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Life of V

The journey from being broken to being queen

Month

January 2015

Bell Let’s Talk Day

Today is Bell Canada’s Let’s Talk Day, a day for people to talk about mental illnesses and the stigmas that surround them. Since this is kind of the purpose of this blog, I’m going to talk about MY mental illness. Sometimes people ask me questions, and I can’t seem to find the words to give an answer. Here goes nothing.

I suffer from depression and anxiety. It likely began when I was a child, shunned by classmates, told I wasn’t liked by anyone, that I wasn’t good enough to hang out with certain people, not pretty enough to date, not thin enough for this, too nerdy for that. I was an outcast. There are only so many times people can treat you poorly before you begin to believe that’s just how it’s meant to be. This continued through grade school and high school, and I finally left that place, and I will never ever live there again. It caused me too much pain. I have forgiven most of the people who hurt me, but I cannot forget. My brain won’t let me. And maybe I don’t want to. It’s kind of made me who I am, and whether that’s a good thing or not, it’s all I know.

Once I went to university, everything began to change. For a time, I was happy-ish. I could be myself, or what I thought was myself. I said the right things, I did the right things, I studied what I thought I was supposed to study. I even met a boy. That pseudo-happiness wasn’t meant to be. I was overwhelmed, lost, and I didn’t know what to do. I left school, I ended my relationship (when I found out he’d been cheating on me several times over), and I felt like I was a ship listing aimless out to sea. I moved out west, I came back. I moved to Halifax. I was told that what I was feeling was “just a case of the blues” and “it’ll pass”. All I can say to that is, if a doctor tells you that, promptly leave that doctor’s office and get a second opinion. And a third opinion.

I can honestly say the first time I knew true happiness was when I met Chad. For anyone who doesn’t believe in live at first sight, let me tell you that it happened to us. From day one, he was supportive and loving and nonjudgmental and gentle. And patient. Can’t forget patient. I knew the unconditional love of my parents, but to know the unconditional love of someone who isn’t in your family tree is the most amazing feeling in the world. Once we started dating, I felt like I didn’t have to be lonely anymore, that I would always have someone there to hold me when the days just got too rough.

On April 11, 2014, I got a phone call that would change my life. My dad called me at the crack of dawn and told me that my mother was in the hospital. I didn’t hear anything after that because I was immediately pulling on clothes and out the door, driving for nearly 4 hours to be with her. She’d found a lump on the back of her right leg, and it had been mashing her sciatic nerve. It turned out to be an abscess, surrounded by necrotic tissue. She needed more care, so she was airlifted to Halifax to the QEII Health Sciences Center. She beat me to Halifax by about 3 hours (I drove back, freaking out the whole drive). She went in for surgery after surgery, debridement after debridement, and after two weeks of up and down and up and down, my mother has a stroke on the operating table and fell into a coma from which she never regained consciousness. On April 26, 2014, I lost the most important person in my universe. They turned off the machines, and I help my mother in my arms as they took out her breathing tube, and she took her last breath. My father, my boyfriend and my best friend were there with me as my world fell apart. There’s really no coming back from something like that.

So today, 9 months later, I have not been coping very well. Everyone has triggers, this was mine. I haven’t been right since that day, since before then really, but that was the straw that broke this camel’s psyche. I have had thoughts of suicide, and those thoughts keep sneaking back into my head, and they scare me. They scare me because of how easy it seems. “If I just step out into the street…” or “if I take this whole bottle of pills”. I don’t like that. This scares me. It’s a constant fight with myself not to injure my body just to take focus away from how fucked up my brain feels. But I don’t. At least not yet. I think of Chad and how much it would hurt him if I hurt myself.

I’m not okay. And it’s okay that I’m not okay. If we can talk about it, we can end the stigma surrounding mental illness. It shouldn’t be a taboo subject. If you know someone who is suffering from a mental illness, reach out to them. Letting them know that they are not alone, that means more than I can describe with words.

Bruised Ego and Clothes that Don’t Fit

Today, everything hurts. My arms, my legs, my back, my neck ,my head. My pride too. I felt like I was beginning to feel better, and two days ago, I had one of the worst panic attacks I’ve had in months, and it dragged me back down to the bottom of my mountain. It scares me that this is going to happen every so often, and I’m afraid that one of these falls won’t let me get back up. I know some days are good and some days are bad, but apparently there are also days that completely knock the piss out of you. Makes it hard to breathe. Makes it hard to concentrate. It also embarrasses the hell out of me when I can’t control my feelings and expressions and sometimes even physical movement. My boyfriend witnessed my meltdown yesterday… it was over a sewing project. Yes, a sewing project. Turning a bed sheet into a fucking skirt that fits my fat ass is apparently too much for my fragile little mind to handle and I lost. my. shit. My boyfriend flew out of his chair and held me until I stopped crying hysterically and hyperventilating. Petted my hair like I was a child, or a broken doll, whispered “it’ll be okay soon” over and over while kissing me and telling me how much he loves me. And thanks to the magic that is Chad, I eventually calmed down. But I can’t shake the embarrassed feeling I have, nor the guilty feeling I have about making him so uncomfortable. He, of course, says that’s not the case and he hugged me tighter, kissed me more, and was just there… quietly.

So, I can’t look at the sewing machine for a while. I’m too fucking fragile. I’m so frustrated. This isn’t me. The me I know and want back would just make a tighter fitting skirt, or throw the bed sheet away and start over if it was really not salvageable. But no, I melted like butter on a hotplate and I stayed messy and gross for a lot longer than I care to admit. It’s like climbing up a mountain on a slippery slope and having a gust of wind push you back down the hill, and you’re powerless to slow yourself down and by the time you stop, you’re exhausted, embarrassed, frustrated, angry, terrified, and just…. done. Now I have to start climbing again, exhausted and disappointed. I thought I was doing well, now I’ve taken two steps back and well, that pisses me off. Ain’t nobody got time for this shit. I need my life back.

So what can I do? I can’t believe how difficult this is to grab onto. I want to do so many things and I know they’ll all help me feel better; eat better, sleep better, go to the gym, do yoga, sew, cook, bake, go outside, see my friends… these are all things I know will help, and yet, I can’t even do them. I feel like I’m tied to a weight that keeps me down, and while I can see the answers, I can’t reach them.

I’m not as strong as I was led to believe.

Old Wounds

**WARNING: This is a long ass post… brace yourselves**

 

I grew up in a small town. My family was an older family, so I began losing people when I was very young. Both my uncle and my aunt died within a year of our family moving to Canada. As a kid I was also in the church choir, therefore, I sang hymns at a lot of funerals in the area. So funerals and death were just a part of life. It came, it went, people mourned, but rarely spoke about their grief.

When my mother lost her mother in 2001, I saw a side of mom that I’d never seen before. She cried, unashamed, unreserved, she didn’t hold anything back from us and she spent so much time telling us stories and memories about my grandmother. She loved us and trusted us so much, she bore her soul. I knew my grandmother better because of my mom. I know that I definitely belong to the Sullivans and the Fishers. But I also learned a lot about my mom after my grandmother passed away. First off, she handled losing her mother with far more grace and strength. Although, thinking back on it, it’s very possible she held it together because we had each other. I am pretty awesome after all. At least Mom thought so 😉

My mom loved to work her hands. She had hobbies to keep her occupied during her first year after Grandma died. You should see the things she created. Cross stitch, needlepoint, quilts, clothes, knitting, crocheting, cooking, gardening, and two pretty fucking fantastic children. Shut up. I’m a delight. Many of her favourite hobbies were ones taught to her by her mother and grandmother. She and I became closer after Murial (my Grandma) passed, as mother and daughter as well as besties. I saw a lot of my grandmother in mom, and I told her so. She’d cry. I’d cry. We’d cry on each other.

I don’t have a daughter yet to grow close with and share stories about my mother. To teach and learn from. Maybe someday. I hope I see in my daughter shades of her grandmother. But what I do have is friends. Friends who love me. Some of you knew her, some of you didn’t. That’s okay. You’re all acquainted with her, because you know me. Many of you have offered to lend an ear any time I am willing to talk. About anything. They’ve let me share stories about my mother, and I think that’s helping. By sharing them, I remember them.

My grief counselor is encouraging me to talk about how I’m feeling, and the things that are going through my head. She feels that it will not only help me come to terms with everything, and start on the road to recovering and managing. She asked me this week about my habits when it comes to reducing the sadness and stress I feel at any given moment. Things I do consciously to make myself feel better, lighter, less dark and consumed. Things I do to take my mind away from how I feel. I was advised to explore some hobbies to help me clear my mind when the nagging voices start all talking at once.

Mom liked to sew. I used to like to sew. I used to be pretty good at it too. For some reason I forgot a lot of what I learned and have to start from scratch, but I’m finding that I’m able to follow Craftsy videos fairly well. I can sew straight lines, most of the time. I’m improving, and I really do find it peaceful. The clunky hum of my sewing machine becomes white noise and I can turn off my brain for a while. Sometimes I turn it too far off and fuck everything up, but hey, that’s called a learning curve. I can make a tote bag in about 2 hours now and with only minor screw ups. *smug* It’s also a way I can quietly stroll down memory lane. It makes me feel even closer to her.

Cooking too, in a way. I love cooking. I always have. I always will. I keep forgetting that. What is wrong with me? *facepalm* I’m going to do some cooking, to find out what I really like to cook, instead of what someone tells me to cook (no offense Chef, love youuuuu). I also remember that I really do like sharing my cooking experiences with my friends, so I’m looking for ways I can bring cooking to you, something we can enjoy together. We’ll see how that goes… I’m open to suggestions.

As a kid, I spent a lot of time outdoors. I was active and healthy. I’ve really let myself go. While it’s going to take some serious work, and I have to take baby steps, at least at first, I am really wanting to be outside more, active, healthy, and eventually… happy. Rome wasn’t built in a day… it took me a long time to get this far off course, it’ll take me a while to get back on track. I’m trying to follow the “if you fall down seven times, get up eight” mantra, I’m very well aware that I am going to fail, probably with some frequency at first. I might as well keep plugging forward… at least then my time won’t be completely wasted.

I’ve got a lot of soul-searching to do over the next few months. I think I spent a long time trying to fit into a mould, and I’ve kind of gotten distorted. I’ve lost sight of some things that mean a lot to me, and I feel like I’ve got to find those things again. I haven’t dealt with the grief that losing my mother brought to me, and it wore me down. This sucks. Plain and simple. This. Fucking. Sucks. I caught a glimpse of myself a short while ago and I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. I gave too many fucks. I tried too hard. I cared too much. Fuck it. That’s obviously not working. Back to the drawing board.

This post came about today when I found our that a friend of mine was about to lose her mother, quite suddenly. It brought back the sting of some old wounds, I knew JUST how she felt. Clinging to that hope that it might be a dream, or a test, and that everything would fall back into place and everything would be alright. She said she felt delusional, but she knew… so I told her to just be there. Hold her hand. Get her heart as close as she could to her mother’s… I was able to hold Mom in my arms when she took her last breath. I know that might sound morbid to some people, and well, it just might be.  Whatever. I can’t tell you what that did for me, I don’t yet have the vocabulary for such a feeling. When I was finally able to breathe again, I felt like a completely different person. You will never feel as much love as you do at that moment, and I like to think that I can feel my mother’s energy, because it bonded us in a way that can’t ever be broken.

Before I finished this post, I have learned that my friend’s mother has passed. I’m so sorry sweetheart. I truly am sorry. Nothing can be said or done that will take away the pain of knowing that you’ve lost your mother. I’m beginning to think that pain won’t ever really go away. But I’m okay with that. I wasn’t always okay with that, but I am now. You’re going to feel like shit. There’s no way around that. But I can tell you that it will get better. Easier to handle. Just don’t do what I did and bottle it up. Don’t pretend everything is okay. Your world is flipped upside down at the moment. It’s okay to not be okay. Don’t hold anything back. Cry. Scream. Get angry. And see a grief counselor. As soon as you feel able. Don’t wait as long as I did. You’re more social than I am, and that might be your saving grace. Get out there, connect. Don’t hide away.

The next few days are going to be weird for you. There are times you’ll think you just have to be dreaming. You just HAVE to be. You’ll forget things. Simple things. Scatterbrained. Quiet maybe. I recommend Kleenex Cool Touch tissues, they have lotion and coconut oil in them and your face won’t be rubbed raw. Drink water. Eat something. Anything. I don’t care if it’s chocolate or a super-food. Just eat. Be with your family. They’re going to be scatterbrained and zombie-like too. Hold their hands when you can.

I don’t know if anyone reads these blog posts. I guess they’re more for me than anything. I miss you mom.

 

Raining in January

It’s odd to see such weather in my home province right now. The weather can jump literally 20 degrees from one day to the next. This kind of weather can wear on a person’s psyche. Especially when it’s already fragile. I feel like I’ve got cabin fever, I want to go outside. And then my anxiety snaps to attention for reasons that I can logically see are ridiculous, and it makes me angry. I hate that everything has all come crashing down at once, and I am angry with myself for not being able to snap out of it. I know what you’re going to say. I know. I know that I can’t just snap out of it. I can’t help being angry about it. I’m angry that I’m angry about it. I’m just quite fucked up these days. I spend a lot of time staring out my window, trying to grab hold of some sense of calm, and so far, it’s not working.

I had my appointment with the grief counselor for the first time on Monday. I spent the whole time crying, and told her everything. Every detail. I couldn’t stop it, just came tumbling out of me like water. Maybe it was good. I don’t know yet. The counselor is a lovely woman, very easy to talk to, and I guess that’s what makes her good at her job. I have another appointment with her this coming Monday. She’s told me what I already know, I am in the “severely depressed” category, and it’s good that I’m seeking help returning to normal. After a month on Citalopram, I can’t say it’s working or it’s not, I don’t feel any different, I don’t feel any better. But it takes longer than a month to repair something that’s been broken for this long.  I just know that I don’t feel right, and that feeling makes me anxious. And frustrated. And lonely. And tired. And scared. But I guess that’s all to be expected.

My ass hurts. I skidded on a patch of ice a few days ago, and landed really hard on my right butt cheek. Just like in the movies, feet flying out from under me, waving arms in the air like a crazy person, ricochet off the side of the car kind of fall. And I kind of ripped it. Well, sort of. I tore a my hamstring, right up where it connects to my butt. So, I have one  dark purple ass cheek and leg, while the other is a blinding shade of Irish white. I hobble on a crutch when I need to, and I am a plethora of pain killing medication, but I’m housebound for the next week or so. I have to ice my butt. The very thing that caused this is going to now help it. You think politicians are crooks? Ice will kick your ass, just to have a job later. Ice sucks.

Because of my broken butt, and today’s shit weather, my right sciatic nerve is screaming. I feel like it’s reaming me a new asshole, and all at the same time, it’s making me sad, because it makes me realise that I’m more and more like my mother every day. Right now to the broken right ass cheek. Seriously? Yeah. When my mom was pregnant with me, I somehow squished her right sciatic nerve, and it never full recovered. For the next 31 years, off and on, she’d have shooting pains from her butt to her heel. Sorry mom. I can honestly say that I know how those feel, and I’m sorry. And that makes me cry too. Knowing that I caused her 31 years of pain, just by being. Is there anything that won’t make me miserable? Is there anything that won’t remind me of her, and how much I miss her? The grief counselor said I should write some letters to her, tell her how I feel. But how can I do that when just remembering her makes me sob so hard I can’t see? This is getting out of control, and I can’t fucking stand it. I don’t want to cry every time I think of my mother. Fuck, I want to smile, because she made me smile.

So, now I’m sitting here, listening to Phil Coulter (one of my mother’s favourites, yet another thing we have in common), icing my poor broken ass, trying not to cry, trying not to scream in agony and anger and frustration (Chad is still sleeping… backshift). I’m thinking of all the things I want to do this year, to improve myself, to make myself better, calmer, happier. I don’t know where to start. I’ve done alright with my resolutions so far, I’m on track with several of them. I’ve only had soda once this year so far and no chips, cookies or candy, and that’s a far cry from soda and junk food almost every day. I’ve begun my fat girl yoga again, but for now, I’m limited with my movements because of the fall. I managed to clean out the second bedroom in a day and set up some of my craft room so yay, I have a hobby while I’m too anxious to go outside. I feel like something is missing. And not the obvious. I feel like I’m not doing enough to better myself, to improve, and that’s stressing me out too. I don’t have any answers and I need to have some answers. I don’t know where to find the answers either.

2015

Okay, I know I posted just a short while ago about how 2015 is going to be all about me. Well, that’s not entirely true. 2015 is going to be about me and the people closest to me, and how I interact with them. Last year, I fell off the map, and while I’m sorry that hurt so many of my friends, I’m not sorry that I did it. I needed to retreat. 2015 is about mending fences, showing the world the real me, every thing I want to be, no excuses, no conformity. Last year was lived just to survive. This year I want to live to appreciate the small things, that collectively, make my life richer than any millionaire.

Starting the New Year off with a kiss from Chad and a discussion that helped take some stress from my mind. He really is amazing. I want to be better, not just for myself, but for him. And for you. There are things I have to do on my own, because they’re reserved for my “me time”, and there are things i’m just not going to be able to handle this year. But there are things I also want to do with you. I want to grow this year, allow myself the room to do so and discover what my likes and dislikes truly are. I feel like I am discovering myself for the first time, and fuck yes, I want to roll with that. I’ve spent many years mostly doing things to either pay the bills, make other people happy, or to make things easier on other people. This yeah will be a bit different. I need to take care of myself, because last year’s strain was a bit too much for me. But I also don’t want to be left in the dust while I heal. I want to do things with you. That’s not as dirty as it sounds. Shut up. I won’t be able to handle everything, but I can manage some things.

Let me know what you’re getting into this year.

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