Who am I trying to please?

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I enjoy writing. Sharing my true thoughts can feel incredibly courageous. But more often than not, I measure my success or failure by other’s responses or lack thereof. Even though I know (intellectually) that I don’t have to measure my worth by whether or not anyone else values me or my contributions, it’s still so ingrained in me that it’s done before I know it.

Somewhere I heard an interesting thing about children of alcoholic/addicts. Those whose parents struggle(d) with an addiction look to others to see how they should feel. This resonates with me. Maybe that’s related to my lifelong people-watching habit.

I think it is.

Is that why I figure my worth by the reflection of myself that I see in your face?

I’m a writer. I love words. Heck, my son calls me Word Woman! As important as it is to me to put my thoughts down on paper, I wonder if I’d change it if there was no one reading other than me. But, really, for whom am I writing?

I’m probably not ever going to be a famous writer. I don’t know that that’s even a thing that I want. I want to make a difference in the world, and writing may or may not have anything to do with that. I trust that my God is leading me to find my way.

Following Him will be the answer to my Search for Significance.

What about you? Who are you writing for?

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Addiction’s sibling: Mental Illness

                          schiz·o·phre·ni·a

[ˌskitsəˈfrēnēə, ˌskitsəˈfrenēə]

NOUN

   a long-term mental disorder of a type involving a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation.

    From a decently young age I can remember hearing things that weren’t real. I knew that if I focused on the voices then I could properly hear what they were saying.

 I can’t remember what the voices started saying, but as I got older the voices got louder and more frequent. I always thought that those with Schizoprenia or DID (dissassociative identity disorder) were such interesting characters, but I never dreamed I would be one of them.

    The voices started around age 12, but they only showed up once every 3-4 months. The rarity of them made me think it was something normal and what everyone went through. After the voices came the visual hallucinations and the paranoia. They paranoia was always under the surface while growing up , but it truley showed its self around age 19. Like most people at 19 I figured that it was all in my head and could be drowned in alcohol, but of course I was wrong. 

    While drinking I wasn’t conciously aware of the voices or hallucinations, but the day after is a different story. I would wake up and the visual hallucinations would come with a vengence with the paranoia. As I got older rather than indirect paranoia, and just all out fear it started to get paranoia of very specific objects.

    I never liked mirrors, they always seemed to show something that was watching, waiting, and planning to get me. At my best a mirror unsettles me, and at my worse I have to cover it up or break it to keep the thing from gettting me. The mirrors always seemed to breath and want me. To this day I can’t say why mirrors, but I will always fear them even a little. I’m still scared to turn my back to one.

    Mirrors being the break from reality, my periphrial vision was the culprit that aided my visual hallucinations. Always just out of the corner of my eye, just bearly out of sight were the shadows. Nothing with a true or set form, but always there ready to get me at any moment. It happened most with there was something I had to focus on it felt. Something that was grabbing my attention so I had to let my guard down and then the shadows in the corners would start to stir.

    I was 23 when i had my first psychotic episode. 

We just refer to them as episodes in the family cause there is no set term for what happens. The episodes start the same with hyper awarness, and then the paranoia. Hyper awarness is when all of your sense are trying to focus on everything around you at the same time. The mental stress it can cause is excruciating, and is often a symptom of PTSD. While my senses are over loaded the paranoia kicks in, the fear that I’m missing something. Some crucial bit of information that will keep me safe.

    The voices will start, but they aren’t word or even cohiesive they are just loud screams. I feel them building and getting louder till I can’t hear anything but them. Thats when the self harm comes. I begin clawing at my torso, my head, and anywhere else I can dig into myself. I always feel like if I get deep enough, if I can claw deep enough iI can bleed the voices out. Outside of the episodes I know how impractical it sounds, but during an episode I need to be restrained and calmed down.

    After three psychotic episodes I was admitted to a psychiatric ward in Indiana. I had clawed at my chest and left cuts across it, and my fiance took me to the ER to get checked in. During my short stay there I was able to get medication, and understand to help “stay grounded”. Stay grounded is the term used to stay in connection to reality and to help prevent other episodes from happenning.

    As for dealing with it completely there really is no rule book for guidance. It’s not a easy treated illness and every day is different. That being said, having the family I do and having such a strong Fiance I’m sure that I will be okay. The future is unknown and filled with much needed therapy and medication, but it’s much better than being committed.

I asked my son to write this. For many of us, sharing our story is helpful in recovering, whether it’s addiction or mental illness. I am proud of his courage and determination to do whatever he must, to learn how to live with schizophrenia.

It is heart-breaking to know that he’s dealing with this. I hope and pray that he’s ok. I am incredibly thankful for the strength he has, and the amazing people God’s placed in his life. 

10 or so paragraphs

Hi; It’s me!

Yeah, it’s been a while, and I’ve been trying to put words to why that is, but the words aren’t coming. Yet, I must write. 

So far, 2017 hasn’t been a lot different from 2016. Hubby’s still employed, I’m working (2 part-time jobs), and the boy hates school. Nothing much has changed…and yet, some things have. 

I’ve been wanting to work on getting off of the antidepressants for a while, and apparently that time hasn’t arrived. As I sit here I think I am probably due for an increase.  

I haven’t gotten to get to any meetings to speak of, since I work so much on the weekend that by the time I get off (MAYBE) in time for Celebrate Recovery, I just want to get home and eat and then to bed. However, there are moments, too, when I think I’m squarely where I’m supposed to be, for now, even without gettign to church or meetings FOR NOW.

 I mean, I’m working at a “Home Improvement” store in the outside garden area on the weekends, and this week I begin my other part-time gig at the newly expanded Detox in a large town nearby. For the last 3 weeks, I’ve been in training M-Th, and the last 2 were spent earning a certificate that says I’ve been trained as a Peer Recovery Specialist! I’m only going to get 15 hours there, at the moment, but I am hopeful that it will turn into fulltime soon. 

I’ve been thinking about the impermanence in my life, lately, too… Why am I so used to letting go, of people, places, things, jobs, pets…? I don’t expect much of anything to last, really. It seems like that’s a symptom of PTSD, but I’m not sure. I notice the difference when I interact with folks who are more or less my age, and they’ve always lived within 100 miles of where they were born. They married once and  now,  20-30 years later, they have a family and are still happily wed. When someone talks about working in the same place for over 5 years, I get kind of lost. When they say 15-20-30 years, and they’re MY AGE, I just can’t wrap my head around it. 

 Anyway, I’m enjoying the people I work with at the Home Improvement store, and the customers are nice, too. The only real downside is that the lifting and loading of 20-50 pound bags of mulch, patio stones, and etc is making it difficult to ignore the scoliosis and the pain in my back. Being outside most of the day is good for me, I’m sure. I can’t remember the last time I was outside as much as I am there, and I like it! The flowers are all in bloom and the nursery is FULL, and I love seeing the incredible array of colors and shapes. The flowers range from the size of a pencil eraser to as big around as a softball, and the scent is almost intoxicatingly beautiful. Then there are the birds. 🙂

So, I think the problem I’ve had recently, which honestly began months ago, is that my insecurities about myself lead me to (or are caused by?) compare myself to others, and guess what? Yes, you’re right. They ALWAYS come out better than me. 

I have loved to people-watch since I was a teenager. Now I watch people to see how things are “supposed” to be done, like hair, clothes, makeup, social cues. I think it goes back to the idea of being a Pilgrim in this world that influences me to not get attached to trends, or celebrities, or…what have you. Does that make any sense? 

I’ve only begun trying to wear make-up again for the last yearr or so, after about a 25-year hiatus. Geez, the last time I looked in the mirror that often, there were NONE of the lines & wrinkles I see now. I am grateful to have lived this long, but I don’t know how I feel about AGING. 

So. That’s a lot of why I have been quiet of late. I don’t feel like I have anything encouraging or positive to say, so I stay quiet. Is that another result of the Social Media world – only showing our happy, and “UP” side? I know if I looked at most everyone’s Facebook pictures, I’d swear noone else has ever been depressed. I know that’s not the truth. Maybe a hiatus from FB/Twitter would do me good. I expect I’ll have some things to write about in the coming weeks…but for now, I’m just gonna keep on “working out my own salvation”, and see where He leads me next. 

I hope your Spring is bright and sunny. Here’s a picture of something from the Garden Center.  

Hurt People Hurt People

​It’s been quiet here in Wondrland, and it’s not because I haven’t wanted to say anything. I’ve been wanting to talk about Mental Illness, and haven’t been certain how to approach the conversation. Cos, you know, that’s something you’re “not supposed to talk about”. But since there’s not a day that goes by when I’m not faced with evidence of mental illness in someone I know, including myself, I want to talk about it.

As you probably know, mental illness can be hereditary or it can be a response to events in a person’s life. Something that you may not be aware of (I wasn’t for a long time) is that a mental illness can begin to appear at any point in a person’s life. Childhood, adulthood, or any other time of life, things can begin to go…sideways. The part that matters most, I suppose, is when the “differences” start to be addressed and treated. 
When I began to have concerns about my child’s behavior, I was told  “that’s just how boys are!” and also, from my family members, “You were the same way at that age!” Which caused me to wonder if that’s just how the boys in MY family have always been, and if there was something going on with ME at that age that might have been handled differently, and had a seriously more positive outcome?

So I began searching the web for information to explain the things I was noticing in my boy.  I found a lot of answers to the questions that had been running through my head, and raised some new questions! For example, I had not been aware that symptoms of ADHD/ADD look very different in boys than they do in girls. I accredit this ignorance to the fact that nobody was talking about ANY kind of mental illness in children back in the 60’s and 70’s. At least, nobody my parents or I knew. 
I can’t even describe the feelings I had when I heard that when I was being punished for being “lazy” or “daydreaming” or “lying” about things I was POSITIVE I had not lied about, that it wasn’t my fault. As a young girl, I was disciplined for all of these things. Rigorously. And often. I now know that my Dad had been through essentially the same traumas when he was young.   Come to find out, I’d had the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder as far back as I can remember. Growing out of that period came the depression, “generalized anxiety disorder” and PTSD that have been my continual companions ever since. The realization that there was something unusual about the way my mind processed things motivated me to find out as much as I could about psychology. I knew I was different by the time I was about 12 or so, but didn’t know what “IT” was, exactly.  I’ll never forget the first book I read about a person my age that had a mental illness. “Lisa, Bright and Dark” told of the daily life of a teen girl who was behaving increasingly strangely, and how it was ignored, denied, and finally addressed. It shined a light on a part of me that I’d never taken out of the shadows before. It told me that I wasn’t the only one. 

You can find more info about Lisa, Bright and dark on Google or Amazon. (I tried to post a link for ya, but it doesn’t seem to be working.)

I remember my Dad asking me what I had to be sad about?! I had such a good life (and it’s not wrong, by many standards, I was VERY blessed), and I was so “ungrateful” I should be “ashamed”. And of course, I was. For a very long time. I’m not certain that I’ve gotten past that shame, even now.  It seems like a good time to write down what the difference between guilt and shame is. As I have come to understand it,  GUILT is the feeling I get when I’ve done something wrong, or BAD. SHAME is the feeling that I am BAD or WRONG. Period. How many times did our parents tell us “Shame on you”? I couldn’t tell you, but I did share what I’d learned about the difference, the next time I was told that I should be ashamed. 
So, it took years of discussion with my Mom before she accepted that antidepressants weren’t “drugs”, and they didn’t cause you to feel high. Thank God, she wasn’t so hesitant to get me to a counselor when I hit my teens, but medication was a tougher pill for her to swallow (see what I did there?). Several years ago she was even able to be helped by taking them for a while. I’m happy to say that she doesn’t seem to need them at this point. 

And so, now the generational “quirks,” we’ll call them, have shown themselves in other parts of my extended family. As the children grow into their teens and young adulthood, they’re giving (me) reasons to be concerned. I see the same symptoms that I showed at that age, and I can only hope and pray that the stigma and “what will the neighbors think?” won’t keep the adults from getting the kids to a Dr. of some sort. I understand that everyone is busy, running as fast as they possibly can to…I don’t know, rest? And I absolutely know that the cost associated with mental illness treatment can be intimidating. But guess what? If it HAS to be done, we find a way. (And if we’re not willing to address/treat the problem, we find an EXCUSE.)

I can’t help but think of my Dad, and his distaste (translated: refusal) in asking for help.  When I was probably about 10, I was at my Dad’s house and he was “partying” and dancing around, having a good time. I think Elton John was playing loudly on the record player. Well, somehow, Dad danced in the wrong place and caused the horizontal blinds to fall down onto his foot. THAT ended the dancing. For the next 2 hours or so, my stepmom and Grandma tried to explain to Dad that the end of his toe was BARELY attached, and he needed to get to the ER. He didn’t think it was that bad. He musta been HIGHHIGHHIGHHIIIGH. 

Then, many years later, when his life was in a downward spiral because of his drinking and drug use, he again insisted that he didn’t need any help, thank you very much. If the helicopters would stop flying over his shed, and the spies would stop creeping around his house, he would have been fine. But just in case, he always had a loaded .38 handy. It takes some of us longer than others to have our denial broken down. Thank God he did get clean/sober, and the rest is wonderful history. 

So, it makes me think of Dad when I hear adults replying (re: getting their kids to see someone or see if perhaps medication would help) “Counselors are a waste of money” or, even better “We don’t have time”. I love what I heard James Dobson say about parenting older childen. He said that up until that time, it’s like you’re on a ship with them, teaching them the roaps and how to stay safe, etc. Once they get to their teens, we have to pick our battles carefuly, and just keep them from jumping ship. My kids have done infinitely better with negotiating the rough waters than I did, and I attribute that to their getting help when they did. I just happened to have personal experience  that allowed me to recognise the symptoms in my children.  

Depression in kids may not look the way you’d expect it to. Kids aren’t likely to necessarily let you see the depth of their despair. (I was told to stop being such a baby when I was unable to keep my sadness from coming out.) Kids and teenagers, AREN’T supposed to be continually sad or angry (anger is what we see when sadness isn’t “allowed”), and it’s not just a part of that period. Sure, moodiness is guaranteed to be a frequest visitor when the hormones are flying around, but that’s different from being angry or sad ALL THE TIME. The worst thing we as parents can do is to be overcome by pride, not wanting to find out what “they” would think. 10 or 20 years down the road, “they” won’t even be in your life, and if they are, they still won’t be as valuable as your child’s wellbeing. Right? 
I am sometimes hesitent to speak up about matters of mental health. I was shamed and punished enough to make it quite clear to me: act normal and don’t talk about anything. It’s still a subtle influencer on my decisions today.  I appreciate your taking time out of your day to read this. I feel strongly about these issues and I’m not sure if I am able to make that clear in my writing. So I throw it out there, and hope someone catches something they can use. 

What are your thoughts? Have you seen addictions and mental illness moving down your family’s bloodline? How is it dealt with, or is it?
From my cabin in the woods. 

Holidays in Sobriety

For those in early sobriety, this time of year can be fraught with potential (recovery) land mines. 

Workplace Christmas parties, family get-togethers that we can be under a lot of pressure to attend, and the increasing reminders of alcohol (& etc) everywhere can all be overwhelming. 
For many of us, just the thought of spending an extended period of time with our families can be a stressful proposition. Past hurts are revisited, and the family can be confused or angry at the sober person for no longer partaking with them…

What I know is that there are always AA/NA meetings. Usually there are marathon meetings on Christmas and New Year’s, which are back-to-back meetings for 24 hours. Christmas/Hanukkah will have events in church/temple, for those who prefer those instead of (or in addition to) 12-step meetings.

The biggest thing that will help you to make it through the next couple of weeks with your clean/sober date intact is to be PROACTIVE. Spend time with people who are also in recovery. Non-drinkers or users can be great people, but they’re not gonna be able to share with you their experience in celebrating the holidays sober, in spite of themselves. I know I went to at least one meeting for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s of my first 5+ years. 

If your recovery is your priority, you will be able to begin 2017 with the same clean date that you have now.

I am grateful for this new way of life, and for being able to be present for my family. I am grateful to be able to learn how to care for MYSELF, as well as others. 


See more every Saturday @ http://www.drunkless.com !