Friday, June 15, 2018

That time i went AWOL

Hey friends,

I have been writing this post in my head for two weeks, and now that i'm actually sitting down in front of my computer, i don't know what to say.

I wasn't going to actually write anything at all - i was just going to suddenly REAPPEAR WITH A NEW CHALLENGE and apologize profusely for missing a couple weeks, but then last week the world lost not one, but two well known personalities.  Kate Spade the designer and self proclaimed Happy-Brand and Anthony Bourdain, critic and food genius both lost their lives last week to suicide.  I knew i had to write this.

Even though i don't really know what i'm going to say, i feel like i probably should say something. Mental Health is something that we need to talk about - and even though we KNOW this as a society, we still aren't doing it.  The stigma surrounding mental illness still prevents people from acknowledging that they need help and also preventing them from asking for help.

Last week the artist Emily McDowell posted a really amazing post on instagram



You can follow the post above to read her caption - but i'm going to post it here as well because i feel like it's important.

"I'm seeing a lot of well-intentioned but misinformed comments about Kate Spade's (heartbreaking) death.  Things like, "If only she'd known how many women she'd inspired and how beloved she was." Or "it really goes to show that success doesn't buy happiness." Here's why this thinking is misguided: Even though science has proven it a million times over, our culture doesn't yet fully recognize that MENTAL ILLNESS IS A BRAIN DISEASE, just like hepatitis is a liver disease.  Depression (and bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and everything else) affects our brain -- the organ we use to make decisions.  If you're suffering from suicidal depression, it doesn't matter how beloved you are or how much you love your family or how much money you have, because your brain is telling you that despite all those things, suicide is your only option.  (Or that you need to isolate yourself, sleep all day, or other behaviour that a healthy brain would recognize as bad decisions.) This is one reason mental illness is so deadly: the part of our body that's affected is the same part that's responsible for our behaviour.  It's like if you broke your leg and then had to use that leg to walk to the hospital. 

The other reason mental illness is so deadly: shame and stigma around seeking help.  Reports are saying Kate resisted inpatient treatment because she worried about the effect it would have on her "Happy" brand image.  Depression is an ILLNESS.  It's not a weakness  It's not your fault.  And it's impossible to think or reason your way out of it without help, due to the part of your body that's ill. 
If you are suffering, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.  The National Suicide Hotline number is 800-273-8255. Call them.  They are great.  I know, because I've called.  #noshame Or text TALK to 741-741 if you prefer texting.  The world is a better place with you in it. 
 

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, as well as Social Anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and then some mild to moderate depression thrown into the mix for good measure.  This is MY particular blend of mental health issues.  Everyone with mental illness has their own mix of bits and bobs.  Anxiety is the thing i struggle with the most on a daily basis.  Even something as simple as going to my in laws without my hubby makes me panic.  [Every SINGLE time i've ever done this everything has been fine and i've had a wonderful time, but that doesn't stop my brain from panicking each time i have to do it... i'm getting better.  drugs help.]

Some of the awesome fun times with my anxiety include but are not limited to - breaking into a sweat for no reason, my heart racing like i've been running a marathon, blooming heat from my chest, my hands and feet go cold and numb (i VERY recently learned that this is a flight or fight response that your body does, pulling all the blood from your extremities into your core to protect your vital organs) nausea/vomiting, headaches, migraines, panic attacks, songs that play in my head over and over and over and over and over and over (and never a good song either, usually its a 7 second loop of some random line from some random song, often songs i hate), insomnia, extreme fatigue, exhaustion, and SO MUCH MORE!

All of that, and i am still (relatively) high functioning.  Because i have to be. We have coping mechanisms to help us 'fit in'.  High Functioning Anxiety and Depression is scary stuff because to the unknowing eye, everything seems normal.  That's where you get those comments like: "But she seems so happy every time i see her, we just wen to for lunch last week and everything was fine!!" or "He was always volunteering and was so committed to the community!"  Those ones sneak up on you. 

A few years ago i saw the work of photographer Katie Joy Crawford.  She has an absolutely stunning collection called "My Anxious Heart" (follow the link for more) and she has one beautiful photo that has stuck with me ever since

(This image belongs to katie joy crawfod)
She captioned it: 
It's strange -- in the pit of your stomach.  it's like when you're swimming and you want to put your feet down but the water is deeper than you thought.  you can't touch the bottom and your heart skips a beat. 
This was the first time i actually recognized what was happening in my life as Anxiety.  It honestly took me almost two years before i thought that what was happening was maybe a little more than i could handle on my own.  last year after Christmas i finally worked up the nerve to talk to my doctor about what was happening, and we spent about half an hour talking about how i was just coping with my life and she said: "let's get this figured out so you can live your life, instead of just getting through it". 

The first few weeks i was so tired.  I felt like a zombie.  I was worried that this was the alternative to feeling EVERYTHING - just feeling so tired that i couldn't feel anything else.  And then it started to level off.  And i distinctly remember driving along on the freeway one morning, and i realized that my mind was quiet.  For the first time since i could remember, there wasn't a 7 second loop of music playing in my brain, and it was quiet, and peaceful.  and i instantly started sobbing.  i had to pull over and pull myself together.  I remember thinking that this must be what it's like for 'normal' people's brains!! I also suddenly realized that this is why i've never been able to meditate because my mind never ever stops.  (i've since learned that meditation is hard for people with anxiety for that exact reason)

ANYWAY, what followed was the best i've ever felt in a very very very long time.  I wanted to go places and do things.  I could go to a party where i didn't know anyone and make conversations and have a good time and not be silently panicking.  I could answer and make phone calls without rehearsing for 10 minutes before hand.  I felt amazing and i couldn't believe that i had lived my life without drugs for so long.  The downside? I was starving all the time. AND i had to take my medication with food, but not just like - a banana.  I needed a substantial amount of food or i would feel awful.... they also made me really sleepy so i needed to take them at bed time, so i was in effect taking my medication each night at 10 o'clock with almost a full meal, and then going right to bed. They made me gain so much weight.  I rapidly gained 60 lbs, and let me tell you THAT did wonders for my depression.  (insert eyeroll)  So back to the doctor i went... i was so happy that i had found a drug that worked for me so i wouldn't have to do the song and dance figuring out medication and doseages that i was really upset when the drug that made my brain feel so good also made me feel so miserable.  So.  New Drugs.  and then the waiting period as the old drugs exited and the new ones took over.  Only they were not as good.  I mean, they were okay, but just okay.  but then i started having anxiety attacks again, and went back to to the doctor and got a new dose, and now things are stable but, y'know.  it's not perfect.  I have good days and bad days.

But there was still stigma around my medication.  I was trying my best to tell everyone about them! And when i told my mom (who texted me this morning to ask if i was still writing these blog posts because she reads them each week and was wondering what was going on, hey mom.) that i was taking brain drugs, even she was unintentionally judgmental.  (sorry mom).  I don't remember exactly what she said but it was something along the lines of "are you sure you need medication".... and i remember thinking "Would you ask dad (who's diabetic) if he's sure he needs insulin?"  I'm not sure if it's mostly a generational thing? I've also been involved with conversations about drugs with my inlaws that seemed to go in the direction of  "well, you don't want to just go to drugs right away" like they are the last resort and that it's almost like if you've "resigned yourself to a life of medication" you've failed somehow....

SO.

Flash forward to May

May was a very stressful month for me,  I was busy with school activities, and meetings, and doctors appointments, and general home stuff - B-rad was working insane hours because he's been very busy at his shop, so i was essentially single parenting which is fine, and on top of that i was doing last minute things for the Beads of Courage Colour Run, of which i am the volunteer coordinator.   All of these things in and of themselves are fairly regular things.  But on top of a bad spell they are not great.

On top of that that i have been trying to figure out what to do with this blog, and these challenges.  Do i move this platform over to facebook? Not everyone has facebook.  Or Instagram.  I started a YouTube channel, and that was great, but declining readership and participation has me wondering if it's worth the effort.  Creating a blog post and tile each week is a lot of work - work i've been consistently doing for almost eight years, for free.  Add to that the youtube videos - the hours of editing and uploading, sometimes i am working on the challenges from 8:30 when the kids go to bed on Sunday night, until 1 in the morning to be sure that there's a challenge ready on Monday.  Maybe i need to switch lanes and move to a paid service like Patreon, but then that excludes people who are on fixed incomes or who, like me, can't afford to add another monthly expense to their household. I keep committing myself to projects and challenges, and then feel immense guilt when i inevitably fail at those. 

There's an overwhelm here that i'm admittedly not dealing with very well.  So i resort to the old standby anxiety coping mechanisms of "head in the sand" technique of ignoring the problem until it goes away or explodes. 

And so - these past few weeks have been me with my head in the sand.  And i AM truly sorry for any worry i may have caused.  I do have to say that the old cockles of my heart have been warmed by the amount of emails and text messages and DMs on Instagram that i've received, checking in on my family and on me to see if we're okay.  Yep.  For the most part, we're all okay, i'm just being an Ostrich.

Sorry.

A VERY VERY VERY Long story short....
(TLDR)
Nothing right now is changing with the weekly Challenges.  I currently have no plans to stop doing them, or stop posting them for free, i'm not moving them to facebook or instagram or patreon at the moment, though i reserve the right to do that if it seems that's where the winds blow us.... i DON'T intend to stop making the YouTube videos because they are fun and even though they are a lot of work - i love to make them, but i can't commit to those on a weekly basis.  I just can't. 

I DO plan to take the summer off of challenges (as has been my M.O. in the past) but i will endeavour to find some amazing and wonderful guest bloggers (if you're a CZT and you'd like to host a week, hit me up in my email lauraharmz at gmail dot com)

I DON'T think i will be posting anything in June because i physically can not.  I'm taking this time for my brain.  I'm exhausted from decision fatigue, and there' just no operating power left right now.  i need to recharge.  (I also haven't done ANY KIND of art in WEEKS and that makes me sad)

PLEASE SEEK HELP if you are suffering from mental illness.  Call someone.  Text someone.  Talk to your doctor or therapist.  don't give up.  I love you.  The world needs you in it. 

If this extremely long blog post helps EVEN ONE PERSON reach out and get help, then spilling my guts was totally worth it. 

thanks everyone.

Love Laura

62 comments:

  1. Very brave, well done.
    Have you looked into a keto way of eating. Might help with taking the good drugs, but controlling weight. Also there is a film on Netflix called the magic pill which goes into keto/very low carb helping will brain function.
    Just an avenue that may help and not sure you’d be aware.

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  2. Sending big hugs and expressing what a wonderful woman and mother you are. You are smart and wise in knowing you needed help, and working through it. Kudos to you and we will be here waiting. You are loved in this community and an inspiration to us all!

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  3. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It can’t be said enough. Thank you for showing the struggles. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being honest thank you for all the work you do. Thank you for getting out of bed in the morning. Thank you for every time you snap a picture, pick up a pen, record a video.

    You inspire me daily to keep trying and now, knowing that you struggle too, you inspire me even more.

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  4. πŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ’šπŸ˜˜

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  5. I'm with you on this! I, too, have a mental illness that I live with on a daily basis. I've done the gamut of drugs, therapy, etc. I'm off them now, but I know they are there if I need to go back. And I, too, have not done my usual amount of art in the past few weeks due to extreme overwhelm...and have not blogged either!

    I am truly in awe of what you wrote, and I will be following up with an email because I do want to be a "Guest Diva" again!

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  6. Just, wow! So resonating with me right now! Thanks for the brave and honest post. You have a huge community out here that supports you, feel free to "blog it out" anytime! I, too, suffer from almost crippling anxiety as well as ADD and absolutely zero medications have made my life easier overall. The medication roller coaster is brutal on top of everything else! I hate mental illness! You do you, girl and we'll be here! �� Christine

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  7. As far as I know my brain is normal (which is a setting on your dryer), but I know how much better I feel doing my happy things (ie stitching for me). Even last night I was feeling restless and a bit out of sorts until I started stitching. So do something simple for your art. It won't heal your brain, but you may feel better.

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  8. So sorry about your struggles but so proud of you for taking action to find solutions and answers. I will keep sending you positive thoughts and keeping you and the family in my prayers. Take care of yourself.

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  9. Thank you Laura for sharing your heart and being vulnerable with us all. You’ve explained to me some things about myself that I did not understand. The anxiety is real and we tend to cover it up, find coping mechanisms or hide as you have explained. I’ve done all three..... Suddenly, the coping mechanisms become our life. Hhmmmn, lots to think about. Thank you. ♥️♥️♥️

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  10. Thank you! Especially for describing some of your main symptoms. I have the extremities going cold thing, which has been my signal to pay attention that I'm anxious, but the song loop thing, I would have NEVER associated that with anxiety. Thank you for your vulnerability with random people on the interwebz. I'm happy you will be taking care of you.

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  11. Oh wow I am very moved by your openness and your bravery of sharing this with the world. As a former mental health provider(and sufferer in past) I know how difficult this can be and how life can be.
    Thank you and do take care of yourself first..Get back to blog when you are ready and able..God bless you and keep working towards health and recovery big hugs, prayers and blessing to you and your family! You are an amazing person and I do hope and pray you know that!!!

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  12. Hugs to you Laura!! ❤❤

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  13. I'm so proud of you for getting help. I started taking antidepressants years ago. It took a few months to find the right one and the right dosage. I realized I needed help when I was perfectly happy and had the perfect life. But I still wanted to kill myself. I knew it was a chemical imbalance that could be fixed. I'm not ashamed to say I'm on medication, because it gives me a reason to live. You deserve a happy life. I'm praying you find the right medicine soon. Blessings to you for all you do.

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  14. Thank you for being so transparent and vulnerable. The impact and reality of mental health is so beautifully communicated that I wish I could hug you with gratitude ��

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  16. Laura, I was filled with love for you and honor for your transparency and openness when reading your post! You express your experiences with clarity and grace. I've had general anxiety disorder since I was 6 yrs old and not diagnosed until I was 18. I STILL get the people who say "If you only knew how much people love you, you wouldn't feel so bad," to which I have responded with a silent punch in my own stomach for their words.

    Your blog was an essential piece for me when I was just learning Zentangle and is still an incredible resource for inspiration and community. I've kinda fallen away these days - for my own busy-ness. Every time I teach a class, I recommend your blog to my students. But that being said, you gotta go where your heart flows! And I think that it's great (though still WORK) to share the responsibilities of posting!

    (I can do a post for you this summer if you'd like. I'll email you.)

    You do you, my friend. Thank you for letting us in -- I think you've got a lot of people who will help you hold your heart. I'm one for sure. :) <3 Hugs, Katie

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  17. Thanks for sharing, Laura! I can relate to so much of your post. Hang in there. I love all your challenges and youtube videos. Hope you feel better soon! Hugs!

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  18. My heart goes out to you. Thank you for this post. I so hope people , those suffering and those who do not, came get past the "social" stigma, talk, reach out, and keep talking and reaching out. Good for you to take the time you need, and I look forward to hearing from you when you feel like writing. Your words express so clearly that you not only help those who don't suffer to understand better; you also give those who do understanding and compassion, even when you yourself are in the throes of an extreme time for you. Please take good care, know there are those who understand, and look forward to hearing where this summer takes you. Sending a HUGE virtual hug.

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  19. Thanks for this post in which you are so touchingly open about your problems and make yourself very vonurable doing this. Also thanks for this post, because I really worried about you and your family, just hoping and praying all of you are well. Take all the time you need and know you are in my thoughts. Blessed be!!!!

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  20. Thank you for sharing! I am so relieved that your boys are fine and healthy (I was getting a bit worried). Please do what ever it take to take care of you!

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  21. Please take care and thanks for sharing your story. You are so right that because mental illness is invisible, i.e. not like a broken foot, cancer and chemotherapy, gallbladder removal, people do not know what a patient is going through with a type of mental illness, anxiety, depressions, panic attacks, etc. The brain controls our entire body and it is a struggle to keep functioning when you know that something is wrong but you can't figure it out. Having a family that understands and comforts you is the most important action that they can offer you along with prayers and hugs. I was born in the 1950's and didn't realize that my father was manic-depressive until I reached my late 20's. This disease has plagued many generations and it is time for people to recognize and support those who are fighting to try the medicines and have the right response. The brain is the most understudied part of the body. Various medications have to be tried by a patient to find the right balance and sometimes it takes time until a doctor finds the right dosage. The meds do have various side effects and many patients struggle to just keep living day by day. Wishing you peace, strength and courage. My prayers are with you! God Bless you!! Gloria from Pennsylvania

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  22. Laura, thank you for opening up and for checking in so we know you are ok. I am glad you are taking time to take care of yourself.

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  23. At some point you need to decide whether the side effects are worth significantly sacrificing your quality of life. I say this as someone who has been on the mental health medication carousel. I lost years of my life to trying to find the "right medication." I eventually swore off medication entirely when I realized that feeling cripplingly depressed and anxious is far more preferable (to me) to than lying in bed all day every day too medicated and zombie-fied to feel anything or care that my life was falling apart. At least I still feel human when I was depressed.

    Here's what genuinely does help control my mental health. Exercise, dietary changes, and vitamins. Take a look at the symptoms for zinc deficiency, B-6 deficiency, and copper overload. Did you know that a significant amount of patients with depression (estimates in the 90 percent range) are deficient in zinc? The medical industry doesn't tell you that because there's far more money to be made selling prescription drugs than $10 bottles of zinc supplements. I won't claim that my depression and anxiety are 100 percent gone, but fixing these vitamin deficiencies provided far more relief than any prescription drug I've ever tried.

    If you get nothing else out of this comment, at least start Googling about connections between vitamin deficiencies and mental health.


    Wishing you the best.

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  24. It’s hard to admit but it’s nice to hear from others who go through many of the same things I do. It makes me feel not alone and that reminder that I’m not alone makes me just a bit LESS anxious so thank you for helping me take a deep breath.

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  25. Thank you Laura! I do wonder and worry when I don't see the weekly challenge. Then I remind myself that we all have difficulties and obstacles and challenges. I so appreciate your post! There is no advice from me, as I don't know you, am not a doctor of any kind, and don't presume to know what works for others (and yet reading all of this to learn more). Sending thoughts and love to you and your family.

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  26. Laura, you are not alone. I am right there with you and understand, as I am an Agoraphobic, suffering my entire life. Anxiety and panic attacks can be so debilitating! It takes real courage to admit it and even more courage to seek help. You have done this and you should be so proud of yourself (you are awesome!!). Medication and therapy can help with the anxiety and panic attacks and the symptoms that go with it...but the negative ways we talk to ourselves In our minds continue to be a battle. Always a battle. Our bodies are so trained in that “fight and flight” response and that we are constantly battling. Having a loving and understanding support system is sooooo important! Your husband is a fantastic support person and it sounds like your doctor is too! I’m so proud of you for writing and letting us into your world! You are helping so many people, I hope you know! I love you as a person and a CZT and you must do what is best for you. Pace yourself and know that it is perfectly fine to say “no” to people. The most important thing here, is we must take care of ourselves. When we are doing that we are teaching our children and others that self-care is so important. And sometimes we just need to take a mini vacation for ourselves. I enjoy your videos so much and I am grateful “whenever” you do them or you blog. “Whenever” is the key word and you have control over that my friend. :-) I am so proud of you for reaching out at a young age because you are going to have a better life, a beautiful life, and you are are helping others as you go on your journey. Never give up. ❤️

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  27. Thank you for your openness in sharing this difficult story. Your story shows just how individual mental illness is - everyone's story is different yet have so much in common.

    Your blog was recommended to me by Michelle Beauchamp CZT as a way to learn and develop my Zentangle skills. I have been following ever since, although this year have fallen off the wagon (hello work pressures and family mental health issues). I owe my continued love of Zentangle to your blog. Whatever you decide to do with it in the future, know that you have been a positive influence on countless people across the world.

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  28. I love each and every word you wrote. Yup, read every one, all the way to the end. Thank you for not only writing these words, but for clicking Post. It is interesting to me that I know so many who feel just as you do - including me. I think this makes us very, very normal. Take care of yourself first. We can wait! Love and hugs.

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  29. Laura - I haven’t been following for awhile and it’s been years since I did a challenge. Take care of you. MI is part of my life in a big way and I try to speak out about it every chance I get. Thank you for all you do for the Zentangle community and thank you for sharing your personal story. It makes a difference. Every voice makes a difference. Much love and peace.

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  30. I never had an idea what depression was until I was given an antidepressant for nerve pain. It didn't help the nerve pain and frightened me when I hear in my own head, "I understand why people might prefer suicide." OMG, I was at the doctor's the next morning. For me, it was 6 weeks of withdrawls. I was lucky, it was temporary. Please, take care of yourself. Do it in any way that works for you. We will support you in whatever way we can, either directly or indirectly.

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  31. Thank you for helping to break the stigma and sharing your story. Sending peace and light your way.

    In memory of T Alex Reynolds
    Lost to depression, self medicated with alcohol.

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  32. Thank you for sharing. I think we all know someone we care about who we think might be suffering from anxiety/depression, but we're not always sure what help we can offer. As you know, I'd be happy to supply you with a guest post as I have done before and even more than one if it would help you keep the challenges going.You've created a nice and supportive community and I've made some virtual friends in Divalandia, including some I've been able to meet IRL in California (3K miles from where I live in Philadelphia) and in England---3,000 miles in the other direction. PS: Do the videos only when you feel like it. I'm not a big video person, so I don't think their absence detracts from your challenge posts at all. Hugs.

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  33. I think we all knew that you missing 2 posts is not from being lazy. We read each other's posts, our minds create a certain image of that blogger and we think we know it all. I lift my hat and admire your courage to open up to us, your cyber friends. Not an easy thing to do - and to do in public! Take all the time you need; I'll be waiting in the corner patiently and with fingers crossed hoping you will be on stable grounds with us soon again.
    Anyway, I take this time to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your weekly challenges. I may have never commented on your site or have not done every challenge, but believe you me (!), I checked your site every single Monday since I found the DIVA. With your challenges you give me 'something to think about and draw' every week. Your tenacity to keep it going, week after week, over such a long period is beyond my comprehension.

    I attach a weblink you might want to click on. Eckhart Tolle, the author of A new Earth on anxiety.
    https://ideapod.com/5-quotes-eckhart-tolle-will-heal-anxiety-shift-mindset/

    And hence I am off into my corner....

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  34. Thank you for courageously hitting "Post". Thank you for all the joy and inner peace that you offer through your Zentangle outreach. Thank you for the community that you have nurtured and given us. You are so kind and generous. I know that you will find what you're looking for. I spent years dealing with anxiety and depression, and taking medications that I was reluctant to ingest. I lived with someone who refused to believe that depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. I came through it, and have learned a lot. My mantra was: I accept this so that I can make someone else's burden a little lighter. Your post has made other's burdens a bit lighter today. Peace and blessings.

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  35. (((hugs))) Thank you so much for sharing that with us. I have been worried about you and your children and checking in several times a week. I think you did a wonderful job of explaining how you feel and what mental illness can do to you. I had always told my kids "suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem", I now have a much better understanding of what type of problems there can be! Thank you and I hope you can find a good path for yourself.

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  36. Thank you thank you πŸ™ for posting! I’m one of the ones who was worrying and am glad that there was no tragedy that stopped you in your tracks ❤️ Take care of yourself as long as you need, dearie. We love you

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  37. Thank you Laura for posting your thoughts. It can be extremely hard for someone with an 'invisible' illness to reach out for help and not worry about what other people may say. There is still a great deal of stigma attached o mental illness, and it is only with people speaking out that this stigma may one day grow smaller and smaller with better understanding. You are very brave. Take all the time you need. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

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  38. Thank you so much for posting Laura. i am just thankful that you are yours are all doing good for the most part. Mental illness is a challenge at even the best of times, but to have so much going on in your life, as you do, make the challenges even more pronounced. In our household, we run the whole gamut of these "invisible" illnesses, from my diabetes, to my son's autism and my husband's slight dementia and sometimes debilitating bouts of depression and anxiety. So I can definitely sympathize with you! Just please take the time to take care of you and do whatever is best for YOU. I have not been posting myself for almost a year now for many of the same reasons and I want you to know that my prayers are with you and your family. God bless you all and know that the way to get through things is by take it one step at a time. Healing hugs and loads of love to a person that I almost feel that I know.

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  39. Thanks for sharing, Laura! Hope you feel better soon! Much love and peace. Hugs:
    Lily from Hungary

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  40. Laura, I cried as I was reading your blog! I totally understand, as I suffer from depression & fibromyalgia. I was doing ok, until I recently had a car accident and it’s hard to keep motivating myself to “just do something”, and with the recent suicides, it makes things a bit harder. so my heart goes out to you and your family! The most important thing to remember is you have to take care of yourself first, otherwise, you can’t help others! You need to follow your heart as what you want to do, not what others want you to do. Please take care of yourself and Thank you for sharing your story! Hugs and peace to you!

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  41. Writing your letter took great courage. Praying for you NOW. CZT 16

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  42. Laura, thank you so much for this post. I was really starting to get worried too. I haven't posted in awhile but I have been checking your blog every week. I was feeling overwhelmed with life and just needed to do my own thing for a bit, and some of that was other than Zentangle. I got out my crocheting, which I've done for 50 years now, and did some very familiar and soothing patterns which helped me relax with it. I've known others with a mental disease but they didn't understand what it was and didn't get the right help. I know people right now who could use help but refuse to admit to anything like that. Thank you so much for these wonderful words. Take your time on making decisions. Do the videos only if you really want to. I'm not much into them, but others may be. You may want to change the blog to once a month or maybe 2 times a month instead of every week. We will all be here. Take care of yourself first.

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  43. Dear Laura, I support your taking the time you need to take care of yourself and recharge. I appreciate your transparency, and forthrightness. I think that depression, anxiety, and PTSD are things experienced by many human beings nowadays. I agree with you that I wish there was less of a stigma, and more understanding associated with these diagnoses.

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  44. My marriage life was transformed so much by Dr. Odidi of odidispelltemple@gmail.com more than you can imagine. My relationship was going down gradually, I was so much in need of help to get my Man back I didn't believe it could actually happen. My life was in shambles and now its back on track with my soul mate. We were separated for over 3 months. I like to say the 3 months of hell. But now we are back again and more happy then ever before. If you so much desire your lost love life back give him a hint on odidispelltemple@gmail.com Or Wattsapp +2348022741942.

    ..

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  45. Laura, Thanks so much for posting. Please take all the time you need. You rock with all you do! I will miss your challenges, but will be so very glad when they return!! You are so appreciated!

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  46. I thought rehearsing phone calls was only my "normal". Thank you so much for sharing this. I appreciate all of your challenges but think I appreciate the zen that this is giving me - just knowing that I am not alone - even more. Wishing you well and hope that your sense of overwhelming becomes a quieter voice real soon. ce

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  47. Thank you for this brave honest story.
    I wish you all the best for the future and please take your time. Don't follow the ratrace, going on in the world, you are a free person and you have a wonderful family, that is something to be proud of. I send you warm regards from Belgium

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  48. Dear Laura,
    I'm sorry to hear about your illness. You are very brave to talk openly about your illness. I think it is extremely important to do this, because this is the best way to learn how to deal with it, and it is easier to find a way to get well sooner. I wish you understanding physicians and a understanding environment to help you overcome the disease.
    As I've come to know you on your blog, you can do everything you tackle, and you'll get a grip on the disease as well. I hope that you feel better soon and that you enjoy drawing and all other things again.
    Since I discovered your site, I have followed your challenges and sent my contribution almost every week last year. I learned so much and I enjoyed drawing very much.
    I would like to thank you very much for your great commitment, because it is by no means self-evident. You deserve my greatest respect!
    Now I wish you all the best and speedy recovery! Take time for you!
    Greetings from Germany and best wishes to you and your family
    Margarete

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  49. Thank you, thank you Laura... for being so brave and courageous in sharing your most inner heart with us.πŸ€—πŸ’ž I cried with you and for you.
    I read what you wrote... and contemplated it this weekend.
    I came to see that all the things you described... were things that I thought were normal for a shy, quiet, introvert like myself.
    Things like preparing for phone conversations... I will write notes on paper before picking up the phone. Needing to do "dry runs" if I am to meet someone in an unfamiliar place... so I know I won't get lost or be late. Or being uncomfortable in larger groups... to the point that I will purposely avoid these situations, decline invitations, and obviously miss out on wonderful life events.
    You have given me the courage to discuss this with my new doctor! My old doc dismissed these symptoms.. so, I did too!
    Now is your time Laura! Put yourself first... take the time you need to heal. Know that this community supports you, has your back, and will always be here when you return.
    Love and hugsπŸ’ž from the Okanagan🌞, British Columbia,πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

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  50. Laura, I really appreciate your honesty and bravery in writing this post. So many people suffer with these issues, but few have the courage to talk about it so publicly. I am so glad you are taking the time you need for yourself! Doing this blog post weekly and for as long as you have is a huge undertaking. Being a stay at home Mom is a big job as it is. Maybe you should consider taking every break and vacation your kids get for yourself too, that includes the summers too. Everyone will still be here for your challenges through the school year. Changes are part of life, so do what works best for you. I am truly sorry to hear what you are going through! As a anxiety sufferer myself, I have an idea what you are going through and I know the struggles. Sending you love and hugs! πŸ’ž

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  51. Thank you for your openness and sharing, Laura.
    I wish you all the best, take all the time you need!
    But I know, I´ll miss you and your great challenges.
    Warm regards from Germany
    Ulrike

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  52. I've waited before commenting here because I thought I'd find something helpful or constructive to say. It seems I'll go on waiting a long time. As the mother of a child (She's your age) with mental health problems very like what you describe, I found myself hoping that your post would end with " I tried ......... and now I'm better." so I could rush out and get some for her too. However, life isn't like that is it? Thank you for letting us all know how you are, difficult though it must have been to write about it. I won't pretend I am less worried now than i was when we didn't know why you weren't blogging but putting a name to something does help. You are a brave woman and you will rise again. Until you do, be as strong as you can, love your family, keep getting up each morning...

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  53. Laura I want you to know.....I care about how you feel. It is okay to take time for you. You don't ever need to say "I am fine." If you continue to struggle... continue to let us know you need help. We continue to be here. I will continue to be here, just so you know where to find me. I will continue to monitor your posts or lack of posts and continue to care about you. I am happy you have a Dr. to work with.

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  54. Dear Laura, take care of yourself and take all the time you need. Warm regards from Belgium.

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  55. Laura, I don't know you but am sending you love. I'd send you courage too but you've demonstrated you've already got PLENTY of that. This is a fabulous, useful post. You are so not alone, even though you may feel that way at times. You have plenty of company. Enjoy your well-deserved break, treat yourself well. I wish I had a magic fairy godmother to send to your aid. Perhaps all the loving and supportive comments here will help a bit. Have a very healing summer.

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  56. Thanks for the informative article. This is one of the best resources I have found in quite some time. Nicely written and great info. I really cannot thank you enough for sharing.

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  57. Thank you Laura for sharing the article, the picture, and your story. I have 3 different mental Illnesses and have been dealing with stigma (from family & work places) and other issues that come along with it. I too have Generalized Anxiety (since 14, however not diagnosed or cared for until my mid-30's) and PTSD (since 16, diagnosed & cared for 4 years ago!). It takes a lot of courage to share your story. Along with taking care yourself there's all you do for/with your family and the Zentangle community - it's commendable and humbling. Take care of you first. Love, hugs and blessings sent to you! An empathetic Tangler πŸ’ŒπŸŽ¨πŸŒ 

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  58. I haven't visited your site since before this post, but it seems okay to belatedly reply - to, at the very least, say, take the time you need, thanks for your candor, and I look forward to staying connected through this site (or wherever you decide to rise when you're ready). I found Zentangle through stumbling into your space and for that, I'm forever thankful.

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  59. Thank you for your courage and your honesty.

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  60. To be clear, revealing the disorder was probably something that he & the company talked about & even if they hadn't.
    http://www.addictionrehabcenters.com/addiction-treatment/dilaudid-addiction-treatment-rehabilitation/

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tangle me some zen, baby!!