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

The Infinity Warriors of Mental Health Website

The discord channel, The Infinity Warriors of Mental Health, now has its own website! I want a special thanks to Aby and Em to taking the step for the discord website to become a reality. Those who don’t know I am the owner of The Infinity Warriors of Mental Health Discord channel, and it grows every day. Please consider joining us and frienfing the blog so we can share our journey together.

For those in the mental illness community that wants to have a safe place to share your daily struggles, you can join anonymously and use it as a resource as the members of the group are just like you. Our members are living and working through their issues with mental illness. We foster a place or serenity and peace and a place to belong. It is just a basic WordPress blog right now, but as we go on and the group grows, we will become a force in the world with a valid domain name. 

Want to join? Go to www.discord.com

  • Sign up for a discord account.
  • Then add one of the Discord Moderators – JamesEdgarSkye#4190 or SilverLinings#0367 or Aby#9662
  • Send a message that you are from WordPress, introduce yourself we don’t know you, and you will be added to the group!
  • If you have any questions or need help simply reach out
  • Or email me @ jamesedgarskye22@gmail.com

Here is the introduction to our discord:

Welcome to the first of its kind Discord community in which our goal is to provide a safe, anonymous, immersive, and experiential learning experience into mental health discussion. 

We will provide a safe, anonymous, immersive and experiential learning experience into mental health discussion by sharing our personal stories. Here, we value transparency, your story, your authenticity…. in a place where we accept everyone’s point of view.

And what that means is, we may not always agree with one another and we believe within our community safely challenging one another’s perspectives is the key to collaborative discussion. 

We strongly desire for everyone to speak from the lens with which they view life including but not limited to: 

  • Politics
  • Religion/ Deity
  • Sexual orientation
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Ethnicity
  • Racial make-up
  • Education
  • Culture
  • Physical/ Mental/ Social/ Emotional/ Environmental/ Spiritual factors
  • Lifestyle
  • Age (Group is reserved for 18 years and up)
  • Mother tongue
  • Professional/ Role in society
  • Taste of music
  • Sense of humour
  • Criminal record
  • Sports affiliation
  • Military background

All inclusive in a respectful way is what we strive to achieve at this Discord channel.

Discord Moderators can be personally messaged if you wish to voice a concern. However, we strongly encourage open discussion during “stuck” times in conversation in order to foster mutual respect. 
The right to delete comments, ban individuals and block chat members is reserved to Discord Moderators as follows: JamesEdgarSkye#4190 or SilverLinings#0367 or Aby#9662

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!

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

IMG_20200711_193937~22020-07-13 14.48.36-1

2020-07-11 19.35.32

2020-07-08 12.02.05
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)

2020-07-13 14.35.00-1IMG_20200712_153143~3 (1)2020-07-13 14.46.01

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

recovery purple brown frameIMG_20200326_163139~4

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Be a Rainbowbroken crayons - 1

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

Fear is a Coward

Funny thing I notice about Fear. He’s big and bad and burly while he’s at home lurking in my what-ifs and what-mights. He pokes at my stomach until I’m nauseous. He pounds on my chest until I can’t breathe. He shakes me and rattles me until I’m dizzy. He yells at me until I’ve relived every negative event and conversation I’ve ever had. He laughs at me as I make up reasons why I can’t, I shouldn’t, I won’t. He looms over me as I cower in my corner of shame.

But then I do go. I do step out. I close my eyes and jump. The landing is not always soft and it’s not always smooth. But I never remember a time when Fear was there waiting for me. I jump. Fear flees. He hides out of sight while I dance, while I talk, while I collaborate – and all this with people who never turn out to be the bogeyman Fear led me to believe they were. And I don’t turn out to be the dunce Fear accuses me of being every day.

I accomplish and then I return home. Fear is hiding away, embarrassed to have been found out for the coward he is.

I go to bed. I’m sure Fear and I will meet again tomorrow, when he gets the nerve to come out again.

We Said Goodbye Six Years Ago Today

My Grandfather with his sister circa 2004

The 4th of July has never been the same, I get that it is this fantastic holiday that we, as Americans, celebrate our Independence Day, and I will always honor the day like all of us, just with a sad heart.

On July 3, 2014, we lost my grandfather forever.

Every year I have honored one of the greatest presence in my life, my grandfather. I once wrote a poem about him called The Bravest Man I Knew. I wanted to spend some time this year talking about the man that was always there for me when I needed him since I was a little boy.

My grandfather was born March 18, 1932, in Ewa Beach, Hawaii (pronounced Eva Beach because the “w” is a “v” in the Hawaiian language). My grandfather and grandmother were married in November (I forget the year). My grandfather served in the United States Army for twenty years. He was an amazing man who loved to buy cars, computers, and was very intelligent (where I get my own smarts).

A fact about my grandfather, he was in Hawaii when Pearl Harbor was bombed.

I wish he was here today as I near the end of publishing my first novel. I started going to school for my bachelor’s degree around the time that he got sick with cancer. The doctors gave him six months, and he fought for a year and a half. My grandfather had an amazing spirit, and he was always willing to help his only daughter, my mother, and his grandchildren, he even got to know five out of his six great grandchildren before he passed.

I still remember, he went fast. He was okay in June and then starting on July 2nd be started to lose consciousness and before we knew it he had passed on July 3rd.

It sucked. I was depressed for close to a year after taking care of my grandfather for that year and half. I have never gotten over the suddenness of how cancer can take a person. But he was this amazing man who lived his life, saw the world during his time in the military and drank coffee everyday (which is one of the reasons I am a coffee addict!) My grandfather was, is and always will be loved by those who knew him because he was an amazing man.

Just from these photos, you can see the people that loved him and that five years ago came together to honor this great man. I love my grandfather to this day because he taught me so many great things that I have today. If only he would have seen me continue my recovery with Bipolar 1 and panic disorder, but I believe he is still here in spirit and watching over us with my grandmother.

The last photo was taken weeks before my grandfather passed with his sister visiting. What you don’t see in this photo is all the sweets on his desk not just for him, but his great grandchildren. We all miss you grandpa!

Always Keep Fighting

James

You can visit the author site of James Edgar Skye here.

Purchase The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir here.

Become a Patron of James Edgar Skye and be a part of his writing here: Become a Patron!

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

The Upward Climb

For those of you who remember me, I’m sorry I’ve been gone for so long. For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Alan Wolfgang. I am diagnosed with Severe Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety. I have been suffering from my diseases for around 20 years, since I was a young child. I have been treated with a wide variety of medications, all to no avail. In 2019, I underwent Electroconvulsive Therapy, or ECT. While the cost of the treatment went beyond just financial, it has effectively cured my depression. While I am certainly no expert in the field of mental health, I definetly have amassed quite a bit of experience. Throughout my years, I’ve learned many things about mental health, those who suffer from mental illness, and most importantly, myself. Whether you’re new to the mental health world, or you’ve been here for decades, whether you’re a patient, medical professional, or just someone who wants to further their understanding, whatever you suffer from, you know that this (whatever this may be to you) is not easy. Life with a mental illness, or caring for someone with a mental illness is all consuming. If I may, there are a few things that I’ve learned in my journey that I would like to share with you. Some, you may already know, others, you may not agree with, and that’s fine. Because my number one rule, is that one person will never know everything about anything. Sure there are experts in their respective fields, but even they learn new things all the time. What you do with the knowledge given to you, that is the important part.

The most important thing to do for anyone trying to do anything, is to never give up. I wish I could say that hard work is always rewarded, and that perseverance pays off, but unfortunately the world is not such a romantic place. Nevertheless, if you are fighting against mental illness, or supporting someone who is, giving up cannot be an option. You may be asking, “If my hard work never really makes a difference, what’s the point in never giving up?” While I wish the answer was simple, it’s not. Giving up seems like the best option, a lot of the time. Believe me, I know…with 3 suicide attempts under my belt, and a fourth that was thwarted by my underlying desire to live, and an attentive therapist, I know that giving up is incredibly tempting. More than any drug or material good, it is the oasis in the desert of your suffering. See, the thing is, that even though giving up will end your pain, it doesn’t disappear, it gets passed on to those you leave behind. I learned this the hard way, waking up on a ventilator in the hospital, with both my parents still in tears, holding my hand. Dying is never quick and painless, because that pain will last a lifetime for someone who loves you. You may now be thinking, “Well that’s fine, because nobody loves me”. While you’re not wrong, maybe nobody loves you, but you’re looking at it in too small a timeframe. You’re looking at your past and your present, but you’re forgetting about your future. I know that it’s pretty easy to lose sight of any future when you’re in the depths of depression, but that’s where never giving up comes in. The longer you live, the more likely it is that you will find love, that you will find happiness. I mean, the statistics alone are probably mind-boggling, though I wouldn’t know, I’m awful at math. Though who knows? I may not always be awful at math. The obvious secret about the future, is that it is unknown, completely unknown. You can have plans, dreams, and aspirations, but who knows what will actually happen? You don’t, until it happens. In the darkest period of my depression, I developed a suicide plan with a 100% chance of success, and I was saving it for a “rainy day”. I never would have thought, never even would have dreamed I’d be were I am today. To the past me, the present me was an impossible fairy tale. Yet, here I am, against all odds, living, breathing, and loving life. I mean it’s not perfect, but it never will be, I am just content with what I have. I know, a very confusing notion.

This leads me to my next tip. You will never be or do anything perfect. We are all humans, I hope so anyways (Shout out to all my alien bros hiding amongst the population). The thing about being human, is that we are intrinsically flawed, we make mistakes, and a lot of the time, no matter how hard we try, we will never reach our own ideal perfection. I don’t care what religion you follow, what the color of your skin is, how much money you have, where/when you were born, or who you love, nobody is perfect. Not one person. Ever. So do what you enjoy, dance like no one is watching, binge that one show in a single sitting for the seventh time this month. Do what you love, love what you do, and don’t give a sh*t about what anybody else thinks. Yeah, words hurt, but so does not doing something you enjoy because somebody else doesn’t like it. So what? Are they the ones who spend most of their money on figurines and miniature statues? Nope, so why should they have any say over whether or not you do. Now of course, there are two exceptions to this. The first being, moderation is key. Overindulgence is never a good thing, and will more often than not harm more than it helps. Second, just because you enjoy it, it does not mean you can run around in your KKK getup, shooting people in the face, and beating pregnant women with a baseball bat. Don’t be a dick. Do what you love, so long as it doesn’t HARM other people. So long as you do that, who cares what other people think about your hobbies. You like watching other people play video games instead of playing them yourself, go get it fam. You like sculpting anime characters out of ice, make sure you bundle up. You like going to conventions dressed as a humanoid fox, a little weird for me, but who cares what I think. You like growing and brewing your own tea, when can we meet up? Whatever you enjoy, just enjoy it! Without worrying about anybody else’s opinions. Because opinions are like buttholes, everybody’s got one, and nobody wants to hear about yours.

Another key step in working towards mental or physical wellbeing, is accepting yourself for who you are. You didn’t ask to be plagued by suicidal thoughts every second of every day. You didn’t ask to be born in the wrong gender’s body. You didn’t ask to be afraid of making your own appointments over the phone. You didn’t ask to be deathly afraid of boats and open water (That one’s me). But here’s what you can ask for, help. It is never an easy desicion, to ask another person to help you with all your problems. However, there are these wonderful people out there, that listen to your problems, give advice, and trade that for money. They’re called, “Therapists”. I know, you think that going to a therapist means that you are admitting defeat, that you can’t handle your own crap, so now you have to have someone else do it for you. While I thought like that in the past, I’ve come to realize that there are several things wrong about that way of thinking. The first being, that going to see a therapist, is not a show of defeat, it’s simply reinforcements for the war that’s raging on inside you. You couldn’t win on your own, but that doesn’t mean you’ve lost, you just have to bring in more fighting power. Second, the therapist, no matter how good they are, won’t solve all your problems for you. I mean it is kinda common sense, but you’d be suprised. “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. A very common saying, and very applicable here. Seeing a therapist once, isn’t going to solve your issues. Hell, seeing a therapist 100 times may not even do the trick. However, if you work with your therapist, progress can be made. Albeit small progress, it’s progress nonetheless; and any progress is good progress. It means you are moving forwards, you are refusing to let the anchor tied to your ankle that is mental illness, drag you down any further. You refuse to simply tread water and stay afloat. You are making an active effort to save yourself. However, the part of finding a good therapist is slightly more tricky. The few things I have found that work for me, may not work for you, and that’s alright, there is no “one size fits all” therapist, or way of treating mental illness. It’s important that you find a therapist that thinks that way too. If your therapist thinks they can treat you just by reading from the DSM, and “listening intently”, you need a new therapist. Personally, mine challenges me, she doesn’t always agree with me, and is very honest about what she thinks regarding my actions and such. I have a very easy time rationalizing bad decisions, so she regularly calls me out over my BS. Again, might not work for you, but if you want therapy that works, you’ll have to work hard to find a good therapist. Secondly, make sure you can afford to see them regularly, and if need be, in emergencies. This is a often overlooked, yet crucial part to having successful therapy. You need to be able to see your therapist as much as you feel you need to. When I’m having a rough time, I’ll see mine weekly, when I’m doing better, I see them about once a month. And they are very flexible on scheduling. After all is said and done (after insurance) I only pay about 20 bucks per visit. It took me 7 years to find another good therapist after my old one stopped practicing, but again, never give up, and you’ll find the one who works with you and for you.

My last tip, because this is getting a little lengthy…almost feel like I should put a tl/dr…is take each day for what it is. What I mean by that, is try to frame your mind by thinking, “tomorrow is a new day”. Sure you may have stayed in bed all day, watched some tv shows, and got one meal in, but didn’t do your laundry, take a shower, or even open your bills. But that’s okay. You did what you could, maybe even what you had to, to make sure you could make it to tomorrow. And tomorrow is a new day, full of new opportunities. Don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re only human. Sometimes it takes all you have just to make sure you ate something. Just don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get things done, but also don’t procrastinate too much either. Start small, and start slow. If you didn’t shower today, tell yourself you’re going to shower tomorrow. If you still don’t get it done tomorrow, make sure to get it done when you feel you can, especially before you start to stink (I’m guilty of that…) Make sure you try to make a plan to get something done, and if it takes you a bit longer than you wanted it to, so be it. At least you got it done. The singular thing that keeps me going these days, is that when I wake up tomorrow, it’s essentially a clean slate. Sure I still have my past, my emotional baggage, but every new day can be whatever I want it to, so long as I set my mind to it. Managing your mental health is incredibly difficult, and very complex, and there are a lot of things that work for others, but not for you. You’ll find there are just as many contradicting things too. So the important part, is carving out your own path, finding what works for you, and trying your damndest to make it to tomorrow. Don’t be afraid to explore various treatments, medications, and methods to treat your illness. You may often surprise yourself.

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