And such indescribable and sublime loneliness.
I wanted to protect you from fate.
The fate that carries you away further and further…
Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind. Sending you angel love and blessings.
And such indescribable and sublime loneliness.
I wanted to protect you from fate.
The fate that carries you away further and further…
Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind. Sending you angel love and blessings.
I drove to school this morning listening to a Rachmaninoff piano concerto while taking in a breathtaking orange-red sunrise over the Eastern Cape veld.
As always, the 35 minute drive allowed my thoughts to wander.
I was thinking about gifts. Blessings. Questions with no answers. Faith. What we believe to be true about God. The “WHY’S” we so often ask.
A friend is going through something similar to what I went through in my mid 30’s, wanting to settle down with the “right” guy, wanting to start a family, maybe feeling a bit desperate because the “right guy” is nowhere to be found! And sadly, the potential “right” guys are running a mile because no man wants to be at the center of the frustration of a 30-ish female with her biological clock ticking louder than the Big Ben every hour on the hour.
…and the WHY’S just keep coming…
( What follows is not another “Okay, here she goes on a religious mission”…I’m not about to hit you over the head with a virtual Bible. Stay with me to the end please)
Why Is God ( or the universe )allowing this loneliness? Why is God not answering my prayers? Why did God allow me to move to this place when He knew the unhappiness I would experience here? Why is God silent?
Why does God allow loneliness, death, loss, heartbreak, violence, war, the impact of the Corona virus for that matter?
We don’t know.
I often asked my mom “What will I do when you die?” Because the two of us were attached at the hip . She was my shopping, eating out , wine drinking partner and the two of us got up to all kinds of irresponsibility. She would say “Lets see what the waiter does if I order a bottle of wine with breakfast? ” And we would giggle at the waiter’s flushed face all through the entire meal.
Or … “I feel lucky. Lets go gambling!” ( on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of a hectic teaching week)
“Some day is today. I’m going to buy that Michel Herbelin watch right now !”
And off she went, buying the super expensive watch she’d been eyeing for months.
She was living on borrowed time. And I think she sensed it. During the last year of her life, she lived life to the fullest, doing whatever she felt like, not worrying about the opinions of others. She had fun, she was happy.
When I asked her what I would do without her she always said : ” You will receive grace.”
And I did.
Of course, I was heartbroken. But my life continued. I was comforted.
To me, the answer to our “WHY?” lies in the fact that God did not promise us an easy life on earth. Just because we are “Christian” or we try to be good-ish people we are not given a guarantee that pain will not be part of our lives. We are here to learn. Our lessons are painful.
Now read the words below. For me, they are true. We hear that WE WILL NOT BE ALONE IN THE STORM. The storm will come, make no mistake. BUT WE WILL RECEIVE COMFORT.
We need to trust our path. Because if there is one thing I know for sure from my own life it is this :
God’s ways are not our ways.
God takes our wrong turns and turns them into rights.
God gives us pain so that we can understand the pain of others.
We are , in the end, meant to serve.
( ps. I understand that many reading this post will say “I don’t believe in a God”. I also know from experience that during my worst depressed times I was so completely irritated with so-called “Christians” throwing bible verse at me, saying my faith just wasn’t strong enough. If this is you, I get it. But I have come to know that there IS a path for each of us. Sometimes the reasons for our suffering come many, many years later when we can look back and say : “Ahh. God, now I get why.”)
This is a two part post: The next part is scheduled to be posted tomorrow.
I want to start off by saying that I voluntarily see my psych doc weekly because I need a lot of accountability regarding my medication. It is a personal choice and in no way does it reflect my dedication to my mental health. I also have a therapist that I see biweekly. I am in no way manic and this is not a manic episode and it is not religious mania. I have been on a spiritual exploration for a few years now.
I always said that I was an atheist, and then I realized what an atheist is and I am not that. Then I said I was agnostic. I told people that I am too selfish to sit and learn about a particular faith to claim one. People really respected that and I meant it, but I wasn’t agnostic. I believed in a God, I just didn’t know which one. I prayed to a God. My God. It didn’t matter. I knew that I had no true control in my life. I wasn’t an accident. The world is bigger than me.
Then I started finding myself longing to be like a lot of people who emulate Jesus. I wanted something to be passionate about and to continue learning about. I wanted a higher power that I could name and a way to get to know Him. I turned to the Bible. Turns out it is literally thousands of pages. Where would I start? Would I understand it? Will it capture my attention or overwhelm me and I quit?
I tried a few bible studies and I completed maybe 3 of them. I tried and quit several. I really wanted a starting point, a place to get a foundation for the rest of my learning. I joined a small group so I could dive into the Bible and its meaning with an intimate group. It was amazing, and then I felt called out about being the only single person in the room. I didn’t go back. Then I started googling “what the Bible had to say about….” and reading from there.
I was having a really tough time with my sister. We were going back and forth about everything it seemed. Who is cleaning more, who is chipping in more, you name it. It was causing a huge rift. we smoothed it over but I still feel this tension in the air. Like she is waiting for the shoe to drop. It is familiar because that is how I felt when I had to move back in with them. It is strange to be on the other side and needing to forgive. This is the first time it occurred to me to turn to the Bible first. So I googled, “the Bible and forgiveness” and “biblical stories about forgiveness”. It returned wonderful scripture. I then wrote some of it down. Once I reviewed what I had found, I picked out some of my favorites. I noticed a lot of them were from the book of Matthew. I found myself emerged in this story that finally told me the ins and outs of how Jesus came to be. It has all kinda tumbled from there. I think I pick up my bible at least every other day now. I still am not completely independent. I still reach for the internet for a starting point, but I still read from there. I just feel better. I feel like I am in love with learning and also seeking comfort and guidance. It really calms me. I started to wonder if maybe that calm can be obtained through meditation and manifestation. I believe in manifestation. Maybe it is the positivity that it exudes or the feeling of influence it provides. Either way it feels like I accomplished something.
So I started looking into meditation and homeopathic ways of treatments or guidance.
(continued in next post)
There have been many things I have learned throughout two decades of stumbling, and crashing and eventually living and thriving with mental illness. As we know, acceptance is the first step in recovery. Acceptance comes in many forms. There is the acceptance of your diagnosis and the realizations of losses– some of them temporary and some of them permanent and only time will tell that.
As your world constantly changes, you must accept that your identity and the way people see you and view you may change. That was a hard one for me. Some of my views of how people saw me was caused by my own self stigmatizing and assuming people thought less of me when I had no idea if they really did. I think we all need to be increasingly aware of self stigmatization because it can be damaging and worsen symptoms and recovery. It took me years to figure out that I was self stigmatizing.
One thing to remember is that joy is always possible. Don’t think it is only possible after you get better. Look and search far and wide for the small joys that are available to you. There are some and in fact there are many. They are there.
One key to living well with mental illness is learning how to BE EFFECTIVE IN YOUR PRESENT CIRCUMSTANCES – no matter what they are.
You must figure out what your purpose is for that moment in time. There is always a purpose. You always matter and you are always here for a reason. Maybe it is just to survive this moment because future moments will be better. Maybe it is to give a person a smile and make them feel better. Maybe your spot in line will change and improve another’s person day and situation for the better. There are so many little things we never think of, but each one is important.
For instance, when you stand up dominoes to align so they will will all strategically fall one after the other after the first one is nudged, each one of those dominoes must line up perfectly for the ripple effect to work successfully. Each one of us is necessary and important for our environments to be successful. We all have a purpose and are necessary dominoes in this life and world. If just one of us is missing or out of alignment, it disrupts our family, group of friends or any setting we are in.
Find your purpose and search for joy. I know living with mental illness makes this seem like it is impossible, but I guarantee that if you choose not to look at all you will definitely never find it. We must stay on the positive side of life. I know this now because I wasted many days, months and years seeing the negative side of life. I realize now that it made much of my life worse. I know today looking back that there were so many beautiful moments and bubbles of joy I missed out on.
“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” ~Maya Angelou
With recovery there will be occasional setbacks, but the comeback is the important step. After each setback the comebacks become easier. Soon you won’t have so far to travel to come back after the setback. Eventually you will have a beautiful, new and improved destination. Each day joy and peace will become easier to attain and closer to your everyday existence. It will become part of your of life.
Keep your heart and mind open to the goodness around you. Soon you will find all the goodness and joy that surrounds you. When you find it and hold onto joy you can share it with others. Call someone, visit or send an old fashioned letter, an email or text to brighten someone’s day. When you brighten someone’s day it will help brighten your own day. The ripple effect of sharing joy and love is contagious.
~Written by Susan Walz
“If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else, you will have succeeded.” ~Maya Angelou
Copyright © 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope
Photo Credit: Featured Image Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
I have been encouraged by the BLACK LIVES MATTER movement and pray it will make a positive change in America and around the world. It is time and it is necessary. Please keep in mind as you read the following words I do NOT want to EVER take anything away from the Black Lives Matter movement. I am listening and I am learning and my heart is bleeding with everyone else during these difficult times all over the world.
Seeing so many people protesting is encouraging to me because after far too many years of oppression for people of color, people of all races are finally listening to the fact that racism exists and must stop now. I see the images of protesting on the news and see them as a symbol of unity and love. The rainbow of races in the crowds is beautiful to me and is how the world should look.
Hearing the many struggles black people face daily from being discriminated against due to the color of their skin makes me angry and at the same time reminds me of each time I was treated poorly because of the labels of mental illness I was branded with. Again, please know I am not comparing the two because I know they are different but at the same time have many similarities.
The stigma of mental illness exists and is the biggest interference in the recovery of mental illness. The stigma of mental illness is when someone views you in a negative way because you have a mental health condition, illness, disorder or any other word you want to add to mental health. The words are all the same and by no means ever take away from the negativity and bias mental illness carries with its name.
The stigma of mental illness exists and is the biggest interference in the recovery of mental illness.
In my new memoir, SHAME ATE MY SOUL, I share examples throughout my book of the many times I was discriminated against and treated unfairly due to the stigma of mental illness. So, even though I am not black I can relate to the pain and shame people of color experience. I have been discriminated against not because of the color of my skin but because I was diagnosed with mental illness. I know it is different but in many ways the pain and shame it causes are one and the same.
I can also say I was treated unfairly by the police because of mental illness stigma. I share some examples in my book but the one I am going to share with you today is not in my book.
A few years after my diagnosis I got divorced and had joint custody of my two children with my ex-husband. My son was about five years old at the time and was a mama’s boy (and still is). When he was at his Dad’s house, he would call me on the phone repeatedly crying hysterically. It broke my heart every time. One day I felt so sad for my baby boy and was worried about him that I drove over to my ex-husband’s house just to check on him and give him some love.
I was sitting in my car holding my Keagan on my lap when my ex-husband came out to the car and pulled him from me causing him to hit his head on the car as he pulled him out. I was so heartbroken and worried seeing my Keagan so sad, I called the police to check on him to make sure he was okay.
The police officer was very cordial when he spoke to me outside. Then he went inside my ex-husband’s house to speak to him. When the police officer came back outside it was a different story. His demeanor with me had changed and he handcuffed me, arrested me and put me in the back of the police car.
He told me I was arrested because I should not have come over to to the house when it was not my night and charged me with a disorderly conduct. I called the police on myself. What? I was not disturbing anyone or loud or anything.
I was pregnant with my third baby at the time and cried the entire way to the police station. I told the police officer I had never been arrested before.
“What?” Really?” the police officer was shocked.
“Well, no. Never.” I said through my tears.
“Oh. I thought you had.”
I could tell he genuinely felt bad now like he wished he hadn’t arrested me. I wondered why he thought I had been arrested before, like I was a regular. I don’t look like your stereotypical criminal (not really sure what that is, but I don’t think I look that.)
I got bailed out and did not have to stay in jail overnight or anything. My charge was written down from disorderly conduct to a fine/forfeiture but still cost me $90.00. The worst part is that disorderly conduct was on my permanent record even though it was written down to a fine/forfeiture. I could not afford an attorney to get rid of it. It was and always has been humiliating to have to explain this charge and relive the experience every time I interviewed for a job.
Today, I realize I was arrested from the conversation the police officer had with my ex-husband who told the police officer I had bipolar disorder along with many more stigmatizing comments related to mental illness.
So, the sad truth is I was arrested because I had a mental illness. The police officer from my angry (at the time) ex-husband’s comments gained a new and different perspective of who he thought I was from his initial meeting of me, because of the stigma of mental illness and my diagnosis of bipolar disorder. His demeanor changed after he spoke to my ex-husband. Nothing I said mattered anymore and who I was didn’t matter. I became a mental illness — the stigmatized version of who he thought people who live with mental illness are.
On a side note — I have a heavy foot and tend to drive fast. Later, I was pulled over by this same police officer two other times for speeding and he NEVER gave me a ticket. My thought was because he knew he wrongly arrested me for NOTHING before. He felt bad and never gave me a ticket.
It’s a blessing to educate yourself about mental health versus experiencing it.
There is stigma and mistreatment that exists with people who have mental illness and police officers, just like there is for people who are black or brown. I know it is not the same or as bad.
I imagine how awful I would have been treated if I had a mental illness and I was black. Actually I can’t imagine.
I also self- stigmatized a lot and sometimes still do. Since I have been feeling well, am psychotropic medication free and one psychiatrist even told me I was misdiagnosed and never had bipolar disorder but had PTSD and was addicted to the Benzodiazepine Klonopin mostly instead, I do not self stigmatize as much and the burden of shame has been lifted. It is a great and freeing feeling.
We can never forget that MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS hugely
and we MUST END THE STIGMA OF MENTAL ILLNESS today.
We all must continue to share our stories and continue to educate and fight kindly and bravely to end the stigma of mental illness.
Even though there are troubled times for everyone around the world,
WE MUST NEVER LET PEOPLE FORGET ABOUT US: THOSE WHO LIVE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS.
“Shame is a soul eating emotion.” ~Carl Jung
My memoir is finally a book. It is done. It is completed. Finished.
My book is published and is available on Amazon in ebook or in print.
It is beautiful. I used Adobe Illustrator to make my book cover and edited it and formatted my entire book myself (and is also why it is not perfect).
My memoir has been in the making for about three years. I wrote my first (awful I might add) very rough draft during Nanowrimo 2017 and wrote over 66,000 words during the month of November. This was very therapeutic for me to write because I wrote my story raw and let out a lot of pent up anger and emotions as I wrote. Needless to say my first draft was not good for an audience to read, but was good and healing for me to write. I would recommend it to everyone as part of recovery.
The next November during Nanowrimo 2018 I rewrote my memoir with over 52,000 words using some parts of the first draft but removed a lot of the anger and parts I didn’t want to keep. After editing it a couple of times I was determined to try to find a traditional publisher and sent out many query letters. A couple publishers were interested and asked to send them my entire manuscript but then weren’t interested. One publisher gave me suggestions of how to improve it. That was very helpful and I rewrote it again and reduced my word count by about 5000 words and sent it back to them, but they ended up rejecting it again. It is okay because I know I gave it my best effort to find a traditional publisher. Now it was time to self publish.
Self publishing turned out to be wonderful and was free on Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes and Noble Press. Woo hoo.
This is my book. My blood sweat and tears… and my HEART.
I have mixed emotions about my book being published now. I am excited it is finally completed and is a book now, but I am worried.
Worried that people won’t like it. Worried that people will think differently about me after they read it.
I have felt so good for over two and a half years that living a mental illness life like I did for so long seems like a lifetime ago. I started reading my memoir and it was hard for me to read because it brought me back to where I was and the feelings associated with it all. There are a lot of sad and difficult parts in my memoir to read, even for me. I worry that I had too many bad things happen to me and it will be difficult for people to read. But the beauty of my story comes from the triumph of recovery and healing. I persevered, conquered and survived and am now living a beautiful life.
After reading my memoir, I am reminded of all the many things I lived through and survived. It is hard for me to believe it, even though I lived it. What will other people think?
I am excitedly nervous to get the book out for people to read, but am terrified no one will want to purchase it or read it and if people read it they will not like it.
I can’t say I will overcome my fear and post my book on facebook and tell friends and family that it’s ready but I can say I will be strong and BRAVELY announce my book and see what happens.
So here it is. Here is my heart and soul exposed for the world to read. All of me (almost all) exposed. When we expose our true selves past and or present, it leaves us vulnerable. So, here I am vulnerable and bare, but feel it is necessary for me to share my story for many reasons.
I want to educate others about mental illness and to help people understand the pain, shame and stigma people who live with mental illness feel and experience. Most importantly, I want to inspire others and give people hope to know that they can conquer any obstacle and survive.
Recovery and healing are possible I am living proof.
Let’s all be the living proof.
Copyright 2020 by Susan Walz of My Loud Whispers of Hope
“We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.
One year, six months and eight days ago I was in the worst state I have ever been in during my over twenty-seven years of living with mental illness. I was severely suicidal and had been for many days and months in a row and was experiencing an elated mania mixed episode.
One year, six months and eight days ago I attempted suicide and thought I was leaving earth forever. I strongly wanted to and was ready. I faced the reality of what death meant and I was there…
Those were scary and heartbreaking words to write especially because…
today I am beyond blessed to be alive and I feel better and happier than I ever have in my life. I feel inner joy, a peaceful spirit and a mental wellness I don’t think I ever felt before…
My suicide attempt was a blessing in disguise because it forced me to go off Klonopin, a Benzodiazepine, the only psychotropic medication I was on at them time. Because I overdosed on Benzos (as well as other psychotropics I had saved and stored in my home for years), the psychiatrists in the hospital would not give me anymore Benzodiazepines while I was in the hospital. And after staying in the hospital for two weeks and beginning the severe horrible hell of Klonopin withdrawal syndrome, I knew I would never take another Benzo again.
After I was forced to stop taking the Benodiazepine, Klonopin, I never looked back.
After surviving the severe beyond painful and debilitating neurological like impairments for over two months from the withdrawals from Klonopin after over two decades of their use, overuse and abuse, I am mentally well. I made it.
After the damage caused from taking Klonopin and the many other combinations and cocktails of Psychotropic medications and after having over a hundred ECTs over a twenty-five year period, my brain continues to improve and rejuvenate every day. I keep improving both physically and mentally even at my ripe old age of 56. My arthritis is even improving. It is uncanny and unbelievably amazing.
This is great news and I thought everyone would be happy to hear it and receive the inspiration of hope from my story.
However, my words now are sometimes more difficult to share with the mental illness community than when I shared my thoughts and feelings of the pain from being suicidal. I am happy I could do that then to help others, plus writing about my pain was very therapeutic for me.
Maybe more people could relate to my posts about heartache, loss, pain and despair because that was what they were going through, as well. Maybe it is harder to hear the blessings of wellness because it doesn’t seem possible to them. Recovery and happiness seem so far away and out of reach many people don’t think it could happen to them.
I must reiterate a million times that recovery is possible and is in everyone’s reach. Some people must stretch further than others. But recovery and happiness are possible for everyone. Keep going. Keep reaching for that first grasp of success and recovery. You can do it. Once you grab on to recovery never let go.
For years, we have been taught that mental illness means:
At lease those were some of the things I was told. Yikes. No wonder so many people struggling with mental illness attempt or die by suicide… There is not enough hope and sometimes there is no hope…
We must have hope for survival, recovery and wellness.
I want to help inspire that hope.
At first, I was so excited to share what I had learned and the positive experiences that happened to me. I thought people would be happy and receptive to hear what I had to say.
I received mixed reviews. Although people are happy for me they are very skeptical. Some think I am manic and that is why I feel well today. They think I am “crazy” and that this can never happen. I am living proof but it is almost like they can’t believe it.
I want them to believe it. I know it is true because I am living it and I must share my story. What else can I do? I hope people will listen and find hope from my story.
Some people get upset with me for making it sound like I am promoting for all people to be psychotropic medication free. This is not the case. Medications are necessary for many but maybe not forever for some people.
Psychotropic medications are not ALWAYS required, necessary or healthy for all people to take for the rest of their lives. The use of psychotropic medications needs to be evaluated more often on an individual basis for people after diagnosis. The pros and cons need to be addressed much more often than they are and the damage these meds can cause needs to be looked at very closely–ALWAYS.
Please think about this regarding the use of psychotropic medications…
We repeatedly hear…
“Everyone is different and responds to medications differently.”
If that is true then why do we hear the blanketed statements, “Psychotropic medications must be taken for the rest of your lives. Never stop taking your medications.” If everyone is different than why do we assume EVERYONE will need to take their medications for the rest of their lives. We DO NOT know this to be a fact. Not yet anyway.
We also hear and read, “Bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses are lifelong chronic illnesses. You will have bipolar disorder, for example, for the rest of your life.” If everyone is different, how do we know this to be true for sure? I don’t think we do. We do not know this to be a fact as they do not have all the answers about mental illness. There are still learning as they go and we are currently their subjects.
We need to keep an open mind and keep the possibility and hope that mental illness is not ALWAYS a lifelong illness.
Also, some people don’t like it when I talk about the dangers of Benzos and other psychotropic medications. I know everyone is different, but still the dangers are very real and affect everyone differently.
I share my story to inform, educate, increase awareness and inspire hope.
Some people are not receptive to what I have to say. It is a very sensitive area. My story conflicts with what we have been taught about mental illness.
My story is the opposite of EVERYTHING we have been taught about mental illness. I share my current story about how…
Once I was given a mental illness diagnosis, it was drilled into my head that it is permanent and will never go away. I was told I will HAVE to take psychotropic medications for the rest of my life. “You must NEVER stop taking your medications,” I was repeatedly told. “You will never be normal. We can get you to live a functional life but you will never be normal.”
These kind of things are also said to many people after being given a mental illness diagnosis. The rest of your life seems like an awful long time to endure the type of hell I went through. Maybe that is why there are so many suicides. People with mental illness diagnoses are not given enough hope.
I was diagnosed with mental illness over 27 years ago and have been mentally well about a year after the Klonopin withdrawal symptoms finally subsided enough to enjoy the beauty of living again. Maybe my recovery took 26 years, but the point is… it is possible and it happens. Regardless of the length of time it took, reaching recovery and mental wellness is a huge beautiful glorious blessing and is worth every pain and heartache.
Keep going. Keep fighting. You will make it too and once you do you will know it was all worth it–every painful step and pothole of your journey matters.
The pain and suffering from mental illness does not have to be forever. It really doesn’t. It will get better. You will get better. You can do it. You can make it. I am living proof.
You are loved by many.
You are needed.
You are important and you matter.
Your life has value.
You can live a long, successful, happy and productive life.
You can and will make a positive impact on many people’s lives.
You can and will enjoy the beauty of living…
and hopefully one day without the interference of mental illness.
I pray that for all of you.
Never give up.
You got this.
When you don’t feel like you can do this…
GOD HAS YOU.
Much love, Sue
© 2019 Susan Walz | myloudwhispersofhope.com | All Rights Reserved
So, as you can probably tell, this is not going to be like my usual posts. My brain has returned to its normal, insanely fast pace. I of course didn’t really do anything positive to help myself. I watched some of the saddest music videos I could find. Of course, you know that I believe music to be one of the most powerful things that humans have ever created. A single certain song can make or break your whole day. Today, the song that set my spiral was 1-800-273-8255 by Logic. You may or may not know that that’s actually the number to the National Suicide Hotline. And of course, it has a very sad music video, and very sad lyrics. I found myself sobbing at the end, and went on my usual depressive train…I am not proud of myself, because I worked so hard to become not depressed, and here I am, willingly slipping back into it. Granted, this is not my old clinical depression, this is simply situational depression. Yet, that doesn’t make it suck any less, and that doesn’t make it less terrifying to me.
What I have to get off my chest, is the two main reasons that I wanted to die while I was depressed. These may sound like small problems to you, but to me, they meant everything.
The first reason I wanted to die, is that I am a empath. See, sounds trivial, but let me explain. You see, when I see, or hear about people struggling, with anything, my depression deepens because I cannot help them. It really all stems from the phrase, “You can’t save everyone”. That single phrase kills me inside. There are things going on in peoples life that makes them suicidal. Or maybe you were/are like me, and you’re suicidal for no reason, all the time. You know, now that I think about it, I probably should have started with reason two, because they are rather intertwined. The second reason I wanted to die, is the world f*cking sucks. There are such injustices in the world, slavery, oppression, corporations pushing products down our throats. I like to think that I’m what the kids call “woke” in that I see everything wrong with the world. Yet, I’m only one person. I can’t fix the worlds problems. You see how the two problems are intertwined? It hurts me to my core that there are so many problems in the world, and I can’t fix any of them. I can’t save everyone, nor should I. But that’s where my empathy takes control of my mind. I so badly want people just to love each other, and love themselves. So, I started blogging to help with my own issues, and I really wanted to help as many people as I could reach. The internet is a wild thing, we are all connected now, literally. How can I focus on myself, when there are so many problems in this world. Now, I have to stop myself from thinking like this, because it will drive me deep back into depression, and I cant go back, I won’t.
For real though, like what the actual f*ck is hate? Why do some people hate other based on their skin color, gender, sexuality, whatever. It pisses me off. It pisses me off even more that I used to hate people based on things they couldn’t control. Yet, the wealthy and greedy all only care about money or power, or both. I mean, we could cure cancer, but do you know why we won’t? There is more money to be made treating the disease than curing it. That’s f*cked isn’t it?! Why the actual f*ck is there a market for child sex? Like WTF is wrong with people? Why do corporations continue to destroy the planet, and then blame our individual actions? Like me using a plastic straw is worse than dumping millions of gallons of trash into the ocean. This world is just full of such bullsh*t, and I couldn’t stand it. That’s why I wanted to die. The rich and powerful continue to trick the rest of us, making us think we can change things. But as soon as we affect their bottom line, it gets swept under the rug.
I am terrified to have kids, because I KNOW that I won’t be able to leave the world a better place for him/her/them. And I’m just supposed to live my best life, while turning a blind eye to all this? How the heck can I do that? I so desperately want to live a normal, not even happy, just like baseline, life. These thoughts though, it is a real struggle. Now don’t get me wrong, there is true beauty in the world. I want to be able to focus on the good in life, I think that’s the only way I’ll make it, but I don’t know if I can. I need hope. It’s as simple as that. ECT did treat, and probably, cure my med resistant depression. But without hope, I don’t see my life changing all that much. Please. Whatever you do, just love yourself, love others, let’s make this world a place suitable for our children, our children’s children. Let’s just live and love life. Please.
I didn’t know other people didn’t feel the way I did, or that it wasn’t normal to feel electrical impulses misfiring throughout my body from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. I didn’t understand that it wasn’t normal to sometimes dissociate; becoming a distant spectator, watching myself, frozen, and unable to form the words I wanted to express.
Aged twenty-four, I didn’t know I wasn’t dying from a heart attack until I called 911 and the ambulance arrived. I didn’t believe the emergency room doctor who told me I was experiencing anxiety and it was actually just a panic attack.
Until I gave birth to my daughter five years later, still I didn’t believe him. During the emergency cesarean section, at the exact second the doctor pulled my beautiful baby girl from my uterus, I felt that he also removed me: my identity, my reality, all my emotions, and seemingly, my mind. In the afterbirth of my delivery, I was expelled and left in a severe state of detachment and unreality. This was not how I dreamt becoming a mother would be.
After being diagnosed with postpartum depression, I began taking the anti-depressant Prozac. Despite this, my anxiety and mania progressed to the point I was also diagnosed with bipolar 1 disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, borderline personality disorder, and PTSD. This long list of labels was now attached to my identity.
My symptoms became so severe I had to quit my successful ten-year career as a special needs teacher. I lost everything – my job, home, money, husband, friends, family, and my sense of self. I was blamed for getting an illness I did not want, discarded, and left alone. I also later learned that I was referred to as the “crazy” teacher.
Over the twenty-five years that followed, I overdosed on psychotropic medications, was hospitalized in psychiatric units, attempted suicide numerous times, was court ordered to live in halfway houses, engaged in self-injurious behaviors, lived in a homeless shelter for over three months, and received countless electroconvulsive therapy treatments.
Anytime a person falls ill with a chronic condition, it can become life-altering. In the midst of adjusting to painful and debilitating symptoms, I also faced the sometimes more damaging and hurtful stigma attached to mental illness.
Stigma has a ripple effect. I experienced it so strongly, cruelly, and regularly throughout the years, I began to self-stigmatize. Allowing the doubt and negativity from others to rub off on me left me hating everything about myself. It wasn’t until I became aware of the fact that I was self-stigmatizing that I began putting in the work that would set me free from shame and self-loathing.
Admittedly, I am a sensitive person and learning not to listen to stigmatizing language is a work in progress. If people bring me down or interfere with my recovery, I keep them out of my life, which has been a necessary and beneficial approach to my continued mental wellness.
I am not ashamed of mental illness, nor am I ashamed of myself. If people decide they are ashamed of me, that is their shame to bear. I am so much more than my mental illness and took steps to accept myself and find hope.
The next step was getting back into work part-time. I was unable to teach special education again, but eventually found work as a resident care assistant providing cares and supporting to seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Helping others is therapeutic for me, provides meaning, and gives me a sense of purpose. When I was a special education teacher, I used to say I got paid to give love. Finally, I can say that again. Returning to work continues to be a necessary component of my recovery and has helped rebuild aspects of my identity that had been missing for years.
Thirdly, it was important for me to reduce the negative thoughts about my mental illness and do my best to distract myself from the ways my life had been adversely affected. So, I fill my mind with positive dialogues, words, thoughts, and music as often as possible. This is a great coping technique that works tremendously for me.
The fourth step was finding purpose beyond work. For me, of course, it has always been the love and adoration of my three children, but it was also imperative for me to find another focus of great value. So, through public speaking and sharing my writing, I am now an advocate for mental health and wellbeing.
Lastly, I have learned to live in the moment and appreciate the small things, and I can honestly say that I am enjoying the beauty of living each breath of my life. I have now been psychotropic medication free for the first time in over twenty-five years (done under medical supervision!).
When I finally stopped taking the benzodiazepine, Klonopin, I endured and survived severe benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Since that time, my mental health has improved significantly. My mind is clearer and for the first time in my life I do not have severe anxiety.
To reiterate: recovery is a work in progress and not simply a road to cross. Rather, a challenging, complex yet remarkable journey to experience. Some days will feel manageable or even effortless, while others will feel less so. But just remember that recovery is always possible: I am living proof.
I love this quote:
“Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don’t think that you’ve lost time. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time.” ~Asha Tyson
Here is the link for my post titled Recovery is Possible on the Trigger Publishing Blog where I am a featured guest author:
Here is the link to the trigger Publishing blog: http://wwwas.triggerpublishing.com/
They have some amazing mental health books. I think I want to read ALL of THEM.
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