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.”


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


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,


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

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 ( just type SignsofHopeandMore with no spaces and it will bring you to my store or here is the direct link…

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


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,


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

Stigma: The Thorn in My Side

Since I was a young child there was a thorn in my side–a thorn in my flesh that penetrated deep into my heart and soul. I couldn’t pinpoint what the prick was or where it originated from, but something was wrong.

As time progressed, more thorns found their way into my flesh pricking me throughout the duration of my life–reminding me I didn’t measure up.

Soon a mental illness cactus threw out its painful thorns of stigma and pierced daggers into my life and psyche. These thorns stuck into my skin permanently with painful reminders of their existence each time stigma resurfaced and slapped again.

Eventually I removed my thorns from my flesh one at a time and gave them back. They were not mine to keep. Upon my thorns removal I realized what my thorns were.

The thorn in my side and thorns in my flesh were shame. Shame penetrated my heart and soul for years and interfered with the quality of my life. I realized after many years that stigma of mental illness caused undue heartache and shame–a shame I did not want or deserve so I gave it back to the originator. I gave my shame to the many people who stigmatize people with mental illness.

I am not ashamed of my mental illness–they are. They may keep their shame and wear it. Shame is not mine to wear.

After I gave back my shame and stopped being ashamed of myself, my mental health improved. It was like a bed of nails was removed from my heart and a light was lit and shone through me. I could see everything clearer. Life was brighter–I was brighter with no dagger like thorns in my side darkening my spirit. I was and am free of the thorns of shame.

I removed the painful thorns, washed off the tarnish and am applying my polish. Too many years of stigma and shame tarnished my soul, so I have a lot of polishing to do. I will not let the reflections of mental illness stigma stain me anymore and I will continue to apply my polish until I shine brightly.

Don’t let stigma or shame tarnish your shine or be a thorn in your side.

Give back their shame.

~Susan Walz

But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land from before you; then it shall come to pass, that those which ye let remain of them shall be pricks in your eyes, and thorns in your sides, and shall vex you in the land wherein ye dwell.’ (Numbers 33:35 King James Version)

Copyright © 2019 | | All Rights Reserved

Survivor Shame.

I am an outspoken person when it comes to mental health. It is clear that I am a passionate advocate for bipolar and depression. I feel like I would be doing a disservice if I didn’t divulge the diagnosis I struggle with the most. I feel like it is important to share victories and losses. I am losing this battle.


When I was 17 I was assaulted by a “friend” who I was very close with. I had known this person for many years. He was basically a part of my family at this point and he took something from me. I immediately reported it, but because I had been drinking there was no conviction.

No conviction with DNA evidence.

I too am still appalled at that sentence. More appalled than anyone reading this. Isn’t it funny? PTSD really sneaks up on you. Imagine that you are going about your day and a huge boulder falls in front of you. You can’t walk around it, it is too heavy to move, and the person you were talking to is on the other side and can’t hear you. That is PTSD. And that person? That is your daily life. It takes complete control of your body and emotions. It is like you can’t get a deep enough breath. (I’m looking at you with the anxiety, you know what I’m talkin about!)

I sought out help. Counseling offered by the state where I sat on a waiting list for SIX MONTHS. Private counseling which actually helped with a lot of other issues. I even tried group counseling. Do you know what that got me? Survivor shame.

Not survivor guilt, but shame. I felt so shamed that my stories didn’t align with theirs. I was told stories by all the other members of their abusive relationships and strange intruders. Everyone sat and listened intently. Then it was my turn. I tripped over my words and could barely get a sentence out. I felt brushed off though. I wasn’t looking for pity, but I didn’t think I would be treated like I had just sat down in the wrong class. It blew me away and left me feeling more alone than when I had walked in. It was so upsetting that I sought comfort in the presence of others who had experienced what I had and knew what I was going through. My biggest hurdle was feeling like my life was turned upside down with my new obsession of having to sleep in a room with a lock on the door or wearing a jacket to bed. I just felt alone.

I still feel like this. I know I am not alone, but it feels like that a lot. I have had people tell me, “that isn’t rape.” “That isn’t like tv at all.” “But you knew him.” “Just because you were sleeping doesn’t mean you wouldn’t have said yes if you were awake.”

It is hard to feel like you aren’t wrong for feeling the way you do. I even questioned myself at one point. “Did this happen?!”.

YES, it happened. TO ME! Olivia Benson where are you?!

Alas, my life is not a law and order episode. As much as I want to be told it Is okay to feel like this so many years after the fact, I really just don’t want to look at someone when they say it. I feel ashamed and embarrassed.

So, I lied to my psych doc. I told her I didn’t have any flashbacks or issues related to this assault. Truth is these news headlines have me all kinds of triggered. People out there saying things like woman need to have proof before they come forward and they can’t speak up years after the fact.

*steps on soap box*

We can tell OUR story WHENEVER we damn well please.





I love you in advance for listening to me rant and spill my very very very emotional guts everywhere. I leave you with words of wisdom: Report it, don’t be ashamed, talk about it, write it down, yell, scream, and take care of yourself. As with anything bad: don’t let it become you. It happened to you, but it isn’t all you are. I am forever here if anyone ever wants to talk about any kind of assault. I will be your friend that understands and tells you it isn’t your fault, because it isn’t.

See my full length story here. It isn’t censored so if you are easily triggered, think before you read.

Shame Ate My Soul

This is the first chapter of my memoir.

I will be done writing my memoir at the end of November. Please take a read. I welcome and greatly appreciate ALL feedback, good and bad. I am an amateur writer with a story to tell and am trying to improve my writing, learning every step of the way. My goal was to write my memoir so it read like a fiction novel with the difference being everything is true. I pray my book will educate, inspire and give people hope that recovery is possible. I am living proof of that.


Shame Ate My Soul

Rising Above the Stigma of Mental Illness, Suicide Attempts and Addiction

Written by Susan Walz

Chapter One

Mesmerized by thoughts of my own death, I never heard them enter. They magically materialized in my house and stood at the edge of the precipice—the open doorway of my living room, tentatively peering in—afraid and unable to enter. Invisible prison bars barricaded them from getting closer to their own mother as I slowly sank deeper into the quicksand of my own abyss.

They silently studied me as I sat motionless, alone in the dark, stuck in my favorite old mustard yellow Lazy Boy rocking chair—the one with my Grandma’s lace doilies dressing up the armrests and top of the chair. I’ve become a permanent fixture in my chair with my legs outstretched and the bottom of my callused heels planted firmly into the footrest where concave indentations have become permanently etched into the cushion from many years of past and recent overuse.

Every light in my house is turned off, or rather has never been turned on. I do not have the energy or desire to turn the lights on. The darkness inside my house and my internal darkness is haunting to most. The only source of light comes from an outside street lamp and my 30-inch flat screen television set which is perched on an old peeling faux wood TV stand five feet in front of me. I stare at the meaningless images on the screen.

The 2017 Winter Olympics are triumphing and celebrating inside my television box, but I can’t celebrate with them. I am usually a huge fan of the Olympics, but not this time. The Olympic creed, or guiding principle, of the modern Olympic Games is a quote by Baron de Coubertin: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” The problem with that creed for me is that I can’t take part in my own struggle, anymore. I’ve lost my ability and desire to fight.

I used to love watching the entire Olympics from the lighting of the torch  to distinguishing the flame at the closing ceremony. When I was a young girl, I lived vicariously through the athletes and dreamed of what it must be like to be them. I’ve always been greatly inspired by the comeback stories and the athlete’s stories of courage and perseverance, but not this year. My despair and mental unwellness have become so unbearable that even the Olympics’ figure skating competitions can’t distract me enough to stop my suicidal ideations, even momentarily.

I used to dream of having a good and purposeful life. Since I was ten years old, I dreamed of having my own children and being the best mother in the world. Being a great mother was what I wanted more than anything.

At fifty-four years old, I’ve been very blessed to be the mother of three amazing children and two more children that married my children. I’ve always loved my children unconditionally and praised them as often as I could. I was a good mother until I just wasn’t—until I failed miserably—like now.

Maybe my children are afraid to get too close to me because they know I am not their real mom in the true sense of the word. I am not the mom they once loved and knew. That mom is gone—removed from herself and life—lost somewhere deep inside the brain chemistry of her disease. She has come undone, unraveled from her spool of life.

Kylie and Keagan sensed the seriousness of my situation and felt helpless not knowing what to do. They wanted desperately to do the right thing but didn’t know what it was. Upon their arrival at my house, they were frozen from fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. They stood on egg shells, afraid to move, fearing one wrong move would cause their mom’s fragile shell to crack and break for good, this time.

Their fear of saying or doing the wrong thing stopped them from doing or saying anything. In my eyes the lack of doing anything was a sign that no one cared. But, of course they cared. I just could not see it. My perceptions were misconstrued and like anyone that has ever been in the middle of a severe suicidal depression my mind was telling me constant lies and I believed every one of them. At this stage of my disease, my reality was orbiting Venus and I was hanging on by only a small thread of shredded rope. How many more lifelines could my children throw at me when I refused to wear a life jacket as I continued to sink deeper from the weight of my own anchor?

My son Keagan leaned against the mahogany wood door frame as he looked at me and said, “Hi, Mom.”

Turning my head slightly to the left, I looked at him out of the corner of my eye and mumbled, “Oh. Hi.”

“What are you doing?” he asked kindly.

“What do you mean?” I said, knowing what he meant.

“Why are you sitting alone in the dark? he asked.

“I like being alone and I like being in the dark,” I said in an uncaring tone because I could not care about anything at the time. I had already died while breathing. I was gone inside. There was nothing left. I sat in the dark because the dark matched my mood. I was dark. My life was dark, and I couldn’t care about anything, especially myself.

As always when I see my son, I’m amazed at how handsome he is and not just because I am his Mom, but because he has model good looks. As he stood in the corner of the entry way of my living room staring at me, tears began to trickle down his face slowly, one at a time. I saw the tears. He could not hide them from me. I’m his mom. I saw his tears before he wiped them away.

I saw the tears spill out and trickle down around his high cheek bones and fall into his dark stubble resting on his square jaw. The tears I could not catch on my adult son, my baby boy. Another tear I could not save. Another tear shed that I could not prevent. Another tear I missed because my own dried up tears interfered with my ability to be a mother. I am his Mom and I am supposed to catch his tears no matter how old he is, but I couldn’t do it. Instead I caused his tears to form and his eyes to swell.

My oldest daughter Kylie stands further back, but firmly in the center of the doorway. I can see her entire self—her healthy and slender five-foot seven-inch dancer body frame. Luckily, she took after her father with his family’s body type genes and did not get my fat genes and short five-foot three stature. I look like a teapot. Tip me over and pour me out. Kylie on the other hand looks like a fancy wine glass with all the curves in the right places. Her hair is long and wavy and the same color and sheen as the milk chocolate of a Snicker’s candy bar. Her large brown eyes stand out as her greatest feature above her orthodontics enhanced straight teeth now hidden behind the frown of her full lips. It breaks my heart, shattering it to shards of emptiness to know I am the cause of her pain, again.

“Mom, it smells like cat pee in here. It’s pretty bad,” Kylie said concerned.

The pungent ammonia-like odor from both stale and new cat urine permeates the house. One of my cats must have urinated in the nearby litter box and did not cover his pee well enough to dissipate the smell. Or more likely, my poor cat couldn’t cover the pee because there wasn’t any clean litter left in the box to cover it with. I don’t recall when the last time I scooped their poop or changed their litter box. Feeding my two cats uses up most of my lifeless energy.

“So, what,” I say. “I don’t have the energy to clean it up. I can’t do it and I don’t care.”

“Do you want us to help you?” she asks.

“No. I don’t need your help.”

“Yes, you do Mom,” she says wiping her nose with the end of her sleeve.

I didn’t see her tears, but she was better at hiding them than Keagan. “I don’t need your help. You don’t care. So, it doesn’t matter,” I tell her.

“Mom, I do care. We all care. We love you,” she pleads.

“No, you don’t,” I snap back as my tears start coming and once they come I can’t stop them. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, “I say as I wipe my tears from my eyes and face with my fingertips and then sleeve of my sweatshirt try to stop my steady flow of tears. “I can’t do this anymore. I want to die.” It should never be this normal and easy to talk about dying, but lately I talk about it like I am announcing what we’re having for dinner.

“Mom, I love you. I need you to get well. Who will love my children like only you can? No one will love my children the way you do. You need to be here to be my children’s grandma, Mom,” Keagan said even though he didn’t have children of his own yet.

“Mom, we all love you and want to help you,” Kylie reiterates.

“No, you don’t,” I sob. “No one loves me or cares about me. I’ve failed at everything.”

“That’s not true.” Kylie says.

“I don’t have any money. I don’t have any friends. Lexie even moved out. My own daughter doesn’t even want to live with me anymore,” I continue. “I am all alone in the world.”

It will get better. It always does,” Keagan says.

It’s like they are taking turns with this banter. “No, it won’t. Not anymore. I can’t live like this anymore,” I add. “I will never go to the hospital, again. I won’t start that kind of life again. I won’t do it.”

“You need help though, Mom.”

“No one can help me. Nothing can help me anymore. I’m done.”

After we continued this never-ending conversation that was going nowhere fast, Kylie finally asked, “Mom, are you going to be okay?”

“Yes. I’m fine. I’m not going to kill myself tonight. I promise,” I say this knowing it to be true because I always promised myself I would never kill myself without writing my children a note first. I was too tired to write a good-by note tonight.

“Okay. Are you sure, mom? You promise?” They both say worn out from their fruitless efforts.

“Yes, I promise,” knowing it was true, at least for tonight.

“I love you, Mom,” they say in unison.

“I love you too,” I tell them. “Thanks for coming over. I love you to the moon and back a bazillion trillion times. I am sorry I am so sick. You don’t deserve a mom like me,” I tell them as they walk away. I’m a hugger and I would normally never let them leave me without giving them hugs, but I didn’t have the energy or ability to get out of my chair.

Kylie and Keagan walk out the back door of my house and sneak out of my house the same way they snuck in. After they leave, I sit alone in the dark staring at the meaningless picture on the television as it tries to talk to me, but I don’t listen or even see it. Thoughts of death are very seductive at this point in my life.

People don’t understand that suicidal thoughts are sometimes the only hope for the hopeless. At least dying gave me an option to end my pain. It was bittersweet because it would end my pain, but I didn’t want to leave earth forever. I wasn’t ready for that. I just needed to stop this never-ending pain.

Throughout my life, I’ve made some of my biggest decisions at my weakest, darkest and worst moments. Once again, I am struggling with the most important decision of my life—to live or die.

Where is my fight to live? Where did it go? I’ve had suicidal thoughts off and on for years, but this time it’s different. I knew one day it could happen. It’s extremely frightening and comforting at the same time. Maybe at last, there is an end to my painful unlivable, unmanageable life.

When you are contemplating suicide—planning it—selecting which day will be your last on earth, you think a lot about the life you lived, the mistakes you’ve made, the good things you’ve done and your children. You reminisce as much as you can about the good moments, your past, your childhood and the life you lived. I thought a lot about what lead me to this lethal moment.

The End… of Chapter One

The second chapter starts with my back story beginning with some of my childhood abuse and dysfunctional home life.

Thank you very much for reading and I hope you liked it…

Copyright @ 2018 Susan Walz | | All Rights Reserved

Owning the Shame

I’ve wanted to talk about shame for a while, for shame and mental health tend to walk hand-in-hand, yet I haven’t known how to address it. I think it’s safe to say that everyone who has been diagnosed with a mental health condition or illness has also experienced the ‘shame’ that comes along with it and it is this which I want to talk about today, for I no longer believe in shame. Uh-uh, not a bit.

My history with mental health goes back over ten years, prompted by a violent incident in a park and escalated by years of abuse (which I speak about here, if you’re interested: The Adult Looking Back). The earliest memories I have regarding my mental state at the time (depression and anxiety, FTW) pertained to how my mother reacted to it and her default reaction was that of shame. It wasn’t outward or deliberate. This was 2006. Despite only being twelve years ago, the world has moved forward rapidly, as anyone born before the millennium can tell you. But back in 2006, mental health wasn’t spoken about in public in any kind fashion. Cruel words were tossed about far more frequently than they are nowadays. If someone heard you had a mental health condition, they assumed ‘the men in white jackets’ were on their way. I still hate that phrase to this day. Henceforth my mother decided that my diagnosis would stay ‘in the family’ and the given reason for my rapid change in mood was ‘stress’. The exam period at school was coming up and I was under a lot of ‘stress’.

Good friends, I was not merely stressed. I was suicidal. I was a fourteen year-old planning the quickest and easiest way to die. But even the mention of suicide doesn’t shock people into kindness. It didn’t then and, sadly, it doesn’t now. If mental health walks hand-in-hand with shame then suicide and the word ‘selfish’ are best buddies. I cannot tell you how many disagreements I’ve had with misinformed people who believe suicidal people are just selfish.
My mother didn’t even want to talk about suicide. It wasn’t something she was comfortable with (still isn’t) and as such, she didn’t want it in her world. That part of me was so shameful it couldn’t even be spoken aloud.

But depression and anxiety are not the only the mental health conditions I have suffered from. There are three beings in my marriage; my husband, myself and my good old friend, OCD. OCD and I have been trotting along through life together for many, many years. For several of those years, OCD disguised itself so I wouldn’t recognise it was there. It’s a marvellous shape-shifter. It still catches me out these days, even though I know what its ugly face looks like.
You’ve no doubt heard of OCD, with your earliest hearing of it pertaining to people who wash their hands too much (me) or who have to check the door a thousand times before leaving the house (also me). Unlike other mental health conditions that’ve only been making appearances in public conversation in recent years, OCD is well established. People have been talking about being “a little OCD” for years. It’s become an excuse for someone’s extreme cleanliness or any odd habits. “It’s just my OCD!” In fact, people are so comfortable with OCD they laugh it off when I tell them I have it and insist that I don’t.

I will write a post about my OCD in full, so fear not if you’re interested in that story. I want to show you a snapshot of a time in my life when OCD was not at its worst, but gaining momentum: The house was old, there was bound to be lead in the paint. The paint would kill my baby. Had my husband washed the cups up properly with a fresh sponge and dried them with a clean tea towel? Actually, did he remember to hang the tea towels inside so no bugs could get on them and make me ill? Did I actually shut the fridge door or did I only think I did? If I hadn’t, the food inside wouldn’t be fit to eat and I’d have to go without. But if I went without, the baby would go without, too, and maybe it would die! But if I ate the bad food, I’d get ill…and the baby could die! I could go to the shop but then I’d have to go on the germ-riddled bus and touch germ-riddled money and how could I wash my hands before getting back into the house? Everything I’d touch – my bag, my keys, the door handle – would be contaminated! I’d have to disinfectant everything! But then I’d have to touch the cleaning products and what if inhaling their odours hurt my baby?

I hope you can tell, via that small inset of thirty seconds in my brain, how easy it is for OCD to spiral completely out of control. You’ve probably noticed that I try to fix things; the food is bad, buy more. The door is contaminated, clean it. The cleaning products are dangerous…the next step would be to ask my husband to clean it, then himself and throw the towels into the washing bin. But occasionally the situation could not be fixed. Once I ate half a sandwich without realising the bread had started to go mouldy and fell into a depressive state, convinced I was going to lose my baby. OCD latches on to what you fear most and, during that period of my life, it was miscarriage/stillbirth and after she was born, it became SIDs. OCD is a shape-shifter and, if you don’t recognise it for what it is, because it is clever, it becomes an instigator of shame. I was terribly ashamed of myself. I considered myself to be a relatively intelligent woman, so why was I convinced that a tea towel could hurt me? Why didn’t I trust myself to close a fridge like I did every day? Why didn’t I realise that it was all in my head? I was so ashamed of myself that I decided others would be ashamed of me, too, and refrained from telling anyone my problem. But the time the problem was realised and addressed and I was sitting down to my first therapy session, it was five days before my due date.

Shame has accompanied my mental health every step of the way and, frankly, I’m fed up of it. I do not feel ashamed by my past or by the mental health issues created. I’m at a place in my life where I feel the time is right to own them. I like to tell my stories not because I am looking for pity (I cannot abide the idea of pity) or sympathy but because it allows me to own them. My mental health took as readily as it gave. While my mind fought to protect itself, sacrifices were made along the way. I missed out on opportunities I could have taken, places I could have seen and people I could have met. Of all that is on Earth, time is the most irretrievable and the most bitterly lost. But as those experiences were lost, I was saved and for that, I will be forever grateful.

Back when I was fourteen and researching suicide, I came across a page no doubt many of you have encountered. It told me to stop and to think. It pointed out all the things in life that I likely hadn’t experienced, from trivial things like my favourite ever song to the love of my life. Potential was out there, but only if I stayed around long enough to let it find me. I hold that memory very close to my heart and am eternally grateful to the person who created that page. It allowed me to accept that, yes, this was my life now and these things were happening, but everything in life is temporary and I will see the sun rise again. I prayed for strength every night and, as is clear, I did not die one night in 2006. Nor any day in 2008, when I tried again, or in 2016, when I so desperately believed that my baby deserved far better than me.

I could easily banish those years, hell that entire decade, to the dark corner of my mind where bad stuff tends to gravitate, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve decided to embrace my past. What happened happened and led me to where I am now. I am not ashamed that I was swallowed by a depression prompted by years of abuse. I am not ashamed that OCD ate up the best parts of my pregnancy and the first year of my child’s life. These dark plights upon my record are mine to own and own them I do.

My name is Lola Deelay. I have experienced depression, anxiety, suicidal inclinations, PTSD and OCD, these are my stories to tell and I am not ashamed.

Photo by Sabine van Straaten on Unsplash