The last article I wrote was on February 12, 2019, just 5 days following my bike accident. In a way, I can’t believe I’ve gone over a year without writing on my blog. In another way, it makes perfect sense. The reason? To put it bluntly…hell.
My accident messed up my face. It healed pretty quickly, but for a while, I was ugly. There was no concussion according to the doctors. I don’t believe that, but no matter. After a CT scan and three MRIs, they found no damage to my brain. Thank God.
But something about the head trauma set off a year long bout with depression and anxiety. In addition to the daily torture of intense fear, zero motivation, long days in bed, crying, crying, and more crying, a total lack of communication, and losing 25 pounds, I endured a few fascinating experiences, all grueling, some helpful.
- TMS, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation – a procedure during which I wore a helmet and my skull was repeatedly and aggressively tapped over a period of about 30 -45 minutes for at least 40 sessions. Most of time, I didn’t mind it because I hoped it would work. Sometimes it sent me into a panic attack. It didn’t work after all.
- Sessions with numerous psychiatrists – different circumstances led to this frustration. I am now with someone I like and trust.
- Experimentation with various prescriptions – at one point, I was taking more than 10 medicines! I’ve got it down to six now and plan to get it down to one.
- Residential treatment at La Amistad – after two 6-week stays at this facility, I recovered but then relapsed. My time there will remain one of the most intense and profound times in my life. I look back on it with disbelief, yet with some nostalgia. It turns out that you can’t recover by running away.
- Bi-weekly sessions with a therapist – uncomfortable and torturous, yet extremely helpful. I am forever grateful to the woman who has led me to recovery.
About a month ago, approximately one year and 5 weeks following my accident, I began to emerge. The anxiety remained but I was able to beat it by exercising. I had been exercising a little bit here and there (a sad representation) but I finally felt good enough to walk and ride our Peloton. Then the anxiety faded and I continued to start my day with exercise. I was smiling, laughing, talking, engaging, moving, and feeling happy. I had done so very little of that for over a year! Those who know me well couldn’t believe how low I had gotten.
The torture was over. I couldn’t believe it. For the first week, I expected it to revert back. I didn’t trust it one bit. A brief reprieve had happened once before, only fooling me. I wasn’t going to be fooled again.
Here I am a month later still feeling happy, content, inspired, and healthy. But I have a long and hereditary history of depression and anxiety. I have had minor setbacks before. I know that this might attack me again. Painful things happen and we don’t necessarily handle them so well. My only hope is that I will never fall to the kind of place I fell this time around. I was as low as I could go and it honestly felt like I was being tortured.
Now, there are lots of things to be thankful for. I credit my recovery to three of them:
- Medicine – pure and simple. Do I love the thought of being on medicine for the rest of my life? Absolutely not. But I know that it works and I’m good with it.
- Therapy – digging deep and way back; facing unpleasant memories; forgiveness; admitting all; discovering myself; facing the truth – a journey with no regrets
And finally. Prayers.
I begged God to take this from me. It was from a place of desperation, however, and not a place of hope and faith. Not sure it was really all that effective.
I’m talking about the prayers of others. Whenever people would ask me, “What can I do for you?” or “How can I help you?” My answer was always the same.
Just pray for me.
I will never be able to express the gratitude I feel for the thousands of prayers that continued throughout the year. Since I couldn’t pray without feeling desperation, I always knew that others’ prayers contained more hope, belief, faith, and love. They were more able to pray. They were closer to God. They had happiness in their hearts and wanted that happiness for me. What a gift.
Well, I finally received that gift. I am happy. I am myself. I am whole.
From hell to whole. I have emerged.
Ha! What a silly question! Why DO bad things happen to good people???? Well, why not? No one is immune to bad things. The test comes with how you deal with it and what lesson you allow yourself to learn from it.
So, how am I dealing with my bicycle accident? And what lesson have I allowed myself to learn? Well, I’ll tell ya.
- Laughing. It’s really kind of funny when someone sees my face for the first time. Some examples: holy cow!, you poor thing, you don’t look as bad as I thought you would, I’ll hug you gently, it looks like eye make-up gone wrong, what happened to you?, you didn’t break your nose? no concussion? you just fell off your bike?, etc. etc. etc. And here’s one that makes everybody else laugh: Right after it happened, my daughter screamed and ran away, and said, “I’ll be at home, Mommy!” What the hell??
- Being positive. I am pretty damn lucky that I have no broken bones and no serious head trauma. When I think about the moment my face hit the sidewalk and how it bounced back (have to stop thinking about that), I am stunned that nothing broke and I didn’t have a concussion.
- Being grateful. This happened during school dismissal. There were so many people around willing to help me make phone calls, stop the bleeding, bring me supplies. It is amazing what my close friends, and even strangers, will do for me and my daughter. Despite the fact that she was ready to leave me in the dust (literally), she stayed and people surrounded her and comforted her. It was NOT a pretty sight and I don’t blame her for wanting to leave. In fact, the next day was her birthday. She was already in celebration mode! My close friends took care of us. They dropped everything and jumped into action. Thank you Carolyn, Heidi, and Bronwen. I am so blessed by you.
- WEAR YOUR FREAKING HELMET!!!!!!!!! Can’t stress this enough. There is no excuse. Wear it.
- Be Mindful. Slow down. Be aware of your surroundings. Take your time doing everything. Be careful. Full of care. No excuses. Do it.
- Don’t let this depress you. You’ve been through some shit, Libby. This has not been an easy ride lately. This is just another setback and you will persevere.
- Do NOT look for the next bad thing to happen. Resist that dangerous habit with all your might.
There is something profound about injuring your face. Even if you aren’t a vain person, it really makes life hard. Your face is what people see. It is your identity. It is what people look at when they talk to you. I found myself wishing I had broken a limb or something other than my face and then immediately regretting that thought. It creates a vulnerability I’ve never experienced; the need to say, “Pardon my face. I fell off my bike and my face took the fall.” Luckily, people are kind. Thank goodness for that. But I look forward to the day when I won’t be frightened by my mirror image. This ain’t pretty!
As hard as I try not to feel like one of those cartoon characters walking around with a cloud over my head, it’s pretty hard not to. There are daily reminders of the multiple stresses in my life and I can’t seem to hold onto what I know is all that matters: the present.
I consider myself a positive person. I know that dwelling on the past is useless. I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding a worrisome outlook. I believe wholeheartedly that bad things must happen in order for us to appreciate the good.
- I used to think that my father’s brain injury was all about anxiety.
- I used to think that my brother’s death made me feel guilty.
- So, when the third bomb hit and we had to give up our dog after only six months with her, I realized that all three of these major life events can all go under the same category…
In a sense, I lost my father to medical malpractice. Yes, he is physically still with us, but so much was taken from him. And it’s just horrible.
I lost my brother to alcoholism. He is gone. Forever. And I am so sad.
I lost Savannah to unforeseen circumstances. I was her person and the house feels empty without her.
So, here I am, with three losses on a loop, never having the chance to recover from one before the next came along; being reminded every day of what my father lost; haunted by the words my sister spoke into the phone when my brother died; wondering why Savannah isn’t following me up and down the stairs.
Here’s what I tell myself and anyone else out there who needs it:
1.) Feel what you feel. Be sad, angry, frustrated, pissed at the world…whatever you want. Cry. Cry a lot. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing. Cry if you need to. Don’t you dare hold it in.
2.) Eliminate things and people that don’t serve you. You’ve got enough on your heart. Say no. Walk away. Purge. And then, don’t feel the need to explain. Nobody needs to know. Make choices that work for you and be done with it.
3.) Try not to feel like you are just waiting for the next bad thing to happen. This is not Karma. This is just life. It’s all good, even if it’s bad.
4.) NEVER apologize for feeling like you do. Feel it. Embrace it. Own it.
5.) Dig deep and find the positive, inspirational, life-altering lessons from this experience. They are there for you if you are willing to see them.
6.) Ask for help. As much as you feel like crawling under a rock and avoiding the world, get out there and talk, listen, breathe, and connect. You are never alone.
To those who know me well, I give myself permission to break one of my own rules. I’m in the middle of this loop and swimming in sadness. Please forgive the unanswered calls, the cancelled plans, and the mood swings.
This is life right now. It is what it is. And I know I’ll be okay.
Three Savvy Ways to Build Your Yoga Business…
Up until a few days ago, I didn’t think of myself as having a yoga business. But, low and behold, I sure can! Yoga is my favorite thing to do. Apparently, I’m good at it, so why not do more and make it better?
After meeting with one of my mentors to pick her brain about some yoga business ideas, I came away with much more than I expected. There are licenses, insurance, marketing, networking, taxes, blah, blah, blah. I knew all that from my attorney and have most of that taken care of. What I didn’t know are the three areas from which a yoga instructor can gain the most success and profit.
And apparently, these are important because my mentor repeated this list more than once:
1.) Private and Semi-Private Lessons – This one I can do. This is 1:1 or 1:2 instruction with students who want to improve their practice, students who have suffered an injury and are looking for relief such as lower back pain treatment, or beginning students who want to learn the basics. Really cool stuff.
2.) Workshops – This one I can do too. There are certain subject areas that always make their way into my classes: Chakra Balancing, Prop Use, Modified Postures, Breathing Techniques, Mudras, and Meditation. Doing occasional workshops and diving deeper into these areas would be fabulous!
3.) Training – Not ready for this one, but I will be. Thinking about Reiki, Eden Energy Medicine, and maybe, just maybe…Kids Yoga.
So, stay tuned for information on this site about my new yoga offerings. And thank you for your support thus far. After all, a yoga instructor can’t survive without her students. Namaste.
A different kind of Dear John letter, written on July 21st…the day after my brother’s death:
You’ve suffered so much and I’m glad it’s over for you. It gives me some comfort to imagine you in your prime in heaven. There must be lots of awesome snow, water, and off-road tracks for your various adventures. I hope you soar and swoop as high as your imagination can take you.
I am so sorry that I couldn’t have been a better sister to you. There were times that I tried, but just didn’t have the fortitude to hang in there. My strength only takes me so far and there are some things I simply can’t take. I also understand that one can’t help another without their consent.
I commend you for trying to heal yourself with meditation, yoga, spirituality, and conversations with God. You learned a lot and you taught me a lot. Just the other day, I happened to include the book, The Infinite Way, in a small collection on our living room side table. I will re-read it soon and perhaps collect some excerpts for you.
Your niece, whom you unfortunately never met, just a couple days ago, out of the blue, asked about funerals. She knows that people typically wear black at such events. I don’t envision us having a funeral or wearing black to honor you. I see a quiet celebration and lots of color.
You are now where have always yearned to be. You are with God. You are free. You are whole. You are ascended. I wish I could talk to you now to hear what this amazing experience is like, but for now, I will settle in the gratitude that YOU finally know. And I will see you there some day.
I love you, my brother, always.
Birthdays are so interesting. At least they are to me. It’s sad as we get older that they get less and less important. That won’t happen with me. No sir. If I can get ONE day to do whatever I want, no questions asked, you better believe I’m gonna take it.
This year, I choose to reflect. This past year can’t easily be labeled. On this day in 2017, I was celebrating my 50th birthday. Not in the fashion I had hoped. My family was in the quiet farm town of Ottawa, IL preparing for my father’s first surgery. My husband and daughter were getting ready to travel back home while I stayed to help out. It was no big deal. We thought.
A few weeks after this milestone birthday, our family experienced the nightmare of a lifetime. My father…strong, healthy, funny, intelligent, witty, active, generous, efficient, handsome, and dearly loved…was reduced to a shell of a person. And it turned our world upside down.
Over the past year we have experienced fear, anger, frustration, hospitals, doctors, nurses, surgeries, rehab, lawyers, expenses, arguments, sleepless nights, confusion, paranoia, messes, relocation, tears, lies, cover-ups, CYAs, panic attacks, depression, hopelessness, grief, disagreements, and separation. All horrible. All unfair. All unbelievable.
But here’s what I reflect on today:
- The time the doctor asked my Dad who the President was, and he said, “I’d rather not talk about it.”
- The two RNs and one PA who were always there when we needed them, were honest with us, KNEW my Dad before this, and said, “What in the hell happened to your Dad?” (They understood our shock and disbelief.)
- All of the medical staff here and in Illinois who have helped my father return to a new version of himself, still all that he was, just taking a little more time to get there.
- The privilege of welcoming my parents into my home to rest, recover, and be loved by a daughter who owes them her life, a son-in-law who has a heart of gold, and a grand daughter who will always know what family means.
- My friends who were curious, shocked, supportive, forgiving, helpful, patient, loving, and here. Just here.
- And no matter what the hospital does or who takes responsibility for what happened or whether this could be a legal case….I really don’t care. All of that will be taken care of by the all mighty spirit that knows ALL of the answers and how to work things out.
What I really care about is the here, the now, and that everybody feels loved. Everything comes from love. There is no other source.
It’s my birthday. I feel loved.
I hope you do too.
Five Facts About Basic Invite for Expecting Mamas…
If you live in Nocatee, you better love kids. And you might want to get used to the baby boom. Right now, there are two women on my block expecting in the fall. One is having a boy, the other, a girl. Their due dates are just days apart. This is the norm and personally, I think it’s a whole lot of fun.
I will be co-hosting a baby shower for one of the moms in August. That’s why I was happy to check out custom baby shower invitations from Basic Invite.
Here is what makes them unique:
Almost Unlimited Colors – Basic Invite is one of the few websites that allows customers almost unlimited color options with instant online previews. Once you select a design, you can change the color of each element on the card to over 180 color options. You can make sure the card is exactly how you want it down to the littlest detail. This is what sets us apart from almost any other online stationery company and is our biggest draw.
Custom Samples – Basic Invite is one of the few websites allowing customers to order a printed sample of their invitation. You can see the paper quality and exactly how it will print before you place their final order.
Over 40 Different Colors of Envelopes – Basic Invite is just as colorful with our envelopes as we are with our invitations. You can choose from over 40 different envelope colors and make your invitation stand out before it is even opened. All of our envelopes are peel and seal so the envelopes can be quickly and securely closed.
Address Capturing Service – Basic Invite offers an address capturing service that allows customers to share a link on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other form of social media. The link requests your friends and family’s addresses which will be stored in your account for selection during the design process. Basic Invite offers recipient address printing at no cost on all Christmas card orders.
Foil – Foil cards are available in gold, silver, and rose gold. Customers can choose flat or raised foil on all of Basic Invite’s foil designs.
Get 15% off at Basic Invite with this coupon code: 15FF51
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Luckily, I’m one of those people who has no problem giving others a behind the scenes look at my life with depression and anxiety. In fact, I get a kick out of revealing how it all started. There’s no doubt that I had it in my genes long before, but this one life-changing event triggered it. My grandmother, father, and all three of my brothers live/lived with it as well. We all handled it differently. Some with unconventional means and some with the proper channels of therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes. Either way, we’ve all survived. Grandma lived a long, happy life and we have fond memories of her sense of humor, generosity, love, and yummy midnight snacks.
For me, it started in the fall of 1986. I was just starting my second year of college at age 19. Sure, I considered myself an adult, but I was soon to find out that I was still just a teenager with a strong connection to my parents. I was in the “cool” dorm bunking with two friends. Over the summer, I had started dating a Marine, in a long-distance relationship. (Bad idea.) I was ready for an amazing year.
My parents called with the bombshell.
They were moving from my childhood home in Virginia (90 miles from college) to Newport Beach, California (about 3000 miles). And here’s the kicker…they assumed I would just move with them. In hindsight, maybe I should have. But, no. I was a mature young adult. I was in college. I had friends. I was deciding on my major. I was having a great time. And, of course, I had a boyfriend. After many arguments, they let me stay. And they bought me a car.
And that’s when the proverbial shit hit the fan.
Almost immediately, the depression and anxiety set in. I found myself crying all the time and a lot of mornings, unable to get out of bed. And guess who I called. My parents. Rightfully so, they had one answer…move to California. I still wouldn’t do it. I was determined to ride this out on my own. So, I did that. With lots of drinking and partying. Somehow I managed to get to class and dance rehearsals. Don’t really know how. I’m sure my dance program was a good outlet for the way I was feeling.
And what the heck was I feeling? Sad? Angry? Abandoned? Caught off guard? Treated unfairly? To this day, I really don’t know that I can give a label to what I was feeling. It was a physical and emotional attack that came without warning. I believe it was living inside me and had a damn good reason to surface.
The story continues with moves, transfers, break-ups, tons of phone calls, a couple visits to California, psychiatrists, moving in with my sister, more drinking, more partying, more bad relationships, a failed marriage, etc, etc, etc, until the day I had a full-blown panic attack and finally, finally, took this thing seriously and started to turn my life around.
That was in 2001. Fourteen years. I suffered. Just because I was stubborn.
The one saving grace that surely helped me through all of this was the communication with my parents. Yes, we disagreed. Yes, I made decisions that made them cringe. Yes, they wanted grab me up and take me under their care. But they let me find my own way without judgment and with an open line of communication.
An article from Palmer Lake Recovery, Parents Guide: How To Help Your Teen Cope With Mental Health Issues, is an excellent resource. It discusses statistics, warning signs, causes, how to help, and useful resources.
Some ideas from the article that my parents handled well:
“A good starting point for you as a parent is to have a conversation with your teen in a constructive way that is non-confrontational and is focused on offering them the love and support that they may well need more than ever.”
“Your teen needs the sort of parental support that lets them know they are not facing their struggles alone and that you are there to support them through this difficult time. It is equally important that parents also have a support network they can call upon.”
Follow Kira Willey to Movement and Mindfulness
What fun we had today finding our breath and movement with Kira Willey’s new music from Every Voice and new book, Breath Like a Bear.
With songs like Brand New Day, Everybody’s Got a Heartbeat, and Kindness Mantra, my little yogis and dancers can express themselves with joy and excitement. The melodies are uplifting and the lyrics inspire beautiful movements and team work.
The album will be released on June 15th on iTunes, Amazon, and Spotify.
Breathe Like a Bear is one of the most delightful and colorful books I’ve ever seen. Like all of Kira’s products, it provides a teaching tool that anyone can use. It brightens up any child’s day with its colors, illustrations, characters, and activities. With this book, your child will focus, breathe, listen, and relax with all of the adorable animals. Today, in Mommy and Me Yoga, we enjoyed making a rainstorm, the snake breath, and sending good thoughts.
Thank you to Sugar Mountain PR and Kira Willey for my complimentary music and book. My students and I will enjoy both for a long time to come.