What if we changed the way we viewed suicide?

***Trigger warning***

I have often heard people refer to those who have died by suicide as selfish.

Why is that?

It truely doesn’t make sense to me.

“Don’t beat yourself over their choice. It was selfish of them.”

“Don’t get too down about it they knew that they were hurting people when they did it.”

Or the worst thing of all, to say to somebody who has just attempted.

“Why would you try to take your own life. What were you trying to do just leave me here?”

Seems awful. I know. But believe it or not these are all things that people have said to me or to those I care for greatly.

As somebody that had lost friends by suicide and somebody that has struggled with suicidal thoughts in the past I can tell you with 100% confidence that none of those words are at all helpful. And to be quite frank I struggle to see why anyone would even think that those words would be helpful in the first place.

While I struggle greatly I also reach my hand out to extend grace to those who say those words. As they may not know the power of what they are saying. Or maybe they are struggling with their own loss and that is just how they are coping.

Understandable.

But what if we changed the way that people viewed suicide.

You see people that take their lives don’t die from suicide. They die by suicide.

They die from depression. Anxiety. Trauma. Addiction.

Ok what’s the difference?

To say somebody died from suicide would be to say that suicide is what killed them.

Now while to some extent this is true that is not what killed them. What killed them was the months or years of torture. Whether that be from mental illness or bullying at school. Suicide is the way the handle it. And unfortunately it is a coping mechanism that once complete can’t be taken back.

And I think that is what people struggle to realize.

Now yes, I realize this is a pretty risky thing to post as I know it is something that people have very strong feelings toward, but I’m not going to hold back.

I am not trying to say that people can not have their own feelings about different topics but somebody has to speak up for those that can’t speak up for themselves.

While I pray nobody ever has to experience grieving the loss of somebody that died by suicide I also pray that if one should come across this post and then one day relate to it that they would have a new understanding of the pain filled process that those that battle everyday feel.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or plans please call the number above. There is help. You are worth it.

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What if we lived in a world full of love? Wow.

This past Thursday my school was blessed with the opportunity to listen to Tim Ryan speak.

A man that, as of this past Wednesday, has been 5 years sober.

Amen.

A man that has been through the ringer to say the least and has see the darkest side. But a man that I respect greatly.

I have never struggled with substance abuse so it was near impossible for me to relate to his struggles but believe it or not there is so much more to his story than just drugs.

I got many things out of Tim’s presentation but the one that stuck with the the most was the much needed reminder that we never know what somebody is going through.

So often in life we judge people by their covers.

Oh that person is on the varsity football team. He has a girlfriend and is always at parties. His life must he awesome.

Little do we expect that the same guy is working three jobs just to make ends meat.

Oh that girl is so pretty and skinny and has so many friends. She is always laughing!

Little do we expect that the same girl is skinny because she hasn’t eaten in days.

That kid is so weird, he never talks to anybody and is always wearing dark baggy clothes, he is so emo.

Little do we know that they are going home from school and slitting their wrist just to try and control the pain.

People make assumptions about others based off of what others say. We make fun of people that don’t fit in and leave them crying and then get heartbroken when we hear the announcement that they are no longer with us.

Makes you think. Doesn’t it?

This world is broken. People are dying every day from drug addictions that all started with one person giving them grief about how smart they are. Or lack there of. How weird they are. Or how much they don’t fit in.

People are being abused every where we look and in stead of leaning up beside the victims we just sit back and say “wow glad that’s not me”

People are being bullied. Harassed in the hallways. And instead of stepping in and saying something we walk past. Because maybe if we just act like we didn’t see it then the issue will magically go away.

It breaks my heart.

What if instead of making assumptions about people we asked how they were doing.

What if instead of making fun of somebody for the way they dress you compliment their hair. Or shoes.

What if instead of sitting back and hoping somebody else will change the messed up world we live in we step up and do something.

My prayer is that one day all my fellow brothers and sisters that struggle can say that they too have been 5 years safe, sober, and happy.

Thank you Tim Ryan. For a much needed reminder.

To the people behind the words “me too” you are so loved.

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If you have been on social media much lately I am sure you have seen multiple people with the status quoting “me too.”

It brings pain to my heart that so many people can honestly put this on their status. I think that it is ever so important to raise awareness to the issue. But there are plenty of posts that are supporting those who are typing those two heart wrenching words and clicking post. My heart and my prayers go out to them as I am one of them myself. But I don’t want to talk about that today. Today I want to talk about the people that are typing it and deleting it. The people that are whispering “me too.” in their minds but aren’t saying it because of the fear of what people are going to say.

Will people look at me differently?

Will people start asking me question?

Will it bring back the treacherous memories of  the horrors I thought I had dealt with? 

Maybe they can’t post it. Maybe the fear of their abuser shielded them from being able to ever tell anyone in the first place and now, to post those words would cause am uproar of questioning and fear within their social circle. Within their family.

Maybe they were sexual assaulted or harassed. Maybe they were beaten to the ground. Hit or punched or kicked. But they weren’t raped. They weren’t inappropriately touched so they don’t feel they can share that they are struggling too. Maybe they were called a slut by there significant other. Told that they are unworthy of love or a bother. But they don’t think their struggles are “real enough”.

Maybe you are a guy, and that is just “not what this is about” because the internet says that this is to support women who are struggling.

This post is for those people.

Your struggles are still valid. Your pain is just as real. We stand with you.

According to Martin Beckford 80% of victims of assault or rape don’t report it. So imagine how many other people on your Facebook and Twitter were also taken advantage of, in any way, shape, or form, and declined at the opportunity to share that because not a single soul knows. You are not alone.

Victims. The statistic says victims, not women. It breaks my heart to say that with as many girls and women that I know that relate to me too I know just about half that amount of guys that relate to it as well. You are not alone.

To everybody secretly holding on to your me too. You are not alone.

Not all realizations are fun, but they can move mountains.

Recently I have come to the painful realization that my mental illness does not only impact me, but those that love and care for me as well.

I've always known that my mental illness impacts others I just didn't know that people actually cared about me. It wasn't until this past week that I truly realized, in the bottom of my heart, that I am loved.

I know I am loved and cared for, I always have. In a sense of I have never doubted that my family loves me. I haven't even every doubted that God loves me. But what I did not know was that my best friend cares enough about me to text me multiple times when I don't reply within a few hours. Or that the one man that I look up to more than I can even try to form into words cared about me enough to drop everything and drive across town to make sure I was okay.

Realizing that I am loved was a wonderful feeling.

Realizing, not long after, that therefore my illness impacts those people greatly?

Well that was a much harder pill to swallow.

Ever since I have been diagnosed with depression I have become selfish.

I, for the longest time, didn't care if I bailed on my friends, making them feel unloved and betrayed. It didn't cross my mind as a big deal when I ruined family events because I was sitting in a corner crying.

It had nothing to do with any of them. It was a me issue, and so it shouldn't impact them. Right?

Wrong.

I was on the phone a few days ago with a family member who I care about greatly. They said to me that they simply did not understand depression. That the whole depression and anxiety bit didn't make any sense to them. They seemed angry at me for being mentally ill. Like I let them down in some way.

When I hung up the phone I was angry, how could you possibly be angry at me for something that I have very litte control over? It is not my fault. It is not something I asked for.

Then I sat back and thought about it. That family member never said he was angry at me for being mentally ill. He simply said he didn't understand. He said he was at loss for words. But then he said that he loves me.

I realized that maybe, just maybe I needed to stop making assumptions about how people are feeling.

I remembered that the first time I talked to my best friend about her mental illness I didn't understand. I hadn't yet been diagnosed so all her struggles simply confused me. I wasn't mad at her, I just care about her. I didn't know what to say so I told her exactly what that concerned family member told me. I told her that I didn't understand, but that I loved her.

And after I told her that we sat in her room in dead silence. Because was at a loss of words.

Does it stink that my own personal struggles impact others so deeply? Yes. But I choose to see that as not only proof that I am loved but as my motivation to get better.

After all, the Sears Tower wasn't built with only one person that cared. It took a village.

And I, I am a skyscraper in the making.

To the women that has made me the women I am. Thank you. 


I think it is fair to say I am a little biased towards my Mom, but man is she amazing.

Last night as we sat down to discuss our plans for this years Mother’s Day my Mom shocked me with her ideal day.

“I’m so excited! I am going to wake up early before church and make breakfast and then after church we are going to do some housework together and then go on a picnic!”

I looked at her cross eyed. Reminding her that it is Mother’s Day and she shouldn’t be doing work.

She replied to me “I just want to do something with you.”

My Mom has not been handed an easy deck. In the 17 short years that I have known her she has shown me that she is a caregiver, a friend, a mother and and father, a good cop and a bad cop, and a person that loves me more than words can explain.

As I get older and I experience more of life I realize that not everybody has a Mom that will do anything for them.

Not everybody’s Mom will drive to their kids school in the middle of the day just to bring them some Advil for a headache. Not everybody’s Mom will wake up at the crack of dawn just to make sure that they get to school ok. Not every Mom stays up until two in the morning just to make sure her kids get home safely.

I am learning that not every Mom cares.

But mine does. 

My Mom and I do not have to best relationship ever. We are not enemies but of course I would like to be closer. We get in arguements because I don’t put the dishes away on time. She gets mad at me because sometimes I am home 15 minutes after curfew and I do not ask her first. We get annoyed of each other sometimes- but lets face it, that is pretty normal when you live with somebody. But at the end of the day my Mother is the reason I am who I am today.

She is the one that made sure my brother and I got proper counseling when my dad passed away. She is the one that made sure I had rides to my practices. She is the one that drives me to school on rainy days so that I do not have to walk in the rain. My Mom is the person that makes me soup when I get sick, and cuddles with me even thought she knows she will in turn be throwing up 24 hours later.

I lost my Dad at a very young age, and it was awful. I miss my Dad every single day. But God blessed me with my Mom.

Things could ALWAYS be worse. My Mom could have given up on my brother and I after my Dad passed. We could have lost her in a car accident, or a million other scenarios I prefer not to think about. But I still have my Mom.

So this Mother’s Day and everyday, to my Mom.

Thank You.

When my OCD makes me think that nobody cares.

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OCD is not something that I talk about often. It is something that I have just recently been officially diagnosed with but something I have silently struggled with for years.

No my room is not perfectly clean 24/7, in fact more often than not it looks like a tornado came through it. And no I do not have to wash my hand after I touch every door handle.

But I have OCD.

OCD has gotten a reputation. That it is just this thing people have that makes them have to have everything in a curtain order, or that causes them to have to do things a curtain number of times.

Yes, all of this can be true. But it is also so much more.

I obsess over thoughts. Negative thoughts. Thoughts that the world would be better off without me. Thoughts that not a single soul on this earth cares about me.

I have found that it has gotten worse and worse over the months. I have accepted it because I am being treated for it. And I am growing to appreciate it. Because I now obsess over the positive thoughts as well.

A few nights ago as I was sitting having a conversation with two people that, if I am being completely honest, are more like parents to me than anything. I was sitting there pouring out my heart of how I just felt so tired of the constant battle I was facing. I looked up, with tears flooding my eyes, and I saw two people in tears with how much they cared for me. Two people that I thought just put up with me because they wanted to do the right thing were sitting right in front of me, in tears as I spoke to them about how lonely I felt.

I truly did not know that any person on this earth cared about me that much.

Since that day I have not been able to stop thinking about how grateful I am for those two people. Is it healthy for anybody to obsess over any thought? No. Not at all.

But obsessing over my newfound knowledge of the fact that people care about me is a heck of a lot better than obsessing over the idea that I am a living, breathing, burden.

 

Today was a day my depression spiked up. But you would never know it.

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Today was an awful day.

I mean terrible.

But you wouldn’t guess it. Not by looking at me. Not by even talking to me.

Today I woke up to the same alarm as I do everyday. But the moment I opened my eyes I knew what kind of day it was going to be.

I rolled out of bed after five minutes of encouraging myself. I mustered up the energy to go into the bathroom and brush my teeth. I even took the time to take a morning shower in hopes of refreshing myself for what the day had ahead.

It did not help. Not at all.

I got of the shower feeling even more exhausted than I did when I woke up. But I put on a nice often. They tell you to dress how you want to feel. I wanted to feel happy so I put on a nice dress and did my makeup. I put in effort.

Still. Nothing.

I went to school and sat through all my classes. I participated in the class discussion. I laughed at all the jokes. I talked to my peers in the hallways.

But inside I was crumbling.

I came home and went to my tasks. I went to babysit and I laughed and played with the kids. Soaking in every moment, because to me the most joyful thing here on earth is the sound of a happy child.

Nothing.

I went to church and I sang all the songs and listened intently. I prayed asking God to just give me one moment of genuine happiness in that awful day.

Nothing.

You see the thing about depression is that some days just stink. Some days you really do just have to put on your big girl pants and fake it until your head hits the pillow. But that is hard to accept as a Christian. As a Christian I want to just be able to say that it is all in my attitude. That the day is only as good as I make it. That God is by my side so I will be fine.

I think that it is thanks to God that I am able to go through my day without a single soul knowing my world is crumbling around me. Because I know that it is by Gods grace that through all the thoughts in my head telling me I am worthless I am still able to function as an active member of my community.

That, right there, is how you know you have beat depression.

How do you get air out of a glass?

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It is a simple question. But you either know the answer right away or you are, like me, completely clueless. 

The first time I was asked how to get air out of a glass the first thing I thought was you can’t. Then I thought of breaking that glass. Or maybe taking some sort of vacuum? Turning it upside so nothing can get in?

If you don’t know the answer don’t worry. I will tell you.

You fill it with water.

It’s a metaphor, you see. The glass is life. The air is the struggles of life; the cancer, the murder, the sadness and pain. In order to get rid of the air you have to fill it with water, the positive.

Yes, you are still going to always have a little air, unless you fill it to the tippy top. But that is ok.

Bad things are going to happen. You are going to try and move your glass and it will shake, and water will spill out. But do not worry! There is always more to put in it!

When I first heard this metaphor I kind of let in go in one ear and out the other. It was interesting but I did not feel it applied to me. I truly did not believe I had the power to find the good in bad things.

Then one day I was sitting in English class and I started to have a panic attack. My first thought was “Ok, I know that I have the ability to excuse myself from class, so I will just go down to my counselor and process it out.”

Then I had another thought.

“I do not want to miss the information she is giving us right now, I need to try and stay. I will try that silly glass thing.”

I sat there and said to myself that I was grateful for my anxiety because it taught me how to be more understanding of others. I said to myself that If I could just get through the rest of that class then I could do anything; that I was grateful for the support I could go to but that I was grateful God gave me the strength to get through it myself.

I have not missed a single class due to panic attacks since then.

Not only that, I have mentioned the simple metaphor to multiple friends and even adults. Just the other day I got a text from a friend saying that thanks to the metaphor she was able to push through an uncomfortable therapy session.

Everything in your world might be falling apart. And you might be questioning if things could possibly get any worse. The truth is, yes, things could always get worse. But no matter how tall and wide your glass of life is, you can always fill it with water. You just have to do a little searching first.

Let’s Discuss 13 Reasons Why. Actually, let’s Discuss Suicide.

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I know, edgy topic. Another one that people don’t really talk about much. Until this past few weeks when Netflix aired the series “13 Reasons Why”

If you haven’t watched it yet, I highly suggest that you start. It is intense. It is provocative in wording and scenery, but it is real. Okay, maybe the whole basis of somebody taking their life and leaving tapes explaining why is a bit far fetched but it sure does get you thinking.

I don’t want to talk about the show. I don’t want to spoil anything. But I want to talk about the topic of suicide. What leads a person to make that choice, because I can tell you for fact that you do not just wake up one morning and decide you are done living. It is a slow and painful process.

It is something that is so relative in today’s society and yet something that is so rarely discussed.

My question is why?

This past September a classmate of mine took his own life, and it threw everybody off track because nobody knew that he was suffering, most likely because nobody was talking about it.

You see the day after he passed away all the teachers were talking about how they are always there for us, we were being encouraged to go talk to counselors and trusted adults about how we were doing. This all took place after the tragedy had already occurred. It took somebody taking their own life for the community to address it. Why was this not brought up before? Why, on the first day of school, don’t we have an all school assembly informing us of the different places we can go to get help?

I want to make a change, more than I can begin to express. I want to change the way things are done. I want to be the person that doesn’t stick to the status quo and breaks the barriers. I want to take that leap of faith and speak up about the hard things, mental illness, suicide, rape.

Right now, I am praying. It might not seem like much to you, but to me praying is the most important step. I am praying that God shows me the right ways to speak out about this topic that I feel so extremely passionate about.

I want to take the road less traveled by.

What is the real reason we don’t talk about mental health in the church community?

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Why is it that mental health in the church is something that is kept so quiet?

Are people afraid to speak up about it? 

Afraid to trigger or offend somebody?

Or do people simply not know what to say on the topic due to lack of information?

A few days ago while having a conversation with my youth pastor he told me that mental illness isn’t something that they are taught about in “pastor school”. I was shocked, but it made sense. In my few seventeen years I have never heard a sermon on mental health, and I have been to my fair share of churches.

Nothing against pastors, at all. In fact, my pastor is the reason I have freedom in Christ today.

I don’t know why the conversation of mental illness is swept under the rug in the church community, but I do know that as somebody who battles anxiety and depression, it is something that people with mental illness want to be discuss.

Are pastors and leaders afraid to speak up on this topic? Or do they simply not know how to go about the sermon due to lack of information?

I am a wild advocated for mental health. I believe that people need to be informed about the realities of mental health, but beyond that I believe that people need to know the reality of being a person the battles mental illness all the while clinging onto God every minute of every day.

My mental illness isn’t a sin, I am not unholy because of it. My mental illness is a chemical imbalance, that therefore causes me to over think little things, obsess over things I have no control over, and worry about the unimaginable.

Here is the thing, mental illness isn’t something that is cured. It isn’t a paper cut that heals with a band-aid and some neosporin. It is incurable, but it can be managed. You see the day my depression stopped controlling me was one, about a month after I was prescribed the correct amount of medication for the severity of my illness. And two, the day that I stopped letting the devil use my mental illness as an excuse for him to torture me.

Mental illness is really scary, for somebody that doesn’t have a relationship with Christ. I know because I have been there. I have woken up morning after morning with a pounding headache from the tears I had cried the night before. I have had more than one anxiety attack in the middle of a big exam. I know that it is not “fun” or “cute” to have depression and anxiety, contrary to what a large majority of society thinks. I also now know that none of my battles were or are from my mental illness, but from satan himself. He saw my illness and he knew that he could use it as a way to grab a hold of me. Now, It took me two books and months and months of guidance to realize that. But eventually I realized it and I got all the right balances of everything I needed. Now I look forward to tests, because they are a day when I don’t have to sit and listen to a 30 minute lecture. I love going to bed because I am able to reflect on the day and relax my body, spend some time with God.

I understand why it is a touchy subject. Even just writing this post I have fear of offending people who struggle with mental illness and don’t know Christ because I know what it is like to be on the other side. I sat and listened to my religious role models tell me that my mental illness was satan controlling me, and I thought it was crap. In fact it angered me that somebody that didn’t know what it was like to live my life was telling me that cause of my struggles. But I also know what it is like to have freedom in Christ. Not to say I don’t still have depression and anxiety, I do, and it will always be a constant fight.

But I also will ALWAYS have an astonishing God that loves me more than I could ever even begin to imagine.

And guess what? So do you.

The Most Important Lesson of my Life. Breathing.

 

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Trying to plan out your life is like trying to find a pen in a pitch black room. You can always do it, but you most likely won’t be very successful.

One of the most important and most helpful things I have learned in my seventeen short years of life is how to breathe. 

I know, sounds kind of dumb. But I’m not talking about the type of breathing that your body does naturally. I’m talking about the breathing that you have to teach yourself to do when everything around you is falling apart. When there isn’t a single other thing in your life that you can control you can always control your breathing.

As somebody that battles anxiety, and with that panic attacks, learning breathing techniques has been a big part of my therapy.

In through your nose, out through your mouth.

Breathe in the good vibes, breathe out the bad vibes.

Breathe in, hold 1…2…3… breathe out. 

I have learned it all. And yes, it does feel silly when you are sitting in class breathing along with your fitbit, But it helps to focus on the things that you can control when everything is falling apart.

Nobody likes to feel like their world is caving in around them, but everybody has felt it. And often there isn’t a single thing you can do about it.

I tried to plan out my life once, I did not get very far. 

Because you try to control everything around you when really all you need to do is sit down, breathe, and bring yourself to the feet of the one who is all powerful. God knows what I am going to be doing exactly at this time two years from now. I don’t even know what I am going to be doing 24 hours from now!

A few weeks ago I found myself in the car just driving to get gas. A simple errand, I didn’t think a single thing of it. My plan was to go to the north side of town (where gas is a solid 10 cent cheaper), drive home, and go to bed. I even told myself I was going to fight the temptation to make a pit stop at the drive thru Starbucks.

I got the gas but as I was driving home I started to get that sick to my stomach feeling. I knew exactly what was about to happen, and I did not like it one bit.

“Not now, I can’t have an anxiety attack, not while I am driving. This can not be happening…focus…on your breathing…breathe in, out. No you need to be focusing on driving. You shouldn’t be driving, this is not safe.”

I found myself sitting in my car on a street right off of Main. I give myself a pat on the back for pulling over. But that did not fix anything. The attack escalated faster than usual, everything was blurry, I was lightheaded, and not breathing right. Being alone during an anxiety attack is extremely scary. Because if you are alone and decide to go get water you may faint and nobody be there to help. Not ideal. The situation was more than I could handle.

My night had not gone as planned. 

But God was watching over me saying to himself ‘right on schedule’.

I found myself at the house of a family that lived nearby that I am very close with. Sitting on the couch of two extremely wonderful people with one wrapping her arms around me and another literally holding my hand through the attack and as I was sitting there, bawling like a baby, I started to breathe right. In my mind nothing was right. I was intruding on somebodies evening, I was bothering people. But that couple could have not been home. They could have said no and turned me away. But they didn’t. That panic attack (which was awful) is what gave me the motivation to get throughout the rest of the week. The attack was terrible but God gave it to me anyway because he knew that I just needed somebody to hug me tighter than I had been held in years, somebody to cover me with a blanket and let me know that I am loved. He knew that I just needed some TLC that I would not have been willing to ask for had that situation not arose.

It is mind boggling how every single situation in our lives plays out just right. Literally everything. I can’t even begin to comprehend how astonishing God is.

 

An Open Letter to the People That Care About Me.

 

Everybody, no matter who you are, has at least one person that cares about them. Just today I was talking to my therapist about how it is both a blessing and a curse that I care about everyone so very deeply. Because, you see, I care about everybody a tad bit more than I care about myself. And that can cause trouble.

I am extremely blessed. I have people every where I turn that care about me. Some people care about me a little more than they should, given the role they play in my life. To the people in my life that care about me. Here is what I want you to know.

I don’t believe that a single soul cares about me. I know, logically, that people care greatly for me but on this one subject my heart and my head just don’t agree.

I could sit here for hours and tell you about specific times when it was made plain as day that I am loved. And in those moments, I felt flooded with love. But the moments fade and at the end of the night when my head hit the pillow I was left feeling lonely.

So, to you, the one that hasn’t given up on me yet. Know this.

Know that I thank God for putting you in my life.

Know that when I send you a text at 11 at night asking how you are it is probably because I am lonely and need some company but don’t want to be a burden.

Know that when you send me texts saying that you are thinking of me it gives me the courage to get through the day.

Know that I will cling to anybody that shows me they care. Because for me to truly feel genuinely loved is a rare occurrence.

Know that even when I am sitting in a room full of hundreds of people I feel like I am in a soundproof room, screaming for somebody to open the door and rescue me.

Know that I care about you. A lot.

And above all. Know that I am grateful for you. Because all though I may not always know in my heart that I have people that care about me it has been ingrained into my brain as fact that I am surrounded by people that have my best interest at heart.

To my friends, thank you for going on random drives with me to nowhere. Thank you for always playing all the right songs. And thank you being somebody I can be serious with and then dance with five minutes later.

To my adult role models and my non-biological family, thank you for always being just a phone call and a drive away from a pair of loving arms. Thank you for taking me in as if I was one of your own without even blinking an eye.

And to my family, thank you for loving me uncontrollably but never failing to make me laugh. Thank you loving on me when everybody else turned their backs. Thank you for understanding my crazy family in ways nobody else can. You make the holidays merrier and the sad days bearable.