Simply Needing

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3337a747cff6b705e07eed9ab8ec315bI am sitting here looking at my computer with a bowl of broccoli cheese soup on one side of the keyboard, and an extra large cup of sweet tea on the other.  Every time I reach for either and attempt to eat or drink them, I end up with most of it staining my shirt. The cause, a simple tooth root extraction, and the numbing effects of drugs that do nothing else but make it hard to eat.  The medicine could at least give you pretty pictures to look at in the sky; but no, comparatively it is a rather benign group of drugs they shoot into your gums.

My teeth are falling out of my head. For most people, at least 3 out of 4, this would be an alarming trend that costs thousands and leaves behind only the pain of dentures. For me, its rather normal.

I live in a world where taking medication each and every day is a necessity. Currently I take eight pills a day, a significant reduction from just six months ago. It is a necessary evil for all us in the mental health world. It is what it is, and if we want to create for those around us some semblance of normalcy it is important. We are required to take the drugs, take them on time and take them with a smile on our face.

What is harder to bear, then this job that we must do, is the acknowledgment of the consequences of these drugs. I have to take my medications because a group people don’t think I am either capable or able to function without them. And I have to live with the often costing and painful side effects, because the alternative is too scary for those we love to contemplate.

I have been taking mental health medication since I was nineteen, and you are just going to have to take my word for it, this is a really long period of time. Yes, I took breaks during those years when I refused help, and yes, there are many different drugs I have tried and taken throughout this period. But one constant runs through it all, the cost of taking medication that directly affects the brain which we need to live.

I want to list some of the side effects of a lifetime of taking these medications. I will miss some and others won’t seem that bad; but they all come from a world that I never signed up to live in. They come from a group of medications that those who think they can understand mental health believe to be the best for me.

Some of the side effects: well, my teeth are falling out of my head. I actually don’t have the majority of teeth in my head anymore. Most have simply crumbled. There’s the not being able to eat because I literally have lost the power to know or even feel if I am hungry or full. One of my favorite’s is the dry mouth – a horrible feeling of having zero spit in your mouth, white looking foam coming from the corners, and a literal fight to actually speak through it. Dry mouth requires you to walk around, everywhere, with a drink in your hand just to make it. Then there is the medicine that makes you sleep and the medicine that wakes you up. There is the poor skin, I typically look like a high schooler the night before prom. There is the yelling, the snapping, the occasional uncontrollable fear, the dirty looks from everyone including doctors and friends, and let us not forget all the other medication we can’t take because of the ones we already deal with. Or let’s talk about the loss of memory…the loss of beliefs that once compelled you to stand so tall.

I learned long time ago that I don’t take medication for myself. I don’t dutifully take those pills every morning and evening so that I can feel better – the medicine doesn’t actually work that way (surprised doctors?). I take those pills for those around me. I take those pills so that I can take my children to school and not worry when people find out and begin to treat me horribly. I take those pills because my mother, my father, my husband, truly believe that they cure the demons inside of me. I have never had the heart to teach them differently.

The truth that most of us know is that these medications don’t actually fix, cure or otherwise change the way our brain works – we just like for you to believe it. The truth that every pill popper knows is that these medications don’t really take the voices away; it might make it harder to reach those voices but they are there. These medications really don’t take the anxiety away, they allow us to relax enough to handle the anxiety ourselves. These pills don’t actually take the mental disease and make it dormant; these pills make it really easy to pretend that it is.

I have never felt that it was lying to look into the eyes of my doctor and make them believe that the voices, the darkness has receded. I have always assumed that it was for their own good. And while it is harder to lie to a husband you live with, with practice you can still find ways. And you must find ways in order to retain that part of you that fully exists.

I hate naïve idiots who look me in the eye and say that medication doesn’t change who I am: yes, it does and nope, it doesn’t. If you look at the label, it actually is meant to do just that. I hate naïve doctors who believe that speaking to them for one hour and receiving meds in the process is somehow going to fix that which the sufferer doesn’t believe is broken. Ask any true sufferer of mental disease what part they enjoy the most, and it won’t be the calm, easy going, and twittering little person that these doctors seem to want most.

The medications absolutely cause more pain, more frustration, more simple hatred than anything this disease has ever given me. I know with every level of my heart that I am a thousand times more likely to kill myself on the medications than if I got the help that I actually deserved. Scare you – if it doesn’t than that’s because you already knew.

I find myself on days like this, when my mouth is in a great deal of pain, when I am snapping at my children because of that pain, and the utter disbelief that I have to go through this again, trying to remind myself that those pills everyone wants me to take can make it better for them. I try to recall that I am not here to make myself feel better but those who profess to love me; simply because my world lacks an amazing amount of love. Which came first, the chicken or the eggs?

Being mentally ill means that you give up the freedoms so many take for granted. Not only the freedom to be who and what you are, but also the freedom from horrible pain caused by these drugs. Being mentally ill means you don’t get to find love within yourself but you have to beg it from others. Being mentally ill means that no matter where you go or who you meet, the side effects of these drugs guarantees that you will lose many more times than you will ever win.

And yet tonight I will take them. Because somewhere along the way I realized that despite the disease in my brain, I still need love and I still need acceptance. I still simply need.

Buildings In the Dirt

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0ae647629bb12957626b4a6d197c0cbbHave you ever built something so high in your mind and soul that there isn’t even a sense of desperation when you lose it? Have you ever been so sadden by a realization that there was no way to suffer, no way to mourn the reality? You got it so wrong that even the darkness won’t hide the truth of the mistake you have made.

So you have to live with the realization that you made this mistake. You have to allow it to sit on your shoulders and on your back and beat you until you literally can’t walk anymore. You have to allow this mistake to overtake your reality until you can put it in some hole, in some part of your world that will forever be hidden from you. It is a realization that once buried you will never seek again. It is a realization so devastating that you will purposely never speak about it.

Your therapist will ask, the therapist after this one will ask about this demon that lives inside of you; but you will never speak of it. You will never share this pain even with those who would benefit from knowing that they aren’t alone in their misery. It will be the child you don’t bore, the love you don’t seek, the truth you ignore.

It will live inside of you like many secrets. But unlike the secrets that can easily be explained if not resolved, these desperate truths can’t be spoken because they can’t be formed. They are too large for our small human brains, and they are too small for our vast imaginations.

They are not regrets. They are not things that you did wrong. They are much, much worse. They are the hopes, the dreams, and the anticipations that were never yours to begin with. They belonged to others and you have to break wide open the knowledge that you were never meant to know these truths.

Sometimes those around us demand that we examine all that is around us. They make us come to terms with the idea that we are not perfect, that we have interesting parts that don’t necessarily make any sense to the rest of the world. We are pieces and while we spend a lifetime trying to glue them together in reality we never will because we will never be able to fit the realization that we had it wrong into the rest of our perfectly messed up psyche.

We screwed up; and we are not supposed to know.  We made a mistake and it isn’t something that needs forgiveness for but can never be forgotten. We look at the world and saw not what was, but what we needed. And what we need doesn’t really matter. It doesn’t really matter to the masses, it doesn’t really matter to those we love, and it certainly doesn’t matter to the our own journey. It is a knowledge, a truth, a piece, a simple little thought that we got wrong. We got it so wrong.

Maybe your truth will be from the anticipation of an event that never happens. Maybe your truth that you got so wrong will be from the safety net you created that was never really there. Maybe your truth that you got so wrong will not be from darkness but the light of ease.

I came across my realization about two weeks ago. Two long weeks I have been sitting on the truth. The knowledge that what I thought was my life, actually isn’t. The realization that what I counted on, secretly, under my breath, and far deep in my heart, was simply an illusion in order to ignore the truth of my life. The life I have created, and the life I am finally learning to live.

At first I thought this break in my journey was just that a break; a moment out of time that required my attention but wouldn’t fundamentally change the person that I am. I was wrong.

When you realize that even your brain, your heart, your soul can betray you by giving you answers to questions that were never meant to be asked, you realize that in your humanity you are not only flawed but you are weak. You learn that life doesn’t come from the sun, the oxygen but from the very real knowledge that those things you believe in doesn’t actually mean anything to anyone else. Those dreams that you once believed were real, are in fact an illusion.

And it is painful. And it makes you cry; even when you have spent a lifetime not only hiding from your tears but have spent a lifetime ignoring every time the world tried to tell you the truth. For the ignorance is yours. The blind stupidity in believing a truth that never existed is no one else’s. And although you pray desperately deep into the night to the one you feel closest to, this was never a sin to fix. This was never a mistake to ask forgiveness, this was never in their hands. It was always in yours.

I suppose that there are those out there who would tell you that this is part of the journey. This is part of life that you must go through. This is the hard part that allows you die in the peace when that time comes.

I don’t believe any of that. I believe that our soul holds so many things. It holds the truth of who we are and it holds the truth of who we once were. It holds our dreams, our thoughts and the desperation we feel that is so much part of life. But what I don’t think it holds is the realizations that knock us to our knees. I don’t think the soul has the capability to feel so much pain that there is no hurt. I don’t think the soul has the capability to cry so hard that no tears fall. I think that is left solely to our own poisons.

I once had a dream that will never come true and there is a part of my adulthood that can recognize that I held on so long for this dream not out of desire but out of a need of safety. And I think that the one thing lately that has slowly been stripped away from me, is safety.

The safety of disillusionment. The safety of believing with all your heart that who and what you are deep inside is exactly who you are when you close your eyes in the middle of the night. The world may not see the pieces but you can.  Then that safety is ripped away and you are left with the realization that there is no safety. Safety is the illusion that you built to protect yourself. It’s not there.

I know instinctively that the world that I live in can’t make this better; there are no arms, no hearts, not even an alcoholic beverage that is going make this better. I am not only on my own there is no one else I can share the burden with; it is my stupidity and my mistake.

And while I seek no forgiveness because again, I have done nothing wrong, I wish with all my heart that this was simple enough to simply chase away.

There Once Was Hope

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d6623467abbb1b4de21700a801d70b3aThere once was a girl who began after many, many years to find what happiness looked like. She began learning that despite the fact there was so much darkness she could find peace within it. She began seeing differences and for the first time began understanding the cost of all her dreams.

She saw the difference between a moment and a memory. She saw the difference between the sadness of a normal life and the excruciating understanding of a diseased life. She learned that happiness was a force pushed only by her small hands and she learned that no matter how much she wished otherwise there was no one to save her when she needed it the most. She learned that sacrifice was required to be who and what she was and she learned that there would always be those who would hate her for it.

She learned that devastation could come easily and leave just as fast; and she learned that heartache could last a lifetime. She learned that there was no escape from the reality of her life and she learned that there was no reason to seek it. She learned and she learned until finally one day someone smiled at her and said hello.

The price of her dreams of happiness was dependent on others, despite her own acknowledgement of the horror of this. She felt deeply, blamed herself easily, and surrounded herself with people that took her happiness and systematically destroyed it for their own gain. She surrounded herself by selfishness because she once believed that was all she deserved. She surrounded herself with those who would need someone helpless by their side so they could feel happy.

And she learned that it didn’t matter if she understood; it only mattered that she understood herself. And when she began looking for herself she lost more than she thought she would gain. Those around her, those in the business of happiness, would show her that one ounce of happiness was worth more than the loss of her past. One second of the light was more powerful than the darkness she was so used to.

She had spent her life believing that she was not worthy. So she gave herself permission to feel. She believed that she was not loved, so she gave herself permission to dream about it. She believed that she was nothing, so she surrounded herself with people who needed that from her. She purposely surrounded herself with those who let her get away with being selfish, with being not loved, with wallowing in darkness. And she did it because that was how she was taught to be.

The lessons she would learn in life would tell her something different. It would never erase the feelings, the worthiness of her and her life, and it would never allow her the freedom so many others enjoy. But the lessons would give her the one thing she had never had: hope. The lessons taught her what hope looks like.

She died today without learning the final lesson. She died today without giving herself a way back; and while she will return she will never be the same after it all. There was no happy ending; but there was no beginning. Simply a continual journey that easily changed what she thought was important and what she learned never could be.

There once was a girl who went on a journey and died each day in order to finally learn about the beauty deep within herself. And when she returns she will began the lesson and the road to death once again.

The Pieces That Make Us Alright

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4dbca0bb8d6be81d531390dd9b292950I have spent the majority of my life alone. I have found my friends in my head and in my imagination. Conversations were always between the right side and the left side of this absolutely insane brain that I have been given. I have always been content with this truth about myself; still am.

If you asked my therapist or the numerous tests that I have to take, I am an introvert. In case you live under a rock being an introvert means that you don’t want to have companionship not that you can’t. Being an introvert has a side of choice that very few people can understand. Do I like parties? Nope, rather read. Do I like going into strange places that I have never been? No, much rather stay at home in my little world.

I have and can exist in this world rather spectacularly. I have held down numerous jobs with the Federal Government and even performed the duties of a Chief Financial Officer. You don’t get the corner office by not being able to communicate with those around you. You get the corner office by being able to speak intellectually and to work with the myriad of people who are in this world.

When I moved to this new city I didn’t believe anything would be different. And there was nothing upsetting in this observation. I have always believed that my life is simply that: life. It is unique because of the disorders I have, but it isn’t ever going to hand me the incredible beauty that so many people can see. I have always believed that somewhere along the way, through all the trials and all the heartache I was destined to live a silent and oftentimes black and white world. I have since been taught differently.

In moments of weakness it is hard to find peace. In moments of darkness it is hard to find strength. The two simply do not go together. There is harm in these realizations but there is also truth. We walk this earth alone, whether we are married, have children or anyone else in our life. We are born naked and innocent, but most importantly alone; and when we die, while we are rarely innocent or naked, we are alone.

But if you are lucky there comes a time in your life when you find out a secret: you can exist and survive anyway that you choose. There is no guide-book to life, there is no direction that must be taken. Life is simply a series of steps that gives us the breath to continue even in the darkness of night. If you are lucky you will have someone teach you that wanting is as important as having.

This journey that I started so many months ago came upon me suddenly. I am not sure if it was begun with this incredible therapist I now have, if it was God, or if it was my soul saying that it was time to learn some important truths. I don’t know and I don’t care. On this journey I have learned so many things, earth shattering things not only about myself but about the world around me. Some I have spoken of here, some are my own private realizations that are too important to put in a few words.

One of the things I am learning on this journey is a simple truth that most probably know, but it was new to me. I am learning that there is this thing called friendship; a simple relationship that redefines your life in a way that you can’t get back. Friendship is a concept that gives more than it takes, and once you see it you can’t go back. You may change friends but you can’t change the knowledge of those loving friends.

I don’t know how I made my friends. I suspect it was them pushing me rather than the other way around. I imagine that these women were sent by a higher being and without conscience thought made sure that I became one of them. I became a part of a group of people in a way that thousands take for granted but I find myself simply and silently so grateful for.

And they are different. I have the shy friend that for some reason thinks that I not only have it together but that I hold answers that make sense in her life. There is the woman who lives a life with the details that I share, yet is so different from me; her life, her marriage, even her priorities. There is the woman who is as crazy and beautifully joyful as anyone I have ever known; while she constantly crosses lines I don’t have it in me to do, she does so with a grace and sometimes in her zeal a little awkwardness. Then there is the woman who is the mother – the one who keeps us together. The one who knows heartache and yet finds herself holding on to those who love her for the strength that she needs and the strength she gives. She loves to take care, and does it with a perfection that brings tears to my eyes.

I am nothing special. In fact, if we were truthful, I was made to be that wide-eyed little girl in the corner learning but never teaching. I don’t deserve friends or pals. There is too much darkness within me; too many times when the disease takes precedence over the connections that are so important to me. There are too many times when the beauty of these friendships are overshadowed by the very real disease that I have. Today, I learned how important these kind of connections truly are.

Whether it is from the medicines, the dry mouth, the lack of nutrition, or simply genetics I am quickly losing all of my teeth. It is a fact I can not escape and while part of me wish it was different, there is also a part of me that likes the idea that soon there will be perfect dentures in place of my imperfect teeth. My teeth are literally disintegrating within my mouth.

I lost a tooth today; right in the middle of my front teeth. I look like a homeless addict who has had a bath. It is embarrassing, upsetting and unbelievably unfair. To top it off my dentist is on vacation for two weeks, and next week I too leave for a cabin far away from anyone I know. I don’t want to go knowing this is how I look – not because I will know anyone I meet, but because I am not very good at handling other’s opinions.

However, something spectacular happen today. I told you I have never had girlfriends, certainly not a group of them. And yet today I learned what I have been missing these many, many years.

I didn’t know a group of women could find out about my tooth and immediately get on their phones to tell me how beautiful I am. I didn’t know a group of very busy women could ever think of me beyond the time I spend with them and give me the support and confidence to be the person I have always wanted to be. I didn’t know there was that kind of love. I didn’t know that someone believed that I deserved that kind of love.

There are realizations in this life that once learned can’t be untaught. There are truths in this life that are so far beyond our innocent comprehension. There are moments of perfections in the darkest moments that while not deserved can give you the strength and confidence to for the first time ever, believe in yourself. Have I ever believed in myself like I do in this moment? Have I ever realized that losing a tooth is not worthy of anything but the taking of steps to get it repaired? Have I ever realized that there could be a group of people who would come out and find me, love me, and allow me the times of darkness and hurt that comes with the package.

My tears began today because I thought that I had loss something big. My tears at the end of this day is because I believe that no matter if I have a tooth or not, I am more than what is in my mouth. I am more than what is on the outside. I may not be worthy, but I am worthy of a group of girls that will live in my heart for all time. Simply because they taught me one day how beautiful this life can be.

Today I Am a Little Sicker

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daf7b8f6505e8e7f0f787a27821522f4Every time I look at myself in the mirror I think to myself that this must be it. Those eyes must be the only color they ever will be, and that nose, well that nose is an unfortunate and unescapable thing that I am too scared to get scalped. The body goes up and down, the arms and legs work like the doctors believe they should, and yes, my bones are all there.

But if we are truthful, and in this blog I think we must be, we know that the outside is not who we are. The outside does not show the confusion, the weakness, the hurt, the disappointment, the truth. The outside is but that shell that everyone talks about, and our insides is where the person who truly reigns within us lives.

The person inside may be dark, lonely, scared, frustrated, so completely lost as to be off any map in existence. If we are truthful, and again I think we have to be, then we know that the person we are inside isn’t a beautiful and great human that can and should be in charge of changing the world. Even those we revere for being great, truly aren’t. Ask Coretta King if you don’t believe me.

But some where along the way I realized that I had to accept not only my outside but my inside as well. This does not mean that I have actually done so. This does not mean that I will ever accept the person that I am. Maybe it is because I believe with my whole soul that there is something greater within me. Maybe it is because I know that I have the power to if not change tweak enough that no one notices. Maybe it is because I believe, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that there is a place for me. There is a place for my love, my passion; a place for the true me. A place that is safe.

And that place exists despite the fact that neither my insides or my outsides are all that pretty. And that place exists because I have to believe it exists. I have to believe that there is somewhere out there that will accept all that I am, and love me for it.

I write these words not out of any sort of reminder to myself but because once again in my life I have been diagnosed with a disorder because I follow some crazy guidelines. Once again I have to add to the long list of symptoms that I have that add up only to ugliness. I once again have to figure out how the truth the doctors are seeing fits into my world; the world I live in my head, in my heart, and deep in my dreams.

This week one of my doctors – and I have a few – diagnosed me with an eating disorder. It is possible that I have this disorder, but what is remarkable to me is that I simply can’t find myself to care. Another day, another disorder. Another symptom to add to the growing list of tallies that means I am just a little sicker. Because what each disorder really means is that today I am a little sicker.

I don’t eat. I don’t like food. I don’t like the taste, feel, texture, smell or even the sight of food. In order to eat I not only have to remember to do so, but I have to choke down whatever I decide I can handle. And while I do choke it down, it comes with the guilt driven by my husband when he is around, and my mother when she is.

Do I know that not eating is very unhealthy? Of course I do; I am actually quite smart. Do I recognize that food is a great weakness for me, not because I eat too much of it because I don’t eat enough? Duh. Do I hide and pretend to eat, lie when asked, pretty much do anything I can to avoid the looks in the eyes of those that I love that leave me feeling guilty? Yep.

But I don’t eat to make a statement. I don’t eat because I feel fat or in any way unhealthy. I don’t believe that food that tastes like trash and has the same smell is required medicine for my daily caloric intake. Do I know I have a problem with food; yes. But why do I have to eat your food to end the guilt? Why is it that a doctor, a nutritionist, a friend knows better than myself about literally myself? Why is it that who and what I do physically has to impact those around me? Whether I eat or not is no ones business but mine. And all the guilt in the world will simply make me go to greater links to hide it. It grows worse each and every time I have to explain myself.

Most days I feel small; almost as if there isn’t enough of me to hold onto these incredible dreams that I have. Most days I wonder if the bones that I have, the blood that runs through my veins, can ever compete with the thoughts that fly so easily threw me. Most days I wonder if anyone is concerned that the food issue isn’t an issue; the loss of my illusions is. The not eating can not compare to the realization that I will never be able to do any more than break over and over. I wonder if people know the problem isn’t the food but the very sore truth that must be faced daily.

I have an eating disorder. I have a mental illness with symptoms of two other diseases. My resting temperature and heart rate is that of a healthy person. My reflexes are called Superman reflexes because of their ability to react so quickly. I have acne like a child and I have an addiction to sweet tea. I have uncontrollable tremors in my hands that can be seen and in my hips that can’t be.

And threw it all I know that despite the truths about me, those listed and those that are my private hells, I am exactly who I am supposed to be. I struggle, I have demons that ride my soul with greater intention than my mother’s worry, and the darkness inside of me will one day cause me to lay down and give up forever. The mental disorders don’t compete with the physical disorders because they are all a part of me. And whether I eat what is in front of me, or I throw it in the trash, I can’t escape the demons or darkness.

I will never sit down to a meal and eat it like a starving victim. I will never not have days when the ability to get out of bed is equivalent to trying to fly without a parachute. I will always have this darkness inside of me that gives me comfort, even knowing that it will one day destroy me. It is who I am, and eating or not will never change that. You see, eating disorder or not, the darkness will always be stronger than the need to survive.

Stop feeding me, it isn’t necessary; I have bigger battles.

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