Childhood Reminiscing

My early years were spent in a duplex behind 7-Eleven on Wasp Road or Hornet Road, I don’t remember which they were next to each other. It was also a cul de sac. You don’t know how long it took me to remember the words “duplex” and “cul de sac”.

We lived there until I think I was 5. It’s odd because I have so many memories from that time period. I first thought they weren’t memories, then my sister said some of them were her memories, eventually when I was alone with my mom I asked her some things and my dad other things. My mom could make some events sound more interesting than they were or so I always thought.

I didn’t find out until after she passed away the stories she told me were true and some had actually been toned down. If there’s one thing my Dad does not do is lie. Don’t ask me about my Grandmother because I’ve shocked people with some of my responses. I think one was “You mean the Psychotic whore who abandoned her children and left them living in a chicken coop?”. That didn’t go over well but I refuse to sugar coat a thing for that woman.

My Grandfather (Papa) and his girlfriend lived in the duplex with us. Seven people in that duplex was kind of a lot but I don’t believe Papa Doyle was there the entire time. It wasn’t the best neighborhood even then. There were drugs, drinking and fights. It was low income and some unstable people lived there also.

It was cold outside when I saw the man on his bike, I didn’t know what he was dragging next to him as he rode until he got closer. It was a dog hanging on a stick attached to one of his handlebars. When he went by he told me we better keep our dog from barking or the same would happen.

I remember standing there, unable to move for a long time. My mom finally came to get me. She kept asking what was wrong. When I told her she went into Mama Bear mode. She did this well. No one messed with her babies no matter how old they got. She knew her limits though. She waited for my Dad to get home from work and told him. He left the house with a slam of the door. I didn’t see the man on the bike again.

My Grandfather had a habit of not locking doors and falling asleep with lit cigarettes or cigars. A large drunk man was coming home late one night but came into our duplex instead of his. He made it all the way to the room I shared with my twin sister when I screamed. My Dad came running, picked the man up by his shirt collar and it was like they both floated down the stairs and out the door.  On another day outside a man put his hand through his bedroom window, I just remember all the blood.

My brother was 12 and already smoking pot with the kids in the neighborhood. He didn’t realize the glass door was down and my mom had cleaned it. He smashed through it. My sister doesn’t remember these things only being stung by a bee on the bottom of her foot which isn’t correct. I stepped on a piece of glass it was in the arch of my foot but I ignored it until I got home. When my mom first looked at my foot she thought I stepped in something. When she realized there was glass embedded in it things changed.

We also had an odd shaped glass ashtray. It was kind of a triangle. Somehow I fell into the point of the ashtray and it went to the back of my throat cutting it. The problem was it cut close to an artery. My mom was in panic mode because blood kept gushing from my mouth. To the hospital we went. They stitched it but I had to be still for days so it wouldn’t rip and open the artery. This I don’t remember but I have a small scar under my chin from hitting the table with the ashtray.

The best thing my Dad did was work hard and sell everything he had to put a down payment on a house to get us out of that neighborhood. A man with an 8th grade education, an outcast, forced into the Navy, an alcoholic, never shown love, gave everything to protect his family.

The love he had for my mom was special. It wasn’t easy but they never gave up on each other.

My Dad set a high bar. For me a man should protect the people he loves, he can be strong but sensitive when needed, my Dad has never disrespected a woman sober that I know of, if he makes a comment it’s positive, he’s honorable, that’s the word that fits him most.

Coping With Confusing And Scary Diagnoses

I’ve been told to stop saying “You don’t understand” by my twin sister and my dad. I’ve been told a lot by them lately and I’m reaching a boiling point. They don’t understand.

When you have lived most of your life thinking the way you are is just how it is, you’re supposed to suffer for some unknown reason. So you do and you get accustomed to it.

The day the wall crumbles isn’t really a relief. I didn’t know how to feel. I was in shock, I couldn’t think or speak. Then the anger came. Then the grief and feeling of loss. 20 plus years of my life wasted, countless Doctors seen who never picked up on a mental illness that I most likely started showing symptoms of by the time I was 10, I am now told.

I wasn’t really given any information on Bipolar Disorder just medication. I educated myself. I did get a second opinion to confirm the diagnosis. The state also did their own examination for Disability. I was still angry and my family didn’t want to talk about it. I do not do well in Therapy, I’ve been many, many, times. My brain shuts off as soon as I sit down. If they start with asking me to write where I see myself in 5 years forget it. If they want me to picture a stop sign during a stressful situation forget it. I don’t know why it’s so difficult for me.

When you’ve had several Doctors give you a diagnosis that is either life threatening or reveals you have had a traumatic experience you can’t remember and they want to use you as a teaching tool it’s rude. They could wait a day instead of hitting me with the bad news then asking if they could video tape my stuttering and tremors.

What I remember from past is pretty bad. To think that there is something worse scares me so when I was told about the type of Conversion Disorder I have I was devastated. The Doctor was filled with joy to have a live specimen for his students, colleagues and book. I did get a second opinion on this also and it was confirmed along with other disturbing results from a brain scan.

I’m having trouble coping with all of it. I fought with my sister again because she was crying and said “No one knows what it’s like to be tired all the time and in pain. I can’t do what I want with my kids and husband. I don’t want to live the rest of my life like this.” She was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

I have a life expectancy of maybe 57 because I have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, Conversion Disorder, Chronic Kidney Disease Stage 3 (1 remaining kidney working at 68%), Celiac Disease (stays active), Autoimmune Diseases (related to Celiac), Chronic Low Heart Rate and Blood Pressure, Chronic Low White Blood Cells, Swelling in one part of my brain and a significant loss of white matter, Osteoporosis, and I’m 44 years old.

I’ve never been in love or a relationship. When I was young I thought I would have a house, husband, and children. Yes, I am responsible for my own actions. I did not know I would go into Menopause at 37 or that I had been dealing with a mental illness for many years. I chose to medicate myself with alcohol and spend time with people who hurt me physically and emotionally. I honestly believed I deserved it. I wouldn’t have had a child unless I was in a financially, mentally, stable situation so it is what it is.

Hearing my sister complain when she has a beautiful home, 2 gorgeous well behaved boys, a husband (I’ll keep my opinion to myself ), many friends, and is a stay at home mom, pissed me off. It’s always a contest with her. She can win. I give. If you can’t appreciate what you have you don’t deserve it. I’m done begging her to love me. I’m done begging people to “understand” what’s wrong with me.

If one more Doctor treats me indifferently or like I’m a moron I will not sit there quietly and take it. I’m done with that. I am a person with feelings and a brain that still works pretty well sometimes. I am not deaf, slow, or dangerous. I’m tired of being treated like dog shit you found on the bottom of your shoe.

DRINKING: Why I Miss It And Why I Stay Sober

I like to remember when I was drinking sometimes. Once in awhile I miss it. The important thing is to remember the good times and the bad times. I have a habit of only reflecting on the good times. I also have to remind myself why I stay sober. My reasons won’t be the same as someone else’s reasons and that’s fine as long as it works for me.

I loved the excited feeling I would get inside as I prepared each day to drink. It was a ritual. I had to do my hair and make up and pick an outfit to wear. Even though I was over 200 pounds these things still mattered to me. I make myself sound disgusting but I guess I had a pretty face and there were men who were attracted to me.

When I drank there was a physical change in me. I stood up straight and held my head up looking people in the eye with a confidence only alcohol could give me. At times this did cause trouble. Other times it worked to my advantage. I never would’ve met as many bands as I have if I hadn’t been drinking. I never had to pay for a meet and greet, my best friend and I would somehow end up meeting them. I was the charming one and she was the beautiful one.

I regret the fact I don’t remember some of the people I’ve met. How could I forget an entire car ride and conversation that lasted over an hour? I didn’t blackout often but we had been in the pit during the concert so it’s possible I hit my head. Guys hated it when we went in the pit so I would make W. go in with me just to piss them off. Drinking with me was like a box of chocolates, you never knew who you were going to get.

Alcohol almost always acted like a stimulant with me until I reached a certain point. I just never knew when that point would be so I would drink until I got there. I wanted to feel normal inside, I wanted the pain I couldn’t name to go away, I wanted to be able to talk to people and not feel like I didn’t belong all the time. And alcohol did that for me.

Alcohol also made me say things I wouldn’t normally say, do things I wouldn’t normally do, spend time with people I wouldn’t normally spend time with. Did I love meeting Lars Ulrich, Zakk Wylde, Sebastian Bach, Stephen Pearcy, Pantera and being at The Rainbow? Yup. But some meetings didn’t go so well and all I can say is I’m glad they were as drunk as I was.

Never being in a relationship wasn’t exactly fun either. The police knowing my name in three towns was bad too. Pepper spray is never fun, twice is just cruel (both by accident I was caught in the crossfire). A DUI is something to be ashamed of not to mention what I put my family through.

I’m sober now because I know why I drank. It became clear when I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. It didn’t take me long to stop drinking after that. As I learned more about why I drank it made things a little easier. Treating addiction has to go hand in hand with mental health treatment or you are not going to get far. I know this firsthand.

If I drank now my body couldn’t handle it. My brain would think I could drink like I used to but I only have one kidney now. I have thought about it recently because my medications are not being absorbed and I feel like I did when I was younger. I have my dad to think about. If he wasn’t here I can’t say for sure that I wouldn’t have some kind of light fruity drink. Which I never ever would’ve had years ago but now it’s the only thing that sounds appealing. Kind of strange.

I’m tired, alone, trapped, isolated, filled with grief but for who? Maybe everyone and myself the life I could’ve had and now never will. The 20 years I wasted or my mom who I still miss ever single day or my best friend who I never see or my twin who would rather commit me than have a conversation with me.

I always told W. if things got bad I was going to Vegas and pulling a Nicolas Cage. She always laughed and said “No you won’t”. This last time I said it and she started crying. She said she wouldn’t blame me and she knew how bad it’s been for me but she loved me. First time ever someone said the right thing.

So I’ll stay sober and try to help my Dad celebrate his 74th Birthday tomorrow. Do they sell cakes shaped like pigeons?

ADDICTION AND MENTAL ILLNESS

If you ask a 100 Psychiatrists/Addiction Specialists which comes first addiction or mental illness, you will get 100 different complicated answers. It is complicated when you’re dealing with the brain. I can only say what I know and what I have witnessed.

There is addiction and mental illness on both sides of my family. Generations of it. This includes both of my parents. I never thought my father had any mental health problems until we started to talk about it in the last few years.

MY MENTAL ILLNESS AND ALCOHOLISM

I’ve said before that my memory isn’t the best so I’ll estimate and go by what my dad has told me and what I can remember.

When I was as young as 6 or 7 I felt out of place everywhere. My own Birthday parties filled my stomach with butterflies and I just wanted to hide. I shared these parties with my twin who I would watch as she laughed and enjoyed herself. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t feel the same as she did.

I have always been extremely sensitive to everything. I cried often and also had a quick temper that I took out on inanimate objects. I had a strong fear of abandonment and had a time with sleepovers or staying at another person’s house. I spent most of my time in my room reading.

At one point my mom talked to my dad about my behavior and suggested I see a doctor. He said that I would grow out of it and to leave me alone. I did spend time with my dad because we shared a passion for animals. I told my secrets to my mom.

Our family had a lot problems at one time. My brother was drinking and doing drugs. He had his own issues that my parents were not equipped to deal with. His father had been mentally ill and an alcoholic who committed suicide by driving his car into a cement barrier. My brother had a hard time accepting my dad and dealing with the secrets of his own father’s death.

My mother had several “nervous breakdowns” when I was younger and was hospitalized. She was never diagnosed or given medication. My father and mother both quit drinking when I was about 6. She would continue to have depressive episodes the rest of her life.

I started to dry heave before school everyday starting in Junior High. I never used the bathrooms and lunch was always difficult. My anxiety was out of control. I felt useless and invisible often. I had one friend. I was an observer of life. I started to sleep more and more.

In my later teens I would have times where I felt I had a thousand cups of coffee and I could do anything. I talked fast, started but never finished a million things, worked after school, and spent all the money I made.

At 16 I tried alcohol for the first time. My anxiety went away and I found I could talk to anyone and not care what they thought. I was funny and felt attractive. The pain on the inside was also gone. The feeling doesn’t last long so I had to keep drinking to feel normal.

My father admitted he drank because he had anxiety and a problem with being around groups of people. He still has anxiety.

I was diagnosed as Bipolar after 20 years of self medicating with alcohol. I’ve been sober 9 years. I wouldn’t have been able to stay sober without the help of anti-anxiety medication. No one should have to live with anxiety so bad they have ulcers at 17. Anxiety so bad it prevents them from doing normal activities. There was point I couldn’t go to the gas station by myself. That isn’t living.

As I’ve watched other people in my family it always seems like a mental health problem or a mental illness was the underlying factor in their drug or alcohol abuse.

When I did see doctors they only wanted to focus on the alcohol and never even thought there could be anything else going on. They had my family history of mental illness and still focused on the alcoholism. This needs to change. Both issues need to be treated together and doctors need to realize that the majority of addicts have a mental health issue. The ball is being dropped too many times and we are losing too many beautiful people.

Telling Your Story Isn’t Easy

I chose to publicly discuss what other people would normally hide or only tell their priest or Therapist. The reaction has ranged from positive to hateful. It’s also caused me to question myself many times and opened my eyes to just how much Stigma is attached to Mental Illness/Addiction/Suicide or anything related to these subjects.

But the Stigma, confusion and misinformation doesn’t stop with those who don’t have these issues. This I find even more appalling. When I’m attacked on Social Media by someone who has been through misdiagnosis, psychiatric hospitals, and receiving the wrong care or no care it angers me.

When I’m ganged up on and told I don’t know what I’m talking about I become furious.

THE TRIGGER

A person who follows me on Twitter is promoting a book about his personal struggle with a misdiagnosis of ADHD, medicated with 9 different Psychiatric Medications for over 3 years when the root cause was PTSD and Vision Issues.

After a recent musician’s suicide he wrote “I’ve got a ton of failures in my past- the difference is that I did NOT give up (even during a suicide attempt, which I stopped suddenly)”

One of his Followers wrote after that “Suffered from Depression for 11 months. Music and exercise, not tablets (pills) helped me snap out of it and determination”

I admit I’m not myself lately and I become irritated or angered easily. I am more sensitive than usual which if you knew me you would know this is extremely bad.

My responses were respectful. I didn’t want to appear incoherent or disrespectful. I replied to the first one “I’m happy that you have been strong enough or able to keep going. Unfortunately not everyone is the same and every illness is different.”

He asked me “Is there anything you are grateful for?” I can’t say I took that question well. I waited to respond and when I did I told him I was grateful for “My father and the people I’ve been able to help who are like me, who went too long without help, who suffer daily, the invisible ones.”

The other one I told “The reason there is so much Stigma surrounding Mental Health is because people say things like “snap out of it” when it isn’t possible with a Mental Illness like Bipolar or Schizophrenia”.

The reply was “You don’t know f*ck all about it. I did snap out of my depression! 5 weeks after snapping out of depression I was kidnapped by the authorities an injected by force!”

This is when I realized I was arguing with a person I probably was wasting my time arguing with. When I actually looked at their Twitter page and it said they were the Governor of Rowanwood and held many Amateur Boxing Championships (amateur was spelled wrong 3 times) I knew to let it go. This person was dealing with more than they probably knew about.

YOUR STORY

There comes a point where no one around you wants to hear about anything related to Mental Health, Medications, Doctors, Stigma, or how you feel. They become numb to your pain and tears and even annoyed. I can’t say I blame them. The problem is it never leaves my head. The stories linked to Bipolar and Alcoholism. The way I behaved and the consequences. The people I hurt and lost along the way. The people I lost when I stopped drinking and they found out I was diagnosed as Bipolar.

There’s also a physical component. I self medicated with alcohol for over 20 years. I have Celiac Disease but I didn’t find out until I stopped drinking. Every time I drank I was poisoning myself and doing permanent damage to my body. I mostly drank beer and shots. It took about 3 days to recover sometimes from a hangover. The last few years I was vomiting blood and my liver was enlarged. I damaged my brain, immune system, my white blood cell count is always too low, I’ve lost significant grey matter for my age, the list goes on. I did it to myself but there were also so many professionals who missed it all.

Now, I’m left feeling worse than I ever have.

WHAT I WANT TO DO

There are a few things I would like to do if it’s possible to feel better again.

I want to travel more. I love to travel to warm, sunny, beautiful places. Hopefully with wildlife.

I would like to try to speak publicly about my story to help others.

I want to take my Dad to local areas he’s never been to but I know he’ll enjoy.

I want to try to sell my jewelry.

I want to volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary.

I want to live instead of exist.

Black Hole Sun~Until You’ve Been There

I was reprimanded today for crying over someone I did not know personally. The problem is in a way I did know him. I knew when I heard the news at 7:30 a.m. this morning what had most likely happened.

My sister sent me a text saying she had been crying all morning and we went back and forth a little. She has not talked to me in what for us is a long time. The communication stopped immediately when details were released later today. I knew she would discontinue communication when she learned what I already knew.

The life expectancy of someone with a severe mental illness like Bipolar Disorder is much shorter than the average person. If the person also has an alcohol/drug addiction you can take off a few more years even if they are now sober. I’ve done all the research there is do. I have a thing for statistics and research.

I cry over someone who writes lyrics that explain how I feel or have felt but could never put into words. Some lyricists write like they’ve been in my head or knew me at a specific time. It’s a tell like in poker.

Until you have stood on a roof looking down into a black abyss of pavement thinking “I can’t take this pain, this empty ache in my chest any longer” and you jump, I don’t want to hear your opinion. (I was closer to the ground than I thought and extremely drunk. I chipped a bone in my ankle and some cuts and bruises.)

Until you have had charcoal forced down your throat or your stomach pumped because you swallowed a bottle of painkillers while thinking “I never belonged here. I watch other people live but I don’t understand how. I don’t fit. I wasn’t meant to be.” I don’t want to hear your opinion.

Until you’ve been stitched up for you fourth time because you have no self respect and think you deserve to be treated like garbage I don’t want to hear your opinion.

Until you blow a .36 at the Police Station where you’ve been many times and the men in the room are wondering how you are still functioning and you hear the names they call you and are so humiliated it has gotten this bad you picture doing the unthinkable I don’t want to hear your opinion.

I hope I’ve made it clear that unless you have been in a person’s situation it isn’t gossip or fodder for the media it’s someone’s son, daughter, sister, brother, husband, wife. Remember that and the suffering that goes with it.

To the person who is no longer here. You had empathy, talent, a light inside of you that you probably couldn’t always see, and you made a difference to me. You will be missed.

SAYING YOU’RE BIPOLAR AND HOW YOU GIVE INFORMATION ON SOCIAL MEDIA

I’ll be the first to admit that I get annoyed/irritated/frustrated easily. Most of the time I keep it to myself. I also get hurt easily and keep this to myself too. It’s easier to keep feeling hurt hidden. But eventually all those feelings I keep swallowing down are going to come out somehow, someway.

When it comes to my own personal story I try to be as honest as I can. The only thing I get wrong are dates and years because I can’t remember them.

I was on Twitter recently and a person I follow replied to someone that they are bi-polar. That’s how he spelled it. I couldn’t tell if he was being serious or not. He is someone who is well known and does have a right to some privacy. I had seen it mentioned in a few different places but never directly from him. I decided to take a chance and reply to his Tweet. I replied “Were you being serious about being Bipolar? You don’t have to answer. You have a right to privacy but as someone who is diagnosed as Bipolar I wouldn’t wish it on my worse enemy.” I was hoping he would understand that if he was joking he shouldn’t be and if he wasn’t joking I understood. He rarely replies to people unless he knows them. I have no problem with that. He will block you in heartbeat if you say anything he doesn’t like or agree with. So far he hasn’t blocked me.

However, I did want to scream when I read one young woman’s reply to mine. It said “I’m curious myself. I was diagnosed as a teen but I’ve learned to control it. DISCIPLINE X 1000” Ummm…. So she can control her Bipolar Disorder with extra, extra, discipline? Well I must not be trying hard enough then. My dad and sister are right I just want to be alone and depressed all the time because if I didn’t wouldn’t I try harder to control it?

I must like to try new medications that give me vertigo, nausea, diarrhea, headaches and don’t work. I must have loved ECT and being held against my will for longer than I should have been while crying for anyone to come and get me. I even contemplated jumping through the big glass window not caring that there were bars on the other side.

This is what happens when I read shit like this. When I read how people have “recovered” from their mental illness by “discipline” or “colored candles” or “chanting in a circle to The Moon Goddess”. I get angry. It lessens my struggle that I go through to wake up every single Goddamn day and stay alive. And lately I keep asking myself “For what? FOR WHAT?!” A father who can’t hear me and doesn’t talk to me. A sister who is annoyed or ashamed by me so she doesn’t talk to me. I do get to clean up after my father because his vision is bad and he can’t see where the toilet is. That’s something, right? That makes me useful.

One trip to the grocery store and I am in pain for days. No one listens. No one cares. Men have literally watched me struggle to lift a case out of my carriage and done nothing to help. Just watched. I know I look better than I did at 250 pounds but you can’t tell me they are excited by watching me trying to lift water. Maybe they are. I’ve stopped caring. At least the young guys working there run to help me. If it wasn’t for one of them I would’ve passed out last week. This low blood pressure/low heart rate thing sucks.

I’m off topic and out of things to say. Go discipline yourselves!