Wednesday, March 18, 2015
So, what happens when you succeed?
You sit sobbing in your office at a quarter-to-midnight because you realize that your baby girl turns eighteen in fifteen minutes. You panic because you aren't sure if you've taught her enough, given her the right examples, or taken enough pictures so she doesn't feel like she was slighted by the second-child syndrome.
You think back to when she pouched food in her cheeks like a chipmunk and that time she accidentally knocked her plate of spaghetti on the floor then stood there saying "Taa-dah!" like it was some well-planned magic trick. You think about the adorable way she sneezed as a baby--one full sneeze or two, then a big breath like she was going to do it again but instead she'd let out a sigh and grin. You remember the way she mimicked the pigeons outside her bedroom window and how she communicated with animals before she did humans. You recall when she started learning where her body parts were and she called her tummy her "Buddha", except she wiggled her tongue when she said it and it came out more like "Blubbub". You also can't forget when she finally got that whole toilet-training thing and came running out of the bathroom at the restaurant yelling, "MOMMY! I went ICKY in da potty!"
You realize that the days of reading her bedtime stories, tucking her in, and her waking you up in the middle of the night because of a bad dream are gone, and that the next closest thing you'll get to doing that again is when she lets you take care of her children. HER children!
You remember all those times when you just wished she'd grow up a little bit more quickly so she could do more, see more, understand more...and then you realize she did.
And all you want are those eighteen years back so you can go back and make sure you did it right--that you played enough, laughed enough, and loved enough.
Peanut, you have always been such a bright light in my life. Your heart is so big that sometimes I can't even believe you're mine. Your generous spirit, forgiving nature, and loving personality are my most favorite traits, and I hope you carry them with you always. I love you with all my heart and I am so very proud to be your mom. Happy birthday, baby girl!
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
There's a social media campaign going on right now called Time to Change. Its main focus is to end mental health discrimination. So right now, I want you to eliminate the stigmas you have in your head about mental illness. Forget what you know because, chances are, you don't know as much as you think you do.
Take my friend, Mike for instance, pictured in the center here:
It's so easy to jump to the conclusion that people who commit suicide simply don't know how much they're valued by their loved ones. Or we can't understand their deaths because they had so much "going for them." But the fact is, when you're in a frame of mind where suicide is a logical solution, none of that matters. It doesn't matter how much we're loved, how much success we've obtained, how much money we have or how many lives we've touched. All that matters is finding a way to stop hurting and for some of us, death seems like the only solution. It's not that we want to die, really. It's more like we just don't want to be alive, because alive = pain. And that pain seems never-ending.
I don't pretend to know every thought my friends had before their deaths, but I do know my own thoughts. And voicing these feelings in a public spotlight is the scariest thing I've ever done. For someone with anxiety, the last thing I want is attention focused on me; I know what people will think. I know what they'll say. And I know the assumptions that will be made. But if we want to bring awareness to mental illness and suicide, we have to start talking about it. We have to erase the stigmas, forget what we've heard, and we have to fucking talk about it.
This isn't a problem we can throw money at in hopes of finding a cure. Mental illness doesn't work like that. It takes being down in the trenches and getting soaked to the skin before you can make a difference. Will you do it?
Mike needed this. Nate needed this. Chris needed this. I need this.
If someone you know shows signs of depression, has thoughts of suicide or you've noticed they're just not dealing with the stress of life quite as easily as they used to, please reach out to them. Be an ear, be a shoulder, be a friend. If you can't help them carry their burdens, encourage them get in touch with someone who can: a therapist, a doctor, a mental health support group, or all of the above.
If you are having trouble getting through your day and thoughts of dying seem more promising than thoughts of living, please talk to someone. If nothing else, find help here:
National Suicide Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
* My deepest gratitude to the McBride, Estimada, and Tully families for allowing me to honor your loved ones in this small way. As always, I pray for peace and comfort for your families.
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
I had an appointment with my Lyme doctor today. Let me just tell you how amazing this woman is. I couldn't ask for a better physician. At my first visit, we sat together going over symptoms, side effects and treatments for more than two hours. She didn't even leave the room. Today, we sat for an hour together going over what's working, what's not and how I'm feeling compared to the last visit. She's never in a rush, never trying to push me out the door. She even gave me her cell phone number so if I have questions between visits, I can reach her easily. She is incredible and has restored my faith in traditional medicine.
My doctor has also begun treating me for bartonella (I told Midget I have Barton Bellas...unfortunately my version is pretty aca-awful), which is a common co-infection with Lyme disease. Bartonella is also the cause of cat scratch fever (not to be confused with the one Ted Nugent sings about. I think you'll need an ointment for that one). (Isn't it good to see I haven't lost my sense of humor in all this?) Since Bartonella tests aren't very sensitive (means that you can have it and the test can still come back negative), she's decided not to make me go through the expense of it. Since bartonella can be passed through ticks, fleas, body lice and through cat scratches, it's hard telling how I got it or when. We just know that it's likely I have it based on my symptoms and since it's treatable with antibiotics (hey, what's one more, right?), we're moving forward with treatment.
Overall, I have good days and bad days. On the good days, I tend to push myself without realizing it. That's one of the troubles with chronic illness: when you feel good, you want to leech as much from the day as possible but sometimes that can set you back days, if not weeks. I felt really great last week and over the weekend, so I (with Midget's help) put my office back together, which consisted of moving furniture and LOTS of boxes and totes. I'm paying for it now with pain and muscle fatigue. Those are what define my bad days (along with mood swings, mental fog and complete exhaustion, among other symptoms).
I try very hard not to complain. A positive attitude is vital to get through this but I never imagined being this young and feeling this old. Unfortunately, it's a reality and something I'm going to have to deal with for quite a while still. I've learned to control the things I can control and let go of what I can't. I've had to learn to say "no" more often. I've also had to let go of toxic situations and people. I've grown distant from some friends and lost others altogether, but I can't focus on the losses, only the gains.
One of those gains has been how supportive my family has been every day. They've really stepped up and done what needs to be done around the house. Hubby hasn't complained once about my mood swings or the days when I have no energy to do anything. And the kiddo has totally gone out of her way to do more than her share of chores to help pick up my slack. I could not imagine dealing with this disease without their support.
I probably won't update again for a while, but since so many of you have asked and have seen updates so far, I wanted to let you all know what was going on.
Long story short, I'm not in remission, but I'm on my way. I'll take it. :)
Friday, October 31, 2014
People on the train next to us probably thought it was him relaying that he missed seeing me while we were apart from one another. And he did, he always does. But it was so much more than that.
When I'm in New York (or Denver, or Los Angeles, or Nashville, or Las Vegas or any city other than home), I smile and laugh - sometimes for no reason whatsoever other than the feeling of being totally carefree for those few days I'm away.
This is the first time that we've traveled together, so he hadn't witnessed it before now. He never got to see the glint return to its familiar spot in my eyes. He hadn't heard the giddiness in my laughter. The deeper breaths I take also went unnoticed.
But this time, he saw. He heard. He noticed.
And if for only those five days together, he got to see his wife again. We're both hoping she sticks around.
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
There really is a lullaby of Broadway. It sings so sweetly and enticingly to my inner 18-year-old. I was a theater major once upon a time. My dream was to end up on Broadway. Truth be told, it's still my dream, though I have no idea how I'd go about pursuing it at the stage of the game.
But I was chastised for not believing in my dreams tonight, so I will say it could happen. Stranger things have, right?
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
This afternoon on the way to lunch, a lady on the corner glanced up from whatever she was doing on her phone, looked at me and my bright pink highlighted hair and said, "Wow! I love your hair!" I said thank you. She said, "That's a really great color! I love it!" (Aside from the miracles of a New Yorker speaking to me in the first place and actually looking up from her phone) she totally made my day.
Fast forward to coming back to the hotel from NBC studios. Two guys in their early to mid-twenties walked toward me on the sidewalk. One rambled off something like "smack a bitch" as he looked at me with a weird look. His buddy quickly added "and dat's a biiiiig bitch!" And they both broke out in hysterical laughter. I just shook my head.
There was a time when the second interaction would have erased all the compliments I'd received in a month. But tonight, I just kind of smirk because I'm not remotely bothered by their juvenile name calling. Besides the fact that I'm more woman than the two of them combined could ever handle, I'm in a place where I choose to believe the compliments instead of the insults.
I like it here.
Sunday, October 19, 2014
These noises make me smile and my heart beats faster.
I can't explain how a city that is constantly screaming, noisy and chaotic can soothe me the way it does, but I'm at such peace here.
Every three minutes the train comes up Lexington from Grand Central and shakes the windows a little.
Every three minutes I'm reminded I'm home.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Anger is a very real part of this whole thing. I don't, however, know if it's a symptom of the disease or a side effect of the diagnosis. I spent a month on oral antibiotics which made me extremely sick a time or two. Then I spent a month on IV medication through a PICC line that totally hosed my birthday month all to hell. Anger at my circumstances was a natural reaction to what I was going through, I'm told, but I still feel guilty about it. I've never been real tolerant of bullshit, but since being diagnosed, I've noticed it has only gotten worse. I hope now that I'm done with medication and I'm on the way through my post-treatment phase that it will lessen. I try to take each day as it comes, but I notice that I have to force myself to have good days sometimes. It doesn't come as easily as it once did. That pisses me off, too. Sometimes it feels like a neverending cycle in that respect.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
I love these guys with all my heart and I will always stand by them and behind them proudly. I laugh when they laugh, I cry when they cry, and, let's face it, I scream when they get naked. I kid, I kid (No, I don't). Seriously though, I feel like a part of the team at this point (albeit waaaaay in the background) and I'm honored to be considered as such. They respect my advice, they're grateful for my help and support, and they return the love that's given.
For those who don't know me, when I am passionate about something, I'm passionate to the core. I'm not a groupie, I'm not a girlfriend, I'm not a plaything - I'm a fan, I'm a believer, but most importantly, I'm a friend and one of the luckiest people on earth to because of it. Thank you, Mike, Juan, Jeff, Glenn, Kyle, Chris, Keith, Joel, Chaun, Garo, Charles, Derek, and of course, Nate for welcoming me into your crazy world and allowing me be even the most remote part of this amazing team.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Email: mel.henry at gmail dot com
P.S. Can I still get the cake, too?
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Click "Confirm" to block the game. (I believe the pop-up is similar if you choose to block all requests from a person.)
Congratulations! You've figured out how not to lose your shit when somebody sends you requests.
Friday, June 6, 2014
Friday, May 30, 2014
When are we going to stop lying?
We aren't fine.
We're stressed, we're grieving, we're hurting, we're tired, we're overwhelmed, we're angry, we're sick, we're disappointed, we're betrayed, we're sad, we're irritated, we're lonely, we're fed-up, we're worn out, but very, very rarely are we ever fine. So let's stop with the bullshit, okay?
Who says we have to pretend to be okay when we're not? Because our mothers did? Because someone tells us we should be? Because we believe these stupid memes we find on Tumblr and Pinterest?
Seriously, knock it off.
First of all, nobody believes us when we say it but most people are too caught up in their own lives to question you on it. People want us to be fine because it relieves them of responsibilities to listen or try and make things better. If they're the ones to blame for our not-fine emotions, it means they have to make amends for why we aren't fine. And none of us really want to be the reason that other people have to go out of their way to do something, right?
Secondly, this pretending? This mask-wearing? It's exhausting and it's killing us all slowly. No joke. Heart disease is the leading killer of all women in the United States. What leads to heart disease? Stress. The martyr-ish "I'm fine" crap leads to stress because we aren't talking about the fact that we are sooooooo NOT fine. We bury our feelings because we believe, as women, that we have to just suck it up because we're supposed to be able to carry the burdens of our families, our husbands, our kids, our careers, our homes, our friends and everyone else that comes along. We're super human! At least that's what we think.
The truth, though, is that we aren't super human. We're just human. And that's okay. It's okay to fall apart sometimes. It's okay to ask for help. It's okay to say "I'm having a bad day." It's okay to text your best friend and say "I need you." It's okay to tell someone no, if you don't feel like doing something.
Sure, there are times when we have to deal with the consequences we're handed, but that doesn't mean we have to do it with a smile or act like we're not bothered by it. It doesn't mean we can't take some time for ourselves afterward to just breathe.
Maybe, if we all work together and learn how to tell the truth about how we really feel, we can stop lying to everybody...and ourselves. Because honey? I'm not fine and neither are you.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
That you get it from ticks.
CHEWING. MY. DINNER.
It was a fluke that I asked to be tested for lyme disease. A friend's mother has had it for thirty years and she recognized that I had many similar symptoms as her mom: insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, joint pain, headaches, dizziness, short-term memory loss, brain fog, numbness in the hands and feet, sore neck and shoulder muscles. I brushed it off when she suggested I get tested because I hardly ever go outside except to get in the car, I don't go for walks in the woods, I don't camp or bike. I'm not a gardener or an outdoorsy person. Then, as I was reading another friend's Twitter post about her Lyme test coming back positive, I brushed something off my shoulder that had been tickling me. I looked down and discovered a tick. In my house. On my couch. I've always hated ticks and I thought I was pretty good about checking for them, but apparently I'd missed one. Clearly, I missed two because this tick hadn't had time to bite me. Most likely, our dog brought it in on him. Regardless of how it got inside my house, I had to deal with the possible aftermath.
I immediately called my doctor to request a lyme test. In the meantime, I looked up symptoms of lyme disease and discovered that in some cases, Bell's Palsy, which I'd had three bouts of in 2008. Needless to say, if there was an explanation for all the symptoms I'd had, it would be a God-send, no matter what the diagnosis. When the tests came back, a few days after my doctor appointment, they confirmed what I already suspected: I have lyme disease. Immediate tests said I had an acute case, but the results are back from further testing and they've confirmed that I have had it for a while.