About Me

My Photo
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.

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

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Whirlwind of Emotions

     If you grew up going to the playground, chances are you had the joy of riding on the merry go-round at top speed, then stepping off feeling as if you entered some sort of vortex. Your feet might have been touching the ground, but your brain was still spinning. Your eyes moved to the left or the right, but it took a few seconds for the picture in your brain to catch up. This is the only way I know how to describe what I am experiencing now that I stopped taking one of my antidepressants.
     Aside from the dizzy-like effect, which is sometimes referred to in the antidepressant world as “brain zaps”, I have been experiencing a whirlwind of emotions and physical symptoms: fatigue, irritability, strange dreams, and blurry/double vision. Fun, fun! 

     I was aware that taking any type of medication can cause side effects, but I did not give much thought to the fact that coming off of certain medications can cause withdrawal symptoms (hence why doctors are adamant about properly weaning yourself off of them, a piece of advice I did not heed too closely.) 

     My decision to stop taking Celexa has been a year in the making. Thanks to God, I stopped going to my therapist last year and it has gone rather well. That, I admit, was a scary decision to make. A therapist/patient relationship is just that, a relationship. When you stop going to your appointments, it’s as if you “break-up” with that person. We both agreed I was at a good point in life where discontinuing counseling was not a bad decision. I had decided, however, it was best not to discontinue my medication at the same time, lest it be too much too soon. So, I made it my goal to quit one year later, and here I am. I do not regret this decision, I just wish I had done more research about what to expect. 

     If you or anyone you know is on antidepressants, be patient! Be kind to yourself. Be empathetic with others. Let the person explain how they are feeling, even if you do not completely understand. The symptoms can feel like hell, but they are not permanent. Even if just one person reading this has gained some insight about what living with depression is like, then I know this blog entry was not written in vain.


It's a whirlwind in my skull
Mind flipping this way and that
STOP
Dizziness is good for the soul I think to myself
But then it starts up again
Mind tossing this way and that
It won't stop
It can't stop
It's a whirlwind in my skull...
STOPSTOPSTOP



Aug 23, 2013

http://hellopoetry.com/words/4838/whirlwin/poems/

Friday, March 27, 2015

New Risks Equal New Beginnings


Once again, it has been a while since I have written on my blog. Aside from sheer laziness, I’ll blame the fact that I am working two jobs, which leaves me little time for extra-curricular activities.

All of the wintry weather we’ve been having lately reminded me of something I posted three years ago about gentle reminders and new beginnings. Basically, while it seems that winter will never end, we must remember that indeed it will and soon enough we will be enjoying the robin’s chirp, April showers, blooming flowers and my personal favorite, a walk in the park.

            It’s not often that we think of an end to something as the beginning of something new. We tend to concentrate on the loss. It just happens to be human nature, and that is ok. We must allow ourselves time to grieve. People handle situations differently, and that is ok also. I hate that people are labeled as strong vs. weak. How about we just accept the fact that we are all built differently? Our background and experiences shape us into the person we are today, and none of us has the same exact story.

My depression has been hiding for a long time, although it tried to make an appearance around the holidays and a couple of days ago. I am better prepared this time around so I put it back in its place. In the words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!” Meditating on some recent tragedies in my community lately reminds me that life is indeed a short journey. What is tangible to us today can be gone in an instant. I am once again encouraged to not take people, things, or opportunities for granted. I will once again open my heart to love, knowing that nothing in life is guaranteed. After all, if you don’t take risks you will be left wondering what could have been.

“In the end, you’ll only regret the chances you didn’t take, relationships you were afraid to have, and the decisions you waited too long to make.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Delayed, But Not Detained


So you’re driving along, on your way to that dream vacation you’ve planned for months now, when one of the tires on your vehicle blows out. You skid, you pull over, fix the flat, turn around and go home. Right? Wrong! No way are you going to turn around now! Your trip may have been delayed by half an hour, but you have put way too much time, effort and money planning for this trip. Better late than never!

You know, life is much like that dream vacation we yearn for. We have goals (or at least SHOULD have goals) that we strive to achieve. Some may be short-term, others may take longer to accomplish. Regardless, they are important to us. If we are truly committed, we will do whatever it takes to reach that goal. If you’ve ever reached a goal you set for yourself, you know just how good that sense of accomplishment feels!

Sometimes we are cruising along on the road called life, having a good ole time, when we encounter a little bump. Other times we run face first into a boulder! We become frustrated. We stub our toe on the little bump and it hurts too much. We look up at the big boulder and become convinced that there is no way to climb over it. But what if, instead of doing that, we would take a step backwards and looked at things from a different perspective?  What if we realized that we could try to find a way around the obstacle?

I encourage you to take advantage of times like these and use them as an opportunity to re-focus. Remember that you’ve been down this road before, and have somehow survived. Not only have you survived, but came out stronger on the other side. I know because I have been there, more times than I would have preferred!

“It’s too difficult!” “This is taking too long!” “I’m too tired.” These are some of the negative things that I have said to myself when the going got tough. However, I am a dreamer by nature. I love life and am always planning my next adventure. The years are going to pass me by anyhow, and darn it if I’m going to sit back and not challenge them! “Yes I will rise, out of these ashes rise. From this trouble I have found, and this rubble on the ground, I will rise. ‘Cause He Who is in me is greater than I will ever be…” (“Rise” by Shawn McDonald).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Been Away Too Long

Greetings!

I hope you are all doing well. I took a hiatus from writing, but now it's time to get back into the swing of things. I was busy, mostly trying to get rid of some clutter in my life.

Less busy work + more me time = additional time for me to do the things I love!

I also would like to take this time to wish you & your families a Blessed & Happy Thanksgiving!

Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Reach for Your Summit

In a week, God willing, I will be embarking on the adventure of a lifetime. Along with a group of other brave souls I will be Africa-bound, where we will attempt to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest mountain in Africa and the tallest free-standing mountain in the world!

Visiting Africa has been on my bucket list since I was a teenager. I have always been fascinated with traveling, and Africa is certainly one of the places I have on my list. I often think of the children that have been a victim of poverty, civil war, and diseases such as malaria and AIDS, among many other things. On this trip I will have the privilege to visit a clinic to meet some of these children firsthand. This is all made possible through The American Foundation for Children with AIDS (AFCA.) AFCA is a non-profit organization that helps children in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as their guardians, who are HIV positive or who have contracted AIDS and lack access to appropriate medical care. 
I also have always felt a connection with the people of Africa. Being Puerto Rican, I can attribute some of my beliefs, vocabulary, food, and especially music to African roots. Puerto Rico had a large population of African slaves that arrived from the Gold Coast, Nigeria, Dahomey, and the region known as the area of Guineas, the Slave Coast. The vast majority were ethnic groups from Nigeria and the Guineas. Their contributions to music, art, language, and heritage have become instrumental to Puerto Rican culture. And what a rich culture it is!

Thinking about my trip brought to mind some questions. How many of us have to live with no running water? How many of us go to the bathroom in an outhouse? How difficult is it for our children to attend school? I grew up in a relatively humble household. We had no hot water and oftentimes we didn’t have any running water for days at a time. Sometimes our electricity would go out and we’d have to get around by candlelight. When the gas ran out on our stove, my mother would have to prepare dinner outdoors on a rustic makeshift stove comprised of stones and firewood. Nevertheless, this type of poor living pales in comparison to the poverty many people still face. No matter how tough we have it, we really don’t know what struggle is when we compare our circumstances to other real-life situations.  
Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro will be no easy task. It will take approximately 6 days to reach the summit, and only 1 day to come back down. We will experience several different climate zones, from dense trees to rocky terrain to snow atop the mountain. A big cause for concern is the possibility of altitude sickness, which occurs when you cannot get enough oxygen from the air. Air is thinner at high altitudes. When you go too high too fast, your body cannot get as much oxygen as it needs. Altitude sickness can range from feeling like you have the flu or a hangover, to more serious symptoms that could result in death.

Life is no easy trek either. It is a lot like climbing a mountain. We will encounter uphill climbs, downhill descents and plateaus. It may take us a long time to reach the top, only to find ourselves at the bottom in an instant. Rushing through life may make us succumb to “altitude sickness.” My advice? Take your time, keep your eye on the prize, and aspire to reach the summit in your life. I guarantee the views from there will be worth all of the sacrifice.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Road Ahead


On the way to work today I found myself doing something I have not been able to do in a long time: daydreaming. Depression had robbed me of that ability for quite some time. After all, one cannot daydream when one is feeling hopeless.

I kept playing snippets of yesterday in my mind. It was such a good day for me that I thought to myself, “If this is an indication of what the rest of my life is going to be like, I am going to be a very happy woman.”

For a brief moment the voice of pessimism reared its ugly head and tried to whisper, “Just remember…it won’t always be this good.”  In spite of this, I find that I am at a point in my life where I could squash that voice immediately and not worry about the what-ifs.

If you would have told me just 4 months ago that I would be smiling, let alone laughing, I would have told you that you were delusional. The darkness I was living in during that time was all encompassing. Nothing made sense, nothing was true, nothing was good. I could not think about the future. Heck, I couldn’t even think about the next day. Most of my days were lived hour to hour. “If I can just get past this hour,” I would say, “then I can continue to put the worst behind me.”

Have I ever been joyful in the past? Of course I have. This time around, however, my joy feels different. My life is far from perfect. I still face debt, worry about my children and their health, deal with my own insecurities, and long to find a mate. The difference now is that I can still feel positive and optimistic about my future in spite of this. It is a joy that I have only been able to find in Jesus. Nothing in this world can trump the love and protection that can only be found in him.

The way I see it is this: we will all face adversity in life at one time or another, but we don’t have to face it alone. I can hand everything over to God and know he will get me through it. Even in my darkest moments, when I can’t see past the horizon, I don’t have to worry. God is leading my way, and the road ahead shines ever so bright.