July 23, 2011

To Write Love On Her Arms

Please be patient with me, whatever illness this is seems to be messing with my ability to think.  I am sure this is not the proper time to blog but if I don't now, I'm sure I never will.  I think this is a wicked head cold but I have body aches and such...so we'll see what it turns into.  Looks like I had a good year where I never got sick and now I'm back to being sick all the time.  Joy.

I'm sure that many of you have heard of To Write Love On Her Arms before.  I'm just a tad behind.  No only because I'm in Germany, because I had seen a few things before I left Colorado.  Mostly at Hot Topic.  It seems like something I should have been aware of before, because it's definitely something that I can see myself being passionate about.  Something I already am passionate about, but now it's something that has a Non-Profit behind it.  I can get a rubber bracelet to wear and a shirt, so people can ask me questions and I can get into it.

For those of you that haven't heard of it, let me explain a little bit.

To Write Love On Her Arms, as I mentioned, is a Non-Profit.  The mission is to provide hope for people dealing with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicidal thoughts.  They have all sorts of resources such as social media outlets, book suggestions, helplines, music festivals...there are stars and musical acts that support TWLOHA, which gives any Non-Profit "street cred" with the youth.  They are not a helpline themselves.  They are basically a resource to get help, but they have a LOT of information and they offer a lot of positive support.  I would LOVE to work for a company like that one day.  LOVE.  Talk about a dream.

To Write Love On Her Arms

I am pretty outspoken about people needing to seek help if they feel their lives even tipping the scale of out-of-control.  What I haven't been, lately, and not on this blog...is watching out for your kids.  Watching out for your nieces/nephews.  Not all behavior that appears dangerous is.  But there are a lot of things to watch out for, some of which is listed on that website.  I am going to cite it here.  Then I will tell my story.  Part of TWLOHA is big on each story being important.

We've gone over the fact that I spent some time in a mental health facility during the 15month deployment, that I have PTSD and I think I've mentioned Bi-Polar Disorder.  I have General Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder and OCD.  The reason I am mentioning these things is because I am not ashamed.  I don't feel like it's something I need to hide.  I don't think that there is any reason for anyone to judge me.  The first, PTSD...well there's nothing to be done about that.  I was probably pre-disposed because of the BPD to that, maybe, or maybe it's because ANYONE that went through what I did would have PTSD.  Who knows.  But that is what it is.  And BPD is a chemical imbalance, just like type 1 diabetes.  Sure, I'll take a pill for the rest of my life, just like someone else would need an insulin injection.  It doesn't make me any less or a human being, it just means I need to be on top of it and aware of my situation.  The Anxieties and OCD come from the PTSD situation.  And no, I won't go into that.  Not because I'm ashamed, because I'm not.  But frankly, it's none of your business.  If you know me well enough, you know.  If you don't, you don't need to know.  I've been married for 10 years and he only just found out.  So that's how it goes.  Onto the informational portion of the blog.

Quick Numbers

121 million people worldwide suffer from depression. (World Health Organization)
 18 million of these cases are happening in the United States. (The National Institute of Mental Health)
Between 20% and 50% of children and teens struggling with depression have a family history of this struggle and the offspring of depressed parents are more than three times as likely to suffer from depression. (U.S. Surgeon General's Survey, 1999)
Depression often co-occurs with anxiety disorders and substance abuse, with 30% of teens with depression also developing a substance abuse problem. (NIMH)
 2/3 of those suffering from depression never seek treatment.
Untreated depression is the number one cause of suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death among teenagers. (NIMH)

About Depression

According to the World Health Organization, depression is one of the leading causes of disability, with approximately 121 million people suffering with depression worldwide. The National Institute of Mental Health states that approximately 18 million people suffer from depression in America alone. Depression does not discriminate across age, race, gender, or class. Among teenagers it is estimated that 20 percent will suffer from depression at some point by the time they reach adulthood. There are also as many as 8.3 percent of teens suffering from depression for at least a year at a time, compared to 5.3 percent of the general population

About Addiction   

The stigma associated with addiction is one of the greatest challenges to recovery. Each year only 10 percent of Americans who need alcohol and drug treatment get the help they need. Yet with treatment and support, people with addiction can lead productive lives.
The Addiction Project has benefited from contributions by the leading experts in the field of addiction. On their website you can find articles written by experts featured in the HBO Addiction series.

About Self-Injury

While not always the case, often untreated depression and other struggles lead to unhealthy ways in which we try and deal with the hurt and pain we are feeling. We try and find anything that we can do to take away the hurt, painful feelings, or negative thoughts we are experiencing. Often the things that we turn to seem to help at first, appearing to provide some of the relief that we need so badly. But, even though they may seem like they help, often they are unhealthy themselves, eventually becoming even greater struggles like addictions such as drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, or self-injury.
Self-injury remained very much a mystery until 1996 when Princess Diana revealed that she had struggled with it. It has become much more visible in society within the last ten years. Self-injury is also termed self-mutilation, self-harm, or self-abuse. It can be defined as the deliberate, repetitive, impulsive, non-lethal harming of one’s self, including but not limited to;
      1) cutting
            2) burning
            3) picking or interfering with wound healing
            4) infecting oneself
            5) punching/hitting self or objects
            6) inserting objects in to skin
            7 )bruising or breaking bones and
            8) some forms of hair pulling
While these behaviors pose serious risks, they may be symptoms of a problem that can be treated.
Experts estimate that 4% of the population struggle with self-injury. It has the same occurrence between males and females, even though in popular culture it can appear to be more prevalent among girls.
• Emptiness
• Inability to understand or express feelings
• Loneliness
• Fear
• Past Abuse
• Depression
Self-injury, like many addictions, is often a coping mechanism to deal with some manner of internal pain, many who struggle with it also struggle with other issues such as eating disorders and alcohol and drug abuse. While self-injury may be someone’s way to cope with or relieve painful or hard-to-express feelings and is generally NOT a suicide attempt, relief is always temporary, and usually only perpetuates a destructive cycle that continues the struggle. This cycle often means that those who do not get help can become more depressed and shameful, adding to the pain and need for relief, thus perpetuating the cycle.
While self-injury may not be about attempting suicide, the damage done while harming oneself always carries the risk of inflicting serious, and even lethal, regardless of whether suicide is intended or not. The continued cycle of addiction and self-harm, as in substance abuse and other eating disorders, can have a destructive effect on one’s health both physically and mentally, and the struggles can worsen over time without treatment.
(SAFE alternatives - www.selfinjury.com)
Self-injury, like alcohol and drug abuse and eating disorders, is addictive, and thus not something that is easy to simply stop. However, while all addictions are very difficult to overcome, help and treatment are out there and available, and recovery and freedom are possible.We believe this is true whether someone’s struggles may be self injury, depression, drugs and alcohol, body image issues, sexual addiction, or other areas of brokenness.
Research shows that those who seek professional help and therapy have a very good chance of recovery, and finding relief from symptoms such as depression and anxiety as well as others. (APA, 1998)

About Suicide

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, which represents a global mortality rate of 16 people per 100,000 or one death every 40 seconds. It is predicted that by 2020 the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds.
The WHO further reports that:
In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. Suicide is now among the three leading causes of death among those aged 15-44 (male and female). Suicide attempts are twenty times more frequent than completed suicides.
Although suicide rates have traditionally been highest amongst elderly males, rates among young people have been increasing to such an extent that they are now the group at highest risk in a third of all countries.
Mental health disorders (particularly depression and substance abuse) are associated with more than 90% of all cases of suicide.
Suicide results from many complex sociocultural factors and is more likely to occur during periods of socioeconomic, family and individual crisis (e.g. loss of a loved one, unemployment, struggling with sexual orientation, difficulties with developing one's identity, disassociation from one's community or other social/belief group).
The WHO also states that:
In Europe, particularly Eastern Europe, the highest suicide rates are reported for both men and women.
The Eastern Mediterranean Region and Central Asia republics have the lowest suicide rates.
Nearly 30% of all suicides worldwide occur in India and China.
Suicides globally by age are as follows: 55% are aged between 15 to 44 years and 45% are aged 45 years and over.
Youth suicide is increasing at the greatest rate.
In the US, the Center of Disease Control and Prevention reports that:
Overall, suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death for all US Americans, and is the third leading cause of death for young people 15-24 years.
Although suicide is a serious problem among the young and adults, death rates continue to be highest among older adults ages 65 years and over.
Males are four times more likely to die from suicide than are females. However, females are more likely to attempt suicide than are males.
Suicide within minority groups
Research indicates that suicide rates appear to be increasing within native and indigenous populations such as the Native Americans in the United States and Alaska, and the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island Peoples in Australia and New Zealand.
Suicide rates within migrant communities such as African and East Asian Americans or the Black British community are also of growing concern. Statistics show a rise but in some countries it can be difficult to calculate. For example, in the UK the place of birth is recorded on the death certificate, not ethnicity, therefore reducing data on suicides amongst minority groups.  - http://www.twloha.com/facts/

So there is the info.  Now my story.  I don't have any history of traditional addiction.  My history of depression goes back as far as I can remember.  My main story involves self-injury.  I am a cutter.  I say "I am a cutter" because this, for me, is like being an addict, or like being an alcoholic.  It doesn't go away.  I haven't cut in nearly a year.  Or a little over a year.  The lines blur.  But it stands, it's been a while.  But I am still a cutter.  At 30 years old.  This doesn't just happen with 13 year old "Emo" kids trying to fit in.  I wasn't Emo the first time I cut.  Actually, my friends and I...we used to beat up the Emo kids.  True story.  Whoops.  I was 15 the first time I cut.  There was an endorphin rush and then the gratification of the pain that replaced the emotion.  I did get caught, not by my Mom but by a friend.  He got mad at me, yelled at me, I promised not to do it again.  Of course I did.  I just got more careful about hiding it.  But I never really was that careful.  I got caught several times, sometimes by my Mom.  But she just didn't know what to do.  Back then, the mid 90's, there just wasn't a lot of information out there.  We didn't have insurance, so that meant no therapy.  There just weren't options.  So she cried and begged, and I got better at hiding.  I was still a very highly functional person.  And I didn't really cut myself much as long as I was happy.  But my happiness depended on others, primarily my boyfriend.  I was pretty dependent on him.  Once he and I split for good...self-injury got worse and worse.  We had been together for 2 years.  The next boy I was with, I stopped for a while.  The pattern repeated.  It got to the point where by the time I reached adulthood I had literally thousands of scars.

When I went to the facility I had 300 cuts, from wrist to shoulder.  From knee to thigh, 100.  The tops of my breasts, several.  I was covered.  When I went into the hospital, good ol' Evans, the Emergency Room Doctor said, "You are a cutter, you won't kill yourself." and tried to send me home.  She said, "See your PCM Monday.  They will decide if you need to be admitted somewhere for long term."  I was shocked.  Flabbergasted even.  I said, "I wasn't planning on cutting myself to death.  I was going to take all of these pills.  But I will not be here Monday.  That's fine." I lifted my purse and shook the bag...I had a lot of pills.  And I stormed out of the ER.  I was seeing red, literally.  The friends that had taken me to the ER were trying to talk to the DR, trying to see what was even going on.  An EMT got into his personal vehicle to chase me down.  My plan, cause I was completely sane, was to go into the hills behind Evans, take all the pills, and let the Coyotes eat me.  Circle of life or something.  Again, completely sane, I know.  So the EMT pulls up in this Jeep and says, "They called the MPs.  You can't leave without signing the papers when you're in there for a case like this.  If the MP's find you, they will not be nice.  If I bring you back in things will go much better." I stood there for a minute and saw flashing lights, heard sirens...and got into the Jeep.  We sat there for a minute till the MP trucks sped past us, then we turned around and went back to Evans.  I told him that I would not see that Doctor again, told him what she said to me, and he said he understood and he wouldn't leave me.  He was off duty, but he wouldn't leave me.  So we went back in.  He stood in the corner while the MP's frisked me and searched my bag, he wouldn't let the Dr anywhere near me.  He told her I didn't want to see her again, and to send someone else in.  He personally drew my blood (they have to check for recreational drug use, that sends you to a different place)...then he drove me in his Jeep and stayed with me until I was fully checked in, at 4am.  I can tell you my life changed from the moment I got into his Jeep the first time.

People need a story like that.  That's not all of my story, but this is long enough.  I will continue later, I'm sure.  But for now, this is long enough.

As I said, this is something I'm passionate about.

July 6, 2011

St. Barbara and Barbaraberg

From: http://www.kloster-speinshart.de/ translated by GOOGLE TRANSLATE

The chapel of St. Barbara
Closely connected with the history of the monastery Speinshart is the nearby Barbara Berg. Between 1992 and 1995 excavations took place there, which brought a new insight into the history of this fabled mountain. Several reports of handing down of the sunken city Mirga. Perhaps these stories because of skeletal remains have been created on Barbara Berg, who remembered the domestic growers of giants. Already since 1910 we dubbed the mountain to an old Slavic Barbara worship. Have confirmed this assumption is ultimately the findings mentioned in the excavation period, as one could examine a total of 161 Slavic tombs and archaeological record.

These excavations were also found the foundations of a first stone church on the mountain Barbara. By the year 1000 there arose a hall. The Barbara patronage that flourished here quickly became a cult Barbara, was the church but probably not until the 13th or 14 Century, assigned as a saint before she was not really known in German speaking countries.
As "capella sancte Barbara in monte" the church in a visitation log is first mentioned in writing in 1508. At that time there was probably already the essence of Barbara's pilgrimage, for whose existence there in the 14th Century is evidence.
With the secularization of the monastery in 1557 first heard the pilgrimage to the mountain Barbara. It was not until 1661, after returning from the Norbertine canons Steingaden, the parish priest of Kemnath to rebuild the chapel with the miraculous image has sought late Gothic. It involved extensive repair work. The ruinous nave was given a new roof and new interior wooden benches built for about 120 pilgrims. A completed house Messner, the revived pilgrimage site, which now became one of the main sources of income of the monastery Speinshart.
The flourishing of the baroque pilgrimage being suggested by I. Abt Dominkus Lieblein it to build a new building. The idea for this measure had been his predecessor, Abbot Otto Pei├čner. Father Hugo Strauss took over the planning and construction management of the construction project began in 1741. The cross-shaped building, erected, was designed in the Rococo style. The interior decoration Ulrich Lambeck took over as a plasterer and a painter Michael Wild. Jacob Steinlen, who created convent carpenter, together with the sculptor Franz Xaver Amberger Schlott the altars. Completed was the new sanctuary until 1759th A fire in the monastery made ​​a dehydration necessary for financial reasons. From this church is now only received the facade. It is flanked on either side of each with a two-storey house. These houses served as a guest inn for pilgrims and as the summer residence of the Fathers of Speinshart.
With the secularization of the expiration of the rococo jewel Barbara began on the mountain. The interiors were auctioned off and the church itself - after the sale to the barons of Malsen - turned into a barn.
Damage in the roof work of the Church had the 1888 demolition of the entire central region, including the cupola of the church order. The remaining buildings were agricultural outbuildings. To make matters worse hit 1914 also added to the flash and the ruins of more widespread damage.
The Munich-based canon Prelate Dr. Michael Hartig acquired in 1919 the remains of the church, and left it built the present chapel. His goal was to build a vacation home here for the diocesan priests of Munich. The already established association dissolved in 1929, the area around the abbey to leave Speinshart.
Today, the late Gothic statue of St. Barbara is often the target of many private pilgrimage groups. Finally, the course offers in front of the church ruins and a wonderful view of the countryside.

 Saint Barbara is the Patron Saint of Prisoners, Architects, and Artillery (including Military Engineers).  She is also the Patron of Miners because of their work with explosives and also of Mathematicians.  She basically had a cult following that can be traced back to the 9th century.  She was martyred by her own father who beheaded her for becoming Christian.  For killing her, he was struck by lightning and burned to death, that is why she is so closely related to fire and explosives.


We were intending on going to a place near Barbaraberg for quite some time, Speinshart.  It is a Monastery that was built in 1145.  It is absolutely amazing.  While we were researching Speinshart, we found Barbaraberg and the information at the top.  For quite some time now...around 9 years I guess, I have been calling one of my BFF's Mom's St. Barbara or St. Bab's for short.  She's Catholic, for one, and for another it's this running silliness that she doesn't swear and she doesn't do anything bad ever regardless of what Laura says.  So she's St. Babs.  So when I saw this and that it's about 15 minutes from my house (well that turned into 25 because we had to drive up a 1 lane road and got a little lost) we HAD to go.  ST. BARBARAS!! I mean really.  We just had to.  And a whole Berg named after her as well! It was a tiny Berg, but still, a berg.  It was very interesting and one of the coolest things ever to be able to see the Speinshart Monastery (I was in a building that has 3 Monks IN THE WALL!! weird!! AND 2 SKELEBONES!! All festooned!! WEIRD but SO cool!!).  It felt strange to be in a building that has been around since 1145.  1145!!! There are no buildings in the United States that have been around since 1145.  It's just insane to think about.  1145!! (( **I googled oldest buildings in States...with the exception of the buildings that are NOW part of the States but used to be part of Mexico before we won/bought them ie parts of Utah/New Mexico/Arizona adobes etc, 1600's is the oldest buildings in the States)).

So I highly suggest you check out my pictures in the folder, there is some amazing stuff.  If you get the chance to check it out, local peeps...you really should.  Speinshart is between Eschenbach and the Volcano ;) and Barbaraberg is to the right of that...you have to look up directions, we got lost lol.

July 2, 2011

culture all over!

Today we went to a wedding.  It was one of the coolest experiences ever.  I was wary, I always am, of going to these kind of fancy things.  I spent pretty much every day since we got the invitation trying to figure out what to wear.  I finally found the right outfit...a lovely purple cardigan sweater over a cream colored dress that has all these beautiful flowers on it.  I added navy blue leggings because it was cold and I wanted to cover the majority of my leg tattoos.

So we got to this church, which is not old at all but was built to look old and fit in...which is nice.  It was built in 1959.  My guess, though I have no info to back this up, is that it most likely was built to replace something that was destroyed during WWII.  This was the time frame in which that was done.  At any rate.

The name of the church was St. Hedwig's.  I know this is blasphemy sort of...but...I could not help but think of Harry Potter and his snowy owl.

The invitation was in French, English and German.  So that was a hint that we were in for a very culture rich experience.  Danny told me that the Groom is from Africa, we still aren't actually sure where the Bride originates from.  There were guests from all over though.  It was seriously so cool to be able to see so many different cultures and people coexisting so beautifully.  It was awesome.  I had a really good time just sitting back and watching.  I guess it was the Sociology Major in me.  I liked watching the African aspect the most...I've been able to watch Europeans so much while we've been here...and the French aspect of things was tied in with the African...so it was something new for me.  At the end of the traditional ceremony there was some...I don't know what to call it.  Tribal...yelling? Almost like Native American sounds you'd see on a documentary or old West show.  There was also an old style broom in the courtyard and they Bride and Groom jumped over it as part of a ritual.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumping_the_broom  So cool.  I told Danny he needs to find out where they are from in the least obtrusive way possible so that I can find out more about their heritages...this stuff seriously interests me.

It was all very cool.  I'm sure I'll go to other beautiful weddings.  And I'm sure that I'll attend other fun weddings, more lovely and beautiful weddings.  But I'm not sure anything can top 3 languages and all the culture in one place.

By all means, single friends, please try!! I will show up and check it out for sure.

I guess I should end this and watch the rest of my weird show (Fringe)...hope everyone has a lovely evening!!