Category: Uncategorized

Complicity.

It’s been hard to watch the world lately. When things go wrong for beloved people in my community, I guess I always come back to ‘Have I been involved in this? How have I done this much wrong, just like my fellow Americans – the ones that feel like they have been a part of change in this country? What more can I be doing to help this country and my fellow citizens evolve?’

Those are hard questions but I hope that every white human has had them, at one point or another. Now, I know someone is going to blow up and talk all about their good efforts and intentions, but neither is enough in dismantling systemic racism and intolerance. White people, as a whole, know how to weaponize their very existence with how ‘good’ they are, and the question ‘what does it matter if I’m white?’ which is itself a microaggrression, comes up.

“We white people make it so difficult for people of color to talk to us about our inevitable—but often unaware—racist patterns and assumptions that, most of the time, they don’t. People of color working and living in primarily white environments take home way more daily indignities and slights and microaggressions than they bother talking to us about because their experience consistently is that it’s not going to go well. In fact, they’re going to risk more punishment, not less.”

(https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/summer-2019/whats-my-complicity-talking-white)

Good intentions are not change or reparations. Good thoughts towards others does not mean that you have examined your own accidental or intentional racism, and it hard to admit that this has happened. Nobody wants to be a blemish when change can present a newer, shinier version of yourself and your race.

So, it’s time to understand complicity. Complicity is the act of being involved with an/another illegal activity or wrong doing, but let’s break it down with an example or two.

Do you have a relative or coworker that’s basically everybody’s uncle. But you notice he makes a lot of racist jokes or is harder on women or maybe POC? Maybe one day he keeps commenting on how nice so&so’s breasts are and all anyone can think to do is laugh or say, ‘That’s just him! He never means any harm, people need to take stuff less seriously.’ The thing is that you might have laughed too. Or you certainly didn’t approach him about stopping or perhaps tell the boss he was engaging in sexism or racism. Because you feel awful about being the bad guy.

By not speaking up though, you ARE the bad guy. You are complicit. You allowed a bad thing to happen and did nothing, which is the same as participating. Silence here is a betrayal, it’s a wrongdoing. So the next thing you might say is, ‘I never know what to say when bad stuff happens.’ or ‘Hey, I was just going about my day! I don’t involve myself.’

That’s bullshit in our modern day where you can literally look up guides on what to say/do when something bad is happening. Your denial to educate yourself is also complicity. Here’s one now:

(https://www.amnesty.org.au/tell-someone-love-theyre-racist/)

Maybe you think this was a really easy example, but I wanted to showcase those little moments that slide under the radar as ‘maybe not wrong.’ Questioning the idea of whether something is maybe not wrong usually means wrong. Here’s some resources for you:

Your Black Friend is Tired.

Today I am sharing a post from a friend. I am still so speechless about everything happening, yet again, in America. I should not be surprised or shocked though. America is purposefully, intensely, focused on keeping racist thinking/policies/and systematic governing principles intact. This obviously comes with no objection to murder and oppression. These words sum up a lot of my own thoughts and grim despair. Know that no matter what color of skin – I will love you as a person and not a thing to objectify cruelly.

Your black friend is trying to be ok.

Your Black friend in the past 30 days has watched a Black man get shot dead while jogging (Ahmaud Arbery), a Black woman get shot dead while sleeping (Breonna Taylor), and the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Your Black friend has also listened to the President of the United States use segregationist words as a veiled threat.

Your Black friend is trying to be ok.

Please don’t ask us about the looting.
Please don’t chastise us about the rioting.
Please don’t tell us that all lives matter.
Please don’t minimize our fear.
Please don’t bring up Black on Black crime.
Please don’t ask “What about Chicago?”
Please don’t say “if you’d just act like (A Wildly Successful Black Person… Usually Oprah, Obama, Colin Powell, Denzel or Will Smith)”. Please don’t judge us.

Your Black friend is trying to be ok.

Listen to your Black friend.
Empathize with your Black friend.
Support your Black friend.
Pray for your Black friend.
Pray with your Black friend.

Just let your Black friend know you really care.

Your Black friend will remember who truly had their back during this difficult time. They will remember who was more concerned about a looted Target. They will remember you posting a thinly veiled and racially offensive meme. They will remember you calling looters “Savages”. They will remember your silence about their Black life and the Black Lives of others.

It’s real easy.

Do whatever you can to help your Black friend out because your Black friend is trying to be ok…

*Copied and pasted*.

Posted by Nancy Louise Wheeler.

Thank you, Tiffany H., for sharing!

GR.

Art Matters to You.

I’m posting twice in a week – there’s a phenomena.

We’re moving, actually in the middle of a move, right now. It’s been a really long, exhausting process during something like this pandemic and the restrictions everyone is going through. Weirdly enough, packing with five people always around doesn’t actually make it go any faster or more easily. Funny how that turned out!

No, in all seriousness, this moving process is going well. We have a corner by our garage that we’ve been putting out stuff for free and literally everyday, it empties! This brings my heart a lot of joy. At first, everyone in the house was bummed that we couldn’t have a moving sale, so I tentatively suggested this. Nobody was a huge fan at first. I think seeing people happily ‘discovering’ our free stuff corner made a huge difference because suddenly, everyone in the house has had tons to just get rid of throughout the the house. Which is good since the new house has only half the space.

Anyways, I had someone message me a super important question. How do we handle the pandemic when we have mental health issues? It’s been something I’ve been sorta meditating on for about a week and a half. I could list all the repeated ideas everyone is using – time to self, new hobbies, family movie/game time, etc. But I think I have a little bit different answer.

I say – carve out time for art of any kind, books, music, painting, etc. This can be part of carving out time for yourself or separately. Time where you no longer think about yourself or your situation – or perhaps you use both for inspiration. For me personally, I haven’t been writing as much, but I have been reading tons. I could carry on about why but here’s a cool quote:

“Words are the closest thing humans will ever experience to actual magic. Words have the power to transport us to Hogwarts, Narnia, and Westeros. Words can not only break a heart, but more importantly heal it. Words allow us to cultivate and spread both new and old ideas. In short, words allow us an endless opportunity to practice magic in our every day lives. “

(https://ofwhiskeyandwords.com/what-does-timshel-mean-and-why-you-should-care/)

I think having a few moments everyday to free your mind with words and art is crucial. It’s a big part of what is really missing in the human experience now. How often do people really sit down to read or draw? What about just sitting or lying down to enjoy some great music while they rest? It’s twofold in my book, the resting and the art of any kind – it must be something you enjoy and that gives reprieve from the world around us.

I think this is especially critical to mental wellness right now. We aren’t able to travel to find and appreciate the things that energize and reset our minds. But being at home shouldn’t mean shutting ourselves off from pleasures. In fact, a lot of the world’s greatest artists and writers lived in solitude to concentrate full time on producing and appreciating with their gifts. They usually only took breaks for meals and walks. The world is a lot more complicated and also a lot more interruptive now.

There’s a lot of research into the necessity for art as pleasure and well-being for those with critical mental health issues. I won’t delve into all of it, but here’s a quote:

‘Studies have shown that participating in music and art can alleviate pain, help people manage stress, promote wellness, enhance memory, improve communications, aide physical rehabilitation, and give people a way to express their feelings. ‘

(https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/03/22/whether-its-art-and-music-therapy-art-and-music-therapy-calms-traumatized-teens/446622002/)


So, the next part of my answer is this – everyone thinks they don’t have time for music and art, but they actually do. It’s a time management thing. It’s about taking even five to fifteen minutes everyday for it. You also don’t need to be the greatest artist or reader on the planet, you just have to enjoy what you choose. If you must multi-task – listen to your favorite music while making dinner or cleaning. Read right away in the morning, in between tasks, or before bed every night. Find time to sketch or paint, even if your kids need to be coloring or painting right beside you. It’s possible and it’s necessary for you.

I’m sure a lot of this sounds cliché, but here’s what I found in a totally non-scientific, purely observational way. When I was in the hospital after my suicide attempt, a lot of us felt a lot less depression and were able to do better in our group/solo counseling sessions when we made art, listened to music, or spent time reading. I can attribute a large part of my own recovery to art therapy sessions – which may sound weird, but it allowed me to redevelop patience, enjoy creativity, and provide myself a mental break from stressors.

So I advise art and music more than anything. Sure, we can eat well, we can exercise, and we can take our meds. But the brain and heart need creativity and pleasure just as much as they need those other things. This isn’t about functioning, it’s about living.

GR.

My Mom Is.

A person I don’t write about much is my mom. But it’s Mother’s Day and I feel a great amount of pride in her. My mom, Julie, is often a person who stays in the background rather than the forefront. She is quiet, silly, polite, and utterly devoted to this family. She has held positions of authority with humility, and she cooks for all five of us every single night. My mother is beautiful too, though she does not believe so. As a fellow Canceranian, the way she loves and cares is intense, focused, and never ending not matter what happens.

I admire her very much.

When I was about to turn 3, I had a pretty intense surgery on my brain and spinal cord. She stayed calm and collected despite feeling that she was somehow responsible for my being sick. She worked very hard and loved even harder. A thing that happened after my surgery was that I was temporarily paralyzed. Rather than give up on me, my father actually stayed home with me every day to bring back all my physical abilities. My mom worked extra shifts and stayed extra hours to keep her family afloat. She also did all the grocery shopping, all the cleaning and gardening, and still cuddled with me most every night. Even my father has admitted that she never complained.

She found ways to make it to all my school functions, my concerts, my dance performances, despite sometimes working around the clock. She even made dinner every night, too! She and my father took me on a lot of adventures, road tripping and camping all over the western half of the country. She found time to go on long walks with me and tried to talk with me meaningfully every day.

I admit that I was not the greatest teenager in the world. Especially to her. I was laser focused internally a lot of the times. I was also intensely focused on all my extra activities, working, and trying to stay above feeling down a lot. I didn’t realize then that I had depression or anxiety, and I took a lot of that out on my mom. She was patient and kind anyway.

When I was in my 20s, I competed in pageants for scholarships and as a big personal goal after my father died. A thing that was required during the pageant performance was that we were escorted by a parent during evening gown competitions. My mother was terrified, even though we shopped for beautiful dresses for her too. We practiced everyday up till the pageants. Finally the pageants came, and each time, she was beautiful and elegant. I was so grateful that she did something so hard for her, just for me.

After my father died, my mom and I decided to be two adults in respect of how we treated each other – not necessarily mother and daughter. We talked openly and usually several times a day. She supported and encouraged me through failed college majors, failed ridiculous relationships, a big move, and an elopement. She learned to not take my mood swings and worsening mental health personally.

When we all moved in together, our relationship was suddenly so difficult. We weren’t kind to each other and we were each going through a lot of terrible issues. My mom was struggling with grief. I was on the wrong medication for my mental health, and worse than I had ever been. I was ready to throw in the towel, but suddenly something changed and we learned how to be in a real relationship again. I am so grateful for this because, like everyone, I don’t really know how to live without my mom.

Sometimes, I don’t know she actually doesn’t fall over exhaustion. She spends her days of retirement zooming around, just like when she was working. She even had breast cancer a while back, and she healed from both the surgery and the cancer in record time. She’s about the only person I know that wakes up perky, alert, and basically singing

What a great woman, right? Happy Mother’s Day, mom. You’re among the best people ever and you do amazing stuff every single day. The kids and I love you. And Happy Mother’s Day to y’all too.

GR.

Crystals.

I’m not shy when talking about the painful bits of life. It was keeping quiet for a very long time that damaged me the most. You know, when I first started to openly talk about the difference between reality and the story spun about how idyllic things had been – so many people were incredibly angry with me. A big focus was put of how I was dishonoring my father and my family, but to be truthful – abuse is what dishonors and destroys a man and his family. Telling the truth does nothing but allow healing to start, if you allow it.

Tara Westover made another interesting point in her book Educated,

“I am not the child my father raised, but he is the father who raised her.”

I should honestly write the woman a big thank you letter, she helped me process how much healing and writing I still was capable of. I had no idea, to be truthful. So, I’d like to leave you with a short story about something most abusers are capable of – which is knowing the truth of what they are doing. This is a question I have been asked time and again, actually.

‘Do you think he knew what he was doing?’

My answer is always a definitive yes. Here’s where our story begins.

A few years after we moved to Arizona, my parents started going to Death Valley every year right after Christmas. There were small towns with hot mineral springs baths and cozy cabins. We would always stay through New Years Eve because the ballerina, Marta Beckett, gave this extraordinary performance at the Amargosa Opera House that would start around 9 in the evening and end around 11 with intermission. Afterward, there was always a party and you could meet Marta, tour the opera house and the haunted hotel beside it, and take a late night walk through their estatuary garden. It was always perfectly weird and wonderful.

Another thing that was amazing to do was go hiking or for long walks across the fields in Death Valley. Early in the morning or just before dusk, the light was perfect to help you see the sparkle of crystals against all the salt and minerals that lay atop the land like fairy tale glimmering snow. A lot of mornings, my father rose before my mom and I. He would wake me to go with him for a walk at dawn and then to get coffee and hot cocoa at the local cafe.

Before our last winter trip to Death Valley, my parents had some major trouble in their marriage. I took the opportunity to beg my mom to leave and I told her that he was abusive to us. She was shocked that I had said anything like that and forbade me from ever repeating it. I never did, but it came back to haunt me, months and months later.

We were hunting for some crystals and my father was crouched down with a handful he was sorting through. I was very, very, very cold and I needed to pee, so I quietly asked if we could move on. He stayed crouched for a little bit longer and then slowly said,

‘You should know that your mother tells me everything. Everything you say, especially. Well Sara, she told me you said I’m abusive. I’m real hurt by that. Especially because I know that I’m not. You’re a kid who needs to be taught a lot of hard lessons and that’s not abuse. Doing something like this is abuse and I need you to know the difference.’

Suddenly, he grabbed me and slapped across my cheek with his hand full of crystals. I saw bright spots and couldn’t get my breath to cry or scream. But he kept talking anyways.

‘I know what I’m doing. That means I’m not an abuser. I ALWAYS know what I’m doing and it’s for the good of you and your mother. Lessons you need to learn. Abusers don’t know what they’re doing and would do something reckless like that. So today, you learned a valuable lesson. One you don’t need to tell your mom about either.’

Then he brushed my face off, grabbed my hand, and we walked the rest of the way to the cafe. I went to wash my face and we quietly welcomed the rest of the morning with coffee and hot chocolate.

G.R.

Belcourt.

Since this is a storytelling place, I thought I would invite you to read a story that may not make it into one of the books I am working on. It might though, I’m not entirely sure. I just figured that since we’re all inside with nowhere to go – it’s a nice time to read.

I moved a lot as a child – my parents worked for the government in the IHS for a number of years. This meant they transferred to different reservations and their hospitals often. It was always scary, exciting, and a lot for me to process – I value and crave both adventure and having solid roots. Anyways, here’s a peek into my early years.

The first time I remember moving was to a place in North Dakota called Belcourt on Turtle Mountain. I imagined that we lived on the actual back of a giant tortoise, deep jade green and cool. Belcourt was in a forest close to the Canadian border, and in my backyard I had a fairy ring of trees surrounding a pretty little bird bath. Not far from my house was a grey-green pond surrounded by birch trees and overgrown brush that deer liked to frequent. The pond frequently reminded me of my dad’s eyes.

At first, I was delighted to move, but it was a deep winter. We had moved from Washington where I could still roam freely in my giant backyard under a few inches of light snow. In Belcourt, the snow drifts were as tall as my parents and the wind howled angrily outside my window all night as if it had lost it’s way. There was a frozen river named Ox Creek and one of the very first Ashinaabe, or Chippewa, word I learned was Siipiising – the original name of Belcourt. It means ‘creek that sings with life giving water’.

I was also small, still somewhat sickly, pale with aquatic green eyes, crooked teeth, and blond frizz whereas everyone else here was beautiful, tall, and strong. When I went to my first day of school, I couldn’t stop staring. Beautiful shades of caramel and gold skin, tawny brown to deep black hair, golden brown and green eyes, tall and slender. Most days I felt like a really fashion forward garden gnome.

I wasn’t well liked but I collected a weird little assortment of people and friends. I had a little kindergarten boyfriend named Benjamin with rusty blonde hair. He was a very good introduction to love. I loved him because he ate glue and would trade his raisins for my apples from our sack lunches some days. We took naps next to each other everyday and held hands during story time. He had a handsome assortment of sweaters that looked cozy. Everyday during recess, we would plan to run away to Regina and live at a hotel in the pool and eat apples.

The boy across the street, Willie, was a real adventure. He came over often and I despised him. He peed in our birdbath. At one point, he insisted to my parents that he would marry me. He smelled like hotdogs and at my summer 6th birthday party, he successfully ate half the bottle of ketchup. He threw up in above mentioned bird bath. Later that week, I had to help scour it. I noticed that birds no longer enjoyed the water in my fairy ring birdbath and was infuriated. That fall, on the first day of first grade – I kicked both of his shins. After that, my parents relentlessly teased me about marrying Willie. (Do I move this after the babysitters?)

My best friend Angela and I were deeply competitive in a “Your momma” and a “Well, my daddy” sort of way. In kindergarten, I had won “Best witch” at Halloween and she was so mad because she won ‘Best Princess’. At the end of the year, I won ‘Best storyteller’ and she won ‘Perfect Attendance’. Yet again, this was infuriating to her, so she told me that day on the way home that my front porch was full of rattlesnakes – a fact I still believe today. I was so mad though that the next time I was over at her house, I announced that I knew her older brother, Gabriel smoked – in front of her whole family. I was officially uninvited from her home after that.

So I spent the summer before first grade alternating between my two babysitters, Cora and Shirley. I did my best to ignore Angela. At Cora’s, it felt like there were literally dozens of kids spilling out of every corner, doorway, and room of her house. If you blinked, they just multiplied. While this was super overwhelming, it could be amazing fun. I always brought my bag full of books, barbies, and essentials, but usually abandoned it to go explore with other kids. We would often venture out to the woods behind her house and use cut up logs to make our adventures of the day. We would make the Flintstone’s cave and car. We would make story circles and build small bonfires. We built the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine once. We hiked to the little pond.

The bus also stopped by Cora’s and if my father was awake after sleeping of an ER night shift, he would come and walk me home. He would take my little hand and tuck it in his coat pocket. Usually we would walk to the little pond first, even on the bitterly cold days. These were moments I always held my breath during because I never knew what to expect. There were times he would be smiling and call me my nicknames, then tuck a Hershey’s kiss in my cheek after we walked home. A lot of the time, we would wander home very quietly.

One time, my father and I walked to the little pond after school and there were deer drinking. It was cold but the pond wasn’t entirely frozen yet. We watched quietly as a doe led a baby to the water and suddenly my father asked if I thought they were beautiful. I thought it was all beautiful – the wiped, smudgy cold sky, and the bowing, bare trees next to the barely blue-grey water. The way the doe nudged her child encouragingly. I said yes happily and he nodded, his grey eyes tight.

Suddenly, he said, ‘It’s very beautiful, boogers. You won’t be though. You probably won’t grow up beautiful. Tonight your mom’s telling you that we’re moving. So let’s get home now.’ I exhaled, feeling pins stabbing behind my tummy and eyes. I looked back and the doe had seen us. They flicked away through the birch trees without a sound.

GR.

Mythical Creatures.

A big part of why I wanted to start writing a blog again was to chronicle writing the book I’m working on. The story of this book, so to speak, is really a story of how I and the people in my life have grown up. In fact, it’s how I stumbled upon the name Mythos Midwest for this place. Most of the people in my stories are not only from the Midwest, but they also grew up with a rich tradition of storytelling and oral histories. Truthfully, most Millennial adults have a fascinating oral history about their family and also the place they grew up.

Both sides of my family emigrated to the United States close to or in the 20th century and then settled in the Midwest. This is interesting because large parts of the Midwest were just beginning to develop and catch up with the rest of the country. Some places in the Midwest remained blissfully unaware of the speed of the outside world. Both sides of my family settled into these types of communities – eastern Iowa and western South Dakota. This enabled them to keep a lot of their own traditions, customs, and oral histories alive a lot longer.

I also spent a considerable amount of my late childhood and early adulthood in the Midwest. Not only was I not prepared for the culture shock of how different and ‘behind the times’ everything felt, I was unprepared for how much of an outsider I really was – even to both sides of my family and their ways. So I immersed myself in learning my family’s stories and history. This was easy to do because I come from a humongous family filled with storytellers and our history seemed to sometimes take on mythological proportions.

One such person who took on that level of mythos easily was my father. In fact, the story I’m working on for my book has to do with his storytelling, his own history, how that affected me and our relationship. To this day, I am still affected by my dad’s belief in his own magic and importance, just not necessarily in a bad way anymore. It reminds me of this quote from “Educated by Tara Westover about her own father:

“You can miss a person every day, and still be glad that they are no longer in your life.”

I read Educated when I started considering writing this book for real. Over the years, I had given it these sort of half-hearted attempts that had very large, disastrous burnouts. The reason behind this was complex. I had made peace with my dads suicide years ago, but I had no peaceful resolution to the hurt he had caused me through my life. One such hurt was the belief he had instilled in me that if I believed in the fantasy of him, I would be less hurt by abuse. It was a painful lesson to learn the opposite. I think it’s a lesson a lot of people who experience abuse never recover from because it’s hard to reconcile the honesty of it all.

I also think that fantasy we engage in helps abuse hurt less initially, but sets a person up with little to no coping skills for the real world. We don’t know how to trust the good things and are more comfortable when things are bad. I wanted to explore that idea along with what was honest or real and what wasn’t about my father. I am learning is that the fantasy he had my believe in may have also been a shield against the abuse he dealt with as a kid. He is not the only mythical creature in his family – storytelling took dazzling heights with his siblings, my grandparents and their relatives, and more.

I guess the real question becomes, what were they all hiding from? Were they all dealing with abuse? Were they all hiding from reality? Let’s learn together.

GR.

Misdiagnosis.


(I would like to add two disclaimers here. First, a content warning as this post is a pretty in depth look at my own mental illness journey. It deals with a lot and it may not be the best reading if you are struggling. I won’t be offended if you can’t read it. Second, this post is simply about part of my own mental health journey and I am going to try my very best to not make judgments or assumptions about anyone else with mental illness, diagnoses or life experiences similar to my own.)

An interesting thing about me is that I have Bipolar 2 disorder, PTSD, and severe Generalized Anxiety. This is interesting because for the last 18 years, I have probably been misdiagnosed with treatment resistant Depression, Agoraphobia, and Generalized Anxiety. I don’t necessarily blame doctors and therapists for not catching this sooner. So, let’s take a journey together through my mental health and all of the complicated twists and turns it’s been on.

My mom always described me as a nervous, overly energetic kid that worried too much. I would personally add to that description that I was really withdrawn and scared often but pretended my very best that I was mature and capable. I am not sure about all only children, but the ones I know the most intimately also talk a lot about trying really hard to be more grown up than they were capable of from an early age.

My father and many members of my family have mental illnesses that span a wide range from Depression to Schizophrenia and more. My father had his own diagnoses of OCD, Depression, and Generalized Anxiety. Unfortunately, he used medication, alcohol, and illegal drugs to self-medicate. It was devastating for my mom and I. My father was capable of something that I later also became unconsciously capable of – masking his symptoms and issues. I am sure alcoholism and drug use also helped him do this, but in reality, he was always in a destructive downward spiral.

It’s hard to accept that you loved someone deeply but that they were abusive and caused you irreparable harm. It’s also hard to see the harm because you try really hard to heal yourself and make better choices. The really important part is that with mental illness, genetics play a big part and you may not be able to do all that work on your own. I didn’t understand this for a long time and just continued to spiral and fall apart too. My father committed suicide during my first year of college and at the time, I didn’t recognize the blunt force injury to my mental illnesses until much later on.

When I first realized that I was sad and scared all the time, I did try to tell my parents. My father mocked me and said that it was ‘the human condition’. My mom said ‘people have seasons’. I’m not really mad about it by now, I don’t have the energy to continue to pour into that. My energy started becoming really chaotic too. I would be wild, fun, and ready to do so many new things so often! Then I needed to be away from everyone for weeks on end and totally silent. I lost track of myself constantly and became hyper focused on really unattainable goals.

When I started college, about two months in, I had a real breakdown. I was no longer capable of the really high academic performance I was used to exacting from myself. I felt like I was afraid, falling apart everyday, exhausted, and sad everyday. I also felt like I was looking through a hazy window at everyone else ‘getting it’. I secretly made an appointment with a doctor and he was refreshingly kind. He was also probably the first and last time I was honest about the level of help I needed for a really long time. I spent a lot of time drinking the kool-aid that I needed more sunlight, a cleaner diet, more exercise, and a different mindset to basically erase it all. This basically ended in a wall of chaos, failure, and my refusing to see anything as my own problem for years.

The something new happened after I became a mother. For years, I lived in fear of leaving my house and took narcotic anxiety meds everyday. They were too much of a temptation for me, I think. I started drinking with them and was just a mess. I also started slowly thinking about self-harm. It was never a thing that I wanted to act on, but I thought about it a lot. That started to scare me because I started to do things like smash coffee cups or plates just to destroy something and feel better. Then I would go back to bed and not function for weeks on end. Unless suddenly, I had a big burst of energy. Then I would be up all night, clean all day, we would go places, spend stupid amounts of money, and I was always starving.

It just never stopped and kept getting worse. My doctors thought I had treatment resistant Depression because I didn’t recognize any symptoms of anything bigger as part of myself. Sure, I was getting worse, but I probably still hadn’t gotten enough sunshine or green juice yet. A Lot of times when some symptoms are bigger than others or the patient just doesn’t recognize them, it’s called masking or masking symptoms. That’s not always something a doctor can catch onto.

A lot of people with bipolar disorders go under or misdiagnosed. This is because we may really only recognize the depression and the lows as problematic, but not really think the mania is a wrong because ‘Oh gosh, I feel so GOOD again- even just for a little bit!’ This can be scary because some medications are really wrong for people who need a mood stabilizer, not just an anti-depressant. Last fall, my doctor thought the depression was just getting way too out of hand and we decided to try a much higher dosage of a med I had some success with. It was basically like a shot of adrenaline every time I took another pill. I wasn’t sleeping but I was incredibly energetic and also intensely suicidal. This made me incredibly afraid.

I had another breakdown but so much bigger. I voluntarily turned myself in at the hospital and agreed to be committed when a near fender bender sent me into a panic attack so strong that I wanted to go home and take every pill I could find. It was so intense and scary to absolutely not recognize how far I had fallen and that I needed to leave for a hospital far away to repair.

When I met my psychiatrist and counselors, we spent a lot of time going over everything I had been through – more than I could ever cover here in a safe amount of writing. I told them raw, honest truth about how I had nightmares every night, how I couldn’t get myself together in any lasting way, the flip flopping emotions, the panic attacks, the things I have been through. When they talked to me frankly about bipolar 2 and ptsd, I nearly cried in relief. When I started my new meds, the adjustment was slow but life changing and steadying in a way I didn’t even know was possible for me.

The ironic thing is that I did my university education in psychology and counseling. I should have seen myself, right? I should have been able to catch on and get help sooner – this was my thinking for awhile but I think that humans cannot always help the blind spots in our self evaluation. Especially when we have been through a lot of trauma and sadness. It’s like our brains simply block things from being ‘yet another really bad thing’ and make it ‘hey this is still manageable and not so bad situation’. Which can be true, but only if you are approaching the situation with some honesty and clarity.

I’m working with this really great therapist. We do EMDR to work through the PTSD and trauma. We talk a lot to work through the bipolar stuff. We talk about healthy boundaries that make for being a better human. I’m learning that the sunshine and green juice are fine but they aren’t curatives, you know? This won’t ever go away because it’s part of my biological ‘ME’. But the truly important part is how steady and non-destructive I am to myself for the first time in nearly two decades. I feel better because of recognition, honesty, and acceptance.

If you are struggling too, I’m happy to be here for you, my loves. On Facebook, we have created a fantastic group called Will Press Lever for Food or Happiness. It’s about recognition, support, and love for anyone with mental illness. In the meantime, than you for reading along.

GR.

Reimagination

I think it’s really hard to ‘introduce yourself’ to something, a world, you have been long gone from purposefully. I actually used to be a semi-succesful blogger ‘way’ back when blogging began and it was one of the biggest, most meaningful ways to communicate ideas and stories to the world. Of course, that was really only a few years ago. In that time, the ways to tell a story have exploded. But I found myself struggling to really understand what I wanted to do with my writing, so I semi-retired.

In that time, I did hard and good things for my life. I’m still doing them. Things like raising my kids, getting better from really awful illnesses, learning about my mental health, and becoming an adult in my marriage. I learned how to stop starving myself. I learned how to sleep. I learned how to say no. I learned how to ask for help and how to apologize. I learned that sometimes I am too weak, too tired to be everything for everyone else. I learned how to write again.

Our family has gone through a lot. We moved across the country. We’ve had some really hard, poor times where we did things like sell every dvd we owned to pay all for food some months to make sure that our paychecks and money covered all our bills. Because, ya know, being millennials. We’ve had some really good times were we stood at the edge of the ocean together or sang Happy Birthday to my om in a new home. We’ve stood up to transphobia, ableism, and social discrimination together. We’ve helped the kids through really hard and dangerous illnesses. We’ve learned to all like each other, not just love each other.

I think all of this helped me to shed a really hardened me that I held onto for a really log time. I have become more sensitive but stronger. I hope, as I have grown up and slowly learned to love my writing again in these few years, that I have become a better listener and more empathetic. It has all opened me up to sharing again and I am excited about that. I am not perfect.

I still love a good book and a great blog. I think a lot of people still do, and I think most people love to know about creation of stories. So, I thought I would take everyone on a much different journey. Right now, I’m working on two books and I’d love to tell stories about me, about the books, mental health, and about the process of writing. I will also have a tumblr devoted to a different side of me, my instagram, and a facebook page. It’s going to be a constant work and it’s work I have finally learned to not just love, but be totally honest with myself.

I really hope we all love each other.

Sincerely,

Georgia Rose

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