Gift to Readers


I’ve got the “f” word on my mind!  F is for family, friends, fans, and most importantly free!  This holiday season, the kindle version of my book, Dear Sophia, Love Yourself! is free to download from December 23-26 on amazon.   My  book is full of short stories about dealing with mental illness, and healing.  I had depression with psychotic features.   It’s my commentary of the mental health system, friends, and family who helped me through a dark period in my life.  It’s inspirational and a primer to think differently about mental health issues.

From the back cover:  Since I was a teenager, and for much of my adult life, I have been in and out of the mental health system, and have had various physical conditions for which I needed assistance.  This book is a compilation of stories about what I have overcome and how I did it.  These stories are my commentary on the help, or non-help, I received and various life experiences from which I learned valuable lessons that I want to share with the world.   I hope to inspire others who feel like there is no way out of a seemingly hopeless situation, or who just want to take positive steps to change the direction of their life.




A couple of years ago, I was in therapy and sadly telling my therapist about losing friends. I told her about how some people would just stop texting, emailing or returning calls. I didn’t feel like I had done anything wrong. Even though a psychiatrist had told me in the past, “it’s not personal”, I couldn’t help but feel it was very personal. Another therapist had told me, “Not everyone is going to like you!” Ouch, that was hard! I think I’m a very nice, compassionate and accepting person! Why wouldn’t anyone like me??? People are just at different stages in their lives and sometimes let you go for whatever reason. And let me tell you, it hurts when people leave. It also lower your self respect when you chase after people…. At one point, I kept leaving messages for a friend, and I whined to my therapist about why they weren’t responding. Actually, the person wasn’t a friend. I just thought they were because they were friendly to me. They weren’t able to say to me, “Hey I don’t want to hang out with you.”

However, my therapist said, to me, “It’s called reciprocation!” I was stunned because I really didn’t understand the concept. If someone is a friend and say they want to hang out, wouldn’t you believe them?? Well, yeah, under usual circumstances, but if they are not reciprocating your calls, texts, or whatever, then it’s time to get a clue…Yeah it took me a long time to figure it out, but actually I understood it when my therapist said, “It’s called reciprocation!”

There’s good news here! Once you stop chasing people who are not interested in what you have to offer, you can focus yourself on those who actually do. You are free to move on. You are free to let them move on with grace and ease. No guilt, no trying to pull them back, just lovingly release them.

It’s good for your mental health to let people go who are toxic and ignore you. There are plenty of people willing to accept you and appreciate your awesomeness! Let go of those who are not for you.
My blog posts, and my book, Dear Sophia, Love Yourself, are primer’s to get people to start thinking about issues differently. To look at them from a different perspective to learn, grow, or change mindset. They are especially written to spark an “aha” moment! It’s works for me! Comments are always welcome.


There Is Always Hope!

In my senior year of high school, September of 1984, I found myself in a padded room, wrapped up in a straight jacket. There was a mattress on the floor and a thin blanket. The lights were on all of the time. There was a door to a bathroom but it was always locked unless someone opened it for me to go. There was also a tiny window on the door to the hallway. I felt utterly lost and abandoned in this room. I didn’t think anyone would ever come see me or check on me. Who would? However, I was very depressed and didn’t see any reason to live or any reason anyone would come see me in this state either. I thought for sure, I would die there. After what seemed like forever, they took off the straight jacket.

My foster mother, at the time, came to see me. I was so ashamed and embarrassed of myself for getting in this place. She offered to take me home, but I declined. I didn’t want any of those people to ever see me again. In my mind, I was completely a lost cause. I was hopeless. I thought people would make fun of me and tease me. I had been teased and made fun of before. After a few days, I was moved to a regular room in the psych ward and stayed for about 5 weeks. I recall another family who was waiting to get their foster care license coming to visit me, too.

So that was 32 years ago. It was the first time I heard of major depression and post traumatic stress disorder. It was the first of many hospital stays. I think back on those days of feeling worthless, lost and confused. I thought my life was over. Yes it was a struggle and it took me many years to heal my depression and trauma but here I am today! I’m very thankful for the foster mother and the other family who came to see me while I was there. It told me someone was thinking of me. Someone cared for me, even if I didn’t care for nor love myself.

My whole life, I struggled for love and understanding. I spent many years just trying to escape life because it felt awful. It never occurred to me to hold on to hope and faith because of those few who did express concern. I can see this clearly now. How could I have seen or known back then? But I’m sharing this story because I hope to encourage someone to not ever give up on their lives..You are worth it. Don’t let shame and embarrassment keep you from those who love you. Also, love yourself. Your life depends upon it more than anything or anyone else!  You matter!

Life is beautiful and precious no matter what darkness has descended upon our lives.  It is struggling and finding our way back to the light.  It seems senseless but it all makes sense when it’s over.  In the midst of it, there doesn’t seem to be any light at the end of the tunnel but there is a tiny speck even if we don’t see it.  As long as we have breath, the light shines within us.    It took me a long time to remember.  Remember, there is always hope.


Crazy labels

I really dislike the “h” word.  I often tell my kids don’t use it unless you really mean it! The “h” word is hate!  So when I say I hate labels, you know I’m very serious about it.   Some phrases people flippantly use to label people who are different or have a mental illness and irks me to no end:

That’s so crazy!

You’re crazy!

It’s schizophrenic!

She’s psycho!

He’s schizo!



So that’s a small sample of the phrases people use to label someone who is different.  It makes me want to punch them, or ask “do you even know what that word means???”   I know crazy.  I know schizophrenic.  I know psycho.  I know them all in their truest form and meaning so when I hear someone say it, I cringe inside.  It’s unnerving and kind of like when someone scrapes their nails across a blackboard.  It triggers something inside me that wants to scream, stop with the freakin labels!!!

Within the mental health field, there’s a reason for the diagnoses which come off as labels, but the way people use labels these days are very hurtful.   Not just these labels, but if someone sees me as not being feminine, they’ll look at me strange if I’m wearing pink.  Why must we put people in boxes and label them?  Perhaps it to understand or to identify with someone else, but most of the time it’s mean.  Not only that but if I see myself as shy and introverted, I might wear this label and not even attempt to go out and have fun with people (it depends on how I define “shy” and “introverted”.)  Yet when someone uses those words and phrases, we get a picture in our minds of what the person looks like.  Okay, I know I do.  I also get a picture in my mind of what someone looks like who uses those offensive phrases.

I’ve worn many labels in my life and the only thing they really served was to limit me.  They limited the perception of myself, and who I could be or become.  I wore them on my sleeves.  I was a very sad and lonely person, locked in the depths of the madness in my mind.  I knew what happened to me, I knew why and it showed on my face, the places I went, the clothes I wore and those who were my friends.

When people think about “crazy” it’s usually someone who is not lucid, they are not tracking very well, and they’re out of touch with reality.    This person doesn’t know they are crazy.  I on the other hand knew I was crazy so therefore, I wasn’t really crazy.  Makes sense to me!  See, I had the voices.  I was depressed with psychotic features.  I had severe anxiety and triggers.  I used many means to end my life.   Yet, I’m saying I wasn’t crazy because I knew the voices weren’t real and I knew something was very wrong with me.  People would talk about me as if I weren’t in the room, and couldn’t speak up or advocate for myself!  So why didn’t I speak up?  Why didn’t I say something or acknowledge it?  I was lost inside of myself.  I didn’t know what to say.  I agreed with them that I was crazy.  I accepted it.  I took my medication and lived in a numb, placid invention of my mind.  I didn’t value myself.  I saw myself as just broken.  I had no concept of what a whole person looked like.

I want to leave off with the message of let’s stop labeling people especially people who are just different and may or may not have an actual mental illness.   I am a sensitive person and that’s it.  I feel things deeply.  It took me many years of therapy and healing to figure this out!  When I didn’t acknowledge my feelings or know how to sit with them they gathered power and festered like an open wound.  A person can only take so much before they break.  Some would say I need to stop being so thin skinned but no, I simply need to live in a peaceful environment, surrounded by loving and accepting people.


You Are Amazing!!

Once a month, I attend coffee time with friends. We meet at a restaurant for coffee, tea and/or a snack. When I first started attending, I was very shy. I didn’t have the best social skills as I had spent so many years locked inside of myself and trapped in my mental illness. But these people were very endearing, positive and accepting of me. It didn’t take long for me to get over my social awkwardness. One of the things the facilitator does,  Angel Marie Monachelli, who is an intuitive life coach and healer, is remind each other “you are amazing!” It’s a good way to learn each other’s names as well. Each one of them, would look at you in the eye and say, “Sophia, you are amazing!” The response I give would be, “thank you, I am!” Then, I’d say the same to them. Initially, it was difficult to accept. My natural inclination would be to say, “no, you have no idea who I am!” But I learned to accept this very powerful complement. Nowadays, I love to acknowledge and point out the beauty and awesomeness of everyone I know. It is perfectly natural to shine a light on each person who is an amazing gift. If you’re alive, you are amazing! Each one alive has permission to be their unique and amazing self. It really changes our perspective to look for the good and positive in each one. We are all amazing but sometimes we forget and need wonderful reminders. This amazing life coach, Angel, has has made a very profound difference in my life. I’m not afraid to be myself. I don’t hold my head down and try to hide inside of myself or inside my shell like a turtle. I let myself out and shine! There are times when I want to stay in bed or not drive to the meeting but I remember how positive this beautiful lady has been in my life and it’s important to show up for your own life. By the way, you are amazing!!


There’s A Place!!

I was watching a video this morning on Youtube by Dr. Madan Kateria. He is the creator of Laughter Yoga. Since I’ve been on the road the past few weeks, I haven’t been able to attend the laughter clubs back home. This is one of my secrets of coping with stress, overcoming shyness and loneliness. I am a laughter junkie now! You would hardly believe this considering years ago I was hospitalized on four different occasions in a psych hospital as I struggled with mental illness. I had depression with psychotic features, PTSD, BPD and DID. I may be leaving something out but that’s what I remember right now.
Watching the video and other remarks I saw from some friends on social media, sparked a fire in me to write this blog post. Someone needs to hear that I overcame those things. Someone needs to know that there is hope and healing. Someone needs me to show up today for life! They need to see that things do get better. I’m a writer at heart. I write some very deep things and light hearted things. I love to listen to music, pretend I know how to play a harmonica, drums or piano. When I was a child, I didn’t have a harmonica, but I pretended I had one. Now I have two and I still pretend to play it!
But I remember having a psychiatrist who said 90% of life is just showing up. Who can I show up for today? I can just sit at the kitchen table and enjoy my food. Look out the window. Post something on facebook. Read a book. Fiddle with an old musical instrument or make one out of what I have. I can play the drums on the table with my hand or two pencils. Clink the glasses with silverware. Smile or wave at a neighbor. Do something to show I have life! I have the gift of life and I survived and overcame my illnesses for a reason! We’re all here for a reason! We all gave gifts and talents. Yes, life is painful at times, but it’s still beautiful and worth the struggle. It is worth every breath. It is not in vain. Keep on dreaming and believing there’s hope for everyone! Reminds me of Stevie Wonder’s song There’s A Place In The Sun!  Always remember….


The Janitor!

This blog is to celebrate and honor those who helped me on my journey to healing. This particular story is not about a therapist, counselor, psychiatrist or other mental health professional but is just as important. He’s a perfect stranger who reached out to me, and made a difference in my life!
In my senior year of high school, I went to 4 different schools. It was a very sad year. Well most of my life was very sad up to that point, but I began to take more drastic measures to end my life. I had been in two different psych hospitals as I was very depressed and suicidal. One of the high schools, I don’t remember which one, I walked down the halls with the saddest and most dejected look upon my face. I had no reason to smile, to look up or look to my future. I’m just going to list the high schools: Morningside, Crenshaw, La Habra (at the psych hospital), and Inglewood. They’re all in Southern California and I didn’t live in the best of neighborhoods. I was very depressed, living in foster homes and eventually a group home.
Many of the schools, I didn’t know anyone and I was very lonely. I didn’t want to be there either. I just wanted to die. As I said, I looked very sad and dejected. There was a janitor at one of the schools I walked by everyday on the way to my classes. At first, he just looked at me, as if to acknowledge my presence. Then, as the days went by, he smiled at me. Eventually, he said “hello Smilie!” I kept walking, but I turned around to look at him and see if he was talking to me. He winked at me! Lol. Then I started to smile back at him. I gleamed from ear to ear. I didn’t know anyone, it didn’t change my circumstances, but he was someone to smile at and to recognize me. I was noticed! It was the very beautiful and precious to me. So I became known as Smilie.
Later that year, in the Army, at book camp and at my job training, I was also known as “Smilie.” The drill sergeants loved to drop me to give them 10 pushups if I was smiling too much. You especially was not allowed to smile at the drill sergeants. The Army was about serious business, but I was still smiling! By the way, I loved the Army. I did need to get clearance from several Doctors to make sure I was psychologically fit to join. In my basic training book, full of photos like a year book, everyone including the drill sergeants said they loved my smile and positive attitude.
To this day, I am grateful to that janitor who taught me to smile.

Nowadays I strive to smile at everyone I meet. If I’m not smiling and someone smiles at me, I receive it. It’s important to me to reach out to others, to give a friendly smile or nod of the head. You never know who’s day you might brighten or lighten someone’s load. if you need a smile, look in the mirror. An important exercise I learned to love myself is look in the mirror and smile at myself, even if I don’t like myself, or I feel depressed. I also say, “Sophia, I love you!!” Smile!


Do Something!

Last week, I was feeling a bit stressed about all of the news articles. I was in a general state of unrest. I normally don’t watch the news, but it’s hard to completely ignore it. I generally click on news articles that interest me. The little bit I read focused on the racial issues, and allowing same sex people to marry. The comments and fearmongering were the worst. I wondered if I should say something. I’m usually not the outspoken type. I keep to myself. Does it matter if I say anything? Well, if I have something to say and someone is willing to hear it, then I might as well. Everyone is thinking about it, but they’re not saying anything. Not saying anything is probably just as painful as the issue itself.

Why are we afraid to say anything? At least say something to drown out those who are intent on spreading hate and bigotry. In a time of great distress pour out the love. Speak the truth with love. Spread the love even more to family, friends, neighbors or even a stranger on the street. It could be a spoken word, a smile, a kind gesture, or random act of kindness.

A friend said, “The worst you can do in any situation or in life is NOTHING!!!!” It reminds me of the quote by Edmund Burke, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” But see, I was very stirred by what my friend said since I was feeling unhappy by a few situations in my life. Yet, I wasn’t doing anything nor was I saying anything. I was being challenged to speak up for my life. If something is eating you up inside and you’re not talking about it, you need to say or do something! Might as well rock the boat! This is part of learning to set good boundaries, and creating healthy patterns.

In the past, I might not have spoken up because I had a lot of anxiety. I didn’t like confrontations nor conflict, so It was peace at any price. Yet there was no real peace because I had a terrible knot in my stomach. I would feel chaotic inside, which would bring on anxiety attacks, depression and sometimes psychotic episodes.

Now as someone who does not have the above issues anymore, I gently and firmly speak up. I strive to speak the truth in love. However, if there is conflict it doesn’t bother me too much because I know it will pass. I’ve learned to stand up for myself and for my life. In essence, I don’t put up with no bullshit! This is all part of learning to love myself! Not only that but it speaks to the other people that I have respect for them and value them so much that I’m willing to bring up difficult issues.

Sometimes people are surprised to hear that something was bothering me since I’d been quiet for so long. What issue do you need to speak up about? I figure if I already have a knot in my stomach or break out in a sweat when I think about something or someone that is disturbing me, I might as well go ahead and deal with it. Either all hell will break loose or it will get resolved. If you’re not happy with a situation, do something, even baby steps to make it right. It’s great for your sanity, too. You’re worth it!


The Walking Wounded

Not too long ago, when I was struggling with my mental health, I thought I simply didn’t fit in anywhere. I felt like an outcast and a freak. I thought if only I didn’t have mental illness, I’d be okay and I would fit in. I was diagnosed with major depression, PTSD, and dissociative identity disorder. After I healed from all of these issues, I figured life would be “normal” and I’d not suffer so much. Boy was I wrong! I realized I would still struggle with ups and downs. Plus, I’d have to reconstruct my life from the days of going to appointments and just getting by to maintain myself, to actually participating in life.

I wondered, what do I do with myself now? More than that, I realized that we live in a world of wounded people. Many issues which I thought were solely related to mental illness, I learned were my own personality quirks. For example, I’m a sensitive person. I feel emotions deeply. I have an extraordinary amount of compassion for others. I cry easily. These are not symptoms of mental illness! How it translated in my life is that I had to go work extra hard to “get over” my issues. I had to understand, accept, and more importantly love myself.

I’m the same person with struggles but I do bounce back. I may fall down, I get sad but I don’t stay there. I use my coping skills and an arsenal of tools to get myself out of a funk. Learning I am sensitive was deeply profound. I feel others emotions and I react subconsciously to the mood of a room. I didn’t learn it until I healed from mental illness. At first, I thought oh my gosh, I’m just crazy! Yet, I wasn’t. There was nothing unusual or strange about it. In fact, many people are more sensitive to others and their environment than they realize. They’re just not aware of it. I have increased awareness and perception but not in the sense of a psychic. Being sensitive means things that bother someone just a little bit, bothered me a lot! It scarred and broke me into pieces. Again, this is why it’s important to understand why one needs a therapist or psychiatrist.

It’s part of the human race to need assistance at one or another to understand what’s happening to us,and ultimately to heal. It’s ridiculous the stigma out there for people who are suffering with a mental illness. Everyone, whether they’re dealing with a diagnosable illness or not is going through something. We are the walking wounded. We either have an “illness” or have been touched by someone with something that is out of the ordinary. Yet, it is very ordinary! It’s ordinary to be human and to have problems. Some of us have a little more zest and spice, that’s all. We may also need more tenderness, compassion and acceptance in the world.