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Grief in Winter, by Amelia Lehto

The illness was painful at first, arduous and relentless.

Summer her hair fell but her weight fell faster.

That first Fall her bones ached, her body angry fighting the illness.

Wintertime she fought many battles; mentally and physically.

Spring came and hope was restored.

With Summer she had a kick in her step, a glow in her heart.

By Fall she had slowed, she needed an extra hand.

Winter was around the corner, frost was nipping our heals and her life was coming to an end.

After she drew her last breath the world I knew fell apart.

Her lasting and forever comforting words to me,

“Don’t say I’m sorry, just say I love you,”

These words follow me wherever I go.

____________

About Amelia:

As the Crisis Line & Suicide Prevention Coordinator at Common Ground which provides a lifeline for individuals and families in crisis, helping people move from crisis to hope. My position serves several functions ultimately supporting our mission of helping people move from crisis to hope. In this role I supervise our Resource & Crisis Helpline via phones, chat and text, as part of our Coordinator team which provides guidance, support and training to our volunteers and interns.

Through my work I help provide outreach, support and information to those bereaved by suicide through our Survivors of Suicide Loss Program. Specializing in suicide prevention and postvention on the local, state and national levels through trainings, advocacy and innovative technology. She is also a team leader on Common Ground’s Crisis Response Team, a team member on the Oakland County Crisis Response Organization and a member of Oakland County Youth Suicide Prevention Taskforce.

After experiencing loss at a young age I’ve discovered that one is not defined by how they died, but how they lived. And so it’s been my life mission to improve the lives of those around me through love, listening and laughter. To quote the famous and favorite Lorax, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” You can also find me on Twitter @Atoes84

Amelia Lehto

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Dear Santa, Tempest Rose

Dear Santa,

My skin is itchy and my brain is on fire.

But my boy wants a new scooter.

Dear Santa,

I can’t stop shaking and moving my legs.

But Jack needs a new pair of sunglasses.

Dear Santa,

I’m scraping my tongue against my teeth and picking at my nails.

But my mom really needs to know it’s going to be okay.

Dear Santa,

Sometimes people make me squirm and shout.

But I forgot to get my dog something, could you take care of that for me?

Dear Santa,

Some days it’s not so bad.

But it’d be nice to have a day for me.

Dear Santa,

My dishes are piling up and there’s dirt everywhere.

But my boy just peed his pants.

Dear Santa,

I find it hard to get out of bed.

But Jack thinks I’m lazy.

Dear Santa,

Dear Santa,

Dear Santa,

Maybe this year I could have my sanity back?

___________

Tempest Rose has a story to tell, knowledge to share, and opinions to be voiced. She feels like she doesn’t belong and she wants to make a difference. She is dedicated to spreading truth, awakening minds, and changing the world. She recently started her journey in mental health treatment, and also writes about an array of topics such as gender, addiction, abortion, and pretty much anything that’s controversial. She can be funny, too . . . sometimes. To read more of her work, visit her personal blog, Nonsense & Shenanigans. She also is a contributor for Bipolar Parenting Project (and Stigmama!).

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Title photo image credit here: http://pixabay.com/en/vintage-postcard-christmas-santa-316836/

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Take a Break and Breathe, by Elaina J. Martin

The holidays are hard. I don’t care that I love Christmas in all its beauty; it is a hard time for me. The crazy shoppers. The pressure of finding the “right gift.” Seeing relatives who ask you 5 billion questions, like why, after 5 years, are you not yet engaged.

Sigh.

I had a preview of the holiday season in mid-November when I went to my parents’ home in North Carolina tucked away in the countryside on a lake. I went there to celebrate my grandmother’s 80th birthday. There were 4 dogs, 2 of whom like to bark a lot. I love my grandma, but she never stops talking, like, never.

I am used to a pretty quiet, laid-back life. I live with my boyfriend and we have his kids every other weekend and some holidays. Those times are a little louder. But mostly, I do my own thing and have the option of retreating to “my room” – the room over the garage that houses all MY stuff, like my couch and bed and this desk upon which rests this laptop. When I moved in with my boyfriend 4 years ago, we agreed I could have a space all my own. It’s like a “Man Cave,” only quite feminine.

So, when I found myself in a situation where I was sleeping on the couch and keeping my things in the laundry room, I found the situation – with all its noise and dogs and people – well, a little trying.

How did I survive the week? Well, in addition to my regular meds for bipolar disorder and anxiety, I took breaks. Sometimes it was as dramatic as sitting on the cold tile of the unheated laundry room with the door closed, or maybe it was walking outside, closing my eyes and imagining that I was at my favorite coffee shop drinking a delicious latte and watching the turtles in Lake Austin, or maybe it was washing my hands in the restaurant bathroom (some of us with obsessive compulsive disorder really love to wash our hands). But breaks, taking a few minutes to breathe deeply and trying to relax before rejoining whatever chaos was occurring, helped.

If nothing else, there is always a bathroom to hide in for a few minutes. Practice your deep breathing. In and out. In and out. I swear by the power of the breath.

Family gatherings can be hard. I once burst out crying as my family sat down to eat a holiday dinner. Why? I was just so overwhelmed by all the commotion and attention.

Don’t be afraid to take the time you need to be okay, because nobody wants to remember this holiday as the one with the “crazy lady.” Deep breaths. You will make it through.

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Elaina J. Martin lives and thrives with bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and anxiety disorder. She is better now, better than before. Today she has hope. She writes the blog, “Being Beautifully Bipolar,” at PsychCentral.com, as well as a personal blog at ElainaJ.com.  You can follow her on Twitter @ElainaJBipolar.

In a former life she was a fashionista who styled celebrities and models, worked on New York Fashion Week shows, and had a fashion radio spot and television gig. She has been published in half a dozen magazines including Jane, Women’s Wear Daily, Budget Living, Brilliant, Tribeza, RARE, WILMA, and both the StyleShaker and Zimbio websites. She has been an editor for two magazines and for a website.

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Photo credit: Julie Fischer McCarter of Shoot Photo Inc.

Title photo credit here