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Category Archives: Anxiety

Poverty & Mental Illness

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I can speak only to what I know of the subjects of poverty and mental illness. I’m sure studies have been done regarding the link between the two, but this isn’t about those studies. Nor do I mean to imply that people who are middle class or wealthy cannot have mental illnesses. It happens, I know, across all demographics. However, I do question the link between chronic, persistent mental illness and not having enough money to meet basic human needs. I, at least, have a job and insurance so that I can see a doctor and afford my medications, and somehow, with the help of food pantries, help from family and payday loans (a very poor solution, that one, but sometimes necessary when you run out of gas money or toilet paper before payday). My anxiety level has been so high almost constantly for the past few years. If you’ve never struggled to provide for your family, you may not understand. If you’ve never had a panic attack, you may not understand. Right now, even with the medication for anxiety and for depression (because, though I have bipolar disorder, I’m depressed much more often than I am manic), I’m not myself and not really sure who that self is anymore. I wanted better for my children than this. I grew up poor. You’d think I’d be used to it, right? Even as a child, I worried about money, rarely asked for anything because I didn’t want my parents to feel bad that they couldn’t afford something that wasn’t a necessity. I cry myself to sleep. I am trying so hard to be a good person, a good wife and mother and a good provider. I am trying so hard to trust that God’s providence covers us too, but at this moment, having to choose gas for the car so I can go to and from work over buying groceries, I feel like a failure. On top of the anxiety and depression, there is the poverty. Poverty is full of fear for me. It is also full of shame because as much stigma surrounds it as surrounds mental illnesses. I am just a person. I like to laugh, I love my family and if I could just be happy, I would. I often wonder, if I wasn’t always feeling like I’m walking on a thin, almost invisible line between having enough and not having enough, would I still have panic attacks? Would I still cry myself to sleep and be so easily irritated that I feel as though I’d be better off alone? I can’t answer those questions. I can only repeat that I am just a person, like anyone else.

Me too

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For anyone who has ever questioned why I’m open about my struggles… this sums it up. If someone out there can see my struggles and relate, and see that even in the struggle, you can have hope and try to be positive – or even if knowing about my issues helps just one person not feel so alone, then I will continue to be open and honest about living with bipolar disorder, anxiety, etc. I am not alone. My thoughts and feelings just ARE, neither good nor bad. My life is far from perfect but it’s mine and I will never judge another because he or she doesn’t hide behind a mask of “everything is wonderful” or because he or she isn’t successful in the eyes of this society.

Excitement and Anxiety!

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My daughter (bottom photo), my mom, my sister and my nieces (middle photo) & I are going to a Christina Perri concert tonight.  I’m feeling very excited, sort of giddy.  I don’t go out often and haven’t really been to many concerts.  I’m also super nervous.  Anxiety is in high gear:  racing heart, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, lack of concentration… I think I’m shaking a little.  Okay, talking about it only makes it worse.  My daughter and I have been looking forward to this for more than two months.  I’m going to go and I’m going to relax and I’m going to have a great time.  That is all.

Life of a Mom: installment nine, all that glitters… has value


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I’m not the best mother.  I’ll be first to admit that.  When depression or anxiety get the best of me, it’s hard for me to be physically close to anyone, even my kids.  I pray daily that my problems aren’t ruining their lives and that they know how much I love them.

That said, one mistake I made with my firstborn, who I raised on my own until she was six, was in not helping her to develop her imagination.  I’m sure she had opportunities while I was at work, and I’ve always worked full time so that’s a lot of time, but when we were together, I was her playmate.  Tired from working and wanting to read to her and build memories with her, I wasn’t usually game for make-believe.  Not that she was ever very into pretend play even without my reluctance.  She knew that I’d entertain her.  That’s not to say we never played dress-up or with dolls, we did.  We also explored parks and spent time painting, dancing and singing… and while she’s often “bored” these days, less than a year ago, she filled a jar with what adults would call rubbish:  soda pop caps, rocks, pop can tabs, etc., and called the jar her “treasure” – so maybe I didn’t fail entirely, or maybe she learned to use her imagination despite me… at any rate, with my second child, I’m much more able to stand back and let her do her thing.

There is a lot involved in why parenting my second child is totally different from the early years with my firstborn.  First, I’m married to my two-year-old’s father, so she has always had two parents.  Also, much of her life, her father has been a stay-at-home dad, so she has been raised mostly at home.  Finally, I recognize that she is learning pretty well without the structured play I enforced on her sister at that age; without my interference, she plays with her friends even when they aren’t around (two of her friends’ names, especially, I hear regularly… she has pretend play down to an art and although sometimes it means an even messier-than-usual house, she can entertain herself for quite awhile). 

I’m happy to say that whatever I didn’t do to nourish one child’s imagination, both of them yet can see the value in objects of unimportance to adults; for that, I’m thankful.  All that glitters is not gold, it’s true, but is there any good reason why our children shouldn’t pretend it is?

My thoughts are poison


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I want to rip my tongue out so I will never speak again, I want to stop these feelings, this trembling, the anger, the fear and please please don’t tell me I just need to pray and count my blessings because life is beautiful and only I can make myself happy.  Just stop reading this right now if you think how I’m feeling is something I can just control without processing it and this is how I do that processing and maybe I should not do it publicly but I do and that is, yes, I realize, MY problem not yours, because you are so freaking in control of every feeling and reaction and oh yeah your life is prefect anyway!  I’m sorry I’m not more like you! 

I’m shaking, my heart is racing and as the anger and irrational hate I’m experiencing subside, the tears come and the children are being so loud, with my older child screaming at her little sister and I want to disappear.  I don’t know who I am right now.  Every thought crossing my mind is violent and toxic.  I need a break or maybe something to break or maybe should not be living the life I’m living at all.  And now I can’t stop crying.  And in my tears are prayers too but I know many are still just going to judge me, maybe I’m evil, eh, because I’m not perfect, because there is something broken in me.  There will never be a place on this earth where I fit in.

Being True to Oneself


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When I was young, it was so easy to be idealistic and stubborn & say I’d always be true to myself because God made me this way.  Then bad people, or rather, people who had had bad experiences and no one to teach them or help them heal, stole my innocence and my eyes were opened and like Eve, I felt shame in my “nakedness” which was idealism, hopefulness, a tender heart, vulnerability.  I then saw my Self as others must have seen me:  dirt poor, unworthy of love, because if one’s own mother won’t protect her baby girl from men turned monsters, then surely one is unworthy of love.

Then, for years, my true self only occasionally surfaced, just often enough for me to know She hadn’t been killed.

Years and decades passed.  With the aid of much therapy and prayer and learning to forgive, I tried again to be true to myself.  My entire being is on fire with this passion to be ME and to help others who struggle with the memories of monsters, slaughtered innocence, or even just the day to day struggles with mental illness, which I inherited from the mother who didn’t protect me, now as an adult knowing that she was filled with terror and shame herself, having lived through even worse than I had; she loved me, but post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and the violent mood swings of untreated bipolar disorder had her chained emotionally and mentally and my guess is that when she looked at her little girl, innocence ripped away, she not only blamed herself but also SAW herself and could not muster the strength to help either of us.

Today, I still struggle to be me because it interferes with a job I’ve outgrown, other than as a paycheck and health insurance, at a place where gossip replaces concern and if I so much as post on facebook or in my blog that I’m having a rough time, my work day is interrupted with questions about how I’m doing or why I’m so open.

I’m open because I’m not alone.  At work, I do my job.  Outside of work, I am not so passive and perhaps that frightens people, because there are times when I feel called to so much more than the menial tasks I perform daily, I feel a greater purpose and it isn’t one that can be fulfilled by being the quiet, agreeable, smiling person  with whom everyone is comfortable.

Sometimes life isn’t comfortable.  Sometimes I’m not happy.  Sometimes I’m on a mission to not get my own story out there just to get it out there, but to tell others that THEY are not alone. 

This is me.  I’ll be forty years old in a few years and it’s taken me this long to accept myself instead of trying to change who I AM, who I was born to be.  I am someone who will never stop learning and growing, who wants to help others, who is a closet optimist, who refuses to pretend I’m anyone but who I am.

Many people in my life seemed recently unable to deal with that fact, so to the degree that I was able, I removed them from my life.

It’s hard enough to stay true to oneself in the pressure of simply making ends meet, without being surrounded by naysayers.

Let’s Just Say Your Intentions are GOOD


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To anyone reading my blog who knows me in “real-life” I make this plea:  Leave your intentions, or motives or whatever (& I’ll even give you the benefit of the doubt & say those intentions were good, the motives pure) at home, just as I go to work every day & do my job, quite well if I do say so myself, and keep my issues separate just as well as anyone else I know.  Remarkable for someone as disturbed as I am, isn’t it?  (Oops, sorry, there is a little bitter sarcasm, but I’m at home right now & last I checked, off the clock)

So.  Just do me this favor.  Respect me enough as a human being if you’re so concerned, instead of talking ABOUT me, try talking TO ME!  I’m not one of your consumers so you probably don’t need to have a consult about my “case” – rest assured, I’m doing what I need to do to take care of myself!