Mental illness is a family illness

Do you think I want to be like this?’

He screams as he rips his hands through his hair

It sounds more like a plea

As if he is begging for someone to save him and not to just understand his pain

His eyes search our faces

Yearning to find hope

Hope that we have found a way out

Instead we look at each other

Finding sad faces stricken with grief

If there was a way

None of us have found it yet

You could see that we all wish it were different

So we try to come up with words of encouragement

Motivating words

That will inspire him

I tell him I need him to show me

So that I can do it too

He doesn’t think he’s strong

I remind him

That waking up each day of the last almost 73 years

Makes him a warrior

The thing is

I’ve cried those same words a thousand times

Do you think I want to be this way’?

So you see

I’m selfish

I need him to be okay

I need to see it get better

I need to know that after everything he’s been through

I need to know

There’s a happy ending

I need that to be true

I need it for him

I need it for me

‘Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word ‘happy’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.’ Carl Jung

I think I could write a story about my life

With a tongue-in-cheek name like ‘The Measuring Spoon of Life’

It would be about a little girl who would carefully measure her happiness by how many nights a week her favourite cousins could sleep over

She would use teaspoons and tablespoons to represent her happiness

When she was a teenager, she learned to measure happiness in dimes and grams

She would use scales and dime bags to symbolize her happiness

As she grew into a young adult, her happiness amounted to how many days in a row she got to spend with her love

For that she used cell phone pictures depicting laughter and text messages filled with flirting

Then when she hit her late 20s, she would measure her happiness by how long she could remain in public without having a panic attack

She would use mood journals and diaries to interpret her happiness

Later in her mid 30s, her happiness was measured by milligrams, and how many Ativan’s she’d had to take

Pill bottles and prescriptions were the perfect illustrations of how much happiness she’d been prescribed

Throughout the story the landscape changed

The young girl grew into a teenager and then an adult

But her objective in life remained the same

The pursuit of happiness

She learned very early on

That happiness only came in small doses

And because of that, it should be treasured dearly

She would think to herself

Maybe it’s so people don’t overdose on happiness

It’s far too sacred to be given an abundance of

In the story of the young girl, she learned early on

That happiness is not going to stick around forever

So she learned to cherish the nights with cousins, the recklessness found in the dimes and grams of youth, the lucky days spent with lovers, the little successes during rough patches

Like all great stories

It comes with a life lesson

Using the girl who measured happiness with spoons as an example

The story warns that if she had so much as blinked her eyes

She might have missed one of the small measured capsules that happiness would hide in

But that little girl was smart

And she knew that one day she might need a dose of her treasured happiness

She knew it would help her

To get through all the hard times that were waiting up ahead

The story ends with that little girl as an old woman now

Suffering through pain of illness, loss and disease

She looks so old and sad

She opens up a memory box

And empties it all onto the bed beside her

Out comes the spoons, the scales, the pictures, the journals, the diaries, the prescriptions

The old woman looks at her life laid in front of her

Instruments of measured happiness

And she’s so grateful

That she held onto all of those small doses of happiness

She thinks to herself

How much she needed to see it, to feel it all over again

She smiles for the first time in a long while

She can’t even count how many times

Those small doses of happiness that she’d held onto

Saved her life

Maybe a thousand times already

And once more

Dear Anxiety,

You’re a thief

Always taking

Never giving

You’re deceitful

And dishonest

You’re a master manipulator

And you thrive on the fear you create

You’re a jealous thief

Stealing away happiness

And love

Even robbing old memories

Making them turn sour

You’re a callous thief

Full of pain you can’t wait to inflict on others

Desperate to infiltrate every last happy place

You’re a cruel thief

Taking away the innocence of childhoods

And destroying what should be carefree teenage years

Annihilating adulthood with haphazardly thrown bombs

You’re a cowardly thief

Preying on people in their weakest moments

Victimizing the same people over and over again

Taunting them repeatedly

You are words that haunt

You are living nightmares that plague

You’ve stolen so much

That all we can do is pull at our hair and cry in frustration

Shouting that turns into whispered pleas

To just leave us alone

Wondering what we need to do

What more we need to sacrifice

To satisfy you

Spending entire lives

Serving life sentences

Paying penance for what we can’t control

All because of you

You’re nothing but a thief…

‘The Two Most Important Days Are The Day You Are Born And The Day You Find Out Why.’ Mark Twain

I was thinking how these last few weeks (months?) have consisted of me trying not to feel sorry for myself

Yet I have been failing terribly at that

Then I got a call from a former client

Who had been out of touch for a long while and had me very worried for his well-being and safety

He’s doing great and is being taken care of for the first time in a long while

Which he deserves

He sounded so…healthy

You’re probably thinking ‘how can she tell that via phone?’

After spending inordinate amounts of time with my clients

I know them like the backs of my hands

I know their painful stories as much as I can recollect my own

I cherish their achievements probably more than I do my own

And I can tell when they’ve changed

So seldom do we hear about change for the better

But this is one of those stories

Gone was that drugged-out-to-escape-reality voice

Absent was that voice that carried so much self deprecation and sadness

Instead

I heard notes of pride, happiness and the thrill of looking forward to a promising future

All the things we hope that s young person can feel

I hung up with him, feeling lighter than I have in a long while

It got me to thinking why these last few months, out of all my 36 years, have been so difficult

So full of me trying and failing to not feel sorry for myself

Full of heartache and sadness

I stumbled into realizing that I feel lost

Feeling lost looks a lot like not knowing what your place is in the world, in your family, in your career and etc

The opposite of lost is of course ‘found’

Which is defined as:

to discover, especially where a thing or person is, either unexpectedly or by searching’

So that brings me to this…

Do you believe we all have a purpose?

And what is purpose anyway?

It is defined as:

the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists.’

So my question really is, what are the reasons each of us are here?

I don’t think of this in terms of fantastic elements like destiny or fate

More so as each of us has the power within ourselves to reach our full potential

Which in turn then meets a ‘need’

This therein becomes our purpose

However, we often fall short of reaching our full potential

Which could be a result of a myriad of reasons (none of which are pertinent right now)

Over the last several months I have learned that I am a person who needs to have a purpose

In order to feel happy

It’s just the way it is

I can’t exist in life in any less of a way

Maybe it would make my life easier if I could

In fact, I’m sure of it

But nobody ever said it would be easy, right?

I’m pretty sure that me reaching my full potential has to do with helping others

Through work

Through sharing my experiences

The method isn’t important at this moment

I guess what is important right now

Is that I need to figure out what will allow me to feel like I’m fulfilling my purpose in life

While accepting that I do obviously have some limitations

Because at the end of the day

I just need to feel like all of this

All of the pain, sadness, difficulties

All of it

Wasn’t for nothing

You know?

‘The Mind Is A Terrible Thing To Taste.’ Ministry

So I’m laying in bed thinking about my panic attacks

Crying

Hot frustrated tears

Because even still

I just can’t wrap my head around the why

If I know that my fears are unfounded

That I won’t spontaneously ‘go crazy’

And that I’m safe

That my panic attack won’t last forever

If I have evidence to prove that as well

Then why in the actual fuck am I still having these ridiculously soul wrenching panic attacks?

The kind that exhaust me

Leaving me crumpled in bed

Sleeping in an Ativan induced stupor

It seems that I have all the knowledge and the tools

Necessary to overcome all of this

And yet

Here I am

Terrified still

Of not just being in a state of panic

But of simply having another panic attack

Ugh

I want to beat my head in exasperation

So many years later

Having survived innumerable panic attacks

Fearless in the face of meeting the boogeyman

Unafraid of being awakened by things that go bump in the night

Completely confused

Why I’m still tormented by the threat of another panic attack

And yet somehow it seems perfectly fitting

That the only thing that could truly terrify me

Is my own fucked up mind

‘But It Is One Thing To Read About Dragons And Another To Meet them.’ Ursula K. Le Guin

I have Panic Disorder What is Panic Disorder?

From my very first panic attack to my most recent this morning

They all share the same premise

My fear is that I’m going to go crazy

Which to me looks like

Being stuck in a permanent state of panic attack

Where my breath is not deep enough

Everything sounds too far away

I feel nauseous and queasy

My mind is racing

My heart beating too fast

My tears won’t stop coming

I feel afraid

I feel discouraged

And I feel like it’s all never going to end

I know people say shit like this all the time

But I truly wouldn’t wish this on anyone

It’s such an overwhelming feeling and sensation

That it just takes over every part of your life

Life becomes all about navigating panic attacks

What can I do to avoid them?

What triggers them?

What makes me feel better when I have one?

When will they stop?

Why me?

I won’t lie

I get really stuck in the last two

I’ve been thinking the same thing since I was 18

What the fuck did I do so badly that I had to get stuck with this?

Negotiating on what I can do better to make them stop

Its actually kinda funny that between MS and Panic attacks

I’d actually rather have MS

I’ve never thought about that before

Even writing it out sounds preposterous

But it’s the truth

MS with all its pain, difficulties, uncertainties and tribulations

I’d rather be stuck with you

Then experience even one more panic attack

I’m sure to people who’ve had the good fortune to never have had a panic attack

That sounds silly

But here’s the thing

While MS certainly fucks with your vision, your mobility and so much more

It does not trick you into believing your worst nightmare

It doesn’t dupe you into thinking you’re dying

It simply is what it is

Your immune system attacking your myelin

It’s as scientific as it is shitty

It’s not curable but it’s explainable (altho the exact reason why it occurs is still a mystery)

Panic disorder on the other hand

Is a lying, manipulative, twisted motherfucker

Who will do whatever it takes to fuck with you

Yeah maybe that’s giving it too much power

But how can I not when it’s been responsible for so much negativity in my life?

In my own father’s life?

Growing up I saw the hold it had on my dad

I saw how much he tried to resist it

How he couldn’t

How he still can’t

Sure people tell me I’m not like him

My doctor included

But we have this huge struggle in common

The one he couldn’t defeat

The one that feels like it’s defeating me

The one that feels like it has a chokehold on us

Maybe our stories are linked

If he defeats it

Then I can too

Or maybe one has no bearing on the other

But I promise

If I can slay this dragon

It’ll be for us both

‘A Heart At Peace Gives Life To The Body, But Envy Rots The Bones.’ Proverbs 14:30

Sometimes when She’s feeling really low

And bitter

She wonders if healthy people

Especially people of healthy minds

Know how lucky they are

To not have to feel the pain that is being at war with your own brain

She wonder if they can appreciate to lay down at night and have their mind not taunt them

Do they know how absolutely jealous She is of them

So green with envy that they won’t ever know the humiliation that goes with needing help

From

Doctors that can’t understand

Employers who don’t care

Friends that won’t be around forever

Lovers that leave

Maybe She’s not even angry that they won’t have to take medication to feel some type of normalcy

Perhaps She’s only envious that they don’t have to rely on medications that make them sick when they start taking them

And sicker still when they stop

She can’t pretend to not be envious of these things

She’s only embarrassed that She can’t hide how green She’s become with her venomous jealousy

Jealousy that starts so deep

She thinks it must be vivid and effervescent

That it’s like a beacon of light shining out

Warning people up ahead

Of the jealousy radiating from within

The girl that turned green with so much envy

Like a cautionary tale

Should be steered clear of

Because if you get too close

The green girls toxic jealousy might rub off

Maybe it’s contagious

Or even worse

Maybe the green girl will siphon out

Everything that gives you peace of mind

Leaving you

Just like her

Covetous of all the others

Who could hold onto the pieces of their mind

Lucky to have heeded the warnings

About the dangers of the green girl and her envy