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.

Babbles:Communication Challenges

photo of red and silver grocery cart

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I was at my favorite paycheck donation center aka Target the other day and I was in the self-checkout line behind a mother and two children.  One child was an infant and the other was 2 or 3 years old.

The child was sitting in the cart, the seat part, and he was talking to his mother, who was scanning items for checkout.  As she scanned the items, she handed them to her son.  But something was wrong, and he was trying to tell her something, but was not able to get it out.  With her infant child strapped to her, she kept scanning her items and the young boy kept trying with all his might to vocalize what he was trying to say, getting all the more frustrated when he was not able to say what he wanted.  He finally kicked his feet and threw up his hands and said very clearly, “Mommy you are not hearing me!”

I nearly cried.  My eyes filled up with tears and I stared.  I had to snap myself out of the eye lock that I made with the child.  I was not staring because of the melt down that was now in process, but because, I could relate.  How often in life are we in a place where we are trying to communicate how we feel, or what we think to someone and either they are not listening, or we are not able to clearly explain what it is that we are thinking and feeling?

 

I have been working with various doctors, for a number of different medical conditions, for numerous years.  I have answered questions verbally about my symptoms, I have filled out written questionnaires, and I have drawn shapes on drawn figures of the human body to indicate where I had pain.  All in attempt to convey to the doctor how I was feeling.  And in each and every circumstance, there was still slight miscommunications between myself and the doctor, and cases where I wanted to yell “You are not hearing me!” as well, because well, they were not hearing me.

 

Recently, I sat down with one of my doctors and we had a very direct conversation.  It was a hard conversation to have.  I put on my big girl panties, and I pulled myself up by my bootstraps metaphorically, and I shot from the hip (again metaphorically).  I identified what we had done up to this point over the last 3-5 years, and what worked and what had not worked.  I explained what I found to be frustrating and what I found to be successful.  (I felt like I was doing a job performance review).  We discussed the challenges that we as partners faced and what the future held for us.  We set a six-month goal and monthly goals leading up to the six-month goal.

When I left the office I nearly puked.  I got in the car and my legs went weak.  I had not been that assertive and confident in YEARS!  That’s the way I had handled myself “back in the day”, in the days prior to the diagnosis, prior to the hysterectomy, prior to my world being up ended.  And when I got good and mad, good and pissed off, good and ready to re-establish control, SHE came back.

I fear that I may have offended my doctor with my behavior, but gosh darn it, I may be in the best place I have been in a year, or more.  And you know what, I did it.  I advocated for myself.  Instead of sitting there in a cart, belted in, kicking my feet and throwing my hands in the air yelling that someone was not hearing me, I sat with my horrible posture, in a 1950’s inspired dress, holding back the tears that really wanted to come, and acted like a business person with an agenda that included the success of my health.

 

I see her again in a month, and knowing me I will apologize, but I hope I won’t.  I took charge and as result, I am living a simpler, overall improved life.  I had a meeting today and it was observed that I am better.  Although it was not said, I know that I am getting the sparkle back in my eye.  I am still struggling with fatigue, but I am battling that like my life depends on it.  I am being strategic with what I do during the day and allowing for the more challenging items to be completed when I am more awake, and the easier items to take place when I am not as with it.

 

Communicating is hard, as is life.  It is easy to throw a tantrum, and we are all entitled to have one every now and again.  But oh the way it feels to have a victory when you communicate, and your voice is heard… not so sure much compares to that kind of a success.

Sprinkles and Cupcakes,

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

Running Towards Hugs.

I am making moves towards my next goal of moving back home after moving out of state a year ago. I applied and applied for jobs until I finally found something that would suit me. I felt immediate relief in signing the offer letter. I know it was the right choice. It isn’t because I fear not having a roof over my head, a lease ending, a job I am at risk of losing or anything of the sort. I just am relieved to be headed back to something familiar. I let my mental health care fall by the wayside and that it has never been so apparent that what I had been doing was working.

I moved here to remove myself from stressful situations that I was in. I was constantly guilt ridden (because of my own issues) and putting a lot of strain on myself to appease others. I know that moving doesn’t solve all your problems, but being far enough away where I couldn’t volunteer to be the fixer did. What I didn’t know is that I would be moving in with family who don’t hug, who don’t really socialize the way I am used to, and to be frank have a drinking problem. Alcohol has never really been my scene. I have always been aware enough of my own issues to know that alcohol will only worsen them. Being around it is depressing and lonely. On one side, I have a dad who indulges often and I now know why the phrase “functional alcoholic” is a very real thing. He holds a job and he isn’t angry or anything, but it sure pisses off his wife and that negativity is stifling.

I haven’t been hugged or had human contact aside from a handshake it 93 days. NINETY THREE DAYS. You don’t realize the impact such a small gesture makes until you don’t have it. I only hear I love you occasionally (aside from when I call my mom). I don’t see anyone except on the weekends even though I live with them because our hours are so different.

All of this has just piled up and then I stopped taking my medicine. Most of us have been there and thought we were okay, but we probably also had people who said “hey, you aren’t yourself” or asked if we were still taking care of ourself. That doesn’t happen here and my self care abandonment has gone unmentioned if it was noticed.

12 days until I move. I am packing up my stuff and my cat and headed to the land of love.

Take care of yourself wherever you are. Take your medicine. Go to your doctor. Hug someone you haven’t in awhile. Ask someone how they are doing. It sounds so cliche and I really just want to punch people in the stomach when I see their half hearted post about being there for anyone who needs it on facebook. I get it though. I understand the sentiment. I just hope that we can all think of how we feel and how we hide it.

The Silent Sands of Illness



This is a new rendition of a poem I wrote on my blog.

The Silent Sands of Illness

Spheres be fed the blackened beast,

For long to fill his gluttonous feast.

Not life itself could escape it’s grasp.

For death to all the plague they clasp.

Yet random the beast, it toyed it’s prey,

Amused with the game of chance to play.

Ally of time, it’s patient was astound.

Stomach growls the best around.

But who would have thought that the beast – himself,

Could make it’s prey place their hopes and aspirations into a shelf?

What will the prey be bound to do, to make it through?

The beast as it preys, acting as a bough,

A bough of illness.

Amused again by the game and a chance to play,

It’s patients were astound — astound,

by the growls of the beast’s stomach – the growls of the best around.

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

Love, Francesca.

Become a Patron!https://c6.patreon.com/becomePatronButton.bundle.js

I’m Better Than This.

I took a step forward today. I applied about a year ago to become a speaker for the Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) speaker’s bureau. I suffer from PTSD and it has taken me the past ten years to cope with that, although I am unsure if you can ever fully cope with a trauma such as sexual abuse. I received an email inviting me to their speaker’s bureau summit! Once you attend the summit, you are then asked to speak at engagements hosted at high schools and the like. I found that writing about the things that I have experienced throughout my trauma and rollercoaster of a ride with bipolar have really helped me cope. I have shared my experience with friends over the years to coax them out of making some of the mistakes I did that left me vulnerable. Now, I hope to share this with others in an effort to do the same.

Much like The Bipolar Writer, RAINN is a safe space for sexual abuse survivors and without either I am not sure what I would do. I attend a group sponsored by RAINN, and The Bipolar Writer has been my sort of mental health group. Having moved so far from my main support system this really has been my life line. The past 9 months have been full of depressive spirals. Between not having access to competent mental health care to just not having someone to recognize the signs of me falling into a manic-depressive episode it has been the hardest time of my life.

When I got that email, I felt a burst of hope and something to look forward to. It was then that I realized that I have to do something that I felt so much shame for considering, I have to move back home. I love Texas. I love the trees and being away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I love how people here are seemingly much more kind. I love the pressures lifted off my shoulders because I am too far away from those close to me to worry about any conflict.

I have developed a lot of new bad habits in this move. I have almost completely isolated myself. Some of it intentional and some from having a lack of social life in a new place with no familiar places. I only really leave my house to go to work where I rarely interact with coworkers because if I am being honest, I am scared. The health care field is over saturated with potential workers here and due to that the pay is significantly less than it was at home. I am broke. I can’t afford the gas to drive an hour to my mental health doc, let alone the cost of the visit because I don’t have health insurance. So I have been off my medication and I really am not the nicest without it.

I stopped writing. I have a lot to say, but the motivation isn’t there. The motivation has been lost on a lot of things. I stopped keeping in touch with most of my friends back home and I dropped out of school. I am only five classes away from finishing my Master’s degree and I just couldn’t do it….or I wouldn’t. That isn’t me. I came to Texas to figure out what I wanted, who I am without the routine I was used to. I figured it out.

I am a social butterfly who loves nothing more than to hear every thought that her friends have because I genuinely love and care about them. I ENJOY seeing my mom multiple times a week and grabbing dinner with my sister on a Tuesday night because I know she is broke but loves take out. I like being at home and cooking (even though I am bad at it) for people. I often have so much to write about that I have word documents saved on my laptop because I can’t go posting it all at once. I have an intense passion for health care and have always strived to give the care that we all deserve, and lately I can barely make myself go to work, let alone give 110%.

I am going home. I have two interviews coming up and am starting to look at apartments for when I get there. I have boxes in my car so that I can start packing. I reenrolled in school and am ready to start writing again. I called my doctor back home so that I can get back on my medicine. I need to take care of myself.

This post is scatter brained and that really isn’t me. I think it is important that we strive to continue to share even when it isn’t pretty and polished. It is important for others to see what the truth it, it is important to bring awareness. Most importantly, it is important for me. I need to be honest with others because it helps me to be honest with myself. I am not okay. I have to stop telling myself that. I can’t carry on in this new normal because frankly it is getting out of hand.

Official Launch of the James Edgar Skye Patreon Account

It was always the goal for me to write full-time. It has always been a dream of mine to be financially stable enough to write full-time. I have been a struggling writer for a long time, and my experiences with my mental illness have been shared here so many times here on my blog. I do struggle holding down a full-time job and my work with freelance has been up and down. With the change of medication, and the fact that I am feeling much better it is time to officially launch my Patreon account.

Become a Patron!

What is Patreon?

Patreon is a way for artists like me to connect to my readers in a real way, and at the same time, it offers tiers for special offers that keep you in the loop of what I am working on a the moment.

This is the official look at what a Patreon account looks like: Patreon is a crowdfunding membership platform that provides business tools for creators to run a subscription content service, with ways for artists to build relationships and provide exclusive experiences to their subscribers, or “patrons”.

Become a Patron!

What does it Mean for J.E.?

If I can get my Patreon account going, it means a lot of things. The first is working on my current writing projects full-time and have enough money to hire a top-tier copy editor, so that when I self-publish The Bipolar Writer: A Memoir it is the best possible product. It will give me the time to create a book about the members of the mental illness community beyond just my memoir. I want to start a podcast that will show the many phases of mental ilness and people’s experience.

Once I meet my goals, I will be able to offer merchandise and, of course, copies of my books. I can do so many great things for the mental illness community. There are so many great things I can accomplish. The lowest tier is $2 and $5. I know I have asked a lot of the mental illness community of late and this is just something I have good feeling inside my heart

If you can help that would be amazing. I am genuinely in awe of people in the mental illness community. If you have questions about how to sign up and join a tier please reach out. It can be a confusing process.

Update: I got my first three patrons. I am really excited.

Always Keep Fighting

James

Become a Patron!

Spring, Mental Health style

brian-garcia-196959-unsplashThis is not a gardening blog. Just as well because I am not a gardener.   But which of us is not encouraged by Spring?   It’s a cold one here in the UK.  The January gloom that descends every year,  swiftly followed by feverish February, has finally departed.    Snowdrops and winter aconite have made their appearance and those that know about gardens are starting to head out there and mull over the tasks to be done.   Soon bluebells will be covering the woods and it is time to feel hopeful again.

Nurturing life is a creative activity.   The trouble with mental illness – and there are many troubles with mental illness – is that when things go well I’m like the town mouse who forgets to store up seed for the winter because, hey its always going to be summer and let’s party!  By the time I remember that it isn’t always going to be summer, I can’t concentrate on storing up seed, and things start falling to bits. When winter hits, and there’s no seed in the cupboards because I was too busy partying and celebrating summer, then I start beating myself up for being disorganized and blaming myself for being useless, then I feel bad and can’t bring myself to go to the Doctor because he’s useless too and so on.    In between metaphorically partying and mentally beating myself up, I am not nurturing but engaging in extremes. So I have developed some rules for my mental health gardening.

  • Protect emotions from snow as snow puts pressure on branches and bends them. Stay warm. Be kind.
  • Check all stakes and supports – accept encouragement where its offered rather than thinking ‘you have no idea what my life is like,’ even if the person doesn’t have any idea what my life is like I can give them credit for trying.
  • Plan ahead – make the best of the good days when it feels like anything can be achieved
  • Prune tendencies to lock myself away – accept help.  Everyone needs a bit sometimes.
  • Feed seedlings something sensible.  They don’t like sugar!

 

A Little Reminder to Myself.

 

Depression has consumed my life. I take my medicine, I go to the doctor, and I push myself to list the positives when I want to dwell on the negative. I just stopped living. I have had more suicidal thoughts than I can count in the past three months and my life is in shambles.

Today, I feel good. I woke up well rested….and I actually slept a healthy 8 hours uninterrupted. I have plenty to be happy about. I just came off a week vacation from visiting my family in Arizona. (I moved out of state in July 2018). I started a new job and even pulled myself off of academic probation in school. So why have I felt like this? I feel that I need a reminder sometimes that my mental health is an ongoing issue. It creeps up and kicks me in the ass as if to remind me that I am not as okay as I think I am.

I am okay. I just have bad days. I have good days too. Days that are so great that I almost feel like the bad ones were all in my head, that I was focusing on the negative and just got lost in it. Depression is not just bad days. It is an all-consuming monster that eats at you until you have nothing left to give and nothing left for yourself most importantly.

Ironically, I woke up to a very foggy day in Houston….shocker I know. I felt refreshed and it was as if I could think clearly for the first time in a long time. I made myself an impromptu appointment with my doctor because thoughts of self-harm are no joke and I have never experienced it like that before. I hope that I have the courage to tell her what has been happening.

I am sure someone can relate. I write this because I need to remember. I need to remember the good day that follows all the bad ones. I need to remember reflecting on the never-ending thoughts of wanting to just be done and know that it happened. Unfortunately, I need to remind myself that I have an illness and I cannot let my guard down. Even on my best days it is still there waiting for the opportunity to take over.

I write this because I had a lot of shame in reaching out to my family in Arizona. Having to tell someone 1000 miles away that you feel worse than ever just felt like a dick move. I needed to for accountability. I needed someone to check in on me and remind me that my actions affect others. I needed to be reminded that I am important to others.

I write this because it is the truth. I am ashamed and quite frankly in denial that these thoughts even cross my mind in my depressive cycles. I have a print out of one of those sappy posts that people put on social media whenever a suicide occurs (blunt but true). The ones that say, “please reach out to me if you feel this way, you are loved!”. I have it on my bulletin board above my desk to remind myself that thoughts turn into actions and people are aware of that. It reminds me that this thing I think is so taboo is in fact not.

I write this because I think someone else might need to read it. You aren’t insane. You shouldn’t hide it. You should tell anyone that will listen if you feel this way. You should tell them until you don’t feel that way anymore. My text conversations with my family have consisted of this:

 

Famiy member: Hey babe. Just went to the store and we are planning on seeing a movie tonight. Just wanted to check in and see how you are today. Let me know if you need anything. Love you.

 

Me: Still not having a great day. I am going to work and have homework tonight. Call me around 8 PM my time? Love you.

 

My phone conversations are just them telling me about their day and asking how work was. It lasts about ten minutes. 9 of the minutes are them and one is me.

I don’t want to talk. I don’t have anything to say. I feel like shit. That call makes me accountable. I have a goal, get through the day and answer the phone. It is stupid and insignifigant but it is something to strive for.

 

Find something to strive for on your bad days.

 

*also, Texas has had approximately five sunny days in 2019 (no exaggeration). I would love to hear any experience or thoughts on seasonal depression.

Scary side effects

When I first started on meds last July, I spent hours on google looking at online forums on how bad side effects could be with antidepressants.

I was terrified that I get the worst combination of side effects that it would make my symptoms even worse.

Thankfully, the only true symptom I started to develop were moderate dry mouth and vivid dreams. In the course of past 8 months of being on meds, I’m currently on my 3rd type of antidepressant as we are still trying to find the right combination.

Some gave me bad dreams every night but helped my mood a lot better. Some didn’t give me any dreams but it made me very anxious. Right now, I’m on an SNRI and it gives me insanely vivid nightmares. The thing is, the moment I wake up – I forget every part about that nightmare.

I wake up almost every morning in tears, covered in sweat from my nightmare.

Fellow bloggers, any tips on how you dealt with some of the craziest side effects?

I want to stay strong and not give up on finding my “match” of medication. As much as I hate the side effects, it helps my mood a ton in the day time. Any advice on what I should do?

 

Traumatic Triage

I’m not one for exercise.  Never have been.  Unfortunately, I had an exercise that I had been delaying for FAR too long that I could no longer I avoid.  I needed to go jogging off to a public hospital / clinic in order to fill my script, perhaps do a couple of psychiatric push ups, and leave with pills and mental health in hand.  Great.  Except that I live in South Africa and the public health systems just doesn’t work that way.  No.  Our public health system serves one of two purposes:  1) Either you decide you would rather NOT go (like me) and possibly die from your condition and therefore contribute meaningfully to population control or 2) that it serves as a beautiful advertisement for private healthcare, which if you cannot afford it, you’d sell your soul to the devil to attain.  Let me explain.

On arrival at the hospital, I met a security guard who asked whether I had an appoinment or a referral letter (looking me up and down).  Initially I was startled, thinking to myself that I was not aware that security guard training now included health assessments as well.  Because as far as I know, in pretty much any country, you should not be turned away at the door, particularly by someone who does not have the capacity to assess how well you are, particularly when like me, you have a “I can’t see it” condition.  Whipping out my referral, I passed the first hurdle and whispered a quiet prayer of thanks whilst dropping the contents out of my bag at the entrance because of the nervousness the security guard had instilled.  If I left without my medication from this visit, I would have none left. no money to buy more, and quickly deteriorating mental health that no-one, especially me, would want to see or experience.

The next hurdle was actually finding casualty which one would have to go through in order to access mental health services.  I found the triage, and immediately asked the first available nurse what I should do and where I should sit.  Most people in South Africa know and plan to spend the whole day in a public health facility, because of the waiting times, no matter how urgent your case may be.  One such example was a women who was clearly in severe pain and she could not sit and wait.  But she was made to.  She was made to walk a too far distance for someone who loudly winced with each step that she took and then she needed to wait again.  On talking to the nurse she took a full ten minutes to explain to me, whilst rubbing my arm gently as I explained I required mental health services, that I was at the wrong hospital and needed to go somewhere else.  I told her I was not leaving and would go to other hospital on another day, but not today, and that I needed my medication.  She frowned, stopped the I didn’t want her to rubbing and barked where I should sit.  Great.

After waiting for hours, my blood pressure was taken, and I was asked to take a pregnancy test.  I said listen if I WAS pregnant then there’s a few things:  the baby is high on an extensive amount of psychiatric drugs, it was conceived via immaculate conception (I am FAST asleep thanks to said drugs way before sex time) and like the only thing I’d like to be erect about is attaining my medication.  Then I was asked to wait AGAIN.  So you will understand that at this point my humour – and anything else – is beginning to fail me.  Finally I was allowed to see a GP (perhaps to check fantom baby’s progess since they aren’t in the habit of dispensing serious psych drugs?)  and they read my referral letter out loud (in a room with a patient sitting next to me at the same desk with another GP), with furrowing eyebrows with each disorder my previously private psychiatrist had outlined.  I was so “happy” about this group consultation, exploring how um, disordered I am.  Even the patient next to me looked at me with those eyes wide you have a serious mental illness look.

Thinking that this was the last leg, I almost collapsed when they said I needed to open a file and then come back.  Seeing my about to collapse-ness, the Doctor assured me that I just needed to come back to her, and we’d be off to get the meds, and to make an appointment with the psych ward for further, I dunno, waiting.  On way to open the file, she had noted on my triage form that I wasn’t acutely psychotic.  Now, if someone can explain that to me, I would be very happy.  Does this mean I was um, like ok psychotic?  In any event, I got the file, and went back to Doctor, convincing my chest that was caving that it was ok, and that we were at the end.  Oh how wrong I was.  The Doctor had disappeared and the tears started.  I couldn’t help it.  I just couldn’t bare waiting, for people to be telling the entire room how disordered I was,  for being turned away, for not being sure of whether I would get my medication.  So I cried.  I cried for all the patients that were treated like this – cattle in the care of casualty – where one would think the most pressing patients would be dealt with – with care, with kindness – as is required regardless of the pain the patient feels.

I believe that healthworkers who do not put the health of their patients first should be barred, that hospitals who turn patients away should be investigated, where the process of putting health first should always be prioritised – and that the patient’s experience of these processes should make them feel better not worse.  I am angry because it is ok for people to be treated terribly, for patients to be turned away, and for politicians to spend unbeknowsnst amounts of money on election campaigns that DO NOTHING to change people’s lives.  That gets more patients seen, more treatment regimes started, more health facilities functioning.  I am tired.  I do no want this to be the reality of South African people with any kind of illness anymore.  Stand with us.  Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.