Well… That was different…

My nightmares usually consist of post apocalyptic times always with a lot of running and fighting. Sometimes hostage situations of just myself, sometimes loved ones or a combination. Last night, I was surrounded by people who care about me. No matter what I said or did no one could hear me and though it felt all too normal yet, it was different and even more infuriating. All around me people I knew and some I didn’t dressed in dark clothes with red skin around their tired eyes and that was when I saw myself laying in an ugly wooden box. At least I saw my shell or vessel anyway. Dressed in something I would not want to wear for eternity if there was a here after. My best friend and sole god parent to my child walked in with my son in her arms, anger and sadness swarmed her face while he looked confused and seemed to be searching for me.

I listened to people say things such as, ” I didn’t know it was that bad.” “Why didn’t she ask for help?” “How could she do this to me?” With each sentence I grew more angry with their consistent oblivious selfishness until the last question where I only cried. “How could she leave her son?” Once again being overwhelmed by feelings I never could or did good enough for him.

I walked around attempting to poke people or trip them, annoyed I had to attend my own funeral and hear the same stories over and over again. Listening to how great I was or how selfish depending on the private conversation I was listening in on. I sat on my casket looking at my shell thinking, I hope I’m better at this than whoever this mortician was. Picking flower petals and throwing them in the box hoping to freak someone out, mostly out of boredom and on the ground where my son picked them up smiling and naturally chewed on them.

I woke up at the same time as I do every night no matter the context of the nightmares. The first feeling I had was disappointment. I was madly disappointed I had to not only be present in such a nightmare but recall it completely as anything would have been better. Fighting battles, chasing monsters, running from evil entity’s, surviving apocalyptic time and post. The second was a feeling of being filled with an ocean of sadness for my son in. Last, I was angry my brain would have me experience such a thing.

I went back to sleep quickly, no dreaming or nightmares. Shortly after awaking for the next days list of “to do’s” I needed to complete. Still unsure which was worse.

 

 

Suffocating and Surviving

Maybe I don’t know who I am or what I’m doing but I am trying to figure it all out.  I lost a part of myself I was told I wasn’t allowed to be, leaving me hollow chasing a feeling I couldn’t imagine to be real. A life I never felt I deserved. I fantasized of a life more than this and far worse too. It wasn’t about an unwillingness to risk, more so it has always been the willingness to sacrifice my wants and needs for others to only find it was never enough. It always takes pieces of me and I’m not sure who it is that is left.
On no more than two to three hours of sleep a night for weeks now (or longer honestly) I find it difficult to raise to the standards some are used to. It’s much harder to pretend I am alright with little sleep, being awoken by horrific nightmares that continue to haunt me for days. My gypsy soul wants to wander, explore and feel alive but these things are selfish so I push them far from me.  So I work toward a better life for the one who needs me most regardless if that is the life that would make me happy. I’m not sure if my happiness has ever been a primary focus in my life though sometimes I’m sure it seems this way to others. I have been trapped in survival mode, enduring so much for such a very long time now. I’ve fooled so many into this strong version of myself unable to rely on anyone the way I truly need I’m not sure who I am anymore or if this is me. If a version of myself free exists some where or if that version is lost forever.
All I can think now at 1 am is, have I stayed up late enough to avoid these traumatizing nightmares? Will there every be a reprieve for me?

self portrait ©Andrea DiGiglio 2017

I soar out of bed grasping onto hope that what I endured was not real. It wasn’t but it feels so real my body and mind in fact believe it was and so I carry it with me always. The nightly nightmares I bare increasingly more traumatizing and horrific the worse my waking state seems to be. The more fighting or arguing, the more lack of support and help, my dreams feed on it and love to rub my nose in it. It’s strange to me how some people think because the words of support pour out of them without action that is sufficient. Claiming interest in the things you care most deeply about with little to no investment if it is not a shared interest with the expectation of a return on their own passions. Putting in ten percent while lying to themselves they are one hundred percent invested and expecting undivided attention and when its not given turning harsh and cruel. For someone with PTSD (and those without), it adds to the stress and when that person has spent more than half of their life enduring this suffocating existence trapped in survival mode continuously made promises however true at the time that cannot be and never are fulfilled it makes the enduring of this existence much more difficult to bare. This isn’t a blame game, regardless if my bipolar diagnosis is warping the chemicals in my brain to make me two different people shoved in this one broken shell, this shell everyone speaks so kindly about, that isn’t really me is it? With a constant fluctuation of moods and personality traits how am I to know who I am anyway? I was told the darkness within me was evil but it’s the only constant and safe part of my life. It takes a hold and comforts me when I need it most when I am at the point of quitting it all, washing away my tears and sometimes my pain if only for a short while. It never judges me and I wonder if denying it’s existence is the part of me missing that makes me feel whole. I am beyond damaged and more alone than I ever could have imagined trying to pretend I’m something I’m not for the sake to not cause discomfort to those I care most about. At some point they all claim I do not have to do that with them but if time proves anything at all, it proves the fallacy of what they can endure and the fact I can endure almost anything, but with great cost. 
How could I possibly trust or rely on another being when time and time again it is proven I must be the strong one? I am so very tired of asking for what I need only to be let down and challenged with the notion I should be grateful for what I have. Unwanted assistance in nearly an opposite fashion to what my mind is screaming for. I so wish that I was loved because those want to love me and not because they need to love me or need my love. I’m tired of being needed. In the beginning of all things I am wanted, chased and at some point I become some burden who is no longer giving them all the things they want. Eventually never enough all while draining the life within me while striving to be what they want me to be with no return.

Here’s the hardest part of all of this, I need help. So do many of you. I have a psychiatrist, therapist, trauma therapist, neurologist etc. Helping me fight for my right to not only endure or survive this life but perhaps live it. This isn’t the help I mean but clearly the help I do need will never come. I wish others would do the same, fight for themselves rather than live in a different sort of darkness they refuse to climb out of, playing the blame game attached to an idea that life or people owe them something when they don’t.  If only they took care of themselves rather than adding their baggage onto my back and wonder why I’m breaking and unable to help them, they may heal and maybe I could too. We are here to love, to live. “…All I’ve ever learned from love was how to shoot somebody who outdrew you…” To live… what a beautiful fantasy like three moons shinning over a clear blue sea, and sand between my toes. I am suffocating and trapped and every step forward I fight through the chains and weight of a thousand worlds attached at my ankles and yanked yards backward. I need my own space, I need more time than most to myself by myself, uninterrupted and not to be treated that what I need and want is not valid because it hurts someones feelings or offends them because fuck that bullshit. Learn to love yourself, be alone with yourself, survive on your own as I have done. To many being alone is a curse or the worst punishment of all but to me as a survivor I can always rely on my self to endure, to survive to fight through every god damn thing thrown at me. It’s people who break me. With intention to do so, without intention to do so. Does that part even matter? Being alone is where I can find peace in a world so horrible and filled with chaos and selfishness. I haven’t been alone with myself in so many years, taken from me just as the control over the chemicals in my brain has taken my control over my emotional and mental state. Taught wanting such a thing is wrong and cruel to those who surround me, smothering the light inside of me wondering why I feel so vacant. I have a gypsy soul and that was snuffed out too. So we are left with this shell, the shell everyone seems to love and I despise. Somewhere in the darkness I am screaming and clawing my way out, if only I had help. If only it mattered more than…

 

I’m Tired

I don’t remember the last time when I spoke the words “I’m tired,” and that was all I meant. Whether it was to someone or to myself. I’m tired has replaced I’m okay, I’m all right, I’m fine which often was retorted with, “Are you sure?” Sometimes followed with unsolicited advice which honestly was never much help in climbing out of that headspace. I’m just tired has replaced I’m exhausted. It’s replaced I’m sad, I’m depressed, I feel broken. It’s replaced I feel hopeless. I’m not sure at what point I am tired became so much more in those two words. It creeps in the darkness of the night stealing sleep or causing nothing but sleep. It has no shame on a warm sunny day and still keeps coming at you with clenched fists. Frankly, most times talking about how I feel traps me there and I want to escape it and I have therapists for that sort of thing anyway.

I suppose I may not just be tired and after so many years like this it feels as if this is who I am now. It’s not all days but it’s closer to that being true than not. Sometimes saying I’m tired, is to not burden those you care about with something you can’t help feeling. And after so much time has passed and those feelings are still there the compassion dissipates from the ones you need it from the most. It is not intentional to hurt but the truth is, sometimes it does.

Maybe I don’t have anything positive to say and I am a jaded, cynical pessimist. And life experiences and jacked chemicals in my brain created the monster I feel I am now. So no, I won’t complain about my day, the physical pain I’m in I try to ignore and fight through or for the mental warfare inside of my head just to be told to chin up or buck up or to play the one up game with people I’m not trying to compete with, especially a game where every one is the loser. To be asked how I am and for the response to my reply to feel like nothing more than a brush off, an obligation to ask but no substance behind it. And yes, I already know that someone else has it worse than me but I still have to live this life in this body, in this mind.

I miss truly enjoying things, things I used to or even new experiences or even something so simple as chasing after dreams. To be trapped in survival mode only because the chemistry in my brain is faulty. Some days, not all days, I go through the motions only to get to the next day and only to do it all over again like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day or Sammy in the “Mystery Spot” episode of Supernatural. But I haven’t given up yet and that should count for something shouldn’t it?

So yes, I’m tired.

 

When nightmares feel all to real

Most of my nightmares consist of me running, forever it seems. Being chased or chasing someone or something. Thankfully in my dreams I have stamina and the endurance to keep running. I often wake up with my legs feeling sore at times. I also tend to get into these grand battles, always fighting. Winning some, losing others.

Last night this was not the case at all, there was no running or fighting. Just panic and blood. It felt so incredibly real it took several minutes this morning to come to terms with the fact it was not real at all.

 

*Warning: Not suitable for all ages*


THE NIGHTMARE
I did not feel well and I couldn’t really explain how but it was different than my everyday pain and mental & emotional struggles caused by the 8 x 11 page list of disorders I bare. My heart was racing, my stomach turning. I stared into the mirror in the bathroom attempting to rid the awful taste of something horrible about to happen, out of my mouth. I rinsed my mouth out with mouthwash and as I spit five teeth coated in thick blood mixed with Listerine, fell from my mouth into the sink with a clank which seemed to echo. I covered my mouth with a shaky hand, attempting to bare my weight on the counter with the other. I coughed, choking on the blood and in reflex spit more blood into the sink. Followed by more teeth. My eyes widened. I gathered the pieces of myself I had just lost and I ran out into the house barely audible saying, “ER, watch him.” Referring to my six-year-old son. An argument or barter system would have played out if the blood had not been all over the outside of my mouth, leaking out into my hands as I spoke.

I drove myself to the ER as I always did in such situations. Salt stinging my eyes, begging a being I don’t believe in and even hate not to let this be it. My son needs me. My mind screamed, pulling into the ER, nearly colliding with a parked car parked over the line as people who drive SUV’s and other large vehicles always seem to do. I stumbled out of the car and into the emergency room doors nearly collapsing on the security guard. He caught me and partially carried me to the check in desk. I attempted to check in but when I spoke my words were colluded with blood and more teeth flew into my hands. I could only painfully stare into the woman’s eyes with trembling lips. Begging for help through my glossy eyes.

They took me back steadfast and most of the doctors in the ER came to see my strange condition. A specialist of sorts with sleek blonde hair pulled back into a low ponytail, tugged at her white coat while examining me. Her demeanor was cold and she made no effort to ease my discomfort or mental turmoil. She walked away to speak with the attending claiming my “infection” of sorts was due to a drug I most likely injected. So much judgment leaked out of her skin. Injecting myself was something I had never done and as I attempted to explain no words fell from my lips, only red and white. Unfortunately the only way to treat this insatiable infection was to know the specific strain and I had taken no such injectable drugs. For a moment death would be imminent. I began to thrash unwilling to accept this carved out fate. They attempted to hold me down and as ordered searched my body for needle marks anyway. I tried to tell them but was unable to speak clearly and so while they searched my skin I wrote in my own blood on the white bed sheet, “no injections, only medical pot.” Something I use to treat my disorders.

At this point my family and friends had begun to start showing up at the ER demanding answers on my condition. It seemed to always take something extreme for a response of care by action and not only empty words. I am not sure who it was who was actually able to speak with the doctors and chose to race back to house I live in to find my “stash,” as the doctor called it. Maybe my lack of faith to believe someone would think to do so. By some wave of luck the medical team was able to test the contents to find one of the glass mason jars of marijuana was in fact laced with a deadly substance causing rapid decay in my body. They began inserting the treatment into my IV and I felt it burning inside of my skin. Now I needed major surgery to remove the infection in my mouth and replacing all of my now missing teeth. They claimed they were optimistic in which the infection hadn’t spread anything further. At this point, I was not.

Assuming the treatment was working, a elderly woman with a limp wheeled a computer on a cart slowly and a stack of paperwork since I could not speak, into my room as naturally I had to apply for a medical credit card to pay for the expenses before they would start anything as they already screened that my insurance would not cover the “cosmetic” tooth replacement.  I filled out the paperwork. Twice, because I kept dripping blood accidentally onto it.

I handed the paperwork to the woman, suddenly dropping on the edge of the bed clenching my stomach as a sharp pain followed by cramping erupted through me causing me to vomit. I puked up some strange large mass of sorts that I honestly thought was an organ I might need. Finally, the doctor decided to start the surgery regardless of the status of my potential medical credit line. She up’d the dose of the treatment as they rushed me down the hall.

It was a strange feeling watching them as I felt myself leaving myself in a way as they put some sort of mask on me to help knock me out while someone else injected me with something but from my point of view it just felt like the ice queen specialist was putting a pillow over my face to smother me and I wondered if that would be so bad? I choked trying to talk through that mess, trying to say my sons name. I tried to smack the bed to draw anyone’s attention to it but I’m sure it only looked as if I was tapping at what I had already written as they were wheeling me down the hall toward the OR. It read, “single mom, autistic son. All he has. Please.”

I woke up in the dream alive, in a panic after the surgery. Wanting to see my son, to hold him.

Immediately I shot out of my own bed, actually awake. Not sure if I was in reality or not. Not realizing for a while that I had been dreaming all of those horrible moments.

Unsure which was worse.

Cinderella isn’t Dressed in Yellow, She’s Dressed in Black and She’s Depressed

© RussTurnerphotography
Cinderella isn’t dressed in yellow. She’s dressed in black. And she’s depressed, in pain, ill and exhausted but still getting the damn job done. She’s on mood stabilizers that don’t help nearly as much now that she quit smoking cigarettes. She doesn’t live with step relatives but blood and her dad isn’t dead but he’s not there. Her time doesn’t belong to her and if she attempts to steal any of it she is punished for being selfish. When she asks for help there’s always a price to be paid. Prince Charming brings her home (back to the house) at midnight when she can get a sitter. She sleeps a lot or not at all. She forgets to eat. She’s dying and she doesn’t even care anymore. All they think is, how selfish what about me?

© Andrea DiGiglio

This is what depression looks like

This is what depression looks like:

© Andrea DiGiglio
© Drea DiGiglio
This is what depression feels like (to me anyway.)
It’s more than the really bad days of not being able to get out of bed. The idea of getting out of bed is exhausting. Not showering for days on end and not giving a rat’s ass about it. Not eating for days or perhaps the opposite and shoveling food mindlessly and probably guilt tripping yourself for it every step of the way. Its not just the days where you cannot muster the strength to get out of bed. It’s the days where you feel like that but you do get out of bed, too.
If you have kids, you still have to get them ready for school and take them to their appointments. Sure, maybe your in sweats instead of actual clothes but who cares. You clearly don’t. If you work, you work. You don’t socialize, you don’t count the minutes. You just work and you’re not entirely sure if you’re grateful it’s over because you hate working but now what the fuck are you going do with your time? Every activity takes effort. Every activity. The world looks as if it is tinted in a lower temperature color. Food doesn’t taste as good. You drink, whether it’s to be numb or shut the noise in your head up or just to feel, settled. Or perhaps some other alternative to cope.
Your body and you argue. You’re sore for no reason or just tired all of the time. Or both.
At first you say how you feel. Then you feel like a burden. Maybe you are. Maybe you aren’t. You take care of everyone except yourself because all you are trying to do at this point is survive. This is usually the point when people bring up the things you do (or don’t do) because you’re depressed, because you seem to always be depressed and yes you’re already aware of them. When people bring them up a feeling erupts, a cross between; feeling guilty and angry. Guilty for your behavior or lack there of and that they noticed and want you to know they noticed. Anger because you now feel as if your feelings are no longer valid and only their feelings are and why not just do it instead of making me feel bad about it because obviously on this day I am struggling?
People who love you try to understand and maybe they really do. But let’s be honest it’s annoying when a family member isn’t contributing or is grumpy, sad or angry all of the time.
So you stop saying how you feel. It’s too hard to continuously repeat yourself and it’s not going away, it just keeps coming back. So you smile. You laugh. You try to, fake it till you make it.
Then people like us see these smiling photos stream across social media. Smiling, happy. All the while suffering. Enduring. Fighting. They don’t know they aren’t alone.

So, apparently. This is what depression looks like. We put makeup on so we can feel normal, look normal and maybe to fake it. Maybe it’s so the people in our lives will stop asking if we are okay because no, we are not okay. Maybe we don’t wan’t the shame and guilt of feeling how we feel. Maybe we are just too damn depressed to have another conversation about it. Today I am not okay and that is okay. Just maybe, tomorrow I will be and that smile might be real. If it’s not? I suppose you might not really be able to tell because we live in a world where those who carry the burden of a mental illness feel like a burden. It’s not just the words people say it’s their actions time and time again. Actions which do not say, “I understand you are suffering.” Rather say, “When will this end this time so the ‘real you’ will be back” (For them.) The longer someones struggle is with their disorder, the longer they suffer. The less patient I find people to be. It’s a sad world I find us to be in. Where those who always have the kindest of hearts are often the most broken.

Much love to you all, be kind to one another. Keep fighting through the darkness and know you are worth fighting for, your life is worth fighting for. The good days are worth it. Don’t give up.

XO
-Andrea

From my personal journal during a bipolar episode

I’m sharing this again because for me, it’s important to share my struggles. In hopes that other’s will see there is still reason for hope. I still have bad days. Hard days. Now, my good days are filled with so much love and joy and kindness, it truly makes these bad days easier to survive. I’m still that girl and I always will be. That’s the nature of my disorder, but I am so much more than that and now I can see that.

Here is an entry from my private journal. Honestly it’s on the lighter side, not sure what that says about my inner struggles.

October 2013:

I feel as if I’m floating through a sea of shadows. My mind is as tired as my body. I try to find the lighter side of things but the irritation of doing so is nauseating. I dream sometimes of a little house with an ocean view on a private beach where my mind can finally relax and I can enjoy my time here in this world. I dream of a body I feel comfortable in with no self loathing. Sadly, all of these things aren’t real and they leave me longing until I break down from the loss of something I never even had. As I cycle through waves of yet another bipolar episode I reach acceptance if only for a short period of time. Acceptance for who I am, baggage and all. For who I’m not and never will be. Allowing myself to dream even if it will never come to pass. I float between angry, depressed and a calmness I refer as the calm before the next storm. I wonder if I have the right to want more for myself. I try to be thankful for those moments of eerie calmness and quiet contemplation. It’s always so difficult to do so as I know if I wait a few hours, a day, days even I’ll be back to singing the blues and crying myself to sleep. My wonderland is a wasteland for broken souls. Once again the calmness before the storm settles on my skin like an itch I just can’t scratch. I will always continue to fight this nearing episode with what little strength I have. The air is crisp and inviting me to soak up the sun. As if the darkness wasn’t calling out to me. It’s moments like this I crave to be alone, yet a piece of me reaches out to those I love for comfort, for acceptance. The things I love to do hold less meaning in times like this. A hollowness erupts inside of me, taunting my rage and sadness. There’s no real rhyme or reason to feel this way. I know my life is far from horrible. Like a warm blanket the darkness comforts me as it usually does, inviting me to let go and cry about everything and nothing at all. The sad truth for me is, this battle is everlasting. Light may win today but as a new day dawns the fight starts over. I sit in shambles of a former version of myself. Oddly with hope that it will all be over soon and I will yet again bask in the light and enjoy a fragment of this life. How have I become such a jaded and cynical creature? I sigh deeply and prepare for another drop into sadness and utter grief. As if each time a piece of me dies I must mourn the loss. With shock plastered across me I can admit I am far better now with these modern poisons than many moons ago when I laid adrift in my depressing solitude. I accept this fate as much as I fight it. Always hiding this enormous side of myself from everyone. Knowing they couldn’t take it, knowing I couldn’t take that look upon their face or their response as heartfelt as they meant it to be. It feels as if I am living two lives all of the time. Except once in a while, like a full moon, where both sides of me collide and the true version of what I’ve become comes into full view. I don’t always hate her, the girl looking back at me. Though her voice is like poison in my mind. I would never wish this inner struggle on a single soul, it is far to cruel. Yet the calmness washes over me carrying a wicked grin. Even it sees what comes next. It feels pleasure with a nearing episode and yet it feels sorry for me too. I stare into the dark night’s sky wishing this episode would pass me by for once. So hopeful in my suffering. Now that is blind faith. Ridiculous as any other. I am but a shadow dancing through my life. And to be whole is but a dream.

Andrea
XO

You are not alone. I am not alone.

The truth. Something we all seek yet sometimes it’s more than we can bare. Here’s my truth, or I should say, truths. I am 31 years old. I’m a single mother of an amazing little boy. I have a strong support system so that I can go out into the world and do the things I love to do. Wether it be; writing novels, acting, cooking or whatever else my fingers outstretch to grab onto. When I was a teenager my dentist told me he suspected I had TMJ. Around the same time my doctor told me my gallbladder was bad, but if I ate healthy and stayed away from fatty foods I would be able to manage it well without surgery. My “female zone” doctor aka the gyno, told me she believed I had endometriosis. All the while I found myself in a dark place in my mind wondering what the hell was wrong with me. I went on for many years before my most difficult diagnosis was reached. Bipolar type 1. Here I am staring at those words on my screen and for the first time in God knows how long, it doesn’t make me angry. Over the years many more diagnoses appeared. Bipolar disorder type 1-rapid cycling, depression, anxiety, psoriasis, eczema, ADHD, severe acid reflux, abnormal mens. cycle, PCOS, IBS and hypothyroidism. (I honestly could have missed something here.) I was also told I could never have children. You can imagine my surprise when an ER doctor told me I was pregnant. Every single thing a doctor has told me I have, comes with its own list of symptoms. Every medication I take to rectify these things comes with their own side effects. Such as my mood stabilizer (lithium) caused my hypothyroidism and it is a permanent condition. I once had a doctor tell me if she didn’t see my age on the chart she would have assumed I was 40-50 years old. I was in my mid 20’s at the time. That was not a good sign. After searching high and low and trying things that didn’t work, with help I’ve found supplements that help with a huge amount of my issues and I am grateful I found them.

Why am I talking about all of the things “wrong” with me? Truth. My truth. The truth that no matter how many disorders they slap on my chart, they do not define me. They do not own me. I can only take care of myself the best I can and hope for a little compassion on days it’s hard to get out of bed. Having these issues has in part shaped me into who I am. I know from my mental disorders aka invisible illnesses, that you never know what someone else is going through. It’s possible that day at the grocery store where a stranger was rude in passing, it was just their “hard day” and who am I to judge? As if I haven’t experienced such a day. Sadly, for a very long time those were all of my days for weeks at a time. On the other side of that I do get very frustrated with the human race. Why is it I have all these things pulling me down and I can still offer a smile in passing, or a hello? Just be kind. You don’t have to agree with another’s POV and sometimes they are wrong but you can still treat them with respect.

Depression with or without the bipolar component is no joke. Seriously. It sucks. It drags you down by your ankle’s and holds you under water. You may feel like you’re drowning but it just won’t seem to end and you want it to desperately. I will tell you from experience, “Why can’t you just be happy” is the biggest asshole move you can make when talking to someone who suffers from it. We do suffer. That’s why all the books I write are very dark. To me, it has its own identity living inside of me. I call it the darkness. Similar to Dexter’s dark passenger I suppose, except I’m not a murderer! I don’t know if labeling it is healthy or not I just know it works for me. I know as quickly as it arrived and as short or long as it stays it will eventually go away. Truth. people who suffer from bipolar disorder will relapse. Period. With proper treatment (medication and therapy usually) it can become less often and not as severe. I’m proud to say that after 4 years of treatment that is true. I also know a lot of my creative talents are strongly linked to me being bipolar, so I suppose I wouldn’t want it gone completely. Getting used to it being less frequent was actually difficult. I know what you’re thinking, why on earth would she want to be depressed? That is not what I’m saying. Since I don’t have any other option, I’m glad I can use it for good. To help like-minded people. To use it and what I’ve gone through having it, in my work and be able to share how strongly I feel emotion. Rage, sadness, love. Everything is intensified during a swing in the cycle. Those who suffer from bipolar disorder know the one plus side to it is mania (at least for us.) It’s dangerous and can cause major issues but it’s almost like a high and once you’ve tasted it it’s hard to let it go. I could go on for days about being bipolar but I won’t. If you want an insider view, I did write a book of quotes that I published in May 2015 called, Ramblings From an Unusual Mind. All of the interior images were taken by me and all of the quotes are original by me from my personal journal I write in when I’m suffering from depression. It’s raw and honest and I decided to share it for two reasons. One, so that other’s like me may find comfort that they are not alone. Two, so that those who know someone who suffers from depression can see from an inside perspective what that truly feels like. There no longer is a reason for me to feel ashamed about how I feel. Especially when it is caused by a chemical imbalance in my brain.

When my son was only 1 month old he had to have emergency surgery for pyloric stenosis. I was a new mom, single and at the time not in therapy or medicated. It was brutal. He had surgery on Thanksgiving Day. To any parent having to watch your child go through something like that and feeling helpless is absolute torture. When my son was diagnosed with autism between 1 or 2 years old, my world came down hard. I was not taking very good care of myself, being I was 100% focused on my son and my well being was the last thing on my mind. I don’t regret that now but I am glad I’ve found balance to take care of both of us. I wouldn’t say I was shocked when they told me but I was definitely in denial for a little while. I now find it to be a blessing. He is the happiest kid I have ever seen and as we learn new ways to communicate the more excited and happy we both become. Truth. My bipolar swings were ruthless during that first year after his diagnosis. I finally broke down to the point that I said I needed help. How was I strong enough to do that for myself after living with it all of these years? There’s only one answer, my son. I wanted to be a stable force in his life. Not the bat shit crazy mom everyone wondered why she was aloud to have a kid in the first place. Any parents to a child knows it’s not all rainbows and butterfly’s when raising a kid. Parent’s of autistic children know that a meltdown from their child is like a major war being waged as opposed to a battle. There are days my darkness comes back and I fight it as long as I can while it tries to consume me. Reminding myself that I can get through this for myself and for my son. My loved ones stay strong for me which is a huge reason I am doing so well. Having a strong support system of family or friends or a combination of the both is vital in my opinion. Then there are those moments where I think I can’t pull myself out and then my son laughs this belly laugh and then I’m laughing and sometimes that’s all it takes to pull me up out of that damn water. I had no idea when I was pregnant that my son would be the one to save me.

I guess my point to this entire thing is this, just because it feels like a curse it doesn’t mean there isn’t some sort of silver lining or gift from it. Anyone could look at me at the corner coffee shop I like to write at and never know I have suffered, I do suffer, from a long list of things. Just because you can’t see it or feel it does not mean it isn’t there hiding under the skin. Treat each other kindly. Treat each other in a way that makes you proud of yourself. Actually, treat other kindly because your own child is watching you. You show them what is right and wrong and what you can get away with when no one is looking. Let’s raise our kids the right way. Take care of yourself, you deserve it. Also, you’d be amazed at how much a friendly hello, a smile, or a honest compliment to a stranger can change their attitude for the entire rest of the day. Hell, it does for me.

Remember, Simba… just kidding. Remember, you are not alone. I am not alone. Say it with me.

-Andrea

Ramblings from an Unusual Mind

Ramblings from an Unusual Mind,
Is my new book, it releases for kindle on May 7th, 2015. It is now available for pre-order. Can’t wait that long? The paperback is currently available via amazon.com and if you can swing, I recommend the paperback as the images in color are much more pleasing to the eye. The price is higher than I would have preferred for print but the cost of printing the images in color ended up a lot higher than original quoted. The images and all of the quotes and poetry in the interior of the book are all original works by me. The cover was done by Russ Turner Photography. He is amazing and has done all of my covers from the Alice Clark Series, including this one and I am beyond grateful!

What you can expect:
All of the quotes and poetry are from my personal journal I only write in during a depressive episode caused by my bipolar disorder. They are dark and above all honest to what it feels like for me during these trying times of my life. The images I took myself and paired them with what I felt was the appropriate piece. I chose to do this project for many reasons. Having any of my work out their to be loved or criticized, is scary but I wanted those out there who feel as I do to know they are not alone. For those who don’t feel as I do, I hope they may find some insight as to what it is people like me go through. Everything can be going great in my life and these episodes will still happen. So, to those who are like me, always keep fighting. As Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester) says. And FYI, he is running a great campaign for awareness and support
 for those who suffer from depression, etc. https://represent.com/jaredjensen is the current campaign.

So a big thank you for taking the time to check out my blog and any of my work. Live. Love. Read.
XO

Endure. Survive. Endure.

I looked at the ground, my heart broke. It took a deep breath in and tried to retain all the pieces it seemed to be in now. It didn’t. It couldn’t but be damned it still tried. Sometimes in life you are sitting still as the world rushes by you. Others, you don’t have enough time for all the things you need and want to do. Sometimes you are in motion at a steady speed until something hits you like a boulder knocking your ass back to the start line. Similarly, I had been struck with a still force across my entire being. I mourn the loss of something dear to me and feel as though I always have and will again. So many times I have roared back to life and tried again and again to reach a goal I fear I will never achieve. In this, my illness wreck’s havoc on me as it is the only constant in my life. It is cruel and meticulous. The noise in my skull is chaotic most of the time, especially this moon phase. You fear the darkness but its deep within me and all around me and feels like, home.  Many don’t get it and I didn’t expect you too. Yet, I was hopeful. Something that has never, not one time, ever paid off. Time and time again, the girl who thought Westley and Buttercup’s story was what true love really was or could be, reminds who I am today of the possibility, it could. So incredibly cruel. Another cycle burns through the night and I play a game within myself of Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde. No matter who wins, this sliver of my heart in my hand cuts me, deeply. A reminder of what happened here as to never forget, as if I could. Another toke, another drink, another pill. Numb. Wanting numbness to take hold, to give ample time to heal before I feel. My will laid at the waste side, unable to help me now. Endure. Survive. Endure. Repeat. As I reach up and feel my wet cheeks I know what I feared all along was true. My soul is in love with the idea of true love and I am far too jaded to play along anymore. As I am now as alone as some days I feel, I have the ability to do as one does when this sort of thing happens. For now I will recoil to the darkness that stalks me as it is always the same, always safe no matter how bad it is for me. Never lost I glide through the darkness until I catch the corner of a dresser. I open the top drawer and slide the shard into it, gently. I close the door and let the darkness absorb me until I am no longer present in this moment.  Silence. Endure. Survive. Repeat.