What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?

Yesterday was supposed to be a pretty busy day for me – work, a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon, a playdate with my daughter and her best friend, and finally a writing workshop later at night. 

But I just crumbled. I ended up spending most of the day at home.

I have always been easily overwhelmed. I don’t know if my mental illness is to blame, or maybe it’s just my temperament, but you can see how it gets in the way of my life.

I try my best to stay organized, thinking it will ease my worries. I carry an old-school planner everywhere I go and write everything down. For some reason, things feel more concrete and official to me if I write them down instead of putting them on my phone. Also, it feels pretty good to write a little checkmark next to the tasks as you complete them, but on the other hand, it feels pretty shitty to look at a packed and cluttered planner knowing you didn’t do anything all day. 

Why does it feel like ambition and anxiety go hand-in-hand? There’s so much I want to do but sometimes it’s pretty clear that I can’t handle it all. Even what some would consider a “normal day” can be too much. 

To be honest, it’s easy to place blame on my mental illness. But whether you have a diagnosis or not, you have to work with what you’ve got, and oh, how I wish I could turn a broken brain into a superpower. I’ve always been ambitious, and I don’t want to just get by or pass for “normal”. I want to stand out but in a good way. How do I harness this nervous energy for good?

When I actually get through a day completing all of my tasks, it’s a huge confidence booster. I still don’t feel 100 percent since my relapse – I’m still sometimes up and down – but I don’t always know when to give myself gentleness and grace or a kick in the butt.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? Do you sometimes shut down like me? What do you do to get your motivation back?

How often do you think about death?

Ready for a morbid post?

Life is never boring when you are constantly being observed by an inquisitive seven-year-old. This weekend my daughter asked us, “What’s the closest you’ve ever been to dying?”

I told her about a car accident I was in when I was a teenager. I was a very inexperienced driver – it was the morning after I got my driver’s license. I went around a bend and lost control on black ice. I nearly put my car in the river but a tree stopped me. My car landed mangled and on its side. I escaped through the passenger-side window. I walked away from the accident with very minor injuries but it could have easily been a lot worse. I have a scar on my chin because I was very petite and the seat belt didn’t fit me properly. 

My husband also responded with a car accident.


Kids are curious about everything, but how often do you think about death?

I have to admit, I think about death a lot more often than I used to. Last weekend was my 41st birthday. I don’t think I’m old, but I do find my health struggles very discouraging. Every weekend I sit down and pack out my meds for the following week. There are just that many. I always keep an updated list of my meds in my purse so I have it at every doctor’s appointment. I am simply on too many meds to reliably recite them by memory, and lately, I have had many changes in my meds. It’s hard not to think that I’m too young to be going through this.

The thing is, I’m actually doing a lot better. My ambition and motivation are coming back and I am more engaged with the people around me. Those have always been markers that I’m doing well in my recovery. Thankfully, my kidney functioning is also doing better. I am so grateful that I am finally feeling relief. I am in a good place now. 

When I came off of lithium due to kidney problems I almost immediately went manic, but what goes up must come down, and I eventually landed in some crushing depression. I had suicidal thoughts and they felt different than when I had suicidal thoughts in the past. In the past when I’ve been suicidal, I felt desperate, trapped, but also subdued and sluggish. This time I felt anxious and panicky. I was afraid I would get impulsive and just do it. These thoughts actually caused a physical reaction. I would get hot and my heart would race. I’ve never felt anything like it.

I was honest with my husband and doctor about my suicidal thoughts. It was really hard and I was reluctant, but I was aware that it was a symptom of my mental illness. Thankfully the thoughts were fleeting and they went away after a few med adjustments. 

The past few months have been absolutely grueling both physically and mentally and I think it would have been odd if I didn’t think about death. Not only due to suicidal thoughts but also kidney failure is serious. My grandpa died of kidney failure although he was much, much older than me. 

I want to share a poem I wrote several months back — prior to my most recent health struggles. It always gets a big reaction from my husband every time he reads it, but it happens to be one of my favorite poems that I’ve ever written.


The Conclusion


It’s unforgiving and final –
the conclusion of your story.
You hope to slip into the darkness
unscathed and ready
but your end is unpredictable.

Each day brings you closer to your goodbyes –
if a goodbye can even be said at all.
Your memory lingers at first
but time passes and everyone must move on
without you.

Savor every connection a little more
because your demise is always just around the corner.
Not every finale is grand
but we all end up the same –
crumbling into nothingness.

Say what you need to say
before the silence
and don’t look back
because your countdown
has already begun.


I feel I should end this post with a resource – the suicide and crisis lifeline. If you or a loved one is struggling, you can call or text 988 for help. Feelings are temporary and worthwhile and practical help is available. We are never alone.

Let’s entertain my daughter’s question. If you are comfortable sharing, what’s the closest you’ve ever been to death? How often do you think about death?

Are you patriotic? How do you feel about the military?

I live in the States where people tend to be pretty patriotic. Flags everywhere. Pledge of Allegiance said in schools. National anthem playing at events and at noon on country radio stations, etc.

But that isn’t really me. (Although I do like country music.)

I think there are some great things about living in America, but there are a lot of not-so-great things, too. I really hate the “Arrogant American”, especially the one who has never left the country and doesn’t know anything else. I’ve studied abroad and it opened my eyes. I realized we have a lot to learn.

I’m bringing this up for two reasons. One – Veteran’s Day is Saturday and I’ve never understood why our military is so celebrated. It seems strange to idolize soldiers and celebrate war. Why do we still see modern military campaigns as a sacrifice for our freedom? I just don’t get it. 

When I was younger and knew people joining the military it was because they didn’t know what they wanted to do with their life and the military helps you with college/career training. It wasn’t because they wanted to make the ultimate sacrifice and die for their country.

And two – I was playing around with some new markers on Sunday and made a very vibrant drawing that I can’t stop staring at. It’s kind of mesmerizing. As my husband and I were looking at it, we realized it looked patriotic. It was weird and kind of made us chuckle. It wasn’t intentional. 

Here is the drawing:

I apologize if this post offends anyone, but it’s truly coming from a place of confusion. I would love to hear your viewpoint on why Americans feel the way they do about the military.

Do you genuinely connect with others?

Anxiety has been a constant undercurrent my whole life and I’ve always found social interaction exhausting. It really doesn’t matter how many people I’m around; I’m most likely going to be the queen of awkwardness. I’m a bit of a loner but I’m okay with that. 

However, sometimes I crave deeper, meaningful conversations, but my husband is the only person I feel really comfortable talking to. Sometimes my blog satisfies my craving, but it’s different to connect with someone face-to-face.

I really don’t know if it’s just my personality or if my mental illness is to blame for the way I feel about interacting with others. I don’t think the way I feel is wrong, I just think life would be a little easier and more enjoyable if I was able to really connect with others.

I’m sure I’ve said it here before, but I have the best job in the world. I facilitate art and writing groups for people in recovery from mental illness and/or addiction. Last week I had a group where only one person was able to attend, but that’s okay. It doesn’t matter if it’s one person or twenty, I love making art and I’m going to proceed with our projects.

The one person who came is a participant who comes to almost every group. They have a very positive attitude and a gift of being uplifting and encouraging to others. It was a writing group, but we wrote very little. We just sat and talked and it was the best conversation I’ve had in a very long time. It was just them and me and I was able to really let my guard down. 

It felt very special and meaningful to me. I wish I could connect with others like that on a more regular basis. 

Can anyone relate? Are you a loner or a people person? Do you genuinely connect with others or does anxiety get in the way? Do you have your guard up? Have often are you able to have meaningful conversations with the people in your life? Do you crave it?

Update: Happy Halloween and Some Creepy Flowers

I am feeling a lot better and hoping that this is the light at the end of the tunnel. I worked every day I was scheduled last week.

While I haven’t been writing much, I did spend the last few days drawing some pretty creepy flowers — enjoy!

I hope you all had a nice Halloween! I’m not sure which was more exciting to my daughter – the candy or the snow.

Did you do anything to celebrate?










Have a wonderful weekend! I will write more soon!

Thoughts on Fear

What makes something truly frightening?

Last night I was really scared. This post isn’t just for Halloween, but considering it happened last night it seemed fitting.

I have shared with you some of the strange beliefs I had when I was younger and struggling with psychosis. Sometimes I was just afraid of the dark and had to have every light in the house on. Other times it was a little more bizarre such as thinking the vacuum cleaner angered my hallucinations or that a man stood next to the piano as I practiced for my lessons. 

(If you are new to my blog, I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder in my 20s and have been on medication for nearly twenty years now. Psychotic symptoms have not impacted my life for a very long time.)

One belief I had was that ghosts would become active in my house at 3:48am, so I always had to be asleep by then. (Again, this was a very long time ago.)

Fast forward to last night. I have a habit of waking up once or twice at night to get a drink of water and use the bathroom. Well, last night I woke up at 3:38am thirsty and panicked. I was awake and it was almost that time. It was like the last twenty years of recovery never happened.

After a few seconds, I realized I was half-asleep but safe. However, a few doubts tend to linger after experiences like this so after getting a drink of water and using the bathroom, I went back to bed, covered my head with the blanket leaving a small hole to breathe, and tried to get back to sleep as fast as possible. You know, just in case. 

Obviously, I was fine in the morning but that fear hit me like a ton of bricks. I was really scared. 

I had this fear based on past experiences. Psychosis was frightening and confusing. I spent every day thinking my hallucinations were real.

So what makes something scary? Is it uncertainty? Is it the possibility that it could be real?

I’m sure fear is very personal, but what makes people scared? I always seem to be a little confused at Halloween as to why people want to be scared. How does that somehow become fun?

Last night surprised me because in the last few years, I’ve developed a fascination with the paranormal despite my experiences years ago. 

But Halloween doesn’t feel like a fascination. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of fun dressing up and trick-or-treating with my daughter, but I just don’t understand wanting to be scared. Scary movies fall into this category as well.


What do you think? Do you like scary things? Explain it to me.

Update: I’m still here!

I apologize for the lack of posts. I am still dealing with health issues and haven’t been able to do much. I’ve missed a lot of work and it has been hard trying to make any progress on art and writing projects. 

Last weekend my family took a little overnight getaway and it was a distraction I desperately needed. I’ve been to work twice so far this week and today I felt really good. 

The last few months have been grueling but right now I am trying to rest and stay patient while my medications get figured out. 

I will write more soon as I get my life back on track. Thank you for your kindness and support.

Embracing Traditions

Have you ever watched the show, My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding? I’m home from work right now. My daughter doesn’t feel well and didn’t go to school, so I’ve been watching it all day. Our streaming service keeps challenging me by asking, “Are you still watching?”

The show is over-the-top dramatic making me wonder if that’s really how American Gypsies live. I am not familiar with their culture, but if you are, I would love to hear from you. What is it like? I’m so curious.

One thing that I think is very interesting about the show is the lengths the American Gypsies go to to preserve their centuries-old traditions. I am just so fascinated by it.

This makes me think about my own family and culture. My family has been here long enough to be very assimilated into American culture, but that wasn’t always the case for older generations.

Like many Americans, I’m a bit of a mutt – mostly German with some Czech and Dutch thrown in. My husband is also mostly German with a little bit of English and Scottish. I think that makes my daughter a surprising amount of German for a family that has been here for so long.

My grandma was a first-generation American. Her parents had immigrated from Czechoslovakia after the First World War. I don’t know all the details because it was so long ago, but I know assimilating into American culture at that particular time must have been very difficult. Old traditions were even a little embarrassing for my grandma as a child.

Fast forward to my childhood, I grew up in a rural area where most people were of German heritage. Some of the older generation still spoke a little German. There were even a few church services in German.

Polka was popular where I grew up. Our local radio station played polka and at an annual Summerfest, polka music rang out late into the night. We (the younger generation) all made fun of it of course, but now I really regret that.

My grandma and grandpa were an adorable couple and they were so cute and sweet to each other when they danced to polka music together.

However, I feel those traditions died along with all of our grandparents. I never learned to polka, but now I kinda wish I did.

Would it be too late to teach my daughter how to polka when I never learned myself?


I would love to hear about your family. Have your traditions fizzled out or are they still alive and well?

Do you harden with age?

I know I’ve asked a similar question before, but this is weighing on my mind.

I’m not saying I’m a good person or bad person; like everyone else, I am both. I think my worst quality is that I’m a very anxious person and oftentimes my anxiety manifests as anger. I am aware of it and I try so hard to control it, but it just comes out – especially in the grocery store or other crowded spaces.

But I think my best quality is that I’m empathetic. I’m an intense person and feel very deeply, and that often helps me connect with others. It’s a good attribute to have as an artist and writer.

One thing I’ve really noticed is how I’ve changed from a very positive, upbeat person to someone a little more negative. I’ve been hurt in the past making me more than cautious.

Was it just the naivety of youth that made me upbeat? Does the world harden you as you age? How do I return to the positive person I once was? Is that even possible? I don’t have a time machine and it’s impossible to erase trauma and negative experiences. It really does add up.

Still, even though I am asking these questions, lately I’ve considered myself more optimistic than pessimistic. I’ve been through a lot of shit recently, but I am hanging on because I truly believe things can get better.

Is anyone else asking these questions? How have you changed with age? I would love to hear your best and worst qualities. 

Personal Responsibility: The Devil Isn’t Your Scapegoat and God Doesn’t Deserve Credit

Since I had been sick the last few weeks, I had been camped out on the couch and watching a lot of TV. Confession – I love reality shows. One particular show I was watching had cameras set up in the homes of three families at turning points in their lives, and of course, let the drama unfold.

One of the families had very devout Christian parents, and every time their kids misbehaved, they blamed it on the devil. Even the kids said it was the devil. The kids were young but I think they realized they had a very easy excuse.

This annoyed the crap out of my husband. My daughter was in the same room and my husband decided to have a talk about personal responsibility right then and there.

My husband told my daughter if she bullied someone at recess that that was on her. It’s not the devil and you have to take responsibility for it.

But my husband also acknowledged the flip side. My daughter is a talented artist, and he told her if she won an art contest, that’s all her. God does not deserve credit. She did that. 

Have you ever had a conversation like this with your kids?

She seemed to grasp what we were saying, but just a few minutes later, she was helping my husband carry some laundry up from the basement and she said it was heavy – like carrying the cross. Where the hell did that come from?

My husband thought she saw something on TikTok.

Here’s where I have a couple of questions. I’ve brought this up before – do you always supervise your children when they’re watching videos online? And how do you do that? My husband and I are not fans of censorship and we certainly don’t want our daughter to be sheltered or naive. 

When it comes to belief or nonbelief, we don’t want to push our daughter into anything. We just want her to ask questions and think for herself. Obviously, we don’t want others pushing her into anything either.

Maybe this is all easier said than done, especially considering we live in a conservative area. How have other parents approached this subject?

We have bought a couple of David McAfee books, but I’m afraid they still might be a little over her head. Do any other parents have experience with these books?

I apologize for the rambling. This post started out about personal responsibility but so much more came up the night we had the discussion with my daughter. I would love to hear from other parents/guardians/relatives – anyone taking care of littles. How have you dealt with these topics?