Depression

Back to School and other updates

I did it! I’m back in college after 25+ years.

I had basically given up on the idea that I would ever get to go back and get my degree. Of course, after so long, I’m actually starting completely over. So much so that I’m enrolled in a mandatory College Success Course!

If it wasn’t for the fact that the organization I work for unionized, I wouldn’t be able to attend. If you have a union, and you aren’t really aware of the benefits it offers, please investigate it. You might discover something you didn’t realize would move you forward in your path or help you shift to a different one.

Anyway, I’m super excited to be back in school. It’s going to be a long road. However, if I focus on that, I will get overwhelmed and probably discouraged. Realistically, to get to the level I want to in my career, I have to get my Master’s and I’m at the beginning of obtaining my Associate’s. Standard educational timelines mean six years, at least. Meaning, I’ll be at least 60 yrs old before I would be able to practice as a clinician and 62 before I could have my own practice, independent of immediate supervision. That’s if I were able to go full-time. Which I can’t.

Why can’t I? I am about to be officially, completely single-parenting a 13 year old on the Autism Spectrum while working full-time, and being a fully accessible grandparent to my four grandkids. All of this while managing mental and physical health conditions and fighting to survive financially. Adding full-time college on top of all of that isn’t realistic.

Fortunately, I’m enrolled in a program that breaks the terms up into eight week segments. I’m taking four credits this first eight weeks. I’m registered for six credits for the second eight weeks. That puts me at almost full-time. Depending on how this first eight weeks goes, I may drop one of the courses for the second eight weeks. I don’t want to do what I’ve done previously and take on too much, too soon, overload myself, get overwhelmed, and meltdown. Slow and steady wins the race, yeah?

In the meantime, I’m also needing to file bankruptcy and my car has broken down.

My wages have been being garnished for over a year. The cost of the bankruptcy and hiring an attorney will likely cost close to what I have left in the garnishment and mean making a payment arrangement. However, it will also prevent a few other debts from going to court. I hate the idea of bankruptcy. I absolutely hate it. It’s just that financially I will be barely staying afloat once the fallout from my pay raise happens.

You read that right. My pay raise is going to create some financial difficulties. Why? Well, because the path from dependence on the government and social services to self-sufficiency is set up for people to fail. With the disappearance of the middle class, how easy do you think it is to scramble out of poverty and get a foothold into sinking sand?

The aforementioned health issues have me on multiple medications, including an insulin pen. Up to now, I have qualified for the Oregon Health Plan under the Affordable Care Act. Once my pay raise kicks in I will lose eligibility for that insurance. I’ll be paying for medical through my employer and have to set money aside for the cost of prescriptions. I’m not sure how much all of that will be, but, I’m quite sure it will likely be over $200/mo. I’ll likely lose the full amount of housing subsidy I’m currently receiving. That will be an extra $600-$700/mo. I will lose the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), aka “food stamps.” That’s another $400/mo. I’m looking at losing over $1,200/mo. support I qualified for, WHILE WORKING FULL-TIME, with a pay raise that will raise my gross income by $583/mo. So, I suppose not having a car to pay maintenance, gas, and insurance on is a good thing.

I’ll be making more than $20/hr. still barely making ends meet. Between taxes, retirement savings (which is losing pace with the economic issues facing our country), and the garnishment, I’m currently taking home half of my gross and surviving on about $1500/mo. plus the subsidies I listed above.

Let’s recap: Back to college – YAY!!! Broken car – BOO!!! Pay raise – WOOHOO!!! Losing benefits – UH OH!!!

Oh, yeah, what am I studying you ask? Social Work.

Yep. That’s right. I’m studying to go into a career to try to help people, like myself, navigate broken and disconnected social service systems, while attempting to navigate those same systems myself.

I’m already learning to be grateful it’s online and that I don’t actually have to interact face to face with the privileged folks who seem to think the English Poor Laws were a good thing and that we should bring them back.

Lord, help me.

Advertisement

My picker might not be broken anymore

My picker was broken. I just realized that might be better.

“What’s a picker?” you ask.

It’s the thing inside of me that picks the people I allow and invite into my life on an ongoing basis. It used to just refer to the men I’ve been in romantic relationships with but I’m realizing it is also referring to friendships. My romantic relationship history has been on a spectrum from dismal, at best, to harmful. My friendships have been a bit better, but still very problematic at times. I’ve been hurt a lot by both kinds of relationships, as I’m sure many of us have. It all started in childhood with the circumstances I was raised in and the people I was raised by.

TW: Trauma triggers ahead regarding childhood trauma and mental health issues

My mom was a teenager from a broken home who had never really been given stability and roots when she got pregnant, married her first husband, and had me. Additionally, she experienced undiagnosed and untreated mental health issues. My parents were married in November, I was born in June, and they were divorced by August. We moved from California and landed in Texas, eventually. She was married two more times by the time I was six and she was 22. Wow! I just did that math. I hadn’t realized exactly how young she was when she married my second stepfather…who happened to have been a pedophile. Now, I suddenly understand how I wasn’t the only one he groomed, manipulated, and took advantage of. I have some unpacking to do. I guess I have something to discuss with my trauma therapist later today.

Anyhow, moving on.

After the events that took place in her third marriage, we moved around a few more times until she found her family in Portland, Oregon. So, we moved up here to be close to her father and brother. Within a short period of time, my relationship with her deteriorated badly, as did her mental health (unbeknownst to me), and she signed guardianship of me over to my uncle (who was only 15 years older than me). I was 12. Subsequently, she moved back to Houston and, within a couple of months, killed herself. She was a few weeks away from her 29th birthday. Within a short period of time it became evident that substance use/abuse was an issue in my uncle’s home and within a couple of years his marriage broke down and at 14 I started taking on adult responsibilities, such as taking care of my infant cousin so much that people thought she was my child.

We moved several times within Portland until I landed back in the apartments my mom and I had first lived in when we arrived in Portland. That’s where I met my oldest child’s biological father. I was 16 and he was 30. It took me awhile to figure out that my first “adult” relationship was actually just another form of child abuse. We lived out of cars and hitchhiked across the country and lived out of cars for three and a half years, manipulating and conning people for money and survival. I had my son during that time. I was 17 when he was born. At 19, in a bout of domestic violence, my neck was almost broken and that was the last time I ever saw my son’s father.

From that point forward, my relationships were with men who weren’t available emotionally or in a materially supportive way.

Then I had my first mental breakdown at 22, had an aborted suicide attempt, dropped out of college, and spiraled out of control. I got pregnant with my second child at 23, and was a single-mom of two at 24. During the pregnancy, I met the best man who wanted to be supportive in all ways, but I wound up pushing him away because I didn’t want to need him so much on any level. I wasn’t ready to be dependent on anyone. I suppose I was afraid of losing something I didn’t think I deserved, so, I just chose not to have it in the first place. Two years later, I met the father of my youngest child. We had an 18 year, more on than off, relationship characterized by his anger and my depression. By that time, I was so traumatized I didn’t believe I could have or deserved anyone better and tried so hard to make it work that I developed complex PTSD to the point I still don’t remember the physical abuse my children tell me happened to us.

A little over eight years ago, within a few days of our child’s fifth birthday, I left him. It took me from December 2013 to June of 2019 to break from my co-dependence with him and be able to move toward independence and self-sufficiency. He just got married this past weekend and I finally feel free from him, except for the fact I still have to interact with him as the co-parent of our child.

I’ve spent the last eight years in therapy and working on my healing and recovery. I’ve discovered I have Bipolar II Disorder, cPTSD, and Binge Eating Disorder. It’s been a long road and, apparently, there’s still more to this journey.

I’m tired of doing it alone. Finding out he was getting married last week precipitated me getting an account on a dating app. I’ve been on apps before which resulted in passing in the night experiences. So far, this one’s different. I’ve made two matches whom I’ve actually met face to face.

Will I form a lasting romantic relationship with either? I don’t know. What I do know is that the caliber of human they are is unlike any of the men I’ve invited into my life before…other than the pastor and elders of my faith community. Open, honest, communicative, empathetic, non-judgmental, kind, and generous are the characteristics I’ve witnessed in both of these men. If nothing else, I’ve met two people I’m willing to bet are going to be good friends in the long run.

How can I tell this? I spent at least an hour in conversation with both of them before we even ordered our meals. Our meals took a long time to finish because our conversations continued and went deeper. After we ate, we chose to spend even more time together, in conversation. We learned about each other’s lives, current and past. We shared our beliefs, mores, and values with one another and found a lot of common ground. All together, each encounter lasted at least three or more hours. Even if we never encounter each other again, I feel like I’ve been seen, heard, understood, and accepted. I’ve never felt that way by any man or very many people at all throughout my life.

Eight Dimensions of Wellness and Personal Medicine

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) has identified the categories in the graphic above, as primary areas of wellness to support recovery from and help prevent substance abuse as well as support good mental health for everyone and help those experiencing mental health issues to heal and recover from crisis. To watch their video explaining this Wellness Initiative, click here.

The Eight Dimensions of Wellness are:

  • Intellectual
  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Social
  • Occupational
  • Financial
  • Environmental
  • Spiritual

These are the parts of our lives and ourselves which build us up and can tear us down. These make up the safety net and structure that enables us to live our lives to fullest and in the healthiest ways so we can live meaningfully and act with purpose. Without the anchors of meaning and purpose we can become lost and struggle to care well about ourselves and others. Without having strong “whys” which provide meaning and purpose we can feel despondent and hopeless. Focusing on things in these areas, in a balanced and constructive way, enables us to be our best selves and strive to live healthy lives which enrich the lives of the people and the world around us.

As and Adult Mental Health Peer Wellness Specialist (PWS), I have lived experience where I have struggled (or continue to struggle) to integrate the ideas and implement the behaviors which build up these areas of my life. These are things I’m learning about and figuring out for myself and my own wellness journey. I have the privilege of turning my life’s manure into fertilizer in the lives of others as I share my experiences and acquired knowledge and understanding with others who struggle in ways I have done. Learning how to live well, or as well as possible, with physical, mental, and behavioral health challenges, including trauma, addiction, and illness (mental and/or physical) takes time and effort, especially if these aren’t things we learned while growing up.

One way I’m working on this is through Personal Medicine.

I’m not talking about medications, supplements, or herbal concoctions. I’m talking about the things we do in our lives which promote our wellbeing and help us manage and navigate the difficult and painful challenges we all face, whether we have a diagnosis or not. These are the things which provide purpose and meaning and remind us of who we are and what we’re capable of. They are things we do, not things we take. On a surface level it may seem like I’m talking about coping skills. However, they are deeper and more connected to our sense of self. Coping skills may need to be the starting point but drilling deeper into what is important and life-giving to ourselves is what the ongoing process is about. Personal Medicine is about creating an action plan to help us navigate challenges everyone faces. It empowers us to assert ourselves and advocate for our needs in times when we may feel not strong enough to fight those battles.

Pat Deegan developed the concept of Personal Medicine into a structured and constructive way for people to walk themselves through areas of struggle and challenge, such as:

AngerAnxious FeelingsConcentrationDistressing Voices
Effective CommunicationFeeling DepressedFood CravingsGrief
Harm ReductionNegative ThinkingOppressionSelf-Harm
SleepTraumaTroublesome BeliefsWorry

Each of these subject areas has a set of cards with ideas or prompts on how to manage them. All sets include a blank card for one to develop their own, unique, individualized action to address the issue being experienced. Any and all of these things can and do impact how we navigate the dimensions of wellness. In the beginning of this year, I went through certification training and I am now a Certified Personal Medicine Coach (CPMC).

In my role as a PWS at the organization I work for, I have the opportunity incorporate my skills and knowledge as a CPMC to support those who are working to become their healthiest and best selves in their recovery process, whatever that is and looks like for them. Next week, I’m starting a group: Personal Wellness and Life Management. I plan to use the Eight Dimensions of Wellness framework to present Personal Medicine as a way to address the obstacles and barriers we carry within ourselves which hinder our wellness.

Basically, I’m going to be building a loose curriculum around these concepts, incorporating these tools. Lord help me! I’ve never done anything like this before. Good vibes, prayers, and encouragement are requested and welcomed. I’ll keep you posted.

Mental Health Crisis? Call 988

On July 16th a national hotline went live for people who are experiencing or who knows someone experiencing a mental health crisis. 988 is the new way to reach the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Check out the NPR article & interview explaining it here.

This is something that’s been needed for decades.

In 1981, when I was 12, my mother died by suicide. She was living with her mother at the time and I was in another state living with her brother. She had turned guardianship of me over to my uncle. There were a lot of reasons, but underlying them all was undiagnosed and untreated mental illness.

Then, after finding my mother’s body, my grandmother had nowhere to go. So, when my uncle arrived several days later because he had to drive from Oregon to Texas, it was discovered that my grandmother had continued staying in the apartment she had shared with my mom. The only thing that had been done was the body removed. No one came to support my grandmother, find her a safe place to stay, or even come in and help clean the space so she didn’t have to see evidence of my mother’s gruesome demise.

Decades later, I saw the police and coroner’s reports and it was evident that no one had thought beyond the stereotype of a hysterical woman who was depressed over a broken marriage and an estranged child. What no one realized or understood is that, in addition to those things, she likely had Bipolar 1 with auditory & visual hallucinations. Of course, my grandmother was from The South and from the Don’t Talk, Don’t Tell generation and no one talked to me about anything. So, maybe they knew something but just didn’t talk to me about it.

Which was really unfortunate. If I had realized the extent to my mother’s mental health issues, perhaps I would have been able to get my Bipolar 2 diagnosis before my life completely fell apart when I was 44 years old.

I could have used a service like 988, 30 years ago when I had my first brush with suicidal ideation. Instead, I reached out to my roommate from hell, who called her boyfriend, who called his best friend. They brought a fifth of tequila and I woke up the next morning in the bathtub, wrapped in a blanket, without clothing, and no memory of the night before. Perhaps it would have not only kept me from completing my suicide attempt, but also prevented me from waking up without a clue what I had experienced or done the previous night. Maybe I would have been able to connect with resources which would have enabled me to stay in school, or, at the very least, helped me to do more than barely exist inside the depression.

I can’t regret any of these things, because they are what has shaped me to be the person I am becoming and I’m liking who I am more and more. These things have formed the life I have, which, while challenging and difficult, is also full and fulfilling. I wouldn’t have the family I do or the relationships I do or be aware of the people who care about me and who I matter to.

However, I can hope and pray that this 988 service will positively impact the lives of others who are suffering in ways I did and worse, showing that people care and that life can be worth fighting for and living.

Of Wellness and WW

Back in 2018 I wound up with multiple compacted nerves on the top of my left foot. The doctor I saw at that time basically told me I could either have surgery or lose weight. I’ve struggled with obesity my entire life…well, since adolescence at least, though I was always teased about being bigger than the other kids. So, losing weight sounded hard. However, as a single parent to a child with special needs, with no source of income of my own at the time, I knew trying to recover from surgery would be beyond challenging and more acutely painful. Losing weight became my goal . . . again.

That was about the time Weight Watchers rebranded to WW and updated their slogan and program to be more focused on overall wellness and not just losing weight: Wellness Wins. I joined and decided I was going to use it like an AA or NA meeting. I knew that with Binge Eating Disorder and my lifelong history of starting a weight loss program, sometimes a fad diet but often just lifestyle changes, I would lose weight but couldn’t sustain the changes on my own. I knew that I eat for way more reasons than simple, physical hunger. I needed support and accountability.

I was working on my mental health and parenting a child with special needs. I was not able to be employed due to those two things. I committed to 90 meetings in 90 days. I did it! I completed the 90 workshops in 90 days. I wound up losing about 30 lbs. Then finances were just too difficult and I hit my traumaversary season. I stopped attending workshops and let my WW membership go. Eventually the weight creeped back up.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving of 2019. My middle child, who was 27 at the time, was pregnant with baby #4. They and their partner, along with three littles, wound up houseless and had nowhere to go. So, they moved in with me. By the time COVID hit, they were on extended maternity leave due to some complications.

I started staying with a friend due to how overcrowded my apartment had become and how the sensory overload affected both me and my youngest child who is on the Autism Spectrum. My youngest grandchild was born in April, four days before I started a job which had me engaging with people who struggled with their mental health and couldn’t consistently follow COVID protocols. Since baby and parent were both so medically fragile, I continued to stay with my friend.

At her house were all the things: chips, cookies, candy, soda, and regular (almost daily) take out. I ballooned up to about 300 lbs. So, from the time I ended my WW journey in February of 2019 until I moved back into my apartment in November 2020, I gained close to 60 lbs.

Fast forward to February of this year. I started with a new Primary Care Provider and got a baseline physical. My diabetes had been left unchecked for so long that I was in danger and had already started experiencing neuropathy in my feet. The information about the diabetes and the status of my health, even though it scared me, it also triggered the Depression and the Binge Eating Disorder and I gained 12 lbs.

At the end of March I began a nutrition program which was very expensive and unsustainable behaviorally because of how rigorous, complex, and rigid it was. On April 1st I rejoined WW, with the knowledge that the other program would only last a month or two and that I would use it as a bridge until I could stabilize medically and use WW to support the ongoing healthy lifestyle and mindset changes I need to make the changes last as a complete remaking of how I live life in healthy and constructive ways.

WW isn’t just about weight loss. As one member I know puts it, “This is about taking care of my health through changing my lifestyle behaviors. The weight loss is a side effect.” Members support and encourage each other. They share successes and struggles. While scale victories are celebrated the NSVs (Non-Scale Victories) are celebrated as well and sometimes more than the weight loss. They focus on four pillars: Food, Activity, Sleep, and Mindset. For me, it’s about mindset.

I’ve participated in DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) for mood and symptom management for the cPTSD and the Bipolar. Everything WW teaches and focuses on about mindset and how they approach the lifestyle behavior changes reminds me of DBT. So much so that I call it DBT Lite. Attending virtual workshops daily and going in person to the studio once a week are what is keeping me grounded.

Finances are shifting again. It really looks like I’m not going to be able to continue attending WW if I have to pay for it. They have a Refer a Friend program where if I refer a friend who joins, we both get a free month.

The trouble is, I don’t have that many friends. So, I’m putting this out into the blogosphere. If you or someone you know is struggling with their health and their weight, and they don’t want a fad diet, but want to learn how and why to make long-lasting lifestyle changes, with the encouragement and support of others who know what it’s like, please consider WW.

Just like AA, WW works if you work it and it’s a day by day, moment by moment choice. If you or your loved ones check it and decide to join, please join using the link below. Doing so will help me to continue my journey with the support I need.

https://www.weightwatchers.com/us/checkout/iaf/?iaftoken=3F73F2E300

Long time, no see

2:11 am on Sunday, July 17, 2022

Insomnia has struck again. So, I decided I need to start blogging again. Not for anyone other than myself or any reason other than I miss writing…even though I don’t really know what to write about anymore. I just looked and realized it’s been more than a year since I wrote anything here. I’ve written posts on FB and IG. Many of those have been essay length. But, nothing like blogging.

I miss the blogging community I used to be part of. I miss that sense of connectedness through language. So, here I am, wanting to rebuild my writing self. Who knows, maybe I’ll build something new inside of me.

For anyone who followed me in the past, I’ll try to give a quick synopsis. For any who are reading me for the first time, I’ll introduce myself.

July 16, 2022

Hi, I’m Lillian.

I’m a 53 year old mother of three and grandmother of four. My youngest child is 13 and experiences the world through the Autism Spectrum. My two oldest children are 35 and 29. The 29 year old and their 29 year old partner have four children: 8, 7, 4, & 2…their family lives with me. So, when my teenager is home, there are eight humans and one canine…in a two bedroom, one bath apartment. Yeah. You read all of that right.

After not being employed since mid-2012, primarily due to mental health reasons and the special needs of my youngest, I was finally able to rejoin the workforce in April of 2020. I started as a Residential Counselor in Supported Housing for adults experiencing mental health challenges. A year later, I transitioned into my current role as an Adult Mental Health Peer Wellness Specialist. Basically I get to use my lived experience of coping with mental health challenges (and navigating all the systems which impact a person living with those challenges) to walk alongside others going through similar challenges.

Who knew my trauma history and mental illness could be a positive force in the world? I certainly didn’t for most of my life. Now, here I am, doing the work my life has equipped me for. I’m turning the excrement of my life into fertilizer in the lives of others. That gives me a sense of purpose…something I lacked for a very long time.

All I could see were my limitations and defects.

It’s Disability Pride Month. There isn’t a fully official flag…yet. I did some research on what the colors represent and put together a flag which represents what I live with on a daily basis.
Black = Sleep issues = Sleep Apnea
Purple = Chronic/Acute Pain = Fibromyalgia & Neuropathy
Red = Heart issues = High Blood Pressure
Blue = Thyroid issues = Hypothyroidism
Yellow = Obesity
Green = Mental Illness = Bipolar 2 Disorder, Depression, cPTSD, & Binge Eating Disorder
Black = Sleep issues = Chronic Insomnia

My Disability Flag

Currently there are two main things I’m struggling with out of this laundry list of ailments: Diabetes, type 2 & Bipolar Disorder, also type 2.

Back in February, I found out that my A1C was 11 and my non-fasting blood glucose level was almost 500. If you don’t know what these numbers mean, that’s actually great for you. It means it’s likely you don’t have diabetes concerns. On the other hand, if you research it and check out the symptoms list, you may discover you need to learn more about it. Anyway, basically, I should have been hospitalized…and my doctor of that time actually requested I go to the ER to get checked out, three days after those tests were done.

In March, I started a rigorous (and expensive!) nutrition program. It worked. I lost seven pounds the first week. By week three I had to reduce my insulin intake by 15 units. On April 1st I rejoined WW (Weight Watchers). I was on a roll and doing really well with my activity, my eating, my thinking, and my creativity. I had more energy. I gained more confidence. I was feeling really proud of myself. Then my bipolar brain started going haywire.

All those feel good things and lifestyle changes, along with seasonal changes, impacted my neurochemistry and sent me into manic mode…but I didn’t recognize it until several weeks had passed and I was completely off the rails with risky, out of control behavior. I couldn’t face the truth until I realized how much I was risking: my health, my mental health recovery, my relationships, and my future. It was very demoralizing once I faced the truth.

I talked to both of my therapists, my prescriber, and my newest doctor. Adjustments were made and it took another few weeks to come down. Then, I spiraled down. I stopped moving. I reverted to old patterns and the binge eating began. I quit the nutrition program…I couldn’t afford it and the “health coach” I had was really aggravating me. Then, I stopped attending the WW virtual workshops and skipped the in person studio workshop, after two weeks of weight gain. Additionally, financial changes out of my control started happening with my employer and a creditor. So, I realized I wouldn’t be able to continue with WW, once my initial membership commitment expires in September.

I very nearly gave up.

Friday night I logged into my first workshop in nearly two weeks. I showed up at the studio yesterday and weighed in. I had gained almost eight and a half pounds in two weeks. My heart plummeted and I felt nauseated. It was very disheartening. At the same time, it was motivating. I went home and decided I was going to something to make me feel good about myself and I did my makeup, which I hardly ever do. I used color, which I never do. I used green to represent the Bipolar I’ve been battling.

I’m still committed to taking the bad and using it to do good.

Conflicted: April 2021 NaPoWriMo Day five

Exhausted
Brain dead
Thinking and walking through molasses

Overwhelmed
Mixed emotions
Scattered thoughts, discombobulated

Anxious
Breaking down
So much to push through and fight

Fearful
Poor health
Self-care to care for others

Hopeful
Fingers crossed
Aspirations may soon be met

Loved
Generations together
Smiles and laughter ‘midst the angst

I decided not to use a prompt today. I just ended my work week after about two weeks off. Weekend graveyards is a tough schedule and I seldom get 3-4 hours of sleep between shifts. So, my brain couldn’t process the complexity of the prompt.

My laptop gave up the ghost and won’t turn on. So, my writing will now be done using the phone app. *sigh*

My posts will probably be shorter.

Renovating: April 2021 NaPoWriMo, Day four

Visit @SpaceLiminalBot on Twitter to see more liminal spaces.

Today’s prompt on NaPoWriMo.net was to choose a photo of a liminal space from @SpaceLiminalBot on Twitter and write about it.

Confession, I had no idea what liminal meant. When I looked it up I learned that it’s about the ambiguity of being in a transitional state. Neither here, nor there, but somehow occupying the borders of both spaces. Now that I know what it means, I can honestly say that it’s the story of my life.

From childhood forward
My mind active and yearning
Voracious, needy

Guidance lost too soon
Bottled grief. I was unmoored
‘Tween loss and anger

A runaway teen
Trauma and disappointment
New life comes forth

On the road again
No peace, no rest, nowhere home
Life saved from cruel death

Back where I started
Family ties bind and gag
Beginning again

In my element
Learning and aching to grow
Success! Feeling hope

Upward and onward
Fast forward to my limit
Falling and spinning

A life not taken
Ungrounded, always a risk
Begets a new life

I spent decades lost
Throwing away loved ones
Relationships burned

Scrabbling from the pit
Trapped in a cocoon of mind
My health overwhelmed

Hard recovery
Love’s faith in community
Investing in me

Beginning again
Not alone but supported
Still renovating

Rising from beneath: April 2021 NaPoWriMo, Day two

Today’s prompt is inspired by Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken.” It’s based on our own personal journeys. What might our experiences be if we took a different path?

No matter how many times I wanted or tried to veer from the path I was on, I wasn’t able to. Having travelled this far, I realize I don’t want to have taken a route other than the one I’ve been on.

Why?

People. My children and my grandchildren might not exist. Or, if they did, they wouldn’t be who they are. I wouldn’t have or know the people in my life, not the way they are now.

My life has always been challenging and full of stress. It’s made who I am. There’s more work to be done. I like who I’m becoming.

Rising from Beneath

I was told I could be anything I wanted…
But I wasn’t taught how and
I never met anyone who was.

I was told that if I had knowledge I would have power.
Helplessness was all I knew…
despite my accumulated information

I was told, “Aim high! Shoot for the stars.”
From my depths my aim was as high as other’s low.
I shot just to see the stars.

Years of climbing, fighting, struggling
Always landing back in the hole
Anchored by the trauma of my past.

Cycles of poverty and neglect,
Generations repeating the past.
Lord, let me be the last.

Breaking through, crawling out
Eyes blinded by daylight
Skin scorched by the sun.

Someone (not Churchill) admonished one and all,
“if you’re going through hell, keep going. It’s no place to stop.”
no longer energized, yet, here I am…still going.

I think it’s a good fight. It’s been a hard one.
Redemption, restoration, rebuilding
Self and relationships once lost.

Constantly feeling weak and lost
Continually infused with life’s breath,
Molded by refining love.

But wait, there’s more…so much more
Five decades to grow up.
Here’s hoping for another 3-5.

New battles rise up,
New fears to face.
The war against self goes on.

More to see, more to be.
My future resides with me.
My path lives in me.

Trying to care for me

In the five years between these two photos:
I stopped being employed;
I left a two decade toxic relationship;
I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, diabetes, bipolar disorder, and cPTSD;
My youngest child was identified as experiencing High Functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder;
Two grandchildren were born;
Relationships with my two adult children have been restored and improved; and I’m navigating the ongoing process of co-parenting with the ex.

I guess, my adult daughter could be right about vampire DNA 😂
02/24/2021 – In the four years since the above collage photo, I’ve become grandma to two more grandchildren (4 GRANDKIDS! 😲 🤯); Fought time and time again to stabilize from hypomania & depression; worked my @$$ off to get employment ready; completed two vocational programs simultaneously; and became employed during a pandemic…all in the midst of chronic turmoil and drama.

The smile hides depression and self-loathing…a severe lack of self-esteem and sense of futility. The hair and angle of the pic hide the double chin and side padding of obesity. You can’t see the fibromyalgia, hypothyroidism, type 2 diabetes, PTSD, Bipolar 2 Disorder, and Binge Eating Disorder. Yet, I look healthier and happier than ever before… according to an FB friend.

I wrote about being functionally depressed and nothing has really changed. I still pretty much only venture forth from my dwelling are occasional grocery shopping trips and to to work. My ADLs (Activities of daily living) are sporadic – personal hygiene is taken care of whenever I have to leave the apartment or I feel too disgusted by myself. Nutrition is not a frequent thing…I may or may not eat 2 Baked Lays single serve bags of chips for breakfast or dinner. One thing has improved – I’m not waking up gasping, choking and feeling like I may have had a heart attack because I’m using my C-pap machine to deal with the sleep apnea again.

Despite the depression, I did a thing and I took a risk. I applied for a Full-time position within the organization I am currently employed with. It’s a Peer Support position, which I completed my training, with flying colors, just as the COVID shutdown started last year. I just emailed the department that manages such things to ensure my application has been received. It has been received and submitted to the hiring manager.

I’m also reaching out or responding to opportunities to connect with people I’m connected to through my faith community. I’m participating in a book study of Rich Villodas, The Deeply Formed Life. I participate in our weekly Zoom service. Right now we’re discussing how it might look when we start meeting again, since some of our faith family isn’t able to engage and participate often unless it’s remotely. I submitted some ideas, which were favorably received.

Partially because of the diabetes, I’ve decided to join a couple of my friends on a menu planning journey next month. I’m in no way prepared. The logistics of my life are chaotic and kind of overwhelming. So, I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to make it a complete success. However, I reminded myself “progress not perfection.” That made my inner perfectionist cringe in horror.

To that end, I decided to focus on breakfast. Simple, quick, easy diabetic friendly breakfasts I can prep primarily in the microwave. The first recipe I found was Breakfast Burrito in a Jar on Diabetic Foodie. Since I don’t have jars, I followed the link to the next breakfast, Mexican Microwave Scramble.

Between the Depression, Hypothyroidism, and fibromyalgia, as well as circumstances in my life, I’m really fatigued & low energy. I’m not sure how I’m still functioning at all. I just know that no matter how close I come, giving up isn’t an option.

How are you doing? For real, sometime sharing helps.