What Are You Looking For In A Therapist?

You’ve seen the title of this piece, so let me start by saying this question has been asked of me by my doctor, and it’s a long story. Overall, my best response was, “Someone who isn’t an asshole. Someone who isn’t going to waste my time, and someone whose office I will not leave more furious than when I went in.” If you’ve never dealt with a therapist before, believe me when I say these are supremely honest, reasonable requests. Then I noted my history and realized how much this traumatizes me, repeatedly.

I began talking with psychiatrists and therapists around age twelve or thirteen, as a way to combat the damage I was experiencing at home, with an abusive, controlling father. The first doctor was fired after roughly two sessions, in which he threatened to hospitalize me at the first appointment because I didn’t care to talk to him. “If you don’t change your behavior, I will hospitalize you.” First time meeting me, barely knew a thing about me, and he was already making undue threats. That’s called, “abuse of power”. There’s not a single mental health professional who should be threatening their patients. That’s illegal and, depending on the personality they are dealing with, quite dangerous. He had already openly admitted of being afraid of meeting up with someone like me in a dark alley, but he made no attempt to connect or get to know me and what I was going through.

To provide helpful background, I was in no danger of harming myself or others, but he saw fit to disrespect me, to call my mother names when he asked her to leave the room for a short period of time to “chat” with me (Asking me about her personality and disrespecting her for seeking out help for her child. Yeah, that didn’t sit well with me. To this day, despite the fact that my mother has been gone almost thirteen years, if someone disrespects her or speaks negatively about her, they might end up choking on their own teeth. I tend to warn people in advance, but I only warn you once.), and when I told her precisely what was said behind closed doors, she called and cancelled the following appointment, letting him know I would not be returning. He had the audacity to call her and ask why I didn’t show up for my appointment, pretending he had not received notice of the cancellation. She had given him plenty of notice as to why I would not be coming back, but once he called, he opened himself up to being schooled for his horrible behavior. This first introduction to a psychiatrist, one who specialized in treating adolescents, left me scarred. I was not scared of this doctor, but I did contemplate going back to his house (he worked out of a home office) and cutting his tires. I had to return to the person who’d referred me and explain why this doctor should not be seeing anyone, leave alone children. I don’t remember his name, but I hope he rots for how he treated me. I didn’t need an abusive doctor; I already had enough abuse at home.

After that, I saw a therapist for a few years, and she was all right. At this point, I was already an established writer and I was careful with my words with her. She still assisted for a while when I moved out of state.

My next doctor wasn’t much better, except that instead of abuse or threats (or a combination of both), her answer to everything was medication. For over a year, she practically force-fed me Prozac until I put my foot down and refused to take it. I was about five foot three at the time and one hundred and twenty pounds. Antidepressants in that particular class can cause severe weight gain and other health issues. I wasn’t eating any differently, nor was I eating more often, but suddenly I was trapped in a body that wasn’t my own. If I hadn’t started out depressed, I was by the time I fired her. I spent two straight years on roughly ten different medications before I finally decided to stop seeing her. She was unreachable when not in the office, she was not helping me in any way because she had misdiagnosed me, and when my therapist at the same location left, so did I. I then spent a few years obsessed with working out in my attempt to shed the medication weight. I was working out three times a day. This doctor didn’t understand that she’d destroyed my sense of self and self-esteem. Her answer for everything was pills.

After firing several more doctors, I would end up back in session with the therapist who had left, but now had her own practice. In three years, I didn’t feel she did much for me, and when she was pregnant with her first child, she decided not to see patients any more. She left me in limbo, and I’m sure this was true for others, as well.

A year or so later, I ended up in the office of another doctor. To say he was a piece of work would be a vast understatement. Don’t assume a physician who went to three Ivy League schools is better equipped at helping you than one who went to medical school elsewhere. He was a nightmare, and my neurologist at the time had referred me to him. This doctor refused to take my mental health seriously, and wanted to put me into some kind of “day program” where I would interact with other people who suffered from varying degrees of mental illness. He thought this was the only way I’d, “get better”. He even yelled at me during an appointment in which he had to fill out a form for my insurance, which took less than ten minutes of his time at the end of a session which cost roughly $500 for an hour. Mind you, this was his charge before insurance reimbursed me. This “relationship” where he refused to help me did not last long. In fact, it lead me to a new therapist who would refer me to a psychiatrist who happened to know the previous doctor.

I was under the care of the new psychiatrist for sixteen years. His treatment was sub-par, outside of when I was in his office. When my records were requested in 2016, he actually claimed I was never under his care! After having submitted my entire chart, which was over six hundred pages, which included personal notes which never should have seen the light of day, I called him and confronted him. For sixteen years, he told me I was suffering from Bipolar I and II, mixed episode. This diagnosis was one hundred percent inaccurate.

In an attempt to help myself, I did see a therapist for six months in 2012. When I lost my insurance, she disappeared. I’m still annoyed by that because I feel like she was a good therapist for me.

When I met my current treating physician, he was astounded by how much medical neglect I had endured between doctors and inept therapists. When he handed me my new diagnosis, it was a game-changer, but it also left me devastated, because there was no way to fix any of it. The damage was done, and all we could do was treat things here and there.

The day I first met him, he disclosed he’d be leaving in a month. Our last discussion, days before he left that particular hospital, he said his biggest regret was not being able to do more to help me. This stayed with me. Upon his departure, my case was handed over to another doctor who, upon meeting me, in less than ten minutes, insinuated I was an addict because I was taking medication she didn’t approve of. This woman tried to damage my medical record as part of her vendetta, and she pursued getting me kicked out of the mental health care clinic, but I lucked out with a therapist who fought on my behalf. Unfortunately, nine months later, she would also leave that particular hospital.

I was now left with no therapist and no doctor. I signed up for waitlists with a handful of places offering therapy and either no doctor or they had someone who came in once a month to prescribe medication. After meeting with two different therapists, I lost my patience and let both of them know I would not be returning. Not long after, I bumped into my doctor in one of the medical buildings where I now go, having since changed insurance companies to one that covers a broader spectrum of things and has a larger service coverage area (the entire state, pretty much, along with parts of Rhode Island and Connecticut). In less than two weeks, I had an appointment and was “back in business”, so to speak.

My doctor actually gives a fuck about me. I am trying to keep this in mind because I’m annoyed as hell with him right now. His first attempt of setting me up with a therapist he works with crashed and burned. I wasted ten months of my life dealing with this woman, and at my very first appointment, she made the crucial mistake of threatening me. Knowing what I know about what needs to be said between clinician and patient, I tried to let it go, but I then spent the entire time waiting for her to be a better therapist, which never happened. I cancelled my last appointment with her because 1, I was going to tear her a new asshole. 2, I did not feel she would be receptive to the feedback, and more than that, did I really want her to get paid as I shredded her for being a useless therapist? No. She didn’t deserve to be paid when I was going to be angry going in and leaving. That’s not right, or fair. When I explained this to my doctor, he agreed I did the right thing by being silent, but explaining to him why it didn’t work out. She was in no way invested in my well-being, and it was obvious, especially as she repeatedly checked the clock from the second I arrived, right up until the final moments of each session.

Collectively, my doctor and I decided to shelve the pursuant of a new therapist after I called twenty different therapists, all to be told that they had full practices, which means they aren’t taking on new patients. A few had a three year waiting list to see them, and at that point, I’d had enough of the bullshit of flaky therapists.

When it came up towards the end of last year, he didn’t really have too many ideas or options for me, but was willing to keep trying. I had actually considered fighting for my out-of-network benefits to return to a previous therapist, providing she agreed.

Today is the day to go over the whole, “What are you looking for in a therapist?” question for what is hopefully the last time, and see where this goes. It gives me anxiety and makes me sick to my stomach. Because ultimately, I don’t know if I’ll ever meet a therapist and feel they are a “good fit” for me. It takes time to build trust and establish a relationship enough to be vulnerable. Anyone who truly knows me, knows I’m the least likely person in any given room to put myself in a position of weakness. I’m pretty glacial most of the time. I’m not a welcoming person; I will get to know you first. I am not overly trusting, either. These are things you have to earn with me, yet I see people give away trust like tissues all the time, and then they wonder why they’re devastated in the end.

It is so rare for me to meet anyone and feel an immediate sense of rightness, but when I do, I am much more forthcoming with them because I know I’m not being judged. Over the past year I have come to realize that, in many instances, people tell me everything about their lives, and this likely stems from being a good listener, a solid confidant, and someone people often rely on in an advisory capacity, but if asked, they would not be able to tell you much about me. This is why people often say, “Check on your strong friends.” The person who is everyone’s rock is not always okay, but by turning to them constantly, never asking about their health or life, you are diminishing them and that isn’t acceptable behavior. In fact, it’s a quick way for me to boot you out of my life. It’s not “the silent treatment”, it’s walking away from toxicity with your self-respect. That’s what I have to do to preserve my sanity at times, and I will never apologize for it.

I’ll see how this Telehealth appointment goes and make my decision from there. I know whatever happens, it will be a collaborative discussion. Having a doctor who doesn’t Lord over you is important. If you’re working on your mental health, keep this in mind through your journey.

Brightest of Blessings,

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Not Quite

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I’m still not doing too great post-treatment. I’m either sleeping too little or too much, and the amount of pain I am in may last another 7-10 days. The plus side of this is that I was approved to start taking Nurtec. I’ll figure this out as I go, but thus far, I haven’t heard a single negative thing about it. Considering all the migraine sufferers in the world and the suddenness of the CGRP drugs being pushed through slightly over two years ago, only hearing positive things is a lot like finding a unicorn. I will know more when the hospital pharmacy delivers it to me in a few days.

Beyond this, I am trying to ease up on myself. As someone who is harder on herself than anyone else could possibly be, I’m trying to take it easy. I am trying to tell myself it’s okay if I can’t do something immediately. I have to tell myself that if I needed to sleep, then that’s what I should be doing. I’m about 20% less stressed since I started this mantra of putting less pressure on myself to get things done, but that doesn’t mean anxiety and stress don’t rear their ugly heads, because THEY DO.

Today was an epic fail. Initially, I couldn’t fall sleep, so I took medication my doctor prescribed, at a higher dose that we’ve talked about over the past month or so. It doesn’t always hit me hard (or at all), but this time, it put me down for the count. I was awake just long enough to drink a lot of water and ended up back in bed for seven hours. This was after getting roughly eight hours of sleep, so clearly, this dose is too high for me right now. I will cut the dose down and see where that takes me, but I’ve already discussed the fact that I detest relying on it every single night. In most cases, it’s a temporary prescription, but I’ve been on and off of it for the better part of eight months. I haven’t taken it consistently because I don’t want to be dependent on any medication. It is frustrating because there doesn’t seem to be an exact science to the dosing (for me). The goal was for me to be sleeping at night and have better days, but I can’t have better days if the medicine is still in my system and putting me back to sleep. In hindsight, I do think I needed that extra rest. The downside? I am worried about when I will, inevitably, fall asleep and wake up. I don’t have to be anywhere, but I do have a considerable amount of work to get done. I know it WILL get done, but for this week, at least, I have to ease up on stressing myself out and making my anxiety worse. It’s so much easier said, than done.

There’s no crystal ball to tell me how the next few weeks will pan out, but I am hoping, and praying, for better days. I’m not quite there, yet.

 

Ignoring The Crossroads

When I decided to take “Poison In Lethal Doses” from a printed, exclusive, personally publicized format to an online, public, still personally publicized, but zero profit format, I opened it up in a way I wasn’t quite expecting. I won’t lie; having experience helped. Having confidence helped even more. In no way was I “just starting out” or “testing the waters. I had an established portfolio. I had a built-in following. I did not feel the least bit hesitant about this next step. I came from a place of confidence and knowledge.

To this day, I still feel blessed to every single person who helped me pave my own path. Especially the teachers I had in the New York City public school system. They broke the mold with those original English, History, and Science teachers who took a shine to me, and the many who kept in touch with me for years after I graduated. Between them and my Mom believing in my work, I was able to shed my skin and focus solely on what I wanted to do.

When I worked in Public and Fan Relations for professional  athletes (FYI: I am entirely self-taught in this particular field. It always seemed to work smoothly, despite the difficult people I worked on behalf of. I actually walked away without references or letters of recommendation simply to get out of an increasingly toxic environment. I have no desire to return to that kind of work, but if I had to do it again, I am fully capable of doing it for myself or for someone else. That’s a skill set you can’t be taught; you either have the ability to do it or you don’t. Knowing how to do it and do it well is a gift. I am grateful for the opportunities and experience, and proud of myself because I took it on and made a name for myself. Don’t be afraid to be an assertive individual who can take charge; sometimes doors open for you because of that tenacity.), people told me I was too talented to waste my time in those roles. Essentially, they were right. To a degree; as I am a relatively ego-free individual. I walked away because I outgrew it. Sometimes, a dramatic change is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself. Even still, it took time to be comfortable being the main focus at all times, and yet it’s completely gratifying, based solely on the feedback I receive, and knowing when something I’ve written is good, or not.

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A few months ago, I changed my Instagram handle and decided to make “Poison In Lethal Doses” my main focus, personally and professionally. There are two separate accounts for this on Instagram, and I have since expanded with a second Twitter feed for a new project. I quietly made plans for expansion this year, and I know I can work hard to achieve launch by year’s end. I may be planning and God may be laughing, but I’d rather plan and create something successful, funny, entertaining, and relatable, as opposed to not planning at all and sticking to the status quo. That isn’t enough for me; ergo, new project.

The craziness and uncertainty of the Coronavirus cannot be allowed to stop everything in my life, so I put my foot down and made some decisions. I will keep making those decisions and prepare to achieve a goal I feel is quite doable. Like anything else, it does require patience and a considerable amount of startup material from me, but I have to stop underestimating myself. I’ve already achieved things most people haven’t, so this is a period of reflection for me. I need to remind myself who I am and what I am capable of. I’m not going to place an expiration date on myself with this.

Over the past few years, I have felt like I was in an episode of Supernatural, waiting for a crossroads demon to appear, and grant me my deepest, darkest wish in exchange for my soul. Hey, you can laugh, but stranger things have happened. The last time I felt this way my life took a sudden, and extremely drastic turn. It was something I was completely unprepared for, yet I handled it to the best of my ability. Soon after, the path was lit up and clear. But now? Now there’s just me in the center, and what seems to be a hundred different forks in the road in every possible direction. I actually found myself doodling this precise visual when I was on hold one day. When I glanced down, I realized my subconscious was in perfect understanding and agreement with my current thoughts.

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Moving forward, this is maybe the second time I get to make the decision for me, and me alone. I don’t have to factor anyone else into the equation. I am not responsible for anyone else, and I do not have to feel a sense of responsibility for others, either. I am free to do this for myself. And anyone who is a part of my life can choose to grow with me, or go off on their own. It’s a little unnerving to feel so rootless, but another side of me wonders if this isn’t the entire point. Be rootless. Follow your own arrow/path. Let other people do their own thing, and don’t read anything into their decisions, focus ONLY on yourself and where you want to be. People often refer to this as, “being selfish”. It’s not selfish. It’s prioritizing. As someone who isn’t selfish, I would know the difference quicker than someone who is predominantly selfish and has never considered another person in their entire life.

When I am making big decisions and I’m questioning myself, or feeling like there’s major risk involved, I will often turn to a deck of tarot cards to give me a little guidance. The Rider-Waite deck never fails to put me at ease. I do this once or twice a year, if that. The cards are honest. If they tell me my path is unclear, they aren’t kidding. For years, I would pull many of the same cards and be told to be patient until things became clearer. My most recent reading has some insightful, positive reality in it.

Drawing the Two of Wands in my chosen reading is about a challenge to learn to use downtime productively. Certain aspects of creativity require leisure. There is no available energy for forward progress at this time, so I am advised to rest and restore myself. Rather than waste time during such an opportunity, I am to use it for relaxation or meditation. I am not to worry about how to orchestrate things just yet; but open myself to the sights, sounds, and realities of the situation as it is. This will put me in a more favorable position when the time for action arrives.

Like I said, it was insightful and positive. It’s also true. I have been stressed about the orchestration because it feels like a lot of things need to get done in a short period of time, but I’m going to live and let myself be guided. I don’t need to have all the answers in this precise moment. I do, however, need to breathe and refocus.

I was impressed that the cards immediately picked up on this for me. When I am choosing my cards, I make sure to pull only when I feel 100% positive that I am making the right selection. Not once have they lied to me, and since you’re using them as a guidance tool, accuracy is awesome. Sometimes a message might be confusing, until months later.

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I do not feel like I’ve had a moment of true “downtime” during quarantine, or even now, as states are in different phases of reopening, or in some cases, going backwards. My strongest sense is that we might end up at square one, locked down again, based solely on my sense of things and the number of cases escalating each day. I don’t know if all jobs will be affected a second time or not.

If you thought it was perfectly okay to go on a big vacation to another country during all of this, I hope your idiocy doesn’t land you in a hospital somewhere. People have taken to social media to share photos of vacations they are currently on, which I find ignorant and highly irresponsible. Especially the people who said, “We were bored, so we took our newborn and went to visit family.” Or the people who went away for six weeks to two different European countries (to visit family with their eight month old) where the numbers aren’t good. Did you just have a face palm moment? Yeah, so did I, after I rolled my eyes to South Korea and back. There’s a ton of irresponsible, and downright egotistical behavior going on. We’ve already been told that traveling isn’t 100% safe (and I’m talking about the airport terminals above all else. You can’t tell me they’ve ALL been sanitized within an inch of their lives, or that they’re sanitizing hourly.), and many countries will not allow Americans entry. People are truly showing their privilege, and it’s disgusting, yet important to see people for who they truly are. If you do something stupid and make it public, people have the right to call it out as irresponsible. I say this as an imperfect person. I’m not doing things to put myself, or others, in harm’s way. I am trying to be as smart as humanly possible at all times, even though it’s boring as all get out and work has been difficult.

This is a time where the perfectly healthy should count their blessings hourly, and display some compassion for those of us who are at risk. I have multiple autoimmune diagnoses, so every time I go out wearing a mask and no one other than me keeps their distance, I am more at risk than the healthiest person.

I don’t have the patience to argue the fact that masks are necessary, but WEAR A DAMN MASK. I wear gloves, too. Most people do not. I dispose of these items in a garbage bag, NOT in the parking lot of the store I just left. That’s disgusting and completely disrespectful of the employees who will later have to clean that mess up and risk further exposure. Who raised all these assholes? I also want to address the lack of social distancing. The next time someone walks past me like I’m invisible, I cannot be held responsible for my actions. I’d also like to maintain six feet of distance between myself and others after we’re free of this virus, because I think it’s a good idea. Yes, I am being entirely serious. I have no clue where some of these people have been.

The wearing of a mask is extremely claustrophobic and disorienting for me. It really effects me in a negative way. I’ve come close to the occasional nervous breakdown wearing one in public, but I still do it because it’s nonnegotiable. Even when I’m convinced I can’t breathe. Or when I’m close to having a panic attack. Let’s face it; we are all trying to cope with them. I would say most of us are doing the best we can, and that’s reasonable and fair. It does not mean you need to be glued to the news 24/7. That’s not healthy for any of us, but I do understand the fears many have. Especially as we go into learning that babies and children have always been at risk, and we’re seeing this with numbers of infant and toddler cases globally.

Like anyone else, I know the economy needs to be infused with business. I know many restaurants and small businesses are rapidly declining, as well as enormous businesses. I have noticed the immense increase in online shopping in my own neighborhood (not just for groceries). I have had so many companies reach out to me with products they want reviewed over the past six weeks or so, and I feel inundated at times because I’m trying to figure out what to do with all of it. I am doing more brand calls than normal, which is great. I am in a certain level of professional element when working with different types of brands, and it is wonderful when the point person for certain brands e-mails me later on to say, “They really like you. They said you had the most insight out of anyone else they spoke to.” This kind of feedback is what gets you involved with more and more brands. Of late, it’s been less about the fact that they’re paying me and more about the fact that my mind is being challenged. Be it for phone calls, video calls, or product reviews for websites, it feels good to be challenged in positive ways right now. I have had to rid myself of negativity and toxic people during this situation. There’s only so much I can do, or so much effort I can give before I burn out, especially when your efforts aren’t appreciated or respected. I am putting a lot more boundaries in place now, and they are necessary. I’ll address this at another time, but basically, I get it. I understand where people are coming from. Hopefully most people get where I’m coming from, too.

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As I “ignore the crossroads”, things will slowly fall into place. Big change is coming and I am open to the positive energy of this change. I want goal-oriented change. I embrace it. I hope you’ll all be there with me and that prioritizing, “Poison In Lethal Doses” will come to mean as much to you as it does to me.

May my message always find you well.

lisa

*Horizontal rules are free to download at: bellsnwhistles.com <<—Link attached.*  

copyright © 2020 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

 

A Changed Woman

I’ve been writing almost as long as I’ve been alive. I certainly recall times when being on the computer was not my first thought each day, but these past few months have taught me to back off. They’ve taught me patience, which is not an exact science (I’m still extremely impatient with myself, and with others.), and they’ve given me breathing room. A technological vacation, as it were.

My first thought each morning now is not to jump on the computer, or even to turn my phone on immediately. It’s to see what time it is, and not rush into the mind of a working writer. I knew there was a lesson to be learned. On days when I was frustrated and wanted to jump into writing, I allowed my mind to absorb the scenes I wanted to write. Sometimes I took pen to paper and wrote new things. Especially scenes I knew would be important for various projects. Inspiration is inspiration, and you never know when it’s going to hit you. I know it will make for richer story telling. Less filler; more depth.

I have read a LOT over these many months and I’ve had better focus and less force. I’m not stress-forcing my reading, “just to get it done” (I’m guilty of doing this with brand new novels.). I’m fully immersed in each story, now. If you haven’t read Blake Pierce’s work (They’re psychological thrillers/mysteries), I highly recommend it. They were books I could NOT stop reading. I still have 4-5 more to go. Good stuff. No one loves psychology more than I do and I’ve always respected a good psychological thriller. Each one reminds me why the movie, “The Cell”, is still a disturbingly fascinating tale to watch.

Reading a part of my beautiful manuscript last week was like coming home. I became deeply immersed in the story, to the point where I wasn’t looking for errors, issues, or plot holes. I was connecting to the story in a way I might not have if I’d kept writing over the summer. It’s important to see the gift within the chaos. Stepping away was actually healthy for me in a myriad of ways.

Watching myself NOT grab my laptop each morning within twenty minutes of waking up is the new normal. It’s smart and healthy, so now, I feel my time here will be more constructive overall.

I’ll be redesigning as I move forward and bringing a lot of new things on slowly. Each change will involve a formal announcement at least twenty-four hours ahead of time. Some things may come faster than I anticipate, but for now, I’m going to maintain the status quo.

I received a software delivery last week, so I’m able to fully focus on my works-in-progress. I love the new version, but am still trying to work my way through it since I’ve forgotten some of the more in-depth things I can do with it. It won’t take me long to adjust though, because I have used the same software consistently.

I’ve opened up my editing schedule for the last two weeks of January until the end of April, so if you’re looking for an editor, please message me for a contract and payment plan. If you’re looking for an editor with a graphic designer, I will cheerfully pass along your design business to a friend. She’s insanely talented.

After the holidays, I will have my files transferred. I’d rather get this back in two days, as opposed to “We’re really busy…”, which can turn into weeks. What I’m having done is simple, and will likely only take a few hours, but I am okay waiting because I have so much to focus on, for now. More than I can think about, really.

There’s likely more in my head than I can type for now, but simple gets the job done, too. Stay warm and keep cool, as we aren’t all in the same season or hemisphere.

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copyright © 2019 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

From Scratch

 

img_20190315_195918_668Two days. That’s all it took to completely erase me. My entire past and much of the present; things I’ve held onto tightly because I believed I had something in life worth fighting for. I still had hope. I believed in the responsibility. I believed in keeping specific things, and people, alive, and sacred. Now, I have to start over, with nothing but memories that take over my mind and torture me. How much trauma can someone with Complex-PTSD can handle? Step into my pain; it’s not a pretty or fun place to be. 😦 I’ve got zero hope left. 

Some people might relish the opportunity of a clean slate, a new beginning, or whatever one would call this hell I am trying to live through. Me? I feel completely dead inside, and no one directly around me allows me to talk about what I think or feel. They change the subject and talk about nonsense, or they only want to talk about themselves. It’s unbelievable how selfish others are. They “don’t want to hear it” if I have something to say, no matter what the subject may be. They ignore the suffering, they ignore the pain I am dealing with, and they show me how much they care…about themselves. Writing is the only place where my thoughts, views, and feelings are respected and/or accepted. You don’t have to understand it or even be able to empathize. You simply read, or not. I cannot hold it against you. There’s a lot to be said for pouring your heart into something and clicking PUBLISH. More often than not, I forget what I’ve said after that. Not because my short-term memory is that bad, but because writing is pure, honest freedom for me. Until I start receiving messages about how much my voice has helped others, I forget about a lot of the subjects I’ve covered over the years. I don’t know that this will help anyone other than me, but purging a tiny amount of the pain I am dealing with is not a selfish thing to do. Last time I checked, my name was on this platform. No one else gets to speak for me. 

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When you lose everything you’ve ever owned; including your family’s entire history, every photo dating back to pretty much the beginning of photography within your family, all of your clothes, computers and other assorted electronics, carefully chosen furniture, jewelry from every major life event, the one piece I had of my father’s mother, and everything that belonged to my mother and Grandmother. A myriad of pieces given to me to commemorate important life events. 99% of it from people who are no longer alive. Books I treasured, absolutely everything I held dear, because the majority of it was a part of who I am, and I’m left wondering how to pick up the pieces. It’s more than jolting. It’s traumatic beyond words. Only one person told me they would feel precisely as I do; hurt, erased, traumatized, in deep emotional anguish. If one more person says, “It’s just stuff.”, I will personally rip their eyeballs out and force them down their throat. Or worse. I have no clue why people think I’m a nice person and incapable of physical harm. Don’t test this Scorpion. 

As a direct result of this loss, I have to change all of my legal documentation. Someone immediately tried opening accounts in my name. Thankfully, it was red-flagged and I was contacted via e-mail and phone, but I don’t know if any damage was done before it was flagged. Someone stupidly said to me, “Who would want to steal YOUR identity?” Are you serious?! I don’t know how these particular criminals think because I’m not a criminal, but I don’t believe they give a damn about who they steal from. It can happen to anyone, and it does. Identity theft is something we all need to be protected from, and made highly aware of. This was something I was concerned would happen. Always, ALWAYS listen to your intuition.

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Every single day of this “new life” is a reminder of all the problems one faces as the direct result of others actions, and inaction. It’s a reminder of exactly where you stand in this world, as well as with the people in your life.

I catch myself thinking all the time, “What’s the point of all this? What the hell did I do to deserve such torture?” I’m the one in tears, living with doubts. I”m the only one deeply upset and troubled by this. And each time, I wish I simply wouldn’t wake up the following day, that a car would hit me, that something or someone will finally realize there’s only so much even a strong person can cope with before they are done. That’s where I am; Done. My life could not be more meaningless. 

Between this, and the injury sustained in January, who wouldn’t be done? I’ve got an idiot doctor who refuses to manage my pain (and clearly cannot be bothered to return a phone call. He is about to receive a strongly worded, unpleasant e-mail. By ordering a necessary test, he’s not doing me a favor, he’s looking for additional damage. He makes it sound like a negotiation. It isn’t; it’s my health, and my life!), so I am constantly throwing up because there’s only so much pain the body can handle, or so much stress. I can’t keep food down most days, and someone recently implied that I’m doing it on purpose; not eating. If you actually care about me, don’t EVER fucking insinuate that I have an eating disorder. 1) That’s not concern, that’s being cruel because you don’t understand what this level of physical, mental, and emotional pain is like. Ignorance is bliss. Be glad you don’t know, but don’t toss your ugly negativity in my direction. 2) Comments like that are hurtful, thoughtless, unnecessary, and do not meet the realm of “love” or “concern”. 3) Comments such as they are, are accusatory and full of hatred. Do those comments make you feel better about yourself? Are they necessary? Ask yourself these questions before you open your mouth. 4) A truly caring, loving person would be on my side. They would be so concerned that pain is doing this to me, and they’d be physically and emotionally present. They would show me their support. I’m pretty sure the FedEx delivery guy has more compassion for me right now. Yes, that’s sarcasm. 5) If you’ve said any or all of these things, you should be ashamed of yourself, because I am/was ashamed for you each time these barbs were thrown my way. You’re lucky I have the grace to walk away. That is a testament to the existence of a Higher Power. It’s a testament to a lot where my character is concerned. 

No one seems to understand how bad all of this is, nor has anyone been able to understand where my head is at. There’s no victim mentality in my mind, heart, or soul, this is simply me conveying enormous difficulty, as many writers do. I can’t even be “fake polite”, so what you get is exactly who I am. I don’t have the time or the patience to pretend. My life is not, nor will it ever be, “Instagram perfect”. There is beauty that comes from being authentic, from suffering and growing through the pain, and from being a person who would prefer to build people up, instead of constantly tearing them to shreds. Imperfect and honest is beautiful; don’t EVER let anyone tell you otherwise.    

My anxiety is through the fucking roof. Almost to the point where I considered asking my doctor to put me on a higher dose of anti-anxiety medication or switch the medication up entirely. I am depressed beyond measure (Please don’t worry about this; I am under the care of a physician. He hasn’t called me an idiot to my face, and actually said he never would, but when he rolls his eyes at me, I KNOW I’m being an idiot and that he’s being incredibly diplomatic. I trust that this doctor has my best interest at heart.). I have no emotions; just anger, hatred, and a truckload of sarcasm. No one has really noticed. Everyone is pretending, or living on their own planet. and that’s insulting as fuck. One of my best friends pointed out that I’ve never not been highly communicative, even when my father was dying, During the worst shit in my life, I still took the time to listen to other people, no matter what is was they were going through. During some of the worst times in my life, I have helped others and they had no idea what I was going through. Again, this lends to character. 

When you’re going through awful things with damn near zero support, it makes things even worse. When a person has very little to wear, buying a t-shirt or a sweatshirt does not fix the profound loss of their clothing, sneakers, shoes, boots, etc. It’s a nice gesture, but it does not fix the long-term issue. It’s appreciated, but it doesn’t solve the problem at hand. Knowing precisely what is missing and how much I relied on my wardrobe hurts like hell. Granted, most of my clothes might not have been valued by anyone other than me, but I deemed each item critical. I take really good care of my clothes and have had many sweaters and sweatshirts since junior high. Now? Now, I have little to nothing. I would have to do laundry every few days if I was constantly out of the house because I don’t have enough of any one item to go more than a week or so without washing mostly all I own. In the past, I could have gone months without doing laundry and still had something clean to wear each day. Sometimes, I think that is an American luxury.  

Initially, a few people (friends, mostly, and one family member) offered to help. They said, “Put a list together and we will try to help however much we can.” I was genuinely touched by that offer, but then I did the math on the “list of replacement items” and deemed it unfair to ask other people to fix MY problems. I’m not selfish. I’m desperately trying to figure my shit out. I know I will be able to replace certain things slowly, but the big stuff weighs heavily on my mind and breaks my heart. It’s like someone walked up, stabbed me in the stomach, and took my soul along with the knife. I mean hell, I cried over everything that was once in my kitchen. Priceless items that were passed down to me. I’ll never be able to get these items back. They were NOT “things”, they were history. No one deserves to have their history erased. 

For the evil people who have my belongings; I hope you understand karma. You took away the last shred of my hope and faith. I hope you rot to death, because people like you are walking cancer and your level of evil does not deserve to exist. Evil does not deserve to be saved, to be rescued, or to be loved. It’s wholly deserving of punishment. And yet, we rarely get to see truly evil people receive their punishments in life, do we? A friend recently mentioned seeing someone’s downfall and laughing about it. I’m not cruel enough to laugh, as she did, but I would, on occasion, like to see justice. Mostly, I just see repeated injustice and I don’t want to live in a world where this is everywhere. I’m waiting for the phone call I am sure to receive when my previous engagement ring is pawned. It is laser inscribed and would be very hard to cut down. The second anyone sees it, they’re not going to want to touch it. They can, and will, end up in jail. It is insured by my ex-fiance’s family and they are aware it is missing. They wanted me to keep it because they were never going to approve of another woman. The stone has been in their family since it was first cut over a century ago. I was once very proud to be wearing it. Life changed, but I am hopeful the ring will be returned to them. It was never truly mine, but I valued it and took exceptional care of it.    

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When I left Pennsylvania, I did so with just two framed photos: One of my mother, Aunt, and Grandmother, and another of my Grandfather and I as a baby. My baby book is gone, along with all of my baby photos. Pictures of me holding my brother and photos of us through the years. Thousands of photos which marked half of my life, my entire career, and it’s all gone. Same for my brother. Unlike me, he doesn’t seem to care. He’s got clothes and other things to keep him going. I do not. I’m barely making ends meet at the moment (I had to turn down a lot of work that came my way these past few months. I cannot sit for sixteen hours editing any more. My lower back is a disaster and my neck flares up from stress in five minutes.) and there’s a lot of financial pressure on me. If prostitution was legal, I’d be on a street corner tomorrow. I’m not joking.

I have nothing to go back to, and nothing to go back for. I have been erased. There’s nothing left of me or for me. 

I have to say that in all this personal horror and pain, the kindest thing someone did for me, a perfect stranger, was find an autographed first edition book from one of my favorite authors (I had an extensive collection of first edition books from authors I admire, respect, and whose work I absolutely love. I loved those books like some people love their children, and I took exceptionally good care of them. They were on shelves in my living room, in alphabetical order. All of my music and DVDs were also in alphabetical order. Yeah, I’m a bit of a freak. Live and let live.) and have it shipped to me. I was so stunned by this gesture of kindness. When I opened it, I immediately shed tears of shock, and felt such overwhelming gratitude because, again, this person doesn’t know me, and yet, they treated me with such sweetness and generosity of spirit. I will NEVER forget the gesture and I will absolutely pay it forward.

I was raised to always lend a hand, always help friends and family when you are able, and NEVER keep score. I’ve helped people even when I wasn’t able, because sometimes all a person needs is to be heard and understood. Sometimes, a person needs to know they’re valued. I have no such knowledge at the moment. 

I feel utterly abandoned by the vast majority of people who claim to love and care about me. Everyone claims to be “so busy”, but if you have time to post selfies non-stop and be obnoxious in general online, then you have five minutes to check in with someone and make sure they’re okay. A text message is a quick means of communication when you don’t have hours to spend on the phone. My days of spending hours talking to anyone via phone are dead and buried; I don’t even think I like enough people to want to spend that much time talking. I don’t have anything of value to discuss. At least not at the moment.  

If I don’t answer someone, it ISN’T because I am busy. Sometimes I am, and I’ll reply to let you know that I am indeed busy and not ignoring you. Time gets away from me very quickly these days, but it doesn’t mean people aren’t on my mind or in my heart. Other times, my silence is the only thing keeping the other person from having to breathe through tubes. Thoughts don’t hurt, but my hands around someone’s throat is a whole other ballgame. 

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A little over a month and a half ago, an incident occurred and as a result, I asked several close friends if they perceived me in a negative light. I used very specific words when I asked the question. Most people openly said, “Absolutely not.” and one encouraged me to “Always be myself.” One friend, who I thought so highly of, gave me a reply that was hurtful, insulting, rude, and disrespectful. I would like to think she didn’t mean to come off like that, but I refuse to make excuses for people. Once you say it, you can’t take it back unless it’s within thirty seconds and comes with an epic apology. Think before you fucking speak. After reading what she said multiple times, I decided that it was best to keep my mouth shut. To discover that a close friend is secretly judging you behind your back is extremely hurtful. If she wanted to play games and/or pick on someone, she chose the wrong person because I can hit you and I will always hit harder. I’m exactly as advertised; not that nice. 

When a person has stressed positivity to you and comes at you with immense negativity, not only are they a hypocrite of the highest order, but they have clearly forgotten all the times you have blindly supported them. They have also shown you their true colors. They’ve been unmasked and there’s your ultimate sign. Her comment made me think of all the times where I had momentary judgments I pushed into the far corners of my mind because I don’t like being the girl who is judging her friends. In moments like that, I keep my mouth shut. I work really hard not to be that kind of person, because not only is it unattractive, but no one would want to be friends with someone like that; someone secretly and cruelly judging them. Especially me. Suddenly, I wanted to remind her of every single lapse in her judgement in her life on this earth, as opposed to my rare lapses. I’m not tooting my own horn, I’m just sharing my honest thoughts. You can be honest without being cruel or hurting someone intentionally. 

There is always a way to answer someone and NOT be hurtful. It’s called TACT. I know, because I specifically ask people if they want the truth or if they want my opinion. I give them a brief way out because I know at times, I can be quite harsh. Most times, people don’t want the truth at all, they just want to be told they’re right when they’re wrong. Still, there’s always a way to talk to someone without deeply hurting them or permanently damaging a relationship. Always.

What I found most interesting about this particular situation is that I’m not a big sharer regarding my personal or professional life. I could have twenty kids and no one would know, including my family. People have often said I’m the best person to share things with because I will take something they’ve told me to the grave, and that is true. If I don’t trust you completely, I will keep you at a distance where it pertains to my life. I am not an over-sharer. My best friend once thought I was mad at her because I replied with two words instead of a paragraph to a text. I wasn’t mad, but she’s right; I’m wordy. However, in that moment, two words seemed like the appropriate response and we easily cleared things up once I told her that I’ve never been mad at her. Not ever. She is a rarity because usually people screw up with me at least once. In the 20+ years of our friendship, I have never been mad at her, angry, etc. We don’t fight. When you have healthy friendships, there’s no need for nonsense. So for someone to say I am “surrounded by drama” was extremely hurtful. There’s a level of blame in that comment, and I don’t take kindly to it.

I am solely responsible for how I behave. I can not be held responsible for the actions, words, or behavior of others, be they friends, family, or a random idiot who wants to hurt/harm you because they have unresolved personal issues. They are not my problem or responsibility. I don’t have to take the abuse of anyone, regardless of who they think they are in my life. Chances are, if you’re being or have been abusive towards me, you mean less than nothing in my mind/heart/soul. If that was your goal, bravo. 

I’m not perfect, nor have I ever claimed to be, but I’m not a horrible person, either. I don’t wake up each morning with a list of people to hurt and/or insult. That’s not who I am and that is not the message I want to spread. If I’ve said something publicly about someone, like a doctor who treated me in a horrendous fashion, for example, then please know my comments are wholly warranted. There are a myriad of situations in which I will speak up and speak out, but I only speak when I know I’m right. If I feel I might be wrong, I keep my mouth shut. I’ve always felt like that was the safe, smart option; keeping your mouth shut when you’re uncertain cannot harm you, nor can it harm anyone else.

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So here I am, suffering, struggling to remain alive, asking for nothing because I know better, and there are only a handful of people who are not attacking me almost daily. When a person suffers from any form of illness and has said to you, “There is too much pressure on me. Please stop. It will be handled.”, but you keep pushing and pushing, to the point where the other person is about to explode, then you are part of the problem and you won’t get your way by continuing to push. It’s important to back off when a person has given you a boundary warning. It’s even more important when I’m the person warning you to give me space in which to breathe. Piling more on top of someone, especially when you have zero idea what they’re fully going through, is wrong. If you want an extraordinary amount of respect, then you have to be willing to give it, in kind. If you want to be hated, keep piling on the pressure. It will almost certainly involve a trip to the emergency room…for you. Once I lose the ability to care, and this has happened a few times in my life, I shut down and I feel absolutely nothing for the other person. They could suddenly be on fire and I would have no reaction whatsoever. 

I feel like much of this comes back to not being a big sharer. I don’t have the trust to give anyone. Some people earn it. Some people you automatically click with, and others you work hard to try with, but you shouldn’t have to work so hard where trust is concerned. If it isn’t there, don’t force it. If you’ve spoken to someone for over six months and you don’t even want to see them, leave alone talk to them, then there’s definitely no trust established. It’s okay to admit that and move on. And sometimes, it might be someone you’ve known your entire life, and all it took was the wrong sentence or behavior, perhaps both, for you to shutdown and realize that you cannot dwell in their toxicity any longer. The person you owe the most respect to is yourself. I don’t ever want to lose sight of the fact that I am a priority, and that my thoughts and feelings are valid. Especially when I am so often told that I’m wrong. Statistically speaking, I cannot always be wrong. Again, there’s a reason I only speak when I know I’m right, so if you’re someone who wants to discredit my feelings and views, just plain fuck off. That is the nicest possible thing I can say to people right now. Be supportive and kind or fuck off.   

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I find it sad that so many people feel the need to show off every single aspect of their life, but will never share the darkness. They will never be honest about how hard things can be. Nothing in life is perfect. There’s no such thing as the perfect relationship, or the perfect marriage, or the perfect anything.

I have my battles and my struggles. I am open and honest about them. There are things I will probably never write or talk about because they’re so painful, I can’t even let my mind go there. I keep pieces of myself for myself, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It does not detract from my authenticity or how I explain things. It does not diminish me as a person, take away from my talent, or make me lesser. I work really hard not to dwell in the dark and the places of pain, but it is not easy to throw yourself into the light. Some days, as always, will be better than others.

Today I stand here as someone who reached out to her doctor when her medication seemingly failed overnight, and made me sink into suicidal thoughts and feelings. I know he will get back to me. It is important to have a doctor who is on your side and who is objective enough to hear what you’re saying. As someone who spends more time with me than most people, I would like to get to a place where I don’t have to constantly be in his office. Especially since my OCD slipped one day and told him I desperately wanted to paint it. Interestingly enough, he agreed with me and has since asked me about which colors would look best. Yes, I find that funny, but I actually appreciated that he didn’t take offense to it. 

A few months ago, when I first used the word “erased”, someone asked if I felt that way “in this room”, and they meant in the room with them. I said no, but their behavior has dramatically changed and I feel like it’s time for them to either get with the program or it’s time for me to move on. I am good with either. I guess I’ll know more about that next week and in the many weeks to come.

I am sad, depressed, hurt, and trying to rebuild myself and my life. People look at me and have no idea how much of a mess I am. And many have made it clear that they do not care. It’s important to know who does. I’m not looking, but I AM paying close attention.

I’m doing my best. My mother always told me that my best is always good enough because it means I am trying. So for the person who doesn’t think anything I do is right, are you good enough? Not so much. Not from where I’m sitting.

I’m starting from scratch, like a newborn. This time, it’s all going to go quite differently. 

P.S. Before I forget, thank you to anyone who was involved in my being named an “Inspiring Writer of 2018” and an “Inspiring Writer to Read”. It means so much to me and my heart just bursts from the messages and feedback on Twitter and Instagram. Let’s go for a three-peat, shall we? 😉  

copyright © 2019 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Written work by author may not be shared or posted anywhere without express written consent from the author. Excerpts and quotes from the material also require consent. This authors’ work and personal photos are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws. Further protection is under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The Pharmaceutical Industry

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I say this as someone who has had to fight for mediation many times, and as the sister of someone who was put on an $8000 a month drug that the insurance refused to cover. Today, they finally approved a much-needed drug for my brother’s life. He will, hopefully, be released from the hospital tomorrow. They hospital refused to discharge him until the pharmacy could assure them the medication would be ready, Fingers crossed this helps his quality of life. He nearly died last week. 😦

This Changes Everything

Authors’ Note: POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING

If you cannot handle an honest take on life and discussions of depression and mental health, please do not read below this image. Thank you. 

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It didn’t set in until this month.

The majority of my days are Groundhog Day-esque. Lather, rinse, repeat. Dull. Uninteresting. Zero challenge involved. Over time, this method of “living” has worn me down. I’ve kept silent, but today I feel the need to say “I HATE IT. I hate everything about it.”

A little over a year ago I sat in full blown tears when I realized there was never going to be something in this world to cure me. With multiple diagnoses which are highly comorbid, I remember trying to hold back the tears by saying, “I can’t cry. I’m wearing $30 mascara.” I tried blowing it off. I tried using humor. I failed miserably, and no one noticed.

As someone who unintentionally fell into advocacy, fueled by my rage post the ER visit from hell that I still can’t fully talk about without going into the “red rage zone”, I spend a lot of time fielding questions and phone calls, dumbing down information for people so they sort of understand what I’m saying, and doing my best to help others. All while I’m dying inside more and more each day.

This past Spring, a nurse got in my face and asked if I was suicidal. I replied multiple times with, “I have a therapist. I’m fine. Thank you.” and ignored the question because, quite frankly, it didn’t pertain to why I was there. If I come into an office with pneumonia or go to Urgent Care or the emergency room with a broken bone, do NOT ask me if I’m suicidal. It doesn’t pertain to the injury or illness at hand, and medical professionals should NEVER scream and/or get into the face of someone who has a trauma history and a clear-cut diagnosis of any form of PTSD. If I had reacted by physically harming her (I romanced the idea for a good twenty minutes or so.), I would be in the wrong. I would have looked like “the mental patient”, or worse. By pulling myself together and reminding myself of who I am, that bitch still has a face. For now.

“Mental illness” is a phrase I loathe using. It’s a phrase that is incredibly hurtful to me, and always has been. Perhaps because it is so often said in fear, in blame, with malice, or with false empathy, I’m not entirely sure. I prefer to say “Everyone’s brain chemistry is different.”, which is accurate. I could probably get at least one doctor to agree with me on this.

I have openly and honestly discussed my battle with a difficult form of depression. For me, it is virtually un-treatable, so they refer to it as “Treatment Resistant”. I’ve failed more than twenty-five medications, and this year, I failed another. I just started taking something new (to me), but it’ll be a while before I know if it helps or hinders. My first dose definitely affected me and the side effects after the medicine left my system were not high on my list of “Let’s do this everyday”. On one hand, I am lucky because my doctor is trying new things and he has challenged us both with his commitment.

I also suffer terribly from anxiety, Complex-PTSD, and chronic migraines. Two of these diagnoses are hereditary. My headache specialist happily informed me that since my father got occasional headaches (I inherited my pain threshold from him. My father wouldn’t take so much as an aspirin unless something was bordering on emergency.) and my mother had a few migraines in her life, that I most assuredly inherited my migraines from one side of my family or perhaps both. This was nothing I didn’t already know.

Everything that makes me unique, smart, sharp, tough, witty, snarky, and a bad ass stems from at least one or two of my collective diagnoses. It does not make me better or worse; though people would love for you to believe anyone with different brain chemistry is going to either cause you harm or harm themselves. We are treated as lesser. We are labeled and ostracized. Within my own family, I’ve constantly been told I have nothing to be depressed about. I’ve experienced both exclusion, ridicule, and have seen everyone’s true selves. And yet, I see signs of various mental illness in a great many of the very same people who sit in judgment of me, feeling superior because they would never cop to their diagnoses, if asked. They are in denial, and I used the words “mental illness” for them because I have never seen anything special or unique about any of these individuals. I have never thought, “Wow. This person is something special.” When people describe me, it is usually in a positive light and the word “incredible” is often used. It is interesting phraseology, but I’ve also been told I “just want attention”. What crazy, delusional person would say such a thing? Fifty percent of my genetic make-up. 😦 I can’t take this person too seriously. If I did, they’d never walk, talk, or breathe again.

People often underestimate me, and they absolutely underestimate my ability to come back when challenged. If I counted how often a person has said I’m “so nice”, “so sweet”, “the kindest soul”, and/or “so caring”, I would be richer than Bill Gates. These are not words I’d ever use to describe myself. The inability to read non-verbal cues is apparently something many people either choose to suffer from or simply don’t realize they’re doing. If you spend two minutes looking me in the eye, you might catch a glimpse of the real me. “She may be small, but she is mighty.”

My mother once told me I’ve had the most interesting facial expressions since the day I was born; that she knew I was not only looking at someone, but I was also looking through them. She told me, “You see people exactly as they are. Not as they pretend to be. Sometimes, that scares people away, but it’s only scaring the wrong people away. The right people will always stick by you because you’re incredibly loyal.” When I think about those words, I can almost hear her voice again.

I have my moments. I can certainly be nice, sweet, kind, and caring, just not all on the same day, lest I ruin my reputation. 😉 I have limitations on how much niceness I spread around.

My physical and emotional pain is completely invisible. Unless I mention it, no one would ever know, and thus far, only one person seems interested in understanding the complexities of it all. I don’t have a lot of facial expressions. I’m predominantly quiet, unless I have something to say. And you’ll often hear the word “formidable” used in the same sentence as my name, providing the person is smart enough to grasp the fact that I’m not passive.

When other people talk about various forms of mental illness; OCD, anxiety and/or panic attacks, bipolar disorder, trauma, or personality disorders, they tend to be shocked by my openness and honesty. I suffer silently and I suffer alone. I have ceased to discuss it with family because I question their concern for me. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt someone’s concern was genuine. No one has EVER taken a call from me when I was in a crisis situation. People don’t call to check in on me, either, but they’re very quick to dial my number over the slightest thing bothering them, and I find myself exceedingly annoyed by the ridiculous questions I get via text almost daily. Loyalty, compassion, and the ability to be emotionally present are the things I provide, but they’re also the things I am not provided with.

So, it took me all this time to realize I am passively suicidal. And despite knowing this; people have consistently said or done something this year to hurt and upset me. My thoughts, feelings, and overall health has never been taken into consideration. No one has ever said, “Man, she’s going through so much right now. She’s fighting for her life. I’ll wait to talk to her about this until I see she’s feeling stronger.” My suffering is almost completely ignored. I wish people could see how horrible this all is for me and not attack me. I wish they could take my suffering into deep consideration; not as an excuse to avoid a discussion, no, but as a solid reason to know how close I am to the edge.

I can’t remember the last time someone asked how I was doing and it wasn’t someone in customer service. I can’t remember the last time someone genuinely cheered me up. I wish someone would understand how much pain I keep contained. I’ve never used my health as an excuse and I’ve never hidden behind it, but I often think people forget I’m human. The fact that I openly declared being passively suicidal should be enough to get friends and family to sit at attention. I can’t tell you how many times this year I truly believed my life was just moments from ending.

Because it was something I felt I needed to do, I went back into therapy last year. I was seeing someone once a month, and that particular situation worked well, until the therapist left the hospital she was affiliated with. She let me know well in advance, and even when she told me, it wasn’t a shock or a surprise, but it then took me time to find someone new. I saw two people, initially. One I automatically deemed “too young”, and I don’t mean chronologically. I mean in the sense that I didn’t feel she was prepared to genuinely assist me. She immediately got under my skin in a way that let me know she was not a good fit, and I also felt incredibly uncomfortable in the building her office was in, and the surrounding neighborhood felt unsafe and emotionally charged. I shouldn’t be going anywhere if I have to second-guess my personal safety. The second person was okay, but when she pissed me off in two separate sessions, completely twisting my words and practically stabbing me in the hand with a few of her questions, I was hesitant to go back. I mentioned it to my doctor, sort of in passing, and I appreciate the fact that he looked at me and said “Why are you trying to force it?” Beforehand, I felt bad. I never want to waste someone’s time, but he said the perfect thing to me in the moment, and there was nothing about his tone that bothered me. If anything, I was relieved that he knew me well enough to say something. He helped me get set up with someone in the same office, and thus far, things are going well. I feel like she’s got a good head on her shoulders and, because I laid all the dos and don’ts down in the first appointment, she has been good about letting me take point on how I want to proceed. She feels she’ll be able to help me, but she has no idea how hopeless I truly feel.

In the past when I’d read about how people were pushed by friends and family, or maybe one more than the other, into suicide attempts, it appalled me. I would think to myself, “No, not my family. They love me.” But the truth is, people like the idea of me, especially in passing, but love is rarely found in my life. I have friends who likely have more combined love for me than twenty family members, but my family would all deny this. It took me a long time to understand that love means different things to different people. Anyone who ever loved me unconditionally is long gone, and the pain of that sits deep within me.

I often hear people say “I love you.” in passing. It’s the end of many phone calls, but it means more to me than it does to other people. To me, it is a truth, or I won’t say it. There are many ways to say you love someone. It can be by helping them through difficult shit, or telling them to drive safely. It can be so many small and large things, and yet, I feel so devoid of it from people. My cats display more love when they look at me than most people ever could, yet I know many people are quite fond of me. It’s a short list, but I don’t doubt any of the people on it.

Inevitably, once this is published, I will get texts, e-mails, and a few phone calls. This will happen either all within a few hours or over the course of a week. People will ask me questions, pretend to be interested in what’s going on in my life, etc. I will also be accused of writing about each person in my life specifically, be accused of placing targets on their backs, as if I’ve got the time to psychoanalyze all of them and as if my readers are going to attack them physically in the streets! It is ridiculous behavior, but at least they’re all consistent. 😦 I’m supremely honest, so I MUST be targeting them. I mean really, the world seemingly revolves around a LOT of fucking people whenever I speak the truth. It’s baffling, to say the least.

All I want are some good days. Good moments. No pain. I’m desperately trying to survive this life. I’m tired of crying, something I almost never do. I’m tired of the emotional abuse. It is a horrendous burden to bear, especially when someone tells you you’re not being abused, or that you deserve every last ounce of hatred and vitriol a person can spit in your direction. I understand being upset or angry, but I’m tired of it being taken out on me as personal blame. Every time it happens, I reassess my life. No one should have to fight this hard just to stay alive.

It’s important to talk about feelings. It’s important to work things out of your system. Unfortunately, writing this was not a purge of emotion. This is an explanation of my daily life. It is slowly killing me, and those who know me refuse to see it.

I didn’t know until this month. I didn’t know how completely unimportant I am to people who should always have my back. I’ll stop here, though, because the emotional wounds are deep. I’m not sure there are enough sutures on the planet big enough to fix all the emotional harm that has come my way. But I’ll be damned if people don’t start backing off.

When you can’t see past the tears, and can’t breathe without feeling spikes in your chest, passive turns to aggressive, and absolutely no one is more determined than I am once I’ve made a decision. I need love and support right now, and if the people in my life can’t provide safety and a calm, quiet place for me to exist, then I need to stop being the dutiful family member and friend and prioritize nothing else except my own desires.

I know now, and this changes everything.

copyright © 2018 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. Further protected under the Digital Millennium copyright act. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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October Moments

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When I captured this the other night, my mini-me was settling in for the night. Normally she will not look directly at the camera when the flash goes off, so you’re not seeing that her eyes are actually green. You might notice, though, that all of her whiskers are black, except for one,and that white whisker is incredibly long. My previous Tortie had white whiskers on one side and black on the other. They’re such unique creatures. Every time I see one, I want to keep it with me and keep it safe. They would all need collars with their names on them because even if siblings, they will never look the same.

I’ve had a rough year and a half. My stats are a sign of decline in health and an increase in daily pain, but I haven’t stopped taking photos and trying to document specific moments in my life. I will probably challenge myself to a Black & White photo challenge for a few months as of 2019. I think it would be interesting and fun to do that for more than just a week. I’ve already committed to a “Winter White” challenge for my manicures on my beauty blog. Fingers crossed.

I hope everyone had a relaxing weekend. I’m on my way to bed, but thought I’d say a few words other than “Yes, it’s fucking cold as hell here.” The temperature dropped like the cops were chasing it. Hoping I can fill out my absentee ballot tomorrow and get it into the mail. I figure that gives it plenty of time to go three miles up the road. 😉

Be well, everyone. I will be back soon.