Category Archives: Rainy Days

Those Times In Between

Album art from Dramatic Lunacy, In between. Retrieved from on July 26, 2017.
Album art from Dramatic Lunacy, In between. Retrieved from on July 26, 2017. Use of this image here does not convey the artist endorses the words within.

My heart ached with the news regarding the suicides of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell. I started writing this post then and walked away. Now Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain have committed suicide so I face this page once again.  As is always the case, blogs, tweets, articles and radios chant, “Please get help.” And my response is, “People who have never been depressed just don’t get it.”

The energy it takes to fight these demons is enormous. We fight them and fight them and fight them. Then one day, we realize the fight is never going to end. The monsters will always return. It is a disease much like cancer. It eats away at you. You either can’t feel anything or you feel everything ten fold. You are exhausted. You fight it by telling yourself, “It’s the depression. These feelings aren’t real. It will pass.” You wait it out. Time and again. Until you finally ask yourself, “Does it even matter?!?!” You are cut off from feeling things so your only motivation for staying alive is seeing that others love you and you do not want to hurt them. But, to be honest, you hate them a little bit for not just letting you go.

In my latest struggle with severe depression, I found myself operating like a robot. Just trying to get through every day, hoping maybe the fog would clear tomorrow. It never did. I knew I needed to get help. I tried to get help. I did exactly what I was supposed to do. Research psychologists to find the right one for you. So I researched. I contacted them. I was told they weren’t accepting new clients. I researched again. I contacted again. I was again told they were not taking new clients. I did this again and again for six months. All the while sinking deeper and deeper into a world of black and white, live or die. I personally know of seven people, not including myself, who have been suicidal within the last year. There is an epidemic right now.

I even contacted the employee assistance program thinking they could find someone better than I could. They couldn’t. After three days of them researching they were only able to identify two professionals taking new clients and one of them was an hour away. It felt like I was trying to get help and the universe was giving me a great big, “FUCK YOU.” I had insurance. Great insurance. I was trying to get help. Yet, I couldn’t get it. It seemed like the only way to enter the process was to check myself into a mental ward. I wondered to myself, what about all those people who’s depression had already numbed their resolve to push through this? Those who were weakly seeking help but for whom the desire to die was stronger? Those who were just so tired they couldn’t cut through the bull shit? How many of them have survived? Recent headlines reveal many have not… With many more not making headlines, I’m sure. I was strong enough to be asking the right questions. I was trying to get the help I needed. I didn’t feel like I needed to be locked up for my own safety. Why was that seemingly the only way to get help then? It felt like I was begging for help. Eventually, I found someone local but I was her last new patient until 6 months out, at least.

It has been an incredible and eye-opening experience.

“Please get help.” Sure. But from where?!?! And how?!?! The professionals are overwhelmed with an epidemic of depression. Even with insurance, it is exceptionally hard to get in for help. You are pretty much out of luck if you have no insurance. I have no idea how to fix that but the system is broken and it needs to be fixed. We will continue to see suicides and violent crime until mental healthcare is easily accessible. I scoff at the phrase “please get help” when it is just thrown out there and left wherever it landed. Depressed people are too tired to deal with this system. One does not go it alone with cancer. Imagine having a heart attack and someone says, “the defibrillator is over there, go get it.” Only the depressed person can do the work to heal but they probably need help getting the ball rolling. Keep checking in and insisting they get help. Stress how important it is to keep trying when the system doesn’t seem to want to let you in.

With the insistence of my husband and friends, I came to realize medication was necessary for me. I knew all the tricks of the psychology trade so to say, all the coping techniques they teach you, and they were not enough to bring me back to, well, ME. I had gone through three pregnancies and all the hormone changes that entails. Apparently, it messed with my brain chemistry as well. I was terrified to start the medication because it came with the warning: May cause thoughts of suicide or cause existing thoughts to worsen. At that point, I was at least stopping to think, “Do I really want to kill myself?” Would the medication push me so far down I would stop asking that vital question? Luckily, they are helping. The past few months have been brutal and yet I have been able to cope. I just have to hope they continue working. And if they don’t, that I have the wherewithal to seek help yet again.

By Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez (Lmbuga Commons)(Lmbuga Galipedia) Publicada por/Publish by: Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez (Lmbuga Commons)(Lmbuga Galipedia) Publicada por/Publish by: Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
I do not know Chris Cornell or Chester Bennington. I can’t say I know what they went through or what kind of professional help they had. But oh how I can empathize with their pain, their struggle and their defeat. We do know we love you and you love us. We do know that our absence would create heartache. We do know that our deaths would leave an unfulfillable void. The burden of the illness is just so great that we wish you DIDN’T love us, that our absence WOULDN’T cause heartache or a void. We are so encased in the depression that we wish we could just sacrifice our bodies in the hope for peace. Imagine it as if we carry a giant boulder above our heads. It continually presses down until we are hunched over. It presses down upon us until we are either crushed or we have found a way to extricate ourselves. It is not like a real rock you can just lay down. It has grown into our skin and has become one with us. Extricating depression is like removing a tumor deep within the brain. It requires expertise, precision, caution, time… And follow-up.

If you want to be productive, urge your loved one to get help, then follow-up until they do. Make sure they know you love them. Find ways you can help them get help. For instance, I needed someone to watch my children so I could research doctors and make appointments without the constant interruptions inherent with kids.

I suffered with depression for a year, maybe more, before I even mentioned it to anyone. I remember holding my youngest child, cognitively knowing how wonderful my life was but not being able to FEEL it. I realized this was never going to go away. So what was the point of fighting? It is like living in a flood plain. You can only rebuild so many times before you move away. The older generation of depressed people know how hard the battle is to get out of depression. We’ve been there, a few times, and it is easy to doubt whether we have it in us to do it yet again.

I write all this in the hope that it might bring some understanding to those who have never suffered from depression. I write even though I suspect the chances of that are slim to none. I also write for those still struggling with it… The clouds always part. Sometimes it is interminably long but they do. The storm may or may not return but we need to carry on. We do. We just do. Those times in between. They ARE worth it.

As I am prone to do before publishing, I seek feedback from other people. My husband asked me, What would you have said to Chris, Chester, Kate or Anthony had they called you on the day they ended their lives?” The first thought that popped into my head was, “They never would have placed a call.” I guess this is the point I am really trying to drive home, if you are on the ledge, you do not want to get help. You want to carve distance between you and your loved ones so you can slip quietly away without harming others. I think the most effective thing you can do is help them bridge the times in between. Make sure they know their death would be excruciating. Make sure they know you love them. Make sure they never forget you are there. Never let them forget they are connected to life.

Retrieved from License:

Retrieved from flickr user d26b73 on July 26, 2017:                 License:                                                                                       Use of this image here does not convey the artist endorses the words within.

94 Lives.

94 Lives Lost. 94 Lives Matter.
94 Lives Lost. 94 Lives Matter.

I was recently moved by an interview with a police chief who lost his composure in what I felt was a most eloquent way. (Chief Flynn after Nov. 6 police commission meeting.) He said, “if some people here gave a good God damn about the victimization of people in this community by crime I’d take some of their invective more seriously… They know all about the last three people who’ve been killed by the Milwaukee police department over the course of the last several years but there’s not one of them can name one of the last three homicide victims we’ve had…”

His statement got me thinking. I can’t name any of them either. I began to wonder how many other deaths had there recently been? Besides the high profile ones? I recently held a gun for only the second time in my life. As I held it, all I could think was, “Wow. How can so many people be so cavalier about guns?”  This sent me down the rabbit hole where I learned there were 101 deaths in a 72-hour period between July 16 and July 18 at 3 pm. You can review any of the latest 72-hour statistics by visiting By the time I came up with the idea to give these statistics back their names, the data had shifted. Luckily, I suppose, a hot Monday yields less deaths than a hot Saturday. Between July 17 and July 19, 2016 we lost 94 lives due to gun violence. Even with fewer numbers, that still works out to over 1.3 lives lost per hour. There were an additional 255 people injured by gun violence in that same period or 3.5 injuries per hour.

I do not want this post to be about gun control. I don’t want this post to be about anti-gun control. I want it to be about potential. 94 lives lost. 94 lives gone forever. Someone’s child. Someone’s husband. Someone’s wife. Someone’s friend. Someone born full of hope and potential. Someone who could love and be loved. Some of these people were victims. Some of them were the perpetrators. I grappled with separating them out of respect for the survivor’s of the victims. In the end, I decided to list them in the order they died, often meaning a victim was listed next to the perpetrator. I did this because we have to be able to do more to stop this violence. And that has to take place before the violence occurs. We have to be able to stop the perpetrators from wanting to hurt others.


Oh, it is so very easy to turn it off. It’s too much. We feel powerless in the face of such enormous problems. We need to stop the poverty. We need to stop the alienation. We need to stop the humiliation. We need to stop the anger. We need to stop the hurt.

We need to love. We need to care. We need to help.

When my boys ask me why someone is being mean I often say, “Well, I just don’t think they got enough love today.” And if these perpetrators had received enough love in their lives, maybe, just maybe this list would be shorter. And maybe, if whole swathes of our society weren’t made to feel like second class citizens, this list would be shorter. And, maybe, if we just take a few minutes to read these names, every last one of them, we’ll stop focusing on the forest and start  noticing the people standing among its trees.

Forest and the Trees
Forest and the Trees

The youngest of these victims was a 4-year old boy. Another was a brand new father, accidentally shot by his brother. Another was a teen playing basketball on a community center play ground. Another was a mother of four. So many murder-suicide combinations. So many related to drugs. So many related to anger. So much pain. It will not be ignored. Like a festering wound, it just spreads until the body can ignore it no longer. If we want to heal, we must face the wounds.

I do not want these people to get lost in the shuffle. Let’s not forget their names. Let’s not forget there are people behind all the debates.

So here they are. Above, in an image format. Below, in a text format. There are a few where I have simply listed the gender and city as their names have not yet been released pending notification of next of kin. I have done as much research as possible to put names to the incidents. Where not possible, please know that I respect your loved one’s life. THEY MATTERED. YOU MATTER TOO.

If you wish to add a name to this list, please feel free to contact me and know that you are in my heart and prayers. ♥


Important Things

My Dusty Old Name Plate
My Dusty Old Name Plate

I believe the Universe works very hard to maintain balance. This past week was my family’s turn to be in the wringer. We’ve been sick, never healthy for more than a few days, since Thanksgiving. The past week though, wow! We ended up in the ER for stridor, followed by vomiting, croup, ear infections, ruptured ear drums and a flat tire. A new special something for each day of the week!

It all started with a hard task for mommy on Saturday. I spent the day cleaning out my old office in preparation for turning it into the new nursery for Baby #3. There is a reason these things have laid in there so long, unattended. Ghosts of my past. I broke down in tears no less than three times. I came across a goodbye letter I wrote to my friend who was murdered. Some 25 years later, I finally found the strength to throw it away. All the journals from our fertility treatments, a chronicle of the roller coaster of hope and despair. All the sonograms and sympathy cards from our baby Noah. My old school papers and planning documents from the center I had set-up and directed. —Keeping a few things but just donating or throwing most things representative of my old life away and feeling like my kids will never know I used to do very important things.

After an emotionally exhausting day, I was ready for bed. I joked with my husband, since I could hear that tell tale croupy cough over the baby monitor, “Maybe I ought to just sleep in my clothes since Emerson sounds so bad.” Prophetic words. Less than ten minutes later, I am cleaning up vomit, alternating steam and cold air, walking that tight rope of not panicking and then realizing I should have left ten minutes ago, rushing to the ER and waiting to see what works to stop that horrible gasping for air as your precious child tries in vain to breathe.

I had just that day been celebrating the fact that Silas seemed to have gotten through his first bout of croup without having stridor. I had been celebrating that maybe, just maybe, we were done with this torturous routine of trying at home measures and then heading to the ER anyway. We came home from the ER, put Emerson back to bed and realized we probably have another three years of this with him, every time he gets a cold if he ends up like his big brother. Who knows if baby #3 will have the same issues?!?! We were desperate to get some sleep and then Silas was up all night coughing and throwing up. Yes, these things are common to raising young children. Centuries of mothers have survived them but that does not mean it is easy. I know these days are short but while you are stuck in them, especially where it concerns your children’s health, they are so unbelievably long. Absolutely daunting at times.

And then it happened. My Umbrellas showed up. Literally. Uninvited. Unannounced. Not even knocking. They know I am not going to ask for help. They know I am likely to turn down their offers of help when made. So, problem solvers that they are, they just walked into my house. A welcome sight. They came bearing chocolate, balloons, lemon juice, honey and hugs. They let me cry. They made me smile and laugh. They watched my kids so I could clean  the house a bit. We baked cookies together for another mom who was having a hard time… because there is always a need for an umbrella! And, perhaps most importantly, they spoke to me of important things.

“Kerry, you do the very most important things every single day – by loving your husband, your kids, and all of your friends too. And Silas and EJ, they see THAT and it is what matters. You can tell them about everything you did in the past and the person you were before they came along, and they will listen and they will appreciate all of it someday. But you, being who you are right now – that is what is important. To ALL of us. Because you are amazing.”

This is not to say that working mothers or fathers don’t do important things every day. We all make decisions based on our individual situations and your decisions are right for you and your family, regardless of what they are. A stay-at-home mom is not something I had ever envisioned for myself but it ended up being right for us. This is exactly where I want to be. My reasons for walking away from a very successful career are the same as they were the day I resigned. Yes, what I did before children was important. It came with impressive titles and decent paychecks, even good benefits. Yet, I believe there is nothing more valuable than pouring my heart and soul into each of my boys. The time I have with them will be so very short. I do not want to miss a minute of it. I am so very fortunate to have a choice in the matter.

Yes, I am tired. Yes, I am frustrated. Yes, I would love to be able to get one child dressed and the other STAY dressed so we can get out the door on time. Yes, I would like to have a night off every now and then. Oh, and sleeping in seems like some sort of wild forbidden fantasy. But, I also have the chance to mold their character. I delight in the fact that my 18-month old has already mastered how and when to say, “please” and “thank you” via sign language. My heart overflows when I see my 4-year old inviting his younger brother to help put ice cubes into his cup and offering him encouragement for doing a good job. Manners, compassion and love. If there were a report card for them, these areas would read, “Exceeds Expectations.” I can’t imagine anything more important than working to offer the world three humans full of these gifts.

The remainder of this week brought even more unpleasantness. It brought more sickness, tears, tantrums, early bedtimes, refused naps and restless nights. But I was able to meet those detours with humor and strength. No longer defeated. My perspective rectified. Thankfully, my umbrellas had revived my spirit.

I have learned a few lessons this week. (1) No matter what, through the good and the bad, we are here for each other. This makes the good stuff awesome and the bad stuff so much better than it would be alone. (2) I have been reminded of what the truly important stuff is. It is love and giving of ourselves to each other. (3) I have some other parents, who are now grandparents, to thank for the time and energy, the sleepless nights and days of frustration they put into loving and molding their children. If I am ever in doubt about the value my job as a mom holds, I can look to my Umbrellas and know how much their parents’ work has impacted my own life.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

With love,

Kerry Stephen, Director of Important Things

New Position: Director of Important Things
New Position: Director of Important Things

If Dogs Were Teachers


This poster was hanging in the emergency vet’s office last night. I took a picture of it because it is how so many dogs are. I know Star taught us all so very much.

We had to put our girl down last night. We had been getting cocky about how long she could live beyond the vet’s prognosis. She started seizing late last night, she could barely walk and was clearly, finally, feeling the pain of it all.

I’ve been aching all over. Inside and out. Crying off and on all day. I hadn’t expected to physically feel the impact of her death but I feel as if I have been hit by a truck.

Dogs are a part of our family not just pets in this house. She was our daughter and a sister to our boys. She was rarely ever referred to as a pet. She was our baby, our girl, our daughter, a sister. I’d say she was our equal but I do believe dogs are often our superior as the words in this picture convey. So much love. So much patience. So much perseverance. So much to teach us. And, even after death, she is still teaching me.

I took a much needed nap along with Emerson this afternoon and had a dream of her. I saw her playing with a boy who looked a lot like Silas. I couldn’t figure out why Emerson was not there or any other members of our family and why Silas was older then he really is. Then, I realized she was playing with Noah, our angel baby. She is safe and happy at home in Heaven with the rest of our family.

“Enjoy every moment of every day.”


A Chasm of Sadness


When I was fourteen a good friend was murdered by another peer of ours. There were other things going on but this was the proverbial straw breaking the camel’s back. It spun me into a deep and dark depression. I alternately pursued dangerous things daring to feel anything at all and trying to take my own life. No matter what I tried, I failed to feel anything but sadness and fatigue.  I cried myself to sleep almost every night for over a year and prayed to God, asking him to just take me. My sister found one of my suicide notes. (I always chided myself as being too much of a coward to actually follow through with ending things myself.) My parents had a counselor, one I had been seeing for months, complete an assessment of me. I honestly can’t remember what it was but do remember her saying a score of 20 was clinically depressed and I had scored a 40. The doctor wanted to admit me into a psychiatric hospital I had seen advertised on tv. My parents opted to admit me to one closer to home even though my doctor did not have privileges there. Of course, they lied to me to get me to go. They told me it was just for an overnight stay but once I arrived, it was in for the duration. Our neighbor was a doctor there so they felt more comfortable putting me with someone they knew well.  My parents pulled me out of school under the pretense of an illness and admitted me to the looney bin. My deep, dark secret: I am crazy and I have the papers to prove it. My joke: I also have the papers to prove I am sane. How about you? 😮

I remember it being set-up an awful lot like a dorm. I also remember thinking these people have real problems. I’m just a spoiled brat who can’t cope. It wasn’t at all like you might see in the movies. -Think more of an indoor camp where you aren’t allowed to have shoe laces. Or leave. Or call home. There was group therapy, individual therapy, art therapy, music therapy, family therapy. Work with a social worker. School and activities. If you made progress and were good you could earn calls home, trips home or outings on and off campus. I also made some of the closest friendships I’ve ever had (until recently). I remember there being a poster hung up on the wall proclaiming something about assertiveness being healthy. Then there was the day I saw someone else from my high school there and panicking because everyone would find out I was crazy.

I am usually pretty good with words but I cannot describe to you the immense weight of depression. It is all consuming. It’s like a black hole, sucking everything into it. Your energy. Your hope. Your happiness. Like a blender on puree, it brutally cuts everything into nothing or, sometimes, sorrow. Never mind lifting yourself up out of depression. A friend once said, every part of your being is struggling to simply not sink any lower. It is as if you are standing at the bottom of that chasm pictured above with no equipment, energy or will to get yourself out. I did not even want to be saved. I simply held on because I did not want to be the cause of anyone else’s pain. All I wanted was for everyone to stop loving me so I could go without hurting anyone. Yet, a hand reached down. And another. And another. Pulling this unwilling soul up out of the chasm. Pushing me towards the help I desperately needed. They refused to give up for me. They insisted and forced me (because I was a minor they could) to survive, to let help slowly steep in. It worked. Not in that moment. But at least I found the strength to survive, to begin the long and arduous path towards health.

It took decades for me to return to my whole self. I was very fortunate to be able to do this without taking medicine. Others are not so lucky. We are made up of a jumble of chemicals that can easily go awry. Even if you find the right mix of medicines your body can change causing you to start the stabilization process all over again. You “survive” what you can easily describe as your most difficult battle in life only to discover you will have to face it again. Perhaps repeatedly. I almost drowned once. I remember the waves coming so hard and fast I was not able to gather my strength in between each wave. I kept trying and trying, swallowing more and more water. Eventually my legs gave out from under me and the waves pummeled me. I was under the water, the waves rolling me along and I lacked the strength to do anything about it. Luckily the life guard pulled me out but this is very much like fighting depression. The waves of depression, much like the riptide of an ocean, are so much stronger than you. To “defeat” depression, you must vow to tread water, to continue to exist until the current shifts. I cringe every time my mother refers someone’s child to me saying, “Kerry has overcome depression. You should talk to her.” It is not something you overcome. Much like an alcoholic, it is one day at a time. I keep the clouds at bay with positive behaviors/actions, therapy and surrounding myself with love but rip currents can surprise you.

I remember coming back to school, standing by my locker in between classes, chatting with friends. Someone told a joke. I don’t even know what it was about but I laughed. A deep belly laugh. A real one. Not at all like the fake ones I had been doing for so long. God, it was a brilliant gift and it felt so good. The current had shifted. I instantly thought to myself, “I am glad I did not kill myself.” I have not had such a deep depression since then but I have had periods of struggle. In those times, I remember that laugh and remind myself it will come again. Perhaps this is why I adore the every day simple moments so much. I no longer need to be or want to be at the edge of thrill, excitement,  defeat or death to feel things. Right here, in the middle of every day life are the greatest pleasures. Light. Laughter. Learning. Love.

I usually limit my writing to life with my self, family and friends. While this is my personal story of depression, it is inspired by the loss of Robin Williams. Yesterday, it seems apparent, one of the world’s greatest actors and comedians committed suicide. It boggles the mind how someone so talented and adored could end in this way. And, yet, I understand. He struggled with depression for so long and won out so many times. I wish there were a distress signal those suffering could send out.

S.O.S. – Support, one of us is suffering.

Then, from all walks of life, people with your affliction come to tell you it will end. It will eventually be all right. They can hold you up until you find your way again. I wish you had lived to laugh and love again, not only Robin but all others who have died from mental illness.

Depression is a deeply uncharted chasm of sadness. It makes me ache whenever I hear of someone not making it to the other side. It is there. The other side is there.

I write this for those of you suffering right now. Your big belly laugh is there waiting for you. On this blog I often talk about sunny days and rainy days. When depressed it is so hard to envision sunny days. It’s as if you’ve lost the right to have access to them anymore. Stephen Fry once wrote, “It will be sunny one dayIt isn’t under one’s control as to when the sun comes out, but come out it will. One day.” Please do what you can to find someone to be your umbrella, your raft, your life guard until your sun returns.

For those who have been left behind, I write for you too. There is nothing you could have done to save your loved one. My family got me help but it would not have worked unless I wanted it too. There was enough of my brain not clouded over with the disease to let others begin the healing work. Only I could finish it though. I could have refused to engage with any of the services offered to me in that hospital and afterwards. Your lost family member or friend loved you very much. This disease is just as venomous as cancer. I pray you find peace in knowing they are finally at rest. Their suffering is done and I’d be willing to bet they have found their big belly laugh in Heaven. Yes, I wholeheartedly believe they are in Heaven. ChasmToSunshine