People With Depression Are Strong, Not Weak: Here’s my case 

Originally posted on wehaveapples:

1. You’ve had to struggle. Struggle makes people grow in strength, wisdom and compassion. When we are happy, we can relax. You’ve had to constantly work. You are a better person for that, and incredibly strong because of it.

2. You’ve had to deal with stigma, misconceptions, ignorance, and your well-meaning friend that keeps telling you her cousin Mary cured her depression with yoga. You’ve opened up to someone about your mental illness and they’ve changed the subject because they’re not able to hear it. You’ve had to deal with a lot of total crap and that takes strength.

3. You’ve had to deal with a double standard. Joe Jenkins broken his leg and he’s so brave. Everyone is bringing him flowers, signing his cast, and making him apple pie. You broke your brain and everyone is ignoring you. You are strong, dude.

4. You’ve had to keep showing up…

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I Wrote A Musical About Mental Illness: video, more info, how to get involved!

journeywithmercy:

This woman speaks my language!

Originally posted on wehaveapples:

Ten months ago I started writing a musical about mental illness. (See video below where I explain more about the show, share clips, and let you know how to get involved) I started writing the show on the notes app in my iphone (on the subway) on my commute to NYU. Part of me thought the project would never see the light of day and be more like just a diary for me. (Of course my diary would be a huge, wacky musical- it’s so “me”) What I was writing was so personal, and I didn’t think I was ready to say, “Hey everyone! I know this world of mental illness because I’ve lived it!” It made me feel scared and vulnerable.

Eventually I realized that sometimes we need to trade fear and silence for bravery and making noise, especially when our writing may help others and serve a bigger…

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Miracles and Beautiful Adventures

DSC_0978Our trip to Blue Ridge Mountains this past weekend was breathtaking. I finally got to slow down and really enjoy the moments of our time together like a child. Granted that God had to intervene a few times to get us out of a few jams. The divine miracles that God performed whether to overcome an attack of the enemy, or to just enhance the moments, were awesome! God showed me some awesome things personal just to me that I cannot explain. the most memorable time was when we were hiking up to a waterfall with various other waterfalls in the river along the way. My son Joshua and Mercy explored the rocks and the pools of water at the base of the smaller waterfalls on the way to and from the main waterfall. There were so many divine moments throughout this adventure, including being able to see deer in the glowing setting sun. I could feel the presence of God and when we played a Christian station, all of the relevant sayings and lyrics from songs came at just the right time. I felt the most alive as I had felt in such a long time.

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While in Southwest Virginia, we visited Liberty University, where I am currently taking online classes for my second Master’s in Human Service’s Counseling. We went on to the Monogram and God kept us safe as we climbed the rocks.

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Anyway, the time at Roaring Run Falls in Eagle Rock Virginia, not far from Buchannon VA, was so ethereal, epic and adventurous. Mercy and Joshua were looking out for each other as my son was living a boy’s adventure tale. They were inseparable!

Posted in Acceptance, Adventure, Art, Autism, Beauty, Believe, Boys, Childlikeness, Divine, Encouragement, Epic, Ethreal, Faith, Golden Retriever, Human Animal Bond, Inspiration, Intimacy, Love, Lovelyness, Mental Health, Mercy, Nature, Refreshment, Rejuvenation, Sacred, sweetness, Tenderness, Therapuetic, Well-Being, Wellness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Child’s Heart – Love of Animals

I care about the hearts of children. Maybe it’s because my own heart is wounded. Deep down, I am still a hurting little girl. God is using this to help me identify with and relate better to children. Sadly, there seems to be a lot of disdain for childlikeness in society. Maybe, not as much now, but the old adgage “Children should be seen and not heard.” still remains, unfortunately. Authoritarians, and parents who themselves were emotionally abused tend to be the least understanding of children’s loves, desires, hopes, needs, wants, dreams, longings, feelings, hurts. etc. As an adult I still feel a though I am on the receiving end of people not understanding my loves, hopes, hurts, struggles, battles, dreams, etc.

Anyway, I was visiting a friend’s apartment to have dinner with her and swim in her complex’s pool. Her son, who is emotionally troubled told me about a couple of stray kittens in the drainage pipe. He was not kidding. I was trying to figure out whether they were feral or not. James, (not his actual name) was able to pet the kitten and he picked her up too. Normally, I look the other way when I see stray cats, but this one kitty, although shy, was still adoptable from what I could tell. When I see this child caring for the kitty, I cannot help but care and identify with his sensitive nature towards her. Children’s love of animals and other forms of nature is a form of childlikeness. It is to be praised and acclaimed, because I still love animals too, but I am especially biased towards Golden Retrievers. I called the local cat rescue, and left a message since it was Saturday. I still have yet to ask my friend what happened, whether or not the cats were rescued.

I am still trying to overcome adults having disapproval and displeasure towards what made me happy. I don’t have exact memories, but when I see a child berated in public, I cringe. I admit, I am no perfect parent either. I still lose my patience towards my son. He has autism, so it is even more of a challenge to keep him happy. I long to give emotional support and continue to give Joshua the proper emotional development he needs, but I am emotionally troubled myself, and I need for God’s love to truly set me free from fear and shame. I know that God will do a wonderful work in me, resolving my hurts, and meeting my emotional needs, so that I might pay it forward and help other hurting children feel loved, using my dog Mercy, when it is the Lord’s timing for me to do so.

Posted in Advocacy, affection, affirmation, Alley cats, Animal Assisted Therapy, Animals, At risk youths, Beauty, Believe, Calling, cats, Change the World, Childlikeness, Children, Comfort, Cooperation, Desires, Destiny, Disappointment, Disapproval, Disdain, Displeasure, Dreams, Embrace, empathy, Enrichment, Hopes, Hurting, Intimacy, Kindness, Love, Nature, needy, Passion, Pet therapy, Rescue, stray cats, sympathy, Tenderness | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Giving the mentally ill access to healing and a future

I have been trying to find a psychiatrist to help my husband overcome his broken heart for so many years now, but to no avail. The latest one we tried, which I was really counting being the one who could finally understand him and give him the true compassionate care and help he needed was the exact opposite. We were very discouraged to say the least. The whole operation was a big bureaucratic mess. Ever since ObamaCare came into the picture, more doctors left the Blue Cross/Blue Shield network (My husband had to leave his previous good psychiatrist because they dropped Blue Cross) Those psychiatrists who remain are so full they are no longer accepting new patients. It’s a nightmare! In this office where my husband went, they treated everyone like they were cattle, “next!”. Okay, so maybe I’m exaggerating, but I have been desperately counting on my husband finding the psychiatrist that will help him. I have employer’s insurance Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Now it feels like Blue Cross/Blue Shield is the new Medicaid, where working middle class people now have to compete with previously uninsured people for the same doctors, while the well to do see the more reliable high quality doctors middle class people used to have or may never have had. I know what Medicaid is like because I used to be poor, and I dug myself out of poverty by the grace of God. ObamaCare, while giving healthcare access to the uninsured, also caused quality healthcare to become more out of reach for working people as good doctors drop out of insurance networks since ObamaCare includes Blue Cross Blue Shield, which makes it more of a hassle for doctors when a whole slew of people come pouring into the office that didn’t used to come. I’ve noticed a doctor I was seeing since before HealthCare.gov went into effect now has an overstuffed waiting room. He still gives great care, and he is a compassionate doctor for me. Unfortunately, he can not help my husband. So we’ve looked through the list of every psychiatrist from A-Z literally that were on our insurance plan. I believe insurance companies and drug companies are paying low quality doctors who are only in it for the money to give substandard care to as many people as possible, not giving them the dignity they deserve, keeping them incompetent and stuck in a rut, so that nobody who is really troubled can become well or whole again, causing them to remain unable to make a better life for themselves and disallowing them a chance at a more meaningful future? They might as well be put away in an institution for life. I have trying to get a psychiatrist who really understands my husband and be his ally in his healing for years and years. Ironically, the doctors who are not in it for the money are not as likely to accept insurance. Unfortunately many people who are dependent on their insurance are no longer able to access quality doctors. I don’t mean to be political. But my whole point is that the healthcare system treats people like they are expendable rather than people of value. True, the previously uninsured now have access to healthcare, but it is relatively of very low quality. They are happy to have a doctor at all even if they are terribly inconvenienced. HealthCare.gov has become the new Medicaid.

I visited the National Holocaust Museum and Memorial and in there I learned that under Hitler’s government, they put the mentally ill away so they would not be in the way of the rest of society. They were also killed in institutions.

Now the middle class patients in this country who also have mental illness are at greater risk of becoming have nots since quality behavioral healthcare has become out of reach for them while low income people especially those without connections are still denied what they really need and therefore have less hope of bettering their lives and are also at greater risk of falling through the cracks of society as well. ObamaCare has not improved this dynamic. Low income people who did not have access to quality healthcare before, still do not have it. The whole system is rigged to keep hurting brokenhearted people excluded from privileged society.  There is now less hope for struggling mentally ill people to get well. I am not going to say in every case that people with certain kinds of insurance cannot have access to quality healthcare. It is just becoming more evident that quality mental health care is becoming more out of reach for those who need it to keep functioning at their jobs who have managed to find a career for example (sometimes by the skin of their teeth) or those who need to find some kind of hope for healing to have the best chance of doing what they’ve been created by God to do.

Our system is broken. As are many people who are troubled, hurting and lonely who are at risk of giving up on themselves due to others not caring. I see that everybody is looking out for number #1. Certain people in the healthcare industry do not care about the true needs, hopes, dreams, desires, values of those who are struggling to fulfill their God given longings. It is not unlike people from low income families being unable to afford a college education so they are at greater risk of staying hopelessly in poverty.

So much more could be done for the kingdom of God if the right people got the right services needed to better their lives or to make a difference in the lives of others. There are a lack of services, programs, ministries to give people the hand ups that would truly benefit them. There are people struggling with mental illness due to unresolved hurts that they needlessly went through. Only affluent people are able to access high quality care including mental health treatment. Meanwhile, the people who really need help are being neglected, disrespected, devalued, undermined, unsupported. It appears as though het devil is sucking the life right out of this world. I want to do something about it before it’s too late.

Only a miracle can help my husband now. I am still relying on God to come through for us, for now we are in a position to receive a miracle. I believe God has called us to a life a privilege so we can give the help to others that they really truly need that other organizations, agencies, non profit mental health ministries and especially government sponsored healthcare doctor’s offices may not be willing to give. I promise to God that if He will come to our aid in our time of need, that we will pay it forward it to others and provide help to them to get back on their feet so they can be empowered, lifted up and equipped to do something worthwhile and meaningful for the kingdom of God according to the desires that God placed in their hearts that they otherwise would not get, for God has not called them to a life of poverty or meaninglessness.

Posted in Behavioral Health, Broken Hearted, Calling, Compassion, Destiny, Division, Exclusion, Have Nots, Health Care, HealthCare Marketplace, Hurting, Love, Meaning, Meaningful Life, Mental Health, Middle Class, Passion, Purpose, Support, Troubled, Valued, Worthwhile | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going at it alone.

Mercy at Manassas National Battlefield for the Unite to Fight Pet Cancer Virtual Walk.

Mercy at Manassas National Battlefield for the Unite to Fight Pet Cancer Virtual Walk.

I had organized a walkathon that was a subset of the Unite to Fight Pet Cancer Virtual Walk. This was to raise funds for the Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study. I created the event on FaceBook. One person signed up. When I got to Manassas Battlefield Park with Mercy and the rest of my family, where I was supposed to have the walk, I knew I had to go it alone. There were not any Golden Retriever Lifetime Supporters from the state of Virginia there. It was a wonderful walk, nonetheless. I got some fresh air and beautiful pictures. My son Joshua was really happy. I did get to talk to another family with a Collie dog and share with them about the study. I still chose to have a good time despite the lack of participation at my local event that was part of the overall nationwide Virtual walkathon. There were other subgroups of people with their Goldens in places like New York for instance. I was trying to organize something in the state of Virginia, but despite my announcements on different websites and spending money to advertise on FaceBook, I got hardly any response. I thank those who helped me with setting up my event and those who donated including Leigh Collins and Kris Campesi. The lack of connections is a discouragement, but I don’t let it slow me down. I was happy to raise funds for the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study.

Posted in Acceptance, Alone, Aloneness, Being Liked, Belonging, Connections, Friends, God's Grace, Going at it alone, Golden Retriever Lifetime Study, Golden Retrievers, Groups, Identity, Importance, Important Endeavors, Inclusion, Leadership, Loneliness, Meaningful Purpose, Outcast, Popularity, Rejection, Team Manassas, Teams, Teamwork, Value, Worth, Worthwhile Endeavors | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where I stand today- Closed Doors

I know it has been a while since I posted any updates. I am still aiming to find opportunities to share Mercy and the love of Jesus with other people, particularly children. We visit an assisted living facility on a regular basis, which is what we have been doing for over a year. I have some possible prospects for new opportunities, but they are still pending. I did visit children with autism with Mercy back on January 31st. I have sought to do additional visits, but was told that there was none. I was also told that I would have to watch the director of Summits Therapy Animal Services take her Golden Retriever Titus around to visit special needs kids, but haven’t heard back about that opportunity.

I am also sad to report that my opportunity to visit Novant Prince William hospital through Manassas Therapy Dogs was put aside due to my being reported for Mercy grabbing an elderly person’s muffin out of her walker. I should have kept a closer eye on her, but one of the other volunteers ratted me out, so the hospital visiting coordinator put my volunteer file to the side to revisit in 6 months.

I am expecting to partake in additional R.E.A.D. visits with Mercy like the one I made in December starting this month through Manassas Therapy Dogs and independently in another county.

God is probably teaching me patience through all of this. Was it Michael Jordan who had the record number of rejections by his high school basketball team? Like the heroes in the sports arena, I am not giving up. I know God has great plans for me and Mercy, and I trust that He will put me where He wants me at the right time. I am also hoping to start a chapter of Canines for Christ through my church, but it has been delayed time and time again due to personal problems of mine and the busyness of the staff at my church.

I know that God has called me to comfort afflicted under-served youth through the love of a Golden Retriever. I so long to entertain hurting kids through an entertaining loving sweet dog, who is always happy to see them and be with them, when the people in their lives weren’t. In a sense, I feel like the under-served youth as well. Even though I am getting discouraged, I am not giving up! I had to fight to get where I am now, but it is worth it. I know how it feels to be rejected, which only stirs up the fire of my passion to help the downtrodden even more.

This is the first day by the way of Autism awareness month. I actually have a mild form of autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder. I struggle with understanding social cues, so that has something to do with why I struggle socially and face obstacles like I do.

This is not about me. This is about God’s glory. I long to see advancements in His kingdom. I want to help love the unlovely. I wish to help those that other people may not want to help as much. God’s will is that we are are in harmony with his plan and with his will and with one another in Christ. We are all working for a common cause, which is having compassion on your fellow man, letting God love them through you. The goal I have is not really any different than any other sincere Christian. I wonder why if God has such an important mission for me, why are doors being slammed in my face. However, I know that Moses was told no by the Pharaoh, even though God commanded him to demand that his people be let go. I am going to be persistent like the widow, while also trusting God to open the doors of opportunity He wishes to open for His greatest glory. If I need special training to be a better therapy dog handler, I trust that God will provide the right mentorship as well. At any rate, may God’s purposes be done.

Posted in Acceptance, Advocacy, Autism Awareness, Believe, Calling, Cheer, Christianity, Closed Doors, Comfort, Common Purpose, Compassion, Cooperation, Destiny, Disappointment, Discouragement, Dogs, Dreams, Faith, Fulfillment, Future, Goals, God, God's Glory, God's Kingdom, God's Love, God's Will, Golden Retriever, Grace, Healing, Hope, Inclusion, Jesus Christ, Love, Mercy, Open Doors, Opportunities, Patience, Promises, Purpose, Rejection, Serving, Thrive, Trust, Unconditional Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment