June 23, 2014

Suicide and the Hunger Games

*This is unedited, cause that’s how I roll
*I am not a mental health professional or doctor-this is just how I see things
Why suicide is like losing the Hunger Games
I have been 1-2 degrees away from four suicides in the past 3 weeks. As someone who has seriously attempted suicide three times and has been planning my own suicide since I was eleven it rocks my world when I hear about successful suicide. Something strange happens because as sad as I am for the survivors I feel so much more pain for the person who took their own life. I know what that feels like. Truth be told sometimes I feel a milisecond of jealously that they may have broken free of this life. You can flame throw whatever you want at me in the comments about that but it is the ugly truth about those of us suffering with mental illness. Many of us consider suicide on a daily basis. I have wanted to cease to exist for as long as I can remember. Not in that my boyfriend broke up with me, Suzy Q didn’t invite me to the big party, mom and dad are getting divorced teenage way (no disrespect because that pain is real) but in that exhausted from fighting after only 7, 14, 21, 28 or 35 years on this planet kind of way.
I think about suicide almost everyday still and I am the most stable I have ever been. I spend more and more days mentally well since I sobered up and found a good doctor who I felt safe turning my life over to. I think my risk of killing myself is pretty low these days as long as I continue to treat the two potentially fatal illnesses that I have and will have for the rest of my life: bipolar disorder and alcoholism/addiction. The suicide rate for those diagnosed with bipolar disorder is reported to be as high as 30%. A majorty of those are likely in those who are either completely unmedicated, improperly medicated, are recently chose to go off of their meds. I hate being on medication.
I hate being on medication. Not just because some people in my life think it is all a pacebo effect or think that I could cure myself with diet and exercise. I hate being on medication because being medicated feels like shit alot of the time. Psychiatry is a best a crude science, bless those doctors who are fighting to save their patients lives and truly care about them, but their tool box is barely cut out for the task of healing the human brain. Their diagnostic tools are a bit like a Ouiga board.I hate feeling tired ALL THE TIME. I hate that I forget things and lose things even more than I used to. I hate that somtimes my chemistry plays a prank on me and I end up in a manic psychotic episode without changing a fucking thing about my treatment. I hate that having an orgasm is like solving a Rubix cube. I hate feeling like, maybe just maybe I am losing an essential part of myself to these fucking pills. There is only one thing I hate more than being on meds and that is being off of meds. If you are bipolar and don’t take meds because you think they diminish your unique “youness” I will bluntly tell you that, in my opinion, you need to find some humility or you will end up dead. Unmedicated me would have slapped myself in the face for that comment but it is true. I have been there-can’t hold a job, can’t keep a relationship together, either can’t get out of bed or can’t sleep no matter what you do, drinking to come down, Adderal to come up, Xanax for the Adderall anxiety, pot all day everyday to feel less like you are on a rollercoaster…..The great art you make when you wan’t to die or can’t sleep, the deep feeling of connectedness to all of the unseen pain in the world, the amazing manic sex, the days of superhuman accomplishments. ..none of those is worth the pain, suffering and eventual death you may suffer at the hands of this disease. What I have found is that medications were never dimishining the “real” Lauren, my biochemical disorder, PTSD and addictions were doing that. Now that I have treated the biochemical compnent of my mental health issues I have been able to discover who that real me is.
Don’t get me wrong. I still struggle often. This isn’t something you are cured of, at least not yet. I also have a spiritual component and a psychological component that are essential for me to live a life with an ounce of lasting peace. It might take alot of time and searching to figure out what will help but in my experience refusing help and self medicating wasn’t the answer. Some of you normal folks are thinking about now “why would those selfish assholes ever get off meds and selfishly kill themselves?” Politely, you have no idea what you are talking about. It isn’t that you aren’t correct. The most self centered thing I could do today would be to go off of my meds or pick up a drug or a drink. It is obvious from the outside looking in that I need and have needed help. What you don’t understand is the exhaustion of med switches, mental break downs, disappointing your friends and family, scraping to barely function all while you would rather not even be here in the first place. I have been seeing counselors and/or psychiatrists for 23 years. I have likely seen a dozen of each and I have found 3 counselors and 2 psychiatrists in all of those years that were even remotely qualified to treat someone with Bipolar Disorder and addiction. I have been misdiagnosed multiple times. What is the worst were the general practitioners I saw who should have known they were out of their depth. Here is the frosting on the cake of my experiences. A GP gave me almost unlimited doses of XANAX for a year before deciding to prescribe me Lithium without ordering blood work (if you don’t get what is wrong with this then I have made my point about why you shouldn’t judge us). A psychiatrist once told me that he didn’t believe I had mental health issues. He believed my troubles were rooted in the fact that I was 23 and unmarried. I had already tried to committ suicide thrice, admitted I was using street drugs to control my moods and was currently having anxiety so intense I wanted to kill myself. Mental health care isn’t like taking your car in for an oil change it is like surviving “The Hunger Games”-kill off all the interventions that won’t work until you find the one that will-oh and suffer a shit ton in the process while the game changes without warning. I would also like to point out that I have been insured with psychiatric coverage every day of my life. I can’t imagine the additional struggle of being uninsured or underinsured with these conditions.
There is a huge amount of personal responsibility involved in getting and staying well and I did not step up to the plate for many years. I am not blaming the medical system, my parents or anyone else for my struggles. The reality is that I did not choose to have this illness. I don’t choose to get depressed or manic. I don’t choose to have trouble staying focused. What I do choose to is receive treatment. I choose to accept help. I choose to share my story with others to remind me of where I have been.
I have also survived because I have been blessed with amazing friends and family who have unwavering faith in me. They ask questions instead of sticking to their assumptions. They love me unconditionally. They have faith that I have a good heart with good intentions. That is the single most important thing keeping me alive today. It is the only measure I have that matters aside from my sobriety. It is important because if I measure myself by ought haves, should haves ,or she dids I will fall short everytime. This is where we are all the same. We will never measure up if we try to live up to external achievements and expectations. For me a working relationship with a higher power and fellowship of people like myself has helped me clarify my ruler for self worth. Am I doing the best I can? Am being honest and seeking help from God and others? Are my intentions, thoughts and actions principled?
Objectively I am not a great friend, mother or daughter. Pen to paper-in black and white this is an undeniable fact. I am often self absorbed just trying to survive. I interupt and stuggle to listen when manic and don’t care much when I am depressed. I have a hard time organizing my thoughts and actions in a way that leads to consistent constructiveness. I lose my temper. I blame other people when I feel insecure. I check out and check in on my own schedule. I ask for alot from the people who love me. Fortunately few of them have found it too high a cost. It is probably part of the reason I am alive today.
Surviving childhood abuse, mental illness and alcoholism requires a perfect storm of external interventions and internal willingness. With all that said and done I am looking at a potential new med switch. On one side of the scale is a newer medication with fewer potential side effects (quicker orgasms here I cum 😉 and better efficacy and on the other side is my current regimen which leaves me stable, creative and functioning but feeling drugged and tired most days. Am I willing to risk insanity,possibly suicide, to find something better than stable? The bad news is that no doctor can tell me for sure what the outcome will be. I am blessed with a truly skilled physician who knows that and is honest about what is at stake. The good news is that the medications are getting better. We no longer have to lose ourselves for the sake of a stable mood. We are learning more and more about complementary care. For me eating a gluten and dairy free diet is essential to my mental health. Regular chiropractic care and supplements like Vitamin D and B are as neccessary as any other piece of the puzzle. We are finding new root causes of mental health symptoms. If you haven’t been tested for thyroid dysfunction, Lyme’s disease, food sensitivities, vitamin deficiencies or other auto-immune disorders it is well worth checking out. This is long and hasn’t got much of a point other than to share my point of view. If you don’t understand a word of this I am truly happy for you-please learn more about the people in your life with mental health issues. You have a integral role in their well being. It is a challenging role to be unconditional without enabling but if you have it in to do so, you just might save a life. If you understand all too well what I have written and want more information on finding a good doctor, therapist or help with alcoholism or addiction please let me know.
*These are just my opinions based on my experiences-feel free to totally disregard them if they don’t apply or work for you.

January 29, 2014

The 30% mother.

I am good mom. It is hard to type that without my breath catching. It brings on the same feeling of discomfort that comes when I compliment my appearance. “I have pretty eyes” Try.not.to.vomit.  I usually only say that in defense of some parenting practice I am defending.  “I am a good mom dammit.” It is usual spoken with full confidence but believed with half. It is a difficult statement because I believe I am about 30% of the mom I want to be, think I should be or think my kids deserve. I have more failures than successes in my harsh opinion.  However tonight I was snuggling with my oldest and I thought “I am a good mom” and strangely I believed it. Of course the laundry list of objections started playing but something inside of me stopped that tape. I thought “I may be 1/3 of the mom I want to be but it is the most important 1/3”. Tonight Lily crawled into bed, like a ninja, counting on me being fast asleep. Unfortunately for her I was wide awake singing the “why am I awake” song to myself. Tonight I just wanted to stew about my insomnia in peace with no kids so I asked her to go back to her room. She needed convincing so I offered to rub her back for a bit if she would try her own bed again. She returned to my side after five minutes of trying her bed. What I really wanted to say to her was “Can’t I get one fracking night to sleep without kids on top of me. GO TO BED!” Instead I asked her to go back to bed and she replied “You asked me to try and I did and I couldn’t sleep” In that moment I bit my tongue, scooted over and let her snuggle in. I thanked her for trying to sleep on her own. That is the moment I believed I was a good mom. BEFORE THE MOMMY WARS START this is not about co-sleeping or not. I am not bashing you if you would have sent your kid back to their own bed. This is about me recognizing a moment where I put myself in my child’s shoes and put their needs ahead of my wants. I am an insomniac, more accurately, bi-polar, and kids with bi-polar parents tend to have more sleep difficulties.  I remember what it felt like to not be able to sleep as a kid and to want my mom.  I know that feeling well.  So now she is sleeping soundly in my bed and I still can’t sleep. I am a good mom. I get the important stuff right more often than not. Sure my daughter is sleeping in my bed which is currently a bare mattress with a comforter because I still haven’t retrieved the fitted sheet her sister puked on from the dryer.  I used television as a babysitter today so that I could pay bills and check my email. My house looks like a Sharknado went through it. I have been wearing pajamas for 5 days.  My daughters have heard me call myself fat and they love Disney princesses. I still haven’t gotten around to finding feminist versions of fairy tales. I am two behind on my homeschool curriculum.  I usually spend “quiet time” watching “Dexter” on 1.5 speed while eating peanut butter and chocolate chips out of bowl instead of doing mindfulness meditations as planned.  I let my kids eat candy for breakfast for a full week after Christmas. We haven’t been to church since we moved to Cedar Falls because I keep oversleeping. There are so many things I am NOT as a mother that I often forget about the things that I AM. I am devoted to putting my children’s needs above my wants. I am empathetic, loving and HUMBLE. Maybe putting humble in caps seems like the opposite of humility but to me it is to emphasize that I believe humility is one of the most important things to strive for as a parent. Especially as a parent that hopes their children will always feel loved and supported.  Sometimes I yell at my kids. Occasionally I flip them off behind their backs from two rooms away. I have given them a consequences out of vindictiveness as opposed to gentle teachable moments. When I catch myself doing these things I stop and apologize. I kind of thought I would be the mother I want to be by now. Seven years in you would think I would be able to pull that off. The thing is the mother I want to be is not the mother I am meant to be.  So just for tonight I can say I AM A GOOD MOM.

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January 5, 2014

Where were you?

Where were you when he pushed me down? To the ground, I couldn’t make a sound, on my knees feeling drowned

Abandoned alone, were you high on some throne? As he deponed my guilt between moans,  

Whispered venomous lies, did you hear my cries, when he covered my eyes? Was there no rescue devised?

And the aftermath, not even 1000 baths, could counteract the scars of his staff .where was your wrath?

Or your outstretched hand, to combat the quicksand, if you created this land, why not take a stand and reprimand?

The dirtiest deeds, the perverted greed, why was I left in need, while he walked free?

I was ashamed, and confused. Was his trespass excused? Have you been recused from judging abuse?

Yet whom shall I fear? If I keep God near? Only every man who might leer.

So I grabbed a beer, then a bottle of whiskey, or a drug no matter how risky. Sought you in any man who would kiss me

Still not a sound, no salvation found…where were you when he pushed me down?

 

I was right by your side, held you the whole time,  heard each crushing  lie, saw your innocence die, I cried when you cried

We were never apart as he was breaking your heart; I was there from the start

I gave him free will, and even still wanted to kill that, which made him ill,

Turned him to a coward, I suffered every long hour impotent even with all power

Because I made it a fact, I can inspire men to act but no matter how the cards stack won’t react

With direct intervention won’t exact divine prevention in response to descent ion.

From this evil I could not save, to do so would make you all slaves, the trade is the depraved

May commit atrocities, betray generosity, ignore reciprocity,

they can choose to use and abuse, exert force when refused but the one thing they can’t do, is take what lies within you,  that kernel of truth,

Your spirit unique yet identical, it seems antithetical, call it an imperative hypothetical-

The untouchable piece, of you that is me, will always be free and when you can’t see-turn to me and believe,

You are saved; the path already paved to the peace you so crave with the defeat of the grave.

 I drew close when he pushed you down- fell with you to the ground-gave you breath when you felt drowned-heard your cries even those with no sound

You were never alone or guilty as he deponed next to you IS my throne

I shouted don’t believe his lies, hoped you’d see me when he covered your eyes but the devil uses a clever disguise

He was not excused for committing abuse but I love him too- my mercy is often refused.

I am in you and all around, my love it surrounds- grace and mercy abound, please hear my voice resound,

 I fell with you when he pushed you down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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April 7, 2013

Video of Dear Politicians, Patriarchs and Past Lovers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYxkBEvQXTc

April 22, 2012

Dear little loves of my life-

Here is the new lyrics I improv-ed last night to the tune of “You are my sunshine” for the girls bedtime-I think I am going to make it part of our nightly song lineup!

“Wherever you go, whatever you do, who ever you are, I love you so- No matter what you think, feel, or say dear. I will love you forever. You are so special and precious to me. I feel at peace when you are near. Your light shines through all of my days, i will love you always.”

My one wish for my children is that they always know and FEEL this to be true. inevitably I do not always treat them as though it is. Potty training twins and a strong-willed 5-year-old test my patience daily. So how do you instill perfect love in your child as an imperfect mother? I believe one of the keys to this is holding  MYSELF accountable to them. When I go off track (yell, space out on Facebook, become irritable and impatient, am to authoritarian…) I stop and apologize to them.  For example: “Lily I am sorry I just yelled at you. Mommy was feeling stressed/angry/sad…. when _______ was happening. It isn’t nice to yell at people no matter what we are feeling. Next time I will try to ____________. My yelling doesn’t mean I don’t love you and think you are great. Even though I wish I hadn’t yelled. It is not ok for you to ______________ next time when I ask you to stop you can try to ___________. How were you feeling when __________ happened?”  I try to balance taking responsibility for having hurt their feelings etc with holding them accountable for their actions and feeling as well.  I think this is especially important for me to do because I have mental health issues.  As much as I would love to shield them it the reality is mental illness is as much a part of their lives as it a part of mine. I can try to hide it, mask it, dress it up, or blame someone else but the truth is they will always be children of a bipolar, alcoholic mother with PTSD. As long as I embrace this instead of trying to fight it I can love myself and be the best mother possible. Hopefully as I learn how to better cope with mental health issues and parenting the impact will be lessened. The fact is all of those things being true about me does not mean I am not a loving and capable mother. I can accept all of my flaws and still raise children who believe they are always loved.

April 17, 2012

Just a repost as the topic came up in discussion this week!

poemsonaledge

Dear Psych Nurse-

I’m sure you’re sick of us drug seeking, fast speaking, always freaking out, reeking, tweaking apparent weaklings.

Guess what? We’re sick of feeling crazy, being called lazy, mind always hazy, lost in a maze we

Didn’t choose, we are not amused it’s not the blues, didn’t want to lose

This thing called sanity, lost in calamity, long forfeited vanity what you take for granted we

Grasp white knuckled, our supports long suckled, life that of a cuckold, we feel buckled

in a prison of chemistry, as miffed with me as you may be,I can guarantee not as much as we. Who want to be free.

Of this fight, To see a light, across sleepless nights, that incites the might

to attempt suicide, when we lose the drive to survive and must revive

The strength to keep walking, while insanity’s stalking and you keep talking

Bout how there’s…

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April 12, 2012

The Vault

What is the story secured in this vault?

Leaking out fragments of an early assault

Memories are foggy, hard to summon at will

Always reaching for glimpses, evading me still

Like opening a healing wound with a dose of salt

I feel your breath on my neck whispering “this is your fault”

I know the room you have found me in

But not how you initiated the sin

To the left, down the hall, blue walls, closet with a mirror

My mind’s fingers grasp desperately to make this day clearer

For so long I thought it might all be a figment

But how could I know details like the blue’s exact pigment?

Something terrible happened in that house, it that room

Memories trapped in a deep seeded tomb

I try to accept I may never see your face

Maybe you ensured that when you took you place.

Behind me on that bed unsuspecting I’m sure

Stealing away what was innocent and pure

I blamed myself from the very start

Sure if I told they’d feel I betrayed their heart

Images burrowed deep in my mind

Spending years of excavating to find

Without all the facts, kept this secret for fear of objection

Longing to find the key to release my minds protection

Let me see all that happened that day

For without all of it, here I will stay

Groping in the dark for a concrete formation

To put the last nail in the coffin, with no hesitation.

A terrible event occurred, I am certain

But I am strong enough now to lift the curtain.

Although my sanity would be put to the test.

I am strong enough now to put this to rest.

April 12, 2012

I denied my own memories of abuse for years because I was afraid people would think they were false-I do know that these memories are true and real

I denied my own memories of abuse for years because I was afraid people would think they were false-I do know that these memories are true and real

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April 11, 2012

My Birthright

To expand on the idea of the gift given to us as our birthright-the small grain of true, enduring, self, I must remember:

My Creator did not send me here to hate myself-my only job on earth is to love.

“And now I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

My love for myself and others can NOT be taken from me-I may try to give it up and yield to hate, resentment, doubt, and fear but the light of love burns eternally within me. Therefore –

No person, place, or thing can take my ability to love

No judge

No jury

No court

No rapist

No molesting relative

No “mean girl”

No irritated mother

No critical father

No back stabbing friend

No abusive lover

No misguided clergy

No self-righteous observer

No apathetic husband

No mocking passerby

No oppressive patriarchy

No racist

No bigot

No corporation

No bank account

No dictator

No disease

No injury

No crippling addiction

No treason

No person, place, or thing in all of the universe can stop me from knowing God or knowing myself. To know God is to know yourself is to know light and love. This realization is a call to forgive, not just the easy ones, ALL of the trespasses against us or by us.

April 10, 2012

Uniquely identical

We are each uniquely identical. Within each of us is a kernel of truth, a grain of sand, deep within us, given to us-our birthright.  We are each unique and perfect expressions of God.  I am God expressed as Lauren. If you look honestly into my soul you will see yourself and your Creator reflected. None of us is the same yet all of us are alike. The commandment to love one another is rooted in self-love. When I learn to love all of myself, to honor that in me that is true and pure-to not try to extinguish my light as it shines out-I will easily love all of you, even the parts that I don’t especially like or enjoy. We are all a complete puzzle of an identical image. Our pieces are shaped differently. I can NOT become whole by taking your pieces. I can not stay whole by discarding pieces of my essential self. When I throw away pieces of myself and try to take from your picture to make myself complete I will be filled with self loathing, jealousy, frustration, and self centeredness. My actions will be driven by desperation as I attempt to fill an imagined void. The darkness I have used to deny and conceal the parts of myself I believe to be ugly, less than, unworthy, perverted….must be illuminated, confronted, and embraced. The puzzle will be complete, as it was at my birth, as it was intended to be.