Month: October 2015

How Do You Mend a Broken Heart?

Broken hearts run rampant in our fantastically flawed world.  Human beings are fraught with poor decision making skills and we hurt one another constantly, whether intentionally or otherwise.  Worse yet, life throws us curve balls of its own, things having nothing to do with the callousness of humanity.

Hearts break every day to different extents.  (Mine gets a tiny tear every time I look at cheese. Lactose intolerance led me to the worst breakup of my life.  I still love you, Dairy.  It hurts me deeply that we can no longer be together).

Those are just the daily breaks.  The red nail polish spill- on your FAVORITE skirt, your favorite TV show- SPOILED, your favorite meal- BURNT.  You know, all that jazz.  They hurt but it’s a pretty quick rebound.

But how do you rebound from real heartbreak?  How do you heal once the true damage has been done?

What do you do when your grandfather passes away?  What do you do when your mother tells you that she has Cancer?  What do you do when the man you thought you’d marry leaves you?

I won’t pretend to know the answers to these questions.  I don’t have the answers.

There is no one definitive answer. 

Open yourself up to your friends and family.  Lean on them, as scary as that may be.  They will offer advice but remember that your experience is unique to you.  If you like the advice, take it.  If not, don’t.

Don’t be ashamed to heal in your own time; in your own way.

Personally, I rely on music to help…

It’s not much but I hope that perhaps it will help you in times of need, as it has helped me.  Remember that you have people who love you.  Let them love you.  Let them help you.

Best wishes to you.

Who Invited You? (A Note About Unwanted Depression/Anxiety)

I am not having the best night due to reasons I’d rather not discuss.  (Ya know, cause I like to stay relatively elusive when posting personal struggles publicly on the internet).

As I’ve written before, depression isn’t always present but it is persistent.  I have my good days, (sometimes lots of them in a row!) but the bad days somehow always show up.  Depression is like that one relative whose invite to the party you always “lose” but they manage to show up anyway with a sidekick you like even less (AKA Anxiety).

Recently, a friend and fellow blogger posted a Buzzfeed Article about what it is to suffer from both anxiety and depression (Hey, that sounds familiar!).  She then followed up with her own piece about what it is to have a panic disorder.  She encouraged fellow sufferers to discuss and share in the comments (and while I will also post this there), I wanted to write a blog in response to both of these posts and remind her, and others like us, that we are not alone.

If you would like to read Kacey’s original blog- please click here.

The Buzzfeed article that I mentioned earlier, entitled Here’s What No One Tells You About Having Both Depression And Anxiety, is in essence just a list of symptoms to which all sufferers can immediately relate.  It always makes me wonder if there are people out there who DON’T feel these things.  If so, I envy them…just a tad (tad means a lot, right?).

In seriousness though, I wonder if this list is relatable.  If you’ve never been in the throes of depression and anxiety, can you understand?  Can you empathize?

In the event that you didn’t read through either of the aforementioned links (because I probably wouldn’t have either), I’ve included a few points that most resonated with me.  Depression & Anxiety Are:

“3. It’s feeling more tired the less you move, but your heart racing at the thought of taking the first step.”

This is one of the hardest things to combat when I am in a period of depression.  The desire to sleep and the need to get work done are in a state of constant battle.  I hate to say it but, sleep wins most of the time. Sleep means escaping emotions and the pain that comes with them if only for a little while.

“8.  It’s fearing every day that your partner will get fed up and leave, but your anxiety whispering in your ear that they deserve better and should.”

SO MUCH YES HERE.  My inner monologue when in a relationship is almost always “Please leave me and save yourself the trouble.” Actually, I’ve probably said that out loud before on numerous occasions.  

“17. It’s coping mechanisms and escapism, because when you’re not trying to hide from one part of your brain, you’re hiding from the other.”

Escapism- YES.  I need to avoid triggers that will upset me and often times that means avoiding (escaping) people and/or situations that will cause me pain.  

*Masochism and anxiety do not go hand in hand.

My anxiety manifests itself in rather obnoxious ways.  During a panic attack:

  1. My body will start to overheat (think hot flash x 10).
  2. I start to shake (so severely that my muscles begin to tense and I will be more sore than if I had spent 8 hours at the gym).
  3. I get nauseous, (which makes me even more anxious and so I cry).
  4. I cry a lot.

It’s not the end of the world but in that moment (and sometimes that moment can last hours), it sure as hell feels like it.

And my depression?  Well, like I mentioned before- it’s a lot of wanting to sleep.  It is fixating on how worthless I am and fearing that I will never amount to anything.

Sometimes, the depression and anxiety overlap.  Sometimes, they don’t.

But guys, guess what!  There is a light at the end of the tunnel!  I am NOT worthless.  I have already amounted to a lot and will continue to do so.  These annoying, unwanted house guests never stay forever.  They most certainly overstay their welcome, but eventually, I get to kick them to the curb and it is always a glorious moment of triumph.  So if I look at it that way, I get to have lots of extra triumphs in my life in addition to all of my non-depression related successes (because when I lay them all out there, I am pretty successful).

I AM FULL OF ALL THE TRIUMPHZ.

AND SO ARE YOU!

You will have bad days.  We all do (even those who don’t suffer from depression), but they won’t last forever.  Cliche as it may be, the sun WILL come up tomorrow (you can bet your bottom dollar).  I am not telling you that it will be easy.  It won’t be.  I am telling you that it is possible and I implore you to seek help if you need it.  There is NO shame in asking for help.  (A lot of people see it as a sign of strength and bravery.)

Talking about mental illness helps us shed the stigma.  So talk about it.  Surround yourself with people who support you and if you feel like you don’t have anyone- feel free to reach out.  Comment on my blog, comment on my Facebook- message me, whatever it is.  We can have a nice talk about it. 🙂

* * * * * *

Borrowed From the Aforementioned Article:

To learn more about depression and anxiety, check out the resources at the National Institute of Mental Health here and here.

If you are dealing with thoughts of suicide, you can speak to someone immediately here or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which you can reach at 1-800-273-8255.

If you want to speak with someone anonymously, go here for additional help.

 

J.Law, the Wage Gap and My Little Ol’ Opinion

Do you ever wish you were born into this life with just a little something more?

Like, I don’t know…maybe a penis?

Look, I love being a woman.  In truth, I don’t think I would appreciate being a man- however, I do envy the inevitable benefits that come with having an awkward, uncomfortable extra appendage.  You know, the special treatment like- automatic respect (just for being able to grow a beard), higher pay (the lack of boobs really helps bump a paycheck), and lest I forget the implied forgiveness (boys will be boys after all).

Jennifer Lawrence (my #WCW, wait is it not Wednesday?  I don’t care.  She’s my #WCEveryday) recently penned an essay regarding the Hollywood Wage Gap.  Thanks to the suggestion of a friend, you now have my thoughts on the topic.

While J.Law’s case isn’t quite relatable (a fact she reinforces in her own writing), she is a perfect example of everything wrong with the lack of regard for women in this country.  If a beautiful, smart, TOP SELLING BOX OFFICE DRAW isn’t being paid the same as her male co-stars, how the hell do the rest of us expect to be paid the same as the schlubs at the water cooler?

This blog isn’t a jab at men.  Not every guy is an evil, misogynistic bastard hell bent on keeping women “in their place.”  Oh no, I’m sorry, have I let my feminism slip out?   (Just kidding guys, feminism is about equality.  That there is called anger; anger that my ovaries seemingly make me less valuable than a man).

I don’t hate men.  (Well, not all of the time).  I do hate that men are afforded opportunities and courtesies that women are not; but more than that, I hate that so many people refuse to acknowledge the truth.

How many times have I sat in a meeting to voice my opinion only to be shot down and treated like a little girl?  How many times have men treated me with despicable condescension?  (I mean really, how could I possibly share the same knowledge as they?) How many times have I been on dates where men automatically assume I’m some dumb bimbo who doesn’t know her left from her right?  No guys, they’re just boobs- they don’t have magic powers that absorb or hide away my intelligence.  (By the way, those dates end pretty quickly.  Were you surprised?)

We are even reduced to our own “gender based language”.  I am ashamedly guilty of changing the way I speak in order to get my point across, in order to seem less argumentative, less “bitchy.”

“I’m sorry, this might be a silly idea BUT what if we just…”

Can you imagine a man speaking like that?  No.  Men get to say things like

“Bob, let’s do it this way…

Great.  It’s settled.”

Such power.  Such authority.  Yet if a women acts equally as confident in a meeting she is immediately labeled “a bitch” or “feisty” or “domineering.”  A man would be “assertive,” “bold,” “strong,”- “a leader.”

Men get the cool, ego-boosting adjectives.  We get the insulting, negative and degrading adjectives.

(Here’s another great article that gives you an idea of the “language” that women have to speak in order to co-exist peacefully with men.)

I am intelligent, funny (just smile and nod here), strong and independent.  That doesn’t make me unique.  That makes me a woman.  WE are pretty impressive human beings and anyone with a brain can see that.  So let’s all band together and fight for equality for one another.  There are plenty of men proud to join this fight as well- No Excuses.

FEMINISM IS NOT A DIRTY WORD.  Feminism is simply equality of the sexes.

Spread the word.  Do your part.  Share your voice.

If you feel like watching a unique video on the topic of feminism.  Check out this FCKH8 video campaign.  (Or, if you’re easily offended- better not).

“The Daughter I Call Mom”- A Caregiver’s Story

There are days when I sit down to write and feel the tremendous guilt of laying out my problems for the world to see.  Will they think I’m asking for pity?  Will they scoff at how insignificant my problems are in comparison to their own?  Will they laugh at my topics of choice?  Will they care at all?

Yet I choose to write, what should often constitute private thoughts, in a public forum.  I do so with the hopes that just one person will read what I write and take solace in the fact that they are not alone.  So many of us carry the weight of the world on our shoulders with the misconception that no one will understand.  The world can be a scary, cold and lonely place if you let it– but sometimes, it is okay to confide in and take comfort in shared experiences, for better or for worse.

caregiving

My post today comes after a few stressful days with my elderly father.  Despite the knowledge that my father would most likely kill me if he knew that I were writing about him on the internet– I am going to proceed anyway because this piece isn’t so much about him as it is about me and what it is to be a caregiver.

So…here goes…

It is never easy to watch your parents’ health decline, whether it be from old age or otherwise.  It is not easy to watch the man who once lifted you above his head mimicking a 747, unable to bend down to tie his own shoe.  It is not easy to feel your role slowly reversing from child to parent.

The first time my dad called me “mom” was after a major heart attack, his triple bypass surgery and during the subsequent stint in rehab.   His friend had come to visit him and graciously complimented me on my attention to my father.  My father replied for me saying “Yep, that’s my mom now.  She’s taking care of me.”  He was lucid.  He knew (and knows) that I’m not his mother but the words still cut like a knife.  I didn’t want to be a mom.  I DON’T want to be a mom, and especially not to my dad.  I could feel the tears welling up but I stood strong, thanked my father’s friend and excused myself to leave for my 2nd shift of the day (I was waiting tables at the time).

The rush of emotion that ensued was almost inexplicable.  I often have trouble describing it to those who haven’t lived it.  Even now, what do I say that accurately explains what it is to feel that you are now responsible for another life?  The very life that used to be responsible for you?  What an enormous amount of pressure coupled by a sincere identity crisis.  How do I play the daughter and the mom to the same man?

My father is ailing in many ways, Arthritis and Diabetes being some of the most difficult illnesses with which to cope.  This means that he sometimes cannot get out of bed or up from his seat without my help.  He hates walking with a cane (it’s embarrassing) and so he would rather lean on me.  He often cannot (and should not) bend which means he requests help putting on socks and shoes, making the bed, picking up dropped items.  He does his best to make these requests infrequently (even to his own detriment).  Although it takes little effort on my part, it does force me to think.  How long ago was it that I needed help putting on my shoes and socks?  The reversal is so apparent.

Sometimes I will watch him walk away and leave the stove on– no pots, no pans– just an open flame.

Sometimes I hear him calling me in the early morning hours because his sugar has dropped and he needs orange juice or a cookie STAT.

Sometimes I have to call out of work to take him to the Emergency Room because he turned the wrong way and fractured his foot.

Sometimes I miss work to take him to his doctor’s appointments.

Sometimes, I have to cancel my plans to stay home with him in case of emergency.

I hear him moan in pain constantly.  I can see the pain in his face.  We’ve talked about his funeral plans for years.  It is heartbreaking and mind-numbing all at once.

And let me say that these are not things that he wants.  I know that it weighs on him constantly to put this stress on me.  It makes him feel guilty that he can’t do for himself all of the time.  Then I feel guilty for making him feel guilty.

It’s an endless cycle.

It is not easy for any of us to accept that we are aging.  Our bodies change and we can’t always do the things that we could when we were younger.  Living with an elderly man has made me hyper aware of my own mortality and even the small changes within my own body.  I get frustrated that I can’t do a cartwheel like I could when I was 10 or when my knee gives out after a game of tennis.  Imagine what it is to be near 80 and unable to drive anymore, unable to make your bed, unable to do all of those things you took for granted so many years ago.

He isn’t ready to accept “not being able” to do anything which means he fights me every step of the way.  I understand that but it doesn’t make the argument any easier.  My patience has worn thin and I feel guilty for losing my temper.  OFTEN.

And the crux of it all is that it will only get harder from here.  My father is still very strong and independent despite his difficulties but I know that this can’t last forever.  Eventually, even more responsibility will fall to me and at some point, I will need to get my act together.  At some point, I will figure out HOW to balance his life and mine.  One day, I will actually be good at this.  Right?

It is far from an easy job.  I don’t think I’m doing a great job of it but I know that I’m not alone with these thoughts, these doubts, and these concerns.  It is normal and expected but we have to push on.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.  Pride won’t help anyone.

——

If you are looking for help as a Caregiver (and aren’t we all?), there are some really great resources.  A Place for Mom (www.aplaceformom.com) has been very helpful.  Even Pinterest has a whole Caregiver section (which I just recently discovered, while writing this blog).

For those of you who are technologically inclined, check out the list of Best (and Worst) Apps for Caregivers.  I’ve just found it and will be promptly researching.

Stay strong and find a support system.  Husbands, wives, girlfriends, boyfriends, friends, family- they can be a lifesaver. If they are willing to help– LET THEM.  If not, there are communities online, local support groups, and therapists who specialize in this area.  Make sure to get help.  If YOU don’t stay healthy, there won’t be anyone there to help THEM stay healthy.

Guns and (Funeral) Roses

I am tired.

I am so DAMN tired of turning on the news, tuning into Facebook, opening my homepage and seeing that yet another mass shooting has taken the lives of my fellow Americans.

10 lives gone after the shooting at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College today.  That is 10 too many.

Why is it so difficult to understand that GUN CONTROL IS A PROBLEM IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA?  Why?  I am genuinely asking.  Someone, please take the time and explain to me why we are unable to do anything to end this epidemic.  How many more people must lose their lives in these senseless tragedies?

I don’t care who the shooter was.  I won’t repeat his name.  He lost his life as well and I am sorry for that.  I know that I am supposed to hate him– he is a murderer.  Trust me, he is not on my list of favorite people- but I am still sorry that he and these 9 people lost their lives.  I am sorry when ANY life is lost.  I am sorry for the family members who must now bear the weight of this loss.

Isn’t that the point?  Shouldn’t we be upset when lives are lost?  Yes, evil people exist but if we relish in their pain and in their death, are we any better?  Should we be happy while his family now suffers with the guilt of his actions and the loss of one of their own?

I don’t want to take pleasure in the death of ANYONE, no matter their sins.

I pray that all of these souls will be cared for.  I pray for their families.  I pray for their friends.

And I pray that this country takes A STAND.

America allowed 27 people, 18 of which were CHILDREN, to die in the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  We stood idly by and let them die in vain.  We have done NOTHING to protect our children, our elderly, our neighbors, our friends, our family.  NOTHING.  Columbine, Aurora, Tuscon, Virginia Tech, etc, etc, etc.  The list goes on and this country continues to fight over gun control because all that our nation seems to be good at lately is bullshit arguments aimed to delay progress.

If watching over a dozen children die hasn’t made our government take a stand, what will?  If we can’t rally after losing pure innocence, what the hell is left?

I am laying in bed, trying to write a cohesive blog but my emotions are getting the best of me and I am just pissed.  Forgive my language and use of a clichéd hash-tag but…#SORRYNOTSORRY.  I am still waiting for America to get off its ass AND DO SOMETHING.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand.” – Attribute it to Lincoln or the Bible, whichever makes you feel better, but stand by it.  It is the truth.  The more we fight one another, the less we accomplish.

I am tired.  I am so tired.  I don’t want to hear about any more funerals with guns at the forefront.  I don’t want to hear that anyone else has died because someone with severe mental depravities decided to shoot up a school, or a mall, or a movie theater, or ANYTHING.

I am tired.  Aren’t you?