I Don’t Know How to Handle a Depressed Friend

I really don’t.

Just seems like every move I make is the wrong one.

I used to check up on him every day via text. We are remote friends so a physical welfare check isn’t possible. But the texts were always perfunctory and not easy to establish a decent chat over.

Me: Just checking in on you… How are you today?

Him: I’m ok.

Me: ok, anything I can do? Want to talk?

Him: [no response]

And that’s how it’s been for MONTHS now. So I’ve kinda stopped reaching out on a daily basis, bc it didn’t seem to be helping anything. But when I don’t check-in daily, then I get a worrisome text from him instead.

So last month, when I skipped checking in daily I got THIS random text from him: “You realize that I’m researching how to kill myself, right?”

Sigh. No, I didn’t realize that bc he’s not really communicating with me.

So I resumed checking in on him daily but again, it doesn’t really seem to facilitate any conversation and it also doesn’t seem to be helping anything. He’s always the same.

This weekend I lapsed checking in on him bc it’s very tedious and I don’t understand the point if he’s not talking to me anyway.

And I wake up this morning to THIS text from him that he sent around midnight while I was asleep: “I guess being sad and depressed doesn’t mean much to you.”

I immediately text back: What do you mean? Are you ok?

Him: [no response]

But I know that he read it because my phone shows me when my texts are read. So he’s just ignoring me. Which I feel is kinda rude considering how much time I’ve spent reaching out to him.

Anyhow, I don’t know what else to do. I think I’ve decided that I’m not going to initiate any more texts with him. If he needs someone to chat with, he can reach out to me and I’ll respond. But I’m not initiating anymore. I’ve done enough of that and he’s not being very nice to me in return. Maybe I’m completely enabling him.

But I also feel guilty for thinking that way. What if he really needs to feel that someone is checking in on him? And without that, then he gets worse? Am I being a bad friend for stopping that?

Ugh. I really don’t know what to do. Have you all been in a similar situation? What would you do in my shoes?

This really just stinks.

7 Ways an Online Stalker Can Find You

I definitely prefer to remain anonymous online. The reason for this is because I need an escape from my real life where I can be free to be myself or even vent about my real life situations without any consequences. This is the only outlet I have.

For example, if I need to vent about work or my family or my soccer moms or my neighbors, then it wouldn’t work out for me very well if any of them found out about it. I’d end up with some extreme negative fallout to deal with and many broken relationships too.

On the other hand, I’d end up severely censoring myself if I felt that my words could be visible to people in my real life. And if I censored myself here, then it would completely lose its purpose for me.

So anonymity is of paramount importance to me. How about you all? Do you care about it as much as I do? Or am I being a weirdo?

But this isn’t my first attempt at an anonymous online presence. I ended up having to completely shut down my previous attempts and go dark on the internet for a few years to recover after I had an online stalker obsessed with me. It was horrible.

It was a person in my real life that used this information they found against me, and threatened to use it to destroy my job and my relationships. The violation of my privacy was so painful. This was information that I never would have told anyone in my real life. But he found it. And took it. It felt like a theft of my most prized possession – my sense of self worth.

But I learned several lessons from this experience. And now I’m ready to try anonymity online again. But this is what I’ve learned about how online stalkers can find you…

1) Name Search. So I never used my real name online, but this is the most obvious way to find someone. Once the stalker knows your anonymous name however, you’re basically discovered on all social media platforms.

2) Phone Number / Contacts. Most social media accounts have apps to download on your cell phone. And once you do that, you are exposed to all your contacts. Most social media accounts make it an option to activate this. But don’t trust it. This option may default ON, exposing you immediately. And phone system upgrades may also default this option to ON. So if your stalker ever had your phone number, this is a major risk.

I ended up buying cellular service for my iPad, which comes with its own phone number that I’ve shared with NOBODY. And I only download my Pepper Valentine apps to this iPad. So there is no phone number cross-contamination with contacts to worry about.

3) “People You May Know” / “Suggested For You”. This is another option on social media accounts, but don’t trust it either. Because it defaults to ON and may also reset back to ON with any system upgrades. It can use your contacts as well as your Friends list to recommend. The scary thing about this, is that you don’t have to be online friends with your stalker. BUT if you share any mutual friends online, then this option will expose you!

I’ve completely cut off any potential mutual friends online in order to reduce this risk.

4) Close Online Friends. My stalker knew who my closest online friends were. In order to find me, he would stalk their accounts too. He scoured their followings and followers, monitored their likes and comments to find who *seemed* like it could be me, and even befriended them himself under a decoy account to gather intel.

5) Decoy Accounts. Beware the people that engage with you online. You never really know who they are. My stalker would create many decoy accounts to try to access private accounts as well as lure the unsuspecting into giving him information about who they are following. He would maintain online relationships for MONTHS under his decoys to build trust.

6) Email Address. I finally discovered that my stalker would use my email address to validate if an account was actually mine or not. He knew my email. So once he suspected an online account might be mine, he would attempt the Password Reset… and, the results of the password reset would give him enough data (the first 2 characters, number of characters, and then the email service) to determine if that account was me or not.

I’ve had to create a new email address specifically for setup only of any Pepper Valentine accounts, and I don’t use it anywhere else (not even for my contact forms or subscription forms) in order to prevent this validation check.

7) Hashtags / Tags. If you hashtag something that your online stalker is aware that you are involved in, then he may search the hashtags online and find you that way. For example, if he knows you went to the beach for a week or that you work at Jumping Jack Coffee, then he may stalk those hashtags online and the MINUTE you tag/hashtag that place, then he’s got your post and your profile exposed.

In conclusion, if anonymity online is important to you, please take action to reduce your risks. It’s never guaranteed that you’ll be 100% safe, but you can be safer than normal with some precautions.

So what do you all think about my list above? Do you have any other stalker methods that I might’ve missed?

Guys, This is Not Cute

Alright, it’s no secret that I’m sick of being stuck at home with my family everyday. I’ve definitely fussed about this before. I just need a decent break.

But one side effect of not having a decent break, is that my last nerve is wearing thin. And things that I could easily overlook in my refreshed state, are now the exact same things that can push me over the edge.

For example, I work full-time from home now… Still participate in all my daughter’s extracurricular activities (which are A TON)… do most of the household chores and groceries… and do all the cooking… And lately, I’ve been slammed at work so I’ve been working overtime to stay on track and as a consequence, I am feeling overwhelmed and haven’t been to the grocery store since last Friday.

Today, I finally went to the store and stocked up on everything I noticed we were out of.

I bring home peanut butter (my husband is the only person in the family that eats it btw) and then he actually says to me…

“FINALLY. I’ve been waiting for you to buy my peanut butter for 5 days!”

And I snapped. I know that was irrational of me, but still, I snapped.

I was pissed off bc he actually has leisure time that I do not have. I was pissed off bc he has his own vehicle and income and drivers license and is fully capable of buying his own darn peanut butter. Just like he went out and bought himself new shoes today, like he went out and bought himself beer over the weekend, like he went out and picked-out his own allergy meds yesterday, etc.

Anyhow, I don’t know the exact word I’m looking for here… But what’s a good word to describe someone that will wait around for someone else to do something instead of just doing it themselves? The opposite of self-sufficient is kinda what I’m thinking.

Bc this is definitely a characteristic that is coming out more and more the longer I am stuck at home with my family. And it’s going to make me flip out. I’m sick of everyone depending on me to do everything for them.

As I said, I need a break. Can you all tell? 🙁

But as a public service announcement for my readers, the ONLY correct response when someone does something for you that you are perfectly capable of doing yourself, is…

“Thank you.”

Sundays are for Dreading Mondays

Anyone else in this boat with me? This is definitely a pattern I have fallen into lately and I don’t know how to change it without quitting my job.

So instead of actually enjoying my last day of the weekend, I’m already mentally preoccupied with how much I have to get done during my workweek and how much I have to get done tomorrow in order to pull it all off. And it makes me feel overwhelmed and anxious.

I’m basically letting work hijack my weekends now. And I don’t know how to turn it around.

I’m a bit upset right now bc all I want to do is turn OFF my head when it comes to work and the more I actually want that, then the worse it gets. I’ve attempted to pick up a couple projects today and I had to stop them bc I was too distracted by work that doesn’t even start until tomorrow.

Sigh. So that’s me right now… My apologies for being such a bummer today. Do any of you go through this too? How do you fix it?

Crazy Summer Pool Destinations – Thornton’s Pool

Thornton's Pool

It’s summertime and the kids (me too!) are ready to hit the swimming pools again! We found Thornton’s Pool last summer for a soccer team getaway and all the kids loved it.

Thornton’s Pool has been featured on tv and in many articles by now, so you might’ve seen it already on all those extreme pool shows on the television. But here’s a handy link to one such article if you don’t want to search yourself (don’t worry – that’s not an affiliate link. I just included it here for your convenience). And if you don’t want to read through all the scoop, here are the highlights:

  1. This pool is physically in someone’s backyard.
  2. It is 500,000 gallons of water.
  3. You can visit this pool for a donation fee.
  4. It is located in Covington TN. If you’re travelling to visit this, then the closest large city will be Memphis TN.

Here are some of the photos I took while I was there last summer:

Thornton’s Pool / Image: Pepper V.
Thornton’s Pool / Image: Pepper V.

So, this was a great time and a great destination pool last summer. And I would highly recommend it.

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How I Doubled my Domain Authority in 8 Months!

I sure did. My website’s DA (Domain Authority) just went from 1 to 2 and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Only took 8 months to get there too!

I know, a DA of 2 still basically stinks. But I’ve been getting some more clicks now from Google and I never really have before, so that’s exciting to see!

I created this domain 8 months ago. Around this same time, I started reading about SEO and how important it is. So I found the RankMath plugin and started following it’s guidance on most (not all) of my posts in order to improve my SEO. I still stink at it, but I’m trying.

Also around this time, I started checking my DA and found that it was ALWAYS 1. No matter how many SEO updates I made via RankMath, it never changed from 1. So I was really getting discouraged. I’ve been using this site to check my DA because it’s free and simple to use: https://websiteseochecker.com/domain-age-checker/

(That’s not an affiliate link above. I’m just providing it for your info and convenience.)

I also noticed that I was NEVER getting any clicks from Google. I was getting clicks from other search engines such as Bing and DuckDuckGo but never from Google, so I wondered if something was wrong.

I did some research via Google (oh the irony) and found that Google has a “Sandbox” that it puts new websites in for 6-8 months so they don’t affect any rankings. This is to weed-out spam sites and the people that aren’t serious.

Then last week, I noticing that I was suddenly getting some clicks from Google. I was like, WHAT!!? Lol, only 1 or 2 a day so nothing crazy but still a big change for me since I was accustomed to 0.

So I checked my DA out of curiosity and it had changed to a 2! I was so excited because I had practically given up on Google by this point, as it had taken so long.

I guess I’m now out of the “Sandbox” finally. Lol, now what do I do?

Do you all focus on this stuff like DA and SEO? Any tips on what I should try next? 🙂

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So We Did a Thing…

We got a kitten!

He’s super cute but definitely getting into EVERYTHING in the house. Climbing into every single nook and cranny and tearing up everything he can find.

But he’s incredibly affectionate and adorable so he can get away with anything at this point.

We’re still trying to come up with a name. But nothing has stuck yet. The first day we tried Turbo, then we tried Socks, and today we’re trying Milo.

Not sure yet what name we’ll try tomorrow!

I hope you all are doing well! 🙂