Do you think mental illness will ever lose its taboo?

Question from a high school student after one of my presentations

will mental illness lose its taboo

I would not do what I do if I didn’t think it made a difference. I will admit, however, stripping mental illness of its taboo has been slow and my path has been riddled with rejection and push back. Carrying a 100-pound spiked ball uphill would be easier.

I have noticed been big changes since I’ve been involved with the topic since 2010. Back then, I was focused on that taboo surrounding youth mental illness and substance misuse/addiction. Suicide just wasn’t on my radar and we weren’t hearing about … Read more...

Does therapy actually work?

Question from a high school student after one of my presentations

does therapy work
Question from a high school student

This is a valid concern and I can understand the apprehension a teen would have for seeing a therapist. I think the first step is to adopt an attitude of trying things that are outside your comfort zone. That includes believing you will find a good therapist and then setting the right expectations.

If you go to see a therapist expecting someone to “fix” all your problems and not doing any work on yourself, you will be disappointed. That “I’m not giving up,” … Read more...

Emotionally Naked Love Story Part II

These two met through this website. Grief over loss of a child brought them together. And that’s how I met both of them, too. So while I wouldn’t choose to be in this club, it does have some pretty fabulous people, two of which are pictured above.

Lloyd wrote a story about his son, Blake, whom he lost to suicide. Tamara wrote several articles about grief and her son, Logan, who suffered mental illness, an eating disorder and died in a truck crash in my old neighborhood.

I’ve written the love story part I already and you can find Read more...

Recovery school for Virginia makes it past first hurdle

Pictured: Taylor Rhodes, Kerry Rhodes, Del.Carrie Coyner, Anne Moss Rogers

Updates here: Passed unanimously through the education committee.

Kerry and Taylor Rhodes lost their son, Taylor to overdose and my husband and I lost our son Charles to suicide while he was going through withdrawal from a heroin addiction. We were at the General Assembly to speak on behalf of the bill HB 928.

Delegate Carrie Coyner is the Chief Patron for House Bill 928, which would establish the Region’s first Recovery High School Pilot serving Region 1 schools in Virginia at no extra cost to parents.



safeTALK for those who work with patients, students or clients

This safeTALK is for those professionals who work with people. Mental health professionals, peer-to-peer counselors, nurses, school counselors, and social work students.

Fri, 02/28/2020, 9:30 am-2:00 pm

richmond wellness center for suicide prevention training

Richmond Wellness Center, 1405 W Main St, Richmond, VA, 23220 (this is a lovely space suitable for training, exercise/dance, presentations, art or writing lessons)

$20 and includes lunch

Thanks to Runway2Life and donations from generous community members, we’re able to offer this class at a much lower cost.

CEUs are available for clinicians.

This one is for a specific group but safeTALK is a … Read more...

Sometimes I feel relief instead of grief

relief instead of grief

When we first sent my youngest son, Charles, away to wilderness and then therapeutic boarding school, the grief from having lost what I considered a normal high school experience left me feeling cheated. No home-town plays with Charles in them, no chaperoning the homecoming dances that he’d attend with a date.

We sent him away to save his life. And it was a last resort.

But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t also find relief after he left.

I wrestled with the agony of sending him away against his will while also welcoming the warm blanket of … Read more...

Richard left his book review

Richard is the first family member to leave a review. He read an earlier version and finished the book over Christmas vacation. He didn’t know all that went on.

I talked to him while on our river cruise about his grief. He told me his would never be as crushing as ours. Typical sibling grief. They never think their hurt compares. I tried to explain that it wasn’t a contest and his counted, too. He was insistent so I just had to lighten up.

But love my oldest son’s review for his mom’s book.

Read reviews on Amazon


How a conversation on death can change your life

My bon voyage file

I didn’t talk about death a whole lot before Charles died. He did, though. And I wish I had asked why since obsession on the subject is an indication that someone struggles with thoughts of suicide.

We live in a death-averse, death-phobic culture. We can’t even say the word death, substituting instead, phrases like “passed away” or “kick the bucket” to sugarcoat life’s ending.

So how do you want your end celebrated? Where do you want to be buried? How will it be paid for? Do you want your organs donated (the closest thing we … Read more...

Exposure in Boomer Magazine

I know I’m like a freaking 12-year-old showing you my latest art project. And in a way it is an art project. I invested my soul in this book and it’s exciting that it’s getting some publicity.

It is featured as one of the books recommended for Boomer Readers in Boomer Magazine. On newsstands now at WaWa, Kroger in Richmond, VA.

And for those of you who can’t get the magazine, I blew it up large so you could see it.

The Book: Diary of a Broken Mind


My pain is worse than yours

After I lost Charles to suicide, someone I knew called a few months later and shared the sad news she’d just lost her Dad. He had died at 94. Later when I met with her, she told me she hurt just as much as I did and that our situations were exactly the same. I said nothing. I knew she was close to her dad and was really hurting.

I cannot say and never will say that I hurt more than her. There’s no way to compare grief or pain. I just wish she had known that.

Sometimes we want …