“Lost and Found” 12.31.21

My dad used to tell me to “Run like the wind!” He shouted that phrase during cross country races and during soccer games. He has always believed in me. So, I ran like the wind. Everywhere I went. Driving? Walking? No. Shoes or bare feet? Not even questionable. I hate wearing shoes. When I was younger, I climbed trees and ran through the woods pretending to be Pocahontas. A wild child, with a strong spirit and an active imagination.

Losing my capability to run was tragic, but it opened up doors I didn’t know existed. My creative mind took control. I acquired a few trophies for various events throughout my life. I kept only two. The first and last. While I am proud of landing my first-place trophy in a road race (my last race), I hold my very first trophy closer to my heart. When I was in the first grade, I won the first-place Young Georgia Authors Award. This trophy serves as a reminder of my beginning as a writer and illustrator. It expresses that every voice, especially the little ones carry weight.


“Triggers” 3.19.21

Triggers are events or reminders of past trauma which can send a person over the edge into mania or depression.

Triggers can be big ordeals, or small details that open up a part of the brain and reintroduce the trauma a person has experienced. My triggers began with apple juice.

My dad is an Episcopal priest. When I was in the eighth grade, I was told that we were moving away from the town I grew up in. I was feeling uprooted. When you are the daughter of a priest, you are not supposed to tell anyone if, when, or where you are relocating until the whole church is informed. I wasn’t even allowed to tell my best friend. Unfortunately, it took her a while to forgive me for keeping such a secret from her, but it was my duty.

Once reality set in and the move was impending, I got very sick and stayed at home from school for a week. I laid in my parents’ bed and didn’t eat or drink much other than apple juice. It was the beginning of my worst depression. To this day, I cannot drink apple juice without being reminded of that depression and once reminded, I start to sink.

Another of my triggers is oatmeal with butter and brown sugar. It reminds me of the days when I was literally starving, in a hospital that couldn’t take care of my needs. Trying to fatten me up, the women serving breakfast always gave me an extra bowl of oatmeal. I remember a man in line behind me ask, “Hey! Why does she get two bowls?” To which the woman replied, “Look at her!”

Now, when I eat oatmeal with butter and brown sugar I cannot help but think of that time. It reminds me of sick days spent in bed as an adult skipping work. I stayed away, depression enveloping me. I burrowed into my blankets and felt the guilty aches of anxiety deep within my core.

Anxiety is the trigger that has the biggest effect on my life. I cannot work, because I cannot handle the stress. I have been unable to keep a steady job because of my disability. I cannot even handle a part-time job.

As my illness progressed, I began to recognize running as one of my most heartbreaking triggers. It was always my favorite activity and my greatest escape. I have ruined my knees due to years on my feet. I no longer run, but it is not solely due to my injury. When I run, the occurrence of an ocular gyro crisis is highly likely. An ocular gyro crisis is involuntary rapid eye movement. I lose control of my eyes. It is an extremely rare side effect I inherited from one of the many medications I was prescribed in the past. Running also invites the voices into my head; one voice is encouraging and the other is reckless. Although I realize these consequences, my desire to run is high and my loss of running is emotionally painful.

Even if you don’t have a mental illness, everyone has triggers. Sit down and write a list of the things in your life that make you “tick.” Once you have named them, they will be easier to circumvent.