Why me time is time for them too

I have mostly been a “stay at home mom” for the last 17 years. Mind you, I’ve always done something on the side to bring in extra money. When we were first married I sealed envelopes. For awhile, I made pageant dresses. One Christmas the kids wanted a Wii so bad they could taste it; I spent hours and hours sewing tiny felt food sets to list on Etsy. I have been a photographer for 10 years. Shooting full-time at least a couple of those years. The last five or so, I’ve freelanced from home specializing in social media, WordPress, and graphic design. All while handling our house; paying the bills, being the taxi driver, doing my very best to keep it clean and everyone’s laundry done; homework and school, and well, everything but the bulk of the income. I think it’s been 15 years since I sat down. Literally. I ain’t eating bonbons here people.

But what I wasn’t doing was taking care of myself. I’d spent every moment making sure everyone else in my house was happy but rarely, if ever, did I take moments for myself. I went to baseball, lacrosse, all the school things. I made sure everyone was fed, physically and emotionally. I took care of everyone in my house and much more outside it. Between photography, and Fiverr and the little social life I had, I was stretched thin and by the beginning of 2016, I was tapped out. Totally empty, bucket dry.

My bucket was dry.

2016 was the year of hell. If you’ve read this blog at all, I’ve been pretty candid about it. And while I write about a lot, there are a lot of things I have left out. To protect me, my family, but mostly my kids. March was the last straw. Looking at myself in the mirror was a thing of nightmares and every time I passed my reflection, I looked but I didn’t really know who or what I was looking at anymore. I was lost inside that girl. I explained it to my therapist like this; I was pushed to the middle of this shit show ocean  on a raft and then someone cut the rope and all the people who were supposed to be taking care of me stood at the bank yelling “how can we help you” but because they couldn’t “hear” me, they did nothing or something else that they thought would help but wasn’t really helping. And there I was, a shell, on the raft alone. Everyone meant well. They mean well; but because I couldn’t say, “gosh please do my laundry and get these kids out of my house”, they shut the door and moved along thinking I was okay and I wasn’t. And it felt lonely.

And then, I realized the thing I’d been saying to Devlynn all this time, needed to happen in my life.

You can only change yourself.

YOU CAN ONLY CHANGE YOURSELF.

And so I did. Err, I am. I am changing myself.

For years I’ve avoided a therapist. I get sick of talking. (I know, crazy right from the exhibitionist writer.) But the therapist has helped me to see that what I was thinking was abnormal and weird and bad, is totally normal and human and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. She’s helped me to find “love” in the things that I hate, with a burning fire. She has made it okay for me to not only find my voice but use it. And use it I have. Even when it hurt someone’s feelings. I know now sometimes you have to hurt people’s feelings so they stop hurting yours. I’m TIRED of people hurting my feelings.

And so I go to therapy, every week even when it makes me feel stupid or little.  And I see a psychiatrist now too and she has me on medication. And I don’t like it but I know it’s helping and when I talk with her next, she’ll help me figure out if I don’t like it because it’s not helping the way it should or if I don’t like it because the assholes in my head are telling me weak people take meds and bad people see therapists. And the reality is, she’ll probably want me to take more. But I will say no because I have a voice but you read that already.

But probably one of my biggest changes has been that I am taking care of myself. Depression and anxiety took my ability to shower some days. Yes, SHOWER. It was all my energy to shower, then lotion and blow out my hair. So I didn’t because I needed that energy to take care of everyone else in my life. Honestly, I needed that energy to breath. Because I was having trouble filling my own lungs with air. There were days I forgot to even breath.

I’m showering now. I have to because I smell terrible after I work out. Alone. Without guilt. And I love working out. It started with an hour on the elliptical and then turned into cardio and weights thanks to my brother-in-law the personal trainer. I also meet every few weeks with my friend AND nutritionist who is helping me get past my food stuff. And I have a lot of food stuff. I have learned about eating for me between the therapist and the nutritionist. I enjoy the food instead of shoving it in my mouth and hoping I remember to do it again in a few hours. I am 2.8 pounds from my original goal. And 12.8 from my new goal. I lost 4 inches around my waist. That’s huge to me. And my biceps? Amazing and my triceps and shoulders are coming along. And my core will follow as soon as I master the burpees. The best part is I can look at myself in that mirror again and actually see me. I am in there. I am in that woman with the blue hair and beautiful tattoos and I am in that woman who’s got stretch marks proving she carried 5 kids to term and lost a few along the way. My cheek bones are fucking amazing and I am full of energy. And my friend said she saw it. And I believe her.

I believe her. I am in there. It’s me.

I got my family photos done this last Friday. We’d had them done before and I wasn’t happy with them. Probably because I wasn’t happy with myself and well, let’s be real here, I’m a control freak. But I walked into these photos with no expectations. No posing, sitting. Loving. Holding. And being a family. My friend Kat? Well, she took the most beautiful and amazing photos of my beautiful and amazing family.

And I am in there. It’s me. I’m beautiful in there. Despite the scars that I know people see. I am not ashamed of my sadness or my chemical imbalance. And that’s what it is… fucked up chemicals in my brain. I am worthy of all the love. I always have been. I just waited too long for someone else to tell me. I just needed to tell myself.

I am worthy of all the love.

And so are you.

I got a job today. After a year of applying. It’s perfect. I can take my kids and I can still shoot and craft and I can still go to baseball. It’s fucking amazing. And at the perfect time.

And so I’m lucky. My raft kept me alive… my raft and the voices calling me. Even when I couldn’t tell them what I needed. Hearing it kept me afloat.

I am worthy.

And so are you.

And taking care of me? Will help me take care of them. So they’re lucky too.

 

 

 

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

What I learned about church…

My relationship with the church is permanently over I am afraid. I struggled to fit in at our church in Colorado and way, way over inserted myself at our church here. And this spring, when I was desperate for some Jesus, I got shunned by a young person I valued and cared about over a person who took part in the mass implosion of my life. These people I reached to because I so badly and desperately needed saved, turned into the catalyst to the dissolution of my faith. Where I never could feel God before, I now, cannot even muster the energy to try. I feel, even at this moment, I was vilified for being angry at the person who lit the match to the fire that destroyed life. And when I apologized and begged for help, I got words like “to be fair” and “you shouldn’t be afraid” when I was, desperately afraid. As if my fears were not valid. As if the mental illness and gun ownership and narcissism weren’t enough for me to be afraid of.

I didn’t once feel the forgiveness and love Christians are supposed to feel in these situations. Sure the majority of the Christians who were already in my life gave me grace and told me that I was forgiven and loved, without judgment but they already loved me. To them, I was the fellow church goer and not the sinner the “new” church made me feel I was. As if my sin; of anger and hurt and pain was worse than this other person’s commandment sin. A BIG DEAL sin. Because I reacted in anger and hurt and pain, I wasn’t worthy of their love. Because I doubted my faith at that moment, I wasn’t worth fighting for. And that, that is why I will never, ever set foot in a church again. Because this person chose to do their dirty work in the “privacy” of their shitty Twitter and in emails and CRAP-EFFING-TACULAR behaviour in stores and cars and AT MY DAUGHTER’S JOB, this “church” didn’t see anything but what this liar told them and not once, ONCE did they ask if we were okay. Okay, that’s not totally true. Kevin got a half-hearted text and I got vilified.  Pure love there. I feel it *eyeroll*.

I’m hurt. Really hurt lately. That instead of trying to love me back into the God’s love, I got left out on the faith raft, alone. And I’ve lost it. The light and the passion I used to feel. I feel hurt and abandoned by God. As my world continues to implode, I feel hurt and abandoned and alone. Because everyone’s afraid to talk to me about it. Because it’s scary to talk to someone who is passionate and angry and wants answers.

I don’t know why I care. These people were not my friends before all this and likely couldn’t care less about us now.  I just needed to see the face of faith in someone other than the people who already love me; unconditionally. I needed to know, that outside my circle someone saw this for what it is. And I didn’t. And I don’t.  But I luckily have several, wonderful people who try to keep me grounded. I am sure it’s an exhausting job. But I am grateful for them.  I feel, every day, like they may walk away but I try to remind myself that this is just the mental illness talking, and not what’s happening. Not everyone walks away. Sometimes people even come back.

This has been a low week. Low. And even with the few and fabulous rays of light peaking through, I found it hard to put my feet in front of each other. In fact, for the first time in months, I cut a workout short and just sat in the stall of the YMCA and cried. I’d failed myself again. The one thing I have control over, I couldn’t complete. I was, I am sick but I needed that workout and I didn’t get it done and then I ate terribly and drank more than I should have, and folded up into myself.  And it’s hard to forgive myself when I feel unforgivable all the time and I don’t even know why. I didn’t do this. I didn’t.

They keep saying one step forward, two back. It’s tiring though. Because some days, like I said, I feel utter joy and then some, I feel so incredibly afraid and lost and well, lonely. The afraid is the worst. The waiting for the next thing. “Choose to be happy”, they say. I am trying and I think it’s there sometimes but I am so incredibly lost and hurt that the light at the end of the sadness is just a pin hole. It feels a hundred years away.

Mental illness is so unfair. It’s truly unfair.

My point to all this is I hope, I wish for those who are Christians in my life, if you see a “me” out there, hold her. Don’t make her feel as though there is no love for her. She needs you more than the people sitting next to you every week. Don’t get lost in the “I didn’t know what to say”; simply I am here and I am listening is enough. She needs you to show her the love of God before it’s too late. When you’re in the bottom of the pit and there is no light, a match flame might be all you need to find your path again. My match got blown out. I don’t know that I’ll ever recover.

 

 

 

 

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.

Have Ramen, will be okay

Kevin works for Hai Street Kitchen now. Gone are the days of lemonades and red straws and here comes the days of sushi burritos and omg, ramen. So much awesome ramen. I am sitting here, eating said ramen, happy I voted and ready for bed time. Today everything feels okay. Yesterday, Sunday? It did not but today, ramen makes it okay.

The “my life got stolen from me” diet, has been a weird one. There are days where I eat nothing and other days where I can’t get the cheese crackers in my mouth fast enough. Some mornings, it’s 4 cups of coffee, black and others, one with sugar is hard to suck down. I’ve lost weight I needed to lose but at the expense of lots of normalcy. I’m out of control. Being out of control makes me feel horrible. I feel horrible most of the days. I can’t seem to figure out how to regain control. I paint; out of control. I cry; out of control. I go back to work; out of control. I write and say what I want; oh em gee, out of control. I stop writing, stop talking; so out of control.

I have no control except to sit here and enjoy my ramen.

So I will take that control. It’s all you can do when you have a daily battle with mental health combined with immense trauma.

This is mental health awareness month. I have a deep struggle with mental illness. One that no god or higher power can fix. It’s a chemical thing. One that makes me so sad and sometimes, unaware of what is actually happening instead of what the manipulations and manipulators are telling me. I am a high functioning mental health person. I can wake up each and every morning and plan out my suicide but still get the kids ready to go to school, sew a Halloween costume and make dinner, that actually tastes good. I’ve never been to “that place” when I would actually do it, but I know, very well, the feelings before it.

I see a therapist now. My March sent me into a very dark place and my April, well it dug the hole for my coffin. May has been somewhat better. I was able to apologize and to realize that my struggles aren’t something I am making up in my head. They’re happening, to me and not happening because I did something wrong.  This is because I found a therapist that is so very much for me. I couldn’t have met her at a better time. She doesn’t make me feel bitter or angry. She is the first to tell me that when my actions are awful, that they are awful but there are reasons behind them and the reasons aren’t because I am crazy or mean; the reasons are because I am getting my ass kicked and sometimes, our feelings are out of our control. We just need to learn to reign them in, in a healthy way and not let the white rage come through. She and my army of friends have saved me from filling that May hole.

May is mental health awareness month. I am gonna find some control in educating people about the “sad”. Tell them about my brother; he lost to the sad. About myself, who can’t see her beauty because the demons are so big. I will use May to show people that have mental illness aren’t always the people on the street corners chanting obscenities. That sometimes it is the mother at the library with “bitchy resting face” or the funny lady who loved her family fiercely and was fine one day and gone the next. I want people to know the signs of scary mental illness. That often suicide isn’t the tweet that reads, “I am not okay” but it’s the giving away of oneself so that you have nothing to take to the afterlife. And that sometimes suicide comes out of the blue so you have to really look closely at the people you love.

I also want people to know that mental illness doesn’t make me crazy. Sure, it makes me sad but is also makes me who I am. Well, parts of who I am. And I am truly loving, truly giving. It’s in the parts of me that paint and draw and sew and would do just about anything for anyone. And while the sad will keep me from your party, it will not keep me from holding you in your darkest hours. I think anyone who really knows me, knows that is me.

So please, educate yourself. Know that praying doesn’t cure true mental health issues anymore then dancing naked in the woods does. Learn the signs of the suicidal person. It could be your daughter or your son, someday, scary as it is to say outloud, it might be me. And the “not sick” me, wants you to save me, because I have so much to live for.

Image result for mental health awareness month may 2017

Hi! I’m Gail, the voice behind Mimicking Motherhood. I started blogging after the birth of my 2nd child as a way to connect with far away family. Things have definitely changed since then. Now, mama to five, this is a place to help connect with other mothers, who feel like me.I love to make and write all while trying to figure out how to be myself in the world of anxiety and depression. Glad you stopped by.