Sunday, July 29, 2012

Okay- still no updates... here's why: In a severe depression this past week

Maybe tomorrow...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'll Be Back

I promise... I'm coming back soon. Plan to get caught up this weekend. Until then, check out my intro on my other blog.  Thanks for your patience... I'll be back!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Step Away From the Pit of Depression

A personal account of a depressive episode... how to FIGHT depression...or at least try.

I am on the edge of the black hole... hoping to write myself away from it today, Change my perspective somehow. I DON'T WANT THIS MENTAL ILLNESS TO DEFEAT ME! I have to rely on Jesus to get me through these times. Darkness seems to dominate my days lately. Losing (my former best friend) is a big reason for the recent darkness, I know. I'm back to feeling completely alone in this world and not trusting what people say. She helped raised Jireh!! How could she just walk away? I maintained contact with my brother for years simply for the sake of my niece… I bit my tongue and licked my wounds and went back into the ring for because I wanted my niece in my life. Now that she is old enough to email and has my email information, my brother and I have ceased what little relationship we had. We wished each other well and went opposite ways. If my niece wants to contact me, she knows where I am. The last time I saw my former best friend (FBF), I was bawling because she was loving on Jireh, and I knew it would be for the last time. I mustered, “She loves you so much…”

Any other relationship, I would have just accepted it was over and left. But I’ve tried several times to reconcile with the FBF for the sake of Jireh. The last time was a week ago, when I left a voice mail apologizing, asking if there was anyway we could talk and both Jireh and I miss her in my life. There was no response.

This is when I started spiraling down… this past week… thinking, thinking, THINKING myself into a frenzy. The bitterness returned, the cynicism, defensiveness, the person I was last winter, during the lowest, scariest point of my life. I vowed the same vows, ‘no one will ever hurt me again’, blah, blah, blah. This turned into self-pity, how I am ultimately alone (Existential theory enter here) until I was confined to bed for most of yesterday.

I slept restlessly, having the hole in my gut return. Lord, why won’t you just take me home? I thought (and felt) Job’s cry in 7:16: I despise my life… let me alone: my days have no meaning.

But the morning has brought a fresh perspective (which I pray I keep);
1.    When I was ready to give up… I was planning to leave Jireh to the FBF, believing Jireh would be happier with her. I realize this is not true! If she could let go of Jireh as she did, I am soooo thankful I did not leave Jireh with her. I put Jireh first. Jireh gets me up everyday, gets me outside the house, gets me to the dog park where I am forced to socialize… I mean, Jireh makes me fight every force in my body to make sure she has a quality of life. Jireh is with me 90% of the time and I love her and talk to her and play with her… Jireh has a good life. I’m not sure she would if I left her with someone else.
2.    Addy the cat is the same way. We sleep together. We work together. She is at my side whenever I am on my laptop. Addy gets the most expensive cat food before I get milk. I make sure Addy has a quality of life. if I wasn’t here, I am not sure that would happen.
3.    Once again, there are soooo many people in this world! Why do we let our heart’s break over one or two relationships that didn’t work out! I definitely am not flippantly saying, ’let go and move on’… it’s way too hard for that. But don’t allow your destiny to be determined by one or two people who hurt you.
4.    Relationships are hard, as you know. Tread carefully. But if someone lays out their cards up front (disclosing something as personal as depression), be prepared. Know what you are getting into. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
5.    This goes along with number #4: “Forever” is a very long time. KNOW AND MEAN what you are saying when you use words like “I’ll always…” and/or “I’ll never…”.  Words and broken promises hurt.

All this to say we cannot abandoned socializing. God created us for relationships. We can’t give in to the strong desire to live as a recluse and isolate our lives away. 

You and I are meant to be here until God takes us home. We all have roles that cannot be passed off to others before it is our time to leave this earth. Even if you feel you have no family or close friends who would be permanently impacted by your absence, there are roles which only you can fulfill. That is why God still has you here.

Finally, don’t let your guard down when you or someone else seems to pull out of a deep depression. Until much time has passed, one significant setback can bring you/them right back to the edge of the pit. It is at this time, you must review the five points above, and get on your knees and pray hard before Jesus.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Disability Related Links - Depression, Autism

I've been researching mental health blogs and getting sucked into spending the entire day reading them and now I'm depressed! My intent was to have sites for people to feel 'not alone' and accepted online since there are few places to speak openly about mental illness. There is a limit to 'peer support' evidently, still, I'll continue compiling my list.

I am also working on a Children's book on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Evidently, the new DSM is combining Autism with Aspergers, which I think is a HUGE mistake... but they didn't consult with me. One day they will...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Making & Keeping Friendships

I've been entranced by the writing of a blog writer who has mental illness and provides a unique view into the world of depression and loneliness. Her entry on the difficulty of keeping friends inspired this entry. The first part of this is a response to her entry on friendships:

I am still reading your blog... I have my own work to do, but your words have me nodding my head, saying, "Exactly!!". So few people get/understand mental illness, but you describe it so well. I am sorry for the pain - I understand the pain of depression, loneliness, isolation... and I celebrate you for using what sucks to help other people. The world needs to be educated, and most people are too scared or ignorant to open their minds to mental illness. Your blog entry on "friendship" is just what I need right now. I have lost most significant friendships due to depression really that difficult of a person?" All the promises, all the "I understands"... evidently were insincere on both ends. So, as you write, what exactly is a 'friend' and while it is easy to make friends, keeping them is the challenge. 

What I don’t understand is why we fixate on one specific person, and when the friendship has ended, we behave as if there is no one else with whom to form friendships. We behave as if our hearts will never heal because we falsely assume every other person on the planet will treat us as that person did. This is foolish to transfer one person’s qualities and faults onto everyone else.

Why can’t we see new friendships as refreshing beginnings where we start with a clean slate, bringing in all the lessons learned from our past? A relationship with no score card, no baggage…just the newness of getting to know one another. Try, try, try to push aside the hurt, bitterness and pride of the past and make a new friendship. Share what you feel comfortable sharing, be who you truly are… invest, no matter how scary and anxious it makes you. Invest. Believe this time may be different. And if it isn’t, if you are hurt again, pick yourself up and try again. the world is filled with people. Reach out. Try. Maybe alleviating the loneliness will be worth it.            

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Life with Anxiety Disorder

Medical Condition #6 – Anxiety Disorder
For the sake of space and redundancy, I will combine anxiety and PTSD in this final category. There are many forms of anxiety (social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, etc.) and most are characterized by excessive worry about events that are usually unlikely to happen. The anxiety attacks tend to be triggered by past events (hence, soldiers returning from combat have a high likelihood of PTSD, and many would rather not discuss the events). I’ve buried so many events that my personality has been negatively scarred by the events of years ago.

Again, there’s an endless cycle – anxiety leads to depression, leads to paralyzing feelings of staying in bed, leading to more anxiety from missing so much work. The cycle is vicious and merciless.

Speaking of ‘denial’, since I am feeling functional today, I am not going to dwell on the anxiety or other conditions anymore, at least right now. When you can put your dysfunctions aside and live, even ENJOY life… do it. Whatever it takes, live out your life!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Life with Clinical Depression

Medical Condition #5 – Major Clinical Depression actually ties with anxiety for the most debilitating diagnosis that I have been given. I am cautious in what I write since I am in a major depression right now. When my medications are right, I can be successful, having the high quality of life I have worked so hard for, which is why I constantly keep op with the latest in counseling and psychology, determined to keep my licensure.

Cautious because when I am in this deep of a depression, my emotions are fragile, irritability is through the roof, and intolerance overshadows grace. Therefore, in every aspect, I don’t like who I am! I know people who have never been clinically depressed cannot understand, yet I have no patience when I crash like this. Everyone seems to have family and/or friends to CARE, to check on them, to just sit at their bedside and hold their hand… I am sure my perceptions are largely inaccurate, which is why reading about survivors of concentration camps have been somewhat inspiring this week. Most of the homeless people have some type of mental illness, and are also alone. So I am not the only pour soul out there without a family with whom to fight depression and anxiety.

One thing that is hard to remember is depression is not always affected by external factors. People question why an individual remains depressed after obtaining a promotion or getting married. Remember, depression is primarily neurochemical, especially in long-term cases.

My life is so much better than it was a year ago – yet my depression is, well, it is best to keep quiet.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Life with A.D.D.

Medical Condition #4
Attention Deficit Disorder (A.D.D.) was diagnosed during grad school (which should have been detected no later than middle school when my GPA was close to 150 but my grades were B’s and C’s. The discrepancy was blamed on Cerebral Palsy – which still happens to students today.).  I was diagnosed because of my impulsive behavior, acting in risky ways, so the psychiatrist put me on Ritalin and I graduated cum laude. My social skills were stifled but my grades soared. I was soon switched to Adderall and faired much better with friendships. Attention Deficit Disorder prevented me from thinking things through, planning was too tedious and boring, so I impulsively acted on fleeting thoughts. Waiting my turn was difficult, I was easily irritated by ‘people wasting time’ as I had things to do, places to go. Starting things came natural to me, I had fabulous ideas… but the problem was executing the ideas. Medication was wonderful with finding a happy medium and using A.D.D.! While writing flows easier without medication, I do need the meds to send query letters and perform ‘office work’.

That pretty much sums up my life with A.D.D.. For the most part, it is more of a blessing than a curse. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Life with Crohns Disease

Medical Condition #3
Crohns Disease was diagnosed in 11th grade during my hospitalization for constant vomiting and diarrhea, not to mention severe abdominal pain. The doctor was surprised I had Crohns as I was not unhealthy weight-wise. Evidently he was saying most teens with Crohns are anorexic like. He said I would never have trouble with weight-gain (wrong!), and would have to adhere to a strict diet for the rest of my life. he said alcohol would tear up my stomach, along with peanuts and anything with roughage, such as lettuce. I can’t eat lettuce or anything spicy, and sunflower seeds are out of the question. Eating any of those leave me hunched over with severe stomach pain and on the toilet for several hours. When I think I can’t get to a toilet, such as road trips, I’ll get Crohns attacks and lose control of my bowels. This can happen in heavy traffic as well. Attacks happen during anxious and emotional events, making it an endless cycle, causing more anxiety and emotions (good or bad). Crohns definitely impacts my life in a negative manner, and I could see how people would become agoraphobic with the disease. Thank goodness, I haven’t had to have surgery to have parts of my colon removed, which is common. Crohns seems to accompany both my depression and anxiety episodes, which is like facing a hurricane and tornado at the same time. As long as I am home with access to my own personal bathroom, I can tolerate attacks. But when out in public, man… Crohns attacks are the worst!

Hope in Suffering Link

I will continue my description of personal 'conditions' later today, but until then. I wrote a great blog entry on Hope in Suffering - I must say, it's pretty good! Check it out!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Life with Asthma

Medical Condition #2 – Asthma. Not many people know I have asthma so I must have an extremely mild case. I was diagnosed with it about ten years ago when I went to an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor, which I can’t even remember why I went to the doctor. To be honest, I think a coworker told me he was handsome and I wanted to see for myself. I called in with ‘possible allergy’ symptoms and left with a nebulizer and asthma diagnosis!

Truly, I think the asthma is related to my Cerebral Palsy. According to the National Institute of Health: The majority of individuals with cerebral palsy will experience some form of premature aging by the time they reach their 40s because of the extra stress and strain the disease puts upon their bodies.  The developmental delays that often accompany cerebral palsy keep some organ systems from developing to their full capacity and level of performance.  As a consequence, organ systems such as the cardiovascular system (the heart, veins, and arteries) and pulmonary system (lungs) have to work harder and they age prematurely.
So I really don’t feel like an ‘expert’ in asthma. If it’s hot and I overextend myself, I have to rest and focus on catching my breath. If I didn’t know eventually, it will get easier to breathe, it would freak me out, so I have to comfort myself by saying I will be able to find a natural breathing flow again.

Asthma is very scary – I do not know from personal experience except to imagine how I would experience a more severe case. All I can say is I am glad nebulizers work!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Life with Cerebral Palsy

Medical Condition #1-
You can Google any medical/psychological disorder and find professional information written in generic, impersonal terms. Having been diagnosed with numerous conditions, I can share personal experiences on each, beginning with the most visible, Cerebral Palsy.

Being born with Cerebral Palsy (C.P.) hasn’t impacted my life as people assume. After all, because I was born with impacted muscle control, I know no different. Walking with an unsteady gait, talking with slurred speech, and limited dexterity/fine motor skills has been so much a part of me that I know no different.

Lots of teasing occurred during childhood, yet positive social interactions dominated the negative feedback I received. I never sat around feeling sorry for myself because I was never limited by C.P.. I guess my one ‘C.P. hang-up’ was I felt bad for the men I dated  in fact, I’d refuse to hold their hands in public because I felt sorry for them being identified as my boyfriend. Now I see it as a self-esteem issue. Whatever it was, I never had trouble making friends due merely to my C.P.

As I enter my mid-forties. I see ways C.P. is becoming more prominent as I age (which was predicted by doctors the past several years). My hands shake and fine motor skills are increasing impaired making things like carrying liquids, checking my oil, and putting coins in the laundry machines challenging. My energy isn’t what it was (but that may be due to depression), nor is my endurance. My strength does not seem to be affected, yet carrying heavy things for long distances is weakening.

Perhaps the greatest challenge I face aging with C.P. is the frequency of falling. I recently (and joyfully) was given an Assistance Dog who helps me steady myself when I getting up from a fall. She also helps greatly with my depression and anxiety, which will be addressed in future articles.

In conclusion, for the most part, C.P. has been such a ‘non-issue’ that I rarely considered it. This is slowly changing as I am becoming middle-aged.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Depression and Medication

Someone asked me about 'normal' depression versus major depression, especially those requiring medication. Here is my response:

I wanted to comment about you saying therapists say just stop being depressed! I'd get a new therapist QUICKLY. Sounds like a burned-out therapist to me! A legend in the psychology field (Irvin Yalom speaking of Karen Horney) once said, "the human being has an inbuilt propensity toward self-realization. If obstacles are removed, the individual will develop into a mature, fully realized adult, just as an acorn will develop into an oak tree." The task of the therapist is to remove obstacles blocking the patient's path. So first, identify the obstacles to being the person the patient aspires to be, then work on ways to remove those obstacles. Sometimes the obstacles are deeply rooted, like incest, abandonment, etc. When THAT happens, the brain literally forms differently, causing malfunctioning neuropathways and messed up neurotransmitters. Patients usually have lifetime mental illness, requiring medication to regulate (or normalize) the neurotransmitters, along with counseling to form healthy thinking patterns.

Then there is situational depression which occurs after a death, divorce, or other 'situation' - hence the name, This usually is treated by counseling without the need for medication. If the depression lasts longer than 6 months, the patient needs to  be evaluated for possible dysthymia (which is a low-grade depression where the patient feels sad and blah, but it doesn't interfere with major life functioning, where medication may or may not be used.

What I have is the first - Major Clinical Depression, Recurrent is the official diagnosis. My childhood events have messed up my brain. People may not believe this - I don't want to believe it, but our brains are formed the first 20 years of life. Without the right environment, brains are messed up. That is what causes addictive personalities, alcoholics, child molesters, etc. People grow up to be what they were exposed to. 

Hope that answers your questions. Remember, you cannot just 'snap out of a clinical depression'. Why would people willingly be depressed?

Upbeat Update

The following is from a Facebook response I posted… it pretty much sums up where I am now. God spoke to me in a HUGE way… He has given me strength, hope, and determination that I have been lacking for a long time. Yesterday, an elder and church staff member dropped everything just to listen to me. THAT MEANT THE WORLD TO ME! I don’t expect people to do that all the time. I know the world doesn’t revolve around me. Maybe because after 21 years of being on antidepressants, I have been off of them for a month… I felt emptier, lonelier, and more disposable than ever. I didn’t want to go to church, yet I knew God would show up… and He did. This is a summation of what happened:

I attend a great church now and had a long talk with an elder and staff yesterday. That helped TREMENDOUSLY. I told them how alone I felt and I don't even have an emergency contact... they gave me THREE emergency contact numbers! I told them how hard it is is not to have a family or close friends... like who would have my funeral if I die? They said, "We will... we are your family. That is what we are trying to tell you!". I barely receive enough money to pay my medical costs and refuse to keep taking 'hand outs', so they are giving me ways to 'earn money' to cover bills until I get back on my feet. They are amazing. I'm using this for my blog because I finally have hope again. I go to the doctor tomorrow; and the psychiatrist talked last time about sending me to intensive 6 months treatment to deal with my issues, but after talking to Lee and Cheryl, I feel strong enough to do this... I can fight the loneliness, meet new people, keep serving at my church, write my way out of poverty, and FIGHT. Going into the hospital would be the wimpy thing to do. I AM A CHILD OF ALMIGHTY GOD!! I DON'T GIVE UP! Don't you give up either! If you feel hopeless and DO want to give up, visit my blog, Believe in Grace. I have a lot of work to add to it, yet am aiming it to readers with no one to talk to, nowhere to turn...

Friday, June 29, 2012

It's Best to Keep Quiet

Email to a friend:

Things go much smoothly if I keep my true feelings to myself and remain positive.

Read this:

But remember, you cannot be surprised when you hear something tragic happens. I am not reaching out for help anymore. You say you don't know where I am emotionally sometimes, but  yet I can't express my feelings without consuming you. 

I won't consume anyone anymore. I will keep my feelings to myself and be fake, just like the rest of society. It pains me to conform to society's standards of staying surfaced instead of real and introspective, yet I am learning this is a survival method. I have never been so lonely, yet there is no one I trust... no one who can listen to me without wanting to cowardly ship me off to a mental hospital. And so everything will be peachy.

I am not suicidal, I am so lonely, wishing I could talk to someone who would just listen to me. So my focus, as said repeatedly, is to fulfill the purpose God created me for and be the best parent possible to Jireh and Addy. Next summer isn't to far away... I will move to a city where I have to start all over again socially and community-wise. I am viewing this next year as preparation for such. I have a lot to look forward to. I just need to hold on to Jesus, take care of Jireh and Addy, and keep writing to further my career. In addition, what I am going through is all helping me be a better therapist when I go back intro practice. God has a plan... this season is only temporary.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Keeping Jireh

I finally understand why my family disowned me, choosing to have no contact with me. The past 24 hours, I came very close to giving my beloved Jireh away. Jireh is my golden retriever who I adore and love beyond description. Jireh goes almost everywhere with me – she’s my buddy! I am so proud of her and she is amazingly in tune with my feelings.

But Jireh is a puppy… a 60-something pound puppy who deserves to run freely, exercise, play and be happy. I love Jireh too much to succumb her to the lifestyle we have been living. I want better for her. It is because I love her so much, I want her to have a more fulfilling life. So I called around, asking who would take her. Who would give her a good home. Who would love her more than I can. I asked about details of Golden Retriever Rescue. I called the lady who helped raised her.

And I went to bed crying, imagining life without Jireh. And I wondered if my relatives “gave me away” so that I would have a better life. And I thought about it didn’t matter what kind of life I had as long as I could have my relatives in my life. But they wanted better for me.

As I type this at 9pm, Jireh’s head is on my lap. I do want better for Jireh, and after all the phone calls, I have concluded Jireh belongs with me. And I belong with Jireh. She knows I sleep a lot, she knows I walk slow. She knows we spend the majority of time alone. But Jireh wags her tail all day long. When I wake up, she is so excited and brings me her toys to play. Jireh gets sad when I cry, so I am determined not to cry anymore. jireh loves meeting people, so I used every ounce of willpower I have to walk her around Lake Eola today, and we came home to take a nap together.

Yes, like my relatives must feel about me, I believed Jireh would be better without me in her life. But instead of giving her away, I am determined to give Jireh the best life a dog can have. As long as she is living, I will take care of her and love her and give her all I can. No one can love her more than I do. I need her, and she needs me.

Thank God He did not allow me to give her away. No matter how bad my depression/anxiety and cerebral palsy gets, Jireh comes first. I made a commitment when she was 10 weeks old to take care of her, and nothing will make me break that commitment.

To the Depressed and Lonely

Life can be difficult - everyone knows this. Different people experience circumstances according to their life experiences, coping strategies, etc. Sometimes, the temptation to give up is overwhelming. The world seems to be so cruel and at times, it may feel as if it is you against the world. But if you are a Christian and hold on tight to Jesus, you will make it. This difficult, lonely, painful period will be a distant memory. Counting your blessings does wonders, seriously.

I am not just writing this to encourage you, but to encourage myself also. I am going through many changes, mostly good changes, yet all change is hard. We tend to be drawn to what is familiar, the friends we are use to, the relationships we had. But that prevents growth. It is unfair to expect people to change. And it is unfair to expect people to read your mind or understand what you are going through. Sometimes, we must experience our feelings and either journal them and/or process them individually. Perhaps God wants you to express your feelings to Him alone... perhaps He is drawing you closer to Him.

Unfortunately, friends come and go, but Jesus never leaves. When you get lonely, turn to His word. I fell asleep with my face in the Psalms. I believe it was BECAUSE my face was in the Psalms, I was able to fall asleep. He held me in His arms, reminding me I am never alone when I trust in Him and hold on to His promises.

If you are going through a hard time, hang on. Email me at if you need someone to listen without judging. I assure you I will understand because I am in the same place you are. Hang on. This will pass. Focus on fulfilling the mission for which God created you for.

What Does Baker Act Involve?

This was my response when asked what being Baker Acted entails. There are many exceptions depending on the individual circumstances, but this is a general explanation: 

Baker Acting consists of lots of "well, if this happens, than this can happen..." The bottom line is the hospital can keep a person for 72 hours if deemed by a qualified professional the person is a harm to self or others. Most psychiatric hospitals only have visiting hours twice per week, so what they are saying about she can't see him makes sense. There are even designated phone times. The tricky part is once a person is in a mental facility, technically, they CAN keep him for more than 72 hours because he is now under the care of a psychiatrist. They rarely tell you that part when you are Baker Acted. On the flip side, the psychiatrist can release him before 72 hours lapse if the doc disagrees with whoever Baker Acted the individual. 

Helping A Depressed Friend

Someone asked how she could best help her depressed friend. Here is my response:
That is so sweet of you for wanting to help your friend. Most people 'shy away' from individuals who are in a funk for fear of saying the wrong thing. When in a depression, if your friend s willing to share with you, that means she trusts you and, well. that says a lot about you. Just listen without feeling the need to 'fix' him/her. Listening with concern makes all the difference. Knowing someone cares could be the motivation needed for the person to press on. I know you long to take the pain away and you hate seeing your friend experience depression, but just by listening, you are likely helping the depression subside more quickly. That is huge to someone who is depressed.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Reading the blog I wrote a year ago where I was down to three friends and complaining about that fact. Yesterday, I realized I  have no close friends, at least not in the definition I consider 'close friends'. Someone who will spend time with me without looking at their watch... If you remember in school, I always had friends. Not anymore. And I am not blaming them, I am the one who walked away this time for various reasons. The friends I had (except Jen), I don't want their friendships back. I'd like to meet people who understand me, who invite me to fun things, who don't freak out when I am having a bad day..... it hurts knowing I  have no emergency contact.... but then again, Jesus is my emergency contact. Pray He brings me a best friend and a boyfriend who will love me for me. My heart has been hurting.

And last January - I HAD NO ONE and NO FRIENDS, a crappy residence, a creepy landlord, no money, no publisher... the worst time of my life... and look how God turned my life around! There's a LOT of people out there I haven't met... God has new friends and people out there. Before then, I will focus completely on Jesus - the best friend of all time.

Finally, one of the friends I wrote off told me I didn't know how to treat friends. Perhaps that is correct, yet I  believe if I had the friends who treated me like a true friend, I would treat my friends like gold. I could give examples, but why bash her? I am above that. I apologized for hurting her and that is all I can do. In fact, I apologized to everyone I hurt, and I am at peace about that.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Crohns Ain't So Crappy!

Spent yesterday in the Emergency Room with Crohns and anxiety issues. Been losing control of my bowels a lot lately, and the friend who use to help me with my laundry will not be helping me anymore. This afternoon, another Crohns accident meant I HAD to do laundry. Only carried a few pieces down but I kept saying "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me!" AND I DID IT! I'll hang them to dry on my loft. Man, I feel empowered!

Moral of the story: God uses 'crappy' events to push us beyond our comfort zone.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Painful Yet Comforting Emergency

People assume if good things are happening, there should be no anxiety problems. Wrong! Any significant change causes anxiety, and honey, I continue to be BLESSED by significant changes! I am still so incredibly grateful for Willow Creek, I can hardly stand it! Speaking of hardly standing, yesterday was a doozie. Anxiety through the roof! Discovered my psychiatrist does NOT have an emergency answering service – which makes me extremely nervous in itself. Even the pharmacist tried leaving the doctor a request for a 3-day emergency prescription (awesome pharmacist!) but he never heard back from the doctor. The day went downhill (physically) from there. If you are eating, stop reading now. I lost control of my bowels (was waiting for Jireh to get a plastic bag and pick it up) and since I haven’t done laundry in a month, those shorts went in the trash. As the day progressed, so did my pain AND anxiety. I contacted my ‘emergency contact’, and, bless their heart… I need an emergency contact who doesn’t have their own psychological issues.

Jireh had to go out (of course) and I prayed every step, every time. She knew I was in pain as she walked very slowly for me. Felt like I was in a psychedelic fog and NOT in a good way. Was very scary, but I did what I had to do.

Finally, night came. So thankful to take Jireh out for the final time as then I could take my sleeping medicine. I curled up (actually, got in the fetal position to try to relieve my pain) with my Bible where Jesus gave me the Words to tell the publisher Monday and comforted me by reminding me soon I will have money to go to the doctor for my Crohns. Somehow, I slept peacefully through the night. I have more to say but need to get ready for church. Maybe there will be a part 2 later, maybe I’ll keep that experience of ‘falling off the wagon in search of escape” between Jesus and me. Believe me, it’s not pretty, so maybe I’ll save it for my memoir.

The day showed me not only how much I need Jesus, and how often I need him, but He is the only one who can truly always be there for me. He doesn’t have an answering service… He doesn’t need one. Thank God HE is my ultimate emergency contact.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dillon and Friends' - the Latest

Posted yesterday morning: The publisher just offered me 'one last chance'... I followed my heart and respectfully declined. I'll find a Christian publisher who will allow me to glorify God through Dillon and Friends. It just 'feels right' to decline. Too many compromises, turning my vision into someone else’s ‘project’. I’m not willing to let my lifelong dream be butchered. Been praying without ceasing! :) And I am at peace...
The email floored me. "In my 30 years of publishing, no one has every declined a publishing offer..." is what he said. It was a lengthy email. One of my aspirations is to 'stand out' from the crowd, and I often do, but not in a good way, I want to "stand out for God' so people know there is something different about me. These stories are like my children, and educating people about disabilities is a lifelong passion. People can say whatever they want (found that out last weekend that my refusing to settle is viewed negatively), but I am not settling. I am the Daughter of the KING of KINGS! I won't settle. This weekend will be spent in earnest prayer for God's insight.

So I settled it in my mind: Alrighty, then. Time to look for a new publisher!! A couple hours later, I get an email from the ‘top’ guy at the publishing company saying this is the first time in his 30 years of publishing an author has declined to work with them and he is 'taken aback' by my decision. Wrote a lengthy explanation with me to reconsider. He had points in which I am ready to discuss with him, so I explained I believe a phone call would be more effective between us. A couple of people have offered to intervene and ‘talk to him’ for me, and I have someone to do just that: Jesus… I am only His vessel. He’s got this. He has planted in my heart how the book series is suppose to be. Some areas can be changed, other concepts (like Dillon’s ‘boo boo’) are not up for negotiation. Keep me in prayer, but no worries… God’s got this. The publisher agreed to call me Monday morning.

By the way, this was my favorite part of his email:
In our effort to make sure we publish the very best books, we employ, at our expense, experts who advise us. I am not saying that your experience and knowledge does not earn you your opinion ( which for the most part has been excellent and is why we hired you)…

This was said by a prominent publisher to me, a girl who was suppose to  be sent to a State Hospital 43 years ago due to being born 'a vegetable who would never amount to anything."

They don't know my God. I can do anything with His strength!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Not Compromising

The publisher just offered me 'one last chance'... I followed my heart and respectfully declined. I'll find a Christian publisher who will allow me to glorify God through Dillon and Friends.

Working for God

One of my favorite (least favorite) verses is 2 Thessalonians 3:10 which says “if man does not work, he shall not eat.”

Through the past several years, I have always had to take/borrow money to meet my basic needs. The guilt and shame of having to take the money (even though it was for food, rent, etc.) has remained in my conscious every time I see that person. Most friendships have ended. Somehow, when people loan you money, you become forever enslaved to that person. And when they do you a huge favor, that always comes up during your most vulnerable times… “I did ‘x-y-z’ for you…” which tends to be followed by why you should behave according to their standards rather than being the individual you are.

This is why I isolate. The strings attached are never worth it for me. When I faced a deadlocked disagreement with my publisher recently, I began preparing for devastation, as if a hurricane was coming. Breaking the publishing contract meant my royalty checks would not start coming in next year. The light at the end of the tunnel was extinguished. My phone and electric would be shut off, leaving me no contact with the world (including potential new publishers), my car insurance would lapse, I would not renew my mental health licensure, and I would go off my medication. People offered me money… I refused. A high school friend talked me into depositing some cash in my negative bank account, which I reluctantly accepted because I knew she would not hold it over my head. My guy-friend begged me to take some cash while in return, I begged him to promise to take care of Jireh and Addy in case I die while seizing from medication withdrawal. (He has a family and I refused to take a huge chunk of money from his family). So I prepared for the worse.

And God showed up.

God used two incredible people at my church to confront my stubbornness enough to consider their offer…. If I help around the church, they knew ways God could provide enough where I could take my meds and stop worrying about genuine basic needs. An exchange of my services for His provision… yesterday was my first day. You know what? I did the absolutely best job I could, so humble at the opportunity, so determined to make Jesus proud of me, so wanting to give in an enormous way… okay, except for my friend who sweetly kept texting “How is it going? Are you having a Crohn’s attack? I’m praying for you…” He knew how much I want to work and how important this opportunity is for me.

My whole attitude has changed. One day, I’ll write how much so in my autobiography. I believed this was too good to be true… I still do. Losing my publishing contract made me lose hope and trust in the world. You know what? Maybe that’s a good thing.

I was working for the world and not for Jesus. Isn’t it incredible how God teaches us in our most desperate situations? With the financial burden off my back, I can look for another publisher… and work for Jesus (my BFF).

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord not for men.  – Colossians 3:23

Thursday, June 21, 2012

God's Got This!

I’m scared. Period.
I don’t think I can do this. I don’t think I understand what it entails. It must be too good to be true. I must’ve heard wrong. What if my Crohns interferes? What if I am incompetent? What if they don’t like me? After all, if I mess up at this, I lose everything again. I wanted to call someone to calm me down and almost called Rob, but I remembered I recently reassigned my ‘best friend’ status to Jesus. And so I went to His word. As I opened it, I wondered where to begin… Praise? Repentance? Request for strength, courage… so much whirled in my head.

Psalm 147:5 says, “Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.”

In other words, He understands without limits, and not only that, He is GREAT and MIGHTY in power!

Whatever you are facing this morning, there is no need to be scared and anxious. Even if you don’t understand, God’s understanding is without limits. And He is faithful, just, merciful, GREAT and Mighty! He’s got this!

And how awesome is it that my best friend will be right by my side every step of the way!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Love My Church!

Now before you freak out at the words I am about to write, know there is a fabulous ending. Yesterday morning, I was looking for someone to promise to take care of Jireh and Addy if something happened to me. Remember, I have no contact with my relatives and the best friend and I agreed it was time to go separate ways. She was my emergency contact and we had (over 18 mths) discussed all the things needed to be discussed when you are no longer a youngster. I needed to find someone to take her place. It was painful believing if I die, there would be no one to ‘take care of things’.

Plus, I haven’t felt healthy lately… my Crohns Disease is affecting me internally (I can tell by bowel movements and 30 yrs experience), my breathing was laborious (I recently fell and am sure I fractured a rib or 3), I had a migraine and am down to a week of medications (anti-seizure medications – If I don’t take, I start having seizures…). Things looked hopeless and, maybe it’s because I stopped taking one of my meds and am a bit drastic, I was literally preparing to die. I even went through important papers to leave them out just in case…

I had a meeting at my church that I was so close to canceling but knew if I had Jireh at my side, I’d be okay. Well, I couldn’t take Jireh, my eyes were swollen from crying… I didn’t think I could make it.

Kerrie Roberts' “Keep Breathing” kept playing in my head… you call it coincidence, I call it God speaking to me. Keep breathing, you are NOT done… don’t give up, don’t give in…hold on a little longer.

Do you ever say to God, “the things I do for you!!”. No? Me neither.

Every time I do what I do not have the strength to do, He shows up in an UNBELIEVABLE way! Yesterday was no exception.

I won’t go into details, but my meeting lifted the weight of the world off my shoulders, renewed my hope, my self-esteem, my sense of purpose…my love for people, my humility, and best of all, my love for Jesus.

WHY DO WE DOUBT HIM? He is the ALMIGHTY GOD!!! HE CAN TURN THE WORST CIRCUMSTANCE INTO THE GREATEST BLESSING!! I witnessed that for the millionth time yesterday. No matter what you are going through, go to Jesus. Go through it with Jesus. He knows the way…

Oh, how I love Him!

So I left Willow Creek with my ribs hurting more than ever – Cheryl and Elder Dave had me laughing harder than I have laughed in so long… (who knew elders were funny?) and ready to get back into life again. I was reminded of my ultimate contact – Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

My Jireh As A Puppy!!!

Advice to the Hurting - Changing My Mind About Asking For Help

Things were improving. I saw God’s hand as He provided me with a part-time job earning enough to cover my bills, and then some. My lifelong dream of obtaining a publisher came true. I had the best friend of my life. I got healthy, so healthy that my psychiatrist took me off all my antidepressants (first time in 20 years). I was planning for the future. Knowing my issues are deep and, come to find out, UNSPEAKABLE… I knew I could no longer burden friends and acquaintances with my thoughts (still having anxiety and panic attacks), I started paying a psychologist for counseling. I thought I was doing the right thing, and was very proud of the progress I was making.

I lost it all – starting with the job, then the publisher, then the best friend. Now, my finances are worse than ever. I am almost out of medication and both cause seizures upon sudden withdrawal. Right before I got Jireh (November 2010), I had a seizure. I saw Jesus, but only his outline because there was the whitest, glorious light shining from Him that I could not look directly at Him. I saw my beloved cat, Seminole starting to walk toward me… He was waiting for me at Heaven’s Gate. Oh, how I wanted to run and scoop Seminole up and then run to Jesus, and just weep in His arms! But my mom was on the far left, screaming, “No, not Shelly!! Please don’t take Shelly!!’ and since she had recently faced a couple tragic losses, I used all the energy in my body to fight to stay alive for her. It was a lot like Space Mountain, a lot of loud, shifting noises, sitting in a tube and racing through space. I felt my cat, Addy, laying beside me and concentrated on her heartbeat to bring myself to life. Sweat covered me, exhaustion was beyond anything I had ever experienced.

I called my mom to tell her I fought for her!!! I stayed alive for her. It was at this point she said I needed to be sent away for long term, inpatient treatment, such as a State Psychiatric Facility or a nursing home. She had refused to speak to me until I went off all my medication. I did just that several days prior to what the neuropsychologist identified as a seizure (from stopping meds). He said what I described was what patients described when they returned from death. He said I was on doorstep.

Now, I am about to experience the same thing. I refuse to elaborate because I have reached out to friends and was told "I was too much of a burden", “I don’t know what to say”, and, my all time favorite, "people are going to think you’re a crazy bitch”. So they won… I refuse to talk about the details of my feelings anymore. I know God created me to speak out about mental illness, but I am not strong enough right now. I am not strong enough to reach out to Him for strength. So I will no longer be open and transparent for the sake of other's comfort. (I am writing an uncensored book which only be queried to publishers when I am stronger).

My struggle is with others who have mental illness. I have witnessed what happens when you ask for help. I write this with tears rolling down my face… I am so sorry people don’t know what to say and use your darkest moments to point out all your faults. I am so sorry people walk away out of discomfort and frustration. I am so sorry I no longer feel comfortable advocating for mental health issues. I have become one of them – I refuse to talk about the details anymore. I don’t know what to say… and even with my licensure in mental health counseling, I don’t know how to help you. For the first time in my life, I am believing keeping your darkest thoughts inside may be the answer…

I continue to press on. I have a dog and cat to take care of and am determined to finish the race God has given me. But the pain is, well… it’s best not to discuss things like that or I may be sent away, lose a best friend, or be described as a "crazy bitch".

Soon, I will have no phone and no internet access, along with no medication. Perhaps this is a blessing as I truly will be silent. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

New Season!

This is a new season in my life... finding a new publisher, new friends, a new path... and I want it all to be in accordance with God's will. I am spending time with Jesus today, so unless He prompts me to share, no blog entry today.

Look to the Lord and his strength; Seek his face always. - 1 Chron. 16:11

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Crazy B

It kinda hurts to be called a ‘crazy b*tch’. I found that out yesterday. Sometimes Facebook is a great source of fun and encouragement, other times, I feel like I am dodging daggers – and some actually hit me! After being called those two words and hearing others were saying negative things, I texted my ‘friends’ – 7 in total – to see if I was coming off that way. After all, I thought I had been projecting an attitude of strength, courage and perseverance, especially after being rejected by my mother and losing my dream of being published – and, of course, facing no prospects of earning money for my books in the Spring. If I have been acting differently, I’d like to see any of my accusers go through what I am going through and NOT act differently! Give me a break, people! I texted 7 friends to ask if I had been a crazy bi*#ch and the friends that responded to my texts made me feel worse – except, of course, Jennifer and Rob and a couple others who defended and encouraged me. I believe I heard Jennifer crying on her voicemail because she knew how badly I was hurting.

I then read an email from a well-known, prominent, highly respected, educated, incredible man that made me stop and think about how ridiculous I was being for getting so upset. I’m a non-conformist, a Christian, and and advocate for mental health issues… on top of all that, I speak up when I see what I believe to be injustice. What do I expect? Roses and candy? Of course I am going to be bashed and accused of hurting the people who try to help me! I canceled my Facebook last night and wrote in my journal:
So, according to FB, I am a crazy b*#ch. Perhaps I am. I definitely will change. Already got off FB, will speak less, much less, isolate like Emily Dickinson. Focus on writing out of poverty. Shake it off. Focus on Jesus, fulfilling His will for my life so I can finally see Him, finally go home…

This morning, I reactivated Facebook. Since when do I let other’s words and opinions stop me? I am a child of the Most High God! If I was just going along with the flow, agreeing with everyone, living as the world lives, there will be much less controversy. I’m sorry – I choose the path I have been living. I apologized to the lady I feel I most wronged… otherwise, I was defending what I believe to be true. I was kicked severly when I was down, but today is a new day. I have cried to Jesus, He wiped my tears, picked me up, and told me to get back out there. He also reminded me of a few words from His Word:
1 John 2:15 – Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the father is not in him.
Deuteronomy 31:6 – Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
Psalm 56:4  In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust. I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?

So I press on. Even if I lose every single friend (what is a friend?) I have… as long as I have God, I press on. You can knock me down, but I WILL get back up. With God’s strength in me, I promise you that.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Email From A Friend....Reminder from God

My response...
I am having such a horrible day... lost 2 friends who I thought had my best interest at heart. Feeling sorry for myself. Was thinking of taking my anxiety meds, saying sc., um, "Forget it!" and going to bed. But then I got your email... someone I trust and respect and value... and it has motivated me to get on my knees, cry out to Jesus, tell him how unfair life is and how much I WANT TO BE IN HEAVEN WITH HIM, and hear Him tell me yet again, "Not yet, Shelly... Not yet. You are too valuable to my Kingdom to come home yet. If you were as useless and worthless as you are feeling, then I would gladly bring you home. But it's not time yet..."

And then I will get back on my laptop and write how He leads me... all because of your email. Going to bed and giving up will only delay my homecoming. Your email reminded me I have a gift that is not mine to keep... I must share it with the world. Thank you.

Jireh, 'Girl- TMI', Poverty - Stuff Like That.

Owning a dog is like being a parent on the ‘non-upgrade’ trial level. Life is scheduled around my dog, Jireh. I take her out every night at 8pm (I’m scared of being out alone in the dark) so sleeping in past 8 am isn’t fair to her bladder. This morning, I was determined to write as much as I can without interruptions (yeah, right), so I got up and took Jireh to the dog park BEFORE I EVEN HAD COFFEE!! (I KNOW!) 

I get Jireh to the dog park and 5 or 6 dogs meet her at the gate. Automatically, I ‘sensed’ something wasn’t right. Jireh stayed right by me, even hiding between my legs, which she has never done before. I told her it was okay, I was right there so she sniffed a dog or two and the third one snapped at her. That never bothers Jireh, being a Golden Retriever, who usually walks away and leaves the dog alone. Then another dog snapped at Jireh and, for whatever reason, Jireh (who is much bigger than both of those snobby dogs), snapped back. She has never done that!!! So I pulled Jireh back thinking I hope the dogs don’t bite me… what’s worse, I hope they don’t bite Jireh because then they’d see a momma’s wrath and I’d be arrested for, well, JUST DON’T HURT MY DOG. Anyway, I brought Jireh back home and she’s been at my side, loving me ever since. I don’t understand what spooked Jireh. It doesn’t matter – she didn’t want to be there, so I removed her from the environment. 

It reminds me of when doctors thought I had ovarian cancer, and the ER doctor had to ‘examine me’, then 3 other doctors ‘went up there’. I asked (okay, I was in so much pain, I yelled), “Can’t you consult amongst each other? Why do every single one of you have to give me a gynecological exam?! I don’t like people touching me!” So they put more sedating drugs in my IV, and transferred me to X-Ray where the guy wanted to perform an invasive pelvic exam. I refused. At the time, I was speaking with my mother (who is a brilliant RN) crying, telling her what I was experiencing. Her response was typical of a Borderline Personality mother: “Oh, Shelly… you are so sensitive about people touching your body! Stop it! It’s not a big deal…” and the criticisms started. Now, if she simply explained the reason another man had to touch me and shown me a bit of sympathy, I would have been okay… maybe. But the conversation ended with me telling her if I feel violated with someone innocently tapping my wrists, she should respect there is a reason for my feelings! I won’t even go into her needing to understand my violated feelings because an entire childhood of sexual abuse! 

So I didn’t press Jireh; I protected Jireh. I loved on Jireh. We’ve been bonding all day. Jesus is like that. He understands our discomforts. He knows how our past affects us. He stays with us, lets us hide behind Him, and, when the situation isn’t paramount to our walk with Him, He removes us from the situation. And if the enemy messes with us, the Bible says He will take care of them. He will handle it. God is good. I don’t know why my dream of having a publisher has been shattered, but I know God protects me and removes me from situations of upcoming danger. I won’t deny this is hurting me more than words can say. I even considered taking my doctor up on that 6 month stay at an inpatient treatment facility, almost convinced I cannot take care of myself. I have been counting on royalty checks to start coming in Spring 2013, moving to Tallahassee next summer, FINALLY getting the hairstyle I’ve been wanting, a dependable laptop, time on the ocean, going back to FSU for my Ph.D. (oh, I sooo want to be hooded), getting a camera to quench my love for photography… but the dream of ‘earning my way’ has been shattered. My phone will soon be disconnected, along with my internet… I won’t have money to go to the doctor, much less be on medication (THAT should be fun!), and probably what hurts the most, I won’t have the funds to renew my licensure in March 2013., as well as maintain my CRC. THOSE- I PRAY I NEVER LOSE. Sure, I can look for another ‘real’ job, but I can’t drive without car insurance and gas. My friends have helped me beyond belief, as has Willow Creek Church, for all I am grateful. Someone put $100 in my Paypal account yesterday so now I have negative $350 in the bank instead of negative $450. 

This blog is not going where I intended, but it is therapeutic writing it! I’ll make some twangs to it and submit queries for possibly publishing it. I keep feeling something deep inside saying “write yourself out of poverty”. I’m not giving up. My faith isn’t wavering. I know my Jesus, and I know He will not let me be in a dangerous environment. He has a plan for my life. My job is to keep using the gifts He has given me. And that is what I must do. If I don’t have internet, transportation, or a computer… I have plenty of paper and pens (but never enough to feed my pen fetish}. I will not neglect the gifts which have been given to me, and I will remember no matter what, His grace is sufficient for me.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Unwavering Faith

It appears I am dropping my publisher, thus will not have income coming in Spring 2013 for which I have been holding out. Don’t worry! I am fine. My faith is not wavering. I had a conversation with someone yesterday who admitted she doesn’t read my blogs because they are so ‘heavy’. I totally understand. Honesty, my blogs are aimed at people experiencing mental illness issues and those who love them. I do not expect you to help me or rescue me… or even read me! I share certain blogs with certain people to update them on practical areas of my life or share my faith. This is the same as Facebook.

When I announced on Facebook I am dropping my publisher, thus am back at square one, I was told not to ‘throw it away’ out of anger. Here are my responses. Again, don’t feel the need to ‘make everything better’. My faith in God is unwavering. He has something better. When I went to bed, I put aside my anger, not wanting to go to bed angry with Him. This morning, I was awaken by His peace, love and faith.

From Facebook:
As for 'throwing it away because of anger', that is not the case. The publisher is wanting me to change things about the poems (such as saying, 'boo boo on his brain' is too babyish and they don't want forced rhymes...) a list of things which will make my poems different than I intended them to be. I thought I said I didn't want to talk about it as there is too much I haven't shared, and frankly, I shouldn't have to justify myself. Forgive me, but I am a grown professional who prays constantly... I appreciate your help and care, but please don't assume I am 'throwing it away out of anger'. That hurt me and added salt to my wound.

Stop assuming I dropped my publisher out of anger. Stop assuming I cannot make my own decisions. You don't know what he is asking me to do. You don't know how he is breaking our contract. Why can't people just support and encourage me without my having to justify my actions? Really, what is the definition of being a 'friend'? My lifelong dream was shattered yesterday. Please, don't add to my pain. I will get through this. I always get through life's hurdle because I rely on God. I just don't need other people making the hurdles higher.

I know this is going to come off 'mean', I apologize... God is speaking to my heart now. My faith is not wavering. I know God is there for me. I know the Bible like the back of my hand. Please, just pray for me. I am too far in the pit to focus on other's application of God's Word. God has me. He is speaking clearly to me. Thank you for trying to make 'everything better", but no one can make this better except for God... and He is making things better than I can imagine. I trust Him. I know He is in control.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Morning Update

Good News: Called local Agency for Persons with Disabilities and left a message saying I need help. Also, Rob confirmed I successfully backed up my hard drive in case computer dies. Also, confirmed lunch date with lady from church.
Bad News: Charger stopped working, meaning I can no longer submit documents to my editor, update my blog, query publishers, etc... It is working at this second, but if my charger dies... that's it. I will spend my days in bed. Not being able to write myself out of poverty... I will give up.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Suicide - Heaven or Hell?

A couple of people have asked if I believe people who commit suicide go to hell. Here is my brief answer:
I assure you (as I have researched suicide for years), if he was saved, he is with Jesus. Suicide is a sin, but there is only one unforgivable sin - not accepting Jesus as Savior. If he wasn't saved, you never know what happened at the last minute. Last year, I overdosed on pills and went into like a fog - doctor said I was on death's door- and I saw a very bright light - I could see the outline of Jesus but the light shining from Him was so bright, I could see no physical substance to Him. If you research near death experiences, you will find this is common. Anyway, I had a brief conversation with Jesus... and He convinced me to stay here until I finished the work He had created me for. I know it sounds crazy, but it was truly divine. For this reason, I believe we never fully know if someone is saved at the time of their death. 

Also Addressed Dr. Drew

I just sent the letter to Dr. Drew, too. I know God is in control, but I am  getting so discouraged and scared.

My Letter to Ellen

Please pray she can help, with God's help... 
I am writing about myself because few know my story, and even fewer know my desperation. I was born with cerebral palsy, which makes my speech slurred and walking difficult, especially with aging. I had a normal life and went on to college to earn 2 Master Degrees and half of my doctorate degree in psychology. I took a break from college to open a private practice counseling individuals with disabilities. I am a firm believer that individuals are entitled to live their own self-determined quality of life. I was living mine until 4 years ago when I myself went into a deep depression. I literally have no family, only one or two friends who are 'there' but could never take me in. I had to quit my job, go on Disability and food stamps (which is very humbling), was homeless, have been hospitalized 3 times in 3 months (last year) for suicide attempts. I am trying so hard to get back on my feet... I started writing and found a publisher who has agreed to publish 24 of my children's books on various disabilities!!! I've been writing the books, knowing when they are published, I will earn money again. I keep writing, looking for other gigs so I can eventually get off of SSDI. My laptop is so old, I fear it will die any day now, I don't have money to pay for my internet access or phone next month and am facing eviction because so much of my check goes to medical care. Ellen, Can you please help me?  My blog: