MAY 30, 2020: “Overwhelmed With Overwhelmingness” …

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APRIL 14, 2020: “It Was Kinda Like A Storm” …

"Breat Free"
~ by The Phoenix Collaborative Project ~

BREAK FREE

“Help me – I’ve fallen further in myself. I’m stuck here again. And I can’t see that I’m not digging my way out – I’m digging my grave. I’ve become my own demise. Paralyzed inside my mind. Arms are weak from holding up this front. No escape and no surprises. Complicated compromises. Hold me down when what all I really want is just to break free. Break free. Break free from everything. Break free before it breaks me. There’s got to be another way to start again. Tell me how you can be the brightest star and light up the sky?  Well I can’t seem to even light up my own way and I’m burned out from trying. I’ve bcome what I despise. Paralyzed inside a lie. Arms are weak from holding back the flood. Sinking as the waters rise. Drink myself to sleep each night. I’m going under and all I really want is just to break free. Break free. Break free from everything. Break free before it breaks me. There’s got to be another way to start again.” ~ Like A Storm

By now I’m sure you’ve heard me say that I have suffered from, battled and overcome a mental illness. I’m not sure however that I’ve ever said which mental illness it was. “So, which mental illness was it?” DRUM ROLL PLEASE … wait for it … wait for it … wait for it: Hi! I’m Cat Williamson, f/k/a “Girl Interrupted“. I HAVE BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER (“BPD”). Well, I did that is. This month marks the seventh year of my recovery, and I’d like to tell you a little about it.

WHAT IS BPD? The National Institute Of Mental Health describes BPD as “an illness marked by an ongoing pattern of varying moods, self-image, and behavior. These symptoms often result in impulsive actions and problems in relationships. People with borderline personality disorder may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that can last from a few hours to days.”

WAS THIS ME?

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WHAT MAY HAVE CAUSED MY BPD? As with most mental illnesses, many doctors believe BPD is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. I strongly believe that my diagnoses was indeed genetically and environmentally predisposed, especially inasmuch as I was exposed to many adverse childhood experiences (“ACES”) that may have triggered the development of my symptoms. Although I don’t recall being sexually or physically abused as a child, there were a vast number of instabilities that may have contributed to my illness.

I was ripped away from a closely interactive paternal family when my parents uprooted us from our home at a very young age. Keep in mind that because our family was somewhat enmeshed, my grandparents, aunts and uncles were “consistently present and close caregivers” at that time, such that the immediate, unexplained loss of them literally overnight was deeply traumatic to me. Likewise was the damage to my very impressionable psyche from both the inconsistent emotional and physical presences of my parents and different points in time due to issues of their own that were out of my control.

THIS REALLY HAPPENED?

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WHAT WERE SOME SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS? Most adolescents and adults with BPD lack the healthy coping skills required to handle even minimal amounts of stress or emotional discomfort and therefore often present with these signs and symptoms:

    • Intense fear of abandonment or rejection;
    • Extremely unstable relationships;
    • Distorted self-imagery that influences moods, decisions and priorities;
    • Impulsive actions like reckless driving, binge eating, spending sprees, job instability, leaving relationships or unsafe sex;
    • Chronic feelings of boredom, restlessness and emptiness;
    • Suicidal thoughts or attempts while under stress;
    • Intense feelings of anger followed by extreme guilt and shame;
    • Self-harm and injury, such as cutting, drug or alcohol abuse;
    • Disassociating (“splitting“) that can last from a few minutes to hours.

DID I DO ANY OF THESE?

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Someday I’ll revisit the somewhat comical story of how my diagnoses came about, but sufficed to say, when I first realized “what the HELL was wrong with me” I was shaken to the core! Not only did I have a mental illness, but it was one of the most stigmatic of all. Borderlines already think that “everything is wrong with them”, so having a label like that over my head? IT WAS KINDA LIKE A STORM! A dark and looming torrential fucking rain cloud pummeling me 24/7, complete with lightening bolt voices in my mind screaming “YOU’RE BAT SHIT FUCKING CRAZY”!

There is a very cruel woman in this world (who I believe is a narcissist) who after being made aware of my diagnoses took full advantage of having that information by bludgeoning and emotionally blackmailing me with it in an attempt to socially posture herself while I was in a weakened state. SHE WAS A NURSING STUDENT WHO CLAIMED TO HAVE STUDIED CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY AT ONE POINT, someone I truly considered a friend and trusted with my precious vulnerability. She set out to destroy me by not only threatening to report me to the Texas Real Estate Commission to have my license stripped, but also to “expose me” to our small school community, which for the record, she did end up doing, and thus became my daughter’s descent into social ostracization, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts of her own after being surrounded by her classmates on the playground one day and asked, “Is it true that your mom is a sociopath who’s been in a mental hospital and is unsafe to be around children”? Yup. That happened. That really fucking happened! The “first do no harm” medical professional made good on her promise to level me with my “girl interrupted secret”.

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Meanwhile, here I am, nine post-diagnoses years later. I did the work, know who I am, where I’ve been, and exactly where I’m going. That part of my journey is but a distant memory, except to say that moving forward I have and will take any opportunity that avails itself to share my “little girl interrupted” secret, as in below when I did so in a very public forum recently. It’s the one thing I’ve published that I’m proudest of so far, because just as “saying the words out loud” to those closest to me was the most healing part of my journey, so too was “writing the words out loud”:

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“HOW CAN YOU COMFORT A FRIEND WITH BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER?”

Oh how I love and appreciate this question! Seriously, it means so much as a recovering Borderline to see these words out in the Cosmos in bold set black and white letters. It means you genuinely care and therefore desire to understand it, which for your average Borderline is more than half the battle! For me? The best thing anyone ever did to comfort me in my BPD darkness was to “look beyond the cover of my book” before casting unwarranted judgements, opinions or assumptions about who others thought I was: “Crazy, dramatic, histrionic, spoiled rotten Girl Interrupted Catherine.” And by that I mean this …
Obviously, as with any mental illness, there is no way to take a human brain apart and actually see the twists and turns that can “Molotov cocktail” a person into madness, but there is widely held belief that Borderline Personality Disorder tends to develop in a person with a history of: Emotional, physical or sexual abuse; Being exposed to long-term fear or distress as a child; Being abandonded or neglected (either physically or emotionally) by one or both parents; Growing up with another family member who had a serious mental health condition. [See Also the National Institute Of Mental Health’s overview in this regard.] In my case? Yup. My “childhood trauma resume” from cradle to this minute includes, but is not limited to: ALL OF THE ABOVE! Although I do not believe that any of my primary caregivers intentionally and knowingly harmed, abused or traumatized me in the ways they did, but the resulting fallout was and is still very real to me nonetheless.
I myself spent a lifetime (39 plus years) just trying to survive “me”, completely unaware of what the HELL was actually wrong with me, especially inasmuch as that “on the surface” at many junctures it did appear that my life was picture perfect. Even I sometimes told myself, “How dare you effing feel this way Catherine, you spoiled, crazy BRAT. You’re life is absolutely PERFECT”. I hated me for hating myself and being “so unappreciative” of what ultimately revealed itself to be a farce of an existence, and especially hated knowing that the emotional storm cloud that seemed to follow me everywhere was raining on my loved ones’ heads as well.
Most Borderlines truly hate themselves at their darkest, deepest core because of the words and judgements of clueless people who’ve never walked a day in their shoes. They are programmed to believe that they are weak, dramatic, histrionic, ungrateful human train wrecks whose accompanying chaos darkens even the brightest room. BORDERLINES BELIEVE THEY ARE A CANCER TO THE WORLD, as so often this is what they’ve been told. My point being this: The best way to comfort a friend with Borderline Personality Disorder is to simply “hear them”. Listen to them. Dig a little deeper and ask them: What did your eyes see? What did your ears hear? How did your heart feel when it was a child? Then say these words to them: “I’m sorry that happened to you. It wasn’t fair at all and I don’t think you’re a crazy, weak, spoiled rotten, histrionic train wreck of a human disaster. I’m sorry if no one ever told you that before.” Again, I am so thankful to see this question here and hopefully anyone reading my answer can find some value. “Girls Interrupted” are often just broken, yet powerful, very loving ANGELS that need their hidden scars and wounds acknowledged so their broken wings can finally get them off the ground. I know this all to well, because that was me: “Girl Interrupted”. I spent so much time avoiding the Sun that I DIDN’T THINK I DESERVED that I cannot even tell you. I’m just so glad I lived to tell about it and finally start using my wings! Have a good day, and again, THANK YOU FOR ASKING THIS QUESTION!

So, there you have it. I said the words out loud, but I’m not “girl interrupted” anymore! I’M A FUCKING MIRACLE … a STORM who finally “broke free”. My husband used to call me “The Borderline Whisperer”, because as I’ve walked with it and through it I’ve begun to recognize it in others all too well. In the last few years I’ve “had the conversation” with several people, most of whom have sought treatment and are now fighting their way out of themselves. HE WAS SO FUCKING PROUD ME … “HIS BEAUTIFUL DISASTER WIFE” … and everything he saw me go through to beat it. He was my NUMBER ONE supporter and NEVER ONCE threw it in my face, or mocked me, or made fun of me, or made me feel “less than” because I was sick. There is NO FUCKING WAY I’d be writing this write today if it wasn’t for that guy … I know it, he knows it … GOD KNOWS IT! He carried the torch that God Himself prepared that lead me out of the darkness and to The Light, and I know he’s smiling right now as he watches me go public. How bittersweet is the irony that he that couldn’t find his way out of the darkness? Nevertheless, I am no longer ashamed to “say the words”, because guess what? They do not define me! That “little secret” makes me sick no longer because it’s NOT a secret anymore! My name is Cat Williamson. I have Borderline Personality Disorder. But now I’m the “Girl Uninterupted”!

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW MAY BE STRUGGLING WITH BPD:

Overview Of BPD

 Borderline Personality Disorder Test

Borderline Resources

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MARCH 16, 2020: “Because This Is MY Experience” …

meEXPERIENCE

“Meet me at the crossroads. The edge of all my broken dreams. I feel like I’m missing something. Missing out. Missing me. An angel to my left, the devil to my right. It’s time that I made a choice. I can only do what I know feels right. It’s time that I let go. Experience. Experience it all. I found a risk worth taking. Right or wrong, it’s my line to cross. Experience. Experience it all. I found a life worth living. I want to feel alive. I want to do more than just survive. Swimming in the shallow water. They never let me get too deep. The tide will have to take me under. Pull me in. Set me free. An angel to my left, the devil to my right. It’s time that I made a choice. I can only do what I know feels right. It’s time that I let go. Experience. Experience it all. I found a life worth living. I want to feel alive. I want to do more than just survive. A dream is only a dream. A dream is only a dream until you make it real. A dream is only a dream unless it’s something you can feel. I want something I can feel.” ~ Trapt

I remember the first time I heard this song in 2013 and how much it inspired me. Zack and I had been married for a couple of years, but despite the fact that we were crazy in love and truly being each other’s “better half”, I was still getting comfortable with the healthier skin I was wearing and learning how to stretch it after years of fighting to keep my head above the water in the battle for my sanity. My feet were on the path but it was a daily battle. “An angel to my left. The devil to my right. It was time that I made a choice”. Did it take me a minute to finally put all the pieces of myself that I had finally found back together? You betcha! But guess what? That was then, and this is now …

I’m not gonna lie, the last few days (like so many others I’ve experienced lately) were pretty damn good! I hate what I’ve been through, but love where I am, and every extra day and even the unforseen trials I surely still “get to go through” are a gift. I am a very thankful human woman, hands down, no matter what, and if God forbid I have to “move along” tomorrow, which I certainly hope that I don’t, I’m all set and ready to go. I’m at peace with my past. At peace with myself. At peace with my Creator. No stones have been left unturned. Anyone who needed forgiveness from me has gotten it, whether or not they asked for or deserved it. This IS my “Brighter Side Of Grey“. This IS my “Experience”!

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MARCH 8, 2020: “The Brighter Side Of Grey” …

img_8259TO MY KIDS …

“I’m writing this in case I’m gone tomorrow. I’m writing this in case I’ve moved along. There’s something that I hope you’ll remember: That life is not a game, it’s a song. So take the best parts of me, locked away without the keys, and know that I’m forever by your side. When the lights go down, know that I am never far away. When the Sun burns out, I’ll be waiting on the brighter side of grey. If you’re reading this, I know you’re feeling sorrow. If you’re hearing this, I know you’re probably scared. Just know that all the things you want are borrowed, and all you get to keep is all you’ve shared. So wipe away the tears for me, know that we’ve made history. Remember no one ever really dies.  When the lights go down, know that I am never far away. When the Sun burns out, I’ll be waiting on the brighter side of grey.” ~ Five Finger Death Punch

THIS PICTURE. One I sketched in my early 20’s using the literal ashes from both my father’s and His ashtrays. At the time I had no idea the impact this or any of my 32 Sketches would have on me down the road, yet as I look at them now I can’t help but notice that although I was in very dark place when they were born, something inside me was distantly hopeful. Still, this one. It begs the younger me to stay focused on the very bright future I couldn’t see through the fog I was in, yet was patiently waiting for and calling to me all the while.

If you know me well, you know that grey is my favorite color, which is evident in my predominately “black and white” or grey artwork. What’s interesting about this one is how poignantly it reflects upon the mental illness I fought so hard to overcome for the better part of my life and long before it was diagnosed. My illness imprisoned me in the dichotomy of “black and white thinking” and held me for ransom inside the compartmentalized boxes in my mind where I stored all my feelings, pain and trauma. Before I put my disease into remission, I was unable to accept people, situations, emotions, or behaviors as anything other than “good or bad”, “right or wrong”, or “one way or the other”. MY ENTIRE WORLD WAS BLACK AND WHITE AND THERE WAS NO ROOM FOR THE GREY! I had a defensive view of both the positive and negative qualities of myself and everyone else and there was no way for my broken psyche to allow anything in between to exist in one cohesive space. How did this happen? The general consensus is that my “splitting” was the result of severe emotional and psychological abuse from my childhood, and I do tend to agree. I was raised in an environment of conditionally based reward, praise, affection and acceptance. If I was “good”, I was praised, affirmed and rewarded. If I was “bad”, I was admonished, punished and rejected. They “washed their hands” of me too many times to count whenever I screwed up or simply failed to follow “the rules” and ZERO was the validation or consideration of my feelings. My mind would “split” as I desperately attempted to shield myself from the constant fear of being abandoned, betrayed or eviscerated by anyone who claimed to love me. For the record, I do not believe that these traumas were visited on me purposefully or with the intent to murder my soul, but the trauma indeed was real, as was the effect it had on my damaged psyche. For so many years in the wake of not only my broken childhood, but as much so in the wake of my own self-inflicted destruction and imprisonment, I felt alone and voiceless, regardless of the people who “appeared” to be standing beside me. At this point it is no longer a secret that I myself attempted suicide on November 8, 1996, but thankfully survived to tell about it.  But I’ve digressed …

Music of all genres has been an integral part of my mental health journey and recovery, but one of my favorite bands, Five Finger Death Punch, has been at the forefront of it all. Their songs have not only helped identify some of my lost and broken feelings, but have also given my former “voiceless self” permission to either cry my feelings to the surface or YELL AND SCREAM THEM OUT LOUD! Several months ago I pre-ordered their new album and had been counting the days until it was released. I was stoked when it finally hit my library and just started from the beginning as I headed out for my day. Meanwhile, when THIS SONG cued up I literally had to pull my car into the breakdown lane on the highway as the words began to cut me in all the most bittersweet ways. I couldn’t stop the tears or the physical heartache and I literally couldn’t breathe. It was one of the most cathartic, awful and beautiful moments of my life and it was as if he were singing it to me himself. To me. To her. To Christian. To the very few people he left behind that he truly loved and let into his very private world and who loved him just the same. Someday when it’s time for her to read “the letter he wrote but never gave her I will play this song for her. Knowing God the way I do, when she’s finally able to receive these most beautiful lyrics of both our lives in conjunction with the most beautiful words a secretly dying father could have possibly written to his daughter, they will become as significant a part of her healing and journey going forward as they have been to mine.

HERE’S THE THING: Grey is not just a color to me. It’s everything in between! It’s the “grey-ce” I’ve received that is so undeserved yet given to me anyway by The One who has never loved me with black and white conditions. He “takes the best parts of me and locks them away without the key” and I know He is never far away. He’s the Light that shines ahead of my journey and dilutes the blackness of the abyss into the most beautiful shades of grey. For more than four decades I lived a “black and white life” with no room for the grey I knew I needed so much but didn’t know how to connect with. So, as I look back at this picture now I am filled with the most unbelievable hope, peace, balance and inspiration you can imagine. It reminds me of just how far I’ve come, that it was always supposed to be this way, and there is always a “Brighter Side Of Grey”. I’m not gonna lie … it is now my final wish that when it’s time for me to move along, this is the last song I hear as they say farewell. It means everything to me. Literally, everything

Them

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FEBRUARY 25, 2020: “Thank You For Helping Me Change Tomorrow” …

img_9238… CHANGE TOMORROW

“For the first time in years there’s a light up ahead. It’s calling. (It’s pulling me closer) Reborn within. Now I’m shedding my skin. It’s falling. (The weight off my shoulders) ‘Cause I can’t stay chained to my secrets. No I can’t stay. I’m bound by my regrets. I can’t erase all of my errors. Those days are gone forever. I can change, I can change tomorrow. I can change, I can change tomorrow. On my knees in the rain with my head hung in shame, just crawling, stalling. (All alone in my ways) Memories I can’t erase. Faces I couldn’t face haunt me. (My life lay to waste). ‘Cause I can’t stay chained to my secrets. No I can’t stay. I’m bound by my regrets. I need a break. It’s now or never. Yesterday’s gone forever. I can change, I can change tomorrow. I can change, I can change tomorrow. For all the years of emptiness. For all of my mistakes. For all the years I’ve thrown it all away. It’s not too late.”  ~ Like A Storm

There is no way for me to properly express the depth of my gratitude for all of the love, support and faith all of you are pouring into me not only here in The Diary, but in other forums (such as Quora) where I am also sharing not only my journey, but the fallen king’s as well. My reach is growing stronger by the minute and I’m consumed by a burning fire in my heart when I open my statistics every morning to find that people literally all over the world are reading my words. I’m getting messages daily, from again, all over the world, and what is resonating loudly is that people are relating to all the best and worst parts of my life and being inspired to try and make some changes of their own and step out of their own silent darknesses. THAT’S ALL I’VE EVER WANTED … for other broken people to realize the power and potential of their own strong warrior hearts and find the courage to not only survive, but THRIVE!

“I can’t stay chained to my secrets …”

…and neither can you! The secret pain, anguish, heartache and trauma we keep buried within our hearts is nothing short of a 30,000 pound anchor that not only keeps our ships bound to the turbulent seas that some of us end up drowning in, but also keeps us from ever reaching safe harbor. As for me? My most life-altering, traumatic and darkest “secret” has still yet to be revealed by the way, because frankly, I’m just not ready to reveal it. I’m working with God directly on that one and together we will both know when it’s time for my “biggest reveal”. But in the meantime …

“I can change. I can change tomorrow.”

All of YOU are helping me do that and I pray that my words will help you change your own tomorrow if that’s what you need to do. Again, THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR SUPPORTING ME. My best to everyone reading this … MAKE IT A POWERFUL DAY!

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The Diary Thank You

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FEBRUARY 7, 2020: “Why It’s AWESOME To Seem So Small” …

SO SMALL

“Yeah, yeah. What you got if you ain’t got love? The kind that you just want to give away? It’s okay to open up. Go ahead and let The Light shine through. I know it’s hard on a rainy day. You wanna shut the world out and just be left alone, but don’t run out on your faith! ‘Cause sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand. And what you’ve been out there searching for forever is in your hands. And when you figure out love is all that matters after all it sure makes everything else seem so small. It’s so easy to get lost inside a problem that seems so big at the time. It’s like a river that’s so wide it swallows you whole. While you’re sitting around thinking about what you can’t change and worrying about all the wrong things, time’s flying by, moving so fast. You better make it count ’cause you can’t get it back. Sometimes that mountain you’ve been climbing is just a grain of sand. And what you’ve been out there searching for forever is in your hands. Oh, and when you figure out love is all that matters after all it sure makes everything else seem so small. ~ Carrie Underwood

It was indeed a rainy day here in Dallas on February 5th. The kind that tends to make you want to just shut the world away. But then again, not so much. With cozy pajamas, fluffy slippers, an ox of a German Shepherd named Lord Williamson at my feet and three cats perched strategically out of his reach all around me? Yah, that’s my vibe! The night before I’d been directed to “Quora”, a question and answer style on-line forum that I’d never heard of. So, after taking Gia to school I got home, made a giant cup of coffee and sat down to check it out. At first glance, I thought, “Wow, this could be interesting”, then I threw a quick profile together, circled back around to the home page, and this was the first question I saw: “What are the worst cases of mental illness you have ever seen?” Really? “Well okay then …”, and off I went (with the Twilight Zone music cued up in the background). This was my answer:

My own husband, who I lost to suicide August 22, 2019. He was the Godsend game changer for me and my daughter, larger than life with a heart the size of an ocean, but had been thrown away like common garbage by his mother at birth. She abandoned him permanently at 18 months, and I suppose his father did the best he could with lack of parenting skills he had, but he was then and is still but a child himself. My husband was left alone most of the time from a very young age and his basic needs were never properly tended to.

We didn’t realize his ACS (Abandonded Child Syndrome) even existed until five years into our marriage, but once faced with the sobering truths of his traumatic childhood, every bit of strength and fortitude he’d managed to find and survive with in his life of solitude before finding us, the first and only real home and family he’d ever had, began slipping right out from under him. The abandonment issues that led to his mental illness were further complicated by the fact that his entire family abandonded him; neither the mother, father or three older siblings could be bothered with him. This heartless, selfish, ice-cold brood of people literally broke his heart into pieces that could never be put back together.

There were demons living in the hole they burned into his soul we fought desperately to keep him from drowning in, but in the end, the demons won. The last months of his life it appeared that he was in the early stages of psychosis, if not schizophrenia. He’d been hearing voices, seeing things, missing “blocks of time”, and ultimately just vanished completely within himself. He said he couldn’t “feel anything” anymore, and honestly, we lost him months before he put that gun to his head. It was a living nightmare to witness and the worst kind of heartbreak to suffer. He died of a broken heart that led to his mental illness and then suicide.

I’ve been writing tirelessly about not only his, but my mental health journey as well, in “The Diary Of My Perfection” dot com. I’d be honored if any of you would care to read, follow or share it, as it is now my mission to try and be a Light in other people’s darkness.

Once I’d completed and submitted it, it was time to switch gears to the work day that lied ahead, which I did, and soon thereafter I was out the door with absolutely no idea what, if anything, would become of my answer to the question. Keep in mind that throughout the day I had noticed the “push” notifications on my Quora app were beginning to skyrocket. NOT GONNA LIE … I was nervous! I kept thinking, “Oh no, what’s with all these notifications? 25, 50, 75, 100, 150? Have I upset, offended or pissed someone off? Have I invoked some drama with the masses? Holy shit! What the Hell? What have I done?” But I had so much going on that day that I couldn’t allow myself to open the app and look, for fear that what I may find would somehow distract, upset or topple me. So, I just went on with my day and anxiously waited until I got home to open the “Pandora’s Box” I was worried I had created.

When I finally got back to my desk that night, I took a deep breath and logged back on to the site. I WAS STUNNED! Much to my overwhelming surprise I found that my answer had been viewed upwards of 22,000 times, “upvoted” over 2,000 times, and responded to hundreds of times, with uplifting, supportive and reflective comments such as this:

“Thank you so very much for sharing this difficult journey with others. You may have just saved my life by giving me enough information to try to find a path out of my personal jungle.

Until I read your post I had never heard of “abandoned child syndrome”. I now have SOMETHING that points to the root of my problems! NOW I’m starting to understand myself just a tiny bit more than I did 10 minutes ago.

The question is now what can I do to start forging a different future? I am 50 years old and feel like a boat without ears, a sail, and a rudder. Or is it too late to try to move forward? I feel like it’s just too much and I’m way too tired to keep trying.

Thank you for putting your grief into action and attempting to save other’s. I think I’m simply too old and tired …”.

And there you have it! Confirmation that every single thing I’ve walked through and survived in my 50 years thus far is going to mean something so much bigger than I could possibly have ever foreseen to someone, somehow, some way, if I just keep on keeping on. Everything my husband had to walk through is going to have meant something bigger than even he was and I am going to make sure of it!

One of the things I loved most about Zack was his unrelenting generosity and heart for others. It was not uncommon for him to “give or do”, if not even to random strangers; the more he acquired, the more he gave away. We shared that in common, which is not to toot a horn right now, but rather, to make this point: Whenever we’d done something for someone else we would always “fist bump” or “high five” eachother afterwards and smile. So, yah, after reading that comment above? I actually did pause as I turned to his picture on my desk and sent out my half of our “fist bump” to wherever he is in this cosmos. This is what I’m supposed to be doing! I know it. He knows it. God knows it! I’m just gonna keep staying “small” so all this can become so much “bigger” than either of us could have ever imagined. I feel so extremely blessed, happy, and even more determined to do whatever it is I’m supposed to do than I was before. That is all.

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by Charles Mackesy

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NOVEMBER 20, 2019: “Because Suicide Is ALWAYS Dead Serious!” …

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~ by The Phoenix Collaborative Project ~

… that moment you get this call from a friend who’s son has been openly and actively talking about suicide :: “Cat, someone just basically told me that I shouldn’t take him seriously … I need to toughen up with him … he’s probably NOT really going to do it. In your opinion and based upon your own personal experiences of having both tried it and survived it with Zack, do you think I should believe her?” REALLY? WHAT IN THE ACTUAL HELL? I am just beside myself right now. Need to digest what I just heard and surely there’s rant to follow because A SUICIDE THREAT SHOULD ALWAYS BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY!Can

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OCTOBER 23, 2019: “Supernatural” …

JUNE 23, 2019 …

Perhaps one of the most powerful days of her life, and his. Zack had purchased the Supernatural fan convention ticket package for her a year in advance, including photo ops with her favorite actors, Misha Collins, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki andBaby”, the ‘67 Chevy Impala (probably her FAVORITE character on the show)! I wasn’t with them but heard that when they pulled into the parking lot that morning and she realized where she was going, she almost fainted. You see to her it’s not really about the show, the fandom or the “stars”. It’s about the storyline (which she correlates a lot to her own life for so many reasons) and the way these guys have used their fame and fortune as a platform for what’s truly important to all of them – mental health awareness and suicide prevention! She has read about, studied and followed their many valiant works and deeds to make this world better than they found it, and to her, THAT is what makes them all truly “fan-worthy”. She wrote an essay about them back in January for a school:

“SAVING PEOPLE, HUNTING MENTAL ILLNESS & THE SPN FAMILY BUSINESS”

by Gia Embach

What makes a hero? It is their immense strength, bravery, kindness and selflessness. They inspire and save the lives of people for no other reason than to help. For me, I found my heroes because of a TV show that I had no clue would be as special as it is to me. By telling his story and launching a campaign giving support to those in need, Jared Padalecki, alongside Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles, has inspired thousands of people, and myself, to never give up and to always keep fighting!

In March of 2015, Jared launched “Always Keep Fighting” with different T-Shirts with the slogan. All the money gained from the over 500,000 products sold were given to the charities To Write Love On Her ArmsThe Wounded Warrior Project and Attitudes In Reverse – Student Suicide Prevention. Later, he gave the reason for him starting the campaign in the first place. That previous New Years Eve, one of Jared’s best friends lost his battle with depression. Jared stated that this was not the first time he had lost a personal friend to suicide. Using this new campaign, he said that he hoped “that this campaign, while raising money for a wonderful charity, can also raise awareness about issues that affect more people than we know. I hope it inspires people battling depression, addiction, mental illness and suicidal thoughts to be vocal about their struggles. I hope it helps people realize that they shouldn’t be ashamed of what they are going through, and I hope it helps people meet and find new friends that they can relate to. I hope it helps people take pride in the fight that they have been fighting, and gives them a push to never give up or give in. I hope it helps inspire people to keep fighting. no matter how hard it is.” Through his actions, he showed a level of kindness and compassion that is superhuman. Later, however, he reveals something that gives the “Always Keep Fighting” Campaign an entirely different depth.

Living with a mental illness by itself requires an immense amount of strength and bravery. I have witnessed first hand that kind of wear and tear it can do (and yes, there is a REAL “super hero” in this regard that I am lucky enough to call my mom). Opening up to the public, to millions of people that you have suffered through the same battles as the people you are fighting for? That requires unbelievable bravery. Jared did just that. He said how he has suffered from anxiety and depression. He said that he did not understand why he would be depressed. “It kind of hit me like a sack of bricks,” Jared told reporters. “I mean, I was 25 years old. I had my own TV show. I had dogs that I loved and tons of friends and I was getting adoration from fans and I was happy with my work, but I couldn’t figure out what it was; it doesn’t always make sense is my point. It’s not just people who can’t find a job, or can’t fit in in society that struggle with depression sometimes.” Misha Collins, a best friend and co-star of Jared, also suffered in the same way that many fans and readers alike have. Misha had been self-harming for years. Since he was only around 12 or 13 years old. Misha won his battle. He stopped cutting himself and started loving himself. Later, he and his co-star/best friend Jensen Ackles started something of their own.

On February 12, 2016, Jensen and Misha launched the You Are Not Alone fundraising T-shirt Campaign with T-shirts that used the slogan “You Are Not Alone”. The SPNFamily Crisis Support Network has been established by Jensen and Misha in partnership with Random Acts, TWLOHA, and IMAlive. This project created an online support network to help fans cope with mental health issues such as depression, self-injury, and addiction and included training for fan volunteers who wish to be crisis responders in their spare time, provided immediate access to support lifelines for fans in crisis, and local community resources for those needing additional support or information.  Together, they save lives and create warriors in the process. They have shown people that there are people who care about them. They save lives as any hero should.

Through words and actions, they have shown far more than bravery, courage, and compassion. Just like the ‘S’ on Superman’s chest, what they have done means hope for people. On February 9th, Misha Collins, who plays Castiel on Supernatural, posted a video on his social media accounts. Misha’s message? He told his fans without speaking that they’re not alone. To people outside of the Supernatural fandom, this video may not seem like much. But to people who know Misha, to people who watch him every week on The CW, these four words, “you are not alone”  mean so much more. Fans see that the actors that they look up to and love not only care about them, but believe in them. They continue also to bring the three-word sentence, “always keep fighting”, up fairly often, constantly reminding their fans to not give up.

“Jared, Jensen and Misha”. To people not in the fandom these names may mean nothing. I promise you, however, that these names have meant life for thousands of people, mine included. They have not only saved lives, but taught people how to save lives themselves. To look around, at complete strangers, and help those who are struggling, and make sure that they win their fight. They have created an army that fights the demons that live in all of our hearts and minds. An army that is fighting every day for one another.

Jared, Jensen and Misha have saved thousands of lives, mine included. Day after day they continue to save people. Jared Padalecki, alongside Misha Collins and Jensen Ackles, have inspired thousands of people, and myself, to never give up, and to always keep fighting. They have taught us that no matter what happens, what we do, I keep going. No matter how much we want to give up on anything, little or small, we will refuse to stop. Most importantly, they have taught us that even if we think we have met our match and can’t go on, we will get up and fight harder than ever. We can go on because we are enough, we are not alone, and we have a family of people we have never met, who love us and understand us. Who live their lives loving and helping complete strangers. Thanks to these three men. As Jared said, “Even if there are a thousand small fights, even if every other minute you’re thinking about suicide, or depression, or addiction, or if you have a mental illness, I want people to hit it head on and take action. And to be proud that they’re winning their fight, period.” We must always keep fighting.

How ironic is it that we are now both preparing ourselves to “walk the walk” and “talk the talk” that she had already taken so seriously long before he left us this way? The connection between my daughter, Zack (her “Bobby”), this show, “these guys” and their platforms is no coincidence! One thing you should know is that on August 22, 2019, Gia made the call on her own to the IMAlive chat line in the midst of all the chaos! We have Misha, Jensen, Jared and “Supernatural” to thank for that! One day I hope to be able to tell them in person: “Hey, J2M! YOU SAVED MY KID’S LIFE! THANK YOU!”

Four months have passed since one of the best weekends of her life but then a dark dragon swooped down and changed everything for us both in the blink of an eye. This weekend we face one of the most bittersweet weekends of our life! But we will walk, and we will talk like the warrior girls we are, because I am me, she is mine, and it’s what we’re being called to do.

WE. ARE. SUPERNATURAL!

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CARRY ON MY WAYWARD SON

“Carry on my wayward son, for there’ll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don’t you cry no more! Once I rose above the noise and confusion just to get a glimpse beyond the illusion. I was soaring ever higher, but I flew too high. Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man. Though my mind could think I still was a mad man. I hear the voices when I’m dreamin’, I can hear them say: Carry on my wayward son. For there’ll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don’t you cry no more! Masquerading as a man with a reason. My charade is the event of the season. And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know. On a stormy sea of moving emotion. Tossed about I’m like a ship on the ocean. I set a course for winds of fortune, but I hear the voices say: Carry on my wayward son, for there’ll be peace when you are done. Lay your weary head to rest. Don’t you cry no more! Carry on, you will always remember! Carry on, nothing equals the splendor! Now your life’s no longer empty! Surely heaven waits for you.” ~ Kansas

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OCTOBER 9, 2019: “SOLITARY: Life Behind A Mask” …

ArthurSo, here’s what’s on my mind today. After my sister’s birthday dinner last night, she wanted to go see The Joker. We’d both assumed it was just a Batman prequel, and in a roundabout way it was, inasmuch as it was set in Gotham City and the Wayne’s were front and present. I haven’t been to the movies much lately and was completely uninformed as to the plot, but I’m a “Batgirl” so we went with it.

This was NO superhero commentary. Was there a connection? Absolutely. But within seconds of the opening scene I began to wonder, “Do I stay, or do I go?” Every alarm in my psyche was screaming that this movie could potentially level me. He was “painting on a mask” but behind his eyes you could clearly see that whatever road he’d walked until that moment he had lost connection to both the world and himself. Yet I was compelled to watch this six degrees of separated version of not only Zack’s story, but at times mine and SO many other people I’ve known. As we cringed our way through Joker’s “Hell on Earth” I watched him bring a gun to his head six times, and if that weren’t bad enough, though we’d all anticipated him blowing his OWN brains out in the end, brains indeed were blown out on the screen. And I just sat there like an iron wall. I could see my sister panic every time the gun went to his head as she’d lean over and ask if we needed to leave, but I kept assuring her I was okay, because I was. I don’t know what in my own “Hell on Earth” this says about me, but wait, I think I do …

darknessI AM ONE STRONG BITCH! “Warrior. Motivator. SURVIVOR!” The longer I sat there the LESS I wanted to cry and shake my fists all up to the Heavens screaming “WHY?” I already know why ALL too well and no amount of screaming or fist shaking will change my own plot line or erase the things I’ve “gotten to learn” so far. Do I still cry? Every. Fucking. Day! I’m only human after all. But I believe that every tear I shed is being counted by a Power INFINITELY higher than me and I absolutely trust it. So, I welcome those tears, then simply “let them go”, as my most effective form of mental health therapy.

Here’s my takeaway from both the show and my visceral reaction to it: Much like my husband who often felt isolated in even the most crowded spaces, The Joker eventually lost connection with not only himself but humanity as well. He’d been stepped on, overlooked and bullied by life in general, which process led him to an internal mental madness that most people couldn’t fathom. Like The Joker (and many of us) my husband wore two faces: The very happy “I’m okay” mask he dawned outwardly each day while secretly living inside the invisible, solitary prison where he wore the other “sick, dark, tragic one” that led him to his fate.

One of the most poignant scenes in the movie found the mentally ill Joker sitting in front of “a system” letting him down, just as pretty much everything and one he’d ever known had done, and he said something to the effect of, “Have you even listened to a SINGLE thing I’ve said? All these times I’ve sat in front of you – have you EVER really seen or heard me?” Such is the story of so many of our lives and then we too “slip through the void” into our own darkness. Which is why I think I could NOT bring myself to leave the one movie I probably should NOT have seen in the first place. Last night, sitting through that show like the ROCK I know I’ve become? I did NOT crumble. I did NOT cry. I only became further convicted in my desperate need to touch as many “Joker’s” lives as possible with what time I have left here on Earth. Self-pity, sorrow, screaming and “fist shaking” will accomplish ZERO but “reaching the unreachable” just might. Okay, that’s all. Thanks for listening. ~ Cat ❤️

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AUGUST 8, 2019: “Dragon Slayer” …

IMG_6681Can’t believe I’m finally putting this out into the Universe, but, here I am doing it. As my past mental health issues are multi-faceted, I’m also in my 8th year of recovery from anorexia/bulimia. So on a more personalized note, if you have a daughter or know of a girl struggling with body dysmorphia or an unhealthy relationship with food I WOULD LOVE TO SIT AND TALK WITH HER. No one better understands how to slay a dragon than someone who has done so herself!

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