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Dear Mama,

It’s been a few long, hard weeks, as I wait to hear the decision which will impact my future. The University is taking forever to get back to me, and I am concerned that there will be a rejection letter at the end of it. It is frustrating that my so carefully planned and laid out future is entirely dependent on a committee which sits aloof across the country and may very well turn me down. I am not coping well with it…my thoughts turned into a negative vortex….a black hole that is swallowing me, smothering me. The old familiar darkness settling in for the long haul. Ryan has been incredibly patient with me, as I alternate between sleeping my days away and crawling out of bed just long enough to go to work. Depression is an asshole, do you know that? Of course you do. Dear Mama, I know it was your cross to bear at times as well. I have a million skills to try to combat it. But instead I sleep. Not helpful in the least, but I simply cannot face the turmoil in my mind and the only way I can keep going is to literally turn off. If I’m lucky I don’t remember my dreams.

Being a human is incredibly trying. From the moment you are born you leave footprints in the heart of others, an impact you can’t erase. You can’t just vanish without hurting people. I am not actively suicidal, but as I lay in bed I find myself wishing I might just not wake up. This wish of the damned; those plagued by depression. Disappear without a trace and do so without breaking the heart of those that matter most. The ones who love you, for all your faults. So broken, to think this way. Life is a precious gift, and one to be grateful for. It is over all too quickly. But if it didn’t hurt quite this badly, the unending ache of a shattered mind, body, heart and soul, that would be good.

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Dear Mama, on shame.

Dear Mama,

I came across this article tonight that someone had cross posted, which was a shout out to plus size women who do not yet know how to love themselves. Coincidently, I am on yet another kick at the can to “Lose weight, get healthy”, in this same song and dance routine that has plagued me my entire existence. Also, coincidentally, at the gym tonight, I caught sight of myself in the mirror and shuddered. And then, on lap 8 of the track, I was met with the stare of disapproval and disgust of a young woman who looked at me from top to bottom with a look of mixed curiosity and disgust. And I shrunk away a little inside. The truth is…I have not yet come to terms with the fact that this body of mine…this vessel? It’s all I have. And I am overweight. I have been my entire adult life, and most of my young life as well. I am always striving to change it, never accepting it for what it is. Never learning to love myself. But the gist of the article is basically, you don’t have to love your body, but you don’t have to HATE it either, and hopefully, in time, you will come to love what is yours. Mama…tell me, how do I do that? I have been ashamed of what I am for so long, there is shame in not having the perfect body. Right now, my reasons for wanting to lose weight and get healthy go beyond me, and that’s good, that’s okay. I’ll tell you about that some other night, when it isn’t already so late. But Mama, I sure wish I knew how to accept me, for who I am and what I am, in this vessel. It’s something to contemplate, mull over for awhile, and then really strive for. Acceptance, and the freedom that comes with letting the shame and hatred go. It sounds incredibly freeing.

Love always,

Your Jessie

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Dear Mama,

I was thinking today of how amazing you were. How very strong, and smart and incredible. I have been down and out for the last week, plagued with the flu and some gastro intestinal issues that left me feeling weak and drained. And today all I could think of was you; how you battled stage 4 breast cancer, the pain and fear associated with that. All the complications that followed. How strong you appeared despite all of that; how brave. I want to tell you I am sorry that I didn’t truly understand the process, though I tried my best to be a help to you, when I was able. You sacrificed so much, and I love you, with all I have to give. I realize that’s exactly what you did…love us with all you had to give. And maybe, hopefully, that helped ease your pain and anguish. I wish…I hope. I miss you Mama, more than words can speak.  I wondered, if I write to you, these thoughts of mine, maybe it will feel like I have you with me, here on earth. That closeness we always shared.

Love always,

Your Jessie

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Some things are hard to talk about. Real, raw, heartbreaking. Important, despite this. When you have thoughts of ending your own life it can be terrifying for those around you. The first time it happens, it can be terrifying for you as well. But then the thoughts become relentless, flood your brain like a torrential downpour, and soon enough they aren’t terrifying to you anymore. They never become normal, never comfortable, but you deal with them. You cope. In small ways, bigger ways. You tiptoe around them, always careful not to be swallowed up by them. Because they can become all consuming. And when the pain, the despair, hopelessness become too much; when you give up and have nothing left to fight with, that’s when it REALLY becomes apparent that you maybe can’t do it on your own anymore. I met with my case manager again today. We talked about the suicidal thoughts and she very calmly said to me…”You know what to do if things get to a dangerous point, and I trust that you will follow your care plan. I trust you”. Those are powerful words. Given as a gift. I trust you to make the best decision in your own health. I TRUST YOU.

But I didn’t know how to say I don’t know if I trust myself to make that decision. The hospital. Always a last resort, the last option. One I have been familiar with a time or two in my past. Essentially a place to keep you alive when you can’t truthfully say to yourself or others, I will be safe, in this moment. I will stay alive. It’s not a place to get well. Not really. But perhaps better than the alternative.

 

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This summer has been one of beginnings, changes, and challenges. I finished my second University course, (and pulled off a 91%) and decided that I would like to change my major from Psychology, to Social Work. If all goes well (and I hope it does), I will be applying to a new school in December, to start next May. I moved out of the dark, damp, musty basement that I have called home for a year and a half. My new apartment is bright, spacious, and perfect, except for one thing.

Have I told you about Ryan, yet? Somehow I met this wonderful man who is kind right through to his very soul. He is patient and supportive, gentle, loving, beautiful through and through. I broke his heart last fall/winter when I was lost in a chaos of depression and madness that left me gasping for breath and fighting desperately not to give up, when I had lost all hope and was drowning in despair. He never gave up on me, and we decided to try again. It was the best thing that has ever happened to me. Lucky in love. More than that, though. This man, he completes me, and I am so grateful to have him in my life. We talk about the future with hope and joy…one day there will be marriage, children (if life is kind). But just now, it can’t happen. You see, I only work part time, because of the mood instability, and the added stress of going back to school. I am a recipient of ODSP, though mainly they provide me with medication coverage, which allows me to continue the medication regime that helps me to keep semi-stable. My medication is extremely costly (about 1500.00 a month if I had to pay out of pocket), and I simply cannot afford it. The small stipend I get from ODSP every month allows me to pay my bills. If I were to move in with Ryan, I would lose my ODSP coverage. It’s a twisted system, and very frustrating. So for the time being, we continue on our way and dream of the day when I am done school, have a good job, can support myself, and we can be together….fully, as man and wife.

It’s a beautiful dream, but one day, it will be more than that. It will be reality. Lucky in love. Lucky in life. Lucky.

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Depression is okay. I talked to someone about this today and he reminded me that depression, in and of itself, is not a terrible thing. It’s terrible if it gets to the point where you can’t function and you don’t want to be alive anymore, most definitely. But in and of itself, it’s simply human. We experience a wide range of emotions, and certainly when you are dealing with bipolar disorder, you experience that range to extremes.

The problem is, that in the moment….it FEELS brutal. All consuming darkness that is overwhelming and seems to suck all of the energy from you. Fills you with lead, and dread. It seizes you, consumes you, and leaves you like a fish on shore, gasping for breath. It’s not like you want to give into its whims, rather you do what you can to fight it. We talked about that today too…finding embodied activities that require you to be physically active in some way as well as engaging your brain. I have been going to the gym, a lot. Listening to music as a way to distract myself. Sometimes this helps, a little. Sometimes the gym makes it worse. I am my own worse enemy. My thoughts wreak havoc on my mind.

I have been on the verge of tears all day, and now, at the end of the day, when I have hung up my professional hat, they spill over. People talk about the highly functioning depressive, and that is me. I meet all my obligations and then some. I push myself above and beyond. People are always confused when I talk about depression. Because I am the last person you would expect to be fighting this demon. Always the smiling, laughing one.  Always. People think I am this fantastic person…I don’t see what they see. I see a run down house with a crumbling foundation that no amount of TLC could fix. Inherently broken; a shattered mess. But see, if you slap a new coat of paint on that irrepairable home, it doesn’t LOOK broken. People see my coat of paint and fail to see the decay beneath.

And maybe the truth of the matter is that I don’t want people to see the broken me. I don’t want pity, or disdain. I don’t want to see concern when I look into someone’s eyes. I want people to believe in the façade of a shiny new coat of paint. Fulfill the obligations. Keep breathing. Keep trying. We are all of us, only human. Struggling humans, when you get right down to the nitty gritty. We all have challenges and burdens to face. And on the days when the tears fall, I will try my hardest to remember that this is just mine to carry, but I don’t have to go it alone, and it’s okay to let others see the pain. Okay to reach out for help. Mood fluctuations, in their extremes, are hard to manage, hard to cope with. It’s been a hard couple weeks. I will tell myself tonight that it is okay. Okay to be afraid. Okay to be so exhausted that everything seems impossible. Okay to let the tears flow free. And yes, it is okay to be depressed. It is okay to be human.

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depression-quotes

This depression is clinging to every fibre of my core. Destroying me day by day. Robbing me of any good that I could possibly see in myself. Darkness descends, causing rot and decay, leaving behind broken trails of what once was.

I spoke to my boss today. She is not willing to consider having me there part time, she assured me my job isn’t in jeopardy and said we would reassess at the end of January. I am on the supply list for now, the main supply staff filling my role. I can’t go back full time. I know this. I am tired….exhausted to the very marrow in my bones.

I trained for 2 years to become an ECE, teacher to the very young. Only to work two years before feeling like I can’t…possibly…continue. Where does that leave me? I feel like a failure. Pathetic and incapable. The prospect of job searching looming, smothering me.

It will be the 20th of January before I can see a psychiatrist, which is better than the original appointment date of the 27th. Ages. Impossibly long. How do I hold on that long?

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