Behind the Masks I Wear

I hide behind the mask I wear. I hide from you. I hide from myself.

I hide so you can’t see me, so you won’t see me, not the real me, the hidden me.

Don’t get too close to me, the real me. The one you can’t fully see.

What if you don’t like me? What if no one likes me?

That one that hides deep inside my walls of pain and shame–hidden between the layers of heartache and trauma. Trauma that sneaks out sometimes that I must quickly tuck back inside before you can see it, before you can see me seeing it. That heartache and trauma in my past buried beneath the newness of my life. 

I hide so you wont know my story. I hide so no one can hurt me, again. 

I hide from fear. Fear of possible closeness that I am no longer accustomed too. A closeness that could consume me, swallow me whole and spit me back out again and reject me, hate me, fail me.

I’m afraid to fail at life again. So, I successfully live on the surface of life without treading in too deeply. 

I hide so you can’t like me enough to unlike me.

I hide because I’m afraid I don’t remember how to be a friend anymore.

If you like me, what if I don’t like you? What if I hurt you? What if you hurt me?

I hide behind my mask because I don’t want to know what I don’t know.

I hide behind my mask so my fears won’t escape, leak out onto you. I fear you will know my fears and if you do you might become afraid of  me.

If you know my pain, you might get hurt. I don’t want you to hurt. I don’t want anyone to hurt like I have. 

I don’t know how not to hurt. If I unhurt for a moment, I fear when the hurt will return. When things are good, I fear when the gloom and doom will return.

Sadness has become a familiar companion. Familiarity has become my safety net. I can’t jump without a net. 

Melancholy always comes back to visit. It weighs me down with an even overflowing weight of soothing despair. The kind of despair that has been my lifelong companion–familiarity like a favorite tattered and torn old sweatshirt. A favorite you always go back to. You know it and wear it well.

My sense of protection comes from the familiarity of my constant low grade depression, melancholic feel which I have known my entire life. It seems to be all I know. My only friend and companion. Miss Melan Choly is welcome here. I know her well. She has never let me down. I have always been able to count on her to return back to me throughout my entire life.  She doesn’t hurt me too much–just enough to know she is there.  

I hide behind my mask because I am afraid. I am afraid to love and I am afraid not to be loved. 

The mask keeps me safe–a barrier to keep you out and a barrier to hide me within. 

Don’t look at me. Don’t see me–not the real me, the me you don’t know, the me you might not like.

Don’t peek inside me for too long or you might see something you don’t like.

Please be kind to me. Don’t hurt me. I can no longer bear to be hurt again, so I will stay safely hidden behind my mask. 

I wore this invisible mask before Covid and now I wear a new face mask to protect me from the Corona virus. This cotton face mask has given me a new layer of protection, another shield, a barrier to help keep me safe from you and me from you.

Now, I can hide behind both masks–my own invisible barrier and one made out of cotton. 

I like wearing my new face covering to protect me from Covid. It has become a familiar companion, a safety net, another layer of protection, a sense of security, something else I can hide behind, another layer to keep you away from me and me away from you.

My cotton face mask protects me from so much more than Covid. It protects me from you and gives me a new layer of protection I can hide behind. It has become a new sense of security from my own fears and insecurities.

I hide behind the mask I wear. I hide from Covid. I hide from you. I hide from myself.

I hide so you can’t see me, so you won’t see me, not the real me, the hidden me.

Don’t get too close to me, the real me. The one you can’t fully see.

I hide behind my cotton mask so Covid can’t touch me and if Covid has snuck inside me,

I hide Covid and me safely from you

behind the masks I wear.

~written by Susan Walz

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Just a few more thoughts…

After Covid is over and we are no longer required to wear a face covering, I’m beginning to think I have become too comfortable hiding behind my new layer of protection. This new layer of cotton protection has given me new sense of security I am becoming quite attached to and comfortable with.

After Covid is over, I will once again have to show my entire face out in public. This means I will need to wear make-up more often, make sure I do not have spinach in my teeth and that no stray black hairs have grown on my face. Oh boy. What will I do? Lol.

Photo Credit:  Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope

Handle With Love

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will NEVER forget how you made them feel.” ~Maya Angelou

I find that quote absolutely true for every good and bad situation, event and person in my life. When I think of my first good memories, I remember my Grandpa Meyers. I do not remember many of his words and even if I do, I remember how those words made me feel. I remember some of the fun, kind and caring things he did for me and my gang of friends at the time, but most importantly I remember how he made me feel. My Grandpa Meyers always made me feel like I was special and loved deeply by him.

Feeling special + Feeling loved = HAPPINESS

Of course, my children provide most of my positive memories since the second I first found out I was pregnant. It is mostly loving them unconditionally forever from the instant I conceived and being loved back by them that gives me the most joy and purpose in my life.

On the flip side, my most vivid negative memories are associated with feelings of shame, anger and sadness. For example, when I was punished for wetting the bed nearly every day until I was twelve years old, I remember the negative shameful words because of how those words made me feel. I cannot remember the physical pain caused by the spankings, but I still unfortunately feel deep rooted shame and anger towards my father for causing it to happen. I was punished and shamed for a behavior I had no control over. I continue to recover and heal from the painful emotional wounds I have now learned affected every aspect of my life.

The most traumatic memories are remembered most vividly and are impossible to forget. We cannot forget them, but we can learn to live with them in a healthy and safe manner. This of course takes time and work. Mindfulness has greatly helped me and continues to.

Other people in your life may have experienced or witnessed the same event but may not remember it the same way or at all, because it was not traumatic to them. You on the other hand remember every detail of the event.

When looking back at your life, what are the memories you remember the most and how did they make you feel?

My negative memories are filled with feelings of anger, shame, and fear.

My positive memories are filled with the emotions of joy, pride and love–loving others and/or feeling loved.

In everything we do with others, I think we should always remember the quote by Maya Angelou,

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will NEVER forget how you made them feel.”

To make a positive difference in the lives of others always listen, love deeply and make them feel like you care about them. Make them feel special. Let them know they matter and have a great purpose in this lifetime.

I think I always tried to treat people the way I wished I would have been treated. Growing up I had little to no self-esteem. Honestly, deep down I was ashamed of myself. My parents instilled that in me from a young age. I wished I felt good about myself, so I wanted to help others feel good about themselves. I guess I treated people how I wanted to be treated and feel. I never wanted others to feel the way I did.

Helping others helped me feel better about myself. It was and is a win win situation.

In the process of helping and loving others, eventually I learned to help and love myself.

Self actualization and loving myself are lifelong lessons I continue to take and experience. I am currently being home schooled every day by the faculty of myself, my family and everyone around me. I also learn from books, blogs, social media, television and movies–I learn a lot from documentaries. These all continue to be a big part of my curriculum for my lifelong lessons on love and the meaning of life.

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Thank you for reading. I have been so busy, I have not had time to write for a while but I always miss it and need it. Writing has always been very therapeutic for me. Plus, I miss all the amazing people in this fabulous blogging community that actually helped save my life. I hope you are all doing well and staying safe during this difficult time of Covid-19 and the United States election. I was thinking of taking a long nap until the election was over. Just kidding, but I am looking forward to when the election is finally over. Please VOTE. I know I will.

Much love always,
Sue

© Copyright 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope 

Photo Credit: Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash,com

Signs of Hope and More

I am an Etsy shop owner.

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When I first opened my Etsy shop my goal was to make a line of gifts, cards, magnets, stickers and wall art for MENTAL HEALTH RECOVERY AND WELLNESS.

I thought… there is not much out there that I am aware of–not many cards or gifts specifically for people with mental health and who are in mental health recovery.

I thought… I know what has helped me the MANY times I was battling severe mental health SEASONS of my life for over two decades. I know what would have helped me.

I thought… some people want to help and are thinking of you, but they just don’t know what to say. So, the say nothing and that hurts.

I thought… a card or magnet could say what others couldn’t or didn’t know how.

I thought… I need to help others show their love and HELP others heal and feel better with a card or a magnet.

So, in the beginning my main goal was to create new art and adapt my old art with quotes, sayings and heartfelt words etc.

But then… the Corona Virus hit.

Etsy asked people to make masks on Etsy. I could sew, so this was a no brainer.

I had to put my goal for my Etsy shop in my back pocket for later and in April began making masks nonstop and selling them both locally and on Etsy. I made enough money so I didn’t have to work at a part-time job to supplement my SSDI.

Mask making became my job. In fact, masks were in such high demand I had to close my shop a few times to slow down business so I could catch up and so I would not go over my allowed SSDI income amount. It was unbelievable.

I loved being my own boss and don’t want to ever get a part-time job again. So, I am working diligently to create, make and sell new products.

I LOVE being my own boss.

I can go to work whenever I want. (Oh wait, I am always there.) I can stay up late to work as I tend to be a night owl and always have been, If I stay up too late I can sleep in. This is awesome because sleep has always been an issue for me and this helps greatly.

The best part is I am available to be there for my adult children whenever they need and I am available to visit and help take care of my beautiful grandbaby whenever they need me.

I would like you to meet my gorgeous baby girl, my granddaughter, my heart, my miracle, my life… Leora Bravely who will be one year old on August 3rd.

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I am beyond blessed to be alive to participate in her life and love her up. I almost missed this. Proof how life will get better. Just hold on and keep fighting. Suicide is not an option. Oops. Sorry, I do digress. Back to the topic.

The mask business has slowed down, so now I am trying to create, make and sell other products.

I am attempting to learn SEO and how to get to the top of search engine searches on Etsy and Google searches. It is a slow and difficult task so far.

If anyone knows about this and other ways to sell and market online please share. I will be most grateful and appreciative.

Please visit my Etsy shop here:

Signs of Hope and More

This is my shop banner:

Signs of Hope Banner 2

I apologize ahead of time if the following information is confusing.

I am learning how to add items for sale as I go.

These are some of my products I sell on my shop. I have many many more fabric choices:

MASKS — $12.95

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Face Mask

Face mask with filter pocket, adjustable ear loops, wire nose piece, double layer of cotton, Reusable-washable-Handmade-expandable-pleats-stylish.

$12.95

MASKS AND MATCHING SCRUNCHIES — $15.95 for the matching set

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Face Mask with Matching Scrunchie

Face mask with filter pocket, adjustable ear loops, wire nose piece, double layer of cotton, Reusable-washable-Handmade-expandable-pleats-stylish with a MATCHING SCRUNCHIE.

$15.95

SCRUNCHIES — $3.00 — varies with type and size

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Hair Scrunchies

If you like a scrunchie I have shown, please describe the fabric. I have many more fabric options on my Etsy Shop to choose from. Please go there to check out the fabric and return here to make an order. Or order directly from my Etsy shop. Happy shopping.

$3.00

POCKET ZIPPER SCRUNCHIES–$4.00 (holds & hides keys, money, lip or chapstick etc.)

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Pocket Zipper Scrunchie

If you like a scrunchie I have shown, please describe the fabric. I have many more fabric options on my Etsy Shop to choose from. Please go there to check out the fabric and return here to make an order. Or order directly from my Etsy shop. Happy shopping.

$4.75

PLASTIC BAG HOLDER DISPENSERS — $12.00  (a decorative where to hide and organize your plastic shopping bags)

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Plastic Bag Holder Dispenser

Please describe the fabric you would like when making your purchase or order directly from my Etsy shop. Happy shopping.

$12.00

Please visit my Etsy shop here:

Signs of Hope and More

GIFT CARDS, STICKERS, MAGNETS, WALL ART: Currently $3.00 for downloadable digital prints

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Digital Downloadable Art Print

If you like an image I have shown, please describe your choice when making a purchase. I have many more on my Etsy Shop to choose from. Please go there to check them ALL OUT and return here to make an order. I will send a copy for $5.00 plus shipping. I am sorry but it is not possible for you to download from my blog. You can download on my Etsy shop for ONLY $3.00 a copy. Happy shopping. I CAN PERSONALIZE THE QUOTE OF YOUR CHOICE FOR $6.00 plus price of shipping.

$3.00

MY COLOR PENCIL DRAWING WITH QUOTE — CAN PERSONALIZE QUOTE

Martin Luther King Jr.

MY ORIGINAL WATERCOLOR PAINTING WITH OR WITHOUT QUOTE can customize quote

butterfly inspiration

CUSTOMIZED DRAWINGS — GIVE ME A PHOTO and I create something like this…

boy scan ETSY

I will continue to add more products:

  1. Next adding head bands– matching headbands for babies and Mommys.
  2. gift cards – for mental health
  3. stickers and magnets – for mental health
  4. wall art and quotes – for mental health
  5. I WILL ALSO BE SELLING CUSTOMIZED PENCIL DRAWINGS/SKETCHES OF CHILDREN, FAMILIES, PETS etc.

I hope you will visit soon. Please visit and then check back as I keep adding more items.

This is from my mental health line of products and can be used as a gift card, magnet, sticker or small wall art. I am working on creating more of this type of product.

Sorry the image is fuzzy but is not when ordering.

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Please let me know if you think it is a good idea. What would you like to see??? Please share. (the image is fuzzy–sorry)

Please visit my Etsy shop here:     Signs of Hope and More

I apologize if this is confusing as I am learning as I go.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Top Featured Image photo credit: Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Find Your Purpose and Joy

There have been many things I have learned throughout two decades of stumbling, and crashing and eventually living and thriving with mental illness. As we know, acceptance is the first step in recovery. Acceptance comes in many forms. There is the acceptance of your diagnosis and the realizations of losses– some of them temporary and some of them permanent and only time will tell that.

As your world constantly changes, you must accept that your identity and the way people see you and view you may change. That was a hard one for me. Some of my views of how people saw me was caused by my own self stigmatizing and assuming people thought less of me when I had no idea if they really did. I think we all need to be increasingly aware of self stigmatization because it can be damaging and worsen symptoms and recovery. It took me years to figure out that I was self stigmatizing.

One thing to remember is that joy is always possible. Don’t think it is only possible after you get better. Look and search far and wide for the small joys that are available to you. There are some and in fact there are many. They are there.

One key to living well with mental illness is learning how to BE EFFECTIVE IN YOUR PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES – no matter what they are.

You must figure out what your purpose is for that moment in time. There is always a purpose. You always matter and you are always here for a reason.  Maybe it is just to survive this moment because future moments will be better. Maybe it is to give a person a smile and make them feel better.  Maybe your spot in line will change and improve another’s person day and situation for the better. There are so many little things we never think of, but each one is important.

For instance, when you stand up dominoes to align so they will will all strategically fall one after the other after the first one is nudged, each one of those dominoes must line up perfectly for the ripple effect to work successfully. Each one of us is necessary and important for our environments to be successful. We all have a purpose and are necessary dominoes in this life and world. If just one of us is missing or out of alignment, it disrupts our family, group of friends or any setting we are in.

Find your purpose and search for joy. I know living with mental illness makes this seem like it is impossible, but I guarantee that if you choose not to look at all you will definitely never find it. We must stay on the positive side of life. I know this now because I wasted many days, months and years seeing the negative side of life. I realize now that it made much of my life worse. I know today looking back that there were so many beautiful moments and bubbles of joy I missed out on.

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~Maya Angelou

With recovery there will be occasional setbacks, but the comeback is the important step. After each setback the comebacks become easier. Soon you won’t have so far to travel to come back after the setback. Eventually you will have a beautiful, new and improved destination.  Each day joy and peace will become easier to attain and closer to your everyday existence. It will become part of your of life.

Keep your heart and mind open to the goodness around you. Soon you will find all the goodness and joy that surrounds you. When you find it and hold onto joy you can share it with others. Call someone, visit or send an old fashioned letter, an email or text to brighten someone’s day. When you brighten someone’s day it will help brighten your own day. The ripple effect of sharing joy and love is contagious.

~Written by Susan Walz

“If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.”  ~Maya Angelou

 

Please check out my new memoir SHAME ATE MY SOUL.
I realized how shame was instilled in me at a young age and increased after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Shame was one of my biggest problems. I needed to get rid of it. So, I did and gave it back to the people who gave it to me. Shame was not mine to bear. That was a huge part of my recovery and healing.
My book is available on Amazon as an Ebook and paperback.

book cover: Shame Ate My Soul by Sue Walz

I really hope you will check out my book.

Thank you.

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope

Photo Credit: Featured Image Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Book Review From Ashley of the Blog Mental Health @ Home

The following is a thorough book review of my memoir SHAME ATE MY SOUL. The review is written by Ashley from the blog Mental Health @ Home. I wanted to share this review so you could get another perspective and a better synopsis of my memoir and the messages it conveys.

I am so very thankful for Ashley as she wrote an excellent review and thorough description of my memoir. Please check out her blog on the above link as she has one of the best mental health blogs on the internet.

Book Review: Shame Ate My Soul

book cover: Shame Ate My Soul by Sue Walz

 

Shame Ate My Soul is Susan Walz’s personal story of rising above stigma, suicide attempts, addiction, and misdiagnosis, and eventually finding recovery. I’ve known Sue, who blogs at My Loud Whispers of Hope, since the beginning of my blogging journey.

The book opens with a heartbreaking conversation with 2 of her 3 children, as they tried to persuade her to accept help in her depressed state. She told them she wouldn’t kill herself that night, and she “knew it to be true because I promised myself, I would never kill myself without writing letters to my children first. I was far too tired to write my good-bye letters tonight.” I know that kind of thought pattern all too well.

The book then shifts to her early life and the trauma she experienced from being punished for ongoing bed-wetting problems. Sue describes how symptoms of mental illness appeared and continued to worsen into her 20s.

She then became unexpectedly pregnant and endured a traumatic birth that left her “an empty carcass of a human being pretending to be real.” Unsurprisingly, she developed postpartum depression. At that point, she was prescribed Klonopin (clonazepam) by a psychiatrist she would end up seeing for many years.

Things really began to fall apart after the birth of her second child. Her psychiatrist diagnosed her with bipolar, but my guess is that he slept through the part of school where they taught about medicating bipolar. At many points throughout the book, I wanted to jump through the page and smack him silly.

Readers will probably also be inclined to jump on the smack train when she describes the horrible way she was treated around that time by her (now ex-) partner, her employer, emergency services, and the hospital. At one point, she writes that “I was imprisoned in the Psych Unit for ten days until they released me, until I served the mandatory sentence for my crime of having a severe mental illness and pissing off my husband.”

Sue writes about the stigma that she experienced in multiple contexts. For example, when she missed a couple of appointments with her obstetrician, she got a call from the clinic threatening that her baby would be taken away if she kept missing appointments. She was also wrongfully fired from a job when they found out her history of mental illness, and ended up homeless with a young daughter to care for. She explains how she developed self-stigma as a result of the stigma she was exposed to. Her experience really captures the harm that stigma can cause.

The gong show of psychiatric ineptitude continued, and her mental health declined. Every step of the way people just kept dropping the ball when it came to her care. It would be farcical if it wasn’t so tragic.

The book then arrives back at 2018, where it began in the first chapter. Sue explains that giving up the fight to live brought her “a new kind of peace I never experienced before.” I’ve felt that same peace when in that situation, and Sue’s description gives a good insight into that mindset.

The book includes the suicide note that Sue wrote after taking a bunch of pills. She posted it on her blog. That’s a part of the story that I already knew. I read Sue’s blog post early that morning, several hours after she posted it. I found the city where she lived on her Twitter profile, and called the police. The calltaker said they’d already been notified by another online follower, and they were already with her at that point. The book includes my response to her tweet, letting others know that help was already with her.

Besides worrying about further stigma she’d be faced with after the suicide attempt, she had to go through being cut off Klonopin cold turkey and experiencing a terrible prolonged withdrawal.

Finally, though, Sue was able to turn a corner. Her recovery has been truly remarkable, with the help of her faith, becoming a grandma, and finally finding a doctor who was able to give her the right diagnosis and get her on the right treatment.

Sue has had a very difficult journey, and she’s captured it really effectively in this book. It has a loud and clear anti-stigma message, as well as a very hopeful message for recovery. This is a very powerful book and I highly recommend it.

Shame Ate My Soul is available on Amazon.com


Photo Credit: Top photo of featured image by Naomi Irons on Unsplash

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope

Don’t Forget MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS

I have been encouraged by the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement and pray it will make a positive change in America and around the world. It is time and it is necessary. Please keep in mind as you read the following words I do NOT want to EVER take anything away from the Black Lives Matter movement. I am listening and I am learning and my heart is bleeding with everyone else during these difficult times all over the world.

Seeing so many people protesting is encouraging to me because after far too many years of oppression for people of color, people of all races are finally listening to the fact that racism exists and must stop now. I see the images of protesting on the news and see them as a symbol of unity and love. The rainbow of races in the crowds is beautiful to me and is how the world should look.

Hearing the many struggles black people face daily from being discriminated against due to the color of their skin makes me angry and at the same time reminds me of each time I was treated poorly because of the labels of mental illness I was branded with. Again, please know I am not comparing the two because I know they are different but at the same time have many similarities.

The stigma of mental illness exists and is the biggest interference in the recovery of mental illness. The stigma of mental illness is when someone views you in a negative way because you have a mental health condition, illness, disorder or any other word you want to add to mental health. The words are all the same and by no means ever take away from the negativity and bias mental illness carries with its name.

The stigma of mental illness exists and is the biggest interference in the recovery of mental illness.

In my new memoir, SHAME ATE MY SOUL, I share examples throughout my book of the many times I was discriminated against and treated unfairly due to the stigma of mental illness. So, even though I am not black I can relate to the pain and shame people of color experience. I have been discriminated against not because of the color of my skin but because I was diagnosed with mental illness. I know it is different but in many ways the pain and shame it causes are one and the same.

I can also say I was treated unfairly by the police because of mental illness stigma. I share some examples in my book but the one I am going to share with you today is not in my book.

A few years after my diagnosis I got divorced and had joint custody of my two children with my ex-husband. My son was about five years old at the time and was a mama’s boy (and still is). When he was at his Dad’s house, he would call me on the phone repeatedly crying hysterically. It broke my heart every time. One day I felt so sad for my baby boy and was worried about him that I drove over to my ex-husband’s house just to check on him and give him some love.

I was sitting in my car holding my Keagan on my lap when my ex-husband came out to the car and pulled him from me causing him to hit his head on the car as he pulled him out. I was so heartbroken and worried seeing my Keagan so sad, I called the police to check on him to make sure he was okay.

The police officer was very cordial when he spoke to me outside. Then he went inside my ex-husband’s house to speak to him. When the police officer came back outside it was a different story. His demeanor with me had changed and he handcuffed me, arrested me and put me in the back of the police car.

He told me I was arrested because I should not have come over to to the house when it was not my night and charged me with a disorderly conduct. I called the police on myself. What? I was not disturbing anyone or loud or anything.

I was pregnant with my third baby at the time and cried the entire way to the police station. I told the police officer I had never been arrested before.

“What?” Really?” the police officer was shocked.

“Well, no. Never.” I said through my tears.

“Oh. I thought you had.”

“Why?”

I could tell he genuinely felt bad now like he wished he hadn’t arrested me. I wondered why he thought I had been arrested before, like I was a regular. I don’t look like your stereotypical criminal (not really sure what that is, but I don’t think I look that.)

I got bailed out and did not have to stay in jail overnight or anything. My charge was written down from disorderly conduct to a fine/forfeiture but still cost me $90.00. The worst part is that disorderly conduct was on my permanent record even though it was written down to a fine/forfeiture. I could not afford an attorney to get rid of it. It was and always has been humiliating to have to explain this charge and relive the experience every time I interviewed for a job.

Today, I realize I was arrested from the conversation the police officer had with my ex-husband who told the police officer I had bipolar disorder along with many more stigmatizing comments related to mental illness.

So, the sad truth is I was arrested because I had a mental illness. The police officer from my angry (at the time) ex-husband’s comments gained a new and different perspective of who he thought I was from his initial meeting of me, because of the stigma of mental illness and my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. His demeanor changed after he spoke to my ex-husband. Nothing I said mattered anymore and who I was didn’t matter. I became a mental illness — the stigmatized version of who he thought people who live with mental illness are.

On a side note — I have a heavy foot and tend to drive fast. Later, I was pulled over by this same police officer two other times for speeding and he NEVER gave me a ticket. My thought was because he knew he wrongly arrested me for NOTHING before. He felt bad and never gave me a ticket.

It’s a blessing to educate yourself about mental health versus experiencing it.

There is stigma and mistreatment that exists with people who have mental illness and police officers, just like there is for people who are black or brown. I know it is not the same or as bad.

I imagine how awful I would have been treated if I had a mental illness and I was black. Actually I can’t imagine.

I also self- stigmatized a lot and sometimes still do. Since I have been feeling well, am psychotropic medication free and one psychiatrist even told me I was misdiagnosed and never had bipolar disorder but had PTSD and was addicted to the Benzodiazepine Klonopin mostly instead, I do not self stigmatize as much and the burden of shame has been lifted. It is a great and freeing feeling.

We can never forget that MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS hugely

and we MUST END THE STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS today.

We all must continue to share our stories and continue to educate and fight kindly and bravely to end the stigma of mental illness.

Even though there are troubled times for everyone around the world,

WE MUST NEVER LET PEOPLE FORGET ABOUT US: THOSE WHO LIVE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS.

Please check out my new memoir SHAME ATE MY SOUL. I realized how shame was instilled in me at a young age and increased after I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Shame was one of my biggest problems. I needed to give it back… and get rid of it. So, I did. That was a huge part of my recovery and healing.
My book is available on Amazon
and Barnes and Noble
as an Ebook and paperback.
Book Cover final flower
Photo Credit: Photo of top featured image by Brandi Ibrao on Unsplash
Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope

Life is Fragile — Handle With Care

It has almost been two and half years since my overdose. I have also been psychotropic medication free for most of that time. After I had a couple bad moments I thought maybe I needed medication. I began taking it a couple of times but never took it more than a few days. I sometimes think I need medication because that is what everyone tells us.
After a mental illness diagnosis they say you will need to take medication for the rest of your life. I have happily found that to be inaccurate. Today, I do far better without medications. There was a time I needed them but not as long as I took them and not in the way I was given them. Medications always made my symptoms worse but for many years they kept trying to find the right combinations of medications but nothing ever worked very long and instead eventually worsened my symptoms. I know most of you know and have played the Eeny Meeney Miney Moe game of psychotropic medications and sometimes I refer to it unfortunately as the Russian Roulette game of psychotropics.
I do not close the door to psychotropic medications because if something were to happen I would try them again if I needed. However, I will work hard to stay off of them because I never did well on medications. Plus, I feel sometimes we jump to them too quickly before trying other coping and recovery strategies first. Hindsight is 20/20.
My life is so much better today to the point that my recovery does not make any sense at all to medical professionals– or to me either really. I guess I always have to go back to my mantra that if there is no explanation it must be God. What else could it be? Or maybe it could be be the fact that treating mental illness is very difficult and everyone is different and there is so much they don’t know yet. So, we need to be the ones to teach them–by educating them.
I want to always share my story because I want to inspire hope so people know that you can overcome anything and everything. I did and you can to.
Tomorrow will be better. I promise it will be. That does not mean every day will be perfect and it will be this beautiful one time climb to wellness because that is not the journey most people’s lives ever take–those living with or without mental illness.
Life is not a smooth shiny ride and living with mental illness makes the ride even bumpier and in fact creates many potholes and road blocks along the way. But the greatest beauty and glory is the fact that you can get better. You will get better. Just keep fighting. Suicide is never the answer. I promise you it is not. I regrettably attempted more than once and all I can say is that…
I am so beyond happy and blessed to be alive. God saved my life many times. I’m like a cat with nine lives and more. I appreciate my life and know it is the greatest blessing and gift. Handle it with care.

“Shame is a soul eating emotion.” ~Carl Jung

Please check out my new memoir SHAME ATE MY SOUL. I realized how shame was instilled in me at a young age and was one of my biggest problems. I needed to give it back… and get rid of it and so I did. That was a huge part of my recovery and healing.
My book is available on Amazon
and Barnes and Noble Press
as an Ebook and paperback.
Book Cover final flower
Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope
Photo Credit: Photo by Ahmed Zayan on Unsplash

Shame Ate My Soul – My Memoir is Published (finally)

My memoir is finally a book. It is done. It is completed. Finished.

My book is published and is available on Amazon in ebook or in print.

It is beautiful. I used Adobe Illustrator to make my book cover and edited it and formatted my entire book myself (and is also why it is not perfect).

My memoir has been in the making for about three years. I wrote my first (awful I might add) very rough draft during Nanowrimo 2017 and wrote over 66,000 words during the month of November. This was very therapeutic for me to write because I wrote my story raw and let out a lot of pent up anger and emotions as I wrote. Needless to say my first draft was not good for an audience to read, but was good and healing for me to write. I would recommend it to everyone as part of recovery.

The next November during Nanowrimo 2018 I rewrote my memoir with over 52,000 words using some parts of the first draft but removed a lot of the anger and parts I didn’t want to keep. After editing it a couple of times I was determined to try to find a traditional publisher and sent out many query letters. A couple publishers were interested and asked to send them my entire manuscript but then weren’t interested. One publisher gave me suggestions of how to improve it. That was very helpful and I rewrote it again and reduced my word count by about 5000 words and sent it back to them, but they ended up rejecting it again. It is okay because I know I gave it my best effort to find a traditional publisher. Now it was time to self publish.

Self publishing turned out to be wonderful and was free on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes and Noble Press. Woo hoo.

This is my book. My blood sweat and tears… and my HEART.

My book is available on Amazon

$3.69 for ebook

$15.00 for print

I have mixed emotions about my book being published now. I am excited it is finally completed and is a book now, but I am worried.

Worried that people won’t like it. Worried that people will think differently about me after they read it.

I have felt so good for over two and a half years that living a mental illness life like I did for so long seems like a lifetime ago. I started reading my memoir and it was hard for me to read because it brought me back to where I was and the feelings associated with it all. There are a lot of sad and difficult parts in my memoir to read, even for me. I worry that I had too many bad things happen to me and it will be difficult for people to read. But the beauty of my story comes from the triumph of recovery and healing. I persevered, conquered and survived and am now living a beautiful life.

After reading my memoir, I am reminded of all the many things I lived through and survived. It is hard for me to believe it, even though I lived it. What will other people think?

I am excitedly nervous to get the book out for people to read, but am terrified no one will want to purchase it or read it and if people read it they will not like it.

I can’t say I will overcome my fear and post my book on facebook and tell friends and family that it’s ready but I can say I will be strong and BRAVELY announce my book and see what happens.

So here it is. Here is my heart and soul exposed for the world to read. All of me (almost all) exposed. When we expose our true selves past and or present, it leaves us vulnerable. So, here I am vulnerable and bare, but feel it is necessary for me to share my story for many reasons.

I want to educate others about mental illness and to help people understand the pain, shame and stigma people who live with mental illness feel and experience. Most importantly, I want to inspire others and give people hope to know that they can conquer any obstacle and survive.

Recovery and healing are possible I am living proof.

Let’s all be the living proof.

Copyright 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope

Signs of Hope

Signs of hope are everywhere. Hope is always present. Sometimes we have to search for it but it is always there.

It has been about two and a half months since the last time I wrote.

Since the last time I wrote, the world changed…

and asked me to stay home.

I isolated for years before it was cool. I practiced the “safer at home” way of life before it was a thing, before it was the respectful thing to do, before we were told to do it to protect ourselves from the Corona virus.  I was a pro.

I have been staying home for over two months now and am ready (most of the time) to be with people (most people). I need (most) people but at the same time I am also nervous to go out into the world. I fear meeting, to me ignorant and selfish people, who refuse to wear a facemask. I think wearing a face mask adds a layer of protection for all of us and I believe face masks represent a symbol of love, care and respect for other people in the world. I worked very hard to be alive and staying healthy. It is my time to shine and live a good life. I am ready for it and will do anything and everything to make that happen. I do not want to get sick with the Corona virus.

Last week I was finally allowed to see my beautiful nine month old granddaughter Leora again.  She is my greatest joy and love and has my heart.

Before the Corona virus happened I began doing my art again and preparing handmade items to sell at a local craft show, for the first time in my life. I was busy creating art and was enjoying it tremendously. Of course because of Covid 19, my craft show got cancelled, so I opened up an Etsy shop and began the long process of putting my art on Etsy.

One day, I got an email from Etsy asking people to make masks.  Well, I can sew so this was a no brainer. I began googling tutorials on how to best make masks and as they say, the rest is history.

I’ve been sewing masks for people in my family, for local people and for people on Etsy now since the end of March. I have sold 134 masks on Etsy and made approximately $2000. I have also sold over 70 masks for family, friends and other people locally. Some of those were sold for a lower fee than my Etsy orders and many I make for free.

This has been my part-time job since the end of March and I have been making the limit that SSDI allows. I can only keep my Etsy store open for a few days before I have to remove my mask listings because I get too many orders for the month. It has been a blessing for me financially that is for sure. It has also been a fantastic distraction as I stay inside following the safer at home guidelines.

My mental health has been okay. It has been fantastic many days, but other days I must work hard to stay mentally and physically healthy. It is difficult for me to know what is normal. Maybe this is how it is for most people during this difficult time. Overall, I am doing well.

I am always so very thankful that God has given me another chance at life–to live my life to the fullest. He has given me the opportunity to make my children proud of me which is my greatest goal.

After people do not need my masks anymore, I pray I can sell other items on Etsy. So, when my mask making slows down I plan to make and list many more items.

One of my goals is to have a large listing of items for mental health recovery with inspirational cards, magnets and buttons and much more. I have a few items like that and have more to add when I get time. Currently, I have most listings as downloadable prints and cards for $2.00 or $3.00 each. Please check it out if you would like.

The name of my Etsy shop is… Signs of Hope and More. If you are on the Etsy page (Etsy.com) just type SignsofHopeandMore with no spaces and it will bring you to my store or here is the direct link…

http://www.etsy.com/shop/SignsofHopeandMore

I used Adobe Illustrator to make my logo and banner. I took a class over ten years ago and taught myself how to do it again and am still learning–trying to get better.

If you visit my shop you will notice the masks are not currently there as I had to remove them temporarily until I catch up. I have bout 20 masks to make locally and then I will finally be caught up again and will list my masks again.

You can find a few mental health recovery downloadable prints. As I mentioned I will try to add more very soon and will let you know when I do. Here are a couple samples.

recovery pink cardrecovery circle purple

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Here are samples of some of my masks. If you need a mask let me know and I will try to work something out for you.

 

I am also finally ready to self publish my completed memoir. For those of you that have been following me, you might know that I attempted to publish my memoir the old fashioned way. After one traditional publishing company was interested in my manuscript and asked me to send my entire manuscript to them I was over the moon excited about it. They declined publishing my memoir but gave me ideas of how to improve it, so I diligently rewrote my memoir and resubmitted my memoir back to them and also to a few other publishers. I decided I would give it one more try the traditional route.

They declined my memoir but am happy I gave it very best shot. I worked hard on it and now I am totally ready to self publish.

If anyone can help me self publish my book and has advice for the best route to take I would be very appreciative. I can’t spend a fortune as I do not have one. lol.

In your opinions, who is the best self publisher out there? I am open to any help I can get.

The title of my book is: SHAME ATE MY SOUL. It is titled that because you know what? Shame did eat my soul but I got it back and I am still fighting to live a happy, productive and love-filled life and stay mentally and physically healthy.

Recovery is possible. I am living proof. You too can be the living proof. Let’s all keep fighting and be THE LIVING PROOF.

Today I have my first appointment with my psychiatrist over the phone. I am a little nervous for it for some reason. It is in about an hour.

If you have read my many words, you are amazing and I thank you from the very bottom of my heart. Stay safe, be well and be kind.

By the way I hope you visit my Etsy shop and like it and…

if you need some hope…

you will find it at…

Signs of Hope and More.

Seriously though I always hope your days are filled with hope, love and peace.

Much love always,

Sue

Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope 

Kind of Like a War Hero

I’m a war hero.

At least I’m kind of like a war hero.

I survived a war,

but was never in the military.

I have battle scars,

but was never in combat.

I have PTSD.

That illness you understand for veterans.

I survived a war,

that I’m still battling.

I’m a survivor,

but I’m still surviving.

I’m a war hero.

At least I’m kind of like a war hero.

My father was my war.

He is still my struggle,

my battle,

my sorrow,

my pain.

I recently saw my father and my brain regressed to a frightened little girl.

Parts of me are still there. Shattered. Frightened. Sad.

Hidden in a corner in my closet, knees scrunched up tight, head buried in.

I will continue to fight, to grow again.

I will love my little girl self and hold her, comfort her and soothe her wounds.

I will be the parent she never had.

I love you Suzie. You are beautiful.

You are strong. You are so many wonderful things.

You can be all the things you couldn’t be before.

Be them now. Find them. Find you.

There is still time.

Find a way.

Become the new you. Anything you want to be.

I am kind of like a veteran.

A different kind of veteran,

but still I need to celebrate me.

I have PTSD, but not the kind you understand.

I was never in the war.

Not that kind of war. A different kind of battle.

I was never sexually abused.

It was not that kind of abuse.

It was the other kinds of abuse.

The physical and the words.

It was the words and how he said them that hurt the most.

The kinds you say I should just get over.

The kinds you think I should just let go.

It was the different kinds of abuse,

but still I have PTSD,

and I am a survivor.

I survived a war.

A different kind of war,

but still I am a survivor.

I survived my father.

I’m still surviving my father.

Each time I see him I return to war.

His words, his tone.

They trigger me back to enter that war zone again.

It is my war. My private battle.

A war I re-enter

each time I see my father

or when an image, a sound, a phrase, or a tone

triggers me back to the battles,

the fear, the pain and the heartache.

I’m a war hero.

At least I’m kind of like a war hero.

I survived a war.

My father

was my war.

I survived my father.

~written by Susan Walz

 

© 2020 Susan Walz | myloudwhispersofhope.com | All Rights Reserved

Photo credit: Photo by Vero Photoart on Unsplash