Tara at You Know it Happens at Your House Too invited her readers this morning to ask her questions that she would answer in a blog entry. I wondered, "hmmm...what would MY readers ask?" So, I asked you what you wanted to know, and these are the first 20 questions posed:
1. At what age did you start writing? I took an interest in writing in high school. I had a class called Senior Composition with a great teacher. I thought the writing projects were fun and easy. He gave me the Creative Writing award, and it's probably my favorite academic accomplishment in all of my high school years. I haven't truly written since then until I started blogging.
2. How did you get so involved in mental health? My first husband took his own life on August 20, 2009, and that catapulted me into the realm of mental health issues. He dealt with depression and anxiety attacks for the 5 years prior to his death. I dealt with depression after his death and still have some bad days here and there. I started blogging in September 2012 and attendant to that is the Facebook page. I'm an "encourager" (not really a word) by nature and wanted to just give some hope and compassion to people suffering from those same issues. I wanted to raise awareness about depression, anxiety attacks and suicide in the hopes that maybe I could stop someone from making the same choice he did. Or at least make them smile on a sad day. All of that evolved into "Mental Health Mondays" on the Facebook page which by and large has been well-received, and I couldn't be happier to help get the word out and do my part to reduce stigma in talking about these issues.
3. What's the weirdest thing you have ever done? This has been the hardest question! hahaha. Ok, um, weirdest thing ... weirdest ... "weird" can mean all sorts of things, y'know? I mean there's weird like the time when I was about 12 staying over at a friend's house, and I ate a few (too many) of those Kool-aid packs ... y'know, just the powder ... and then threw up in the Pizza Hut parking lot. Or there's weird like the time when I was about 3 years old and stuck my finger in a hole in the steering wheel of my Dad's truck and it was so stuck that he had to use a saw to get it out (without cutting me, of course). Or there's weird like the time when I was pregnant with my first child (when I was 23) and I developed a love of french fries dipped in chocolate shakes. Or there's weird like when I drove 40 miles round-trip for a snack that I really, really wanted ... and they were out of it when I got there. I think there's more ...
4. What's your perfect girl's night? A perfect girl's night for me would probably be renting a movie, having some drinks, eating some yummy food and laughing tons! My bestie and I love to do this.
5. How many bottles of wine does it take? To do what, I ask in return? But in any respect, I don't drink wine, so there we have it.
6. Are you open with talking about sex? With my husband, yes. With my closest friends, yes. With my kids, yi-yi-yi. Only if I have to. Nothing causes my pits to start sweating faster than the subjects of sex and my children mixed together!
7. Religious, Spiritual or neither? Good question. For me, it's not "religion" and it's more than "spiritual". It's a relationship. I love Jesus. He loves me. He's pretty cool like that.
8. Favorite movie? And why? This one is difficult because there are SO many movies I love. If you didn't catch my blog about my favorite 80's movies, you need to check it out! But I would have to say that my number one favorite movie is "It's a Wonderful Life". It's my favorite because every time I watch it, it makes me laugh, it makes me cry, it puts me in George's shoes and it fills me with joy over what true friendship can do for someone.
9. Do you cuss a lot? Compared to, say, Eddie Murphy in "Raw", heck no! Cursing is not allowed in the house, so I try hard not to do it and when I do (usually in fits of anger), it's the "small" words and not the big F dash dash dash word. When it's just me and the Hubs, I'll curse more because I feel like I can be more "me" around him. I curse A TON in my head. :)
10. If you HAD to choose one meal to eat for the rest of your life, what would you choose? My family is expecting me to say "spaghettio's" right about now, but I am going to go with chicken alfredo pasta with a side of garlic bread sticks. I need to find a good gym.
11. Are there guns in your home? Well this is a bigger question than you might think. Because of the suicide, I gave all of the guns Dale had to his brother after he died because I didn't want them here. In going through some boxes of things in our shop, I found his .22 Ruger hand gun, and I have kept that one. It is in a safe in my home.
12. Have you ever gone hunting? No. I've never really had an interest in hunting. I love most animals and wouldn't shoot them anyway. Except maybe a snake. I would shoot a snake.
13. How do you cope with guilt and the children (relating to the suicide)? The way the reader posed this question is that her sister (a twin to her) was successful in ending her own life and left behind a daughter who is now 10 years old and is now asking questions. How do I cope? I guess I would have to say day-by-day. With suicides come feelings of guilt. There's just no getting around it. What if .. this? What if ... that? If only I had ... this. If I had just said ... that. You play the tape over and over again in your head. The trick for me is to just let it play through. I always come around to the fact that I did not make that choice for him. I know that it had everything to do with me but it also had nothing at all to do with me. The problems were in place long before me. Could I have prevented it? That's the kicker. Maybe.... Maybe. But it's like crying over spilled milk. I can't do anything about it now, and there's just no sense in it. I choose joy. I choose to focus on the positive and not beat myself up over things I cannot now change. "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." That is my life motto. As far as the children go, if they feel guilt over their father's suicide, they haven't shown it to me. I believe they know their father loved them very much and that he was sick. How do I know he was sick? Because he loved them very much and wouldn't want to leave them. I believe they understand that too. The youngest doesn't know all that much to feel any sort of guilt, so we'll see if I have to cross that bridge someday with her, but I'm hopeful I won't.
14. How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Well, you already know the answer to this one, but let me answer as if I were a woodchuck: "Only as much as he had to and then he would do the rest later."
15. How did you become a Christian? I don't know a time in my life when I didn't believe in God. But my relationship with Jesus Christ really began in 2005. That's when Dale first started having serious trouble with the anxiety attacks. We started going to church regularly because I felt like his faith needed some bolstering, and he would do well in that environment. It did help a lot and brought us both closer to God. That faith and those relationships built with others at the church are what sustained me and my kids through the aftermath of Dale's death. They still do!
16. Have you ever had someone call/contact you when they are actively thinking about suicide? Yes. Not an easy thing.
17. Do you drive yourself crazy procrastinating? Nope. It's my favorite thing to do!
18. Have you ever had an "epiphany"? What was it? Yes, I think I have had one of those! It's a number 3 at McDonald's, right? Seriously. Yes, I think I have. It was about love. I realized that we all try to define love in so many different ways than what God intended it to be. He defines it for us perfectly in 1 Corinthians, Chapter 13, verses 4 through 8. When those things are present, that is love. I can ask myself in a situation if I am exhibiting those qualities and if I say "no", I have to correct myself and make sure that if I say I love someone, that I am treating them with true love.
19. Do you worry about depression and suicide as it pertains to your children? Seems so prevalent with teens and young adults ... Yes, I am concerned about depression and suicide as it pertains to my children but not because it's prevalent with teens and young adults. I worry about it because it could be hereditary in the sense that depressive tendencies are hereditary. I hope that the fact that they know what it's like to lose someone to suicide would deter them from ever considering it, but I know it may not, so I believe I am likely to keep a close eye on their mental health. Or at least I better!
20. What's your favorite car and why? A 1969 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray. Because they're cool. And because I was born in 1969, which answers the final bonus question ...
21. How old are you? I am 15,777 days old today. :)
Thanks so much for posing questions and for reading the answers! This was a fun one :)