Short Change

I feel like I go into everything half blind. Too anxious to figure it all out, or maybe too scared to know the answers before me. I feel constantly afraid in a world I used to revel in the unknown. But all that’s left in me is the fear other’s instilled so long ago. Being the sufferer of things like mental health disorders brings an open invitation to those who like to make harsh judgments even when they know that it’s this party they weren’t invited to. I always believed that to judge someone is to say you’ve walked in their shoes and know better what to do then them, and that isn’t possible so you should never be able to judge. Who wants to anyway? Judgments are always harsh, bring about pain and in the end have no positive recourse. But society is always a part of them and I can never figure out why. Why do people think that those with mental health issues are crazy? Or that were not really suffering? Or event that were using it as an excuse? Do any of these really sound plausible? Would I really be out for attention when all I do is try to hide the suffering I go through? Just to make sure you don’t have to have pain by dealing with me, I conceal the one thing halting my growth. You said karma cut me clean, but karma came and gave me a life unknown that I had to pay for. I didn’t think that anyone should have to live a life of suffering when they had already lived their lives trying to keep others from suffering in the least. Where’s the balance here? Is there something I need to figure out that is a bigger reason than just me? Was there a point to all of this? Or did I need to learn some lessons that I constantly was studying for anyways? I wonder what makes some of us more susceptible than others? But for all of those that judge, they think I must be weak in the first place to be calling my disorder a disorder. But it’s true, because the order is so out of whack when you suffer. There is no rhyme or reason to anything except this: Only the strongest are the ones to truly suffer because the weak wouldn’t be able to handle what it has to offer.

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Hope

When I was a little girl we used to have a sailboat. My dad would blare oldies and I’d get up on the bow and swing with the best of them. I’d shake my little ass and boats that would pass by would laugh and start mimicking me, waving in delight. That was me. Nothing terrified me, and nothing could. I wanted to try it all, get into it all, and be all that I thought life would allow at the time. Fast forward twenty years and I can’t even attempt suicide it’d draw too much attention. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve almost tried it once, but the thought of people even looking in my direction makes me want to shy away now.

When I was a little girl we used to have a sailboat. My dad would blare oldies and I’d get up on the bow and swing with the best of them. I’d shake my little ass and boats that would pass by would laugh and start mimicking me, waving in delight. That was me. Nothing terrified me, and nothing could. I wanted to try it all, get into it all, and be all that I thought life would allow at the time. Fast forward twenty years and I can’t even attempt suicide it’d draw too much attention. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve almost tried it once, but the thought of people even looking in my direction makes me want to shy away now.
People always say that when you get suicidal you’ve hit bottom but I don’t believe that. I got suicidal because my depression topped out, winning over everything inside of me. There was no bottom about it, except for how low I felt. Fifteen years ago I was diagnosed with majoy depressive disorder and wish I’d known what that was, because I’m learning more about it, now that I’m coming out of it. And that’s what I want to express, that there is a possible way out. It can happen. There’s so much I wish people told us as young children, so we wouldn’t have to always find out the hard way.I’d started to hear about depression in my teens and just assumed it was something I’d never get. But low and behold I have and my biggest fears were of what was to come. And back then no one talked about it and I’d not known of anyone else to have the same disorder so my loneliness became very popular inside of me. That was when I turned to blogs to read other people’s stories and words of wisdom from their perspective. I was always looking for that magical piece of advise when I was 19 and freshly diagnosed. I thought that if someone could just tell me what to do, I’ll do it in a heartbeat and then let’s get back to the old me. What a great wish that was. But then, a nurse once asked me if I could handle just this second. And as I said yes, she told me, “Even in your darkest moments, ask yourself if you can handle just this second and breathe.” “Remind yourself that life is an allotment of seconds to be had, and if you can make it through one, then just focus on the next, not minute, the next second.” And she kissed my forehead and walked out. I’ve tried medications that don’t work, doctors that don’t do their job, and therapists that were going through some terrible things themselves and relied on me to help them instead of vice versa. These years have been hard, but one thing I really believe is that suffering is for the strong because the weak woudn’t be able to handle it. I’d get through a day, realize how hard that day was and the fact that I was still there, doing the last thing that I knew how to do, which was to breathe meant I’d made it. I really had to be strong to make it that far. And that was just a day. Fifteen years later I wish I could tell anyone that suffers just that. That that one piece of advice may not be out there, but if you listen to your heart, even when you think you have nothing left, you do. Because if you’ve made it through a hard day then you’ve still got your strength, which means there must be a little hope still in there as well. If you can keep those things alive, you can make it through another day, and another and may be able to find the time when you’re saying I think I’m coming out of it too. A lot of posts I would read would tell people the signs of depression, and I feel like if you really think you are depressed, then you probably are, it’s just hard to get past the denial of it. I read a post just today that hit home. I’d taken the morning after pill one day that didn’t work and I wound up pregnant. To this day, I’d wondered how that could happen and I read a post that says it’s not as effective for people over 175lbs. Closure is huge with me and today I got to understand something that had happened right before my depression hit, which was my pregnancy. Today I feel a little better than yesterday because I got this closure. Life really chooses different paths for all of us, and while I’m not apt to shaking my booty on the bow anymore, I sure am getting back to listening to the music I love, and just hope that everyone gets a chance to.

Starlight Wishes

5

If I were a wishing girl I’d wish for never ending happiness. For all to be well on each and every day, and polite beauty around every corner. Dread wouldn’t be found in such beauty of a wish, made upon a star one night so full of starlights.

In the nighttime skies of wishes not lies, I ask for this broadening spectrum of hope to keep ensuing. “I will be better,” I’d say to myself. “If I could just have a chance at it.” And low and behold the chance of the starlight mixed with the dark of night keeps upon me. All the while knowing it might be my only shot.

I haven’t felt mentally healthy in fifteen years. What do I even do with the chance I’ve been given, as I lay among the stars and the moon. I’ll have to try this forbidden thing called happiness, which is mostly shunned or dismissed too soon. It usually plays a game with my mind, this happiness. Giving me a peek a boo once in awhile. Just long enough to know that’s this is what I’m fighting for, yet, not long enough for me to say it’s been worth it. Life, without happiness feels worthless. Only to breathe is what I have ingrained in me. I will keep the dread of depression and mental illness at bay, but also as my coat of arms to protect me from all things unfamiliar. When the earth’s moons change, so will my new life. I hope, as I realize the darkness of the eclipse above the horizon. I don’t know what to do with happiness. I don’t know what to do with life, in fact, I just don’t know what to do. Do I ask for forgiveness once again and wish to go back to the normalcy I seek? No, I won’t do that now. I won’t bother the starlight tonight. I’ll just go on my windy road with fingers crossed, that, like the changing of the seasons or temperatures of the day, I’ll settle in to my new abode of a silenced “happiness,” peeking out in the moonlight. I’ll accept it without recall and know that the starlight is watching….always to know what goes on into the night.

Stuck

6

Walking along the side of the road it is blustery and quiet. No one makes a sound except the rare car in the distance. It’s eerily quiet tonight, but I love it. Sometimes my life feels like I’m at the busiest intersection in town but I’m the only one here. Oh, how I love the nighttime. I’m always more awake and always seem to feel a little better when it’s dark out. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel like I stand out as much, who knows? I walk alone around my neighborhood missing my old best friend that used to walk with me. Him and I grew up together in this place and now all I have of him and everyone else is the memories. And I hate it because the memories are even starting to fade. Is that what happens as we get older? We have children and simply fade into the night? I hear an ambulance turn their sirens on. “Maybe their coming for me.” I’d think to myself. Maybe they’ll come and help me find a new life. Where did the old me go though? Usually outgoing I’ve turned into quite the introvert and am always anxious. My normal self is playing the longest game of hide and go seek. I’m so ready to go to the hospital where it feels safe. No one is their to make you miserable when you go to the hospital. And I’ve been to the hospital for this. Years and years ago. I hear gravel scrape on the ground as I take my next step, of course it’s stuck in my shoe, that’s just the way my life operates isn’t it? If something bad is going to happen then that someone it will happen to, is me.  At the hospital people are so nice to you and it doesn’t even seem like it’s because their paid to be that way. My first experience was filled with genuine concern of theirs and them actually trying to set me up with the right plan. But the problem is, what if you turn out to be suicidal quite a bit and don’t know what to do but go to the hospital. And this was when they didn’t put people in inpatient unless the situation was dire. Am I dire? Hell no, but having suicidal thoughts or even thoughts of harming yourself is. So what happens when that just won’t go away? That’s what they mean when they say the word “ideation.” Suicidal ideation is when you think about suicide a lot but don’t necessarily feel the need to go through with it. I tried to refuse the ideation’s service but the demon had already nustled up in my head. It didn’t even knock so I couldn’t say I don’t do anything door to door. My Dr. that I’d unloaded to about the depression advised me to go. No one wants to go the the hospital to spend their entire day away waiting. But isn’t that all I do anyway? Wait? Be patient to wait.  Oh, wait, wait, wait “miss….please have seat and wait.” UGH! Sometimes wait 24 hours, sometimes more. Then they release you and tell you to be good. What a crock. THAT’S your suicide prevention plan? Restraining me to a bed? “Don’t put me in restraints!” “What is this for?” “I haven’t even done anything.” Pleading with the Dr.s and nurses. “This is for your protection as well as ours,” they say. But I voluntarily came to the hospital asking for help. Except for the one time I overdosed and it took seven doctors to restrain me. I get fiercely protective of myself when it’s other people out to “handle” me. But why when it’s myself preying on my inner self do I just let that go? I fight til the death when I feel I’m the prey but I’ve been my mental prey all along and simply fall weak to it. Man, I hate this. I hate myself even more after realizing what I just wrote. Why don’t I fight for myself more? Or maybe I am fighting for myself by going to the hospital and not sitting at home hurting myself. But that’s not what one social worker had to say. She was the ‘bad cop’ out of the mostly good ones. Or maybe had the power trip she’d been longing for because when she got to little old me, oh did she prey. And hook, line and sinker I’d take the bait. But, like me, that’s neither here nor there. I sway from the in-betweens of life and limber. Sway to and fro in my easy going mentality with others, but fierce when it comes to myself. Constantly, I battle with who I am and why I am. The why’s of life unbeknownst and the who’s, undecided as I step up for battle after battle, in life and limb.

I’ve watched things become very different at the hospital over the years, they don’t restrain anyone anymore unless it’s really necessary for people with suicidal ideation. My ideation in having those bad thoughts showed me I was nearing the end. It was just a matter of time that the compulsions set in. I used to have suicidal ideation all of the time. It was daily and mostly all day. It really haunted me. I had to take the ESL of brain chemistry because my mind suddenly became foreign. My thoughts were morbid, I was thinking very irrationally, and all I kept trying to do was to figure this thing out. Blood became the forefront of my mind, replacing all things happy. Morbid, morbid things I’d attach to as it was the only thing I could relate, and therefor rely on. It actually calmed me down sometimes to think about killing myself. The world I lived became such a far off place, to this day I have a hard time understanding it. And I didn’t have to think about it on purpose. Morbidity was always in the wakes, casually waiting to be exposed.

Diagnosis

7

Among each disorder is the basis of Anxiety. First, you have the realization that the disorder is attacking at that moment so you put the pressure on yourself to not fall apart in it. I don’t know about other people but It’s unbearable how much pressure I put on myself. I feel like I’m chasing that train steaming ahead for the life I’m missing. Only to get hit by the train this time, putzing along behind to remind me I’ll never be good enough. Anxiety is when there’s too many people in a waiting room. Or at a fair, or a concert, or even driving on the road. Anxiety is the crowded elevator. Everyone’s eyes are on me right? I’m the elephant in the room no one wants to talk about. Anxiety is bold and triumphant in all it does. The sweaty palms, hell, the hot flashes it feels like. The shortening of breath. The hand shakiness, dry mouth, mind racing, will do anything too be heard…anxiety.
Now OCD is the leading disorder of all that practices it’s malpractice in me. It never sticks to the “rules” you read about, or moreover, the symptoms labeled in it’s diagnosis. It loves chaos in the fact that it will go beyond the borders of even Dr.’s opinions of how it’s depth can be, to let you know always, whose in control. OCD wants every strategic move planted in a physical sense within rituals throughout the day, throughout the night, throughout the worst of the worst times. And when you actually have better times, you think it’s because you ritualized correctly that day. As is when you have a bad day, you think it’s because you didn’t ritualize enough, or ritualize correctly. Even when someone in your life passes away, you might think it’s because you didn’t touch the light switch the day before enough times. Sound crazy? Crazy is in the eye of the beholders thinking OCD isn’t true, because I assure you my friends, it sure the hell is.

My rituals take mere seconds to complete. But when you add up all the seconds, it adds up to hours. It began happening with every place I’d look, even. When I’d look at letters I’d have to look in the center of them. And something I don’t think people understand, is that yes, it’s a compulsion to do these things. I don’t stop until it “feels” like I did it perfectly. Compulsions are like the “musts” of the brain. You literally feel like you have to do it. Otherwise I ritualize the same thing over and over again until I get it right. I touched a light switch for ten minutes straight once, over and over again until I could get a set of the number “four,” correctly. I’d touch it four times, always directly in the center, then if it didn’t feel right, I’d do it again…and again…and again. When I was a little girl, my best friend Tegan and I were coming in from playing basketball at her house when I needed to hit the garage button to close it. Well, I couldn’t just do it once all of the sudden. I HAD to touch it again, and I HAD to touch it just in the right spot to feel like it was ok to move on with the day. I’d done it before around her but luckily I always waited until someone was out of the room or do the ritual casually enough that no one would notice….at least I don’t think they did. At least not until that day. “Andrea, why are you touching it so many times?” My face still gets red with the embarrassment and shame left over from that moment. You see, I always knew it wasn’t something the other kids did. I didn’t know how I knew it because I’d think about how they’d probably do it in private as I would, but it just felt wrong every time I did it. “No!” I stated back. “Why would I be doing that?” I saw her look over to my hand. Then, as she turned around, she sweetly just said, “um, never mind.” We were so young. I remember doing this when I was around six years old. I was aghast to think she didn’t make fun of me. That instant confused me so much, until we got older and I knew everything she was about even into adulthood. It was never about putting people down. She’s a Psychologist today. Hell, she was a Psychologist when we were kids too. I so wanted to talk to her about it, just be able to get it out there that I was really suffering in this weird way and in this weird silence. It was the first secret I kept from Tegan. I hated it. But if I didn’t ritualize, I’d worry about things like people getting hurt, or screwing up their and my day, or I’d even worry that someone might die if I didn’t do it. And if I talked about it, what if people tried to get me to stop and it was the only way I could control any of the things that were happening to me and to others? I couldn’t do that. Plus, whatever it was I was doing was wrong, very wrong, I’d tell myself. OCD was like living a lie. People still don’t know the depths that I go to to ritualize without being seen. It’s almost a lie to myself by my denial of it for so long too. I didn’t know I could be so mean to myself at six years old. I hated OCD and began to hate myself as well. I’m the one who brought it on, so I’d be the one to have to deal with it. Little did I know, I’d carry that theory out beyond any grasp I could’ve held. I’m 36 as of last week and it’s still there, all that hate. I still have trouble with ritualizing to this day. I’ve just cut a lot of it out however, within this last year. There’s certain things I haven’t been able to kick yet, but the battle of doing the rituals vs the battle of not doing them became so great that I was willing to keep trying as I’ve done my whole life to kick it. It’s best on the days my mind gives me some time off. Off of the morbidity, the hell. The peek and tease of happiness I still get sometimes. But I never really got a peek until these past couple of years. That’s when I decided to try again. Oh hell, I’m always trying. It still carries such shame with it. If I drink out of my water bottle and look someone in the eyes at the same time, I get so scared that something may happen to them. I’ve even done it when I shouldn’t have cared about what happened to them because they were an asshole, but nevertheless, I didn’t want that on my plate. A big one for me is that I have a terrible time sleeping at night, and I would think it was because I wasn’t ritualizing correctly. Low and behold, I have insomnia. But don’t tell the OCD that, it won’t believe you.

Anyhow, usually, it’s within touch, cleanliness and putting things in a certain arrangement. For me, I had to touch things in sets of four. Four equaled an even lined square so not one part had more or less than the other. I was always looking for things to “even out.” And usually OCD sufferer’s use four or five as their number. People might argue to me that a triangle has equal sides as well, but for me, four is an even number, so that’s why I chose it, three is an odd number and I can’t handle the odds. Geez, I can’t handle the odds of anything. Two’s an even number but wouldn’t be able to make the lines form an equilateral shape if I had to draw it. I work very visually in everything I do. Especially when I try to explain things and I remember at a young age trying to think of how I would explain it if I ever had to. It’s so illogical and the craze one feels in their mind from such a disorder is just plain mean. This “thing” is making me want to keep doing it and doing it thinking it actually keeps the structure of a day going. I can’t explain how draining it is on the brain. Relaxation is out because wherever you are, you’re wondering if you’re touching things correctly, or needing to ritualize in some way. I waited tables in my 20’s and my good friend at the time would make fun of me because I’d do this weird thing with my hands when I’d walk. I’d always make a first, then rub my thumb on my first finger. He thought it was so weird and it was, I guess. But I was silently protecting myself from touching anything when I’d walk because I couldn’t afford to have one of my co-workers see me stop and ritualize. The saddest part is that I’d go along with him and make fun of it too. But it was the opposite of funny, it was awful. Feeling like you’re crazy, thinking so illogically. I never told anyone about it until my parents two years ago. But OCD is so hard to understand, even from the ones who suffer from it. Even harder to understand, well anything, is when people tell us of something we ourselves haven’t experienced. So no, I didn’t get a lot out of telling my parents. It’s really something, I should even still, get therapy for. But my past therapy experiences haven’t been that great either. Such is why I don’t jump at the chance. All we know is that we do it, and that it’s usually about trying to find control in a world where we need it. Mine started at a time when I needed it badly. I know it was right around the time of my mom’s affair, but that talk is for another night. We OCDers are good at hiding. We do things so inconspicuously you’d never know. But when we’re in private, we usually become more lax about it. And there’s the thing. The only time we become more lax about anything is when we’re alone, in private, where we can hide our shameful selves and take it out by ritualizing. Only to hate ourselves even more, every time we do it.

With the insomnia I fight, nighttime is the perfect time to sit with music and write. I get called a night owl but let’s be real about it…in my situation, this owl is exhausted! It shouldn’t take at LEAST three hours to fall asleep each night, that is if I can fall asleep at all. I’ve been known to be up for a four night stint on more than one occasion. And it’s hard getting through the day seeing spots, let me tell you, it’s not cool. Medication helps so much with my sleep. I’d count sheep and buy the time I got to 800, I was too bored at imagining them I finally would quit. What wasn’t a good thing though? Realizing at too early of an age what helps you sleep….drinking too much. Even when I took my first sip of alcohol. I told myself, “That shouldn’t have felt that good.” And little did I realize, it really shouldn’t have. But the nights would be sleepless without it, becoming a never ending cycle of yet another bad decision.

My diagnosis go on with PTSD from my marriage, but no one ever really believes that PTSD is true or fair to diagnose unless you’ve been in the military it seems like. People always brush off that diagnosis like they’re ignoring it, kind of like I’m going to do here because I don’t feel like writing about it. But coming from an abusive marriage, and all of these other things I’ve gone through. I can’t help the fact that I suffer from what I suffer from. I don’t like to define myself by my diagnosis, but I also don’t like my diagnosis to define me and with each day it’s seeming to be more true with every symptom I possess. 

Whirlpools

9

I try to float inside

Swirling whirlpools

With a girl to hide.

Round and round I go,

Where I’ll stop no one will know.

Let me be alone in this strife

Not one of them to see

This girl in this life,

And let me walk down

With the duplicity

Making the most

Of all that is me.

And take what’s left

To serendipity,

Where I can hopefully

Leave behind

Depression’s cavity,

In this hollow hole

Of life’s capacity,

In a world unchanged

Of maximum security

For the likes of folks

Just like me.

To say they’ll be helped

To the nth degree,

Does not leave peace

But yes, unsettling things

With causation

Of casualties…

Of the sane mind,

Insanity rings.

Practicing Medications

29

Do you ever feel like the second you give something up you want it back? It seems like every time I’m over something, that’s when it’s just beginning. Or when something was a problem with not much resolution, my generation had to be the guinea pig’s. Don’t get me wrong I’m glad I got my suffering when treatment was even an option but what’s it done for me? I’m forced to take all these medications that make me gain weight, and it seems like every time I have a problem I have to get a new diagnosis and a new pill to take. I was up beyond 13 at one point, and god forbid you go against what some of the dr.’s think. Because they’re the only ones that can do anything about it. They outrank everyone. But last I checked there were more mental health sufferers. 450 million to be exact. We’re learning to question all of these things in school and it’s quite infuriating looking back at what I’ve had to put up with and pay out of pocket for. So, after I was diagnosed all I wanted to do was hibernate and sleep but at the same time was battling insomnia all the same. It wasn’t my original doctor’s fault as he was doing what he’d been taught. He at least let me have a voice and would understand that I wasn’t stupid and if anyone is going to describe symptoms and know how it affects them, it’ll be the patients. I’ve been stereotyped because I’m a girl, because I’ve gained all this weight and because of what I suffer from. I’ve also been shut down because I was told to be proactive.  But how can you be proactive alongside the thing that’s fighting for your demise. Society wants us to go into the doctor’s offices and tell them what we need. You find me a doctor that can put their pride away for that long, then you’ve got a deal. But after all of the doctors who shut me down, especially being I’m a nice easy going person, and yes, a woman, they think take it offensively when you’ve actually been able to muster up any “proactive” discussions. Family physician’s want you to go see a psychiatrist if you have something like depression. Psychiatrists can’t deal with general pain and I have a really bad back, so their battle begins. The family physician swears my back pain is depression related and my psychiatrist is the opposite. Quite frankly, I don’t believe any of them. If they wouldn’t be SO pill happy sometimes and would ask how you’re doing once in awhile, you might be able to let them know patterns that you observe. But any doctor that I’ve tried to voice anything with realizes they’re power position and uses it to intimidate you into even more of the problem. I had no idea how those medicines made me feel when my depression was at it’s worst, but I did notice things over time and was forced to go with it because we couldn’t handle the “What if?” And the what if, could be really bad, but isn’t that what responsible medicating is all about, and being able to work with your dr together? I thought and was told I had a chemical imbalance in my brain. So that’s how some people treat me, especially doctors…..as imbalanced. They seem to mistake that for stupidity though, and people don’t realize that I’m not. But I do notice, the way they treat me, and I do notice that medicine is not what they’re practicing…..it’s power. And, no one knows all of my diagnosis…but me. I’ve been diagnosed with so many things I may as well be radioactive. And with each new doctor all of my diagnosis change, and the doctor that comes after the one before isn’t sure of what I suffer from because they wonder if I should really have that many diagnosis, so they have to diagnose me all over again. What a cycle. It’s just this roller-coaster ride that I didn’t pay to get on, am terrified of riding, and would give my life savings if they’d just stop it and let me go. You’d think that all my suffering is just practice for the next doctor to see if they’ll diagnose me correctly. Practice for them and practice for me if I can get this thing called life. Everyday, it’s everyday that we practice. Being who we are, being who we want to be and being far away from the things that terrify us. But here I am, riding in this circle of life that’s going to slow and too fast all the same and it never stops. Each day I wake up and I practice. More trials and tribulations about being someone, or simply just being me.