Author’s Note: The assignment for this story was originally intended for the writer’s to craft a piece in which the main character expected to die in twenty-four hours. This assignment was meant to build a character with wants, desires, and needs – things that might rise to the surface in a time of great stress. I challenged this idea by being mellow, and sort of showing the pain of depression pre-existing the diagnosis. While I do not feel the content needs a trigger warning, if you are sensitive to the topic of death or loss, I urge that you choose to not read any further.

It was forty years ago when I began to truly accept that my blindness was completely out of my control and turned that frustration into something productive. I didn’t just adapt to rely on my other sense but actually focused all of my energy them as my outlet. At a young age, I had realized I had a strong sense of smell, and started playing games with my friends to see how accurately I could guess something by its scent alone. As I got older and this became boring and childish, I started pairing the scents of my shampoo and lotion. After that, I started mixing perfumes, and soon I became passionate about fragrance as a whole.

Creating perfume is a delicate and tedious process, though everyone told me it was little more than a silly hobby to pass my time. My abuela harassed me for putting any of my time towards making original scents.

“Stop daydreaming, nieta!”

However, in spite of her harassment, I sold my first formula at seventeen for a relatively small fortune. It was the beginning of what I used to think was a good life.

My formula was run for a limited time, only five hundred or so bottles were sold, but I was never offered one to save as a keepsake. I suppose in the ignorance of my youth I hadn’t cared, thinking that because I had memorized the recipe it was basically the same as having a bottle of it. I could easily recreate it for myself at a much cheaper price, and it would be an unlimited quantity as well. As I understand it, however, two of the bottles are in a museum in Barcelona.

I can’t believe I am thinking of this after so many years.

My grandmother passed away shortly after I was hired to create fragrances overseas when I was my early twenties. I had dropped out of college and she was very angry with me, though she had said that she was more afraid that I would succeed than that I would fail. “It will take you away from me, nieta, and I may forget your face.” I had been fortunate that I was home visiting her when she fell so ill. But the pang of her loss drove me to work harder, work longer, and create a life that I thought I had wanted so badly when I was younger.

But since then, I have been utterly alone. Nothing belongs to me except for my perfume legacy, though I recently took a step away from the corporate life, hoping to work less and enjoy more. My days are often spent playing piano and listening to books written by famous acquaintances that hired my company to create their signature scents.

I’ve been asking myself: Is the piano not mine? Is the condo not mine? Is the legacy of my business not mine? It is true that I own these things but what I want to have is not something than can be seen. I want for something that I can feel. I do not want to feel so lonely. I do not want to die with nothing, with no one.

I know this is why I am waiting for a plane to Barcelona. I want to see if I can plead with the museum to let me purchase this one thing that I know belongs to me. It represents who I was in my youth; it represents where I have come from in my life. More than anything, however, it is my last connection to mi dulce abuela.

More times than I can count, I would sit in the garden while she preened her precious plants, unable to trust that I could be inside on my own. The recipe I had sold was fashioned to gain her approval – to embody her and show that the art of fragrance was not just a silly hobby that took my time away from something she thought was more important.

A sigh escapes my lips, tears trying to leave my eyes but freezing along my lids. Ice fills my veins and I’m left cold as I remember my fate. Last week, I met with a specialist who gave me a death sentence, more or less. In the days that have followed, I have begun reflect so intently upon my life.

People begin shifting around me, there’s something about the way the air moves that I can feel it on the back of my neck, and their shuffling almost distracts me form realizing the vibration is my phone. The pattern is unique and this is how I usually confirm that it is my phone ringing without feeling it. My assistant has gone to get coffee while we wait for the plane but she left my phone in a front pocket so that I could answer if the need arose. I’ll have to check what she gets paid and give her a raise for how good she is to me.

“I am looking to speak with Margarida de Luna. Is she available?” The gentleman seems out of breath, but I still recognize his voice. This is one of the other specialists from the hospital. After I affirm my identity comfortably, he rushes into his reason for calling. “The doctor made a mistake and asked me to call you.”

The doctor has made a mistake, I question him, but only because it feels as if this is the right thing to do. My instinct is to ask how he has made a mistake. Doctors train for a decade, if not more, in their chosen fields. How is it possible that he has made a mistake after doing this job for thirty years in addition to his study? I am offended that he is wrong but I listen to his explanation, because, no matter how frantic I feel, people do make mistakes.

A printing error – something that is fairly common in the machinery used for the type of scan ordered. The doctor had asked his co-workers for second opinions, noticing after my appointment when trying to prescribe a treatment plan, that various details seemed to conflict with one another. One of the other specialists was familiar with the error and pulled up old files where the same thing had occurred with his patients, essentially confirming that there was no illness to fear in my case.

I should be elated to hear that my life is not, in fact, waning as rapidly as I’d been told only days ago. A disappearing mass, and a disappearing stress, but one thing came with the diagnosis that remains: my bitter anticipation.

I guess, for now, I’ll live yet another lonely day.



I was just reading Virtual Vomit‘s Blog post titled 13 Reasons Why I’m Happy. I have not yet been able to reach an emotional place where I feel safe watching “13 Reasons Why” the show, but I’ve read the book. If you read my blog regularly, or have read anything of mine really, you’ll know that I try to raise awareness of as many social issues as possible with my writing (sparse as it has been). In particular, I have posts regularly about suicide and suicide prevention. For this reason I am going to post a list of #13ReasonWhyIAmHappy today.

If you are struggling with suicidal feelings I urge you to contact the suicide prevention hotline. They have qualified individuals to assist you with those emotions and guide you through this tough time in your life. I understand personally and deeply how difficult it can be to forget what it is to be happy. Overcoming those emotions is the hardest thing I have done and continue to do each day. These suicide prevention services go beyond a phone call. You can chat with represetnatives online too. Please, please consider visiting this website if you are dealing with these feelings.

And now… 13 Reasons Why I Am Happy (Right Now).


  1. I have a brilliant young man for a son who, in spite of his flaws, finds new ways to remind me that he is wildly compassionate and wise.
  2. In spite of being sick today I have been reasonably productive and still have several hours to achieve more of my writing tasks.
  3. My TARDIS blanket. No more explanation is necessary.
  4. Cologne is stronger than air freshener and much longer lasting. Spraying it on my curtains is allowing the breeze to blow the sweet musk scent of my husband all around the house.
  5. My accessibility to clean water and purifying options is such a privilege.
  6. The kindness of my husband to come home from work early and pick up our son from school today while I am sick.
  7. Books give me great happiness. The feel, the scent, the words – the possibilities!
  8. My three beautiful kittens that have come to love each other over the last year, proving that I was not wrong to bring my youngest one into our tiny family. Even when they get into spats, they lick each other clean and nestle together for naps.
  9. The nightcore genre of music inspires me with how creative people can be with content that already exists. It grounds me creatively with my work but also reminds me that there’s so much greatness that comes from those around us and from the work of others.
  10. Technology gives me outlets that I would not otherwise have access to in another place, generation, or universe. For that I am constantly able to work on something I love in one way or another.
  11. My home which is a customized ‘House of Horrors’ for me is something many people in the world are not able to have, and for that I choose to be grateful that I have a mostly safe place to live with my husband, son, and three cats.
  12. Trees. Trees give us oxygen, and they endure the changes in this world for far longer than those who first caused harm to them. Specifically, I would like to say I am happy for my tiny tree growing in a flower pot. His name is Harold and he is blooming for his second year this spring. I am proud of my little Harold.
  13. My family. Regardless of how they have affected me (positive, negative, neutral) their own choices have influenced mine. Though my success is neither lucrative nor boastful, it is mine. For that I am happy with where I have come to be and I am excited for the opportunities that still lie ahead – hidden by the shadows of my present obstacles.


Honestly, there is much more to be happy for in my life. Ten years ago, I never would have believed you if you were to share my story now. I would not have thought I would even be alive. Ten years ago, I didn’t know I was pregnant at fifteen. Ten years ago, I thought eventually I would cut too deep and end the constant suffering within and without. I never would have thought my then severe depression, anxiety, and insomnia would shrink. Even with my struggles now, I can cope without medication where I could not even just five years ago.

Now, I face other problems and it is a battle not to sink back into those depths. Those concerns that I could collapse into old habits is always at the edge of my happiness. It threatens me anytime I am faced with an obstacle I fear I cannot overcome. It is this reality that keeps me from delving into the film adaptation of a book I proclaim as being incredibly eye-opening to me as a teenager struggling the way Hannah Baker struggled. Books raised me. Books are my parentage and my guidance. I read to understand what it is I cannot see understand on my own.

So, I challenge you as a reader to list in the comments 13 Reasons Why YOU Are Happy right now, today, this very minute.




Loathing Simplified

Sketching on my danger days is very charming,

and it covers up that fact that I’m self-harming.

It personifies that Pain I feel in a way they can see.

Of course, the black and white doodles don’t help me.

Especially when there are secrets beneath my sleeves,

especially when there are lies between each heave –

of sorrow, of cheer, of exhaustion, and of fear –

hidden in those lost breaths are scars unhealed.

I do all I can to keep your stories straight,

so that you only see the self-love costuming my self-hate.

Sketching on a Danger Day

suicide sketch

I know that this isn’t technically a “My Opinion Monday Monthly” article, but this feels like the right place for this particular post. As you may or may not recall, I have spoken many times in previous MOMM articles that I have depression and anxiety. As someone who has struggled with self harm for twelve of my twenty-four years (a.k.a half of my entire life)… I have what I call “danger days.” These are days in which I am in danger of relapsing and harming myself.
I am extremely self-aware. I can tell when depression is coming and I can tell when I am in danger of making a poor choice. Not everyone is able to gain control of themselves and handle mental illness in this way, and for that I am extremely thankful. It took me several years to develop this sort of control and a clear enough mentality to be good to myself. My son is the biggest motivator behind that strength.
But this post isn’t about bragging about my ability to divert a catastrophe. I’m not here to tell you that for nearly two weeks I’ve spent most of my alone time crying and staring out windows. I’m not here to detail everything about the way I suffer depression. Instead, I’m just here to share a piece that I had originally posted to my personal social media. I felt that sharing it here is just important. Not just because I am in awe of how great my sketch turned out – humblebrag – but also because I want to encourage more people to think of alternatives to self-harm.
See – the thing about depression is that no matter how big of a smile you wear or how many reasons you have to be happy or how much medication you are on… Sometimes you wake up and you just feel as though you are going to suffocate when you breathe. When you have depression there are always going to danger days – times when suicide sounds is more plausible than staying in bed all day pretending that you’re dead. Because sometimes pretending just feel like enough anymore…
And painful as it is for me to admit any sort of weakness (something I know I need to work on in my personal life) – danger days are my greatest weakness. I never want to announce when I’m having them and I never want to talk about them. I have an aversion to acknowledging any sort of emotion – because I hold myself to an unfair standard that I’m too stubborn to change. As such, I simply suffer my danger days silently with crazy laughs and silly grins. I think that many people who have self-harmed know exactly what it is I am saying here.
My hyperawareness allows me to prevail over the blackhole of sorrow in my gut that I cannot control. This is not true for everyone, as much as I wish it were. The ability to detect the appeal of committing suicide and finding a way to rid of it from your heart, mind, and soul – one never really can perfect it. However, simply telling yourself to do something else – and then just doing it, no matter how small – that can mean the difference between life and death. Today – sketching instead of cutting may have very well saved my life.

We never know the damage that we can do if we allow ourselves to down within our foulest thoughts. So, waking up and just knowing that today was going worse than previous days – I chose to very plainly acknowledge my feelings. I took what was inside filling my lungs with desperation and pushed it onto the page. I like to think of it as tragically beautiful.

I worked on it from 11:00 A.M. to 3:15 P.M. I was alone from 9:00 A.M. until 3:45 P.M. and I don’t know what I would have done if hadn’t busied myself. Art is special for a lot of people and even if you’re not good at it – just keeping your hands busy will prevent the decision to self-harm. When someone is alone, they are at greater risk for harming themselves. Nobody can be with someone constantly, not unless they are admitted to a mental health facility (which is, unfortunately, not attainable or feasible for many at risk). As such, reaching out to people you know are susceptible to self-harming – asking them to do something small or maintaining a brief conversation. Even texting them for an hour could change their mood enough to prevent an incident – or even a suicide.

My reasoning for my sketch today was that a picture of slit wrists was better than actual slit wrists. I just repeated that to myself the entire time I was working on it – a picture of slit wrists is better than actual slit wrists.
A picture of slit wrists is better than actual slit wrists.
Don’t ask your loved ones to ignore their feelings. Don’t invalidate their suicidal feelings or their self-harming tendencies. Do everything within your power to comfort them, encourage them, and provide care to them. If someone is ever a high risk – call an emergency service. Contact a family member who can admit a minor to a mental health facility or hospital. And if you’re unsure, intervene anyway. You never know if today is the day that your loved one commits suicide.

It is my hope that this post serves as a reminder that mental illness is often suffered quietly. Anyone could be struggling with suicidal thoughts and self-harm. Please be aware of what you’re doing; what you’re saying; and what your loved ones are doing. There are signs that you can watch for, there are behaviors that you can track – there will always be warning signs. Sometimes they are small but they are always there. As I just said, you never know if today is the day that your loved one commits suicide.

Remember – just because someone isn’t wearing depression on their sleeves doesn’t mean that the depression is gone.

Never invalidate sadness. Offer your love instead.

Thank you.




Two Mothers & A Nightmare

Disclaimer: This work makes references to suicidal feelings in a young child. There are also references to physical bullying between young children. Understand that these ‘triggers’ are present and exercise caution while reading this story. If you begin to feel anxiety, please discontinue reading and enjoy some of my other happier works. Thank you for considering your emotional health first, and thank you in advance to anyone reading.

Clarissa’s teacher called the mother’s earlier this morning. She expressed concern for the child and wanted to have an urgent lunch meeting with the school principal and guidance counselor. When Linda got the voice message she called her wife in a fluster. What could it possibly be? Clarissa hadn’t shown any signs of misbehaving at home.

Barbara thought it was something relatively insignificant that the school was unnecessarily upset about; so many schools are pretentious these days. Barbara had to remind her wife on the drive over that in pre-school the teacher called home concerned that Clarissa had deep rooted anger issues over a crayon she broke in half on purpose. Kids do stupid things sometimes, and as long as nobody is getting hurt – Barbara believes a note would suffice.

Unfortunately, Miss Claymoore slides a couple of pieces of paper across the table for the mothers to examine while the principal and the counselor make their way to the classroom. Linda leans in first. Between the two women, she is far more dramatic and emotional. As soon as she pulls away and covers her mouth, Barbara can only assume that the papers hold something horrific.

She decides not to look at them until the other people arrive, and only out of necessity. In the meantime, though, Miss Claymoore decides to make small talk; “How are you guys enjoying the new house? The landscaping was looking lovely when I passed through the neighborhood.”

Linda looks offended so her wife speaks in her place.

“It is far from finished but that’s all we can get done with cooler weather on the horizon. We are trying to find our Halloween decorations because we’re still living out of the boxes. Can’t figure out which box is the right box, it seems.” Barbara works in a collection agency as an office manager and emotionlessness comes naturally to her. When emotions are high – as they always seem to be – she can keep her composure. That’s how she nabbed the position in the first place.

Miss Claymoore helps her mother sell homes, and that’s originally how Linda and Barbara knew her. She was the one who actually showed this home to them. In actuality, she’s the one that sold the property because she was a close friend of the couple. The young lady was able to tell them all sorts of things that her mother probably wouldn’t have known about the property. Things that made the space special…

“I can’t wait to see you keep up the holiday spirit! Tim and Joy will be happy to hear that you guys are contributing to the excitement on the block!” Thankfully Barbara doesn’t have to concoct a response because a few soft knocks turn all of their heads. In the doorway are two tall men. One is stocky and sports a three-piece suit. The other is lanky. His nose also seems too big for his face.

Everyone introduces himself and herself. Barbara and Linda Lindley, Clarissa’s mothers. Mr. Jordan is the principal and Mr. Benson is the counselor. Linda signals for Barbara to look at the papers before everyone broaches the urgent topic about what is happening. Barbara grabs the paperwork and sports her best poker face.

The first page is a picture of a tree with orange and brown leaves falling off of it like rain. Underneath it is a stick figure with a blue triangle dress and ‘X’s for eyeballs. There are three very upsetting sentences beneath it: Sometimes I have dreams about not waking up. I want to die by a tree so that the leaves will hide me. I don’t want to get cold.

            “So, I want you to know what we were doing that this came up. Last night I was grading papers for the exercise we did in class. On Monday I asked the kids to write about their dreams. Plenty of kids wrote about dreams they have when sleeping so I didn’t count Clarissa’s work as wrong, but this was disturbing. Then on Tuesday I asked the kids to tell me what they want to be when they grow up…” She gestures for Barbara to look at the second page. Obviously she complies with the eyes of everyone else in the room boring through her very being.

I don’t want to grow up. Kids are mean. Adults are meaner. Beneath it are some notes by Miss Claymoore. She asked Clarissa if kids were being mean to her, but she replied that people don’t have to be mean to her in order to be mean. Miss Claymoore then asked what she meant, but Clarissa said sometimes people look at her like she’s a full trashcan.

Barbara knows why she chose those exact words, and Linda probably picks up on it too. A few sets of parents two blocks away heard about Barbara and Linda and were not pleased, to say the least. Lesbians – it was apparently “just wrong” for such a religious group of families. That is to say, they were “full trashcans on the curb with no place but a landfill.” Linda fears each morning might be the morning their neighbors find out the truth. How would they react when they found out that neither lady had always been a lady.

They would lose their minds if they ever knew that the two women had undergone sexual reassignment surgery together. The two of them met in a support group and just fell in love. It was brilliant but sometimes Barbara believed that they had yet to be pushed to their limits – to see if their love could stand the trials of time.

Maybe this would be the first trial… A trial of pain… a test of morals… a test of strength… But most importantly: a test of parenting.

“This morning Clarissa came to school with leaves stuck in her hair and dirt all over her face. I sent her to the nurse and when once cleaned up there were evident welts and bruises on her shoulders. Clarissa said that kids are mad at her and tell her that she belongs in the fiery pits of Hell. She said those exact words.” Mr. Benson is the one addressing the group while Miss Claymoore covers her face in pity. Linda is shaking her head and full on sobbing now. This is how she expressed herself for pretty much all emotions. And who wouldn’t be distraught by the things the wives had been told? The only reason Barbara is keeping it together pretty well is because she’s heard sad stories at work. Stories that people only recognize from their nightmares.

Mr. Jordan says that he’s preparing a letter for parents and that it should be disbursed by Friday. He’s also holding a meeting with the school board to incorporate a more effective Anti-Bullying campaign in the district. Barbara shakes her head, shrugs her shoulders, and finally decides to speak again…

…”I don’t think this is just a bullying problem, sir. I think that there’s a deeper issue than just kids being mean and adults being mean. There is inherent discrimination happening. The lack of knowledge perpetuates hateful practices starting in parents and passing down through generations.”

Miss Claymoore knows exactly to what Barbara is referring. Linda had shared with her why the type of neighborhood was important to them – why they were looking for a more liberally affiliated area of town…

Mr. Jordan lets his guard down and rubs his face. Clearly he expected this and hoped to avoid it. Miss Claymoore can’t make eye contact. Fortunately, Mr. Benson maintains his composure and pushes forward through the meeting; “We understand that you have frustrations with the school curriculum. There’s only so much individuality awarded to the schools. As such, we cannot do much to inform the children about different life choices available to them, but we will do everything it is within our power to control this situation from the school. In the meantime, we want to get you the resources you need in order to help Clarissa as her loving her parents.”

The meeting goes on for another half an hour but when the ladies get home in time to get Clarissa off of the bus, they realize that the meeting wasn’t over exactly. They might not be with the school staff discussing the issue at hand, but they have a folder full of materials they need to review. Therapists, psychologists, pediatric specialists, support groups, and so on.

Linda says what they’re both thinking first, though. It makes all of the paperwork and brochures seem irrelevant. Even if she sounds a little broken her brilliance is undiminished; “I suppose it is time to reach out to Franklin. He did wonders for us.”