December 2019 Contributor: Faithe Henry

I previously wrote a blog as a guest for one of my friends about mental health. For those that have read my last writings, I would like to explain a little about a part of one of three diagnoses. I’m going to try a little something new and personal. I am going to tell you about a few things that triggered my depression. Let’s jump right in.

I was twelve years old when I was unofficially diagnosed with depression. The reason it’s unofficial is because it was done by my junior high school counselor. See, I was made to attend grief counseling once to twice a week due to the death of a family member. The pain I faced due to this passing isn’t something any child should have to go through.

My loss was not one of a grandparent, aunt, or uncle. My loss was that of my mother. Now don’t get me wrong… I’m not belittling the death of anyone, especially any of the ones I listed. Please just keep reading.

I lost my mother in the early months of 2004. It was an accident but not one of the usual manner. I won’t get into details, but just know that I thank God every day my siblings and I weren’t there to witness what happened. I found out when I came home from school.

I don’t remember much about that day. I actually don’t remember much about any of the days from her death until her funeral. The grief that I faced that day was like none I had ever dealt with before and still haven’t to this day.

Several months after her death is when I received my unofficial diagnosis, and I was treated with what I think of as a joke. The school board’s idea idea of grief counseling was laughable, to say the least, but I did as requested anyway.

For those of you trying to do the math, she has now been gone for 15 years. As I have gotten older, I have realized how much my mother truly meant to me. She was my rock, my support, my hero. She loved my siblings and I with every breath she had and then some. She was so much more talented than I think I could ever be. She always worked so hard to support us no matter what.

I haven’t had her in my life to witness the most important moments of my life, and that can hit me extremely hard some days. When I think about all of the things she’s missed, all of my heart breaks; my husband, my wedding, but mostly her grandchildren. It tears me up inside.

Every day is a new day; a day for me to live for her, to do all of the things she wanted me to do. I told myself I would do everything in my power to do the things I would have done to make her proud, and I think I do that every day.

Unfortunately in my case, my mother isn’t the only contributing factor to my depression. It wasn’t until late last year that I discovered this. Late last year, I received my first real therapy session, which is where I received my diagnosis of extreme recurring depression. Going into therapy, I thought most to all of my depression was because of the passing of my mother. But I learned something completely unexpected.

My past medical conditions (two types of cancer) and my father were a huge factors in my depression as well. Before my mother passed, before my mother and father divorced, I was afraid of my father. He was physically and mentally abusing. He has, and I believe will always, deny this until the day he dies. Where my memories of certain things are foggy, these memories certainly are not. I discovered I didn’t just fear my father, but I resented him, hated him, and was down right angry at him for mistreating his family, for not being the father he needed to be, not being being there for me, and now most of all, not being a grandfather to his grandchildren, the very grandchildren my mother would have loved with every fiber of her being like she loved her children. For not being the father I know in my heart he could have been and chose not to be. Not being the man my mother believed in and loved at one time in her life so deeply, it hurt.

I’ve come so very far since I’ve started therapy, but I know there are other people in this world that are where I have been and let me tell you first hand, it can and will get better.

The first step is to stop putting yourself down and believe, even if you don’t see it, that someone is there for you. The second step is to always remember and love the person even if they are gone. The third step is to take every day one step at a time and live like that person is still with you cheering you on. The person you lost wouldn’t want to see you down, depressed, and sad. If you have a person trying to hold you down, forgive them then let them go. Lastly, live. Live every day because you never know what you might find in yourself one day. The person you may want to be is just beneath the surface waiting to be set free, and you’re the only person that can make that happen. You’re the only person that can make that choice for you.

If you find it difficult to find that person, remember there is someone that already loves you for you, and will be there to encourage you along the way.

Faithe Henry

Answering Your Questions, part II

I am answering ten more questions that I have gotten from readers and a couple that I looked up that seemed like they would be interesting to answer! Thanks again for all the responses!

  • What is on your current playlist and what does your playlist say about you?

My current playlist is all over the place. I’ve got a lot of different genres, upbeat, with a wide variety of lyrical topics, but mostly inspiring. I think my playlist says that I’m open to anything musically, but also trying to remain upbeat in my life currently. I have to say I am listening to a lot of Lizzo lately!

  • How do you show yourself love?

I take care of myself by remaining mindful of things that need to get done, but also being mindful of the food I eat, the amount of exercise I get (or don’t get) for the day, being mindful of the music I listen to based on my current mood… if I’m depressed, I do my best to listen to upbeat and inspiring songs. Mindfulness is key when showing yourself love! I always make sure to sit down for a few minutes, or shoot, even hours sometimes, and watching my favorite show or movie, listening to my favorite song, whatever it takes.

  • How do you stay productive?

Sometimes I have to make myself be productive, honestly. But other days when I know I have to get stuff done, like my homework, then I just do it. I think I’ve conditioned myself enough when it comes to homework to do it on certain days. Otherwise, sometimes I just have to make myself be productive, and I know that that is okay. I have to constantly remind myself that if I don’t have much of a productive day that tomorrow is a new day!

  • What were some red flags you saw that made you consider burning bridges?

Red flags are sometimes right in front of our faces, but we don’t recognize them simply because we don’t want to. I started burning bridges when I started realizing that my well-being and my mental health are worth way more than constantly being taken advantage of, lied to, cheated on, manipulated, talked about, etc. When someone truly cannot be happy for you when you succeed at something, there is a red flag. That means that they need that upper hand, that feeling of being the best, and you’re not allowed to have it. Or… they simply don’t care that you succeeded at something. That’s when you know that person doesn’t belong in your life. When you feel like you have to fight for their attention, and when you do get it, it’s a constant competition or a constant struggle to keep their attention, let it go. It’s not worth it anymore. When you’re never included in their plans but they get mad when they’re not in your plans, there’s another red flag. You don’t need that kind of toxic negativity in your life. Nobody does. But when those toxic people refuse to see their toxicity and try to fix it, let them go.

  • Where do you want to go, and what do you want to accomplish with your writing?

My writing started off as something fun, random, off the wall… I knew I was okay at it, but I never had any intention of doing anything with it. Now that I’m older and I’ve been writing for more than 20 years, I feel like it’s turned into something so much more for me. It’s therapeutic. It allows me to be vulnerable and advocate for something that means the world to me. I don’t have the talent of public speaking; that terrifies me to no end. But when I write, I feel like I can conquer anything. My main goal for my writing is to inspire people. When I realized that advocacy and helping people might be my purpose in this world, I turned my random, off the wall writing into something that might mean something to someone one day. If I inspire only one person to feel like they’re worth so much more than what their thoughts are telling them, I feel like I’ve fulfilled my purpose in the world. As for where I want to go, I love writing, I love research, I love analyzing data, so I’d love to use those things to my advantage. But I know I can also put those hobbies to use professionally and personally by hopefully helping those dealing with mental illness.

  • If you could invite three people to dinner, who would you invite? What would you talk about?

I’m going to assume this question means only real people and not fictional characters, and both alive and deceased.

If I could invite three people to dinner, I’d invite my best friend Katy that passed away last year, Kelly Clarkson, and my mother. I know it’s quite a difference there, but I’ve strategically picked these people because all three of them have had such an undeniable impact on my life and on my own mental health. I picked Katy because I feel like I’d have so many less regrets if I could just talk to her one last time about anything and everything. I picked Kelly because she’s my favorite singer, yes, but she seems like she’s such an amazing person to be around. I feel like maybe I could convince her to talk about mental health on her new show or something, I don’t know. As for my mother, I talk to her every single day and we still always have something to talk about. I just love being around her and talking about everything.

  • Where is your writing place?

Believe it or not, my writing place is always in my room at my desk. I rarely ever get inspired anywhere else. My little corner is my inspiration station!

  • Describe your writing process.

My writing process is somewhat all over the place, but I have a notebook with my notes in it. I look through the notes, start writing what’s on my mind and just let my fingers keep moving. I’ll go through and edit here and there, but I’m a perfectionist so I usually fix the errors right away. It doesn’t take much for me to just keep writing. I usually always have music playing, but I focus a lot better when I have my headphones rather the music just playing through my blue tooth speaker. My writing process is boring and not fancy at all, but it works for me.

  • If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?

Easy. I would get rid of the social anxiety. I know this is against the “rules,” but another thing: I’d go back in time and stand up for myself against the people that bullied me.

  • Who are five bloggers/writers that inspire you?

Ooh, five? This one is difficult.

  1. Matt Haig. He’s my favorite author and a fellow mental health advocate. I love his writing style and how transparent and vulnerable he is in his writing about his own struggles with depression and anxiety.
  2. Jarrid Wilson. He was a pastor and writer that was also a fellow mental health advocate. He recently died by suicide, which was so incredibly rough to hear about since he was such an incredible advocate for people struggling with depression.
  3. Jamie Tworkowski. He founded one of my favorite mental health organizations, To Write Love On Her Arms. He’s such an incredible writer. He’s open, honest, and compassionate in his writing.
  4. Lindsey Hall. She’s a writer of a blog called I Haven’t Shaved In 6 Days. I just recently discovered her and I love her writing style, but also how honest she is.
  5. Kati Morton. She is a writer and licensed therapist. Her book Are U Ok? was so helpful for me, even when I had known about a good bit about the stuff she was writing at the time I read the book (It’s hard to be in therapy and a psychology major and not learn a crap ton of stuff). She’s also a YouTuber who is one of two YouTubers I still actively watch.

That’s all the questions! Thank you for submitting questions and/or reading!

Ali Vee

 

For Mama, on Mother’s Day

I could write an entire book on my mother because the things that she does for me, my dad, my sisters, and my nieces and nephews are unmeasurable. I won’t write a book (this time), but what I wanted to write today is too long for a Facebook post or Twitter update.

Since before I was born, my mom has worked her butt off to support the family. My dad was severely injured in 1989 in a construction accident, so it left my mom being the only one to work. Now, I could go into a whole different book about how amazing my dad is, but I won’t do that either. At least not until Father’s Day. 😉

I could also talk about how much she’s done for this entire family, but for this particular blog, I’ll write only about what she’s done for me. Hopefully my sisters and dad are okay with that this time. 🙂

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From the time I can remember, my mom always supported me, backed me up, stood up for me, talked for me… everything. See, I was born with some things wrong with my brain; a chemical imbalance. I was diagnosed with severe social anxiety and major depression, but those diagnoses didn’t even come about until I was 23. So for 23 years, despite my mom not knowing what was wrong with me, she still supported me, stood up for me, and talked for me.

It was rough, and I only know that now as an adult. I didn’t know what I was putting my mom through when I refused to get out of the car in middle school. I didn’t know what I was putting my mom through when the guidance counselors and teachers and principals called her and talked to her about how I wouldn’t speak to them. My mom went through so much when I was growing up. Keep in mind, she was doing all this while helping my dad with his injuries; doctor’s appointments, surgeries. My three sisters had their own lives that she helped them with as well.

To be straightforward, my mom is truly a super hero. Wonder Woman. Whatever you want to call her. And I mean that sincerely.

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We have been to concerts together, horse races, museums, a million road trips, hikes, and we even travelled the world together. She taught me to look at the sky for the moon and the stars and just stare at it in wonder. She taught me to always be myself, and to stay strong despite what was happening around me. She taught me to breathe during panic attacks and remind me that I would be okay. She taught me to love animals, to appreciate things, and to love God because He loves me.

As a college student, I started college because I wanted to prove the bullies that called me stupid all of my life wrong. But now two years in to my degree, I don’t care about proving them wrong. I want to prove my mom right, because she always told me I was smart and worth more than what anyone was calling me. I want to make my mom proud, I want to prove to her that all that stuff I put her through in my younger years wasn’t a waste and that she made me into the person I am today.

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The countless doctor’s appointments, taking me in for surgeries and ER visits last year, picking up my medications from the pharmacy, being active in how my therapy sessions went… all of that does not go unnoticed, I promise you. Mama, you deserve the world, but until I can give that to you, I hope all of this is okay.

Thank you for loving me.

Thank you for loving Daddy through sickness and in health.

Thank you for loving my sisters and their husbands and all of their children. I’m positive you’re the best grandmother in the world and I believe they’d all agree with me.

Thank you for loving Finn, helping me through the time when I was sure I was going to lose him.

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Thank you for everything; the things that I notice, the things that I don’t notice or even know about, and the things I take for granted.

Thank you for all that you’ve sacrificed.

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You and Daddy have made an amazing family and I hope you know how much you’re loved.

I love that I am half of you. I love that people recognize how amazing you are, because you are!

Thank you… for everything.

Happy Mother’s Day.