The Long Road to Betterment

As human beings, regardless of our backgrounds, we’ve become conditioned to evaluate our success in life based on the monetary value of our material possessions. The impact of this trending train of thought has become detrimental to our society, and is especially toxic for those of us who already struggle to find our sense of selves, our true value.

This shift in humanity, in my opinion, grew exponentially with the rise of the technological era. While it’s existed within us for several generations, it’s much more prominent in the last few. And while recently there has been a small faction bringing minimalist living to light, currently more than ever we have become obsessed with the idea of owning the best and newest things.

This has been a difficult post to write because of my own current struggles on the topic. Where is the line between valuing possessions over what really matters, and yearning for a sense of security you’ve never known? There’s obviously financial security in the way of assets, and then there’s having a stable life. Who’s to say when we’ve taken it too far, and how do we separate the wants from the true needs?

I was raised as a welfare baby, my mom on social security, section 8, food stamps, and I’ve had government provided health insurance for my entire life. My mom still survives on the programs, and now I’m raising my daughter on food stamps and free health care as well. It’s not a choice, because while my husband works, it’s not enough, and I can’t bring in enough money with my disabilities to make the pain they’d cause worth the while.

I’m sure my mother wasn’t proud to need all that assistance to raise me, and I’m certainly not proud either. We recently began trying to apply for home loans, as we’ve both lived under mostly slum lords for our entire lives and we want better for our daughter. Long and painfully disappointing story short, we got denied this week and it broke me.

This switch has gone off inside of me, making me feel guilt, inferiority, and judgment towards myself. I swore I’d never raise my child on welfare, but this was before I knew of my physical restraints. Despite my lack on control in the matter, there’s a certain self resentment that comes with that, a sense of worthlessness. I thought I’d found the perfect home for us, actually allowed myself to get excited for once, and now someone else’s family will fill the home.

It’s been an incredibly trying week, with tensions always escalating and tensions always rising due to our current crappy living situation, and I haven’t felt this defeated in a really long time. Especially for those of us with mental illness, stability is incredibly imperative to our success, and it’s my firm belief that if I can finally achieve stability, maybe I can finally begin my journey to betterment.

What I thought was one step closer turned out to be two steps back, but I must still press on. I have to believe that there’s more left in life for me than just the current chapter, that the book will have at least a relatively halpy ending. Here’s to everyone else who’s had a disappointing week or felt broken by something outside of your control. Life gave us lemons, so I guess we’re making lemonade, no matter how sweet or sour it tastes.

To Be(er), Or Not To Be(er)

“Please Drink Responsibly” is the phrase slapped across every product you must be twenty-one years of age to purchase in the United States. Alcohol has been, is, and always will be one of the most controversial matters in history for many reasons. Our grandfathers’ fathers made it hidden in the south eastern mountains to provide for their families in the most lucrative way they could. A tradition has been made out of its’ recipes and stories of bootlegging and prohibition. It’s the one thing that even the United States government couldn’t stop.

As with anything however, where there are pros, there are cons. As with anything, if enjoyed in excess there are many debilitating effects it can cause on your health and the health of others. Poor judgements and decisions are made which can impact many people for the rest of their lives. If you live just below the Bible belt as I do, don’t be surprised if some mega church preacher attempts to release you from the grasp of the Devils’ nectar as he lovingly embraces you while reaching for your wallet and groping every square inch of your wife with his eyes.

The point I am trying to make is that we live in a society that welcomes the use of alcohol like an old family friend. It’s as American as apple pie, baseball, McDonald’s, and this messed up obsession we all have over reality television. So if no one else seems to have a problem, and it all just is a natural part of life, do I really have as big of a problem as I think I do?

If you have followed me or my blog for any amount of time, you may have stumbled across my introduction or several works about alcohol and my battle with the bottle. Today I want to give you a little background about it, as the subject weighs heavily on my mind lately. I have been drinking since I was fourteen years old. It started out as simply as it typically would. Tall bottles of Smirnoff Ice which eventually led my curious tongue to tall cans of malt liquor. I drank A LOT of gut rot, gas station specials as an early teenager such as Steel Reserve 211 and the likes, until I finally calmed down into normal domestic beers.

At around the age of eighteen I began to indulge in liquor. Trying a little bit of anything I could get my hands on, I quickly discovered that vodka and gin were two of my least favorite liquors. As stereotypical as it will sound, I was a bourbon guy through and through just like my father. The smoky taste, the warm burn of eighty proof tingling down your throat, and that decadent smell of oak as it swirled around in my glass could make my mouth water with every sip. I had made it my mission to become a connoisseur of bottom shelf bourbon. Even when I moved out on my own, the only things I had to my name were a few pots and pans, a record player, a futon mattress, and most importantly… a bottle of rye whisky.

It wasn’t until last year in September that a panic attack made me really look at myself and question my life. Once I began my journey for better mental health, I realized I was using the alcohol to self medicate my anxieties and possibly even some of my bipolar tendencies when I look back in retrospect. I made a lot of changes to my lifestyle with help from my wife. I decided to not keep beer in the apartment we share and she agrees because she feels it’s a waste of money. We agree to only drink when we go to restaurants or concerts and I stopped buying liquor all together because if it’s in my reach, I will drink it.

It’s not uncommon for me to become my own worst enemy. I am my worst critic, my worst judge of character, and the last person I ever want to have to confront. Lately if I’m out somewhere and decide to have a beer, I look at myself in shame and feel regret over my decision. I feel as though I’m letting myself down and even you down. Even though I don’t drink for the same reason anymore, enjoying one beer throws so many questions into my mind, it almost makes me wonder if it’s worth it. On the other hand, I’m not drinking for the same reason anymore. I enjoy beer as a craft and a beverage. Taking barley and hops and creating a flavorful masterpiece is a skill I am honestly envious of. There are so many good things about beer that go far beyond alcohol content.

Everyone has a story. Everyone has a situation that is different. I am not writing this to sway someone who is struggling with addiction to drink. If you are someone who is on the fence, I encourage you to please take the plunge and reach out to your local alcoholics anonymous program or outpatient rehabilitation center. What I am writing this for is to tell my story and to pose a question to my friends, the readers.

With the habits I continue to follow, I find myself wondering if I really have as big of a problem as I think I do. Am I more in control than I realize? Am I blowing this entirely out of proportion? If no one else seems to have an issue, then what is my problem? I am fine with not buying liquor, but am I wrong if I buy beer from time to time? What are your thoughts, and do you struggle this as well?

Introduction

If you have ever ridden a roller coaster, you understand the excitement and fear that courses through your mind and body as you burst through the track. You experience such an intense jolt of so many emotions as your breath is stolen from falling and you only have enough time to take another breath as you ascend. In a lot of ways, bipolar disorder seems to share many similarities. It seems to change a person drastically in mere moments and can even span episodes for days at a time. You never know how you will feel when you wake up in the morning. You never know what will happen to send you spiraling into a depressive episode. I often like to call it a “Jekyll and Hyde” effect in my personal blog.

I am Shelton Fisher and recently I have been given the privilege to be a contributing writer for The Bipolar Writer. I am a 25 year old with a full time job, an amazing wife, and the two best dogs in the world. I used to be a decent musician and writing has become a passion of mine. Amid the wonderful things that life has provided for me, I have mental health issues that fight me tooth and nail on a regular basis. Anxiety has been a familiar part of my life since I was a child, but alcoholism and panic attacks made me realize that I needed to finally address these problem medically. In September of last year I was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and began a regimen of serotonin inhibitors and recently I have began seeing a therapist. After several sessions addressing my childhood behaviors and my current behaviors, we have discussed that I may be bipolar and the symptoms honestly surprised me.

As I continue the journey into my mental health to confirm a diagnosis and discover how to live a better life, I want to include you through personal stories, free verse poetry, and the occasional informative post. I am not a professional by any means, but I am living proof that mental health is a war to be won. If you have ever been afraid to speak, afraid to make a move, lost motivation and hope, hurt yourself because you couldn’t find the right words or felt trapped inside your body, screamed at the top of your lungs with tears rolling down your boiling red cheeks, self medicated with alcohol or drugs, fallen into depression for no apparent reason, or just want to know how I am handling things, my posts are for you.

Insecure

 

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Insecure, an adjective, is sounded out as insəˈkyo͝or… is defined as:

  • (of a person) not confident or assured; uncertain and anxious…

Not included in the dictionary is a picture of my face alongside the definition of insecure.  A sentence that I would write using the word insecure would be:

  • Michelle McGarvey, due to her lower self-esteem is insecure about her looks, and her abilities.

Those that know me well, know that I have a list of insecurities that are a mile long (or maybe longer).  For those that don’t know me as well, may be a little shocked by my statement.  In years prior, I was a take charge, let no one stand in my way person.  I could lead a full training session without a blink of the eye.  When I walked into a room I commanded the attention of the audience just by my mere presence.   I was incredibly successful in both my career and my studies.  I strived for nothing but perfection.

However, deep down, hidden, inside, I was SOOO incredibly scared of failing.  What if I make a mistake, what if I make the wrong decision, what if I am questioned and I don’t know the answer.  I put on this persona that I was rock solid, but I wasn’t. The insecurities that plagued me did not stop at my career or my studies but flooded into my personal life.  Am I attractive enough?  Do I bring enough to the table?  Simply, am I good enough?

And then here comes 2016, the mental breakdown and the diagnosis of Bipolar 1 with mixed episodes.  If that didn’t make me feel like the most insecure I have ever been, I am not sure what could drop me any lower.  Am I crazy?  Do other people think I am crazy? Will he leave me because I am too much to handle?  Will I still be able to hold down a job?  Can I still be a parent and be Bipolar?  Can I handle life in general?

Over the last two years, I have worked very hard to build me up.  To speak truths, to increase my self-esteem, to try and help me to be less insecure.  Just the other day, I told my partner that I wanted him to know that I knew that he knew that I was a catch.  That I brought a bit to the table and he was lucky to be with me.  And then I was like, “where did that come from?”  And then I was like, “how awesome is this, I am speaking about myself in such a positive way, this is what I have worked for?”

Having a mental illness, although it is more socially accepted than it used to be, there still is a certain stigma that goes along with it.  Some assume that people who have a mental illness are incapable of performing in the capacity that their counterparts do.  Other’s assume that we are unpredictable and need to be treated differently as result of the mental illness.  My favorite, is the thought that we are delicate, like a flower (seriously?)

So, I don’t think that I am the most gorgeous, amazing, best thing since gluten free sliced bread, but I do know that I am awesome.  The fact I have a mental illness (or two) only makes me more special and unique and well, simply put amazing.  Most days I am good at my job.  More often than naught, I am a high performing, well educated student.  I am a mom to my kids that makes me proud.  I can bake a cake that could resuscitate the dead because of how good they taste.  And I support my spouse and love him unconditionally.  I make my mom and my grandma laugh, a lot.  I am still afraid of failing, but not like I used to because you know what, I have failed, and I have made mistakes and I still make mistakes and I live to live another day.

I am who I am.  And that me includes mental illness and chronic pain.  But it’s who I am and the hand I have been dealt and I am going to rock it, some days more than others, and there will be days where I don’t rock it at all, and that’s ok.  I have started to learn to embrace me for me and holy Moses, it’s a pretty out of this world feeling.

Sprinkled Cupcakes and Fairy Dust,

~Michelle

https://bellasbabbles.com/

Photo Credit: unsplash-logoPriscilla Du Preez