Birthdays – a paradox

It is my ex’s birthday tomorrow. I recently started to communicate with him on a haphazard basis. Today I noticed a band that he loves announced a show when they had previously shared that they were retiring. That sparked our communication today.

After pleasantries he noted how it was so nice of me to get him a special cake from Coldstone Creamery. I then asked him if he had plans for his birthday tomorrow and he mentioned he might do something with his mother but that was it. I responded with, “She would be thrilled!” And then he ends it by saying, “Yeah that’s what really matters to me honestly”.

So this has me thinking. Isn’t it a paradox when it is your birthday and you want your family to be happy, when likely you’re family is going through great lengths to make your birthday special.

I saw this because I immediately was thinking of my ex mother in law being frazzled with making things so ultra special, cooking his favorite meal, having a present wrapped, baking him a cake, etc. it makes me wonder, when people go to these great lengths, is it for the other person, or is it for them?

Birthdays and holidays can be stressful and tough. Adding extra pressure on it does not seem to be the wisest idea and personally I can attest to added pressure of the holidays considering I’d always be the one to coordinate and plan.

At the end of the day, it can be a very beautiful thing of loved ones getting together, but you shouldn’t sacrifice your mental being by adding extra stress. That’s why one year, I chose for us to all go to Buca for Thanksgiving because it took a huge amount of pressure off.

This year holidays will look a lot different for me. I am okay with that. At least I know thinks will be much less stress for me.

Erase the Stigma

Why is it so easy to talk about mental disorders like OCD, and it sound like it is an “ok” thing to have, but with disorders like Schizophrenia or Bipolar, it has such a negative connotation? It always bothered me when I would hear Minnesota’s weather is Bipolar. It actually makes me think of a conversation I had tonight.

It was my first shift working at the VFW and the individual speaking was minimizing Alzheimer’s. If you know me, you know that I will definitely speak up in this type of situation, as Alzheimer’s is one of the worst diseases anyone can get in my opinion. Watching my Mother’s brain decay over a journey of 8 years has left multiple scars in my brain that I will speak my mind about.

Ten years ago Alzheimer’s had a different connotation as it was just an “old person’s disease”. Well, my mother died at 62. In this day and age, it is no longer an old person’s disease, it’s a chronic disease that 1 in 6 people will develop, and 2 of 3 of those people are women.

Will it take another 10 years before we break the stigma of mental disorders? It brought me peace and solace to look up famous artists and talented individuals that shared mental disorders. What it comes down to, is truly a chemical imbalance in your brain. This could be genetic, what you were born with, psychosomatic, and situational. For me, it’s all three.

I was born with genetics that predisposed me to mental disorders. Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Bipolar disorder are three cognitive disorders that run on my mom’s side. My oldest brother Carl did not survive his brain disorder which breaks my heart to write. Growing up, we felt a lot of pressure to be perfect. I believe Carl and I share a lot of similar traits, a big one being empathetic and sensitive. A trait I share with my other brother Eric, and my sister Kate, is having an addictive personality.

Eric would often tell me to play the “cute girl” card because he often would use his looks to get away with things. I often did not agree with doing this because I felt the need to pave my own way. Upon Carl passing and Eric growing up, I discovered Eric sought out therapy and he shared he takes medication for Major Depressive Disorder.

When Carl passed I used my EAP sessions for therapy and honestly used my sessions to speak about my sister and how she would treat me and the things she would say to me. The therapist I was seeing at that time suggested Kate may have Borderline Personality Disorder. She suggested a book for me to read and after I read the first chapter I felt so much better about what I was dealing with, with her.

My entire life I have felt like the glue that keeps my family together. Kate and Eric haven’t been on speaking terms in years, Eric and my Dad don’t speak since my Dad kicked him out, Kate and my Dad’s relationship has always been strained. I often felt like a project manager of holidays, get togethers, and just honestly being a family. I am a caretaker and nurturer and I have been taken advantage of. Or maybe it’s not that I’ve been taken advantage of, but it’s always something I used to take care of and I finally told my Dad it’s not something I’m going to do.

I am shocked at the way he has responded to me and the fact he has not called since I have been discharged from the hospital. That’s how it’s been my entire life though, if I want to have a relationship with my Dad, I am required to do all the effort. I call him, I make the plans, I send the cards, I do it all.

As I learn more about myself and about my family it makes me think about my situations and how it has affected my own mental health. Trauma is something most people think of in a physical way first, like an ER visit. I have had 2 solid concussions that I can remember, where I have blacked out and went to the hospital.

Trauma is not just physical, but it is emotional. There is a whole book written how the body keeps score, and another that says the brain is always listening. I’m making a conscious effort to grow and learn to love myself. It is something that is not easy for me because I have found my self worth on always taking care of other people.

I am coming to terms with the fact I have been verbally abused for the majority of the years I have been living. I wrote an excerpt on “IHAR,” where I was severely bullied in highschool, where kids told me I was worthless, fat and ugly. My sister having the disorder she has, has said some of the nastiest things to me, calling me a whore after she saw some photos online having fun in college. My mother called me a fucking bitch, told me she hated me, and multiple other terrible things post diagnosis. Lastly, this brings me to my relationship with my ex fiancé, where he called me fucking retarded and a piece of shit. It makes sense I have such a hard time processing and learning to love and accept myself.

Now I have a mental health diagnosis that makes me feel like I have something so terribly wrong with me, but as I just described above, it’s genetic, psychosomatic, and situational. I am doing everything in my power to manage it, as doctors described prior to medication I have been “white knuckling” it before. As I have ended most posts, one step at a time, one breath at a time. Maybe one day we won’t have a stigma surrounding mental health disorders.

Scrambled Eggs

I sit here eating my scrambled eggs and spinach and it seems profound to me. Even though I have eaten so many scrambled eggs with veggies in some way, shape or form in the last 6 years particularly, it feels different today.

I think it was the fact I actually made them myself. I have had the immense amount of help from friends that have brought me food or given me their left overs. I also have been relying on cheap “emergency” food, or just haven’t eaten.

The last several days have been consumed by looking at new places to live. I’m hoping a friend knows someone who is renting out a basement or a MIL apartment since I went ahead and bought furniture for my condo, and then switched gears and was going to have it shipped to Texas.

When I bought the furniture, it seemed like a very special experience. I remember I was leaving Woodbury, and needed to kill some time before an appointment at noon. I wanted to go to Barnes and Noble, but they didn’t open until 10, so I just found a Starbucks in Bloomington (since that’s where my appointment was) and drove.

All of a sudden, I realize I am being taken to the Mall of America. I go with the flow and park. I window shop as the stores didn’t open until 10am. Right about 9:50, I stop at a corner that has Guess and a place called Chicago Furniture. I’m immediately pulled towards Guess because I love their clothing. However, I saw Chicago Furniture open their doors earlier.

I’m very drawn to this furniture. The showroom is gorgeous and a lot of it is modern and contemporary. It was something else shopping with the associate, it seemed like such a unique experience. She was helping me pick out pieces that go together and it was so heart warming.

I was grieving at the time I made this purchase, it was near Mother’s Day. I told the associate that shopping with her made me feel like I was shopping with my Mom. This brought tears to her eyes. It’s special moments like these that makes grief not so bad.

So while I contemplate my last days as I’m eating this very basic and healthy meal, I realize I have made it to a new milestone in my healing journey. I got my first paycheck from being back to work, made nearly all my accounts current. I’m rebuilding my life from it being shattered during my hospital stays.

I cannot begin to thank my friends that have supported me this far. I honestly cannot put into words what it means to me. I need these friends in my life, because I believe friends become the family you choose to have.

I know I have said I wasn’t dealt a hand of cards, and sometimes it still feels that way, however today, it feels like I was at least I keep moving forward in the right direction.

My next large milestone will be where I move, I think once I have that determined I will feel much more at ease. I still have to remember there’s a perfect plan and I am along for the ride. One breath at a time.

First Paycheck

My head is playing, “Somebody that you used to know,” by Gotye. I saw my ex last night and it took me for a huge loop. I understood additional time spent with him is not good for me. He has not changed, and made similar “jokes” and I was able to see the red flags clearly.

I always have said my life is a rollercoaster, and the coaster is worth the ride. Riding the wave, is that why so many people enjoy surfing? Since I grew up in Minnesota, I love snowboarding first. There’s very few things that you can compare to being in the mountains, seeing the natural beauty of the snow and trees, and feeling the earth beneath you. This summer I also have tried wake surfing that I really enjoy. The extreme sports speak to me. I love doing hard things. I think that is what my life has prepared me for. I have been doing hard things since I was born. I have endured so many hard situations, that I revel in the site of an extreme sport.

This brings me back to the song back in my head this morning. The lyrics say, “When you said you were so happy you could die”. When I checked my bank account I nearly burst into tears. I saw my first paycheck back from working. I have spent my lunch hour on the phone with lenders I have accounts with. It is a such a great form of self care to pay those bills. These tears of tears of joy. I am slowly rebuilding my life, one by one, one thing at time.

Speaking from my heart

I saw you tonight. Benji was on defense. I stood there shocked as Benji pulled away as you were trying to pet him. Benji was also acting extra protective as we walked around the lake. I felt like I was talking to a different person in real life. I notice that the shorts and T shirt you are wearing were items I bought.

What really was enthralling was telling you stories of my past that he did not hold space for the 3.5 years that I was with you. I remember saying, “I thought people that love me, treat me that way,” quite a few times. I openly share about my love for figure skating and how it gave me a purpose and passion during those years especially. I talk about my mother and father and how old I was when they divorced and how that affected my living situation. I openly speak about the volatile living situation I was in while living in Saint Paul with my Mom and Sister. It’s as if you never took the time to really get to know me before.

It feels like I don’t even know you, who is actually listening to all of my stories of my past, understanding and accepting of them? I could barely even share a feeling yet alone a story with this man before.

I cannot bring myself to have him communicate to Katie and Leo even though you have asked. Last time I saw you, you told me to tell them you say “Hi,” however, when you did go out and meet them in person, you were absolutely silent. This time you told me to tell them “Thanks”. You are appearing to show some sort of remorse.

When I text you, you are saying the perfect words for me to hear. I don’t know why I keep opening the door for communication. It’s as if my brain loves the comfort. I am walking on eggshells, and noticed you did do a few of your passive aggressive mean jokes. You caught yourself right away. But it reminds me that is a red flag. I am not sure the best way to go about our endeavors. I crave the attention and support of someone who knows my family and what I’m going through. However, there are very few people that know my family.

A friend told me, “I am doing a few simple things that help a little bit in some areas over time”. That’s my goal now. One thing at a time.