Category Archives: Mental Health

Facebook Memories

If you’re on Facebook, you’re probably familiar with how Facebook likes to share memories, showing you pictures and status updates that you’ve posted on any given day in years past.  It is mostly really fun to see what was going on in your life.  I, personally, love seeing old pictures of my pets and my friends, and thinking about the fun nights I had over Facebook in law school (without Facebook, lawyers from the class of 2011 would not have made it).

But there are times when I don’t necessarily want to remember, Facebook.

On January 23, Facebook reminded me that it had been 3 years since my Gram passed away.  I had a good cry, I posted a sappy post, went on a walk to process my sad feelings and saw a hummingbird in the desert (which I’m currently convinced is my Gram’s way of saying hello these days).  It worked.  Remembering my Gram’s passing was bittersweet; full of missing her and wishing she could see me now, but remembering how much of her lives on in me.  Okay, so Facebook memories can remind me of my Gram any day.

I still wish I could be selective about what I’m reminded of, though.  Maybe Facebook could come up with a shitty life events filter or something.  Of course, it may not have even helped with this next one considering that I had intentionally, selectively, mostly forgotten about it.

On February 4, I was reminded that around this time in 2014, I had a second weird psychotic episode that I’ve hardly discussed with anyone, even though everyone basically saw it happen this time.  After quitting my job at the big law firm, going on my round-the-country road trip, and pouring every bit of myself into launching my new law firm at the end of 2013 and into the new year, I lost my mind again.  It was maybe a period of about 48-72 hours without sleep, endlessly searching the internet, convinced I had broken it, writing this crazy manifesto that I still can’t bear to read, and sending “coded” messages to all the friends on Facebook that I felt close to at the time.

Yep.  Facebook memories reminded me that I sent a bunch of psychotic messages to my friends.  Lovely!

I posted a status update blaming it on Facebook, which seems to have gone over okay with most of my friends (except maybe one).  But it was me.  I was only about a year and a half into recovery from my childhood trauma, burned out and running away from myself on my road trip, I came back and immediately poured myself into my work and avoiding everything rebelling, but then I caught up with myself again and lost my mind.  No wonder my business failed didn’t go so well the first time I tried it.  No wonder I could barely motivate myself to get off of the couch for months after.  I have so much shame about it, and Facebook reminded me.

Thankfully, Facebook also reminded me how much I have grown since.

I honestly feel like such a different person than I was those two years ago.   I have worked really hard in therapy to move beyond so many things and it is paying off in my life.  I not only AM lighter (if you didn’t read my post yesterday, though currently stuck in a stall, I am -105lbs now!), I FEEL lighter emotionally.  My spirit is freer these days because of all of my hard work.  I am freer.

I do still fear a return of the psychosis, though.  Even though this second time around was far milder and far less damaging, it still sucked; a lot.  I’m still incredibly embarrassed and and carrying some pretty intense shame because of both of the times that my brain short circuited.  If it happened twice, it can happen a third or fourth or fifth time.  I fear being permanently disabled by my mental health issues.  If my brain can fail me in such dramatic ways, how will I ever be able to be a successful human being like I want to?  What if I’m not cut out for being a lawyer?  What if I cannot actually be a business owner?  I could go on, but I don’t need to.

Definitely some things I need to talk about in therapy.  I have so many good things going on and, despite the bullshit thrown my way this year so far, I feel pretty good emotionally, so I hate to get too much back into the serious stuff.  Finally telling you is pretty helpful (and remarkable, especially since a year-old blog post about the same subject sits in my drafts), but I’m sure telling Sam will help me tie a little bow on this and put it up on a shelf.

No more shame, damnit!  Well, at least a little less shame for now.  Thank God for therapy this week!

Negative Self Talk: Perfectionism

I touched on an important idea in my first therapy session of the new year.  Plenty of my shame-driven negative self talk (and I have a whole lot of it these days) isn’t even my own.  It dawned on me in a way that it hadn’t before: a whole lot of the bad things I throw at myself in my own head began with someone else’s shame (my mother’s mostly), which was was transferred to me before I ever knew what to do with it, and I’ve now adopted it as my own.

The negative messages began early; perfectionism, especially.

Though highly intelligent, my brother and school were like oil and water and never really worked.  He acted out a lot and hated authority (gee, wonder why), and was regularly abused by my parents for that and his bad grades.  I was powerless to do anything about anything that happened growing up, but I got a big message loud and clear: imperfection could be very dangerous.  My good grades, staying squeaky clean, being naive and innocent, over achieving, it all kept me safe.

Perhaps it shouldn’t be any surprise, then, that one of the first panic attacks I remember having came after I got my very first B in second grade.  Perhaps it shouldn’t be any surprise, then, that my anxiety goes crazy and my negative self talk is at its most nasty and vile when I feel like I have failed in even the most minor way.

It can be debilitating, constantly berating yourself at every turn for every little thing.  I am continually working on it in therapy, but lately if I’m not beating myself up about something I think I’ve somehow failed at, how I’m not perfect at whatever it might be, I stop myself only to beat myself up about beating myself up.

Today, for instance.  Since it’s a federal holiday and the courts and 98% of law firms in this town are closed, I’m trying to give myself the freedom to take an additional day off from working to process my life, to write, to do laundry, to enjoy my family, to clean my room, to eat well, to maybe get creative and/or take a walk.  I have incredible amounts of guilt and anxiety over it, though.  I have guilt and anxiety about taking good care of myself on a day when I have the actual ability to take care of myself.  I have to repeat it because it’s so clearly illogical – I have guilt and anxiety about taking care of myself.

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I am not an idiot (that was my favorite self-insult this last therapy session).  I am not dumb either (what I was just calling myself for feeling guilty about taking the day off to continue to care of myself).  I am not a failure at business (like I constantly tell myself I am or will be).  I am not failing at weight loss surgery (appx. 90 total pounds down).  I am not failing at exercise (I got 5 miles in over the last week).  I am not a failure.  And I don’t need to be perfect.

Now how do I let that go?  How do I embrace the idea that I don’t even NEED to be perfect in the first place?  Perfectionism doesn’t serve me anymore; I don’t need to be perfect to stay safe, but the message is still there.  Still loud, still clear.   I suppose I may fight against the message of perfection for the rest of my life (in all kinds of ways), but at least I’m fighting.

Let me try to keep this in mind today as I continue to allow myself the freedom to take care of me before all else…

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Coming Out of The Fog (Again)

I have been in a quagmire of funky emotions.  Dealing with the adjustments of forming all new – lifelong – eating habits, hormonal changes that come with surgery (didn’t know this until after) and rapid weight loss, getting used to my family being here all. the. time., trying to run a business, and working through the suffocating depression that has followed me around like a lost puppy dog the last three months (since I had to defend my decision for surgery to the one person I never wanted to have to defend it to).  I have been so exhausted and unable to function on a consistent basis.  But I’m finally coming out of it (again).

I guess this is the cycle of life, my dears.  Up and down and sometimes in between.

I think my body is finally adjusting to the decreased caloric intake.  The tiredness lingers and I’m super emotional at the most randomly inopportune times (my brother and I have had multiple fights over cheese), but I’m able to have a good solid, productive, 5 or 6 hours of work done now.  I just didn’t realize how difficult the first few months would actually be after this surgery.  Physically, emotionally, mentally, it’s been very challenging and often in ways that I was not expecting.

My social life has been nonexistent.  I’ve been wanting to join my friends, networking buddies, and colleagues for their many holiday soirees, but I’ve only been able to make it out to a couple of things.  Some days I can do it, other days, I hit a wall and have to rest.  I suppose if I paced myself, instead of trying to hit three things in one week (hey, when you’re feeling good, you gotta take advantage, amiright?), I’d be better off.  Either way, I’m hopeful that everyone understands and I’m trying not to be hard on myself about it in the process.

I’m really grateful that I have my own business, so that I have had an opportunity to recover in my own way.  Sure, it’s been a hard transition and a totally different kind of stressful, especially when recovery brought my business to a screeching halt, pissed off a couple clients, and killed my finances, but it’s temporary.  Now that I’m finally getting around to feeling more normal, life and business can resume (mostly) as scheduled.

Having my family here has been a real blessing.  Getting used to living with an entire family after being by myself for seven years has been quite a change, but they help out so much.  I barely have to do anything around the house and it’s such a relief.  I was praying for quite a while for someone to come swoop in and help take care of me for a while, and having my brother and his family here has been an answer to that prayer in so many ways.

My brother and I talk a lot about growing up, how difficult it was, and how difficult it continues to be.  It’s hard for the both of us to relive the many terrible memories, but it may be even harder for him at times.  I forget that while I’ve been working really hard over the last few years to deal with my our past, he has mostly just tried to forget about it the last 20 years of his life.  He keeps bringing it up, though, so I keep giving him every ounce of knowledge and insight that I’ve gained about dealing with it now. I have certainly gained some perspective because of our conversations.  I hope he feels the same.

I’m taking a bit of a break from therapy until early next year.  It may not be the best of ideas, but life.  From finances, to getting back into the swing of business, to just not wanting to for some reason right now, I can’t bring myself to do it.  I feel like I’ve talked myself to death about my childhood and my mother, I’m dealing with surgery and post-op life the best I know how, and my energy is better spent on being with my family, working on business, and enjoying a little life for a minute.

I’m learning more and more that it’s okay to take a break.  As long as I’m doing something to better myself and/or my business every day, then I’ve got nothing to be down on myself about.  Even if I’m not as productive, not as busy, not as whatever I wish I had been on any given day, I’m still making strides toward some things that are incredibly important to me – a happy and health mind and body and a successful business.  With those as my requirements, today has already been a good day.

What They Knew (Part II)

Christie’s words have left me reeling.

What did she know? How could she know? Did I tell her? I don’t remember. I hope she does.  Because I want to know; I need to know.  It’s going to be hard to hear, but I need to know what it is that made her say that.

When I got to Tracy’s, I was about to boil over with tears. Tracy and I hadn’t seen each other in a few weeks  (my fault), so we had some catching up to do before I could get the words together. It wasn’t long before I couldn’t hold it in any longer. I could barely choke out the words over my tears. 

Tracy of course, knew how difficult my week had already been before Christie’s bomb on my brain and her unadulterated response was, “Wow.”  I told her, “I’m glad I wasn’t overreacting about feeling how heavy this is.” I really struggle with identifying and trusting my emotions, so her validation was just what I needed. I love her for everything she does for me (which she totally knows). 💜

Yeah, so I had a really bad Friday/Saturday, but did everything I could think of as self care, including setting a mid-appointments appointment with my therapist. Talked to my close friends. Colored. Read. Distracted. Two days of no sleep.  Then sleep. Lots of sleep. The emotional hangover is real, people. I’m actually kind of proud of how I’ve been handling things, considering.

Anyways. I have yet to get the courage to ask Christie what she knows. It’s coming, though.

I often wonder…

Who knew? What did they know? That’s really all I need to know. 

With that said, I know of one cousin that semi-actively follows my twitter (the only place I share my blog now). I don’t want to call him out by name, but he spent a year of his childhood with us kids, and he should know who he is. While I don’t know if he’ll ever read this, if he does i want him to know: I don’t think I want to know what you knew, no matter what the answer is.  Not yet, anyways.

Ultimately, I know that anyone who may have known something will tell me as much just as quickly as the universe has planned for me to hear it. Asking Christie what she knew will also happen in due time. In the meantime, the emotional tornado somewhat rages on.

I’ll keep you posted. Because, #nomoreshame.

Check out my art and follow my journey on Twitter, Instagram., and in my Etsy shop.

What They Knew (Part I)

Now twice in my recovery, I have been confronted with the reality that old friends (other than the one I knew for sure I had told) knew about what was going on in my childhood home.  My first ex boyfriend was first, right around the time of my breakdown (early to mid 2012).  The second was this past Friday night and came from a close childhood friend who I just reconnected with after 15 years.

My ex boyfriend reached out to me from out of the blue because his name was still showing on sone deep dark record on my bank account that we shared during our incredibly short stint of living together.  He just wanted to get it fixed because he was about to get married or something.  I was happy for him and of course agreed to do whatever needed to be done.

But I had, within maybe the month before, just had a nearly physical altercation with my mom and was in severe crisis mode after having really only just come to the realization that I was physically, mentally, emotionally abused as well as molested. I was in an endless panic attack rooted in my many layers of denial and self defense built up over 28 years.  The knowing portion of my brain was also desperately searching for all the answers I was afraid of consciously knowing the answers to.

The couple of times he and I talked again, we mended a few very old fences. During one conversation, I confided in him about what had happened recently with my mom; and I couldn’t help but ask him what he remembered. He was my first boyfriend and I do remember that his exit from my life was, well, pretty dramatic.  As it turns out, at some point during our relationship (I assume near/part of the dramatic end), she put a gun in his face and threatened him. Yep.

I think I already knew on some deep level that that had happened, but hearing about it as the veil of denial about my abuse was lifting from my heart and soul was beyomd heartbreaking, immensely validating, and something I truly had no idea how to deal with at the time.  The universe and it’s glorious timing.

I was pretty confrontational with them about my abuse during the breakdown; and I confronted her about the news from my ex boyfriend. Her response was to ask me why I’d believe him over her, say that he was a liar, and deny deny deny.  What, though, would his motivation for telling me that specific a lie about her be? He was a good guy, he cared about me, neither of us could carry the other’s baggage at that time, though. That’s just truth.

To this day, she denies and she lies.

Fastforward to last week.

The firm I’m at now does its fair share of criminal defense. Occasionally, we get retained on abuse-related crimes involving minors. I had already, sadly, learned I couldn’t continue representing children in foster care (most are abused in some way) because it was too triggering for me. Knowing a couple of the criminal cases would be bad for my mental health in similar ways, I had already expressed to my boss that I wouldn’t be able to work on those particularly trigger-inducing cases. Unfortunately, though, he had to fly out of town for business on a day that one of those cases was set for hearing; I had no choice. It was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve had to do as a lawyer, for so many reasons, and it left me feeling raw and sensitive.

Being a lawyer has given a few of my old friends reason to reconnect with me.  I absolutely love that my career brings old friends into the current chapters of my life.  Christie was one of those people that I missed and was excited to see again. She grew up down the street from me and we walked home together quite a bit from elementary school.  We grew apart a bit as life moved on and lost touch entirely after high school.  Honestly, I had forgotten how far back our history really went. As sometimes happens, she called me in a panic about something earlier in the week and I agreed to meet her Friday for lunch. I’m always willing, if I can.

She ended up running late Friday, so we just decided she’d meet me at my office.  She came around a quarter to four.  It was phenomenal to see her and to meet her young daughter.  Like I hoped, it was instantly like old times; she really was that kind of friend. We chatted for hours that flew by.

Early in the conversation, she started to share the bad and the ugly in her life. Hey, people typically don’t come to a lawyer unless they’re a little bit broken, after all. We’re “counselors” for a reason; I really don’t mind.  As we’re sharing, I of course mention the abuse and the breakdown, because #nomoreshame.  We’ve both been through a lot, the two of us, so it was shaping up to be a pretty triggering conversation.

My flashbacks were getting strong, when she says in passing, really,

I think I knew.

It didn’t even register at first, but it instantly sent me into anxiety/freeze/full crisis mode like I haven’t experienced in probably a solid year and a half.

I pushed it away initially, I had to finish the conversation professionally, on a good note. But as I drove away from Christie and the office, getting closer to home, the gravity of her statement started coming into soft focus. I was partially conscious that something was not quite right, that I was amped up, and probably shouldn’t be alone. Thank God for my friends, truly. :) I was able to invite myself over to my best friend Tracy’s house, because she’s super safe company. As I stopped at the house to feed Freckles and then made my way to Tracy’s, the fully reality of what Christie said was flashing before my eyes.

She knew.  She. Knew. I. Was. Abused.

That’s all I can get through right now.  More later.

Check out my art and follow my journey on Twitter, Instagram., and in my Etsy shop.

Knock Knock (Trigger Warning)

Suicide is coming too close lately. I hear it’s death rattle knocking at my door.  No, I’m not suicidal; but it wasn’t that long ago that I was.  So when the news of suicide comes into the little bubble I occupy in our vast universe, it has an effect on me like never before.

A couple of months ago, a person sadly took their life by jumping into morning traffic from one of the higher freeway overpasses in town. That overpass is such a familiar part of home and it instantaneously became the site of an incredibly tragic moment. I pass by that overpass on my daily commute. I have passed by that same overpass so many times in my 32 years of life, that I can’t even count them for you. I was a barely permitted teen that white knuckled through rush hour traffic in that portion of the freeway, terrified of the towering levels of vehicle filled concrete and the median whizzing by immediately to my left, with my dad sitting to my right (probably even more scared). It happened so close to home.

I learned about the suicude before it hit the news because one of my best friend’s husband’s watched it happen on his way to work.  Of course, it wasn’t long before reports spread like wildfire.  The comments on social media varied wildly between understanding and compassion, insensitivity, and obnoxiously offensive and callous (from good riddance, to attention grabber, to should have thrown themselves off the Dam, with a side of eff you for ruining my commute folks – yeah).  The suicide was shocking enough, but the responses from people in my home town were worse (way to further stigmatize mental illness, Vegas). While I was shocked and saddened by it all, the day moved forward. 

The next morning, shock turned visceral and physical as I made my way to the office.  I took the same route as always, on auto pilot as I mentally prepared for the day.  I was not prepared for the way that my breath caught in my throat as I rounded that short stretch of road and imagined a body falling from the sky.  I was not prepared for the overwhelming anger as the vilest of the vile comments came flooding back to my mind. I was not prepared for the incredible anxiety and sadness that I felt being so close to where that poor soul left this Earth. I couldn’t help but weep for them, their family, and myself.

More recently, a very dear friend of mine reached out to me as she dealt with a mixture of shock, grief and guilt after a high school friend’s husband committed suicide. I didn’t know the gal that well, but my friend and I are soul sisters; we have known each other for 20 years; I came back to my relationship with God in the small church she planted in Delaware; we have shared our darkest demons with each other; and I just plain love her.  So, her hurts are my hurts and she’s been going through a lot as it is.  While I have not had the same reaction I had to the last suicide, it’s still too close to home because of how it affected someone I care so much about.

I never thought I would be able to relate in an almost intimate way with a person that ended their own life.  But as my life fell out from under me a few years ago, I became quite familiar with the level of sheer desperation and despair it takes to legitimately contemplate suicide.

When I had a psychotic break after the fraying rope that held my sadness and terror at bay for 29 years finally gave way, when I relived all of the abuse in vivid detail for the first time in my life, when I finally realized that my own mother molested me, I wanted to die.  When I also lost the two most important and supportive people in my life at the time – my boyfriend who I thought I was going to marry and my best friend – because of how I acted as my mind failed me in the worst way, I simply couldn’t stand the thought of being a part of this world anymore.

As I sat for what felt like hours with a steak knife to my wrist, all I wanted was for the memories and emotions to stop. I needed relief, peace, an escape from all of the pain. I had tried everything, I thought and I just couldn’t see any other way out. 

Thankfully, I had hastily saved this adorable little fur face from the pound in a brief moment of (slight) sanity that month.

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Okay, so getting her was also kind of an eff you to the ex boyfriend, because we had talked seriously about getting a dog when he moved in, but I digress. 

Little did I know, my crazy freckled dog would save my life that night.  I’m convinced that, even as young as she was, she picked up on what I was feeling because right as I intended to dig the blade into my skin, she forced her little muzzle between my hands and sat at my feet, insisting that I love on her with an immediacy she had never shown before. The debilitatingly dark trance I had put myself in was broken just long enough for it to dawn on me that it really wasn’t just about me; I had a responsibility, if to no one else, but that little face, not to kill myself. 

I put the knife on the table.

The feelings I had been having that night didn’t go away automatically. I still struggle with all of it, and will continue to struggle. But had it not been for The Spotted Freckledog, I would have given in to my demons.  I would have, in an instant, become an (unreported) abuse statistic.  Though life really is worth living, I was immesurably close to being the jumper.  I was this close to making my own friends and family experience the unfathomable shock, grief and guilt over my death.

I’m eternally grateful that my dog saved my soul. 

Nowadays, when my darkness resurfaces and interferes with my life, even a little, I’m terrified of returning to that hell.  It’s why I stick with therapy, why I write, why I create.  It’s why I have finally decided to have weight loss surgery to free myself of the chains of morbid obesity brought on by the abuse. It’s why I’m here sharing this with you right now. I’m afraid that if I don’t let it out, it will consume me again. 

I know this post might make you uncomfortable, and I’m sorry for that, but I was truly lost and felt like I had no one to turn to (I wish I had been a part of this wonderful blogging community at the time). My hope is that if someone chances across my blog in their own desperation and sees that, although it’s not always easy, life can go on, that there can be joy despite suffering, and that they are not alone in this world, it will break their dark trance just long enough that they, too, put down the knife. Maybe my suffering won’t have been for nothing.

Maybe no one will ever needs my words in that way (I certainly hope that is the case).  But if you happen to be that person, please know that you are not alone.  I am here thinking of you and I am here to talk to.  I can’t make it all better, but I can listen without judging. Please don’t give in. Please keep fighting. Please reach out, spill your guts, and live this oddly magical life with me.  It’s worth it.  You are worth it. 💛

Check out my art and follow my journey on Twitter, Instagram., and in my Etsy shop.

Lost: One Bandwagon, If Found Please Return

Despite hoping to hop right back on the wagon, over the last few days I’ve totally lost sight of the bandwagon and reverted back to my old bingeing habits.

I imagine this feeling is similar to how people with chronic pain and opiod addictions feel (though I imagine that’s much harder). It certainly reminds me of something I read somewhere by a former addict turned addiction counselor.  Was it a blog? A tweet? I don’t even know now.  Either way, despite having gone through the ringer of addiction, they actually felt worse for food addicts.  They made a really good point about why, though.  Alcoholics and other addicts can put their “tiger” in a cage and leave it there, but food addicts have to take their “tiger” out of the cage at least three times a day, pet it, and put it back in the cage without getting hurt. 

The struggle is real, people.  Food addiction is a bitch.

Friday I was in a deposition all day and we all skipped lunch to try to get through it quicker.  Huge mistake. By the time I met my friend for dinner and drinks, I was starving and ate waaay too much.  I was proud that I at least skipped the post-drinking Del Taco binge, though. I did eat when I got home, but it was semi-healthy leftovers.  Small victories?

Yesterday, I was tired, cranky, slightly hungover, and had too much time to think about all the things that I prefer not to think about. I’m still processing my mother’s recent string of inappropriateness.  Talking to my aunt about her when we had a private moment at the buffet is weighing on my mind as well (more on that later). I’m feeling down on myself after that jerk told me that surgery is the lazy way out. The news about the Duggars (that @TruthIsHers wrote such an important piece on here) has also triggered more thoughts of my own abuse.  It’s maybe just a little much at the moment?

I did fairly well during the day, but I hardcore gave in to all my negative thoughts and ordered dinner from one of my favorite delivery spots to cope. Night time is always a struggle for me and my old habits are just so hard to quit. Honestly, I was really just in the mood for the desserts (yes plural), but delivery minimums and all. Rather than enjoy a little of the treat and leave the food for, say, the next day, I ate it all. *sigh* 

What can I say? I’m a fatass that learned early on if you didn’t clean your plate there’d be hell to pay.

I’ve probably shared the story already, but one of my shittiest and most distinct memories is from dinner time.  I was full (or maybe just didn’t want the rest of whatever we were eating or maybe just wanted to be a kid and go play) that night and wasn’t finishing my dinner, picking at my food.  After everyone else was done, I was left in the dark dining room by myself, forced to face away from my dad and brother watching TV in the living room so I could clear my plate without distraction. My mom was hovering in the kitchen, putting food away I think.  When I started to get emotional and said I was going to throw up (I had a sensitive stomach and anxiety over throwing up as it was), she screamed at me and slammed a big Tupperware bowl on the table in front of me.  If I threw up, she said, I had to do it in that bowl and I’d have to eat it. 

Lesson learned, mom. Lesson well fucking learned. 

I’m terrified that I’ll never conquer this beast on my back. It’s true, I have to eat.  I have to pet my tiger and put him back into his cage without getting mauled every single fucking day.  The past few days, my tiger has been really angry and upset and hurting and it took all that out on me.  My tiger is always going to be there, but with a much smaller cage after surgery.  If I can’t tame him before then, this shit is going to be even harder.  How the hell do I deal?

Can’t wait for therapy Wednesday.

Check out my art and follow my journey on Twitter, Instagram., and in my Etsy shop.