“Remember?” 12.01.23

I have an excellent long term memory. I recall events and moments from my earliest years, details most have forgotten. I remember the scrubs my mom wore when she worked the night shift at the hospital in Virginia, crawling to the front door to greet her in the early morning. I have one of her faded long-sleeved shirts with an image of a musician neither she nor I can identify. I wear that shirt when I don’t want to worry over what to wear. It makes me feel at home, like she’s hugging me. When I wear it, I never feel self-conscious.

There are clips in my mind of birthday parties, quotes between adults, faint smells. My Granmama died when I was eighteen, but I still remember her scent. I visit her when I sleep.

I have cloudy recollections from the day I first met my little sister, and remember my disappointment when I realized that she wasn’t already old enough to play with me.

When I was two years old, I had an imaginary friend (a leaf) called “Mousy.” When I rode on my dad’s shoulders to day care, he would point to rustling leaves and say, “Look, Samantha! There’s Mousy!” to which I answered, “No, Daddy. That’s not him.”


Though I have several early memories, my disorder has stolen my short term. Often I forget what I am trying to say mid-sentence. More frequently, I forget what I wanted to say at all. I repeat myself incessantly. Many of my blog articles touch the same thoughts and toss around similar words, but I know that repeating my stories is a coping mechanism, an attempt to banish the pain; it lingers deep inside my mind, barely tangible but never forgotten. Trauma is a visitor who overstays his welcome.

I am grateful for the memories I cherish. They swirl around me on blustery days. Grasping these moments aids me on my life long quest to remember who I am.


“Thanksgiving” 11.23.23

On this special occasion, we surround ourselves with family and friends, celebrating the light in our lives. We practice gratitude for the blessings bestowed upon us; we appreciate the love that has enveloped us throughout our childhood, the growth and lessons we have learned along the way.

Life’s journey has been kinder to some than to others. This is a time to show love and compassion for the less fortunate. Everyone deserves help and community.

When I was in elementary school, we celebrated Valentine’s Day. We decorated shoe boxes and slit holes in the top to resemble piggy banks. Our parents bought fun cards, we signed them and stuffed them into our friends’ boxes. All of the cards had different slogans, so we shared the more intimate cards with our closer friends. The kids with whom we rarely conversed received the leftovers. Those children were often excluded from our birthday parties, as well. We are all equal, in the past and in the present. Some kids drew the short straws. Today, let us welcome these people to the table. We must spread our love beyond the reach of our arms and be grateful for the hands that we hold.

Remembering the important blessings and people in our lives, let us give thanks, eat until we can barely move, and take really long naps.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!


“Scapegoat” 11.17.23

Awful events take place all over the world, every day. We need someone to blame.

Life is easier for some than for others. There are children with legitimate issues who grow up in broken homes. Some reach adulthood with a sense of right and wrong, but must help themselves because no one else will rise to the occasion. Most have heard, “Life is not fair.”

Life is not fair.

Everywhere, people are suffering without treatment for psychiatric disorders; many cannot afford it and do not have strong support systems. Some are punished for crimes that might have been prevented. Fingers, as well as guns, point in their direction. The media jumps to conclusions about a perpetrator, labeling that individual with a huge stamp of MENTAL ILLNESS on their forehead, and a target on their back. This feeds the stigma. Something must be “wrong” with a person in order to commit a heinous crime. The offender is the scapegoat, a deer in the headlights. This label neatly sums it up. Case closed.

Let us not forget that mental illness is neither a crime or a motive.

“Oh! I knew there was something going on with her. Now it makes sense.” When I published my first book, there were people in my life who responded in this manner. They thought something was “off” about me, and here was the proof. Pouring your heart out to the public is opening yourself; exposing your insides to society. I spent years striving to hide my mental illness, believing I was succeeding. It was surprising to me how many people had already come to that conclusion. Pieces of my puzzle fell into place. I was “figured out.” I know how it feels to be branded.

I pondered whether to hide this part of myself or to share my truth with the world. My story was serving less purpose lurking in the dark corners of my mind. I implore everyone to spread the positive side of this invisible illness; stick up for one another in awkward situations; begin conversations in social settings. We are one body, separate parts. I hope that one day we will come together, and will no longer feel the need to throw stones.


“Childhood” 11.10.23

Everything in life is temporary. For some, it is difficult to enjoy because it won’t last forever. Others make lemonade so often they forget to take pictures. Life sweeps us off our feet, no matter how we begin.

I am the eldest of four daughters. My parents are still happily married. Mom worries that our childhood wasn’t enough, that it could have been better. I don’t know why she is concerned about that, because my childhood was magical. We all have reflections; many of us have regrets. My life has not been perfect, and memories distort reality over time, but our early years as a family were so special. She needn’t fret.

I was shy and quiet, with good grades and excellent athletic abilities. I was competitive. During Bill Clinton’s presidency, the country’s physical fitness was of utmost importance. We performed mandatory exercises for the Presidential Physical Fitness program, and competed against ourselves for good marks. “Good” wasn’t included in my vocabulary. I strived for “Great.” I ran the fastest mile. I did the most crunches. The coach asked me to demonstrate pull-ups for the boys. When I reached the tenth, Coach said, “Ok, Sam, that’s enough.” With the support from my family, I grew up believing everything was possible. I can still hear my dad’s voice encouraging me to “Run like the wind.”

Creativity has always coursed through my veins. My parents embraced my artistic energy; they understood that elementary school art classes once a week were not enough to fuel my desire to create. Due to their attentiveness, they provided additional private lessons every Thursday afternoon. Thursday was my favorite day of the week when I was in the fourth grade.

As a child, it was frustrating to be an artist. I thought everything was supposed to look “real,” and nothing in my head was transferring to paper. During one of our community art shows, I discovered that art doesn’t necessarily have to fall under Realism. I was drawn to an unusual painting; I was perplexed. Here, the artist was clearly expressing herself in a different way than I had ever known. Colors, shapes, composition, no definitive meaning. Abstract art? I asked the artist many questions, and offered to buy that painting, proof that the world isn’t always real. You can make it your own. She gave it to me. It hangs in my house to this day.

Without my parents and sisters, I would not be the person I am today. I may not have been an athlete, a good student, an artist, a happy child.

My childhood was sacred. I am so grateful to have grown up in a world without social media. I climbed tall trees, swam in frigid water, explored, hiked, camped. I never doubted my parents’ love for me. They did not leave me alone with my struggles, then or ever after. I was built on a strong foundation, and I am tethered to the roots of our family tree. Sometimes I wander, but I never lose sight of home.


Thanks to Mom, Dad,

Jessica, Kimberly, and Amy

“Happy Birthday, Rush!!” 11.03.23

In 2016, I met a friend, who steadily became much more. I visited him every day at work. There was a coffee shop nearby and it was on the way, so we enjoyed coffee in the morning; most days we spent his lunch hour together. I found him extremely attractive on the outside, and fell madly in love with his insides. Never had I met a person so easy to be with, funny even when he wasn’t trying. I still cannot kiss him without smiling.

My dog, Charlie, was very old. He was blind, but had an excellent sense of direction. Every time I walked Charlie, he led me to Rush. Charlie was hard to please, and did not trust anyone unless they deserved it. He died shortly after meeting Rush, knowing I was in good hands. Over the course of a few weeks with Rush, I knew he was my person; there would never be anyone else. I had finally found him, and he was a keeper.

Rush is compassionate, and cares for the needs of others before his own. He has helped several people throughout his life, when they were down on their luck. He didn’t have to. He could have turned away from those in need. Instead, he offers a hand, an ear, a shoulder, and a heart. He asks for nothing in return.

Rush contains all of the general adjectives describing a wonderful person-generous, intelligent, funny, and so forth-but he is so much more than a string of words. Wherever we are, whatever we do, everything is better in his presence. My love for him rivals the depths of uncharted waters. It is an honor to know him. This day, week, year and evermore, I celebrate the happiness that Rush brings to the world; I celebrate the joy that fills my heart so completely.

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday. I wish him many many more!

I could not ask for a better man in my life (besides my dad).

Happy birthday, Rush!!


“Happy Halloween” 10.27.23

Be Safe. Have Fun. Lose the Stigma.

While you are watching classic 80’s horror films this weekend and eating your children’s candy, notice that most of the movies involve asylums. When the characters’ accounts of evil deeds and supernatural encounters are disbelieved, they end up in psychiatric facilities where they are deemed “crazy.” Please know that these depictions are far from the truth. People are afraid of the unknown, so they create stories that feed the stigma of mental illness. There are no “crazy” people, and the ones suffering the most are in need of help, not fear. We are not the bad guys.


“Side-Effects” 10.20.23

“I am going to run, and run, and run, and never stop.”-SJB at 2 years old

There are many solid reasons for treating psychiatric disorders with medication. Many people couple this approach with talk therapy. Accepting your need for assistance, you have options. When I was hospitalized, I decided to venture out and try my hand without medication. It led to months of confinement and suffering.

If you watch television, you may have witnessed advertisements about several different solutions. Toward the end of the commercials, the fine print is read very quietly, and quickly. These are the side-effects.

Years ago, I developed a rare side-effect titled ocular gyro crises. This is difficult to explain, so it persisted for quite a while before anyone knew what I was describing. I lost control of my eyes; the path in front of me was without view. My eyes traveled up; it was impossible to drag them down, despite my desperate attempts. This happened most often when I was running. I was captain of my high school cross country team, and when I tried to spell it out for my coach, he told me to drink more Gatorade.

Finally, I visited my psychiatrist. He recognized the symptoms but had never witnessed this phenomena. He referred me to a neurologist. This doctor confirmed my psychiatrist’s theory, but had not seen a case firsthand. The first neurologist referred me to another, who specialized in eye movement. He had only beheld nine cases in his whole career. I was prescribed medication to counteract the side-effects from another.

My most disappointing memory will haunt me forever. Cross country regional meet. I was sure to come in second place; it was expected. Pushing toward the final stretch, my eyes betrayed me and I couldn’t focus. It affected my speed and concentration. I finished third. It was my last race, and according to myself, I lost.

Understand that all medications have potential side-effects, but you must weigh the pros and cons. The medication that caused these side-effects also keeps me stable. Pay attention and make your own decisions based on your specific needs. Many side-effects will not occur; others are hard to live with, but sometimes the alternative is worse. Medication is not for everyone, but I learned the hard way that it is essential for my existence. With prescriptions and many years of therapy, I would say it is worth the risk. Psychiatric disorders must be treated delicately, with time and patience. This is a daunting task. I recommend research with or sans medication.

In my life, running was akin to breathing. Over time I suffered knee injuries and stress fractures, but the ocular gyro crises ultimately caused my final breath. Coach told us never to let up when we got to the top of a hill. We had the advantage because most everyone else rested atop the summit. He told us that we had not run hard enough if we finished without expending every single bit of our strength. Push. Kick. Finish hard. I am no quitter. My legs and my eyes may have stopped running, but I never will. This life is challenging. Side-effects are possible, but stability is within reach.

Keep running.


“10.10.20” 10.13.23

Once Upon a Time…

In 1999, when I was twelve years old, N*SYNC was my favorite boy band. I listened to their albums every night as I fell asleep.

On their “No Strings Attached” disc, there was a particular song that resonated with me. “This I Promise You” was on repeat frequently. Within this song, a phrase haunted me for years. “The one you should call was standing there all along.” Throughout my childhood and early teens, I scoured my surroundings searching for the boy who was “standing there all along.” Decades passed, and he never showed up.

In February of 2015, I moved to a small town in north Georgia. Shortly thereafter, I was contacted by a local gallery owner wishing to display my artwork. He gave me a tour and then introduced me to his son in passing. I found him attractive, but did not see him again for a while.

In 2016 I joined my church softball team, having never played a game in my life. I was branching out. On the second day of practice, one of the players batted the ball and it connected directly with my face. My teeth did not fall out, but they penetrated my face and my jaw was broken. I had oral surgery and wore braces for eight weeks, no solid foods.

I returned to the art gallery in 2016 after I had fully recovered. I rediscovered the attractive man I had not seen for such a long time. We became good friends, and I developed feelings for him. I often visited him at work under the rouse of finding the best pair of earrings, as the tree was located between us. For a while, he did not pick up the signs of affection I was laying on thick. Over the course of many months, I began to realize that no special boy had been “standing there all along,” but I had been standing there, waiting for him. Finally, I confessed my feelings for him. Much to my relief, he felt the same for me. He was worth the wait. We built a strong foundation on our close friendship. After years of dating and parenting a dog, our relationship was solid. We got married on October 10th, 2020. “This I Promise You” was our first dance song.

It was the best day of my life, and many have followed. Three years later, he still makes my heart flutter and I cannot kiss him without smiling.

I am grateful to have found the love of my life.


“Personal Connection” 10.06.23

“Hi! Hello! I thought this was a lunch date. Why are you texting someone else while I wait for your attention?”

“Oh, sorry! Just a minute.” Continues to ignore friend and focus on screen. Food arrives. She puts the phone away. It seems her priorities are her private texts and her rumbling stomach.


What is the point of dining together when you aren’t present for the person sitting across the table?

This is a situation I witness frequently. Couples spend date nights in nice restaurants, constantly on their phones, one oblivious to the other who is equally disengaged. They surface only to share the fascinating discoveries in their news feed.

Children have been playing video games for many years. Some parents are happy to hook their children to the television screen for a bit of peace, and many do not limit screen time. Kids today are pumped full of technology so sophisticated that some lose the ability to imagine, to play, to form plans of their own.

When I was little, I was rarely inside and it was glorious. On a nice day, it feels like a crime to stay indoors. Take a child outside and ask them to play. Many do not know how to climb trees and run through the woods, go swimming in a cold river, or get muddy on purpose. What a loss. There are television shows teaching kids how to play with toys, to speak with their voices and move them around creatively. It saddens me to realize that the days of manual play may be becoming extinct. Many teenagers today are glued to social media, and cannot part with their devices. They do not remember dial-up.

I worry that we have lost vital social skills, hiding behind the rising walls of technological evolution.

Technology has been helpful, and occasionally life-saving; it has been shaping the future from the start. It has also been detrimental.

When was the last time you asked a person, “Hi, how are you?” and waited for a response? Who asks a stranger where to find peanut butter in the grocery store, or talks shop with the person behind them in the Starbucks line? Does anyone remember eye contact? We have been forced apart for so long that we have distanced ourselves from each other in more ways than one. We are isolated and emotionally estranged. I have found that personal connections are preferable without a screen between. I imagine I was not the only kid who built cereal box boundaries between her sisters at the breakfast table. How quickly we laughed and let them fall away. The cereal boxes of today pull us in and do not surrender so easily.

Look up! Observe your surroundings. Open your eyes and experience “real life.” When we strive to capture a moment through the lens of a camera, we waste valuable human connection. We do not truly experience these moments in our struggle to retain them permanently. The photograph may last longer, but will you ever see it again? You missed it.

Let us remember that “virtual” is not reality.


“Bad Day” 09.29.23

What defines a bad day?

It’s six AM already. Again. Your hair is a mess and there’s no time for a shower. The line is six persons long, and you are last. You are in a hurry, and need coffee to take the edge off. These people are obstacles. The espresso machine is down. Great. Traffic on the way to work is jammed and you are stuck in a hot car next to someone blasting their music like everyone else is enjoying their noise. You are late to work and on your race to the office, a butterfly collided with your windshield. You feel like crying. A friend bought lunch, the rest of the day went smoothly, and you got off work early. Yet, your day was tainted by your morning. Lack of sleep left you drained; you worked like a zombie, and thought about your bed every half hour. When asked if you had a good day, you have to think about it. The bad parts of our day tend to linger in our minds.

Bad days can begin happy and take a turn for the worst…

Imagine that your mood is directly related to one daily goal. Making a sale. You wake up leisurely, stretch, shower, eat breakfast at your favorite coffee shop. There is no line. You have time to sit. You ride a bike to work, so you don’t have to worry about traffic. The weather is perfect. This is a beautiful morning, the start of a wonderful day. You work in retail, and your job depends on customer service. Sometimes you make sales all day and ride your bike home with a triumphant smile on your face. Today, you make no sales. When you arrive home, your wife knows you are grumpy because you made no sales. This has ruined your day, despite your pristine morning.

When we examine the small details we hold dear in our daily routines, we realize how trivial they are in the big picture. If a wrench is thrown in your path and your day collapses, understand how very fortunate you are for this one bad day.

Bad days are inevitable, as are good days. It is important to be grateful for both. Without darkness, there can be no light.

Next time you have a bad day, remember that a good one is around the corner.