The simple answer is, seventy-five percent of my life has been full of terrible moments. Moments that when they happen became their very own reset button. Where the momentum of good, stopped dead in its tracks and had to start over from scratch.
The paper becomes my therapist, listening to all of my secrets, watching every tear fall and hearing every outburst of anger or roar of laughter. It becomes the one which shows me reminders of my joy and holds up a mirror in front of me keeping me on course to the effort of trying to be better…
Years ago I had just buried my son, given birth to my daughter and needed to see an MD for acid reflux. I had the misfortune of picking a new one that my insurance covered, who knew nothing about my medical history or ME, in general. I went in and she immediately asked me if I was depressed. Not understanding what Acid Reflux had to do with depression, I plainly told her that of course I am depressed, I had just lost my son and given birth to my daughter, but that was not why I was there to see her. She told me I might be suffering with Bi-Polar Disorder and handed me a bag of samples which turned out to be anti-psychotics. She then ordered me to start them that night. I left the office more confused than I had possibly ever been in my life, but naively I thought maybe I’m not supposed to be THIS sad. Maybe I need this medicine to help me get through this and she as an almighty doctor in her infinite wisdom, somehow knew this. Boy was I wrong!! First off, if you ever get diagnosed with a mental illness, please run to a Psychologist to have that thoroughly confirmed before you just swallow the pills along with your diagnosis. These pills made me sleep for 19 hours solid. I took them that afternoon, having not been given ANY directions other than “take them today.” I woke up after having missed the rest of that day and the entire day and night, after. When I woke up, the world felt new. I felt rested, obviously, but I also felt calmer. Stupidly optimistic at seemingly nothing at all. Then it happened.
I found myself at the 24 hour Walmart at 3 o’clock in the morning grocery shopping and buying towels, linens, a brand new bathroom set, etc. I got home and moved the furniture around in each room except the one my husband and child were sleeping in. It was like I had become super woman! If super woman was as lame and boring as to be buying towels at 3 o’clock in the morning, but I digress… The next night I found myself back at the store. As if I hadn’t already gotten all the things I didn’t need the night before and for a week this mania continued. Into the end of the second week, it was as if someone had turned off the light into my emotions. Inside of me was pitch black. I felt absolutely NOTHING. I couldn’t laugh, I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t get angry – which is the only part I was thankful of. I felt nothing. I stepped out late one night again to the store as my house was fast asleep. Thinking maybe if I just drove I could somehow connect to something around me and feel normal. I have always loved being out at night because seeing the stars makes me feel like there is something so much greater than the trivial things of day to day. That there’s a Universe expanded around me that I forget to acknowledge. So drive I did.
On my way down the Tollway, I felt this overwhelming urge to jerk the wheel towards the bridge and take the car off of it. Odd for many reasons, but especially because I didn’t feel sad, depressed or even suicidal. I just felt like I was supposed to do it. Now at this point my common sense kicked in and said “BAD IDEA!!!” and I quickly looked for the next exit to get on the service road and off of the highway. I made it home in one piece, but I was terrified at the thought that an urge so overwhelming like this could just come over me and the fact that the next time it did I could have my child with me. I refrained from driving for a good, long while and needless to say I immediately stopped taking those “anti-psychotics” that were making me psychotic! It took me three months after that for my headspace to get back to normal. Or normal for me, that is.
I went through so many twists and turns mentally after only two weeks on this medicine that writing in my journals became my only way of processing and separating real feelings from chemically imbalanced feelings. Those of you who have been on these medications can understand what I’m talking about. I had stopped writing for a long time leading up to this as I was busy 100% of that time taking care of my terminally ill, child. Any free time that I had, was minimal and was usually spent doing the necessary things that we often take for-granted like bathing and eating. After my child passed, I was quickly welcoming my daughter into the world and free-time, again, was almost non-existent. But I knew that I had to make the time to work through the death, the birth, the horrible marriage and writing was how I could do it. Some people draw or paint, write music, craft or have some kind of hobby that allows them to feel peace and press that restart button. I had only this.
As I find myself again forcing myself to sit down and write each day, it has become that therapy time that I look forward to. I know that the content of my work will not always be enjoyed or appreciated because it is my life on paper, no one else’s. It’s not all sunshine and roses because my life hasn’t been all sunshine and roses. Instead it has been more fertilizer and dirt, but that’s okay. I can only write what comes to the forefront of my thoughts and feelings and nothing else. Sometimes it’s those terrible past memories that we literally let out a shrill for being so awful, the second they pass our mind’s eye. If I talked to a therapist they would sit and nod and give me the “tools” I need to work through these past haunts, but somehow I found the way to the brighter side just by pressing pen to paper.
I have always been an open person. What you see is often what you get and unfortunately there are no refunds, returns or exchanges. I’ve made a lot of stupid or just plain bad decisions, I’ve lost my cool way too many times to count, and have paid the price for being so blunt in my honesty and raw with my emotions. I do my best when asked about situations that may make me cringe inside, to smirk and give the most flippant response that I can. As oppose to falling to the floor in tears of repressed sadness or embarrassment. So it’s no stretch of the imagination for me to understand how so many that know me can actually know so little about me. I live in the thought that we all have our crosses to bare and mine is no heavier than the next so why put mine on someone else? When I do open up, I feel horrible for having burdened anyone with my own feelings and tell myself not to do it again. That doesn’t last for very long because I am so open that I more often than not get asked how’s this or that going and the cycle continues.
I don’t know if my life will be helpful, humorous or just plain disturbing to some unsuspecting Joe who reads it. I’m hoping it’s more humorous than the latter, but hey even I am disturbed at times with what I have lived through! One thing I’m continually learning though, is happiness is a state of being. It is not what others give TO YOU, it is not in circumstances AROUND YOU it is in fact WITHIN YOU. It dips behind the sorrow and the loneliness at times. It shelters itself between the creases of past woes and what ifs, but it is always there. Waiting for the opportunity to break through like the bright ray of sunshine that it is and let you bask in it’s warm glow. Sometimes it takes first stepping into the storm, residing right in the center of it and waiting patiently for it to move past you, in order for its rays to break through.
As I write about the less flattering moments of my life, I am writing through the storm. I am on it’s back riding the wind and waiting to shoot through the other side. More often than not, it won’t always be lovely or tranquil. In fact, having a front row seat to my own life I can say positively it will not be. But just as the welcoming of a new life, a new relationship, new friends or new circumstances, great changes come first under great pressures. Like carbon into diamonds, the pressure cannot be escaped when in the process of creating something so beautiful. As I meander through the negative and fully feel each emotion intertwined with those moments, I am slowly becoming whole. And one day, I will shimmer and sparkle!