Thoughts & News

A Holiday Reflection

A Holiday Reflection

My first trial with winter was when I had to endure the abrupt loss of my father to suicide. It was all the more painful due to the fact that it was the start of the holiday season and I was bombarded with Hallmark images of perfect families coming together and celebrating with joy. I was so numb with pain that all this holiday cheer had a nauseating effect on me as it conveyed a reality that was the complete opposite of mine.

Eating Disorders during the Holidays: Tips for Supporting Your Loved One

Eating Disorders during the Holidays: Tips for Supporting Your Loved One

Can I be blunt for a second? I dread the holidays.

I love spending time with friends and family, buying gifts that I know those people will love, and attending themed gatherings, but the holidays bring an extra level of stress and obligation. Sometimes I wonder if that’s a common feeling that no one wants to talk about or if I primarily feel that way because I have an eating disorder (ED). As we all know, from Halloween to Thanksgiving to the religious holidays many of us celebrate to New Years Day, there are a multitude of social gatherings, and with them often comes a big emphasis on food.

So, as someone who has been in the depths of my ED in recent holidays seasons and as someone who now manages much better around food, I have some tips for supporting a loved one during this stressful time of year!

Love Never Dies: Remembering Dad

Love Never Dies: Remembering Dad

It’s hard to believe that I lost my dad fifteen years ago at the mere age of 15. It shattered my world and definitely changed my life path. I was devastated, lost and very confused. Kind of strange to think I lived more without my dad than with him as he is still such a part of my life.

"Both Sides Now" - A Tribute to Mom by Andrea Forsyth

"Both Sides Now" -  A Tribute to Mom by Andrea Forsyth

My mom died of depression.  It was always there but it got so much worse over the years until she eventually became a shadow of her former self.  She recognized this all too well but she felt powerless to stop it.

I understand what it feels like to be on this side of suicide…as the survivor dealing with a complex grief, dueling emotions and countless “what ifs.”  But I don’t understand but it feels like for the person on the other side… the one suffering with mental illness.

I don’t understand what it feels like to have a “total loss of zest for life” or to have a “weird or improper wiring in my brain.”  These were my mom’s exact words in a 2013 email she sent to me trying to describe the depression that was tightening its grip on her.

Pictured are Andrea Forsyth (R) and i understand founder, Vonnie Woodrick (L).

In Memory of Kate Spade

In Memory of Kate Spade

At the age of 55, Kate decided to make the tragic decision to end her life. When I initially heard about the circumstances of Kate’s death, I couldn’t believe it; I couldn’t believe how such a poised and successful woman could die by suicide. The answer came quick when I remembered the death of actor Robin Williams, the death of musical genius Avicii, the death of my own dad, and countless others who have lost their battle to mental illness. No one will ever know. No one will ever be able to understand the extent of one’s own mind; no one will ever understand what battle everyone is facing on a daily basis. There is one thing that we can do to help our loved ones that may be suffering. We can work to understand.

The Gifts He Left Behind

The Gifts He Left Behind

It’s hard to believe we’ve celebrated 15 of his birthdays without him; the kids have had more years without him than with him, and our hearts are still broken.

Today, I’m able to recognize what he left behind, and the gifts we've received in light of our loss. Because of him we are less judging, we understand unconditional love, we talk and share, and we have brought understanding to something so misunderstood through i understand. We also have friends whose hearts we’ve touched, but they have touched ours much more. These are all beautiful gifts that often go unrecognized. 

All Hearts in Florida: Asking Why & Addressing Signs

The loss of seventeen lives, trauma experienced by hundreds and the scene witnessed by millions. The recent school shootings in Miami have brought to light many concerns, debates and frustrations as to why and how these tragic incidents continue. Is this a gun issue or a mental health issue as suggested by President Trump in his address to nation today. What is the root cause of this violence and how can it be prevented?

Prescription for Peace

Prescription for Peace

When I was fourteen, I was peacefully naive. I thought mental illness was a choice I could simply opt out of—a box on the "Abby's Future Plans" I could choose not to check. Perhaps the reason I remember this day so vividly is because the vow I made to never experience mental illness turned out to be full of shit. Mental illness has been a part of my life for quite some time now, and while being naive was peaceful, I have fortunately learned to find peace in my chaos. My high school experience felt like a game of dominoes that I had not elected to play. It was as if the world had decided to toil with my inner peace, and after one inner-peace-domino was knocked down, another would crash with it.

Healing a Broken Heart

Healing a Broken Heart

Four years ago, I didn't realize just how stressful life was. Always trying to make everyone happy, trying to understand the path that was in front of me and questioning why I chose relationships that didn't allow me to take care of me. I was a constant caretaker for everyone else. 
Feeling as if an elephant was sitting on my chest, I googled 'heart attack in women', and as with any chest pain, you are advised to go to the ER, so I did. I was immediately admitted into the hospital due to a heart attack. I was told I would head to surgery the next day, as a stent would be put in to prevent future blockage. The doctor said to me, "I don't know what you have going on in your life, but you need to change it."

Why me?

Why me?

If you ever find yourself asking the dreaded question of 'why me' remember this: You are worth more than your mistakes and your depression does not define you. You may not see it now, but one day there will be a reason for your pain. Without darkness we cannot appreciate the light. Never give up on yourself. Trust your battles and always keep on fighting.

Staying Thankful during Thanksgiving

Staying Thankful during Thanksgiving

Keeping stress away during the holidays is no easy task, but making lists, staying positive, and giving back are all ways to create a stress-free holiday.

Peace, Love, and Santa

Peace, Love, and Santa

As we kick off the season by walking in the Santa Parade for the second year now, we are setting the example that life can move forward and does, despite our loss. It's how we decide to move forward that defines us. Do you want to be stuck, or do you want to find acceptance, show forgiveness and give love? This new tradition of the Santa Parade allows us to show others that life goes on, that you're not alone, and together we can make a difference.