Goodbye 2016

Well, it’s the last day of 2016, and I thought I should write a blog about it.  This hasn’t been an easy year by any means.  I have experienced heart break, the failure of a support system, depression, anxiety, abandonment, judgement and loneliness.  It was a long year to work through.

But, let’s not talk about that.  Let’s talk about the good things that happened this year.

This year was a new beginning for me on many levels.  I started to rediscover myself, in unexplainable ways.  For the first time in years, I listened to my heart, instead of allowing the comments from those I assumed to be more spiritually resilient than I, determine what I should do and how I should do it.  I ignored the ‘labels’ I was given in the past and did my own thing.  I spent time pouring into myself, instead of letting myself get sucked dry by others.

During this time, I discovered the joy of painting for others, not just myself.  Painting has become a therapy that speaks to my melancholy self, more than speaking to another human ever could.  There is something very deep, and personal about creating something.

I also started writing, for the first time in over ten years.  Aside from blogs and random poems here and there.  This is something I have kept to myself for the most part, because I was allowing fear to hold me back, wondering what others would think of my work, or how many little old church lady friends I would offend.

I have discovered that this is who I am:  A writer.  An artist.  An activist.

Sometimes it’s weird for me to admit that I have been wandering around for the longest time, assuming, or pretending that I knew myself, or what I wanted to do.  However, I am grateful to have discovered this new empowerment in the darkness of my trials, this is something I can take into 2017 with me.

This is something I can take with me for the rest of my life.

Happy New Year y’all.  As you walk into this new year, don’t allow the bitterness to step over the threshold.  Beat it down and reach out for the joy that is waiting for you on the other side.

 

The Cloud with my Name on it

When I was younger, my mom used to lock herself in her room a lot.  I didn’t think a lot about it, because she worked hard, and suffered from migraines a lot.  As I hit puberty and became a teenager, I too experienced migraines, and let me tell you, it is not something you can get up and walk around with, they knock you out cold.

But this post isn’t about migraines.

My mom locking herself in her room happened on more than just a few occasions.  It started becoming a habit for her, something she would do the moment she got home.  She would hide from us.  It got to the point where my older sister had to make dinner for our younger brother and myself.  Sometimes my older sister had to make sure the laundry was switched over, or the dog went out, because mom couldn’t do it.  Mom cried and yelled a lot, we never knew what was going to set her off.  We grew to be terrified of her and her outbursts.

When we all became adults and moved out, my sister had to go through counseling to work through her mommy issues, my brother grew distant for a while, but me, being the middle child, did my best to reassure everyone: people change!  People grow in their skin and learn new ways to navigate through the world!  We should be more forgiving.

It wasn’t until I was an adult, and the memories had already accumulated, that I knew what was going on.

It wasn’t until I had experienced what my mom went through for myself.

After months of coming home, and going straight to my bed,  or just not being able to leave my bed, skipping out on dinner with loved ones, being extra agitated for no reason, sometimes even yelling and losing my tempter during the most mundane situations, I knew I was doing exactly what my mother had done all those years ago.

Only this time, I had a word for it.  I had fallen into the world of clinical depression, or acute depression disorder.

Scientists believe that as many as 40 percent of those with depression can trace it to a genetic link. Environmental and other factors make up the other 60 percent. Research has also shown that people with parents or siblings who have depression are up to three times more likely to have the condition.‘  My dad also suffers from depression, which is another story for another time.

With my family history, sometimes I wonder if I even stood a chance against my reality, if maybe I always had a dark cloud over my head, ready to rain on me with no rhyme or reason.

This is why the suck it up way of thinking shoved onto someone with a mental health issue can be more detrimental than good.  It cannot always be helped with a ray of sunshine and a jog through the park.  I want to encourage people to read, and educate themselves on topics such as depression.  It is not always a surface level feeling.  Sometimes it can seep down into your bones and leave you lifeless.

If you suffer from depression, I want to encourage you to seek help, on a personal level, and a professional level.  Find a support group if you do not have a close group of friends.  Reach out, and I promise there will be others reaching back for you.

Apathy

‘Apathy: the trait of lacking enthusiasm for, or interest in things generally.’

The definition of my life currently. There are different levels to depression.  Depending on who you are as a person and your chemistry make up, you can experience several levels, or just a couple.  All of which can be equally as awful in their own way.

For me, once I get out of the pit (what I like to call the darkness that consumes me: falling into a comatose state where I can’t get out of my bed no matter how hard I try) I tend to land in a state of apathy.  I don’t feel sad.  There are no tears but I am also not happy.  I feel no joy, no enthusiasm to write or paint.  Nothing.  I just don’t care.

My body is still tired, and I want to sleep a lot, but I am functional.  I would rather be in this state of apathy instead of trapped in the pit.  I can brew my own coffee in this head space.

This apathy mode can be just as detrimental as being stuck in bed all day and not being able to control the tears.  I am an artist; right now some of my income is from painting, and if I don’t paint, I don’t get paid.  This is something I am currently struggling with because I have a few commissions I need to get caught up on, which means I need to be self motivated.  I know it’s something I have to do, but most of me just does not care.

I want to care, I want to feel my emotions, feel joy when I listen to music, feel angry when my sister says something stupid, feel sensations when my spouse shows me love.  I want to feel all these things, but I can’t.

I would love to end this with a note of encouragement to tell you that you can get through this, but it’s just words to me.  I know this is true, I have been to the other side numerous times, but today, I just don’t feel it.

Carry on, and don’t stop moving forward.

Spiraling

Life happens at a sonic speed sometimes.  It’s not something that can be controlled or helped.  It’s just the way it is.

Recently I have been in a conflict with a family member.  For some reason, family seems to be the hardest group of people to understand, and the last to show support when it comes to mental illness.  I was doing great for a long while, then last month I fell off the edge and into the pit.  It has been a struggle of many ups and downs trying to get back into the sunshine.

I decided to open up and share how I was feeling.  I wanted to be brave and tear down walls, so I told them I was struggling, that I was having a hard time.  I told them why I have been avoiding social encounters and apologized.  I asked that they be more understanding, and be more sensitive with me right now.

I thought I was going a good thing.  I wanted to do the right thing, so I showed my vulnerability.

Instead, it blew up in my face.  They took offense and told me over and over again that I have been spiraling out of control for a long time.  They took it a step further and told me, “You need to get back on your med’s because you are out of control!” “You know I am blunt, you just have to deal with it, I am not going to walk on eggshells around you.” Etc.

I ended the conversation feeling shocked and confused by the blatant ignorant remarks.  This family member and I do not even live in the same city.  We do not see each other everyday, so I knew what they were saying was not true.  They just wanted to be hurtful.

Their words however, have been echoing in my head non stop.  I can’t help but think, what if I was a trigger sensitive person?  Or, what if I was on the verge of ending it all?  Their harsh words and insensitivity could have pushed me right up to the edge.

Thank goodness I have support that lives with me, someone to remind me that I am loved and needed.  Someone to help me combat the lies that are spewed at me from the outside, or the lies that can bubble up from within.

I wanted to share this for several reasons.  First, never be ashamed for opening up and sharing about your struggles.  Doing so makes you brave.  Second, there are people out there who will hold your struggles over you and make you feel like you are broken, that you are a constant screw up.  They will berate you, and push you into thinking that you might be worse than you actually are, and their words may actually cause you to spiral even if you have been doing great.  Cut those people out, or if you cannot cut them out completely, do not be afraid to step back from them for a season to gain a new perspective.  Sometimes their insensitivity comes from a place of lack of knowledge or fear.

Know that you are loved, and never be afraid to stand up for yourself.  You are worth it.

In My Head

I have learned a lot in my short adult life thus far.  I have learned that I have big emotions.  I have learned that people don’t feel comfortable talking about their emotions.  I have also learned that it is best to keep all my emotions to myself so I don’t accidentally offend anyone.

I have learned that it is best to stay in my own head, because reaching out can have severe consequences.

I suffer from anxiety and depression.  These are things that have followed me around since elementary school.  I never understood what was happening to me until I became an adult and learned that there were words to what was happening to me.

Recently, the anxiety and depression have become debilitating at times.  I have hardly left my house in this last year.  85% of the time, if I leave my house I have a panic attack.  There are weeks I cannot get out of bed and I just cry all day.  I don’t even know why.

When I have reached out in the past, I tend to get replies like: Well, suck it up, or, we have all been depressed, or, well I have anxiety too, but that has never stopped me!

Comments like these make me afraid to talk about the harder things in my life.

I lead a pretty privileged life compared to a lot of people, which makes it difficult for me to tell people: I am depressed, I couldn’t get out of bed all week, and I finally mustered up enough energy to take a shower last night.  It’s hard for me to ‘complain’ when I know I am not the one at the bottom of the barrel.

Why am I depressed?  I couldn’t tell you.  Why can’t I stop crying some days?  I’m not sure, any reason I have, doesn’t make sense.  The panic attacks that sneak up on me make me feel dumb and childish.

In this blog I am going to share my journey, my past, my hopes for my future, along the way I hope to help bring people up and open up a safe place for people to share.  We just have this one life, and if we cannot help each other, then what good are we as a human race?