Shellbell in the Moment…Marching on.

*Disclaimer* If you think you need help, please seek it.  Mental Health is nothing to be ashamed of, neither is getting help.  These thoughts are my own and how I am feeling. I am simply sharing so others don’t feel alone, and perhaps find clarity in what I am sharing.*

Last week was quite the doozy.  By Tuesday it took everything I had to keep my emotions together, but I still fell apart, despite the efforts of Sibling** and Baby Sibling** texting me and talking to me on the phone to keep me from spiraling into another depression – usually I can do it on my own, but not this time-. Finally, I texted my dad, telling him I miss mom, he sent back these words, “Take a deep breath and continue to march…I know how you feel…love you….”.  I don’t reach out to my dad often, because I know his pain is great as well. He had lost his soulmate, I had lost my mom, and on that day it hit me why this season has always been so hard on me since she died, but I am glad I reached out, because those words brought me back. What I didn’t know is that I would need to lean on those words again in less than forty-eight hours.

I had thought my blues were because I was still single during yet another holiday, but I had settled that in my mind some time ago, then it hit me like a ton of concrete blocks, I had resolved the fact that I never had a last Christmas with mom, she had a cold the previous year, but it turned out my first Christmas without her was my last Christmas with Sissy Jo**, she would pass away from cancer as well, just under ten months after my mom.  I took my dad’s words to heart and continued to march forward.  By Wednesday morning I was grateful I had bounced back from the shaky ledge I was standing on the previous day. I went on with my day, taking a planned half day off from work to go and enjoy some me-time and self-care at Disneyland (I have an ap, since I live so close).  The day was going great, I vlogged for the first time in over a month, I was smiling and I felt like me again, then I got a phone call from home. Sibling asked me to come home, because Riley needed to go the vet asap.

Fourteen years ago I walked into a petsmart for African Dwarf frogs, since up to that moment I had only been an aquamom, then I lost Sibling in the store and found her amongst a pet adoption.  That is also where I found sweet gray tabby Riley Jane, her big green eyes staring right into mine from beneath a pack of similar toned kitties.  She melted my heart instantly, and that same heart broke a bit when I had to let her go during that same trip to the vets.  She had been sick, but the meds weren’t helping and I think she was just tired of being poked and prodded every month, and having pills and liquid given to her daily, as well as Thyroid meds on her ears.

I left the comfort room at the vets in tears. I don’t have children of my own, so she was my baby. My little furbaby who had been feral, but who had grown to trust myself and Sibling. We were beside ourselves, but I wasn’t going to let myself spiral again. I couldn’t.  I know a lot of people don’t understand the sadness of losing a furbaby, but they become family. You have to water them, feed them and clean their boxes.  You love them with all of your heart and revel in the moments when they show their unconditional love by rubbing against your cheek, or sitting in your lap. Riley was a lovebug and her presence has been greatly missed.

Almost a week later, I was thinking last night that maybe I was dead inside, because what I felt last week with mom, Sissy jo and Riley, was different than how I felt yesterday thinking about them.  Then I realized, I am marching on and not being dramatic. I am taking each moment as it comes, sometimes with laughter, sometimes with tears, and then moving forward.  As a person who battles depression, and occasional bouts of anxiety, I can’t live in the sadness, or it might send me to a place that I might not be able to return from.  I have been there, and I have been lucky to have people “catch” me before I fell farther. 

Being happy is something I love. It’s something we all love. Sometimes I have to fight harder for it, sometimes I have people who help me fight for it. That’s the beauty of family and friends, they stay by you, even when you don’t realize it.  I am grateful I had the fortitude to reach out for help, putting aside my own unnecessary shame and combatting the stigma put on depression by those who don’t understand it.

I am open about my struggles, because I want to help educate people and change the way they think. When I first opened up about battling mental illness, many people I know were shocked, especially at work, because I am happy and smiling and filled with comedic sarcasm.  It’s a coping mechanism sometimes, but really it is just me. I love to surprise people and make them smile, just like people who don’t battle. In fact, most people with dings to their mental health are happy go-lucky, some days it just takes a little more  to keep that smile. 

**I am an only child, so referencing Sissy’s or Sibling, is my way of acknowledging my soul sisters.

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