The Power of One

Today, I gave a speech on the topic of What Matters to Me to my college. Below is a copy of that speech. No comedy. All heart. Enjoy.

On May 15, 2020, I woke up to a message on Facebook. My childhood friend Misty had messaged me to tell me that Mrs. Hiles had died. It caught me off guard. I wasn’t necessarily expecting the message, even though Mrs. Hiles was in her nineties. After getting the message, I immediately texted my little brother to tell him the news. Like me, he was surprised. The world had just lost an incredible human being. 

Mrs. Hiles was my first grade teacher, and of all of the teachers I’ve had throughout my life, she was the one I cared about the most. Ask anyone, and they’ll probably tell you of a teacher who made a difference in their life, the one who pushed and inspired them. Mrs. Hiles was that teacher for me and countless others. 

Myra Hiles had been teaching since 1945. Even after retiring in 1987, she stuck with education as a substitute teacher. Every one of my four siblings had Mrs. Hiles as a substitute. My little brother loved her, for many of the same reasons I did. She managed to drive my two sisters crazy, though, because she never called them by their names. They were always Mindy. But they loved her as well.

It was hard not to love Mrs. Hiles. She was the kind of teacher who inspired a love of learning, and for a first grade student, it set the course of my life. In multiple ways. She would read to us every day, mainly from Raggedy Ann and Andy books, her favorite. When I wanted to stay inside for recess and read instead of playing, she would sometimes let me. Every Friday, she’d pick a student, and the entire class would write stories about the student and the adventures they had. Those were my favorite days. She instilled within me a love of reading and writing that I carry to this day. Without her, I can’t say that I would have written the novel that I’m now trying to get published. 

Why is Mrs. Hiles so important to me? I am a first generation college student—the second oldest of five—who came from a family that lived in extreme poverty. The odds were stacked against me. Neither of my parents graduated from high school. From an early age, my mom had big plans for me. She regularly told me that I needed to work hard in school so I could get good grades to earn scholarships so I could go to college. That was an intimidating set of goals for a small child. Mrs. Hiles inspired a love of learning within me so strong that my mom’s plans didn’t seem so worrisome for me. Without Mrs. Hiles, I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be where I am today. Because of her, I worked hard and got scholarships. Because of her, I majored in English with an emphasis in journalism so I could continue telling stories. Mrs. Hiles changed my life, and what I didn’t realize until I was a senior in college was that I could have that same impact on others.

During my senior year of college, I was a resident assistant. As part of my job, we were required to check in with the students who lived on our floor to make sure they were doing okay and to keep them aware of activities happening on campus. Next door to me lived a room of softball players, and due to practice, they were rarely at home when I would stop by their room to check in. As finals week wrapped up, and students moved out, I came home from an exam to find one of my roommates holding a note for me. “One of the girls next door dropped this off,” she said. 

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I opened the note and read it. While I can’t remember it word for word, I still remember the gist of what it said. The note started with a thank you. Apparently, in my weekly checkups, I had managed to make a connection with her, even though we had rarely seen one another in person. That connection managed to keep her from dropping out of college and moving back home to Washington state when she felt lost and alone. I was shocked. Simply by doing my job, I managed to positively impact someone else’s life. In that moment, it was hard not to think of Mrs. Hiles and impact she had upon my life. It was then I realized that some people in some jobs have the power to profoundly change someone’s life for the better. Mrs. Hiles opened the doors to education for me, and as a result, I kept someone from dropping out of college.

At that time, I had been debating what to do with the rest of my life. I had been accepted into a media law program at the University of Miami. Meanwhile, my classmates were taking jobs at area newspapers, something I could have done as well. But neither of those things sounded fulfilling to me. I loved being an RA. Maybe I could work in high education. I spent the next two months studying abroad, and I used that time to think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Mrs. Hiles had profoundly changed my life. Without her influence, I never would have gone to college, made lifelong friends, and had life-changing experiences. Now, I was in a situation where I had done the same thing for someone else, and I could do the same for so many others. By the time I came back to the United States, I knew what I wanted to do. I was going to give back as a way of thanking Mrs. Hiles for making a difference in my life.

In all of my years as a student, I have been lucky enough to encounter multiple people with the spirit of Mrs. Hiles. There was Mrs. Redding, my high school English teacher; Dr. Thorne, one of my journalism professors; Dr. LaNasa, who taught me to love history of higher education; and most recently, Dr. Katy Jaekel, the chair of my dissertation committee. Without Dr. Jaekel’s guidance and support, I wouldn’t be the first doctor in my family. In education, of course.

Since graduating from college in 2001, I have spent all but two years working in higher education. I took two years off to work for The Kansas City Star to try my hand at journalism, but I found that I missed students too much. Over 18 years in higher education, I have worked hard to give students experiences they may never have had otherwise. Of course, that’s why I prefer to work at community colleges. I relate to the students, many of whom are first generation like me. These students deserve to have their dreams come true just like I did. They deserve to meet their own Mrs. Hiles, who can help them along their journey, or in some cases, help open their eyes to a new path waiting for them to travel. 

I’m fortunate that, in my current role, I get to partner with faculty to offer co-curricular experiences to students. So many times, I have heard faculty say that their students have been able to do something they have never done before, often things we take for granted, like visiting a museum or going to see a play. We’re giving them opportunities they may not have otherwise been able to do. I’ve always heard that education opens doors, and trust me, it opened many doors for me over the years. For our students, it’s opening doors they never thought were possible. And with our support, we can encourage them to open doors to whole new lives for them and their families. 

As educators, we all want what’s best for our students, so why not be Mrs. Hiles for students when they need it most? One person has the power to make great change in the life of someone else. So think back. Who was your Mrs. Hiles? Who impacted your life in such a way that you want to give back to others the same way? Let that person be your guide as you work. Live life in such a way that, one day, your former students will look at you the same way I and so many others looked at Mrs. Hiles. Be that one person who changes someone’s life for the better.

Horoscopes? More Like Horrorscopes.

Over the past couple of months, the topic of horoscopes has come up, with people asking whether or not I believe in them. I figured it was time to publicly declare my stance on the subject with a fun little story. So, sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy.

Once upon a time, long, long ago, there was a teenager named Mindy. Now, Mindy lived and breathed horoscopes. She read them every single day in the newspaper. She always took what she read with a grain of salt, but she enjoyed reading them (especially at the end of the day) to see if they had come true in some way.

Now, when Mindy was 18, she scored big. At a used car lot, she found a beeeeee-you-tiful 1985 BMW 325i. It was cherry red, had a moonroof, electric everything. She had to have it, so she scraped up every single dollar from her summer job at the golf course she worked at for the down payment and made it hers.

Once she had the car, Mindy fell head over heels in love with it. It couldn’t have been more perfect. She drove that perfect car everywhere. To work, her boyfriend’s house, her family’s house. She even went storm chasing in it (as you do when you live in the Midwest).

The day after she went storm chasing, Mindy got up and read her horoscope. It seemed pretty normal, except for one line: Don’t drive today.

Mindy read that and chuckled. Seriously? Don’t drive? Well, Mindy had things to do. She needed to license her brand new car. She needed to see her sister. She couldn’t do any of that if she didn’t drive. So, despite what she read, Mindy and her boyfriend hopped in her honey of a car and headed off.

Of course, they didn’t make it far. Less than a mile from her boyfriend’s house, Mindy drove up to an intersection where all of the stoplights had been shut down due to the storm. Now, Mindy knew exactly what to do in this situation. Whenever stoplights are out, one must treat the intersection like a four-way stop. So, that’s what she did.

When it was finally Mindy’s turn to go, she went. For about 10 feet. Then, the next thing she knew, she was facing a different direction and there were pebbles of glass all over her. To say she was confused would be an understatement. She was dazed and confused.

Mindy had been in her first official car accident.

Now, I’m sure you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, holy cow! Did that really happen to poor Mindy? Why, yes, it did. But the story doesn’t end there.

Fast forward two years to when Mindy is 20. She is now driving a 1984 Honda Prelude, which was a pretty nice car (just not BMW nice). And she is still living and dying by the horoscope. So, when she reads a horoscope that says, Don’t drive today, she listens. She spends the entire day doing everything in her power to not have to drive. Until her friends decide to host a last-minute barbecue after a late afternoon rainstorm.

As her friends are wrapping up work, Mindy and the guy she has a massive crush on decide they’re going to run to Walmart real quick to pick up supplies. Mindy offers to drive since her crush doesn’t have a car (read: MINDY IS AN IDIOT WHO WILL DO ANYTHING FOR A CUTE BOY). So, Mindy and her crush head off to Walmart.

But they never make it.

While driving down the main drag in that one-horse college town, Mindy slows down so the car in front of her can turn into an adult novelty store. The lady behind Mindy was too worried about her Taco Bell that she didn’t look and rear-ended Mindy, who then rear-ended the car pulling into the adult novelty store.


So, yeah, I do believe in horoscopes, but I don’t read them any more. I just don’t want to know the misfortune I’m going to face. Never again.

And Then I Got Spooned By a Ghost

Nine years ago today, I crossed something off my bucket list. As a lifelong Stephen King fan, I have always wanted to stay at the hotel that inspired The Shining. Not just that, though. As a giant lover of all things paranormal, I have a bucket list goal of staying in as many haunted hotels as I can, so when I found a Groupon to stay at the Stanley Hotel, I jumped on it. Two goals for the price of one? How could I possibly pass that up?

This was pre-Jeff, so I packed my things, rented an SUV, and headed west with my trusted travel companion, my little brother Allen. We were two dorks on the road, and we were ready for adventure. We spent a night in Boulder, but that was a teaser. In addition to staying at the hotel, we had purchased tickets for their ghost tour. One way or another, we were going to be scared.

We arrived at the hotel and checked in. When they told me the room number, I nearly died. We were staying in 218. Wait a minute, I thought, the haunted room is 217. We were going to be next door to ghosts! Turns out, their room number system doesn’t work that way. We were on the other side of the hotel, but for a second, it was nice to dream.

Not long after we arrived, Allen and I headed to the basement for our tour. We got lucky. Our tour guide knew her stuff, and she loved telling us all the various ghostly legends tied to the hotel.

One of the first things she mentioned was that guests would sometimes smell the perfume of Mrs. Stanley, the wife of the man who built the hotel. Of course, I have to be clear that she never mentioned what type of perfume Mrs. Stanley wore. It was interesting that the tour guide mentioned that, because a while later, as we were standing outside of room 217 listening to the story of how Stephen King came up with the idea for The Shining, the odor of roses descended upon us. How interesting, I thought. While I was thinking it could be a haunting, I wanted to be sure to approach the situation from a rational point of view. I didn’t say a word to anyone, but I moved over by the stairwell as our tour group prepared to move upstairs to our next haunted spot. As the members of the group passed me, I paid attention to the smells of their perfumes and colognes to see if anyone wore a rose-scented perfume, but no one did.

Definitely interesting.

I didn’t say a word about it until the end of the tour. At that point, I said I smelled perfume and had a guess of what type of perfume Mrs. Stanley wore. She asked me what the smell was, and when I said roses, she grinned. At that point, Allen and a few other members of the crowd mentioned that they smelled rose perfume as well.

Spooky? Not really. Cool? Definitely.

The rest of the evening was fun. We met up with my friend Shao and her brother and tried some BrewDog beer. It was great and memorable, even all these years later.

Of course, at one point, the evening came to a close, and Allen and I returned to our room. This is when things get spooky. I was lying in bed with my back turned to the outside of the bed when I felt someone spoon against me. I knew it wasn’t Allen (we’re not those kind of siblings, thank you), mainly because there was no bed behind me. I was lying on the edge of the bed. Whatever spooned me was floating in midair.

As soon as I felt it, I whisper-shouted, “ALLEN! Something spooned me!”

Saying the words broke the spell, and whatever wrapped itself around me disappeared. Thank god.

What does getting spooned by a ghost feel like? Well, like getting spooned by a human…just a little more spectral. It was weird, that’s for darn sure.

I wish I could say that, that’s all that happened, but soon after, Allen called out, “Mindy! Something tucked me in!”

At least the ghosts were friendly.

That’s Dr. Kinnaman

So yeah, that thing that I’ve been working toward for the last three and a half years finally came to a head today when I defended my dissertation. It’s been about nine hours, and I’m still in shock. I can’t believe that I, Mindy “Severe Imposter Syndrome” Kinnaman, am a doctor. Crazy.

I’m not fully done with things. I’ll have to make some edits to my dissertation and get them sent over to the graduate office to upload by January 9, but the heaviest lifting is behind me. And I still can’t believe it.

Pinch me.

There is a reason why this is a shock. A couple actually. I mean, I grew up in poverty, the second of five kids to parents who had dropped out of high school. The only way I was going to college, according to my mom, was if I busted my butt and got as many scholarships as I could. So, that’s what I did. I know the statistics. I wasn’t supposed to succeed. But it helps to have a mom who threatens to ground you whenever your grades drop below an A, even when you’re in college. That’s how you graduate with honors.

With my bachelor’s degree, I did something I could be proud of, and I thought that my family would be proud of me as well. Some of them were. I wish I could say that all of them were. Not long after I finished, one of my cousins on my dad’s side told me, “Wow, I can’t believe one of Paul’s kids actually did something like that.” Thanks for your faith in me.

That sentence stuck with me for years. I’m sure it wasn’t meant to be dismissive, but it definitely came across that way. All of my hard work and accomplishments were brushed away in an instant by that one off-hand comment. Now, I’m not a competitive person by nature (unless we’re talking trivia – AEC Awesome 4-eva), but something about that statement became fuel for me. Because of those words, I went out and get something that not even that cousin had: a master’s degree.

But that wasn’t enough for me. With StrengthsQuest, two of my top Strengths are Learner and Achiever (technically, I have 3 Strengths that are all about learning and acquiring knowledge – NERD ALERT). When it comes to education, I want to learn all I can, and that meant that I needed to go for the gold. I needed the doctorate to round out my education. I wanted to learn as much as I could about higher ed, and especially the community college, and I wanted to stick it to that cousin for good.

Of course, I don’t speak to those relatives anymore, so who knows if that cousin even knows how far I’ve gone since that day. That’s fine. I’m happy with who I am. I’ve come a long way from that girl who fought like hell to get into college. And now, I’m Dr. Mindy Kinnaman.

I Jinxed Myself

One of my favorite things to do first thing in the morning is to open Facebook and look over my memories. It’s a nice way to remember all of the wacky shenanigans I’ve gotten into over the years.

On Wednesday, I was reminded that it was the tenth anniversary of the most epic Thanksgiving I’ve ever had: the time I mistook my finger for a potato. I reread the story and the Facebook posts. I cringed a bit when I looked at the photos. Overall, though, it gave me a good laugh. I don’t do as much cooking at Thanksgiving since Jeff and I got together. Usually, when we go to his family’s house, his mom does the cooking. When we stay home, Jeff does most of the cooking – I am responsible only for sweet potatoes and pies (the good stuff). As a result, the odds of Thanksgiving disasters are quite low.

Of course, this was Thanksgiving eve, and I offered to make dinner. It was the perfect time for Murphy’s law to enter into my life and turn our kitchen into a bloodbath.

So, as I said, I offered to cook dinner. Nothing fancy, just a vegetable soup. But before starting to cut the vegetables, I told Jeff I was a little nervous because I was using the fancy knife set we got for our wedding, which is very, very, very sharp. Actually, I need to add like six more verys to that sentence. I cut myself last week – nothing serious, just nicked my index finger one night – so I knew what I was talking about.

But I wasn’t going to let a little fear hold me back. I grabbed the onion, sliced it in half and prepared to dice it. I thought I’d use a trick I’ve seen countless TV chefs use, where they slice the onion in half horizontally to dice the onion. And that’s when things went wrong.

I laid my hand flat on top of the onion and started to slice it, but the knife got stuck. And I’m sure you know where this is going. Smart Mindy would have stopped there. But I was not Smart Mindy. I was Idiot Mindy and I just kept trying to shove that knife through that onion. And as a result, I shoved that knife right through my palm.

As is standard anytime I hurt myself, I started saying, “Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap….”

Jeff responded immediately. “What’s wrong?” he asked coming into the kitchen.

“I cut myself,” I said, turning to the sink to rinse out my furiously bleeding wound. “Pretty badly.”

“Do you need stitches?”

Having assessed the wound before I shoved my hand under the sink, I knew that, while being quite a big gash, it was not super deep. Stitches wouldn’t help. “No.”

So, Jeff ran and got me a towel to hold against my hand. He also raided the closet where I keep my bandaids (I say mine because I’m the person who uses them regularly), grabbing gauze and extra large bandaids, as well as Neosporin. Then, he helped me wrap up my hand. But it was then that I learned something very important about my husband that I had never before experienced in our eight years together: Jeff does not do well with blood. Especially when it’s gushing out of a one-inch by half-inch slash across his wife’s palm. But he helped me, and that’s what matters. I love him so much for that.

With that, my time in the kitchen came to a close. Jeff banished me to the living room so he could finish making dinner without any further bloodshed. And as I walked away he said something very important: “Maybe you shouldn’t cook on this date anymore.”

Maybe I shouldn’t.

Tales From a Procrastinator

Guys, gals and nonbinary pals, let me tell you a tale. There once was a procrastinator named Mindy who had to interview 4 people and then write 4 2-page papers about the people I interviewed. It was, by far, one of the easiest assignments of my Master’s program. But by the day those 4 papers were due, this little procrastinator still hadn’t written a single paper. Hoping against hope that I could miraculously write 4 papers in 3 hours, I hid in an office and started writing. But less than an hour later, the professor called and cancelled class.

Now, a smart person would have used that grace period to finish those papers. But did I?

Cut to one week later, and I am in the exact same boat. But this time I show up to that 7 pm class with no papers completed. And do you know what happened? The teacher didn’t show up. We actually got to take advantage of the whole 30-minute no-show rule.

You read that right. For two weeks in a row, I got lucky.

And if that wasn’t enough, the next week was spring break, followed by a week where the professor was out for a conference. In other words, for an entire month, I slacked off on 4 easy-peasy papers and got away with it. But I knew my good luck had an expiration date, so I finally buckled down and finished those papers before the next class session. But y’all, I have never been luckier (and lazier) in my life.

It’s Been a While…

I would love to say that my writing hiatus has some incredible cause, like I’ve been off trying to find a vaccine for COVID or I’ve been shacked up in some remote cabin writing my next novel, but let’s be real here, I’ve done none of those things.

That’s not to say I haven’t been busy, but the reason why you haven’t heard from me in nearly a year is this perfectly balanced state of depression (which is vastly improved), dissertation drama, and what I like to refer to as COVID malaise. In other words, I’ve been trying my hardest with what I have at hand.

So, how are things? Good, I hope.

Like I said, I’ve done a few things. Most important, I conducted research on my dissertation (though not on my original subjects), and then I wrote up that bad boy. It’s currently sitting in the hands of my dissertation chair, and I’m surprisingly not freaking out about that. Probably because I spent far too much time freaking out while writing it. Plus, I’ve gotta reserve some of my freaking out for my defense.

In other good news, I’ve battled the beast that is depression and came out on top. One year ago, I could barely function, but here I am holding my own. It helps having an awesome therapist to work through things with.

Also, I recently dipped my toes back into podcasting. Boy, did I miss it. I recently joined my friends on an episode of Surviving Chick Flicks to talk Sleepaway Camp, and later this week, we’ll return to talk one of my favorites, Scream. I had such a fun time that I’m seriously considering bringing back “Let’s Scare Mindy” or starting a fiction podcast. Just gotta get through my defense first.

Finally, I’m looking forward to two things. First, I finally finished going through Last Breath with my critique group, so now it’s time to turn that bad boy into a polished gem and then start querying again. I’m actually feeling pretty good about querying, as the last time I did, I got a full manuscript request, which is huge. That’s my goal for the next few weeks.

Of course, I have one other goal. This year, I’m going to try my hand at NaNoWriMo again. Last year, I got pretty far – having written 39,000 words (although I haven’t touched that book since then because I’ve been so focused on fixing up Last Breath). This year, I’m going to move away from the world of Kath and Smith and write a romantic suspense novel set in the one place I know well: a college. I’m excited for Sunday to come along, because I’m ready to start writing.

So that’s where I am. Like I said, I’m in a far better place than where I was last year. I miss doing things like going to concerts, staying in haunted hotels, and visiting friends and family, but I’m grateful for what I do have. But now this is getting sappy, so I’m going to wrap this up.

Have a spooky, socially distanced Halloween!

This Is Why I Can’t Have Nice Things

If you know anything about me, you know that I am a bit accident prone. I mean, I have my own day of the week – Minday – to refer to those Murphy’s Law kind of days. And boy oh boy did I have one heck of a Minday last week. And because I know you all have a mad case of Schadenfreude, I’m going to share with you my wee tale of woe.

Once upon a time (also known as last Wednesday), I took the day off work with the goal of finishing my dissertation. I just needed to finish writing my reflection and then format the document, and I would be D.U.N. done. It was an easy goal, and one thing that would make the work all the sweeter would be the nice new pair of AirPods I had just bought during Amazon Prime Days.

Let me just say that, being the Apple nerd I am, the AirPods were a thing of beauty. And I got them for a steal. As soon as they were delivered, I unboxed them and immediately set about streaming music through them. What better way to pass the time as I wrote.

Of course, writing wasn’t my only goal for my day off. I had also promised Jeff I would bake a pie. We had some apples that were nearing the end of their life cycle, and I didn’t want them to go to waste. So, at some point during the afternoon, I’d take a break from writing to bake the pie, then get right back to work.

I wrote my heart out for a good hour, rocking out to some music as i worked. Finally, it was break time. I couldn’t help but be excited. Due to my doctoral program, I haven’t done as much cooking and baking as I would like, so here was my chance to relieve a little stress as I neared the end of all of this hard work.

Leaving my headphones in, I headed to the kitchen and set to work, peeling and slicing the apples. I danced a bit as I added brown sugar and lemon and spices to the chopped apples. When it came time to focus on the crust, I sang along as I worked. I was clearly in my own little world.

Which is why I didn’t expect anything to go wrong.

Which is why I never expect anything to go wrong.

The apples were wrapped, all snug in the crusts, while visions of desserts to come danced in my head. I opened the 375-degree oven and leaned down to slide the pie in. Before I could straighten up, it happened.

I’m sure you know what happened. I don’t need to tell you that the right AirPod popped out of my ear and fell directly into the oven. I don’t need to tell you that I ripped off the other one and threw it to safety, while yelling, “OH NO!” repeatedly and grabbing a set of tongs. I don’t even need to tell you that I used those tongs to try my damndest to grab the AirPod out of the far corner of the oven where it came to rest. I don’t need to tell you these things because you knew exactly what kind of a day I was having. A Minday.

Hearing my cries, Jeff came running into the kitchen, asking what was wrong. He found me halfway in the oven, burning myself on the shelves as I grabbed for the AirPod with my tongs. I managed to move the AirPod to the front of the oven before Jeff took the tongs from my burnt hand and grabbed the earbud for me with no problem. 

I appreciated Jeff’s help, because by the time he grabbed the AirPod, I had a whopping 6 first- and second-degree burns on my hand and forearm. I wasn’t about to let $115 melt down in my oven.

The AirPod? A little melted, but it works just fine. 

But seriously, this is why I can’t have nice things.

Goodbye, November

A lot has happened over the past month. The most important part, though, is that I’ve been actively fighting my gray friend on multiple fronts. I’ve started therapy with a really good therapist, and I’ve also started medication, although I haven’t noticed any changes on that front (it’s only been a week since I’ve started them, though).

My therapist is pushing me to get out of my cocoon and try new things. She noticed how much I light up when I talk about my books, and at her prompting, I’m going to join a writing group. I’ve been wanting to find a writing group for some time, but all the groups I’ve reached to were either full or never got back to me. I think I’ve finally found one that might work, so cross your fingers for me.

Another big thing that happened this month is that I finally started my research on my dissertation. Step 3 is finally underway. I observed my event. Now, I just need to get some students to volunteer to be interviewed and then do some document analysis of their story prompts. My goal is to have all of those pieces done by the time we go on winter break so that I can start step 4 (writing my dissertation) during break. Here’s to hoping everything goes my way, because so far, not everything has.

Finally, the other thing that happened this month is that I took a serious stab at NaNoWriMo. I tried it once before and gave up about a week in. This year, though, I wrote pretty consistently until the week before Thanksgiving when I had a pretty nasty work week (doing my dissertation observation and hosting several big events). While I lost my daily writing streak, I still managed to end the month having written 34,461 out of 50,000 words. In other words, I’ve got the first third of book three out of the way. Not too bad, if I say so, especially since writing that same number of words for book two probably took me about three months.

November hasn’t been the easiest month, but I’m grateful that things are getting better for me. I’d love it if I could banish my gray friend by the time New Year’s rolled around, and while I know that’s not realistic, I’m just glad for every positive step I’m taking toward better mental health in the meantime. Plus, other things are going well. I’m making progress toward my doctorate, book three, and improving my writing. That’s definitely something.

Confession Time

It’s time I got something off my shoulders.

This year, I’ve been battling my old friend depression. I’ve been pretty open about the fact that I have faced depression since I was a teenager. It’s not something I love, but it’s something I’ve come to accept about myself.

Usually, I hit dips. Short periods in which things are harder to deal with, but I have functional depression. Basically, I force on a smile and fake my way through things. Part of my medication routine for my migraines is an antidepressant, so it helped me out of those dips whenever I hit them.

But not this year.

This year, the dip got deeper. I found it harder and harder to force on the smile. Once, it was so bad that I didn’t talk for two days. Me, the girl nicknamed Motormouth Mindy. I didn’t speak for two entire days.

Getting out of bed became harder. In the past, I could get out of bed at 6:30 a.m., so I could be showered and ready to go by the time Jeff got up at 7. I’d then use the next hour to focus on writing. By the time I left for work, I’d feel proud of how productive I had been, having written a chunk of my next chapter.

Lately, I roll out of bed at 7:50, right after Jeff gets out of the shower. I have exactly 20 minutes to shower and get ready before I have to rush out the door to work. I tell myself that the extra hour of sleep will help me feel more refreshed, but in all honesty, I crawl out of bed feeling more exhausted than I did the night before when I bundled myself under the blankets.

It doesn’t matter whether I sleep for 7 for 12 hours. I still wake up exhausted. Dark circles have taken up permanent roost under my eyes. My shoulders ache, and I feel like nothing I do will ease the exhaustion that I feel.

Even food has lost its luster. I eat because I have to, but not because it tastes good. In the past, when Jeff would ask what I wanted for dinner, I’d say I don’t know because so much was tempting. Now, I say I don’t know because nothing sounds good.

I’m slowly losing the functional part of my depression. I know it. I need help. Don’t worry, I know that, too. I finally gathered the courage to ask for help, because I realized that the antidepressants weren’t enough anymore.

So, why am I writing this? Because I need to acknowledge what you all have likely been seeing for some time. On Facebook, I’ve posted memes that absolutely were cries for help. Between Facebook and Twitter, you’ve seen me down in the dumps due to a string of rejections from agents. Honestly, outside of the pictures of Bitteh and Nevaeh that I post, I don’t know that I’ve posted all that much that could be considered positive for longer than I can remember. I could be wrong, but it doesn’t feel that way.

This is my way of holding myself accountable. If I post this, I have to go see that counselor later this week. That way, when people ask me how I’m doing, I have a genuine answer I can give them, instead of a half-hearted shrug. Also, I’m posting this because I need to get better. I’m sick of crying. I’m sick of the exhaustion. I’m sick of not being me.