We Only Have Ourselves

No, this won’t be a cheerful post. If you ever expect that level of dishonesty from me, please unsubscribe/unfollow now. I’m many things, but direct and honest are the top too words used to describe me as a person. Obviously, I share the good things, too, but I temper most of my enthusiasm. I am not about ego.

Today took its toll on me because I was remembering this precise Saturday, many years ago. I had weird dreams last night into the morning, and then the realization jolted me harshly. Despite taking medication for Complex PTSD, I can see that this time, on the lowest possible dose, it’s failing. Instead of keeping pain and nightmares away, it worked against me. 😦 As the day progressed, I ended up doubled over with what I believe are kidney cramps. I have to give it few days to see if that’s actually what it is. If it passes, or not. Having had kidney stones, I can tell you the pain is excruciating. Right now, I can’t do a whole lot. I can barely go up and down a flight of stairs, but I digress.

I talk about life and loss because it’s part of who I am. I am formed out of loss and built up by life, love, and loss. It’s a vicious, yet honest circle of life.

On the back of my neck, beginning just underneath my hairline, is a tattoo. I call it “The backbone of my life.” because there are others that stretch down the length of my spine (and more to be added), but the first symbol means Life, Death, and Rebirth. It also means Maiden, Mother, and Crone; the three phases of woman. The third definition means Past, Present, and Future. Love, Loyalty, and Friendship is another meaning of this particular symbol. It looks like stained glass. It is done entirely in shades of blue. I get constant compliments on it, but the truth is, I forget it’s there. I forget, until I take a deeper look at my life and how it always cycles back to Life, Death, and Rebirth.

Essentially, it cycles back to all of the key meanings I have shared here. When a friend mentioned how much she likes this symbol and wanted to get it done in the exact same spot, I cringed. She didn’t fully grasp what it means; it was just a symbol she liked, as if looking at flash art in a tattoo studio. She ended up with a massive cross instead, and I breathed a sigh of relief because of how I hold the values of my chosen symbol deeply. It’s not something I did without thought. I actually waited a long time before I decided on something so permanent. I sort of regret the second symbol, but that’s a story for another day.

We all have private pain which is hard to discuss. Some more than others. For me, the memories are so fresh, as if this happened yesterday, but it’s been a long time, and it still impacts my life deeply. As a result, it conjured up dreams about multiple family members. Generally, I don’t dream much about the living, so that was the weirdest part. The dead always visit me. It’s never a question of will they, but when will they.

The past few years have really reminded me how solo I am as a person. This has nothing to do with my relationships, but with how I face life each day. I face it with the knowledge that no matter what, I am an independent individual. I face it without asking for help because people throw what they do in my face. I face it stressed because I am constantly criticized after being praised, It goes back and forth. Nothing I do is ever good enough, so I’ve reached a point where I focus solely on my needs. I’m not a moron and I don’t need to be reminded of anything, especially when I am in pain.

Certain types of people want things they do not give. Respect. Courtesy. Decency. RESPECT. They demand it instead of earning it. Clearly, they don’t know what will work with me, but disrespect and demands will never get you anywhere. I’ll do what needs to be done when I can, but if you place pressure on me, I will snap. Now, more than ever, I am aware that snapping is the next step because I’ve disengaged so many times, and people assume I’m ignoring them. Please don’t mistake my silence for anything beyond silence. I’ve yet to plan a murder out loud. 😉 But man, do some people PUSH until you feel like maybe an orange jumpsuit wouldn’t be so bad. 😦 And please, don’t ever deign to tell me how to speak. I will say what I need to say when I’m ready, not less than half a second after you tell me what you wanted to hear. Genuine thanks comes from the heart and will come once I’ve collected my thoughts; they will not come at all if you try to coach the words. That leads you to, “Go fuck yourself.”, instead of “Thank you.” Obviously, this is a case-by-case basis, but I’m damn fucking tired of being spoken down to.

Tonight, I go to sleep without words. Wash my face, brush my teeth, say my prayers, and that’s the end of the day. Tomorrow, I will relive more of the pain and suffering, and hopefully get a few things off of my list. After all, in the grand scheme of things, we only have ourselves. Obviously, you can believe as you wish. That’s your prerogative.

copyright © 2021 by Lisa Marino & Poison In Lethal Doses, 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.

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.

I’ve Built…

It has always been important to me to be transparent about my shortcomings and the strengths. I don’t try to pretty anything up. Too often, people pretend their lives are so perfect online, with perfectly posed, edited photos, but you never see the truth of what goes on behind closed doors because all they care about is the imagery. That’s not what attracts me to people or to their work. Honesty and humor attract me. Real humor; the kind that isn’t forced, that isn’t passive aggressive, the kind that is wholly natural. It takes a lot to make me laugh. In the past week or so, I’ve maybe laughed four times. Each time, my cats came to see what was going on. “Is she having a stroke? Should we get help?”, they probably wondered. Of late, laughter hasn’t exactly flowed.

As an extremely private person, I still know that being forthcoming about my suffering (From A to Z) has helped others get help, come out of their shells, talk, trust again… I know this because they have e-mailed, messaged, and shared these facts with me, even if it took them a few years to say anything. I didn’t know my voice would help people, but it has and it will continue to do so, because I know the power of using your voice for change.

Wishing you all a safe, warm, stress-free weekend.

P.S. I will be listing charities ASAP who are helping out with the crisis in Texas. Every penny helps. It took our government way too long to respond to the need for help, and our own people were forced to endure this without an immediate helping hand. It’s disgusting beyond words. It’s Puerto Rico and Hurricane Katrina all over again, and it is NOT acceptable.

I know people who are 6-7 days without power and who have no clean water. Power is being restored slowly, and many are afraid of what will happen when they return to their homes. Will the pipes have burst (A much more common occurrence in colder climates.)? Will they be able to return home safely? They have no idea what they’re walking into. They are NOT prepared for the kind of weather they got. Never again should states be lacking a strong electrical grid, not have adequate salt, sand, and plows for snow removal, etc. This is not being discussed enough! I’ll do my part and hopefully there can be some unity in this country to help where needed.

Run or Scatter?

Life experience has taught me, time and again, that everyone leaves eventually. I had to learn, really young, to be my own best friend and rely, as much as possible, on myself and no one else. I was thirty years old, long before ever turning thirty. It was a blessing and a curse. Early maturity prepares you for real life, but it also provides you with an untouchable level of wisdom.

It prepared me for hardship, heartbreak, heartache, and failures other people have tried to pull me into, along with harsh lessons where I got hurt, because the other person involved was the one learning the lesson, and I was collateral damage. I am still here, doing what I can to turn the corner and find out where I belong.

One of my takeaways from today (and the past few years, on a whole), is listening to how other people sound when they don’t realize how much privilege they have. It blows my mind, really, and it makes me realize that nothing was ever handed to me. I’ve actually caught myself wondering what is wrong with them and how they can justify such inappropriate behavior. I have to stop muttering, “I’m so sick of white people.”, partly because I can pass as 100% white.

I remember when an Asian friend questioned the validity of my Asian ancestry. “You look Italian, not Asian.” she said, as if this was suddenly a fact of my lineage. It’s not the first time I’ve heard that I “look Italian”, but I found it especially disrespectful when she said it. I blew it off, but that moment on a Boston sidewalk hurt me. The friendship is in a holding pattern for many reasons, but I can’t get that comment out of my head three plus years later. 😦

I have never been “enough” for anyone, be it from a religious standpoint, a health standpoint, or an ancestry standpoint. The above quote reminds me of every backhanded, rude, disrespectful, and/or vicious comment I’ve endured.

I can count on my fingers and toes (a few dozen times) based on how many times someone has come up to me randomly and started to speak to me in another language, usually Spanish. Rapid-fire Spanish, which is a totally different thing for me. It takes me a minute or so to comprehend the language change and reply. Each time, if I didn’t reply immediately, they would walk away with this comment, “Ella es solo otra estúpida chica blanca.” They would always say, “She’s just another stupid white girl.” Or I’d be “Just another white bitch.” The first one is low on the scale of insults, and I always ignore it because I’m not going to chase after someone on a city street, but the second comment always makes me feel dirty, and angry.

Even if I don’t speak your native tongue, I will still do whatever I can to help you get to where you need to go. I will still translate directions for you and be kind. So many people should consider this option before blowing anyone off and saying something rude. I’m honest if I have no idea where something is, but really, it takes a few seconds to check on your phone. Kindness has never killed me.

When I got sick, everyone scattered. I’ll never forget it. Just because I don’t think about it every single day pf my life doesn’t mean it hasn’t made me hyperaware of new people and their intentions. Because I spoke the truth when I said that everyone leaves eventually. It’s an unfortunate fact. Everyone leaves. Including you.

Stressors and Triggers

I intended to write something specific today, but my mood is bringing me deep down. That’s when I know I need a break, a distraction, and perhaps a six month long vacation away from daily stressors and triggers. Alas, I settled for a stack of good books.

When you’re writing about certain topics, it is often good to stay away from reading books on said topics. Instead, I find stepping back, and reading the topic for a while, is far more encouraging regarding how you will finish it, and what the quality of the writing will be.

So, I guess I’m on a bit of a self-imposed break this week. Here’s hoping I’m inspired to do things on my own terms, because forcing it means you’re writing crap. At least from my perspective.

Have a good week.

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.

Where Did This Month Go?

I blinked and it is January 31st. Another mindfuck.

I’ve had a lot to say, a lot to think about, and a lot I didn’t write this month. I’d start to say something and it would irk me, so I’d draft it and move on. In the meantime, I did manage to read over sixty books this month, so it’s not all bad. That’s a damn good achievement. Most of what I read was for research purposes and it will carry into February. The goal is to educate myself on specific topics, and get the information I am looking for while I read. I don’t do a lot of leisure reading these days. There’s a method to my madness.

I had an in-office medical procedure performed last Monday. I’m mostly used to it at this point, but man did it hit me hard. I was in so much pain after the fact, I actually fell asleep (In fairness, I nearly fell asleep multiple times in the waiting room before my doctor came out to see me. The medication I take should have had me wide awake and a little off-center, but instead, I was ready to nap.), whereas after this particular procedure, I often have trouble sleeping. I am still recovering from it (Recovery is approximately two full weeks, give or take. If I didn’t have an autoimmune disease, my body would respond differently.), and also dealing with some new (to me) aspects of Fibromyalgia pain. I get rib pain on my left side a few days before any type of storm hits (rain/snow). It feels like I’ve been stabbed in the back, but if cold air hits my lungs, it makes it so much worse. When I brought this up with my doctor, he blew it off completely and told me my lung x-ray was clear. That was many months ago, and I’m still in pain and still being ignored. I have also since had a really awful sinus infection which required two different antibiotics, so when I talk to him about coughing and associated pain, I hear him not taking my concerns seriously. As per usual.

One of the positive signs, once the state of emergency is lifted (And I have no idea when that will be, as Massachusetts cases are still quite high on the North Shore.), will be when I am able to safely make an appointment with someone new, and fire my current doctor. Believe me when I say my review of him will be honest, but fair, and it might come off a bit harsh, but since becoming my doctor a little over a year ago, he has been predominantly useless on every level. I don’t need any more useless physicians; and no one deserved to feel this way when they turn to a physician for help. More than once I’ve nearly suggested he go back to medical school. I have a Telehealth appointment scheduled with him for February. Since he’s gone back and forth with me, first saying, “We will find the source of your pain.” at my first appointment (and continuing to reassure me over time that this would be achieved.), to suddenly saying, “We may never find the source of your pain.”, I feel justified that he isn’t capable of handling my case. It isn’t my fault that I suffer from something he isn’t trained to handle; but it IS a failing of his medical education. The fact that he has other patients with almost the same medical history as mine is scary. I wonder if they’re content with his treatment or if they are being treated better, worse, or about the same. This is probably the first time I’ve questioned if we’re all getting the same treatment. I’ve noticed some people are being treated better based solely on their insurance. Mine covers damn near everything, so as a physician, if you’re changing up treatment methods based on insurance, you are failing your patients. I see so much lazy medicine, it drives me insane. I shouldn’t be doing work for a doctor. That isn’t right, or fair. I work hard enough without having to do extra work.

I will be making a small list of goals for the month of February. I will choose three, to keep it reasonable.

For starters, I will be supporting the American Heart Association for American Heart Month. You’ll notice the colors change monthly for whatever I am choosing to bring awareness to. Sometimes this will mean weekly color changes. Links are included in case the charity (or charities) I choose is something you would like to give a small donation to.

I chose AHA because genetic heart disease and heart attacks have affected more than 50% of my family members, starting with my paternal Grandfather, who died at age forty of a massive heart attack. My maternal Grandfather also passed away from a heart attack. 😦 I lost my mother the same way, and nearly lost my brother a few years ago to the same genetic disorder. I’ve been mildly assured I am not carrying the gene, but I am wary about it, and worry about passing it down. For all the good genes I have, heart issues are not at the top of the list. 😦 I am doing my level best to be healthier to avoid potential issues. I am determined to be my version of healthy, as opposed to an unhealthy mental version of what health should look like.

If there are any diseases you’d like to see me feature this month (or in general), please leave me a message here, or on any of my social media platforms. I will reply.

For now, I say goodbye to January and hope February will be kinder to us all.

Bright Blessings,

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

Writing, Reading, and Trying To Stay Focused

It was a bizarre first week of January, to say the least. I’m going to try not to talk about what happened at the Capitol Building because my brain is still trying to process the remnants of the act. I didn’t know how much it would trigger my PTSD. Especially as someone I am familiar with shared his experience of being in lockdown in the building while this was happening. I remember immediately thinking of him and worrying, but he stayed in touch and I respect how honest he was about the entire ordeal. People like to say nasty shit to him, for no real reason other than trolling someone because their politics don’t line up with yours, but he’s been a good connection for me to make since moving to Massachusetts.

What have I been up to since January 1st? I’ve been reading like a madwoman, studying hard, and was also able to write over eight thousand words on a psychological thriller I’ve been trying to grasp for maybe six months, or so. The story is progressing nicely. 🙂 When I look back upon the beginning of the month, it seems like I had a steady, and successful week. I suppose I did. I’d consider it small steps, in truth.

This week is already different. I am determined to truly break open my new laptop (She’s beautiful and I shall name her Poison 8.0. I won’t lie; all of my laptops have names. Why else do they give me the option? 😉 It’s not for shits and giggles. I might not name a car, but I’m sure as hell going to name the laptop that keeps me creative and working.). The computer arrived much earlier than I expected, and after initially logging in, I put it back in its original box and set it aside. I had looked at it, from day one, as a matter for 2021. My brain, unfortunately, is still confused whenever I write the new year down or see it on anything. I have the same reaction to the calendar; it startles me a bit. I feel discombobulated, for lack of a better word. I feel like I blinked and there was a ton of change I haven’t quite caught up with just yet. I’ll get there, because obviously, work is taking off in a new direction and I have to be prepared for every moment of it. I am also going to take it to Best Buy and have all of my files transferred over as soon as I can. But only if it means getting them both back within the same day. I don’t want to miss a moment of this creative drive. It’s a nice ride to be on, and any good writer will tell you the same thing.

2020 was a good year for me financially and professionally, which encouraged me to break out of my shell a bit and look into new options. The “new options” and new projects are on their way, and I am encouraged by the authenticity of them. They are 110% ME from start to finish and I am proud of this fact. If you see me do something, know that I didn’t have help in it. I will only ever credit someone if I had no hand in it, but the work you see with my name on it, know I did it all.

The downside of having this success, on any level, is seeing how hard others have worked to try to one-up me. And it’s not so much, “work”, as it is someone trying to compete against me for no valid reason. It really made me roll my eyes; especially one person in particular who has felt more like a frenemy over the past 4-5 years, as opposed to a real friend. I realize some women don’t understand deep connections, and that’s okay, but I’m not going to get behind people, “just because”. That’s not who I am. My core group of friends know they will always have my support in whatever they do personally and professionally (Unless I am worried for them, in which case I will be honest. I’m known for my honesty because it’s part of who I am. Being direct shouldn’t be considered a bad thing.), and they support and encourage me, as well. They’re happy for me; not competitive. So, I’ve started severing ties here and there with toxic people and the negative energy they bring along. I do that to move forward, and I also do it because it helps my mental health not to see those low vibrations trying to touch me as I ascend.

I will say this now and never again: I don’t buy followers to make my numbers look better. Not here. Not on Twitter. Not on Instagram. Nowhere. When I look at my numbers, I know they are authentic. I don’t have bot followers. I have certainly been approached to pad my numbers, but that’s so disrespectful to my core readers and it detracts from my message, as well. My ego isn’t part of the equation here. I receive offers all the time to pad the numbers by tens to hundreds of thousands, and I refuse to do it. It sickens me. So while social media ebbs and flows, I let it be. I only follow and support people who are part of my circle and/or people I genuinely like. There’s no other reason to click the follow button, and I speak for myself on this level.

Occasionally a friend will have to remind me about their newest blog post, but they will also tell you I DO jump online and read it. I don’t allow people to have a lot of access to me anymore, so generally the people who can reach out instantly have my phone number and can text me whenever they want. Or, they will message me via a different app and we have a relationship based on communication and mutual support. I have seen these extremely talented individuals start from scratch and a few years in, they are, like me, not padding their numbers. I have more respect for that than I do for people who so obviously are buying fake followers. People don’t like to admit it, but I’ve had so many agents and publishers tell me they know it’s going on and they can’t abide by it. If it makes no sense to someone who knows how all of this works, then it should raise questions for others as well.

So, after I make hopefully just one more tedious phone call this week, I will have time to prepare the new laptop. In between reading and writing. If you’re going to be at home, you might as well be productive on as many levels as humanly possible. Because other than grocery shopping and laundry, books and creativity will always be there for me, and I’m grateful for that.

Stay tuned, my friends. Stay tuned. 🙂

PTSD Flashbacks

I always talk about my personal experiences when I am dealing with subject matter for #MentalHealthMonday. All forms of trauma require #Awareness.

Almost four years ago, I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD. Thanks to several bad doctors and three lousy therapists post-diagnosis (My Massachusetts based experiences, only.), I struggle at times with how traumatized I really am. I react to sirens (be it police, firefighters, EMS, etc.), and red and blue lights as though I’m about to be attacked and harmed. It’s awful. I am jumpy about so many things, including someone walking into the room I’m in without saying something first. 😦 If a person knocks on the door or rings the bell, I legitimately come out of my skin. A few years ago, I heard strange noises outside at around 3:00 a.m., and immediately pulled a Glock with custom sights. ON MY BROTHER (Who reacted really well, considering the situation.), who was trying to come in through the wrong door, so he freaked me out. Not a good moment. 😦

Today, as I made phone calls, I was retraumatized looking at the information in front of me, which was an explanatory script for the type of calls I was making. I ended up with a migraine and a panic attack as a result, and let me say I am tired of being dictated to by anyone, but a veterinarian’s office definitely shouldn’t be rude and unpleasant because by doing so, you will lose the business I have no choice but to pay for the health and overall well-being of my cats. Telling me you are going to over-vaccinate 100% indoor cats only makes me angry, and it is not conducive to a good beginner’s relationship. And then, looking down at the list of trauma they have both endured, I got extremely upset and declared myself a neglectful cat owner (Which, is completely ridiculous because if you met these creatures, you would see they are spoiled and get plenty of love and care.). Needless to say, the stress piled on way too high.

Then the flashbacks started. Again. Over and over, as if someone left my life on repeat.

People meet me and have no idea there’s anything wrong. They are clueless about what it takes to get me out of bed and focused on my day. And that’s sad, because they don’t ask. But what’s sadder is that trust is not something I have left to offer. It’s been shattered too many times for me to keep giving people chances.

Anyone else understand this?

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