I feel the need to tell everyone how much I love my psych meds.

After reading some disturbing comments on Facebook, I felt the need to do my own PSA.

Of course, we are back to the gun control debate which then leads to a discussion on mental health. What disturbed me was a few people said psychiatric medications are ineffective and not the answer to mental illness. 

Um, what?

I have lived with schizoaffective disorder for most of my life, and while therapy is helpful (I go every week) a cocktail of psych meds is absolutely necessary to manage my symptoms. My mental illness is a medical condition requiring medical treatment. 

My Psych Med Story

I’ve always been open about my diagnosis and story, and when I come across stigma, I just want to let everyone in. Schizoaffective disorder can be devastating, and nothing in my life would be possible without my medication. I wouldn’t consider my life normal, but I function really well. I’m productive and fulfilled. Nothing’s perfect, but I’m happy.

I wish everyone could feel what I’ve felt – the drastic change medication made in my life. I used to experience psychosis which was very frightening and confusing. Mood symptoms were debilitating. But now I’m stable – and free. 

I realize medications work differently for different people, but I get a little defensive when people discredit psych meds altogether. 

Time to Educate the Masses

Question – Have you ever been involved with something – something very important to your life – and you’re frustrated and heartbroken when you realize the vast majority of people know nothing about it? I feel that way about mental health. I’ve been in recovery for nearly twenty years and have worked in the mental health field for sixteen. I’m very open and normally feel safe talking about my illness but it’s hard to remember that not everyone has the same background as me. I even encounter stigma in my own family. Obviously, I am all for education and awareness because while many people don’t know much about mental health, it’s something that affects us all.

For a closing note on mental health – even if you don’t understand mental illness, just be kind.

We are resilient! How have you adapted in life?

I posted a little about this before. It’s a tiny example, but still, I’m proud of myself.

I work for an arts program at a mental health nonprofit. When things are slow at work, I paint and write poetry independently.

I used to paint all the time but I gave it up for several years. I take lithium, which has some awful side effects, one of which is shaking in my hands. Using a paintbrush became nearly impossible so I gave up. Last summer I couldn’t resist – I decided to try painting again while I was at work, and I realized I have a little more control if I put my fingers directly on the canvas. I’ve been fingerpainting ever since.

So lately in my downtime at work, I’ve been making fingerpaintings of flowers. They’re simple and colorful. I was getting a lot of compliments, especially from my supervisor. She has several of my flower paintings in her office and says the story of why I use my fingers makes the paintings interesting. My coworkers encouraged me to sell them.

I decided to give it a go and started cranking out paintings. Earlier this month I took seventeen paintings to a local consignment shop. The shop has some funky and eclectic items. It’s a true treasure hunt and I felt it was the perfect atmosphere for my paintings.

When I submitted photos of my work to the consignment shop, I felt I needed to explain why I use my fingers, but they didn’t really care. The shop owner said the paintings were “very nice” and I dropped them off a couple of days later. That kind of blew me away. My hands are shaky and my paintings are a little messy. I didn’t think they could just stand on their own with no explanation needed. 

I don’t know if any of my paintings at the consignment shop have sold yet, but I’m trying to stay patient and just keep painting.

I absolutely love painting again, and I’m proud of myself for finding a way to adapt to my shaking hands. 


Humans are resilient creatures and we can adapt to all sorts of situations. I would love to read some stories on how you have adapted to the challenges in your life.


Edit to add photos:

How do you feel about where you grew up?

I can’t believe I’m even writing this.

I grew up in a conservative rural area in Ohio and I spent most of my childhood counting down the days until I could leave. It’s not a friendly place for atheists or for anyone even the slightest bit different. I never fit in even though my family has lived in the area for generations. 

After graduating high school, I left for college in the Cleveland area. It wasn’t a huge shock living in an urban area for the first time, although people would pick on me for my little country accent. My friends called me “fresh off the farm”. Still, I thought it was really exciting. I was convinced that I was made to live in the city.

I’ve moved around a bit since then – even spending some time in Los Angeles. 

Ten years ago my husband and I moved to Toledo, a medium-sized city just forty minutes from where I grew up. We live in the middle of the city – no suburbs for us – and for the most part, it’s been a great place to live. I’m happy to be raising my daughter here.

Lately, however, I have been thinking about home – fondly for once. My childhood in the country was actually a lot of fun. My sister and I had a lot of freedom and every day felt like an adventure. 

I never regretted leaving, but now I wonder, was it really that bad? Times have changed; maybe it’s better now. 

Since leaving a new highway was built making Toledo a lot more accessible to the outlying rural area. Not to mention advances in technology making it possible to work from anywhere. I’m sure that opened up a lot of doors for people back home. 

But here’s the big question – have the attitudes of the people changed back home? Could it ever be a welcoming community?

Maybe it’s all the country music I’ve been listening to lately but it’s nice to think about home in a positive light after years of resentment. Maybe this just comes with age?

I sometimes get the itch to explore new places, but for now, Toledo is home.

Can you guys relate? What was it like where you grew up? Do you look at it differently now than when you were a kid? 

There’s good and evil in all of us. Do you know what you’re truly capable of?

There are two people who have entered my life in the last several years who I am genuinely afraid of. The first was a client who abused me at work. I felt uneasy about this client from the very beginning and voiced my concerns numerous times. The abuse went on for eleven months before this client was finally kicked out of the program. I thought I would feel better once they were gone but I didn’t. I was diagnosed with PTSD and went through months of therapy.

A few years have passed and I’m doing much better now.

The second person was more recent – a person close to the family. I had my guard up because I had known for a while that this person lacked empathy and can be pretty selfish. I didn’t want them around but I felt I didn’t have a choice. After months of being disrespectful, they finally lashed out at me in a very cruel way. 

But it turns out I do have a choice. I chose distance. These people are no longer a part of my life. I am finally protecting myself and putting my well-being first. 

Yes, I’m scared, but these experiences also left me confused. Why did they act like that? Do they think it’s okay to act like that? They revealed their true colors and I wonder what else are they capable of. 

True Crime TV

This past winter I watched a lot of true crime documentaries. I think it’s absolutely fascinating and clever how detectives solve murders and other violent crimes. The shows all seem to start the same – “they were a normal family from a quiet community…”

Normal family from a quiet community? I’ve never been a victim of violent crime and I don’t know anyone who has been a victim either, but you can’t deny that it’s a possibility for all of us.

These shows leave me with the same confusion I felt from the two people I mentioned above – Why did they do that? Do they think it’s okay to do that?

If these are just normal people, how do they end up in these situations? This brings me to my next cringe-worthy question…

What am I capable of?

I know what it feels like to snap or be unhinged, but in those few desperate moments I never even thought about turning to violence. In those instances, I tend to turn inward. I think it would be far more likely that I would hurt myself rather than someone else. 

But at some level, are we all capable of violence? Or does it take a certain person to carry out violent acts?

I definitely have my guard up a lot more than when I was younger – especially with the abuse and malice I’ve experienced in the last several years. I’m weary of meeting new people and worry about who my daughter comes in contact with. You just never know what people are capable of.

Sorry for being so dark. I just think it’s an interesting topic.

However, I started this post with “there’s good and evil in all of us”. Usually, when I publish a post like this there are some positive and optimistic comments so I’m going to take your advice and focus on the good. What good am I capable of? What good are others capable of?

So what do you think? Have you ever met a person that left you afraid and confused? How do you protect yourself? And on the flip side, what are you capable of?

My coworker wants to tell me about her higher power. Should I welcome the conversation?

The other day I had a coworker tell me that once she gets to know me better she wants to tell me how her higher power changed her life. How do I respond?

I really like this coworker. We’ve really connected recently and although we’ve never spent time together outside of work, I think we could become good friends. 

But we’re definitely an unlikely pair.

She’s Christian and everybody knows it. She’s proud of her faith and is pretty vocal about it – even on the clock.

I don’t think she knows I’m an atheist. I told her I don’t go to church and that’s as far as I got.

So if this conversation about her “higher power” takes place, can I tell her why I’m an atheist? It seems only fair but I’m extremely skeptical. I feel like a conversation like this could either leave me feeling liberated or feeling ostracized. 

Deep down, I really want someone I can be open with. 

I really think this coworker is an awesome person which has made it easier for me to overlook our differences. She’s very resilient and her heart is in the right place.

Have you ever been in this situation? Would you welcome a conversation like this or avoid it? How should I respond? Please keep in mind that I live in a red state in the Midwest and I have to work with this coworker every week.

Where Lies My Empathy — Animals vs. Humans

I spend a lot of time watching true crime documentaries. Out of all the outrageous, horrible, violent stories I’ve heard about humans, it bothers me more when an animal gets hurt.

Does anyone else feel this way?

A few days ago I was watching a show where an alpaca was attacked. While they didn’t actually show the attack you could hear the alpaca crying out in pain. It was the most disturbing thing I’ve experienced in a long time. I keep hearing the alpaca’s cry in my head and found it necessary to cuddle with an alpaca plushie I bought a few years ago. My throat just stays in my stomach.

The true crime documentaries never made me do that. 

Am I sensitive about animals? Desensitized to human suffering? Both?

I am an animal person. As I write this, five of our eight cats are enjoying their new gigantic kitty condo. But even if my house wasn’t ruled by a small army of cats, I think I would still feel the same way.

Humans are capable of evil whereas animals are innocent and just trying to survive. I think that’s why it bothers me so much.

I am a sensitive and emotional person in general. I cry a lot when I watch TV. I just thought it was interesting how the alpaca had such an emotional impact on me – more so than other stories involving people.

Can anyone relate?

Are you intense like me? Is that good or bad?

My husband describes me as intense – and he’s absolutely right. That’s exactly how I feel most of the time. It can be unnerving and I don’t know if it’s worse for me or the people around me. But despite the emotional war in my head, I try my best to be pleasant and polite – after all, I’m still a Midwesterner. 

I think my intensity stems from a lot of things – my mental illness, my personality, past experiences, etc. However, I can’t think of one singular event that left me feeling this way. In fact, I don’t ever remember not feeling this way.

Did this get worse with age? Maybe. Everything became more intense when I became a parent. I love my playful, spunky little girl, but motherhood came with a million new things to be anxious about as well as a few crippling bouts of depression. I find relief in knowing I am not alone in this. For once in my life, I’m not the odd one out because I’m sure many other parents feel the same way.

Even though I experience overwhelming highs and lows, I don’t always see it as a bad thing. I’m a very passionate person. When I’m interested in something, I grab ahold and give it two thousand percent. I’m organized, driven, and ambitious and I will just run with it. I’m proud of my accomplishments – accomplishments that probably would have never happened if I wasn’t this intense. 

I don’t mean to be dramatic but that seems to be how my brain interprets everything. Some days I wish I could turn it off or at least down a couple of notches, but I can’t. I feel fragile and anticipate that whatever happens next is going to break me.

Then again, some days I really see the positive aspects of my intensity. I accept it and wouldn’t change it — maybe even view it as a strength. I want everyone to feel my intensity through my art and writing. I think if you took it away I would be pretty boring. It’s just a part of me and I wouldn’t be the same without it. 

Can anyone relate? How do your loved ones describe you? If your highs and lows were amplified, would you find a way to use them to your benefit? If you have a mental illness like me, how do you separate your illness from your personality? Do you have the magical ability to relax?

The Value of an Education

When I was younger, I went to a university but dropped out due to mental health struggles. I never finished my degree and it was a sore subject for a very long time. I wanted to go to college so badly so when it didn’t work out, I felt like a complete failure. 

In my early thirties, my mental health was a little more stable and I enrolled in a community college. I eventually graduated with an associate’s degree in commercial art. I was never really great at school but the commercial art program was very hands-on; everything I learned was very practical and I actually did really well. I enjoyed my time there. 

But it still wasn’t a four-year degree.

For the longest time, I said one day I’ll go back – even as I got older. That would be nearly impossible with the amount of student loan debt I have, not to mention my other responsibilities – taking care of my daughter and paying bills. Still, I wanted to go back to college…one day.

But something’s changed. For the past few years, I have been able to pursue the things I love – art and writing. I also have a part-time job working in the arts and mental health. It’s perfect. It is right where I need to be, and for once, I don’t want to go back to school. I’m happy where I am.

When I think about college now, I don’t think it would be worth the money. I’ve gotten lots of opportunities without it and I’m fulfilled. Don’t get me wrong – I would be very proud had I finished a degree when I was younger, but it doesn’t seem to matter to me anymore. Is that wrong?

I’m not going to lie – sometimes I feel guilty for not wanting to go back to school. It was something that was expected of me and I didn’t follow through. Shouldn’t I want to finish? Obviously, it’s not impossible or unheard of for someone in their forties to return to college; I just don’t want to. It’s no longer important to me. 

I certainly don’t regret the time I spent at the university. I found a few classes really interesting and some of the things I learned have really stuck with me, but I wonder if I could’ve gotten the same experience elsewhere. Was it really worth the boatload of debt I’m in now?

Can anyone relate? Is a degree really worth it? No matter what path you took in education, if you could go back in time, would you do the same thing? Is there a better way?

Most jobs that actually pay a livable wage require a four-year degree, but if that wasn’t the case, would a college education really be worth it? In many ways, we pay a hefty price to go to school, would a degree still have value? What about the value of the college experience? Maybe it’s a rite of passage that needs to be challenged.