Conflict of Interest

So, I dumped my counselor. But it wasn’t easy. I had second thoughts and guilt. I’m still hanging on to my people pleasing crap I guess. I was more worried about hurting her feelings than me getting the best help.

So after all my anxiety, I called to ask if I could switch to my husband’s counselor. I’ve been seeing him too for our marriage issues but it’s always together. But I think technically, he’s my husband’s counselor not mine.

So when I called the receptionist said it might be a conflict of interest. It didn’t really cross my mind, but apparently seeing me might be a problem. That really sucks because I clicked with this counselor and I never do that. Mostly because I usually see women counselors and they tend to irritate me. They make suggestions of positive thinking and it just annoys me. Don’t they think I might have already tried that?

But this counselor is male. OK, saying that out loud sounds weird but I just get along better with guys than I do women. And that’s not to say I hate women. My doctor is female. My best friend is female. But sometimes I feel more like I click with guys. And sometimes I don’t. But in this case, his advice has helped me a lot. I figured if he could work on a few of my personal issues (anxiety, my anger, my hurt) then that would actually help my marriage too.

So I’m bummed it might be a conflict of interest. They are going to call me back and let me know for sure.

Truthfully, if he can’t do it, I don’t want to find a different counselor. I have trust issues. It took me alot to open up to him and to my last counselor so starting with someone else feels emotionally exhausting. And he knows all the shit going on in my family so I don’t feel like explaining that all over again. It makes me want to cry because I find someone who seems to get it and also offers realistic, non-cheesy advice and I see improvement from his wisdom yet I can’t go there. Ugh. How unfair.

My husband and I don’t keep things from each other and so if by chance the counselor couldn’t keep our stories separated, I’d see that as a potential issue, except for me I wouldn’t care. And neither would my husband. We are in this together.

But I guess rules are rules. They have them for a reason. But I’ll be bummed out if I’m not able to seek therapy from him. I know there are other really good counselors that I could try. It’s just hard to build up trust and it takes a long time.

Counselors are a bit like hair stylists. If you find a good one, it’s hard to go anywhere else. If you do, you might end up with a crappy hair cut and regrets.

Here’s to hoping the rules can be broken.

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Be Afraid

After my last few days, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to go kayaking. Kayaking? You bet! And within an hour, I was rushing to her house for our adventure.

Kayaking is something I’ve always wanted to do but have never done. Sure I’ve paddle boated, canoed, and swam in lakes before so kayaking didn’t seem all that difficult. You just get in a boat and paddle, right? Plus I loved swimming so if I did happen to fall over, I could handle it.

I put on my life jacket and carried the kayak down the hill to the docking area. The hill was pretty steep and the kayak was awkward but I got it in the water, got in, and shoved myself out into the lake. But I immediately noticed 2 things: 1) staying centered and balanced on the kayak was harder than it looked and 2) I had no idea what I was doing.

My friend was rather skilled at this whole thing. On the other hand, I was getting water in my kayak from my paddles, my shorts were all wet, and I couldn’t keep up with her. I got tired easily too. But I was having fun and getting out of my house was what I really needed. The lake was beautiful so I decided not to complain or be annoyed at my lack of skill.

At some point, I realized this kayak business was kind of tricky. Mostly because the lake had boats and the waves had a mind of their own. When a wave would come my way, I’d stop paddling and sit still. If I moved at all, I noticed my kayak start to tip.

My friend suggested we stay closer to the shoreline so the boats didn’t hit us. So we were traveling back after venturing to the end of the lake, about 45 minutes one way. Two jet skis passed back and forth. I was trying to avoid hitting my friend and tipping her over when it happened.

I fell out of my kayak.

At first it was funny. But then I realized that I needed to get back in my kayak but it was filling up with water. I mustered all my upper body strength and tried to swim with it. If I didn’t have a life jacket, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have been able to swim with the waterlogged kayak. I tried heading towards the shore but the water was deep. I tried not to think about the green stuff floating around or the green algae and what was possibly living in there.

My friend took my paddle so I had one less thing to worry about and made it to shore. I kept going. I finally was able to feel the ground, which felt like a mushy poopy diaper. Oh and my shoes were in the kayak floating around. I was trying not to lose those too.

I did panic a bit because I felt like I might drown. Not feeling the bottom of the lake was pretty scary. I also had to hold on to a very heavy kayak and so that felt like it was pulling me down too. And the entire time, the two jetski people didn’t stop to help or just stop making waves so I felt anxious and scared. When I got to the shore, I dropped down on the sand. I was so shaky.

I settled down and my friend told me I was a good sport. She couldn’t tell I was anxious at all. I was joking about it mostly to ease my anxiety so maybe that’s why.

I managed to get back in the kayak after dumping the water out and spent another half hour trying to paddle cautiously back to where we came. The waves from boats still hit my kayak, but I tried to be as balanced as I could.

We got out and loaded the kayaks back in the van and headed home. I was joking around about mushy algae, fish eating my toes, and lake amoeba. My friend was nearly crying from laughing so hard. She kept apologizing and I would make another funny comment and we’d laugh even harder.

The thing is I would do it again. Sure it’s scary to flip over in deep water, but sometimes a little adrenaline is a good thing.

Lately I have been telling my husband how when you are our age, there is a lull. You find your routine. All the exciting life milestones like marriage and kids come and go. Then you feel either bored with life or stressed out by it. It isn’t often you feel the blood pumping, nature in your face, and laughing until you cry. Mostly, you set into your normal and become apathetic and indifferent. Every day feels the same after awhile.

At least it has for me.

So falling out of a kayak and being faced with fear was a good thing. For once, I felt alive to the world. And knowing that people worried about me and kept saying “I’m glad you are OK!” made me feel like I wasn’t just existing.

Sometimes it’s good to do things that scare you. It might just save your life.

The suicide Game

I’m sitting in the eye doctor office waiting for my oldest daughter to finish her appointment. People walk past me. Patients sit across from me. But they would never know.

I’m tired. No, nix that. I’m depleted. I pulled my hair up in a presentable bun. Threw on some “good enough” clothes of jeans and a short sleeve black sweater. Tossed on my sensible flats even though nothing in my life seems all that sensible.

My husband stayed home. Thank God. I couldn’t have survived this day if he didn’t.

We both tried to resume some sense of normalcy. I ran to the store this morning to get donuts. Maybe copious amounts of sugar will make this day less awkward.

No, not really.

Yesterday my middle child sent me a text at 7pm telling me how she should’ve tried harder. The text was sent 7 minutes before. I instantly knew what that meant but was I too late? Just moments before I heard the water in the shower running. I didn’t know what I’d see on the other side of the door. I wiggled the handle but it was locked. I pushed on it as hard as I could and it popped open. My daughter was in the bathtub full of water, fully clothed with cuts up and down her arm. They were mostly shallow cuts.

My body started shaking. I could only express anger. “What the hell??” I managed to yell at her. She sat there sobbing.

The next hours were spent contemplating hospitalization or something else. We talked to her psychiatrist who said we didn’t need to hospitalize her unless she was unsafe. She wasn’t. We have done this 2 other times, once in a hospital. We knew to hide everything and to watch her like a hawk.

She was angry but wouldn’t say why. I knew that once her anger subsided, we’d be better off but sometimes her anger didn’t go away until the next day. So she treated her dad and I like monsters and then fell asleep. Usually we have approached this with lots of empathy, patience, and coddling but last night, I was done with that. I told her exactly how all of this made her dad and I feel and what would happen to us if she succeeded. She needed to hear it. And I figured all the empathy and egg shell walking hadn’t prevented a thing.

It seemed as if we had jumped back in time to a year ago. Nothing had seemed to improve despite all the damn therapy, drugs, hospitalizations, and doctor visits. We have gone broke trying to make her happy. And I’m sorry if I’m insensitive, but no one gives a fuck about the people who have to deal with this day in and day out. Everyone is concerned for her which they should be! But no one seems to care about the toll it takes on me, on her siblings, or on her dad. No one understands the cloud of shame, the anxiety from being on high alert, the inability to share what really hurts (because who can understand this?), the level of secrecy her siblings must have, and the days where we just don’t function that well. It’s like being in a war zone, all the time. Every counselor we speak to, every social worker, doctor, nurse, or psychiatrist is paid to help her. I’m glad they try. But who is there to help the rest of us?

Our time and energy is spent keeping her alive. We maneuver our lives so she can’t possibly end hers. We deplete ourselves trying to make her happy, but we become miserable. Her pain and agony become ours. There is no individual pain when it comes to mental health. Behind every depressed, suffering person is a family of people who suffer with them. Or die trying.

And yet through all of it, we are told things like we can’t give up hope, we have to fight, we can’t detach, we have to have empathy and show concern, we need to be rocks and never waiver.

Who can do all that, honestly? Who can lose hours of sleep, their own sense of sanity, and not turn bitter, angry, and depressed themselves?

Of course, I keep fighting (for someone who won’t fight for themselves) and trying (even though giving up sounds less painful). But I’m also angry and ridiculously fed up with this game. It’s becoming rather predictable. The ending, I still fear, because that part is always a mystery. I can’t know whether her cries for help are feigned suicide attempts or not. To guess wrong might end up in terrible regret. So I’m a puppet on her string, being pulled this way and that, tossed in a box and pulled back out for the show. This is my reality. It’s how I feel.

And the show must go on. But I don’t know how long I can keep going. It’s nothing but pure emotional torture and I’m exhausted. Sometimes I think a cancer diagnosis would be a relief. Life is hard when you feel like you are not in control of your own life anymore.

My life has become a series of power plays and coercive manipulation. How do I get my life back? How do I do it without causing great harm? That is my cunundrum.

There are no easy answers. I keep looking though.

She is in better spirits today. I sigh. This is the temporary relief in the raging storm of depression. I don’t know if it’s game, but I’m so tired of playing.

I Feel Pretty, Witty, and Bright

Being a woman has always felt a bit complicated to me. There are certain rules and expectations to be met. I feel like if I’m not happy, cheerful, or positive, I’m somehow not woman enough. And this pressure to conform often comes from other females.

I feel like the vast majority of people don’t mesh with me. Maybe I’m a giant jerk. I don’t know. But seems to me, I often find myself on the defensive or I feel hurt by their insensitivity.

According to most online quizzes that probably means I’m a crazy maker, narcissist, or worse. The thing is I have tons of empathy for people and I care, but sometimes I care too much. That’s where I tend to feel defensive.

I’ve been seeing a counselor for 6 months or so. She’s been nice and listens but we don’t mesh well. It’s not that I hate her or find her offensive. Sometimes she has good things to say. I just still feel like she misunderstands me. She interprets my cynicism towards certain things as “I need to correct this”. And when she does try to correct my out loud negative thinking, it’s off putting.

Today I was trying to tell her about my anxiety. I’ve had a lot lately and most of it is because of my family, or rather how I cope with them. When discussing how my daughter wants more friends, I jokingly stated that she thinks life is like a Disney show where you have your best friend from high school all the way into adulthood. The therapist chimed in to inform me I shouldn’t take away her hope and that some people do have childhood friends. I felt like I hit a nerve with her because then she said “I still have my friends from high school and so do my kids.” OK, so don’t tell my kids the reality that most people I know don’t?

So in our last few sessions, I’ve felt worse walking out of therapy than going in. And I feel like she overlooks the main point: my anxiety and stress. Instead, she addresses my parenting or communication issues. Is that the point? I didn’t come there for parenting advice. And I hate trying to explain to her that I’m cynical and although I tell her how I think, that’s not what I say to my daughter. I just feel defensive because I’m not Mrs. Positivity like she is.

On one other occasion while expressing my anxiety, she told me to look for things to be thankful for. Oiy. First off, I already know that and secondly, positive thinking is horse shit. It doesn’t do me any good to focus on positivity when I have a panic attack. Let’s ignore the tornado and pretend it’s sunny. Stupid.

So that leaves me with two options: stop going to therapy or find a new counselor. Part of me just wants to quit because it’s exhausting having to start over and bring up all my problems again and then what if that fails too?

On the other hand, the therapist we use for our marriage is like a breath of fresh air. I’m considering seeing him by myself if that isn’t too weird because with him, I state how I feel and he seems to get it. I walk out feeling validated. I don’t have to over explain my sense of humor or be told I should be doing this or that with no relation to my therapy goals. He doesn’t tell me to vibe positivity. He doesn’t coddle me either but offers advice that actually helps.

Part of me wonders if I’m just not a person who does well around most women. I seem to defy the female norm sometimes. I hate bridal & baby showers. I try to talk about other things besides motherhood (I’m more than a mom and wife). You won’t find me knitting. I do garden and I am artsy, however my gardening skills are amateur and you won’t catch me painting florals or girly crap. I am cynical and sarcastic and sometimes inappropriate which makes most guys laugh at me because they don’t expect it, but makes me unlikable by some women. I do have girlfriends but they tend to be like me. My best friend bakes and knits, but she also cusses and can spar males in karate and drop them to the ground. When we get together, we laugh at each other’s inappropriate stories that would make some women cringe.

Oh, I can be feminine and girly when needed (that’s how I attracted my husband lol) but I’m not a pushover. I don’t sugar coat things or prefer politeness over honesty. I’m not into thinking I have to be cute and sweet and never express negativity. I’m definitely not a stepford wife and I don’t feel the need to apologize for being realistic and honest. I wish someone would’ve been honest about life when I was growing up instead of going into adulthood thinking marriage was like a fairytale. Nope, I will not feel bad for stating what I know to be true. That’s not squashing hope. That’s offering a dose of reality.

My main point is that I don’t seem to mesh well with other women. Not the phony, overly positive types anyway. I’d honestly rather be friends with guys. And maybe finding a guy therapist would better suit me too. I like honest, real people not ones that tell me to blow positivity up my ass and everyone else’s.

I guess I’m just too old to have to waste energy explaining things like sarcasm to some people. When I told the male therapist one of my cynical thoughts, he laughed and agreed with me.

I guess I should’ve been born a dude.

The Mirena Scare

If you search the internet, you can find thousands of people complaining about anything from poor quality cars to restaurants that made them sick to shady insurance companies. I try really hard to weigh out the complaints with what professionals tell me and I try to seek out people who have had good experiences.

I struggle with hormone issues specifically in the PMS department. I know guys read this blog, so I’ll spare you the disgusting details but let’s just say CSI crime scenes are pretty darn close to my own experiences.

So I went to a women’s clinic to try to sort out the cause. I got an ultrasound done. They found a fibroid, but it’s location wouldn’t be the cause of menstrual problems. Basically I just get crazy cycles because my body is psycho. And stress. So my doctor highly recommended an IUD called Mirena.

I knew some people who swore by the Mirena so I questioned everything about it, read the pamphlet, and did only minor research online. My doctor warned me that there was a lot of negative reviews but you never hear about the positives. The pamphlet didn’t list anything too weird.. Some mood swings, tiredness, initial cramps. I trusted my doctors assessment and scheduled to have the IUD inserted.

After insertion, I didn’t notice anything too crazy the first two days but then I started getting chest pains. This was worrisome but I tried to just remember all drugs (and the IUD is a drug… It releases synthetic hormones) have side effects. I had migraines, bad dreams, and my heart raced at times. Then I started feeling extremely anxious followed by one of the worst episodes of depression in my life. I woke up wanting to die, was so irritable and over the top angry that my family was wondering who I was.

I called my doctor and we decided I’d give it the weekend to sort it out. Here it is.. the weekend… and I’m still a mess of anxiety and depression and suicidal thoughts. I’m about to rip it out of my own uterus!

When I confided in someone who also had the Mirena, I told them I feel psycho and I can’t trust myself. She suggested I was probably depressed before the Mirena (her exact words were, “weren’t you like that before the mirena?”) and then suggested I wait… one week isn’t long enough.

OK, let’s back the crazy train up here for one second. No one, and I mean NO ONE should ever have to endure suicidal ideation. Ever. Under any circumstances. And why does society, even women, think it’s ok to put up with side effects like depression so long as you are keeping the population down? As long as it’s birth control, we should endure it. Hell no.

I recently took my autistic daughter to a new doctor. My daughter is 19 but developmentally, her age is like 12. The doctor was pushing IUD’s and the implant for birth control. Her words were “you don’t want to end up taking care of another problem.” So wrong on so many levels.

But let’s for one second remember my daughter has major social anxiety and doesn’t leave the house and where would she ever hook up with a guy if she can’t even say hi to her teachers or our neighbors? But let’s push the hormones that probably would cause 1000 more problems for her because we can’t have babies running around. Doctors are freaking ridiculous.

Anyway I’m getting this satanic device removed the first day I possibly can and if I can’t get in within a few days, I’m removing it myself. I will not endure depression or wait it out. My family doesn’t deserve that and I sure as hell don’t either.

One week is way too long to put up with the majority of these symptoms.

Besides the initial BS from this device, leaving it in also causes all kinds of other nasty side effects like weight gain, pregnancy symptoms, and cystic acne. When you remove it after 5 years, you can endure what’s called the Mirena Crash. Look it up. More horrible stuff like heavy bleeding, clots, and depression. The reason is because it tricks your body into thinking it doesn’t need to make progesterone so you end up with too much estrogen. Basically your body becomes too dependent on the Mirena. So even if I did suffer through the first few months, I have bad feelings about what it would do long term to me.

I don’t give a crap about the birth control that this IUD provides. I was trying to help my menstrual issues but looks like I’m back at square one once I get this thing out. I feel sad for women who are dealing with worse symptoms than I am. Of course, there are many who swear by this device. I’m glad it is helping them. What pisses me off is that there is very little warning given that this drug could cause a multitude of problems. And when I express my concern, I’m treated like it’s all in my head.

I wouldn’t say I’m a super happy person but I rarely wake up hating the world or wanting to die. Sure, I get grumpy and don’t aways deal with stress how I want to, but that’s a far cry from wanting to jump off a bridge or something. This past week has caused me to doubt myself on many levels and worse, I doubted my own sanity.

If you experience any odd or scary symptoms after the IUD, consider the fact that your birth control might be poisoning you.

Too Legit to Quit

Life passions are interesting, at least for me. I often feel like my passions fizzle out. I will take up a hobby one year and the next, I’m over it.

It’s amazing I homeschooled as long as I did (12 years to be exact).

I realize that I’m burned out. I probably have been for several years. Currently, I can’t handle a lot emotionally speaking. I turn into a useless ball of tears in the midst of conflict. I don’t hold on to hope. Sometimes I wish I’d get an incurable disease so the decision would be made for me. I just get tired of the fight.

You know… The fight. Always battling the words people say, my own emotions, my introverted and sensitive nature. I often don’t feel fit for such a harsh world. I don’t fit in with most women. I’m 40 and still don’t have a tribe. I’m starting to think that term is BS.

I realize I’m an irrational weirdo but life just has never felt easy. It’s always wrought with conflict. And now my kids have their own and I feel like I have to handle theirs too.

I recently told people I was done homeschooling. The question then becomes, “oh, then what are you doing next year?” I feel a sense of laziness because my plan is to do very little. I’m going to work from home 10 hours a week then pick up my kids from school. That’s about it.

Oh I could go rush back into full time employment but like I said, I’m burned out. I’m cynical, irritable, depressed, and don’t enjoy being around many people. The signs of burn out include isolation and moodiness. The remedy is rest and support. So I’m planning a year of just that.

People don’t realize the emotional toll I’ve had to deal with. I homeschooled one child on the spectrum, another with a mental health problem, and another who got lost in the mix. I didn’t keep up with their schooling and now I feel a sense of failure. I should’ve done more. But I was unable.

The year I had last year included several visits to the ER, mental health therapy on a weekly basis, partial hospitalization, doctor visits, psychiatry visits, physical therapy, surgery, eye and dental visits, and conflict almost everyday. It was comparable to being in combat. I wondered if it would ever end. I still do.

Although things are a little better, I don’t know what this year will bring. But I know my soul has taken a beating. I know I need a break.

I’ve lost any passions I had for life. My motivation for art has dwindled. While I love my kids, I think they stress me out too much. I need to find the things that don’t cause me anxiety. I’m not even sure what that is anymore.

There is guilt in admitting I need a break. In admitting motherhood is a drag. Because I always prided myself on being a mom, it feels like I am losing my identity. They’ll all be away from me next year. I’m scared of what being alone all day might do.

But it’s a phase. I’m hoping after some time, I’ll bounce back. Maybe I’ll find a new hobby. Maybe I’ll meet new people. Maybe I’ll feel hope again.

I’ll still be dealing with stress because life never hands us complete peace. We still have responsibilities. We can’t completely check out. But I know I can’t keep going full speed like I have been either.

It’s ok to quit. Sometimes quitting leads to new adventures. Or so I hope.

Obsessing

The last few weeks, I noticed I had been obsessively thinking about harsh words said to me. This led to various other words said to me over the past 10 years. Since it was done by two different family members recently, my mind decided to pull up instances from other siblings and nieces and nephews as if to prove their case: I was the most unlovable human on the planet.

The thing is my family has no feelings about murdering me with words. As long as they get the final say…who cares if they break me. I thought about what would happen if I wasn’t here. Would they feel any guilt about how they demean and devalue my existence with their words? I concluded they are incapable.

I realized today that I’m still obsessing about it but can’t seem to stop. Why do so many people seem to just hate me? I thought about how I avoid a lot of things now. I don’t attend family events for obvious reasons. I don’t try new experiences. I stay close to home.

On top of it, I avoid expressing myself to most people these days. All of this started because I expressed myself after my mom died and told my siblings off. They were trying to steal money, fighting over clothing and photos, and I raised my voice and told them how rude they all were. Then after that, the insults of my mental health started. I was bipolar, didn’t take responsibility, and I should’ve known better.

So when I got invited to a wedding and didn’t go, because I was still avoiding my family and didn’t want to be ridiculed, I was insulted anyway. I was rude, insensitive, a jerk.

My older sister called me unloving and told me I needed to forgive myself. My other sister said I was unforgiving and bitter.

There’s a bunch of other crap that was said, but my main solution has been to avoid and block my family from accessing me or my kids. I ignore invites. I don’t leave my familiar places.

Each time people chose to insult me or my character, I get so hurt, I can’t handle them or thinking about them anymore so I cut all ties and try to forget them.

I don’t feel like this solution is all bad. My family is not healthy. They are extremely toxic. But where I find myself in life is not so great. I avoid and isolate myself. If I get triggered, I shut down and can’t function the rest of the day. And I obsess about what they say. Most recently, I’m a bitch, I hate everything, I’m a miserable person, and I ruin everything. Whether true or not, I feel the weight of the accusations.

When I was in counseling with my husband this past week, it followed me there. This unlovable person causing more problems, ruining everything, and being a bitch. My husband gave the impression he had to walk on eggshells around me because he has his own issues with emotions… That is, they make him uncomfortable. I’m emotional but I feel wrong for feeling. Or so I’ve been told numerous times over the years.

The counselor got it. He saw how I felt like the problem but reminded me that I was healthy for expressing emotion. He joked how my husband is probably the ticking time bomb because he tries to keep it all together.

Even his pep talk didn’t help. I still am obsessing over things. Still. And I hate it. I guess I didn’t realize how much I obsessed about it until this week. And I also didn’t realize my habitual reaction was to avoid and isolate.

Besides my recent family issues, I think the hurt stems even further for me. Growing up, I was physically and emotionally abused. My older brother terrorized me a few different times, chasing me with knives and trying to set our house on fire with us still in it. No wonder no one in our family can function as adults. I don’t think I dealt with it really.

I always thought that I had. I could do adult things and be normal, but I’m realizing how much anxiety I have as an adult. Most of it is a fear of being mistreated. I’m terrified of being rejected by new people. I always seem to be waiting for the ball to drop. I struggle to look people in the eyes when I talk, I feel like my thoughts and ideas don’t matter, and I second guess my decisions constantly. My husband says I have a low self esteem. I often don’t feel comfortable in my own skin unless I’m in my house away from people who will most likely hurt me.

Honestly, I’m a paranoid weirdo who realizes I don’t like being this way. This obsessive stuff is driving me crazy. I am seeing a therapist in a few weeks and if she can’t help me, I will switch to someone who can.

I guess I’m a bit sad too. I wish I had realized sooner what I was doing to myself. Plus thinking through all of this is hard too. Knowing that I have these big fears and my solution is to hide makes me feel regretful. What would my life had been like if I had been free to express the real me?

Fighting Depression

Trigger warning: If you struggle with depression or suicide, please don’t read this post as it may be a trigger for you.

I feel on edge this week. News of the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain is heart wrenching. Today I read a post on facebook about the importance of checking up on people even if they seem fine. Kate Spade talked to her father just hours before her death and seemed happy. Sometimes it seems that the solution to check in isn’t always the help a person needs.

I have such sad feelings about this topic. My brother committed suicide in 1995. No one knew he was even depressed. Mental illness wasn’t talked about as much back then, although the year before, Kurt Cobain took his life and that made headline news. But, it was still hush hush in most circles. We certainly didn’t discuss it in our family. Church people thought people took their life due to sin, Satan, or bad lyrics in music pulluting the mind. All are ridiculous assumptions but that didn’t stop their words from hurting my family a second time.

Twenty plus years later I still feel the monster beating at my door. My daughter struggles daily with depression. I hate how dark things get for her. And the battle to find solutions seem to only work in part. Being in church made things worse for her. She felt even less human. Christians still view depression as a sin issue. I am not sure she’d ever feel loved in a church setting.

I wake up often with anxiety and struggle with panic attacks. I know I can’t control everything. I fight so hard to get her help, to support her, to keep her from dying. Some days it feels like she is slipping away. Some days it is like she doesn’t have depression. I start to battle my own feelings of hopelessness. And other days I’m fine.

Reading about these celebrities makes my heart ache. My daughter says she doesn’t want to live her entire life with depression. She says she doesn’t want to be my age and still struggle with these thoughts. But I can’t guarantee she won’t. I can only tell her to focus on this day. Can I blame these celebrities for giving up when I see just how much my teen struggles? I wonder if someday I’ll be the one saying “I just talked to her. She seemed so happy.”

That thought kills me.

I know what it does to a family to bury one of their own, thinking if they could have just done more, things would have turned out better. I know what people say, what they think, and all the after effects of suicide. I know that those left behind struggle with their own hell.

The truth is that we can only do so much. And as hard as it is to realize, sometimes a person can live their whole life fighting a disease and will die. We see this with cancer or heart problems or other more acceptable forms of an illness. But with suicide, we try to place blame on the family or on the person who took their life. Maybe we should look at it another way.

If a person has cancer, should we blame it on them for dying? Is it the family’s fault for not doing enough? Or maybe, we can agree that it is the disease and it’s no one’s fault.

I will fight… I don’t want regrets or to say I could have done more. And I hope with help my daughter survives. But I also know the possibility remains that I will lose her. If celebrities have money and access to help, support, and services yet still die, we know that it isn’t that we should’ve done more. How can we fight against a person’s own mind and the darkness they become experts at hiding?

Sometimes some things are beyond our control. And that’s the hardest truth to embrace in this life. All we can do is try but the results are not in our hands.

With help, many people do survive and live wonderful lives but the tragic fact of suicide dampens this fact. I hold on to hope in the stories of countless people who fight and live and go on to bring light into this world because they have a perspective others lack. Depression sucks but I have hope in the people who fight it and are stronger for doing so. Their light and strength help us to keep fighting this deadly disease.

Words Have Purpose

Words–seething, taking on a life of their own until they grow into a monster you don’t recognize.

It’s just words.

Letters strung together, connected, pronounced. From day one we use them.

Mama, daddy, no, yes.

We ask for what we want. We learn to say words calmly or shout them. We learn to whisper. We spend years learning language skills and definitions and English skills. We sit in counseling offices trying to analyze our feelings caused by the hurt of another’s words.

Just words? They are so much more.

They bring life or death to a sad heart. We can use our words to raise someone to greatness or tear them down to specks of dust. And while there is a whole lot of uses in between, our words will linger after we’ve said them. And so will the feelings they initiated.

I’m not as careful as I should be with my tongue. I have regrets. They are so much more than mere letters and punctuation. They are poetry to the soul; a savior to the hurting. Or they can inflict a tsunami of pain; an emotional grave.

But I will admit words have damaged parts of me that I haven’t quite come to grips with. Even the nice sounding words can damage if the intent is wrong.

Oh you are so sensitive.

I think you’re imagining things.

Are you sure that’s what they said? That sounds made up.

Just move on.

Don’t be over dramatic.

Our words tell us what we believe. And to not be believed stings as much as being called a name.

Invalidation.

Changing the narrative.

Minimizing.

Deflection.

Projecting.

Look it up. Using words to minimize a person’s feelings, shame a person for feeling as they do, or blame shifting to take the heat off themselves… all such a damaging way to communicate.

We all do it sometimes. But if you are characterized by this kind of thing, know you are hurting good people.

I carry with me decades of scars from words said to me in anger. I carry around the reminder that I’m crazy or fat or ugly or not good enough every day. And then when it’s said again, I’m brought back to the various times it was said before. I see all the faces who verbally strangled my joy. I feel the same way I did before and then add another confirmation to the pile. How can anyone ever see the truth?

Words can be spoken by others and can harm you, but you have your own super power. You’ve carried it with you since you first learned to say “mama” or “dada”, knowing they could help you. You instinctively knew to run towards them for love. And deep inside, you still have that. It is a well of love that you can give yourself. It speaks the truth.

You are amazing.

Look how far you’ve come.

You can do this.

You are brave and strong.

You matter.

You are beautiful.

You got this!

You are loved.

And you can remind yourself of how amazing you really are. Despite what others say or think. Despite how many people have tried to rob you of joy.

You can speak kindness to your own heart, believing in the truth. And the more you speak it, the more you will live it.

Use these words to resuscitate your heart. And whenever anyone tries to tell you otherwise, remember they are hurting and trying to push their pain on to you. Don’t let them.

Be a warrior for your heart. Because you matter. I believe in you.

Goodbye Family

I don’t have much family. Most of my holidays are spent with my in-laws. It’s a lot different than how I grew up…spending time with a family of 8 kids. Now my family is basically non-existent. That is, except for my triplet sister.

I’d like to say we are best friends but we aren’t. There’s always the facade of us being close. Maybe it’s intentions. Maybe it’s wishful thinking. I guess at this point I’m tired of trying to make the relationship into something it isn’t and never will be.

I guess I hold out hope and have done so for years despite being made to feel unimportant, ignored, or belittled for expressing disappointment.

When I was 25, she got married. I was 9 months pregnant with my second child. She decided not to include any family in her wedding and planned her Disney wedding which I only saw photos of after the fact. It saddened me that I was not included. Her husband’s brother & family attended. I tried not to feel upset about it, but it hurt.

She ended up divorcing that guy which was fine by me because while she was married to him, I was the evil sister who he determined was not worth talking to. She and I rarely got along. And when we disagreed, her husband encouraged my sister to think the worst of me. I always had some evil agenda or was planning something corrupt. This from a guy who habitually lied on his taxes, made my sister support him while he collected unemployment (never looking real hard for a job), and expected by sister to do his online school work for college. When my sister miscarried her baby, he told her that the baby probably wasn’t his anyway. And then she left him.

So when my sister got engaged again, years had gone by and we’d had our ups and downs, but we mostly stayed amicable. Except when we didn’t. Then she’d accuse me of being judgmental (for not going to a family function with toxic people) or said I was bitter (for staying away) or gave me guilt trips about how I had cut off family and how unloving that was. But somehow we’d work it out and I’d forget all the mean things she said. And so she asked me to be her bridesmaid and I said yes.

But, then it began. Her new fiance dictating all the plans. She wanted his daughters in the wedding on her side so none of my daughters would be in the wedding. In fact, the only family or friend she chose was me. I commented that it was traditional to have her friends and family, not her husband-to-be’s family. But I decided not to push it. It’s her wedding.

She asked to have the wedding in my yard. I said ok. But then her new man said no. So then they decided to have the wedding 1.5 hours a way in a wooded, tick infested area by the lake. She told me to pick a dress I liked. Seemed like she didn’t even care what I wore. She told me all the people who were helping.

This pissed me off for various reasons but mostly because I had offered to help a bunch of times and she apparently didn’t want my help. She blamed it on me being too busy (which if asked, was not an issue). I was also upset because the location was where her fiance and their family could stay in cabins since they owned the cabins. I would have to rent a hotel. And it was a drive for me and with our medical bills, I wasn’t able to afford that. Plus hello. Ticks anyone? Am I gonna wear a bridesmaid dress and cover myself in DEET? Ugh, the stupidity.

When I told her I couldn’t afford it, she said I didn’t need to stay. I could just drive home. So again, I was nothing more than a guest. She didn’t care if I was apart of her day or not. As long as she got what she wanted.

After this and a bunch of other passive aggressive comments she made toward me previously (saying I didn’t support her), I snapped. I told her she was an opportunist. Then I bowed out of her wedding, although she didn’t seem to care. Just said “ok”. I told her that was hurtful and she replied “omg” because apparently I’m just so irrational with having feelings.

Then today, after giving me the silent treatment, I told her it was dysfunctional to avoid & ignore conflict. She responded that I insulted her. Then told me that everyone thinks I’m a dick for how I’m acting. This told me all I needed to know. She ignores the situation with me and decided to rally up the team to bitch about me. And they all think I’m wrong, based on her narrative I suppose. I’m sure she made a point to mention her failings in the argument.

Needless to say, I don’t know if I’m the toxic party here but all will be well with her and I going forward as long as we are not in each other’s life. I’ve dealt with this shit for years and today I’m done. I’m done having my name run through the mud and her telling one sided half true stories. I’m done being punished for saying I’m hurt. I’m done being an after thought. I’m done with the silent treatment and conflict avoidance. They can all have each other.

My entire family is a toxic bunch with gossips and shit stirrers and emotional abusers. The question now remains if I am also toxic and how can I get as far away from them as possible. I know I’m not completely toxic because to ask that questions shows a sign of empathy. I don’t think any of them know what that is. They are self absorbed users who get mad when you don’t think the world of them and so insecure, they punish you for pointing it out.

I thought my sister was different but I guess I was wrong. It was a lie I believed probably to hold on to the fact that I have no one left from my family of birth. I have only me. And I hate that because it feels like I’m the common problem. Maybe I’m the toxic one and they are all great people. I can’t seem to say that with a straight face.

All I know is that I sat here today wanting to die, being reminded not just of this betrayal but the thousands like it from her and my other siblings. I’m tired of hurting. I’m tired of being gossipped about. I’m tired of being excluded and punished. Maybe I am a drama queen or I over reacted or I make things about me. Maybe. Or maybe I am still trying to bounce back from a lifetime of pain and it’s hard to not be triggered by another knife in my back.