Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy New Year

Photo: Diane Arbus ~ Hand Grenade




Next month marks this little blog's six month anniversary. That is about the same time I began therapy on a regular basis again and six months also marks the time I have been in line for my disability hearing; I probably have another six to go before I know anything. My feelings are heavy as I turn this corner and head off into a new year. I am disappointed in my overall progress...the therapy is achingly slow, the blog feels aimless and I remain unemployed or otherwise gainfully  productive. I am dreadfully stuck.

I am stronger than I was this time last year. I am recovering from the divorce (which I still have yet to get, hmmm...resolution #1.) After a little over seven years, I seem to be on the right medication cocktail with about 60% of my symptoms under control-the depression is not as crippling, I no longer fear suicide when I am alone. I am still fighting my bed/avoidance issues, still trying to find my way out. 

All in all though, my life is good. There is a sweetness to it that has not been present for some time. Safety. Security, many t's crossed and i's dotted. Simplicity and economy of movement. I meditate daily on something positive. I'm trying. I swear! I'm grateful, chronically depressed, but grateful. 

For this next year I hope to be more of myself. I need to be okay with that- myself, that is. I am deep into my wait, deep into winter and I better just hang on for another six months, or else. I need for my horizon to be bigger, like it used to be. I hope for more peace than we had last year, more healing, an end to the war. Recovery and continued progress. Blessings, Love and Light....

~sm 




Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I'm dreaming of white sandy beaches and sunshine. ~sm
So, what I thought was a bipolar remission turned out to be more layers of awareness. Between the bipolar illness and the DID and the borderline crap I can hardly tell at times what is what. I saw my doctor today and we both agree that becoming more aware is progress, all the same. Like I told her this morning, "The bad news is that I am in a mixed state (depressed and hypo-manic). The good news is that I am aware that I am hypo-manic." 

There is an art to everything if you look long enough and being mentally ill is no exception. If I know what my patterns are then I can begin to work on embracing or changing them. Bipolar, I'm embracing. The other stuff, I'm changing bit by bit. It can be overwhelming if I let it.

Writing and sharing is really helping me to see patterns in my moods and behaviors, so if you have been following along- Thank-you! Making depression an interesting topic can be an impossible task at times. there are many moments when I doubt the validity of sharing my thoughts in a public forum, but days like today-when I am made aware of  progress- I know are partly due to this process of shining light where there is darkness. The blog helps me do that.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


I am reaching for my inner Joan D'Arc -reaching for courage. I am knee deep in therapy, closely examining motives and methods. I have remembered a few more scenes from my childhood; I remember an angry mother and being afraid all the time.

 The work is slow. It is a daily struggle to shake off body aches and crippling anxiety. It is better to sleep or rest with my TV friends, avoiding light and interaction with others. I am ashamed of the amount of time I spend in bed. It's as though life, itself, has become my plan B.

A small but not insignificant improvement: I am spending less time in bed between bouts of depression. My goal,  for awhile has been just to get out of bed and now the focus has shifted to staying out of bed once I am up.  I tire easily though, and I still need naps.

I am working on a plan of action for those good days and I am having more of them. I guess what I am missing is purpose. I have become weirdly hung up on that word. My therapy homework has, for the last few sessions, been to do something just for fun. I can't do it.

I have been watching Season One of  Intervention on Netflix and I think that I look and act just like a drug addict. We are motivated by the same need to be numb. The biggest difference is that no one can keep me from the torrent of raw emotion and memories that my illness feeds on, no one can take away my crack. There is no rehab for the broken and emotionally damaged, not one that I could afford anyway.

This feels like a confession. This is as close to a description of my inner world as I have come to. I don't think I nailed it and I can tell that I go in and out of different voices, still. I feel like I have two sides: one that seeks answers and one that knows the answers but won't share.

 I hate being this crazy.







.  

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Forget-Me-Nots and Other Wishes


A friend I had not seen in nine years surprised me with a visit. He was home for the holidays from California and he phoned from the road saying that he was three hours away and would be spending the night. The personal inner turmoil following that conversation soon revealed how much mental illness (and let's face it, a bit of old age) has changed me over the years and this discomfort proved to be the overall tone of the visit  that followed.

It frustrated me that I was unable to set aside my illness even for a day to enjoy my friend's visit. The ebb and flow of my daily struggles leave no room for surprises or spontaneity; nothing could have made it more apparent. I watched in horror as I simply shut down.

David took care of my guest making sure that he was fed and occupied; I slept. It did not matter that I had not seen him in so many years, it did not matter that I might not see him for many more-the fact that the visit was unplanned sent me into a tail spin that would not be deterred.

I am not usually tested in such an obvious manner. I have no daily schedule or job, no children, no real responsibilities outside making sure the cats are fed (and they even remind me to do so.) There is usually nothing around that tests my flexibility. I keep it that way so that I do not have to deal with all the emotional fall-out. I keep it that way at all costs because I am mentally fragile, mentally ill.

 Back in the day, the girl my friend remembers, invited homeless men to sleep on her floor! My door was always open. However, I think that, that too was a symptom of my mental illness. I could not be alone, I hated silence. Now, I have bounced far off in the opposite direction and must have silence and routine or I go berserk.

Bouncing between extremes- this, "mental illness" is who I am, who I have always been. I wish that I was further along in my recovery. I can see that I am still wrapped tight into the weird little world that my illness affords. I can step back from the me that is napping while her guest is in the other room and say that I wish I was not her.  I wish that I was hosting and entertaining; moving and shaking instead of worrying and sleeping. This is who I am.

In nine years I suppose what I have come to value is my sanity. This means accepting a certain amount of insanity. This means I accept my limits and abide or collide.







Sunday, November 21, 2010

Oh, the Holidays!

I have seriously mixed emotions about the holidays.

I have spent the holidays many ways, in many places over the years: on the road, in strip clubs, with strangers, with friends, with friends families, in monasteries, all alone. Such is the life of a bipolar-multiple.

Growing up, the holidays usualy meant heated arguments over money between stressed out, angry parents. It didn't matter if we were happy or not as long as we had stuff we couldn't afford. I think my mother tried, she did a tree every year and that sort of thing. We were all so miserable the rest of the year under the tyranny of my step-father, I think we just went through the motions.

The holidays have never held strong ties to family for me. Interpersonal dynamics, in general, are a huge trigger and I get nervous and have panic attacks around anything that resembles a family. I do not personally "get" family. My skin is too raw and thin for a thing as rough as family.

Until last year, I had been spending the  holidays as a reluctant "daughter-in-law" trying and failing at making things right between my ex-husband and his estranged family. That whole chapter was a disaster on so many levels, but Christmas, especially, seemed to shine a light on both my inner and outer poverty. I never had anything good to wear, because my ex and I were always so broke. I was typically unemployed.  I was usually in the middle of a depressive funk with no energy to make anything so I would always show up completely empty handed. Oh the guilt! Holiday expectations are a king size drag, man.

I don't know. Just trying to think about all the feelings I associate with the holiday season is overwhelming. I have had a weird life and the holidays feel like a magnifying glass upon all my weirdness.

This year, is really very different from all the others. I have a home, a real home. I am safe, free from hunger. I am medicated and under the care of a doctor. I am calming down from a lifetime of weirdness. I am in love.

We are going to stay home and celebrate quietly with our kitties. I feel selfish taking David away from his family for the day, but I can live with that. I'm still not talking to my mother; she was the last of my "real" family. the whole thing makes me sad. I don't feel up to dealing with the personal trials of morphing into someone else's family for the holiday. I'm too tired, too broken.

I hope your holidays are whatever you need them to be. I hope they are peaceful and that the spirit of the season is allowed past all the stress and expectations we place on these two little days. In other words, Happy Thanksgiving and "Merry Christmas, but I think I'll skip this one this year."

Be Well,
~sm

Monday, November 15, 2010



I believe that for the last four days in a row I have been experiencing a remission. My mood, for the first time in years, appears to be stable. My doctor and I have worked hard for this and, if she wasn't so against it, I would take her out for a celebratory drink.

Honestly, I don't know what to do with myself.

Uhm......is this what being normal feels like? I wouldn't know. I can't recall the last time I felt....nothing. I don't feel sad or mad. I don't feel suicidal. I am not crying or yelling. My thoughts are not dark and obsessive. There is just a whole lot of nothing. I keep getting the image in my head of a long stretch of Nevada desert: no life, no water, just maybe a tumble weed rolling by and the sound of my heart beat.

I keep asking myself if this is what I have been working for. I am hesitant to receive this peace. I don't trust this quiet mind. It feels foreign and I am afraid it will go away without warning; it is a very real fact that it most likely will. Bipolar illness is chronic and remission is slippery. I can't say for certain, but it has been a good seven years since I've felt anything like it.

I have spent many an hour wishing for the freedom to simply BE. In that place I have felt guilt and shame for an illness that robs me of motivation and concentration. Now that I am not so "in" it, I see very plainly that I have not, in fact, been faking it. Nor have I just been sitting around feeling sorry for myself. It is so obvious to me now that only a mental illness could make me feel so low and abandoned.

I should enjoy it, I suppose; try not to wreck it, embrace it, use the time to try and get back to projects now abandoned for years, or better yet, maybe I will do nothing and just meditate on the feeling. I don't have to do anything and I think it is a trap to think I do.

I am not fooling myself here-I know this feeling won't last-but for today, I am going to get into the shower and then get dressed just like everyone else.

If you are reading this and find yourself really "in" it this week, remember that you DO have an illness. You are not a loser, and you will get better-on some level and in some way at some point. Keep doing the inner work so that when those moments do come you will be ready to notice and enjoy them. Be kind to yourself and NEVER GIVE UP!

much love,
~sm

Monday, November 8, 2010

Seeking Balance and Peeling Layers ~


I've been working hard towards a breakthrough in therapy since August. I have stumbled upon one and am pausing to contemplate and quietly celebrate. The deeper I travel into the labyrinth, seeking out those secret things that cause me pain, the more I see that there must be a way out of my ineffectual madness.  I have been running a gauntlet of raw, ancient emotions. I have slept and slept. Somewhere I am healing.

I am an intelligent, capable and basically healthy woman who sometimes goes for long periods of time without the will to live. The illness levels me. The illness has affected nearly every chapter of my life. I am acknowledging this as my truth, my story. I am grieving lost time and lost chances.

During those times when I am the sickest,  I am at the mercy of intrusive, obsessive, negative thoughts. I fail to do the basics: brush teeth, take shower, feed self. In my mind it is like a long, slow seizure. I become paralysed by an embarrassing apathy and an irrational fear of everything. I feel like I have the flu, my body aches. I feel my own dead weight. I think on those days I would watch burglars take my television out the front door from my bed.

I have to remind myself that my brain is damaged; I have an illness; the illness is real so that I do not kill myself from shame. I would not beat someone up, like I do myself, for having cancer or diabetes. I am learning to love myself as I am and not as I wish I was. I am learning to look with compassion upon myself and my story.
I see that I have been strong, resourceful and brave.

My successful living partly depends on my ability to begin the day and then move fluidly from one activity to another, moving towards and reaching goals a bit at a time until I get to the end of my day. I find that I am spending less time between episodes in recovery; I am spending less time out of commission in bed. I have a clear vision, my therapeutic goal has become to achieve emotional independence.

I hope that you have a good week, dear reader. This week I hope that you have a breakthrough and find yourself on the other side of a problem you have been working out.

Be Well,
~sm

Thursday, October 28, 2010






We were sitting on the front porch, drinking our coffee the morning of this week's random storm. The sky hung low and gray above the houses on our street. The wind came in gusts that shook the aluminum window frames. We turned the  TV up loud so that we could track the weather man's warnings through the opened front door. Sirens wailed in the air; all around us sheets of water and leaves flew. As I listened to brittle, fall leaves scratch their way down the street I found myself oddly comforted by the whole scene. The outside world matched my inside reality. I felt calm.
.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Feeling Kooky:

Photo: Josephine Baker






Ignore the formatting issues of this post, Blogspot  is having some maintenance problems. 
When I started this blog, I promised myself that I would, above all, remain positive. I wanted to record and share my experiences with mental illness without leaving myself or you, the reader, feeling hopeless. I have been recording my thoughts and feelings since I was nineteen and I know all the dark places of my mind intimately. I know, all too well, "the shit-smelling pit." I am trying to feed myself on positive thoughts, these days.


As a writer and an artist I feel that producing encouragement and inspiration is just as important as presenting truth.


That being said, last week's post was written through a thick fog of depression. I ended up unhappy with it, both, as a coherent piece of writing, and for the piece's overall lack of  transparency. I was in an enormous amount of pain! I was suffering in the grips of crippling depression and an intense feeling of loneliness.



But,  I had a deadline and I wanted to make it. So I put on my smiley face and implied that I was "building a palace out of my depression"--I was lying in bed and barely able to move.



There is a fine line between sharing one's feelings productively and emotional dumping. In trying to avoid
-dumping- my negative thoughts all over the place I was avoiding the actual pain. After thinking about it for a week and putting another therapy session under my belt, I can see that it is the voice of  my "detached protector" that tries to paint everything all rosy. It is this dissociation from my feelings that I am trying to beat.



 In general, I have to work really hard to organize my thoughts at all. With many mental health issues and the side effects from the medications that treat them, my cognitive skills suffer on a daily basis.  For example, I can learn over and over how to use commas correctly (I keep an English manual by my side), but I can forget just as quickly.


I had found a writing tool that was helping me find my blogger footing, a web site called, 750words.com . Writing three pages a day helped me to clear some of the muck in my head in order to find the good stuff- I know it's in there. The more you write the easier it becomes, just like anything. 


During this last round of depression, I abandoned the practice which I had kept for a month. The clarity of my thoughts suffered for it. This  happens in my life all the time: starting and stopping, starting and stopping. I have a million unfinished projects that bring me endless amounts of sadness and self-loathing.

 I want to struggle beside you, dear reader, as we journey to wellness and wholeness, not above you on some pink cloud. It is not my intention to sugar coat the darker details of what I am going through; that would be unfair to both of us.

As I move from acceptance to awareness regarding my borderline personality disorder, I find myself freaking out on all levels. This is called "emotional thawing." In therapy world; symptoms always gets worse before they get better. In other words: just before any kind of breakthrough you feel like you are going to die.

 I guess what I am really saying in all of this babble is, "Please bare with me as I get back on my feet and continue to search for my authentic voice."  I'm fairly certain that this was all I needed to say in the first place.

Enjoy the rest of your week and the upcoming weekend!
Be Well,
~sm

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"Arrange whatever pieces come your way." ~Virginia Wolfe
      

The routine I've been keeping since beginning treatment with Risperdal, was tested last week. Life ground to a halt until all that remained was sleep, angst filled sleep. I expected emotional fall out from the fight with mother; which there was. Anger and feelings of abandonment that had to be dealt  with. It is a source of sadness as we still haven't spoken, but I am doing okay. I was not expecting to end up back in bed over it; I'm a big girl after all. 

 This was something more than heart ache. I could tell it was coming on a couple weeks ago. Every three to six weeks I cycle through life with mixed states (a combination of mania and major depression) or life with major depression. In the grip of depression, I can't feel anything- anger nor joy, just an achy paralysis. 

I mentioned the new round of depression to my therapist and she took this information to my psychiatrist. She asked me to wait a few days to see if I got better or worse-maybe the depression wasn't cyclic. I called her back last Friday. Cried,  "Uncle." Dr. F suggested that I take a supplemental anti-depressant on top of the Cymbalta that I already take for depression. I started on the Welbutrin, yesterday.

I write out these rather boring details to illustrate how difficult managing mental illness can be, and to ruminate on my progress. I have had four changes in my medicine just since starting this blog in late August (I used to keep notes in my Tumblr account). On one hand, I am bummed about taking two more pills a day- eight all together. On the other hand, I am managing my bipolar symptoms.

All the work I am doing is paying off. Instead of floundering for weeks in a drawn out depression, I stayed connected with my body and listened carefully. I spoke up when my thoughts grew dark. As a side note, this is the reason I feel it is so important to use a therapist in conjunction with a psychiatrist. Together, the three of you will see patterns or spot weaknesses  in your overall treatment and can quickly make adjustments.

Approaching my illness in a way that emphasizes symptom management, not the unrealistic notion of  symptom eradication is having a very calming effect on me. It is freeing up space in my head that was absorbed in fighting reality and creating suffering for myself. I am the reed bending with the wind. I have wondered for so long how to make a life out of my pile of mess. Slowly, I am getting better and how I view my life is changing. I am seeing possibilities instead of obstacles. 

Thank-you for reading this and being part of my support network. I am still finding my footing in the blogging world and sometimes it is a hard project to believe in. 

Be Well,
~sm


Monday, October 4, 2010

Hope for the Borderline

Photo: Louise Brooks

I have been spending my mornings researching my "Borderline Personality Disorder." I have spent my afternoons napping, my head reeling from the information I am trying to focus on. I use the term research loosely as it seems my brain is a sieve for facts to strain through like water. The Mayo Clinic's website lists the symptoms of BPD as:

  • Impulsive and risky behavior...
  • Strong emotions that wax and wane frequently
  • Inappropriate anger, sometimes escalating into physical confrontations
  • Difficulty controlling emotions or impulses
  • Suicidal behavior
  • Fear of being alone
The words above are rather benign compared to my own experience translated into countless horror stories of public meltdowns and private torment. BPD is one of the last in a trio of major mental illnesses for me to accept and begin to overcome. This one, above the others, has been the most elusive for treatment and the most crippling. Over the years, it has progressively become more out of control; by that I mean that it takes less to set off one of the symptomatic episodes. I have become more impulsive in spite of my efforts to control myself in the face of confrontation or stress. I have narrowly missed being arrested more times than I can recall due to an emotional outburst- usually rage over some real or imagined injustice. Living with the disorder has been a source of great humiliation and pain.

A month ago I began seeing a therapist that specializes in the treatment of  patients with BPD. For years such a therapist has been unheard of because of the special nature of the disorder and the way it causes the sufferer to interact with people. Typically, we just don't get along. I feel blessed. It took me six years and a lot of wrong turns to find her. This is partly due to the illness itself, which fights for survival and partly due to poor State mental health resources.

We have embarked on a year long course of treatment that involves looking at and gently dismantling,  the various dysfunctional coping skills, referred to in this therapy as Schemas or "modes," that I find myself operating from. Like a record needle stuck in a groove, I keep playing over and over tunes with names like: Abandoned Child, Punishing Parent, Detached Protector, Angry Child and the occasional, Healthy Adult.

These modes are the way I see the world, the way I interact with it. Stress, too much and a certain kind of it, will trigger an episode. If things are running according to plan, smoothly with no glitches then I am the sweetest, most capable and helpful woman you will meet. This means no schedule changes, or changes of any kind, really. If you are kind to me and considerate, I return the favor. Cross me, in the least, and its, "OFF with your HEAD!"

I am amazed at how ingrained the Schemas are. Even now, it all seems like a load of crap that I just need to get over; but this is what I have told myself for years and it has gotten me nowhere. I am blown away by how exhausted I am after an hour of therapy or reading about it, or writing about it. But, here I am. I'm still, here. I have hope that all that fight in me will prove to be my best asset after all.

For more on Schema Therapy: http://www.schematherapy.com/id29.htm

Be Well,
~sm

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mama Drama


I am a life long member of the "Crazy Mom's Club." If you have one, then you know what I mean; passive-aggression and other more subtle forms of mental mind fucking that you won't understand until you find yourself unconsciously practicing the fine art  in the midst of your own family and friend relationships. I feel that it is too soon to try to write out my thoughts on this, my current mama drama, but I need the healing that comes with sharing-plus I am literate and articulate- and I know how much this pisses her off. What better revenge than to put it all into words that she would never read anyway?

The woman lives in a reality of her own making. Always has. The dirty history is really too much for one post, and I am working on the book- just like so many of my peers. For these purposes, you need only know that I was raised by a predator, a molester. He was mom's first husband and she was as desperate as a momma cat getting ready to deliver ten kittens on the street when she met him. He was trolling for subjects for his kingdom and he found two in that ignorant girl, pregnant with a child whose father she was unsure of; and to this day, she does not know.

 I was seventeen when I had had enough and found the strength to go to a school teacher for help. The man who raised me had spent his days grooming me to be his little wife. Mother was checked out for most of it, creating her own safe reality. Though, she did hear me that day. I had told on them, she had to. After years of talking about it and threatening, she drove away with us that weekend in the Gran-Torino all the way to her sister's in Kansas . It was the last I was able to talk about it for years. Everyone, my mother and her sister, who were also abused sexually, wanted me to "SHUT-UP!"

I let Mom back into my life several years ago after keeping her out for years, because well, we only get one mother in this life and I felt that it was important. There were many things that we just could not talk about, many elephants in the room and I have suffered over these last few years from the inauthentic relationship. It made me feel as though I was living a double life, one from a place of  truth and the other with Mom from a place of half-truths and out right lies. I did it out of a sense of duty, I did it because after all these years, I am still the "mother" in our relationship and felt that it was my job to protect her from harsh reality.

Me, I am Punk-Rock. You won't close my mouth, not at seven-teen, not at thirty-six!

Ironically, she works in phlebotomy- draws people's blood for a living (and she is good at it.) Mom sent  a text last Friday on her lunch break to tell me that her heart had been broken again and she was not sure that she could go on. I had to wait four hours for her to get home to find out what the hell she was talking about. Turns out my half-brother (we were raised to believe we had the same father) was arrested for child abuse, of the physical sort. My nephew is thirteen now, and I haven't spoken to my brother since his child was born into his own abusive home; my brother was a wife beater who chose to keep ties to the man who abused us.

Mom finally called with her usual crocodile tears, and shouted that it was all her fault-that my brother was an abuser because her father had been a pedophile. When I responded emphatically that my father had been a pedophile, she fell silent. It did not take too long for the conversation to take a dramatic turn and I hung up on her when she slipped up in one of her "white lies" and revealed that my brother was living in the same state as my abuser. At least as far as I knew- evidently my abuser moved away form Florida some time ago to a state much closer to me, but I was never told. There was a series of texts after that in which she called me a liar and blamed me for the messes that she and my brother  had created.

 It isn't my job to protect her from the truth, and I am too old for her little games. I just don't have the energy to live two lives anymore. I have had to find a way to deal from a place of truth all these years. My story is not the kind I get to share while sitting around at the holiday table. The things is, I don't blame her for what happened, she was young and ignorant and desperate. I blame her for the sloppy way she has continued to handle it. I could use all that happened as an excuse, but I don't; or at least I am quick to stop myself when I find that I am slipping into that pit. 

At the end of the day, what I am left with are a bunch of crappy memories and zero family ties. While this makes me very sad, I feel strength in refusing to live an inauthentic life. I have not always been the perfect daughter, it has taken me a long time to feel out my path. Along the way, I have had friends that became toxic and we had to go our separate ways. Sometimes, I have been the toxic one and friends have had to leave me, too. I no longer feel that blood-ties should be the exception to this life rule; toxic is toxic and must be handled accordingly. 

I waffled about whether or not to post this. It is an ugly story, but one that I feel needs to be shared. I am not the only one suffering from family drama, and I wanted to share with you how one person decided to deal with it. When the people you love can no longer see you or hear you, it is time, as is said, to turn from them and wipe the dust of them from your feet. There is no reason to feel guilty. While there will be sadness, wipe the tears from your eyes and hold your head high. They can't hurt you anymore.








Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wonderland



 I am in the process of sifting through the long abandoned piles in my mind. Pieces of myself that i have been holding onto through the heavy hurricane winds. Every corner I turn right now reveals more about who I am and who I have always wanted to be. It is an enormously exciting adventure!

For years, I have only had the time and energy to brave the electric and all consuming storms. There have been many days when faith that I was somewhere in here was the only thing that kept me going. Tonight, I am grateful. I think of all the times I wanted to die and be free of  the illness. I am grateful to be writing this, grateful to have more days on this planet.

It is important to record such times. These are the times that keep me here.  I keep faith as a lighthouse keeper keeps her fire lit, for the times when  I cannot find the shoreline. I am proud of myself, today. I have endured to find that life is a joy. I know that my dreams are possible and that nothing is out of reach for me. I am Shannon Marie.
Be Well,
~sm

Ain't Gonna Have Those No-Job-Havin' Blues....Part III



It is times like these, that I am relieved to not be working. I had a Wednesday night goal for writing this post, life had other plans and I have been curled up in bed for a few days, instead. 
If I did not know that I was suffering from a mental illness, I would swear that I was just a vapid drama queen; but I am suffering. Today, I write through the tears. I write because no matter how much I know I am loved by the people closest to me, I still feel alone. If that is not mental illness, I would not want to know what is. Today, I write because I refuse to give in to the doubt and self-loathing.
I am aware that most of this dark cloud is fall-out from the therapy session I had on Tuesday. My therapist warned me that this might happen. She likened it to frost bite. When the frozen limb begins to thaw and blood begins to flow freely through the veins, as feeling begins to return- there can follow an enormous amount of pain. 
If I had a job this would be a day that I called in sick or, if I did go in to work, it would be a day where I had a melt down, got into trouble or went home early. It would be the day I got fired. For now, this blog is my job. I don’t understand it. In some ways, it makes me feel lonelier. Like when you hit the send button and all you hear is crickets afterwards, that is a lonely feeling. I also get really paranoid about showing my dirty underwear like this. I doubt in the validity of this whole project. Here I am… trying to sabotage a simple blog. 
So. The most important lesson I have learned about living without a job?  Stick to a routine. On the bad days when my illness is raging it seems pointless to get out of bed or brush my teeth, let alone stick to my writing schedule. When the clouds begin to lift (and they do) and I can look around again, I am so glad for my routine and  the little things that I have to plug into-the simple things. Like clean, smoothly polished teeth and minty fresh breath, or a post written to myself, for myself.
Above all, I do what I can. Sometimes that is not very much, but that is okay. 

Ain't Gonna Have Those No-Job-Havin' Blues....Part II


I have been out of a paying job since May of 2009. I was fired because of my personality and the way I don't get along with bosses sometimes. I was actually barred from the property. At the same time things blew up with my husband. I was beyond depressed. I found myself adrift on a kind of suicide cloud. Until recently (ah, the miracle of medicine!), I have not been able to leave Bedland except for a few brief and painful outings. I was basically in bed for about a year and a half. I’m still writing my way out of it, still healing. I don't get out much, people and crowds scare me. I am nervous all the time.
It is not the poverty that bothers me about not working, in fact, in twenty-one years I have never made more than $9,000.00 in a single year. My social security statement proves it. The thing is, I keep thinking that being out of a job means that I am not allowed to enjoy my life. After all, without a job what does my life mean? I keep telling myself that I am useless and I cry endlessly about being broken, shattered. Through every season, I am wrapped tight in a thick woolen blanket of self-loathing and doubt-sunny days or not.
 I am making myself suffer even more because of this false belief about self-worth. The grip of my illness has lessened for a moment and I see clearly that I cannot afford think in such a way.

Time is the one thing I have and more time is the one thing the everybody wants. By those standards, David and I are millionaires.
I have suffered many years for my inability to hold a job. I have suffered more for my inability to believe in my intrinsic self-worth. For years I have masochistically kept myself from doing what I love. I am a creative person by nature; but I am an artist who will produce no art. 
I, and many like me, have at least been given the gift of time. We must not join the ranks of overstuffed Americans who have no identity without their jobs and the stuff they spend their paychecks on. On our good days, we must rise and find that thing to do that connects us with another human being. We must find that thing that we always wish we were doing and do it!

Ain't Gonna Have Those No-Job-Havin' Blues....Part I


There is a fine art to living in a capitalistic society without a job. If I leave the house or turn on the tube I am told that I need, in fact, want about a million things. Somehow, my self-worth is tied to whether or not I go to some building, do a little dance for nine or twelve hours and collect a pay check at the end of two weeks.
I could probably never prove it, but I have lost all the jobs I ever had because I am mentally ill. While it is not information that I volunteer in an interview, folks generally figure it out by my second or third middle-of-the-shift-melt-down. There is usually crying, sometimes yelling and always shock on the face of whoever had, “just been bragging” about what a great hire I was. Then there is the ever popular, 90 day melt-down: always crying, lot’s of yelling and utter frustration on the part of everyone involved. The one year explosion though, this is my personal favorite: crying, yelling, spitting, the throwing of near-by objects and typically I am  barred from ever returning to the property.
I want to work. I am just not most people’s definition of a good employee. I am highly sensitive to the subtle non-verbal cues of others.  When I have been at one job for too long work becomes like family (I have no sense of boundary) and family is a real bad word for me. It’s the PTSD and comes from the seventeen years of abuse I suffered as a girl. I will have to live with it on some level for the rest of my life.
I spend much of my time trying to calm my nerves-I am an extremely nervous girl. It’s the reason for all the crying and yelling. It’s the reason I have to spend so much time alone in a darkened room. It’s why I like “cubbies” to hide in and why some days I cannot lift my head from a blanket.  
I am not a victim, I am a survivor.
Finding ways to spend all the slow-going time productively and without spending any money is a survival tool that I am learning to wield mightily. I am learning a new lexicon, I am learning to find my self-worth from other things. I am trying to create a new paradigm for myself and let me tell you, it is a lot of work! This is proving to be the hardest, most rewarding job I have ever had….the non-job job. 
Part II this Tuesday evening, central.
Be Well,
~sm