About Me

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My name is Maribel. I have two wonderful children and a strong faith. I am also a survivor of depression. I want to share my stories and feelings with everyone in the hopes of removing some of the stigma associated with this disease. You are not weak, you are not crazy. It is not a feeling that you can just wish would go away; it is a struggle from day to day. Some days are good, some days are great, other times everything around you seems bleak. The good news is that there is hope, and depression can be controlled. Thank you for visiting my page. I hope you will enjoy reading my thoughts. At times you will find my posts to be educational and uplifting. Other times I am sure they will be raw and personal. My hope is that you will travel this road with me as we continue to explore what is in store for us in this journey called life.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Silent Pain


Every once in a while you see something or hear something that makes you stop in your tracks. The opposite is also true. You might see a topic that doesn’t seem to be of importance or interest to you at all, but then you hear about it again and it completely immerses you. Such was my experience a couple of weeks ago when I saw Kevin Hines* speak about suicide.

Suicide is something that has touched me personally, yet I have not typically given it much thought. Perhaps it was because the subject of suicide is a societal taboo. Or perhaps it was because for so long I didn’t understand the “whys” as to why someone would take their own life, until I experienced some of those thoughts myself.

My first encounter with anything related to suicide occurred when I was 13. My father had been diagnosed with a very painful form of cancer (multiple myeloma) a couple of years earlier. I had watched him grimace in pain, and wither away to nothing as the days and weeks went by. He was a quiet man, and a very reserved Latino man at that, so he would not discuss how he was feeling with anyone. He suffered in silence. And it was in that silence that he attempted to take his own life.

All I can remember about that day is the little bit of chaos that my mother would let me witness. “Is he going to make it?” was one of the questions I heard. “Should we take him to the hospital?” was another. I don’t actually remember seeing my father in his bedroom. I only remember seeing him in the hospital with tubes inserted in his body, and hearing conversations about the doctors pumping his stomach of its contents. I was 13, and memories can sometimes play tricks on you, but that is what I mainly remember. I also remember being around my dad as much as I could after he came home. I did not want to leave him alone, fearing that he would try to do the same thing again.

My dad never told me why he did what he did. For a long time I was mad at him because I couldn’t reconcile the fact that he loved me, but not enough to try to keep on living. I simply just did not understand his pain. I have since learned that people who take their own lives don’t really want to die. No, they simply want the hurting to stop. We may not understand the hurt, but their pain is very real.

My father died in 1982. I still miss him immensely despite all of the years that have passed, but I am at peace knowing that his pain ended long ago. Now today, October 12, 2016, on what would have been his 93rd birthday, I choose to honor his memory by recognizing that he did love me. He loved me with all that he had. He loved me despite his pain.

Depression is something I will always have to deal with, but thankfully I have not had suicidal thoughts for a very long time. I thank God for that. I thank my friends and family for their love and support. I also need to thank myself for recognizing that self-care is of utmost importance.

My wish is that we reach out to those who are hurting, and that if you are the one hurting that you let somebody know. Do not feel embarrassed, and do not feel weak. Asking for help is one of the bravest things any of us can ever do!

* “In September 2000, Kevin Hines leapt off the Golden Gate Bridge, a method of suicide attempt that has resulted in death for most of the 2000 people who have made that jump since the bridge was erected in 1937…But Kevin survived. He survived, and in the 16 years since his nearly fatal try, Kevin has become the bridge between the many mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, children, spouses, friends, and loved ones who made a similar acts.”

Check out his incredible story at http://www.kevinhinesstory.com/

Friday, March 18, 2016

Chips & Chocolate


Has something ever happened to you and you thought, “Wow, what a coincidence!” Happens to me all the time. What I have noticed, however, is that most times they are not mere coincidences. They are lessons.

Sometimes lessons are so subtle that if we are not paying attention we miss them, but every now and then we ask ourselves, “Was I supposed to learn something from this?” For me most of the time the answer is yes! This week was a prime example of that.

A couple of days ago I went to the store to buy a few necessities. Payday was still a few days away so I had to be wise with the little bit of money I had on hand. Many times we confuse our “wants” with our “needs” and I had that in mind when I set my sight on a bag of potato chips. I enjoy a good potato chip! Of course it was right there as soon as you walk into the store, so I had the entire time at the store to think about that bag of chips. Although my desire was great, I decided I better wait because I had to buy other items in order to make sure my son had something for dinner for the next couple of days. I left the store without the bag of chips.

After I got home it was time to get ready for bible study. In lieu of our usual routine, our group had decided to get together and help out a couple that is in the midst of a total house renovation. They need a lot of assistance as they have a newborn and have to get things repaired and cleaned before they move in. We joyfully pitched in and enjoyed some snacks that were brought. One of the snacks was none other than a bag of chips! Needless to say I dug right in. When it was time to go home the friend that brought the chips said, “Maribel, take these home. I don’t want them.” Lo and behold, I got my chips…for free!

Yesterday I had a similar scenario at work. We received an email that in honor of St. Patrick’s Day there was a mint chocolate candy bar in our staff mailbox. I love chocolate more than chips! I immediately sent out a thank you email and couldn’t wait until I checked my mailbox. That candy bar would be a great supplement to my lunch. I was excited to go pick up my candy bar. My excitement was short lived though because when I checked I didn’t have one. I received the email but apparently was not one of the intended recipients. I was disappointed.

Later on in the day a co-worker who had gone to a meeting that I was unable to attend called and asked me if I had a minute because she brought back some information to share with me. When she came to my office she handed me a couple of brochures, a pen, and a York Peppermint Patty – the same type of candy bar that was supposed to be in my mailbox!

Now I need to make an addition. As I was writing this I took a coffee break. I didn’t bring breakfast with me this morning, and was actually craving Ritz crackers (another one of my favorite snacks). I made the coffee, went to chat with a coworker, and what did she have right there on the corner of her desk? A pack of Ritz crackers! She told me to help myself. She had no idea what an impact that had on me, and what a confirmation it gave me.

I refuse to believe that these incidents are mere coincidences. I was supposed to learn a lesson, or be reminded of lessons I already know. Psalm 37:4 states, “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”  Matthew 6 encourages us to not worry excessively about the every day cares of life. Instead, we ought to put God above all else because we have His assurance that He will take care of our every need. Philippians 4:6 tells us to “…not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Sometimes God uses us, and other times he talks to us/shows up through others.  How blessed am I that this week He showed up in the form of chips and chocolate…and Ritz!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Make Life Count


Within the past couple of days I received news that two family members are on their deathbeds, one given a few days to live, the other a couple of months. Life is finite, that is no secret. Not one of us can escape the hour when we will take our last breath on this earth. Typically we don’t wake up asking ourselves if today will be that day. No one knows the exact time. We all know we must die, but when we are told we have an approximate period of time to live it becomes so much more real.

I think I reflect on death more than your conventional person because of losing both parents to cancer. I remember hearing that dreaded phrase, “You have x-number of months to live.” This is why I try to live my life to the fullest. I travel, I tell people I love them, I forgive, I try to be as kind as I can be, and I eat what I want when I have a craving. I refuse to allow my finances dictate how I’m going to enjoy life. I usually have enough resources to do what I want because I choose to be content with what I have. I don’t live life to impress anyone else, nor to accommodate anyone’s idea of how I should live my life. I know that I am on this earth only because God allowed it to be so, and realize that this is my temporary home. I am imperfect. I screw up, I get up again, and thank God for His mercy. My future is secure in Him.

Hearing the recent bad news finds me once again contemplating the brevity of life. Don’t spend your last days lamenting the past. Make your life count from today on! Do the things you want to do, always keeping God in the forefront. Free yourself by forgiving others, spend less on brand names and more on memories, don’t cancel plans with family in order to get more work done. Spend less time being upset at your significant other and more time demonstrating why you fell in love with them in the first place. Craving dessert? Eat it! In public and get the urge to dance? Do it!

What stories do you want to leave behind with your loved ones? Let their grief be replaced by loving memories.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Afraid to Live?


     Fear. The word itself connotes worry and concern. We have all feared something or someone.  Whether it’s another human being, an illness, a decision, or commitment we have at one time or another experienced that uneasy feeling up and down our spine. And you know what? It is perfectly okay to be afraid!
     Many people hold fear as being synonymous with weakness. I couldn’t disagree more! Fear is an emotion that leads to action. You might be thinking, “No way! Fear makes me freeze in my tracks!” The fact of the matter is that either way we must take action: freeze and turn around, or face the fear and trudge forward.
     According to www.psychologytoday.com, “Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger—if we didn't feel it, we couldn't protect ourselves from legitimate threats.” Too often, however, we protect ourselves so much that we end up giving in to our fear.
     Let me be candid with you and share some of my fears. Because of an incident when I was around 4 years old, I fear black hairy spiders (one crawled down my arm)! I am slightly claustrophobic (I don’t like feeling trapped). I dislike speeding in cars and driving over bridges. I absolutely have a fear of heights. And, I definitely fear something bad happening to my children.
     To a certain extent I have faced some of the fears I listed. One of my proudest moments was climbing a very tall ladder and swinging on a flying trapeze. I was literally paralyzed with fear in the beginning, but it got a little less intimidating each time I climbed. Am I still afraid of heights? Certainly! However, each time it gets a little easier. I constantly pray to God to watch over and protect my children. Do I still worry about them? Of course, but I don’t let it consume my thoughts.
     What I’m trying to say is that fear used to hold me back from living. It was safer to stay in my comfort zone. If I tried, I might experience failure. If I loved, it would hurt. I was afraid to be happy. I had many goals and dreams, but fear kept me from attempting to accomplish them. Remember I said fear is an emotion that leads to action? Well it was that same fear that prompted me to change: fear of the hopeless routines, fear of missing out on all of the beautiful things life has to offer. And most of all, fear of living an insignificant life.
     God placed each and every one of us on this earth with a unique purpose to serve. Some live a majestic life of record-breaking achievements, others enjoy the thrill of being financially secure, and yet others enjoy the reward of having a loving family life. While it is perfectly normal to be afraid, we should never allow fear to hold us back from embracing God’s purpose for us. We are not here to merely exist, we are here to live!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Timing

      They say timing is everything. I guess that’s true, but I also believe that sometimes it’s a little off. It takes you in a direction you were not planning to go in. Nevertheless, I have a saying, “The best times are had unplanned.” You can’t plan for situations and expect them to come out right 100% of the time.
     Some of the best feelings in the world are impromptu smiles, unplanned adventures, secret escapes. You can’t be disappointed because you’re not expecting anything in the first place. On the contrary, your heart is filled with genuine joy because the stars lined up and everything turned out just the way you didn’t plan.
     This was my experience during my recent trip back home, the home of my ancestors. No economic crisis, no lack of employment, nor moral dilemmas can take away her beauty. Not one of God’s creations is ugly, and Puerto Rico is a prime example of that. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. 
     During this recent visit I was re-energized and further educated. I learned that we have four different landscapes: beaches, mountains, rainforest, and desert…all within driving distance of each other! Our people are open, warm, and caring. We have a zest for life. Music is in our blood, and it carries a variety of rhythms through our veins. And what can I say about our food? It’s unparalleled! 
     Our rich history tells of our TaĆ­no ancestors’ struggle to survive, the slaves’ cries for freedom, and the expansion of the Spanish. But the real beauty of the matter is that we are all one. Black, white, tan – we all lay claim to a rich heritage that has intertwined throughout the years. One cannot survive without the other. 
     Although I am returning to the place I’ve called home for the past 30+ years, I have left my heart behind. It was touched, it was blessed, and it was captured. I have not felt this cleansed and alive in a very long time. I was not prepared to experience the feelings that came over me, but it couldn’t have happened at a better time.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Looking Good


Yesterday someone said I looked good. Today someone else said I looked healthy. I did not agree. “But I’ve gained ten pounds!” I uttered. Then it dawned on me…I am healthier. I am emotionally healthier.

Sad thoughts are few and far between these days. My mind is clearer. I find myself smiling more often, singing along to my favorite songs, and acting goofy. And most importantly, I look forward to the future, with hope.

Life is all about climbing the peaks and resting at the valleys, and I hope I have been able to encourage you in some way. You’ve shared in my journey and have been able to see how depression has affected me. There are many, many things I have not shared on here but believe me when I tell you it is a miracle that I have not given up on life. I know depression well enough to know that it will try to make a re-appearance. But I also know my God well enough to know that He will still be there to sustain me. I know because He promised (Isaiah 46:4).

So keep your head up, even when the burden is heavy. It will get lighter. After all, a certain amount of darkness is necessary to see the stars.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The Hand of God

I don’t always remember vivid details about the dreams I have. Most often I remember how I feel after the dream (scared, happy, confused, etc.) Last night was a different story. I had a dream that was very brief, but very powerful.

My dream took place inside an old factory that I had wandered into. Oh, I didn’t wander in there by mistake. No, my intentions were not good at all. I was there to sin, purposely sin. I weaved through the factory, which inside seemed to be all but abandoned. I saw a set of steps that led me to a cramped corner that was barely lit. I curled up in that corner with my back to a small window. It was dusk outside – no bright sunshine or rays of light coming in. Just above me there was a small ledge. On that ledge was what I believe to have been a small bird inside a tiny cage.  At the bottom of the steps was the object of my sin. I had passed right by it, hoping it would recognize what I was there for.

I remember a feeling of dark anticipation, vacillating between feeling excited and feeling guilty. I remember looking up and seeing a stream of light moving across the wall and the steps. It wasn’t very bright, but it was enough to create shadows. Then the most amazing thing happened, a shadow formed into the silhouette of an open left hand. I instantly knew it did not belong to me, for my hands were folded and placed near my stomach. Also, there wasn’t anything or anyone else around me.

I didn’t have to guess for long who the hand belonged to. I immediately felt a strong desire to pray, and then everything became clear. I had just witnessed the hand of God. He was there with me. In that abandoned factory, in the darkest corner, God was with me all along. I could not hide my desire to sin. I also knew that even in that solitary place, I was not alone.

I’m not sure what the bird in the cage represented. Was it perhaps a reflection of how I felt – trapped in a dark corner where no one would see or find me, except for the person who put me there? Did I feel trapped by my own sin? Oh well, that doesn’t matter much to me. What matters most is knowing, and being reassured of, the fact that I am never alone. No matter where I find myself physically or emotionally, no matter how obscure my circumstances seem, God’s hand is always there to guide me.

Are you feeling broken, shameful, desperate, or simply getting ready to deliberately commit a sin? It’s not too late, reach out and grab the hand of God. He is right there with you. He will pull you out to safety and restore you. His word promises just that. 
John 10:27-29 
Isaiah 41:13