New Year = New Old Me

 

IMG_2429Here we are again – a new year with possibilities waiting to unfold. For many, that means a complete makeover—mind, body, soul. The big three. The holy trinity of guaranteed happiness. An overhaul. And while some will be looking to buy a whole new computer, I’m looking to reboot the one I have back to its factory settings.

It really wasn’t that long ago that I used to know what I was doing. I was by no means perfect, but I had an idea of what I needed not just to survive, but to live. After all, that’s the point, right? I’d like to say this past year was that time, but I have to be honest with myself and admit that it’s been the past few years that I’ve lost sight of my own picture.

Last year was particularly bad. I was hit hard with one of the darkest depressive episodes I’ve ever had. And it lasted a very long time. A combination of life stuff and a full hysterectomy that unleashed a pretty horrific army of hormones or lack of, and I began a spiral that nearly ruined me. (But I did get some good poems out if it).

I won’t get into the particulars, but it was bad enough that I chose to admit myself into the hospital—a decision that would affect my whole family in a way that has caused many problems. 😦 It was a difficult decision for me to make considering the stigma attached to such places. And why is that? Shouldn’t we be applauded for recognizing that we need a break, that we need help?

I’ll write more about my experience in the hospital in another post because I think it’s an important post and doesn’t need to be lost in the middle of another.

Back to my reboot. For me it’s the simple stuff, that I’ve allowed to be swallowed up by the struggles I’m having in other areas of my life. And when I say simple, I mean just that simple, basic.

  1. Eating – it’s something I tend to forget when I’m stressed or depressed. And then when I do eat, it’s usually not the most nutritional. Think pickles and crackers. Honestly, food is never something I’ve really enjoyed like I feel like I’m supposed to. Remnants of my days courting an eating disorder, I’m sure. So even on the days when I would remember to eat, it would make me sick. Like my body wasn’t quite sure what was happening.
  2. Drinking –  let me clarify – drinking water. I had the other covered. I know I must be severely dehydrated. Sometimes I’d go the whole day having only had coffee in the morning, and wine in the evening. Other than water to brush my teeth, I really didn’t have any. Not good. No wonder I’m tired all the time. Oh yeah, you can add pickle juice to that list, because I love me some pickle juice. I’m surprised I haven’t dried up.
  3. Exercise – I always know I’ll feel better. Always. And yet….

So there it is—easy as pie. Right? So it would seem. I want it to be easy. But I know that I’m going to have to dig in and go all Nike on it, and soon. So why is it so hard for me?

I’d love to know if you struggle with some of the same issues. It’s in sharing that we learn. I’ve shared. Now it’s your turn!

Tag! You’re it.

Peace, Ginger

 

– On being there for you

IMG_9251

how can i be strong for you

when my bones have been crushed?

how can i comfort you

when i sleep in blankets of sadness?

how can i hold you

when my arms carry the weight of the world?

how can i listen to you

when the voices in my head are screaming?

how can i walk a mile in your shoes

when i can’t even get back on my feet?

how can i be part of your life

when my own life isn’t whole?

 

how can i be anything to you

when i’m nothing to myself?

                                — on being there for you

 

 

No Longer Standing

 

Who am I that the world

chooses to rest on

my shoulders?

That sadness floods

my veins –

each step a concrete block?

That my bones

splinter

piercing, piecing the distance –

a bridge of pain?

Each breath

a glass bubble

shattering with every

inhale.

Where is peace? Trapped

in the pages

of a book?

Bound and

covered in dust.

The trees

hold my thoughts

in their

thin skins.

Perhaps the oak

will accept these

words – another story

absorbed by those

no longer standing.

The Face of Depression

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If I asked you to pick the photo that shows me in a depressive state, you’d probably pick the second photo. Right?

Well, you’d be both right and wrong.

Those of us who carry this darkness around with us, are very good at showing the world what they want to see. Or better yet, shielding them from what they don’t want to see.

These photos were taken on the same day. One was posted to Facebook. One wasn’t.

Why is it that mental illness is so hard to talk about? In my experience, it’s just easier not to talk about it. In order to avoid questions that I either won’t be able to answer, or choose not to answer because the person asking won’t like or understand the answer.

Sadness is an emotion. Emotions can be easily understood, or accepted because we all feel them.

Depression, or Major Depressive Disorder is a state of being. It doesn’t run it’s course and then leave. It isn’t a reaction to something that happened or didn’t happen.

It lives inside of me all the time. Most of the time it stays hidden. But it’s not something I have control of. I can’t just choose to get over it.

So I’ve learned to smile for everyone who needs it.

Is there someone in your life who might be smiling on the outside, while struggling on the inside? Are you?

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. And if you aren’t comfortable talking face to face, you can text the Crisis Text Line (741-741). The most important thing to know is that you are not alone. You have never been alone.

 

Crisis Text Line: 741-741 to text with a trained Crisis Counselor. The service is free, confidential and available 24/7.

I’m Published!!

epson018

 

Yesterday I had an article of mine published on The Mighty’s website. If you aren’t familiar with the site read this for  a full explanation of who they are and who they represent. If you are familiar with them, then you already know how amazing their content is and why I feel so honored to be a contributor for them now.

I would absolutely love it, and you, if you would take the time to go over and read the article if you haven’t already. As a writer with a book on the horizon, it is imperative that I build a platform for my work. The more readers I have, the more likes and follows, all of these add to my platform and will help me out in the long run.

The edits on my book are nearly finished and I will be submitting them to an agent. If all goes well, the changes will be accepted and she will take me on as a client. The story on The Mighty is just one of the many parts of my bigger story, my book, He’s Not Broken.

Stick with me guys. I have a lot to say. If I play my cards right, then maybe one day I’ll be able to meet my supporters in person on book tours. It’s a dream of mine.

If you have a moment, please head on over to The Mighty and check out my piece on Tourette Syndrome.

Brain Spill

img_6184

 

* I am writing this so that others can see one of the many faces of depression. I am not seeking pity or attention.

One thing I have always been in my writing is honest. So this is me being honest, unfiltered and raw.  I am not editing this at all, so please forgive the James Joycian run-ons and stream of consciousness, it’s the most accurate representation of how my mind is working (or not working) right now.

Tonight, I feel broken. I feel like I can’t move. I can’t breathe. There is something inside of me that won’t work no matter how much I tinker with it. And, believe me, there is much tinkering going on.

I don’t like this. I don’t want this. But this is me. I have clinical depression. At any given moment it visits me. It doesn’t care if I have everything I need, everything I want. It comes without warning and stays for as long as it wants. The sun may be shining. The clouds cleared, but inside of me the storm rages despite the current forecast. I try to fight it, but it’s like fighting the undertow. It. Just. Doesn’t. Work.

But think of all the good things you have. You have so much to be thankful for. No shit. I know that. But my depression doesn’t care. Those of you who say this, I don’t fault you. I don’t hate you for thinking it’s as simple as that. In fact, I think you know it isn’t, you just don’t really know what else to say. It’s okay. I don’t know what to say either.

It’s like someone asking you how you are. They are being polite. It’s what you do. It’s not like I’m going to answer by saying, you know what, I’m not good. In fact, I feel like I’m disintegrating. You just don’t say that. It makes people uncomfortable. I get it. It makes me uncomfortable too. 24 hour kind of uncomfortable. Unless there is wine. And then it’s only mildly annoying. Until there’s a sad song. And there’s always a sad song, isn’t there?

But I’m a mom. I can’t “self-medicate” like my mind tells me I want to. I can’t keep a travel mug full of “peace” with me at all times. And, honestly, I don’t want to. It scares me that the wine helps as much as it does. I don’t want to be that person. But a part of me is that person whether I like it or not.

Then there’s the most awesome part of all. My oldest son also has anxiety and depression. And every time I look at my youngest I wonder if I have passed the curse on to him as well. Do I think I shouldn’t have had kids? Absolutely not! This world needs my kids because they are incredible. But it doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty, which fuels my depression…vicious circle.

Did I mention I’m tired, but I can’t sleep?  I feel like I’m losing it most nights as I try to drift off with all of the what ifs shooting off like firecrackers in my mind. Problems that aren’t even my problems. Sadness that doesn’t even belong to me. I am too connected. So connected that I disconnect in order to survive.

I just want to rest. I just want to feel like everything will be okay. I want to trust the words I feed my children every day. It will get better. You just have to believe.  There are plenty of days where I feel like I’m just setting them up for the firing squad.

I’ll find my way out. I always have. But every time I surface, I can’t help but wonder when the next wave will hit.

 

 

 

I Am

epson006
Original mixed media artwork

I am a notebook lined with intimate inkings that are not my own.

I am an untrained runner in a marathon with legs that quiver and quit on  me.

I am a brittle-backed leaf on bare limbs, desperately hanging on.

I am the earthworm tirelessly trekking the sun-soaked concrete path in search of the cool dirt, my skin shrinking around me.

I am a discarded bag forced by the wind to kite dance, dipping and diving, an empty carcass of plastic skin.

I am bone-tired, and every breath breaks me.

I am all these things on any given day. But I am here, and I am trying.

 

Got Compassion?

img_8899
An original piece of my artwork inspired by two beautiful compassionate children – Pippa and Sunna

 

“Oh I don’t know, Tourette’s can be kind of fun. I knew someone with TS and he would throw the “F” word around all the time,” the stranger said with a laugh.

Silence. Suddenly I was bombarded by the image pain of Jake sticking his finger down his throat hundreds of times a day. I was reminded of the time I stood in the kitchen doorway, unknown to him, as he repeatedly punched himself in the stomach, tears running down his face. He was six. I recalled the angry stares of strangers who judged him every time we were out. And I felt my words stick in my throat as they so often do.

Sadly, this is a scenario that has played out in many forms over the years. I have since learned to speak out for Jake and other people like him who live with the suffering that accompanies Tourette’s and OCD. I can assure you none of them are having fun.

When Jake was diagnosed I was under the impression that his biggest problem would be peer bullying. Kids can be cruel. What I have learned instead, is that adults tend to be the worst bullies of all.

Over the years I’ve wondered about this. Why, when adults have so much more life experience, are so many lacking in compassion? How do they justify such insensitive remarks?

As adults we tend to inhabit our own space, both physically and mentally. The longer we remain earthbound, the easier it is for us to grow cynical and care less and less about the “big” world, concentrating instead on our personal lives. Unless a person’s life has been touched in some way by disability, and special needs, I think they just don’t get it. Instead, they are driven by the media’s skewed stereotypes.

All people with Tourette’s curse. False. Less than 10% are afflicted with coprolalia – a tic that causes them to use obscene language. I once met a twelve year old boy who was deaf because one of his tics was to box himself in the ears. I’ve seen a fifteen year old girl in a wheelchair because one of her tics was squatting while she walked. Hilarious,right?

All people with OCD are neat and are germaphobes. Just give them some hand sanitizer and all is well. False. Jake’s OCD immobilizes him at times, making him unable to leave the house. He struggles every day with repetitive thoughts and fears, causing him severe social anxiety. Good times, yeah?

Clearly, there is no humor in these conditions or any others.

So what’s different about how children process these differences. I think that children are simply more connected to the world than we are. They are newer beings on this Earth and are naturally curious. They haven’t been media-trained in the ways of callousness. We have so much to learn from them, and such a responsibility to protect them from becoming hard-edged.

But I think it’s important to note that compassion is more than just caring. As connected Beings we all need to practice empathy more than sympathy. And if we allow ourselves to reconnect with our spiritual side (not religious – that’s completely different and man-made), we will realize that it’s our natural state because we are all connected.

So how about you? Got Compassion?