Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My Mental Illness is Unique

MY Mental Illness Is MINE.

At times I am so angry that people can not understand what I am going through each and every day. Occasionally I realize I don't even understand what my depression and anxiety does to my mood.

You might not fully grasp what it feels like - but you can read my account of the last few days and see life from my eyes.

I picked the boys up from their grandparents' house on Saturday morning. They had a day camp for children that have lost a loved one. Sam was anxious but he calmed down once he got there. Jay was excited to do art projects. I went home and watched TV and took a nap. I didn't want to go back and be around people - but I did. After I picked them up the boys took me to the Flagstaff Community Labyrinth. They had walked it with the group and they wanted to show it to me. It was peaceful (well when Jay would stop talking) to slow down and walk to the center. That night I made two batches rice crispy treats, and followed it with a large stack of grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. Bedtime came easy because they were happy to be home with their mom.

Sunday started slow, I did not want to do any adulting. I wanted to stay in bed, so I did. I think I got up at one point but the headache, anxiety, and depression were too much to handle. I went to lay down and rest. I woke up hours later and could hear the boys playing nicely. I fell back asleep. The next thing I knew it was 10 pm. The boys were still watching YouTube on TV. (Why is it fun to watch others game play on video?) I forced them to clean up their mess and turn off the TV. I made Jay get a shower. They both climbed into bed with me. They fell asleep around 11 pm. I was up for a few hours but finally drifted off.

Monday: I didn't take the boys to school. They were out cold when the alarm went off. I didn't have the energy or motivation to bother. I finally got out of bed around 12 noon. My mom called me. She knew I was upset and angry about my job. I told her that before this job my life was the best it had ever been; we had lived in the same place for 7 years, we had enough money to get by, I had a new car, the boys were doing better in school with me not working. As horrible as I felt, it was just a bump.

After we hung up, I straightened up my kitchen, had the boys take care of recycling, and made us lunch. Then I watched some tv and started a pot of chili for dinner. I sat and cuddled one-on-one with Jay as it cooked. After we ate, we put away all the clean laundry. (I had done a few loads of laundry while they were at their grandparents. I even washed the damn dishes.) Jay went to sleep without a fight. Sam begged to sleep with me. I wanted to finish the movie I had been watching. I took that time to cuddle with Sam for some of his one-on-one attention. We climbed into bed and Sam read a chapter of a Magic Treehouse book as a bedtime story. 

To some of you this reads like a typical day for any family. However ALL of this took A LOT of effort because of my depression. After a couple weeks of not working, not doing dishes, not cooking, and not caring; I had cleaned up the kitchen, made food for us to eat, and I had done chores. 

Even for the few months I was working, I hadn't been cooking. I had no energy by the time 4 pm rolled around. We would go to a fast food place and take some food home. I would only do laundry when we were out of clean undies. 

This is why I haven't blogged as much this year. Every post I would start writing was angry ranting from the hurt and pain of my depression. I didn't want CoCo And Twins to be full of anger. Soon I hope to get back to regularly publishing. I have so many projects started that need to be finished up. I want to share more of what I love with those that will read.

Thank you for letting me share.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Back to Work

This past week has been exhausting!

The boys started 2nd grade and I started a new job! They decided that going to Cracker Barrel on the First and Last Day of School will be a tradition. 

I have not worked 5 days a week since before the twins were born. Well, even before that with the tough pregnancy. (There was 2 months in 2010 that I attempted to work. The boys were constantly sick so I after many sick days, I quit.) I absolutely love it. I am a Toddler Teacher for the Child Enrichment Center at the high school. I hadn't planned on a job which included changing diapers, but I love teaching and playing with little ones. 

Going back to work is going to be a struggle and a blessing. Trying to work out the boys' school days, after school care, being part of the PTO Board, Boy Scouts, and working is overwhelming. I am still trying to find that balance and perfect schedule. Things should calm down by the end of September. Being a single stay at home mom for 7 years has been tough. Going back to work is going to be just as hard. 

However, the financial blessing for my little family is going to be amazing. I recently bought a new car, and we have a fun weekend in Phoenix scheduled once a month for the rest of the year. These new expenses will easily fit into the budget. (Plus I am really good at finding deals to help stretch our money.)

Last weekend we were able to spend the night in Phoenix and see the Cubs game.

I hope all of you had a great start to the new school year.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Night Before Back to School

The night before the first day of school, 
and all through the house 
no one was moving... 
except for the MOM! 
She was writing names over and over 
on every box, notebook and folder;
checking backpacks and laying out clothes
before she would sleep for the night.

For in the morning would bring 
a Back To School breakfast 
and lots of photos 
once she finally tore the kids out of bed.
Then drive off to school in a hurry, 
to check out the class 
and see all their friends. 
(Plus a few more photos.)

Then the mom would relax
in all the glory of being 
alone for the morning. 

Happy Back To School!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

7 years in the making...

As I sit here binge watching Netflix, I can barely believe what happened 7 years ago. It feels like a lifetime ago. 

I showed up a domestic violence shelter just before midnight on Friday, July 31, 2010. The twins had just turned 6 months old. I had left their father and moved us 150 miles away. 

2 friends had driven us because my car wouldn't have made it up the I-17 from Phoenix. They left me there and went to a hotel for the night. They came back the next morning to take us to breakfast and to the store for basics.

I did a short intake and then I was given a room. Because I had 2 children, we were given a private room. It was a dorm room of sorts with a shared bathroom in the hall. I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that it would be better than what I had left, and better than the options available in Phoenix. 

That first weekend is a blur. A trip to Target that Saturday was crazy because the place was crawling with NAU students and their parents. My friends left that afternoon and we were on our own. One hot mess of a mom and two crying babies on the bottom of an old metal bunk bed.


Fast Forward to today - August 1st, 2017. The twins are now 7.5 years old and I am just a 2 days of being 40.5 years old. We just signed a new lease on our duplex. We have now lived here 5 years.{After being at the shelter for 9 weeks, I was given a spot in a transitional housing program. We lived there for 2 years while I completed the program.}

This is the longest I have ever lived in one home since I have left home at 17. This is longest I have ever been part of a community with friends and coworkers and resources. I love Flagstaff with all its quirks and faults. This is where I began a new life for myself and I now consider it to be my home. {But I will not stop rooting for my Cubbies! Go Cubs Go, Go Cubs Go. Hey Chicago, what do ya say? The Cubs are going to win today!}

Next week the boys start 2nd grade at a great school. That same day I start work using the Elementary EDU Special Education degree I earned 10 years ago. I am buying a new car and building my credit back up. I am decorating my house in my own styles and colors. I am purging closets and finally letting go of boxes of stuff that has followed me for years. 

I feel like a new person. I still fight the blues but they are at that annoying exhaustion stage instead of being a full depressive episode. I can handle this! I got this! My life is what I make it! Many people have said I am not worthy, not good enough, not smart enough, not normal enough, not consistent enough, not pretty enough, not rich enough, JUST NOT ENOUGH. 

Well, guess what?


I have so much self-worth! It is hard to see it some days - but it is there! 

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Suicide Prevention - Out of the Darkness Walk

It has been 18 months since the boys lost their dad to suicide. He would have been 39 last weekend. Sam and Jay spent the weekend with their grandparents remembering their daddy. I spent the weekend relaxing and trying to not be angry. Yes, I am still angry. Not that he took his own life - but that the boys are still hurting. There aren't many tears anymore, but the pain is still in the back of their mind.

In honor of their dad, my own suicide attempts, the many suicides in our community this year (including acoco friend's husband,) and the major celebrity deaths: I am walking to save lives.

In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 13.3 minutes, claiming more than 39,500 lives each year. It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute, with close to one million people attempting suicide annually. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 18-65, the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults, and individuals ages 65 and older account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths. This is a public health issue that does not discriminate by age, gender, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. 

Join Me in Supporting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

I'm walking in the Out of the Darkness Flagstaff Walk to fight suicide and support AFSP's bold goal to reduce the suicide rate 20% by 2025.

Event Details

Walk Date: 09/30/2017
Walk Location: Buffalo Park - Flagstaff, AZ
Check-in/Registration Time: 09/30/2017 at 8:00 am
Walk Begins: 9:00 am
Walk Ends: 12:00 pm
Please help me reach my goal by clicking the "Donate" button on this page:  http://bit.ly/2u7fNQL
All donations are 100% tax deductible and benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), funding research, education, advocacy, and support for those affected by suicide.
Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Prime Day Deals That I want in 2 Days

This includes affiliate links.







Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Vacation Bible School - Summer 2017

Every summer as a child, I would attend VBS with my friends. They would come to my church, and then I would go to their church. I loved all the crafts, games, and bible stories. Now that my boys are old enough, I also want them to enjoy learning about the bible. 

These are some of the Vacation Bible Schools I found that will be offered this summer in Flagstaff. 

June 12-16, 2017

First Southern Baptist 
6pm to 8pm 

June 19-23, 2017

Flagstaff Christian Fellowship
Monday to Friday  9:30 am-12 noon 

Mt. Calvary Flagstaff
9 am to 11:30 am

June 21 - 23, 2017 

Mountain View Church 
5:30 pm - 8 pm 

June 26-30, 2017

Christ's Church of Flagstaf 

Grace Community Church 
(Held at at Sinagua Middle School) 

June 30 & August 11, 2017

Covenant Church

July 10-14, 2017

Calvary Chapel Flagstaff 
9 am -12 pm 

Harvest Christian Fellowship 
9 AM - 12 PM

Did you attend VBS as a child?
What is a favorite memory?

Summer Meals for Hungry Children

School's Out For Summer! For us, that means my boys will be constantly eating everything in the kitchen! Flagstaff Summer Cafe will be available at 16 locations. Some spots will also have free breakfast available for kids.

If you have a school-aged kiddo in need of breakfast and lunch this summer, simply text “FOOD” to 877877. You will receive a message back with a location closest to where they can get free summer meals.

Even if you aren't in need, someone else's kids might be. No child deserves to go hungry.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My Reasons - Review of Netflix Original 13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why

When I heard about this show, part of me wanted to avoid it all together, to ignore it. The other part of me was curious. As I suicide survivor, I needed to know if Netflix had gotten it right. I wondered if the story would actually resonate with someone that had been at that point of desperation.

They did.


Stop reading this if you don't want to know specific details about the show.
Stop reading this if you don't want to know my reasons for attempting suicide in the past.


The first episode was interrupted when my kids HAD to have the living room TV to play video games. I moved to my room and decided that maybe I wasn't in the right headspace to start watching a show detailing the reasons that the main character ended her life. If you read my last post, you would know that my own mental health has been hard to handle. You would know that my medications had not been refilled on time or correctly, and I was suffering. 

What you don't know is that the next two shows I watched had suicide in the plot lines. These were prime time shows I watched on Hulu. It seemed that the universe was not going to let me get away from this theme. The next night I started watching 13 Reason Why. First, the show is amazing. I can see myself being part of this high school group. They could have added me as another character...

I remember moving between cliques in school. I started freshman year at 5 foot 3 inches tall and 180 lbs. I joined choir, drama, student council, and the speech team, I kept busy and I barely ate. By sophomore year I was 5 foot 7 inches tall and dropped down to 130 lbs. I had my first boyfriend, helped others cheat in class, got paid for doing homework, and ditched classes. The summer before junior year I lost my virginity. That fall I got knocked up and had an abortion. In June 1994 I left home. I dropped out of school before 1st quarter of my senior year ended. 

The next few episodes held my attention but they didn't seem to be enough to bring Hannah Baker to suicide. At least, it wouldn't have been enough for me. (My first attempt wasn't until 22.) Then I got to episode 11. It was "Tape 6, Side A" when Hannah talked about Clay Jensen.

These emotions and feelings were something I felt as a teen and into my 20s. However it took my years  to really understand. I never thought I was good enough. Sometimes I still don't think I am; but I can fake it. The lines she said on Clay's tape are words I have said more than once. 

Leave me alone. Leave me alone, Clay. You should go. Part of me was saying, Please don't leave. Part of me never wanted to see you again. I don't want you here. Get the fuck out! But you walked out the door like I told you to. Why did you have to leave? It was the worst thing ever. {...} I didn't deserve to be with someone like you. No, I never would. I would have ruined you. It wasn't you. It was me and everything that has happened to me.

All I ever wanted was someone to love me despite my truth, despite my flaws and my faults. I wanted to be left alone, but I didn't want to be alone. I needed to hear words like Clay wished he could have told her. The words she needed to hear when she was still alive.

I was an asshole, and I'm sorry. And I can never make it right. {...} I love you. I couldn't tell her. I couldn't hold her. I killed Hannah Baker. {...} How am I supposed to live with that? 

Now, after 7 suicide attempts there must be some reason I am alive. Was it because I failed? Was it because I was weak and couldn't really do it? Or was it that I was strong? Were my attempts the cries of help that got me a diagnosis and medication? Some days I am not sure. 

What I do know is that suicide is not selfish to the person that attempts or succeeds. To them, it is the more selfless decision and solution they can offer. It ends their pain and suffering. It ends the emotional drain they feel they put on friends and family. It ends the medication, the drinking, or the use of drugs. 

I still have two episodes left to watch before I finish 13 Reasons Why. I had to stop and write. I needed to get these words down as they poured out of my head and my heart. This is my way to cope. I hope you can understand. (I will follow up with a recap after I finish the show. I also want to buy the book by Jay Asher.)

Sadly in 2016, my ex-husband died by suicide. This year, my friend's husband ended his life. Our community also had 4 other suicides during February 2017. Even the founder of the #semicolonproject lost her battle with depression and died in March.

I'm better now. I was able to get my medications straightened out and I am back to my version of "normal". It will still take some time to push away the anxiety, but until then I have Xanax. Suicide will never again be a solution to my pain. I have learned how to get past my depression, the anxiety, and the cycles of bipolar with years of therapy. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

How To Help My #CRAZY {Mental Health, Suicide, Medications, OH MY!}

Be advised. 

Pouting and Whining is about commence. 

It has taken my doctor's office 5 days to get RX refills sent to the pharmacy. {These are the same 4 medications I have taken for the last couple years.}

That is 5 days without a sleeping pill, antidepressants, or a high blood pressure med. {I had some of the 4th med still left.}

As you can imagine, this brings my #crazy to its full 100%. 

Tonight at 8pm I pick up my medications. Two of the meds were not sent over as refills at all. They find a way to fill the one medication but the remaining med is missing.

So I now have 3 of the 4 I requested. Nothing I can do tonight, so I go home. I finish eating my dinner, and grab the meds to take tonight's doses. 

The antidepressant is now only half the doses it should be. I am not sure why someone cut my dose in half without discussing it with me. It seems like they don't want me getting back to #stable. They obviously don't care what I think.

So after days of waiting, hours of phone calls, multiple sleepless nights - my Dr's office still managed to fuck it up!

While it might not seem like it right now, I am at a functioning level of #crazy 90% of the year. OK, maybe 80% is a more accurate number. However, more often than not, I can handle a missed pill, a bad day, a bad week; and roll with the punches. 

What about those that aren't doing so well?

Sadly, my community has had 4 suicides in the last couple weeks. {One was a friend.} Plus there was a shooting incident on Friday that left 1 dead, and 1 injured. A suspect was arrested today. This happened at a rec center that is TWO blocks from our house. Yesterday I found out that a woman I work with died when her chemo didn't work and the cancer spread quickly. I can't take much more.

All of this is bringing up a lot of hurt emotions from a year ago.

People need to understand that without my medications, I would be one of those 4 suicides. The reason I don't look #CRAZY is because I take these medicines every day. If I can't sleep, it sets me up for failure tomorrow. If I get too low, everything seems hopeless. 

Then when something truly bad happens, like the death of a friend, or a trauma near your home; life falls apart. Subtract 5 days of medications... I am damn lucky that I only had a mini meltdown today. 

I am blessed to know what my triggers are, how to avoid them, tips and tricks for mood swings, and some really great ideas for self-care. I am also glad that I can step out of my own mental health issues and see how to help myself. It has taken me years to learn how my head and my heart work together to keep me stable. 

There are so many people that have no idea what kind of help they need, how to ask for help, or where to even start. Mental Health Issues need to be important to everyone. Plus everyone needs to understand that one person's #crazy is not the same as the next person. If you have a friend hurting, you need to be able to help them. If they need more than what you have in a First Aid kit, you need to know where to get them help.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 
Call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)
Available 24 hours everyday
Crisis Text Line
Twitter: @CrisisTextLine 
Free support by text, 24/7. Text TWT to 741741
Veterans Crisis Line 
(800) 273-8255, Press 1 

Central Arizona Crisis Line 
(800) 631-1314 
(602) 222-9444 
TTY (800) 327-9254

Northern Arizona 
(877) 756-4090
(Apache, Coconino, Gila, Mohave, Navajo and Yavapai Counties) 

Southern Arizona 
(866) 495-6735
(Cochise, Graham, Greenlee, La Paz, Pima, Pinal, Santa Cruz and Yuma Counties)

Gila River and Ak-Chin Indian Communities 
(800) 259-3449