The Follow Up

I felt a follow-up post to my story was in need after the completely heart-warming, encouraging, uplifting, and terribly sad, discouraging, and heart-breaking response it received. If you missed it, you can see it here and here.

So many of you reached out with words of encouragement, words of praise, and words of compassion. But an almost scary equal amount of you also reached out with similar stories.

And it broke my heart all over again.

Mental illness is more prevalent than I ever thought, and because of it, so many people have been torn apart by it themselves or devastated by it from another.

I want to thank those of you who reached out and trusted me enough to share your story with. It took YEARS for me to muster up the courage to share mine, but I have concluded these kinds of stories need to be shared in order for more awareness to be made.

I won’t be sharing the names of anyone who shared with me, but just to give you an idea of the silent suffering going on out there, here is a quick debriefing…

One girl lost her mother and her father at a young age. Her father took the life of her mother, sparing the lives of her and her brother. The father is about to be released from prison causing an extreme amount of anxiety, understandably.

Another girl has suffered from severe depression for the majority of her life, often times wanting to end it all.  She wasn’t able to seek help until recently as it was expected of her to simply snap out of it.

Another girl, raised in a household with a mentally unstable father, was forced to grow up much faster than she should have.

Another, losing her father to this illness in the same manner that I did.

Another, losing her mother while in college.

Another, struggling herself after having children.

Another, losing a close friend in high school.

Another, losing her brother.

An entire community, losing the quarterback to their college team.

Another, and another, and another. And even more.

My friends, I hurt. I hurt for you. I hurt for your loved ones who have suffered. I hurt for your loved ones who are still suffering.

I wish so badly there was an over-the-counter medication that could make it all go away. Something that would be easily accessible. That wouldn’t cause any shame or judgment.

Those of you out there who are suffering or who have suffered; remember: Even though you may not be feeling it, you. are. loved. And you are needed. And you are not alone. Not even close to alone.

1-800-273-8255 is the number for the national suicide prevention hotline.

Since I have shared my story, I have been made aware of three people who lost their lives to this illness. Three, in three weeks. That is terrifying.

I felt compelled to share my story after I once never thought I would. It was something I was embarrassed about, felt shame over, and was something I didn’t want to receive pity. “Were we really that bad?” I used to think. “Was living with us so hard the best outcome was to end it all?”

Oh, how I was so off. It had nothing to do with us, and everything to do with an uncontrollable, all-consuming illness. No one WANTS to live that way. No one would ever choose to suffer daily. So, why is there such a stigma attached to it? It shouldn’t be such a hidden, hushed topic. It should be studied, and treated, and talked about to find a cure; to find a way to end it.

I think this is the Lord telling me something. To use a part of me that once hurt so badly to help others suffering in some form from this illness… in some way.

I don’t know exactly what that looks like yet. But for now, I will be praying. I will be available. I will be an open ear. I am here for you.

I visited my mom about a month ago and while there, we talked through our story together. We shed many tears, many hugs, looked at tons of photos and shared many memories.


We even visited my dad’s grave.

I hadn’t been to his grave since I was in college, so I was a bit antsy. When we pulled into the cemetery, things started to look familiar. Tall gravestones, a narrow dirt path. I felt lead to his grave.

When we arrived, I just stared at the headstone. It was strange seeing my name engraved. Such a big part of my life ended with this headstone. Yet, a new chapter sadly started.

My gaze then went to the foot of the grave where the handprints of my sister and I were faded into the cement. My seven-year-old hands next to my sister’s three-year-old hands.




I then started digging in the corner of his grave, moving small rocks and dirt aside. While in college, I visited his site and I wrote a letter. I didn’t plan on doing this, but I spontaneously wanted to leave a part of me with him there that day. So I wrote a letter telling him about myself and what I was doing. I was in college, doing quite well, and he would be so proud. Before I left, I buried the letter under some rocks in the corner.

I was curious if that letter was still there. So I dug, and I dug, with my nails embedded with dirt. I dug in various spots, wondering if my memory was off,  but it wasn’t there. My mom dug, too. I thought maybe there was a very slight chance it became dislodged and someone turned it into the office. This was hope leading me.


But after barely being able to form sentences to the office manager with tear-filled eyes, I left the building empty-handed.

My mom, feeling the pain in my demeanor, wanted to do something. So, we decided to spruce his grave up a bit. I am from the desert, so things can look quite dry and sad at times, and I wanted to change that. I wanted to make it look alive again, even in the dead of winter when greenery was scarce. So, we went shopping.

We went up to Reno (a town about 30 minutes away) and spent quite a bit of time walking up and down the aisles of Hobby Lobby crafting the perfect set-up. Never did I think I would be shopping at this store for grave decor, but on this day it just felt right.

On the way home we were trying to beat the sun going down and of course, the long stretch of valley before entering my hometown was extremely windy that day, and driving back took much longer than anticipated. I gripped that steering wheel with white knuckles as I drove us. It was important that we make it there that night as I left in the morning. I felt determined.

Once there, we hurried over to the grave to set up. I chose things to decorate his grave with that reflected my style, to make it feel like I left a piece of myself there. To make it feel, to make myself feel, better. For some reason, I needed this. And my mom was on board every step of the way.


I chose a fiddle fig tree nestled in a white olive bucket and an array of succulents in a metal tray to add to his site. Once complete, I let out a deep breath. I felt the weight just lift right off of my shoulders.

We had made it. And it looked nice. Not a ton, but simple and hopefully able to survive the elements.

I said a quick prayer, took a few photos, and we left right before the sun went down, and by the time we got back to my parents’ house, it was dark.


Leaving the cemetery that day, I decided right then and there that my letter was not lost. I decided that the Lord had taken that letter up to my dad and it was being kept safe there. He had read every word.


  1. Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story. It’s so important for people to know they’re not alone.

  2. I think it’s wonderful that you’re sharing your story. So many people are affected by mental illness, and it needs to be talked about and not stigmatized.

    I think what you and your mom did for your father’s grave was really beautiful.


  3. Such an amazing person to share such a powerful story!

  4. To think I almost moved past this story. Hope. That is what you offer. Love. Is what I feel for you and all those who continue to fight for understanding, compassion, and healing. Continue to do what you do.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story, and your heart. Your courage and love will no doubt help many others.

  6. I love this so much. It’s so brave for you to share your vulnerabilities. Keep it up girl! Keep fighting!

  7. Britt Evans says:

    I’m so grateful that you’re sharing your story with the world! I know many have benefited from it and will continue to! Your tray and succulents look beautiful on your dad’s grave. And I truly believe he knows every word of your letter to him. Love to you friend! ❤️❤️❤️


  1. Karon Taker says:

    The Follow Up

    […]That is true. You’ve got many other options in life and now is the time for you to deal with those other choices.[…]

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