Let us talk about Mental Illness.
Mental Illness is a huge problem in this county. Mental Illness is a huge problem in the world. The majority of our human family struggles with some form of mental illness.
My DSM coded diagnosis are: 1. Chronic Depression. 2. PTSD 3. Chronic Anxiety Disorder 4. ADHD 5. Panic Disorder
What does this mean besides Ive been psychologically evaluated and given some labels to bill insurance properly?
When we understand the depth of our mental illness we can begin understanding how to deal with it. We can help those who love us understand us better when we are in a troubled state. We can learn to be gentle to ourselves. I know much of my mental illness has been exacerbated by the trauma of 2011. I am also aware that I am genetically predisposed towards depression and anxiety. It runs deep within our family. As I continue to understand these disorders I can continue to be as gentle as possible reminding myself and others that YOU (I) are not this disorder. WE are not weak, broken, sick, etc. At times, I believe having a mental illness gives a different perspective with life.
I am so very thankful that I know my triggers. If you struggle with a mental illness, learn and understand what your triggers are and how to be aware and either avoid if needed or learn how to handle them with some level of grace and acceptance. Mental Illness becomes best friends with chronic pain/TBI. The two (or more) dance together often.
Teasing the two apart often feels more exhausting then letting them tango. When does one know when to say “ENOUGH”, and rise up and ask for help? Asking for help is incredibly hard because when someone is “IN IT” clarity of mind can become muddled. Learning not to blame actions and reactions to self and others due to mental illness/chronic pain, etc. is a powerful tool and imperative tool to life a fruitful life. Do you believe it is NOT YOUR FAULT that you suffer from a mental illness? Do you? I do. I know these are part of the cards Ive been dealt, however I did not choose them. They chose me. I chose a good therapist 😉 May I remind you, MEN can be in therapy also. Your no less a MAN if you go to therapy, your simply a MAN that is strong enough to own what your going through and seek help. That is called being a STRONG MAN! (My husband taught me this).
I share my story, because I am one of millions with a mental illness. I share because without my education, resiliency factors, and strong love of my creator, I might go to a dark place and be a very different person.
Our world is hurting. Violence is spreading more rapidly. We do have a massive issues with gun control, however more so I think we need to break down the barriers of mental illness. Break down the stigma.
TALK ABOUT IT.
When many meet me and learn I have depression they are shocked, why?
1. I Am pretty/confident/talkative
2. I have a wonderful marriage
3. My work is as a motivational speaker
4. I smile and hug a LOT
Every day, we meet people that we would never know what pains they face within their hearts and cells.
I encourage you to be love. Be love to yourself. Be love to others.
Be ok not being ok sometimes.
Be a freaking mess.
Let yourself be vulnerable so you can be open to receiving and in turn you can help others.
LOVE IS ALWAYS going to be louder than any mental illness that might cause someone to hurt others!
It is MY responsibility, OUR responsibility to dismantle the stigma and BE LOVE.
Every morning I have the honor of waking, I give thanks to God that I awoke. I then give thanks for the gifts in my life and incredible moments. After giving gratitude I begin with my “asks”, asking God to help me have grace and strength throughout the day, and go forth being love regardless of what may happen in the next twenty-four hours. I ask that our president have love in his soul, and integrity to make the right choices. I ask God to do his will even if I may be terrified of what his will may bring throughout the next day. I ask that I can be a hummingbird. I pray that even though I am one person upon this earth of millions, I can carry a light, or a drop of water to bring peace and be a part of the collective human family working to make a difference in this world.
I also pray for safety, realizing fully that just because I pray for something, doesn’t mean it will happen. I also realize that everything does NOT happen for a REASON, sometimes I believe things simply happen, and we must choose how to react and seek strength.
Some days events roll out so beautifully they simply need to be written about and yesterday was one of those days.
We awoke around six am, with our PLAN already in place. However, the Universal plan was already set in motion. Sean was going to get on his bike and do a training ride of the lower loop for the World Championship ITU race. My plan was to stay at our rental and work, then take a run. OUR plan was to meet up a few hours later and have a late breakfast. This is not what happened. Sean left on his beautiful new triathlon bike from BLUE and three miles in had the first major flat he has experienced in years. He went through 2 co2 cartridges and each malfunctioned, complete with an incredible puncture that went straight through his tire, he called me and asked for a pick up. We headed to the bike shop in town, and his new mission was to get a new Co2 dispenser along with another set of tires that would be more durable. We talked about how awesome it was this happened on his training ride and not the actual race.
I waited in the car while he ran in, and kept the car running. We have been told since we arrived in Canada NOT to leave anything ever unattended. This county has exceptionally polite humans, however we are told that many “opportunistic” thieves are abundant (isn’t this the case everywhere?) As I waited in the car with the engine running, a man approached me carrying a map motioning for me to roll down my window. I immediately went into “what if” mode as he approached the car literally half a minute after Sean entered the store. He wanted to know where he could go for breakfast and if I was a local. I wondered if this was a tactic used to identify if I was a vulnerable tourist. I exhaled aware of my own fear and how I had begun judging this fellow human as a potential thief. He then stated he would walk around to the passenger side of the car and my palms became sweaty, and I pressed the lock button to secure the doors and opened the passenger window only half way. Keeping an eye on the store, I told him about a delicious place we found the day prior for breakfast. He said thank you and walked away. I sat there feeling terribly frustrated with myself that I went into such a fear mode. When Sean got back into the car I told him about the man approaching the car and how innocent the dialogue was and yet my internal reaction was so full of judgement and fear. I felt frustrated that I was not more open, also realizing our world is so full of danger. We must always be guarded, and yet still open. We went to the same restaurant we told this “stranger” to go to in hopes we might see him and could know who he is as a fellow human family member and not a “potential threat”. After ordering my breakfast I spotted him and his friend sitting inside and approached them. They beamed with loving kindness, and ironically, we learned we ordered the exact same thing which including the same “extras”. We exchanged names and a little small talk, shaking hands and I went outside to join my husband in the outdoor seating.
After we finished breakfast, we went to speak with them. As the conversation unfolded we learned our new friends were from Australia, one man was a Catholic priest and the other a school teacher. They had both been on a multi week vacation throughout North America to connect with nature, local culture, and form friendships. My new friend Stephen shared that he recently had a heart transplant within the last few years and had overwhelming joy for this life. He had also been a competitive cyclist and was starting to ride again! I shared about my trauma, and the massive amounts of blood I had been given, and numerous resuscitations. We both teared up a bit. I asked if I could hug them, and we acknowledged how immensely powerful the human family is, this man received another man’s heart. He never knew this man who died and became his hero, however his body simply accepted this heart and beat a new chord of music intertwined with his own. The man who passed on will forever live within him, just like the life blood of so many that donated will forever live within me. We both shared how without trust in our fellow human and the process of life, we would not exist. As the conversation followed, I shared my fear earlier in the morning when Michael approached the car asking for directions and how frustrated I Was at myself for having such judgement.
We all hugged again and Sean stated what we all felt to be so true “Apparently, THIS is what was meant to happen today, and when the course of action began, we just went through the motions to be exactly where we are at this moment”. As we took a photo together we also enjoyed that Sean was wearing a jersey created by a company in Australia. How beautiful is this life? #humanfamily Cheers from Canada.
May we never become so fearful of one another that we lose sight of love.
Happy Spring Friends. Spring is positively my favorite time of the year. Every plant that went dormant in the winter begins to wake up. Throughout the winter season plants save their energy to make it through the long winter. They feed on the natural sugars that they produce and even send out sugars through their roots to other living organisms that need additional nourishment. As Spring awakens and temperatures begin to increase, plants start to shed their limbs that were damaged through weather, by other animals or because they lost their ability to produce. In time, limbs become less effective and strong and they start to dry up. Once a limb is no longer being fruitful for a tree, the limb either breaks off through natural causes or a human comes along and prunes it. Much like humans, trees need all their energy to continue to grow and produce new limbs and shoots as well as provide fruits of nourishment to the forest floor beneath them. As a human species, the likeness we share with flora and fauna is dynamic. All of us require a healthy environment free from excessive toxins (negativity), destructive weather (anger and negative emotion) and other beings who may pray on us when we become weak and vulnerable (think of how other people can negatively affect you when you are working to maintain your own strength and positivity). Much like trees, we need to care for ourselves and keep our own beings strong so we can provide support to others. Think of that beautiful tree that houses a multitude of insects, birds, small animals, and other living organisms that attach to the tree, be it a mushroom, or moss, etc. If the tree roots have become starved from lack of water or drowned out from flooding, the tree will become sick and defenseless thus no longer being able to provide a healthy refuge for other life.
When we allow ourselves to “prune” our diseased and unhealthy “limbs”, we give our beings permission to focus our energy on creating NEW limbs which will allow us to become stronger. If a plant never sheds its damaged branches it will continue trying to push energy into areas that no longer can bear fruit. The longer the plant tries to push energy into weakened areas, the more the plant will eventually begin to wither away and die. WE NEED TO FOCUS OUR ENERGIES ON THINGS THAT EDIFY US AND BUILD US UP. On occasion, people may find themselves in the wrong job, an unhappy relationship or following through with a major decision because changing gears mid-way through, and doing what they know is RIGHT and not what is “expected” is the less messy option. Imagine if the forests trees, plants and animals chose to stick with their diseased limbs and weak roots. Our forests would struggle and slowly die. Thankfully nature knows how to naturally care for itself. As humans, we try so hard to fix many things that might simply need to be pruned off! Remember, growth can only happen if YOU LET it happen. Creating new buds is a lot of hard work. As spring blooms around us, remember to take this time to let yourself “let go” of what is not nurturing your roots. Cultivating what is good and healthy is not always easy. Let Spring be a time for ourselves as a human forest to bloom, as we sprawl our roots supporting one another, and lifting each other up to the sunshine.
Let us focus on the positiveness of the human spirit. I would love to feature a new story each week on this website and on my public Facebook page of how the “Human Collective Family” has in some way helped you through a certain moment or situation in your life. Let me know about a time when people gathered in love to help YOU in some way. It can be as small as saying hello to you when you were having a rotten day. Let us break down the barriers of the human family and help REUNITE us through social media and not tear us down. You can also share a story about how you helped someone and the impact it made on both of your lives.
Send your stories to email@example.com. If you are comfortable having your name published let me know, pictures are also wonderful. Lets fill social media with love and remind one another that even with our differences, we are a human family. I look forward to your stories in my inbox! They can be a few sentences to a few pages.
I am so thankful that winter season is here. Winter tends to be the time we hunker down a little more, become a little more complacent, and “comfortable”. This is not the time to be complacent, this winter is a season to let the negativity die off and begin cultivation for spring.
We had such a great and very busy fall, however I think I can speak for many of us in the fact that the election was overwhelming. I for one am not happy with the outcome, yet I am happy to be part of this American Family. When people ask who I voted for, my heart sinks. Typically I am proud to vote as a female American, and quite eager to do so. This year felt different, the hatred and slander that permeated our final presidential nominees election process was toxic. I kept reminding myself that #weallbleedred and this is politically driven and power driven and not truly a testament to the human spirit and human character. I wanted to remain optimistic, I tried to see the positive through each negative and slanderous moment that was casted from human to human. We had a woman run for president, and she fought a good fight. As one who focuses my life journey and purpose on actionable gratitude, love, and connecting the human family, I have felt parts of my soul rotting.
There will never be an apology that is acceptable if actions do not accompany spoken or written/typed words. We must remember that not only are the children of our human family listening and watching, but the child within us that still exists is listening and watching. As a human species, we are naturally pack oriented. Our “pack” might be our immediate family members, or our close friends, community, or just the need to be a part of a social group. We as a human family long for connection. We are driven naturally to leaders that tend to connect with our own initiatives and desires. I have been driven throughout my life by a Peaceful and loving God, my grandfather who exuded integrity, many of the Nobel Peace Laureates that I have had the honor of knowing, I am also mindful that I grew up surrounded by love. I grew up in a middle class neighborhood. My family was far from perfect, we had our family drama and as a child I certainly had my fair share of struggles that defined much of my childhood, however I also had resiliency factors with many positive strong leaders that helped steer me towards love. I never questioned if we would have food on the table, or if I would have a clean bed, clean water, someone to hug me, tend to my needs if I fell and needed care.
When trying to connect and understand hatred, violence, and blatant disrespect from others, I always try to anchor back to “what was their upbringing like? what happened or triggered in their lives to make them act/react in the way that they did?”. I certainly know much of my own stubbornness, stems from how I was raised and influenced. I also acknowledge accountability. When I watched our presidential debates the inner “little” Colleen was terrified. How could this big bully parade around on stage with such anger and disrespect and how could this woman so robotically speak to her fellow humans with such a lack of personal connection? All political mess aside, I want to ask you to remember what I try to remember in prayer every day.
We all have a story which defines how we act and react.
We all inherently want to be accepted and a part of something
We all have at one point or another experienced love, happiness, fear, sadness, hurt, or betrayal.
We all WANT to succeed in the things that inspire us, and impassion us.
We all desire to feel safe.
We all have personal convictions that influence our choices.
Not everyone grew up with multiple resiliency factors
Not everyone has felt trust.
Not everyone knows where their next meal will come from, or if they will have a safe place to sleep and clean water to drink
EVERYONE WANTS to love themselves, love others, and accept love however it can be scary to be vulnerable and vulnerability takes courage.
Remember that although our views may differ we are still a human family, rise above the divide of hatred and intolerance. LISTEN to someone with opposing views. If you do not agree, you do not have to fight your words for them to understand your perspective. God is BIGGER than hate. The results of this election have been far wider reaching in my soul than who was elected, the results have shown that we as a human family have a significant divide happening. Please remember we are “ALL CREATED EQUAL”. Love your brother and sister.
Hatred will ALWAYS breed more hatred, LOVE will always win. Be your authentic self, be a change maker this winter. Remember change starts in your soul. Ubuntu.
Here we are, watching the universe change into the next season of life. Our summer was eventful. We began taking classes to become foster parents which included 10 courses at 3 hours each including homework, site visits, and a lot of personal reflection. The courses brought us both into an emotional journey as we learned the ins and outs of the foster care world. Many of our classmates were themselves former foster children and now completing the circle in hopes to help others. We studied several sample cases in order to try and glean even the smallest window into what our children in the foster system experience. Many nights my husband and I would drive home in silence trying to process all of the information and understanding the harsh reality that domestic violence, abuse, and neglect is rampant here in our country. Root causes are many, and without opening some resiliency factors into a childs’ life offering them hope, affirmation, guidance, love, and selflessness the cycle will in fact continue, and even when the child is offered such love they may be far too scarred to know how to climb up. The foster care system is more complex than we can wrap our heads around at this point, and since we needed to miss three classes we are still not licensed. My husband needed surgery which took us out of classes, and then we had a family trip which took us away from another. The lesson here? Life happens. So, as much as we hoped to have a little one to love and care for sometime this fall or early winter it looks like we may wait until the next changing season.
We are happily settled into our home now for almost a year and loving the community. We both continue to be active with our work as Red Cross spokespersons, and board members of Bike Walk CT. The summer held a busy race schedule, where we proudly secured a few podium spots (some because there were few competitors but we didn’t care), experienced a warm reunion with my medical staff, family, friends, and heroes at the Red Cross Gala, shared my story with several organizations, and have been vested in getting my memoir published with Hachette Publishing in 2017.
This summer I also learned that my hashtag #productofheroes contained myself. As my husband required a planned surgery, it forced him to need to sleep for a few weeks and for us to take on a strong role reversal as I became the sole caregiver. My panic was immense when I brought him to Yale for surgery, I feared his pain, I feared how I would act or over act in regards to his pain, and I feared how I could handle not having him as my physical rock as he would require me to be strong. Love is a profound and beautifully amazing thing. God gave me the grace to be present for him spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I was also given the grace to continue to train my body. For the first time in five years I trained for over 2 weeks solo, I swam, biked, ran, weight trained, did everything around the house, took care of what needed to be cared for, and the things that were just back ground noise became tuned out. I learned so strongly and so powerfully how to also be a caregiver, and gained an even deeper respect for my best friend who cared for me for years as I went in and out of surgeries. He has taught me over and over that a real man can be weak and strong at the same time and that selflessness is key in love and commitment. I feel like we could almost write another book just on this topic
Sean is healing well, and will be competing with me next weekend in a relay for IronMan Atlantic City. We will make up all missed classes for foster care, and continue to give gratitude for the hero within each of us. There is actually a little “eye” in Hero. Draw it out. 🙂 This fall I will be speaking to the American Case Management Association in two different states, as well for PeaceJam International, and a few other engagements. On October 8th, which is my five year anniversary of being run over I have the joy of being on the Inspiration team with the Hartford Marathon and running for Team Red Cross. I will carry the Red Cross flag each and every mile.
With this I close, and mention the division that has been cut into our American Hearts from the upcoming presidential election. I urge you to remember, #weallbleedred. Regardless of the presidential outcome, the human family will always rise up. Keep your hearts, minds, eyes, and souls open.(This is my staff from Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford, CT)
We never know what each season will bring my friends. When we plan how we might rake up the leaves, a powerful wind might just blow them all over the place. The human spirit is resilient, beautiful, powerful, and we are one.
Utmost love and gratitude,
Colleen Kelly Alexander
This is a photo of my mother, father, brother, sister in law, and dearest husband at the Red Cross Gala.
Special thanks to The Dressing Room in Wallingford for this beautiful dress.
Happy summer! If you want to know what I have been up to over the last couple months, check out my May Newsletter.
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