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Mental Health Doesn’t Make You A Bad Mom.

***I feel like I need to do a little disclaimer before you read this post. If you have never experienced postpartum depression (or loved someone with postpartum depression) some of the things talked about in this post will be unfathomable to you. Please try to have an open mind and to not judge, being honest about motherhood is hard enough without being shamed for being human.***

Before I had Paxton someone said to me, “With your mental health you might not be a good mom.” That person clearly knew nothing about mental health or motherhood, so I tried to give them some grace. But to be honest, I got in my car and bawled my eyes out after those words were spoken. For a moment I let those words take control of my mind and heart. Who wouldn’t? From the time I first found out I was pregnant the thought of “What if I’m not good enough?” has been circling my head. Every mom has that thought but for me it’s a little different, a little more extreme. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder a few months back, and I’m a recovering drug addict. How could I possibly be a good mom?

I dwelled on that question for a bit, and then I challenged myself to reframe it. How can my mental health, along with my past experiences, help me be a good mom? That’s right, all those years of struggling will actually help me be the best mom possible for my son. Because out of struggle comes strength, and that is exactly what I am: STRONG. First and foremost I had to remind myself that I can be strong and struggle simultaneously. I also had to remind myself that my mental health does not make me a bad person, and neither does my recovery. Let me repeat it, MENTAL HEALTH DOES NOT MAKE YOU A BAD PERSON.

However, because of my history I knew that I would need to have a good plan in place as I entered into the postpartum period. While I was pregnant I spent hours every week with my therapist preparing for the 1 in 5 chance that I would be diagnosed with a postpartum disorder. For me this meant maintaining my regular sessions with my therapist, finding a postpartum-specific therapist just in case, learning new coping mechanisms, and compiling a list of people to reach out to in time of need. Before having Paxton I felt like I was completely prepared for what was to come, and in a lot of ways I was. But, quite honestly, I’m not sure that you can every be fully prepared for the unknown that is postpartum.

Aside from becoming a single mom and all the trials and anxieties that came along with that, my pregnancy was a dream. I was the happiest I have ever been in my entire life thanks to all of the good pregnancy hormones. Then when I had Paxton my entire world changed for the better. I was exhausted and would get overwhelmed easily, but other than that I would say my first two months home were so good. I had visitors coming all the time, I was trying to soak in every last newborn cuddle, and I was just so in love with my son. I loved being a mom and I finally felt like I had found my purpose.

Then when Paxton was about 2.5 months old postpartum depression hit me like a ton of bricks, although at the time I didn’t recognize that that’s. What was happening. I went from over-the-moon in love to overwhelmed to uncontrollably sobbing to extremely angry (nobody tells you about postpartum rage, it’s a real thing) within a matter of minutes, and it seemed as if the happy moments were few and far between. It was terrifying and exhausting, but I didn’t think much of it. I just assumed that every knew mom felt this way and that it was completely normal. It wasn’t until my son was 3 months old and I was sobbing on my bathroom floor, wondering what my life had come to, that I realized maybe what I was feeling wasn’t normal anymore. I suddenly felt like the connection I had with my son was gone, like nothing I was doing was right, and that I was failing at being a mom. As a new mom it is completely normal to feel overwhelmed, exhausted, frustrated, some anxiety, and even a little sad from time to time. What is not normal is to be paralyzed by your emotions, to feel like you can’t go on, or to hate your life. Those feelings are not normal, but they are common and they do NOT make you a bad person or a bad mom. They just mean that you need a little extra help regulating the hormones that are causing them, and that is perfectly okay.

When I first realized what was going on I was ashamed of what I was feeling. I didn’t want to admit that I wasn’t loving being a mom or that I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore so I kept it inside and let this turmoil build inside me until he was 4 months old. The financial stress of being a single mom had sent me over the edge, and I spent the next 3 days crying and having panic attacks all while still managing to take care of my son. On the first night of my meltdown I texted my mom and all it read was, “Being a mom is so hard.” So she spent the next two nights sleeping on the couch with me making it known that I wasn’t alone. And that’s when I knew I couldn’t do it on my own anymore. I realized that I needed help so I reached out to my therapist, my psychiatrist, my midwife, and a couple of other people to let them know what was going on. I upped my therapy sessions to multiple times a week, I vocalized what I was feeling, and I went back on medication.

This is real. This is postpartum depression.

Paxton is now ten months old and I feel like I am finally starting to feel normal again. I have put in a lot of work the past couple of months to make sure that I am the healthiest version of myself possible. I began working out daily, taking time for myself, and even started a new job. My love for being a mom is resurfacing and it feels like there is finally some sunshine back in my life. I still have my hard days, but the bad doesn’t outweigh the good anymore and that was my ultimate goal. Today I am strong, I am brave, and I am capable. Today I am also overwhelmed, I am exhausted, and I am full of emotion. And today I am a damn good mom, mental health, feelings, and all. Moms often get shamed for showing any sign of “struggle” when it comes to mental health in motherhood. We get labeled as “bad moms” for being human. Humans feel emotion, it’s what we’re designed to do and it’s not something that anybody should ever be shamed for.

So to the mom who’s struggling right now, I see you. I see you having to remind yourself to take deep breaths, I see you having that panic attack in the bathroom, I see you crying yourself to sleep, I see you feeling alone in a room full of people, I see you fighting back tears because your child won’t stop crying. I see you because I am you. We’re in this together. And with that being said, if you are struggling and you need someone to talk to my inbox is always open. I will sit with you in whatever way you need so that you feel a little less alone. I will watch your kid(s) so you can have a few hours to yourself. I will make you a meal or vacuum your house if that’s what you need that day. And if you reach a point where you need more professional help than me, I will help you find someone. When I say I’m in this with you, I mean I’m IN THIS WITH YOU – through the good times and the hard. You’ve got this, Mama, and you’re doing a damn good job.

Fight for yourself. Always.


To My Baby Boy.

To my baby boy,

It’s the middle of the night, I’m almost 31 weeks pregnant, and I’m writing you this letter because I am suddenly overwhelmed with gratitude that I was chosen for you.  I’m 22 years old, single, and often feel as though I’m not ready for a role as important as being your mom.  But then I take a step back and I look at all the ways I have already been the best mom possible to you despite the fact that I haven’t even met you yet.  That’s because I fell in love with you from the moment I knew you existed, and in that moment I changed for the better.

The past 7 months I have fought harder for myself than I ever have before.  I have spent approximately 60 hours in therapy strengthening my mental health, been extra aware of my recovery eliminating people and places that may have even the slightest bit of a negative presence, and I have been focusing on nothing but my happiness.  You see my mental health, my recovery, and my happiness have to come first so that you never have to come last.  And that’s a promise I plan to keep because you have changed my world in a way that nobody else ever could.  You are my peace after the most consuming, chaotic storm of my life, and for you I am eternally grateful.

I have experienced a lot of life in my 22 years.  A lot of life means a lot of life lessons, a lot of learning, and a whole lot of growing.  Every single thing I have learned in this life has equipped me to be your mom, and as your mom there are a million things that I will teach you and a million promises that I intend to keep.  These are the top ten things that I have learned that I hope to pass on to you so that together we can change this world.

  1.  Mental health matters.  Mine, yours, everyone’s.  I really don’t even like the term mental health, the world has given it such a negative connotation, but for lack of a better term I’m going to stick with it.  To me your mental health is just as important as your physical health.  I hope that you are able to come to me and say, “Mom, today I’m having a hard time” just as easily as you would come to me and say, “Mom, my stomach hurts.”  And then together I hope we can talk about, process, and learn from the feelings you’re experiencing.  And (God forbid) if you’re ever hurting so deeply that you think this world is not for you, I will be here to remind you that there is something for you out there in this life.  I will walk by your side until you find what that something is, because you are my something.  I promise to never shame you for anything related to your mental health, no matter what.
  2. Emotions are good.  Sometimes life will be overwhelming and you’ll experience big emotions.  If you can allow yourself to feel, process, and learn from those emotions I promise you there is nothing in this life you won’t be able to handle.  I don’t want you to ever feel like you have to hide your emotions from me, just like I don’t want to have to hide my emotions from you.  I want you to see me cry, I want you to know that life gets hard sometimes.  I want you to be able to say, “mom, I need you to love me a little louder today,” and I want to be able to do just that.   I promise to always be there for you whenever you need it, without judgment.  Oh, and son, it’s more than okay to cry.
  3. Therapy is for the brave.  My entire life I refused to go to therapy because I thought it was for the weak, that if you went to therapy it was because there was something wrong with you.  It wasn’t until your grandma forced me into Elizabeth’s office that I realized how wrong I was.  Elizabeth (I’m using her first name because by the time you’ll be able to read this letter you’ll know her well) showed me that it’s possible to struggle and still love life. Now I go to therapy because I want to and it betters my soul, not because I have to.  Therapy is for the brave; it’s for those who want to live their best life possible.  So you and I, we do therapy.  We do talking, we do feeling, we do processing, we do growing, and we do living.  I promise to put in every effort possible so that you know that you are always supported.
  4. Be gentle with yourself.   This is a quote Elizabeth says to me often and a mantra that I choose to live by.  Being gentle with yourself means being patient with yourself, showing yourself compassion, knowing your limits, setting boundaries, and taking time to practice self-love.  It is almost impossible to be genuinely gentle with others if you aren’t gentle with yourself.  I promise to always demonstrate being gentle with myself so that I can always be gentle with you.
  5. Fight for yourself always.  A complete stranger at the hardest, lowest point in my life whispered those words in my ear.  They are the four words that saved me and gave me a second chance to be here today.  Fighting for yourself means knowing who you are, knowing your worth, and not settling for anything less than what you deserve.  But fighting for yourself doesn’t mean that you are fighting alone, you have a whole army behind you because you are worth fighting for.  I promise to always fight for myself so that I can always fight for you.
  6. Know that you are enough.  This phrase does not mean that you have been measured and judged and that you have earned the label of “enough.”  It does not mean that you are flawless or that you don’t make mistakes.  It means that you were made to be you, flaws and all, on purpose.  There is no mistake in the person that you are, but don’t ever let this phrase get to your head.  There is no one in this world that is better than you, but there is also no one that you are better than. Being enough means that you don’t have to strive to become more worthy, more valid, more accepted, or more loved.  I promise to never let you forget that you are already all of those things.
  7. Be a walking contradiction.  Being a walking contradiction is not an excuse to be inconsistent and all over the place, it simply means you don’t have to try and fit yourself into a box.  I hope that you can learn how to be bold but kind, brave but soft, strong but sweet, opinionated but respectful, and confident but humble. Society wants you to think that you have to be this or that, I dare you to try and be both.  I promise to accept you for who you are, every piece and part of you.
  8. Being respectful is always the right choice.  I could go on and on about this one. But to keep it somewhat short and sweet here are some bullet points:
    • “No” is a complete sentence.  For you and for everyone in your life.  It’s your body, you’re in charge of it.  You don’t want a hug? Simply say “No.”  You don’t want to be tickled? “No.”  You don’t want a kiss? “No.” (No thank you works too, just saying).  And way, way, way in the future if the person you’re with says the word “no,” (or anything close to it) you stop what you’re doing immediately, no questions asked.  Use your voice and use your ears, but remember to be polite.
    • We don’t say the words “retard/retarded”.  We don’t use those words to refer to people with special needs, and we certainly don’t use them as an adjective to describe anything/anyone.  If there’s one thing I’m passionate about aside from mental health/addiction, it’s people with special needs.  So if I ever hear you say either of those words there will be some serious consequences, this is something I don’t mess around with.
    • Love is love.  I don’t care if someone love girls or they love boys because I personally believe that you love who you love.  Whether or not you agree with that statement is completely up to you.  Just keep in mind that having your own opinion is not a license to be disrespectful.  We support everyone.
    • Treat others how you want to be treated.  This is something that your grandma instilled in me when I was a kid.  Treat others how you want to be treated, but don’t expect people to do the same in return.  People won’t always be nice to you, be nice anyways.
    • Demand respect.  If you aren’t being respected, speak up.  Never be afraid to use your voice, but don’t do it in a way that is harsh or unkind.  You deserve respect, too.
    • I promise to always respect you, even when we may not see eye to eye.
  9. Spread kindness like wildfire.  You never know the battles someone else may be facing, and a little kindness can go a long way.  This world isn’t always a kind place, but you can always add a little kindness to the world.  Be encouraging, be nurturing, be caring, be sympathetic, be understanding, and speak life always.  But don’t ever let anyone take advantage of you because of your kind heart.  Know the difference between someone needing you and someone using you, sometimes it can be a very hard line to see.  I promise to always be kind (even though you may not always see it that way).
  10. You are loved more than you know.  They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I, without a doubt, have the best village in the entire world.  The amount of support you and I have been shown is overwhelming in the best way possible.  Your great grandma only refers to you as her “little dude” and is probably the most excited out of everyone.  Your grandma and grandpa are head over heals for you.  Your aunties and uncles (some blood, some not) are obsessed with you.  You already have my friends wrapped around your finger.  Even my therapist is thrilled that you are coming into this world.  But my love, I promise that no one is ever going to love you more than I do.

My sweet boy, I don’t know what in the world I did right to deserve you.  What I do know is that you were sent in to my life at just the right time and that you are here for a purpose.  I promise to be the best mom possible for you, to give you the life you deserve, and to never let you go a day without knowing how loved you are.   You are the most important thing in the world to me.  I can’t wait to see who you are, and to see who I become with you by my side.  We’re in this together now and forever.  You’ll always be my baby boy.

I love you always,

Love mom.


You Aren’t Weak For Going To Therapy.

Therapy.  I have always been against it. Always.

My mom did the right thing from the start by sticking me in therapy.  From a young age she noticed my anxiety, recognized that I needed help, and did everything in her power to get it for me. However, there was one problem: I didn’t want help.  She tried for years and years to get me to go, and I put my foot down time after time.  It was to a point where she would go in and talk to my therapist while I sat in the hallway hysterically crying because I didn’t want to be there.  Talk about needing help, right?

After my first suicide attempt I tried therapy again, and still hated every minute of it.  It caused me more anxiety than not, and I think I made it through two appointments before giving up.  For me I always thought that if you needed to go to therapy it meant that something was wrong with you, that you were weak because you needed help.  I could not have been more wrong, and I wish I would have realized that sooner.

It was April of 2018 and my best friend, Omi, and grandpa had all recently passed away. I was struggling with an addiction that nobody knew anything about, and my soul was really, really heavy.  I started researching therapists on my own, realizing that maybe I did need help.  I stumbled across a therapist, Elizabeth, who I thought would maybe be a good fit for me (truthfully I chose her because I thought she was pretty and looked like someone I would be friends with.)  I researched her a little bit, and then shut down the idea completely remembering my insane reasoning for never wanting to go to therapy before.  It wasn’t until after my second suicide attempt and first real blackout moment (I’ll talk more about those later) that my mom said enough was enough.  I was in the ER at St. Joseph Hospital and my social worker gave me a list of therapists to contact when I got out, Elizabeth being one of them.  My mom called her and I had my first appointment the following week.  I went into it so nervous, and quite honestly ashamed that my life had gotten to that point.  I came out a different person.

Elizabeth has changed my life in a way I never thought possible.  When I say she’s my favorite person (non family member, of course), I’m not kidding.  I wish that she knew how much she means to me, because she holds a spot in my heart that nobody else can ever hold.  I brought her into my life at my absolute lowest point, and I like to think that she saved me.  But I think if I were to tell her that she would just smile, shake her head, and respond with, “Nope.  You saved yourself, I just helped.”  I see her twice a week now, and those two days are my favorite days of the week simply because it’s ME time. For two hours a week it’s all about me.  Sounds a little selfish, right? WRONG. It’s never selfish to take care of yourself.  It’s not selfish to put yourself, and your wellbeing, first sometimes. And it’s definitely not something to be ashamed of.

There are two major things I’ve learned since I started therapy. First is that it’s okay to not always be okay.  It’s okay to breakdown.  It’s okay to struggle.  It’s okay to cry.  It’s okay to feel down sometimes.  Just don’t stay there.  “If it matters, let it matter.  If your hearts breaking, let it ache. Catch those pieces as they shatter, know your hurt is not in vain. Don’t hide yourself from the horror.  Hurt today, heal tomorrow.” – Lyrics from my favorite song by Johnnyswim.  Elizabeth constantly loves to remind me that negative emotions are there to move you.  They aren’t stagnant. They are doing something, something big.  It’s up to you, however, to find what that something is.  And if you need help doing that, that is perfectly okay.  The second thing that I’ve learned is that it’s okay to feel good.  Sometimes I struggle with that – feeling good.  A silly thing to think, right? Life has thrown me so many curveballs.  From divorce, an unnoticed eating disorder, grief on grief on grief, heartbreak, addiction, anxiety, and depression.  Sometimes, when I feel okay I don’t want to feel okay.  Sometimes, I don’t feel like I deserve to feel happy. And that’s when she steps in. That’s when she reminds me that I am brave, beautiful, loved, and strong.  That my feelings are valid, and that I’m not crazy for feeling the things that I feel.

Finding the right therapist can be hard. It can be daunting and defeating when you feel like you just don’t click.  But let me tell you, when you finally find the right one it’s the best thing in the world.  It’s magical.  It’s empowering.  It’s life changing.  Don’t give up, your person is out there.  So today I am here to remind you that you are not weak for going to therapy.  You are brave.  You are trying. You are healing.  You are breathing. You are alive.  And today, those things are enough for me.  Let them be enough for you, too.  If you think you need help, get out there and get it.  Don’t be ashamed. If you just need someone to talk to, do it. You don’t have to suffer in silence.  And if you’re struggling with finding the right therapist, don’t give up.  Your Elizabeth is out there.

Side note: Elizabeth, if you’re reading this, THANK YOU for everything you’ve done for me.  Thank you for constantly reminding me that I am enough.  For reminding me to be gentle with myself.  For letting me be me.  And of course for all the music recommendations (Smashing Pumpkins all day every day).  You have made me a better person, thank you.

Fight For Yourself.  Always. 

My Best Friend Died, And I’m Stuck Here.

I met Cali Noel Hall in 2014 while attending school at Life Christian Academy.  We instantly clicked and before I knew it we were spending every day together.  Whether it was running at Point Defiance, going to Frisko Freeze, cuddling in bed, sitting in the car, or just simply being in each other’s presence we were always happy, laughing, content, and full of life.

Our senior year Cali moved in with my family for a while, and I’m not kidding when I say every night was a party.  We blew up a queen size air mattress on my bedroom floor, leaving absolutely no room to walk or even open the closet door.  But we didn’t care.  We were just happy because now we were officially more than best friends, we were family.  My family took Cali in without hesitation.  My aunts spoiled her, my grandparents adored her, and my parents made her do chores as if she had been there all along. We were truly soul mates.

I loved every single thing about Cali, but there was one giant piece that she chose to hide from me: addiction.  When Cali and I became friends I had no clue about her past.  I had no clue that addiction was such a big part of her life.  It wasn’t until she was living with my family that I realized that she had a serious problem.  In that moment I had two choices: step away from the friendship or love her harder.  If you know me at all you know that my heart is big, really big.  So suddenly I was thrown into the world of loving an addict, which is no easy task but I’ll talk more about that in a future post.

There’s one question you always have to ask yourself when loving an addict: am I loving them or am I enabling them?  Phone call after phone call, long drive after long drive, rescue after rescue.  Was I loving or enabling?  It was right before graduation that I heard a quote that said, “If an addict is happy with you, you’re probably enabling them.  If an addict is mad at you, you’re probably trying to save their life.”  After graduation I had to sit my best friend in the world down and say the hardest thing I’ve ever had to say, “Cali, I love you but I can’t keep saving you.  You have to learn how to save yourself.” After that conversation I didn’t see Cali for six months.  She moved to Hawaii to start a new life and I moved to Bellingham to go to college.  We still talked constantly, but it was clear our friendship wasn’t the same.  How could it be after a conversation like that?

Fast forward to September of 2017.  I was studying abroad in Paris, France and Cali was still in Hawaii.  I was sitting on the train to Monet’s Garden, surrounded by a whole bunch of strangers, when I got a text that changed my world forever.  It was from a random girl on Facebook and all it said was, “Cali has passed away.  I know you were close with her and wanted to let you know.”  That was it.  No other information.  No reason why.  Nothing.  I texted her mom and asked if it was true and she immediately responded with, “Yes.”  In that moment my world fell apart.  Being as I was surrounded by strangers and a few classmates I hardly knew, I didn’t say anything.  It wasn’t until we were leaving Monet’s Garden nearly six hours later when I finally lost it.   I spent the next two weeks in Paris just trying to make it through each day with a fake smile on my face.

By the time I made it back to Washington the sadness had subsided and anger had taken its place.  I sat through her funeral without shedding a single tear.  I watched my family mourn the loss of our pseudo sister and I felt nothing.  I physically couldn’t mourn and it angered me that that’s how I was.  They say a single thread of hope is a very powerful thing.  For three years I had been holding on to this hope that one day Cali would be okay.  That one day she would get clean.  That one day she would realize that she had this community around her that loved her more than she knew.  That one day I would get my best friend in the world back.  And then that thread of hope snapped.  It broke.  It was gone, vanished.  Occasionally I forget that she’s gone.  I find myself hoping that she’s doing okay, that maybe she’s clean, and that maybe one day she’ll move back and we’ll continue our friendship as sisters.  And then I’m hit with the gut wrenching reality that none of those things will ever happen.  Because addiction stole my best friend.  And now all I have left are memories.  And for a year now that thought has been making me angry.  Angry because I will never make another memory with her.  Angry because she won’t stand by my side at my wedding.  Angry because my future kids will never call her “Auntie Cali.”  Angry because she couldn’t find the strength that we all knew she had to get clean.  Angry because I couldn’t save her.  But even though I am angry I am still grateful.  Grateful because I got to call her my best friend.  I got to call her my soul mate.  I got to call her my sister.  And that’s something that can never be taken away from me, no matter how far apart we are.  And for that I am forever grateful.

Cali taught me what it’s like to feel loved.  She taught me how to genuinely care about people.  She taught me how to laugh, how to dance, how to cry.  She taught me that life is about so much more than addiction, and I want to recover because she didn’t get the chance to.  She showed me just how precious life is.  So now I choose to live everyday in honor of her.  Living life without your best friend is really damn hard.  It’s something I would never wish on anyone.  Something funny happens and she’s the first person I want to laugh with.  Something sad happens and, again, she is the only person I want to talk to.   Sometimes I still find myself typing “soul mate” into my contacts to see if she wants to hangout.  And those things all come along with this physical pain in my chest as I remember that she’s not here, and I am.  But that’s the point – I AM.  I am alive.  I am breathing.  I am recovering.  I am hurting.  But I am okay.

Grief is a bizarre thing.  Sometimes it is all-consuming.   Sometimes it makes it harder to breathe.  Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m drowning.  It’s been a year and I still cry myself to sleep most nights.  I still want to share every memory that pops up on my Facebook.  I still want to talk about her constantly.  But unless everybody else around you is in the same grief journey, they get to be sad for a minute and then move on.  I’m stuck here mourning my best friend while the rest of the world carries on like nothing happened.  People don’t like talking about Cali, I know that.  Whether it’s because they find her death uncomfortable, they are confused by the way she died, or they just simply don’t want to talk about it I see it and I feel it.  Mentioning her name won’t make me sad, it will actually do quite the opposite.  So let’s talk about her.  Let’s remember her.  Let’s raise awareness about addiction and mental health.  Let’s fight for her.


Fight For Yourself.  Always. 

This Is Me, This Is My Story.

I’ve lived a good life.  A really, really good life.  To say I’ve been blessed would be an understatement.  I went to a private school, live in a big house, have traveled tons, studied abroad, have lots of friends, and have a huge family.  But to tell you my life has been all great would be a lie.  I’ve also struggled with crippling anxiety, depression that tried to end my life, an eating disorder, drug addiction, far too much grief, divorce, and so much heartbreak.  But hey, I’m here and I’m living despite it all, right?

Elementary Age:

Let me start from the beginning.  Date: May 29th, 1997.  The day my life began.  Place: Omaha, Nebraska.  The place I would call home for a mere two weeks of my life. My mom, dad, and I then made the journey back to Lakewood, Washington where I’d spend my childhood growing up in a neighborhood full of friends my age, with a big backyard, at a school I loved, and with both sets of grandparents right down the road.  My days as an only child were filled with daily visits with my grandparents, hanging out with my best friend Morgan, and getting loved on by the two greatest parents in the world. June 29th, 2000 was hands down the best day of my life.  That day I gained not only two baby sisters, but best friends.  We had the perfect little family, until suddenly we didn’t.  Somewhere between the ages of 3 and 7 I felt my first real sting of heartbreak.  My parents got divorced, my dad started dating someone new, and it was suddenly just us girls.  I was 8 years old when I remember noticing that I wasn’t like most of the kids around me.  I was quiet, didn’t really like hanging out with anybody my age, and found the seemingly simple tasks to be dauntingly difficult.  Everybody labeled me as “shy,” not knowing that there was really something much deeper going on.  That’s when I heard the word “anxiety” for the first time. I was also 8 years old when my dad and new stepmom, Cheryl, blessed me with a baby brother. Two years later they brought another baby into the world. In 4th grade I was switched from a public school where I was comfortable to a private school where I had never felt more out of place.  For a “normal” kid, that switch may have been a walk in the park, for me, it was earth shattering.  I spent the next two years of elementary school just trying to feel like I fit in.  My mom eventually met the man of her dreams and married him, giving me the big sister I had always wanted.  We moved to Gig Harbor, and life was so good but so different.

Middle School:

Quiet, shy, and full of anxiety: not easy labels for any middle schooler.  I spent the majority of my time trying to fit in.  I started going to youth group on Wednesday’s, forced myself to hangout with people, and even tried out for the cheer squad at my school.  But each day was an internal battle no one knew anything about.  I spent a lot of time at church, trying to find myself through Jesus.  Going back and forth between my mom’s house and my dad’s house left me wondering why my family had to be a part of the divorce world.  I was in middle school, and had so many questions about life already.

High School:

What a blur.  Same school, same friends, same anxiety, same old same old.  High school was the same, but also full of firsts.  My first kiss, my first real relationship, my first sip of alcohol, my first job, my first horrible thought about my body, and my first major sign of depression.  I was still a cheerleader until my anxiety made it too difficult. I attended youth group until my junior year and became quite involved in the church, actually wanting to be there.  My teachers were my closest friends, and they really poured everything they had into me.  My grades were decent, my home life was good, and life seemed to be going pretty well.  Junior year was when shit hit the fan for me.  It’s when I really started hating the way I looked.  It’s when I started eating less, but not enough for anyone to actually notice.  It’s when I was diagnosed with depression.  Everyday was a battle for me.  Then came senior year.  A new girl, Cali, came to my school.  We instantly became best friends.  We spent every single day together, and then she even moved in with my family.  Every night was a party, quite literally.  It was with her that I took my first bong rip, went to my first real party, and experienced first hand what loving an addict was like. She moved out to go to rehab, blamed me, and made my life a living hell.  But she was still my best friend.  A bad breakup with the first guy I ever loved, a best friend who was hurting so badly, trouble at home, anxiety beyond belief, depression, and an unnoticed eating disorder.  I felt trapped in my own body.  It was then, a month before graduation, that I attempted suicide for the first time.  Two deep cuts on my left arm because I thought there was no other way out of the pain I was feeling.  A little time off from life and I was okay.  Don’t get me wrong, high school wasn’t all bad. It was also filled with lots of laughs, vacations, cruises, new family members, and so much more. Sometimes I lose sight of the good stuff, although I try my best not to. Cali and I walked together at graduation and just like that high school was over.  Thank God.


Western Washington University.  The greatest nine months of my life.  I finally felt like I fit in.  My roommate, Emma, was the best roommate I ever could have asked for.  We instantly clicked, and everything seemed to be going perfectly.  Our pseudo roommate and best friend, Katie, made everything hilarious, wild, and an adventure.  I loved my life for the first time in a really long time.  I then got kidney stones (yuck), and after a lot of thought had to move home from college.  Why me? When I was finally happy, why? I spent a couple months doing nothing but pitying myself. I didn’t know what my purpose was anymore.  After being called a “college dropout” one too many times I attended an information session for an Interior Design program at Clover Park Technical College.  I registered that day and started classes a week later.  For the first time in my life I was top of my class and thriving.  The program was hard, don’t get me wrong, but everything seemed to come so naturally to me.  I moved in with my grandma and grandpa so I could be closer to school, and also because they are the two most important people in the world to me and I didn’t want to miss out on a single minute. I landed an internship in Las Vegas, and was having the time of my life.  I was even given the opportunity to study abroad in Paris a year into my program.  My first thought was, “hell no.” Then I brought up the idea to my Omi, and without question that next September I was on my way to Paris.  Little did I know that I would have to say my final goodbye to her the day before I flew out, her passing away a week into my trip.  This trip was the greatest experience of my entire life.  I fell in love with the city, people, and food of Paris.  It was also the hardest trip of my entire life.  On my third day there I got a message and all it read was, “Hey, Cali died and I thought you would want to know.”  My best friend in the entire world, gone from addiction, just like that.  And that is where my journey with grief began.  I came back from Paris, sat through both my best friend and my Omi’s funerals, and felt so lost.  Upon returning was when I had my first personal encounter with drugs. A one time thing quickly turned into an addiction.  My life was spiraling out of control.  I wanted to give up so badly on school as I could not quite seem to get my head out of the dark cloud it was in.  But I powered through with the help of my friends and teachers, and finished Design school this past March.  Life is full of surprises, roll with them.

Post College:

Life since finishing school has been nothing short of crazy.  My life quickly became consumed by drugs.  Using became a daily thing, the only thing that seemed to numb all my pain.  I quit my job, lost all my friends, stopped going to church, and was struggling to get through each day.  February rolled around and I lost the most important man in the world to me, my grandpa.  I spiraled after that.  I was numb to the world, losing my best friend, Omi, and Grandpa all within a few months of each other.  Everything got so bad that I attempted suicide a second time, landing me at St. Joseph Hospital.  Life was hard.  So unbelievably hard.  Then it got okay for a little bit.  Then it got bad again.  I had zero intention of telling anyone about my addiction, until it was almost to late.  It was May and I found myself laying on my living room floor unable to move, freezing, and shaking uncontrollably.  I pretty much just accepted that that was how I was going to die, laid down in front of the fireplace, and waited for somebody to find me.  My stepdad, who works from home, finally came into the house.  Through tears and a locked jaw all I could mutter was, “I’m addicted to (insert drug name discussed in a later post here).” Words that would change my life, and my families lives, forever.  He took me to the hospital where they quickly admitted me and diagnosed me with cotton fever. I stayed two days and was then given two options: go home or go to rehab.  Neither sounded good, but home sounded worse at the time.  I was admitted to Fairfax Behavioral Health’s detox unit and didn’t get out until the day before my 21st birthday. My world was crumbling. I was forced (kind of) into going to therapy and seeing a psychiatrist, who put me on all sorts of medications. My therapist is my new favorite person (hi, E, thanks for making my life so much better), and I see her twice a week willingly. I must admit sometimes it makes me sad that she is my therapist because I really just want her to be my friend. I have now been clean 153 days, and I have never been more proud of myself.  I started dating an amazing guy, and although we didn’t work out he is still one of my closest friends.  I’ve made tons of new friends (special shoutout to you, H, thanks for reading. You’ve made my life better than I’ve ever imagined. Thanks for being you, and for letting me be me). I even got a job as a waitress/bartender that I LOVE. Life is good.  And then it’s hard.  And then it’s good again.  Hold on, pain ends.

This is my crazy life, welcome to it.

Let’s Start Here.

Before I introduce myself let me start with this: YOU matter.  YOU are needed in this world.  YOU are worth the fight.  YOU are enough.

Hi, I’m Hannah.  I’m 21 years old and I currently live in beautiful Gig Harbor, Washington.  I studied abroad in Paris, interned in Las Vegas, and recently finished Interior Design school.  I’m a fashion enthusiast and coffee obsessed. I’m a deep feeler and a big lover.   And most importantly I feel like I’ve been placed in this world to advocate for those who are struggling, because for most of my life I’ve been struggling, too.

I’m starting this blog for two reasons: me, and you.  I’m starting it for me as an outlet.  A place to share my thoughts, a place to share my struggles, a place to share my experiences, and a place to share my hopes and dreams. I’m starting it for you as a safe place.  A place where you won’t feel alone, a place where you can come when you’re struggling, and a place to make you more familiar with the world of mental health and addiction.

So here’s to this new journey.  Let’s do it together.


Fight For Yourself.  Always.