World Mental Health Day 2020

Today is World Mental Health Day, and as someone who discusses mental health throughout the course of the year, I come up short today. I come up short because I am dealing with my own battles, and they have been cruel to me. Hell, so have the people who are supposed to be “on my side”. Know this; the majority of mental health issues are fought silently, with no support at all.

I’m struggling. I’ve been struggling, and a few people close to me are actually offended/bothered by my speaking out about it. They don’t like the answers I am giving them, so I’ve decided to say nothing. There’s a gigantic, “Fuck you” elephant in the room, and I’m not going to ignore it or accept their bullshit politely. That’s not who I am and it’s not how I roll. If the tables were turned, there’s no reason for me to be a bitch or to be hurtful to anyone who is already hurting enough. I call that empathy and compassion. We aren’t ALL born with these traits.

Some people, by proxy, should have a more sensitive approach to mental health patients, especially those who’ve hit patches which required hospitalization(s), doctors, medication, and/or therapy. You don’t get to act superior to those of us who do not suffer from passing issues, but suffer tremendously with DAILY struggles. And quite frankly, you don’t get to dictate to me. Ever.

Only I truly know how bad I am suffering. I’m the one who asked for medication, adding on another failed drug which made me sick and caused me to need an additional week to get it out of my system. For most people, it leaves in twelve hours. It somehow built up in my system, in less than ten doses, to the point where my doctor and I were stumped by it because it’s not supposed to linger in the system.

I was prescribed something new yesterday, but the pharmacy is out of stock and had to order it. Moreover, my doctor won’t be in the office this coming week, so I will not get to speak to him until later this month. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is when you’re starting new medication and you’re slightly freaked out by it. I have valid concerns when he isn’t available, despite him assuring me that I can have the hospital contact him no matter where he is. I appreciate knowing this, but I feel like it’s only to be used in a dire emergency. I would never use it in any other fashion. Here’s hoping I NEVER have to use it.

Setting aside this one day for, “World Mental Health” is almost insulting. Suicide numbers are up. Prescription numbers for anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, insomnia, and commonly associated comorbidities are up. You can’t deny the facts.

At the start of my mental health journey, I lost almost every friend I had, including my best friend of twelve years. Many people acted like it wasn’t real, and if they did treat it as something real, they suddenly didn’t want me around them. Let me make something abundantly clear for the uneducated and ignorant; Mental health is NOT a communicable disease. If you will so easily revoke your love and friendship from someone, then you are far more beastly than what mental health does to millions of us solo.

This was a long time ago, but as I’ve been actively working on trauma over the past few years, things of this nature have resurfaced and hurt me all over again. I hesitate to bring too many new people into my life for precisely this reason. Instead of seeing me as a person, people tend to see me as damaged. I am no more damaged than anyone else. Life is not point A to point Z. There are twists, turns, shocks, emotions, pain, and surprises along the way. There are journeys no one but you can participate in. No matter how hard people try to project this false image of life perfection, there’s no such thing. There’s no such thing as the perfect anything. The word itself is both overused and improperly used.

This is what brings me to today’s reality; I genuinely have nothing to offer. Despite being voted “A strong voice for the mental health community”, sometimes I need to be silent. Sometimes I need to put my headphones on and hear nothing, but music. People communicate with me via text and Facebook messenger, and I’d delete both if I could most days. No one ever picks up the phone to see how I’m doing, because people are so wrapped up in themselves these days, and I don’t trust enough people to discuss any of this crap at length.

Last year, when I had to have genetic testing done to see if a medication was safe or not, I mentioned it in passing to another family member. This person didn’t bother to ask if I was all right, but wanted to know what medication it was. I didn’t provide an answer because our ancestry is so different (She does not have any of my maternal ancestry.), despite being related, and because she can figure it out for herself since it’s part of her job. If I hadn’t found the fine print on this particular drug, I never would have been tested. It is a medication for depression which requires a blood test if you have Far East Asian ancestry. I had to factor this in since death was a rare side effect for those carrying two specific Asian genes, but most people will probably never require this test. And really, if I share something deeply personal, I would think any normal person would ask how I’m doing. Alas, I’m trying to come to terms with the fact that few people have good manners. Or common fucking sense.

So, as World Mental Health Day comes to a close (from where I’m sitting), I’m going to take medication for anxiety, insomnia, and Complex PTSD. I am also going to include a few muscle relaxers because, as my migraine treatment wears off, it puts a heavier load on muscles in my face, head, neck, shoulders, and upper back. And I’m going to try to forge ahead, like most people who suffer and survive. We aren’t quite sure what we’re surviving for most days, but we do it, nonetheless.

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

A Broken, Pretty Mess

When I came home Wednesday afternoon, after being at the doctor’s office for HOURS (You know your doctor is good when EVERYONE wants to see her.), I didn’t realize how awful I felt.

I remember coming inside, hanging up my coat, taking in the mail, feeding Cat and Kitten a little earlier than usual, changing my clothes, washing my face multiple times (Turns out, vegan mascara really likes my lashes and doesn’t want to come off. For the record, I have NO IDEA why I chose to wear a full face of makeup to a doctor’s appointment. I looked like I was going on a date, minus false lashes, which I can’t apply to save my life. It looked subtle and clean when I applied it that morning. It wasn’t really a “full face” by Kardashian standards, but when I got home it was the exact opposite of subtle and clean. I stared at the mirror and said “Holy shit! Is this how I left the house?!” It had that “bombshell” look to it and that’s not what I was going for, obviously. I was genuinely appalled with my own idiocy.), eating salad, and suddenly I felt overwhelmingly AWFUL. I was in bed at exactly 7:05 PM, only waking up to hydrate. I somehow had the audacity to sleep over eleven hours. No medication, no influence, just pure exhaustion mixed with physical pain.

I feel broken. I realized that when a different doctor called me to have a discussion about what my needs are moving forward (my first referral to someone else for specific reasons). I heard myself explaining the summarized version of what has occurred to make me feel the way I do and as I eventually heard myself speaking, I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. It felt incredibly sad, depressing, and honestly, the list could go on forever. It slammed down on me like a tornado coming out of nowhere. I caught myself, mid-conversation, thinking “This is what your life has been like. Holy crap! You need a hug.” But a hug isn’t what I truly want or need. I want to come away from something someday and feel healed. I’m tired of being a broken, pretty mess. I’m sick of it, because it feels like I’m somehow reduced into victim mentality, and I don’t like that feeling. No one does. For the doctor’s assistant to meet me for the first time and say “We’re here for you and we care.” was overwhelmingly emotional for me. I have family and friends who NEVER say that to me. And by never, I mean NEVER.

Do you know what it’s like to never hear a kind word spoken to or about you? I do. For longer than I care to admit, I have been reduced to being one of three things “Pretty.”, Talented.”, or “Smart.” Occasionally someone will say I’m all three, but generally I only hear the one, and that could be from anyone interacting with me on any given day. It could be a perfect stranger thinking they’re paying me a compliment, and maybe they are, but it leaves me feeling reduced to three boxes, and nothing else.

The people closest to me (my friends) would probably say much nicer things and would not reduce me into a trinity of superficiality. A friend recently told me I was “super-smart and had so much depth that most people never even realize it’s there because they don’t look”. I remember hanging up the phone after that conversation and thinking “I’m glad someone gets me.” It’s a short list.

I was at the vet one day and a guy complimented me on my skin. I wasn’t expecting it. It was one of those “Wait, what?” moments. You had to be there. He went into great detail as he explained that my skin is so flawless, he could tell I never go in the sun, that I don’t drink or smoke, that I take really good care of it, and that I’ve never had anything done on a plastic surgery level. All of those observations are correct, but I look in the mirror and I do NOT see flawless anything, I jokingly replied, “It’s all smoke and mirrors.”, but his compliment was quite genuine, and the back and forth went on for about twenty minutes. It was one of the nicest compliments I’ve gotten, but it was also an observation verbalized. I told him I was going to take him everywhere with me from now on because he’d made my day, but that’s precisely how I felt; I hadn’t heard a kind word or a compliment in so long, I would have listened to any compliment, however genuine or not, because it wasn’t negative. I don’t live my life for compliments of any kind, I just try not to be a piece of crap. I sent my cousin a photo about a month ago and she said the same thing “Holy shit, your skin is flawless. Are you wearing makeup?” There are some very lovely, sweet, blind people in this world. I am CLUELESS as to what they see.

Have you ever been in so much physical, mental, or emotional pain (possibly all three) and simply not seen anything when you look in the mirror? You reach a point where you don’t look too closely, or you don’t look yourself in the eye because you’re hurting too much.

When I woke up Thursday morning, the first thing I thought was “You look like a broken, pretty mess.”, and it hurt to think that, even though it’s precisely how I feel inside. So now, I’ve boxed myself into a category that I don’t particularly like, but it is what it is.

Someone recently told me that I’m a great person because I embrace the imperfections that make me, me. I don’t see how that makes me a great person. Embracing your flaws and your ability to know when you’re fucked up doesn’t make you good or great, but it does make you human.

When people in your life who claim to love you constantly remind you that you’re a failure, it’s NOT acceptable to allow them to get away with it. When they blame you for things you had nothing to do with, or they turn their own internal issues onto you, you need to step back and say NO. It’s virtually impossible for you to single-handedly be responsible for other people’s issues. I don’t look at anyone and blame them for mine, because that’s inaccurate.

People get offended when I disengage, either by walking away so I don’t murder them or by remaining silent. Silence doesn’t mean I’m not listening or that I’m ignoring you, but it does mean I am not going to accept negativity. I’m not going to allow myself to be harmed by words that don’t hold a whole hell of a lot of truth, and I’m not going to allow myself to be hurt by anyone who is merely lashing out or placing blame because their first instinct is to place blame. If you have issues like that, hit a heavy bag at the gym for an hour, but don’t take your crap out on me. I’m enough of a mess, I don’t need your shit on top of it.

I spend a lot of time talking other people off of their emotional ledges. I can’t tell you the last time someone even made an effort to talk me down from one of mine. The most condescending thing you can say is “I’m sorry to hear that, sweetie.”, and then proceed to talk about yourself and nothing else. I could be bleeding out of an eyeball and I’m certain someone would try to one-up me with somehow being in more pain or dealing with something far more excruciating. I catch myself at times feeling extremely annoyed by that, and yet, people don’t correct themselves. They go around believing the world revolves around them. I genuinely have no idea how they function in society.

I’ve felt invisible for a long time, but I’ve reached that point where I’m starting to believe that only certain types of people can see me. From here on in, if a person cannot truly see me, then I don’t want to be around them. Plain and simple.

So for today, and possibly this entire week, I’ll remain a broken, pretty mess. I’ll write and I’ll struggle, and no one will even glance in my general direction. My hand to G-d, no one will fucking notice because no one gives a shit.

copyright © 2017 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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The Fact That You’re Struggling…

“The fact that you’re struggling doesn’t make you a burden. It doesn’t make you unlovable or undesirable or undeserving of care. It doesn’t make you too much or too sensitive or too needy. It makes you human. Everyone struggles. Everyone has a difficult time coping, and at times, we all fall apart. During these times, we aren’t always easy to be around — and that’s okay. No one is easy to be around one hundred percent of the time. Yes, you may sometimes be unpleasant or difficult. And yes, you may sometimes do or say things that make the people around you feel helpless or sad. But those things aren’t all of who you are and they certainly don’t discount your worth as a human being. The truth is that you can be struggling and still be loved. You can be difficult and still be cared for. You can be less than perfect, and still be deserving of compassion and kindness.” –Daniell Koepke

Personal Year In Review

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I wish I had fabulous things to share here as I look back on 2016, the year itself as a complete “body of work”, as opposed to how I genuinely feel about it.

Here’s the unadulterated truth; I’m filled with mixed emotions, anger, pain, and the more I think about it, additional anger on top of the original anger, which is never a good sign. I make no apologies for my honesty. I’m many things in my imperfect human way, but dishonest isn’t on the list.

I take no issue with the company in my life, or lack thereof. I am a firm believer that we all go through hard times and that hard work, love, and prayer will get us through it. I take no issue with surviving (Life should be more than that though, right?) and having a few good days here and there (Though I am determined to not allow people to ruin my days when I’m feeling good and their moods aren’t meant for me. However, this is a process. It will not happen instantaneously.), but I do take issue with things outside my control.

I am a self-admitted control freak when it pertains to a lot of things in my life, and with other things, not so much. Overall, I’m tired of my best not being good enough, and having people remind me of my failures. Never look down upon someone unless you’re helping them up. Asking for help through tough times is not a grave sin. It’s honest, it’s real, and it’s admitting something vulnerable and scary is occurring that you cannot figure out how to face on your own. Why do we diminish that?!

I was raised to believe that as long as I do my best, it is always “good enough”, because it shows effort. And then I moved to another state where I know very few people, where “my best” is NEVER “good enough” because some unattainable level of perfection is expected at all times. It makes me feel like a bad Stepford Wife. 😦 I would not know what happiness was if a radioactive spider bit my ass. I haven’t known happiness in so long, it scares me. I feel emotions, yes, but happiness is almost never among them. How’s that for honest?

My brother has been through a torturous, evil kind of hell this year. I highly suspect that whatever was done to his heart set off a myriad of other health issues because I cannot recall a time when he wasn’t under the age of ten and on antibiotics as often as he’s been this year. He has been in and out of the hospital so many times that I’ve damn near had a multitude of nervous breakdowns every single time. I am currently waiting to hear back from a surgeon as he embarks on surgery number five in just slightly over a year; which is more surgery than he’s ever had in his entire life. It worries me on such a deep level, it’s difficult to convey.

I am immensely disheartened by how uncaring and unkind people are being towards him. At the beginning and end of each day, we only have so many family members in life, and as we’ve established, life is as short as it is long. My brother & I don’t have a lot of family, so we’ve had to rally around each other and be each other’s biggest support system through what has been, in essence, the gates of Hell. I may yell at him and get frustrated, I may say nasty things to him in the heat of the moment because he pushes my buttons, but ultimately, I’m not ignoring him or pretending he doesn’t exist in the hopes he’ll simply go away. I might not respond to a phone call or a text message when I’m sleeping, and sometimes I am guilty of ignoring him for a full twenty-four hours because I can’t handle the stress, but I do speak to my brother. I might not admit this to him, but he’s one of my best friends.

I say a painful goodbye to 2016, a year that has made me suffer in ways I can’t discuss; physically, mentally, and emotionally. I hope and pray that 2017 offers me more opportunities, better work, better pay, the same high-quality friendships I’ve maintained since day one (I’ve gotta say it; my friends are the BEST friends. They’re the first people to ask if I’m okay, to see through answers when I’m 100% NOT okay, and be as supportive as they can through crises. I would not have made it through parts of this year if it weren’t for the relationships in my life, both old and new, that have helped reinforce who I am as a person.), a real directional shift that leads me exactly where I need to be lead, and a year that allows me to achieve goals I have set for myself. The big goals, because at the moment, small goals aren’t cutting it.

I’d like to see some medical breakthroughs to help me better manage my pain and overall health. I was hit in the back with a shopping cart today at a local grocery store. This woman was on her cell phone and obviously thought she had enough room and/or didn’t even see me. I swear I am invisible to 99% of the “human race”. Initially my response was “Excuse YOU!”, but the lunatic just kept on walking, loudly debating stupidity on her phone. I did not feel it was worth pursuing in the moment, but now I am sorry I didn’t. I’m not sure if she did any real damage that wasn’t already there, but the level of pain I’m in is not something I want to take with me into the coming year, or any other year. I truly think CBD oil is in my future, as the “war on opiates” in this state is far too ridiculous to pursue with a doctor. I will, but I, like so many others, need a backup plan to help manage the pain in my life. No one should ever have to live like this.

Blessings to you all, as we say goodbye to 2016 and welcome in what will hopefully a bright New Year! 

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Your Obstacles

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I’m going through something awful at the moment; I’d never wish this on another human-being because it is horrible and torturous. There’s no one reliable for me to turn to for help. The person I thought I could depend on has progressively become unreliable, as they so often say one thing and do another, and because of that, I feel like a complete and utter failure. I’ve trusted in them and their lies, in their idea of “love”, and while I feel immense gratitude in many respects, I don’t like being told a bullshit story when I’m in trouble and/or suffering.

I’d love to say “This is just another challenge and I can rise above this.”, but the truth is, the pain is destroying me. Knowing that I will either succeed or lose everything is killing every last bit of hope within me.

Only two people know what’s going on. I’m legitimately afraid to go to anyone else for help of this magnitude. I cannot bear the thought of more excuses or being turned away again, especially in a time of crisis. I cannot tolerate feeling so jaded by the behavior of others through lies.

The past few years has genuinely taught me who my friends and family truly are. So, in the face of the nightmare I am trying to handle this week, I don’t have much to offer here. I’m devoid of so much I’d normally be able to say, or want to share. It’s rare for me to feel so emotionally broken, but that’s precisely where I am at this moment.

I pray I’ll have better news at the end of the week. If I don’t, I honestly don’t know if I’ll be able to continue on here.

Certain things/people/situations shouldn’t bring us to our knees, but they so often do. I pray no one else ever has to go through what I am.