Category Archives: Mental Health


This is a true story that happened on November 16, 2009

I woke up that Monday morning with a feeling of urgency. I needed to change my schedule as I was supposed to go to Help Hotline Crisis Center, Inc., my employer, that day. As I said my prayers I just knew that the Lord was letting me know explicitly to do something else instead of going to work. It seemed really strange, but I felt I needed to obey. I called work and to my surprise Duane Piccirilli, the CEO answered. I could not tell him what my spirit was telling me so I told him that I was planning to speak at the Family-To-Family class at the Jewish Community Center that evening and I would make up my work for Monday later that week. Duane never usually answers the phone, but since I spoke to him directly, I knew it was safe to change my work days as he himself okayed it. It was just another confirmation that I was doing the right thing.

Gary and I decided to go Christmas shopping a little later in the day stopping first at Ollies, the then new bargain store located at the Eastwood Mall. As I walked down the sheet aisle I suddenly noticed a woman lying on the ground in the aisle. After attending the GriefShare the night before and hearing about a woman whose husband died at Macy’s I immediately thought she was dead. I walked over to her and saw that her eyes were rolled out of her head and she was moving involuntary a little bit. So I called 911 as Gary went and got 2 employees from the store to come down to the aisle where the woman was laying. In the meantime, I held out my hand and I prayed over her with the two employees putting a pillow under her head and taking off her glasses.

I felt an extreme amount of compassion and love as I got on the floor and stayed with this woman. Suddenly she began flailing; her entire body was shaking as though an electric shock had hit her like a lightening bolt. I am a person who fears medical problems and my usual reaction would have been to run from the situation. Instead, I felt a controlled peace flow through me and I stayed on the ground with the woman. What seemed like a long time was probably just a matter of 60 seconds when, looking at her upside down she began focusing her eyes on me. I noticed that she kept staring at me with a concentrated look on her face. Out of nowhere she whispered my name. Now I was freaking out that she knew me. It was a huge surprise to me. I asked her what her name was and she said “Sharon” “Sharon Maybee”. I didn’t recognize her because she had gained an enormous about of weight and was missing some front teeth which often happens to those of us taking psychotropic medications.

At that moment, I recognized her sparkling blue eyes with the curly eye lashes that brought back my memory of my old friend. Sharon had been in my support group years ago and the last time I had seen her was at North-Mar church about 2 years prior. I had been singing in the choir and saw her out there sitting on a pew. My husband must have not gone to church that day as I was free to sit with Sharon. It was nice to see her again just as it was that Monday at Ollies.

The ambulance came and the paramedics seemed very distant when they found out who it was they were called for. Apparently, Sharon had been having seizures and had had a few in Niles and the paramedics said that she always denied going to the hospital. One of the paramedics and I helped Sharon get back up….and as she stood up she got her composure and made a joke about being the “floor inspector” at Ollies. Sharon and I spoke together for a while; I told her about the WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) a mental health class I was teaching on Tuesdays and she said she would be there. She also said that she’d like to come back to North-Mar Church. As we spoke, my sweet husband walked through the store allowing me to talk to Sharon. Sharon and I talked about the Lord as she told me that she had just gotten out of the hospital and showed me how they had made a mistake on her neck. We stood in line together and I hugged her several times as she paid for her bird seed because she said she owned a bird. I felt such a strong love for her as though she was my sister and I let her know that. The last hug I gave her was at about 2:00 in the afternoon.

I said “good-bye” to Sharon Maybee. Well, she didn’t show up Tuesday night and I hoped she was doing okay. On Wednesday, November 18, 2009, her obituary was in the local paper. Sharon had passed away Monday night, just hours after I gave her that hug. She was only 37 years old.

I drove out to Hartford for her calling hours and spoke to her parents who were very distraught, of course. Someone from the family explained to me that she had a problem with her heart and the doctors couldn’t identify it. They said they found the bird seed in her car.

My learning experience: Listen to the Holy Spirit and do exactly what HE wants me to do. I also learned that death is not scary, no, as long as you are a believer. IT is just one step up, spirit man, and right into the arms of heaven.

That day at Ollies changed my life. It is hard for me to explain but I know that God had me there with Sharon for a purpose although I will never truly understand why. All I know is that I so look forward to seeing her again when my time on earth is through. I will give her a big hug and say “Thank you, Sharon!”

Ironic: Sharon said a swear word while we were talking. She quickly put her hand to her mouth and said with a twinkle in her eye “Whoops, I shouldn’t swear!”

She opened her eyes AGAIN that very day but focused in on our Lord Jesus Christ – forgiven of all and loved for eternity. The swear word? I have no recollection of what word she said and I’m sure Jesus doesn’t either!


I love the French language! In high school I took French for four years and two years in college. We received new names in the classroom. The French name for Nancy is Nanette. During my years of mental anguish, I used to tell people that my name was Nanette and then go into a little speal of speaking in French just for fun. When I first wrote my book, it was about a woman named Nanette. All that changed when I felt the need to portray my character from the perspective of the writer which, of course, was “moi”. My editor, God Bless her, had the daunting task of changing every me, my, she, her, us, we etc. into the first person, I. Wow. Thank God for Microsoft Word 2010 where word replacement is a snap!
There was something else about the French language that transformed my life when I was at an all-time low…..okay, there were MANY all-time lows over the years but this was my second one. I was attending Kent State University right out of high school. That is when I walked into a classroom and met a woman who undoubtedly changed the course of my life. Her name was Mademoiselle Evans and she was my French professor. She was very pretty, always dressed beautifully and was passionate in her work. I adored her. Her tests were hard but that was part of the challenge! I remember learning the words to “The Answer is Blowing in the Wind” and singing it in front of the class in French. It was beautiful. I wish I could write it for you but too many years have passed by so….when I meet up with Mlle. Evans again, I will let you know how it goes. Anyway, I was a manic freshman at Kent State. Loud. Boisterous. Obnoxious. You get it? I was HIGH every minute of every day without the use of drugs. Everything revolved around me. People could tell me off (which happened often) and it wouldn’t phase me in the least. I’d just laugh! LAUGH LOUD like everything else I did. But with the HIGHS come the LOWS and in a matter of months I was there. In a deep dark negative mindset that I could not get out of. I suddenly was unable to go to classes. I suddenly was unable to do much of anything. I tried desperately to make it to my French class. One day I walked in and it was time for a test. I sat silently looking at the blank paper in front of me and looked up at Mlle. Evans and with a quick glance she saw my pain. I know that she wondered what was happening and after class while she and I rode an elevator together going down a few flights I told her I wanted to end my life.

I was so scared. I was SO scared that I was going to complete suicide that I knew I could not go back to my dorm room so I asked Mlle. Evans to do the unthinkable…..I asked her if she could take me home to her house with her husband and two small children and spend the night so I could be safe. She thought for a few seconds and then answered “yes”. She saved my life. For it was not long afterwards that she called my Mother and said “If you don’t come get your daughter, you will not have a daughter.” Thus, one of my deeply anguished songs was birthed……with the chorus simply written from God’s perspective “No, No Nanette…….I’m not ready for you yet…..”


A lot of people have asked “What is it like in a mental hospital?” I think……”Gee, isn’t that something everyone knows?” HA! Everyone who I know knows!!! Yeah, well a big LOL to that. The truth is I really do know a lot of people who DO. Those who HAVE stayed in a mental hospital. Served time, one could say. Time. Not always fun but certainly not boring. It used to be that some would actually call it a vacation as insurance was plentiful back in the day and we were treated with respect and care. The finest hospital I stayed in was located in Providence, RI. It was (and still is) called Butler Hospital on beautiful Blackstone Blvd. Even the hospital beds were more comfortable, it seemed. I remember going out for long walks in a group on the beautiful grounds and playing volleyball with some interesting people. Normally, a person thinks of a good volleyball player as someone who is tall and lanky. In a mental hospital, the best volleyball player is the one with the least amount of side effects from psychotropic drugs that can hit the ball over the net without drooling, shaking or falling down. And then, of course, our coach. A mental hospital Activity Director they called him. Enthusiastically, he yells “good job” no matter what anyone does. A woman ran into me trying to hit the ball and he yelled “Good job!”(A paranoid person could have taken THAT wrong!) One night it was time for us to line up like cattle and take the flight of steps down to the cafeteria. The food was always good at Butler. I glanced up at the notice on the door that tells us what is for dinner. It said “Lobster”. Seriously? When I got closer I stood in amazement as each person was given their own full sized lobster on a plate with a container dripping with butter. I can still see myself sitting there staring at mine. The little bug-eyes were staring back at me. All these Rhode Islanders were used to eating lobster but I wasn’t. I watched the others break open the shell and I followed suit. The only thing I had remembered about lobsters as a kid was while on vacation camping in Bar Harbor, Maine, my mother putting the live lobsters in a big pot of boiling water and listening to them SCREAM. When each came out of the pot they had turned red. I thought about all the lobsters that must have screamed as I pulled the thing apart and ate little chunks at a time. All I can say is that I thank God that I am sane today…….and don’t need Butler Hospital or any hospital. (for TODAY!) I give God all the praise, glory and honor that He deserves because I KNOW that I KNOW that I KNOW He is responsible for keeping me sane….and I am thankful that I had the chance to stay in “the hospital that served lobster” when I was ill.

“If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.” 2 Corinthians 5:13 Paul wrote this after he, himself, was questioned about his sanity, he, like me, was once bound in the chains of darkness and when he, like me, found the way, the truth, and the light OUT of the darkness, he, like me, wants to shout it from the rooftops to share the GOOD NEWS!


Wow! Today I watched the national news for the first time in well, like months…. Of all times! The horrendous flooding in Colorado – some places got “one year’s worth of rain all in one day!), the fire that burned down the brand new boardwalk in Jersey that was just rebuilt after hurricane Sandy. Nicole Kidman got hit by a bicycle? (Oh!) What a day. Interestingly enough today is Friday the 13th. `Are you superstitious?` It is hard to believe that our country has been so devastated from the east to the west all in one day. I missed the part about Seria…..I guess I’d rather not know. In order to have peace of mind, I choose not to focus on what is happening in this world because I, well, we ALL know that the news is not good. I’m sure there are a lot of people who would disagree and think I was living in my own little bubble. That’s okay, in my bubble I will stay……to remain sane! Something that I always found interesting is that a person can suffer horribly with mental illness and fall into deep depression and it has absolutely nothing to do with outside events! That is why people will ask “Why are you depressed?” I have heard that question and I never had an answer!!! I did not have triggers; I had cycles. The cycles are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. But to have triggers that are this monumental…. the ones whose houses are ruined in Colorado, they have a reason to be depressed! But the hardest part about the flooding is the 80+ people who are missing. Families searching for their families. Emotional pain and anguish, anxiety and concern. That is torture too. The other thought is for the animals. Hard to bear the thought of searching for a sister or brother and a beloved dog too. I am praying for all the hurting people in our nation tonight. God Bless America!!! And…God Bless YOU!


I woke up this morning with a SONG in my heart. It was an original by The Stevens Family. I was then on a mission to find their lastest CD “Can’t Thank You Enough”. My dear husband, the “organizer” had put all the CD’s neatly away….how would I ever find it? I went to their website in search of just listening to that one song….but, oh, I just HAD to find the CD…..then back upstairs I marched and, well, there it was! The Stevens Family CD! Ohhhhhh, NO, it was their Christmas CD. (too early for that!) I looked in a little CD holder that was near the two huge stacks of CD’s I had already searched through and there it was WOW! “Thank you, Lord.” I listened to the song and decided to write this blog. A blog about Jesus pulling us “out of the pit!” “I was in a pit, a really deep pit…” Tami sings. Oh yes! Have we not all been in a pit? Thank God that “Jesus Brought Me Out” which is the name of the song. (If you are not familiar with the beautiful blend of three voices go to their website and ENJOY!)

So, I got to thinking about the word “PIT”….I mean….really thinking….. doing a bit of RESEARCH even. HUMMMMMM This is VERY deep, folks, literally and figuratively, just a **warning**. Yes, let’s talk about this “pit”. Depression? Yes, of course, but I would like to talk about another type of pit. The pit kind where thousands upon thousands of people who suffered from mental illness were physically thrown into years ago. Have you ever seen the old black and white movie called “The Snake Pit”? It is a four star movie made many moons ago about a woman who was thrown into such a pit filled with hundreds of others – that’s the kind of pit that I am talking about now. A “pit” filled with the CrAZys, the luNaTIcS, the OuTcaStS of SOCIETY! During the 16th century, asylums were established more or less to house the mentally ill who were abandoned by family. They were cruel dark places run by untrained individuals who treated them like animals, many of them were cuffed and had iron collars that gave only enough movement to feed themselves and, because of the short chains they had to sleep upright. The most famous institution was called Bedlam located in London, England where patients were treated terribly and the violent ones were put on display like side show freaks for the price of a penny. Unfortunately, other countries followed the same idea. **I KNOW THIS IS DISTURBING BUT IT REALLY HAPPENED!** That is how it used to be. That was then and this is now. Now through many decades of reform, people who are mentally ill are treated well if they need to be hospitalized. We have Therapy! Medications that work! Support Groups! Wellness plans! Education! Peer-to-Peer Groups! And yes! Even a few psychiatrists who have their own mental illnesses! (not a joke). Thank God, things have changed.

There still is a pit called depression. I have suffered with it. Sometimes up to six months at a time…. But I was treated with kindness and compassion. And when I came to a place where I FOUND THE ANSWER TO THE PAIN I WAS IN – through no one else but Jesus Christ himself – It was then that I learned how to be set free from it! That is why the song that The Stevens Family wrote is so near and dear to my heart….because what happened to me was just that….”Jesus Brought Me Out” and HE can do the SAME FOR YOU!

Jesus said “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he (will eat) with Me.” Rev. 3:20 Amplified Bible


Has anyone ever heard of Max Lucado? If so, I’m sure you are aware of his unique style of writing. I would like to share something that he wrote back in 2003, that is how long I have held on to it! I have always compared<this short composition to the stigma of mental illness<. I do believe that people are more understanding than they were in years past as more and more people keep coming out of the closet with their mental conditions. What really hits home is the initial diagnosis; usually at a young age. Knowing, as Max writes: life would never be the same.

    The UpWords Weekly Devotional – 02/05/2003

In scripture the leper is symbolic of the ultimate outcast: infected by a condition he did not seek, rejected by those he knew, avoided by people he did not know, condemned to a future he could not bear. And in the memory of each outcast must have been the day he was forced to face the truth: life would never be the same.

The banishing of a leper seems harsh, unnecessary. The Ancient East hasn’t been the only culture to isolate their wounded, however. We may not build colonies or cover our mouths in their presence, but we certainly build walls and duck our eyes. And a person needn’t have leprosy to feel quarantined.

The Many Faces of Depression

August 11, 2013
How is your mood today? Every person on earth goes through good times and, well, not so good times….but what constitutes a true depressed mood? It doesn’t just go away!!! In fact, you could win money, be invited to meet a celebrity you like, or have some wonderful person give you a brand new car. Still depressed. The mind is a very interesting part of who we are and, unfortunately, where a lot of negativity can brew due to depression. What causes depression? Hummmm, there is Postpartum Depression which usually strikes within four weeks of having a baby. The guilt of not wanting to take care of your baby can be overwhelming!!! There is also S.A.D (seasonal affective disorder) which “follows the sun” so to speak. Here in Northeastern Ohio where the “the sky can be cloudy all day……everyday” many people suffer from this S.A.D. mood disorder. Are you so depressed that you have trouble moving your body? Like sitting in a chair looking straight ahead, hands folded, eyes open, thinking of getting up but staying in that position for hours? That’s called having Catatonic Features. (not to be mistaken with giving your cat a gin and tonic….which, come to think of it may do the same thing for your cat!) What about depression with Psychotic Features? Psychotic? What does that mean? Being out of touch with reality. i.e. “I hear a voice telling me I should be punished.” These are only a few types of depression. If you have had or are having depression GIVE YOURSELF A PAT ON THE BACK!!! Simply put: You are a survivor, an overcomer, and a HERO to make it though the most painful illness known to man: Depression. SHALOM NJM

August 10

Today- August 10, 2013 is an important day. My niece, Paige Stevenson was born. Happy 22nd Birthday to Paige! Now, to talk a little bit about this book I wrote. It is not easy to go back in time and bring up some of the most painful events in a persons life as the memories are there, but the feelings that go back to that time are all gone….mostly, and that is a good thing. I no longer am the woman who suffered so terribly with depression. On August 15, 1991, the old Nancy left that sinful nature and I became a new person. A person who held on tight to that flickering candle of hope, of truth, and of love. I thank God for everything He has done in my life, especially finding my solemate Gary — soon to be named Garrett — when the book is published, if you read it, you will understand. I want every person who has suffered with this most debilitating illness, they call it “mental illness” by the way, to know that I love them. You are my brothers and sisters. We need to stick together like a family because we have a unique understanding of eachother. Good night and SHALOM. NJM