How Quickly We Forget.

I lay waiting on the couch, semi-conscious, my eyelids flitting faster than I could control. The bottle of pills I had neatly organized on my coffee table seemed to be countless, but there were seven. Seven bottles of medication to stifle my anxiety, bi-polar disorder, chronic insomnia, and ever shifting moods. It's hard to recall what happened after I called 911 as my head lay in my son's lap, praying for the ambulance to come. All I know is those seven bottles I left on the table turned from panicked organization to a suspected suicide attempt once the paramedics arrived.

I remember so many people entering my house that night that I felt like the walls would explode. I couldn't think straight and the light switch by the front door began to spark and pop once an officer turned it on to get a better look at the scene- or so I thought, and began to yell at him for.  My kids were taken to another room where someone sat with them as not only I was questioned, but they were too. I had no clue what was going on. My body was twitching uncontrollably, my teeth chattered as I tried to form words and my eyes kept rolling in the back of my head. I wanted to tell them over and over I had not tried to commit suicide, I wanted to tell them those seven bottles were what my doctor prescribed to me, I wanted to tell them the added medication from just a few days ago was making me feel weird- I wanted to tell them anything, but I couldn't speak. I was placed on a stretcher and sent off to the emergency room.

An eternity seemed to pass before we arrived at the hospital, my body began convulsing but I was still conscious and exceptionally confused. I had witnessed my mother have seizures and this mimicked her symptoms entirely. I was panicked brain with no control over my body. I felt as if I was watching myself heave and choke on my own saliva from outside my body. I kept telling myself to reach for the button near my bed to call for help, but my arms felt like dead weight next to me. I am not sure how much time went by but eventually my body calmed. 
I was alone, I was freezing cold, and I was trying not to think about crying. 
Where were the doctors? Where were the nurses? Why was no one checking on me? 
Eventually someone did come, she checked my heart rate, my pulse, my eyes, asked me a few questions before hurriedly remarking, "Well, this is what happens when you take too many psych meds..." as she walked out the room. 

This is what happens when you take too many psych meds....

I was confused. I had done exactly as I was told by my doctor. Each month I checked in with my doctor. Each month, my weight was monitored.  Each month it steadily dropped. I was in fact, not eating. At all. My medication had not only effected my appetite but it triggered my eating disorder.  I told my doctor this, she added another pill. My medication was also causing hallucinations and issues with vision. So I told my doctor. She added another pill. Month by month went by. My weight continued to decrease, yet, according to her, I was "fine". I dutifully took my pills like breakfast, lunch and dinner and kept on keeping on. I was deteriorating before my own eyes, and my eating disorder blurred this enough to where I loved it. I loved the way my skin stuck to my bones, and I fed on more pills any time I began to feel shame for the way I looked. 

The next morning, I was home from the hospital and woke groggily to fix myself a cup of coffee. My memory around this time is exceptionally foggy but I know that I found myself on the kitchen floor next to the oven, where I had not been a second ago. The coffee was across the room on  a counter.... I couldn't even remember making it, let alone putting it down. I brushed off the incident, told myself I was fine, and carried about the morning feeling exceptionally dizzy and confused. Later that day I found myself feeling as if another seizure like episode was coming on. I laid on the couch and my body shook ferociously as my head cocked back without control. I remember choking, gagging, telling myself I needed to roll to my side, but I couldn't. After each episode, and there were many, for days and days on end, I came out of my stupor in a complete fog. I soon began to FaceTime my friends in other states so they could watch me during my episodes in case something happened. I was terrified I would die and my kids would be left alone in my house. I prepared Trace with all of our information in case he had to call 911 again, I gave them pep talks and encouraged them to be brave, all while I convulsed and threw up and passed out in between. For days. It was an absolute nightmare. No one knew what to do or how to help and the doctors continually told me to wait for my scheduled appointments. No one had answers and I felt so alone. 

I couldn't get the nurses words out of my head, even after the brain scans and multiple follow up appointments and reassurances that "It was late that night."  "She must have been tired."  "It was wrong of her to say." Apparently I was fine, apparently she was right, I am still unsure.

Eventually the medications found their way out of my system, the episodes passed and I began to find myself again. The hell I was experiencing faded quicker than I thought it would. A year later and a much needed break from chemicals, I am here with a few days left before my initial appointment with a new psychiatrist. I am hoping things go better than last year. I am terrified of starting any medication again for fear of repeating the same issues but I have hope. Things will be different this time and I will keep myself in check. Life has thrown so many curve balls my way and has taught me so much about my courage and inner fortitude. I thought living with mental illness was a death sentence, but what I've found to be true is not dealing with it in a healthy and conscious way is the real killer. I am not ashamed of who I am and what I need to do to be my best possible self in this lifetime. I simply want the chance to keep fighting, and last year pushed me past the brink of my breaking point on so many levels. 

I am here for more than a simple battle with my mind. 

This time will be better...

In The Blink Of An Eye.

The end of the year is upon us and I can't help but blink and rub my eyes a few times. 
Has 2016 really happened?
I feel as if I have accomplished so much and nothing all at once. 

This year was less about monetary growth and expansion as it was about inner power and fortitude. 
Here we are. We have made it through another year of trial and error. 
I am exhausted. To my core, I am simply exhausted.
Single parenting is not easy- I feel as if I am the first to chime in with words of wisdom and encouragement when someone is struggling with parenting. It falls out of my mouth so easily. I have every peppy line memorized and recite them frequently. My need to "fix" when someone is venting their own exhaustion doesn't help at all. I still have much inner work to do. 
This year I learned I need to listen more and talk less

Because the truth is:
I don't fucking know what I am doing.

Every day has given me a new challenge, and with it a new opportunity to fine tune my approach to raising three young children. This isn't for the faint of heart, folks. If there is one lesson that hit home for me this year it was that it truly, most certainly takes a village. 

I have learned to stop getting in my own way. I have learned to ask for help. I have learned that it is ok to admit weakness and ailment and try (key word: try) to not use the words, "I'm fine" if I am not. 

As the clock winds down and out calendars dwindle, remind yourself of one thing:
You are forever a hero. You will survive. 
And I will always be part of your tribe. 

It's Only One Day.

It's 2pm on a Wednesday and I already feel as if I am clawing my way out of a pit.

A "to-do" list from two weeks ago looms beside me. I added "shower" somewhere on it, just so I would have something to cross off. "Nap' was not on there this morning but it is now, and it has also been crossed off. The tantrums have occurred for the day- should I write that down and cross it off as well?

I have readings to record, I have to be 'inspiriting'. Where the hell am I supposed to hunt down the inspiration people seek when I could hardly climb out of bed lately?

I've been sick for months with inconclusive doctors tests and the complete switch and inevitable dropping of all of my mental health medications. My body is tense, I feel like my muscles are an elastic band stretched so far that the dry rubber is close to snapping. Sometimes the corners of my mouth twitch as I close my eyes and speak to myself before speaking to my own children. Some days I have to pretend to care what people have to say to me. Every time that happens I hate myself for it. I feel like a complete asshole. But during the down times I need my space, and I have no qualms with articulating that, it is what it is and I have never lost the people who love me most during the darker times. 

I am lucky. I am loved. I don't feel deserving of it at times.

I have a check list constantly running through my head:
Does this sound kind?
Is this an age appropriate response?
Do they actually deserve this time out?
What action can I take to change both of our moods at this very moment?

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. 

Change sheets
Wash sheets

Vacuum house

Sweep/Mop floors
Fold clean towels
Fold 4 baskets of laundry (ONLY 4 Kelly)
Wash two loads of laundry
Record your readings for clients 
Organize kids rooms
Grocery Shopping

{Don't lose your shit for no reason}

This is only today. I won't finish everything, I know I won't. I never do. Who the hell could? 
No one. But I sure berate myself when I don't go to bed at night with a sparkling clean home, amazing fancy dinner for the kids, and the scent of bleach lingering so strongly in the air that it is most likely the reason 
why the kids and I sleep so well. Why is there so much pressure to clean a house that no one but the kids and I see on a daily basis? 

I feel like less of a mother if we aren't gagging from the scent of cleaning products in the air and our stories read. I feel like less of a mother when we have cereal instead of a four course meal that would inevitably end up in the trash because my family hates trying new things. I will feel like less of a mother if I don't turn off the video games and try to enable some sort of family time. 

I feel like less of a mother as I type this out and my daughter (happily) plays dolls in the room we just meticulously cleaned together as a team. Why? Because I am not in there staring blankly at her and responding flatly for the seventh time when she asks me the same questions. What is she gaining from my half hearted attempts at parenting? Nothing. She is happy. I am happy. I NEED this time. I need my small break in between my never ending, chastising, list of "You're A Bad Mom If You Don't Do This...."

Nothing feels perfect right now and I would be lying to everyone (and I do, constantly) if I said I was fine. If I said I was handling life like a champ. Quite frankly I am grasping at straws and praying each morning I am good enough for four people. Being good enough for myself simply isn't an option anymore. I have to be good enough for four. It's exhausting. It's back breaking. 

For a tarot reader, I'd equate being a single mom to being the living embodiment of the Ten of Wands. 
The good news? 
The figure in the Ten of Wands is so close to victory. He just doesn't know it. 

This Is The Face Of Bipolar Disorder

Let's start with the facts:
"Bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression, is a mental illness that brings severe high and low moods and changes in sleep, energy, thinking, and behavior.
People who have bipolar disorder can have periods in which they feel overly happy and energized and other periods of feeling very sad, hopeless, and sluggish. In between those periods, they usually feel normal. You can think of the highs and the lows as two "poles" of mood, which is why it's called "bipolar" disorder.
The word "manic" describes the times when someone with bipolar disorder feels overly excited and confident. These feelings can also involve irritability and impulsive or reckless decision-making. About half of people during mania can also have delusions (believing things that aren't true and that they can't be talked out of) or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren't there).
"Hypomania" describes milder symptoms of mania, in which someone does not have delusions or hallucinations, and their high symptoms do not interfere with their everyday life.
The word "depressive" describes the times when the person feels very sad or depressed. Those symptoms are the same as those described in major depressive disorder or "clinical depression," a condition in which someone never has manic or hypomanic episodes.
Most people with bipolar disorder spend more time with depressive symptoms than manic or hypomanic symptoms."
There you have a basic layout. The mere foundations for a diagnosis that, if explained by someone experiencing these symptoms, could lead a person down a winding rabbit hole. There are no two people alike. Therefore, no one experiences the same exact symptoms. So how do you understand something that sounds so complicated and at times, downright scary? 
You start by asking.
This is the face of bipolar disorder:
This is the face of someone with bipolar disorder who wakes up to a 6:30am alarm after a night left tossing and turning in and out of poor sleep. This is the face of someone suffering from chronic insomnia- something she had since she was a child. Something that has morphed into many things as she grew older. As a teenager it was poor grades, bad behavior, inability to concentrate in class, anger, fear, carelessness, suicidal thoughts, etc. 

As an adult the sleepless nights turned harder to handle as responsibilities grew. 
Sleepless nights shifted from insomnia to infant care, and the sleep in between (due to stress) turned into a place of literal nightmares. Nightmares that began to induce a fear of sleeping at all. 
This is the face of someone who after years of sleepless nights now takes medication for her nightmares. 

*Take 1 pill once a night for sleep.

This is the face of someone who loves her children, loves her home, loves her family and loves her surroundings. Yet struggles to even plant her feet on the floor some mornings. Day after day after day, until the depressive episodes fade. This is the face of someone who is loved, cared for, and reminded daily of how special they are, but still has the ugliest thoughts about her life when she's consumed in her irrational grief. 
*Take 1 pill once a day for depression.

This is the face of someone who does not engage in physically or emotionally harmful behavior. Who, in fact, has made it her highest priority to avoid negative triggers and people- for the safety of herself and her children. This is the face of someone who knows that self medication, alcohol, or excessive drug use will serve as no substitute to a healthy dose of reality. 
Let me tell you, reality isn't so easy when you are of sound mind and have a deep understanding of yourself. Understanding that your mindset can switch at the flip of a coin is exhausting, because in order to be healthy you need to keep a never ending checklist going in your head. 
It means having to take accountability for your actions, 
all of them.
It means that when the tingling in your entire body starts to creep up under your skin and the sounds become too much, the lighting and excessive movement too strong, and you have no where to go to calm your nerves and you inevitably snap at your poor child who is only playing a game of monsters-- you take accountability for your actions and apologize. It also means explaining to that child what is happening within you and why they are not to blame. It means finding new ways (probably for the thousandth time) to decompress in stressful situations.
*Take 1 pill twice a day as needed for anxiety
Struggling with bipolar disorder means that when you're feeling excessively low and the urge to self harm, drink to cover emotions, stop eating or eat more as a way to gain control over your situation, make any move in any direction that could harm your future due to a brief moment of self-pity or grief-- you take accountability and reach out for help. 

This is the face of someone who has had to "suck it up" far too many times and admitted defeat in order to keep her sanity. This is the face of someone who had to openly say, "I need help. Please." Three words that sound so easy to utter, but hurt like daggers for someone who is trying to show the world she is a capable and thriving woman. The world's definition of "strong and independent".
That was, until a few years ago when she realized that asking for help when she needed it was strong and independent.

This is the face of a woman with bipolar disorder who wakes up, sends two kids off to school and is home with a three year old all day while battling debilitating exhaustion and complete lack of motivation. 
No she isn't lazy. No she doesn't skip her medicine. No this is not an excuse to keep a messy home. 
In fact for her, she makes the tough times easier by giving herself small to-do lists before she allows herself the luxury of giving into her emotions and "giving-up". She cleans her dishes, she feeds her child, she washes the laundry and scrubs the counters and tells herself over and over through-out the process, "You can do this. You are okay." All the while choking back tears and praying for the sun to set so she can finally crawl in to bed and not have to move, or think, or even feel human for just a few hours. Some days are horrific to her on the inside. Some days she completes these lists, and she is proud. Other days she doesn't, and she tries her best to not berate herself for hardly being able to stand that day.
However, every single day she is proud that she tried not to snap on the outside the way her every nerve-ending felt within her on that specific day. If she did snap? 
She took accountability, and apologized. (There's a pattern here when being honest with your brain's malfunctions.) 

Lucky for her, she rejoices in the sporadic days in between the depressive episodes that allow her the blessing of energy, insane amounts of energy. On her "good days" (which to most would simply call a "normal day") she accomplishes every task and more. She is kind and loving, affectionate and ready to play with her kids. Her house is spotless and she feels an immense sense of pride within herself. Those good days are amazing for her. The sun couldn't be brighter, her life couldn't be lovelier, and every thing feels like glitter is dripping off of it.
*Take 2 pills once a day to balance the rapid cycling.

Statistically this is the face of one person among approximately 5.5 million Americans, or 2.6 percent of the adult population, who suffers with this neurobiological disorder that often presents itself 
in a multitude of many frustrating and unpredictable ways.

One person who hates admitting where she is flawed, but recognizes the beauty and power behind working through her perceptions of what being "flawed" means to her, instead of avoiding its existence all together. 
This is the face of one person who loves exactly who she is but has no problem telling you that she understands how exhausting she can be, but how thankful she is when you stick around and try your hardest to understand her. 
This is MY face. MY struggle. MY journey. 

However, there are so many who quietly suffer in shame of something they feel they 
have 0 control over. I need you to know, first and foremost, that it takes bravery and accountability to climb your highest, hardest mountains. I need you to know, it is possible to hold power over your most seemingly powerless moments.

I need you to know...
You are not alone. 
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