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Monday, October 9, 2017

#MentalHealthMonday: Sharing my story and Getting Involved

Depression  knows no color, race, or age. I was diagnosed at 16 and struggled with accepting it for so many years. I am now growing to a place of acceptance, and I share my story of overcoming to show others living with a mental illness is possible. I was asked to share my story of attempting suicide and surviving depression with a local awareness campaign called 'Talk About It Norfolk' This is a city wide initiative in Norfolk, Virginia to spread awareness about depression and suicide. The hope is normalizing the conversation will encourage others to speak up and ask for help.

This is my story 

I also participated in a mental health training called 'Talk Saves Lives' where attendees are taught how to talk about suicide with those you care about it.

I am also raising funds for the American Foundation for Suicide Foundation. There are several awareness walks called 'Out of the Darkness'. Click here to donate

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Secrets of My Life: The Complexity of Telling Your Own Story

Secrets of My Life: The Complexity of Telling Your Own Story
It is early, a little after 3:00 a.m. on a Saturday, and I am thinking of Caitlyn Jenner. Yes Olympic gold medalist, turned reality start now transgender woman, Caitlyn Jenner. I checked out her memoir, because confession I love the Kardashians, (that’s another story all in itself) and I want to know how living in their world effected his gender dysphoria. I wonder what it feels like to live in a skin that you feel is not your own for over 60 years. I’m also reading, because I am fascinated beyond measures with memoirs, and biographies. I always have been. I guess that is what lead me to a field in journalism in the first place; I love storytellers. Memoirs allows you to step in someone’s world for 200 or more pages. They give you a window into someone’s pain, reality, and often times triumph. One of my favorites growing up was “I Know Why the Cage Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelo, and more recently ‘Glass Castle’ by Jeanettee Walls. My greatest moments as a journalist was when I knew my reporting gave viewers that same intimate look into someone else’s world. I miss that dearly.
Caitlyn’s story has struck a nerve with me for so many reasons. It brings to the forefront my own struggle with writing my memoir. In journey of Caitlyn’s life her story intersects with so many others; the Kardashians, three former wives, her kids. All of their lives have been impacted by the telling of her story. And, I find it heartbreaking that the telling of her story has further destroyed her relationship with her once close Kardashian stepchildren. I’m sure the book wasn’t the only thing, but all of them have publicly stated the book was a punch in the gut. This is hard for me, because I worry constantly what my memoir will do the people whose lives I have intersected. Will they brand me a liar like Caitlyn or say I am rewriting history to serve myself? I am truly anxious about this as I am sure a lot of memoir writers with controversial stories are. My story is dirty, and ugly at times; dark and desperate. There are parts of my story that still keep me up at night, and make me ashamed of myself Accepting your story flaws and all is brave thing. This is why I have been drawn to storytellers my entire life.
Reading ‘Secrets of My Life’ reminded me that my story is mine, not my families, not television viewers, or people I feel could never understand the struggles I’ve endured the last three years. My story is mine, and as painful as it is to write; I feel compelled to keep going. . I want it to set me free as I know the truth does, and I hope in the pages of my memoir it sets someone else free too. I hope in reading my struggle it gives a broken-hearted woman in a church shelter hope that one day she won’t sleep on a gym mat and thin cover. I hope people with mental illness see how I’m living in recovery and choose life over suicide. ( I am currently raising money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention you can donate at search Hope Walker) I hope that imperfect Christians like me know that no matter what dirty deed you have done, or how far from grace you feel God will meet you where you at and fill your well again. (See the story of the Samaritan woman in the book of John. Ichanged my life.)
I pray this early morning that like God says in Joshua 1:9 to “Be strong and courageous,” in my story-telling. I hope no matter how many tears fall in remembering those homelessness nights, or bad choices that I continue to put pen to paper and hands to keys.
Everyone is a story, and being a journalist has taught me that telling your story can be hard. But when we are brave enough to tell our stories profound things can happen for you and the people who read it. My little blog and business Good Girl Chronicles is not much now, but one day I hope it’s part of a storytelling/motivational speaking business that encourages and teaches people how to share their stories even if it’s only for themselves.
Caitlyn Jenner’s memoir is a mess at times. Her reflections of herself teeter back and forth from optimist to depressed. You can read that she too struggles with her version of history and the version of the people around her. But, what I do admire is that none of that stopped her from telling her story, and as you near the end of the book and Bruce transition you can feel and sense a freedom that is joyous. That is what telling your stories does, it has the power to liberate you. May we all move a step closer to making peace with our past, owning own set, and dancing in the free of our true selves.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Out of The Darkness: Suicide Prevention Month

Norfolk Out of the Darkness Walk:  I Walk to Be a Ray of Hope

I’ve been speaking publicly about surviving suicide for over a year now, and it’s still not something I am comfortable with. I am sad that depression took me to a place where my life didn’t feel worth living. I can still remember the numbness, and darkness I felt during my first attempt. And, a part of me feels that when I tell some people I am a suicide attempt survivor there is some pity, and in turn some guilt and shame in me.

On the flip side, speaking about what lead me to attempt suicide is liberating. I can see myself further removed from that pain, and I am proud of my recovery. I am also starting to discover that sharing my story has done more for others than I ever imagined. In a world where suicide is taboo to speak about people tell me my story lets them know they are not alone and has encouraged them to get help. That is why I speak up, and I am always seeking opportunities to spread a message of hope.

When I heard that a suicide prevention walk called “Out of the Darkness” was happening in Norfolk, I wanted to help. So I sent an email to Eric Peterson, a man who lost a teen daughter to suicide, about how to participate. Eric had heard me speak at another suicide prevention conference for mental health professionals. I was honored and something he wrote in his response email confirmed to me once again that my story has value, and as hard as it is sometimes I must keep sharing.

“I am sad everyday that my daughter Sarah is not longer a part of my life here, but there is nothing I can do to change that. I am out here working to prevent suicide because I believe in you, and others who struggle. Everyday you stay alive brings meanings to this work in which I am involved in,” said Eric.

And Eric is right. He and his family are on the front lines of teaching people about depression and suicide prevention. I see him and his wife often at events promoting good mental health. They are trainers, advocates, facilitators, warriors for the cause. They remind me that suicide doesn't just affect one person. They are using their pain for the purpose of helping others. I am constantly in awe of their passion and drive. For days Eric's words stayed in my heart.

“Everyday you stay alive brings meaning to this work.” It reminded me of the value of life and not just any life, my life. Everyday I choose to live in spite of my circumstances, and my major depression is a victory. I want to be a voice for those living with a mental illness. I want to show people suffering in silence that they really are NOT alone and with the right resources, there is a way out of the darkness.

The Norfolk Out of the Darkness part of the e American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. On their website they state the mission of these walks is not just about raising funds which is definitely important, but also about showing the world that when people work together they can make big change.

I want to change the discussion around suicide and show people resources to help themselves or others. There are a number of Out of the Darkness walks in Hampton Roads. Suffolk, Norfolk, Virginia Beach, and Newport News are all hosting walks. I’d love your support monetarily or by walking with me.

I w Suicide is the 10 leading cause of death in the United States, and AFSP is dedicated to reducing the suicide rate by 20% by 2025, a big part of that I believe is awareness. Out of the Darkness Walks are in all 50 states, to find one near you go to

Click here to donate to my team.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Hungry for Mississippi Morning

The sunlight creeps through my grandmother's bedroom blinds, and gently kisses my face. I rub my eyes, stretch, and rose from my great mother’s waterbed. I would often find myself floating on her waterbed when nightmares kept me awake or I just needed extra comfort.

 The aroma of fresh buttermilk biscuits and coffee are swirling through the house. It's seeping from underneath my great grandmother's bedroom door. She is a second mother to all us kids, cousins, and neighborhood kids. We all called her ‘mother’, and often ran to her when moms, the women who carried us for nine months, weren’t giving us what we wanted.

 There is a sizzle, a crack, and pop. I know that's bacon cooking on my Mother’s old black, burnt frying pan. This is a Mississippi morning, and where some of my fondest food memories live.
After lingering in the bedroom for a while, my senses overwhelmed with the breakfast that is cooking down the hall, I wake up and start following the aroma.  My cousins are anxiously sitting at the table, and Mother is at the stove smiling. Her caramel life-worn face shoots me a smile. I'm only eight, but she pours me a cup of coffee. I go to the pantry and reach for the generic creamer, and sugar. I've tasted a lot of different coffees since those Mississippi mornings, but this coffee will forever be my favorite. When the biscuits finish baking, Mother brings the piping hot pan to the table. Me, my cousin, and young uncle are eagerly waiting for our turn to pick a soft, moist biscuit from the pan. No KFC, Church's Chicken, or any fast food joint can lay a finger on Mother’s biscuits. We pour this rich, thick maple molasses that came in large mason jars on our plates. It’s so rich and thick it takes what seems like forever to seep from the jar to the plate. With our hands we dip the biscuits in the syrup. This was the kind of food that fed more than your stomach. It fed something deep inside of you, something intangible. It’s like I could taste the love and attention Mother cooked into the meal. At the old circular table surrounded by my kinfolk I felt part of something, part of something lasting.

I've been thinking about these early Mississippi mornings a lot lately. I'm riding another weight roller coaster, and after way too many highs on the scale, I'm starting to wonder how I ever got here. Some nights I’ll lay on the couch, miserable, homesick, and alone. Then I feel a hunger rising in my stomach, punching, kicking, and demanding for something to fill the emptiness inside of me. It compels me to venture to the kitchen, and stand in front of the refrigerator. What I am really hungry for? I grab a coke, a few cookies, and head back to the couch. After my late night snack is consumed, my stomach is happy, but something else is still empty.

The sugary mix of caffeine and chocolate are not filling the loneliness or take me back to those mornings where I felt so whole and complete.  Growing up, food was not just about nutrition or fueling the body. Food brought my family together, it comforted us, and it was love. I've carried these feelings about food from childhood.  I realize now that sometimes when I overate I'm really trying to fill my soul with the same warm feelings I got on those Mississippi morning.
When I can't fix anything in my world at least I can fix a good meal for myself. The food cure doesn't fix the problem, but for those few seconds I'm lost in a haze, trying desperately to feed the little emptiness in my heart.

Our family is so far away. I’m living in the mountains trying to start my adult life. My sweet, warm Mother is now in a nursing home with little memory of those post sunrise meals. She has lost her youngest child, my aunt, and it’s caused a rift in the family that can’t seem to be healed.

My cousin and young uncle can barely relate anymore. The last time I went down South, I sat at that table where we had those sweet, rich, fat inducing breakfasts. I’m hungry for that feeling again. But, as I sit there in a house my Mother can’t call home anymore—I know no meal can fix where life has taken us or transport me back to those days that started with the feeling of sun on my face, and the smell of a family that loved deeply.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

#LOLOS LOVE LIFE: The Boston Bear

For the past three years I’ve been lied to, hustled, lusted after, used, but rarely have I been admired by a man. They called me a bitch, crazy, ugly, and so much worse. So when I heard that a guy in another department at my job had a crush on me I didn’t really know what to make of it, and it made me wonder if I was really worth of someone’s admiration again.

When I met the Boston Bear I remember thinking he had kind, inviting eyes. Nothing about the encounter suggested anything romantic. We exchanged names. I explained I was fairly new to the company, and after that I didn’t see him again. Weeks later one of Boston Bear’s coworkers stopped me in the back office.

“So what do you think of the Boston Bear?,” he asked.

“What do you mean? I met him like once. He seems nice,” I replied.

“Well he thinks you’re really pretty.”

Pretty, I thought.  I couldn’t help but wonder if Boston Bear needed his eyes fixed. My work uniform makes me looking like I’m carrying an extra 15 pounds on my already voluptuous frame, and since we can’t wear bright makeup, more often than not I look rather plain. Nonetheless, the compliment felt nice. Pretty was one of those words I always wanted to hear from the opposite sex when I was younger. I didn’t see much of the Boston Bear anymore since we worked in different departments, but his co-workers never missed the chance to tell me I needed to give Boston Bear a shot.

“He’s a super sweet guy. You should reach out to him,” they would say.

Love was the last thing on my mind. For the past year, I’ve been struggling to escape a life of homelessness, and despair. So many days I felt broken, less than, and hopeless. A part of me had given up on finding love again. But, I took a leap of faith and sent the Boston Bear a Facebook message. I was touched the Boston Bear read my blog, praised me for my strength in adversity, and didn’t flinch when I shared the heartbreak I had endured or the depression that nearly killed me. The turning point came when the Boston Bear heard I had no way to get to work because my driver's license was suspended. For weeks, he'd take me home, and take me work. On those trips down 264-W on the 40 minute trek to my house, I fell in love with the Boston Bear’s northern accent, his love for his city, and his welcoming brown eyes. One night home, he put his hand on my knee, and I felt flutters in my stomach. I found myself taken back when he opened the car door for me, carried my work bags, and greeted me everyday with, “Hello beautiful.”
When your new boo is a Patriots Fan- you just go with it

The Boston Bear and I have been dating for two months now. He is one of the most selfless people I know. He is kind, patient, hard-working, funny, affectionate, and an amazing listener; so many of the things I prayed for in a partner.

When I was homeless, it was hard to feel safe with a man. Most wanted me physically or were enamored with the little celebrity I had as a television reporter. I thought every man was out to get something from me, and I was always waiting for them to disappoint me.

The Boston Bear didn’t pressure me for sex, or immediately ask to Netflix and Chill. He read my blogs about my suicide attempts and didn’t run. He laid awake with me for hours sharing pieces of himself and his history that few know. He holds my hand in my public, and blow kisses to me from across the room, and he believes in my dreams. He encourages my speaking career, gushes me about to his family and friends. And, when he holds me I feel home, a feeling I’ve wanted for a really long time.

To my Boston Bear….. Thank you for sharing your life and heart with me. Here is to new beginnings. May we grow as lovers, partners, and friends. May we build each other up on hard days. I want to be your harbor in the storm, your biggest cheerleader, and best friend. Thank you for giving me the type of love every good girl deserves. I can’t wait to see all your dreams come true.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

#MakeupMonday: Lolo's Summer Loves

Hey Team Good Girl. This is a long overdue #MakeupMonday. If you’re a follower of this blog you know I’ve been busy surviving. Thankfully, shelter is no longer an issue, and I'm working again. Interestingly enough even in my homelessness I always liked to look put together. Every morning when I was living in a shelter I’d get up 30 minutes early to apply some foundation and eyeliner. Even though I had no real place of my own, and several nights the places we stayed did not have showers, putting on makeup made me feel good. That is indeed the power of makeup. I’m on a tight budget so I don’t get to splurge on makeup as much as I would like, but I’ve found some inexpensive staples that are helping me get by this summer.

Foundation: Maybeline Fit Line: A great Mac Studio Fix Dupe ! I am a MAC Cosmetics girl through and through. I love thick, heavy foundation. MAC Studio Fix is my go to foundation summer, winter, fall, and spring. But, at $30 a pop I can’t really afford it right now. I searched the internet for MAC dupes or foundations that are comparable and I have fallen in love with Maybeline Fit Me. It has a smooth, dewy finish, blends great, has an SPF, and has darker shades specifically formulated for women of darker shades. Ulta sells this for $7.99.

Tarte Eyeshadow Palettes - Even as a bargain makeup shopper there are a few things I like to splurge for when I can. I recently had a few extra bucks and I sprung for a new eye Tarte Cosmetics eye palette. I was looking for something with neutral tones to wear everyday, and stumbled upon this beautiful palette called ‘Don’t Quit You Daydream’. This eye palette is everything. This palette comes with seven eye shadows and a highlighter. They colors are amazing and great for everyday wear. I have fallen in love with Tarte because they are environmentally conscience.These eye shadows are made from Amazonian clay. Another bonus, when you buy a Tarte palette it comes with a demo card that shows you how to do one or two looks with the palette. It is currently sold at Ulta and on for $29. This is my third Tarte palette and I fall more in love with this line every time I buy one. The shadows last a long time, and usually come with both matte and shimmery shades. Totally worth the investment.

Tone Baby Tone! Why oh why didn’t anyone tell me the benefits of user toner in your beauty
regimen back in the day? The lovely ladies at Ulta have told me that toners hydrate your face and helps better set your makeup so now it’s a staple in a beauty regimen. My favorite is by Mario Badescue. This toner has rose water, aloe, and herbs. It smells so good I’ve been known to use it on my body on a hot day, and my hair. The 4 oz bottle is just $7 a bottle. This hydrating mists smell sooooo good, and does the trick. I put it on before I moisturize and after makeup to help set it. I highly recommend.

If you all have any drug store brands that are amazing or find a good dupe please email me I’d love to hear about it. I can be reached at I have a friend who works for ArBonne Comestics so I may be doing a blog on that soon.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Why Nice Guys Are Finishing Last in Love

There are a lot of reasons why nice guys finish last. I know because I am a nice girl, a goody two shoes if you will. It wasn’t until I learned my worth and started to love myself that I really starting winning in love and life.
I’ve been a self proclaimed good girl my entire life which makes me a magnet for self-deprecating nice guys. Don’t get me wrong, nice guys are amazing. I’ve dated some douche bag playboys and nice guys are refreshing. But, honestly most of the men I’ve dated and given my heart to weren’t your typical nice guys. One was a bad boy from the Bronx, another a suave bald headed man who took my breathe away at first glance, an over confident technology geek, and a sometimes arrogant Navy Corpsman. All of these men exhibit something some “nice guys” seems to be lacking: confidence.

I have had so many nice guys cry on my shoulder about always being friendzoned, never being good enough, and women only wanting pretty boys. I’m here to tell you--- we don’t need muscles, games, good looks, or roses--- but almost all of us want a confident man.
Some reasons I think “Nice Guys” are losing in LOVE
1.They can’t let go of the past hurt, rejection or loss: I recently met a “nice guy” during a really rough patch in my life. He was kind, and generous when I needed it most. He literally offered me shelter, food, and a kind ear. He showered me with compliments, and seemed instantly enamored. We inevidently got to talk about about love, and how he often felt passed over. He seemed slightly bitter about the women who loved and left, and broke his heart. As kind as he was his bitterness made me friendzone instantly. Even though I was in a vulnerable state his bitterness was a turn off. It made me defensive and wary of opening my heart up to him.

When you speak to a woman about your past particularly in the early stages of a relationship how you talk about it and whether you've made peace with your past speaks volumes. No one wants a 'Bitter Betty'. We want to hear if the experiences made you bitter or better. If you are still bad mouthing your baby mama, or harping over women who have hurt you, it makes us want to run for the hills. It says to us you are still dealing with some residual hurt, and many times that scares us rom giving you a chance.
One of my best friend male friends is one the nicest men you would ever want to meet. As much as I love him I often hear him recalling love from more than a decade ago, regretful, and sad. Sometimes I want to shake him and say, "Dude let that shit go! It's in the past." He always seems so fragile and delicate about it I never have the nerve to tell him, his past is keeping him from his future.

 No offense nice guys, but how is anyone going to love you if you’re holding onto hurt, failed relationships, and anger from the past? When women hear these things they are HUGE red flags. They tell us that you are not emotionally ready to give you heart to someone. I don’t believe there is space in your heart for anger, bitterness, and love too. It isn’t until we let go of the past that we open doors for the future.
2. Find Your Own Swag ! What is the sexiest thing about a person? While physical attributes are important, the most attractive thing a person can wear is confidence. There is nothing that drives me more crazy than a confident man with swagger. A man who knows his value, what he wants his life, and knows what he has to offer is the shit. Every man I’ve said, “I love you,” to had this trait. They were all confident in who they were. Confidence is electric. People want to be around confidence.

My first adult relationship with was with a computer tech at the community college I attended. At first glance he was not my type physically. Every time I came to the computer lab, he’d greet me with “Hello beautiful, so when are you going to let me take you out?” I’d usually roll my eyes, get my computer pass from him and find a cubicle far away. One night I let him walk me to my car, and he charmed his way to a first date. He told me with confidence I wouldn’t regret the date him and if I gave him a chance he’d make me feel like the most special girl in the world. I rolled my eyes.
Jay walked around like he owned the joint wherever he went. He walked with his head up, complimented himself, and always believed that anything was within his reach. After a while, I saw what he saw in himself; a strong, confident, sexy man with drive. GOD I love confident men. I was wildly attracted to him when I saw what he was seeing. Not to mention he did exactly as he said, every date with him I felt like the most beautiful, special girl in the world. He was never afraid to hold my hand, kiss me in public, and remind me of my beauty makeup or not.
3. Fear of Rejection: Fear holds so many nice guys back.  Asking someone out can be scary. Trust me I’ve done it. You are a bottle of nerves. Will they say, yes? Do they like me? Sometimes we place our self worth on whether a person accepts a date or not. If that person says no, you think to yourself it must say something about you. You are not attractive enough. You are not cool enough. Those thoughts tear you down, and it prevents so many nice guys from going for it. Love and dating is all about risks, but I encourage you to not to put too much stock in rejection. Don’t let that be a reflection of who are you. I’ve been friendzoned A LOT, but it never makes me stop trying to find love. Love is all about chances… but you can’t be too afraid to try. You miss every shot you don't take.
4. Know Your Worth - When you know who you are, what you have to offer, and why that is valuable pursuing love is amazing. I recently read Jennifer Lopez’ memoir ‘True Love’. In it Jlo chronicles the year she did her first world tour, and her divorce from Marc Anthony. Turns out Jlo discovered that through all her relationships she was seeking love and validation from the men she dated rather than herself. In the end she realizes the truest love of all is the love we have for ourselves. PREACH SISTA! I know exactly how she feels. After my last breakup, I was so empty. I was constantly seeking affection and love in all the wrong places and all the wrong ways. It wasn’t until I connected with Christ again, and starting falling in love with me that I learned that the love I have to give is amazing. It is making me more careful about who I share my heart with and fierceless in life and love.

I am a child of the most high God, beautiful, favored, smart, funny, charming, a go-getter, a lover of Christ, a passionate friend. And when God says the time is right I’m going to be an amazing partner. Because I am finding my worth, I can see all around me people are seeing it too. Men are asking me out ( quality men too) , opportunities are coming my way, and the joy I feel is incredible. I want that for all my nice guys too.

 Ask yourself --- who are you? AND do you love who you see in the mirror? If you can't answer those questions, dating needs to take a back seat. Do some soul searching, prayer, reflection, and love who you are before attempting to love someone else. 

I challenge you NICE GUYS - if you are hurting from the past-- deal with it, move on, and let go. The liberation will allow you to welcome love into your life. I challenge you NICE guys to LOVE YOU FIRST. You can’t love anyone else to you LOVE YOU! It is so true.

Monday, May 29, 2017

The Death of A High School Reunion

Colored lights, paper lanterns, a dim high school gymnasium, 90’s boy bands lyrics are blasting from the speakers; this is how I envisioned my ten year high school reunion. There’s a long table of appetizers, mixed drinks, and desserts I shouldn’t eat but I do anyway. I am looking fabulous in a tight, fitted dress, my hair is smooth and luxurious. My old high school crushes are staring at me and secretly kicking themselves for not giving me a chance in high school. This very cliche image is what I had hoped for, for the better part of my twenties. I wanted that night of self made redemption. NO, I needed it. High school was rough and I battled so many inner demons I wanted this moment to shine in front of my enemies, my naysayers, and frenemies. Petty?  Heck yea it is. But you’re kidding yourself if you’re saying you didn’t want that moment of validation too. I wanted that night as much for myself as I did for everyone else who ever felt they didn’t get their due justice in high school. With that in mind, I decided to plan my high school’s 15 year reunion. The attempt would lead me back down the long locker lined hallways of Tallwood High School, down the band hall, deep into old memories of my puberty, and back to face a grim reality that very few people romanticized their high school experience as I had.

My campaign to host our 15 year reunion started with so much hope in January 2016. Fresh out of the worse depressive episode of my life, I needed desperately to have some purpose, something to strive for. The class of 2002’ had a very ill-fated 10 year reunion that I’m told consisted of beach volleyball, a grill, and a few people kicking it on a hot summer day. Not exactly the picture anyone envisions when they think of a high school reunion. I figured my years of experience sales experience could help me raise funds for the effort and I could use what little television contacts I had left to find a good venue, entertainment, and food.  I recruited the help of two former marching bands buddies, and we began a very stressful, failed attempt to bring the ‘Class of 2002’ together for a night of memories.

One of my band mates had the brilliant idea of throwing a ‘Second Chance Prom’. While some kids had glamourous, amazing, lush proms nights. I recall a very awkward lonely night with my then hated boyfriend. Turns out a lot of people had crappy prom nights, and we decided to give them the prom they always wanted. It would give us adults a reason to get dolled up, drink, party, maybe hook up with an old flame, and dance the night away. There would be no superficial need to be coupled, no showmanship just some adults who partying who once shared the same high school.

My bandmates suggested we sell t-shirts, and souvenirs to raise money for the effort. My type A personality went into overdrive calling the principal, scouting venues, coordinating a website, and logistics. The thought of bringing all my old classmates together breathed new energy into me. But, the hope for a ‘Class of 2002’ Tallwood High School Reunion wouldn’t live long. It died a slow, painful death and faded into an oblivion probably never to be heard from again. With it took a friendship I once held dear, a good chunk of my new found confidence, and the positive reflection I once had of my high school years.

The first stake in the high school reunion came from good old Facebook. The more I asked people about their desire to come to the high school reunion they all responded the same way, “Who needs a reunion when you have Facebook? I keep in contact with the people important to me, everyone else can go fuck themselves.” That was an actual quote from one of my high school classmates. So many people told me they didn’t want to relive those 4 years, the painful memories of bullies, bad boyfriends, mean girls, and bouts with their self-esteem. Facebook allows us the moment of validation and ego boosting with its pictures, filters, and cool status updates. Now you don’t need to lose 15 pounds to fit into a slim dress reunion night. A good post on Facebook followed by 100 likes from old classmates is enough nowadays. If you wanted to reach out to the hot cheerleader, or the love that got away, well that’s what DMs (direct messages) are for these days. You could see if karma finally served your high school bully with a simply search for their profile. Sometimes the best revenge now comes from a single relationship status, bad profile pic, or low friend count.

The second blow to the ill-fated Tallwood High School 2002 Reunion was due rising tension amongst the organizers. The old saying goes about having too many cooks in the kitchen is true. With no clear leader of the reunion and 3 strong personalities at the helm the reunion started losing hope, motivation, and desire to see it completed. Once those things are gone, it’s doesn’t take long for an event to fail. Before long the tension of fundraising, decision making, and planning got the best of all of us. I take some responsibility for this as well. I had super high expectations for the reunion so I put a lot of pressure on my bandmates to deliver and that drive left lasting cracks in our relationships. The Tallwood High School 2002 reunion died in less than a month.

The bedazzled night of glitz, glamour, and memories I had so desperately wanted for all my former classmates is just a dream now. The age of social media has made it so we no longer need to physically gather and reminiscent. I’m sorry I failed you Tallwood High. I really am. I wanted us to have that magical night together.

Anyways, thank you for the memories. High school for me wasn’t all bad, and I have some amazing memories with many of you; they made me who I am today.

Love You, Love God More

Lauren Hope

Lauren Hope
Owner, Good Girl Chronicles

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Ray of Hope: Surviving Suicide and Living with Depression (VIDEO ADDED)

Thank you for visiting this blog. I share stories of love, overcoming depression, and surviving suicide. Living recovery is not easy but telling story helps me release so much pain. I hope in reading my blog you find joy, laughter, insight, and inspiration that your LIFE MATTERS and it is worth fighting for. Below is a speech I gave at a Suicide Prevention Conference in Portsmouth. As a mental health advocate and motivational speaker I share my story of depression to show people there is hope at the end of the darkness, and I hope to be a ray of light for those seeking a way out.

A Ray of Hope: Surviving Suicide, Living with Depression

Good morning! I want to thank you all for giving me this opportunity. Sharing is a big part of my healing and I hope part of breaking the stigma associated with talking about mental health.

Ok - CONFESSION TIME! I’ve been super terrified of speaking in front of you all. I was told a big part of the audience would be mental health professionals. AND I’m like geez what the heck do I have to tell licensed, schooled people on suicide prevention that they haven’t already heard.Typical anxious kicked in and on my fifth rewrite I decided to speak to you from the heart on what it feels being a survivor of suicide, how depression nearly destroyed my life--- and lead me to a year of homelessness and abandonment.

My first suicide attempt was 3 years ago. It was on a May day in 2014 just a few days shy of Memorial Day weekend. Anxiety was reeking havoc on my brain. I was constantly tired, I lost my appetite, I felt I could do nothing right, and I was constantly researching ways to perform a painless suicide where I could fall asleep and escape the feelings of loneliness, despair, failure, and self doubt.

On the outside -- no one would have known I was depressed or suicidal. I was an upcoming reporter at WAVY News 10, 130 pounds, a runner, a girlfriend, a beloved first child and a homeowner. By most people’s standards I had nothing to be depressed about. Well many of you know that sometimes depression doesn’t always make sense -- especially when you have a clinical depression such as mine.

So -- I swallowed 29 pills, laid on my carpet and waited to fade to black-----drift from this world--- and feel no more pain.

As I laid there on my bedroom floor, I thought of my funeral, and all the people that would be there….I wondered if the news would cover my story with the headline WAVY reporter dies in apparent suicide or would they even care…. I imagined a beautiful pink dress I’d want to be wearing in my casket…. And I imagined all the people who would wonder if there more they could have to save me if they only noticed.  THEN I thought of my Down Syndrome sister Sara…. A twenty something woman who would never understand why her sister was cold and lifeless lying in a casket… The thought of the confusion and pain it would cause her prompted me to reach for the phone and call for help.

After that I went to the hospital where I was deemed severely depressed and suicidal. I spent five days at the Virginia Beach Psychiatric Center. I took every medication, went to every group meeting, and said the right things patients told me would get me released. Truth was I didn’t feel any better in the Psych Ward-- I lost 10 pounds, found some comfort in group sessions--- but the emptiness, the anxiety I felt did not go away.  A month later -- still wrestling with the same suicidal and depressed feelings I resigned from WAVY News 10.

Then like Alice in Wonderland I fell into a deep dark pit---- but when I landed it was not Wonderland it was mental hell, a battlefield in my mind.

My licensed practitioner put me on so many meds to balance my mood: Prozac, Ambien, Brintellex, Reluxit, Zoloft - then Viibyrd.

I worked a retail job where television viewers shook their heads at my demise. Some weekends I locked my myself in my room with no food or water...just hoping to sleep into oblivion… I hated who I had become so I tried to destroy what was left of me--- I ate and filled out my small runner frame by 100 pounds. I pulled my hair out. Peeled scabs on my face til they were bloody and raw. And I stopped talking to every friend, coworker, or family member. I wanted no one to see my perceived downfall.

The turning point in my depression came me night in December 2015, I was up binge eating and watching television--- the only thing that brought me joy those days. I was living at my parent’s house at the time because I could no longer pay my mortgage. AND --- I was watching an episode of A&E’s Biography ---- and the subject was Patrick Dempsey AKA Doctor McDreamy. Then that same still voice that saved me a year ago said, “Turn off the television.”

I sat up and looked around checking to see if one of my family members came into the living room. Then I heard it again - “Turn off the television” Goodness I thought these meds are making me hear things now. I was on my new anti-depressant for 2 months so I thought I was in the clear for side effects. But as a woman of faith I recalled people who experienced God speaking to them…. So I responded in prayer.

“Lord, I am so tired. I have ruined so much in my life. Take me tonight, please just let me die in my sleep,” I replied.

The voice replied, “ It’s is time for you to get up. For more than a year I have carried you, protected you and shielded you. Now it is time for you to get up.”

“But God I can’t. I am a failure. I left my job, my boyfriend broke up with me, I am now financially at poverty level, I am fat. No one loves me. I have no friends. I hate going out of the house now. I’d rather die than live this life.”

“Lauren, I love you far more than any man ever will. I never promised you life would be easy or without strife, but I did promise you I’d help you endure it,” He replied.
"I need you to get up and tell your story so the world may know God can love this children back to life."

That night I cried for every loss I endured during my depression, ever man that ever loved and left. With my renewed faith and therapy -- the fog known as depression slowly began to lift… but recovery was not be easy.

I struggled to reconnect with friends who I had not spoken to for over a year. I found roadblocks applying for jobs when I told employers I left the television business because of my depression. People were afraid to hire someone with a history of mental illness after the deadly shooting at WDBJ7, where a former employee shot and killed 2 of his coworkers on live television. He had documented mental health issues prior to his hiring. I feel my honesty about my depression on my blog has cost me a number of t.v. jobs.

My parents kicked me out of their home where I was staying 5 months into my recovery. They were exhausted and tired of caring for me. I left with no money, no place to go --- and no one to rely on. For nearly a year I slept in my car, under a desk at an office I was renting, then hotels, I took offers from strangers to stay with them-- and lastly I stayed in a shelter. It is by the Grace of God I was not raped, hurt, or worse.

Even through all of that I stand before you a SURVIVOR. A survivor of suicide, homelessness, brokenness, depression, abandonment, and heartache.

I attribute my SURVIVAL to God, friends who reached out to help. People have donated over 4,000 dollars to my GoFundme Page in the past year. Their generosity fed me on lonely nights, clothed me, and sustained me. My anti-depressants and therapy helped but the turning point didn’t come until I felt I had something to live for. And it’s God’s love and grace that showed me my life has value.

Now God has turned my pain into purpose. I am on a mission to educate people about mental illness, encourage them to seek help, show them there is no shame, and inspire them that they can not only live but thrive with mental illness.

My experience with depression and suicide has opened my eyes however to how much work we still have to in the world of mental health. As a homeless woman I met many people wandering the street, sleeping under bridges, and worse because families didn’t want to deal with their mental illness and kicked them out. I know how long the waiting list is to see a therapist at the CSB, and the paperwork and red tape that often prevents a lot of people from getting help.

I’ve seen overworked staff in Psych wards more concerned with paperwork and not losing their jobs than actually helping patients, over medicating and not counseling.

So I encourage you to look within yourself as a mental health professional, family member, friend, counselor and to be fighters against the stigma of mental illness, champions of hope in recovery, and interveners when people are suicidal .

Even if you are not liscensed or have a doctorate there is so much you can do to prevent suicide and encourage good mental health. When you see something, say something. If a loved one or friend is showing signs of withdrawal, suicidal ideation or depression----step in.

The more we listen, the more we speak, the more we learn---- the greater we are in preventing suicide -- and promoting healthy mental health.

Let’s make it so there are no more DEJAH JONES--- a 14 year old Newport News teen who took her life last year --- after intensely bullied. You may have seen her story on the news. I was almost a Dejah Jones—that is why I want you to know my story of surviving suicide, but also to the story of people who don’t……..And all I ask of you is to be BRAVE enough to speak up about your pain, your depression, your mental illness, your darkness-----  and for those who don’t know this struggle BE BRAVE ENOUGH TO HELP ---- because that is how we save lives.

I am Lauren Hope of Good Girl Chronicles
I Love You, Love God More
Thank you for your time.

Below is a video clip that captures the mission statement of my business Good Girl Chronicles LLC - to help people tell their own stories--- and set themselves free.