Mental Health Awareness & National Scrapbooking Month – A Creative and Personal Journey

Mental Health Awareness & National Scrapbooking Month – A Creative and Personal Journey is what we have for you today. I decided to combine the two to create a beautiful layout of my son thus bringing National Scrapbooking Month and Mental Health Awareness together.

I suffer from depression….

as do others in our family. My son suffers from severe depression. He is one of the bravest, strongest and most amazing men I know. I am taking this time to share his story, with his permission, in hopes that even if it helps or educates just one person, it was worth it.

My son Christian is one of the most intelligent people I know and truthfully has been since he was 3 1/2 and reading at second grade level.

No, I am not kidding.

Amazing, right? In 4th grade he was officially diagnosed with ADHD (I also was and have the same) and we were both placed on medication. Christian was NEVER or EVER WILL BE a cookie cutter kid.

Honestly, I wouldn’t want him to be.

He is creative, authentic, sweet, caring, compassionate, loving, intelligent, funny, silly down to earth, sensitive and he suffers from severe depression. Sometimes, it hits him like a brick for no rhyme or reason, sometimes things can trigger his depression. The great news, he has a great team of doctors, family and real friends that truly love and care about him. They care about his well being, support him and most of all try to lift him up. These are important factors.

It is important who the company is that you keep.

Christian struggled with numerous issues as anyone in high school does. Specifically, where does he fit in. He decided it was easier for him to create a persona who everyone thought he should be than to be OK with who he is. He didn’t think anything he was or would pretend to be would ever be good enough so this didn’t help either.

Insecurities in high school.

Pretty common but they don’t effect everyone the same way. This is when the depression became more and more apparent. Instead of dealing with his feelings, he chose to stuff them which turned to even worse depression. He then chose to use substances to ease the pain he was feeling. This didn’t help, it just exacerbated the problem and prolonged a solution.

There were a few incidents that happened that really opened our eyes to how large of a problem it was.

Sadly, the new normal kept changing and by the time we realized how bad it had gotten, it was obvious that there had to be action taken.  Little did I know it saved his life. Somehow, someway, Jon and I were strong enough to make the hard decisions and do what we thought was best.  As parents, you never know but Christian himself has said that it saved his life and he is grateful.


He went through rehab and IOP (Intensive Outpatient Therapy) as well as going to see his doctors regularly. Between that, talking to peers in the same situation, opening up and working on him and how to process his emotions in a healthy way, he continues to be a beautiful work in progress. Just like the rest of us. He also LOVES comedy. The more inappropriate, the better. Yep… APPLE doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?

Christian suffers from severe depression. Period.

This is part of who he is and that is OK. It is part of who I am too. Still OK. Christian now uses the tools from his therapy and is more vocal about what he is feeling.

Although it may be difficult for me as a Mom or anyone for that matter, to hear that your child is having intrusive thoughts.

It is the HEARING of these comments come out of his mouth versus when my husband had to pull a belt off of his neck that is BEAUTIFUL MUSIC TO MY EARS as you can imagine. Mental illness and mental disorders are no joke.

They are not to be taken lightly.

It does help to get therapy and a good medical team to help you with a great treatment plan. If you think something is wrong with you, a loved one or you have concerns, ask questions. SEEK HELP. Offer support, give a hug, lend an ear, You never know how much that could mean to someone. It could change their life forever or even save it entirely.

Below is a picture and post that Christian shared on Instagram in 2017. I shared it on my IG page a few times as well but in case you don’t have Instagram, I copied it here.


Depression and anxiety are all very personal mental disorders . Everyone says: “If you need anything, don’t hesitate, I’ll be there for you. ” What they don’t understand is one in that situation probably won’t ask. Below is a look into my son Christian’s story. It’s about as raw and vulnerable as it gets. If you feel compelled, share your story in the comments. Feel free to repost this. Keep this going and reach out. As Christian has said, even if it helps just one person, it’s worth it. ❤ Shared from my son Christian’s Instagram post with his and my husbands blessing, of course. David would have been 54 in November.  He and Jon Mueller were only 18 months apart. He passed away December 24, 1984. Suicide effects everyone. Even people you haven’t met yet. ❤

#ACJwM #suicideprevention#youAREworthit #depressionisreal#talktosomeone #gethelp  

In Christian’s words…..

❤ This right here is my uncle’s band jacket from high school. it smells like moth balls like crazy but I don’t care. wearing it now just kinda makes me think about things. like, what if I had gone out how he did? what if I had succeeded when I tried to? I had always thought that it wouldn’t matter back in the day. like everyone would be relieved and not distraught, like it’d be a weight lifted off everyone’s shoulders and not more weight added on. but looking at all the pain and heartbreak it caused my family, and even the sadness it causes me, realizing I’ll never get to meet the man my father had so many great times with growing up, I now realize that I’m seeing it from the other side and that everything I thought before was absolute horseshit.

when you’re stuck down in that hole for so long, you can’t see anything but the carvings you made on the walls. all you listen to is the thoughts in your head telling you you’re not worth shit, you’re a burden to everyone, you won’t be missed when you’re gone.

I realize now that it’s all bullshit, every last bit of it is complete and utter bullshit. you are loved, and you do matter, more than you realize. and you will be missed, by everyone, even those who aren’t even alive yet. ❤

NOW, are you ready to get creative and celebrate Mental Health Awareness and National Scrapbooking Month? Let’s do this!

Supplies Needed for the Mental Health Awareness & National Scrapbooking Month – A Creative and Personal Journey Creation

A Creative Journey with Melissa Awareness Ribbon Set #1 Stamp Set

Acrylic Stamp Block

Black Ink

Journaling Pen

5 x 7 Picture

2 wallet sized pictures

Mat for Picture

Secondary Mat for picture


Dark Blue Ribbon

12″ x 12″ Decorative Scrapbook Paper

This is the paper I chose for this layout. I really love the texture and color palette for the Mental Health Awareness & National Scrapbooking Month – A Creative and Personal Journey Project.

Take out your ink, stamp block and paper to stamp on. Place the stamps on your stamping block.

Stamp your sentiments onto your paper for your Mental Health Awareness & National Scrapbooking Month Project.

Cut out your words. I purposely did not cut my words perfectly straight. I wanted to have them be a little bit imperfect.

Using your journaling pen, draw a rectangle around the stamped sentiment for your Mental Health Awareness & National Scrapbooking Month Project.

When I printed my pictures, I printed them on card stock not photo paper. I love the texture and how they blended better with the picture.

*Photos Courtesy of Giovanna Fernandez

Adhere your white paper to the back of your 5 x 7″ picture. Place adhesive on the back of the white matted paper and adhere it to the blue paper.

Take out your wallet photos. Place the two pictures on the right side of the photo. Be sure not to line them up. It’s part of the aesthetic of the creation.

Apply adhesive to the back of the ribbon.

Place the ribbon with the adhesive side down ensuring it is lined up.  Press the ribbon firmly down on your ribbon.

Apply adhesive to the back of the words.

Adhere the words along the ribbon strip. There is no particular order or shape that is cut.

WE FINISHED IT! How awesome is this?!

Now for this weeks giveaway! I am giving away a $15 store credit to our store to help you get creative!! It was so popular, we decided to do it again!

Be SURE you are a subscriber to our YouTube channel and to our Blog/E-mail list and make sure your names are matching so I can verify you are subscribed to both to enable you to be eligible to win! Winners announced next week so be sure and check back! Winners will be announced next week on our Mondays with Melissa blog post!

BE SURE TO check to see if you are a winner EVERY WEEK. If you do not contact me within two weeks, you forfeit your prize. Thank you for your understanding.

Now for last weeks giveaway! I am giving away a $15.00 store credit to our store!!

The winner is DAWN !!!

Winner, please send me your contact information via contact page on our website, which post you are a winner from and I will get your prize out to you! Thank you so much for being a YouTube follower and subscribing to our mailing list/blog posts!

Thank you for joining us for the Mental Health Awareness & National Scrapbooking Month – A Creative and Personal Journey Project. CHECK BACK NEXT WEEK TO SEE IF YOU ARE A WINNER!

Have a wonderful week and thank you for going on A Personal AND A Creative Journey with Melissa.



How Cancer Inspired A Creative Journey with Melissa

How Cancer Inspired A Creative Journey with Melissa is the story we have today. We do have a giveaway but no tutorials. I have had a few people ask me why and how I got started doing stamps and thought others may want to know too so I decided to share this with all of you. Just about everyone has had to deal with Cancer in way or another whether it be oneself, a loved one, a friend a friend of a friend, etc. There really isn’t anything that is inspiring about it however Cancer Inspired A Creative Journey with Melissa.

First, I should give you a little background on me. I grew up in Chicago and met my husband on a blind date in Chicago. We were introduced by my co-worker and Jon’s childhood friend that were dating. When we got married on June 18, 1994, I moved from Chicago to the St. Louis area where my hubby was from and living. We then ended up moving to California for my hubby’s work so that is how we landed here in LA.

Now.. back to Cancer Inspired A Creative Journey with Melissa … and YES THIS IS REALLY HOW I TALK LOL More than likely it is my ADHD (Seriously, I am diagnosed and on meds and SOMETIMES they help. LOL) ANYHOW, my Uncle Herb AKA UH lived in San Diego, CA since before I was born. Even though he lived quite a ways away, UH would always come out for large events like my prom (pictured above is my Dad on the left and UH on the right. Yes that is me in the middle) wedding, graduation, etc. He visited me when I was pregnant and after I had my kids too.

UH didn’t have children of his own but he was quite the cool Uncle. Once we moved to California, we grew closer in proximity and our relationship grew as well. My kids really admired him and had a great bond with him too.

I am VERY blessed to have a number of amazing people in my life that support me. Of course “My Boys” are my top three (my hubby and my two sons) and had a lot to do with the actual name of the business. Their first names are Austin, Christian and Jon, and with that A Creative Journey with Melissa was born in February 2011.

I was also fortunate to have the support of a number of others as well. I am ever so grateful for the support, love and encouragement. For a long time I had wanted to start my own stamp line but was too scared of failure, putting myself out there and really causing a financial burden on my family. I was not going to take a loan, (I never did either) or use money that I didn’t have on hand so I decided to scrap the idea. (A little paper crafting humor! LOL)

Unfortunately, in August of 2012 UH was diagnosed with cancer. Needless to say we were heart broken and it wasn’t looking very good.

UH had a wonderful group of friends and support system. I would also come out to visit and stay with him for a few days or even a few weeks when he was having a procedure or when he needed me.

One day while I was sitting with UH chatting after he had been recently been going though chemo in passing I said, “Someday, I am going to start my own stamp line…” and UH said, “If not now, when?”

Well, needless to say that lit a fire under me.  Can’t really argue with someone that has stage 4 cancer throughout his body including his brain. He really encouraged me to be the best I can be and supported me regardless. The questions of if I am going to fail and being scared turned into CAN I REALLY DO THIS? With the support of “My Boys” and of course UH and numerous others, the adventure began. I had been creating handmade items for a few years as a business but wanted to expand it to stamps.

UH and Cancer Inspired A Creative Journey with Melissa started with my first two set of stamps that I released. Specifically the second one. After he completed radiation, he was given a radiation diploma. He and I both thought it was cool how they tried to make a negative into a positive and with that the concept of Awareness Ribbon Stamp Sets were born. Awareness Ribbon #1 and Awareness Ribbon #2 were my first two stamp sets released and have since added Awareness Ribbon Stamp Set #3 – Ready for a Fight. UH lived in San Diego as I said and we live in LA. We would visit a few times a year but when he was diagnosed with Cancer, it was at least monthly if not weekly as time went on. My first stamp release was September 18, 2013. UH enjoyed watching me package my stamps and sending them out to my first set of customers! I was so excited and UH was too!

Sadly, the next day UH passed. I really think he waited to see the release and the success of the first day.

I have been inspired by numerous people in my Creative Journey in addition to UH.

Two friends of mine that have inspired me are Julie Gonzalez and Cristal (Pinky) Hobbs. They are amazing Moms that I have met. They are amazing, strong, intelligent women and they also have sons that have Autism. Julie’s son was diagnosed with Autism and she was participating in an Autism walk to raise awareness. This inspired me to create the above stamp set Awareness Ribbon Set #4 – Autism Awareness. A portion of this set supports the walk that Julie does every year in honor of her son Anthony.

I was inspired to create these two stamp sets Awareness Ribbon Set #5 – See Autism with your Heart and Awareness Ribbon Set #6 – Angels with Autism to raise awareness by Pinky. A portion of Angels with Autism is donated to a wonderful school program near and dear to Pinky’s heart. What amazing women they both are! I feel very blessed.

These cards were created using them!

Sign Language was spoken fluently in our home as my brother is deaf. My Dad and UH were brothers and both of their parents were deaf. It truly is a beautiful language and I thought what better way to inspire people to learn sign language then create stamps showcasing its beauty! I used the Sign Language Alphabet Stamp Set to create the above sentiment “Remember” for the scrapbook page I made with UH’s picture above.

We also have Sign Language Sentiments and Sign Language Sentiments 2

as well as Sign Language Alphabet Numbers and a closer pic of the Sign Language Alphabet stamp set.

We also have some amazing alphabet stamp sets that work perfectly with planners, cards, scrapbooks, project life and just about everything!

I love to create clean and simple cards and what I use are the Spring and Summer Holiday Celebrations and our Fall and Winter Holiday Sentiments stamp sets. Awesome for those creations needing a holiday sentiment.

Who doesn’t love coffee? I know I sure do and these stamp sets are perfect for your creations! We have the Coffee is my Liquid Therapy and the Coffee, Tea and Wine – OH MY! Stamp sets. They are so much fun to create with!

Here are close ups of two creations I made with them. I used recycled packaging for the left one and a penny for the slider on the right one! Be sure to check out my blog or YouTube channel to see how they were made!

Now for this weeks GIVEAWAY! We are giving away a $25.00 store credit to our store!!

I have had a number of people say how much they love these stamp sets for organizing, their planners, lists and just about everything else under the moon so I thought this would be the perfect prize for this week. You can pick out what YOU want!

To qualify to win, you must be BOTH:

A public follower on YouTube, subscribe to our mailing list/blog posts and you may also comment on this blog post for an additional entry to win! Winners will be announced next week on our Mondays with Melissa blog post!

If you do not contact me within two weeks of the announcement of winning, you will forfeit your prize. Thank you for your understanding.

NOTE: You must be subscribed to BOTH with MATCHING NAMES. If I am unable to match you with your subscription to both the email list and the YouTube Channel, you will miss your chance to win a prize. If I can’t decipher if you are a matching subscriber (if your profile doesn’t show publicly who you subscribe to) and I can’t confirm you have subscribed to both, I won’t be able to enter you in for the prize. **DO NOT COMMENT WITH YOUR ENTIRE EMAIL ADDY. Only give me the first 6 NOT INCLUDING YOUR HOST. Just enough for me to match your name will work perfectly.

 Here’s the GIVEAWAY from last weeks post which is

 the A Creative Journey with Melissa Everyday Alphabet Upper Case and Emoticon stamp set  and the winner is Andrea G!

We are also giving away the A Creative Journey with Melissa Awareness Ribbon #3 – Ready for a Fight Stamp Set  and the winner is Melissa M!

Andrea & Melissa,  please send me your contact information via contact page on our website, which post you are a winner from and I will get your prize out to you! Thank you so much for being a YouTube follower and subscribing to our mailing list/blog posts!

 We hope you enjoyed our How Cancer Inspired A Creative Journey with Melissa post and we hope you are inspired to do something you may not have the courage for. In the words of UH…. if not now, WHEN?

Have a wonderful week and thank you for going on A Creative Journey with Melissa.



It really has been three years…Remembering Uncle Herb

  I think that really says it all.

While remembering Uncle Herb, I can’t believe how time has flown by but yet stood still at the same time. So much has happened. So many things have changed and yet so much has stayed the same all wrapped up in 1065 days.

Uncle Herb was my dad’s brother. He moved to California in the 60’s from Chicago. He lived closer to us than anyone else in our family. We moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles and he was in San Diego. While remembering Uncle Herb… we didn’t see him as often as we would have liked.

Uncle Herb retired when he was 55.

Something that he would recommend to everyone if it is possible. He was a retired Police Sergeant and with his job, he had seen way too much of things he would prefer to forget. He retired early and really enjoyed life by traveling, kayaking and really experiencing the world that we live in. Now he was enjoying the world around him. When we did see him, he always had a story to tell from one of his traveling excursions. Boy did he have stories! Whether it was a story from a kayak trip, traveling or just stories of things that were important to him.  He really loved life. The legacy he left behind was great… one of the many life lessons he taught my boys was live life to the fullest.

Uncle Herb lived what he preached.

Uncle Herb was an amazing example and a man who will forever be remembered with love, fondness and gratitude.  Fondness because he always accepted me for who I was and who I wasn’t. He listened without judgment. We are grateful for the time we had with him although forever wouldn’t have been long enough. I am honored that he always believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself.

We all have a dream…

I always wanted to start my own stamp line. Honestly, I never thought I would it was just a pipe dream that really wouldn’t ever come to fruition. That was until I talked to him. He was diagnosed with cancer in August of 2012. As a result of one of our talks during his treatment he basically said, “Miss, if not now, when?” (Missie was a nickname when I was younger and he was one of the VERY FEW that are still allowed to call me that. Funny enough my husband doesn’t even know who she is! LOL 😉

His statement basically stopped me in my tracks.

Well, considering he was going through radiation at the time I thought I really need to LISTEN to what he was saying. He has always lived life to the fullest although uncertain of what lie ahead. So I called around, did all of the leg work and started creating drawings for my stamps. I wrote down ideas and after quite some time, some mistakes mistakes mistakes. (Did someone say mistakes?) Of course there were even more mistakes.. I had my stamps manufactured, organized an awesome group of fabulous supportive creative women that made up the Creative Crew (design team) and was well on my way to beginning my journey of my stamp line release.

My stamp line grand opening release was on September 18, 2013.

The first release included the stamp sets that were inspired by Uncle Herb.

The first two stamp sets were Awareness Ribbon stamp set #1 and Awareness Ribbon Stamp Set #2.

Awareness Ribbon Set #1 Awareness Ribbon Set #2

Awareness Ribbon Stamp Set #1         Awareness Ribbon Stamp Set #2

All of my Awareness Ribbon stamp sets have been in honor of my Uncle Herb and his fight against cancer.

Specifically, the Awareness Ribbon Stamp Set #2 .

He wasn’t doing well and had called me September 17th. As I always did, I asked him if he needed me to come to San Diego. He said Yes. I knew it wasn’t good because he rarely said he needed help and asked me if I would come to San Diego. We (my boys and I-including my husband of course!) often came whether he wanted help or not! Well, with tears in my eyes and a very shaky voice I called my husband at work. He really is my rock. Without skipping a beat he left work,  picked the kids up from school asI packed up everything I needed for my release as well as my undetermined extended stay and we were on the road in less than two hours. Although he wasn’t feeling well,

Uncle Herb was very excited about my stamp release!

These were created with Awareness Ribbon Stamp Set #1




 These were created by Sharon with Awareness Ribbon Stamp Set #2

This was created using the Awareness Ribbon Set #2 Stamp Set       This was created using the Awareness Ribbon Set #2 Stamp Set This was created with the Awareness Ribbon Set #2 Stamp Set  This was created with the Awareness Ribbon Set #2 Stamp Set

He watched me get prepared for my release, package my items for sale and get everything organized even though he wasn’t feeling well. When the stamp release day came, he watched me accept orders and prepare them for shipment from San Diego where he lived. He really shared in the excitement that day and I was ever so grateful for him to be able to share this with me.

Sadly, he passed away September 19, 2013. This being the day after my stamp release and stamp business grand opening.

Much of the time within the last year of his life was spent with him while he wasn’t feeling well, under treatment or recovering from surgery, I learned so much from him during our time together. The stories, wisdom, unbelievable courage, strength and perseverance. I am so grateful that he was able to enjoy his support and influence for me come to fruition and watch the first day grand opening of my stamp business.
remembering-uncle-herb-aWhen remembering Uncle Herb…

If there is anything I have learned from the loss of Uncle Herb it is remember what is important. When we are remembering Uncle Herb weather happy or sad, we share. We talk about it. We share stories. He would never want us to live in sadness. Life was too precious and if we were living in regret or sadness, we weren’t living life to the fullest.

Remember what matters to you most.

Whatever that is, live your life with that which is instrumental in happiness and success in your life.  Surround yourself with people that support you and lift you up. Be selective with those that don’t. Your time is valuable. Tell those friends, family and loved ones you have in your life that you love them. Hug your kids. LAUGH. A LOT. Tell them they are important. BE PRESENT. Be grateful. Listen more. Talk less. Live and Love to the fullest. Tell the people that you love how much they mean to you because tomorrow is never promised.

While remembering Uncle Herb the biggest thing I want to do is not be sad but do what he would have wanted and

Celebrate Uncle Herbs life!

He would not want us to live in sorrow. What better way to celebrate Uncle Herbs life than have a coupon for the stamp sets he inspired me to start!  All Stamp Sets are 25% off! This would exclude bundles and items already on sale.

Enter in coupon code UncleHerb at check out! Coupon good until 9-22-16

We appreciate you visiting today. We hope you will share your story of inspiration, hope and courage. Thank you for going on A Personal and A Creative Journey with Melissa.



An Olympics Kind of Year

An Olympics Kind of Year is what 2016 is and boy for the past year plus we have felt like we have been tried as if we are preparing for one.

Although we aren’t in Rio

we feel like we have been competing to win for the last year or more. Between deaths in the family, surgeries, illness and other health issues, personal challenges, professional challenges and depression to name a few, its been challenging to say the least.  The good thing is, no matter what we face, even if it is An Olympics Kind of Year, we face it head on. We know that the only way we fail is if we don’t try so we endure what we must and keep on keeping on.

My son Christian

has had a challenging few years.  It’s been An Olympics Kind of Year times two or so. I have learned a number of amazing lessons from him and one of which is, If not now, when? With that, I have posted the above video. Whether you are a Mother, Father, Aunt, Cousin or a just an everyday caring human, no one wants to see anyone in harms way. Well, my son wanted to challenge himself. He wanted to bungee jump. Not JUST bungee jump but to bungee jump off of the


How about a little perspective on what that looks like, right? I know… I felt nauseous too!

Yes. He did. Yes, I said OK and worse… We even paid for it. I hated the idea because I am his Mom but really loved the idea that he wanted to challenge himself and conquer something of his choice. And BOY DID HE!

Here are some of the pictures of his adventure. If you want to see the video, be sure to check it out above!

Bungee e

Getting harnessed up to jump!

Bungee f

He’s READY! No, I am NOT!

Bungee i

I don’t think I even watched him jump… I was really scared!

Bungee g

He jumped and is coming back up! Phew! I can breathe again!


Almost at the platformBungee a

Getting back onto the platform..Bungee b

Bungee d

Gotta get him unhooked.

Bungee h

He did it and is safe and sound!Bungee c

I think he is a little proud of himself… AS HE SHOULD BE! LOVE IT!

The lesson? If not now, when?

Can you imagine if all of the people in the Olympics said I can’t. The Olympics themselves is a testament to what can be accomplished through hard work and dedication. The only voice you have stopping you is YOURS. No one can tell you no unless you allow them.

What are you waiting for?

What do you want to do? What’s on your bucket list? I challenge you to create a bucket list and accomplish just two of those things in 2016. Well, what are you waiting for? I would love to hear what you are going to put on your list.  Just remember no matter what challenge you face.. YOU CAN DO IT! And again, what are you waiting for?


ADHD The Struggle is Real – A Personal Journey with Melissa Part #6

For Part 1 of the series Click Here

For Part 2 of the series Click Here

For Part 3 of the series Click Here

For Part 4 of the series Click Here

For Part 5 of the series Click Here


Sorry, it’s been a while. Had some important family stuff going on and everything just about came to a halt. Things are getting back on track slowly but surely so here I am… I’MMMMMMM BACK!!!  So last we left off I heard the horrible sentence….”Mom, my feet are cold again” …………. Needless to say I was FREAKED OUT! I looked at his feet and saw they were white again so in a matter of seconds which felt like hours these thoughts went through my mind –

  1. We now know that he isn’t cold-he is inside the house
  2. He hasn’t been riding his motorcycle all day like he had last time

So that’s exactly what we did. We warmed his feet up, color came back and immediately called his doctor. Dr. A is an AWESOME pediatrician. She has known the boys since we moved here in 2000 and really listens to the boys/our concerns. Some people may call their doctor a lot or may be whiners but I am not one of those people. So when I called the pediatrician about this issue (obviously it was serious too) I got a return call back within a half hour. I explained the situation and she wanted to see him so we went in to do so that same day. She checked him out and said although she can’t be sure, he is presenting with symptoms that are consistent with Raynaud’s (ray-NOHZ) disease/syndrome. She suggested we see a specialist and I said we will go to UCLA. By the time we got back home it was too late to call UCLA for an appointment. (Side Note: Jon has gone to UCLA for kidney issues and they are WONDERFUL so there wasn’t a question in my mind where we wanted to go) The next morning I called and tried to get in for an appointment. I told them that it was under the pediatricians recommendation that he be seen asap. They didn’t think he could be seen for a week. Yes, I know that is pretty quick for UCLA BUT it was MY BABY (again, yes I know I know) and I didn’t want to wait. The lady was so sweet at UCLA. She said if I could have the doctor call them, that would help. I am sure tons of people say the same as I did to do the same as I was hoping for. I said I would call the doctor. I called back to Dr. A’s office and spoke to her nurse C. C was so sweet she took my info and had Dr. A call within 15 minutes. I called back and we had an appointment in two days. YES TWO DAYS!!  SO BLESSED AND GRATEFUL BEYOND WORDS!

In the meantime, I started thinking about what could it be, what has changed, what was different? Like a brick wall, it hit me. Christian was having a real hard time concentrating with school back in October. When we talked to his psychiatrist in October, Dr. S., he had suggested that he take focalin along with his current medicine for his ADHD which is strattera. Strattera is actually what both he and I had been on for quite some time for ADHD. I got to thinking and called Dr. S. I left a message and he called me back. I asked him if he thought there could be any correlation between the two meds and this incident. He said no. We hung up and something was still pulling at me but I figured I would just wait until we talked to the doctor at UCLA. Maybe they will know of something or have better insight? Of course it was the longest two days of my life… as I am sure you can understand.

So on February 23, 2012, both of my boys, hubby and I drove to UCLA. We felt it was important that Austin go along as well because it is his brother,  we knew it would help Christian to have him there to support his brother and most of all – Austin would be worried sick about his brother and wouldn’t be able to concentrate at school anyway. Besides, we don’t have any family that lives really close by – it’s the four of us.. Do you hear a Fantastic 4?? LOL Anyway, that’s just how we roll. We left early in the morning to go to the doctor because well, we live in California. Our traffic is AWFUL. It worked out really well. We had an extra hour to spare so we parked and walked a block or so to a local coffee shop and got some coffee and breakfast. We talked and laughed… A LOT. I am sure it helped to keep Christian’s mind from worrying.. I think it helped all of us really. After breakfast we walked up and checked in. We then were called and we went in to see the doctor. They took a history, asked questions and really did a thorough job of trying to figure out what was going on. We started talking to the doctor about the focalin / strattera situation wondering if this was an issue. The Doctors eyes lit up and she said she had a patient last week that had the same type of issues, symptoms and YEP! You guessed it.. Focalin/strattera were involved. She suggested C stop taking Focalin and see what happens and also ordered blood tests which we went to get after we left her office (those results were fine.) Christian hasn’t taken Focalin and doesn’t seem to have any issues like that anymore. His feet get cold, they turn colors but do not lose circulation and trust me, I check.

Here are some pictures from our UCLA trip. They aren’t the best but I thought I would include them in here anyway 🙂 My how phone picture quality has changed just in a few years!

On our way...

On our way…

Comic relief for Christian

Comic relief for Christian

Best Friends and Brothers



A Sigh of relief and now let the fun begin!

A sigh of relief and now let the fun begin!

Oh geez!!!!  I forgot to tell you the best part. When we got back, we called Dr. S to let him know what happened and we told him about the Focalin/Strattera issue. He said “No, that’s not the issue.” I said, “The doctor said she had the same type of issue with a boy around C’s age and had the same results with the same meds.” He said, “UCLA doesn’t know what they are talking about.” Yes, I know what you are thinking and yes I thought it too but rather than argue with him (I KNOW A MIRACLE, RIGHT.. SHE CAN BE TAUGHT!) I just let it go… The thing is…. I should have trusted my gut at that moment…. I should have known better…………..

This is what my kids call foreshadowing……. to be continued


ADHD The Struggle is Real – A Personal Journey with Melissa Part #5

For Part 1 of the series Click Here

For Part 2 of the series Click Here

For Part 3 of the series Click Here

For Part 4 of the series Click Here

So we last left off with Christian starting Middle School. He was really looking forward to it and excited about the new environment, more freedom and change in classes which included electives. ELECTIVES! He ACTUALLY was able to PICK what HE wanted to do… and there was quite the variety available. He couldn’t wait. I on the other hand, could have waited another ten years to not have to do this. My boy was growing up and as much as I loved the young man he was becoming, all I could see walking away as we dropped him off the first day of school was my little boy.. Heart breaking.. But I knew we would all be OK. I mean he wasn’t the FIRST kid to go to middle school, right?

The first few days were interesting for him. Much larger campus, trying to figure out where your classes are and although I am sure there is a purpose and a reason the buildings are set up as they are, they didn’t make any sense to anyone else new there.. at least not yet. One of the most exciting things for him was that they played music… REAL NEW MUSIC during nutrition (AKA recess LOL and yes every time I said that, he would CRINGE!) and lunch so it was a great way for the kids to hang out with their friends, unwind and even dance a little of their wiggles off.  He thoroughly enjoyed the new school, felt more mature (his words) and thought that this school year was going to be great. For me, that was truly a gift. To hear that he ACTUALLY WANTED to go to school. Yep! I thought for sure this was the awesome start and new beginning for Christian’s school career that we had hoped for… And it was. At first.

Christian did well for the first 4-6 weeks. He was BORED and said as much. Regardless, he still had to do homework and although he felt it mundane, it was a necessary .. well .. Evil if you will. It was a great way to show him responsibility, follow through, maturity and basically what he will have to do in the future when he goes to college and has a job. No one does everything they want to all of the time so this would be great training. It is difficult to explain to a 6th grader that this life lesson and tool will help him throughout his life. All he wanted to do is hang out with his friends. Didn’t we all at that age?

We went to back to school night. I think it is imperative for EVERY parent. Make the time if it is at all possible. If you aren’t familiar or don’t remember what that is, it is when the school is open for parents to come and check out their classes, schedules and meet their child’s teachers. We always felt it imperative to go to these and other meetings at the school because we wanted to be sure that the teachers knew we were part of the team. We wanted to work WITH the teachers to ensure our children’s success. This shows the teachers that they aren’t alone and know that we are all in this together. Having support at home is key for a teacher and a students success. I remember specifically going to Christian’s math class. He had an awesome teacher, Mr. H. He was kind, mild mannered, soft spoken and most of all patient. He enjoyed Christian but said he had some issues with turning in his work.  Unfortunately, this specific teacher didn’t utilize the campus portal (computer program where parents can access their child grades, hw, etc.) as much as we had hoped. Christian was missing some assignments but we weren’t aware because there wasn’t anything listed on the portal. Needless to say we were taken aback by this. Christian had already told us where he sat. I asked the teacher where homework was to be turned in. He told me by pointing. (see diagram) I told Mr. H. that more than likely he will have issues with turning in his work. It is across the room AND not even close to Christians sight to even consider it may be something he has to do. Yes, EVEN with EVERYONE getting up and turning something in, it still may not cross his mind. Mr. H. was accommodating and moved Christian’s seat. Not always is this a possibility and not always will it work. It did help him and he did turn in more homework but still it was a struggle. We realized Christian was having a hard time because his meds were no longer working. It seemed a few hours after his school day started, his ADHD was in full force with no medicine in sight. This we also learned at open house. Another reason why it is crucial to go to these events. You may be able go get or GIVE insight on something that may not even be a consideration or a concern.



  • Be involved! A teacher is going to be much more likely to help and be receptive if you show them that it is important to YOU that your child succeeds. It also shows your child that you CARE. Even though we may think that is obvious, it isn’t always to a child. Invest the time in your child’s education.
  • Know your child’s strengths and weaknesses. See if their classrooms accommodate them and if not, talk to the teacher. Not always will accommodations be able to be made but the teacher can at least be aware to help guide your child in the right direction. If you need to ensure accommodations are made, speak with your child’s counselor. They can help you with your concerns and needs. They are there to HELP!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. You will never know if you DON’T ASK!

Christian’s 6th and 7th grade years went well. He was working on improving in some areas but we are still working out the kinks with his meds, struggles with homework, etc. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee once you find a medicine it will be a forever one. And to add entertainment to the mix…you add growing and hormones to it… Boy do you have a bag of craziness to deal with. It can be overwhelming for everyone especially the child. Christian then went on to 8th grade. I couldn’t believe it. He was going to be in high school next year! It just didn’t make sense! How could my first baby boy be going to high school next year? Well, it was true…. But first we needed to get through 8th grade.

Christian’s 8th grade school year started well and then with communication with his teachers, it seemed there may be a need for a medication intervention. His meds weren’t working as well and he wasn’t able to focus in class. Luckily, we had great communication with certain teachers (others weren’t as.. uh shall we say.. receptive) and took Christian to see his doctor to adjust his meds. Three months later on a dirt bike riding vacation, Christian said his feet were cold. Understandably when it was in the low 30’s outside and he had been riding his motorcycle all day. Anyone would be cold, right? He took off his socks and to our HORROR, his feet were WHITE. I don’t mean pale, I mean W H I T E. Like LOSS OF CIRCULATION- COMPLETELY WHITE. Needless to say, we were quite scared. We warmed his feet up and they slowly regained color and his feet were once again warm. We thought for sure he better wear warmer socks or else he is going to have this issue again. We told him to keep an eye on them and I would check his feet daily to see if there were any issues and fortunately, there weren’t.

Then one day, Christian was laying on our couch doing is homework after school and he said, “Mom, my feet are cold again” …………. to be continued


ADHD The Struggle is Real – A Personal Journey with Melissa Part #4

#ADHD The Struggle is Real – A Personal Journey with Melissa Part #4

For Part 1 of the series Click Here

For Part 2 of the series Click Here

For Part 3 of the series Click Here

As I drove my son to school a few days before his 5th grade year began, I asked him if he remembered why he was going to help Mrs. E this specific day. He said he did. He remembered he threw a rock and it hit her car so he was going to help her get ready for the first day of school as a payback for him throwing the rock. Oops, never told the first part of the story…I think I have gone a bit ahead of myself… I do that too often.. So let’s back up a second. My son threw this rock and it hit Mrs. E’s car. Mrs. E was going to be his teacher for the next school year. Unfortunately, she was on a field trip and wouldn’t be back until later that day or maybe fortunately? LOL We waited until after school and came into her room. She didn’t know anything about it. Needless to say, she was taken back by the story and not happy. Christian apologized and truthfully, I have no idea how she was so gracious just finding this out because I don’t think I could have been. The three of us walked to the car, she did see a mark on the hood of her car and said she would talk to her husband and let us know the next day how to proceed. Our kids are going to do things. Things that no one is proud of but unfortunately, it’s part of the journey. Sometimes it’s worse than others but there really can be lessons with each incident. Mrs. E was an awesome example of this. The next day we met with her and she said she talked to her husband and they said not to worry about it. It was a small spot and with driving she was sure there will be others so she accepted his apology. I said he needed to do something to try to make amends and this is how we came up with the helping before school started. It was a few days before the end of the year and granted, I didn’t want this hanging over my son’s head but ADHD or not, I also wanted to be sure there was a lesson there and consequences. Regardless if someone has ADHD or not, there are always consequences to ones actions whether it be positive or negative. Rules to follow, responsibilities, etc. Even though his impulsive behavior may have had a lot to do with his actions, one still needs to understand that there is cause and effect. Mrs. E could have been livid, been very stern with my son, refused to teach him, insisted on further punishment and oh the list goes on and on. She didn’t. She was so gracious, compassionate and understanding. She really was the true meaning of a teacher. I will never forget how she made this a teaching moment and not a demeaning one for my son. For this I will forever be grateful. He helped her for three hours with books, getting things organized and moving things around for her. She said it was helpful and I am glad it was handled the way it was. Not every person or teacher for that matter, will handle it as well as this was. One can only hope. Teachers can mean the difference between a child feeling important and a child feeling useless. It’s important that our kids have teachers to lift them up. Mrs. E really rose to the occasion and encouraged my son to do the same. She specifically said before he left that “This is over. You have helped and now it’s over. We are starting fresh when you are in my class.” Again G R A C I O U S!!! I couldn’t just let it be though. I still felt compelled to give her a gift card for Barnes and Noble with a card telling her how much we appreciated her kindness and graciousness. Christian had a really good 5th grade year with a few bumps in the road but overall, he did well with Mrs. E’s help.

As a parent of someone with ADHD and someone myself who has it, dealing with ADHD can be a struggle. MANY things are in life though right? Many people don’t understand or truthfully don’t care to understand. SOOOO many people are wrapped up in their own stuff (me included sometimes) that I tend to forget where someone else may be in their life and what challenges they may be facing. Everyone has challenges in life whether it be family issues, school issues, sick loved one, procrastination, and the list can go on and on. Try to focus on the good qualities and improve on the challenges you face. If you have a hard time finding those qualities, ask a close trusted friend your top three qualities. See how you can use those as a jumping off point for your success. If you have a hard time doing a project, write a list of what things have worked for you in previous successful projects. See how you can use those successes to create more successes. If things don’t work, you don’t have to do them again or you can try to do them on a different project that it may work for. You don’t have to make it all or nothing. Everything is NOT black or white. This is something I am working on myself. There is A LOT of gray… and GRAY IS GOOD! Everything through life is an ongoing challenge. Your job is to try to get the most success throughout the journey. BE HONEST with yourself. ASK FOR HELP! Ask those with similar struggles that have success what they do to keep on track or follow through. Don’t take NO as an answer for yourself. There is an answer out there but it’s not going to fall on your lap. YOU NEED TO LOOK FOR IT. YOU ARE WORTH IT. YOU GOT THIS!!! If one door closes… maybe you need to look for the window that’s open 🙂

So the story continues…. At this point, Christian is about to start 6th grade and just graduated from 5th grade-elementary school. Normally one would still  be in elementary school for sixth grade however in our community, we have a middle school that goes from 6th – 8th grades… So in MY reality as a Mom, Christian starts Junior High….. I think I am going to throw up….to be continued…







ADHD The Struggle is Real – A Personal Journey with Melissa Part #3

♥ ♥ “Your perspective on life comes from the cage you were held captive in.” 

– Shannon L. Alder  ♥ ♥

For Part 1 of the series Click Here

For Part 2 of the series Click Here

We left off with my son was about to start 5th grade. He was starting to finally get used to taking meds. He really didn’t like it, understandably, but he did take them. He said it made him feel more in control and “normal”. For anyone who has ADHD, knows someone with ADHD or has had any experience or knowledge with ADHD, you may have an idea and understand what that sentence means. Those that don’t, let me explain. When you have ADHD it’s like you have two tapes going on at the same time in your head. One on super fast speed and one that is at normal speed. The super fast speed is your brain and it is processing thoughts, ideas, and to do lists at what seems like a million MPH where your body may be a little bit wiggly but no where NEAR the speed and intensity of your brain. Then you have the other tape that is what everyone EXPECTS you to do, you strive for, you wish you can but you never really achieve. You are basically having a fight with yourself 24/7 trying to get out your thoughts but in a manner in which you are told to do it not within which you actually process. Seems crazy right. It is.. and makes me feel crazy at times that is for sure. You often say things or do things without the proper time to process consequences of your actions or words. This is one of the struggles. Especially in school. Both my son and I had similar experiences in middle school/junior high where we were smart but often times couldn’t sit down to save our life.

For me, I remember being in 8th grade in math. We were doing the beginnings of algebra. I really got it but then got frustrated because I couldn’t really put the info down. It processed fine in my head but then when it came to actually sitting down and doing it, well that was a different story. Often times I would be looked at as lazy, disrespectful and defiant… To be honest, I was.. I think you would be too if you had people yelling at you, telling you to sit down, wait your turn and tried to stick your “squareness” in a circle box. It’s NEVER going to fit. And it didn’t.  Sadly, I really didn’t like school because of this. I remember one specific teacher, Mr. G that would make fun of me, ridicule me and actually have me sit in a corner WITH A DUNCE cap on because I couldn’t get my work done and would ask questions but he didn’t want to be bothered. Everyone loved this teacher and thought he was cool because he acted like he was cool or “one of us” but in reality, he acted like an immature ass and tried to take the short cut to everything so that he had to do less work. Don’t get me wrong, I was DEFINITELY difficult to deal with but don’t you think you would be too if your teacher was calling you stupid, having you wear a dunce cap and everyone was laughing at you practically daily??  You think those stories really don’t happen to people.. well they do and they did to me.  Little by little I started to hate school, understandably so. Gosh how I wish I knew then what I knew now but woulda coulda shoulda….  At any rate, there were other issues going on as well but school in itself was supposed to be a place that you would learn and want to learn. Not me. I hated going because I knew that in 4th period I was going to be made fun of and it was how my whole year went. The saddest part, I think Mr. G was just like me when he was a kid. So rather than embrace my issues and try to work with them with compassion, he passed on the dysfunction and gave me the blessing of these memories I get to share with you. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a pity party. It’s a lesson. When your kid comes home and hates school. There is a reason… It may take some time to figure it out (to be continued later) but there is a reason. Somehow, I am still not sure how, I graduated 8th grade…. and then started high school…

The thing is…often times people don’t realize that part of the ADHD traits aren’t necessarily complimentary. It is hard as a parent to decipher whether one with ADHD is being defiant or are actually showing the character traits of ADHD such as having no filter, impulsive behavior, can’t sit still, or as Christian and I used to call it.. being wiggly. Impulsive behavior can be a challenging one…. no matter what the age, reason or situation.

So Christian is a few days away from starting fifth grade. He has to go to school to help his teacher Mrs. E before school starts as payment. Payment for what you ask? Payment for throwing a rock at his teachers car at the end of 4th grade to see if he could throw it far enough so it would go over the cars. Yes, you guessed it. It DIDN’T. It hit his TO BE 5th grade teachers car…… A beautiful new BMW……

To Be Continued……




ADHD The Struggle is Real – A Personal Journey with Melissa Part #2

#ADHD The Struggle is Real – A Personal Journey with Melissa Part #2

When I last left off from the beginning of the story (you can read it here if you haven’t already) My son was just placed on medicine for his ADHD in fourth grade. It was definitely the most heart wrenching decision we ever made but we believe it was the best one. Medicine is not for everyone. There are numerous other interventions that can be helpful. Medicine was the one that we chose to be the best option for our son. It didn’t work perfectly but it worked. Trail and error. Again, you can always change and adjust from what you have been doing. Nothing is concrete unless YOU make it that way.

After a few months of my son being on medication, I had mentioned to the psychiatrist that both my son and I had similar issues and wondered if there was a connection. In not so many words he basically said I was next. After tests and conversations, I too was put on medication. It was actually quite amazing. It was getting to the point where I couldn’t carry on a conversation without me getting lost in three hundred other thoughts and then would lose my place. Just imagine you are literally in the middle of a sentence but you can’t for the life of you try to remember what you were just talking about because you are already 5 thoughts ahead of what your mouth was. Anyone who knows me knows.. THAT IN ITSELF IS A TASK!! I am from Chicago.. I talk.. a lot and fast… I guess it is one of the skills I have achieved to keep up with my brain!! So when I was put on medication I didn’t notice anything right away but I would say within a week or so I noticed a difference. It was nice to carry on an adult conversation rather than one interrupted by a child which was actually my brain not allowing me to finish a thought. Both my son and I were put on Straterra. The pill wasn’t that big.. like a Tylenol so it wasn’t that bad. My son however HATED IT. Partly because he didn’t like the idea of having to take medicine to feel “normal” and partly because he hated swallowing pills. I remember he used to say he would get bubbles in his stomach. Sadly, not the best Mom moment for sure, I thought he was making up excuses to not take the meds because he was being defiant…. Until it happened to me. I can not describe to you the pain I felt with this awful air bubble in my chest. My guess is this is what babies feel when they are colicky or need to be burped but it was A W F U L!!  For over two hours I was banging on my chest and back trying to get rid of it. It was so painful.. I then felt HORRIBLE because I knew this is what he had been talking about… Yep, Mother of the Year over here.. NOT! So I went home and told him over and over how sorry I was and that I didn’t get it until it happened to me. I told him how proud I was of him to take it anyway even though it really SUCKED to feel that. We also tried to solve the problem of the meds issue so he would eat before and after he would take his medicine. Not a big meal, just something so that it would clear the way before and make its way down after. It seemed to work… For a while anyway…. Then one day in 5th grade….

To Be Continued….





NOTE: I am not a doctor nor do I pretend to be one. I am only giving you the information that I have which I have been directly effected or experienced myself.

ADHD The Struggle is Real – A Personal Journey with Melissa #1

I remember as a kid I loved to be creative. I think back now and I think it was because I wanted to be in my own world. A world without ridicule, condemnation, disrespect and the blatant disregard of my feelings… Really, a blatant disregard of who I really was.

My name is Melissa Langford Mueller and I have ADHD. My oldest son does as well. It has been said that it is hereditary. Usually one of your parents have it… There are a NUMBER of facets to my life journey but my ADHD journey has been interesting to say the least. You may be used to going on A Creative Journey with Melissa…. Now you will be going on A Personal Journey with Melissa too. I think any journey you take has meaning-even if it’s a lesson to be learned.  Whether it is about strengths, weaknesses, what to do, what not to do, how to cope, what to tolerate or just share with others your experience so that they feel as if someone understands. If I can help just one person, mission ACCOMPLISHED.

How my journey started. I remember when my oldest son was around 3 and in pre-school.  Being that he was my first child, I really didn’t have much to go on so to me, everything he did was normal and of COURSE EXCEPTIONAL because all of our kids are, aren’t they? We took him to a psychologist and she said he was too early to diagnose with anything but we would continue to watch him and see what transpires. The other thing she said was it was the first time in her over 20 years of practice that she had seen a 3 year old read a second grade level book to her. She wished me luck with that. Yeah, thanks A LOT! LOL He really loved to learn and was like a sponge! Time passed and challenges followed and he entered Kindergarten. He had two teachers. One was awesome and the other.. well not so much. The other teacher was more concerned with any additional effort or time she may have to make in order to challenge my child sadly, in many ways including intellectually. He challenged her much more than she ever did him. Then there was his other teacher-Mrs. W… Now this is what I would call a real Kindergarten teacher. She went above and beyond to ensure he was not only challenged but that he wasn’t moved up as was suggested by numerous others… that didn’t know him.  She did ask if I wanted to do that and I told her to give him six weeks and if at that point she still thought it was a viable option, then we can talk further. In a week she said he isn’t ready and nothing more was said. You can teach intellectually but kids need social maturation to happen organically. You can’t teach that. It comes with time and experience. I felt as if I pushed him ahead I would be feeding him to the wolves.. and it would have been. He is 17 now… it was the best decision my husband and I ever made-more to come on that at a later date. Mrs. W challenged him by having him go to 1st grade to see Ms. M (LOVE HER TOO) for Language Arts but stayed in Kindergarten.  As time passed he had another awesome teacher Mr. R. TALK ABOUT PATIENT! They really liked to joke with each other and he really got my son. They had a great relationship and my son says he was one of his favorite teachers. Still thinks of him quite fondly now at 17. Fourth grade came and things were changing with him. He was always a wiggly kid but it got to the point where he couldn’t sit down to save his life and when benchmark time came around (benchmark tests are tests that are given to see where the child has progressed throughout the year) he did worse in January then he did entering fourth grade. We took him to the psychiatrist and the decision came to where we were going to decide whether or not to give him meds. Heartbreaking, tear filled, horrified, saddened and all of the emotions you can imagine-this is what my husband and I felt. We decided to take the leap. It was one of the best decisions we ever made next to not putting him forward in grade levels. The day that we realized we made the right decision was when he said he felt normal and seemed to be progressing much better in school than he had been. Feeling normal as someone with ADHD is a huge deal. TRUST ME. You never really feel normal, like you fit in, like people get it and are harder on yourself than anyone could ever be on you. EVER.

There are a few things I learned with the previous discussed experiences:

  1. TRUST YOUR GUT- YOU KNOW your child. Period.
  2. Not everything is a cookie cutter situation-ESPECIALLY NOT KIDS WITH ADHD
  3. Boys mature later than girls. You won’t go wrong holding them back or keeping them from moving forward. EVER. Period.
  4. YOU are your child’s voice. USE IT
  5. If it doesn’t work, try something else. You can ALWAYS STOP.

As you can imagine this is a very long story with many experiences. Unfortunately, I need to go to a doctor appointment but I will be sharing more experiences in the future. Until then, if you have any input or questions please feel free to comment. This was published with my son’s permission as I wouldn’t want to disrespect him as so many have.

Here is some information to check out for statistics, studies and other info.


Have a wonderful day!