Making an Exit

Recognizing that you’re involved in something that might not be healthy for you can be difficult. Whether it’s a relationship with a spouse, a job, or even just dealing with family; many of us have a tendency to hold on for dear life for fear of looking like a failure.

Historically, that’s been one of my biggest fears. The “F” word. Now factor in all the work, time, energy, and heart you’ve put into whatever the situation may be, it’s incredibly hard to let go. Sometimes there are subtle signs as the situation deteriorates slowly. Other times, they may as well have bought themselves a billboard alongside the highway.

I know for me, I’ve had to put an end to a few relationships just in the last couple of weeks. It always hits me hard, no matter how badly I needed to pull myself out of the fire. At my age, I can’t afford to waste any more time on people who consistently belittle me, threaten me, yell at me, or disrespect me. In the case of my family, I’ve gone back for a second helping of abuse soup because I felt an obligation to my mom or my dad to make things work. I’ve always shouldered a great deal of the responsibility because I felt like I owed it to my parents, even though my mom isn’t even alive anymore.

If enough time passes and just the right things are said, my brain is suddenly capable of forgiving the past, and I let these people back in. Only to end up as I am now; with a cellphone full of nasty voicemails and text messages telling me what a horrible person I am. Despite what some people may choose to believe, I truly am a good person, and I suppose I have trouble coming to terms with the fact that not everyone else is. It’s like an expression I once heard says, ‘You’ll end up very disappointed if you think people will do for you as you do for them. Not everyone has the same heart as you.” I think that applies to this situation perfectly.

Something similar happened last week with a working relationship. Technically, it was not a job, and no money ever changed hands. It was supposed to be a fun Saturday morning hobby, but we still attempted to maintain a working relationship with all involved. It became clear fairly early on that being friends was out of the question. However, for the sake of the project, we tried. I don’t think anyone else knew the difference, but we sure did.

My husband and I worked very hard to make this project a success, but unfortunately we just couldn’t keep hanging on to a situation that wasn’t healthy for either of us. Once a fun little hobby becomes a full-time job, without pay or benefits, it’s time to reevaluate the situation. When you add miscommunication, verbal abuse, and a condescending, know-it-all attitude from the person you’re doing the work for, it’s time to get out.

I don’t care what it is, even if it’s a million dollar a year salary, if you’re left sobbing every day due to stress, it’s no longer worth it. In the midst of all of this, I experienced a breast cancer scare, to which I can happily report that I got the all clear for now. (I go back in six months.) I kept on working because I felt like I needed the distraction. However, when family members or close business associates respond to hearing the news by saying, “Yeah, I’ve got a lot going on over here too” as you express your fear of possibly having cancer, seems like a pretty good time to get out of there.

Let me reiterate that many of us with bipolar disorder are terrified of the “F” word. I know that nobody wants to fail, but when your brain isn’t quite firing on the right cylinders, in the right order, it’s a daily fear. I didn’t take a shower today?!?!?

I’m such a failure. It sounds ridiculous, and I recognize that, but it’s true!

So, how do you extricate yourself from an unhealthy relationship of any kind? Obviously, it’s different for every person and every situation. However, if you already know going in that it’s going to get ugly, I’m not against writing a script for yourself, so you stick to just what needs to be said and not even engage in any of the back and forth arguing. I wish I had thought of it before now so that in the past I would have remembered to stay in my lane, and not engage in the childish bullshit.  Unfortunately, in my case, both eruptions occurred without a hell of a lot of warning, so I didn’t have time to plead my case using common sense and intellect.

I would certainly advise that you not make the same mistakes I did and lose your cool. Conduct yourself in a calm manner, don’t let them drag you down there with them. None of this is your fault. You never asked for, nor do you deserve this type of treatment. Believe me, I know it’s hard; but if you wholeheartedly know that a situation is no longer healthy for you, you owe it to yourself to exit stage left. Let me also add that with the way social media has taken over, it’s not enough to just unfollow someone on Facebook or Twitter. You’ve got to block them and fast before they can do any further damage to you psychologically.

Try not to feel guilty or as if you’ve failed. You are not the reason that this relationship went bad. Have you probably made mistakes at times, just as I have? Of course, I’m sure all of us have. However, if you’ve come forward and admitted to those mistakes or even apologized for the times when you weren’t at your best, that’s all you can do. If the other person still treats you badly, you can’t allow that person or people to treat you like you don’t matter. You’re better than that. You do matter, and you are enough. Don’t ever forget that!

Goodbye

Is there an end to this fight?

Will the winner lurk in the shadows?


Does the game ever end?

Because I’m drowning in the shallows


If I close my eyes and try to find an answer to these riddles

I lose all hope I once had, however little


I’m a doormat, a punching bag, a waste of time, a failure

Every day it’s something new and I can’t find my savior


If I take one wrong step, I’m afraid I’ll fall apart

I can’t stand many more jabs straight to my heart


What I allowed to continue, beat me down to nothing

I didn’t choose you to be my family, but I can choose something


I’ve chosen for you to exit my life

There will be no returning


You’ve burned your last bridge and this fire will burn forever

Just remember we had a lifetime to spend together


She’s up there watching you and she knows what you’ve done

Believe me when I say, she’s not the only one


You’re a waste of my time and a drain on my energy

I have none to spare and I will show no mercy


So, I’ll say goodbye to you for the very last time


Funny, as I write this, not a single tear escapes from my eyes

Shattering the Stigma

Shattering the Stigma is my award winning new poem. Enjoy!

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You don’t like to stand so close to me
You don’t want to see things the way I see
You’re afraid you’ll become just like what I’ll be

Ask yourself what it is you want to be
If you had a choice you would never be me
Your fear guides you too far away to see
You pretend you’ve got some other place to be

Do you know what hurts the most?
You don’t even know what I struggle with lately
You can’t be bothered with learning about how I feel

Are our lives so far apart?
Maybe you’ve got a broken heart
Perhaps you’ve watched it all fall apart
And when it does, where do you turn?

What if you had a friend like me?
Strong enough to conquer those fears daily
What if I could show you how to be strong
Or that surrounding me with stigma is wrong?

What if you felt it all for just one day?
Maybe you would have a lot more to say
If you could look through the eyes of mental illness
Would you really find so much of a difference?

I bet you’ve had good days and bad days
I bet you’ve felt lost and out of place
I think you’re scared of the way you feel
So you blame it on something that’s not even real

Stop for a second and take a look
Ask me a question, maybe share a look

Be nice to everyone you meet
You never know what pain they’ve beat

You don’t have to look sick to be sick
You don’t have to look ignorant to be ignorant
If you try it, you could gain something you’ve always longed for

If you carry your shield of stigma forever
What confusion you’ll endure
Maybe you don’t want to know me

What about him?
Standing there looking scared

Or her, with her nose in a book
So nobody truly sees her

There are many faces of pain and sorrow
And there are many faces of stigma
You don’t have to struggle with either

If you reach out and find the wrong person,
will you blame it on the disease? Probably.

But you’ll have learned
So that the next time you meet someone like me
Standing in a crowd, terrified of the judgment
and the stares, you’ll know to go slow.

Trust isn’t easy to give or receive

When you find an ally in a face in a crowd,
Couldn’t that be your proudest moment of all?

Shivering with Antici…

Thank you for the love!! 🙂🙂

Love~Education~Hope

anticipation_quote Photo Source: Notable Quotables

….pation!!! (Thank You Rocky Horror!)

“We can never know about the days to come
But we think about them anyway, yay
And I wonder if I’m really with you now
Or just chasin’ after some finer day

Anticipation, anticipation
Is makin’ me late
Is keepin’ me waitin'” – CARLY SIMON

Thanks a lot Carly Simon. I cannot get this freakin’ song out of my head! Ahhh! In less than 3 days, I will be standing before 750+ people in the legendary Florida Theatre talking about the very thing I talk about on here and Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and Tumblr and Reddit and EVERYWHERE UNDER THE SUN, EVERYDAY!!!

Mental health.

So why is the moment I’m most looking forward to the second I walk off the stage and know it’s done? I have been waiting for this moment for 4 months. It was in a…

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The Confession

About two weeks ago, I got up in the morning and went into the bathroom to change. When I took off my shirt, I was shocked and terrified to find a very, very strange looking bruise on my left breast. It was nearly a perfect circle, and had a dark outer area and a lighter inner area. I had no idea where it would have come from. It wasn’t there the day before, and I know I didn’t injure myself in 24 hours.

So, I took a couple of pictures on my phone and messaged my husband. We were both very concerned, and knew I had to see my doctor as soon as I could. We made an appointment, but by the time we got there, most of the mark had faded. I still had the photos on my phone and I showed him. I thought I could feel something under the mark, and he checked and felt something as well.

The one thing you have to understand is that the last mammogram I had was in 1999 before I had breast reduction surgery. It took me a year to recover from the surgery. I had an infection on one side for a while, and I was in an excruciating amount of pain. I still go through pain frequently if my cats walk on my chest. Sometimes the area where the infection was will just throb for no reason. So, quite honestly I’ve avoided the idea of a mammogram for a very long time. I kept telling myself that I had until at least my 40’s. Even if I felt something strange, I told myself it was because of the surgery and it was nothing.

Well, I’ve been in my 40’s for three years now, and still haven’t made it to get tested. Now it seems like I have no other choice, and I’m having a really hard time with it. My mom died from cancer. Both of her sisters died from cancer. My dad had skin cancer. The chances of me getting cancer are pretty high. Yet, somehow I’ve avoided getting this test done and even avoided an OB/GYN for many years. The truth is, I’m ashamed.

I’m ashamed of my physical appearance. Nearly every single day when I get dressed in the bathroom, I over-analyze every single detail about myself. I secretly call it my eating disorder brain. Things were going pretty well while I was losing some weight this year, but for the last month or so, I’ve been dealing with so much stress and such horrible depression symptoms, I’m afraid I’m back to my bad habits.

I don’t sleep well at night, if I sleep at all. I’m working with my psychiatrist on this part at least, but we’ve yet to find something that will help me fall asleep or stay asleep. It doesn’t matter how late I sleep in the day, I never wake up feeling like I slept. I’m in a constant fog of exhaustion and depression.  So, most days it’s around 4:00 in the afternoon before I realize that I’ve forgotten to eat again. Most of the time, I still won’t eat anything until I’m to the point of vomiting, and then I still don’t feel like eating because I’m nauseated. A week or so ago, Joe and I were talking about what he wanted for dinner and he mentioned a cheeseburger, and I immediately had to get up and run to the bathroom to throw up. That has never happened to me before, and it’s baffling.

I’ll never truly know the effects of starving myself for so long have had on my body, but I know how it all makes me feel inside. I can’t stand my image in the mirror. I hate to have anyone look at me. I don’t like being in public and if I do go somewhere, I’m constantly in a defensive posture. Why is she staring at me? That guy probably thinks I’m disgusting…I think I’m disgusting, why wouldn’t he?  It’s a giant undertaking to get me up and ready to do anything. So, now I have to go to several appointments where people will be looking at me without my clothes on? It’s like hell on Earth.

Tomorrow I go to the doctor for a mammogram and an ultrasound. I’m terrified. I’m terrified of the test, I’m terrified of the results and I’m terrified of the other doctor appointments I have coming up over the next few weeks. I can’t settle down. I randomly cry over virtually nothing and have no explanation when my husband asks me why. So, every night before I finally turn off the TV and attempt another unsatisfying night of sleep, I promise myself the next day will be better. I’ll eat right, I’ll do what I need to do. When the next morning (afternoon?) comes, it’s all forgotten. I get up every single day to a raging headache that decides over the course of the day whether it’s going to become a migraine or not.

I feel like I’ve lost complete control over anything and everything. I’m embarrassed to even talk to anyone. Which is the real cruel irony here. People tell me all the time, you’re so strong and so brave! Look at everything you’ve accomplished! You’re an inspiration to me.

All I can do is say thank you. What am I supposed to say? Gee thanks, but you know, I never leave my house anymore, I hardly eat, I hardly sleep, I’m paralyzed by panic attacks, I’m lucky if I get a shower, and I cry at the drop of a hat. That hardly sounds like a strong and inspirational person.

I’ve been here so very many times before. I’m always thinking to myself why haven’t you learned how to deal with this yet?  The honest answer to that may sound like an excuse, but I swear it’s different every single time. There are different factors that lead up to it, different things that exacerbate it, different reasons it’s harder to manage the symptoms. I’ve tried nearly everything to get through it this time. I won’t lie, I do have good moments. When Joe comes home from work, and I’m finally able to talk to a human being, and we watch something funny on TV, I’m OK for a minute. Then he rolls over to go to sleep and my nightmare starts all over again. Recently, there have been some issues with family, and those issues have been a tremendous burden on my emotions. The nightmares alone are crippling.

So, how do you keep up the brave façade when all you want to do is disappear? How do you encourage and uplift others when you’re terrified to even look in the mirror? How does this “Superwoman” keep flying when somebody is standing on her cape? I don’t know.  I just don’t have an answer, and that thought scares me more than all of the others. What I do know is that I’m still hanging on. I’ve come too far to let all of the stress and fears take me down. I don’t know how I’m going to do this, I really don’t. I can’t even let myself think that something might be physically wrong with me at this moment. It’s far too painful to even let it rent space in my head.

I guess I’ll keep doing what I’ve always done. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to be afraid of things that haven’t even happened yet, so I’ll keep telling myself that. Somehow, I’ll get through the rough patch the same way I always do. With all the grace and control of a bull elephant with a hernia. I don’t have a lot of choice. I’m not ready to let go of this tiny shred of hope. I’m not ready to let go of my husband and my life. It’s going to suck; I will not harbor any delusions that this will not suck. I guess I just needed to be honest about where I’m at. If it seems like there are times when I’m a wreck but 5 minutes later, I’m making a joke, well that’s my defense mechanism desperately making a last ditch effort to keep me sane. Thanks for listening. Wish me luck.