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I'll Stand By You...
"I have realized that I should not regret any day of my life.
Good days give me happiness, bad days give me experiences - both are essential to life.
Happiness keeps me sweet, trials make me strong, sorrows keep me human,
failures make me humble, success keeps me loving but God keeps me going."
Welcome to my website, please make yourself at home.
While creating my website, I was torn when thinking about how it ďshouldĒ look. It used to be very personal, or perhaps ďamateurĒ is a better word, I'm not sure. So I've decided it is a creation of what I knew at the time and I did the best I could. I am always thinking of ways to change the pages, as I remember how I wanted them to be unique from any others. I strive to do my best however, I've never taken a class on how to create a website so it's far from being a professionally done website. Please know, while I aim for the words to be original, there is a lot of information taken from other websites on the world wide web that are honest and true. If ever you have a comment, suggestion or even a question, feel free to email me and let me know. Like you perhaps, I am not perfect. There may be errors, spelling or otherwise. Again, feel free to email me and give me your expression.
How my website began...
I became a stay at home mom, quitting my full-time job in February of 2000. After working full time all of my life, I wasn't sure what I would do all day while my (3) kids were in school.
I was seeing a wonderful therapist during this time and I had written a letter to one of my daughters. I showed it to my therapist and she asked me to send it in to Chicken Soup for the Soul. I thought she was somewhat foolish but when I got home I decided to heed her advice. While submitting the letter to the Chicken Soup for the Soul Website, I found the teen depression message boards (I didn't even know what message boards were at the time). There were many boards under the heading "Tough Stuff." I started reading posts on the depression and suicide boards written by teens. Many were suicidal, and using self-injury to deal with their emotional pain. What I found most disturbing, is the fact that they were scared and alone and it appeared they didn't know who to turn to for help. There was a moderator or two but they weren't doing anything as far as responding to these kids.
For a couple days, I just read posts and wondered if the teens would be upset if I chose to offer help or offer to just be there for them. I took a chance and introduced myself. I had to come up with a screen name for the message boards and chose "illstandbyyou" (this is where the name of my soon to be website came from) as that song was on the radio (by the Pretenders) and I loved it! It seemed to fit at the time as well. I also let them know my age and a little more about me.
I was nervous but hopeful they would accept me as a "friend" and that's when I received the surprise (and blessing) of my life! Teens came running to me! They told me they were depressed and how they want to just die. I also learned about self injury as I'd never even heard of it before. I found myself on the message boards day and night. I felt the need to be there so they would have an adult to vent to, and they did! I was thrilled and then realized this has to be my passion and a wonderful gift from God! From writing a letter to seeing my therapist and showing her the letter, I found teens in need of "someone", an adult. I remember Kimberly Kirberger, one of the authors for Chicken Soup for the Soul, emailing me and she wasn't very nice! She wanted me off their message boards as they already have moderators and I'm not welcome because I'm not a teenager. Well I emailed her back telling her these teens need someone and their moderators were worthless! She was not happy and we had several rather nasty emails back and forth to each other.
Eventually, one of the teens I met on these boards, asked me if I wanted my own website with message boards. She said I should have one and she can help me start one. I said sure, why not? So she started it, and mind you, this was back in the year 2000 when the internet was very new (especially to me!). She did a little html and a few words for my first page, and I looked at what she had done. I thought, this is really cool!! Then, she went missing for a while. One thing about me is I'm not very patient when it comes to some things! So I searched the internet and figured out how to create my website on my own! I was having a blast figuring it out but was happy when the teen who helped me start it came back for some much needed advice! I didn't have a clue how to even copy and paste! And then to find out some things are just so much easier than I imagined them to be and was even more thrilled! I have to admit even now in 2017, I have a tough time lining things up and putting pictures in the place I want them to be! But hey, I really don't think it's "that" important! As long as I have correct and up to date information, I don't worry too much about it...I think about it...I just don't worry! Life's too short and I'm on a mission!!
Then I found out that every day in the United States alone, 14 teens commit suicide. It is the second leading cause of death for teens in the United States. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for teens in Minnesota. I knew something had to be done!
Many teens are afraid to talk to their parents, while some have parents who do not even care. I am not a professional, I have no degrees behind my name and I am not trying to replace anyoneís parents. I only want to be there and be willing to listen to those who feel they cannot go on one more day and hopefully convince them to live and get the help they need in "real" life. I have been very fortunate, kids are reaching out to me with open arms.
I spread the word (on every message board I could find) that I was available for anyone who needed an ear to listen to their pain and their fears. In three months, there had been 3,000 visitors to my site and from 2000 to 2003, there were 150,000 hits. Unfortunately, because I was living off of a lump sum of money I had, it ran out and I had to find a job. I had a board of directors and we had weekly or bi-weekly meetings. We did several fundraisers including a radio charity marathon where we raised $8,000 and a ton of office equipment including desks, chairs and really nice file cabinets! Oh my gosh it was so much fun and so exciting!! My dream was to get a small office and write grants so I could find a way to pay myself some sort of salary. I did write some grants but really had no clue what I was doing! Once again the internet helped a ton! I even went to a couple fancy offices where people wanted to "maybe" give me a grant. I didn't get one but planned on moving forward regardless! When I was in the middle of all of this and was donated the office furniture, I had a three bedroom townhouse with a double garage so I could store it all. I'll admit managing money has never been a strong suit of mine (not even a little bit!) and because I didn't have a "job", I had to move. I moved to a smaller place for about 6 months and stored my office furniture in a mini storage. Well, even though I was working, I moved again to an even smaller two bedroom apartment. I was divorced and sadly couldn't afford to pay for the mini storage anymore...I lost all that beautiful furniture and cried like a baby and felt horribly guilty as so many awesome people donated it to me. But! I am stronger than some might believe and I'm back at it knowing wonderful things will happen with my nonprofit website, furniture or no furniture!
I wrote quite a few articles to my local Newspaper and to the St. Paul Pioneer Press about teen suicide and bullying. Me and my AWESOME volunteers were in a parade and had a booth in the Great Grove Get Together in Cottage Grove. The Quest in downtown Minneapolis (I believe it's gone now but it was a huge venue for bands!) donated their entire place to us including bouncers and bartenders! There were 5 bands who played...they didn't want to be paid, they just wanted beer and pizza! Haha...they got it!! They were awesome! I was also on the local News twice! The 5:00pm News on KARE11 and the 10:00pm News on WCCO!! Don Shelby introduced me and my story (I was so excited and honored they cared!) and I was the SECOND story at the top of the Newscast! It must have been a slow day in the News world? The way you get on the News when you REALLY believe something needs to be shared, is to email them over and over until they respond! Never did I think I'd be on the News!! The people who poo-pooed me were some schools I wanted to talk at. Because I wasn't a "professional" I was not wanted. I did however, speak to seniors for a full day at the Apple Valley High School! God Bless them for inviting me!
I did have to start my site over from scratch when I lost my dot.com from nonpayment to a (dating site of all things!) and changed my site to a dot.org. It made sense when I realized dot.com's were for businesses and dot.org were for organizations such as mine. I do wish however, I had my old message boards to go back and read, but I suppose it's only for my own selfish needs.
Beginning in May of 2000, I have volunteered my every day and every night to these kids with very little time off. I do this because I WANT to and am NOT looking for any type of sympathy. I do it because there is such a need and I remember how very painful my life was as a teen. It is my goal to help kids now so they do not have to wait until they are my age to be content with who they are.
I have been diagnosed with major depression, anxiety, PTSD and a few years ago they said I may have borderline personality disorder...not sure I agree with that though! Fortunately however, I am on medication to help but I also need to be mindful of my day to day thoughts and remind myself when some of my thoughts are a part of my illnesses. My moods can change quickly and I have to be honest, there are times it's hard to get back on track with my thinking. But, I never give up trying to improve myself. I'm also an Empath...you can read about that
here if you're not sure what it is. What I find most common in myself, being an empath, is I become very distraught when others are in pain and I have a lot of compassion to those who are hurting, and I'm very intuitive. People have asked me, how do you help others who are hurting if you hurt or if you're depressed...my answer is always "it's God working through me". It is my passion to help others because I know how horrible mental illness can be.
My past is filled with many ups and downs. I will admit there are days where I am still haunted with the downs, at least with certain areas of it. I have had many years of therapy and I continue to go when I feel the need. Between the ages of seven and twelve, I was sexually abused by two family members. It didn't last the entire time, one was one incident and the other I honestly don't remember as of yet how long it lasted.
The incident I'm having trouble remembering, was done by my uncle who committed suicide when I was about the age of eleven. As I'm able to recall any memories I will add them here. The "one incident" I am not ready to make public and I'm not sure I ever will be. The sexual abuse ended with any family members and was replaced with high school boys and one married man whom I actually thought I was in love with. I promise to come back and write about this abuse more thoroughly.
I didnít really experience any bullying in high school, it was more about ďmeĒ not fitting in and being very insecure and shy. Luckily I had two good friends and eventually a boyfriend.
My boyfriend quit school and went into the army in our senior year and it broke my heart. He asked me to come to Germany, where he was stationed, and marry him, but I was young and had met someone else I was "in love" with which broke his heart. Being in love as a teen is quite a roller coaster! A lot of broken hearts for all. One day, senior skip day, I walked out of school and went down to a creek with some guys I knew. It was very private and Iíd been there many times before. This time would be different. The guys I was with decided to throw me into the shallow creek where I fell and landed on the large and rather sharp rocks. One of the guys came into the creek with me and held a knife to my throat and continually pushed me down. I was in tears while the guys watching laughed. Eventually, he took the knife and cut my top off. I was humiliated and very scared.
Before long, up on top of a hill where you could hardly see through the trees, someone shouted out to leave me alone. Whoever this guy was (who may have saved my life or from being raped) told me to run up the hill to him. I cannot remember who it was who helped me but I really wish I could. He was a hero to me and was somehow able to get the other guys to leave me alone. I'll be forever grateful to him!
Throughout high school, my life changed, but not for the better. I began drinking and taking many different drugs. I ran away and experienced things I soon regretted. I didnít understand what life was all about, and I donít think my parents knew how depressed and lonely I felt. They did their best to help me but nothing made me feel better. I missed out on some of the best years of my life because of my depression and insecurities.
At 19 I was married and had my first child at the age of 20. My husband was verbally, physically and sexually abusive. He continually told me I was stupid, ugly and fat. Verbal abuse can do a lot of damage to your mind when you hear it day after day. Any self-esteem I may have had was gone. He would not let me have friends over and I could not go out without him. Soon any friends I may have had were gone.The physical abuse was mainly pushing or shoving me if I didn't do something the exact way he wanted it done. For instance, when I vacuumed the living room and had those stupid lines vacuums make, if I dare walk on the carpet and RUIN those lines, he'd come and push me out of the living room and he would make me vacuum again. Another time, he'd painted the kitchen. After dinner, I was doing the dishes and splashed a little water on his newly painted wall. He came up to me, shoved me away from the sink and said: "You can't even do dishes right!" And yet another time, I went into the laundry room and he didn't like the way I shut the door...he said I slammed it. He came running in there, grabbed my arms and shoved me up against the wall so my feet weren't touching the floor. He screamed in my face...I'll never forget the words..."If you EVER try and wreck my house again you will get it a lot worse than this". It was actually OUR house and I was the one who paid the down payment but he turned into a man I will hate for the rest of my life (I'm sorry but he's the only person I know who I cannot forgive).
The sexual abuse came in the form of raping me whenever he felt the need. He did things to me sexually that was excruciatingly painful. When he was done with me he would roll over and go to sleep while I went to the bathroom and cried. Believe it or not, I actually wanted and suggested we see a marriage counselor before giving up. The night before we had our first appointment, I asked him why he didn't "like" me. I told him I thought I was a pretty good catch! He looked at me, very seriously, and said "I AM GAY!" WHAT???!!!! I said to him that he can't be...and does he mean bisexual. He just told me I don't know anything about being gay and went to bed!!! End of discussion!!! What the hell was I supposed to do with that??!! We still went through with the marriage counselor the next day...stupid? I suppose but I was only 23!! What did I know? We met the counselor and I said "before we start I have to ask my (sick) husband something." So I looked at him and asked straight out..ARE YOU GAY?? He laughed his horrid sick laugh and said "you KNOW I was just kidding!" Bastard!! I sucked it up and sat through the session with the counselor. We had another session the following week (I know, don't start throwing things at me!) but my husband didn't show up. The counselor looked at me and said..."Julie, do you want a divorce?" I said "YES" and cried my eyes out.
After being married 3 years, I finally got up the courage to leave that "asshole" (trying to keep it clean here). I was scared to death to leave him. I was afraid I wouldn't be able to raise my daughter on my own, financially anyway. I had a great job and made good money but I was still very afraid. I was out however, I did fine and was very happy to be away from him.
Eventually, I was suicidal A LOT! I was so in love with my daughter but I still just wanted to die. There had already been two suicides in my family (an uncle and cousin). I remember how very sad it was, however, I don't remember anyone saying how very wrong it is. I tried to kill myself twice, but when I did, it scared the hell out of me. I was in the psych ward of the hospital a few times but that didnít help. Nothing helped. Why was this happening to me? I was lonely, lost, and afraid. I remember times where I was afraid to leave my apartment. I was so afraid of life and I didnít want anyone to see me this way. I fought very hard to just make it through the day.
Never getting the proper help I needed, I began drinking more and more. It helped me get through the day. My escape from this world where I thought I did not belong. Even though I remarried and had 2 more children, right after, the drinking continued to escalate. I attempted to kill myself again when I was in my early 30ís. My oldest daughter found me in my car with the engine running and the garage door closed. How very sad for her to see me this way. I suppose if I had really wanted to die, I would have done something a little more drastic. But I didnít want to die, I wanted the pain to go away. However, the more I drank, the more I wanted to die.
I continued to let everyone down, and I thought I was a failure, still.
It wasnít until May of 1996 that I had had enough. I committed myself to an alcohol treatment center for 30 days. My life finally changed, this time for the better. I started going to AA and found a wonderful therapist. I now love life and am at peace with who I am. There are many reasons for my pain, but I choose not to go into all of it right now. I have no intention to place blame on anyone, I am only relieved to finally understand and I am ever so grateful to be alive.
My goal for the rest of my life is to help teens who are depressed and suicidal. To help them stop cutting and injuring themselves to deal with their pain. It breaks my heart to see anyone have to go through this. I have lost many years of my life because I was depressed and didnít get the right help. I do however, have many years to come where I can use my experience and help teens get the proper help. There is no reason why anyone should suffer or go through pain as I did. Life will always have its ups and downs, but if you suffer from depression, there is help out there, and I will help you find it.
The public also needs to be reminded that depression is not something to be ashamed of, or if you self-injure you are not a freak, you are in pain, plain and simple. Depression is dealt with the very best we know how. If we are not taught the proper ways, we will do whatever we can to run from it. Itís not our fault we are depressed, we do not choose to be this way. What we need is unconditional love and understanding. Someone to take our hand and lead us in the right direction. Teens are not always just going through a phase, many are deeply depressed and we need to recognize the difference. Children are our future, if we as adults donít provide them with the help they need, who will?
Reach out to someone today. If nothing else, greet them with a smile and let them know you care.
One more thing, remember God, remember to pray,
He listens, we just have to be quiet enough to hear Him speak.
One more thing, remember God, remember to pray,
Mental Health Guidelines in Minnesota
Insight on depression (Please read this it may really help)