TMS Round 2 – #30 & #31

Well, it’s official – I only have 8 more treatments after today. My last treatment is a week from Friday on 6/16/17. Even Tracy said this round seemed to go by so fast! And it’s really funny to me because it is sooooooo completely different than last time. Not in a bad way at all, just different. This time, my anxiety presented first, which started pushing my depression buttons. And, I had experienced relief from the depression before, so there weren’t any big surprises. But, this time, I slowly started seeing differences, over time, proving any and all symptoms I had of my depression lingering in the background have dissipated, and then disappeared. My anxiety has dropped dramatically, and I’ve had some really informative sessions with Dr. D about what next steps we can take as far as medication, if necessary down the road, to help with depression AND anxiety together. I HAVE OPTIONS!!! Not having options is something that has terrified me for years, knowing that I have become so medication resistant. But we’ve done the “deeper dive” into my brain, uncovered the severity of both my depression and anxiety combined, not to mention how intertwined they are. And, this whole thing has given me another level of mental illness to learn about that I can share about with others. What a great thing!

I never thought I would be the person that would be excited about any of this. Having Chronic Major Depressive Disorder which almost pushed me to suicide so many times, being an alcoholic/addict (recovering – amen!), having the walking problem I was born with, learning and adapting to very difficult parental situations, losing the use of my right arm and being disabled for two years while getting gangrene and almost dying because of inept doctors/insurance companies, etc…………none of this EVER made sense to me. I’ve had the thought several hundred times that I MUST have been a serial killer in a previous life to deserve all of this – it’s the only reason I could ever come up with as to what I possibly could have done to have “all of these things” given to me. Then, last year, thanks to TMS, and everything that followed – it came to me; like a BOLT of lightening – all of “those things” brought me here, where I am today. If I hadn’t had to deal with, “go through”, learn from, and grow in spite of all of “those things”, I wouldn’t be exactly who I am today. I LOVE who I am today. Do I have work to do? Of course! And I always will! I will never be done learning or growing. But I know in my soul and heart that everything I experienced – the pain, tragedy, fear, hopelessness, sadness – it shaped me. It gave me the ability to see exactly what I was supposed to see – and gave me the confidence, strength and courage to be proud of it all. I wear my flaws and scars like a freakin’ badge of honor!!! How many people actually get to the point in their life where they can see that? Not many, or at least not many that I know. I know they exist, and now I know why they exist. We, all of us – every single one of us has a purpose here. But, very few of us dig deep enough to get to “it”. I’m lucky enough to have found my purpose at 47 years old, and I’m not wasting another minute of my life where I’m not doing everything in my power to share all or any of it, with anyone who it may help. Sometimes, all any of us need is to know that someone else has been down the road we are on and that they made it. I, my friends, have made it.

I’m looking forward to life now – wherever it takes me. I’m not afraid of the future, or change, or the unknown. I welcome it – all of it. Because I truly believe that even if it looks painful, baffling, horribly frightening, or any other god-awful thing – I’ll make it. And the reason I will be put there is because it’s meant to teach me something.

Seeing life through these new “eyes” is the best gift I have ever received. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve received so many generous, loving, thoughtful, amazing gifts in my life – but this one – finding my purpose – is something I wish for everyone!

Love you all.

KEEP FIGHTING!!

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TMS Round 2 – #28 & #29

So, I think maybe my anxiety is getting better. I talked to my regular psychiatrist on Wednesday, and we are going to officially up my Viibryd to 30mg a day instead of 20mg. I’ve been taking 30mg since Wednesday, and I do feel a little less agitated. It could be the higher dose, it could be the right-side TMS, or just TMS in general – who knows. But I do feel like it’s getting better.

I even went out on Friday, and didn’t get to bed until 2:30am. Keep in mind, I had been up since 4:30am – that’s 22 hours wide awake!! And, I had a great time! Which is perfection!

I’m still taking the Xanax, but I’ve only had .25mg both today and yesterday, which is better than the usual .50-.75mg. None of these are high doses, by any means – but any chance of me not taking any type of “benzo” is a win in my book.

I did sleep a lot yesterday, but I knew I would. When I’m up for that long it takes a lot for me to recuperate. And today I even ran a few errands and went to visit with my Aunt.

Another note, which I really think is huge, I finally got an appointment to go see my “female” doctor so that I can have a complete physical, and have my hormones checked for the “menopause” thing. Sorry for the TMI, but I just started my period again today – which is the 3rd time in 5 weeks. I’m over it!  I’ve been reading a lot about menopause, especially with how it relates to depression, and it can absolutely have a HUGE impact. If you take my depression, and add in hormonal imbalance, that’s not a good combination. And I have every other sign/symptom of menopause as well. So, maybe this whole anxiety thing is really hormone related? Or at least it’s a major contributor? I’ll let you know. If I have to do hormone replacement therapy or whatever you know I will – I can’t afford to let anything – no matter what it is – effect my mental health in any way.

I’m not sure, but I think I have anywhere between 4 and 8 more TMS treatments this round. I’m going to get the clarification tomorrow, and I’ll let you know.

That’s it for  now friends. I’m tired, and I really need to take a shower. I’m yucky/sweaty/gross!

KEEP FIGHTING!!

TMS Round 2 – #26 & #27

Holidays, vacations – any kind of “days off” throw me off! Don’t change my “control freak/repeat pattern” schedule! I’ve asked myself 3 times already today if it’s Wednesday??

Anyway, I’ve been working on talking to both my regular psychiatrist, and Dr. D from the TMS center about my anxiety. I’ve been taking between .25mg and .75mg of Xanax daily, and I really don’t think it’s that effective anymore. I’m prescribed 1 mg a day, and I’m taking less than that, but I was wondering if I should switch to another medication to see if it’s actually going to help more (Valium? Ativan?). Bottom line, I am sober, and I know any of these drugs have addictive properties, and I am always very vigilant about what I’m taking. Also, Dr. D has even said that he knows I’m not taking it addictively. I don’t like anything that slows me down – never have. Anyway, since I always try to have a back-up plan if I’m not sure how things are progressing, I started asking questions. For instance, TMS isn’t known/proven to help with anxiety. It can, it has, but that’s not what it’s designed for. All of my “depression” symptoms are gone, but my anxiety is still present every day, to some degree. I’m beginning to worry that this is yet another phase of my mental illness journey that I will have to manage on an ongoing basis. So, Dr. D assured me that looking at my records, medication list, etc., we have many options. THANK GOD! And, I’m not done with the “right side” or “left side” TMS yet, so it could still help as well. But, after a long discussion, about many medications, we pretty much picked what looks to be my best option right now. Continuing with right/left side TMS, obviously, and, Viibryd, which I’m already on and it works VERY well for me, is designed for both depression and anxiety. I’m on a low dosage – 20mg. Dr. D said that it’s proven to improve anxiety immensely when increased to 30mg to 40mg. I had no idea!! So, I’m confirming it with my regular psychiatrist tomorrow, but it looks like in addition to TMS, I’m going to most likely be upping my Viibryd dosage to 30mg to start, and see how that works. If there is no or little improvement, we will try 40mg. To me, that sounds like the PERFECT place to start. Not taking any benzos (Xanax, Valium, etc.) is a perfect goal!

And, as I’ve mentioned many times, I’m pretty darn sure, like 95% sure, that I’m going through menopause. As most people know, this causes major hormonal fluctuations and could also be throwing my anxiety, etc. out of whack. So, I finally made an appointment for the end of June (after TMS is complete), and I’m going in for a complete checkup, including any needed tests to see where my hormone levels are at. When I find out the answers to that, I can then pass them on to my psychiatrist, and in conjunction with my “female” doctor – formulate a plan.

All of this is good news. I’m not desperate, I’m not giving up, I’m just PLANNING – which is my thing. I’m taking care of my business before anything becomes an issue. These things alone have really put my mind at ease. Just knowing Dr. D said he sees “many options” for me, and that nothing is “out of the norm” (for me anyway), it’s a big relief.

So, I need to eat dinner, clean up my paperwork mess here on my desk, and then let the brain chill out a bit before heading to bed. OH, and, I slept a little better last night. Still dreaming, but not constant/vivid/disruptive dreaming on the level that it has been. Maybe the change is wearing off, and my brain is once again adjusting. Always, adjusting.

Good night friends. Talk soon………..Probably Friday.

KEEP FIGHTING!

TMS Round 2 – #25

It’s the end of a 3 day weekend. I’ve done more of “nothing” than “stuff”, but it’s totally okay. I was going to get out for awhile Saturday, but plans got changed and I ended up not going out. But yesterday I spent the day with my family at my Aunt’s house for a barbeque, which was awesome, and then I went out to the Rainbow to hang out with my friend Christine. And, as usual, ran into a lot of other people I know too. That’s why I love that place – rock and roll atmosphere, familiar faces, great music, always a good time, and I feel at home there. Today, not a lot. I finally finished watching the entire Sons of Anarchy series on Netflix. I’ve always wanted to see it, and Netflix makes it so easy. I admit – very hard to watch at times. I even had to take a week break at one point because it was just too heavy, but I’m glad I watched it to the end. Saying I’m switching to “lighter” viewing for awhile is probably something I don’t need to say, right?

On the anxiety front – anxiety is still present. As I’ve said before, at my low point last year, before TMS, I was taking 2 .5mg pills a day. I’m not up to 2, but I do cut the pills in half and I take anywhere between .25mg and .75mg daily (total prescribed daily dose is 1.0 mg, so I’m still taking less than prescribed). I had been having weird dreams even before we started the “right side” treatment, but they are still happening. Even more vivid, I think. I’ve even noticed that not only am I having vivid dreams, but I can wake up, go to the restroom, watch a minute or two of TV, and when I fall back asleep I will continue dreaming the same thing where I left off. It’s the weirdest thing! Thankfully, they aren’t bad dreams – and since I experienced night terrors a lot when I was younger, I’m thankful. Although, I’m not sure if I’m getting “good enough” sleep. When I woke up on Thursday feeling so overly tired, I was curious. Friday morning I was better than Thursday, and even thought that this was because I was sleeping “deeper” than I ever had before, and that’s why I felt even more groggy when I got up. I’ve given it three more days to be sure, and here’s my conclusion – I’m not sleeping “deeper”, I’m dreaming more actively, which I think is making me feel more groggy because I’m not getting quality sleep. I’m still open to see how that progresses as treatments go on.

One thing I did realize almost like a lightening bolt last night when talking to my friend Christine, is that my empathic abilities have been increasing in ways I never anticipated. I don’t talk about this a lot, because it sounds “crazy” to a lot of people, but I have known my entire life that I can sense things. I feel good or bad energy from people, I know when people are lying to me, I have been completely overcome in certain places (thrift shops, a civil war cemetary back East, someones apartment where I later found out someone had been murdered), and I even knew when a friend had been in a bad car accident, and another one’s house was on fire. The car accident and fire were not “clear” to me. But in both cases I knew something was very wrong and had to get in touch with these people immediately – which is when I found out about the incidents. I’ve been in a bar that I KNEW we had to leave, even though I had no idea why, and 30 minutes after we left there was a horrible shooting there. I had never been there before, and I didn’t know more than the few people I was with, but I made my boyfriend at the time leave with me.

Bottom line, I’ve never had any control over any of this whatsoever. What I have learned is to trust my GUT INSTINCT about everyone, and everything, at all times. This is one of the reasons I have to be VERY cautious as to who I’m around, what kind of crowds (energy), and places. I’ve never received “messages” or “details”, nor do I know when something is going to come up until the “feelings” completely overwhelm me. Well, about a month or so ago, I was out watching live music with a casual friend that I didn’t know well, but liked what I did know about him. His energy was “good”, as I call it. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I got this feeling that shot through me that felt like “He needs to be careful – someone very close to him is using him, taking advantage of him, or is going to betray him and it’s going to be someone he never would expect it from.” I just kind of acknowledged the information, and went on with watching the musicians. A little while later he asked if I could drive him to the store so he could get more alcohol for the bar (I’m sober, and the perfect driver), so I did. As we were driving, the same “message” came raging up inside of me to the point that I blurted it out. Sort of. I told him I had something to tell him, and he was probably going to think I was nuts, and that I couldn’t explain why I was feeling it. I also told him that I get feelings about things and places, etc. but up until right that moment I had never had the absolute need to tell someone something. I told him what I was feeling, and told him I could be 100000% wrong, but I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t say anything and then something happened. Thankfully, he didn’t think I was a nutcase, thanked me profusely, promised to watch his back, and thanked me again the next day for being so open with him. I don’t know if anything came of it, but I know that if I had ignored the fact that I knew I had to tell him and didn’t, and then something happened, I would have regretted it.

Fast forward to last night. I was talking to my friend Christine, who knows about my empathic abilities. I don’t know if she believes in it or not, and it doesn’t matter to me. What matters is she knows that I believe this is part of who I am. Anyway, we were talking about someone and that “feeling” came over me again. This someone has had some negative things said about him recently, and we were discussing the different sides of the coin as far as perspective, and how people react to grief differently. All of a sudden, I knew – I started to explain something about this man – and I was pausing, and taking deep breaths, because it was literally coming to me as I was saying it. I remember when I was finished explaining this, and finished by saying “I don’t know how I know this about him, but I feel in my heart it’s true.” She said “Oh my God, seriously? He has (and named a condition which I will not name), and that’s EXACTLY how he is!! How did you know that? You hit it on the nose!”. Granted, this person is well known, and I guess some parts of this condition have been talked about at some point in different places, but I swear on my life and soul – I had no idea. I had NEVER read or heard of  it before – with him or anyone else – ever. It was just something that came bubbling up inside of me and I had to say it out loud – because in my soul I knew it was true – even though I couldn’t prove it. Please know that when I say “I know it’s true”, I’m not being delusional. I know I could be absolutely wrong, but when I have those kind of feelings about people, places, things, etc., throughout my life, whenever I’ve ignored it I regretted it. When I go against those feelings, I feel like I’m going against MY TRUTH. So, it may not be believed by others, or it may not “come to pass”, but I know beyond any doubt that my decision to follow my gut years ago is the right decision for me – then and now. To me, it IS MY TRUTH.

I don’t know if I will continue to get the overpowering feelings that I feel the need to share with someone. I don’t know how comfortable I am with that. If anything happens again, like when I felt the need to “warn” my friend, I will always start out by telling them I have no proof, it’s just a feeling, and make it clear I have no idea where the thoughts are from. I don’t want to be responsible for scaring anyone, or hurting anyone. But I also feel like if my soul is screaming something that loud to me, and I don’t pass it on to anyone it may effect IF THEY WANT TO HEAR IT, then I’m not doing the right thing. I have to at least put the offer of whether or not they want to hear what I’m feeling – and if they don’t, I’ll just have to let it be.

So, yeah. Heavy, right? I know it sounds weird, and that’s why I’ve only spoken about this to close friends in my life up until very recently. Since I’m in the time of my life where I’m embracing me for who I am, at all times – the past, present, good, bad, – all in the hope of being the best person I possibly can be every day for the rest of my life, I’m putting it out there. I may be judged, I may be embraced, but none of that matters. This is all part of my truth, part of who I am, and that’s all that matters.

Much love friends.

KEEP FIGHTING!

TMS Round 2 – #23 & #24

So, two treatments down with left AND right side treatment. You all know by now that I take mental note of any and all changes, so I don’t know which of these things, if any, are going to “stick”, or if they are related to the new “right side” treatment, but here’s what I’ve noticed already.

Before I go any further, I wanted to clarify something I mentioned in my last post. The “4000” number I referenced is the total number of pulses sent from the machine to my  head. Until yesterday, it was 4000 pulses per treatment, on the left side, and it was approximately 10-15 rapid fire pulses (like a woodpecker), with an approximate 20-30 second break in between. Now, I’m doing 3000 pulses per treatment, as I just described, on my left side, and then 1000 pulses on my right. BUT, the right side pulses are a 1-2 seconds apart. So, not in rapid succession. I don’t know why the pulses are different between the sides, but I’m going to find out more and fill you in later.

Anyway, when I left yesterday, I realized through the evening that I felt like I had a little more energy than usual. I’ve been feeling tired lately, and going to bed early on some nights. Last night, I went to bed at 8:30pm, which is the latest I go when I have to work the next day to insure I get 8 hours of sleep.

I’ve been dreaming a lot lately, over the last few months at least. I used to have night terrors as a kid, and for me to have incredibly horrible dreams has never been uncommon, at least prior to TMS last year. And it wasn’t unusual for my dreams to be so disturbing that they would”stick with me” throughout the morning and sometimes throughout an entire day. I haven’t had any horrible nightmares since TMS last year, so that’s good. I still dream, but it’s not all the time, and I very rarely remember anything about them – which is what I hear is “normal” for most people. When my anxiety began to come back, I started dreaming more again. Like I said, nothing bad, just some weird stuff that didn’t make sense – and thankfully none of it stuck in my head for any time at all. Once I was awake I couldn’t remember anything about them – I just knew that my brain had been “busy”. So last night, when I finally went to bed at 8:30pm, I was sleeping pretty good. I remember waking up a few times thinking “Wow – that was a weird dream!”. But then I would just go back to sleep. When I did get up this morning, I was REALLY tired. Not just my normal “I don’t like mornings” kind of tired, there was another layer there. Tired, and a little detached or groggy I guess? Nothing bad, but I felt like I was a little slower than before.

Fastforward to getting to work, and I realized that that “grip” that anxiety has had on me for several months now was gone! My depression symptoms that were slowly showing themselves have already been clearing over the last few weeks. But the anxiety seems to be an ever-present annoyance that feels like it is literally a very large hand gripping me either in my stomach, my chest, my whole body in general – making me tense. Some days they are worse than others, for sure. But the anxiety is the reason we decided to try the magnet/zapping on the right side – to see what the result may be. I was more chipper, smiling more, and realized more and more throughout the day that for the first time in approximately 3 months, anxiety had let go of the grip. I forgot how freeing that felt. I then drove in traffic and it came back a little, but it cleared up again once I got home. So, kind of weird dreams, waking up a little slower than usual (if that’s even possible), but then having the “free of the anxiety grip” feeling all day was awesome!

I just did the 2nd treatment (#23) a few hours on both sides again. I’m a little sleepy, but it is 8:10am, which means I have to finish this up and throw myself into bed in the next 20 minutes. Wonder if I’ll be dreaming again? Or wake up feeling like I need the coffee brought to my bed to save me from moving? I’m especially wondering if I just may have another “anxiety grip free” day tomorrow.

I’m not a pessimist, and I’m not an optimist. I am a HARD CORE REALIST! I take in all the data, see how it filters out, and form opinions. I’m really liking the fact that there were some clearly visible changes after just one right side treatment. Not going to jinx it by crossing my fingers either. I’m just going to sit back with my little mental “pad and paper” and take notes.

This treatment has the potential to help so many things, so many illnesses, so many conditions – anything centered in the brain. I know in my heart that this is just the beginning and before long you’re going to be seeing a lot of things come to pass that sound “too weird” to work, but they will. I know it. Very smart people are studying this treatment and trying to find out in exactly what ways it can be expanded on and learned about to work with other parts of the human brain. It’s utterly fascinating to me. It gives me an enormous amount of hope!

That’s it for now kids. I’m going to tuck myself into bed and find out if my dreams are going to give me weird stuff to think about.

More tomorrow. Thanks for listening friends!

KEEP FIGHTING!

TMS Round 2 – #21 & #22

Hi friends………..I have a little update. Call it news, or a change, or whatever you want.

So, my depression symptoms are decreasing (even though they weren’t highly noticeable, I’m noticing more clarity, better compartmentalization of situations and feelings, etc.). However, the first thing that “presented” this time, for the first time ever in my life, was my anxiety – not my depression. Knowing these two things are tied together for me, when my anxiety symptoms kept increasing in frequency and number, I decided to get back to TMS in hopes that this would ward off another depressive episode.

I’ve noticed differences in my treatment this time – nothing bad – just different. For one, you have to remember that when I did TMS the first time, each and every thing I experienced was new to me. And, although I did have high anxiety, my depression was the thing that was taking over the most and causing the most pain and damage. This time, it was the anxiety. So, treatment this time has been different in a couple of ways. One, the changes I’m experiencing are  not “new and astonishing” – they are coming back in a great way, and reminding me of all of the wonders of the first round. I didn’t lose everything from treatment the first time, but things were changing because my anxiety was interrupting my normal thought and feeling processes. Also, this time, I did experience the 3 day “dip” in my mood during treatment, which hadn’t happened before. This is completely normal for anyone doing TMS, it was just new to me.

So, having said all of that, what I have noticed is that my anxiety is still present, even after 20+ treatments. It’s not crushing, it’s not critical, but it does make me feel edgy, uncomfortable and grumpy more often than I am happy about. TMS is best known for it’s help with Chronic Major Depression. It has been known to help with other things, A LOT of other things, but please remember that there is never a guarantee that it will work for every single case of depression, or any other “illness” that it’s helped others with. When I went into treatment the first time I had no idea if it would work for me at all, but I did it anyway, because I had nothing to lose.

Anyway, I was talking to Doctor D today, at treatment, and as always, I was 100% open and honest about my concerns about my anxiety. I wanted to know what I need to consider as options for myself if TMS doesn’t “fix” my anxiety at this point. Again, no guarantees, which is completely understood on my end, but he did say that they have had some success with moving the magnet to the right side, and doing treatment on both sides of the brain. Primarily, TMS is done on the left side of the brain, but for some patients, depending on their particular issue, they have done right side stimulation as well. So, since I’m all for trying anything if there’s any chance it could help – I jumped in head first. It wasn’t a simple 30 second conversation mind you. We talked for probably 20 minutes or so about all of this and the conclusion is starting tomorrow, I will be doing 4000 on my left side, and 1000 on my right. (I know there’s a name for the “thing” that is measured at 4000, but I can’t remember what it is right now). The left side is stimulated with very quick impulses for 10 seconds, I believe, and then a 20-30 second break in between. The right side is done with what I’ve heard sounds like 1 “zap/tap” every few seconds, with no breaks. This is based on what I’ve heard in the office before, and my recollection, so I could be off a bit. But, starting tomorrow, they will start stimulating BOTH sides of my brain to see if the combination has any affect on my anxiety levels.

I’m very excited about this. Not because I’m expecting any miracle changes or anything – I’m facing this just like I did starting TMS at all – with no expectations. But I love the idea that this procedure has so many ways it can help people,  and the longer it’s used, the more it’s studied, the more people it’s going to help down the road. New things are amazing because the possibilities can be endless, or at least HUGE.

So, I’m definitely going to be posting tomorrow too. I can’t wait to update you with the exact details in the “right vs. left” side stimulation. And, of course, any changes I either do or don’t experience. As promised from day one last year, I will be 100% honest and upfront with this no matter what the outcome is. That’s the only way any of this has any credibility at all, right?

Love ya all!

KEEP FIGHTING!

R.I.P. Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell’s death is like being hit by a brick for me. Music has always been my soul. In the 90’s, I found myself – and the entire Grunge “scene” helped me break out of my shy, tomboy, inhibited, “what do you think of me?” shell – and I came crashing through that shell like a lightening bolt. The music – Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, Mother Love Bone, Pantera, Pearl Jam, White Zombie, Rage Against the Machine, Tool, Cypress Hill, Beastie Boys, Danzig………oh my God – this list could literally go on forever – their music defined my life. Then, and now.  I know they are not all “grunge”, but they were all playing, all of the time, in small clubs all over LA when I was in my 20’s. I literally slept 2-3 hours a night for an entire decade because I was out at shows 5 or 6 nights a week, and working full time. The music was loud, angry, political, dark, fun, and said everything I was feeling. I felt like everyone around me – the bands, the people – the air itself – all felt exactly the same way I did and it made it not only “okay” to be me – it helped me dive so deeply that I came out as this entirely new version of me that I never saw coming. And I was thrilled.

Not everyone did it, but a lot of us did drugs and drank. There really was no other way to function on that little sleep while working and going out every night. I’m not condoning it, and I’m not bragging. We were in our 20’s, we felt immortal, and we were loving our lives. We thought we would live forever, just like almost every other generation before us in their 20’s. Until , the wheels started falling off. We weren’t immortal, and the drugs started killing people. Andrew Wood from Mother Love Bone, Brad from Sublime………and even people I knew. Time went by, the scene slowed down, and it became pretty apparent that some of us were growing up and moving on, others were taking it all at a different pace, and then there were the ones who were headed for disaster. Layne Staley, was so far gone that when he finally did himself in they didn’t even find his body for over a week. Dimebag got shot by a fan………..bands broke up, people went to jail or rehab. Reality set in slowly over the years, but when you looked back, many of “us” were no longer here, or not in good places at all. I lost so many friends I can tell you that I’ve been to 5 to 10 times as many funerals as I have weddings, and that’s not a good statistic at all.

Fast forward to not long ago when Scott Weiland overdosed, after years of sobriety.  That one hurt too, because I’ve seen countless people struggle with staying sober after relapsing. Although, and I feel bad for saying it this way,  I wasn’t shocked as I had been with the death of others over the years. You develop this numbing thick skin kind of thing that protects you in a way. At least, I did.

Chris Cornell admitted to drug and alcohol use in his past, but had been sober for years. I myself have been sober for over 16 years, and I feel a beautiful kinship with my rock “Gods” that have made it with me through the last 20+ years. We outlived so many of our peers, and for people like the guys in Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, and Foo Fighters, they have turned their 20’s into an appreciation for the friends they lost, and their love of music by being truly wonderful men who give back to this world in so many ways – many financial – as well as through their music. I literally feel a love for them as if they were my brothers. We survived through a time when a lot of us didn’t. And we lived to tell a story.

My story, has transformed me into into a monster advocate for Mental Health awareness. Many people that abuse drugs and alcohol, as I’ve said since day one, do so because they are self-medicating to “fix” an underlying mental health issue. Mental Health wasn’t something we talked about at all in the 90’s. Unless it was schizophrenia, or multiple personality disorder – it wasn’t something on anyone’s radar really. If someone died by suicide, it was tragic but was viewed as something that happened to people who were “really fucked up”. Thankfully, over the years, we’ve made huge progress in the “awareness” arena. We aren’t where we should be, but we’ve moving forward.

The hardest thing for me is that people in general, and even people suffering, don’t always realize that they are suffering from depression, especially. They don’t know that depression is evil, and lies in wait to attack at any given moment, to try to kill you. Everything can feel fine, everything can “look” great, but it only takes moments for your head to tell you that everyone and everything would be better off without you. And sadly, I believe that’s what happened to Chris.

You can have many good days – even weeks, months, or years. But mental illness is always there, waiting to kill you. If we don’t recognize it, and take active steps to treat it, this is what happens. My sobriety is a HUGE part of my life. And for many sober people, it has to be their number one priority. For me, my mental health is my number one priority. I have to be mindful of “how I feel” every minute, of every day to make sure I’m keeping myself safe. I’m very careful of who I let in my life, mood changes, sleeping patterns, reactions to situations, not exposing myself to things that could be a trigger, I make sure I get enough sleep (but not too much), and patterns of feelings. If I don’t watch all of these things and many more every day, my depression will sneak in and at any given weak moment, try to convince me that I’m better off dead.

This is not an exaggeration. This is reality for people like myself that live with this disease. I don’t know the details, obviously. But I think that Chris was suffering from depression still, and although he had said he had it years ago, it probably never really went away. I think that the wonderful people he had in his life – family, kids, friends, fans, and music – helped him be the shining light that he was. But, if he did suffer from depression for all these years, and he wasn’t managing it in some way, I can absolutely see how this could happen. Depression is the devil – and it is patient. It will wait until the moment you least expect it to put the noose around your neck.

R.I.P. Chris Cornell. You gave me so many incredibly happy moments in my life. You are loved by many, and had the voice of an angel. I hope you are at peace now friend. I will continue in my fight to BREAK THE STIGMA in honor of you and all of the others I know who didn’t make it, and those still here fighting. LOVE, LIGHT, AND PEACE.

That’s all now friends. My brain needs to rest. Time to go listen to some good ole grunge music.

KEEP FIGHTING!