Giving Up, And Starting Over

Wisdom And Love From A Mighty Cat

Boris William. Photo by CS Sherin

CS Sherin, Feb. 20, 2019

A Dark Day

I wrote the narrative below, Give Up, at the end of September in 2014. It is about a dark night I went through that I will never forget. It wasn’t the first hard time I have faced, but it was a pivotal one, different from other times.

It was August 11th, 2014. I experienced a deep depression that washed over me quite suddenly. I was to find out the next day, that it was the same day that Robin Williams died. He was someone who had been a bright light for me in a rough childhood — him and The Muppets. Finding out the next day about his death, I realized I had probably felt a “disturbance in the force,” so to speak, that had affected me. Robin was such a great presence on Earth, dear to many, and missed. I am sure his death was a real energetic part of what I felt that night. But there were personal dynamics at work too.

Before that night, I had already gone through some devastating loss. My oldest sister had died four months earlier, after a long battle with a cancer that had turned quite brutal. A few months before that, our elderly dog had also gotten a brutal cancer, and had to be euthanized suddenly. Simultaneously, I had come to a point in my self-employment where I knew I had to make a change. I had been doing holistic spiritual care for over a decade, and didn’t quite know where I was headed, if I were to stop and change.

Introduction

The story you are about to read is about facing inevitable change, loss, past traumas revisited, and grief. It is also about the life-giving transformations we are able to experience while in relationship with other beings, for instance, a cat. Reciprocal positive relationship with animals, and other beings, can be profound and important in so many ways, if we are open to it. I recommend being open to it.

Perhaps one of the reasons that humanity finds itself facing so many crises and ongoing-history-repeating-itself serious problems is because, we are not in active, consistent, real relationships with the countless other living beings we share this planet with — not in a way that is ongoing, respectful and more selfless than self-serving.

The trees, plants, aquatic life of all kinds, rocks/crystals, land animals, creatures of the air, and below ground all have knowing of various kinds in their being. An openness to cultivating conscious, caring relationships with any of those — choosing to be present for it — could be the transformative change we need at this time. It is important to note that any committed relationship within or between other species needs to contain: consistent presence, kindness, honesty, consideration, and mutual respect.

The following story is evidence of the deep, long-resonating, lasting rewards that come from: a balance of giving and receiving, helping and receiving help, listening and sharing, asking and telling – true friendship. I have Boris, the valiant cat, to thank for the real presence and wisdom won during that dark, hard night on August 11, 2014:

Give Up

There is an escalating pressure mounting around and within me tonight. It presses upon me like an ominous darkness of massive storm clouds, which contain a sharp cold front set against the air — stagnant, oppressive heat, humidity and no wind. A violent storm is looming.

Am I wearing rose-colored glasses, not facing reality? Not usually. I do love being practical and realistic, as much as positive and dreamy. Am I the eternal optimist made of ideals? Yes, that is true. There is a tireless, sleepless affinity in me for honesty and ethics…awake in my heart and mind like an atomic clock.

On my bed this day and evening, a powerful depression intrudes, and disrupts my true nature. I cannot continue. I want to give up, for real.

It is painful, blind, anguish.

It feels like that sucker punch in my solar plexus, from the mean boy in 4th grade. I was taken by surprise, robbed of breath and air, with that sudden punch of pain, that dropped me to my knees — sucking tears out of me without permission. He had walked away without a word.

This swell of sadness tonight is too dark, and overwhelms me beyond reason.

Boris, the cat, is by me now. He is the one who always comes running to see how he can help when it sounds, from somewhere in our house, like someone could be hurt, in trouble, or sick. If he were human, he would be a First Responder, a nurse, counselor, and/or healer. I tell him quietly and despondently that I am giving up. At first I am not sure if I mean my life. The darkness was so overwhelming. I ask myself, and feel deeply: No, not my life. My purpose and work — like a spiritual death, it seems. Boris tells me a surprising thing — with his wise eyes and being, Boris says, “Good. Give up.”

Startled into a sudden alert surprised awareness, that breaks the dark spell, I ask, “What?! Why? Don’t you care? You always care. Why don’t you care, Boris?” He answered with nonchalance, “Give up. I gave up once. After I gave up, good people found me, helped me, and then you found me. And now look at me.” He is beaming strength and love, smiling, eyes happy.

Boris, quite an elderly cat at this time. Photo by CS Sherin

Astonished and awakened, I remembered what he meant. I thought of Boris’s story. Boris had been abandoned by a previous family, along a freeway, that had a tall fence separating it from the countryside. When he was found, the shelter workers told us, he was dirty. The kind of dirty, they said, that only happens when a cat gives up. A cat giving up is a starkly tragic thing. Cats take pride in their self-care and stealthy ability to survive. He had been brought low by the trauma of being abandoned and then trapped near a highway, with bad weather/storms, and no food. He suffered PTSD for a while after we adopted him. He needed antidepressants for a few months, to remember what normal feels like, the vet said. And he did, he got better after those 3-4 months of medication. (Actually, his example back then with needing medication for a while, helped me to address my own needs during a health crisis, not long after his.) It took us a few years after adopting Boris, to fully earn his trust and full affection. In his elder years now, after 11 years with us so far, he is well and happy, fully loved and loving. We know he is no younger than 17 and could be as old as 19.

I paused, and took this moment in.

Maybe the thought to give up wasn’t as bad as it felt at first. It is simply hard to let go of work that I have given all my heart and effort to, along with sitting with the layers of grief. I am loyal. I am a hard worker. Yet, I need to let go of some big things, and adjust to a changing reality and changing needs. Boris is right. I looked over at him in awe. The four-legged, hairy, mahogany-red with white, tall, thin, elder fellow is right. I didn’t expect that from you just now, Boris. Thank you!

King Boris, or Chewy Bill, as we sometimes call him, gave me a jolt of understanding that allowed me to release the fear and illusion of failure. Boris helped me to boldly take up courage, and be okay with letting go — even if it feels like dropping off a ledge on a tall building with no net or cushion below. Boris has an intimate, expert knowledge of major endings that are like deaths, and how rebirth is on the other side of it, waiting for us — something much better, and really right. A really wise cat, that Boris. What a gorgeous guide! I scratched his cheeks and massaged his head and chest in thanks. He smiled his open-mouthed smile with twinkling eyes, that reminds my husband of Don Knotts. That makes me chuckle. What I see is a cat who blazes and shimmers, a noble being, who commands his new life with joy — a new life, that found him. He knows — he gained all of it after he had given up.

Afterword

Back to 2019. What I didn’t know yet, when I wrote that story, was that we would yet have to face the death of our elder cats, first Abigail, and then Boris in the following year. Living with, and processing all that grief, led me to shift and channel it, and the love, into practical, tangible work for healthy sustainable living (toxin-free) via Recipe For A Green Life, which took up nearly three years of my life, from start to finish. It was a big leap, and a big risk. It certainly didn’t pay well. Yet, it is and has been important, honors what and how I love, and speaks of our collective, interrelated, priceless connection to all life in totality.

Boris was such a strong presence in our lives — a magnanimous, extraordinary spirit, even for a cat. He always knew that humans are too often so slow to catch on to what animals know, and try to communicate. He was always persistent, and maddeningly so. I actually gained so much respect for his persistence — it can be an endearing, admirable quality. He never gave up on trying to communicate with us; helping us to understand what he needed or wanted, in quite obvious, when his subtle gestures were missed by us.

Pawing At My Heart

For a time before he died, he kept pawing at my upper chest, like he wanted to climb inside my heart. He did it so often. In my distracted, clueless, human way, I thought it was cute, yet strange that he kept doing it. Then, I found out that he was terminally ill. After a while of processing the two things, I finally understood what he was saying to me. He was saying,

One of the times that Boris had just been pawing at my chest. Photo by CS Sherin

“Keep me in your heart.

Don’t forget me.

I love you.

I will always be there.”

When I finally realized what he was saying, it loosed my tears, along with the enormous love grown through a positive, loving relationship with another being over so many years. It still loosens my tears of love, years later.

I picked him up, hugged and assured him that I finally understood. I told him that I would, always. He never did it again, so I know that he knew the message was received. I am so thankful that I was able to drop my human distractions for long enough to truly hear him before he had to leave us.

We are convinced Boris was a mighty spirit that took on cat form for a time, someone we were lucky to know and love. I could tell many stories about Boris’s ways. Like the Easter morning that he jauntily brought in a baby rabbit for me to cook for the holiday. Or, the nap we took beside each other, and the dream that we had — where he taught me to make healing balls of light (it was hard — he was really good at it). Or, how he always came to everyone’s rescue, never once afraid. And, how he wanted a dog so badly, and how he fell in love with her, when we did finally adopt a dog. And, how he had a soul mate, little Abigail (ginger cat) — and how they had an actual impromptu wedding ceremony in our back yard one Spring.

Boris, back in 2011 or 2012, with an orb of light near his paw. Photo by CS Sherin

Yet, for today, what I will say is this: The time, love, and presence of Boris, that strong bright being, lives on and is in my heart always. That alone, gives me courage and the warm action of love for this life — no matter what.C

A Tribute, In Loving Memory of Dr. Mary Oliver, Poetic Goddess

January 17, 2019
CS Sherin

Please Note: The article below was originally written and posted on a former version of this site. This article from 2012 has been edited and re-published in honor of Dr. Mary Oliver, who died earlier today.

Before you read the following article that I wrote after meeting Mary Oliver back in 2012, I would like to say a couple of things about her now, for today. Some of her childhood consisted of neglect, sexual abuse, and loneliness. Her life as a poet was the truest self she could be in this life, and the best. When young and throughout life, she found comfort, life, and what is sacred out in nature and with animals. She was a contemplative poet, with a naturalist’s passion for nature and simplicity. Every part of that encapsulation of her has given me hope and saved, affirmed, and encouraged me—as a survivor, poet, human, and naturalist soul. I send her well wishes on her soul journeys that begin today, and so much love and gratitude for all she shared with us. Shine on, dear Mary Oliver, holy voice for this earth—and what is so precious in this life.

The program for Mary Oliver’s honorary Doctorate at Marquette University on Nov. 12th, 2012; and my copy of “Swan” that Mary signed that night.

Nov. 13th, 2012
CS Sherin

Did you happen to feel a big bliss vibe yesterday?  It could have been from me.  I got to meet my favorite poet of our time, an inspirational goddess of poetry–Mary Oliver–yesterday.  Because of this, I have residual Mary Oliver bliss that I know must be radiating out into the rest of this place.  *big smile*  Read on to learn what it was like to: see her, listen to her read her own poetry, get writing advice from her via the Q & A, how it was to meet her, and what it all meant to me.

I went to Marquette University with some of the best poetry loving friends, in order to witness Mary Oliver receive an honorary doctorate there. Mary Oliver’s smile, in reaction to the donning of the Doctorate robe, was such a revelation to me! In general she has a serious and drawn face.  And quite suddenly, it burst open like a shimmering flower of tropical sunshine.  It was a jolt–an amazing joy to behold.  We then listened to Dr. Oliver read her poetry to us. It was an hour, which passed like a few minutes. After, there was a Q & A, and then a line formed for book signing.  My best poetry buddy, Marci, and I got to speak with her briefly together, when our turn approached for signing—more on that later.

The main and briefly summarized impression I had from the poetry reading itself was of: Mary Oliver’s affinity and compassion for nature, her dog, and for the real connections of this life that she expresses in ways that soothe, affirm, and stir my soul.  This is why she is beloved–her poetry is transpersonal and deep, yet accessible. The whole experience was holy.

In person, Mary Oliver is small, and she is older now, so she has a cane and white hair.  She was very much like a fairy-godmother presence, especially while delighting in choosing which poems to read to us. She seemed to me to be mostly: witty, cute, wild, rebellious, tender, open-hearted, bold, wise and magical. Also, Mary Oliver’s heart and mind seem to have beams of focused energy, clear and strong, that are able to shine out upon the world–wherever she may be sitting, standing, or speaking in the moment. There is an air of serious concentration about her. And, it is clear, she adores the natural world, and has a passion for it beyond simple observation—she is in deep relationship.  It is also clear, she deeply cares about people, no matter how humble, shy, and introverted she is. She made a tremendous effort to transmit her love and appreciation to us with grace, humor and oomph.

During the Q & A, a fiery passion came forth as she responded to a question, giving advice about how to be a successful poet. I can’t quote her word for word, but it was something I can paraphrase as this:

Forget about being successful! Spend every day caring about your writing. In this economy, forget about the nice car and nice apartment.  Focus on doing the best you can, writing every day! 

She did answer my question, which was something like, “Does poetry flow from you in the same way it did 10-20 years ago?”  She revealed, in not these exact words, that inspiration doesn’t hit as hard as it did once; that things have slowed.  And yet, there was a new book in front of her and she mentioned another was on the way.  She told us that she never had trouble with writer’s block.  That if there was a little of it, she knew the answer was always connecting with the earth and being grateful, and it would come back, and flow.  She also mentioned that, if anything, she wrote too much.  I could tell that having inspiration leave her would be like an athlete suddenly becoming immobile with no hope of future mobility.  It would be devastating.  But I don’t really think that will happen.  Her very being has become poetry, just as Whitman had described.

Her eyes are full beams of mystical presence…they struck me as powerful, yet gentle–a concentrated energy that I really haven’t ever seen in someone before.  Her eyes are full, with presence–that is it—fiery, grounded, watery, elemental.  Her life has been a discipline of not only presence, but deep relationship with all presence.

Speaking of those poetic goddess-like eyes, I had a chance to look right into them, across a table, at the book signing.  I was feeling extremely shy and in awe, but I managed to say awkwardly, but honestly, “Thank you Dr. Oliver.  I love you.”  There was a significantly silent pause as she looked down at the book I had given her, before she wrote in my copy of Swan, then she said quite slowly and deliberately, “Well…I don’t know you, but…I love you too.”  Then, she looked up and gave me the gift of presence, looking intently into my eyes–really looking.  All I could do was smile at her with love and gratitude.  It. was. awesome.

This signature in my copy of “Swan” represents a powerful memory I have of  encountering a person who improved my life, and inspired me, through poetry and parts of her life she was willing to share. I am thankful for that day and time.

What I have always known, since I was 12 years old—was presented to me in the flesh yesterday, as pure and utter gift:  A great poet speaks for and to the soul, as much as to the person.  She is voice for the soul, for presence.  She is also the medicine.

”For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.”  ~ Mary Oliver

Those words of Mary Oliver’s came to me as we all listened raptly to her, reading her poetry to us.

I felt, indeed, that I was hungry and cold, and maybe even a bit lost, and that she was feeding me (us) and my deeper self–like a mother bird feeds her babies. Yes, I felt that yesterday with Dr. Mary Oliver, and it was bliss.

CS Sherin, WildClover.org 2012, 2019©

Even In 1984 With Treason

CS Sherin
October 17, 2018

Hello. Happy Wednesday! Today, I am sharing with you some fresh poetry, and some more of my nature photography. I hope this will be a welcome break for you, a spot in the day to relax into some poetry and images. Maybe it will bring you some peace and inspiration. I hope so! Before we get to the fresh poetry and pics by me, I have three reminders for you, and two pieces of news. Here they are:

Reminders

1. If you would like to buy prints of my images/art from this site or from my other social media sites for your personal or small business use, please contact me. I do custom orders, and prints are on archival quality photo paper.
2. I voted early today. Voting is super important. Every voice matters. Consider voting early. That way if a problem crops up with your effort to vote, you still have time to do it. I was already registered, so I went to our city hall early this morning and all I had to do was confirm my name, birth date, address, and show my ID. If you need help getting to a voting place, ask for help to get there. Here is some info on voter registration deadlines.
3. I now provide in-depth astrology consultations and reports, as well as practical and intuitive spiritual care. Both services are delivered by phone, online meeting, and/or email.

News

1. Please do check out my Recipe For A Green Life blog, and subscribe to that email list to be notified of posts. Tomorrow that blog will have a special guest blogger, so do check it out.
2. If you haven’t read anything on Medium before, I do recommend it. It is a great platform! I am publishing articles there now. Check out my profile on Medium, which will show all of my articles published so far. You can follow me on Medium, or follow my Twitter feed or Linkedin profile, which will always post my latest Medium articles.

And now for the poetry and pics…….

 

EVEN IN 1984 WITH TREASON

by CS Sherin
October 17, 2018
tinydaisylikeflowers_cssherin2018_wildclover.org copy
What gracious time is this

when I walk through air on

earth and swim through water

under the sky? What grace

filled time is this

where I am sheltered every night

surrounded by six other beings who

wish and show me only love, who

stand by me no matter the weather

or time?  What glorious synchronicities

are these that orchestrate order in spite of

chaos, beauty and kindness in spite of active

hatred, wild regenerative wellness in spite of

polluted toxic disease? What timeless peace within

is this that reverberates endlessly in the

midst of cacophonies of strife and unrest?

What beautiful mind-bending grace is this? –this

breath, this heart — the rhythm and song within

us? PurplePrairieFlowers_2018_CSSherin_wildclover.org copyWhat is this glorious triumph of love that

travels beyond atrocities, that has no rival–

unmeasured goodness surviving here,

beyond the vision and grasp of all the

twisted distortions that destroy, erase, consume,

and assimilate. It is the great mystery of

ultimate reality beyond this, yet it is evidenced

through and through. Just as we give up hope,

just as the darkness enfolds, just as the distortions

distort yet more, the day after, the breath after that,

PrairieFlowers2018_CSSherin_wildclover.org copythe morning after that, the week after that–woven

through everything, invisible yet ineffable,

indelible — Great presence endures — untraceable

even in the worst 1984 with Treason.

 

 

 

 

 

CS Sherin, WildClover.org, 2018©


 

 

Friday Meditation: Photos And Moments Become Art–Stepping Stones Along The Way

October 12, 2018
by CS  Sherin

golden-eagle_skeeze_pixabay
Photo, Golden Eagle, by Skeeze on Pixabay

I remember in college when I was going to art school that I kept a postcard up on my locker. It was a photograph of a golden eagle soaring in a clear blue sky. That photograph reminded me of a spiritual experience I had at the top of a mountain in the Rockies on my 13th birthday. It was a long, tiring climb, and it was my first ascent up an actual mountain. At the top was a revelation that engaged my whole being. At the top I could see across the range of mountains. At the top were trees, and ponds with tiny fishes or tadpoles, and very close above me was the silent grandeur of golden eagles soaring. Everything I saw and was a part of transformed me. It is an indelible experience and memory for me. The postcard was an image that kept that kind of energy present in my consciousness. It set the tone for every day that I earned my Studio Art degree. The meditation for today is photography, and specifically images that are meaningful to us.

When Autumn begins, the leaves fall, the air gets chilled, and I naturally begin to look forward to bedtime when I snuggle under the weight of blankets at night like a little squirrel in a nest. I delight in having reason to heat up some hot cacao to drink, and my inner bear feels the deep pull into, not hibernation, but into the inner cave of introspection, where I look back at what the summer was, in photos and dream journals mostly, and then look at what is changing outside, and what my goals are for the coming winter. As much as winter can be a challenge sometimes, there is nothing like transitioning from season to season, embracing each one as much as possible, flowing with the ancient rituals of our Earth’s rhythms and cycles.

I push aside the stresses that would demand my attention. I shut off the social media. I walk away from the phone. I resolutely choose, over and over, in each season, to walk in nature with my beautiful little dog, Samantha and with my husband and daughter. I choose to write and photograph what I see, what grabs me in the moment. And that is what they are, passing moments captured on digital photography. And it becomes not only a memory preserved, but also awakens a deeper appreciation in me of what potential, wonder, and beauty there is in every moment.

 

“People take pictures of each other

just to prove that they really existed…”

~ “People Take Pictures Of Each Other” by The Kinks

If that statement in the song by the great British Invasion era rock band, The Kinks, is true–there must be a fevered desired like never before to prove our existence to one another and ourselves. Yikes. Yet, I would like to think that even as we try to grasp beyond chronological time and the fleeting moments that slip on and on, just like the waves upon the shore of our ocean–that each art piece, photo, and movement for creativity is a stepping stone on a wonderful journey that is actually filled with mystery.

My inner bear of introspection is feeling very happy to share some of my favorite pics that journal moments in this past summer leading up to now. I have added some in-the-moment poetry with the images. May this be a joyful meditation and moment of recharging for you. Happy Friday!

Anniversaries bring out the pale pink rose vibrant with hope, love, and scent to heal the heart. It speaks of our love first-born, and then weathered and seasoned over decades, still new and emerging. Pink Rose Opening, 2018 Chandra S Sherin©

 

Out of hand (and foot) dangling like notes of music in the air, shoes that weren’t needed as one flies up like a bird? or left behind as one runs barefoot away from tight-fitting shoes with flimsy souls. Heavily populated wires mark territory for the imagination. Shoes On Wires, 2018, Chandra S Sherin©

 

We walk together through gardens, marshes, forests, city-scapes, and beaches. We meet the bees, birds, squirrels, butterflies, and other critters with wonder and love. We stand by the sunflowers praising the bees. We walk side by side through time and dreams. Bee On Sunflower, 2018, Chandra S Sherin©

 

The trees send out a proliferation of seeds in both the Fall and Spring. The amount of persistence required to carry out survival and ancestry. And in the cold climate the leaves burst in orchestrations of color as they die and fall. So much movement and beauty that flows from a stationary being, who is deeply rooted. Red Leaf With Yellow Leaves, 2018, Chandra S Sherin©

* If you would like to buy prints of my images/art from this site or my other social media sites for your personal or small business use, please contact me. Prints are custom order and on archival quality photo paper.

Featured Image, Golden Eagle, by Skeeze on Pixabay.

 

Mental Health Awareness Week, And 4 Things That Helped Me

“Hole” by Grafontour on Pixabay

CS Sherin, 10-10-2018

NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) designates this week as “Mental Illness Awareness Week,” with a goal to promote “CureStigma”, which illuminates the needless stigma people with mental health issues face in our culture.

Mental health and mental illness are important, huge issues in our world. There are so many aspects we need to address, I cannot begin to elaborate on it all here and now. All in all, we need to create systems that are healing and healthy for people, communities, and nature — and dismantle the corrupt, abusive systems, which contribute to trauma and mental health disruptions.

From a personal perspective, mental illness shaped my early life, as my father was mentally ill. In fact, he was a sociopath and/or narcissist. You can be sure there is a stigma to those words. And this is the first time I have said it in public. The repercussions of his mental illness, and the actions he took while mentally ill, are still felt in my life to this day. It has always been hard to deal with, whether he was present and alive, absent and alive, or now absent and deceased. In short, he was a product of an institutionalized infancy (state orphanage till the age of three) and institutionalized systems, like the military. Many institutionalized systems that care for children can create narcissists and sociopaths.

Beyond that, I faced my own mental health issues as an adult. I had a traumatic childhood, and faced unfriendly peers and teachers in elementary and middle school. As a young mother , I experienced a trauma that caused me to have PTSD, which I saw a therapist to treat. That was the trauma that was the tipping point of traumas, a culmination that started in childhood. A couple years after that, I became severely ill from Lyme’s disease. It was not diagnosed right away, and I ended up not being able to work for three months.

This caused what the doctors diagnosed as mild depression that was joined with IBS, anxiety, and panic attacks. After slowing recovering, and having taken the medications and therapy that I could from western medicine, I sought deeper and more empowering methods to heal my inner wounds and traumas.

That started me on the path of spiritual work like reiki, and holistic wellness in general, which I applied to myself before sharing it to help others. Looking back at all that I went through related to the spectrum of mental health to mental illness, I can tell you some of the key things that really helped and made a difference for me. We are each unique, and we each find our way to health and wellness in our own ways, but perhaps some of the following things we have in common. Here are four things that helped me the most as I climbed out of the dark abyss, known as a mental health crisis, back in the early 2000s:

  1. I asked for help. I knew my brain chemistry had literally changed from the trauma and illness, and that I couldn’t help myself this time, no matter how independent and private I love to be. I asked for help, and I needed it. I went to my doctor. I went to a therapist. I took an antidepressant for a period of time, and it helped. I was dedicated with a strong desire to find myself and climb out of the dark abyss I had fallen into of panic attacks. The most important and helpful thing that the therapist told me is that: my reactions and mental health crisis had to do with things happening to and around me that weren’t normal or healthy. Therefore, my reaction was healthy and normal, and my mental health crisis was a part of that health. That was a big relief, and goes a long way to removing the stigma.
  2. I read a book that helped me to see that the terrifying panic attacks that made me feel like I was dying a horrific death were actually an opportunity to connect with a deeper and truer part of myself. The panic attacks were an opportunity, it said, to face fear in order to rise up stronger. That book is called, Riding The Dragon by Robert J. Wicks. Books, dancing, and music have always been lifelines for me. That was one of them.
  3. I found life-giving support from people who know, love, and support me — people I trust and feel safe with. For me, that was my husband, sister, mother, and a close friend. The faces of the people in our lives may change at different stages in life, yet the important thing is to find at least one or two people, who are safe, healthy, loving, supportive, kind, and honest. When there is no one that comes to mind, that is when finding help and community through support groups and counseling can be the best alternative.
  4. I used the free tools that I had been taught as a teen and young adult. I had an unusual childhood, and not all of it was bad. I had some unusual, stellar, rebellious-in-a-good-way mentors, friends and family who taught me skills and tools that serve anyone well: breath work exercises, exercise/walking daily, singing, dancing, meditation, yoga, art/creativity, retreat, positive visualizations, prayer, healthy diet, avoiding toxins and chemicals, and spending quality time with loved ones, animal companions, and in nature.

The truth is, mental health issues affect everyone.

We are all on a spectrum of mental health to mental illness, and it fluctuates according to our experiences, environment, and many other factors.

There are few if any people I know who don’t experience some kind of mental health issue in some way, at some points in life. Grief, genetics, disasters, violence, war, abuse, corrupt and broken systems, institutions all play a part in how our brain chemistry balance fluctuates, and our in our ability to manage in insane conditions.

“Stop the Stigma” by Geralt on Pixabay

What helps me to speak up now is knowing that I was lucky to have the help and the tools. I was lucky to find a way through it. I was lucky to know I needed to ask for help.

Now, like too many other Americans, I don’t have and can’t afford health care on a regular basis. I may not need it now, but that doesn’t mean I can count on that always being true. I am proactive, and use the holistic tools that have served me well. But that isn’t always enough.

Not only that, some mental illness needs ongoing treatment and care from doctors and therapists. Our healthcare system is broken, and people who need help aren’t able to receive it.

We cannot remain silent. Not only do we need to dispel the stigma of mental illness, we need healthcare and insurance to serves a higher purpose of wellness with ethics, inclusivity, accessibility, and transparency.

If you struggle with mental health issues, the stigma of it, and in needing help but not being able to afford it, you are not alone.

If you need help right now, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) to find support and help. They provide resources, hotlines, and a lot of the help is free.