Thursday, May 7, 2015

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

My name is Ashley, blogger for Book Crazy Gals. I am a wife, mother, teacher, best friend, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, reader. These are labels that most people glance over when describing a person. Most of these labels make others smile. But what about the labels that are a bigger part of our lives? The labels no one wants to admit to? 

I am Ashley and I live with severe depression every day. 

Yes, the only label I wear 24/7. 

But why do we have to focus on the label part? Why can't I just be ASHLEY?

My symptoms for depression started in high school. At the time I thought it was all hormonal. I felt sad on and off. Winters were the worst. But I thought it was all part of growing up and the angst of teenage love. Little did I know at the time I was having the beginning signs of depression. 

Off to college I went and that winter I wasn't sure how I would survive college. I couldn't get to classes on time. I went to bed early and ignored newly made friends. Homesickness maybe? That was my thoughts. By spring, I was feeling better and knew my first year was about over. The following year I didn't take a heavy load winter quarter and was able to survive. 

Once college was over I embarked on my teaching career and young marriage. I found the one person who could understand me and love me. I think for awhile that love was was enough to keep the dark away. 

Fast forward about 7 years and two babies later. My husband traveled for his job and was working several states away for 4 months. I was a single mom of a 4-and 2-year old. My husband was only coming home every other weekend and for only about 36 hours. 





I didn't want to be a mother any more. I didn't want to be a wife anymore. I barely made it to work looking like a professional. I put on a happy face for colleagues and came home to darkness. 

My best friend and husband had been discussing an intervention of sorts behind my back. They both confronted me and forced me to get help. Luckily the next day I was seeing my ob/gyn for a check up. I didn't plan to tell him. But when he asked about my husband and children I lost it. On the exam table, in my exam robe with absolutely no dignity.  

He immediately put me on some antidepressants that also helped with anxiety. 

After a few weeks, I finally felt normal. Normal for a depressed person anyway. 

I was not cured or normal. After a year or so, that initial medication ended up not working anymore. After another intervention by my loving husband and caring best friend, I found a therapist and psychiatrist. I was officially diagnosed with severe clinical depression and anxiety. 

It was one of the most difficult times in my life, but I fought for my husband, my girls, by BFF, my family. 


Do I feel cured? No way. Depression is a sneaky devil that can hit on the brightest day, and strike you down in the dark. It comes out of the blue for absolutely no reason. 
I share my story for many reasons. The biggest is to rid the world of the stigma of mental health. It is ok to have a therapist. It is ok to take a few pills to manage your life. The alternative? No, I'm not ready for that. I'm 39 and have 2 wonderful daughters that need me. Not to mention the husband who has been my rock for half my life. And my bff who would kick my ass lol. 

My name is Ashley. 

The other parts of me are not as important. 

They all add up to make me.


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The Keith Milano Fund Banner

An amazing group of authors have agreed to donate a portion of their May 2015 books sales to the Keith Milano Memorial Fund at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
The Keith Milano Memorial Fund was established to help raise awareness about the devastating and deadly disease that is mental illness.  Our hope is that by having the strength to say that Keith was “Bipolar” we can strip away the stigma.
If anyone wishes to make a direct donation to the Keith Milano Memorial Fund they can do that HERE.
Our goal is to raise awareness about mental illness and to get people talking…..
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24; the US loses 22 Vets a day to suicide, more than they lose in combat; there is one death by suicide in the US every 13 minutes. These statistics are scary but together we can work to make a difference!
Participating authors and books found in the widget to the right

This year the event will also include an online auction and author takeover over 4 amazing days!! We hope that you will join us for not only some great auction items but to have an opportunity to speak with participating authors during an epic author take over event.
The Keith Milano Auction Event Banner
Please join us on Facebook HERE 
In addition to all of these great things, thanks to the amazing design skills of author SJD Peterson, we also have custom t-shirt for sale, which part of the sales will also benefit the Keith Milano Memorial Fund.
The Keith Milano t-shirt back The Keith Milano t-shirt front
Personal Message from Denise Milano Sprung: When Keith passed away, I made a promise to myself that he would not go quietly nor would he be forgotten. It is with the help of all of you that 10 years later, I am able to keep this promise and most of all to be able to help others who may be suffering in silence.
Thank you does not seem like enough. So please know that from the bottom of my heart to the depths of my soul, every one-click of these books helps others and continues to reduce the stigma that is associated with mental illness. THANK YOU for all you do and for spreading the word and for opening your hearts to help others.
Fund information:
Keith Milano Memorial Fund
140 Adams Ave Suite B-12
Hauppauge NY 11788
direct donation
The Keith Milano Memorial Fund benefits the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
Donations at the end of the May Mental Awareness Event will be made by the authors directly to The Keith Milano Memorial Fund at AFSP. Keith’s fund is a self-directed memorial fund. 100% of the money is spent on programs and research programs selected by the Milano / Sprung family
For examples of programs:
AFSP is the only national not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to understanding and preventing suicide through research and education, and to reaching out to people with mood disorders and those affected by suicide.
AFSP is a fully accredited 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization incorporated in the state of Delaware with primary offices in New York City. Federal tax ID # is 13-3393329. AFSP’s Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) number is 10545.
All donations to AFSP are tax deductible.