War Wounds

Possible Trigger Warning: This post will discuss child abuse.  It is not graphic nor will it go into detail, but it may be triggering to some survivors early in their recovery.  If you have any doubt, you will not hurt my feelings by skipping today’s entry and picking up my posts on Tuesday.

It’s been more and more difficult to get this cloud of depression to go away.  It seems that ever since I went to volunteer at Challenge Day, the cloud has grown darker and hangs lower and lower.  I think that I truly needed several days off to recover mentally, because the experience was traumatic to me.

Because a majority of my co-workers work with children, I am a mandatory reporter who is required to go through training yearly.  And the week after Challenge Day was the annual training.  That was bothersome for me and I tried not to squirm in my chair at some of the lecture and discussion during the question and answer section.  It seems that now I see it in several of the shows I watch, and I have to change the channel because I cannot handle it.

I see where this road is going, and I hate it.  I hate it because I don’t have the time nor do I have the financial resources to deal with it.  I also do not have the support system in place to help me deal with it either.

I am a survivor of physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.

Normally, I can keep things buried in their boxes with piles of other boxes on top to keep them contained.  Occasionally, like what is going on right now, the boxes start to seep open and eventually I am forced to deal with part of it because it is so triggering.  Much of the time I can hide it, but there will come a time it will blow up in my face and splash the shit all over my personal and professional life.  It never fails.

My mother is bipolar and has never been properly treated for it.  My father was never around (partly because he lived in another state, mostly because he didn’t understand what was going on, even after I was diagnosed).  My mother’s family are expert rug sweepers and gaslighters.  It’s hard to explain and hard for many to understand.  Short of having to live with it, the closest thing I can get is the Just No sub-reddits.  Reading some of the stories there remind me of the crap I went through and I realize I was not alone and that my normal meter was broken for a long time until I got out of the fog.

As painful as this has been to write, I know that in the morning I will feel better.  Tomorrow is another day.  And letting the pressure off by burping the lid just a little bit helped.  I just don’t know if I want to delve deep and shine a light on things in the past, or even if I want to share them here when I do shine the light.

To quote Dory from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming.”

Scared

Hubby has recently decided that he is going to get in better health.  He is monitoring what he eats, he is walking more, and decided to get back on his blood pressure and diabetes medications filled.  Because he is Native American, he has access to free health care but it often takes all day for him just to see a doctor.

He had a health scare.

His blood pressure was so high that it was amazing he didn’t have a stroke.  He also disclosed to his doctors that he was having some chest pain and shortness of breath.  Since it pointed to all signs of a heart attack, he was immediately taken to the emergency room, hooked up to monitors, given nitroglycerin, and monitored for most of the day.  I had no idea until I called him after work to see where he wanted to eat dinner.  All he said was that he was still at the doctor and he wanted me with him instead of home.

So I went.

I went immediately into crisis mode.  I began making plans on what bills were going to get paid and which ones were going to wait.  I began planning on him having a partial paycheck and then none at all.  I also began looking at my work schedule to adjust it to be able to come and stay with him in the hospital so that I could talk to the doctors and be made fully aware of what was going on.  They let him go two hours later with the caveat that he go home and rest.  They even sent home a note for his employer saying that he was not to go to work for that night only.  We came home, he ate a little bit of soup, and went to bed.

I was angry.

I was so very angry at him for not telling me what was going on.  I was angry at myself for not nagging him to see a doctor when his allergies were acting up and why they never stopped being a pain (they also sent him home with an antihistamine, which cleared up that issue immediately).  Then, as I began to calm down, I began questioning why in the world I was so angry.  I really was angry but could not begin to understand what had me so angered.  I still cannot tell you why, except that maybe it was because of the adrenaline rush I had stamped down to keep from panicking earlier.

For a moment, I made the decision that I will just live my life as if he weren’t in it, but quickly tampered that down.  I think the shock of just how bad things were made me angry with him and myself that I had not spoken up before and insisted that he do something about his weight, his eating habits, and his health.

Now I can get rid of all the “bachelor food” crap he loves to eat.  Now I can keep fresh veggies and cook from scratch, only a much healthier version of some of our favorite foods.  And now I get my way and he has to wait for me to come home before he starts cooking so I can either guide him through the recipe or make it myself.

Thank You

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Artwork taken from a Facebook page.  If it is your work, tell me so I can give you credit.

I just wanted to let you, my readers, know that I appreciate you.  You do matter to me, you are important to me, and I care very much about you.  Thank you for taking the time to stop by my little corner of the web and reading my ramblings.

Challenge Day

I was asked by a co-worker to be a volunteer for a program my employer had brought in to a local school last week.  The program was called Challenge Day, and was designed to help high school students bond and prevent bullying and other problems schools struggle to deal with.  There are 100 students and 20 adult volunteers for each program, and it lasts for the day.

What I was not prepared for were the emotional heaviness that the program tends to bring out.  I was not prepared for such heavy topics to be disclosed by two students in my group.  I was not prepared to share something so personal with the students (it was about how I wish I was the one who raised my niece and I wished I had custody of her).  I was not prepared about the toll it took on me mentally.  I was not prepared for the heaviness and the cloud to follow me around for several days.  I was not prepared to keep the depression at bay because I had skipped taking my medicine for a couple of days.

While I did preform some self care, I struggled.  I did not share anything with my husband, and did not ask him for comfort.  I thought about scheduling an appointment with a therapist just to get the cloud over my head to turn sunny instead of dark, but finances would not allow me the luxury to spend $75 for one hour that may or may not help.  And if I needed more than one session, I couldn’t afford that either.

Instead, I began watching the Sleepy Hollow TV series on Hulu.  I played Chicken Invaders on my tablet.  I talked a little about it with a couple of co-workers who have gone through the program themselves, and I began expressing my hurt about how many students crossed over the lines during one specific exercise, and how I couldn’t believe such a small town had such huge problems.

It is getting easier for me to function again.  I did not have to resort to alcohol or doing anything stupid in order to cope.  I made it through, for the most part.  But I can assure you that I will not participate in another Challenge Day ever again.  The emotional toll was too high and is not a price I want to pay again.

Still Here

Work has been insane and not allowed me much time to do anything but sleep.  I apologize for not posting last week, and I was not in the best of spaces to post on Tuesday.  I admit to being a little lazy and not posting yesterday, but I promise to make it up to you.  I’ll be back to my regular schedule next week.  I have plenty of topics to write about and many things to get off my chest.

Needs

One of the things I learned in therapy is that I need to take care of my needs myself.  I do not need to depend on anyone to take care of my needs for me.  For years, I had put that burden on my husband and expected him to meet all of my emotional needs, much of the time not even telling him.  While it hurt like hell to learn that lesson the way I did, I began to realize that the therapist was doing me a huge favor.

This weekend, I took care of an emotional need.  I spent a few hours with someone who not only met my emotional needs, but held me close for a long time, giving me a sense of peace.  I know he needed it too.  We went our separate ways afterward, both of us refreshed and happy, looking forward to another weekend where we can meet and again take care of our basic emotional need.

Ever since it was hammered home that my feelings and needs don’t matter, I have begun filling them on my own when I feel the need to do so.  It isn’t often for many of them, and in other cases once a week is just fine.  Either way, it is up to me to have my needs fulfilled and I take care of it myself, depending on no one else but myself.

If you want to call this an affair, fine.  Call it such.  But it is not a simple affair.  It is me meeting a basic need that I don’t trust my husband to fulfill and will likely not ever trust him to fulfill again.  I understand now why some people have emotional affairs.  And I don’t blame them.  I used to be one of those who vilified people who had affairs and cheated on their spouses.  Then I found myself in a position where I realized that it didn’t matter anymore, and that I began taking care of myself all by myself without depending on anyone else to help me or do it for me.

Now, when I hear of someone having an affair, I honestly don’t react by calling the offending party names and making them public enemy number one.  Now, I start to think about how the “injured party” alienated their spouse and why they had to meet their needs elsewhere.  And I feel for them because I realize that they learned the same lesson I did: your feelings and thoughts don’t matter.

Guess what?  You DO matter.  I matter.  We all matter.  And I don’t judge you for decisions you make because I have been forced to make decisions myself that I never dreamed of making.  Do what works for you.  Take care of you.  I know I’m taking great care of me!

Fighting

It seems like I am always fighting.  Fighting the depression monster from taking over.  Fighting mania from happening or getting too out of hand.  Fighting stereotypes and stigmas.  Fighting ignorance.

I wish for one day that I could rest and not be fighting anything.  One day to not have to worry about routines and what other people say and think.  One day to just be myself.

Then I start to wonder who I really am because all I’ve ever known is the fight against depression and bipolar disorder.  And I will always be a warrior.

Tonight, I will crawl into bed, shedding every bit of my armor, hoping to rest so I can awaken and fight the beast that is depression for another day.

The Cost of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder and depression run rampant on my mother’s side of the family.  My grandmother has been treated for depression, but I suspect she may have been Bipolar Type 2.  Out of her five girls, only one was not bipolar, but she did have anxiety disorders and one took her own life.  One of the Bipolar daughters self medicates with alcohol and is a raging alcoholic.  There are 10 grandchildren, and three of them are confirmed as having Bipolar Disorder, although I suspect more have been treated for depression or may even be a Type 2 and it is not discussed.

I was diagnosed when my son was 2; he is now 25.  I have often worried about passing this wretched disorder on to him, but apparently he inherited the vanilla depression and anxiety.  I worry about him often, and worry about him having children.  While he is aware that I have Bipolar Disorder, he says that he sees more of the depression end of it and figures I have depression.  He says I am not as crazy as my younger brother, who is a Type 1 and is not properly medicated.  (He either “fakes it until he can make it” and get what he knows doesn’t work or most of the time he doesn’t take his medicine consistently.  He is definitely addicted to the mania and topping it off with not being able to tell the truth to save his life is just the cherry on the cake.)

I watched Son like a hawk when he was  younger.  I even took him to counseling and be treated for depression when his father left the state when he was 6.  He was on a low dose of antidepressant for a while to get him over the hump, and I worked with his counselor on how to handle his behavior and his acting out over his father.  Even now, Son is grateful that I have always been an advocate for therapy as he is able to talk about it some with me and he was grateful that I helped him find a therapist he trusts and he can work with.  (Now, if I can just get him to be able to afford to keep going now that he has insurance again…)

It infuriates me that mental health is not taken as seriously as physical health.  In my state, it is the least funded mandate and mental health services are almost non existent.  Even with insurance, mental health services are severely limited and the costs are sky high.  I have a $1,000 deductible, which means that I have to pay for my therapy for an average of $80 per one hour session.  I have to pay for 13 sessions on my own first before my insurance will cover 80%.  This makes no sense as I pay a $25 co pay to see my doctor every three months to get my Latuda, afterward having to pay an additional $50 after my insurance is billed.  I can’t afford that.  I do good to pay for the psych doc and often my physical health is set aside because I can’t afford the additional cost every three months of a primary care physician to handle the diabetes.

I realize I am fortunate.  I shudder to think about those of you who don’t have insurance and who can’t afford meds or doctors or any other sort of help.  I feel your pain.  And I’ve been there.  It sucks.  At least now when the company I work for looks around for lower insurance rates, I am not the reason why the rates are so high.  That’s what you get for having a workforce made up of mostly women over 60.

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