Some individuals may have more severe effects, including: rapid mood changes, abnormal anxiety, heightened anger and aggression, suicidal thoughts, impulsiveness, restlessness and trouble sleeping.”

In our case? We had all those along with nearly every one of the others listed in the “not so drastic” side effects column. Was the medicine doing the job we began taking it for. Yes, actually it was. Frustratingly so.

It worked nearly perfectly. It was like a dream at first and I was amazed that it did so much good. It was because it WORKED that I beat my head against a wall and tried to decide if it was ME or really the medicine. I tried to decide if I was somehow screwing up with my kid. Do I REALLY want to muck around with meds AGAIN when they are actually doing the job they are being taken for?

Am I willing to trade the quality of life the “cure” offers versus the problem we were treating? Wow. I want to scream NOOOOOO! from the top of my lungs. And truly, it’s NOT worth it. But the battle we have here? It’s not as simple as that makes it sound. It’s hellish. I can’t describe it, and I can’t give words to the number of times we’ve traveled this valley of desperate and dark times.

The battle between body and medicine — specifically here it’s the body’s ability to regulate the chemistry of the brain with medical help — is complicated stuff. It is. Still, the fact remains, growing up a teen, while regulating medicines, can be daunting. Hormones and puberty clash with pills and prescriptions. The theories and ideas all make sense, how meds will increase or decrease this or that, how it will help alleviate one thing so another doesn’t elevate. I’m not anti-meds. But it’s hard as heck to ride this storm out.

Look, we’ve done the “no meds” route for years. Tried so many things I could still cry now from those frustrating days we ALL had. But by the time my child was 12 it was brutally and painfully obvious that we needed to seriously consider more help. Childhood onset of Bipolar Disorder is not something easily regulated. She also is OCD with anxiety disorders and Borderline Personality Disorder. The brain chemicals in this kid’s body just are not lined up. Her ducks don’t walk in a row like they are supposed to. Life is hard for her.

In order for her to stop the increasingly painful confusion of her mind’s fragmented reality, which was growing more the further she entered into puberty, we needed to help her regulate the chemicals a bit. It was just time to try something new. (Side note: I now understand why there are so many different medications out there. No two people are the same. No two are going to be chemically fixed by the same pill.)

Enter into today, where my daughter has been running in and out of the house all day—LOUDLY, breathlessly giggling, obsessing about her hair and clothes, talking to a boy and acting like a complete nut. She’s been wrestling with her sister, harassing her brother and chatting online with her friends. She’s 16. I expect nothing less than this. In fact this is exactly why I am teary. This is what we’ve been working towards; an active, loud, healthy, happy teen.

We’ve been working on her meds for more than four years now and it is a constant rollercoaster. We’ve just come off a 14-week stint where we have been weaning her on and off meds, searching for answers, trying new things, doing “wait and sees” and scratching whole ideas because I simply said “NO way in HELL we are doing that.”

The end result is this: I was RIGHT. I knew my kid.

Yes, she has significant trouble, and she is anxious and worried often. Has she ever been suicidal before, scared the crap out of me, harmed herself, done things that made me fear for her life, her very survival? Ummm, yeah, she has. In ways that lay me flat out, face down on my bed, fully-giving-my-kid-to-God kind of scared.

Want to know why I could go to a doctor and say, “Sorry, YOU are wrong. The meds are NOT right,” and do it with confidence? Because I know what those “down in the mucky pit days” look like. I know what the triggers are. I know what sets those wheels in motion. I know when to begin to watch her and I can hear warning bells going off just by looking in her eyes. I KNOW HER! When my kid starts doing things with no trigger, no warning signs, goes from 0-180 in a flat three seconds? It’s not me. It’s not her. It’s meds. Period.

We have routine. That no-trigger trip-out? It’s not the way we spiral here. We have a cycle, a system, a formula for our madness, if you please. THIS was something I wasn’t willing to let go, or to wait it out, or do a try and see. I demanded to be heard. Frankly, not being this proactive can land a kid in a hospital. Or dare I say it out loud? Yeah, I’ll say it. It’s my reality. It can land them in a grave. Everyone will say, “if only we had known,” and I will sit and beat myself to a pulp because I let myself be silenced, judged or second-guessed.

Medicine mixing for the brain’s chemistry is a hellish battle. I wish it on no one. It takes forever to get the right balance and when you do, especially in puberty, it can change before you know it and it needs to be adjusted again. I’d say it’s not for the faint of heart, but you don’t get to pick your heart. I had to learn how to buck up and become a bull in a china shop. I started out a bunny in a barn.

Today I stood in my kitchen looking out the window. I watched my daughter. She, for all the world, looked like every other 16 year old. She does not wear the battle scars on her face. The scars are there, make no mistake, but today her face radiated. It was brilliantly lit with a smile full of pure white teeth and NO BRACES! She was still celebrating today by not having popcorn hulls stuck in those old things. Laffy Taffy was chasing closely on its heels and she was grinning ear to ear.

The battle is long, the cost is high, but the rewards of the little victories we are winning along the way are truly worth it.  Even though getting to the answer is tiring and time-consuming, we ARE getting to the answers.

There is no greater victory than one won for your child.

 

This post is reposted from my parenting blog over at Will Settle for Chocolate 

Nothing new, except now people are listening.


There is plenty being said and discussed and shared online right now about depression, suicide, and mental illness. They’re the buzz words of the day, the trending topics.

I’m sad. I feel like I am grieving. I’ll admit it… but more than that, my insides suddenly feel like they are being ripped out and it has nothing to do with the funny man, Robin Williams, who died. Wanna know who it does have to do with?  My kid. Yeah. MINE. Who else? Other members of my family, who I will leave nameless. Oh, then there’s me.

A friend posted this online tonight…  I can’t say it better… so here. I’ll let Heather say what she does so well… truth without fancy schmancy – politically correct – NUTHIN. Just sayin it like it is…

Robin Williams/Heather Osbun Smith

Nearly every day of life here behind our front door is spent in some form of survival mode. Many days we openly discuss this suicide word in an alarmingly personal and private way. We do battle with mental illness, that nasty word that sends so many into hiding in shame. The M. I. label is the driving force behind my “ditching the masks.”  I am sick to death of living a hidden life and one that makes my daughter feel shame…that she’s not enough, that she is somehow a broken person, is less-than because her brain chemicals don’t self regulate like so many others do and she must take expensive meds, constantly readjusting them monthly as she goes through the puberty and onslaught of hormones that muck up every good run we’ve ever had at stabilizing those damn things. I’m so sick of the stigma and “weakness” of people taking meds for mental illness or depression I could rage for an hour on it.

Let me tell you something about people with mental illness you may not know… it takes a HELL of a lot of strength, grit, determination, and heart to plug away day-in and day-out, silently, quietly, so that it’s possible to make it “one more day.” The idea that suicide is a weakness, an “easy way out” or that a person somehow failed because they finally said “enough”? It’s ludicrous… and obviously made only by someone untouched by the very devastating reality that so many live with.

Any clue how hard it is to get up and do another day, when no end is in sight? Any clue how much moxy you have to have to battle demons that have no shape in order to beat them into oblivion? Any idea how strong you have to be to just admit you need help?

I cant imagine how hard it must be to decide to leave your loved ones behind and take that step, one that is so personal and private, knowing that the world will talk and never let up on it once you take that step? Knowing full well that no matter what you’ve done in your life, it will forever be overshadowed by that last act. You think what’s currently going on didn’t occur to Robin Williams? My guess is it fueled it. My guess is he’s been battling our judgments his whole life, they were demons inside him, you and I, and our judgmental prattle. He may be remembered fondly and in time we will forget the last act and focus on his living legacy. He only gets that grace because he is who he was… regular folk? Yeah, not so much grace goes their way.

Robin Williams will make us talk. I guess I will take that for what it is, because like it or not, he now has given us a reason to talk about it openly… and it has given me a new talking points that allow me to connect with my daughter.

But has he given it a face? No.

10570290_10204898957100150_5190697673744201881_nTo me? To me THIS face is the one I battle for and with, daily.  These shades hide eyes that show strength. This face is why I will never give in to my own demons.

This girl has taught me more about living in her 15 years than I had in all the previous ones I’ve had. She has taught me about courage, love, pain, forgiveness, grace, moxy, and about wordless things have no shape, size,  nor definition. She’s shown me how to admit my weakness in a way that I never could before. She’s made me turn and face my own issues. She makes me proud. She makes me beam. She makes me want to be a better person.

This girl is why I am willing to be transparent, vulnerable, and real. Why? Because if I’m not willing to model it for her, how can I ask her to be? There is no shame inside the walls of this house. Only grace.

Robin, I pray you have found peace. You will be missed. Your last act was to give the world a way to talk, at least for a while, about a brilliant mind that was deeply affected by things we have only begun to understand. The brain is a vexing thing to learn and understand. Maybe you will help us move on to less stigma and the realization that anyone can be touched by the pain of this.  But as much as I love ya, your face will never be the “face of mental illness.” Sorry. This girl already has it covered.