Letting Go

When my children were born, I knew that they would one day grow up and leave home. I thought that would be for a career or for college. Life took a turn and I was divorced and lost custody of my kids before I knew it. 

Even though I have visitation, they live far enough away that I do not know their friends or much about their lives other than what they tell me. I am able to get to a few sports events and school events per year. 

My oldest is a teenager. He has not turned 16 yet and will not for a while. His father is allowing him to decide whether or not he sees me on my weekends when I am supposed to have him. I wished that he was little and I could have his father’s support to make him come. That is not the case. He is as tall as me with a mind of his own.

I still have two other children who need me. They miss their brother when he is not here. I am beginning to wonder how much longer that I have with them. 

It hurts to see other parents post things and discuss their children. I wish that I could be a “normal” mom, yet I can only do as much as I can. 

Invisible

Having a mental illness is hard. Just to have the right diagnosis may take years. For the person with PTSD, they are misdiagnosed an average of 7 times before the correct diagnosis is made. That is a lot of doctor visits and even more medication.

To the outside world, mental illness is invisible with a few exceptions. There are beginning to be more positive images of mental illness, yet it is still all over the news and Internet when that one person out of millions makes a bad decision.

Having a mental illness is hard. Other than my therapist, there are few people who I can talk too. Most people feel that I am fine. I am not in the hospital, my weight is normal, and I can even get out of the house to run small errands. What they do not see us how much it takes to do anything. How much I have to push and convince myself to get a shower, get dressed, and get out the door. How I have turned around in the past and cancelled or just have said that the errand could wait.

Right now, I have a lot of stressors. It is causing me to want to binge. Internally, I am at war with myself. It is so easy to have access to all of the foods that I want. Somehow, I have to find the willpower to resist. I have been irritated and angry over the emotions that are coming up. 

Therapy is only one hour a week. All of the other hours it is up to me. Since school is out and dance is ending, it is hard to think about all of the time that I will have for my mind to wander. I have looked into activities. I at least need to do something. 

Still I feel like I should be fine because I look fine.

Three Minutes

Today was the first time in 20 years that I had been on a stage. I love to dance and decided to take an adult class. I am only in one number. In some ways it is such a minor aspect of my life. Class is only one hour a week. We are pretty mellow.

Three minutes today changed everything. I thought that I knew the number, yet for some reason, the music came on and I completely blanked. After the dance was finished, I felt like I had accomplished something. I was scared to get out in front of people, but I did it. For me that is a small victory. 

Maybe I should care more about what I think of me then what others think of me. Maybe I need to find a way to be happy with myself and to believe in myself. 

Never the Same **May Trigger**

I have been in eating disorder treatment three times. I dance for fun and have started to take yoga classes. As much therapy and support as I have it is often not enough.

My formal diagnosis: bulimia. As I really think about that, it is most likely part way true. I do binge and use over the counter meds after to get rid of what I ate.

I also find that I eat to much. Certain foods trigger the overeating to get worse. Fast food, sugar laden foods, and any kind of snack food. I really noticed this when I started looking back at my binges. The ones I did until I would feel sick and then keep eating and be up all night with stomach pain.

So, I have come to realize that I am drawn to food in the same way that I have seen addicts with drugs or alcohol. I cannot eat just one cookie or chip. There is a compulsion to eat more.

Recently, I have started to do something about it. My diet is changing. Processed sugars are in the past. Well, at least I am trying. It is a lot of research and label reading since sugar seems to be hidden in so many products. Then there is avoiding fast food. That also turns into its own problem. 

I guess that this wil be trial and error. I know that I will have slips along the way, yet I cannot continue with the way that I am going. Things need to change.

Summer Break

My kids have come to the end of another school year. They are looking forward to playing in the pool and other outside activities. Also, they are already planning sleepovers and days with their friends.

Life was different for me. We did not have a pool. The inside of the house was hotter than the outside because I was not allowed to turn on the air conditioning. My room was so hot at night that I really could not sleep.

Then there were the monsters that I lived with. The ones who would beat me until I though that they would not stop. The ones who would put me down. All I wanted to do was to get back to school. At least there I knew what was expected of me.

“Mental Health Crisis”

Today I read those words on a facebook post. They were related to first responders. I am not sure that I would call mental health a crisis, sure, there is more awareness today. We are not turning our backs on those that need help. First responders are being trained on the different options that are out there to alleviate some of the issues that could go along with the arrest of an individual with amental health diagnosis.

My personal journey began over 10 years ago with a visit to the ER. I knew that I could not go on and admitted myself. I was boarded for four days and basically ignored by the staff. When a bed became available, I was taken to a local psychiatric unit. There I met people with other diagnoses who had been through the system time and time again. Some of them could not afford meds, others did not have access to healthcare, and still others did not have any support from family or friends. They would get well, get discharged, and wind up back inpatient.

That was over a decade ago. The same things are still happening. So many people are still undiagnosed or cannot afford the medications to keep them out of the hospital. 

I am not sure we are in anymore of a crisis then we were 10 years ago. Still, because of those people, like myself, who speak out about their illness the issue is getting noticed. I am thankful for that. The fact that government and health care companies are offering more help is wonderful! 

One day, I hope mental illness will be accepted.  That medications will be available to all of those who need them. That companies will hire more people with disabilities in general. One day I hope that things will change. Yet again, I would not call this a crisis. I would call this a change in attitude and procedure.

What to Do?

I have been put into a situation right now that has become hard to make decisions about. My oldest is bullying my two youngest. It started out verbally and has now become physical. It is getting to the point that I am worried about their safety.

It would not be as much of an issue if my ex would do something. The situation seems to be a non-issue at this point. Shake it off and go on has kind of become the motto.

This is triggering things from my past. I do not want my kids to have to live in fear of what will happen to them because an adult will not protect them. Right now, I am not sure who to call or what to do. I have thought about reaching out to guidance counselors, yet I do not want to make the situation worse.

I know that I need to do something. Things will not resolve themselves on their own. In my experience, they just get worse. I do not want my kids to have PTSD and all of the symptoms that go with it. 

Kids Today

When I was growing up things are so different. Maybe that is how I have PTSD. Still, most people that I knew did not have an inground pool or even a pool membership. Going somewhere was a special treat. In my case, it was one time a year. 

I was able to dance, yet I was limited to the number of classes that I could take. I ate what my parents bought and if I did not like it, my mother was not making anything different.

This year, I get my kids for 10 days over the summer. Their father has the means of buying all of the things they want. I don’t.

I thought about taking them to a couple of local places where they could swim. I am still trying to think of other things to do with them. This morning one of them had an idea to rent ATV’s. That is not happening! 

There is still a lot of time to think about what to do and what they may enjoy. There is still time to plan. I want to have fun with them, yet there is a budget.

From the Outside

Funny. If someone did not know my diagnosis they may say that I look fine. They may say that about others that I know that are struggling with a mental illness, eating disorder, or other illness.

Look closer and maybe you will see the hints of my illness. The slight limp that I have because my knee is acting up. The way that I turn the menu over and over or cannot seem to decide on what I want to order. The way I move away from someone because I feel like they are to close to me. My phone in my hand just flipping through apps because I want to look busy and am scared for someone to talk to me.

The really bad days are the ones that most people never see. Staying in bed or on the couch all day. Debating what and how much to eat. Wanting to journal, yet being overwhelmed by all of the flashbacks. Being comforted by my husband and my cat. 

Going to school, dance, therapy, and doing other activities takes a lot out of me. Just because I am out and doing things does not mean that I am all better. It just means that I will not let these illnesses win. Those people who wanted to cut me down in the past cannot win. I need to fight and to try to go on.