Thursday, October 20, 2016
Please join us for our Wisdom of Warriors Roundtable discussion on Saturday, November 5th!
I've been planning this for a long time.
We're very excited for this unprecedented event!
If you have any questions for anyone on the panel, please send them to me at Paradoks1@aol.com
We are so looking forward to sharing our stories,
and achieving our goal of helping people!
Thursday, October 6, 2016
*Ironically, this post was written before my most recent blow up with my family. Things are even worse now than when I wrote this, but I’m going to post this as a first step in forgiving myself for allowing them to hurt me again*
Were they ever proud of me?
As long as I can remember, I longed to hear one thing from my mom or dad.
“I’m proud of you.”
If it was ever said to me, I can’t remember it now.
I recall speaking to my dad about it after my mom passed away. I felt like it left a gap inside of me. It wanted to hear it so badly. He told me she was, but it’s not the same.
It’s something that I struggle with regularly. I try to surround myself with good, caring people but that doesn’t always work out. In fact, it almost never works out. There are people out there, even in my life, that are incapable of giving you the validation you feel you need and deserve.
I was watching Dr. Phil the other day, and he was talking about something that resonated with me. This young woman in her 20’s or so was coming face to face with her mother that abused her as a child. He said to the daughter, “You want an apology, you want the validation, but you don’t need it to move on with your life.” Some people just aren’t capable of giving us what we need, and boy have I ever learned that the hard way.
Those of us with big hearts know this all too well. What Dr. Phil said next just clicked for me. He said, “It’s like asking me for your car keys. I don’t have your keys, so I can’t give them back to you. Maybe your mom is the type of person that will never be able to give you your keys.”
It was like a light bulb went off over my head. I’ve wasted so damn much time trying to get people to like and understand me. Most of them don’t nor will they ever have the capacity to do so. All of the years spent desperately trying to keep our family together were a complete waste of time. They never had my keys, so I never got what I needed from them.
Now that I’ve had this epiphany, I have to figure out how to be proud of myself. I can only allow people into my life that truly do like, understand, and respect me. I know I say this a lot, but I’m so grateful for my husband. I can always rely on him, and I hope he knows he can always rely on me. We’ve both been hurt by many people in the last 15 years of our marriage, and I think we’re both at our breaking points.
I feel like I might be thinking more clearly than I have been in the last two weeks. I still have a lot on my plate and a great deal of stress and anxiety to deal with. However, I think I may have finally convinced myself that I’m not responsible for anyone but myself. I can only be me, and if that is someone you don’t like, so be it. I don’t need you around.
I’m not going to struggle day after day to be a part of the lives of people that can’t be bothered with me, are rude to me, or just flat out ignore me. I won’t subject myself to family members that refuse to acknowledge that I have something very serious going on in my life, except to say, “Well, do you ever ask about us?”
I’ve shared my struggles and my triumphs with family members, only to be brushed to the side so they can compare their life to mine. It’s what I like to call “the pissing contest.” Oh, you’re getting tested for breast cancer? Well, let me tell you all the ways that I have it harder than you do. It’s ridiculous, and I refuse to engage in it any longer.
I guess it’s time to let go of all of the favors I’ve done for people. It’s time to stop expecting that they have the same heart as I do, and they will return the favor, or in some cases even say thank you. I’ll be brokenhearted every time.
I am carrying around an epic amount of stress and fear, and I’m doing everything I can to keep my composure, but it’s getting harder with each passing day. I don’t think I’ve ever been this angry before. Especially when there are people in my life that just keep on poking the bear to see how long it takes before the bear snaps its tether.
The entire time Joe and I have been married, people have always gravitated to him and ran screaming from me. I guess it’s time to accept it and move on. I am the common denominator, after all. I’m not Joe, nor will I ever be. Most people don’t even give me a chance, and that’s fine. They weren’t worth the effort.
Right now, I have to focus on holding it together for the next few weeks. I can’t be worried about whether a certain person cares or if anyone is proud of me. I have to hope for good news and forget about the stress. It would be nice to have my family by my side during all of this. However, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that they are just my “family.” They aren’t friends, and they never will be.
I’ll never hear the “I’m proud of you” that I have so desperately wanted all of these years. The sooner I accept that, the better off I’ll be. However, I can be proud of myself, and I hope that every day, I’ll get a little closer to being able to say that.
Tuesday, September 20, 2016
You don’t like to stand so close to me
You don’t want to see things the way I see
You’re afraid you’ll become just like what I’ll be
Ask yourself what it is you want to be
If you had a choice you would never be me
Your fear guides you too far away to see
You pretend you’ve got some other place to be
Do you know what hurts the most?
You don’t even know what I struggle with lately
You can’t be bothered with learning about how I feel
Are our lives so far apart?
Maybe you’ve got a broken heart
Perhaps you’ve watched it all fall apart
And when it does, where do you turn?
What if you had a friend like me?
Strong enough to conquer those fears daily
What if I could show you how to be strong
Or that surrounding me with stigma is wrong?
What if you felt it all for just one day?
Maybe you would have a lot more to say
If you could look through the eyes of mental illness
Would you really find so much of a difference?
I bet you’ve had good days and bad days
I bet you’ve felt lost and out of place
I think you’re scared of the way you feel
So you blame it on something that’s not even real
Stop for a second and take a look
Ask me a question, maybe share a look
Be nice to everyone you meet
You never know what pain they’ve beat
You don’t have to look sick to be sick
You don’t have to look ignorant to be ignorant
If you try it, you could gain something you’ve always longed for
If you carry your shield of stigma forever
What confusion you’ll endure
Maybe you don’t want to know me
What about him?
Standing there looking scared
Or her, with her nose in a book
So nobody truly sees her
There are many faces of pain and sorrow
And there are many faces of stigma
You don’t have to struggle with either
If you reach out and find the wrong person,
will you blame it on the disease? Probably.
But you’ll have learned
So that the next time you meet someone like me
Standing in a crowd, terrified of the judgment
and the stares, you’ll know to go slow.
Trust isn’t easy to give or receive
When you find an ally in a face in a crowd,
Couldn’t that be your proudest moment of all?
Thursday, September 1, 2016
How long did it take you to build an audience?
Quite frankly, I’m still building an audience. I don’t think you ever really stop. Every possible chance you have to make a new contact or find a new reader, you take it. You never know where it could lead you. It’s possible they know someone in the business or have connections that could be a benefit.
How much traffic do you average on your blog?
Blog traffic depends on many things. Your topics are the big factor. There will be times when I will specifically post a mental health related topic that is in the news at that time, sometimes that helps drive more readers, sometimes it doesn’t. I started my blog in 2013, and a good portion of it became my book. So, my current blog picks up where the book left off. It still has the same URL and title. Since August of 2015, I’ve had over 18,000 page views. Considering there was a time when I was begging folks to read it so I could get to 1000, that makes me very happy. There will be dry spells, I just go with it and maybe advertise a bit more the next time I post.
Are you getting book sales?
Yes, I am getting book sales. This also depends on many factors. All I can say is promotion, promotion, promotion. Do whatever you can do to get your title in front of as many eyes as possible. Use Goodreads.com giveaways, use Amazon.com giveaways. Find charities or companies that have a similar theme to your book and send them free copies in exchange for a review. Don’t be surprised if you experience a lot of disappointment and never be afraid to give out a free book to the right person.
Where are you getting them from?
I think my social media presence is a huge part of my book sales. Every single day I am thinking of a new and creative way to post about it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Tumblr, my website, my blog. The list is endless. I reach out to groups on social media that are dedicated to mental health (as is my book), I reach out to other authors, people that are struggling, anyone that uses a certain hashtag. Then, there are the people that find me through my ads, which yes I do pay for some like Google Adwords and Facebook Ads. I’ve been in several local newspapers, and that has helped. I get to know people, and when the time is right, I bring up my book. A lot of people ask me about Twitter followers and why I have so many. Simple. I follow others.
Also, I don’t only post about my book. I post about things I enjoy like sports, movies, music, etc. You will meet people with similar interests, and you will follow each other. Post EVERY single day and make it creative. Use an app like Hootsuite if you don’t have the time. You can use it to schedule tweets for months in advance. HASHTAGS, HASHTAGS, HASHTAGS. Consider them Twitter keywords. Say you use the word baseball. Other people that are searching for baseball at that moment will also see your post related to baseball.
What are some realistic goals in terms of book sales for new authors right at first?
As long as you’ve done the work like announcing that the book is COMING SOON! Done things like a cover reveal, sent out press releases to local papers, worked with your publisher to advertise (or by yourself if you don’t have one) all over social media, you should expect a pretty good first month. The thing is, I didn’t write my book to make money, I made it to help people, so if I make money, it’s a bonus for me. If you’re a first-time author, I would consider every step you take a learning experience.
The single most important thing, and I can’t stress this enough, is do not respond to bad reviews! It gets very, very ugly and ends up making you look like the bad guy. There will always be ebbs and flows, get used to it. The harder you work to get your name out there, the more return on your investment you can expect.
Are you self-published or did you use a publisher?
This question is tricky to answer. I am not specifically self-published, and I am not specifically with a publisher. I work with a company that was just starting out in the publishing arena. They believed in my book, and due to that, we agreed that they would publish the book and help with everything they could, and there would be no money exchanged. They published my book through Amazon, which is where most self-publishers go. I’m happy with my experience.
Peter, my publisher, has learned, I have learned, my husband has learned, and through all of the trials, we’ve become stronger people. We have a great working relationship, and I still send people his way. More than a year later, he is still sending me cases of books for promotions. Not everyone can expect to have such a positive experience at first. It wasn’t without pitfalls, but once you finally find someone that believes in your work, go with it and if you don’t, know that there are many, many self-published authors out there that are doing it and doing well!
What have you found to be the most valuable tip for writers with a new book?Whatever it is, don't take it personally! My book is a memoir about my life, and there have been a few bad reviews. That felt like a dagger through my heart. It felt like they were not only telling me that my writing sucked, but my life story did too. Try to separate yourself. I cannot stress enough DO NOT RESPOND TO NEGATIVE REVIEWS. Be prepared for disappointments. There will be quite a few. There is nothing easy about this journey, but the bad stuff makes the good stuff so much sweeter. If you’re in search of a publisher, DO NOT go with someone that makes you pay a fee up front. These are vanity publishers, and they are not good people. Learn anything and everything you can about creating websites, social media, Google Adwords, advertising, and promotion. Take a course if need be. There are free social media courses available online; you just have to find them.
Watch who you pay to advertise for you. For example, there’s a company called Fiverr. It has good and bad qualities. Some people will advertise for you for $5, but did you read their reviews? How many orders have they done compared to reviews and how many jobs do they have waiting in their queue? Just be careful.
One other thing, there are two book clubs on Twitter that I strongly recommend. They aren’t book clubs in the sense where you go over to someone’s house and talk about a particular book. They are strictly online, and they will help you learn the ropes. The first used #RRBC and they are called Rave Reviews Book Club. You can join them for a nominal fee, and they will help you spread the word, offer advice, and assistance and have many great programs.
The other book club I would recommend is called Rukia Publishing. They use #RPBP and when you're in the club, the members will also retweet for you. I know some of the folks that work for them, and they are good people.
Most importantly, try as hard as you can not to get burned out. If you're feeling stressed and just can't handle it that day, TAKE A BREAK. You aren't going to do yourself any favors with sales if you're a frazzled mess, I know from experience. Reach out to me if you ever have any questions or concerns. I'll try to get back to you as soon as I can. You can do this!
Best of luck on your journey! I hope you'll have much success!
Monday, August 29, 2016
About two weeks ago, I got up in the morning and went into the bathroom to change. When I took off my shirt, I was shocked and terrified to find a very, very strange looking bruise on my left breast. It was nearly a perfect circle, and had a dark outer area and a lighter inner area. I had no idea where it would have come from. It wasn’t there the day before, and I know I didn’t injure myself in 24 hours.
So, I took a couple of pictures on my phone and messaged my husband. We were both very concerned, and knew I had to see my doctor as soon as I could. We made an appointment, but by the time we got there, most of the mark had faded. I still had the photos on my phone and I showed him. I thought I could feel something under the mark, and he checked and felt something as well.
The one thing you have to understand is that the last mammogram I had was in 1999 before I had breast reduction surgery. It took me a year to recover from the surgery. I had an infection on one side for a while, and I was in an excruciating amount of pain. I still go through pain frequently if my cats walk on my chest. Sometimes the area where the infection was will just throb for no reason. So, quite honestly I’ve avoided the idea of a mammogram for a very long time. I kept telling myself that I had until at least my 40’s. Even if I felt something strange, I told myself it was because of the surgery and it was nothing.
Well, I’ve been in my 40’s for three years now, and still haven’t made it to get tested. Now it seems like I have no other choice, and I’m having a really hard time with it. My mom died from cancer. Both of her sisters died from cancer. My dad had skin cancer. The chances of me getting cancer are pretty high. Yet, somehow I’ve avoided getting this test done and even avoided an OB/GYN for many years. The truth is, I’m ashamed.
I’m ashamed of my physical appearance. Nearly every single day when I get dressed in the bathroom, I over-analyze every single detail about myself. I secretly call it my eating disorder brain. Things were going pretty well while I was losing some weight this year, but for the last month or so, I’ve been dealing with so much stress and such horrible depression symptoms, I’m afraid I’m back to my bad habits.
I don’t sleep well at night, if I sleep at all. I’m working with my psychiatrist on this part at least, but we’ve yet to find something that will help me fall asleep or stay asleep. It doesn’t matter how late I sleep in the day, I never wake up feeling like I slept. I’m in a constant fog of exhaustion and depression. So, most days it’s around 4:00 in the afternoon before I realize that I’ve forgotten to eat again. Most of the time, I still won’t eat anything until I’m to the point of vomiting, and then I still don’t feel like eating because I’m nauseated. A week or so ago, Joe and I were talking about what he wanted for dinner and he mentioned a cheeseburger, and I immediately had to get up and run to the bathroom to throw up. That has never happened to me before, and it’s baffling.
I’ll never truly know the effects of starving myself for so long have had on my body, but I know how it all makes me feel inside. I can’t stand my image in the mirror. I hate to have anyone look at me. I don’t like being in public and if I do go somewhere, I’m constantly in a defensive posture. Why is she staring at me? That guy probably thinks I’m disgusting…I think I’m disgusting, why wouldn’t he? It’s a giant undertaking to get me up and ready to do anything. So, now I have to go to several appointments where people will be looking at me without my clothes on? It’s like hell on Earth.
Tomorrow I go to the doctor for a mammogram and an ultrasound. I’m terrified. I’m terrified of the test, I’m terrified of the results and I’m terrified of the other doctor appointments I have coming up over the next few weeks. I can’t settle down. I randomly cry over virtually nothing and have no explanation when my husband asks me why. So, every night before I finally turn off the TV and attempt another unsatisfying night of sleep, I promise myself the next day will be better. I’ll eat right, I’ll do what I need to do. When the next morning (afternoon?) comes, it’s all forgotten. I get up every single day to a raging headache that decides over the course of the day whether it’s going to become a migraine or not.
I feel like I’ve lost complete control over anything and everything. I’m embarrassed to even talk to anyone. Which is the real cruel irony here. People tell me all the time, you’re so strong and so brave! Look at everything you’ve accomplished! You’re an inspiration to me.
All I can do is say thank you. What am I supposed to say? Gee thanks, but you know, I never leave my house anymore, I hardly eat, I hardly sleep, I’m paralyzed by panic attacks, I’m lucky if I get a shower, and I cry at the drop of a hat. That hardly sounds like a strong and inspirational person.
I’ve been here so very many times before. I’m always thinking to myself why haven’t you learned how to deal with this yet? The honest answer to that may sound like an excuse, but I swear it’s different every single time. There are different factors that lead up to it, different things that exacerbate it, different reasons it’s harder to manage the symptoms. I’ve tried nearly everything to get through it this time. I won’t lie, I do have good moments. When Joe comes home from work, and I’m finally able to talk to a human being, and we watch something funny on TV, I’m OK for a minute. Then he rolls over to go to sleep and my nightmare starts all over again. Recently, there have been some issues with family, and those issues have been a tremendous burden on my emotions. The nightmares alone are crippling.
So, how do you keep up the brave façade when all you want to do is disappear? How do you encourage and uplift others when you’re terrified to even look in the mirror? How does this “Superwoman” keep flying when somebody is standing on her cape? I don’t know. I just don’t have an answer, and that thought scares me more than all of the others. What I do know is that I’m still hanging on. I’ve come too far to let all of the stress and fears take me down. I don’t know how I’m going to do this, I really don’t. I can’t even let myself think that something might be physically wrong with me at this moment. It’s far too painful to even let it rent space in my head.
I guess I’ll keep doing what I’ve always done. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to be afraid of things that haven’t even happened yet, so I’ll keep telling myself that. Somehow, I’ll get through the rough patch the same way I always do. With all the grace and control of a bull elephant with a hernia. I don’t have a lot of choice. I’m not ready to let go of this tiny shred of hope. I’m not ready to let go of my husband and my life. It’s going to suck; I will not harbor any delusions that this will not suck. I guess I just needed to be honest about where I’m at. If it seems like there are times when I’m a wreck but 5 minutes later, I’m making a joke, well that’s my defense mechanism desperately making a last ditch effort to keep me sane. Thanks for listening. Wish me luck.
Friday, August 19, 2016
As you may or may not know, I am a suicide attempt survivor so this means a lot to me. This is a 5K walk, which due to my back issues, is longer than I have walked in probably 3 years. However, I am doing this walk for everyone like me that thought they had no way out. For everyone that has left us because they couldn't take the pain, and for everyone that has been left behind, scared and confused.
On Sunday October 9th The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is holding a community walk. I’ve created a Facebook event for anyone that would like to participate or donate.
Our team name is "Memory Makers". I am inviting anyone I know from Michigan. Please just ignore if you are not interested, and accept my apologies. No explanation is needed. If you are in fact interested, that's awesome!! Please join this event. I will keep you updated on everything.
Once you have registered, they will give you info on how to collect donations.
REMEMBER - the team is called Memory Makers
Our team has a $500 goal but we can always raise more!
So, do your best to get the word out. If you need any help at all with promotion or social media, drop me a line.
In addition, I have created team shirts, but they don't have to only be for the team. They're very cute and a great souvenir from the event. We need to sell 11 by September 3rd, or we won't get any of them, so check it out! They come in various sizes and styles.
My husband, Joe and I are your team captains, so reach out to us if you need to.
You will need to go to this website to register:
afsp.donordrive.com/ index.cfm?fuseaction=donorD rive.event&eventID=4079
Here is the link to our team page so that you can donate if you can't participate:
afsp.donordrive.com/ index.cfm?fuseaction=donord rive.team&teamID=115878
Here is the link to the Facebook event:
Here is the link to the souvenir T-shirt: