A heartfelt THANK YOU … for joining us on this journey

This Is My Brave

We are excited and honored to be aligning our fundraising efforts with this AMAZING organization! We read an article in the James Madison University’s alumnae magazine about a JMU alumnae who took her personal experience with mental illness and gave it not only a voice, but a beautiful and powerful platform.

Stories save lives. Be BRAVE and tell your story. Your story may change a life. This is the driving force of this organization. Brilliant.

Inspired by this outstanding organization, we decided to tell our story. We felt that the timing was right. We hope that our story will inspire other families to embrace their own struggles and know that we are not alone.

Espresso Our Story  The hopeful journey of one family living with mental illness

Running is an integral part of our story. Running as therapy, running as a sport, running as a way to lose weight, running as a way to stay in shape, and running as a means to achieve a goal. With each new chapter in our lives, we have redefined the role that running plays. I continue to embrace running with a somewhat unpredictable, inconsistent but well-intended effort  In contrast, Matt has always associated running with new and challenging goals. We both continue to embrace running for the many blessings it has bestowed on our entire family, both mentally and physically.

So, when Matt said he was going to train for a 50 miler (yup, 50 miles!), I sort of thought to myself … wow, even THAT is a lot for us! Matt has always had an uncanny ability to set a goal and achieve it. So, despite my reservations and doubts, I knew he would do it.

When he was a few months into his training, he came to me and said that he had been thinking very seriously about finding a cause to align with his training efforts. There are numerous extraordinary causes that our friends and family have advocated for over the years. We have been honored to support and participate in several of these and hope to for many years to come.

#runningforbrave

Matt went on to say that he would really like to raise money and awareness about something that has personally impacted our lives. My response was “Great! That sounds awesome! What cause are you thinking about?” To which he replied “Mental Health.” Oh. Oh ok. Silence. Then he followed up with “I was thinking we could share your story … Maybe we could blog about it?” Gulp. It took me a few minutes to process this request. I hesitated and responded with “Sure. That sounds ok. I guess. So that means I have to share my story?” Yikes. He calmly responded, “Yeah. Give it some thought and let me know.”

Wow. 42 years old and I was scared out of my mind. Sure, we all have a story. We ALL have a thought-provoking story that is worth sharing – right? I stood at the counter for almost an hour paralyzed with fear. The house was silent and my fear was deafening. I was thrust into my personal world of insecurity and self-doubt. I like the fact that my story has pretty much always remained private. It has always been protected by the outward life that we have worked hard to create. Sure, I have alluded to my struggles a few times in conversation and even one time on Facebook. But, no one has ever really had access to peak into the raw and ugly side of living with mental illness.

“Live your life from the heart. Share from your heart. And your story will touch and heal people’s souls.” – Melody Beattie
WHY share our story? WHY now?
We want to provide hope and encouragement to others out there that walk this road and think that they are alone. You are NOT alone. WE are not alone.

I continue the fight to free myself of the gripping fear of being exposed. I hope that by releasing my fears in the form of story-telling, I can do my part to bring this issue out of the darkness and into the light.

Espresso Our Story. This is what we decided to call our BLOG. I initially assumed I would come up with the title and call it “Espresso MY Depression.” But, the reality is, mental illness affects more than just the person with the actual diagnosis. Reluctantly, I agreed that using the word “our” would allow for a richer description of the struggle we experience together.

Why Espresso? Several years ago, in the midst of trying to find my way in a sea of darkness, I came up with a group called “Espresso Our Faith.” The purpose of the group was to encourage other moms/parents to gather together with just coffee and some chairs before our school’s monthly mass. It was a simple idea that started out as a social gathering and slowly evolved into a faith sharing/support group. Eventually, “Espresso” began to reflect a heartfelt opportunity. An opportunity to … STOP. BREATHE. GATHER. TALK. SHARE. LISTEN. (w/coffee and a few chairs )

The birth of this BLOG seemed to be a natural extension of this same opportunity. A chance for us to STOP amidst the crazy fast pace of life and BREATHE. An opportunity to TALK candidly and SHARE openly about the reality of living w/ mental illness.

The flip side of this “opportunity” lead to an urgent search for the courage to pull back the curtain on a struggle that has the potential to taint an image that I have fervently portrayed. Each of us has moments in our lives where we think “thank GOODNESS no one can see behind the walls of my life!” I too, am one of those people.

After many years of suffering in silence in high school and college, I was officially diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder in my early-twenties. It wasn’t until after I experienced medical complications following surgery a few weeks after the birth of my second child, that I finally found the right medication and took the disease by its horns. I was forced to accept that it was a matter of life and death.

At times, I have experienced … Loneliness. Misdirected anger. Being aloof, unapproachable and emotionally unavailable. Indifference in the midst of joy. Unworthy of being loved by another person and God.

“Depression is living in a body that fights to survive with a mind that tries to die.”

Depression is paralyzing. It can lead to a complete breakdown of your emotional immune system. Like cancer in your soul. Suicide can seem like a relief from the suffering.

Anxiety and panic. Friends of depression and friends of mine 

“T – we need you. You got this.”

I fight day after day to come out on the other side. And I do. The other side is a beautiful place to be. The sun shines and gratitude flows. Hugs are authentic and patience is genuine. Life is seemingly normal. Happiness is achievable.

Fragile. Delicate. I have heard these words used to describe me. Like I would break into a million pieces if something were to go wrong or the wind were to blow the wrong direction.

I would argue the opposite. I know that I am strong and feisty and full of life and above all else, right now I am brave. Brave can be defined as “ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage.” I fight like hell to wake up each day with a new start and an open heart. Like anyone, some days I fail miserably and some days I come out on top!

#thisismybrave

Thank you for allowing a small part of my soul to enter into your heart. We hope to share more of our story over the next few months as I prepare to bring a live show to the Baltimore area. This is the beginning of a journey that I hope you will consider taking with us.

 

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