Tag Archives: mental illness

Angst

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For the last week my mind and spirit have been hijacked by the powerful entity of fear, uncertainty, and anxiety.  It invaded my brain, and then quickly took over what seemed to be my soul, leaving me reaching out to anything that I could hold onto.

I’m not shy to talk about my mental illlness, I do so in hopes of helping another, because when all is said and done, I know I’m not alone here.   But I am always leery about sharing too much, because people do treat you differently.   It’s a hard fact.   The talons of mental illness are sometimes ignored, and certainly mistreated, some due to ignorance, and others?  Fear!

The grip this trip was treacherous.  And I didn’t help myself by reaching out to another until last night when others reached out to me.  Oh how potent a secret battle that carries its venom best when we are in isolation from the world.     

My anxiety and fears are very real.  And I haven’t experienced this intensity of anxiety in years.  I will admit tonight, I should have been in a hospital, getting help, but after how many years in therapy, what else is there to say?   I recall a House, MD episode where he walks out of his therapy session and says “You don’t have any answers”.

What amazes me this evening, as I sit here writing this blog, is where my mind was just mere hours ago.  Nothing has changed in my setting, nothing has changed in my reality, except that I did, with the help of many cherished prayers and encouragement from friends, face my fears today.  Tonight I am exhausted, worn like an old penny, and while my anxiety is there, I’m practicing letting it be, letting the anxiety reveal itself, and trying everything I know not to feed it or let it overpower me again.   Feeding it got me into a full fledge panic attack earlier, where I was grasping for breath, sweat pouring off me, and had to sit with my head in my hands for several minutes because I was borderline passing out.  Yes, that awful place I’ve known a few times before.  If you’ve never encountered such, I am both happy and envious of you.

My ditzy little old cat has stayed by my side for days.  Mommy wasn’t healthy, and her steadiness and loyalty clings to my heart.

I really don’t care to share anymore tonight.   As I said earlier, I’m spent, and I’m hoping that with meds I will be gifted with a good nights sleep.  Rest assured I will be on my knees tonight praying that I do not wake up like I have the past couple mornings.   But in case I do, I need a plan.  So I’m working on a little “cheat sheet” note to myself for morning.  And this blog serves as a reminder to my saner, calmer self and conscience.

Earlier I sat down, with John Denver ( my roots) playing in the background, and started painting a small daisy.  Something cheery, something positive before I retire.  Revisiting “Let it Be” was what I needed.  I closed my eyes and let the music take me where I needed to go.  To the many dark places I’ve survived in my life, and that this?  This I’m determined will not have extended stay.  I cannot afford it, physically, mentally, spiritually.

I welcome your prayers, positive energy over the next few weeks as I find my way through this “episode” for lack of a better word.

My greatest wish for myself, and for all, for that matter,  in not wealth, but peace.  I welcome it’s return, and will strive to achieve it and then hold onto it.    Peace.

Peace to you, too.

 

 

 

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Mental slag

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Today has proven to be a challenging day for me.  The first thing I did besides feed the lippy cat that was ready to eat two hours prior, was go out and shovel out my car.  I must say, someone was looking out for me when it drove right out of it’s spot, unlike the last time where I was stuck.  But stubborn brunettes don’t give up!   We had a shitload of snow fall yesterday.

What was challenging for me today was my head, where it goes.   I once heard from a psychiatrist that the more intelligent you are, the more remote places you can find to hide in.   Not saying I’m the smartest person in the world, not even close, but I have at times thought, if I wasn’t so smart, I would be happier.   Sit on that one for a moment!

I cannot share my thoughts here, I cannot share them with anyone.    I’m doing what I know to do, and that is to get moving, get busy, keep trucking.  It took me hours of stuck to get there.  I guess I should celebrate in getting there.

I’m heading to bed early tonight, taking a friend to a much needed doctor’s appointment up North.  I’m hoping the roads and snow removal are in good shape.  I get to drive the cutest car in the world because mine doesn’t have heat.   (Kia little boxy car, I just love it!) Ya just can’t expect an 81 year old to ride that far without heat!

I walked around my house today foreign to myself.   Not exactly foreign, but certainly not where I wanted to be.   I know depression and anxiety intimately.  But where it takes me, those are places that it’s hard to find comfort in.  I remember hearing at a recovery group a couple decades ago “Find comfort in the uncomfortable”.   One of life’s tricks to success, or certainly to get beyond, or overcome.

I did some sketches today on a piece I want to start soon.   But as I walked into my studio this evening, sat down to work on ears of the pet portrait I’m doing, I see many 85%-90% paintings started, but not completed.  That isn’t a sin, but it’s something I have to be vigilant of.  Signs?  Silliness?

Well, have things I have to do before bed.  I’m hoping I sleep.  Last night I did not.  Not well, anyway.

Hoping your having a great day, full of insight and direction!   It’s what I’m seeking at the moment.

 

 

Reviewing processes

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The past few weeks I’ve been reflecting and dissecting what I would like to do with the rest of my life.  What do I like?  What don’t I like?  What are my dreams?  Are they feasible?  What are my needs?   I’ve also been writing up a business plan for myself, which in itself has been a very interesting journey.  I’ve changed it three times.

I’ve also participated for two days (another four to go) in an art challenge to post pics of my art on my facebook page for six days.  This, too, has been an interesting process.   I’m reviewing photos that I have, which aren’t exactly organized like someone dominantly left brained would do, but I’m only 25% there, so I’m giving myself a break!

4-5 years ago my life came to a crashing halt.  I couldn’t get out of bed, I didn’t want to paint, write, and was incapable of making any decisions for myself.   Fortunately my strong mother jumped in and helped, and after hospitalization for two weeks, I was diagnosed with Major Clinical Depression.  This was not the first time, but the fourth.  I must say to you, it’s been hell trying to come back from it.

Why do I mention such a personal thing?  Because I’m an idiot!   🙂   Most people do not confess such, because of the stigma attached to mental illness.  I want others to know who are suffering with such, it’s okay, you’re not a freak, you aren’t crazy, you are sick, and encourage you to get help.  For me it meant some serious psychological drugs, many therapy sessions, a lot of writing, a lot more of praying.  It is still a monkey on my back, but I am learning, everyday to replace the negative talk in my head.  Some days I’m successful with this, some days not.

Back to the art challenge, as I’m surfing through pages of photos of my artwork, which also have pics of other aspects of my life, love, marriage, breast cancer, family, friends, pets, artwork, gardens, etc… I must say, I feel good about things that I have accomplished in my life.  In spite of the crap that came rolling into it, I’m still standing, and there are days, still, too many, that it’s very hard for me to get out of bed and face the day.   But it was nice to see things I’ve done, the magazines my artwork and needlecraft designs were in, interviews with me as a visual artist, and a fiber artist.  I even had artwork on the cover of magazines I think twice.  How quickly these accomplishments fall by the way side when you’re looking at it through the dark eyes of depression.

So, I’m feeling a bit chipper tonight, painted a little bit today.  Plan to spend a few hours tomorrow doing the same.   We are supposedly having an arctic cold blast this weekend.  I’ve stocked up on the necessities, my mom is here visiting for the weekend.  If I don’t kill her, by the time Monday comes around I should be in good shape! 🙂

The message today is… Hang on.   Hang strong.   Celebrate the good days, and do all you can to survive the bad.   It may be worth your while to dive into some pictures yourself.

Sending you peace and love

 

 

 

Resistence

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I remember a couple of years ago I saw a famous self improvement guru talking on resistance.   His basic message was, the more you resist something, the more important it is that you fight the resistance and DO whatever it is that has created this unsettling, displaced feeling.  Well, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching, making some choices, which I am recognizing, for me, it’s harder to have choices than to just trudge along the beaten road you “think” you’re destined to.

I also struggle with commitment, certainly when it comes to relationships, hence why I’ve been single for over a decade.   If I stay away from intimate relationships, I’m safe!  But we all know the truth in that, don’t we?  Love is one of the most beautiful things we are blessed with.  Committing to someone you love, and they you, is pretty special BUT NOT EASY stuff!

So I have been slowly, actively studying my likes, my dislikes, my desires, needs, and am sitting on an opportunity to make major changes in my life.   I believe this.   So as exciting as it can be, it is also frightening to me.   And believe me, when you struggle with anxiety and all that wonderful stuff, it’s VERY REAL to the person going through it.  It can become VERY REAL to those who are close to them, because, well, I call them “demons”.   The demons are real to me.

I have been focusing on that guru’s message, because one thing that I am considering changing is something that in past I HAVE LOVED.   Trying to come out of a severe clinical depression (I wish that were the case for all.  I wish we could just come out of it, and leave it behind, shed it like a snake does skin, but it doesn’t work that way, does it?)  In the hardest times of this I lost a couple friends, and while it hurt, I realize, they haven’t a clue what I live with day in, day out.   The sometimes constant need to correct the thoughts that automatically spew from my brain, it can be exhausting.  But I’m doing it.  And I’m doing as well as I think I can.  Not without some unhealthy coping skills.

Anyway, I want to go back to this resistance I’m feeling about this one thing I’ve had in my life, 1/3 of my life, and have enjoyed, loved.  It would be very easy for me to say “I don’t want to do this anymore”, and chalk the negative feelings I’m having onto that, but I know myself, and I know deep down, it’s not that simple.  I am resisting it because it’s important, albeit, very important to me.

So I’ve been doing the usual things that I know to do, mostly prayer, meditation, seeking help with an answer.  Tonight an unexpected message actually helped me see how much I am truly pushing this away.   If I am being true to myself, and 4-5 years ago I committed to being true to myself, first, then I need to either dissect my reasoning, or even harder, jump in, get my feet wet, and defeat these restricting feelings, fears.

So I decided to write about it, to put it “out there” for myself to look at.  I do this with my artwork too.  I will take a picture and study it on my computer or telephone screen.  This way I am detached from it, and can see where my painting needs honing, correcting.   Whatever works, right?

So, how about you?  Is there something you are resisting?  Something that is important to you but your inner demons have got a grip on your decision making?

 

“50 things about me!”

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1.)   I get teary eyed and goose bumps when I see a big old Red, White & Blue flag flying

2.)  One of the proudest days of my life was when I bought out my ex-husband, and owned my own home!

3.) I am the middle of five siblings

4.) I have known love

5.) I hope to be half the person my dog thinks I am!

6.) My mentor is an 87 year old retired art teacher who I just adore.

7.) I have been in a room with someone I loved when they were told they had only a short time to live

8.) I have EXCELLENT taste in friends.

9.) I find great joy in making things…. Art for one

10.) I have had more surgeries than I can to share!

11.) My home is like my womb, and I hope it’s comfy and inviting to all my guests

12.) I do not like to cook

13.) I rarely lose anything

14.) I am not a morning person, have never been

15.) I was unable to have children, so I guess I married them

16.) I believe in God, and I’ve been blessed to see his work in my life

17.) I believe if you give to another it comes back to you, tenfold

18.) I do not feel my age mentally, but physically I do

19.) My most creative time has been 10pm – 2am

20.)  I despise phones, but I love what my Iphone offers me

21.) I have smoked one cigarette in my life (at age 15), and I had a headache for 2 days

22.) I love Bailey’s Irish Creme

23.) I believe when a door is closed, a window is opened, or visa versa

24.) Music is vital to my happiness

25.) I have had the following cars:  1976 Subaru (Turquoise), 1980 Subaru Coupe (New), Renault p.o.s., 1988 Honda Prelude (new),  Pontiac Fiero, 2003 Subaru Wagon, 86 Jetta, 91 Jetta, 2003 Honda Odyssey, 2003 Jeep Liberty, and I now drive a 2002 VW Passat with 270K!

26.) I am my own worst critic

27.)  I believe food tastes better, and possessions are more appreciated when earned or grown yourself

28.) Sometimes I think about growing old, and I wonder if I will

29.) I am very grateful for my parents and their love for me

30.) The best advice given to me (or that I heard) was “Step back, look at the situation before responding, hence reacting

31.) I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that life is like a 100 piece puzzle that we will only get 60-70 pieces to connect

32.) I know mental illness intimately

33.) I love being near or close to bodies of water, I find it tranquilizing

34.) I hate snakes

35.) Family comes first, always

36.) I know what lost love feels like

37.) I am a cancer survivor

38.) I have laughed so hard I’ve wet my pants

39.) The older I get, the smarter my parents are!

40.) I believe we are responsible for our own happiness

41.)  I don’t like the state of the World.  It saddens me

42.) I have been physically abused before

43.) If I had to do it over again, I would have become a graphic artist

44.) Nature grounds me

45.) I like who I am, I am honest, kind, caring, and I love to laugh

46.) I have lost two sisters to ovarian cancer

47.) I fear more loss

48.) I love animals

49.) Fall is my favorite time of year

50.) I am an extrovert who heals and recoops like an introvert

Whose next to share their list???????????  I dare you!

What is love?

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While visiting with friends yesterday we watched Nancy Reagan’s funeral, and then, by chance, Dr. Phil.   There was a married couple on there, I guess, trying to salvage their marriage that began on false pretenses (a nice way of putting “lies”).  Not only that, there was no trust between them, and while there appeared to be no infidelity, the accusations were immense, chaotic, but most importantly, damaging.

Having been in a bad relationship before, looking at this kind woman who was putting up with SO much, and why?   Because she loved him?    Is love based on lies?  On accusations?  On distrust?    I suppose its possible for both to heal and come together in health, I mean, anythings possible, right?  But what is the likelihood?  And what will be the cost  to each?

When I crawled into bed last night, perused my facebook feed, I noticed that someone who was once on my facebook died.    He was young.    I liked him, he was a funny man, and one night a couple, few years ago now, he and I spoke on depression, so I know he struggled for at least that period of time.    I looked at his facebook, and the last post is “love and kisses” from his equally young wife.    What went so wrong in that couple of days that someone decided to take his own life?

If I am to be totally honest with you, and I try to be, without making myself feel like I’ve shared too much of myself, I know what depression, helplessness and hopelessness feels like.   It’s hell.    I always remind myself “It’s darkest before the dawn”, but every minute feels like hours, and while you don’t want to die, you do in fact want your pain to stop.   If you’ve never experienced depression, and I’m not talking the kind where you are depressed because things aren’t going your own way.  I’m talking about that which attaches itself in you, and becomes so weighted that it’s hard to hold your head up, get out of bed, to MOVE.    Where it seems every minute of every day is a battle, against your brain, to fight off the thoughts, the emotional tennis match that resides in your head, and eventually in your heart  and becomes a war between your head and your heart.

Now let’s talk about what I call “volatile relationships”.   Where one cannot function or live without the other.  Where everything is extremely perfect, or extremely imperfect.  Where one day you’re “in love” and the next, you are being left.      I understand this type of relationship because I was in one a very very long time ago.    It is a pathway, and for those who are looking in on it, “a freeway” to destruction.

Such sensitivity and fragility cannot withstand the test of time when it involves the roller coaster of hurt or broken souls.     Some so damaged, only God himself can heal, that is, if the person can hold on, just for today.   This is where I learned the value of twelve step groups.   “Just for today”.    Today can be hard enough, I don’t need to think or dwell about tomorrow, or yesterday.  Living in the moment is a beautiful place to be most of the time if you can get there.  But it’s hard to do that in the busy world we live in today, when most news cast the world we live in, and it’s hard to feel anything but sadness.    That’s why I like silly news, good news, and I also like to surround myself with happy.   I can’t watch depressing movies, because it sucks the life out of me.  Sometimes for me, my sanity means shutting out the world, picking up my paintbrush, or pencil, distancing myself from that which brings me pain.  But that isn’t always possible.

I don’t know why this young man ended his life.  I am NOT in any way saying that what I wrote above is his scenario.   I am merely sharing my thoughts, which stem from my own experience, and what I see, today, when I look into the unhealthiness of yesterdays.

I do know, when friendships or relationships are built on extreme highs and lows, that is something I will stay away from.  That is not healthy for me, and instills fear within me when I see, or suspect this is happening with someone.  It is like giving a newly licensed driver a sporty race car to drive.  They have limited experience with driving to begin with.  It’s dangerous.

Love isn’t about always easy happy times, for sure.  Even healthy love can break a heart or spirit.   But if you’re on a daily roller coaster from ecstatic to hopeless, perhaps stepping back, and distancing yourself from it may be helpful, insightful.  And that isn’t to say that two people with problems are not capable of love, because they are.  But I think when you are learning how to love yourself, and you love someone else more than yourself, it’s a recipe for disaster.

The old cliche “Two halves multiplied do not equal a whole”.    No matter how hard you try, they just do not.   And it isn’t easy getting to that whole.   But my experience tells me, nothing worth having is easy to acquire.   I think relationships, love, is one if not THE greatest gift we are given in this world.  But my ideas of what “love is” has certainly changed over the years.

Relationships can be wonderful, but they are also mirrors.   Everything you are, and aren’t, get reflected back to you in face of the other.   It’s not for the weak hearted!

If you are struggling, if you are hurting, please, try to find a safe space, a safe person to which you can sit until it passes, because it will pass.  RIP my friend.  I know not what your problems were, but I know your pain must have been unbearable.    I know you are now at peace, to which I offer prayers for assurance, but your family and friend’s, they’ve got mountains of icy terrain to climb.

 

 

 

 

 

Sensitivity, mental illness AND being right brained

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I read a LOT of self help books.     My mother said to me one day last year “I think it’s great that you want to improve upon yourself, but Donna, what about fun?    Well, I read art books, that counts for fun.  And I read articles online, a lot about cancer, guess that isn’t too fun…    But this comment of hers “came back” in my head this past week.

Thinking about sensitivity.   I have always been very sensitive.   Cry easily (ask my siblings, growing up with me, my parents didn’t know what to do with me and my emotions, so to eliminate stress for all, they would omit sharing things with me!   Now, this works, to an extent, but not all that great after that.   I found myself in my 30s and 40s before I started to really learn how to sit with stuff, how to deal with things that otherwise “hurt”.    Hey, they did their best, no blame there, just thinking about what it would be like to NOT be so sensitive?

I remember sitting in a 12 step meeting, an addict was struggling.  He shared how his newly found sobriety was good, but it was also overwhelming.  He realized booze helped numb him from his “oversensitivity” (also labeled that as a child).    He was an artist, and part of who he was was this beautiful sensitive soul, and he didn’t want to lose that.  But he was going bat shit trying to figure out how to cope with life on a daily basis without a numbing agent.    I sat there, shaking my head with understanding.  I thought EVERYONE cried at the end of Casper?!?   And a whole lot of other things.

Where is the balance?   I don’t know.   The older I get, the easier it becomes to screen or throw stuff out that I just don’t want to cope with.  I’m not talking about responsibilities, but others drama and things that frankly, bring me discomfort or discontent.   I have heard, numerous times, that most mental illness (including addiction) comes with an undiagnosed dual diagnosis.   I think about this, and I have many many friends who have been treated for one, and who still struggle.   It was like being diagnosed with ADHD just two years ago at 51.  Holy crap!    Medication made my life SO MUCH BETTER.  I was the first to judge another if they put their children on ADD or ADHD meds.  Now?  I encourage.  If this gives their child an opportunity to function better (and it will if they are truly ADD/ADHD), their life will be improved upon so much.  Mine has.

Most people my age are only diagnosed because their children were, first.     The things that I once thought were “normal” and that everyone shared, and now I realize, a big part of my self esteem and confidence being lower than it should.   Because I felt stupid, or lazy, sometimes crazy.   I have always known I’ve been wired different from others, but I always attached a negative connotation (just listed above) to it.   The truth is, I’m not stupid, nor lazy, nor crazy.   I’m not!  I struggle with mental illness and this isn’t fun.   But I’m not insane.

Most important thing for me to do has been and will be to learn how to cope….     I believe I have good self awareness, and I strive, I really do, to be a good person, do the right thing, one day at a time.    I’m not special in my struggles, I’m far from alone.   But you know what is worse?     It HAS to be having an undiagnosed, untreated mental illness.  And the stigma that is attached and has been to mental illness sadly keeps many lives struggling, with little quality.

I recently went off five medications after I was discharged from my outpatient therapy because I had missed too much time.  Another blog.   I weaned myself off, and started to pay attention to my body.   I believe I was overmedicated.   Now, I am starting to “feel” again, and my hands do not shake anywhere near what they did, which is part of why I stopped painting, teaching.   I’m doing well.   I’m focusing on the physical problems that need attention, and keeping a close check on my depression with close friends, through blogging, and a lot of prayer.

I want a quality life.   I want to feel peace, happiness.   I want to feel grief without losing myself to it, or several years of my life.   This means I have to learn to coping skills, and I have and am.     I need to accept that part of being me is being sensitive and to accept myself for who I am, and may very well always be.    I remind myself that God doesn’t make junk, and that I was designed to be perfectly imperfect.   We all were.

Today I’ve had a nice day, a peaceful day, a productive day.    I’m very grateful for this.   I’ll deal with tomorrow when it gets here.     Just want to say one more thing.  If you have never been diagnosed or treated for mental illness, educate yourself.  Read articles, peoples blogs, etc.   Only a very small percentage are really insane.  Most of us struggling with learning disabilities and mental illness are just trying to find our way out of the chaos that can ruminate in our heads.    I share on my experiences to help others know, they are far from alone.  I know it helps me to know this, too.

Happy Mental Health!

Spring… I’m jumping on springs!

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It has been a very busy week for me, but a good week.   I have been “good tired” from all.  It’s a wonderful tired, unlike that of depression, pain.    I have been feeling so well I don’t want to change anything, or “rock the boat”.   Now past the fear of “losing it”, I am very much enjoying it.  It seems like a lifetime since I have felt this good.

A conglomeration of a perfected drug regime, two years of therapy, twice, sometimes 3 times a week, monthly appointments with my psychiatrist, what seemed to be a pouring of pain from my soul was and is met with compassion, suggestions, coping skills.   I am humbled, I am grateful for both my therapist and psychiatrist.  I am grateful for my desire and commitment to taking care of myself and learning, at the age of 52, how to love myself.    I’m not fooling myself into thinking this is “happily ever after”… I know better.  There will be times ahead where I will need to delve deep into all that I have and am learning, but today, right now, my life is exempt from further loss, pain of such, or depression.  Hallelujah!

I participated in a festival of arts in Massachusetts this past weekend.  It was the first time in years that I set up a booth with my artwork.   Having passed the torch and props to neighbors and friends who have started a new business, and who were so generously willing to lend me some of their antiques and displays to have the booth, I went well prepared.   At first I was a bit nervous, as I unpacked my wares, but in no time I got into it and enjoyed the process.  Every travel teaching gig, every show, no matter how well organized and prepared I am, I inevitably forget something.  This trip?  I forgot what I selling!  My packets!    It worked out fine.  I did not dwell, in fact, was able to laugh at the ridiculousness of it.

I spent a day and two nights with my girlfriend from Newfoundland, Canada whose normally 9 hour ferry trip turned into 3 days and 3 nights, they were “stuck on ice”.   As she was sharing the story I just kept shaking my head and laughing… only Anna Marie…only Anna Marie would experience something like this!  Well, that and the 799 other passengers whose plans were largely squelched in ice.

It was so nice to connect with others again.   Heck it was nice to SEE others again.  What seemed to be a very long endless winter, thus isolation from even neighbors, shelter from the storms, has ended.   Hope, new birth, warm temperatures and sunshine have returned.   It was evident on the faces of all who attended.   Winter’s in New England are not easy, and we survived another!   It was enjoyable sharing about art, life with friends and students of past, and some, the future.   It was also wonderful to hear compliments on my artwork, and feeling sincere concern from many who inquired as to how I was feeling, understanding the depth of darkness I have crawled out of.   It was nice seeing sincere happiness from others that I am doing so well.    Grateful…I am grateful. 

With my house once again turned upside down with what remains of my booth, I am sitting, looking at it with admiration.  I did it!   I did it!  I really did it!

As the train is passing by, only resting from whistling once every 6 seconds, I am very much aware of my surroundings, I am very much aware of how fortunate I am to have woken up this morning, to a new day…granted another day.

My psychiatrist told me that I get into trouble because I stop doing what I need to do to stay well.  Not intentional, not even consciously.   I have been vigilant of late in continuing and committing to doing things to help myself.  Grateful…I am grateful.

Grateful…I am grateful.

 

 

The familiar driveway….

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As I drove out, looking at the beautiful, old brick buildings with black shutters I thought about my history here.  My grandparents both worked here.  My grandfather as a haircutter and my grandmother in the laundry department.   My grandfather would tell us that crazy people lived there.    He shared how they would have to tie them up, how they were locked in rooms, which was sadly true, but I think he embellished to scare the crap out of us.    He liked doing that.

I have driven in and out this driveway now too many times to count.  Starting in the 80’s for a few years weekly or biweekly, then sporadically over the years.  I’ve been pretty steady the past couple of years going once or twice a week, sometimes three times.  I lived there for 2-3 weeks a couple years ago this month, and back in the late 80’s.

Today I drove out thinking how different I feel now.   I’m becoming a person who has boundaries, who has coping skills, who for the past couple days is very excited about life.   Today I am not consumed with pain, distraught from loss, depressed to a point I could not function.  Today I am vibrant, I am very much alive and I am very grateful for my therapist, psychiatrist, very grateful.   I’m in my 50’s, I want the rest of my life to be peaceful, serene, I want to throw away the wet blanket of depression and be happy.  Today I am.

By now you’ve figured out, it is a mental health hospital.   When my grandparents worked there the ignorance of mental illness was immense.   Patients with mental illnesses are no longer treated like they were then.   It wasn’t just this hospital but all.  Thank god for awareness, for research, for advanced education and treatment available today for those with mental illness(s).    The stigma remains, and ignorance is always present in any aspect of life.

In 1988 I was hospitalized there for my 2nd severe clinical depression.   Back then you could have day passes, where as now it isn’t allowed.  Well, on my day pass I spent the day with my then husband.   Anyway, the depression was still weighing heavy.  Upon discharge I went immediately into outpatient therapy.   Thus started the difficult journey of anti depressants.   The side effects, the month it takes to kick in, what will insurance pay for, what can I live with?   A few weeks after discharge I asked my psychiatrist if the med I was on would alter my menses.  Nope.   The woman who wasn’t able to have children from disease in my teens, surgery after surgery… well, she was surprisingly pregnant.  I went cold turkey from my meds.  Was so sick, a mess, my psychiatrist was upset because you are supposed to ween off such heavy drugs.   I will share with you that my psychiatrist at the time, researched and suggested EST (Electric Shock Treatment).  I was a mess, but I couldn’t do this.  I was pregnant.   Talk about an “awakening”.   “One flew over the cuckoos nest” flashed in and out.  Nope… let’s find another way.

Weeks later I miscarried.  What a whirlwind, and then plummeted lower than I thought possible.    I could go on and on, just don’t care to.   Not even sure why I’m sharing this today, I haven’t thought about this in years.   It’s funny all the thoughts and memories that flash before me in a seconds time.

Let’s move ahead to today.  To driving out the driveway, smiling, accompanying Bob Dylan, happy.

This sweatshirt USED to say "VERMONT"!

This sweatshirt USED to say “VERMONT”!

I drove out happy and a person who has direction, gratitude for where I am right now, and hopeful that the next time (not to be negative) the clinical depression comes to bite me in the ass, I will already be in treatment and have learned coping skills, warning signs, things I can do every day to help myself.    I am very very grateful.

On my drive home I thought about how fortunate I have been to have the care I have and am receiving.   I no longer feel “less than” anyone else because I struggle with depression, anxiety, and ADHD which was diagnosed just this past year.   I don’t feel shame or embarrassment, thus why I share such personal things.   I am not unique, I am of a large population of people who struggle with mental illness.   Today?  Today I feel like a person who is doing her best, given the cards dealt, and today?  Today I am doing well!!!  Today I am ready to rejoin the world, my career, and even thinking about perhaps dating.  Wouldn’t that be something!     I’m aware that the “waiting for the shoe to drop” cynical thoughts are present, but this morning, waking to familiar and frequent dread, I was able to use the skills I’ve learned and turn my day around.   HUGE!  HUGE!  We’re talking HUGE!

I am grateful, I am focused.   I know this isn’t just a fluke, this is the result of hard work, changing my behaviors, thoughts.   I hope I remember, the next time this shit knocks on my door (which could very well be tomorrow) how to help myself, how to bypass the crap, how to merge from this hellacious road into Hope Lane.   Gratitude.   Self respective, worth, and even some confidence!  Who would have thunk?

As I’m getting ready to end this blog “The Circle Of Life” came on.  I smiled.  Yep, “The Circle Of Life!”   As I drove out, looking at the beautiful, old brick buildings with black shutters I thought about my history here………. so so many.

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TGIF

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Sung to the tune of “Thank God I’m a country boy!” -John Denver, “Thank god it’s Friday night… yeah!”    Five doctors appointments, medical tests… I’m glad this is behind me.

Today has been a good day.  I saw my shrink, which was long overdue.  And I saw my therapist for a couple minutes who came over to me to see how I was doing after a particularly difficult week.  It meant much to me.   It’s nice to know she cares.   Believe me, I have many stories to tell of therapists I have had in the past.   One very good one, and a bucketful of soggy onions.

Took my mom shopping, always an adventure.   Bought a new mop and bucket because Sophie Lauren chewed the mop up and trashed the bucket.  Anyway, I decided today would be a domestic day, yes I planned to put on my domestic goddess tiara.   A hankerchief!  Trust me, it doesn’t happen often.  First frustrated with my 3 month old Electrolux until I found the cause.   I guess I should vacuum more often?  A baseball size fur ball.    Kinda gross, kinda funny.

As I mentioned before, this week has been a hard week.   I’m not going to go into it all, I just want to reiterate perhaps to myself, and any of you who are struggling…hang in there, hang on…it does pass.    I surely hope this is behind me, but probably not.  This is an anniversary time of my youngest sisters passing, and weeks prior, and right around the corner will be my oldest sisters passing.    If you’ve ever lost a sibling you know, it sucks.  It feels like someone or something reached into my chest and pulled out a large chunk of my heart.  Time teaches me how to coexist with it, but it never really goes away.   We are also coming up on the anniversary when I found out my ex died.  Deep sighs.    I can do this, I can do this.   And if that isn’t enough…. the diagnosis of breast cancer(s)….

The past couple of days I’ve been thinking about life in terms of rules.  There are none!   The older I get the more I “get” that it isn’t about our experiences as much as how we HANDLE or COPE with them.   Life isn’t a bowl of cherries, at least mine hasn’t been.  It has it’s highs and lows and another thing I am learning is to appreciate the times that seem “boring”…they are a blessing.    Sort of like how I have changed my view on “bad boys”.   I was always drawn to them, the excitement?  The mystery?  I don’t know.   Now a days I’m thinking that who I would once view as “boring” will be very nice.   I’m not into parties, I’m not into crowds (a topic that was covered today with my shrink).   I enjoy going out for dinner, I enjoy going for rides, particularly back hills, or better in the woods.   I am no longer an extrovert.  I’m told that this happens sometimes with age, but I’m very much an introvert now and that is okay with me.

Reconnecting with childhood friends has brought an array of memories.  Oh how simple life seemed then.  Yes, times have changed, but maturity and more happens and it can easily become hard water to tread in.    It also grounds me.    I’m not particularly crazy about seeing even these people, I will typically dodge them and go the other way in hopes they hadn’t seen me… but usually when I do see someone and have a conversation with them I walk away feeling good and wondering why I would ever “run” from such an experience.    I am also horrible when it comes to commitments.  “Yes, yes sounds good!” and when the engagement comes, I’m dragging feet and the majority of the time, will cancel or back out of the plans.    Ask any of my family or close friends.    Yeah, I’ve learned that “fear of intimacy” is directly related to, sibling to “fear of commitment”.

As difficult as this week has been I have learned a lot.  Why perhaps I am as described above, what perhaps prompted or caused it.   I’ve relearned that I can endure, that I beat the crap out of myself with unrealistic and unhealthy expectations of myself.  As a person who has struggled with depression the majority of my life one would think I would “understand” it’s talon grip.    I call myself lazy and a few things, negative connotations.    “Why can’t I ‘pull myself up by my bootstraps’…and more.   Depression is real, it can be debilitating.

There is a house and garage/barn that has been in the process of being built for months now.  Every time I drive by I slow down and study it.  The lines of the house, the design, the architecture is just beautiful.  I don’t know how anyone could look at this and not see that architectures are artists of a different medium.     Anyway, watching this reminds me of the importance of building a good foundation, not to skimp on that as it’s the most important in building.   The most beautiful house (life) can easily be compromised, severely, if the foundation is shoddy.  Yah yah, I’m full of metaphors these days.

I received a surprise visit today from a woman who I just adore.  She is 85 and an artist.  She is my mentor.   We visited for an hour or so, getting caught up on things and showing each other our latest paintings/designs.   It made my day.  I am also excited that tomorrow I have plans to spend it with girlfriends, beading.    I am excited that I am excited about this and not dragging feet and feeling skivvy.

I am off to do laundry, make some brownies and enjoy a quiet night at home with my furries.

Have a great weekend! ♥