Friday, November 20, 2015


My 2 days in Vegas were a whirlwind, but there is one event that will stay in my heart and mind for a long time. I have been trying to find the right words . . .

Wednesday evening, after a day filled with friends, reunions and great meetings, I decided I was going to be brave enough to play Blackjack. For real. With actual money. I found a table that had an open seat with very kind players and a dealer who was GREAT at teaching. As I got into my groove, a young man sat down in the remaining empty seat next to me and began to play. Being several drinks in (they were free!) I was chatty and we exchanged names and small talk. I detected a Middle Eastern accent. We reached a pause in the game when the dealer needed to shuffle the cards. Out of the blue I had a question I needed answered, so with my liquid courage, I asked where he was from. "Syria" was his answer, but there was defensiveness in his posture and voice. Then I asked, "Have people been kind to you since . . ." and I didn't know how to end the question. He ended it for me, ". . . since the war? No. They tell me daily to go back where I came from." He went on to explain his family fled several years ago to escape persecution, and they now manage/own a gas station. I was stunned. I know this kind of cruelty happens, but to have the proof in front of me broke my heart. I said the only thing I could think of, "I'm so very sorry." He smiled a sad smile and turned back as the next round was dealt.

This will haunt me for a while, mostly because it has me wondering what I can do to make the world, or at least the world around me a kinder place. I don't know that I have an answer, but saying "I'm sorry" seemed like a start.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


Isn't it funny how there are periods when sleep comes easily and lasts all night, and other times you sleep in fits and spurts, never quite sinking all the way in. The latter has been my reality the last week. I think my preoccupation with Nora's Marine graduation AND preparing for the largest forensics tournament of the fall semester AND being buried under a mountain of grading . . . well, it's no wonder I wake up at 3:30 am and can't get back to sleep.

So, this morning I got up (at 3:30!) and after a cup of coffee, decided I was going to tackle the grading for one class before I had to shower and leave for the day. I'm kind of proud of myself that all those papers are graded - it's a weight off my chest!

I still have 30 minutes before I need to get ready for the day. So I'm going to savor this cup of coffee, enjoy the morning news, and gear up for a GREAT DAY!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Proud Auntie

In August, my niece Nora began a great adventure. She traveled to Parris Island, SC to begin Marine boot camp.  I feel I need to point out that Nora is 5' 2" of stubborn determination. You can see her determination on this picture captured by the Parris Island photographers:

Last week, she completed her final test as a Recruit: The Crucible. It is 54 hours of 45 miles marched w/ 45 pound packs, more than 40 combat and problem solving exercises, 6 total hours of sleep and just 3 MRE's. At the end of the Crucible, Nora became a Marine.

So this weekend, my sister and family will travel to Parris Island to see Nora graduate. I'm sad I cannot be there, but I know there will be photos and texts and phone calls to come during Nora's 17 days of leave. I am so damn proud.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Depression is a Mother Fucker

Late last fall, I started feeling blue. Through winter, the world began to lose its' color. It was as though every thing I was passionate about became sepia toned. And I didn't really care. It was a literal struggle to get out of bed in the morning. Sometimes I made it to the shower. Sometimes, I made it just to the couch, calling students to re-arrange coaching . . . again. I did not want to leave my house. There were weekends I would get in bed on Friday and not get out again until Monday. I wasn't just falling apart at home, it was showing in my work. I procrastinated until the point I would frantically pull whatever project needed done together in a half-assed way and pretend it was what I intended to do. I did shitty work. And my faith suffered. And my relationships too. I became nearly a recluse, always cancelling plans last-minute because I could not find the desire to wash my hair, put on clothes and leave my house to join friends for dinner. Mixed in with this apathy was anger, but I had no idea where it came from or where to direct it. So I ended up hurting people and alienating people I care about. . Except I was so far into depression denial I didn't even care.

In late April, a dear friend came to me and wanted to know what the hell was going on. And it dawned on me, I might be depressed. See, I've always had anxiety issues - which manifest themselves in very different ways than depression. Anxiety symptoms I recognize. Depression at this level was new to me. So in May, I went to my doctor. We discussed several scenarios, one being that the anti-anxiety med I had been taking for about 6 years might not be working any more. So, the plan was to taper off my 40 mg (max dose) of Celexa and taper on to 300 mg Wellbutrin. It would take about 3-4 weeks before any change might be felt. 

At week 4, the shit hit the fan. I became so sad that I was even less functional. I would cry (ugly, chest breaking, hard tears) at anything. If I had to share an elevator in my apartment building with someone, I would cry because they probably thought I was weird. ANY positive or negative story someone posted on Facebook would have me crying for hours. Several times while driving, I would start crying and have to pull into a stores parking lot to calm down. I started having really negative thoughts. The scary negative thoughts. And I knew I needed help or I was going to be in trouble. I called to make an appointment, and was crying so hard the receptionist got me in with a specialist within the day. As I sobbed through my medication history w/ the doctor and was terrified that she wouldn't understand just how sad I was and that I didn't know why I was so sad. But this doctor knew her stuff. She took a look at my medical chart and was unhappy that I had been taken completely off the Celexa (anxiety meds). She said that combining Celexa with Wellbutrin was actually a well known combination that worked really well for people with both anxiety and depression. I started taking Celexa again that day, and within 2 weeks, I had stopped crying. As the days passed, I slowly began to live my life again. I could get out of bed. I was meeting deadlines at work. I was leaving my house more often. And then one day in June, I realized that without even trying, I was having a really good day. A happy day.

It's been 4 months since I got my depression and anxiety under control. There was no way I could blog through that. I could barely brush my teeth most days. But I've been thinking of it the last few months, and I think I'm feeling good enough - stable enough - to start back. The color is back in my world, and with words as my paintbrush, I think I'm ready to open up once again.