Sigh

Tonight I sit at home in pajama pants with the sky darkening and threatening to rain.  The dog is snoring next to me, the cats are scattered and sleeping.  We are all pleasantly exhausted.

Tomorrow brings about Sam coming home for a few days so she can get her college orientation done and a doctors appointment. This week at work is crazy busy, but will be fulfilling as always. 

I still find myself saying “sigh” tonight, even after reading, making a huge bowl of pasta salad, watching Orange is the New Black and straightening up around the apartment.  I feel unaccomplished and like I am not doing something I should be. 

I sigh because my heart is heavy.  I am lost without having my baby girl home every night. Cooking for one has been a challenge.  Pippa misses Sam and so do the cats.  I sigh because I realize how many things my daughter has done to help me around the house that now I am doing.  I sigh when I want to talk about my day and she isn’t here. 

I am grateful that she is heading to college and I am so happy that she has a bright future ahead of her. 

The sigh is because, while I know I have friends, I feel lonely.  Like there is something missing.  I’m ready for the next chapter in my life.  I’m ready to explore and cross a few things off my list.

As a single woman, who is pretty strong, I wonder – am I a superhero? Does being a superhero mean I can’t sigh?

Sigh, I just don’t know. 

What the Heck?

I have not been blogging much because quite frankly I don’t have time. My weeks look like this:

Monday – Drive from Columbus to Cleveland

Tuesday – Work in Cleveland

Wednesday – Work in Cleveland and plan to go home at the end of the day, but stay because…work. 

Thursday – Work in Cleveland and try to finish before 3:00 pm to make it home by dinner – not a guarantee. 

Friday – it’s a crap shoot if I make it home to my family (well, my daughter and pets) before 5:00 pm. 

Saturday – Clean and cook so that when I leave again there is food and the apartment doesn’t look like pigs live in it. 

Sunday – Laundry and pack – hopefully have a meal with my daughter and go to bed early. 

Part of me wishes for a normal life.  You know the fairytale that looks like this:

Get up (without a migraine and looking amazing)

Make everyone breakfast while smiling and being cheerful)

Send everyone on their way, take a leisurely shower, get ready and go to work (after making sure the house is immaculate and dinner is prepped)

Come home, do homework, make dinner and enjoy family time

Everyone goes to bed without a problem and I can enjoy wine, a bath, a good book or some television 

Go to bed with my loving partner and do it all again the next day

What. The. Heck. 

Who knows if this is really a thing.  If it is, shit, I want in on it. 

My life is instead riddled with anxiety, thoughts of not being good enough, add some level of hating how I look and make sure to include a healthy fear of being alone forever. 

Again, what the heck?

When I called my mom tonight and kindly explained (through tears) that I was not wanting to come home Sunday because it meant a lot of unnecessary driving, she made me feel like it is all my fault that I have a job that takes me out of town.

Yes mom, it is my fault. 

It’s my fault I live in Columbus

It’s my fault I travel too much. 
It’s my fault I go home to Columbus Saturday morning to come back to Cleveland Sunday for Easter, back to Columbus and then go back to work Monday morning in Cleveland. 

I must come home and drive 10+ hours over less than 72 hour period to appease my mom.

It’s no wonder I’m single and find it impossible to fall in love.  When the hell do I have time to date?

I miss my home.  I miss having a life.  I miss my daughter and I miss my pets. 

That right there is my life. I work hard and go without a lot to make them happy.  Because they make me happy.  I sacrifice and sometimes put myself and my needs last to make sure they are cared for.

Just for once I would love to not be left saying what the heck and shaking my head at the end of each day. 

What’s next?

I’m not sure, but I’m open for suggestions!

Trauma Can Happen Anywhere

trau·maˈtroumə,ˈtrômə/

noun

1. a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.

In case you didn’t know the definition of trauma, there it is. 

Maybe you should note the words distressing or disturbing.

Let’s talk about what those two words mean. 

dis·tress·ing

dəˈstresiNG/

adjective

causing anxiety, sorrow or pain; upsetting.

dis·turb·ing

dəˈstərbiNG/

adjective

causing anxiety; worrying.

Those two words alone spell out trauma with their definitions. Anxiety can be traumatic and worrying can be traumatic. 

What’s traumatic for one is not necessarily traumatic for another. Many also call trauma PTSD and relate this to veterans and what they experience in war.  The thing is, PTSD doesn’t only happen to veterans.  

For example a woman who has previously been beat on may be traumatized when watching a television show where a woman gets hit.  Because of this the woman may choose to only watch certain television shows and movies. 

Another example is someone who may have been in a car accident can be traumatized when in a car with someone else or even driving themselves. Due to past trauma never getting in a car again is a possibility. 

These are kinda extreme examples, but hopefully you get the point.

Think about bad things that have happened in your life; storms, car accidents, natural disasters.  

If you have lived in Cleveland the blackout about 12 years ago was traumatic for some (by some I mean me on the 50th floor of Key Tower). 

For some September 11, 2001 is traumatizing and on its anniversary each year people want to hide in fear. 

Can trauma be overcome? Sure, over time and with the right support services. Counseling is one option, cognitive behavioral therapy is another and many prefer group therapy or peer support to get past things that happen in their life that they can’t shake. 

I focus on trauma today because there have been many traumatic things that have occurred in my life.  The odd thing is, the trauma doesn’t always surface immediately.  It can take years, as was the case this week. 

What can you do for someone suffering from trauma?

Listen – sometimes they just want to talk it out. 

Respect – it’s their trauma, not yours.  Don’t make fun of it and don’t put them down for their feelings. 

Ask – ask them what you can do to help, maybe it is just helping them relax. 

Validate – validate their reactions and their feelings. 

The closer someone was to a traumatic event the harder it may be to overcome the traumatic event. Know that you aren’t the problem, but you can help and be a part of the solution. 

Just like there’s always time for pain, there’s always time for healing.

Mirrors

When I look in the mirror what do I see?

I don’t see pretty.

I don’t see sexy.

I see ugly and unattractive.

Recently I had a long conversation with a friend.  He was kind and informed me that I was attractive, that I have a nice smile and pretty eyes. While that was nice and sweet, it was what he didn’t say that really got to me.

I used to think I was all that and a bag of chips. As I am nearing 39, I realize that is not the case. I don’t have what society, or even my doctor calls a healthy body (as I sit here at McDonald’s and write this between appointments), my skin still breaks out like I am in my teens, I am pretty sure I find a new ache or kink each day when I wake up, my hair isn’t long and beautiful (it is short and the gray hair has been popping through something fierce), once in a blue moon I can get my nails to grow and if I am not wearing makeup I feel naked.

It is amazing what happens when I take before and after pictures.

This first picture was heading into the salon.  I was in desperate need of an update. I mean realistically I don’t think that any guy would have walked up to me and started a conversation looking like this.  No makeup, hair a wreck and eyebrows totally array.  The second picture, was later that night – I had my hair cut, colored (all one color) put some makeup on and made sure my eyebrows were shaped.

 Please tell me you see the difference and agree with me?

Maybe I have perfected the art of the selfie?  Maybe I can just get away with taking pictures from the neck up that make me look goooooood! Regardless, I am not in the minority of women out there. As I sit at this McDonald’s and drink my Diet Coke, I listen to other women (of various ethnicities) talk about make up, hair and nails. They are swapping recipes or looking up fad diets on their phones (yes, we are still at McDonald’s and talking about dieting).

In this whole process of dating and trying to make sure that I feel better and look better in order to attract “the right one” I find myself slipping back into the mentality of who the hell cares if I ever meet someone, being alone is just fine and once in a blue moon I start to think that I am not worth it and not deserving of love.

When I look in the mirror I see someone that has failed herself and her family miserably. Someone who hasn’t ever owned a house, held down a job for more than 2 years at a time and runs far from problems instead of trying to fix them.

Does this sound like a person who deserves to love another and be loved by another?

Not in my opinion.

Moving back to what happens when I look in the mirror – I am sad. I see what used to be a vibrant and outgoing person. Now, you could classify me as an extroverted introvert and if you aren’t sure what the hell that means – this article explains it better than I ever could. People say I have a lot of friends and I have people that love me and will help me, but someone said the other day I must feel like a used car and I laughed (I mean I was laughing so hard I was crying) when they explained what they meant. The problem is, once I realized what they meant, I went from laughing to tears. They were right, I feel like I get passed up/around by people. This is why when I look in the mirror, I see damaged and used goods and nobody wants that long term.

There is a song by Gnash that is called “I Love You I Hate You” and these lyrics about sum up how I feel most days:

I hate you I love you
I hate that I love you
Don’t want to, but I can’t put
Nobody else above you
I hate you I love you
I hate that I want you
You want her, you need her
And I’ll never be her

Mirrors are not my friend and unless I am putting makeup on or doing my hair, I try not to look in them. My confidence is better when I am not looking in the mirror and I just do what I do, not giving two shits about what anyone thinks about me.

Does this sometimes get me in trouble?  Yep.

Do I really care?  Nope.

I am me. Love me. Leave me. I will always be me.

I encourage anyone who has the same self-esteem problems or doesn’t like looking in the mirror to spend some time loving you. It can be a bath, hot shower, face mask, manicure, pedicure, time alone, a massage or just reading a book with a nice candle. Start loving you.

Don’t worry about what others think about you.

Easier said than done, but worth a try – am I right?

IMG_6417

Mental Health Affects Everyone

I have posted on other blogs about the reality of mental health, both my reality and what I observe. 

Sometimes I trick myself into thinking people are immune to mental health disorders and they have either never experienced one themselves or seen a family member or friend with a challenge. 

If you have never experienced a challenge yourself in one way or another, please tell me about yourself.  I envy you. 

About 6 years ago I decided to go back to work and start advocating for people with behavioral health needs.  I was that person and for many years, nobody advocated for me and it sucked, I was in a vicious circle of living on my own, being in trouble, getting bailed out, getting help, doing well and then I sunk back into the deep depths of mental health hell. 

This affected everyone around me.  My mom, dad, brother, daughter and even my ex-husband.  All my friends kept me at arms length and I struggled to know what a real friend was.  Someone I could tell anything and everything to. 

Now I struggle with that balance, I don’t want to lie, but I don’t want to share it all and am in a weird place trying to decide what to share and what not to share. Sometimes I feel as if I am being judged by strangers and that carries over to those I am around all the time.

I struggle with trying to manage my finances properly, making sure I get to appointments on time, picking up the right things at the store.  

I have lists and more lists.  

I start projects and don’t finish them.
Listening (not just hearing) what people need and want around me and accommodating them. 

Being empathetic to everyone, so much so it causes me to lose track of my own thoughts. 

Not being able to put things into perspective.

Catastrophizing instead of being positive.

This, my friends, is mental illness. It is not always the horrible things you see on TV. It’s real life. 

Do any of those things make me a serial killer?

Do my behaviors mean I will cheat, lie or steal from you?

At the end of the day I know my ups and downs affect more than just me.  They affect all those around me. I try to control the good and bad and not project how I feel inside with how I act on the outside. The problem is, then I am not being me.  I am not being authentic. 

This.  This is the face of mental illness. 

This face isn’t a murder suspect.  This is the face of a mom, daughter, aunt, sister, colleague and friend.  This is the face of a person who struggles and needs help, but is too afraid to ask for it. 

Recently I was turned into a website called Hope & Grace Community. I appreciate their articles and their insight into “real life mental illness” and how it affects everyone.

There are celebrities out there who advocate for mental health recovery, both their own and others. 

Carrie Fisher

Mayim Bialik

AJ Lee

My question is, if it’s okay for a celebrity to talk about it and not get shamed by the public, then why do communities shame people?  

Why do families and friends put people with mental illnesses in the corner?

Everyones words and actions affect everyone around them. 

I again urge you to please show some respect for others with mental health challenges, treat them like a human and don’t assume that just because a person has a mental illness doesn’t mean that they are less than someone without one.  I’ll bet you that everyone you come into contact with has experienced some sort of anxiety, depression or other form of a mental health challenge.

In the words of Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, “Nobody puts baby in the corner” – we shouldn’t put others in the corner because we have uneducated or different thoughts about mental health and what it looks like. 

Think about it.