Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Please watch the first video as it describes some of what you will want to know about #ThankfulThirty, which is a term I created.
*Make sure to press Pause at the end of the video or it will go on to others!!*

The video tells it all. My apologies to my deaf and hard of hearing friends. I doubt that I will be able to CC my #ThankfulThirty's because I don't have the spoons.  In the video above, I share something called "Thankful Thirty" that I had thought about doing a while ago, but I never really started doing. The #ThankfulThirty's came out of a realization that there is something to be thankful for in each day and I needed to ponder it and then share it in some way.. I started saying what I was thankful for on a daily basis via my YouTube channel (though I haven't done it everyday since I started 11/18/15). For those who are deaf or HOH, perhaps you could write for 30 seconds daily about what you are thankful for and share it with someone via text, email, PM or keep it to yourself! Be creative! If doing a video, the idea is to limit the video to around 30 seconds; however, you will see I go over 30 seconds most days!!

I have been surprised how being thankful changed my ability to float through the difficult times I have been having. It has kept me looking toward the light rather than the darkness.

In the very first blog of content that I wrote in June 2008, I discussed a book I had been reading called The Gift of Pain. Dr. Brand and his coauthor, Phillip Yancey wrote in The Gift of Pain:
Gratitude is the single response most nourishing to health.
So what stands in the way of being thankful, appreciative or having gratitude other than thinking it is a "cheesy" thing to do?

Daniel Hurley, MD, in his book, Facing Pain Finding Hope: A Physician Examines Pain, Faith and the Healing Stories of Jesussays "We cannot be grateful for what we cannot recognize." Sometimes those of us with chronic illness can be so caught up in the life we are leading that we cannot see that there ARE things to be thankful for, much less tune into them and embrace them.  Pain, anxiety, depression, chronic illness, are all heavy wet blankets we must throw off or at least peak out underneath so that we can recognize what we have in our lives for which we can be grateful.

For me, sometimes the enormity of all the challenges I'm navigating feels so great that I struggle to find something to be grateful for even though I know being thankful is incredibly important to my well being and I have a multitude of items/people/places for which I have be thankful. Just recently, I was thinking about how tired I was of dealing with so many challenges alone and I was so distracted, I started the camera before I even knew what I was going to say and you can see it takes me several seconds to find something to say and I wouldn't say I seemed too thankful, what do you think?

*Make sure to press Pause at the end of the video or it will go on to others!!*

How about that fake smile at the end?

In Facing Pain, Finding HopeDr. Hurley continued,
Focusing beyond terrible circumstances allows us to see. If we cannot see, we cannot recognize a gift. Without this openness, vision and recognition, we express no gratitude. Rather we continue down the road, lonely and lamenting loudly. (pg.138)
Is it important and even healthy to lament? Yes of course. But what is the ratio of lamenting our situation to the ratio of our thankfulness/joy that we express? To survive, thrive and even enjoy our lives when they are full of constant chronic pain or chronic illness, we must fight to be thankful in general more than we are upset/angry ect. At least that is what I have learned from the last ten and a half years of living though chronic illness. Focusing beyond allows us to see.  I invite you to check out this video I made in October 2015 about "My Choice to See" discussing the difference of being thankful FOR everything VERSUS being thankful IN everything.

In Facing Pain, Finding Hope, Dr. Hurley says, "Gratitude for even little things brings us closer in touch with others and with God." (pg 138). Having chronic illness has made it both harder and easier to find little things to be thankful for. Whether you are a person of faith or not, being thankful can bring you closer in touch with others because whether or not they see/read your #ThankfulThirty, those who are close to you will notice a change in you because being truly thankful truly changes the spirit and the heart of a person.

I will admit that my second "#ThankfulThirty" video is a bit embarrassing because I am thankful for this silly monster pillow. You'd think I'd want to start this endeavor out with something stupendous, but I chose a monster pillow.

So what are you thankful for? Though I have posted each "ThankfulThirty" on my YouTube channel HERE, they were for me and not really anyone else. Although I am happy when someone happens upon them and finds camaraderie, inspiration or encouragement.

In 2015, I did a lot of work on myself in changing how I approached my health issues in my mind. The work I did was so significant that after twelve years of having Generalized Anxiety Disorder, it was finally managed and I no longer have anxiety! #ThankfulThirty is just one part of a whole of looking at my health in a completely different way. I chose to see things differently, to appreciate life, to find joy, and many other ways of approaching chronic illness that I look forward to sharing in future posts. And I look forward to learning how you all do this too!

#ThankfulThirty is not just for those who are chronically ill as everyone can benefit from being thankful! I hope you try out doing a #ThankfulThirty whether it be by video or written. And perhaps go even further in trying it out for a prolonged period of time if only just a month and evaluate whether or not it was of benefit to you. As I shared, some days, being thankful has been hard but I'm glad I have stuck with it. God has used it to help to change my life.

**This post is dedicated to Eva Markvoort who changed my life by sharing her story and led me to the idea of #ThankfulThirty. You can see Eva's story in the documentary 65_RedRoses which is available on many streaming platforms including iTunes, Amazon Video, GooglePlay & others. The movie's trailer is HERE.**

Friday, February 5, 2016

Heart Broken Part Two

Continued from Heart Broken Part One:

Shock consumed me for a while as my brain couldn't accept that George had attempted to take his own life. George knew of my intense fear of him dying, so you can imagine what I thought.  In the beginning it was practically impossible NOT to take it personally that my husband tried to leave me through suicide. How selfish was that?  Soon after first seeing George on life support for the first time, I learned he had never got COBRA going even though he had been laid off for many weeks and he had only worked at his new job a couple of days- not long enough to get any anything going. When sorting through disorganized piles of paperwork with my dad trying to get COBRA in order, I found that just like he neglected to get COBRA going, he had neglected to sign the paperwork to continue his life insurance-the one he  had carefully planned for me. By guessing the password, I was able to get health insurance going and my dad mobilized attorneys to figure out what our options were if the worst happened. Once George woke from the coma- that all changed. What didn't change in the moment was my fear. My fears of abandonment were even greater. After being discharged from the behavioral health hospital, George signed and overnighted the paperwork and when the letter arrived in the mail saying the life insurance would be continued.  I was relieved. But the fact he hadn't re-started the life insurance before he attempted suicide was something I struggled with for a while. I'm human.

We went out of town on a vacation the year to date of his attempt and returned to a pile of mail with multiple letters reading his life insurance policy that he had paid into for 19 years was no longer in existence because George had neglected to pay the premium through a misunderstanding on George's part; that coupled with the severe depression meant no more life insurance. By that time, I had worked through my abandonment issues and though I was confused and frustrated, I ultimately knew that the best response was compassion and grace.  George had severe depression which can make you feel like you are walking through mud with a wet blanket covering you and anything and everything feels like it is a million times harder than it actually is. It is a horrid illness. It doesn't just affect the person going through it:  it is a family illness. The reason us sharing this is that George and I know others go through this.  Forgiveness is necessary in any relationship, especially a marriage. But when depression is involved I've learned that I need to deal with my emotions- whatever they may be- but what I need to share with George is compassion and grace. I share this because I didn't know that in the beginning and I made a lot of mistakes. I would tell George how deeply hurt I was and boy did that have the opposite effect of what I hoped. Yes, it is important for me to express my emotions-but in my journal or to a therapist or a close friend or family member.

As an aside. When someone attempts or dies by suicide, there is always the question of  "why" did this person do it. George is here and he is surprised by his attempt.  Suicide is not rational. In George's case, he had undiagnosed severe depression; it wasn't rational decision making as hard as that may be to believe/understand. Trust me, I've had years to work through this. It also took me a while to learn the suicide attempt had nothing to do with me or him leaving me: again it was severe undiagnosed depression. Depression is the culprit-not George. I know I'm off topic but this needs discussion. It is important to share that I have worked through any feelings of abandonment or pain or anger I had about his attempt. I have a different viewpoint and understanding. George needs me as his cheerleader and friend. Truly letting go of expectations and sharing grace for anything: small or large is how I attempt to be as his wife. We live in the moment, trying as hard as we can to be a team and  looking toward God while trusting His guidance.

Somehow the two by four to my head of George's suicide attempt didn't change my priorities as far as God/George was concerned. It took about fourteen months until. I felt the full impact of that two by four in November of 2013. And then everything changed in my heart.

It was my heartbreak over George's suicide attempt and the life we were living 14 months later woke me up to the realization that God had been heartbroken over me for along time.   I had broken my promise to God in putting George above him. Convicted, contrite and heartbroken myself over my choice, I chose a different path.

There is a hymn called My Hope is Built On Nothing Less which I linked to a YouTube version I like that has the lyrics written on the screen. The refrain says
On Christ the solid rock I stand; All other ground is sinking sand; All other ground is sinking sand.
The song reflects how God is the only one I can 100% count on though that doesn't mean he doesn't go silent. It means my view point has changed which I am looking forward to sharing. Let's face it- people cannot always be there for us! I am going to be sinking sand for you. You are going to be sinking sand for me. It doesn't mean we can't care for one another and support one another, but we can't 100% rely on any human. Even though I had an active relationship with God, choosing God instead of George as my foundation has changed me. Accepting that George couldn't give me what I needed, that I needed to accept his short-comings and throw my expectations out the window saved our marriage. And when I have found heartbreak in my relationship with George, I had/have God's support to keep me full of hope and joy. I have grieved and had few meltdowns- but I also had someone to run to who unconditionally loves me  I feel secure in God. And when I'm having a severe health issue, George will say "God has you."

By making God my priority and foundation, fear has melted away. Saying "Drive Safely" was so ingrained in my routine hat I trained myself to say something different that wouldn't have a meaning that could imply control. So, now we say "See you real soon!" which is a Disney saying.

As my life has been focused on God these last couple years since making the foundational change, I found peace in places I didn't expect: namely suffering. Unfortunately I had been on a mediation that I did not realize was clouding my brain and making cognitive tasks quite difficult; as of the Summer 2015, I'm no longer on the medication and boy do I feel completely different! I began writing in my head again. Symptoms of Meniere's disease kept me physically disabled and unable to write last fall.   I uploaded a lot of videos to my YouTube channel about what was happening in my life  and a little thing I started called "#ThankfulThirty" both which I can't wait to tell you about!

I have so many plans for writing including discussing my health, treatments I've tried and my personal life including my faith. Aside from George's suicide attempt, 2015 was the hardest year for me yet & 2016 has started as a huge challenge. But through hardship, I grow closer to God and also into he person I want to be which includes being anxiety-free! In late 2015, one of my physicians told my husband "You have a new wife." Another who knows me very well expressed joy at my new outlook.

My present joy is that you are reading this post and God has given George and me the strength, guidance, direction and ability to write it.

[Note: George read and approved all that was shared in this blog. It is our intention to help others in situations similar to ours by sharing our experiences. I will never share anyone else's experience without their expressed approval at every detail.]

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Heart Broken Part One

While catching up on the current season of the tv show, NCIS, (10/27/15, "Viral"), the girlfriend of one of the main characters said: "Everyone's greatest fear is losing the one they love the most. "

I can't tell you when I started fearing losing George, but I can tell you that the sicker I became, the more hospitalizations and diagnoses...the more I was terrified of George passing away in an accident  or from a health issue. It became so wild that I could not let him leave the house without me saying two words to him: Drive Safely. If I didn't say it, I freaked out; I chased after him: sometimes down the driveway or frantically calling on the phone. I knew my words couldn't prevent anything but there was something inside me that felt those words had control.

George had become my foundation. He supported me financially and provided food, shelter & healthcare. He was my best friend. He knew me better than almost anyone else. He took me to every single healthcare appointment. I leaned into him heavily for emotional support and even would ask him what he thought: "Should I take the med now or wait til my symptoms get worse?" He physically helped me when my health was poor. He was great at listening and just sitting with me in silence during long hospital stays. He was there for me when others bailed. I trusted him more than I have ever trusted anyone in my life except my parents. I knew I had it good: a man who cared deeply about me, a man who I could trust with anything and everything, a man who was there for me. And everyone who saw him with me, saw him take excellent physical care of me. And if I had an anxiety or panic attack, he knew how to calm me. He was my rock.  He'd say: "I've got you. You are going to be okay." George struggled with demonstrating compassion, but I told myself what he gave me was enough. I needed him...or I thought I did. For Christmas, after our first full year and a half of marriage, I gave him a "Superman" outfit ornament. He was my Superman.

To understand my story, you'll want to know something of my faith, which is why I'm sharing a very basic version that is leaving a lot out, but hopefully will be sufficient for the purposes of discussing Heart Broken. Sin is an action that goes against God's law.  As humans, we sin pretty much every day of our lives and unforgiven sin keeps us from having a relationship with God. And God wants a relationship with us: to love us. My faith is Christianity and ultimately that means that Jesus came to reconcile us back to God as there is no way for us to do it on our own.  God sent his son, Jesus, to earth with a purpose. Jesus was fully human and fully God. He learned what the human experience is like firsthand. He needed time alone. He prayed. He was overwhelmed. He was tempted. He was angry. He loved. He hung out with anyone and everyone.  At age thirty, he started teaching. The plan was that Jesus was going to be the ultimate sacrifice by taking the punishment for every sin there ever was and ever would be and pay for that sin with his life so that we humans, if we so desire, can have a relationship with God. The punishment for sin is death and Jesus took my place so that I could have eternal life-more simply a relationship with God. And what do I get out of a relationship with God? Well-everything really: unconditional love, forgiveness, peace, confidence, hope, rest, promise for my future and among many other things no condemnation. Many think being a Christian is about "going to heaven" and yes, my relationship with God will continue after my physical body dies. But, ultimately, my faith is about a relationship with a triune God who loves me unconditionally.

By the time I met George, my faith had been the most important thing in my life for fifteen of my twenty-four years and once George and I were committed, I promised God that I would NEVER put George ahead of my relationship with him. And before we became engaged, my promise had been tested and I had proven I would put my relationship with God before my relationship with George. No one had nor ever would get between God and me.

I became severely ill ten days after George and I became engaged. I experienced physical pain and suffering during our engagement and especially during the first two hospital stays before our wedding that blew my mind.  Even though I was sicker as a child/young adult than the average individual, I hadn't been as sick/suffered like other children such as my husband had. I had eight sinus infections the second year I worked professionally as a speech language pathologist, But at twenty-five, I had never experienced the extreme level of physical suffering I was navigating. Naively, I thought that God allowed you to die once you hit a certain level of pain. I also naively thought what many think until they are in the situation themselves: that doctors have answers, that being hospitalized would heal me and that some day we would find a treatment that worked. We really thought I was going to get better-back to the healthy 25 year old I had been. I always thought at 36 I would be parenting. Early on I would be asked when I thought I'd be well enough to return to work or to volunteering and then I remember noticing those questions weren't being asked anymore.. When my journey in life took a path I hadn't expected, none of us (family, friends, co-workers) ever would've believed what was to come over the next ten plus years.

The pain and suffering and illnesses and hospitalizations and medications side effects and the loss of friends and the judgement of most every person I knew: from family to friends to people who didn't even know me made a huge dent in my relationship with God. I had been a determined, busy young superwoman who was very involved and active. If you know anything about the paternal side of my family, you know that we push ourselves to our limits and beyond: super achievers who say yes even when we should say no. And when my body said "STOP," the silence in my life was deafening. I had never heard it before. I am glad to know it now because there is so much life in the silence, but I hated it then. As often happens when someone experiences pain and suffering, God had gone silent. That had never happened to me before either. My pleas for mercy, my screams for healing as I lay alone on the cold kitchen floor, my efforts, my prayers, my dedication to getting better, going to church to be anointed with oil by a church elder, being prayed over by so many people... and the God I had always had access to just wasn't answering. Or perhaps I just didn't recognize him through the pain? Regardless, I was hurt at what I perceived as God's silence.. The song, The Silence of God, by Andrew Peterson put it better than I ever could;
So when the questions dissolve into the silence of God, the aching may remain but the breaking does not. The aching remains; the breaking does not in the holy lonesome echo of the silence of God.
I was deeply heartbroken by God's silence because not only was he not healing me, but he wasn't responding to my unfathomable pain by at least making it tolerable. Each moment was a challenge where I felt I was physically pulling myself into the next moment. Where was the comfort God promised? The guidance? I felt lost. And I asked the inevitable question : WHY?!

God had seemingly taken a personal day. But George was there. I still had an active relationship with God, but he was number two. Promise broken and at first I didn't care. I needed someone & George was present. God was where? I leaned on and trusted George instead of God and ignored the danger signs and red flags. But God was silent. How much help is that? George was solid; my knight in shining armor and I was so thankful for how he cared for me and for how he had stayed.

Taking care of my health needs made me feel very loved as I had struggled through new diagnoses and surgery. I had leaned into George more than ever. Around five years in, in 2011, though George was a fabulous caregiver of my physical needs, in my experience, he has always struggled with giving compassion/empathy. Additionally, I could no longer ignore how neglectful of me he had been in our marriage. He had become distant and detached from me and life and later on I found others had felt that too. I felt ignored and only received his attention when my health was worse. I told him I didn't want to be the "sick one" I wanted to be a wife!  I value honesty above all and I speak my mind and ask straight forward questions, though in the last few years I've learned how to turn down the intensity and bluntness. I asked George about what was going on but he didn't really have any answers. Through the years George and God had flip-flopped as who was #1 and who was #2 on my priority scale. I spent an incredible amount of time with God-because I had time to do so-but when I was suffering, I called out to George- not God.

2012 hit us hard: Two weeks at Mayo Clinic; my beloved dog Knightley passed away suddenly in the worst way; George was laid off his job of 18 years & shortly after I had a very early miscarriage-both sets of parents knew we were pregnant so it was a loss as that would be the only grandchild for either to date. We went to our favorite vacation spots to try to find some happiness and joy: WDW and OBX. But shortly after we returned, George shocked us all by trying to kill himself. In a coma, seizing, and on life support because he couldn't breathe for himself. I had found him in time though we did not know it was an attempt until he came out of the coma and told me. Even after he came out of the coma he was medically fragile. The doctors say it was a miracle that he is alive and functioning as they don't understand how he survived. And I'm pretty sure it had nothing to do with me obsessively saying "Drive safely" every day for years.  I'm not trying to be funny or ironic. I had been an idiot.

**To Read the Conclusion: Heart Broken Part Two click here.**

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I See You.

Most people who are chronically ill to the place where they are disabled feel especially as time has gone on that not only is their illness invisible to the outside world but that they themselves have become invisible too. They We often feel our fight, our struggle, our lives have become invisible to others. I have a friend that if she writes me, it is only about her and though I may talk about my health, she never acknowledges it and never or very rarely asks any health related questions. Like many her "How are you?" does not mean she wants to hear about my health and as my health dictates my life course-even if it doesn't dictate my attitude or who I am, it is a huge part of my life. And I feel completely ignored. I am not sure who I am to her and I'm not even sure if she wants to be engaging with me or thinks it is the Godly thing to do to keep talking to me. But it has been painful.

In the years since George attempted suicide, I have learned not to hold grudges or have expectations of others but simply receive. I have also learned very painfully that we each bring our histories (our issues) to the table and what feels like her invalidation of my being may be part of something in her life that she is bringing to the table. Putting time into trying to see the other person's perspective has changed my relationships even if there are very few people present in my life- the ones who are absent are the ones who I probably the relationships that I work the hardest at so that if they ever are reconciled or reconnected, I am able to step into them with a quiet heart and open mind ready to listen.

Most of us who are chronically ill-especially the ones who are severely chronically ill and have multiple illnesses to navigate feel alone and invisible. Something George and I have said countless times over the last three years is "If people ever knew what we really go through..."and then we move on because if we linger, we risk going down a dark path of "why another thing and another thing?!" Oh he is so tired. 

Life changed when I realized George was chronically ill-it was probably that first year after his attempt and I was like- oh my goodness-he has been severely ill since he was a boy. And every week a new epiphany of how he as a little boy, a grade school boy, an adolescent boy, a teenage boy, a college-age young man, a man in his early twenties and thirties when I met him. As long as he can remember--since he was that little boy, he has dealt with pain adults cringe to even contemplate much less endure for an hour. He dealt with it often and without relief and without diagnosis. And as any adult would develop co-morbid depression, a little boy who learned to cope by pretending life was something it wasn't was severely depressed throughout his life. Jaw dropping revelations of severe unrelenting pain and living most of his childhood/growing up years on crutches because of severely disabling arthritis in his knee.Umpteen knee aspirations and a few knee surgeries. It wan't until his late twenties that an emergency surgery on his abdomen discovered the Crohn's and changed a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis to Crohn's related arthritis.  The newer medications of IV infusions of Remicade changed his life significantly even though things were just significantly better-not cured or "average." And that depression was always there...always. I thought he was laid back/easy going/lazy. No. He has been depressed his entire life. And even when he was using crutches for the arthritis and even when he was curled in a ball with the Crohn's, it was all invisible. He was fighting a silent fight that finally became unmuted after his almost deadly attempt and boy am I glad for this second chance. To quietly listen to him tell me about his pain whether emotional or physical and hear him vocalize how proud he is of himself for speaking the pain out loud and letting me know. The colors of his life are filling in at 43. And they are challenging and beautiful. 

The most important thing I can do for that man is to tell him "I see you. I hear you." I've texted with a few friends lately-all with multiple severe chronic illnesses -disabled -we areconnected to hold onto hope for each other. Connected so we can listen to each other's pain. Connected so that we can pray for and build each other up. Connected so we can validate each other's experience and say "I See You." 

Those of us with chronic invisible illnesses don't want our struggles to be invisible. I struggle with this because I do not want pity and I am not a victim to my circumstances. But I want to be known. I have a few friends who no longer have their beloved parent in their lives and it is heartbreaking because they still dial the number because parents can be those only people who wanted to know their struggles. I hear the brokenness in this group of people who are really severe including George because in some way we want someone to care about the hell we face each minute of every day without break and that isn't an exaggeration. 

I shower about three times a month and a couple months ago and listen to my KLOVE app when I heard this song called "Losing" by Tenth Avenue North and figured it was cheaper to buy the entire album than that song and another song on the album lives in my mind. And a verse just was rolling around in my head and usually I pick up my Canon Powershot to video journal about it. But I felt I wanted to share what I was experiencing as I have many backlogged videos-several of them happy ones that I can't wait to share; I just haven't had the chance yet.  And something happened. I don't now how it did--I just followed my heart and though it makes me feel vulnerable to share, I am sharing because I feel like it represents what I know many of my invisible friends are feeling. It is personal but I watch it and see others who are suffering. And to those of you who are dealing with an invisible chronic illness, this is for you. I am not under any illusion that because someone is healthy they don't struggle-we all do. We all want to be known and seen and validated and heard. But the longer I am chronically ill, the more alone I have become. I look to my left and to my right and the bleachers are pretty empty. Illness isolates me and this is why I want you to watch-becuase I want my voice to be heard for myself but more so for George and for anyone who has walked this way.  


FYI: I only share other people's stories with their permission. George approved  and contributed to what I wrote about his story.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Walk & Roll Into The Light 2015

This Saturday, September 26th is the 2015 Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk Event put on by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and if our health holds out, George and I will be walking and rolling (wheelchair) again this year!

The 2014 Out of Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk (#OODCCW) Event couldn't have been more different than any other walk I'd been a part of  (i.e. diseases) in a great way. The OODCCW is not just a walk, it is an event with speakers and a variety of tents and a memory wall and places to connect with others. The group atmosphere is one of feeling Loved and Worthy and Cared for no matter how mental illness/suicide has affected the life of the person who is attending. 

Check out our Out of the Darkness Event pages Kelly HERE & George HERE where you can donate to support the AFSP. (We'd love it if you'd support us in this cause we are passionate about.Even $10 makes a difference. However, if you cannot, please consider doing something of your choosing to support those with mental health conditions.)
The colored beads represent how suicide has affected you. The Chicagoland Out of Darkness Walk shares love and care.
No one walks alone.  September 2014  #OOTDCCW 
These young girls' lives have already been affected by suicide. Their connection was just one example of the connection I saw during the whole event: embracing, cheering each other on, talking to strangers, silently walking next to each other, supporting each other emotionally... During this walk, teams (people who sign up to walk together) often wear t-shirts remembering/celebrating the person in their lives that they have lost to suicide: from children to senior citizens. I took hundreds of photos of hundreds of different shirts; here are a handful:

One cannot help but feel the support of the community while at the walk event. So much loss has brought so many together. At least a few hundred people walked in Chicagoland alone last year so that not one more person would die by suicide. We raised money for prevention for the AFSP that goes toward suicide prevention research, outreach & educational programs and more. Check out created by AFSP that has "research-based ways to handle the most painful moments of life.".
2014 Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk Teams listening to speakers in the event tent.
Those struggling with depression, those who have attempted, those who support people who have a mental illness and/or have attempted suicide and those who have survived the loss of someone to suicide all walked together for every person who has ever been affected by mental illness and/or suicidal thoughts. If you have mental illness, depression and/or suicidal thoughts/history, look at the amount of people that showed up for you on that day last year! Each person kept taking a step forward. You can too: one step at a time..
Just a few of the thousands that walked 3.1 miles along Lake Michigan in September 20, 2014.
We do not have to take the steps alone: consider  participating in a community walk, look to a loved one or a professional for support, spend time on, and/or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). Take five minutes to create a safety plan HERE so that if you ever feel down, hopeless, helpless, worthless, you will already have a plan of where to turn. Although I had already seen how a suicide attempt affected George and our families, the 2014 walk was overwhelming in the magnitude of how many people who attended the walk event who were affected by suicide in some way. George and I were both shocked.
2014 Out of the Darkness Walk Chicago

You may not think you know someone who has had /is having suicidal thoughts or has dealt with/is dealing with a mental illness such as depression, but you do. Read the shirt below.
September 20, 2014 Out of the Darkness Walk Chicagoland
IN the last year since George and I walked in the Chicagoland Out of Darkness Community Walk Event for the American Foundation for Suicide prevention in September 2014, I personally, I have had two friends lose family members to suicide: one a sister and another an uncle. I am walking (rolling via wheelchair) in memory of Brenda and Ernie and to show love and support to their families, Suicide Survivors (label used for those who have lost someone to suicide), who painfully feel loss in a way I could never understand or put into words.

George pushing me in the wheelchair
2014 Out of the Darkness Walk Chicago
Additionally, I'm walking (rolling) in support/honor/memory of those who are chronically ill and struggling with depression/mental illness, for a friend who struggles with suicidal thoughts, for Melissa Dwyer, a beautiful young woman who had severe chronic intractable Migraines and died by suicide in June 2013 and many others...  And of course I walk for my husband , George, a suicide attempt survivor, who bravely and courageously continues to fight the battle of depression and gets up every morning putting one foot in front of the other even though he continues to struggle to do so.

I've tried to get this blog out for a while now but was too ill and so I wrote it very slowly. I'm just happened to finish three years ago to the days George was in a coma on life support in ICU ect. Each year I use these days to celebrate George's life and I am so thankful he is here to participate in this walk with me because as the doctors say, it is a miracle he survived the suicide attempt brought on by severe undiagnosed depression.

A couple months ago, my husband George and I shared a little about our experience at the 2014 Out of the Darkness Chicagoland Community Walk Event in the short video below; George shares an epiphany he had while attending the event. Video content is different from the above written blog content (Video contains captions.)

9/20/14 Out of the Darkness Walk
Please consider supporting/donating to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention as you can seeit is something George and I are passionate about. Even $10 makes a difference! However, if you cannot, please consider doing something to support those with mental health conditions. Please check out Donation Walk Pages: Kelly HERE & George HERE.
Feel free to pass this along to anyone interested.

Hold Onto Hope!
Micah 6:8

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Time to Catch-Up Vlog!

It has been a while since I have had a chance to catch you all up on what is happening in the lives of my husband George and me!  So George and I teamed up on a video to share what we've been navigating the last ten months geared more toward our family and friends who are interested in what has been happening with us. Please watch the the video below as we have lots of important info to share from beginning to end.

Last week (the week of August 16th) was pretty intense and there is some important information on which we need your prayers and support which is why we created the video. As of Thursday August 26th, we are still waiting for CT scan results and praying about treatment options. We realized we needed to just start sharing and this blog is the fastest way to share news.

I've been planning lots of blogs with videos and photos we've already gotten ready; yes George is in some of them! But as time is of the essence in getting this information out, this video is solely health related, but trust me we have a truck load of fun videos and photos of our adventures we plan on sharing in future posts.

We did not share this information with anyone but our parents at the time it was happening. So everyone is equally special in getting these updates in this timing!

We hope you will return the favor in "catching us up" with what is happening in your neck of the woods even if it is only one line in the comment section/on a text message/in an email! We want to hear how you are doing too! We have been off the grid for quite a while.


 (If you are deaf or hard of hearing please see THIS LINK on my closed captions policy.) To my buddy with bilateral Meniere's disease-I will get you a summary asap...probably not until next week. Sorry!

In closing, neither George nor I believe in comparing struggles. It is our opinion that if you have pain, it matters. Period. In our opinion, pain (physical, emotional, mental and spiritual) is subjective. No one else's experience can add or take away from your experience; we all go through hard times. Our hearts go out to anyone struggling right now. Keep Holding Onto Hope!

**If you are actively writing a blog, please post in the comment section so that I can reconnect with you as I lost my entire Blog Roll when I re-organized my site recently!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Everyone Should Take 5 Minutes 4 Suicide Prevention

Suicide prevention has been weighing heavily on my heart recently, and I want to encourage you to take a moment and share this information with your friends and loved ones. You never really know what is happening in someone else's life- even those the closest to you. Take a moment to read through this post as there is new and updated information shared. Check out Now Matters Now! There is no time like the present to let others know "If you are hurting, I care."

**Check out this Concise Version of this blog as it has many helpful resources**
Concise Version:
If you are in crisis or are suicidal, please call the (US) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:1-800-273-8255
Don't live in the US and are in crisis or are suicidal? Check out the International Association for Suicide Prevention and
Click to Chat in the US with someone by using the button on the right side of the Lifeline home page HERE.
Learn about how to Create a Safety Plan HERE and consider using THIS Safety Plan TemplateBoth George and I have one!
Download the MY3 app for your smartphone HERE available on iTunes & Google Play.
Lived through a suicide attempt? Check out With Help Comes Hope - support for persons living with suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.
Support others using this helpful Suicide Prevention Toolkit. Great ideas for Facebook & Twitter.
Lost a loved one/friend to suicide or know someone who has? Check out the AFSP's "Coping With Suicide Loss" support section.
Don't know what to say to someone who is going through a rough time? Send a Lifeline E-Card to someone to show you care and to share hope.
Do not miss out on my favorite support website with free "researched based ways for managing the most painful moments of life" at Now Matters Now.
Participate in supporting Suicide Prevention Research by attending an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out Of Darkness Event/Walk or supporting someone who is attending. George and I participated in Chicago's Out of Darkness Event in September 2014 and it was powerful. We are planning on September 2015!
Learn more by checking out two fabulous websites:  American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
And  National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
If you are hurting. I care.

Longer Version: If you are in crisis or are feeling suicidal, please call the (US) National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:1-800-273-8255 OR go to their website & Click to Chat with someone by using the button on the right side of the home page. Outside the US, check out the International Association for Suicide Prevention and

As George & I say: Everyone Should Take 5 Minutes 4 Suicide Prevention regardless. We came up with this saying because George's suicide attempt was a shock to everyone including himself. Create a safety plan (find out about creating one HERE); consider using THIS Safety Plan Template ; put copies in places you can easily get to if you ever happen to need it. (G & I each have one!)

Read about and Download the MY3 app for your smartphone HERE available on iTunes & Google Play; it is an app which helps you create a support system, put together a safety plan toolbox & store your information confidentially.

If you have lived through a suicide attempt, check out With Help Comes Hope - support for persons living with suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline AND  the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention are two websites I go to regularly. Both have excellent information on helping yourself and helping others. The NSPL has a great way to support others through their Suicide Prevention Toolkit. The AFSP has a support section called "Coping With Suicide Loss" if you have lost a loved one/friend to suicide or know someone who has.

Do not miss out on the website: Now Matters Now. It is an INCREDIBLE website created for you and me whether we are in crisis or not. Find out why I think this website is so fabulous by reading the  Now Matters Now's About page below:
We have had suicidal thoughts and emotions and problems that felt unsolvable. Here are our stories, including research based ways for managing the most painful moments of life. We teach Mindfulness, Mindfulness of Current Emotion, Opposite Action and Paced-breathing. These skills are part of Dialectical Behavior Therapy or DBT, proven to be helpful for people considering suicide. These tools are not considered a replacement for one-to-one counseling. You do not have to have suicidal thoughts or mental health problems to use these tools - they are useful for most people and many problems.
(In August 2014, I shared about our plan to participate in the AFSP's September 2014 Chicago Out Of Darkness Event/Walk in a post I wrote, called "And Into the Light,"  If you supported George & I participating in this walk monetarily or otherwise, therefore you supported suicide prevention research like the research that went into creating the Now Matters Now website. We plan on participating in this worthy event again this September 2015. I look forward to sharing photos and our experiences from the 2014 event.)

Please share suicide prevention information with those you love on email/Facebook/Twitter. Share the lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 & website, information from any of the above mentioned websites. The Suicide Prevention Toolkit has some great prompts for Twitter & Facebook as well as warning signs easily shared to social media. Just scroll down on the link HERE. As the NSPL says, "sometimes it is hard to know what to say when someone is having a rough time" and so they have Lifeline E-Cards you can send to someone to show you care and to share hope. Thank you for taking 5 minutes 4 suicide prevention.

If you are hurting, I care.

*Nothing in this blog is intended to be taken as medical advice. Please consult your health care professional.