The memories I have of my father as fading, but I do still remember running into the living room to find him lay on the couch. It wasn’t just once or twice but day after day, week after week. I know that’s not how he’d want me to remember him, but non the less the memory is there. I am deeply saddened to think that is also how my own kids will remember me and their childhood. They didn’t ask for this. They didn’t ask to spend most of their days at home. They don’t want a mother who’s constantly laying down on the couch or in bed. They don’t want me to be withdrawn from life. My own mother was there to entertain us and was there to try and hide our father’s mental illness from us as small children. But I am the mother. I’m supposed to be the comforter, the one hiding the ugliness of the world and this illness from them. I know they can see that I’m different from other moms. I don’t volunteer for things at school, I don’t invite their friends over, I don’t make hearty meals or take them to story hours at our library. We don’t play board games after dinner or take weekend trips. If I do manage to take them to do something fun, I think they can see how miserable I am. Why did I create a world of hurt for them? I was like this long before I birthed them. I feel so selfish for bringing them even more pain than this world already will. I love them so deeply, but my love for them won’t take the ugliness of this illness away just like my fathers love for me didn’t take my heartache away. Each day that I get up and face the world is a huge accomplishment for me, but I don’t think they’ll see that just as most don’t. I can’t apologize for who I am. No one should have to. I’ve never been angry with my dad for bringing me into this world. I think my best hope is that my children won’t be angry with me either.
Can you see the pain in someone’s eyes from just one look? Can you feel the pain in their silence? Do you feel the pull of someone’s desire to be loved?
I can spot it right off the bat.
I usually feel like I’m failing at life and am often wallowing in self pity and/or misery. But even just walking by someone I can feel their pain. I feel a pull towards them. I often find myself staring at them looking for something to confirm my feeling is right(and it often is). I want so bad to be able to come right out and comfort them. If someone did that for me on my bad days maybe I would have fewer. I spend most of my days feel torn, anxious and broken. I hating my brain and mad this is the mind and body I was given. But then I see someone also struggling and know that I’m not alone. I’m not the only one angry I have to be around people, I’m not the only one scared to speak up, I’m not the only one checking there phone hoping someone has reached out, I’m not the only one plagued by silence. I see it happening all around me all the time.
My dream is to be able to help others struggling the way I am and have in the past. I would’ve gave anything to have just one person be there for me the way I want to be there for others. I don’t need them to say or do much just need them to reach out. I want to give these people a place to go. We don’t need a place to check into for 30 days, a place hundreds of miles away for hundreds and thousands of dollars. We don’t need group circles, sitting in uncomfortable chairs. We don’t need people watching our every move thinking we’re going to off ourselves using a hair brush. Because guess what If we want to die, taking everything away everything from us we actually like in life isn’t going to make it better.
I want a space, I want comfort, I want the freedom to show how I really feel, I want people overlook my awkwardness and trust that I can understand them and that I have their back.
I don’t want to spend years in school then working for an organization that still isn’t helping people. I don’t need a degree to understand someone, I don’t need a degree to save someone from offing themselves.
I need an opportunity. I will make a place for these people, my people.
It’s New Years Eve, which means we take this time to look back at the past year, make resolutions and celebrate. This year I find myself having great rumination. This New Years marks a type of anniversary for me. My depression and anxiety had hit an extreme low(or high depending on how you look at it). I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten until I was hit with such a “force” I could no longer remain standing and act as though I was fine. I couldn’t stop the panic, I couldn’t stop the fear, I couldn’t stop the need to escape. I shut myself in our dark bedroom alone and tried to block out the overwhelming fear of simply being alive. Every minute that went by felt like hours. The fear had to leave or I did. At that point I realized the fear was stronger than I was. I slipped my shoes on, grab my keys and left our house. I didn’t say a word to my husband or our children(who were downstairs). I drove straight to our hospital and signed myself in. I didn’t know what to tell them, I had no idea how to explain myself. How do you tell someone you want to kill yourself but you don’t want to die. I don’t really remember what I said. I’m sure I was looked down upon, viewed as weak and/or completely crazy, but that didn’t change anything. I needed help. I hate asking for help. I hate needing help. But that night I knew I had to look people in the eyes and tell them I was breaking/broken. While I was in a room in the ER with a security guard beside bed, I suddenly felt like I was a little girl. I wasn’t allowed to be alone, to make my own decisions, to have a job, to have a family. I had to stay there until an “adult” said so. While I was running a million thoughts through my head the security guard started trying to make small talk, he asked me about my family so I asked about his. He answered back with routine answers. He got quiet then said he son had past away a few years ago. I remembered thinking how odd it was for him to just come out and say that, especially conditioning he was only sitting next to me to make sure I didn’t try to kill myself. As I think about it now, I suppose he thought I might understand his hurt. I most likely wouldn’t judge him and I was forced to sit next to him no matter how bad his story got. I can’t exactly what my reply was but it was something about how I knew what it was like to lose someone. Again he got quiet. A minute or so had past before I was realized he was crying. Tears were coming down his face, hitting his jacket. But he wasn’t moving, not his body, not his expression. He finally let out a loud breath, stood up and walked just outside my door. When he came back he had dried his tears but I could still see that pain on his face. I talked with him for probably close to an hour before they take me to a room. I don’t think I’ll never forget that interaction. I realized how much pain can connect people, if only for a short time. I no longer felt like a child. I wasn’t hiding behind my fears, I was looking them head-on.
I spent three days in the hospital, eating my meals at scheduled times, calling my family on a shared land-line, bra-less in scrubs, watching our first(and only) snow that winter fall, coloring, building puzzles with missing pieces. There were people of all ages, color and stages of their lives. They were all at different levels of stable. I talked with several people who were similar to me. We didn’t want to die but we couldn’t live either.
On the third day I was discharged. I got dressed, walked to my car and drove home. I went right back to the life I had temporally left. I wasn’t cured, the medicine they changed me to didn’t work, the thoughts didn’t leave. The only thing that had changed was the fact that I realized I had to take care of myself. If I needed time to myself I had to take it, if I needed help I had to ask, If I was scared it was okay if I admitted it.
I spent months calling doctors and our insurance company, going to appointments and trying different medications. I spent months mostly at home, rarely driving, asking friends and family to come sit with me so I wasn’t “alone”. I took care of our kids and house, I spent my alone time crying and fearing I would get worse.
Finally in April(after a cheek swab) we found a medication that actually(somewhat) works. I started getting out more, driving more, starting projects around the house and working part-time. The fears got less and less overwhelming. I was realizing I hadn’t actually been “myself” in a long time. I didn’t think the same way, I didn’t react in the same ways. The person I had been wasn’t really me. It was who the wrong medication had me out to be. I was slowly being altered, becoming less and less of who I really am. I honestly don’t even recognize the person I was a lot of the time.
I still have really bad days and weeks. I still get crippled by fear. But I don’t dismiss it. If it sticks around I call my doctor, I tell someone. I don’t let it go and assume it’ll go away on it’s own.
I don’t want to post this. I don’t want anyone to think any less of me, view me as any less capable, think I’m weak and/or crazy. But this is me. This has been my life this past year. I’m not setting resolutions for myself, I’m not trying to start over, I’m not thinking my 2017 problems will be wiped away in just a few short hours. I am sitting thinking how far away the end of this year seemed from the beginning of it. I’m thinking about the fact that I almost didn’t make it to 2018.
Do you ever get frustrated when you’re trying to find something in your child’s room but all you seem to be doing is stepping on Lego’s and suckers? Well that was mine room as a child. I hated cleaning anything up. I didn’t care if I couldn’t walk from my door to my bed. I didn’t care that none of my friends could play in my bedroom. My bedroom literally looked like an episode of Hoarder’s Buried Alive. I’ve always look back and think “how did I live like that?” “why didn’t I just clean up?”.Until a few months ago I realized that I don’t think it had anything(well maybe a tad) the fact that I didn’t want to clean. I think I created that “barrier” to help me feel safe. No one could get to me, no one could come into my personal space. As I got a littler older my desire to be able to move around in my room started to out way my fears(or at least level with it). My mom remarried right before I turned 12. He was a total slob. I no longer needed a “junk” barrier between me and the would. I now need a safe place to exist, anyway from the dirty dishes, food cover surfaces and the constant sticky Diet Coke residues. I quickly became OCD about my space. I felt like I needed to somehow prove that I wasn’t anything like this man and that seemed the most obvious way to me at the time. Thankfully several years later we “discarded” the biggest piece of “waste”(I’m not going to call someone trash). But by the time that day came I was already too far gone to turn around. I kept my space and/or home in tip top shape. The only weird thing was I had also began to sink deeper and deeper into my hoarding tendencies. I had kept art projects from high school, anything and everything about my dad, old random things left by family members, old clothes I know longer wore, old makeup, old shoes, random completely pointless paperwork/receipts. I would organize these things and keep them “neat”, but they were also taking up a larger and larger amount of space. When I moved into my first apartment I brought most of those items with me. I finally start downsizing these items a few year ago, but I was still left with a lot at the beginning of 2017. I have spent the last several months going through everything we own. I have thrown away and denoted a TON(I still have quite a bit to actually haul off). I literally feel like a weight has been lifted off me! I feel like I have room to breath and I feel like we’re all more settled. I sadly can’t stop myself from cleaning an organizing. I’m sure most woman what that urge, and I did too. Until now, when about 3 months later I am still cleaning and moving items most of my awake hours. I am tired. But I can’t stop myself. I do feel like I am finally making great strides in terms of where I want us to be. I am still just struggling to find my balance.
Have you ever thought “why did I just do that?”. I’m sure you have, many times. But imagine having that feeling for several years. Image how lost you’d feel. Image how hard it would be to make/keep friends or be in a relationship. Image trying to love someone but then forgetting how to love. Image trying to raise your kids a certain way but then forget why you wanted too. This has been me for years now. I look back at different time throughout my adult life and not even know what I was thinking, nor can I remember how I felt. Now I know everyone forgets things and we all make mistakes, but it goes far deeper than that for me. When I was 16 I started my first anti-depressant, I almost immediately felt far worse. I returned to my doctor, she then of course told me it take several weeks for your body to really get use to it. Weeks of feeling like that? No, thank you. I stopped taking the medication(it wasn’t one that can have severe harmful effects when stopping it). I returned to the doctor several weeks later, at which point the doctor practically yelled at me upon finding out that I had stopped the medication. She also refused to try any other medications until I gave that one another chance. She didn’t believe me nor seemed to care that I felt completely unable to function on that medication. I never went back to see her, which meant for over a year I went not medicated. Which was tough but I didn’t really understand my feelings or moods. Somewhere late in my 17th year I once again began a search for a doctor and possibly a new medication. I found a doctor really seemed to care but sadly she wasn’t super knowledgeable with depression medications let alone how to help me. She tried, I ended up on a medication that made me have random thoughts about wanting to die. For example if I was driving I’d start thinking maybe I should just drive straight into a tree or ditch. I would realize that what I was thinking was off, but couldn’t stop the thoughts. So I went back to the doctor and she told me to stop taking the medication immediately, and she thought I needed to see someone who specialized more in that area. I didn’t find anyone at that point, which meant I went about 6 months or so off medication completely. A few months after I turned 18 I was hit with an extreme a lot of anxiety. I had gotten really sick and ended up in the ER. The doctor there ignored me when I tried to explain that my had heart problems and it wasn’t an anxiety attack that has also caused my heart rate to go sky-high. I let him convince me that maybe it was an anxiety attack so I took the medication he prescribed for anxiety. Fast forward maybe 2 or 3 days and I was already beginning to completely lose control of my own thoughts. I was hit with so much anxiety and fear I would ask my mom(I was living back at home at this point) to lay in my bed with me so I could sleep for a bit, because I was too scarred to be in a room alone to sleep. I didn’t leave the house. I didn’t drive. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I didn’t want to shower. I didn’t want to move. Every single minute of every single day I spent completely terrified to even be alive. I finally got into see someone(45 mins away) that seemed far more able to help me. They took my off my current medication at the time and changed them to something totally different. It didn’t take to long to realize they were helping. It took a few weeks for me to get back to myself(whoever that is). But over the next couple of months I felt better than I had in years. About 5 months later I found out I was pregnant and the medication I was on was extreme dangerous to a fetus. Therefore I had to stop talking it at once. I felt okay for several months, but towards the end of my pregnancy I started getting really fearful again and didn’t want to be around anyone. After the birth of my first daughter postpartum depression hit me like a fright train. I had no idea what was happening. I didn’t understand my emotions at all. I was 19, I didn’t know how to seek help or how to explain how I was feeling. When my doctor was 4 or 5 months old I went back to the doctor and get back on the medication I had been on before I got pregnant. I started feeling human again and was able to start enjoying life again. I did mostly okay for the next 2 years or so. Then I lost my insurance which meant I couldn’t afford to go to the doctor for more refills or pay for the medication. I had also gotten married shortly after this. I honestly can’t tell you much about myself during that time, I remember what was going on but not really anything about me specifically. I had spent two years on that medication and suddenly I no longer had it. I wasn’t sure how to process what I was thinking or feeling. In many ways I felt just as I did after I had my daughter. I knew I wasn’t in the right head space but I couldn’t pull myself away from the ledge I was on. I spent about 2 months total off medication. It took me awhile to find my grounding again, but slowly I thought I was feelings better. The end of summer in 2014 I was starting to realize I didn’t really recognize myself anymore, but I wasn’t sure how to fix it. I think I was more in denial of how different I was acting. I knew it wasn’t me, but at the same time I didn’t. I spent the next 2 years getting further and further away from the me I once was. I would do or say things and for a moment I would realize how strange I was acting, but it was only for a moment and I’d go right back to what I was doing. How do you not even know yourself? Why did no one listen when I tried to explain my confusion? If I started feeling odd on one medication they’d just give me another medication to take with the one I was on. That’s like throwing trash on top of trash and hoping it turns into a unicorn. No doctor I ever went to pondered the thought of why nothing ever worked well for me for longer than about 2 seconds. I will say that when I was younger I didn’t always fully go into how I was feeling because I felt like they’d either be shocked or they’d think I was lying, if I told them how bad I really felt. But as I’ve gotten older I now try to fully go into detail about what I’m feeling and still no one seemed to take me seriously. I come from a family with history of depression and anxiety, I lost a parent at a young age, I dealt with verbal abuse, I have now gone through postpartum twice. All of these factors have given them what they thought were good enough reasons to dismiss what or how I feel. Honestly I can’t remember a time that I didn’t feel this way. I can actually remember being about six years old(before any of those things had happened) and being so anxious I couldn’t sleep or I didn’t want to leave our house because I worried of all the different things that might happen. But how to you tell someone your anxiety was already that bad at 6 years old? You don’t. Because they will either think you are absolutely insane or you’re full of crap. I had to grow up pretty fast to be able to handle my ever-changing life, so by the time I was actually an adult I was already too tired to deal with adulthood. I would’ve probably made better life choices at 15 than I could/did at 20. I was tired. I am tired. I am tired of fighting for myself. I’m tired of not even knowing who “myself” is. Most of 2017 has been me trying to convince myself I don’t actually want to die. It’s an ugly truth. Try to think about how lonely your life starts to become when that’s all you want to do. Image trying to tell the people you love that you just don’t want to live anymore. It took about 10 years to reach this point. 10 years of trying to find help, only to be given things that got me further away from that. I have always felt misunderstood in a world where everyone feels they have the right to be. I’m not going to lie and say it wouldn’t be easier if some just understood. I have found people here and there that can relate to some of my chaos, but no one who really got it. The thought that gets me through rough times is that I think one day I’m going to find someone(maybe more than one) that is at the end of their rope and I am going to be that piece to the puzzle they have missed . I am going to know how they feel and what they’ve gone through. It would’ve made many things far easier for me if I had just one person who got the depth of my struggles. I don’t want to be the mother I am. I don’t want to be the wife I am. I don’t want to be the friend I am. But I am who God made me to be and I know where is a reason for it.