Sunday, April 24, 2016

Playing Catch Up

Sometimes I feel like I’m perpetually trying to catch up with my life. As if all of the good days need to be spent trying to make up for all of the bad days. I don’t think it’s even possible. I’ve let my depression steal many things from me.  I’ve missed parties, funerals, weddings…and life. Then I have to stop and ask myself, could it have been avoided?  The answer to that truly is no.

Am I entitled to feel guilt or even remorse for all that I’ve lost? Do I owe everyone I know an apology for all that I’ve taken from them? I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t do anything wrong to deserve this, yet I carry all of the burden of the guilt and the loss.  I know I have isolated myself and at times pushed people away. So, do I really have to wonder why people don’t call to check up on me? Why so many of my relationships have ended in a dramatically painful fashion?

How I wish I could get a couple of years back. With the knowledge that I possess currently, of course. Perhaps spend a little extra time with my lost loved ones.  Relive the first few years of my marriage and just be happy. Happy for me, happy for my family and for my husband. I hate this overwhelming feeling of regret. Even now the bad days cast a shadow over the good because I know that a downward spiral could happen at any moment.

I suppose I’m just feeling sorry for myself.  I can’t change the past. I know that. Can I change the future? It’s all too much.  So overwhelming. I can’t alter people’s perception of me. Whether they’re in my life or not, I can’t be something I’m not.  But, I can live in the now. This feeling like I’m shackled to my past; as if I need to carry it inside and be constantly reminded of all of the pain. I need to work on leaving it behind me.

I’m making real and positive changes to my life, and for that I’m grateful.  Is it enough? Will it keep history from repeating itself? I truly want and need to believe that is the case. I will always be terrified of getting older.  I’m frightened of losing more people that I love and even more so of dying myself. So, I’ve got to take a deep breath and come to terms with my situation.

This is the only life I have and it’s time to face facts. There are still going to be bad days.  I can’t escape that. I need to stop letting this disease lie to me. I don’t need to make up for my mistakes; I just need to learn from them. I’ve got to look inside and find a reason to feel positive about where I’m headed.  Otherwise, in 10 or 20 years I’ll be looking back at the 43-year-old me wondering why I didn’t work harder to make the future better.

I have to believe in myself and know that now I’ve been to the very bottom, I can only go up. That has to be some kind of incentive. That little voice inside of my head needs to take a step back. My raison d'etre is all around me.  This is not the final act. I’m just getting started. Everything will be better now that I’m aware of my surroundings. Perhaps I don’t know exactly which direction I’m headed, but that’s OK. I only need to keep moving…in any direction except behind me.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Social Anxiety

As long as I can remember, I’ve been dealing with social anxiety.  When it first started, I didn’t realize that what I was feeling fell into any particular category.  I’m glad to know now, but I’m wondering if it’s somehow made me even more susceptible.

I’ve always had poor self-esteem.  It comes from being overweight as a child.  It’s even worse now as I’ve gotten older and added more weight.  There’s a constant running dialogue in my head when I’m in public.  If someone looks at me, my brain automatically says, that’s right stare at the fat girl.  I’m perpetually consumed by what people think, and what they might say when I’m not looking.

Ironically, it’s even harder when I’m with people that I know.  I’m always wondering if they noticed that I gained weight, can they see that pimple on my face, are my clothes OK?  Then I will start comparing myself to them.  Look at how good she looks in those jeans; I wish I could look like that.  I know it sounds absolutely absurd, but it’s extremely hard to overcome. 

The Social Anxiety Institute characterizes social anxiety by this definition:
Social anxiety is the fear of interaction with other people that brings on self-consciousness, feelings of being negatively judged and evaluated, and, as a result, leads to avoidance.
It is the fear of being judged and evaluated negatively by other people, leading to feelings of inadequacy, inferiority, embarrassment, humiliation, and depression.
If a person usually becomes (irrationally) anxious in social situations but seems better when they are alone, then "social anxiety" may be the problem.

So, it seems to me I have a textbook case.  What the definition doesn’t mention is the physical response.  The knots in your stomach, sweating, breathing heavy, crying and shaking.  All of which occur for virtually every outbreak of anxiety.  I’ve never really sought out any specific treatment to help me control these symptoms.  Maybe it’s time that I do.  I often miss out on important events because the anxiety is so overwhelming.  Without a medication like Xanax, I’m totally lost.  Just getting in the car sometimes terrifies me, and all of this ties nicely into my Agoraphobia. describes Agoraphobia with the following definition:
An abnormal and persistent fear of public places or open areas, especially those from which escape could be difficult or in which help might not be immediately accessible. Persons with agoraphobia frequently also have panic disorder. People with mild agoraphobia often live normal lives by avoiding anxiety-provoking situations. In the most severe agoraphobia, the victims may be incapacitated and homebound. Agoraphobia tends to start in the mid to late 20s, and the onset may appear to be triggered by a traumatic event.

These conditions are very similar to one another, but even so having both of them is a nightmare.  I’m making a confession.  I haven’t actually driven anywhere in over a year. Joe does currently have to take my car to work, granted…but even if he was home, I wouldn’t just hop in the car and go somewhere.  Between the Agoraphobia and just general anxiety, I’m afraid to drive.  There have been times when I’m driving down the road, or making a turn and I can’t get the image of another car hitting me out of my head.  It’s scary stuff.  So, like a lot of people, I turn to avoidance.  Which is the absolutely wrong response.

So, now what?  Being aware of my issues hasn’t ever been my problem.  It’s following up on some type of treatment that’s the real puzzle.  I do have good news in that area, however.  This past Tuesday, I finally went to see a new psychiatrist. 
If you’re unaware, for roughly 3 years (since my suicide attempt) I have only been seeing my primary care doctor for medication management.  However, he has run into some roadblocks with the insurance, so we started looking.  I found someone, and so far I really like her.  She’s the first mental health care provider that I have been to in about 10 years that genuinely seems like she’s listening, and she actually cares.  I’m grateful for that.

I started 2 new medications.  One for depression and one for restless leg syndrome. She also increased my anti-anxiety medication, which is a huge blessing. So far so good, with the exception of being drowsy during the day.  It’s a side effect that I assume will gradually wear off.  If that’s all I have to worry about, I would say I’m ahead of the game.  Once again, it was suggested that I try therapy.  Perhaps I will.  If nothing else, I will meet the therapist that she works with and see if I’m comfortable.  If not, I won’t continue.  So, I feel like I’m off to a good start.  What about you?  Do these definitions seem familiar to you?  Were you even aware that there was a name for what you were feeling? 

I’m working on it, and I think I will get there.  I’ve said it so many times before, but I’m so grateful to have the support of my husband.  Without him, there would be no me.  For now, I’m going to keep moving ahead and being grateful for the good days. I will focus on my healthy eating and healthy lifestyle.  We bought a heavy (punching) bag yesterday that we’re going to put up in the basement so I can let out some of anger and frustration while hopefully helping me get in shape.  I’ve very excited, and I know it will help with my anxiety level.  

So, for now, hang on tight! It’s going to be a bumpy ride! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Finding A Better Me

With 2016 upon us, many people have made plans to attempt to be a better person.  Whether it’s by dieting, exercising, or going back to school.  Many of us swear that this year will be THE year.  I didn’t make any of those plans, for good reason.  I wasn’t sure where my life would be headed.  I was feeling very lost and unsure of myself. 

I haven’t always subscribed to the theory that everything happens for a reason.  I must say, it seems to be pretty accurate in this instance.  As you may know, I’ve struggled with my weight for my entire life.  I was believing all of the negative thoughts my brain badgers me with.  I know that my husband supports me in everything that I do.  Unfortunately, I didn’t believe in myself.

I’ve been on a medication called Seroquel for roughly 15 years.  It has the propensity to give you crazy cravings in the middle of the night.  I went through many years of getting up in the middle of the night to eat.  Seroquel also makes you extremely sleepy, so at times, I was sleep eating. 

I’ve gained an obscene amount of weight.  I’m constantly down on myself about my appearance.  Nothing ever seemed to work long-term…if it worked at all.  I’ve never been this overweight in my life, and in the last 10 years, I haven’t done myself any favors.  I’ve tried it all.  Diet pills, Slim Fast, Atkins, Weight Watchers, and Medical Weight Loss just to name a few. 

For me, those programs weren’t realistic.  I couldn’t afford to stay on most of them for very long.  The irony of my situation is that over the last few years, I haven’t been over-eating. 

When I made the step to ask my doctor about weight loss surgery, we realized that I wasn’t the ideal candidate.  I already ate next to nothing.  NOT eating was making me fatter.  My metabolism has been non-existent for so long, the fat just sits there.  Add to that the fact that my back has been injured since 2010, preventing me from being able to do much in the way of exercise.  I was on Oxycodone for nearly a year. 

So, one day I was on Twitter and I saw all of these tweets about how successful a certain exercise program was.  We had already purchased the DVD’s in 2014, but my back pain was so extensive, I couldn’t continue at that time.  Factor in that the program was created by a retired wrestler that I’ve been following since the 90’s, I knew I had to get on the ball. 

I reached out to him and told him my story.  He confided in me that would help guide me through the process as long as I was willing to do the work.  I was beyond grateful.  He started off by sending me a list of tasks to do to get me started.  Included in that list were several documentaries.  One, in particular, struck a chord with me.  It’s called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (on Netflix). Unfortunately, I could relate to that title.  I learned about a man from Australia that came to America to start a juicing program.  He traveled across America with a juicer in his car and only juiced all natural, 100% organic fruits and vegetable.  Along the way, he met many people that were interested in the program.  One man in particular weight around 420 pounds.  They documented both of their stories – success stories! I was inspired and I ordered a juicer the next day. 

I wasn’t only doing this for weight loss at that point.  I was sick and tired of being sick and tired.  I wanted to feel good for once.  Never mind that I really wasn’t enjoying eating to begin with.  Everything I ate seemed to have some strange side effect.  I then watched a documentary called Genetic Roulette. (Available on Amazon) It covers all of the ways that we are essentially being poisoned by the pesticides that are being used.  They spray the fruits, vegetables, and even cotton.  Not only were the workers that handled the crops getting seriously ill, but they then take the pesticide ridden products and feed them to the cows, pigs, and chickens.  We are getting bombarded at every turn. 

Right away, I knew going organic was the thing to do.  The hardest part about this process has been teaching myself to eat/drink 3 meals a day.  Even if it was just juice, it had all of the vitamins and nutrients I could possibly need.  After making it through a 10-day juice reboot, I am 100% sold on this plan.  I now juice for breakfast and lunch, then eat an extremely healthy and organic dinner. 

You may be asking what the hell any of this has to do with bipolar or depression.  It has everything to do with it.  As of now, I’ve lost 20 pounds.  I feel amazing.  My migraines have decreased and I have more energy.  My back pain does still exist, but it doesn’t hurt as often.  In an attempt to tackle my social anxiety, we’re getting out more and doing fun things like going to the park or to a movie.  My depression symptoms are much, much more manageable.  I still get depressed and I know that I always will.  I’m not so na├»ve to think that I can cure it.  However, not having a foggy brain and being able to think straight sure do help you manage your symptoms better. 

I know I have a long way to go.  However, for the first time in over 10 years, I feel like I can do this.  I know there will be setbacks along the way, but I’m so much better equipped to face those setbacks.  There will still be days when I feel like crap, but I’m confident in my choices.  I no longer eat meat, dairy, or gluten.  I take vitamins every day and I’m much more active. 

Before now, I had lost all hope.  Thanks to a good old fashioned kick in the ass by one of my heroes, I feel like I can move mountains.  I call him my mentor now, and we exchange emails several times a week.  He’s always there if I have questions or concerns.  I don’t think I can ever truly express my gratitude. 

I’m not at all trying to insinuate that it’s my way or the highway.  I’ve always said that what works for me may not work for you.  I don’t make any money from this post.  I’m not trying to sell you something.  I just figured that between my book and subsequent posts, you could use a little good news from me.  J If you do want to learn more about anything I’ve discussed here, please feel free to email me at

It’s been a long time since I had confidence.  Years since I truly felt good.  If I can help you achieve that as well, it would be amazing.  In 2013, when I set off on this adventure, I only wanted to help others.  I hope that I have, and I hope I will continue to do so. 

Learning to take care of yourself is never easy.  I’m not saying it will be simple.  I’m just telling you that it’s worth it.  You are worth it.  Thank you for indulging me. 

Until next time…

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Moment in Time

Sometimes when you least expect it, you need to take a step back.  Try to figure out what goal it is that you’re looking to achieve.  Really look inside your head and block out all of the outside forces.  I’ll be honest.  Behind the whole “let’s change the world and make it a more tolerant place” facade, lies one exhausted, overwhelmed, and frustrated individual. 

So, here I am…awake at 3:09 am, listening to my husband’s C-Pap machine and wishing my restless leg syndrome would go away.  I feel hurt and let down by a lot of people, but I’m letting them make me feel that way.  I know I’ve grown a lot, and I’m in a different place than I was in 2013, but I honestly have no idea where I’m headed next.  I’m lost in the shadow of the pain that hovers over me. 

It’s the anniversary of my mother’s death.  Eight years have passed, and somehow just thinking of it automatically transports me back to that moment at 7:00 PM, the doctor came in and turned off those machines.  I’ll never forget that feeling of utter despair and loss.  When I lost her, I lost a piece of myself that I’ll never have back. I’ve never been the same person since that day, and I never will be.  I just can’t get that image out of my head. 

So, I am taking that much needed step back.  Which is ironic, because I was just informed by my publisher that I will be embarking on a virtual blog tour.  In essence, I will be contributing to whatever blog and/or podcasts will have me.  Maybe that’s why, on a personal level, I’m inclined to move away from social media for a time.  I know I spend far too much time online as it is.  There are days when I wish I never would have started using Facebook.  When my husband is sitting next to me, and we’re not talking to each other, using our phones to talk to other people…well, you’ve got to draw a damn line somewhere.  I’ve worked far too long and far too hard to let my marriage go down the tubes because we don’t actually communicate with each other anymore.  That is not going to happen to me. 

So, if I have to take his phone and throw it across the room, I’m going to do it.  I have so little time with him to start with, and to have social media come between us in our time together is unacceptable.  I know he’ll read this, and I hope he understands and agrees. 

I cried a lot today, and at one point when I had stopped, I opened the curtain in our room, and noticed the sun start to shine. Inside my head, I said, “Hi Mom…I love you too”.  We have an old answering machine that I have I believe 4 messages from her stored on it. I’m not sure where that machine is right now, and maybe it’s better that way, because I think hearing her voice would break me more than build me up.  When you start hitting your forties, and you start realizing that the older you get, the more people you’re going to lose, well…it’s like a kick in the gut.  I feel like I’ve lost enough for a lifetime, but I have so much more to endure.  How I will get through that, I have yet to determine.  With my husband by my side, we’ll figure it out. 

I just wish I didn’t have to.  

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Urge (Trigger Warning - Discussion of self-injury)

Ironically, it’s still quite embarrassing for me to come forward and talk about particular issues that I’m going through.  Even after everything that I’ve said publicly.  I think I will always be afraid of what people will think.  Thankfully, even though it is in the back of my mind, I rarely let is stop me from being the same brutally honest person that I have always been. 

Most of you know by now that I’ve written a book.  You may also be aware that the sales are not nearly what I had hoped for.  That has been a source of stress for me, but I felt like I was handling it pretty well, for a while. You may also not be aware that I have had little to no relationship with the original publisher of the book.  After the giant catastrophe that occurred with errors in the book, he hasn’t been around much.

Last night, I found myself having to reach out to him again about more errors.  Quite frankly, it caused one of the worst panic attacks I’ve experienced in quite some time.  I was irrational, I was sobbing, and I couldn’t breathe.  It was like the dam broke.  It started a flood of pain and heartache that I’ve just been swallowing since November 1st when I had maybe 10 people in attendance at my book signing.  What kind of a fool am I?  How could I ever possibly think that I could be a success.  Everything that I’ve ever touched has turned to shit.  The ONLY thing I haven’t screwed up yet is my marriage and thank GOD for that. 

So, the darkness set in.  The depression, the sadness, the feelings of worthlessness, of hopelessness.  I feel like someone draped a lead blanket across my back and shoulders.  It’s inescapable.  Last night, I tried to go to bed early, hoping I might feel better with sleep, but I felt even heavier when I woke up.  I started this project, attempting to get my book on another format, and it wasn’t working.  I had to call the company and when I hung up, I just lost it. 

 The feelings of failure were suffocating me.  I was hyperventilating.  I didn’t understand a word she said to me, and I had no idea how to fix a thing.  Suddenly, I felt like a small child lost in the woods.  Which way do I go?  Where do I turn?  It felt like there was no answer, so I was frozen in my fears. 

All I could think of was, how stupid are you?  What the hell made you think you were capable of succeeding at anything?  So, you told people you were depressed, big damn deal…nobody cares.

This repeated in my head obsessively…until it happened.  Something I truly thought I had let go of.  It was the images of cutting.  It starts out slowly.  I just sort of picture what I might use, what the cuts may look like.  Then the cravings kick in…the deep burning desire to punish myself for being a failure.  To feel the rush of having cut hard enough to bleed. The rush calms the nerves, and everything slows down for a few minutes.  The need runs through my head like a song on repeat. 

I’ve never in my life told anyone outside my closest family members or therapists that.  The first thing I did was tell Joe.  God how I hate having to be that kind of person that interrupts her husband’s work day to tell him this horrible news.  As bad as that news is, there’s even better news.  I DIDN’T CUT.  That’s the real accomplishment in this story.  Even now, it’s buzzing around in my brain.  I know it probably sounds really stupid to someone that hasn’t experienced it.  Maybe you think it’s a dumb reason to want to do it.  None of that matters.  What matters is, I had horribly painful urges and I made it through them. 

I’m not going to sit here and run down the laundry list of things that are going wrong for us right now, that’s not what this blog is about.  What matters is that these things are painful enough…life altering enough that for one moment in time, I wanted to hurt myself to stop thinking about these things.  To punish myself for not living up to the expectations I had for myself. 

 I’m sure there are many people that don’t understand.  It’s OK.  I don’t need you to understand.  If you still want to be my friend, what I need is maybe a, “hey, are you OK?” once in a while.  You would be amazed at how much feeling cared about can change your outlook on self-injury. 

Is my book a success?  No.  Is it the only dream that I truly ever had?  Yes.  Do I feel like a gigantic failure?  You bet your sweet ass I do.  I long for someone to come along that has some fantastic ideas or really wants to help me get my name out there…because I am exhausted.  I beat myself up for being too tired to spend more time online trying to reach out to anyone and everyone in hopes of hitting it big.  Maybe to the average person, none of this is reason enough for me to want to hurt myself.  Well…good for you, truly.  I’m glad for you not having to experience this. 

Do I feel better about my life? No…not at all, honestly.  However, I have an ever-so-small glimmer of hope in the back of my mind know that I am still able to maintain my 2 years and 6 months clean of self-injury. 

I guess I’ll think about the rest of it tomorrow. 

Thanks for listening.  

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