Category Archives: Mental Health

Fill The Well With Love

In the past few months, my life has taken some twists and turns. I haven’t had a clear enough mind to sit and write much of anything, but for some reason…I was motivated to begin today.

I suppose I should start with this past October…our rental home lost the ability to provide running water for our family.  The truth is, we had learned to survive without ample running water, for a long time. We knew when we moved in that we had a low yielding well and the simple inconveniences of using paper plates, taking turns showering, buying bottle water and avoiding things like a slip and slide, where worth the sacrifice if it meant I could provide a safe roof over my childrens heads and not have to move them into a new school. Shortly after my divorce, December 2011 my landlord was the only one, who offered to rent to me….a single mom, with no credit, on a limited income, with two young children and two dogs. A home we would make our own, and call our “The Gingerbread House”.

In late October, we ran out of all water. The drought that had overcome the state of Connecticut, along with the underlying issues of having a bad pump and shallow well, had finally taken their tole. As if things couldn’t have gotten worse, a trip to the veterinarian uncovered our family dog had a non treatable illness and within a matter of days, I had to make a very tough choice and put her to sleep. The kids and even my husband recovered from her loss, relatively quickly. I however, struggled more then I had imagined. I had lost part of my purpose as her daily caretaker. With her gone and the water situation still not rectified, plumbers coming and going, doing what was needed to repair the well. I found myself completely helpless.

The only way I stayed sane in those next few days and weeks, was to randomly drive around and look at houses for sale or rent. I found myself a realtor who listened to me, somedays I think he saved me…he listened while I cried about the loss of my dog or not having had a shower. He would listen to me, as I would worry about leaving the home I had called my own, or not being able to afford a larger rental. He showed me compassion, as I would also feel a sense of abandoning the only people who extended me a roof over my head, when I had no other options. I know deep down, it is the right choice to move and that if I overstayed what we had outgrown, I could ultimately do more harm then good. Contaminate the years of good memories, with resentment and tarnish the friendship and relationship I have with my landlord that we cherish.

In the weeks to follow,  I find a sense of peace. The fact that our growing family of four…will only continue to grow and that’s what it is meant to do. I also think,  perhaps the recent trauma has forced me to face my fears, given me the courage to reach out for help when I needed it and to trust in what the future holds for us all.

So, for now I will leave you with this, just like I didn’t know that the average family of four consumes 400 gallons of water a day, while we made do on 80 gallons a day for 6 years. Is just like I didn’t know that when you go threw foreclosure, you may still have outstanding debt. Just like what I do know is, I survived 6 years on 80 gallons a day and I will certainly save again the money, I used to pay off and settle the debt so we can and will buy a home of our own someday:)

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Chasing Joy

On this upcoming Sunday, March 20, 2016 this CT girl, will be going to New York City to finish the 2016 United Airlines NYC Half Marathon. This will be the third half marathon that I’ve completed in less than a year, my first being just six months after I started running.

My running journey began back in August of 2014 before I was to remarry my ex-husband. My husband, Dennis and I had just overcome so many obstacles. Four years ago, we were in crisis. We were in financial crisis, we lost our home, went through divorce and my health was at risk as I was desperately trying to lose the 80 pounds of weight, that I had gained during our first marriage. But we had overcome these challenges, which led us to this happy time of reunion, stability and strength. Yet, I was still feeling desperate to find a simple moment, to be grateful for my life on this day. Here I was starting over, a second chance with the man that I love and a whole new start on life, and I was stuck in my mental illness and feeling depressed.

During the time my ex-husband and I were divorced, I decided to do something for myself and created a new way to live. I was now going to hold myself accountable for my happiness. I would find a simple moment every day that inspired me to be grateful for life. When my ex-husband and I divorced, we realized we had to let go of everything we thought we had to have in order to find our true sense of self-worth. We had to just appreciate that we are alive and be grateful for that.

Most of my inspiration would come from within the walls of our home and the virtual world around me, as my anxiety and depression often kept me feeling confined. My anxiety would constrict me somedays – like I was trapped inside my own skin and to get out of bed or change my clothes seemed like a daunting task. Then one day, I found myself drawn to a local running group called “Outrun the Odds,” a group that put efforts towards the awareness of Cystic Fibrosis. I found such joy and inspiration in these runners and their stories so I began following their daily achievements and cheering them along. I wanted more and more to feel that joy that they shared so proudly after finishing a race or seeing the results on their bodies after training hard. Not to just be able to see the miles logged, but to be able to contribute and pay that forward to a well-deserved cause. The desire to make a difference while also allowing myself the time to do something that would benefit me, my health, and happiness was far too tempting not to try.

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I was already sharing #365daysofjoy, an initiative I created that inspires us to find joy in one moment each day, with the great big virtual world and now as a runner, I would be able to spread that joy far and wide with a personal message of gratitude. I could physically go out and share the simplest form of gratitude – my smile with all those people who inspired me that I was worth living for. Everything began to make sense and I couldn’t think of any better way to share my message then to become a runner and set goals that would keep my mind busy and focused on doing something for the body that also deserved care. I would commit to making my joy portable in every single step I took and that was forward motion, which was far better than standing still and feeling trapped inside myself.

Sharing positivity was not the only benefit running has brought me and my family. My health and physical fitness has improved as I’ve maintained a 60 lb weight loss and now it is another joy in life that my husband, my children and I share. Dennis, my husband has now also become a runner and he has participated in many races with me in the last year. Our children also participate by cheering us on and even running with us. It has made finding that moment of joy to share, each day so much easier.

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For me, the courage to start is far greater then finishing the race, something I had never done in my life, at least not consistently and not until just a little over a year ago. On the day I became a runner, I took ownership of my strength and held my physical health an equal partner with my mental health. Every step I take, my body wages war on my mind and overcomes the demons that hold it hostage. For me, the mind has always been my weakness but not anymore, it’s become my greatest strength. As a runner, it’s been sheer tenacity that has willed me to believe I can finish, and I will finish the NYC Half Marathon this Saturday, just as I will continue sharing 365 days of joy. I’m grateful to be a runner in the marathon of life. For me, it’s not a race I am trying to win, it’s about taking the time to slow down and appreciate all the moments and when my feet hit the ground, I am feeling my breathe, hearing and seeing the real world and all its beauty around me. It is for these moments that I know, I am alive.

Grade My Selfie

If you looked at my report cards after kindergarten you would see a mediocre or below average student at best. You would read…”Rachel does not always do her best, she requires additional reminders to complete her work.” “Rachel needs to grow up.”” Rachel enjoys school, but needs to work on being more responsible and a better lister.” I was told, I didn’t work hard enough to meet my full potential.

From school to school I would go and that’s what the emphasis always was, Rachel isn’t applying herself and that made me not just lazy, but a failure.  I was defined by my education and the grades I wasn’t achieving.  The reality is, when your a kid and your only job is, as full time student and you can’t make the grade, your a failure. I will say today, that also made me preconditioned to fail as an adult. In defense of the educators at the time, we didn’t have the extened knowledge we do today about mental illness, mood disorders and learning disabilities and I would like to think that the lack of empathy, was just based on sheer ignorance and I am glad that we are continuing to make strides in raising awareness for the mentally ill and disabled. Perhaps we should not be labeling our kids, “special”.  Everyone is special in their own individual ways and let’s start redefining what makes a person successful. I think we need to show caution, when putting so much focus on the grades. Not just for the student who isn’t making the grade, but for the ones that are and rating their own sense of self worth on those grades.

I will say that I am far from mediocre and far from perfect. I am always a work in progress. I started paying it forward to myself, for the sake of my own kids, by getting back to basics.  A few years ago, after finally receiving my own diagnose of ADHD along with some mood disorder traits, causing depression and anxiety later in my adult life.  I finally decided to make myself accoutable to my own happiness, by sharing a simple moment each day, that I am triumphant…#365daysofjoy I choose to focus on the character of each individual. I honor those who have the ability to inspire me, to smile or laugh. The, “american dream”, should be for everyone to have an equal opportunity to find joy and while we can’t change the past, we can certainly learn from it. For me, educating a difference, means empowering my children, to do what they are passionate about. I believe, if they find that…it will sustain itself.

 

Run for Joy

Living 365 days of joy, means being grateful for the simple moments and memories we make inspiring one another, that we are worth even running the greatest distances for. I am grateful today, for a healthy body and mind that’s at ease, when I am putting one foot in front of the other and taking forward steps to a bright future.

A little over a year, September of 2014, a few months before I was to marry the same man that I had married for the first time thirteen years earlier and sixty pounds heavier. My anxiety was overwhelming me with fear and insecurity. I had to find a way to make the time for myself, not to fall apart or get lost in the sadness of my past mistakes or let my depression take a hold of my emotional well being. I had to find a way, to fight my mental health issues, with a healthy and affordable course of action.

I was online seeking inspiration and encouragement when I stumbled across a Facebook community, “OutRun The Odds”. I was captivated by the joy and spirit of these outrunners, a community that passionately shared joy an enthusiasm for running and being part of a mission to find a cure for Cystic Fibrosis. This group inspired me, to do what I had never done before…put one foot in front of the other and believe I was worth running for.

I am happy to share on October of 2014, a month after my husband and I remarried, we completed our first 5k, in honor of my husbands late father.  Since that date…my body has carried me all over the state, running numerous 5k’s a 10k, completing two triathlons and two half marathons. I have built friendships, that will last a lifetime and created memories that carry me threw, on the darkest of days.

I have been able to connect with runners all over the world, threw various running groups and the positive spirit of the runner, is simply contagious. It’s not how fast we go, but that we do go and that we believe we are worth running for. Running for me has become a great way, not to just stay physically fit but has forced me to make time for myself and that has made me a happier women, wife and mother and I am eternally grateful for that. Today, I share I am proud to call myself a runner and look forward to running my third half marathon in NYC this coming March.

 

 

I’m not crazy…

“We are what we pretend to be, so be careful about what we pretend to be.”-Kurt Vonnegut

I suffer the disability of having a mental illness and I am not ashamed to share this with you, because I am ok and happy to be exactly me.

Society sadly prejudges us for our past mistakes and behaviors breeding fear and anxiety for those suffering with any illness or disability. I think this prevents many from getting help sooner in life and finding the happiness they deserve.  I had to show the people who loved me and most importantly myself that I was deserving of happiness, which takes time and patience.

On September 13, 2014 I got married again. I didn’t just get married again to anyone, I got married again to the same man I had married eleven years ago. I married him because,  I believe I deserve to be loved, trusted and forgiven. I also want to share that I survived and it is possible for people to change and make a difference in the world, leading by example and from the heart.

Today, I surround myself with positive people who share my passion for life and are cheering with me to live a life filled with #365DaysofJoy. We celebrate one another and all the simple accomplishments, hurtles and goals we achieve. We all deserve happiness and as human beings that requires compassion and empathy for others. You never know what battles someone is facing, so be mindful of that when you teach your children and when you walk out into the world everyday.

I am eternally grateful that I have been given the courage and strength to share this message with you all and in sharing, my hope is that it will inspire others to get the help they need and find the happiness they deserve.

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Embrace the Character

I will admit I am rather torn writing this because I alone am not the solution. We tend to highlight what it is we are doing rather then who the person is that is doing it.  I would like to shine the light on all those people that are out there and aren’t being heard who do make a difference and are valued. I am also going to express gratitude for all the people who do recognize the bigger issues and work everyday to “shine the light” on what we can do better.

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If you looked at my report cards after kindergarten you would see a mediocre or below average student who never worked hard enough to meet her full potential never really applying herself. From school to school I would go as we moved quit often and that’s what the emphasis always was, Rachel isn’t applying herself. I was defined by my education and the grades I was achieving. I will say today that I was preconditioned to fail. In defense of the educators at the time we didn’t have the knowledge we do today about learning disabilities, or the empathy for those who suffer from them. I do think we need to re-define what makes a person valuable and be very cautious not to focus too much on what they do rather who they are their Character what makes them happy.

I will say that I am far from mediocre and far from perfect always a work in progress. I started paying it forward for my own kids by getting back to basics only a couple years ago. I hashtag #365daysofjoy because I am grateful I am here and have the courage to reach out be vulnerable to share what I know about being happy and what I have learned to sustain myself. I embrace the tenacity of my own Character to share with you here today.

My hope is that we can redefine what it means to be a success and focus on the Character. What inspires those who don’t know how to achieve it. Embrace the individuals sharing joy in their ability to make you smile or laugh. The American dream should be happiness and I think that we need to get “back to basics”. We can’t change the past but we can certainly learn from it.

We need more leaders who stop enabling failure by turning a blind eye and look Humanity in the face. Paying it forward by empowering others to do whatever it is that they are passionate about and it will continue to sustain itself.

I am happy that I have this amazing Character that is ambitious enough to hope I can make a difference with even one smile each day, sharing #365DaysofJoy

 

Letting go…

A moment that brings me joy while I am in such sadness saying goodbye to my home. It is never easy when you lose your home. I am not talking about the home I grew up in as a child, rather the home I grew up to become the women I am today. The home I had to let go of because I had to save what is truly important and that is my family.

Two years ago after I got divorced, I moved out of our family home with my two young children leaving my ex-husband to keep the house. My hope was that he would see holding onto something that we couldn’t sustain wasn’t going to bring back that love we had lost in searching for answers that only we could only find within ourselves.

We have found our way back to one another letting the house go to foreclosure and got re-married this past year. We currently live in a rental that is temporarily keeping a roof over our heads while we float in a sea of bureaucracy that has us fishing for happiness in the simple moments that bring us #365daysofjoy and I am grateful for this.

Today one step forward to putting closure on the past, in being accountable to value what’s truly important in life. Letting go of the home where I grew up to stand up for myself and to teach my children the value of what love really is. I have my family which is what matters most and leaving that house to be only a shadow of the many memories we will make going forward. Goodbye to what I thought I had to have before I grew into the women, wife and mother I am today.