Social Media

Not that it much matters, but I remove people from my social media for three reasons. 1) they make me feel bad 2) I make them feel bad 3) they never post and I’ll hear about them anyway. It has very little to do with whether or not I like someone or if I want to keep in touch with someone. Right now I’d just like to stop wishing for some sort of accident to protect others from my continued existence, and that’s a really shitty place to be on social media. Especially when i’m constantly encountering my #1 and #2 reasons for removing people. For me Facebook is a place to keep in touch with people I rarely see so I can rejoice in their lives, I want to keep that a happy thing. I’ve been in a lot of pain for a while and I have that piece under control on my own, there is no need to add to the dung heap.

As silly as it sounds I really love hearing about what you eat, how your families are growing, the weddings you are in and plan, how far you’ve run, what memes you enjoy, and whatever else you want to share. Your triumphs make me happy. There have been studies that have shown social media makes people unhappy because they are comparing the humdrum of their lives to the best possible image of others. For me it is completely the opposite. Thank you, friends, for helping to lift the sadness for the time I spend on social media.

I don’t know what my Facebook looks like, but it is getting harder for me to reach out. The more time goes by the worse I feel and the more convinced I am that if I were to simply disappear life would be better for everyone around me. I contemplated losing the social media completely, but then I would lose the ray of sunshine from my friends list.

Postpartum Psychosis

I’ve had one major fear since getting pregnant: postpartum psychosis. I’ve been doing so well with keeping communication open about my stress and learning to walk away when my frustration reaches max capacity. Sometimes I get sucked in to things that I shouldn’t, external stressors cause me a huge issue and one of those is television.

Today I was watching Identification Discoveries show Deadly Women and the story of Andrea Yates began. In 2001 her psychosis lead her to believe that she was the devil, she and her husband were very religious so this was horrifying. She believed her children would go to hell if she raised them, in the ultimate sacrifice she drowned them to give them eternity in heaven. There were a number of things that happened with her, not the least of which involved sub-par mental health care from the hospitals, but the saddest part was what happened after. In the aftermath, instead of getting her help, the police and judicial system wanted to put her on trial with the death penalty. Obviously the show had a really short synopsis of this crime, I found a longer account on TruTV‘s website, but she wanted the death penalty. She felt like she would be sparing the world of the devil by no longer existing in this plane. I remember seeing this story on the news when it happened. I remember thinking “what the hell kind of monster does that to their kids?” Now I better understand that mindset.

I like to call my illness “full on crazy”, it’s not easy to deal with and I have cancelled plans with friends if their kids would be present because of it. It’s really unsettling to have my own son, knowing that at any time I may need to pass him off and walk away to keep my own brain in check. The Andrea Yates story hits me in a different place now. I have had those types of psychotic thoughts. Before Edgar was born I fully believed that I would have the baby and within a month I would be able to die. I gave my husband the progeny he wanted, what more would be needed? My child would clearly be better off without my presence. While any husband would have trouble hearing this it hits Terry in a different place entirely. His first memory is his mothers funeral when he was barely 3 years old. She died in a horrific accident and he feels the loss regularly. Fortunately, he understood the origin of those thoughts was fear and inadequacy. We dealt with it, but every day I still fear the return of psychosis. The belief that the world would be better off without you, or that a child would be saved through drowning, that is an indescribable pain. No one sees it, few can sense it, and it’s impossible to know how close the resulting action is until it happens.

Watching the Andrea Yates story today was a huge trigger. My whole body hurts fighting back awful thoughts. I have a number of things going in my favor though, first there are people willing to listen and believe when I say how terrible this can become. Second, Edgar has safe places to stay if the situation escalates. I have half a deep freeze full of breast milk “in case shit” as Terry would say. My son is happy and healthy. I recognize my emotions and share them quickly. If something starts to feel really off I am capable of walking away for an hour, a day, a week if needed. Last, and most important, I have coping skills to bring myself back to reality and so do the people around me.

So, while my thoughts started to drift to the fear of the possible today, I hugged my beautiful baby and connected with him the best way I know how. We piled in the car and went to the zoo to take pictures. People told me how beautiful he is, I played with him in the polar bear tunnel, watched how bright and fun he is, and thanked my lucky stars that I am able to ask for help if I need it.

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Vices and Excuses

I have a weight problem. A pretty fierce weight problem. An 80 lb overweight problem. Over the last 10 years my mental health has fluctuated really seriously resulting in medication additions and removals and adjustments. It’s caused me more problems than it should have because I never adjusted my diet or exercise to accommodate the physical fluctuations.

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These pictures represent my appearance in 2008 pretty accurately. I weighed about 160 lbs when I met my husband and had been off all medication for a few years. I was about a size 13 and really proud of the fact that I felt comfortable in a miniskirt for the first time since high school.

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By April 17, 2009 I was in a size 16. Honestly, I am pretty comfortable in my skin at all sizes. I’m one of those that makes sure I wear clothes that fit appropriately, and my chest has always been larger than my belly. Really what that means is when I look down I see boobs and feet so I forget the belly is there.[000274] [000735]

Skip ahead exactly one year and I was wearing a size 24. What happened? All that medication and lack of exercise coupled with a dead end desk job that made me feel like shit. While I look at my wedding pictures, or any pictures of me since, I want nothing more than to Photoshop out all the fat pieces. The thing is I am still not uncomfortable in my skin, I just really don’t like to look at myself from the chest down or in any kind of mirror. This was my heaviest (well, minus six pounds from my delivery weight, but I don’t count that weight…I lost 20 lbs during delivery) and I was 290 lbs.

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Sometime after that I stopped allowing full length photos of me, this was last summer.

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There are still some full length pictures of me, I just generally edit them to only show bust and up. This was May 2012 at my cousin’s high school graduation. I weighed 255 and was a size 18/20. I’ve maintained that weight and size and have now returned to it post-Edgar.

Now that we’ve gone through the transformation from 2008 – 2012 here is something incredibly stupid that I’m going to post.

Today I have decided to begin another weight loss journey. Those 35ish pounds I’ve lost from my wedding in 2010 have been it since. It’s time to get serious about getting the rest of the weight off. So, as a motivation strategy I’m posting my “before” pictures from today. Be warned, they contain short shorts and a pulled up tank top and make me feel a bit like Fortune Feimster doing a bit on Chelsea Lately. I’ve been manipulating photo angles for too long and need some real accountability in my weight loss journey. Eating healthy and exercise are two of the best things to maintain mental health.

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Here are today’s images – day one! I warned you they weren’t pretty. I found a simulator to help me see myself as I was again. Yes, I deliberately picked the most awful swimming suit the simulator offered. It’s a reminder that I need to not stay where I am.

Me now:

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Future me:

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There are a lot of things I can do to start this journey. First, I am using this blog as an accountability tool. I’m going to log my activity and food in at SparkPeople. My biggest nutrition weaknesses right now are drinking soda instead of water and popcorn with butter and cheese. I beat cutting almost cold turkey, soda will have to go the same way. In my eyes it is the same type of addiction, and really, who’s to say which is worse?  As far as the issue with popcorn…it’s really my own fault. I have an air popper so those toppings are a choice. I don’t know that I want to give up popcorn, and air popped popcorn is actually a good snack, so I’ll be looking for new delicious toppings.

There it is, the beginning of my new weight loss journey, complete with disgusting full length before pictures. I’m going to give it a real go for 100 days which brings me to November 27, 2013. I’m hoping to have crossed off a 5K on my bucket list by next summer. There are so many cool races now!

Jealousy and other things that have nothing to do with me.

One of the most difficult lessons for me to learn is not everything has to do with me. While asking for some advice one of the ladies mentioned what happened was petty. I realized as I responded the action was based in jealousy and it’s cause predates me. I have a really hard time relating to people; every time something goes wrong, every time someone isn’t happy, it is my fault. My whole life when a teacher gave constructive criticism, when a friend was angry, when an acquaintance was in a bad mood, my brain told me I was the cause. It was always about me and what I did to cause those emotions and pain. Not surprisingly the reverse never occurred to me, when something positive happened with the same people it was never “my fault”. I was always making amends for the times I had screwed up and put someone in a bad mood. “It has nothing to do with you” was my mother’s mantra I heard as “you aren’t important enough for this to be about you”.

The jealousy that caused me so much heartache over the last few years doesn’t have anything to do with me. I consistently have tried to prove myself; prove my worthiness of their friendship, prove that I deserve to be in their life. As the conversation from a few weeks ago continues to return in pieces I remember Terry saying their desire to have me in their life was a lie. I’ve never been given a real chance, the effort to include me has been, at best, superficial. The truth is I don’t really care to be in their life. What I recognized the other day is the superficial effort stems from a desire to hurt someone else entirely, I am an innocent bystander. They deliberately put me down and spread false information because they are jealous of someone else entirely and that isn’t fair.

After I recognized the pain was meant for someone else it felt like the world’s weight was taken from me. I still feel a residual need to be better than them, but I’ve always been competitive with strange and ridiculous things. The biggest change over the last few days is a lack of anger; it’s being slowly replaced with pity. Pity for their need to lie, for their need to hurt people, for their need to create anger where there should be joy. It will take some practice but I have a new resolve to no longer feel that hurt or have my joy stripped from me.

Leaving it all out there

I haven’t written in over a month. Part of the reason is because I was super busy with Edgar and family things, but mostly it was because of something I was told. It took me a little time to work through my thoughts on why I put myself out there, why I’m so vocal about how much things can hurt. In July I was told there are things that shouldn’t be shared ever, that are so painful and so horrible they should be buried and never discussed. Honestly, this conversation has been coming back to me in pieces. My brain protects me from things that can be too painful, it erases them and returns them to me little bits at a time. I’ve had that happen to me my whole life, relying on others to fill in holes.

My first reaction to being told that it’s important to keep things to oneself was to shut down completely. Once I thought about what was said my next gut reaction was “what moronic situations did you put yourself in that you can’t tell anyone”. I felt bad about that reaction, but I’ve been so much of an open book my whole life that I can’t comprehend a situation that would need to be kept quiet. I can’t comprehend a situation or experience that I wouldn’t be able to help someone else by sharing. Being with my ex I was told regularly that I needed to be ashamed of myself. I wasn’t pretty enough, mental illness was something that required shame, the list goes on and on. I’ve learned a lot from that experience and I try to share those lessons with friends. On this blog I do pause before posting things, I like to have my thoughts in order before posting. It helps to make sure the words really mean what I want them to mean. In my personal life I’m much less careful. Being friends with me often means allowing the time for me to muck through the story. It can also mean having the patience for all those time I shove my foot in my mouth, have the wrong words, and am wildly inappropriate. At thirty years old I’m still learning how to behave in society. Sometimes I cry in public, sometimes I sound like a jackass on accident, I’m not perfect and I don’t really want to be. I guarantee I have more faults than positives in my eyes, but if I don’t put myself out there how will people know me? More than anything I don’t want to be fake, I want people to know who they are around and I want them to make an informed decision about friendship. The cost of a slip if I hide things is so much more painful than someone not being interested in the first place.

I won’t be taking the advice to keep me to myself. Kathie Lee Gifford said something on the Today show about keeping a tender heart but developing a tough skin, this is my new lesson. If people don’t want me in their life, regardless of who they are, I will learn to let it go and find someone who is interested in being in my life. I have had the pleasure of meeting so many people that I love so much, family sometimes isn’t related to you, they chose you instead. Those that choose me are the ones I want.

Hatred as a spectator sport

I’ve never lived in an area like this. There’s a number of reasons why I don’t fit in where I’m at:

1) I’m lutheran, not only lutheran but ELCA lutheran.
2) I don’t have a large family in the area, and I did not grow up around a lot of family
3) I see things in black and white (no pun intended), but live in a head filled with shades of grey

Here’s the thing, I think I’ve talked before about how the area strikes me as very divided based on color, to me that’s ridiculous. In my head people are people and when you can’t see what I see it’s not worth talking to you. The same thing about sexual orientation, disability, and any number of other things. I like people based on them, not based on some external attribute or supposed bond. So, here is where I get into trouble with the first two problems:

There is a huge catholic community here, I do have friends that are catholic so I’m not judging individually, this is based on the general ideals of the church here that hurts my head. The church is afraid of change, afraid of different, and afraid of opening their doors to those that are different. This causes problems for discussion of race and sexual orientation for me. The church I found here embodies everything I love about the ELCA, everyone is allowed no matter what their affiliation. That is how I want my son raised, Terry says over and over the only thing that would disappoint him is if Edgar becomes a bigot. Why do people choose to follow a church system that excludes people? Why, when we have an opportunity to allow more people rights, do people choose to passively hate instead? The excuses for allowing hate are ridiculous, there are memes all over the internet to prove that. It hurts my heart.

The family thing is a side effect of the pain I feel about the passive hate on the large scale. I’m clearly not used to dealing with a lot of family. There’s this underscore of pessimism and dislike through every conversation, I’ve cried because of things people have said to me, I’ve been deliberately left off of family gifts, in my head this is normal. In my black and white world you’re either family or your not. With as much as everyone hates each other and is uncomfortable with each other I don’t see a place for people to love someone who isn’t blood related. I can’t figure out who we like and who we don’t or why. My head is shades of grey, but hatred is black and white for me. If you hate someone you don’t hang around them. You don’t talk to them or about them. Hatred is not passive in my world. It’s a yes or no and doesn’t change. When it happens the people are no longer included in your world. This to me is separate but equal. There is no room for that in politics, or in government, only in individual worlds. This hatred as a spectator sport is so foreign to me I can’t even begin to process. I love my family, they live really far away but I have fantastic memories and when I think of them, there is nothing but love. What benefit is there in passive hate, except slowly eating the insides of the person who harbors the emotion?

This summer I need to learn how to keep others passive hate from eating up my insides. I’m constantly feeling like I’ve screwed up because I invite the wrong people. When I’m thinking of what I want to do and who I want to do it with I’m judging myself based on others passive hate. The worst is the assumption that I am a victim of others passive hate when I’m not invited. It has to stop. I want so badly to return and succeed at school in the fall. This is going to do nothing but distract me from what I really need to focus on in order to accomplish that.

Psychiatrists

The thing about doctors is I don’t like them very much. When I took medical leave at school I dropped all of my classes which meant I lost my insurance and my job. I already didn’t like how the doctors treated me like I’m stupid, but at least the mental health doctors treated me with respect. Now I have medicaid and it is even worse. My primary care doctor treats me like I never finished middle school, I’m not sure if that’s because of the people he’s used to dealing with or if he really just dislikes the medicaid system. I was in the ER for 6 hours last Sunday for what seems to be a basic infection. Urgent care sent me, 1 hour of my time was waiting for the lab work to be completed, 3 hours was waiting for a specialist to come see me. In the end there was no resolution, I was given a prescription for medication and was told to follow up. Ridiculous.

That is one example of many where it’s easy for me to assume I’m being slighted by doctors, which makes the event of finding a great doctor even better. Last January after all the hospital mess I had a great psychiatrist. The medicaid meant that I could not be seen by that doctor at the office I was attending, but I could see him at an office 45 minutes away from my home. A lot of people around me think it’s ridiculous to go so far for a 5-10 minute appointment, for a great psychiatrist I disagree. There was a girl in the next curtained area who had deliberately taken an overdose of something. Her sisters brought her in, but didn’t want to stay. Her mother got there and the girl was distraught over the fact that no one really wanted her around. It was a reminder to me why it’s worth a 45 minute drive one way to see a doctor that is respectful and great. When I saw my doctor yesterday he remembered who I was, grinned at my son, asked where my husband was, and gave me a new medication to look up. This doctor treats me with intelligence, he trusts me to be included in my own treatment. I don’t get handed instructions, my husband and I are allowed to be partners with my psychiatrist. He is the expert, he gives an expert opinion and we are allowed to have an open and honest discussion about our concerns and other alternatives.

These last 6-8 weeks have been really rough. I’ve had auditory and visual hallucinations, I have had paranoid thoughts of people plotting to get rid of me, there has been a serious depressive cloud hanging over me regarding a lack of friends. I feel as though no one wants me around. I’ve had friends asking about how I care for my son and it feels judgey and cruel. I constantly feel the need to defend how I treat my son. Terry’s aunt hasn’t said a word to me since she posted about my son being at risk for SIDS on my Facebook. I shouldn’t care about any of that, my son is happy, healthy, and growing. His doctor (who has really crummy bedside manner) is brilliant and says he is right on track for his age. Honestly, the comment about SIDS risk frightened me so much that I called my best friend nearly in tears. I love my best friend because she reminded me that my son is my son and my husband and I know what is best for our family. Now if I could just remember that when I feel like we aren’t clipping my son’s fingernails often enough or my son is going to die because I allow him to sleep in his boppy for 30 minutes while I clean our bedroom. It would be even better if I could remember that people love me, even if they aren’t nearby and no one is plotting to put me in the hospital, simply to get rid of me.

I see my psychiatrist again in two weeks and I will soon be in with a therapist. My fingers are crossed for feeling better soon. Time to research some new treatment options my psychiatrist recommended yesterday.

Continuing struggles

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. There are a few reasons. First, there were some really amazing friends of ours that came to visit for a week. Second, Edgar has been requiring more of my time. Third, I have really been struggling emotionally. I’m not sure how to share what I’m feeling right now without frightening people. Mostly because I scare myself. The overwhelming feeling isn’t unhappiness, but loneliness. The hallucinations need to be reigned in again, there is a feeling of terror as I’m sure people are talking about me, plotting against me, attempting to deliberately leave me out of things. The worst part of that terror is the immediate correction where I remind myself that I am no where near important enough for anyone to plot against me, if anything they simply forget that I’m there. None of this is affecting Edgar, unless you count a really serious attachment to my newborn a substitute for feeling like I have no one. That might be unhealthy.

I’m coping the best way I know how, but what I really need is to get out of my head. There’s no way to do that when I spend all my days with a newborn, a dog, and two cats. The real trouble is the longer I spend inside my own head the harder it will be for me to share appropriately later. That’s a problem I’ll have to deal with when it happens I guess.

A response to President Barak Obama

A few days ago The Balanced Mind posted a link on twitter to the presidential proclamation on mental health awareness month. I read the short proclamation, it sounds like a fantastic promotion of mental health. President Obama was clear and concise as always, talking about those that need help but don’t seek it, mentioning the national suicide hotline, specifying that getting help is not a sign of weakness, but one of strength. All of the words sound great, but it felt empty to me.

Why would it feel empty to someone who advocates daily for mental illness? This proclamation was made on April 30, 2013. Two weeks earlier, on April 17, the president had this to say about mental illness: “But the fact is most of these senators could not offer any good reason why we wouldn’t want to make it harder for criminals and those with severe mental illnesses to buy a gun. There were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn’t do this.” The transcript can be found on the white house website and video can be seen from C-Span.

The statement made on April 17 made me really angry. Not because I feel those with severe mental illness have any business owning a gun, but because I really hate being lumped in with criminals. In my perfect world people with severe mental illness would not have guns, but not because they might be a danger to others. There are lots of reliable sources that indicate the opposite, some are listed here from the University of Washington School of Social Work, and still others are listed in this paper from World Psychiatry on the NIH website. I feel that people with severe mental illness, including myself, have no business owning a gun because of the danger they present to themselves. As someone living with an “invisible disability”, as well as being a cutter in recovery, I know better than most how split second decisions can be devastating. While I’ve not had any serious issues there have been times I took too many pills, unintentionally, to relieve anxiety and ended up being monitored overnight in the ER. I have made the decision to cut and dealt with pain and itching for weeks because of one poor choice. I’ve seen people inpatient that have made split second decisions and wound up with horrific frost bite, or just awoke from a coma. This is why I don’t want people with severe mental illness to have guns, that split second decision is more likely to be fatal with access to a gun.

What people with mental health issues need is the support that was shown in the April 30 proclamation, not the comparison to criminals from the April 17 statement. I wish I could easily forget the words President Obama spoke. Those are the only words I’ve heard him speak that incited anger from me. Conversations I had with people afterwards showed that America might not even understand which illnesses qualify as severe mental illness. It was a rash statement that made people think of mental disabilities like cerebral palsy, downs syndrome, as well as bipolar and schizophrenia. A few people told me I should not be offended because the president clearly didn’t mean me, I’m not handicapped. The fact of the matter is he did mean me. I sometimes explain my illness to people as “full on crazy” to make sure people understand how serious my issues can be: hallucinations, delusions, paranoia…I would love to take the kind words of encouragement from the National Mental Health Awareness month at face value, but right now it feels tainted.

Taking it one day at a time

Today was a rough one for my mental health. I took a walk with Edgar which was absolutely wonderful. We stopped at Taco Bell and scared half of the high schoolers that were there for lunch. The other half were completely excited by him. We then went to the grocery store where I got sweet talked into ordering the weekend Detroit Free Press. There is very little memory of the conversation that lead up to that purchase. It was a decent price, I got a 25$ gift card for the store and I guess they have coupons that will hopefully make that purchase worth it. Unfortunately, the purchase is a bad sign for my mental health.

I don’t think things are going really wrong, but there are other signs that need to be watched too. I have trouble sleeping, I’m uncomfortable…back pain, strange feeling joints, obsessing over some random tidbit from the day. Today there was a conversation with Dave and Debbie about personal responsibility, it made me remember the previous conversation about Dave’s dad and how he regretted not taking care of his father. He believes that even if you are told to evacuate you shouldn’t be responsible for the cost of rescuing you. Right now they don’t charge for that, but I think they should.

I’m a little scattered and I’m having some other thoughts I’m not willing to admit to on the internet yet. As a result I’m cutting this post a little short.