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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.


185/365+ proof of God’s love

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My anxiety level has been relatively high lately. Crowds + MY KIDS (usually) = Panic! In my relative calm while one or both of my children fussed waiting for and during fireworks, I felt God’s love and His guidance.

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.

Being True to Oneself


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.

Pills in my hand & down the hatch

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My hand is empty now.  In about seven hours, it will fill with nine pills to swallow, two for anxiety, three for diabetes, one for depression, one for pain (don’t worry, just ibuprofen), one for high blood pressure and one for something the details of which I’m not getting into here and now, as I’m awaiting test results.

The pills concerning me now are those for depression & anxiety.  I’m not sure whether they are working or not.  I thought they were, but since I’ve been physically sick and in pain the past few days, I begin to feel paranoid.  Mostly this concerns my job and, quite honestly, I’ve often felt paranoid about my  job over the last five years or so.  It’s rather uncomfortable.  It causes me to lose sleep.  Faking a smile all day is a means to an end, because I must provide for my family, but how well am I really providing if all I’ve left to give of myself at the end of the day is frustration and paranoia? 

So, again, maybe it’s all me, maybe the meds aren’t working.  Or maybe I’ve reason to fear.  Or maybe a combination of both.  I only know it’s exhausting and I don’t like myself much when I feel this way.

At any rate, I’ll talk to my doctor, perhaps try something else and perhaps it will allow me to just go to work and do the job I know I do well without the sense of dread that has been filling me for so long.

Overcoming/Fear of Judgment


Taking a deep breath right now.  I stayed home from work today to go to the doctor.  I’m not feeling well.  The toddler of course wants to play and get into everything, walking is painful and others’ judgment of me/my parenting skills, my family, make me want again to stop being open and honest.  Unless someone has taken the time to read some of my former posts, I really feel he or she is only going to have that harsh judgment of me after reading a post like yesterday’s about chaos.  I find it frustrating, but at the same time, I expect it.  I try to just deal with it.  I know not everyone is going to understand or even want to understand.  I also know, however, that I’m not alone.

I’m not the only person who lives with anxiety and mood swings and tries to balance a full time job and family.  I’m not the only one who inherited an illness from a parent and likely passed it on to my own child (I will know more conclusively when I receive the results of my older daughter’s psychological testing).  Not everyone will understand this.  Really, how much can any one person understand another’s experience, when no two people have the exact same experience?

So, does that mean I really am alone?  That you out there reading this, even if you feel you can relate, are really alone too?  Is it futile for me to be open about my mental illness and how it affects me, my family, my whole life?  Should I just accept that stigma will be a part of my life and my daughter’s life?

I have not given up thus far.  Despite panic that sometimes paralyzes me, I get up in the morning and go to work (except when I’m sick, or like today, dealing with painful cysts that don’t allow me to walk or sit without pain).  I set boundaries for my children and enforce them when I’m not at work.  I do my best to clean house, spend time with my spouse and children, nurture the few close friendships I choose to maintain and even to be as positive as I can be.  I praise God daily for what I do have and try to focus on those things.  I’m not & never will be perfect and I accept that.

I overcome my illnesses every day by just getting out of bed.  Most people can never fully appreciate that truth and it certainly doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment, but I remember weeks when my mother didn’t overcome the same illness even to that extent and I have to give myself credit for the many ways in which I have overcome and continue to overcome.  Glory to God in the strength to do so, but believe me when I say that sometimes in this illness, the choice to believe in Him and trust Him is not the easiest one to make.

I make it anyway.  Because I’ve made that choice, I also know that now isn’t the time to give up.  You don’t understand?  Okay.  You’ve never lived with a mental illness, you believe this is not real or that it’s an excuse?  You are entitled to your opinion and I will pray that no one about whom you care ever finds him or herself living with these struggles.  I will also never understand you.