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Danielle Ione

Romance Writer. Twin Mama. Wife. Sarcasm enthusiast. Mental Health Awareness. LBGT Advocate.

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mental illness

Remember, you are not perfect, but that is okay.

Everyday cannot be perfect. You cannot be perfect. And that’s okay.

There is no such thing as perfect.

There is no such thing as truly normal.

There’s this thing that all people do; they try to fit themselves into this tiny, perfectly shaped box when, by nature, human beings are too unique to do so. We all try to fit into this mold of perfect and normal when those two words are nearly impossible to define. My sense of perfect, my idea of normal, will not be the same as most people. And most people’s normal, their idea of perfect, will not match mine. That’s just it. That’s how it goes.
I spend so much of my time trying so hard to be perfect. Trying to paint this picture of what I want to be, but sometimes missing the mark.
I try to be the perfect mom. The one who never loses patience, or the one who never feels overwhelmed. Or even the one who can some how manage to keep the house clean, despite the fact that I have a twin-ado that strikes everyday, multiple times a day.
And I try to be the perfect wife. The wife who has it all together. The one who can keep the house spotless and have food made without burning it on the new (and in my opinion, evil and useless) flat top electric stove. The wife who never carries attitude in her tone for no reason other than because the day has been stressful and overwhelming and is taking it out on the wrong person.
And I try so hard to be the perfect version of who I want to be. The one who doesn’t have slip ups, every once in awhile, in the mental health department. The woman who takes on the world and handles it with ease. The one who tackles writing books, taking care of tiny humans, cooking, cleaning, and spending quality time with her husband, with her family, without dropping the ball on one of those on her list. The woman who takes the extra time to do her hair and makeup just to give herself a little confidence booster. The one who never makes a mistake. The woman who plans on going to school, until she’s in her thirties, with no sense of fear that she might fail despite every time she’s tried to follow her dream, where school is involved, she has fallen straight on her face.
I write that and I’m reading the words and laughing at myself. In my mind, it seems so black and white. Be perfect. Do everything right. When its not how life works. And that’s okay.
As much as I try to fit myself into this box of what my definition of perfect is for myself, for my life, I see that it is impossible.
It’s impossible because perfect does not exist. It’s impossible because in life, there are bound to be bumps in the road. It’s impossible because those expectations are just ridiculous.
I need to remember that just because I want to be able to achieve all of these things for myself, doesn’t mean that when I don’t, that I’m failing because in reality, it just makes me human.
I need to remember to take pride in what I do accomplish every. Single. Day.
Like being able to make my kids laugh so hard they snort, making me laugh so hard my face hurts.
Or being able to provide a healthy and stable home life, filled with smiles, laughter, support, and tons of cuddles because they deserve it.
Or the fact that in less than a year I’ve written two full books and I’m now working on the third. And not only that, these books are being published. I followed a dream I never had the balls to follow before.
And being able to say that I have the most solid and stable marriage with the most love and happiness I could ever imagine. And we achieved this by being the most Unconventional couple around , treating each other with nothing but respect, and being able to talk things out before the turn into an argument. Because I married my best friend, and that’s the truth.
And the not so little fact that I changed my entire life in what seemed like an overnight event and I work hard at it every single day. Some days are harder than others, but I still fight and I fight hard for this life.
Sometimes I need to take a step back and see this. Because I am human. I am not perfect. And most days, I take pride in what I do. But there are other days where I sit and think about every flaw, every tiny detail that I don’t like, and feel as if I’m not good enough. But its times like those, like tonight, where a good cold slap of reality is needed.
So here it is.
I am not perfect.
I am not normal.
But here’s what I am…
I am loved.
I am happy.
I am living a life I never thought I would be able to have.
I am a good mother.
I am a good wife.
I am alive.
I am breathing.
And I am flawed but those flaws are what make me, me.
Flaws are beautiful anyway.
So remember this on the days where you feel run down, incompetent, not pretty enough, not smart enough, or on the days where too many bad things have happened and you just can’t manage to sift through the gloom to see the light. Because you are worth it.

Confessions

I have something to confess, and it’s not going to be easy. I’m sure once I’m done writing this, I won’t even have the guts to re-read it.

It’s something that needs to be said, a story that needs to be told.

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of article about heavy medications being FDA approved for off label use in children.  I’ll be honest, every time I read one of those articles, my heart constricts.  Because I remember what it was like to be a medicated child.  I remember the numbness, the cloudiness, the out of body feeling every time I woke up.  I remember it all and the thought of another child going through it without having any idea of what it would be like, it scares the hell out of me.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes medications are the answer, but a lot of the articles I’ve been reading have been the use of strong, heavy for adults, medications for behavior issues.  Not mental illness, not autism, not an actual condition, but to get them to sit still while in school or to not throw temper tantrums like children do.  And that, God, that kills me.

I want nothing more than to shout it from the roof tops that this idea of medications being the answer for everything in this life is so incredibly wrong.  But I’m just one voice, one tiny tiny voice shouting against thousands of louder ones.  There’s not much I can do about that, but I can tell my story.  And that’s what I plan on doing, at least a part of it.

I was only twelve when I was put on my first medication.  It seemed like the best solution.  I was showing signs of severe depression, severe anxiety, among other issues.  Now, the issue wasn’t just that I had more severe symptoms than the average child going into adolescence.  Of course, that played a part, but there was something a lot more important and that was that my biological Dad is a drug addict and we knew that his addiction stemmed from something just as serious, and that was a mental disorder.  Bipolar, most likely.  I showed signs of being like him, mentally, with an imbalance, and the thought alone scared the shit out of my parents, and out of me.  I was young, but I knew his story, and I knew that was not how I wanted to turn out.  Medication for us was the best choice, at the time at least, because there was such a large possibility that I could get worse, that I could go down the road that he went, and that’s something we wanted to avoid.  I don’t regret it, not completely anyway, because at the time, my parents and i did what we felt was right, what we felt would keep me safe.  It’s hard, you know, not knowing how to prevent something that could very well be hereditary.  So, we ventured into the world of medication in hopes of a fix, in hopes that it could solve my issues, solve the fear we all had that my life wasn’t going to be as bright if I didn’t get some help.  We had no idea what we were getting into, but I don’t regret it, because for a little while, it helped.  It gave us some peace of mind.  My grades improved, my mood improved, and I was doing well, until I wasn’t, until I built up a tolerance, until I became my illness.

I remember being so terrified to take these pills and I remember feeling stupid that I was so scared of them.  They were just pills.  Tiny little pills.  All I had to do was swallow them.  Drink them down with a glass of water, and I would be okay.  I would be normal.  I would be like my peers, I would be less like my father, I would be happy.  But, I think somewhere in my mind, I knew that they could be dangerous, even if I didn’t really know the ramifications of them.

I cried a lot the first few weeks.  I felt so foreign, like my body didn’t belong to me.  I had a really hard time adjusting, thinking, keeping myself awake.  I was in school walking around like a zombie.  I didn’t want to talk to anyone, didn’t want to see anyone.  I was so hopeful in the beginning, but that hope started to fade.

My doctor assured me that it could take four to six weeks until I felt normal, whatever that word really meant.  I nodded, said okay, and continued to struggle with how I felt.  It’s hard for me to remember everything from that time period, in fact, I have an extremely difficult time remembering a lot from my ten year walk with medications.   Some parts are blurry, hard for me to even picture.  I remember how I felt, but I can’t remember how I looked or sounded when I talked to other people.  I can’t remember if, in those first few weeks, I snapped at my mom or gave her attitude like I had been known to do.  But I do remember how I felt, and I felt…desolate.

Before the medications, I didn’t even feel that depressed or hopeless.  I just thought that was normal, and to me, it was my normal.  But after the medications, in that adjustment period, everything just felt bleak, and I constantly contemplated if it was worth it, if living this way was worth it.

But, like clock work, the fifth or six week came and I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I wasn’t so exhausted and I didn’t feel so alone.  I was getting better.  I can’t even begin to explain the relief that came from it, from going from thinking suicidal thoughts to smiling and laughing.  I think that first bout of medications lasted the longest than all the others I had taken.  I was starting to act like a normal kid, even though I still struggled with the side effects, my mood was better and that’s what I was happy about.  Of course though, the other shoe had to drop at some point.

At some point, the side effects became more apparent and they came out of no where.  Headaches, exhaustion, my eyes were dilated to the point where my sister constantly asked if I was using drugs.  They never went down, you never saw the greens and yellows that encircled my eyes, all you saw was black.  It wasn’t just the eyes though, I was starting to get sick.  At some point, I was constantly feeling sick to my stomach.  I couldn’t eat, which made me lose more weight.  I was already 110 lbs, soaking wet, I didn’t have much more to lose.  And once the side effects showed their faces, the medications stopped working as well, if at all.

This is where I went down the long road of changing medications, desperately seeking that relief I once felt from my thoughts, and failing miserably as more and more medications were piled on and more and more medications made it worse.  The more they added, the more dark I went.  I was an eight grader having to be watched by my school counselor because I was afraid that I would give in, that I would hurt myself.  And I did, a lot.

I could explain how it felt every time I changed a medication, but it would be repetitive, I guess all you need to know is that I never felt settled.  I hurt, mentally and physically.  I felt heavy, and dragged on because these pills made it hard for me to move my body.  The medications either made it so I couldn’t sleep, or made it so I only wanted to sleep for eighteen hours at a time.  I never felt like myself.  I felt trapped in my own foggy brain, trying to claw out an escape.

As I got older, I accepted that it was my norm.  As I got older, I accepted that this would be my life.  As I got older, the side effects got worse, as did the disorders.

Part of the issue will always be with the doctors.  There’s this standard where throwing medications in their patients way, without talking to them, discussing things with them, happens all too often.  I’ve seen dozens of doctors over the years, and they were all the same.  Some were worse than others, but for the most part, it seemed that they were all too focused on meditating, and not focused enough on fixing the issue at hand.  I had a lot of issues that I needed to face, but didn’t until I had already made mistakes, burned bridges that I still wish I hadn’t, and until I was able to see and think clearly.  Not all doctors are bad, but the norm these days seem to be solving side effects with medications, which forms more side effects that are treated with more medications.  The cycle is vicious, and it’s hard to escape. But that’s a story for another time.

I tried, many times, to get off of the medications.  I would be successful for a couple weeks, maybe a month or two, and then would relapse, hard.  And those withdrawals from the meds, in those first few days after not taking those magically evil pills, they were almost worse than the relapse.  Some days, I couldn’t stand, hell, I couldn’t even lay down, without feeling the world spin.  The pain, the nausea, the misfiring in my brain because I didn’t have those extra chemicals running through my body, it was killer.  I felt alone, and afraid, a common theme when dealing with this stuff.  And the relapses, they got worse every time.  I think at some point, my brain, my body, it had no idea how to function without added chemicals.

I pushed through though, always finding a small relief in the brief months that the medications would work.  I would add more and more until I was taking seven different types a day just to function.  But those last couple years, when I was well out of my childhood years, married and supposed to be living a sane adult life, the side effects really took a toll.  I gained weight fast, especially when my husband left for basic training.  My anxiety was crippling, I hated leaving the house, but the withdrawals from the clonapin or xanax never felt worth it.  I had a seizure, I was constantly sick, and I developed a twitch that only .5% of patients would get.  At some point, I was just tired.  Sick and fucking tired, of being sick, of not being able to just get better because if it wasn’t my mental stability, it was my physical health.  I was done.  So incredibly done.

The withdrawal from all seven of those pills was pretty grueling, but I had enough experience in it that I knew what I needed.  I needed at least three days of posting up on a couch so I could battle the headaches and the dizziness and the sickness.  And I needed something to keep me busy because the chemicals would leave me, and I would be left in shock.  And I needed a backup plan in case it all went down hill.  It never occurred to me how sad it was that I had developed that kind of program for withdrawals since I was a kid.

But, I got through it.  And I promised myself, if I could just make it a month without the medications, I would be proud.  I wanted so badly to just be better, because my quality of life wasn’t just ruining me, it was hurting my husband as well.  I had to man up, grow up, and take this medication free life by the horns.  I did, it wasn’t easy, but I did.  I found myself wishing I had a xanax or my anti-psychs just to make it through the day, but I never took them, reminding myself of how bad it was.

In that time of heeling, repairing years of destruction done, I had a lot of time to think and I realized a lot.

I realized that I couldn’t remember a lot of things I did in those ten years.  I remembered the highs, the mental highs, the memory highs, but when I was low, when the meds weren’t working or I was withdrawing or on a new one, it was all too fuzzy to remember.

I realized that I spent a lot of time feeling sick when that wasn’t normal.

I realized that had I been stronger, sooner, I could have improved my life.

But most of all, I realized that medications aren’t for kids, not the ones that aren’t needed.

Because as a kid, I had no idea the ramifications.  I had no idea what was normal, what wasn’t normal, what this all meant for me.  As a kid, I had no idea that I was going to have a different childhood.  I had a family, with a roof over my head, a pool in my backyard, food to eat, a dog to play with, a Step Dad to watch DVD’s with, but that along with those things came so much more.  It meant medications, dosing, gauging my moods, gauging my side effects, plans to help myself when shit hit the fan.  It meant growing up in one way, while missing my childhood in others.  It meant trying to fit in with the other kids in school, while battling depression, medications, doctors.  It meant feeling alone because I was sure no one understood.  It meant having to try and understand things that a child shouldn’t have to, like looking out for signs of crashing, or maintaining suicidal thoughts.  And it meant keeping quiet about the way these medications hurt me, because I didn’t know any better, because I was embarrassed, because I was tired of being a burden, because I thought that was what my life was supposed to be.

It wasn’t all the medications, I know that.  A lot of it was the disorder, but the medications, the switching, the increasing doses, the chemicals in my body from such a young age, that crippled me in a lot of ways I didn’t realize until I was done.  And sometimes, I have a hard time looking people in the eye from my past, talking to certain people, knowing that in my illness induced mind, I hurt them, that when I was struggling with these medications and was too overwhelmed to function, I hurt them.  I want to be able to take it back, to apologize, but using these things as an excuse for my actions seems…wrong somehow.
And I have a hard time seeing these articles where they’re prescribing heavy medications to get kids to sit still, to behave better, to be different, because I know the path they’re going to go down.  And I know the way it’s going to hurt.  I know the way it’s going to feel as if you’re yelling, screaming, as loud as you can to tell someone, anyone that these things are hurting you, but nothing comes out, you’re silent, and no improvements come.  I hope that in this extremely personal post that someone can read it and think twice about medications, or relate in some way.  I know that some medications are necessary, and I fully support those, but some need to be thought about twice, three times, maybe more.  Because unless you’re the one taking them, unless you’ve been there, you’re going to have no idea what it feels like.  It’s not talked about nearly enough.  That needs to change, and that starts here.

I’m now twenty-five years old.  I’m coming up on three years un-medicated.  And I’m seeing things so clearly.  Instead of medication being the first step, there needs to be more people teaching coping mechanisms, ways to think positively and healthily, ways to fix your issues or make them easier to handle.  That’s what’s important, that’s what made my quality of life improve in wa way I never imagined. If i hadn’t changed or gotten off of the medications, I wouldn’t have had the life everyone told me I would never have.  It was hard, and sometimes i wanted to give up, but it was worth it.

Feel free to share your stories, or to ask questions, I want nothing more than to help make a change.

A Reminder.

Everyday cannot be perfect. You cannot be perfect. And that’s okay because

There is no such thing as perfect.

There is no such thing as truly normal.

There’s this thing that all people do; they try to fit themselves into this tiny, perfectly shaped box when, by nature, human beings are too unique to do so. We all try to fit into this mold of perfect and normal when those two words are nearly impossible to define. My sense of perfect, my idea of normal, will not be the same as most people. And most people’s normal, their idea of perfect, will not match mine. That’s just it. That’s how it goes.
I spend so much of my time trying so hard to be perfect. Trying to paint this picture of what I want to be, but sometimes missing the mark.
I try to be the perfect mom. The one who never loses patience, or the one who never feels overwhelmed. Or even the one who can some how manage to keep the house clean, despite the fact that I have a twin-ado that strikes everyday, multiple times a day.
And I try to be the perfect wife. The wife who has it all together. The one who can keep the house spotless and have food made without burning it on the new (and in my opinion, evil and useless) flat top electric stove. The wife who never carries attitude in her tone for no reason other than because the day has been stressful and overwhelming and is taking it out on the wrong person.
And I try so hard to be the perfect version of who I want to be. The one who doesn’t have slip ups, every once in awhile, in the mental health department. The woman who takes on the world and handles it with ease. The one who tackles writing books, taking care of tiny humans, cooking, cleaning, and spending quality time with her husband, with her family, without dropping the ball on one of those on her list. The woman who takes the extra time to do her hair and makeup just to give herself a little confidence booster. The one who never makes a mistake. The woman who plans on going to school, until she’s in her thirties, with no sense of fear that she might fail despite every time she’s tried to follow her dream, where school is involved, she has fallen straight on her face.
I write that and I’m reading the words and laughing at myself. In my mind, it seems so black and white. Be perfect. Do everything right. When its not how life works. And that’s okay.
As much as I try to fit myself into this box of what my definition of perfect is for myself, for my life, I see that it is impossible.
It’s impossible because perfect does not exist. It’s impossible because in life, there are bound to be bumps in the road. It’s impossible because those expectations are just ridiculous.
I need to remember that just because I want to be able to achieve all of these things for myself, doesn’t mean that when I don’t, that I’m failing because in reality, it just makes me human.
I need to remember to take pride in what I do accomplish every. Single. Day.
Like being able to make my kids laugh so hard they snort, making me laugh so hard my face hurts.
Or being able to provide a healthy and stable home life, filled with smiles, laughter, support, and tons of cuddles because they deserve it.
Or the fact that in less than a year I’ve written two full books and I’m now working on the third. And not only that, these books are being published. I followed a dream I never had the balls to follow before.
And being able to say that I have the most solid and stable marriage with the most love and happiness I could ever imagine. And we achieved this by being the most Unconventional couple around , treating each other with nothing but respect, and being able to talk things out before the turn into an argument. Because I married my best friend, and that’s the truth.
And the not so little fact that I changed my entire life in what seemed like an overnight event and I work hard at it every single day. Some days are harder than others, but I still fight and I fight hard for this life.
Sometimes I need to take a step back and see this. Because I am human. I am not perfect. And most days, I take pride in what I do. But there are other days where I sit and think about every flaw, every tiny detail that I don’t like, and feel as if I’m not good enough. But its times like those, like tonight, where a good cold slap of reality is needed.
So here it is.
I am not perfect.
I am not normal.
But here’s what I am…
I am loved.
I am happy.
I am living a life I never thought I would be able to have.
I am a good mother.
I am a good wife.
I am alive.
I am breathing.
And I am flawed but those flaws are what make me, me.
Flaws are beautiful anyway.
So remember this on the days where you feel run down, incompetent, not pretty enough, not smart enough, or on the days where too many bad things have happened and you just can’t manage to sift through the gloom to see the light. Because you are worth it.

***this was written on a smart phone so I apologize for any stupid autocorrect mistakes. It happens.

You are not your illness

Reflection
I want to start off by saying, I don’t normally talk a lot about this topic in detail anymore, anymore being the key word.  However, when I was on Time Hop yesterday, a post from four years ago inspired a not so awesome trip down memory lane.  How, you might ask? Well, let me explain.  And bare with me because it’ll be a long post, ten years worth of information kind of long.
I am bipolar.  Or, I was bipolar.  Actually, I prefer that I have no labels because in truth, I don’t know how I should refer to myself in regards to my “mental status”.  I was told once you are diagnosed with something as “severe” as bipolar, it’s not something that goes away, kind of like an addict is always recovering and never recovered.  Why I’m afraid to fully say I am not bipolar is probably something along the lines of superstition or a fear of being jinxed despite how silly that may sound.  I’m sure this isn’t making much sense right now, but don’t worry, it will.
I’ve always been an anxious kid.  I mean seriously, I was afraid of the world.  I was always that one child that went to sleepovers only to call my parents at midnight, crying, and begging to come home.  It wasn’t the boogie man or chuckie that filled me with fear causing me to be anxious all the time, it was just me, my chemical imbalance.

When I was 13 my school suggested that I get seen for ADD. My grades had dropped to a ridiculous low, and by that I mean I had a 0.67 GPA in 7th grade.  I’ll be honest, I don’t remember feeling any different or realizing that there was this trigger that sent me flying into the depths of bad grades and a bleak future.  Honestly, I just felt normal.  Until I went to a child psychiatrist and suddenly the words normal were thrown out the window.  I wasn’t normal.  I remember the exact words she said in regards to what she thought my diagnosis was.  She said I was “severely depressed.” To this day, I still remember being confused.  I was 13, the idea of depression didn’t make that much of an impact.  Sure, I understood the general definition of it, but I had no idea what the true picture of depression was.  How in the hell had I become depressed when I wasn’t even old enough to live life or experience the shitty part of living to become depressed? The rest of that appointment was a blur.  I remember my mom crying, my doctor explaining the pros and cons of medications, and me just sitting there kind of numb.
Medication ended up being the course of action for me, and at the time it made the most sense.  I obviously wasn’t functioning normally and maybe it could get me in a place where I could be a normal kid with decent grades and a life lived without anxiety.  But, I don’t think my family or I ever expected that one appointment to snow ball into a 10 year stint with what I like to call the Mental Illness Game.
Over the years, I struggled to maintain my normalcy as a teenager, going through the fun part of growing into a young woman, and maintaining the stableness of the rest of my fellow peers.  You have to understand something.  At this point in time, mental illness wasn’t what it is today.  There wasn’t as much awareness and acceptance over it.  I’m not saying that it wasn’t seen or that people weren’t diagnosed but it was definitely more taboo when I first got started out into this world.  So, as you can imagine, it was hard for me to connect with other people when the only thing I could think of is; Am I acting okay? Are they looking at me weird? Can they tell something is wrong with me? What if I tell them? Because I really want to talk to someone, anyone that isn’t just a doctor.  Will anyone ever love me despite my giant flaws? I hit a point about a year or so after my first appointment where the mix of meds wasn’t working, in a way the chemicals clashed and it sent me crashing into oblivion.  I was in eight grade and I had to stay in the counselors office because I felt too dark, too much like if I was alone I would just fade into the black.  At this point, I was no longer just severely depressed, I had ADD, a touch of ADHD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, AND a phobia of being in public, or so that’s what I was told.  It seemed as if the longer I went to the doctors, the more fucked up I was, the more diagnosis I gained, and the more medication I was given.
It became daunting, you know, being young and worrying so much about whether I took my pills so I could handle the next panic attack, or is the medication working or am I building up a tolerance again? Am I loosing too much weight again? Will my next panic attack be in front of people or will I be completely alone and terrified? Did I cut the blue pill in half and the yellow pill in a quarter or did I mix it up again? God, even thinking back on it I feel overwhelmed.
And if I was overwhelmed only two years into the medication game I was destroyed by the time I got to high school. You can imagine how that went for me.  Mean people tend to notice abnormalities like a shark can smell blood in the water.  I wasn’t popular to say the least, but it wasn’t because I was ugly or a slut (despite being told such) or because I was poor or rich, it had everything to do with me being a little different and not conforming to the norm.  (And now I sound like a hippie. Stick it to the man!) Anyways, I dressed like I felt, like a damn emo kid.  And I stood up for the kids getting made fun of because truthfully I didn’t care what happened to me, I couldn’t stand to see others get beaten down for being different.  I got a lot of shit for it, but why did it matter, I was already fucked up in the head, or so that’s how I saw it at the time.
I stopped hiding my mental illness when I was a freshman.  I was open about it, and I’m embarrassed to admit this but I was a little too open about it.  I went as far as to not cover the cuts covering my arms.  God I was ridiculous.  But, I felt okay about it because I fell into a group of people that may not have been on heavy meds like I was, but they understood me.  They were depressed and anxious and they were there for me when I had my panic attacks and freak outs and when I was crying for no reason.  And from that point on, I stopped hiding.  I couldn’t give a damn whether or not people had an opinion over it, it was my reality and I was refusing to hide from it anymore.  I was going to embrace it regardless of what that meant.
Fast forward a few years.  I thought at some point, and I’m sure the rest of my family did too, that this would all kind of clear up once I was done with puberty.  And in reality, it probably should have, but that’s not how it works, not when you’re so far in the mental illness game that you know nothing but what your diagnosis is.
I graduated high school, and I seemed to be getting better in school, although still on medications.  Throughout my high school career, I was on and off of them, but never without medications for longer than a few months.  Things seemed to be going great, until I graduated and I had NO idea what I was doing, where I was going, and what my purpose was.  I spent my time focused in the wrong areas of life, like my dating life and friends and my social life.  I’m sure everyone does that a time or two in life, but what happened next screwed me.
I’m going to go ahead and say this now, I am not going to rehash all these horrid details of the next part of my life.  I probably should, to further make my point (that I have yet to reach) but it doesn’t do me or anyone else any good to bring these things up.  So let’s just say that I met some bad people, became dependent, lost myself, and became blissfully unaware to how unhealthy my relationships were and how unstable I was.  I didn’t know it then, but I had become the most unstable I had ever, or will ever be.

I was manic.

God, was I manic.

And I was obsessed with the people around me further dragging me into the rabbit hole of a life going nowhere.  My main focus was these people and my mental illness.  My days were spent hyper focused on their lives and how I could involve myself more within this group and how they loved me regardless of my flaws.  They needed me regardless.  They needed and loved me regardless of my crazy side, they accepted me, and I needed that.  But, that need, that obsessive desire to be with these people came to bite me in the ass in the worst of ways, even if I didn’t know it at the time.
When all was said and done and things started to die down with these friends of mine, I felt sick, crazy, numb, and just gone.  Long gone was the girl that I struggled to become, the one who would eventually find her way, the one who would become close with her family again, the one that would be normal at some point or another,  and in it’s place was a girl who had done too many bad things and had officially let her mental unstableness run her life.

I was completely empty.

Hollow.

Unwell.

And so incredibly lost.
I went to yet another doctor only to discover my new diagnosis; I was bipolar.  Just like my dad (that’s a story for another time), just like the people you hear so much about and are warned to stay away from, just like the people who end up in the hospital.  At that point, my step sister invited me to live with her and move close to 2,000 miles away from home, to help her nanny in exchange for me getting away from that and to get my head on straight.  For awhile it worked, I was in school, I loved interacting with my nieces and my sister, I was starting to become happy.  But that only emotion only ever lasted a few months for me no matter what my situation was.  There would always be a down fall, and that down fall was always hard.  After about a year or so I had to move home.  I was at the point where I called my mom to tell her how bad it was.  I couldn’t tell you exactly what I told her, and in truth, I don’t want to know, but it was enough that when she heard me crying hysterically, rambling on about the extreme emotions I was feeling, trying to make sense of the impossibly fast racing thoughts in my head, she told me it was time to come home.  There was no arguing.  There was no question.  It was time to come home, it was time to get well.
It took awhile, but things eventually turned around for me because really when you hit rock bottom all you can do is go up, right? I met my husband a few months after returning home.  Yes, for those of you who didn’t know, I met my husband when I was sick.  And for those of you who know K, this may come as a surprise.  He’s the “no bullshit, no drama” type so how he saw past all of my crap and stuck around, I’ll never know, but I do know that I am eternally grateful that he did.
We had a fast romance, only after two weeks of dating we got engaged.  I know, I know, insane, but it worked for us.  Before we had a chance to get married I got bad again and ended up in the mental hospital.  I checked myself in.  I knew myself well enough to know that I didn’t trust the alone time I had.  I couldn’t get a job because I couldn’t handle turning an application without panicking, and I couldn’t be left alone for fear I would harm myself.  It sucked.  I sucked.  And I was sucking the life out of myself and those around me.
And this is where the whole Time Hop thing comes into play.  Four years ago I was released from the hospital.  When I read that I thought to myself, “Holy shit, had it really been four years? It feels like it was a decade ago.” And that’s when I realized that I haven’t been mentally stable for all that long, it just feels like it.
After the hospital and another year or so of therapy upon therapy, upon medications and more medications, we moved to our new home, a few states away from our families and friends.  I had been getting sick for the last couple years, all of which could be blamed on the medicine I had been taking.  Side effects, especially the rare ones became frequent.  I had a seizure once, extreme weight gain, a twitch that only .5% of people taking this certain medication actually got, and I was constantly feeling sick, rundown, heavy.  I think I finally had enough, because one day I woke up and I felt gross, mentally, physically, and I was done.

I was just done.

I decided to start weaning myself off of medications.  It was not something most people supported, especially not my doctors, but I was determined to just try it.  If I made it a week, or two weeks, hell even just a month, I would have been proud because I tried.  I never expected to succeed, and I never thought my life would actually change, but it did.
I took my last set of meds in the end of 2012 or the start of 2013 I can’t remember exactly.  Crazy, right? It’s now 2015 and I haven’t had a single relapse of mental stability.  That’s saying something because between then and now, I’ve gone through a twin pregnancy (double the hormones), given birth with no pain meds to my beautiful babies, and have busted my ass to be the best stay at home mom I could be.

There were a lot of factors that went into this though. I was determined to get healthy for once but mostly it was my husband.  Like I said he’s the no nonsense type of guy and he kicked my ass into gear.  The babying me had since passed and it had been time to be blunt, upfront, honest with me.  And the day after he did that everything changed, I changed and I never looked back.  I refused to stay in this mental mindset that I was broken and I refused to continue to dwell on it.  I wanted to be better so I became better.  It took all I had in me, but I did it, I fought it, and I won.
Now, there’s another reason why I thought about writing this down and that’s because last week I started slipping.  Not badly, just enough that I became distant from a lot of things.  I’ve recently been dealing with some mystery health issues that I don’t want to go into detail about but it put me in this weird head space.  I tried pulling out of it, and I thought it was working until today when I realized I was failing.  I was being introverted and mopey and letting my thoughts become negative and it took that Time Hop post and some serious inner monologue to get me back to where I normally am, positive and happy; ready to kick this negativity’s ass.
I’ve come to realize I lot of things about mental illness and the way it works, at least for me.  It’s ridiculously easy to fall into this depression or anxiety or whatever it is that’s plaguing you.  It’s easy as hell.  It’s always going to be there in the back of your mind because, as someone with a mental illness can tell you, it’s something like a habit, something you always go back to when things get rough because it’s familiar and it’s the easy way to deal with things by just not dealing with them, by letting the darkness consume you.  But, let me tell you, that’s not the way life is supposed to be.  You’re supposed to fight tooth and nail for the life you live because if you didn’t what would be the point? I didn’t have a rough life to start out.  I lived in a two story house with a pool and a dog and a loving family.  I had friends.  I had boyfriends and girlfriends and I had a passion for anything artistic.  I just had an imbalance that unfortunately lead to medicating someone who was too young and eventually too weak to fix their shit when it hit the fan.  After I was away from it all, taking the seven different medications a day, going to three different doctors, one for medications, one for regular therapy, one for specialized therapy, I got to see what really happened.
I got sucked in.
I knew nothing else.
I was young and all I knew was what I was being told- I was sick, I was imbalanced, I was broken, and the only way to fix it was to stay involved with it.  I became the victim of my disorder and I adopted that victims mindset, applying it to the rest of my life because that’s what I was taught through seeing countless amounts of doctors and speaking to other people going through the same thing.
Now, I know how this may come off and I apologize in advance if anyone becomes offended but as someone who has been there done that for ten years straight only to come out better let me tell you; YOU ARE NOT YOUR ILLNESS.
I had people tell me that throughout the years but I didn’t listen, I couldn’t, in a way.  I spent the better half of my childhood and the start of my young adult life completely emerged in my illness.  When you’re young and all you know is what you’re being told, and these things you’re being told you don’t quite understand to the fullest extent, things are bound to happen, you are bound to believe something and let it be engrained in you despite your lack of understanding.  And within this world of mental illness it becomes this thing where you’re expected to talk about it all the time.  At every doctors appointment you’re told to explain in grave detail the issues you’re facing, so you spend the first 45 minutes of the appointment pouring your heart out, rehashing every gory detail, only to have the last few minutes to sketch out some small coping plan and to remember to pay attention to your issues, to look for signs of improvement, and to watch for the inevitable sign that you are worsening.  It’s not that’s it’s really the doctors fault, they’re covering their bases and trying to make you more aware but it’s not always helpful, not in the long run.  I can’t tell you how many hours I spent going round and round about shit that happened to me years prior as if they happened an hour before.  And all it did was keep it fresh within my mind twenty. four. seven.  I dreamt about them and I thought about them more than I want to admit.  And how could these issues not be fresh in your mind when you’re also having to remind yourself of the times you have to take your meds, when it’s time to make a new appointment with whatever doctor you need to see to talk about it all, and when it’s time to go get your blood tested to make sure these super awesome meds aren’t poisoning you.  It’s a vicious cycle of hyper focusing on nothing but your issues.  And maybe you resolve one, but when another one comes up it’ll take years to fix it, only to restart the process all over again.
Let me just say, I am not blaming the whole mental health department.  It is my fault, and my fault entirely, that I ended up the way I did. I didn’t pull my head out of my ass quick enough and even when I wanted to change, I decided to listen to others instead of listening to my instinct screaming that I would be okay if I could just fight.   But I am saying that it’s hard to see the reality of things when you are consumed by your illness.  As an adult I didn’t even know how to introduce myself to people or make friends because I was told, by nearly every doctor I came across, that I had to make anyone involved in my life aware of how unstable I could be and how it may be just being my friend.  Or how I needed to explain everything to the person I was dating that way they knew up front and could chose if they thought it was worth spending their life with me.  I was told that I would never have children because I wouldn’t be mental sound enough to be a good mother and that one day I would be so sick I would ultimately end up spending more time in the hospital than out.

How are you suppose to succeed in life when you’re being told that your future isn’t bright, that in fact it will become desolate and that people will only be around if they feel you are worth the effort.  

Or that your illness, something that you didn’t ask for, is the reason that you will not get the life you deserve.  That is not how it should be and had I realized that before, I would have spent more years smiling and laughing and striving for a better life, the life I live right now, instead of fighting myself for stableness.
I don’t know how this post is going to be seen and in reality I guess it doesn’t matter.  I have a very strange outlook on life now and the way I learned to deal with myself within my own mind, after the meds and the doctors were gone, isn’t for everyone because tough love isn’t for everyone, but I know that there are probably people out there struggling and in the same spot I was in two years ago, looking for someone to just understand.  Maybe this post can be something that helps.  I won’t always post these things, and like I said I rarely ever talk about this kind of thing in detail anymore.  There’s usually not a point.  I was sick, I went through ten years of struggle, I stopped, I have a beautiful family, and I’m following my dreams.  The.  End.  But sometimes things need to be said to reach out to those that might need it.  I also had to write this for me, because as I said I was slipping and sometimes a reality check is in order.

And here is my reality check.

I am married to my perfect match.  He’s sarcastic and he’s hilarious.  He’s an asshole but I genuinely love that about him because even though he has this tough exterior when it comes down to it, he cares with his entire heart and he loves our kids more than anything in this world. I’m pretty sure he would and does sacrifice his life for us every single day.

And I’m a mom to these two beautiful children who do nothing but try and make me smile and laugh all day.  Take Oliver for example, as I was going through these medical exams, in near tears from being overwhelmed my son reaches over, smiles and shares his toy with me which he never actually does because he hates sharing.  And Emma smiles, gives me a kiss, and does something silly because she hates seeing us do anything but laugh so then Oliver does the same.

I made these kids, something I was told wouldn’t happen and god, they are phenomenal.

Not only do I have them but I have my extended family and friends who are always there for me despite any disagreements or miles put between us.  And I finally followed my dream, I have a book published and I’m writing more which is something I was always passionate about.  This is my reality check because everything I have now is more powerful than the emotions lurking in the shadows of my mind, waiting to suck me in and destroy me.
I promise not every post will be this depressing, I’m actually a funny, sarcastic person, but this was needed, and you know what? I feel renewed.

***For those of you thinking this post sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a post from May on my old blog account.  I thought it might be time to bring this back, to give a little inspiration, to give a little bit of hope.

Nightmares

Nightmares.  We all have them, some of them made up of stray thoughts in our head before falling asleep, and some of them are made up of memories rearing their ugly heads.

I don’t get them often, but when I do, I swear they’re trying to go for a kill shot.

I woke up from a much needed nap yesterday completely breathless and confused.  I had a nightmare of my past for the first time in years.  Let me start off by saying, I have a very complicated past.  I won’t go into detail, and I’ve said that before in a previous post.  It’s not that I can’t, I just don’t see the point of it.  What’s done is done, the tiny details of my story don’t need to be told because the reality is, they do not matter.  But, for the sake of this post, I will say that for a time in my life, I surrounded myself with some pretty terrible people.  And by that, I mean they were the type of people your parents fear you getting mixed up with.  The life ruining type of people.  And as I type that, I realize that it makes me sound like I’m pointing all the blame on them, I’m not.  In fact, it’s mostly my fault for not going with my better judgement and not noticing the red flags when I should have.  I let the evil in, and that was my decision, and mine alone.  It doesn’t make what these people did any better, but as an honest person, I can’t force all the blame on them; it was me too.

There’s a history with these people and it was one that haunted me for years.  That past, those memories, they haunted me for longer than they should have.  It wasn’t until a few months after I stopped my medications and ceased all medical treatment that I was able to put it all to rest.  That was almost three years ago.

So, when I woke up yesterday, my mind still filtering through the images of my nightmare, I sat there astonished that this dream even came to mind.  It had been years since I had those kinds of dreams.  Honestly, it took me back for a few minutes.  I looked at my husband and told him about it, and it shocked him as well.  Neither one of us could remember the last one I had, just that it had been nice not having them.  It made me realize just how far I have come in the last few years.

Had this happened in 2011, I would have spent an entire week trying to recover from the mental mind fuck.  And at the time, it didn’t seem sad, it just made sense, but now, it struck me as depressing.  I spent so much time in my life stuck in this world of hurt, reveling in the pain of situations that I couldn’t change.  They happened, they were in the past, there was no way for me to turn back time and stop myself from making these decisions, from letting these people in my life.  I know this now, but years before, that thought wouldn’t have even crossed my mind.  I woke up from this dream taken back, but instead of letting it control my mind and infiltrate my every thought, I said to myself “Well that fuckin sucked.” and moved on.  Do you know how powerful that made me feel?  I was able to take complete control over my thoughts, my emotions, when I was never able to do that before.

I don’t know why it surprised me, I’ve been in a much better place since then, but I guess since I laid all of my past to rest, I haven’t really had to face much of it.  Sure, the random memory would cross my mind but I would feel this disconnect to it.  I wouldn’t feel sad.  I wouldn’t feel nostalgic or guilty.  I would just remember them as if it was an episode of a TV show I watched once and that was it.  Dreaming about it with such detail, well you would think that would cause some sort of relapse in my now sane mind.  But it didn’t.  And I don’t even know how to describe it because I’m pretty sure nothing can compare to the amount of power, the amount of accomplishment, the amount of pride I felt over that.  These things, these people wrecked my entire world for years, and yet here I am handling it as if it were nothing.  And I guess now, it is nothing.

When I stopped giving my past the power, the control over my life, I started feeling happy and living the life I knew,deep down, I deserved.  

I never thought I would be at this place in my life where I wasn’t bogged down by medicines, where I wasn’t consumed by therapy and being forced to relive every depressing detail of my truthfully depressing life.  I never thought I would be living a sane persons life where I could have a nightmare about someone, about something that plagued me, and just go about my day, normal as can be.

I’m astounded.

I don’t know why I thought to write about it really, because without the details it might not seem like such a big deal to most, but it is to me.  I felt the need to celebrate what killing myself mentally has done for me.  And I say that, killing myself mentally, because that’s what I did.  I completely shattered any former thought I had.  Any type of habit I embodied as far as mental thought process goes, I deleted it.  Any depressing thought, any panic ridden memory was obliterated.  I erased the way I had been tough to work things out in my head and I started new.  I started fresh.  I killed myself mentally, but god damn was it worth it.  It’s been years, years, and I’m able to handle life.  I…just can’t even believe it sometimes.

There was a quote I used to love, back in the day when I was in the thick of all of this shit.  It went something like this (my memory is rusty so it’s not word for word)

“I want you to know, that no matter how many times you push me down, I’ll be getting back up with a smile on my face, knowing I am strong, knowing I am your only weakness.”

I used to think I embodied that.  I used to think I understood it, but it wasn’t until yesterday that I truly understood it.  I used to apply it to somebody, but now I apply it to my mental illness.  No matter how many times it wants to push me down, to crush me under it’s weight, I’m going to get back up and I’m going to do it with a smile on my face because I know that as long as I’m strong, as long as I’m willing to fight, willing to stay positive, that my illness is literally nothing.  That PTSD, the Bipolar, the Panic disorder, it’s all nothing unless I decide to make it something.  And now that I’ve seen the other side, the side where the grass is greener, where the possibilities for my life are endless, I’m never going to decide to bring it back, to make it something again.  Random anxiety will always be apart of my life, it’s normal.  Driving a car, that makes me have a little bit of anxiety, I’m a control freak, it’s a given.  Anxiety while having the fullest plate imaginable, totally understandable.  But, I can handle that.  And I won’t let it go into anything more than that.

A nightmare.  It was designed to throw you, to set you back, to scare you.  But all it did for me was open my eyes to how far I have come and how far I will continue to go.

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