Mental Health Awareness Month Matters

My first everything without M🖤M
Angelism: Sometimes it’s the people closest to you, the ones you love the most, who do the heartbreaking unthinkable and you question did I know you at all?
The month of May means so much to me. Not only is it May Gray Brain Tumor Awareness Month (I am a survivor), but it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, which is a field of medicine I work in. This month I decided to open up about the loss of my mother and share it with my patient population as well as all who care to read. I hope that sharing this will help someone in need, but for now, grab a tissue before you read! 😢 

The bond between a mother and daughter is woven with threads of love, understanding, and unwavering support throughout life. It’s a bond that transcends words, a silent understanding that speaks volumes in the quiet moments shared. Spiritually, it is the unspoken “I love you” that is felt no matter how far apart. Through laughter and tears, triumphs and challenges, a mother and daughter navigate life’s journey together. In the beginning, holding on tight in one another’s arms, in the grade school years hanging on hand in hand, as young adults connecting more like sisters, and, as we grow into mature adults, we build a friendship and have an unwavering family commitment to one another. The connection may be challenged at some points, but the bond is unbreakable and endures all the seasons of life. 

This Mother’s Day was a first for me and was challenging to find the light in. For those who do not know, I lost my mother suddenly last year. Losing a loved one is never easy, but losing a mother to suicide in my late 40s is a pain that cuts deep, truly to the very core of my existence. It’s a loss that has left a void that seems impossible to fill, a wound that may never heal. In the aftermath of such a tragedy, my emotions swirled like a storm, ranging from profound sadness and disbelief to anger and guilt. Questions of “why?” and “how?” bombard my mind endlessly, each one more agonizing than the last. I CAN’T BELIEVE IT! After all, I work in mental health, and we often talked about my mom’s anxiety and depression struggles. But how did I NOT KNOW my 68-year-old mother was suicidal? What could I have done differently? How am I now part of this life-changing statistic?

There are no words, only heartbreak. Grief is a rollercoaster of emotions, so much so that the word overwhelming is not even big enough to express. The variety of intense feelings felt like my head and heart were drowning with no hope for relief. I share this with you today because I know our community gets it. I truly believe I had the safest place to fall. Working in the mental health field for the last 7+ years was meant to be. I can’t imagine how I would have even made it through this time in life without my compassionate team, this life-saving medicine, and all my dear loved ones who wrapped their arms around me, refused to let go, and cried through the pain with me.  In my giant and heavy sea of darkness, there is a glimmer of hope—a flicker of light that presents itself and reminds me of the love and memories I shared with my beautiful mother. I know she would want me to keep on crushing life. She would 100% be saying “You go girl, you can do anything!” It’s in these moments of remembrance and hearing her voice in my head that I find solace.  

Speaking of solace, there is an amazing peer-to-peer group named Solace, based here in LA, that offers weekly virtual suicide survivor support. It has been a huge help. I truly believe in taking the time to heal no matter what life throws you. I took 4 months off, did weekly therapy and EMDR work, endlessly played the music that Mom and I adored, combed through decades of photos capturing our good times, and even made some custom jewelry out of her sparkly collection to honor her life. Probably the most healing of all my efforts was being vulnerable with my amazing team here at KCLA and getting some ketamine infusions. I don’t think I could have made it through any of these dark days without immediately facing ALL the pain. There are no shortcuts and no time limits on the road to healing. My new motto is “The only way through the pain is through the pain!” 

Given it is Mental Health Awareness Month, I felt it necessary to share my story. It’s essential to remember that healing is not a linear process. It’s okay to not be okay, to lean on others for support, and to seek professional help when needed. While the pain of losing a mother to suicide may never fully dissipate, with time, love, and support, I am confident I will feel a sense of peace and acceptance, honoring her memory always as I navigate the journey of grief with all of us who miss her dearly.  

Happy Heavenly Mother’s Day Mom! You are with me always.   


Kids & Adults Today

Angelism: “Never underestimate the power of the question WHY? Spend one hour with a 3 year old engaging with them non-stop and you may begin to think you have lost your mind.”

Ever notice that everything an adult asks of a child, the kid does the opposite? I have realized it’s impossible to reason with youngsters. I don’t have my own children to compare this to, however I have spent a lot of time working with kids. I helped raise a few in my family, babysat in my younger years and have worked part-time as a nanny. Most of my observations come from everyday life. It’s fascinating to observe kids doing the exact opposite of what adults request of them. When you tell them to do something or stop doing something, be prepared for the question “WHY?” to follow. Every answer you give them will not be good enough and will be followed up with “WHY?” Before you know it your head will be spinning.

Here are some of my examples. I’m sure many of you parents will relate. Is there a logical explanation for this behavior? My conclusion is that kids are here to test your patience in every way possible regardless of how good you are to them.
Bedtime: You ask a child to go to bed and they say, “No, I want to stay up for 10 more minutes.” That 10 minutes turns into 20, which turns into 30, which is really just a way for them to get your attention every 10 minutes for the last hour of bedtime. When you tell them for the last time to go to get their butt in bed they ask “WHY?”
Washing hands: You tell a child to wash up and they may run a finger or two from one hand under the water. They show up at the table with that finger or two still wet and swear that they washed their hands even though they are still filthy. When you ask them to wash them again they ask “WHY?”
Taking a shower: You expect your little one to shower and get cleaned up, they turn on the shower, stand under the water for 10 minutes, never touch the soap or shampoo but assure you they are perfectly clean. When you ask them to soap up and get clean they ask “WHY?”
Doing homework: You have them sit down after school to do homework and what should take an hour, they somehow finish in 10 minutes. Kids often fill in the answers with a bunch of numbers and words that have no relevance to the assignment but it looks done and that’s all they care about. They assure you the teacher won’t mind but the mess they created is all because they refuse to read directions because all they can think about is playing. When you tell them to re-do it they ask “WHY?”
Putting clothes in the hamper: I don’t care how many times you ask a kid to use the hamper you will always walk in their room to find the clothes on the floor. When you tell them to put the clothes in the hamper for a third time they ask “WHY?” and claim they will do it later.
Throwing out trash: Wrappers, papers, bottles and any other thing that is trash will end up in places you don’t want it. A child would rather leave their trash in your car or purse then take it with them to throw out. You tell them to pick up their stuff and throw out their own trash and they ask “WHY?”
Watching television: It is impossible to get a child away from the TV. When they are glued to a program you could say the house is on fire or a superhero is at the front door and they would not budge nor look away from the TV. If you tell them, “It’s an emergency!” they will ask “WHY?”
Noise level: A child has no sense of quiet or how to remain quiet for the sake of others. Their volume is always at the level of screaming and yet they expect you to listen to them when they never listen to you. You request that they be quiet so their little sibling can fall asleep and instead of respecting that request they ask “WHY?” and go right back to screaming.
Telling the truth: Truth is not an option. It is the job of the adult on duty to play investigator. All kids lie about everything – Where they were, what they were doing, who they were with and so on. Researching and interrogating is the only way to ever know anything. When you express to them that their story doesn’t make sense and you don’t believe they are telling you the truth they say, “WHY?”
Meals: All kids are picky about food. They want only what they like and half the time you make what they want and that isn’t good enough. At dinner all they can talk about is dessert. A kid will never be hungry enough for dinner but is always starving and screaming for dessert. Watch out if you have a dog because it’s likely the dog is getting more nutrients from the meal than your child. If you tell them to finish their dinner or they get no dessert expect them to ask “WHY?”
Shopping: If you need to shop for adult stuff, you must bargain with your child to get them to go. Then you are challenged with getting them to behave well and stay calm during the time you need to run your errands. However if it’s shopping for them, (Toys R Us for example), what’s in that for you? Absolutely nothing but an empty wallet and a child who can’t make up their mind because there are too many toys to choose from. You tell your child to pick one toy and they say, “WHY? I want all three.”
Toys: It is impossible for a child to appreciate a toy for longer than a week. You buy these plastic pieces of junk against your will and after the thrill is over you have more trash in your house. You tell your kids to respect their toys and they break them or sometimes lose them on purpose so they can get new ones. If you tell them they will not get a replacement toy you will get a big fat “WHY?” in return.
Brushing teeth: This is much like washing hands. I think the toothbrush is what really gets clean. It gets toothpaste, gets dipped in water, then has smeared toothpaste on it, then gets rinsed. I think kids believe that since they put the toothbrush in their mouth and tasted toothpaste for a second then the job is done. I’m shocked kids even have teeth since they put so little effort into brushing. If you tell them to brush harder and better they say, “WHY?”
Personal details: You tell your children some family matters are private and should remain in your own home. Out of the blue your in-laws call you wondering why you and your husband are fighting so much in front of the kids. Way to go kids! Sharing fight details with grandma because Dad came home late totally wasted which worried me is none of their business. When you tell your kid they did something wrong and should not share that personal information with family ever again they ask “WHY?”
These are a few things that kids and parents/adults can’t agree on. Did I miss anything? Don’t get me wrong, kids are great and there are plenty of things they do that is precious and wonderful. I really adore children and am always inspired by them because they see things in such a dreamy way. I simply find it interesting that no matter what the situation, kids will test your patience and push your buttons in ways you never thought possible. Take a deep breath and remember, it’s “time outs” now, no yelling or spanking allowed. It will be interesting to see how the new generation of children grow up. They are in control, not the parents. One spanking and they are turning you into Child Protective Services. When I was growing up I had to do everything my parents told me 24/7 and if I didn’t I got spanked, got my favorite things taken away, or was grounded. I wasn’t rewarded for being good, I was expected to be good. Now kids run the show and parents bribe them with candy, toys, play-dates and money to get them to do things. Times have definitely changed. It’s a new way of thinking. Only time will tell if its better or worse.
To all Moms and Dads, I admire your work and your willingness to face the challenge of parenthood. It’s truly the hardest job in the world. May your minimum 18 years of raising your kid/kids be amazing and memorable and may you not lose it when your children ask you, “WHY?”