Broken Light: A Photography Collective

We are photographers living with or affected by mental illness; supporting each other one photograph at a time. Join our community, submit today!

Stay Strong, Keep Fighting

Photo taken by a woman who has suffered from severe depression. She hopes that by telling her story that she will help fight stigma, and help people to understand things like self-harm that seem so hard to understand. She would also like to help other people suffering to feel less alone, and maybe even share the spark of hope.

About this photo: “It took me fifteen minutes of searching through every drawer in my house, but I finally found the one piece of orange clothing that I have. I’m wearing orange in honor of Self-Injury Awareness Day. I know every day is some other awareness day, but this one happens to mean a lot to me. As someone who has been down the path of self-harm, and had people I love dearly who have been there, I feel terribly and empathize for all who are suffering enough to self-harm and those who love someone who does. It’s a serious issue, and should be treated as such, this day and every day.

The first time I really hurt myself I was in college. I was sad and in pain emotionally and I took it out on myself physically. I don’t want to be too specific in fear of it triggering anyone else, but it wasn’t pretty. I still feel terribly that my best friend had to find me slurring and covered in blood on the floor – I think I had a few drinks and some pills in me too. I was in the hospital for a night or two and released as not being a threat to myself. Life moved forward but my wound would not heal, not just the emotional wound, but the physical one. I needed a skin graft. When I went to the hospital to get the graft, I asked if the two skin locations would be numbed. The doctor looked at the nurse and then at me with cold eyes, and she said that since I did it to myself I should be fine with the pain and deal with it… This was just plain ignorance.

I learned from that experience and evolved my self-harm so it would generally not involve wounds. I thought I was being smart, but nothing about self-harm is smart. I kept coming back to it though. For some reason it felt good. It felt like a release that I needed. It felt like it kept me from worse thoughts or actions. It felt like I was saving my life at times. I recognize that my thinking was twisted, but it had some truth to it. It did feel like a release. It did keep me from worse things. That is how I managed to justify these unthinkable actions.

It happened on and off for many years, but I can now say I am harm-free! I can’t say I am trigger-free. I can’t say I am impulse-free. But I am action-free, and that is what counts. When I feel the impulses rising, I have learned to divert my energies, to distract and try to do something else, especially something creative. For some people it is yoga, for me it is photography. Also, when I know I am going to be in a triggering situation, I will plan a reward or something nice for myself afterwards. I’ll admit that these tools don’t always work, but I’m trying my hardest. If one thing doesn’t work then I try another. I’m fighting. Fighting for my family, my friends. Fighting for myself, my life, my future. 

So other people out there who are struggling with this, please keep fighting the impulses. It is not easy, I really understand that, it can be like an addiction, but there are ways to help fight. There are therapists, and therapeutic tools, like DBT. You can make a harm-free contract with your therapist or loved ones and promise to go to them when the impulses start. You can try distracting or doing ‘opposite action.’ If you want to isolate, and you know it will likely lead to injury, do the opposite of that – go be around people. Go somewhere, even outside for a little walk. Even if you are walking alone, you are not alone. You are never alone. I am there with you, and everyone struggling. We are walking together.

Stay strong. Keep fighting.”

____________________________________________________________

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114 comments on “Stay Strong, Keep Fighting

  1. Meg
    March 1, 2013

    Really touching!

    Like

  2. bluebrightly
    March 1, 2013

    Congratulations, and you’ve done a service to many others by writing so well and honestly – and the photo’s great too.

    Like

  3. hrosez
    March 1, 2013

    Wow. In the thick of self-harm, you think what you are doing will help. It will make you feel better. I can tell you … it does. I like the pain, I don’t know why. I love getting pierced, because it’s a reason for the pain, without the discomfort and disappointment later.

    Glad to know I’m not the only one who feels this way.

    Like

    • bipolaronfire
      March 1, 2013

      I never realized that might be the reason behind some people who are so extremely pierced. It’s probably true for tats too. Thank you for sharing.

      Like

      • Meg
        March 2, 2013

        Tattoos provide a high I won’t let myself get anywhere else. They’re addictive.

        Like

  4. Shar
    March 1, 2013

    As someone who works in the mental health field I’ve had the privilege to meet so many wonderful people, hearing their stories fills me with hope for them, if when they’re not hopeful for themselves.

    Thank you for sharing your story…I’m walking with you!

    Like

  5. Angelia Herrin
    March 1, 2013

    I hope today is a good day for you. Thank you for being so open and sharing with us. You have a very touching photo there. Angelia @ http://dixielandcountry.com

    Like

  6. Juliette
    March 1, 2013

    Thank you for posting this. It is an uncomfortable issue that most people don’t want to talk about or even see. A lot of people aren’t even aware of it. I had a comment on my blog from a teen about self harm and it was a real eye opener. We need to keep not only our minds and eyes open – but our hearts as well without judgment.

    Like

  7. The Baking Barrister
    March 1, 2013

    what the doctor said you about the pain turned my stomach and filled me with cold anger – sorry you had to go through that – sorry you have to go through all of this – it sucks, but you sound very strong and aware about it all – take care

    Like

  8. bipolaronfire
    March 1, 2013

    What a beautiful sharing from the heart and how very generous of you to share your story with others. Thank you.

    Like

  9. kay-b
    March 1, 2013

    Thank you for sharing x.

    Like

  10. Sofia
    March 1, 2013

    Will all my heart I need to say thank you for sharing.

    Like

  11. littlemisswordy
    March 1, 2013

    Very brave of you to share your story in the hopes of reaching others. Beautiful. Stay strong and keep fighting!

    Like

  12. eof737
    March 1, 2013

    Poignant… Kudos on being freshly pressed.

    Like

  13. whiskeytangofoxtrot4
    March 1, 2013

    Keep your face to the sun and keep fighting! :0)

    Like

  14. bernasvibe
    March 1, 2013

    2 thumbs UP for posting this serious-yet-tough-to-talk-about topic…Nice to see something freshly pressed that is also actually a good and real read…Congrats!

    Like

  15. MYNDFUQ
    March 1, 2013

    Rather than hanging in there ….. I’m glad you’ve found a place to stand.

    Best

    Like

  16. Longhorn Web Design
    March 1, 2013

    Reblogged this on Longhorn Web Design.

    Like

  17. NAT HILL
    March 1, 2013

    The image itself is strong.The idea is strong.the message is strong.you must be strong!

    Like

  18. Jenny
    March 1, 2013

    Your story may be unique but the issues you describe are universal. Everyone has triggers and impulses. No one gets through Life alone, everyone needs help and support with their own triggers/impulses. When I am hurting, sometimes I crave isolation and certain comfort foods that actually are dangerous for me. What used to comfort can now damage me. How do I find new healthy options. This is a universal journey. You are not alone. Best wishes to you!

    Like

  19. theanarchiclout
    March 1, 2013

    Reblogged this on the anarchic lout and commented:
    LOVE THE LOOK OF THIS BLOG AND THE MESSAGE IS REALLY IMPORTANT.

    Like

  20. thelifeofemmy
    March 1, 2013

    Very empowering post!

    Like

  21. donofalltrades
    March 1, 2013

    I admire talented photographers. Stay strong, you have much to offer others.

    Like

  22. Hallelujah Highway
    March 1, 2013

    Depression is no joke. Keep Fighting for yourself! ~Rae

    Like

  23. bilalmussa
    March 1, 2013

    Amazing, I went back to studying to help me get over my depression – didn’t help. What did help me was music though. Music which I listened to whilst I was happy; Slowly I am reaching normality. Read my blog , I speak of my journey.

    Like

  24. gita4elamats
    March 1, 2013

    Keep fighting and stay harm-free, please. 🙂
    Thanks for sharing your story with us.
    STAY STRONG!

    Like

  25. Stacy Rabat
    March 1, 2013

    You are amazing. Just remember to take it one day at a time. keep on staying strong<3

    Like

  26. PunkysPicks
    March 1, 2013

    You are brave and inspirational. My mother and sisters are all therapists and there is such a social stigma with Mental Health. Be proud as you have risen…AMAZING!

    Like

  27. Lone Trail
    March 1, 2013

    Sharing about our darkest secrets takes real courage. Thank you for sharing. You will discover if you haven’t already that you are not alone when it comes to battling depression.

    Like

  28. words4jp
    March 1, 2013

    i just found this post on Fresh Pressed. I am happy that I did. I just blogged about this today – scars. reading what you wrote is like reading about myself. action free would be nice. I am happy I found this post.

    Like

  29. Storm
    March 1, 2013

    I hope you stay action free and focus on your photography. Good luck to you.

    Like

  30. Angela
    March 1, 2013

    Reblogged this on Health and the Human Experience and commented:
    Because some days are hard days … Salute to those taking it one day at a time

    Like

  31. teamflexionpt
    March 1, 2013

    Stay strong!

    Like

  32. srijana kattel
    March 1, 2013

    really nice

    Like

  33. jannece
    March 1, 2013

    Reblogged this on Jill of all trades.

    Like

  34. melanielynngriffin
    March 1, 2013

    Hi – thanks for sharing this. I wasn’t aware of the awareness day, so your post worked. I can relate – here is a post I did on my hair-pulling disorder, another form of self-harm. I was helped by EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique. Never over the challenge, though. Keep on fighting, beloved woman!
    http://melanielynngriffin.wordpress.com/2012/10/03/hey-girl-youre-bald/
    Congrats on the FP!

    Like

  35. ohtaeha
    March 2, 2013

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Really. Thank you. I mean, I know how many people are affected by mental illnesses and especially self-harm (so many of my friends, it’s insane), and I definitely have had my own share of mental troubles. It’s really touching to have discovered this blog, where your main focus is basically what I advocate – just to stay strong and work with each other to keep going with what you love, despite the hurdles that could hold you back. So thank you. Again. Thank you.

    Like

  36. osherb
    March 2, 2013

    I suffer from major depressive disorder too! My blog helps ease!
    Check it out please:
    Cultclassik.wordpress.com
    Pinterest.com/cultclassik

    Like

  37. rafrossi
    March 2, 2013

    Reblogged this on rafrossi.

    Like

  38. becauseitsgoodforyou
    March 2, 2013

    This will undoubtedly bring hope, inspiration, and encouragement to others who may be experiencing something similar. Thank you for sharing.

    Like

  39. Violet
    March 2, 2013

    Thank you for writing this and being so brave.

    Like

  40. tiana24
    March 2, 2013

    would u be mad if i asked how u hurt yourself so bad that u went to the hospital??

    i am a self harmer also and have been for half my life. i like this blo

    Like

  41. jamesisnext
    March 2, 2013

    Thanks for sharing your journey!

    Like

  42. purpleperceptions
    March 2, 2013

    Hello.

    I’m glad you posted this. The strength and resolve behind the words is inspirational, and nothing but inspirational. My last post covered a similar topic too, and it’s appalling how little awareness there is on something as, well, harmful, as self harm. Great post, and congratulations on being freshly pressed.

    ~Cookie ❤

    Like

  43. sweetmelissa1954
    March 2, 2013

    Reblogged this on aspen54.

    Like

  44. sweetmelissa1954
    March 2, 2013

    Congratulations

    Like

  45. ManalAllam
    March 2, 2013

    So touching

    Like

  46. Pingback: Stay Strong – Keep On Fighting – Reblog « Better Me Psych

  47. meganrosepickfordblog
    March 2, 2013

    kool I gees

    Like

  48. meganrosepickfordblog
    March 2, 2013

    Reblogged this on meganrosepickfordblog's Blog and commented:
    um

    Like

  49. mommyjstyle
    March 2, 2013

    Amazing story and thank you for sharing. The photo initially drew me in, but your story enlightened me.

    Like

  50. whatwereyathinkin
    March 2, 2013

    I know that as a drug addict , I don’t believe in the “recovering” term , who is dealing with PTSD I must be conscience and diligent everyday. Just for today I will be sober. I make no promises for tomorrow and won’t predict but today I will be sober. I’ve been sober for seven years that way. So…Just for today don’t hurt yourself. :).

    Like

  51. theambermichele
    March 2, 2013

    You are amazing. Stay strong.

    Like

  52. gnanagurus
    March 2, 2013

    Honestly I dont want to click ‘Like’, but I dont know what else option I have to express my little enlightenment I got from your blog. True, Impulses… the life changing factor. Thanks for you blog, I loved your last few phrases. @gnanagurus

    Like

  53. difined
    March 2, 2013

    I find that depression happens to a lot of people, and a lot of them deal with it through hurting themselves. I’ve been there too, but could never find it within me to hurt myself because that would let other people witness my weakness. I found my getaway through sports, and that’s the only way I got through my depression. I wish people never had to go through self-harm to get over the problems they are dealing with.
    This story once again reminds us that we are only humans, and we can only handle so much. Also that sometimes physical pain isn’t as bad as the emotional one

    Like

    • allthoughtswork
      March 2, 2013

      Au contraire, difined, there is a choice between visible and hidden and it’s a big one. Selecting the areas that show is a lot like raising one’s hand and saying, “Yo! Over here! I’m hurting over here, anybody wanna help?”

      Self-injuring doesn’t do anything to “get over the problems,” it’s more like the oxygen mask that falls from the overhead compartment as your plane falls out of the sky: You are still going down, but it gives you a moment of breathing space as you ponder the potential impact.

      Plus, people self-injure in subtle and convoluted ways like becoming inexplicably accident prone and wracking up a score that way. It’s a handy one for athletes and people with physical jobs because the back story of how you “got injured” can be spun depending on who’s looking.

      Or maybe that’s just me.

      Like

  54. Victoria Sawyer
    March 2, 2013

    Congrats Broken Light on being Freshly Pressed! You deserve it for all the great work you are doing to shine a light on mental illness. 🙂

    Like

  55. iamrhedge21
    March 2, 2013

    Reblogged this on impokritoocho.

    Like

  56. amsiii
    March 2, 2013

    Thanks for sharing your story. If only others were as brave

    Like

  57. moodsnmoments
    March 2, 2013

    congratulations on being so brave and thoughtful. wish you well and hope you surge through troubled times. And as you mentioned, you are there with everyone, so am sure, everyone reaches you for being there as well. Stay strong! kudos and god bless!

    Like

  58. Jemlett199 xoxo
    March 2, 2013

    Wow, that was really brave of you!!! If my friends who are in a dark place read this, I’m sure they would change their whole life because of you! Well done!! 🙂

    Like

  59. Deanna
    March 2, 2013

    Stay strong. xoxo

    Like

  60. LuciL
    March 2, 2013

    The final line struck a chord inside me and I’m agreeing with it. Thank you for sharing your experience and amazed how well you’ve come through it all

    Like

  61. aket95
    March 2, 2013

    Great post and congrats on being Freshly Pressed. That should cheer you up. I think its admirable that you came out with the truth in your post and think the picture compliments your touching story very well. I hope that you find yourself in a good mental state of mind. Congrats, your post is awesome.

    Like

  62. thoughtsithinkoutloud
    March 2, 2013

    Well done for fighting, I don’t know you but I’m proud of you! I know how difficult it can be to fight the impulses. It took me three years to get past self-harming every day and now it has been several months since I last even thought about doing it. Posts like this really do help! x

    Like

  63. Missie
    March 2, 2013

    As a self-harmer myself, I this post truly inspiring because I can never imagine telling anyone I know about it or being as bold as you. Thank you for posting this!

    Like

    • Missie
      March 2, 2013

      I find this post**

      Like

  64. akosicla
    March 2, 2013

    Touching story. It’s good that you found another way to divert your attention. Btw, photography soothes my mind too. Wish you all the best. Keep on fighting! And always pray. 🙂

    Like

  65. moulicious
    March 2, 2013

    This is touching and needed in time! well done.

    Like

  66. SoCal Chica
    March 3, 2013

    So glad that the world is slowly beginning to open its eyes with regards to mental illness. Hopefully one day, all of the negative stigmas will be replaced with encouragement and understanding. As someone with OCD (and who has struggled in the past with self-harming compulsions as a way of “un-doing” bad thoughts) I really appreciate this post.

    Like

  67. Really touching and well written!

    Like

  68. silverearl
    March 3, 2013

    Thank you for sharing. It’s really touching and now i realize that i’m never alone. I have family and friends to rely on. be strong and lets walk together!

    Like

  69. silverearl
    March 3, 2013

    Reblogged this on Earlgrey's Leaf and commented:
    A really touching stories!

    Like

  70. cazz01
    March 3, 2013

    What strength you have for sharing know that your stpry will help someone right now very moving god bless and know your not alone xx

    Like

  71. jazibhussa
    March 3, 2013

    Reblogged this on Jazib Hussain's Blog and commented:
    Because this is just brilliant! It’s worth taking the time to read, certainly done well by me! Did an amazing job by writing this! ;D

    Like

  72. angelo
    March 3, 2013

    I recently encountered some reports that Magnesium can reverse treatment resistant depression (antidepressants often elevate Mg levels in the brain). Also, new research is elucidating a commonality among various diagnoses such as adhd, bipolar, autism, etc. that indicates calcium medited excitotoxic neuronal injury is involved (magnesium antagonizes calcium and is often deficient).

    Like

  73. RNTomlinson
    March 3, 2013

    Thank you so much for posting such a honest and brilliant post. So many people will benefit from taking a minute or two and reading this, so thanks on behalf of those too.

    Like

  74. Mirabai
    March 3, 2013

    I pull an angel card for you (from “messages from your angels, Doreen Virtue). The card is called “Shanti” and the message is: “Like the angels, you are able to hover within the eye of any hurricanes that may swirl around you right now. Through breath and intention, you can stay centered no matter what’s happening in your life. This inner foundation of peace has a powerful healing effect. Your outer life soon reflects your inner peacefulness. Smooth roads are ahead of you, and the worst is behind you now. A peaceful outcome to this situation is assured.”

    Like

  75. 5thingstodotoday
    March 3, 2013

    I really like your blog and would love you to guest post on my, http://www.5thingstodotoday.com site. All you have to do is write five suggestions along with a link back to your site. Please check out the blog and see the sort of things people have written about.

    Like

  76. michyb
    March 3, 2013

    incredible story. stay strong!

    Like

  77. bipolarbear1998
    March 3, 2013

    amazing story. i am 14 and have friends who are having trouble and are in a rough spot at the moment. one of them has hurt herself before but she is slowly getting better. she is a good friend and me and her have been through everything together. i will re blog this in hopes that others will hear your amazing story.

    Like

  78. Andrew
    March 3, 2013

    I’m glad that you came forward and share this. While I’ve never self harmed, I’ve known people who have. There are a lot of misconceptions floating around out there about it, and other mental illness. As a people, we must learn to have more compassion for those who are suffering. Love heals, both our own wounds and those of others.

    Like

  79. Angela Nicole
    March 3, 2013

    You are absolutely beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing your personal story. It is so hard to speak up and become vulnerable, but it is the only way to get the conversation started! Thank you!

    Like

  80. pooks82
    March 4, 2013

    I too use to harm myself. What stopped me were my sisters tears, her plea for me to stop. So I swore to her that I would. I agree, a form of creativity helps. It allows you to be able to express your pain without words. It is a form of venting, and release. And rather than self-destruction, your creating and healing. Keep it up. Your sharing, your photography, you’re doing amazing. You are becoming an inspiration to those that still suffer. Art saves. \m/

    Like

  81. nicbdr
    March 4, 2013

    Well written. Stay strong and keep fighting, we are all doing the same!

    Like

  82. Ilusión
    March 4, 2013
  83. dunkmcl
    March 4, 2013

    The photograph is fantastic and, like so many others, the writing struck a chord with me. The line “I can’t say I am impulse-free. But I am action-free” resonates so strongly with me. Thank you for articulating this so eloquently.

    Like

  84. Ali Prescott
    March 4, 2013

    I have been harm free for four years now. The triggers still exist, but it’s a lot easier to deal with them now. I found solace in writing actually: aliprescott.wordpress.com. I was able to get my thoughts out therapeutically. I see that is what you’re doing, so keep doing it. Thank you for sharing. It was a great read.

    Like

  85. rmedina49
    March 4, 2013

    The picture says it all!

    Like

  86. leec007
    March 4, 2013

    Your story is so well written. Emotionally it explains some the different fears we all have. The worse things about mental illness, is that they are so complicated and unfortunatley you can have more than one dimesion. Thank you. I have put this on my blog. HELP. There is no excuse, but we don’t like to ask. lifeuniverseandeverythinghurt@wordpress.com
    Give me help, to help others.
    I am brand new. and would like some different subject headings.

    Like

  87. Childwoman
    March 4, 2013

    I walk with you.

    Like

  88. April
    March 5, 2013

    What an inspiring way to reach out and inform others. Sharing this personal piece of your life shows how far you’ve come , I hope your strength and story help many more.

    Like

  89. rohmiatulakadahblog
    March 5, 2013

    arti ne up iku, gc rty aku

    Like

  90. Kimberly
    March 5, 2013

    I am actually writing my undergrad thesis on the negative stigma people have toward mental illnesses. I really enjoyed this post! keep fighting. You’re story is inspiring.

    Like

  91. nomewome
    March 5, 2013

    You are an amazing person! Keep up the fight! Thank you for sharing!

    Like

  92. blogmylifeaway13
    March 5, 2013

    Reblogged this on Blog My Life Away and commented:
    I think this story is beautiful. It reminds me a lot of the message of TWLOHA.

    Like

  93. clairkwahadiparker
    March 5, 2013

    Reblogged this on Not like the movies. and commented:
    We may not have the lives we asked for, but we can learn to handle them and take control of them. Life does get better. It may be stormy now, but it can’t rain for ever.

    Like

  94. Jack Pemment
    March 5, 2013

    Thank you for sharing your experiences. Keep up the fight.

    Like

  95. invisibleagony
    March 6, 2013

    Reblogged this on Invisible Agony.

    Like

  96. Alex
    March 6, 2013

    Thanks for sharing. I can relate to the struggles of the self harming cycle and how difficult it can be to break. You are not alone.

    Like

  97. Amy Kriewaldt
    March 6, 2013

    Thank you for this.

    Like

  98. alysmai
    March 6, 2013

    Reblogged this on Alysmai's Blog.

    Like

  99. in5dflow
    March 6, 2013

    Light possess the ability to dispel every lie and transcend time so all thats left is our pure substance and our true beauty enlightening us to the many hidden treasures that dwell inside.

    Like

    • leec007
      March 7, 2013

      You write so beautifully. with your experience can you help others to ask for help.
      It is the hardest of all to recognise, that someone could point you the right dirrection. We feel alone, but we are not. However, in are darkest moments our sadness is solitary.
      lifeunverseandeverythinghurt.wordpress.com maybe a way way we can move in unity

      Like

  100. leec007
    March 7, 2013
  101. Raquelc98
    March 9, 2013

    Very inspiring! I am so happy that you are much much better 🙂

    Like

  102. OyiaBrown
    March 10, 2013

    Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

    Like

  103. Taylor Devost
    March 12, 2013

    As someone who can relate to everything you have felt and are feeling- thank you.

    Like

  104. Mike Valletta
    March 12, 2013

    Reblogged this on Mike Valletta.

    Like

  105. marymary
    March 23, 2013

    Very powerful and moving, thanks so much for sharing. You are inspiring.

    Mary
    http://balancingitblog.com

    Like

  106. Meg
    March 25, 2013

    Dear Broken Light Collective,

    Please know that I find your blog to be one of the most important publications out there right now. Your mission, your platform, is extraordinary. You’ve given so many people access to freedom. This is why I’ve nominated you for the Liebster Award. Do with it as you will, nothing even if you so choose. You can learn more about your nomination here: http://takeitfrommeg.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/paying-forward-the-joy-of-blogger-award-nomination/

    Please keep doing what you do. You are creating so much good and peace in the world. Thank you.

    Best,
    Meg

    Like

  107. kldawson
    March 25, 2013

    If you pay attention you can learn things when you hit bottom. When I was bouncing around down there due to clinical depression and alcohol abuse I discovered that rather than giving myself up to a higher power as the AA preaches, I needed to liberate myself from other peoples hopes and expectations. I had lived my life trying to please everyone around me and felt a constant failure. I had to take charge.

    Like

  108. Amy
    March 29, 2013

    This really gives me hope… It gives me hope that not only me, but my girlfriend as well, can move on to more positive things rather than self harm. Hers is much worse, but either way it’s a battle. Thank you for sharing this story 🙂

    Like

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