Right Mind?…

My blog has been active for over a year now. I have written about many aspects of Mental Illness, mostly focusing on my own experiences. I have reviewed articles and written about recent horrific tragedies. I have included brief excerpts from my upcoming memoir. I have thought a lot about things I post. I want to give a voice to those with Mental Illness who are afraid to voice themselves, who are afraid of the repercussions of what they may say, who still feel the stigma burying them stone by stone.

I may have pushed myself under the city bus this time…

Today, I want to discuss Mental Illness and mass tragedies.

I am a firm believer of facts as I am a very logical person. I still agree that those of us who suffer from any form of Mental Illness are more likely to become victims of violent acts than carry them out. I am also a perpetual thinker. I think in bed at night. I think in bed in the morning. I think at my desk at work and I think in the shower. My best and most deepest thoughts coming from the latter. Lately, after the mass shooting in Orlando, a horrific tragedy, I have thought a lot about this event (a tragedy following many others) and the Mental Health community.

Although, I stand behind my belief and the fact stated above, I find it very hard for someone in their “right mind” to decide to buy a semi-automatic and commit a mass murder. No one who is in their right mind wakes up and says, “Let’s kill people today.” We’ve all been taught killing is bad. These assassins have to have some form of Mental Illness, most of them undiagnosed, but some form. I have not been in my right mind before. My Depressive mind has wanted to hurt myself. I’ve wanted to take the mental pain away by performing a lobotomy with a screw from a hospital lunch tray table. I’ve wanted to, and have, experimented with cutting, lightly stroking my wrist with a pair of eyebrow scissors. I’ve wanted to run away and leave my husband and daughter because they didn’t need me the way I was, a non-functioning zombie.

I was not in my right mind. I’ve been down that frightening road.

How can we believe that these assassins were in their right mind? How can we say that in any terms these mass killings are not related to Mental Illness?

Most recently, speaking with my therapist, he has told me that professionals now view many Mental Illnesses as a spectrum, for example with Depression, one end would be minor Depression and the opposite end could be suicidal. I don’t want to put these assassins at the same spot on the spectrum as myself but it has to be considered that they fall somewhere on the Mental Health spectrum most likely at a “sociopath or psychopath” end.

Allowing assault weapons to fall into the hands of those with Severe Mental Illness is not a good idea (please continue reading on before judging me, again, I do suffer from more than one Mental Illness). Honestly, I wouldn’t trust myself with one when I wasn’t in my right mind, to the extent of hurting only myself. But that is just me. Letting these assault rifles into the hands of one labeled a “sociopath or psychopath” is even a worse tragedy, and one that should fault America as a country as we debate gun control and fall behind with our Mental Healthcare System. Of course, many of these assassins are not diagnosed. So what to do as a country? How do we ensure those with Mental Illness become diagnosed especially with a stigma that scares us to opening up? How would we as a country create a list of those with Mental Illness who shouldn’t be allowed to buy a weapon? How do we determine who is going on a downward spiral and who is treated enough to own one? How do we find those that are more deeply disturbed? Those men and women whose psyches are so far gone?

And then there is the media, the biggest source of this stigma behind relating every horrific crime to someone who is obviously “Looney”. I am not disagreeing that these people are not “crazy” per say, but you are now calling out prejudice to a whole community of people who suffer with Mental Illness. Because one severely ill person carried out this horrific event does not mean all of us will. Most of us lead fairly normal lives and function extremely well. We seek out therapy, medications we may need and self-care. You would never know until we told you or until we spiraled out of control. Then again, this is what American media is all about, let’s blame a whole group of people for a small population’s actions. We are very good at this.

These individuals, the assassins as I like to call them, are not mentally healthy. What may have been going through the mind of the man who carried out the Orlando night club shooting… a man who frequented the club before, a man who was on the FBI’s watch list, a man who’s own wife thought he may have been gay and knew what he was planning, a man who most likely had the inner turmoil of being gay but feared being rejected by his religion because of it. He was not in his right mind. He was not mentally stable, and no, I am not excusing what he did.

Now, what can we do to prevent these vicious crimes from happening? I think that is something that as a country we would all love an answer for.

I Am An Empath…

When I close my eyes, I am being pulled deep underwater, my leg in the clenches of an alligator’s tightly gripped mouth.  I am screaming, wailing, crying for help, clueless of what is going on.  I am waiting to be saved by my Mommy and Daddy, waiting to see their faces and feel their warm embrace.  A few days later, they find my body.

This vision has been with me since I first read about the two year old little boy who was enjoying his Disney vacation with his mother, father and older sister while watching the evening movie on the beach at the water’s edge of the Seven Seas Lagoon at the Grand Floridian.  My family was staying there just two months ago.  I walked past that spot several times during that vacation.  A vacation that was to us the most “Happiest Place On Earth”.

I have no blame for this incident.  The media has already developed enough with the child who fell into the gorilla enclosure at a zoo and now this.  I do not for one single minute blame the parents for not watching their child.  He was close by dipping his feet at the water’s edge.  He was right near them.  Although alligators are common in Florida, I do not blame Disney for not foreseeing an alligator coming into a man-made Lagoon.  There is no blame here…

There are tears.  Lots of tears.  Inside my head, for the last few days, I’ve been crying non stop for this little boy.  I’ve been imagining what he may have gone through and as a mother, I have been trying to take his pain and place it on me.  I have put myself in his parents’ shoes and tried to live the grief they are going through, the blame they probably put on themselves, the guilt.  I very well know this is not my job.  I cannot carry the pain of everyone on this planet.  Most times, my own pain is too much.  Yet I do, or at least I try and I don’t know how to stop and I don’t think I want to.

Along with this little boy, the innocent lives of those 49 people that were lost at the nightclub just a few days prior because of an assassin with his own internal struggles, swim inside my head.  I try to carry their pain and their families’ pain.  I imagine how that scene played out.  I cry at the vision.

And it doesn’t end there.  I am once again thrown into the loss of my foster son.  Thinking of him everyday, I am somehow envisioning him being dragged down with the alligator, but I am that alligator.  When I am lucid, I know this is not true.  I know I helped him along with my husband and daughter in so many ways in those two months but because of what I was going through, I imagine he saw things that scared him.  I only hope he was young enough he never remembers them.

I am an Empath.  I am “…affected by other people’s energies, and have an innate ability to intuitively feel and perceive others… You are always open, so to speak, to process other people’s feelings and energy, which means that you really feel, and in many cases take on the emotions of others (themindunleashed.org)”.  I am now facing this on a larger scale, trying to take on the emotions of all those who perished and their families, a large population all at once.

For me, I am at that point that if I let it continue, I may be dragged down into that dark place I have just recently left, another episode of Major Depression.  All these emotions, sadness, helplessness, guilt that these families must be feeling… pain, fear, loss that those who died were feeling.  If I do not somehow quell them, Depression will take me again and turn those emotions onto me.  I fear this.  I have not completely healed from episode six.  What would happen to me?

But I can’t stop.  I can’t stop feeling.  I can’t stop going into a room and knowing if the atmosphere is a happy one or one full of tension.  I can’t stop seeing my friends go through a hard time and not feeling anything for them.  I can’t stop wanting to hold all those who are grieving.  I am programmed this way.

I am an Empath, a common trait amongst those who are Mentally Ill.  I am highly emotional and tend to absorb feelings of those around me and those I’ve never met.  I feel everything.  Although at times, this affects me to a threatening point, I am glad I am an Empath.  This world needs more people who have empathy.  The more empathy in this world, the less these tragic events occur.  For now, I will try to focus my energies somewhere else with therapy, medication, walking, reading, cuddling with my daughter, anything that will make me happy and focus my mind somewhere else.

To find out more on being and Empath, please read this article:  Top 10 Traits of an Empath

I fit each and every one of them.

Why I Climb (2016 Edition)…



My daughter was born on a typical fall day.  Labor and Delivery, although somewhat long, was a great experience as were the first 2 weeks of her life.  I was the doting and glowing new mom.  I held her, cuddled with her, kissed her constantly.  I loved changing her stinky poop diapers and I relished at her newborn screams.  She was all mine.  She gave me the title of “Mommy”, a title I cherished.

After these two glorious weeks, I changed.  I was a person I didn’t recognize.  My daughter’s face with her plush cheeks now disgusted me.  Her whimpers were like banshee calls.  The never ending dependency broke me… plummeted me into a dark abyss so deep I am still amazed I ever got out of it.  Instead of “Mommy”, my new title should have been, “Depressive Anxiety Woman:  Robotic in Nature, Dead in Emotion.”  This all occurred in the span of a day.  One morning I just woke up different.  I woke up mean.  I woke up full of hatred for this little being that needed me.

I didn’t get help right away.  I was told it was “Baby Blues”.  When the vomiting started a couple of days later, and the crying spells increased daily by 200%, I knew it had to be more.  But, I was ashamed.  I couldn’t admit my inadequacy at doing normal wife and mother tasks.  I couldn’t admit I hated being a mother.  I couldn’t admit I hated my child and wished every second I could turn back time.  I couldn’t face the ugliness that was growing in my head.  I didn’t want to face myself.

Three weeks after her birth, I started seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist.  This was the first step to recovery but honestly it wasn’t enough.  I was drowning more and more into the abyss of Postpartum Depression and Anxiety.  The only good thing was I finally knew what I was suffering from.  Even though I was under the care of a psychiatrist and therapist, I now began planning my escape.

I would run away…

My plan was incomplete as I only figured the following details out… Leaving after my husband was off to work, Sophia was at my parents, I would withdraw money, get in the car and go…

Go where?!

That last important detail saved me from doing something stupid.  Saved me from leaving the two most important people in my life.  Saved me from destroying myself.

Exactly one month after my daughter’s birth, I admitted myself into my local hospital’s short term psych ward where I finally was given the tools (and medication) to save myself.


I have told this exact story on here a little over a year ago.  It is a story I feel needs repeating.  Postpartum Depression and Anxiety stole the first year of my daughter’s life from me.  I was at times an emotional wreck and at other times and emotional void.  It took many different medications, several therapists and a couple of years to overcome these feeling completely.  Recently, I’ve revisited these memories and have finally given my Postpartum self some compassion, something I have never done before.

I am not alone.  There is a whole Warrior Mom tribe out there who have had similar experiences.  Some were worse than mine, some better.  Some took longer to heal, some shorter.  All of us celebrate our success by coming together on the Saturday closest to the longest day of the year to #climbout of the Darkness.  This event spans states, countries and continents and raises awareness of Postpartum Illness and funds to support the many resources Postpartum Progress Inc. provides on the website (www.postpartumprogress.org) and blog (www.postpartumprogress.com).

This is #WhyIClimb :

I Climb for my daughter, my husband, my parents, and my sister. This was my support system in my darkest time. They were there when I wasn’t there mentally, emotionally or physically. They came to therapy and psychiatric appointments. They visited me in the hospital. They kept my daughter healthy and alive when I couldn’t. They woke up with me to feed Sophia. They kept calm and cool in a situation that should’ve driven them crazy with worry. They have my utmost gratitude and love.

I Climb for myself. Somehow I survived an ordeal that rattled my brain and mentality to points this Depression sufferer never thought imaginable. I battled by going to therapy, admitting myself into the hospital and taking my medications. I came out stronger.

I Climb for other mothers who have, are or may suffer… To be their support… To show them they are not alone. There is a whole Warrior Mom Family out there to lean on.

Anxiety Amongst The Clouds

I was academically intelligent in high school excelling in all my subjects and took more than a fair share of honors classes. I didn’t graduate in the top ten but was still considered very smart. I know the physics behind an airplane and even had my husband repeating it to me over and over again as he graduated college with a BS in Physics and Astronomy.

Then why did my fear of flying exist?!

I have flown countless times since I was a child. We flew to England, California, Canada. In college, I often took what I deem the “Quickie Shuttle” home. I mean this was an up-down flight, about an hour in the air. I wasn’t scared to fly. I actually enjoyed it. Something about watching the world disappear and finding yourself amongst the clouds.

Then my honeymoon occurred. A typical flight from New York to Orlando (hey we’re big Disney fans) turned my happy thoughts on flying in almost an instant to extreme fear. The culprit… The remnants of Hurricane Ivan, a storm in 2004 that just wouldn’t die. After hitting as a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico, Ivan wasn’t done tormenting the eastern US as he regained strength along the eastern coast in the Atlantic. Ivan was a crutch to me. He was the force that destroyed my rather calming experience of flying turning it into a nightmare. The flight was constantly turbulent and once we landed I was basically sitting in my husband’s lap shaking with fear while the flight attendants joked that that flight would be the best ride we would have the whole trip. Ha ha!

I avoided flying and was lucky for awhile. During this time the birth of my Generalized Anxiety Disorder happened. Diagnosed in 2006, it was born a twin with my daughter. I raise them both, my daughter with much love, and my GAD with much dislike. Our next flight was for my best friend’s wedding in 2010. Once again, I boarded the plane. My husband sat at the window, my daughter in the middle and me in the aisle seat. The engine roared to life and as my daughter was screaming in my ears from how loud the engine was, I was digging my nails deep into my husband’s hand across my daughter’s seat. I even drew blood. I was hyperventilating, shaking and desperate to get off the flight. My GAD stayed with me the whole flight as I was off medication and hadn’t quite grasped “coping mechanisms”. My Anxiety was fueled by Ivan, airplane crashes, and with this flight, my tantruming toddler daughter.

Traveling by plane was beginning to be a huge trigger and I tried to avoid it at all cost suggesting vacations that only required travel by car. This was somewhat easy to do since at the time we were struggling financially. That being said, we have since flown many times to Florida and even Canada, where you will always find my nails securely dug into my husband’s hands and my breaths rapid.

Then I changed jobs and with that change came some minor traveling. Uh-oh. My first flight was solo from New York to Maryland. A flight I had done so many times when in college. Now I was alone. I tried persuading my husband to allow me to cut off his hand so I had that to dig my nails into when I flew but he convinced me he needed them for work. So here I was, sitting in my seat, trying to calm down. There was no more Sky Mall magazine which used to distract me. There was no one next to me I could depend on. There were no electronics I could have on during lift-off. How was I going to cope? How was I going to keep my Anxiety leashed?

I had quick access to my Anxiety meds but wanted to see if I could manage without. I was already on 4 different medications for my Depression and Anxiety and I wanted to avoid adding an extra dosage. I started my Four Square breathing I learned from my EMDR therapist… breath in for a 4 count, hold for 4 counts and breath out for 4 counts. I did this along with focusing on Word Searches and before I knew it, we had lifted off and were amongst the clouds. It was a vision I missed all those years of being horribly fearful of flying and having my Anxiety feed off of that. I now looked out the window and took the view in. I was floating high above the rest of the world next to blue skies with puffy cumulous clouds and the sun brightly beam in. I smiled and once I smiled, my GAD was pushed away to the sidelines and my fear of flying quickly became joyful once again.

Now I try to get the window seat whenever I am able to.