This Is Who I Am: A Glimpse into Jeremiah’s Story

By Jeremiah Lin | Featured Contributor


I suffer from bipolar. Of the worst kind. Manic episodes. Severe psychosis. Deep delusions fully believing that I’m Jesus.

I will destroy my relationships. Make random connections with strangers. Come up with a million business plans to make a billion dollars. Empty my bank account and max out credit cards to “help” others. Give away all my earthly possessions. Isn’t that what Jesus would do?

I’ve made myself homeless. I’ve ended up in numerous mental hospitals. Had far too many run-ins with police officers. Most people, including cops, don’t understand the symptoms of mania. That makes me a perceived threat. Dozens of arrests. Spent several years of my life behind bars. Several times I’ve been brutalized by law enforcement. This last time nearly cost my life.

Continue reading “This Is Who I Am: A Glimpse into Jeremiah’s Story”

The Broken Mind: Living with Bipolar Disorder

By Dre from Jerz | Featured Contributor


As a man in his early 40’s, coping with bipolar disorder and manic depression has been a major struggle. But through an open understanding and a willingness to learn, mental health issues can become manageable.

It all started in my late twenties. I was sitting on my twin-sized bed listening to one of my favorite hip hop CD’s. After a breakup with a young lady at the time and in between menial jobs, my mind was in a fragile state. I would play this particular CD on repeat from evening to morning. Not realizing it at the time, but internally I had snapped to the point my brainwaves shifted into an altered phase.

Continue reading “The Broken Mind: Living with Bipolar Disorder”

Feeling ‘Hangry?’ – Hypoglycemia, Mental Health, and the Importance of Diet

By Barbara Leonhard | Featured Contributor


Depression is a complex weave, and I have explored it in various articles on Phoebe, MD. The grief of watching my mom decline with Alzheimer’s and the grief of infertility. However, did you know that some symptoms of depression can also result from a diet high in sugar and simple carbohydrates, which in some people can lead to postprandial hypoglycemia (extremely low blood sugar after a meal)? This has been another life challenge for me.

Continue reading “Feeling ‘Hangry?’ – Hypoglycemia, Mental Health, and the Importance of Diet”

Attacked: A Poem on Anxiety

By Riya Bhatia | Featured Contributor


Note from Author: This was written when I was experiencing one of my worst anxiety attacks. Instead of running away from it, I decided to embrace it and use my words as a means of understanding myself better.

*   *   *

My breath trembles
as the room seems to be
consuming my soul,
The walls are closing in
and my thoughts are
consuming me whole,
Sweat and tears
dim the shine
and rosiness of my face,
And all they can say
is keep picturing yourself
in a better place,
I’m crippled with fear
and can’t think
beyond this second,
How do I move on
and when will this ever end,

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

Hold it for a few seconds.

Keep breathing.

It’ll be alright,
The day will get better
and the sun will shine bright.
My heart starts to race
as tears stream down my cheek,
I can’t concentrate
on a single thing
and keep calling myself weak,

You’re not like this,
you’re strong,
you can do it,
but you’re all wrong,

Focus. Focus. Focus.

Keep focusing on your goals,
it’ll be be okay,
and not take very long.

I’m dizzy and nauseous,
fearful and upset,
how could I let this
happen to myself,

I want to go back to when I was twelve.

Continue reading “Attacked: A Poem on Anxiety”

Suicide: A Personal Journey from Trauma to Triumph

By John Gregory Evans | Featured Contributor


Life can be quite demanding.

One may find themselves trying to overcome childhood sexual abuse and jump from the frying pan into the fire by volunteering with the USMC during the Vietnam War from 1971 to 1972; subsequently, sexually molested by a mid-level NCO while serving active duty through Combat Training. As well, with combat related scenarios one may also be injured upon a field training exercise after three consecutive explosive blasts are detonated, hurling an M-60 spent cartridge to its potential target, a young seventeen – year-old male’s cervical spine, thus, inducing a permanent nerve damage that could potentially one day paralyze him from the neck down, including the larynx. Hence, my patriotic chore that led a confused, dazed, and mystified young man to serious suicidal attempts and further ideation. This continued for many years.

Will there ever be relief?

Will the suffering end?

The answer to this is yes. Give yourself time.

Continue reading “Suicide: A Personal Journey from Trauma to Triumph”

Why Dating a Woman With a Chronic Illness Is the Best Decision Your Heart Can Make

By Klyn Elsbury | Featured Contributor


I can have a conversation with you about your stressful day while infusing antibiotics straight into my heart through a port-a-cath. I pay attention to your every word when nausea kicks in, asking intelligent follow-up questions, and when you’re relaxed after your stressful day, just ask that you hold my hand. Bonus points if you can bring me a Starbucks en route to the hospital.

I am 32-years-old and have been hospitalized 67 times, ranging in length from one day to six months. The diagnosis is cystic fibrosis and diabetes. The prognosis? Nobody really knows.

I am happily engaged to a healthy man. In fact, he’s so healthy I don’t know if in five years I’ve seen him eat a vegetable that I didn’t force him into. And yet, dating was extremely difficult for me as I grappled with questions on when to tell him about my condition, navigating extended hospitalizations, and yes, even losing my bowels without warning one night.

It’s not uncommon for those with chronic illnesses to be shunned from the dating community. Many have given up entirely and left to feel like ‘used goods’. Even as I researched the article, polling my friends with chronic illnesses, many were reluctant to share their names because if a guy on an app googled them, they would face rejection before they felt it was time to disclose. And I couldn’t help but remember what it was like for me the moment the hot guy I was getting to know decided to type my name into Google, and decided if he was up for the adventure.

Our love story lasts and here are five other reasons that if you’ve been given the news or been contemplating taking the next step with someone with a chronic condition, to give it a go!

Continue reading “Why Dating a Woman With a Chronic Illness Is the Best Decision Your Heart Can Make”

Thirteen Years of Training For A Pandemic

By Don P. | Guest Contributor


On April 28, 2007, my life as I knew it came to an abrupt halt and turned 180 degrees. I had a massive heart attack that day, and a triple bypass surgery the following day. To really make my story special, I then flat-lined over a hundred times during the next twelve or so days, and followed that with a very high drama heart transplant and a five day stint on ECMO (Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) and was conscious (to a degree) while on a ventilator—the single worst memory in my lifetime. (ECMO is a machine that is basically an artificial lung to oxygenate your blood while your lungs rest/heal).

A week after my heart transplant, I regained consciousness and started to rebuild my body and my life, and unbeknownst to me, I was placed in training for this coronavirus pandemic

Continue reading “Thirteen Years of Training For A Pandemic”

Broken Womb, Shattered Soul: Living with Infertility (part 3)

By Barbara Leonhard | Featured Contributor


[Click for Part 1 and Part 2]

The bandage torn
From new flesh
Releases wails
The wound still
Imbibes air
The scab hides
deep repair
Let it rest. Wait
In time the scar
Records a fate

I learned that healing is a deep process. We may heal a physical wound, but to become whole, we need to heal emotionally, spiritually, and mentally. We need to dig into the old grout of our deep being. Moreover, we must trust help is available.

Continue reading “Broken Womb, Shattered Soul: Living with Infertility (part 3)”

Broken Womb, Shattered Soul: Living with Infertility (part 2)

By Barbara Leonhard | Featured Contributor


[Click here for Part 1]

Depression developed and flourished because I grieved so much over loss of fertility.

Women who are childless miss out on a great deal. They never feel what it is like to have a life growing, kicking and wiggling inside of them; to cry out during the birth of a baby (a rite of passage to celebrate with girlfriends); to watch over and even to grow with a child through sickness and health, all the milestones of birthdays, graduations, marriage, and the births of grandchildren. I have even grieved not being able to be the tooth fairy, help my kids find Easter eggs, read them bedtime stories, take them to the zoo.

Feeling apart from and not a part of the tribe still saddens me. I find I am left out of conversations about all those life passages women around me have. I feel I have little to contribute. I have attended and hosted many baby showers, but my mind always wanders to my losses, making it difficult to be fully present to the joy young mothers feel. Women form strong bonds with each other and share in all the rituals around birthing and raising children. I feel like an outsider at times, like I am more an observer than a participant in these sacred passages.

Continue reading “Broken Womb, Shattered Soul: Living with Infertility (part 2)”

Broken Womb, Shattered Soul: Living with Infertility (part 1)

By Barbara Leonhard | Featured Contributor


As we grow and develop, we learn how to identify with many labels or roles, such as daughter/son, aunt/uncle, mother/father, and grandmother/grandfather, to name a few. It seems as though our stories are written before we are born to conform to these labels. In a way, these roles become rituals that comfort us as we agree to them and even expect our lives to go “as planned” based on our social codes and blueprints for survival.

I know I certainly expected my life to unfold much like my mother’s life did with marriage and family. She had seven children, and being the second oldest and oldest girl, I was able to help with all the babies she had. It never occurred to me that I would never be able to have my own children. Little did I know that my helping her at the ages of 9 and 10 with my youngest siblings would be my only times to experience at least part of what a mother does for her kids. I am not sure I appreciated this time because as much as I loved playing mommy, I also wanted to be with my friends.

Continue reading “Broken Womb, Shattered Soul: Living with Infertility (part 1)”

Avoiding the Tragedy: A Look into Disease Prevention

By Barbara Leonhard | Featured Contributor


Part 1 – Hope Was Not a Loss: A Story About Measles Encephalitis
Part 2 – Learning How to Walk Again: Barbara’s Story


Back in 1957, the year I almost died from the measles, my parents—unlike the parents of today—did not have to face the choice of vaccination, because there was no vaccine in existence (it wasn’t introduced until several years later, in 1963).

Therefore, it was important for me to share my experience with this condition because of the great controversy that currently exists over vaccines in general, and particularly the measles vaccine. Far too many children are not getting vaccinated against measles and other diseases owing to perceived risks, so now measles has returned as a virulent threat worldwide.

Continue reading “Avoiding the Tragedy: A Look into Disease Prevention”

Learning How to Walk Again: Barbara’s Story

By Barbara Leonhard | Featured Contributor


[Part 1 – Hope Was Not a Loss: A Story About Measles Encephalitis]

My experience with measles encephalitis taught me a great deal. The greatest realization was that I could change my destiny. I had every reason to remain in the wheelchair because of the attention, sympathy, and love that not only I but also my parents received because of their poor little girl. But the attention from others could not offset the loneliness, the feelings of being diminutive and helpless, and the boredom.

Continue reading “Learning How to Walk Again: Barbara’s Story”

Hope Was Not a Loss: A Story About Measles Encephalitis

By Barbara Leonhard | Featured Contributor


In this article, I would like to share my story of how an illness I suffered as a child affected me. Particularly with the climate of today, I hope this will help inform people of the consequences that can develop in young children who are at risk of getting certain illnesses.

It was the summer of 1957, and it seemed to have happened all at once, where I turned from an active six-year-old girl to a helpless baby overnight. At that time, my family was living in Lewistown, Montana, where my dad was a Presbyterian minister. Mom was at home with three children, aged seven to four. That summer, all three of us contracted measles. But while my siblings’ illnesses took a more benign course, I developed a life-threatening complication: measles encephalitisa serious and potentially fatal inflammation of the brain that can occur either during the rash phase of measles or following the illness itself.

I have often contemplated my own battle with measles encephalitis…because it did indeed nearly kill me.

Continue reading “Hope Was Not a Loss: A Story About Measles Encephalitis”

Mind Over Body: Catarina’s Path to Health

By Catarina Rodrigues, Featured Health Story


Three and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with a hiatal hernia. A hiatal hernia is what happens when the upper portion of your stomach slides up into your chest because there is an opening (a “hiatus”) in your diaphragm. This causes the person to experience severe acid reflux and discomfort, among other symptoms. When my doctor explained this to me, as—you may imagine—it all sounded quite frightening. He told me that this was essentially an incurable condition and that surgery was not recommended at my age.

Continue reading “Mind Over Body: Catarina’s Path to Health”

Hillman’s Demons: A Poem on Depression

By Chris Reed, Featured Contributor


James Hillman told me
the demons will come
at night in old age,
and will settle
on my bed,
on my chest,
in my hair,
in my head,
in my guts,
and prod me awake.

Befriend them he says.
They are your demons.
They are here to help.
And know you are 
enough worn with years
to be not afraid.

Drink tea.
Pay heed.
Converse.

If you look them in the eye,
know you’ll soon be gone,
so don’t care what they think,
they will give you quarter
and disarm.

Then you can hold them close,
like children,
with sharp claws and teeth,
and comfort them.
For their torments are yours;
their shadows are your shadows.

Hand in hand in the night,
no one is afraid of the dark.

Continue reading “Hillman’s Demons: A Poem on Depression”

Grief: Healing Through Poetry

By Barbara Leonhard, Featured Contributor


[Part 2 – Alzheimer’s: Grieving the Loss of My Mother]

I processed grief over Mom’s struggle with Alzheimer’s through poetry writing. The fact that caregivers—such as myself and many other poets—can relieve grief through poetry supports my belief that poetry is both the memoir of and the medicine for the soul. Poetry is a means to storytelling, witnessing the human condition in a personal way. What am I thinking, praying, hoping for? How am I hurting? What has happened to me? How can I understand it? How can I share it? Who will witness my pain?

Poetry provides a creative outlet for the release of pain, for healing. It explores the soul. Reading the poems of others who have gone through similar experiences as mine is reassuring because I realize that I am not alone. I could also share my experiences of loss and grief.

Continue reading “Grief: Healing Through Poetry”

Alzheimer’s: Grieving the Loss of My Mother

By Barbara Leonhard, Featured Contributor


[Part 1 – Fire & Ice: The Faces of Grief]

As a way to examine grief and loss, I will share my story of the loss of my mother to Alzheimer’s, one of the most devastating forms of dementia.

What is Alzheimer’s?

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s Disease is a dementia caused by the building up of plaques—deposits of protein fragments that create spaces between neurons (nerve cells)—as well as tau tangles inside the cells of the brain itself.

Continue reading “Alzheimer’s: Grieving the Loss of My Mother”

Fire & Ice: The Faces of Grief

By Barbara Leonhard, Featured Contributor


Robert Frost once wrote:

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Online, one can find many poets who sing about their grief. In this lyrical piece, Frost tells us that we face changes all the time. Eden, our paradise, has been lost. Life is temporary, terminal, and short lived. The sun both rises and falls; the seasons change, and we grieve.

Continue reading “Fire & Ice: The Faces of Grief”

Not Depressed: The Story of a Girl

By Yamini Rana


Twenty months ago, I was diagnosed with clinical depression.

It was the beginning of June 2018. I was on a family road trip. At that time, it had been five months since I had moved away from home, to a well-known center for those preparing for prestigious high-end government exams…

Continue reading “Not Depressed: The Story of a Girl”

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