Time to bloom.

It has been over a decade since I decided that life is too short to have kids. Now I’m starting to think that life may also be too short to train for marathons all the damn time.

I am well.

I am kicking my mental illness’s butt. I have been for the past two months. Looking back, I think the major turning point was Valentine’s Day, actually, a day I thought I would dread.

I met a woman about my age who was absolutely broken that night. She was distraught, crying, overwhelmed, and afraid. I saw so much of my former self in her and it hit me how far I had already come at that point. The contrast between us was eye-opening… I was comforting her! I was feeling well enough already to be supportive of someone else!

I realized that if I could improve by that amount in that short span of time, I could just keep doing so and be much better sooner rather than later.

And here I am.

I am enjoying life, enjoying my friendships, enjoying being myself. I AM MYSELF AGAIN! I am certainly enjoying the spring season, the warmer days, the sunnier skies, the greener trees.

I am happy again.

I have cut toxic people out of my life, I am not going out of my way to be nice to people who don’t deserve my energy, I am excluding those who I don’t necessarily want present in all the fun things that I do. What a difference! So this is growing up?

I am down to just one medication and looking forward to starting to wean myself off it in just two months, right around the official beginning of summer, my favorite season.

I am only seeing my therapist once a month now. I saw her once in March, once this month, and have a scheduled session early in May. After this next one? I don’t know. Stretch it out to six weeks? I cannot even believe I am thinking about it. When all this started, I was seeing her twice a week and would have gone even more frequently if time (both our schedules) allowed it! When I couldn’t see her, I would text her. Gosh, she’s been amazing. I am so lucky she was the first therapist I reached out to and was immediately a perfect match for me.

Anyhow, thank you so much for reading. Keep your heads up. I appreciate your support.

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You can’t spell monumental without mental.

Today was monumental for me.

I’m laying on my couch, my freshly shampooed hair in a wrap, I’m wearing my super soft bathrobe, tucked underneath my favorite, most cozy blanket. I currently have three conversations going, via text messaging. This makes me feel good.

I had plans for today. Exciting plans. They had to be scratched thanks to the awful, terrible, no-good weather we are having, though. Booooo! Thunderstorms, incessant rain, and temperatures hovering around freezing all day. I woke up, got dressed, and headed to my parents’ to visit my pup and go shopping.

By the way, you know my incredible parents? The ones I mention every now and then? They have been keeping my dog at their place and taking care of him for me all month! They are the closest thing to angels, to saints!

Early this month, when I talked to my doctor about how much trouble I was having with sleep, she told me to pay attention to all the little things that kept me up and/or woke me up. Noises, lights, the temperature, distractions, anything.

I was sad to realize that more than anything else, my dog was affecting my sleep. From wanting to look out the window at night, and thus messing with the blinds (noisy); to making himself comfortable on my bed, which leaves me with little space to get comfortable myself; to keeping me up late or waking me up early because he needs to go outside. All impeding me from getting a good night’s sleep.

I had to do something. I live in a studio apartment, so keeping him in another room isn’t an option. I suppose I could crate him, but he’s eleven years old and has never been crated in his life (I assume this because he was an outdoor, junkyard dog until I adopted him last year). I had to improve my sleep, though. I knew it was a key to me getting better.

And so, my parents continue to be my heroes. Parents don’t stop being parents when their kids turn eighteen and are out of the house. Not the good ones, at least. Here I am, age thirty-three, at my most desperate hour, and my parents are once again at my rescue. I asked if Bruiser could stay with them as I work to become healthy again, and without hesitation, they agreed to it.

I do not feel guilty about it, because he’s in great hands. He is getting more attention than he does here alone all day, waiting for me to get home. And I simply have to get better. It will be to his benefit, too, to have a healthy momma who will take him on long walks, short runs, and trips to the dog park.

I love him so much. It was good to spend most of the day with him. The awful, terrible, no-good weather called for naps, so we lounged in my parents’ living room and dozed off for over an hour. Sleep is sleep and I was grateful to get it!

Mom made me lunch when I woke up, delicious as always. I often say she is the best cook I know, and I mean it. She is so creative, and pays such close attention to detail. She also cooks with her heart. She expresses love to others my feeding them, and I am convinced this is why everything she makes is simply amazing. I ate until I was full, which is another huge step for me.

We went shopping. 🙂

I got home a little after five, tidied up a bit, worked out (!!!!!!!), and showered.

Then… That sinking feeling of loneliness started creeping, about an hour ago. Why? Why would it? I literally spent all day with my favorite person, and with my pup, but loneliness still prevailed. It makes no sense.

As my mind started to spin out of control, I remembered that my therapist and I decided to skip our session this week. That’s how well I was doing when she and I last spoke! Today is Wednesday. I would’ve gone today, but I didn’t.

I SKIPPED A WEEK.

Maybe I shouldn’t have? Maybe I should text her? What would she tell me to do?

I thought about calling my usuals – Cristina, Sarah, Cent, Cheryl, Julie – but I stopped myself, told myself to snap out of it, to appreciate the solitude. Breathe, Daisy.

The solitude did not last long. Cheryl texted me. Then I texted Nadia. Then Bri texted me as well. And just like that, I remembered that I am NOT alone. People do need me, just like I need them. What a wonderful reminder.

Monumental:

  • I slept/napped.
  • I ate very well.
  • I exercised.
  • I skipped therapy.
  • I helped my friends.

Deep breath. I like where this is going. You’ll be home soon, Bruiser Boy.

Still going.

I had to go back and read my last entry to remind myself of where I was on my journey.

I was exhausted. Depleted. Demoralized. Defeated. Afraid. Angry. Desperate. Overwhelmed.

Yet determined.

At no point has giving up on myself been an option. I am doing absolutely everything I can to feel better. I’ve continued my therapy sessions, I diligently complete the tasks in my workbooks, I take my medications without fail, I reach out to my army as soon as I sense negative thoughts (and with them negative feelings) coming on. Sleep has become a priority, and there has been MUCH improvement thanks to the benzodiazepine I have on hand now, and my less wacky work schedule.

I am giving this everything I’ve got.

And it’s actually working.

I have now gone two weeks without crying, and I have been sleeping at home (for a while, I was staying at my Grandma’s) alone (I’ve also had friends and cousins stay with me at my place).

I have more energy, I am laughing again, I am feeling more like myself again.

During our last session, my therapist told me that she is starting to see my true personality shine through, and that she can tell that I have a great sense of humor and that I love to laugh. Ugh – it’s flooring when strangers notice these things about me! Yes! Laughter is so important to me, I love making others laugh, and I love being around those who make me laugh! What wonderful medicine… welcome back!

One of the people I laugh – and sometimes simply giggle – with is my coworker (now friend) Cheryl. I don’t typically see much of her at work, and when that is the case, we tend to call each other or hang out at the end of the week just to catch up. Last weekend, we went to see her brother-in-law, a local musician, play a benefit show at a brewery on the outskirts of the DFW area. Yesterday afternoon, we were on the phone with each other for over an hour! On both occasions, we laughed and laughed and laughed. We commiserate over work, because we can’t help ourselves, and over all the shit that life continues to throw at us (I won’t reveal her details, but personally, I was the victim of identity theft last week… Joy!). And then we just laugh about it. I was seriously on the verge of tears yesterday! A different kind of tears. 🙂

I already love that lady.

There have been other little things that have been bright points on my journey recently. The hospital radiologist meeting my brother and saying to my brother, “You have an awesome sister,” or something along those lines. The emergency doctors both thanking me for my hard work all throughout the week. Having been able to help my friend Julie with tasks that were insurmountable for her to do on her own (more about that in a later post). Staying at my Grandma’s this weekend not because I needed to, but because she needed me to (my aunt and cousins who usually stay with her were out of town).

It all felt good.

Unfortunately, because life is life, there was also darkness last week. No, not the stupid identity theft (although if that had happened just a couple weeks ago, I may have fallen apart!), but other news. Another mass shooting at a school and a member of our social vegan group being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.

There is a common suggestion in the books I have been turning to as I navigate through this bout of mental illness. I have come to expect it, entire chapters or activities dedicated to it. Turn to religion and spirituality, they all say.

Well, I’m atheist. Religion is not my thing. I sometimes wish that I could believe in a god. That would totally make things easier. I get it, I get why people believe.

But it’s not me.

I then saw a post on Pinterest (addicted, by the way) stating that Buddhism is not a religion, but a practice. Hmmmm – this is something I may actually be able to get into. Many pins and two books downloaded onto my Kindle later, I am giving it a go. It may be another piece of the puzzle towards getting better.

I decided to start with one simple task: stop, close your eyes, breathe deeply, focus on someone, send them your love.

My love is being sent to Florida and to a local cancer treatment center.

Peace and blessings, my friends. And love. Thank you for joining me and for your support.

-Daisy

Time to talk.

I had no idea when the day started yesterday that it was Time to Talk Day.

I scrolled through Instagram, as I do daily, and noticed a friend post about her own struggle with depression. So much of what she wrote resonated with me, especially when she mentioned keeping her daily goals simple: eat, sleep, drink. She also wrote about closing herself off from others because she doesn’t want to bring them down, and not posting as much on social media because she has nothing happy to share.

So it’s not just me.

Last night’s therapy session was my most emotional yet. This week was huge for me, and I told my therapist all about it. Sarah was with me, she sat at the end of the couch, to my left. I cried and sobbed as I expressed myself and described all that had happened, and everything I felt. I noticed my therapist look over at Sarah, so I did the same.

She was crying.

I can’t describe what that moment felt like for me. The empathy. The love. The support. The worry.

Something told me early this week that it might be a good idea to take someone to therapy with me. What a great decision.

My Mom had driven me to last night’s appointment. I waited in the car with her until Sarah showed up. When I noticed Sarah arrive, I let my Mom know. Mom asked,

“Daisy, can I meet her?”

I went up to meet Sarah, let her know that my Mom wanted to meet her, and we walked back over to my Mom’s car. Mom got out and immediately hugged Sarah. I heard Mom thank her multiple times. They embraced and held each other for a while.

Again, I can’t quite describe what that moment felt like. I cried. I just have so much support and love in my life.

After therapy, I decided to make my own #timetotalk post. The response I have received has been moving.

I am feeling overwhelmed once more, thinking of it all. I will leave this at that for now.

Gratitude and goals.

I am so thankful I’m not going through this alone. In the last two weeks or so, I have opened up to an additional six people, all of whom have been incredibly supportive and caring.

At a previous session, my therapist told me that the fact that I have so many people willing to be there for me and help, talk, check in on me… It speaks volumes of the kind of person that I am. She said it reflects on me. The quality of my friends indicates that I myself am a wonderful person.

Last week, Jocelyn took me out on a hike. She packed small healthy snacks for me, knowing that I had not been eating well. Monday night, she showed up at my job with a bouquet of daisies and even more healthy snacks.

Lindsey and Jacob have been texting to check on me and offer words of encouragement.

Tonight, Sarah will be joining me at my next therapy session. Cristina will be flying in to Dallas and staying at my place with me for the night.

Mom, though? She has been my rock. Driving me everywhere, making sure I eat (albeit not very much – I’m trying), comforting me when I cry, listening to me, staying with me, cleaning my apartment, watching my dog for me. She’s amazing.

Everyone is amazing.

I know that some people with mental illness close themselves off from others, they don’t want anyone to know, they’re ashamed, or they don’t want to bring others down. I have been open, I have known from the very beginning, when the darkness first started creeping in, that there was no way in hell I’d be able to get through this on my own. And while I do feel guilty for constantly having to reach out, everyone assures me that they are glad they can be there for me.

Thank you all.

My goal is to continue to think of all I have to be grateful for. Other goals include:

  • Eating. It has become such a daunting task. I’ve lost ten pounds (that I didn’t really need to lose) in the last two months. Yesterday, I decided to wear something other than scrubs or sweatpants, to maybe boost my spirit. I was in awe when I looked at myself in the mirror. My clothes are probably three sizes too big for me now. I looked like I’m wasting away. I feel the lack of energy as well.
  • Sleeping. I can’t sleep because I’m stressed and I’m stressed because I can’t sleep. It’s an awful cycle that is leaving me exhausted. I live in fear that my lack of rest will start to affect my performance at work, especially now that I’m in a leadership role. I went to my physician early this week to ask for sleep aid. She instead prescribed an antidepressant in order to treat the root of the problem. Unfortunately, it can take weeks to kick in. In the meantime, I have a weighted blanket, eye mask, ear plugs, and a relaxation routine (taught to me by my therapist) that I rely on, although they haven’t been much help yet.
  • Controlling my thoughts. There is so much negativity and fear that I need to let go of. It’s only drowning me more. I’m trying to remind myself that this is only a season, that we are (as of today!) halfway through the winter, and spring will arrive again! I can’t bloom year round, and that’s okay. This winter was the harshest I have ever experienced, but my hope is that I will survive it and be better prepared for future years.
  • Being patient. I need to give myself time. I want to be better now, I really do. I want to go back to being my old self, I miss her. But I need to trust this journey. My meds will kick in at some point too, right?

Thank you all for reading. If you have any words for me, please share. I would appreciate them.

It’s a process.

Here’s an update on my journey.

I am still not sleeping well. I can sleep for two hours, wake up with my heart racing, stay awake for 1-2 hours because I cannot calm down (neither my body nor mind allow it), eventually fall asleep, only to wake up again after two hours and start the cycle all over again. Some nights, most nights, I only do this cycle twice. And so, I have only been averaging about four hours of sleep a night. It is exhausting. It is frustrating.

I cannot nap either. I tried to yesterday after work, then became so irritated that I couldn’t relax, and I started crying. I reached out to friends.

Really, the only place and time that I can sleep is when I am in a car, when someone is driving me somewhere. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s the movement, maybe it’s because I know the people driving me (usually family) love me and will keep me safe, maybe it’s the feeling of getting away.

[sigh]

At my last session with my therapist, after I told her about my last trigger – cleaning out my vacuum cleaner only to discover that it was clogged with my deceased dog’s hair – she told me that although, yes, I do show many of the signs of depression, what I am dealing with is grief.

I have known that I am grieving. I guess I never realized that grief is the issue. My grief is causing these signs of depression. The depression isn’t causing the grief. I have to tackle the grief, address it and heal.

Somehow, that gives me more hope. For some reason, grief does not seem as big an enemy as depression. Grief seems more manageable. Grief is feeling.

I can do this.

Source energy, universe, all that is good, please help me through this. Help me heal. Help me release all the negative energy I store. Help me learn from my mistakes and become a more complete person, help me ascend. Help me find my higher self. Please.

Please.

Here I go.

This has come as a surprise to people who know me. It certainly caught me off guard, shocked me and shook me. I had never experienced it before, and so it frightened me even more so. I am not one to leave issues unaddressed, however. I love myself, and I love a lot of people who love me too.

I am battling depression and anxiety.

Me. Happy Daisy. The girl who is always so positive, the one who lifts others up, the light in the lives of her friends and family (seriously, they have called me that), the one who wants to save the world. The badass, the go-getter, the adventurer, the brain.

I’m depressed.

I have been since early December, although I didn’t call it that. Initially, I had an emotional breakdown. Then, I cried and felt sorry for myself. I reached out to anyone who would listen to me – my closest friends and my Mom. I bawled. This lasted for about a week. I quickly identified what had triggered me, and thought that just doing that was all I needed to get out of the funk, and I did… But then it crept back on me and hasn’t left since.

I reached out to Cee, who told me that she has been struggling with depression. What? Oh no. Why hadn’t she reached out to me? I’m so sorry I wasn’t there, I never asked. She told me that she was getting better, she was seeing a therapist. She started off seeing him twice weekly, but now she only sees him once a month, because she’s better. It took her a while to find one she was comfortable with, one that clicked, but it was the best decision she could have made.

And so, I decided to take that step as well. Everything felt overwhelming, I was anxious, I was afraid, I was grieving losses that had happened and already grieving those that have not, I stressed. I was not sleeping well (I’m still not) and started losing weight rapidly (I still have not been able to put it back on). Maybe a therapist could talk me into feeling more like myself again, teach me new coping mechanisms, give me advice… SOMETHING.

I researched therapists covered by my insurance and found one not far from my place. I was able to make an appointment for that same week! I had to fill out lengthy paperwork, including a 30 minute questionnaire, one that made me dig way back into my past. Wow. We are going to uncover some shit with this. Let’s do it.

I cried during my walk there for my first appointment, emotional over the fact that I needed this. I arrived early and cried in the waiting room, nervous that I wouldn’t know where to begin, feeling immense loneliness the longer I waited. There was nobody around. Just a sign that read, “Please make yourself comfortable. Your psychologist will come out to greet you.”

She eventually did. She gave me a warm smile. Somehow, I immediately felt safe.

I don’t know how I did it, but I explained it all, within 90 minutes. I just talked and talked and talked. And cried, of course. I think I went through five or six tissues. She took notes on the questionnaire I had filled out. She asked me about the answers I made on it. We were going to get to the bottom of things. Not instantly in that first session, but eventually. We would figure out a plan for me, a map towards making me better again, mechanisms that would work for me. We clicked!

Towards the end of our first session, she said those words to me: “You’re depressed.”

I cried even more. As sad and overwhelmed as I had felt in those weeks, I never thought of myself as depressed. I knew something was wrong, I knew I wasn’t myself, I knew I was hurting, I was stressed, but… Not depressed.

I was, though. I had all the classic signs.

“You’re depressed.”

Cry. Deep breath. Heart racing. Another deep breath.

I am depressed.

Wow.

I have gone through life never fully understanding depression, wanting those I loved who experienced it to get better, not always knowing what to say to them. Was I insensitive to them? Probably, yeah. Would people be insensitive towards me? They already had been. I’m in my thirties, I’ve been thriving, I’m optimistic, I’m ambitious. How could this be happening to me? Now? At this age? To me?!

It was happening, though.

At the end of my first session, my therapist told me to be as compassionate towards myself as I am towards others.

Oh. Oops. I saw it now. I spent so much time building others up, giving so much of myself to the people I love, that I neglected myself. Because on the surface, I was okay. Sure, I hurt every now and then. My heart was heavy at times, my self-esteem dropped at other times, but I coped and toughened up. Because others were going through so much worse. And I had to be strong for them.

All the while, I was sinking.

I wasn’t really coping. I was distracting myself. I didn’t address my feelings, my thoughts, my beliefs. I ignored them. And then? Then what happened?

Everything I kept within me, everything I failed to face and address, it boiled up inside me all at once and I exploded. It was bad. I won’t deny it. Very bad.

Unfortunately, the person who witnessed this explosion was… Just not the right person. His reaction could have pulled me up, it could have been a floating device that would encourage me to start swimming on my own again. Instead, it only pulled me deeper underwater. Much, much further than I’d ever been.

That was when my depression started.

I am still hurting. My mind is in turmoil. Some days, I feel confident that I am getting better. Other days, I sink. It’s a roller coaster.

My therapist and I are still trying to uncover things. We have learned that I am too hard on myself, I demand too much of myself. Why? Why am I like this?

[sigh]

We’re working on it.

I know I will get better. I need to trust the process, trust the journey. I am proud of myself for immediately seeking help, for recognizing that this was not okay for me, for not being afraid nor ashamed to open up.

I have definitely opened up. My goodness, my support system has been amazing! There with me every step of the way. Patient and compassionate towards me. I feel their love, I feel how much they care. Most importantly, I feel how much faith they have in me. They know I will get better, they tell me all the time. They tell me they are proud of me.

Mom, Dad, big brother, Cristina, Sarah, Nicole, and Cent. Thank you for being my lifeguards, my unofficial therapists between my sessions. I know I’m not better yet, I’m not in the clear yet, but I will get there, and it will be because of you as much as it is because of me. I could never repay you for all that you have done for me thus far and all I know you will continue to do. I love you all so much.

Thank you.

And thank YOU for reading this. I may share more of my journey. We shall see how I feel. I have another appointment with my therapist tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it. Please send me positive thoughts. I don’t typically ask for them, but I need them now.

Take care.

-Daisy

#takeaknee

Today, I woke up proud to be an NFL fan, and a sports fan in general (I am looking at you, Bruce Maxwell, Bron, Steph). I have the following to say about this ordeal:

If you are angry or disgusted by the players who have taken a knee, please add my name right next to theirs.

I am one of them. A peaceful protestor. I have been protesting, marching, and rallying since I was 18, which coincides with when I started voting. I’m an American gal who likes to exercise her rights, okay?

A little FYI: there are people who hate me without even knowing me. I have been called unpatriotic, told to get the fuck out of this country, and there are even those who wish me dead. Really.

They say I have nothing better to do and nothing to offer to this country, to my community. They say I’m ungrateful.

I beg to differ. I think I do plenty. My lifestyle is pretty darn active!

I offer kindness to others, my friends, my family, animals, and strangers (especially those in unfortunate circumstances). My gratitude overflows, it is the reason I live to give back.

I am not going to get the fuck out, sillies, and I take care to be alive and well. I am going to do my patriotic duty, which is to try to make this country a lovely one, filled with equal opportunity, justice, and compassion, and devoid of bigotry. Let’s open up a conversation about that. That’s all I really want.

If all this makes me a “son of a bitch”, I’ll gladly take it. Add it to the list… Hippie, snowflake, nasty woman. I am still American!

Mom, I love you. Thank you for making me a chingona/SOB.

“With liberty and justice for ALL.”

Nobody likes you when you’re 33.

It is the eve of my 33rd birthday.

I am not sure what 33 is supposed to feel like, but my bet is that I feel younger, both mentally and physically, than most people my age do. That is not to say that I am immature, mind you. What I mean is that I am not anxious about aging, about being an adult, about (not) reaching certain milestones. I am not stressed, I am not pressured, I am not trying to impress anyone.

Happiness comes in all shapes and sizes and what is right for me, what fulfills me, may not be nearly enough for others.

Am I a homeowner? No. Am I financially wealthy? No. Am I married? No. Do I have children? No! A resound No! now and forever.

Am I happy?

Yes! Yes, I am!

I love life. I love my life. I would not trade my life for anyone else’s, and I imagine that others would want to trade for mine. I enjoy life, I am motivated by its challenges, I gladly indulge in all great things that it offers me, I marvel at how twisted it can be some days and how simple it can be others. I wake up eager to live each day (thankfully, I have a fulfilling job and coworkers that double as friends). Even when shit hits the fan, which it has a couple times in the last few weeks, I quickly realize that it is not the end of the world, I am just gonna be over here… doing my thing… keeping on… and that is that.

With the years I now have under my belt, I finally mastered the art of bouncing back, of not letting negativity nor doubt get the best of me. Eventually, I hope to be at a point where negativity and doubt do not enter my being in the first place. There is work to be done in that regard. I am also still learning to correct my mistakes and make up for poor choices. I do feel that is going well, though.

I also have to admit that in life, it helps to have this HUGE group of people who love and care about me, that has my back always. And you know what one of the best parts about being me is? I somehow manage to keep meeting people and getting them to join that group! My squad is so legit. Get yourself a bitchin’ squad, folks.

Physically? Man, what are people doing? Why do people about my age hurt so much? Back pains, migraines, knee pain, exhaustion, high susceptibility to catch bugs that go around. What gives? I bet they are not eating right. I bet they do not exercise adequately. Maybe they do not get enough sleep. Whatever it is, I am not experiencing it just yet. I keep waiting for these so-called “changes” to happen, for things to start going “downhill” as they are supposed to when one enters this decade, but so far so good. Hell, I am even training to run another half-marathon at the moment. At my birthday celebration Friday night – holy crap, so fun! – I outdanced everyone. I could not, would not stop! I left with energy still to burn. That is how I do.

So yeah, I am feeling good. I love birthdays, including mine. It would be too cliche to say that I am excited about what the next year holds for me, especially when I am excited all the time. The upcoming weeks alone offer me much to look forward to. We shall see what the rest of the year holds.

Happy birthday, happy every day, to me.

This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.

Oh, what a month.

Last night, a memorial service was held for Beautiful. I was fortunate enough to attend with the lovely Slow J… Gosh, she is just one of the easiest persons to talk to, I am so grateful to count her as one of my friends and to have her on my side. I wish I saw more of her, but school and work keep her sufficiently busy, and I am proud. Although seeing her was bittersweet under these circumstances, having each other there was a bit of a blessing.

I learned much about Beautiful last night from people who knew her beyond the two years that I did. It warmed my heart that she met two of her close friends, both of whom spoke during her memorial, by volunteering with Animal Connection of Texas. This is the same group I have been a member of for the past several years, the group I attend most protests with. I had NO idea that she was once involved with them as well! Of course she was, though. It should come as no surprise.

I go through life hoping to meet other individuals who love animals as I do. It’s easy to love pets, it’s easy to love one’s patients if one works in the veterinary field, it’s easy to express anger when a companion animal is mistreated. I know a great number of folks who fall into these groups, not surprisingly since I work in veterinary medicine myself.

But to go beyond that and volunteer for them, to refuse to eat them, to be vocal about encouraging others to have more compassion towards them, to march around in the nude during the cold winter months (as I found out she did!) in order to make a statement for them? That, to me, is a true love for animals. That is hard to find. We are a small group. In this great city, we have maybe dozens show up for animals at our demonstrations. She was one of them, though.

I found her.

And now she is gone. I hate it.

I wish I had known her longer. I wish I had spent more time with her. I wish I knew these facts about her before so that we could talk about them. I wish she would bake more banana nut bread with apple sauce in place of eggs for me. I wish I could share more cheeseless pizza with her. I wish for so much, and it makes me feel selfish at times.

So, I decide to give.

I will give back to the world and honor Beautiful by volunteering with a local group called Foundation 45. Their mission statement is as follows:

We’re here to start a conversation to break down the stigma and reinforce the strength and connectivity in our community.

We’re not your typical suicide, addiction and mental health awareness group.

We’re musicians, artists, Deep Ellum neighbors looking to support those struggling with mental illness, suicidal thoughts, addiction, depression and anxiety. Foundation 45 funds the Interlude 45 Support Group, free group counseling supervised by Licensed Professional Counselors in Deep Ellum. We also provide support services for those left struggling with the collateral damage of losing a loved one to suicide.”

My first meeting with them is scheduled for Saturday, July 8th. By my own admission, I do not believe I have much to offer in the form of conversation. As I have stated before, I myself have never struggled with these issues. Life has been a bit of a breeze and when curveballs have been thrown my way, I have always either knocked them out of the park or come back up to the plate immediately (with help from the most amazing support system a girl could ever hope for). I can simply tell myself to dust it off and keep going. I know I cannot tell or expect others to do the same. Quite frankly, I have no idea what to say, really.

I am going through with it regardless, however. I will contribute what I can. This may mean helping more in the backscene, but it will be helping nonetheless.

Also, after learning of Beautiful’s involvement with A.C.T., I am motivated to continue to be involved and participate with them more frequently than I currently do. The animals need us. I know it, and she knew it. That is why she fought for them.

I was recently at a rally for social justice and a speaker announced that we may not live to see the results of our efforts, just as others before us have not survived to see the change they struggled for finally take place. Change takes time, the work is arduous, the impact is gradual. I am happy Beautiful lived to see Ringling Brothers shut down, I bet she loved it, I bet she was overjoyed. She will not see other results now, but who’s to say that I will? I have to simply keep going. She would encourage that, I trust. I really do. ❤

That is all I care to write for the moment.

Love your friends. Express your gratitude for them. Nurture your friendship with them.

Live fast, die slow.