Rising Above my Darkest Moment

Reflecting back to where I began to lose myself, it looks like any other awkward teenage existence. But it was different. I was depressed and lived day by day, pretending that everything was fine. I would spend hours alone in my room listening to music, inventing an alter ego if you will. I would imagine a different life, that I was a different person and I would invent this persona down to the very finest detail. And there I would “live” until it was time to go to work, eat dinner, or I just left my room for some other reason.

That’s where I was my happiest, when I was pretending to be someone else. Sad, I know but that was my happy place, where I didn’t have depression. Don’t misunderstand me, I did have friends, but they weren’t interested in me, not really. They were there to hang out or whatever, but I NEVER confided in anyone about my depression or my desire to be someone else. Really I just wanted someone to notice me, to take an interest in my life, however, I hadn’t done that for anyone else. So what did I expect?

As I graduated from High School, my friends list got smaller but they were good friends. There were a couple that I really loved and still do, even though we have lost touch. One of them was a guy (no we were never romantic) and he was my very best friend. As we got older he would give his approval/disapproval on who I dated, but only when I pressed him to be honest. He really took an interest in my life and I his. He was very special to me and part of the reason I am still here today. (Yes, I know that sounded dark.)

There was a very real darkness in my life at one point. I sat on my bed and dumped a bottle of pills on the blanket. I sat and looked at them and believed that I wouldn’t be sad anymore and no one else would really be affected if I swallowed them all. I really believed that. The adversary and his darkness had tricked me into believing I would be better off. However, God had plans for me and His power is much much greater. I thought about my friend and knew he would be hurt, but he would be okay I knew he would (wouldn’t he?) Then….I had a clear picture in my mind. My mom would be the one to find me, and it would be devastating. I just could NOT do that to her. I could not hurt her that way.

I put all the pills back in the bottle and set it on my dresser. That was my only, real suicidal thought, never again did it enter my mind. I had (with God’s help) defeated the adversary in that category. Now 20+ years later, I am working at defeating that bastard every day of my life. Some days better than others, but isn’t that life? 😉

 

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Where I’m Coming From

I have recently decided to begin my memoirs as they pertain to my struggle with anxiety, depression and my desire to reinvent myself. I no longer want to pretend to be someone else. I want to learn to love who I am and have confidence in the fact that I AM A SON of GOD!!! This is an introduction of sorts. It gives you the basics of where I am coming from and where I want to go.

Warning for this post and those to follow on this topic: Possible Trigger Warning!

I found myself recently, realizing that I wasn’t all that “happy”. I wasn’t sad per se, but I felt trapped inside my own prison.  A prison that I myself built and continue to keep myself imprisoned.  I realize that everyone has their struggles, and that it is a part of life and I accept that. However, I do more than struggle; I battle. I have real mental battles with myself. I argue, scream, and sometimes fight to exhaustion, but it’s all with myself.

I know what is right and wrong, what is positive believing and what is negative. I tell myself ALL DAY LONG the positives, but for some reason it doesn’t stick. I have to change my mind on a regular basis throughout the day, but those pesky thoughts and the need to be accepted continue to find the cracks in my mind and sneak in. The more I gave thought to this, the more I realized that I have such a strong need to feel accepted. It’s ridiculous to my logical mind, but it truly is a prison that I have to escape.

I tried desperately to explain this to my husband, after 20 years of “sweeping it under the rug.” But if you haven’t experienced something like this, it is almost impossible to understand the struggle. I told him that it’s been like this for most of my life, and I am too exhausted to try and keep it hid any longer. I explained that I have always pretended to be someone else in order to feel what I thought was acceptance. I truly felt that I needed to be a certain way in order “fit in”. I can go on and on and blame the high school cliques or my “so-called” friends, but the truth is, it’s my own lack of confidence that has made this such a prominent aspect of my thought patterns.

I had my own parents convinced that I was a well-adjusted, popular teen that had a lot of friends and enjoyed life. When the reality was, at 18 I was seconds away from ending my existence.  I wanted nothing more to do with this uneventful, miserable life. I was lonely and spent the majority of my time alone, pretending to be someone else. At the time, I thought nothing of it; I would always play pretend during my childhood. However, now I was a teenager and I still would play these games. Looking back, I feel a little pathetic, but the reality was I just wanted to be someone people loved and looked up to. As an adult reflecting on this, I don’t think I was ever not accepted; I think I just wanted more out of life and didn’t have the confidence to stand up and reach for it.  I think as an adult, I still fight the same battle. I never published my book, after 18 years because of what people might think.  I tell myself all of the time that it doesn’t matter, but unfortunately it can be paralyzing. I feel like I’m missing out on so much more because of this prison I locked myself in. Now, it’s time to break free.

Taking Action to Make a Change

I’ve been avoiding my blog for months, but I think about it often. I felt that I had nothing interesting to say, that my words didn’t make a difference whether they were written or not. What difference does it make? Pretty depressing, right? But the thing is, I’m not depressed. I have my funks, sure, but don’t we all at some time or another. I’ve experienced depression and this isn’t it.

As I continued to work through my anxiety issues (which has been really great lately), and help my daughter with hers, I uncovered deeper feelings that I thought I had overcome years ago. However, the more I gave this my attention, the more I realized this is a serious problem. The old habits were resurfacing with vengeance, and I didn’t seem to have a handle on them like I thought. I started to be concerned that my thought patterns and behavior would have a great impact on my children. I didn’t want them negatively influenced by my bad habits.

So I think I’ve decided to start a memoir here, as I search inside myself to uncover why I think the way I do and how I can overcome it. I suppose it doesn’t matter who, if anyone, listens. My writing isn’t about anyone else, but my own expressions. I need to start being the one that is important to me, not looking for acceptance anywhere else. Besides, if I can’t accept myself, who else will?

So I invite those that are interested, along with me on this journey; and those that are not interested….that’s okay too.

My Therapy: I’m So Judgmental

Will there ever be a time when I don’t question every thought I have? Will this be something I deal with for the rest of my life? Will I ever get to the point where I can just accept myself as me, and be okay with that? Why is my first reaction to judge myself? I highly doubt others are judging me as often as I feel judged. Why am I so judgmental?

I ask these questions of myself all the time. I react to situations as if I’m under attack, when in reality; it has nothing to do with me. Many times I feel that my own mind is my worst enemy. I feel that I could control my anxiety, my depression, and my outbursts just by not being so judgmental. The funny thing is…no one is judging me. (At least I don’t think so…)

I say that I feel that I’m being judged in certain situations, but the truth is, I’m the one that’s doing the judging. I’m the one making myself feel inadequate. I’m the one pointing out my flaws and telling myself I’m not as good as someone else. No one has ever pointed out my flaws (at least to my face). Except that one time, but that woman was mean and horribly awful! Once I stopped crying, I realized she was purposing trying to be hurtful. She was a complete stranger, what did I care what she thought? But I did, I do care (way too much) what other people think. That’s one of the reasons I took so long to start writing again. What if I sucked? What if no one enjoyed what I wrote? What if? What if? What if? Ugh! The “what ifs” are so exhausting and hindering. “What if’s can paralyze us mentally, spiritually, and physically.

I tell myself I’m not going to think this way any longer. I try to change my thoughts when those negative ones creep in, but sometimes they seem to always linger in the depths of my mind. They slowly creep out when I least expect it, slowly making their way to the front of my mind where they think they have control. It’s tiring to need validation all the time. I don’t want so much confidence that I am no longer humble, but just enough that I can stop judging myself, comparing myself to others.  I actually have had the thought that the other baseball moms wouldn’t want to hang out with me because I wasn’t as thin and cute as them! How ridiculous is that?!?!?! Stupid right? But those thoughts creep in. They are the nicest ladies I have ever met, but I get so intimidated. I just want to love me, for me. I’m a pretty cool person, why can’t I accept that others might think so too?

She Said She Did It To Protect Me?

I haven’t been writing lately and have been in a real “funk”. It seems like my circumstances make such an impact on my behaviors and that really ticks me off. Every once in a while I go to therapy to help manage my anxiety and yesterday, she told me, “You NEED to write! Go home and write; journal, blog, work on your novel, just write.” So I went home and…I took my son to baseball. 🙂 Sometimes, life is just busy, but that’s okay. I don’t mind. I love watching our son play. He’s a natural athlete and he plays at a high, competitive level, so it’s exciting. It did help me out of my “funk” as well. I just hung out with our 4 yr old and watched the game and relaxed for the first time in nearly a week.

It all started on Sunday, I received a call from my dad, telling me that his mother, my Grandma, had died that morning. Now, I knew she was sick and that she was very close to the end of her life, but that doesn’t make it easier. It’s still sad. I didn’t cry right away and continued to prepare for the day and think about all the things we did with my grandparents, as kids. I teared up a little and told our oldest and my MIL who lives with us. My husband and son were at a Bible Class that was completing that day. We were all going to meet at the class and have a brunch together, celebrating the class. I was all set to focus on the students and their accomplishments and arrived at the party. My MIL got out of the car and walked off while I parked. By the time I got out of the car, a good friend was approaching me with tears in her eyes. My mind began to race! I couldn’t figure out what had her so upset, and I walked up to her with my arms outstretch. I asked her if she was okay and what was wrong. To my surprise, she said she was sorry I lost my Grandma. I froze! I panicked! I couldn’t breathe! There were about 50 people lingering outside and they all saw me breakdown and lose it! I was sad for my Grandma and humiliated that I broke down in front of all these people. I felt blind-sided and helpless, like a hole had been blown through my chest and the the air was escaping. The pain from the anxiety attack felt like something was dragging me to the ground, yet I remained standing. I couldn’t run, I couldn’t get away from these people. I was trapped to deal with this right then and there, but I wasn’t ready; not like like this. I was so out of my comfort zone, and this made it so much worse. My MIL took it upon herself to tell my friend what happened. I was so upset with her, yet I didn’t have the strength to be mad. I was emotionally wiped out the rest of the day. I walked around in a daze and felt so disconnected.

My heart ached and my head throbbed. The hole in my chest was wide-open and felt dark and empty. I still can not wipe from my mind, the look on people’s faces as they watched me grieve and had no idea what was happening. This is when the damn, dark cloud of depression rolled in, and until last night it would not blow over. It hung over me, it’s heaviness weighing on my shoulders, sucking every last ounce of energy from my limbs. In therapy yesterday, when I explained what brought on this “funk” on, she had me talk about what kinds of things were happening at home with my MIL.

I have an ex-sister in law, who is narcissistic. I never saw my MIL as one, until now.

Silence

Note: I haven’t written poetry in more years than I can remember. However, I read something recently about how an individual couldn’t stand the silence. They feared the quietness of their surroundings. This is the result of me contemplating what I felt in the silence. (As a mother of 3 I don’t get this very often 😉 I hope it it relates to some of you. Your feedback is greatly appreciated. I may have a panic attack publishing this. *takes deep breath and hits “publish”*

Silence does not bring the uneasiness
Quietness does not yield the nervousness
I welcome it like an old friend;
That brings me comfort and tranquility

Silence is the friend that doesn’t question
Quietness doesn’t judge; but lets me think
I can freely have my thoughts without coercion
I can breathe a deeper breath than with the noise

Silence doesn’t try to fix it
Quietness doesn’t have to understand
I can feel what I want, without fear of disappointment
I don’t have to hide behind a false persona

Silence allows me to think and to be still
Quietness allows me to rest and to release
I can forget for a while or make a decision
I can plan my next step or sleep

Silence asks for nothing in return
Quietness expects nothing from me
I can sit in the silence and dream
I can sit in the quiet and write

Silence is not something I want all the time
Quietness is not my one true friend
It is something I enjoy and need at times
But there are times when it is just lovely to share with someone else; the silence

 

COPYRIGHT © Jennifer Novak and perfectlyimperfect05

When Your Child Has A Disorder Part 3

So when I left you last, my hair was falling out and I was in need of therapy. 😉 Our daughter was still dropping a few pounds here and there and her body was shutting down. She couldn’t do her school work because she had no focus, she was getting migraines, and her skin looked yellowish-gray. It was horrible. I ached for her to be better. It felt like I was in a vacuum. To take a deep breath was not physically possible. My head physically hurt when I had to think. I had no energy and I was fighting not to fall into a depression. I knew I had to be strong for her, and yes that sounds so cliché, but it doesn’t make it any less true. She could not do this on her own, and I was all she had. My husband supported her and did everything he knew to encourage her, but I was the one she NEEDED. It was more than a dependency. When you’re an infant you’re not cognizant of the need you have for mere survival. Our daughter knew she would not survive if she kept this up. However, she still could not bring herself to eat. It was a physical, mental, and spiritual battle, and she knew she needed me.

I began to notice more physical ailments in myself, but mind you we have 2 other children that had needs, as well. I could not stop being their mom while I cared for their sister. Every moment I had, that was not spent monitoring meals and driving to appointments, I was doing my best to make the other kids feel like things were “normal”. Our daughter finally shared her disorder with her brother, who was so heartbroken that, to this day, does not speak a word of it. I too find myself looking back as if it were someone else’s life. It literally feels like years have passed, yet it’s only been a few months that she has been healthy.

I felt the need to defend her at every turn. If someone mentioned that she was thin, like it was a good thing, I would smile and redirect the conversation. I did not want people asking her how she did it. “Oh my gosh, you’re so thin! How’d you lose weight?” Prior to the disorder, she was at her ideal weight for her build and height. She’s a gorgeous girl and had no business losing weight. Yet, people saw this weight loss as a positive. Our society is so screwed up in their perception of what beauty is. To honor our daughter’s wishes, we never talked about her disorder outside of our family. So no one knew of the demons she was fighting. They thought she was exercising and eating healthy. At one point her nutritionist laid it out for her, she either follow her eating plan, which was still under 1200 calories/day, and treat this as an outpatient; or she be admitted and be treated in a hospital. We both cried on the way home that day.

The thought of her being in a hospital was more than I could handle. My insides cramped, and my lungs shrunk. They wouldn’t let much air in at once and I felt like I was living one, big anxiety attack. I started to get restless leg syndrome more and more and my sleep was non-existent. The funny thing though…I knew with ALL my heart, without one ounce of doubt, I KNEW she was going to get better. I knew she would overcome this, yet my body still responded this way. It was like living in a dream. You know you’re awake and you’re functioning through your day, but you really don’t see what’s around you. You don’t notice the world. It’s a surreal feeling that I only can describe, now, that I’m reflecting. At the time, I was dazed and unsure what to feel.

When you are helping someone with a disorder, there is no instruction book. There are no pre-determined words to say to them. There aren’t actions you are told to take so they can be encouraged. You aren’t even told how to feel, or what to expect. You can read all you want and have someone help you understand it, but there are no cookie cutter disorders. They are unique to the person living with them because each person responds differently. Each person has different needs. Each person is unique and wonderful and deals in their own way. I can only tell you what I felt; I can’t even tell you what she felt. All I know is that this disorder was paralyzing to our daughter. I personally did not have this eating disorder myself, but that does NOT mean I didn’t go through it. Disorders can have the same paralyzing effect on loved ones as they do on their victims. These are real illnesses. It’s not like she could just go eat and feel better. The act of eating brought on real physical and mental anguish for her. Trust me, I wanted to flip a switch and get her to eat, but it just doesn’t work that way.

Like I said, she has been going strong for a few months now. She enjoys food and actually uses her YouTube channel to reach others that struggle with the same things she has gone through and continues to struggle with. She’s healthy and has put some weight back on, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t struggle anymore, and it doesn’t mean my job is over. I still check to make sure she has eaten her snacks every day. We started to exercise again and she is mostly back to her happy self. Some days are harder than others, but that’s life. She had an amazing opportunity placed in her lap, and the acceptance and encouragement she received from it, was just what she needed to turn the corner. From that moment forward, she saw herself from a different perceptive. She actually saw herself the way most people see her, not the way a few ignorant peers portrayed her.  She finally saw her beauty, her talent, her kindness, and her love for God; just like everyone else did.

In all this, I learned that I can’t control everything and I need to do things that help me be better for God, myself and my family. I’m not Superwoman, I need to stop thinking I can do it all. News flash: I can’t! And yes, I now go to therapy, after the fact. 🙂 There’s still crap to overcome after the storm has settled. You know, all the clean up. I can’t explain it, but once she got better, I realized I needed to get better. That’s a different journey. 😉

 

Note: If there’s anyone that would like to know more about supporting a loved one through something like this, feel free to contact me. It is not an easy battle and no one should have to do it alone.