So Many…

There are so many men and women out there during this pandemic, waiting, longing and eager to send their friends, partners and parents flowers.

So they waited a long time to show these flowers how pretty and wonderful these people are. But they have to wait a little longer…

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Sending you angel love and blessings.

Love, Francesca.

2019

2019 has been a year of growth and challenges.

But I can never blame myself for wanting to live.

Everything is teaching me something.
As long as I’m open and willing to learn.

Everyone comes into this world being enough. I am enough. 💫

Here is to 2020.

Thank you for being with me.
Angel Love and Blessings.

Love, Francesca.

What Anger Is To Me

Please don’t tell me that a smile and your sorrow just don’t go together.

I would not look upon my anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight. I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, and with non-violence.

When I get angry, I have to produce awareness: “I am angry. Anger is in me. I am anger”. That is the first thing to do.

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Angel love and rainbows.

Love, Francesca.

A life in three halves

I apologise for the lack of recent posts.  A combination of overwork, overstress and … well, you know.   I don’t need to say because everyone on this site knows.

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I love this image it feels like a perfect reflection of my current state of mind – half mad half elated, half depressed.   A life in three halves.

I recently went – or rather than use the mundane word ‘went’– I would say I recently crawled to my GP, feeling so ill that it seemed nothing short of a miracle to me that I got there and was able to negotiate the stairs, sit in a chair opposite this clipped, professional person and string a few sentences together that may or may not have made sense.  When in my 8 minute allotted window of GP time I tried to explain I thought I was suffering from stress (haha, who am I kidding).     I was met with the reply ‘do you have much stress in your life?’

Perhaps the inference was ‘you’re not a GP and if you were a GP you would know the meaning of the word stress.’

Next please.

Sometimes I worry less about stress than I do about losing the plot completely.  I worry that I’ll end up like poor Bertha Mason striding up and down Mr. Rochester’s attic and I really hope not because that didn’t end well for anyone.  Well, Jane Eyre perhaps.

Anyway I have succeeded in drafting out a novel so not all is disaster.  Not all is disaster all of the time.  And carrying on the books theme because books are mostly my life when I get depressed.  Also when I don’t.    I would like to point folks in the direction of this amazing work by Vietnamese American writer Ocean Vuong  called On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous(Jonathan Cape, 2019).  He has amazing thing to say about bipolar disorder in this letter to his mother:

It’s the chemicals in our brains, they say, I got the wrong chemicals Ma. Or rather I don’t get enough of one or the other. They have a pill for it.  They have an industry.  They make millions.  Did you know people get rich off of sadness?  I want to meet the millionaire of American sadness.  I want to look him in the eye, shake his hand and say, “It’s been an honor to serve my country.”

The thing is I don’t want my sadness to be othered from me just as I don’t want my happiness to be othered.  They’re both mine.  I made them dammit.  What if the elation I feel is not another “bipolar episode” but something I fought hard for?

I don’t know whether the author suffers from this disorder or not, or whether he takes medication or not.  I’m not quoting this to come down on one side or another of the medication argument, but everything he writes is so beautiful and feels true to me so I thought I would share it.

Sometimes I agree that any sense of elation is something to be fought for – even though we are inclined to think we’re not supposed to experience that because there is a depressive episode coming.  Who knows?  Not the GP obviously.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness month. While it’s great there’s a month dedicated to this, it should be 365-day year awareness.

I understand suicide can be a touchy subject especially for those who have struggled with it themselves or have lost a loved one to it.

I wanted to share my personal story with suicide because that was something I struggled with for a long time.

I was 14 years old when I started getting suicidal thoughts. I was in high school and was completely miserable. I was living in an abusive household suffering abuse from my mom on a daily basis. It was physical, verbal, & psychological abuse. Living in such a toxic environment and experiencing that abuse on a regular basis caused me to go into a severe depression.

I would spend hours locked in my room crying myself to sleep. I would always question God asking him “why me?”

“Why was this happening to me?”

“Why did I have to get a mom who treated me so terribly?”

It wasn’t much longer when I started to get suicidal thoughts on a regular basis.

My mom told me so many lies on a regular basis that it was hard for me to not believe them. She convinced me I was a burden to others & that I shouldn’t be on this earth. She told me things that no child or person should ever here. She told me she wished I were never born and that she wished she had me aborted when she had the chance. These are things I wish I could say never happened, but those were all lies she told me.

My thoughts started to become more negative and darker as the days went on. I started to lose feelings of happiness and forgot what happiness felt like. I started to feel numb & empty on the inside not feeling any emotions but sadness. I started to cope with self-harm when I was 14 years old. I believed it was the only way for me to feel something besides emptiness & sadness so I turned to self-harm.

That’s when the suicidal thoughts started to creep in and became more frequent. I started to believe the lies my mom and my depression told me. I believed I was a burden to others and that the world would be a better place without me in it. I wanted out of the world so bad that I came up with a plan when I was 15 years old to end my life. I had been prescribed pain medication from a dentist visit when I had to get a root canal and researched that medication and found that if I took all of the pills in the bottle I could never wake up again. That was my plan.

It was like playing tug o war in my mind though, there was that part of me that believed I was a burden and that I should just leave the world now, but there was another part of me that wanted to keep fighting. It told me to keep pushing through that those negative thoughts were lies and I could beat them.

I confided in my high school’s guidance counselor and he helped me push through the suicidal thoughts. I didn’t seek out treatment for my depression at the time even though I should have. Throughout high school I still struggled with depression and being active in sports helped me manage it.

After high school and when I went away to University the suicidal thoughts started to creep in again. I thought it was just homesickness since I was going to school on the other side of the country, but it was much deeper than that for me.

It was the summer of 2014 when I was home from University that I sought out treatment for my depression. I struggled with an alcohol addiction and one day when I had way too much to drink I couldn’t control the suicidal thoughts. I knew that if I didn’t seek out help that night, I would have harmed myself and may not be alive today. I had my best friend’s boyfriend drive me to the mental hospital and drop me off. He asked me if I was sure I wanted to do this and I told him yes I knew if I didn’t get help I was only going to get worse.

I spent three days in the crisis unit of the mental hospital. I was put on Zoloft and anxiety medication that helped ease my anxiety while I was there. I wish I could say going on Zoloft helped with my depression, but it actually made things worse for me. At the time I was diagnosed with depression and didn’t know I had bipolar disorder. When I was on Zoloft I felt like a zombie I was so out of it and numb, I hated it. I didn’t realize that for those who have bipolar disorder, anti-depressants could cause you to go into mania, which it did for me.

When I was back at University that semester I was a wreck. I was in and out of depressive episodes along with being in manic episodes. My alcohol problem was out of control and my behavior was reckless. I was failing all of my classes and was drinking on a daily basis. I started to struggle with self-harm again and the suicidal thoughts again. I knew that if I didn’t leave University and get myself out of that environment things were only going to get worse for me. That’s when I withdrew from University and moved back home to Florida.

I wish I could say everything got better for me when I got back home to Florida, but my depression grew worse. The psychiatrist I was seeing was no help at all to me and didn’t listen to my problems. He didn’t care to give me a proper psych evaluation and just wrote me a script for the next anti-depressant out there. I continued to struggle with self-harm and battled the suicidal thoughts daily.

I was empty & numb living in an endless cycle of my depression.

It wasn’t until the end of 2016 when I finally found a psychiatrist who gave me a proper psych evaluation and diagnosed me with bipolar disorder. Getting on the proper medication and changing my lifestyle to healthier habits, put an end to the suicidal thoughts. It was like the fog had finally been lifted and I could see clearly again. I started to see a therapist for a few months as well that helped me work through some of the issues from my past.

I’m happy to say that I am stable now and have not harmed myself in over three years now. I still find myself going into depressive episodes every now and then and will catch the suicidal thoughts creeping into my mind. I’ve become a lot stronger than I was three years ago and can fight off the thoughts much better than before.

I know living with a mental illness will be a life long battle for me. I’ve spent over ten years now fighting the demons and while it can be exhausting, I know I will survive the fight.

For those of you that have experienced something similar or going through a tough time please never hesitate to seek out help. There are so many resources available out there today and remember you are not a burden to others. Your life matters and you are never alone in this fight.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

The Voyage and Worthiness

I am worthy

even when I don’t feel like it.

There’s so much of my past self that I don’t

resonate with at all anymore, but I love her just the same.

She was growing.

She was doing her best.

She fought hard to get me here.

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Angel love and rainbows.

Love, Francesca.

Reclaiming My Love For Literature

I am guessing that most of you might have realized that I have been absent for quite some time. Despite me being an advocate for mental health, I too suffer from mental health issues and the health issues hinder my day-to-day experiences. Though I understand that I was diagnosed with Bipolar Mood Disorder, it doesn’t define who I am and who I aspire to be.

It takes a lot more effort though to manage and deal with what is expected of us, from our jobs, schools, work and family life. It can be quite taxing especially when one is currently having an episode. When I had my fourth episode this year, I was hospitalized for quite a while, longer than I have ever been before. I had suicidal ideation and had no recollection of anything that I was doing.

I lost a sense of who I was because, at the time, I had not found the right cocktail of medications that worked for me. It was all trial and error and I was frustrated since nothing was working and that I took longer to recover from episodes.

I lost so much interest in things that I used to love doing. I stopped journaling, writing code, blogging and of course, began despising literature. Mind you, I’m not a literature student, I am a computer science and engineering student. This may sound extremely weird for most people because most people in Stem fields have little or no interest in literature. Believe me you, there are so many of us, in stem that appreciate language beyond research purposes but for the beauty that the art of language portrays.

Before and during my hospitalization I lost my ability to read and retain what I read. I was infuriated by this because literature was my canvas, my form of expression besides science. I was lost and felt hopeless. While I was in hospital my boyfriend brought me novels and non-fiction books. I struggled to read more than 10 pages a day, but as time went by I picked up speed and began reading and writing. Before I knew it, I finished a 150-page novel in two days within the second week of my hospital stay. I progressed and read more books which were a bit longer than the first. My love for literature and reading was reignited.

I found me again. It’s through the little things in life that we know our life purpose. It’s not about the money or the physical things that fulfill us but rather the tiny little basic needs that we require to live our lives. The ability to have the freedom to express what we want and the freedom to be authentically ourselves. As I mentioned, I found me again and I couldn’t be happier!

Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Angel love and rainbows.

Love, Francesca.

The Blurry Lines of Mental Illness

“There is no greater joy than being freed from the captivity of your mind.”

~Susan Walz

The escape from the interference of mental illness frequencies that affect your inner being, spirit and everything you think, breathe or consume is exhilarating and a blessing beyond many.

Life is lighter, brighter and everything is shinier compared to the contrast of the heaviness, darkness and pain of mental illness. The contrast causes happiness to be happier and brightness to be brighter.

Mental illness burns nearly every aspect of your life–turning everything dismal and dark.

If you have never been held captive inside the prison of mental illness, you can never know or experience the sharp contrast that the release and freedom recovery brings.

So, am I luckier to have experienced the severe pain of mental illness just so I could know my new present joy, peace and love after surviving and achieving recovery and mental wellness? This is a question I sometimes ponder.

Being beyond blessed to achieve recovery and mental wellness does not mean that I crossed a line that I have never and will never cross backwards over again and if there is a line, it is a blurred line at best.

Occasionally, I still cross the blurry line back into the world of mental illness but I never cross far or stay there long enough to lose sight of the line of mental wellness. I always know it is possible to reach the line of recovery and mental wellness again for I have been there before.

And it is not to say I never suffer from mental illness symptoms. I have moments that define I still have PTSD and anxiety. Plus, I have many scars that exist that remind me where I have been and how far I’ve come. Stronger yet is that it reminds me I never want to visit that place of mental illness captivity again.

I fight hard to stay proactive and have not been overcome to a place that I am trapped and stuck in bondage unable to break free on my own.

Years ago, the stigma and treatment of mental illness caused me to lose myself, my identity, my self esteem and my dignity. I was locked inside my own mind where I needed outside help of psychotropic medications, hospitalizations and ECTs. Locked behind those bars caused me to be imprisoned behind more bars of stigma and people making decisions for me. I never want to lose my identity, dignity or my freedom to make my own decisions again.

When I start crossing backwards over the line of mental illness away from wellness, I fight hard not to go too far back into that space of mental illness. The further back I travel into mental illness and the longer I stay there the harder it is for me to break free.

For over a year now, I’ve been fortunate not to have traveled too far back and get lost behind the bars of mental illness–where I spent the previous twenty-five years. Instead, I fight hard to cross back over the line of mental illness and stay as close to the blurry line of mental wellness as I can so I can feel the joy, peace and love of life that recovery and mental wellness create in me.

Everyone’s line between mental illness and mental wellness looks differently. There may be no line at all but a gradual blending of hues from dark to light. As in a graphite pencil drawing, the better the shading the more realistic the image.

For mental illness, addiction and recovery the slower and more gradual the process of recovery the more permanent and lasting the recovery and wellness will be.

Good luck on drawing and shading your masterpiece–YOU.

Take your time. Go slow and don’t be afraid to erase some lines and start over.

Don’t be afraid to color outside your lines…

You are a unique masterpiece.

Remember… the more unique the art

the more valuable it is.

You are valuable.

Make sure you have a good frame for your completed work of art–YOU!

You are beautiful.

Keep working on you.

You are loved.

“There is no greater joy than being freed from the captivity of your mind.”

~Susan Walz

Photo credit:  Photo by Nicholas Kwok on Unsplash


© 2019 Susan Walz | myloudwhispersofhope.com | All Rights Reserved

Confronting Your Shadow Self

“There is no light without shadow and no psychic wholeness without imperfection.” – Carl Jung

This last month I stumbled upon something new called shadow work. It was something I’ve never heard of before and it intrigued me. Shadow work is when you take a closer look within yourself at the parts of yourself that you hide. The “dark side” of your personality; the negative parts you might be ashamed of, fearful around, or feel guilt around. It’s something we all have inside of ourselves, but it can be hard to acknowledge and address it.

The psychologist Carl Jung was the one who coined the term “personal shadow.” This is the part of the psyche a lot of people tend to neglect and pretend that it doesn’t exist. Even when you pretend it doesn’t exist your personal shadow can operate on it’s own without us being fully aware. It’s when the unconscious mind assumes control while our conscious self goes on autopilot. The longer you repress your shadow the more you start to see those qualities in the others around you.

At the beginning of the year, one of my resolutions was to work on my self-awareness and to heal myself from within. I spent the last three years focusing on my physical health; I didn’t spend as much time on my mental health and inner work as I should have. Something I’ve learned through my journey is that the mental transformation is just as powerful if not more powerful than a physical transformation.

Shadow work is for everyone, as humans we all have parts of ourselves we like to hide or feel embarrassed to share with others about. Throughout my childhood and early adulthood I’ve had to overcome numerous obstacles like the abuse my mom put me through for almost 18 years. All of those painful memories & experiences I had growing up, I pushed so far back in my head wanting to never think about them again.

When I stumbled upon shadow work it made me realize that I need to stop pretending that the memories don’t exist. Yes they are painful and I’m embarrassed about some of them, but they are going to resurface at some point in time so I can fully move on and continue my growth. Diving into the shadow work and committing to the process was a little scary for me. What scared me the most was fully addressing all those memories & allowing myself come to terms with them.

One of the first steps of shadow work is addressing the memories or emotions you’ve hid from for so long. You also must figure out and identify possible triggers that cause certain emotions with those memories. When you’ve identified the memories & triggers you can start to work on moving on from those to create new beliefs that will bring positive light into your life.

For me this is just the beginning of my own shadow work and bringing awareness to those dark parts so I can bring in new light. If this is something that does intrigue you I encourage you to look more into it as well. It’s something that everyone can benefit from and will only bring in more positivity in the long run.

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Realizing my Dream – The Bipolar Writer Memoir

It feels strange to be so close to publishing my memoir which is the culmination of almost two years of work.

From the idea to now having the right publisher, to going through the editing process has been an amazing experience one that, as a writer, I really needed.

I needed to write this memoir. It was always there, the idea, and my other writing projects since have been successful because I finally got to the point where I have a publisher. Now, project ideas and completing projects (my 200k word fantasy fiction novel is at its first draft, and I am close to self-publishing my novella) have made a stressful year at least one where I am completing my goals.

I have not really taken a step back and realized that life is not so bad, that despite my mental illnesses I have done great things that will continue to help me not just continue this road to recovery but make me feel good–something missing in my life of late.

I am close to realizing my dream of being a published author, and I should take stock in that feeling and help it drive the next few weeks of my life. No matter how things get bad, things can always get better. I am living proof of that, and today I will say that life is not all bad. There is light in my life in all the darkness.

Always Keep Fighting

James

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