Forks In The Road

Welcome to all the new readers, and those who’ve been with me for years or months. 🙂 I’m happy to greet you all.

I’ve been working on a piece about racism and my personal experiences with different forms of it, but mostly, I have started to notice just how worn out I am, which lends to me feeling completely useless. I am not sleeping well; and I am trying not to rely on prescription sleep medication because it either doesn’t work or it leaves me with sleep paralysis. I am burnt out, stressed about life and the future, thinking about all of my relationships, etc. I’ve been trying to allow myself the honesty of all of my feelings privately, which hasn’t been helpful, though perhaps I am too close to say if it’s helping or not. I do know there are abysmal highs and lows these days.

I will be taking some brief breaks for the next month or so. I don’t know if they will be obvious or not, but I think it’s necessary and needed. I think it’s time to get my head into some sense of normalcy and keep pushing for betterment. I hope you will all understand the reasoning. I will still be present, but there will be days when I’m not. I hope it’ll be fine, no matter what.

For the month of March, I will be focusing on a few charities in support of Colorectal Cancer and Women’s History Month. I also have my Goddaughter’s tenth birthday approaching. People always say, “You’re way too young to be a Godmother.” I don’t think they understand what an honor it is to be asked to be a part of a child’s life in such a deeply personal way. There is no age requirement or limit involved. It’s an honor and a privilege, and yes, it is also a responsibility. It says something about me, as a person, that people fully trust me with their child.

I will do my best not to be too “out of it” here, but will also do my best to rally. For now, though, this picture near a local trail says it all. I’m walking towards the color, because everything else feels too harming and bleak.

Wishing you all a peaceful week. Bright Blessings.

Tracking The Time

The loss of my mother haunts me. How could it not?

I know not everyone has a deep bond with either parent, and others have different scenarios of their family dynamic, which I understand, but my mother was my best friend. I was never embarrassed of her or ashamed of her. I took care of her. I helped her with anything and everything. I paid her bills and kept everything up-to-date. I cooked. I took her to doctor’s appointments. I dropped her off at work, walking her to her desk, and repeated the process at the end of each day. Sometimes, my brother was the one doing that, when he was available. We often dreaded it, but we did not complain. Two failed back surgeries left my mother partially paralyzed, so the extra assistance was necessary. Her biggest fear was falling and being wheelchair bound. 😦

I always question what I could have done to save her. I would have given her the heart out of my own chest. Ultimately, her life was in her own hands and she refused invasive medical treatment. Medical treatment my brother would later receive, and still receives. She gave up and her heart did, too. I don’t think she realized how much heartache and pain she would leave behind. Nor do I think she cared. She was too far gone to care anymore. While I understand that, it’s the polar opposite of how she expected me to be. It’s hard to reconcile the fact that she always wanted me to fight, but wouldn’t do it for herself.

So today, on what would have been her 74th birthday, I tried to do normal things. I’m wearing one of her favorite colors of nail polish in homage to her. I do it every year; I try to find a shade of purple that honors her life and what she left behind. But ultimately, as the day comes to a mental close, I am deeply saddened and feel the loss in every part of my life and heart.

If your parents are still alive and you have a good relationship with them, please realize how blessed you are. Some of us aren’t so lucky.

May you seek sweet Serenity, madre. May time heal, even though right now, it still tracks.

People Assume…

“Mental illness.

People assume you aren’t sick unless they see the sickness on your skin, like scars forming a map of all the ways you’re hurting.

My heart is a prison of, Have you trieds. ‘Have you tried exercising? Have you tried eating better? Have you tried not being sad, not being sick? Have you tried being more like me?’ Have you tried shutting up?!

Yes, I have tried. Yes, I am still trying, and yes, I am still sick.

Sometimes monsters are invisible, and sometimes demons attack you from the inside. Just because you cannot see the claws and the teeth, does not mean they aren’t ripping through me. Pain does not need to be seen to be felt. Telling me there is no problem, won’t solve the problem.

This is not how miracles are born. This is not how sickness works.” ― Emm Roy

Brief Moments Of Joy

I’m having one of those days where I’m upset, angry, hurt, depressed, extremely sad, trapped inside myself, and trying to process each emotion individually. It’s easier said than done. Silent migraines have attacked a lot these past few days. They involve little or no head pain, but everything else makes you wish you could treat it without getting sicker. I’ve used everything from caffeine to try and break it, but now it’s anti-nausea medicine and hydration. I’ve never been so happy to have Lime Cucumber Gatorade in my life. Sounds like a bizarre flavor, I know. When you’re sick like this, it’s heavenly. If you’ve never found this flavor, look for it in a store that sells a lot of cultural foods.

Today, the lyrics from, “Soon You’ll Get Better” made me cry. As someone who doesn’t cry often, maybe I needed to? Maybe I connected too much. 🤷 And sadly, the reason why I connected are for two separate reasons.

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Thank you Target (who originally posted a delivery date of next week), FedEx, and Taylor Swift for the brief joy of #ReleaseDay. #Lover #DeluxeVersions 🎉

Eleven Years Ago

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I buried my father eleven years ago today. It is the exact day; a cold Sunday that seemed to go on forever. When a funeral home employee pulled me aside that day and asked me to identify the body, I tried holding my brother back, in an attempt to shield him from what I’d just seen. It was not a peaceful image, and it still haunts me to some extent.  

So YES, the holidays are hard, even though Chanukah and Yule are over. Minimal celebration was had this year. It was as if I didn’t exist and YES, THAT HURT.

Eleven years ago, I eulogized my father in front of family and friends (Many of his coworkers attended, and we were quite surprised to discover how loved my father was. At the end of the service, one woman came up to me to tell me how much I meant to him; how he always lit up whenever I would call him. It was hard to compartmentalize the information at the time, and it’s hard now, too.), and his nieces, nephews, great niece, and great nephews didn’t even bother to show up. 😡 They didn’t call, didn’t send a card, and they didn’t acknowledge what my mother, brother, and I were going through. My mother’s extended family was not much better. When someone is more interested in their spin class instead of the death of a family member, I should be permitted to shoot them in the ass, thus making spin class unnecessary.

The family member who called the night of my father’s funeral and told me “G-d isn’t ready for your mother yet.” 😲😡 #InsensitiveAF I don’t think I’ll EVER be able to forgive her for putting that message out into the Universe, because five months later, I had to return and do the whole thing all over again. She offered to be there for me after the fact, but after a few months, I soon realized her guilt taught her nothing and my contact with her ended. 

We knew my father was dying. It was not a secret. He had terminal cancer. I began writing the eulogy in late September, and I finalized it around 2:00 a.m. the morning of the funeral service. With my Mom, it was so unexpected for me that I wrote everything at the last minute. I’m not really sure how I got through either eulogy, but I remember reading them and trying to emotionally detach.   

The holidays are hard for so many people, all for different reasons.

I’m SO PROUD of my amazing friends who baked for people who are suffering so they wouldn’t feel alone or be forgotten, those who passed over time with family in order to help feed the homeless, those who participated in charity fundraisers to help those in need, those who sponsored families to ensure there would be gifts, food, and necessities, and those who donated their birthdays this month to raise money for worthy charities.

Today, I’m trying not to revisit the pain. I’m trying to keep my emotions in check because I KNOW I’m still angry. I also know I have every right to be. My feelings are valid.

Check on your strong friends these next few weeks. Sometimes, the holidays shatter our lives. It may not be permanent, but right now, it certainly feels that way. 😦

I’m okay-ish, but I’m not good. I don’t think people who haven’t experienced loss quite like I have are able to fully understand what it takes each day to get out of bed and live. I know so many people who have never been to a funeral or lost anyone. They have Great-Great-Grandparents who are still alive (which is pretty amazing, when you think about it.)! Their naivete is unbelievable, but hopefully they will understand at some point. I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone, but I do worry about those who lack empathy and compassion. Where is their humanity?!

Today, I got to relive the horror of what my brother and I have been through. Our text messages to each other were short, simple, and impersonal, neither one bringing the subject up. I know we’re both thinking it, though. I know it is too hard for him to fully focus on, so I take up the responsibility. We’re as different as we are alike, but last year he told me “You are the best of both Mom and Dad. You inherited all their goodness.” I was so stunned by his comment, and now it just makes me wonder because I’d never use the word “good” to describe myself. Perhaps he sees something I don’t. In many respects, I am my own worst critic.

If it wasn’t for medication prescribed for Complex PTSD, I wouldn’t have been able to get through the holidays. I’m barely keeping it together, but my brother’s words… They kind of stick in the back of my mind. I have witnessed so much goodness in him, so I think he might be overestimating me in some capacity.

Regardless, this is rough day for me. The fact that I’ve had a migraine since last weekend hasn’t made things better, either. C’est la vie. Somehow, we survive specific life experiences and we move on, but I’m far from healed. That’s been part of my focus this year; learning how to heal.    

copyright 2018 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. All written work may not be re-posted anywhere without express written consent from the author. This authors’ work and personal photos are protected under United States and International copyright laws. Additional protection is covered under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  

 

It Is Not Seen As Insane…

“It is not seen as insane when a fighter, under an attack that will inevitable lead to his death, chooses to take his own life first. In fact, this act has been encouraged for centuries, and is accepted even now as an honorable reason to do the deed. How is it any different when you are under attack by your own mind?”Emilie Autumn

**POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING**

 

I share this quote because today, I nearly ended my life. I received two phone calls that brought me to my knees, shattering everything and everyone I have ever trusted or believed in. I’m almost completely certain I had a stroke or something else occur within my brain as I tried processing the information. I have not been able to feel my face or neck since.

I am now faced with a task that feels impossible, but I also know I have achieved the impossible the majority of my life. It all depends on ones’ perspective, I suppose. However, the circumstances which caused this trigger for me were inflicted by a family member, someone I believed I could trust with my life. This person will read this at some point and I want them to know they nearly pushed me over the edge. They are LUCKY AS HELL my doctor called to discuss some medication changes with me, and was able to remind me of precisely who I am and what I bring to the table. I will always respond far better to empathy, compassion, and respect, as opposed to hatred, cruelty, and pure evil. I fully understand now that I cannot be around certain people anymore, especially anyone who can trigger me like that. I haven’t hated anyone in a long time, but what I feel now is 100% justified. As I overcome this, the hate will simmer, and it’ll make sure I NEVER become such a horrible human being that I could be responsible for someone else harming themselves in ANY way. This person badly harmed another family member, as well, nearly triggering them to the same fate I still ponder. I was able to calm myself down and get my mind right, but my risk factor just skyrocketed. The only way to overcome it is to be open and honest about it.

Please know, I am all right. Safe? Not really. Say a prayer for me or say a prayer for the person who caused this mess because quite frankly, they are going to need all the prayers in the world if I am triggered again. You will read about it in my next full post, which is already fifteen pages long and roughly 10,000 words. It is SUCH an important piece for me to write and even more important for me to share.

If someone is going to harm me and question my honesty, then they’d better be prepared for the fact that I’m authentic as fuck. You triggered the wrong woman. You tried to drag her down because her strength is superior to yours. Instead of feeding into your negativity, I am going to manifest nothing but positivity. I am wrapping myself in pure light and healing energy, and I am going to overcome all of this. You don’t deserve to stand at my grave and pretend.

By being evil, you lost the one person who has always loved you, cared about you, worried for you, and had your back. I feel sorry for you, because you chose to throw that away. The next time you imply that I’m worthless or unnecessary, I suggest you stop projecting at me. Instead of having a best friend, you made an enemy. G-d help you.    

       

What We Don’t Need

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I’m going through a rough time right now. I’m only discussing it fully with a few people, but it’s difficult as hell and I live in constant fear that someone else’s mistakes, which I have been informed are likely good in nature, yet illegal, will destroy what little of a life I have. Every single day, I pray for my sanity and safety. I’ve been extremely honest and transparent about what I need, but no one seems to be listening. Or maybe, they don’t think what I’m saying applies to them. I don’t know. The silent treatment isn’t very productive.  

If it weren’t for my doctor and therapist, I would be dead. When your own family makes you feel unsafe, unloved, and leads you to believe that their lives would genuinely be better off without you in them, it makes you question your existence. No one should ever have to feel the way I do, or feel like they can’t stop taking medication because, without it, they’ll crash and burn and not care at all.  

I’m trying to get caught up on everything here, and I apologize that I’ve been unable to get things set-up precisely as they usually are. I’m not perfect and lately, I am on my laptop less and less, though I’ve recently written under 20,000 words. That’s great, but I need a little more time to edit it before some of you will see what I have to say. I won’t sugarcoat it; it’s extremely personal, painful, and I cried while I wrote the majority of it, but hopefully someone, somewhere, will start to understand that I really DO need a cushion of calm right now.

I am very infrequently deeply afraid for myself, but right now, I am. It’s honest. It’s real. It’s an illness. I keep all of my appointments. I take the medication prescribed and I try to keep my head down, because G-d forbid I be the person I truly am in all of this.

I’m hurting and I’m upset, but I pray for strength and guidance.

Thank you to everyone who has stood by me, who keep on reading my words, and who help me remain connected to the parts of myself that are Heaven Sent ability. I hope you’re all well. I will post more soon.

XO,

Lisa     

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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