Hello readers! While my biggest passion is for music, I've been writing, drawing, and creating since I could crawl. I hope my stories inspire hope, courage, strength, tenacity, humility and laughter in my readers. Join me on this journey!
Did You Know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month AND Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
I know that few people are actually following along with me on this blog, but if you read my last story, Did You Know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month AND Domestic Violence Awareness Month? then you should now be well aware about Breast Cancer, that October IS Breast Cancer Awareness Month, how to do Self-Breast Examinations, and more, courtesy of research conducted by The American Cancer Society, the CDC, and The National Foundation for Cancer Research. That being said, it is ALSO Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic Violence (DV) is something I THOUGHT I was far too familiar with. To one degree, I am. While many brave women have come forward to share their stories regarding being raped or molested - the form of DV I am most well acquainted with - using the contentious and popular #METOO platform, for me, it's something I really don't want to talk about. However, I promised to write a story, and I intend to deliver. Formatting be damned!
Did You Know That October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month AND Domestic Violence Awareness Month?
Even at thirty-one years of age, when people mention October, my thoughts typically leap to the falling leaves of autumn, conjuring up vivid memories of Halloween shenanigans... The trees of the Midwest transform the landscape into brilliant colors, littering the pumpkins people inflate and ignite with lights - or actually buy, old-school style, and put out to be festive - along with ghost stories, hay-rides, haunted houses of all kinds. And, of course, the delightful children dressing up and Trick-or-Treating. I LOVE passing out candy to them! I may never have children, so it brings ME great joy to see the kids all dressed up with their friends or parents, going door-to-door, keeping the Halloween shenanigans I once so delighted in and tradition alive and well! Now, I also rake the leaves out of my AND my neighbors' yards. One day, one leave, and one bag at a time... So, what does this have to do with Breast Cancer AND Domestic Violence???
I'm sure you've probably heard about AA - Alcoholics Anonymous. Maybe you've heard of NA - Narcotics Anonymous, too. Those are the two places that doctors and SAMHSA - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration - regularly recommend patients they suspect of having drug or alcohol problems turn to for over fifty something years... But what if AA and/or NA FAIL to EFFECTIVELY help a patient quit drinking or abusing dangerous narcotics? In my life, I've been to AA and NA. AA DID help me stop drinking when I was much younger, for a short period of time. One well known phrase in AA is to, "Keep Coming Back!" It's good, solid advice for SOME alcoholics. Isolation and loneliness are only two of the MANY complicated reasons why SOME alcoholics drink themselves to death. So, AA uses this phrase to encourage their participants to stay engaged with THEIR program. Another common AA adage tossed around AA meetings - along with the cigarette ashes and coffee cans - is, "It Works If You Work It!" In my desperate bid to REALLY "work" the well known twelve-step program, I would ALSO attend NA meetings if AA meetings weren't available. AA and NA are like cousins. In fact, the two programs are identically modeled after one another, with just a few word substitutions. AA spawned NA. Without going into TOO much detail, attending those NA meetings ultimately lead to a terrible Heroin addiction. I haven't used Heroin or any of the other well-known "dangerous" street drugs I have in the past for quite some time. My drinking is currently under control after a long and arduous battle with my "inner demons". How did I accomplish what most doctors say is IMPOSSIBLE with "alcoholics" that DON'T attend AA or "drug addicts" that DON'T attend NA? The most simple explanation for that question is that I was LUCKY enough to have an EXCELLENT, patient, kind, and DISCERNING psychiatrist - one who also ardently supports NAMI - along with my family support system, of course. The funny thing is, I quit drinking when I became addicted to Heroin. This isn't rocket science or math. All my "funds" went towards trying to get more Heroin, instead of booze. With the help of my doctor, family, and friends, I got off the Heroin, was already off the other "dangerous" street drugs, and eventually moved out of my childhood basement. There was plenty of booze around at the new place I moved into. However, my anxiety issues still plagued my soul. "Well, I'm in a new town, on my own, with time on my hands... What can I do besides clean the house, make music/art, and tend to my new boyfriend?" I still care about that NOW ex-boyfriend and his family. Deeply. I was introduced to many wonderful people back then. Some of whom I still talk to to this day... However, I wanted my OWN identity. My OWN friends. My OWN job, life and resources. One day, as I was sitting on the couch - staring out the window - drink in hand, reflecting on ALL THOSE inpatient psychiatric stays... I thought something along the lines of, "Heroin withdrawal IS different than alcohol withdrawal. Alcohol withdrawal CAN and DOES kill people... typically from WITHDRAWAL SEIZURES". Alcoholism killed my mother when I was only twenty-four years old. AA FAILED her. Three rehab stints FAILED her. Impatient doctors that IGNORED her untreated ANXIETY, DEPRESSION and ISOLATION from HER friends and family FAILED her. "Why?" To be fair, she didn't "keep going back" to those AA meetings. I'd recommend any person concerned about their or a loved one's excessive ETOH consumption attend AA with an open mind. If it works for THEM, then by all means, keep going back! My mother, however, was a very "private" person. "Heroin addiction just makes you WANT to die," I recall. At the time, withdrawal from opioids alone DID not have the same lethal WITHDRAWAL consequences alcoholism CAN and DOES have. This is due mainly to the fact that there ARE opioid receptors NATURALLY in your brain. Though, overdose from opioids CAN and DOES kill just as MANY "drunks" to this day, my mind leapt to NAMI first - The National Alliance on Mental Illness - a 501-C3 non-profit, grassroots organization dedicated to advocating for the mentally ill all across the United States. This is where things get "contentious" as one of my older friends called me. Though there are MANY other FREE resources to turn to, besides AA and NA - or any other spin-off twelve-step programs - like Gambler's Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous... the list goes on... there ARE other free resources like "Hope4TheDay", "The Trevor Project", "The Crisis Textline", "Warm-Lines" you can call - all of which I found out about via NAMI.YOU have to access them, though. YOU have to recognize where YOU or a loved one ARE in THEIR "recovery" from mental illness. More important, the STATE you happen to live in, needs to recognize the VALUE of investing funds into non-profit organizations to give FORMER addicts, like myself, a FAIR chance to recover. Mental Illness is a real and RELAPSING illness that NO ONE wants to talk about. Don't EVER lose hope though. The good news is, is that there ARE those alternatives to NA and AA. For example, the DBSA - or Depression-Bipolar Support Alliance. This is where things get "contentious" as I mentioned before...The DBSA is funded by Medicare and Medicaid. I've attended NAMI meetings and DBSA meetings - both in-person and via the internet. NAMI was FAR more accommodating and thorough, in my personal experience. While my THEN local DBSA meeting was effective, this was due to the fact they had a COHESIVE group of individuals that REGULARLY met, face-to-face, to discuss their struggles, privately. When COVID-19 hit, however, and I was ALL ALONE, I turned to who I trusted the most - NAMI. The main reason I call this matter "contentious" is due to the State which saw the value in investing tax money into more than just... making more money. NAMI offers highly informative classes for families dealing with mental illness, job training and support classes for those struggling with mental illness, places to go to NOT ISOLATE, phone lines you can call, and groups for the mentally ill, and their loved ones, and is WELCOMING of ALL people with ANY experience living with, or loving someone with, a mental health disorder - regardless of where they are in THEIR recovery. The dogma of twelve-step programs, that DEMAND you reveal EVERYTHING to SOMEONE with mental health issues to someone they DON'T really know well, and DEMAND to subscribe to a "Higher-Power" is a BIG turn off for SOME people struggling with mental health issues that DON'T feel like sharing EVERYTHING with EVERYONE, like my mother. Now, the choice is in YOUR hands. Are you going to sit back and let yourself DIE because everyone "failed" you? Or are you going to access the VAST majority of resources available by simply going online and finding out for yourself - and more important - SHOWING UP to these free resources? All of which I found out via NAMI. The "sad" thing about my current situation is that there ARE no "local" NAMI organizations I CAN access anymore. I can still be an advocate for NAMI, though. And I always will be. That's just MY opinion. I'd like to thank GOOGLE, MICROSOFT, HP, VOCAL.MEDIA, my family, friends, doctors, NAMI, the DBSA, AA, NA, SAMSHA, The Trevor Project, The Crisis Textline, and EVERY volunteer and influence I've ever been BLESSED enough to have had contact with - and whomever else I missed while trying to get by WITHOUT a local NAMI chapter to visit - for helping me get to the point where... I'M STILL ALIVE AND HAVE HOPE. I HAVEN'T DIED YET. I'M OVER THE DRUGS. I'M OVER THE LABELS. I'M OVER THE DISCRIMINATION... I just want a job now, and to get on with my life... That's what MY mother would WANT. For me AND my older sibling. Thank you, thank you, and thank you. EVERYONE. [Olivia Petrus].
"There's FAMILIES Here, Too!"
"YOU CAN'T BEE A 'BE-ES-ER!' " "I never said I WAS Hunter S.Thompson!" [Olivia Petrus]. Those "Wise Words of Wisdom" were shared with me in my favorite high-school journalism class. Well, "POR LOS NINOS" [ A 'Peggy Hill' phrase. Peggy Hill was a character on "King of the Hill". Co-Written and Produced by Mike Judge and Greg Daniels.] [YouTube]. [Google]. Out of privacy concerns, I edited out exactly WHO said it and HOW it was said. But those words STUCK WITH ME...
Respecting Your Neighbors...
The Dixie Chicks perform a song on YouTube called, "White Trash Wedding" [YouTube]. It's off their sixth studio album - "Home" [Google]. As the videoclip opens, you hear three women sing in JOY, UNISON, and for me, TRUTH... "You can't afford... no... ring..."
What I Remember on September 11th 2001...
The skies really WERE a shade of clear blue on September 11th, 2001. At the time, I lived in Homewood, IL. 60430. I was eleven years old.
"HONOR THY FATHER"
The roads were empty the other day - early in the morning - in Crown Point, IN. There WAS an older white lady, with a vest walking. I told Roxy, "Don't you bark at her, girl! She's a NICE lady! Our neighbor!"
Mental Health - and Poverty - in Crown Point.
The plastic handles of the dark garbage bag full of "Hand-Me-Down "Panic-Clothes" slung taught behind my shoulders. Twisting and digging into the knots that regularly torment me, as my palms grew sweaty from the heat... walking to the local Goodwill here in Crown Point, Indiana, one recent summer day.