Saturday, December 3, 2011

Save You

Save You

You were so tiny and small when you were born
needy and hungry, my skin felt warm
when you lay against my skin and breathed.

But underneath that beautiful skin and those eyes
lay an evil so vile that took me by such surprise
I'd have spared you this evil to you I bequeathed

But I didn't know of my own disease before you came
I  would have saved you if I had known the game
The rollercoaster ride of life you'd have to ride.

But I was just starting my own scary ride and had
no idea that you would have your own bad
time that your up and down tide

Would be so forceful, that you wanted to die.
Now, I need to save you and I'm helpless, I cry
Knowing how you feel, I feel it too

But I stay because I have to save you.
I'm afraid for you.  Life will be hard, too, 
For you and I don't know how to make it easy for you.

I don't know how to save you from your sorrow.
I don't know how to save you from what you borrow
From my genes.  That ugly disease that makes you 

Wish you'd never been born. That makes you want to die
At such a young age, you feel such deep darkness and lie
In that black hole.  I can't save you, but I'll lie there with you,

Like I did when you were born, lying on my skin,
breathing your labored breaths warm, breathe in,
breathe out.  I'll always be there with you.  I need to save you.

You got this from me, I got this from them but I didn't know
I didn't know.  And I'm sorry because it didn't show
Until after you were born.  I have to save you.

I'm your mother, you're my baby, you always will be,
I'm sad for you. Life will be hard.  And all I see
Is that baby in my arms. I will save you.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Do You Remember Me

Little girl, Little girl I remember you well in your soft pink dress and you black mary janes,
Do you remember me too, while you're stuck in the past running happily in your black mary janes.
The shoes are gone, the pink dress is tattered but I can't get you out of mind
I can't seem to grow up from that little girl blond hair eyes sparkled and shined.

I am still two, stunted in growth emotionally shattered by his hands
No one believes me, I hardly trust myself but where's the girl between two and ten?
She's up on the ceiling not looking down closing her eyes to the pain,
And even now as grown up as she is there is still guilt and shame.

I am less than you and you and you, because of what he did to me
My scars run deep inside of me that are wounds you cannot see.
If he'd sliced me open taken out my heart would you believe me then?
But then he's already taken so much from me  I wonder who I could have been?

Run little girl in your dress of pink, run around the maypole this day
Run and laugh and giggle with your friends may you never know what comes your way
May you never be scared to speak out against violence may fear never make you pay.
Run little girl in you pink dress and mary janes run, run, away.

Monday, October 10, 2011

There's a Book

There's a book in my huge piles of books that I keep going back to that pisses me off every time I read it.  I'll break it down for you.

The characters-
A girl in high school, a senior.  Old enough to know better.

A mom with schizophrenia who can't know better. SHE's MENTALLY ILL.

A grandmother who has cut herself off from the family, knowing her daughter is mentally ill.

A dad who had divorced his mentally ill wife and left them for a younger wife and leaves them with next to no money and the senior in high school to take care of her mentally ill mother.  He knows she is not taking her medication, it's why he divorced her.

The storyline-
You've read it before in hundreds of other books but if you like I'll tell it again.

Stupid girl, in my opinion, agrees to not make her mother take her meds.  Even goes so far as to think creativity is a drug to her mother and wants to remove all her paints and brushes from the house.  Is afraid poetry and painting will make her own self schizophrenic.  I guess she's never heard of a computer or a library or even a doctor?  She doesn't ask anyone but her teenage mother best friend for help.  What is she supposed to do?  She's got a baby.  I'm thinking maybe this girl missed too much high school or sniffed to much paint fumes to get out of high school anyway.

Finally, after crazy woman (mom) does something drastic like trying to burn the house down to kill the mermaids they hung from the ceiling years ago, then becomes catatonic, girl goes to get help from grandmother.  Hello 911?  No apparently she hasn't learned those numbers yet.

Grandmother does dial 911 who get there just in time to keep mom from dying of dehydration and lack of food.  Hello?  Told you they shouldn't let the girl out of high school.  Yes, she's taking care of her mother very well.  I'm right there with you mom.  Right up until I let you die.  But I didn't make you take your pills.

So here's the kicker, in the back is an interview with the author and she's asked, "If you were aware that your creativity altered or infringed upon your mental state, would you sacrifice your art ( your writing, your music, your fine art if you draw like Aura or paint like Aura's mother) to retain your sanity, or would you continue to create?"
The author's answer-No doubt-I'd keep writing.  In all honesty, writing is so much a part of who I am anymore, so central to my life, I don't think I'd feel like I had much of a choice.

The author has likened the mother's paintbrushes and paint like giving a needle and drugs to a drug addict in the novel, following the daughter's thought that creativity makes you crazy.

As far as research the author states-" I didn't have to probe very deep into the subject of creativity to find out that many of our "great" artists (playwrights, poets, novelists, painters, sculptors, musicians) were in some way affected by mental illness-schizophrenia as well as depression or bipolar disorder...The idea of the "mad genius" is so pervasive, there's even a Wikipedia entry for "Creativity and Mental Illness!""  That's her exclamation point, not mine.  Continuing on..."And, yes, I did have to do some research into schizophrenia--symptoms, treatment, etc.  But I was writing fiction (oh, well in that case, please make it as awful as possible so that the person that is sick is truly as detestable as possible, a monster because that really betters the stigma of mental illness for everyone, thank you)---so of course my characters and their experiences had to drive the book, not descriptions of the condition.

So another book written showing that we with mental illness are burdens basically.  I don't see any other way to call it.  That's what this woman was to her daughter, her husband and her mother.  Of course, a person that sick shouldn't be given the option whether to take medication or not.  But that wasn't really the issue.  And I'm so glad the author got her information from Wikipedia.  That makes me feel much better.

Why is this bothering me so much?  I don't have schizophrenia.  But I care very much.  I can only imagine how horrible that disease is.  I've heard how bad the side effects of the medications are and how hard it is to lead a normal life.  I have refused to read independent and self published books about the victims of this disease because I'm tired of being the burden.  I am not a burden.  And neither are the rest of you.  And I want to fight back.  I want to put up a fight, but these authors hide behind, "It's a piece of fiction"  and I can't fight that.  Yet, it lingers in people's minds that's what they'll remember when they think about schizophrenia.  They'll remember the mother that tried to hang her daughter with herself  when they hear bipolar disorder.

So how do we change all those misconceptions about us in these books that are "just works of fiction."  Do I attack the books?  Because they actually are well written, except they make me a burden.  I am a person, not something to be borne by a pack mule.  What do you all think?


Saturday, September 24, 2011


I'm trying to help but you rebuff me
I look inside for answers
There are none only outside
Those bottles that sit beckoning
Promising a way out from this worthless life
I live, I exist, I breathe, I am,

I plan my escape one more time.
It's always the pills, take too many
It seems such a peaceful way to go
I'm only afraid of what comes after.
Will God forgive me.  But then I'm living
in hell right now.  How much worse can it get?

I am nothing. My dreams will never come true.
I cannot help you, you turn me away.
I sit doing nothing watching you do it all
As I do not participate in life, a spectator
Life is a sport I don't get to play.  Just one
I read, and watch, and dream of.  I don't ever
expect to be picked for the game.  Not even
last.  No one sees me.  I am invisible.  My
participation is not desired.  I am tolerated in
the stands as a watcher.  It hurts.  Bone deep
I feel what your rejection means.

I was born nothing, an unwanted child
Given up by my mother to parents that
Wanted a boy.  No one understood
my emotions.  I was invisible.  I am
invisible.  I will be invisible.  Ashes to
Ashes, dust to dust, nothing to nothing.

Friday, September 23, 2011

When Sleep Eludes

When sleep eludes me and I'm alone with my mind
Weird thoughts go through it and I find
That it can be frightening to be alone
With myself.

Thoughts turn to things dark and dreary
Whirling through my mind and I'm weary
Of this constant cycle of a twirling cyclone
By myself.

No one else lays awake its just me
Me and my thoughts they won't let me be
They want me up creating some fantastic thing
Just myself.

The dogs slumber undisturbed by my wanderings
My husband snores unaware of my dangerous ponderings
And I start that cycle running in a magnificent ring
Around myself.

I cannot sleep, I cannot stop
My mind is alive, body ready to plop
I cannot shut down, I will drown

Words flit by before I can catch them
Paper is of no use, just another item
I will lose myself in when I put them down
Somewhere near myself.

Ideas pour in and out like water in a pitcher
Projects started, left for ideas much richer
Myself, myself, myself, Just myself, by myself,
Around myself, Somewhere near myself.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Nothing New

The problem with having a writing blog is having something to write about.  It's hard when you don't have a topic.  I'm not depressed so I can't bring you all down to sit with me in my pity pit and wallow in the shallows of the dark murky waters of depression sea.  I'm not manic or you could bet I'd be pumping things out faster than you could read and you'e wonder what they hell I'd been smoking.  It's true, when I'm manic, there is no amount of drug that can put me to sleep.  I sit at a computer for five days and nights and pump out a complete 300 page novel.  I've done it before and when I tell the doctor, "Yeah, I'm doing great!  Just wrote a novel in five days!" They give me that look.  The one that is just short of sending you to the hospital with a bunch of drugs in your arms.  See that's the thing about mania that no one but those of us who go through it understand, for a little while, it's the best possible high in the world.  There is no drug in the world that could make you feel like this.  It's better than love, sex, food, your best day ever!  It's all those and more.  I really did write a coherent piece of writing that made complete sense and I read it again today and it still sounds like what I wanted to say.  I was angry, furious with my best friend.  He'd hurt me like I said no male would ever hurt me again.  The problem is my best friend is also my husband.  And I was completely isolated.  No one ever let me talk to them about my problems.  I was the listener.  Not the talker.  I fixed everyone else's problems.  I never was allowed my own problems.  So, I used my writing and my mania and I wrote every angry word and feeling and desire out and poured them into the pages of that novel.  It was the best therapy I could afford!  And then, when that one was finished and I was still angry with him, I wrote another novel, and another and another.  I probably got five or six completed novels out of that anger and that bout of mania.  And I'll never know if what he did to anger me triggered that mania, I think not because it came two months later, or if it was just the built up anger fed the mania.  This mania was focused, no sleep, very bad for my health and I did not participate in my family's life at all.  How could I?  I was writing non stop.  But the mania ended with no hospital stays, no suicide attempts or even thoughts and no major depression.  I came away exhausted of course, but feeling accomplished.

That anger is gone now.  Talked away and forgiven, never forgotten though.  Hints of it jab at me and whisper in that tape that plays all my insecurities back at me from time to time.  But I have promised myself, despite all I have put him through,  once my children are in college, if he ever hurts  me like that again, I will use that anger to leave.  I am hard enough on myself, I came from a family that was hard on me emotionally not understanding my sensitivity.  The same conversation/argument gets played out between us over and over and at times I wonder if I hate men. ( I always love books where the men shove it up the man's back side.  Olivia Goldsmith was my favorite writer for the longest time!  I've read every single one of her novels- She wrote The First Wive's Club, but the book was  much better than the movie!)  But I'm not really a big fan of women either.  I just like it when the women are winning out over the men.  Anywhere, in anything.  Maybe there's something wrong with me.   Let's see, I live in a house with three boys.  I have two male dogs.  No female friends around me at all.  There is the Red-Headed Demon still living here and I have not found a way to forgive her.  I know I need to for me to move on, but I have not found that to be a priority right now.  And I'm not even sure I know how to start.  But back to the men.  I think  that once you've lost your faith in someone or something, it's very hard to lose all your doubt.  Things happened to me when I was young, bad things, things I don't want to remember and I haven't believed in God in a long time.  If there was a God, why would he let that happen to me?  Where was he when that was happening?  Or does he just sit back and wait for the older person in the situation to do the right thing. Free will?  I didn't have a choice.  But I do have a choice as to whether I believe in a being that would sit back and let people die of hunger without lending a hand.  Let children kill each other with machetes.  Let women die of AIDS and leave their children orphans as infants.  Let children be sold into slavery.  Where is God in all of that?  How do I believe in God when that is all happening?  I don't know.  Yet, I do believe in something.  I do believe in purpose and I don't think life is just random.  I believe there is order in this chaos, somewhere.  I have no idea what my purpose is.  I think it's to write.  It's what I've always done.  But I don't paint beautiful pictures with my words.  I'm no poet.  My sentences are simple and my plot is stuck.  But every day, I read, I write, I learn and maybe I won't be an author in this lifetime.  Maybe I'll come back and do things different next time around.  I won't be afraid of what I have to face as a child.  It will make me stronger and I'll have courage and I'll learn to not be a victim of harsh words instead of waiting thirty five years to learn how to say, "Stop, that hurts my feelings."  God I feel like my life has just been one long battle with no victories sometimes.

My youngest, 11, asked me coming home from school if I had a good life, must have heard a line in a song or something.  I said yes I did.  I didn't want to tell him all my troubles.  He said, "Well your married.  So that's good.  You've got two kids.  That's good.  Or, maybe not, I guess we could be better."  I laughed and told him my kids were perfect.  He is not usually one to be self deprecating.  "Daddy has a job he likes.  And we're back in our old house."  I agreed and told him I needed a job, but I was scared.  It's been 14 years since I've been in the work place and I don't feel qualified to do anything.  The last thing I did was run a book store.  Last I looked they were closing those up right and left.  And the boy who is not known for his kind words says, "It's okay mom, I'll still love you even if you don't have a job."  I thanked him and laughed.  Then he asked me, "Why don't you be an author?"  I cracked up and tried to explain how that works.  Then he said "Then be an illustrator!"  The idea of being an illustrator is so far out of my realm of job skills that I could be a long haul truck driver before I was an illustrator.  He thinks because I can follow the instructions in the step by step drawing books I'm a great artist.  But I cannot think of something in my head and draw it.  But I gave him a mighty A for the effort and for making me laugh!  And for believing me.  That's the thing, my boys, all three of them believe in me even when I don't believe in myself.  So, maybe I won't leave the big guy after all.  I wouldn't know what to do with myself.  I would be a total recluse.  No, I need him much more than he needs me, but don't tell him I said that.

Oh and end of September, that's when my mania usually hits.  I'm off antidepressants this year so maybe no cycling-we'll see.  Coincidentally it's also my birthday at the end of the month.  I always wondered if feeling awful on my birthday had something to do with my being adopted.  I now know it has to do with having Bipolar Disorder and it's a common time of year to start those mood swings.  But see how the imagination can twist things up?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Creative Blog Hop - Primeval Loss

Fear blood red, dark
Dripping in my veins,
Strangling my dreams,
Squeezing my heart into,
Tears from my eyes,
Screams from my primal being,
Prehistoric notions, now nightmares,
People stare, women with swollen bellies shrink away from my pain,
It isn't contagious but scares them just the same.
Minutes feel like hours as I sit surrounded by my sadness,
Punishment again for one small transgression,
Or some large one, doesn't matter. The sentence doesn't fit the crime.
My husband comforts despite his own pain,
The nurse gives us a pity smile,
The doctor offers her sympathy,
Within an hour, your former life is sucked from my body,
Discarded in a bag, thrown away and with you my heart.
You were my girl, my Emma Grace, my continued connection to this life,
You were my last and most longed for child.
It was for the best some say, Nature's way of taking care of things
Best for who?  Not me, my heart aches like never before.
Nature taking care of what? Again, not me, she's taken from me again.
But the blame is truly inside me. Some deep lacking within me.
Four times now I leave the hospital with empty arms, my pain runs bone deep,
As I entomb myself in shame and let my wounds scab, mend but never heal,
Never forget, I am not worthy to be your mother.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Monday Madness Mania

I took way too many pills and mixed them with alcohol.  I know that now.  But on that day, I didn't know what to do.  I'd been going on five days with no sleep.  My babysitter cancelled on me so I had the baby and four year old to entertain.  My mind seemed to be racing and I couldn't stop cleaning.  Anyone who knows me, knows, I hate to clean.  But there I was on hands and knees with a toothbrush and bleach trying to get my shower white instead of orange like the clay outside.  I talked to my husband and told him what I was doing.  He wasn't alarmed.  His wife that never cleans was cleaning the shower with a toothbrush and he wasn't alarmed!  Men can be so dense.  

When that burst of energy wore off and the baby was sleeping, I called everyone I knew.  And just like before, no one was home.  I called my p-doc and left a message that I needed help.  No one called back.  I finally got a hold of my best friend's mother and we talked for an hour.  She had no idea how high I was.  I was doped up on ambien and vodka, and of course like a good little patient I had kept up with my daily dose of antidepressant.  Just what a person with bipolar disorder needs when she's manic!   Apparently I didn't slur my words or anything and she would know, her husband was an alcoholic.  So, even though I was looking for help, they didn't see.  I called the p-doc when I ran out of vodka and I know I begged for help but no one returned my call.  By then, that storm inside me had grown to monumental proportions and a hurricane had built up needing release.  I considered driving to the liquor store for more vodka, but I could hardly stand up.  So I got the baby  and a bottle and put him on the bed and had my son make sure to know to keep him from falling off the bed.  And I took a handful of ambien.

I'd had a rough year.  I'd had a very hard pregnancy.  Sick throughout and then gave birth eight weeks early.  The day my baby came home I went into the hospital with pancreatitis.  I was in for five days.  We moved twice that year and I didn't know a soul in town.  When this day came, I still didn't know anyone.  I was isolated and my husband worked long hours.  I had no adults to talk to or interact with, just children.  And I'd been severely depressed throughout my pregnancy though I'd been assured that it couldn't happen. Bullshit!  I felt guilty for not being happy about being pregnant and blamed myself for his premature birth.  And we weren't exactly bonding.  I didn't get to hold him, touch him, or even see him until his second day of life.  Actually I only got to rub a bare patch of skin between all the wires and tubes.  I couldn't pick him up for almost a week.  It sucked.  And I went home on Valentine's Day without a baby in my arms.  I blamed myself for everything that went wrong.  

So here it is September, my mind is flying, my p-doc hasn't called me back after two desperate phone calls and I take a handful of pills.  I called my husband and told him to tell the boys I was sorry, it wasn't their fault.  I wasn't thinking by this time.  I was crying I know.  I was crazy from lack of sleep.  And I just needed to escape the crazy.  Nothing was giving me a release.  It had never been that bad before.  I always get like this at the end of September which coincides with my birthday.  But not to that extent.  

My next memory is waking up in the emergency room coughing with my husband beside me and my regular doctor staring at me asking if I'm okay.  He'd talked the emergency room doctor out of sending me to the state mental facility (which I hear is pretty bad) and putting me in ICU.  Yeah, you can imagine how well that went over with the nurses.  Seems they pumped my stomach full of charcoal and it makes you have awful gas.  I got to go to the bathroom behind a screen.  I said I had a bad headache and the nurse laughed at me and said "Yeah, I bet you do!" and did nothing. Thankfully my doctor came to see me early and my husband even earlier.  I was released when my doctor was convinced I was trying to kill myself.  And he gave me something for my headache.

As for my p-doc.  She apparently had phone trouble that day.  Convenient.  She did call and spoke to my son, 4 yrs old almost 5.  She told him to let the paramedics in when they came, that she was going to call 911.  Apparently, my cleaning fit had started up again and I went down the stairs to get a broom and sweep the kitchen. I tripped on the broom and knocked myself out.  My husband came home to find the paramedics in the house me on the floor with blood around my mouth (bit my lip) and some stranger holding the baby.
He grabbed our son and called the one person we knew sort of and took the kids to them for the night and then met me at the hospital.  He slept at home with the kids, then took them back to the friend. And by then, his dad and brother had arrived and my mom was on the way up.  Like that was going to help.  I had a day of hiding in my room not facing anyone.  Then I faced my father in law and brother in law and told them I was sorry.  They didn't care about that, they were just worried about me and was I going to be okay.  My mother in law was in a nursing home at the time with a broken hip or she'd have been here too.  We sent them home.  Then my mom arrived and stayed a few days.  When she went to leave she first told the friend, who was actually a girl I grew up with in church, "We'd like to just keep this a secret if you don't mind."  Yes, please mom, let's cover it up like we do everything else in the family.  Every little dirty secret, let's stick it with those.  Then she had the nerve to ask me why I didn't tell her about my bipolar disorder.  Well golly mom, you've  been so supportive all my life, you were the first person I'd turn to in a moment of crisis.  Financial support sure, emotional support never going to happen.

Hmm, feeling some anger still about the whole thing.  And that was eleven years ago this fall.  Happy to say only one bout with mania since then and I got through it with the help of a friend.  Lost a p-doc over that bout too.  But that's another story.  So that's my Manic Monday story.

For those of you who ride the more severe mania roller coaster, my heart goes out to you.  May you find supportive people, a safe haven, and a drug that helps you. Peace!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Going Back

I have always loved the ocean having grown up near it since I was born. The tides soothe my often jangled nerves. The laid back atmosphere is better suited to my needs as I am slow to get things accomplished. The almost constant sea breeze cools me, caressing my skin with its gentle fingers of salt and sand. The sun warms my shoulders, the Vitamin D is so good for my well being. In essence the Beach quenches the thirst in my soul like nothing else can. Nothing can replace it.

But in less than a week I leave my beautiful island of beaches. Back to the desert. Inland and to the South. It has it's pluses. My own house. My children have friends. The children don't bully my kids for their differences. They grew up together. Here, it is so homogeneous that having one small difference is like having blue hair (which isn't allowed, by the way). And my husband will enjoy his job. But I, I will be trapped in a sea of red clay, a cloud of dust, parched and dry, thirsting to my very core for my island in the sea. I have pictures. My house is blue inside. You'd think you were in a beach house if you saw it. But I am hours from the beach. It's not as if I can get up in the morning and go then come back in the same day. And I'm afraid. I'm afraid that because I don't have my beach, my calming tides and waves, that I will become what I was. Lost in a black hole. Depressed. Alone. Solitary. My friends will have all moved on. But I, I will go back to somewhere I was desperate to leave.

And I can't remember, was it because I was excited about moving somewhere new? Or was it because I was excited to leave the people I knew behind? Or was it both. There are lots of bad memories in that house. Bad things happened. Bad memories. I punished myself. I stayed depressed a lot. I never opened the blinds. I never got out of bed. I tried to stop the pain with too many pills, once. I'm afraid. And I can't show it or share it with my family. Because they are overjoyed at going back. And I am not. Because I never told them how happy I was about leaving and all the reasons why.

So, I'll go back. I'll be swallowed up by all the toxic people that I can't say no to. I'll be forced into situations that I have no control over what happens to me. And I'll live around people that think I'm a burden to my family. And I'll hide in my house in my neighborhood because I don't want to be seen. And the depression will come back. And I'll retreat further and further until I'm in my bed. And inside I will silently scream.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Red Headed Demon Weekend Creation Blog Hop

A red headed demon lives in my head
Taunting me telling me I'm better off dead
You're a burden to your family, that's what she said
That bitch of a demon and her hair colored red.

A red headed demon lives  near my home
Threatening my safety, I dare not roam
She's taken my freedom, I hate her, I cry I moan
That bitch of a demon with the red haired dome.

A burden, A burden it weighs heavy in me
Those days when the light is tough to see
And the blackness is all I know to be
A red headed demon lit the way for me

She weighed me down with that word so weighted
I feel it, hear it, taste it, wear it I'm sated
By Burden Burden it rings in my ears  belated
I remind myself  she is to be hated.

A red headed demon lives next to my house
I used to call friend now I call louse
She won't say sorry I won't be a mouse
May her hair catch on fire in her hate filled house.

Friday, May 27, 2011


She was just starting her senior year in high school. She’d been dating him for a year and a half and it was only a matter of time before she "went all the way" with him.  She had been so naive at the time. It was the night she’d come back from vacation. She always faithfully wore the jewelry he’d given her. The little heart ring with the diamond chip in it. The gold necklace with the heart and diamond chip in it. The gold bracelet. It was the only jewelry she wore. She was so excited. Seven days had seemed like forever for her. He picked her up right after dinner. She’d gained a little weight over the previous year, but he’d never said anything about it bothering him. She never thought about it, but it did bother her some. It seemed to bother her family a lot. They mentioned it quite a bit. He took her to his house because his parents weren’t home. She had no idea where they were or when they’d be home. He started talking to her about a "friend" he’d made at the Orange Tree, a hotdog and juice place across from the Peanut Shack where he and his friends worked. Jealousy burned up inside her. She only half heard something about a cucumber on her leg and a trucker and wasn’t that funny? She didn’t know where this was leading, but dread was building up in her stomach. She’d revealed to him a family secret that she’d just found out about on this vacation and she was still reeling from it. She’d been told she wasn’t aloud to ask about it. So she was in the dark about it and needed to talk to him, her best friend. And he was telling her that after he closed up for work he had been spending hours in the parking lot talking to this girl. She’d already been betrayed by her family this week. She couldn’t take another one. She started taking all the jewelry off. She put it next to his stereo and told him to take her home. She was crying. She could never help the tears. They always came no matter how hard she tried to hold them in.
They talked about breaking up. They agreed to break up, though in her heart she was begging him to say no he wanted her to take him back. He wanted her to keep the jewelry. She took it only so he’d take her home so she could really cry.
When she got home, her mom and sister were sitting in the living room talking. She came in with tears falling down her face. No one rushed to hug her. They waited for her to say it. "We broke up." From her mom, "Did you do something nice girls don’t do?" meaning "Did you have sex with him?" Still, no hugs. From her tall skinny blonde haired blue-eyed sister, "You’re too fat! That’s why he broke up with you." Those were the only words spoken about the breakup. Not exactly words of comfort, but words. She went to her room, her heart broken even more from the lack of comfort. Then again she was used to the cold, harsh reality of her family. Her mom was very matter of fact. It happened you moved on. Her sister and she did not cross paths too much, but had never liked each other being total opposite, her sister the beauty, she the brains. Her father was somewhat more sensitive, but he gave her the creeps and she rarely went to him for comfort. She had a dog that loved her very much and a stuffed penguin she’d gotten on her sister’s tenth birthday, a mix up, from another relative. She burrowed under her covers, her penguin to her back and her dog curled up beside her and she silently cried herself to sleep. For the next several months she cried herself to sleep. She stopped eating, doing it only when forced. They’d all complained about her weight, her father being the worst, yet he was the angriest when she wouldn’t eat at dinner. She went to bed at eight o’ clock except on the weekends. She cried at school, she couldn’t help it, even months after the breakup. She partied on the weekends. She lost a lot of weight. She hung out with a different crowd. She got a punk haircut and started drinking before school and eating only chocolate.
At football games she led the cheers for the quarterback in the stands going totally against her naturally shy personality. Alcohol tended to do that to her. She was funny when she was drinking and she said whatever she wanted. She did whatever she wanted. She was with a lot of guys. But she still never went all the way. And she still cried a lot when she was alone. Her ex boyfriend must have gotten a really big head, but it wasn’t about him. She tried to kill herself once, but no one ever knew and it was a half-hearted attempt. She was depressed, full-blown depression, but no one around her recognized it, despite the fact that she had an uncle with bipolar disease. She continued spiraling out of control, but no one noticed. Amazingly, she kept her grades up, but only because she had easy courses and got accepted into a big college.
She almost flunked out of her first semester of college. She partied almost every night with her roommate. They had boys in their room all the time, boys they knew from high school. Any that ended up in her bed, she asked them to take her virginity. None of them wanted to do it. Even the one that was in love with her. She began to feel like she had the plague. Her roommate got pregnant that year. The head of Planned Parenthood went to her church, so she got her mom to get the name of some reputable places to get an abortion and gave them to her roommate. Someone else took her for the abortion. They never spoke of it. Ever. Her roommate had as much feeling as her mother and sister. They did not room together the next year. In fact, they never even saw each other again.
Who is this she? Does she have a name? Of course, but is that relevant to the story? Couldn’t she be anyone of a million girls? All faceless, nameless that you’ve seen on the street and never bothered thinking about or wondered what happened to them to make them so sad. The thing is, this "she" was known for her smile. No one ever guessed that she was depressed, suicidal, taking risks with her life, believing that she wouldn’t be here next year. When someone asked "Hi, how are you?" She always said, "Fine, how are you?" The thing is, she knew they weren’t really asking, just exchanging pleasantries. But, when she asked, they always took it as an invitation to really tell her what was going on. And she listened with a smile on her face and never shared her own pain. She even saw her ex-boyfriend, the one that was the catalyst for her depression and listened to his woes with a smile on her face. She was known as a good listener. But all her hurts, and theirs built up like a brick wall inside of her. She began to get weighed down by all the feelings until she was overwhelmed. But still she smiled. She would skip a class for a week and convincingly lie to a professor so she could be excused and let back in the class. She failed logic. Go figure-nothing in her world was logical. The world swirled in her mind. In spring she was giddy with joy so much so that she couldn’t even contain all her ideas she had to write them wherever she could, walls, hands, jeans, books. She lost her virginity in spring finally and then didn’t even know it. Then in fall she would drag through what was seemingly sludge barely waking for classes, hardly following the teacher lying about assignments and missed classes. She was a very convincing liar.
And still you want to know who this "she"is? Why? You never looked at her when you passed by her on the street. You didn’t look at her when you sat by her in class. You never remembered her face when she parked next to you at the grocery store or sat at the bar next to you. When you saw her with red eyes and a tissue held to them, you never asked what was wrong. When she locked herself in her room, you never tried to find out why. When you saw her sitting by herself always at lunch, you never gave her your company. You never invited her to your room to talk. You never asked her if she needed to unload on you. No, she has to pay someone for that. She sees a therapist and a psychiatrist. Did you ever pay her? When she looked sad sitting under that tree, did you go over to her and ask her if she needed to talk? Or did you just try to preach to her about the Lord? When she never came out of her house even when she had little children, did you go invite her to bring her children to play? When the ambulance came to take her away, did you come and gawk along with the other neighbors? When she came home, did you offer her comfort and bring food for her family or did you still ignore her? Did you ever invite her over to chat while her children played with yours? Did you ever just smile at her and introduce yourself and say, "I’d like to invite you out for coffee?" No. You never did any of those things. None of you did. You went along with your busy lives, unloaded on her and then kept going. The thing is, she didn’t have anyone to unload on. When the cherry on top got unloaded, she froze and slowly the brick wall crumbled and she was just a pile of bricks on the sidewalk. What did you do? Stepped over her or on her according to your needs. In any case, you ignored her. No one picked up the pieces. She swept them together and went to therapy and took pills and therapy and more pills until the wall was up, but shaky. So many years later, the wall is stronger, she can feel again, but only in small doses. She doesn’t go crazy anymore. She doesn’t look for anyone to ask her sincerely if she is okay. She knows they don’t really care. Only her therapist and psychiatrist. But they get paid to care. And they actually do seem to care. But do you? No, of course not.
You still want to know who "she"is? "She" could be anyone. That’s the truth. She could be you for all I know. She could be your neighbor. She could have been the girl that lived across from you in the dorms in college. She could be your child’s teacher. She could be the checkout lady at your grocery store or the store clerk that gets your clothes for you and cheerfully puts away the ones you don’t want. She could be the one that works the take out window. She could be the baby sitter. She could be your sister. She could be your best friend. The point is, instead of talking all the time, shut up. Listen. Don’t interject with how that’s happened to you or it happened to someone you know. Then you’re telling your story. You’re not listening. Listen. Hear. She may be desperately calling for help in the silence and your listening might just save her from going over the edge. She doesn’t want you to solve her problems. She doesn’t expect you to. You don’t even have to give her advice. Just close your mouth and listen. If you’re scared, try it with your children, or your husband and see how much you learn. And see how much it means to her, when you listen. She will smile with meaning for the first time. Just shut up and listen, even if it’s just once in a while. A random act of kindness goes a long way.  So instead of talking for once, look at someone and ask how they are then shut the fuck up and listen!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Weekend Creation Blog Hop- My Mother the Terrazzo Floor

This is a memory that may be disturbing to those who read it.  If you are a survivor of sexual abuse, you may not want to read this.

My father enters my room and he is in my bed when my mother walks in.  I can remember her dark glasses against her milky white skin-her black hair that never changed styles no matter what the weather was.  She didn't even have to say anything.  The look was all- it blamed me for everything.  Blame that was what I remember learning most from that house with its ugly green cinder block and red brick front and the white wood on the back where they made the porch into a room.  It was a roomy house with wood paneled walls and an air conditioner in the window.  I remember the terrazzo floor with its black and orange and gray specks against a cold marbled white.  My mother is that floor-cold, hard, icy, solid, unforgiving, no emotions, stony and silent.  Later, there was shag carpeting over my mother, the floor, and I tried to forget it was there-tried to make friends with my carpeted mother.  Then, I gave up-I hated her more than I hated him, but I ate my rebellion and hatred up in Thin Mints and chips and cokes.  I cost them only as much as they wanted me to.  No one ever guessed the secrets behind the green cinder blocks-no one guessed behind the smile.  My father tried to fuck me over later in other ways.  And again, I was his victim bursting into tears when his drunken arguments got the best of me-yelling at him that I hated him, my mother trying to comfort me like only a mother can, a mother that's a terrazzo floor covered by green shag carpeting.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Weekend Creation Blog Hop


These are the types of desks we had when I first started school in first grade.  Lord that was a long time ago.  I was five and it was 1970.  Most of you bloggers probably weren't even born yet.  But first grade left a memorable impression on me.  As it did on everyone in the classroom.  We had number lines and our names taped to our desks and if we were caught peeling them off we were forced to stand on a tape line at the front of the class.  I was never there, but my best friend Jill, never one to follow rules was there more than once.

We had a mean teacher.  I mean she was a bitch.  She shouldn't have been teaching children or adults.  She wore a beehive hairdo, strawberry blond that I swear was a foot tall.  She was petite and covered with freckles and her face always looked like she'd just smelled something distasteful, probably us.  She had rules and one of those was the number line.  Another was, act like a grown up, no more sucking your thumb.  She said it over and over to a cute boy who hadn't lost his baby fat yet, with big rosy lips that had his thumb in his mouth.  He hid his face in shame, but obviously needed the comfort of his thumb to get him through the day.  Why she chose to pick on him, I'll never know.  But she was relentless that first day.

Finally, she got a pacifier out of her drawer and told him to suck on that, it was for babies.  I was embarrassed for him and started to cry quietly.  I don't know if others laughed.  Probably, but she was the teacher, so he did what she said.  He put his head down in shame.  Teachers got away with a lot of shit back then.  Some good, some bad.  Anyway, Tony, the boy sucking on the pacifier was mortified and stuck his head in the table of his desk. (Our desks were a table and a chair, just like the one pictured above.) But when she saw what he had done, Mrs. Nicholson (yes, someone had actually married that bitch) told him to pull his head out and sit up.
As Tony tried to pull his head out, he realized his head was stuck in the desk.  The janitor had to be called and if memory serves, they had to take the desk apart to get his head out.  Meanwhile, the whole class is disrupted.

I don't recall the pacifier incident being repeated.  I don't know if Mrs. Nicholson got reprimanded for her behavior.  What I do know is that Tony's first impression of school was a bad one and he was scarred by it.  He was a troublemaker and never succeeded in school after that.  Sadly on the night before he was going to get married, he was running across a busy highway to get a pack of cigarettes and got hit by a car.  He was killed instantly.  Do you know who I blame?  I blame Mrs. Nicholson.  He never had a chance after what she did to him.  He went through life expecting nothing but shame and ridicule from school.  First impressions are everything.  But for school it can make or break you for the rest of your life.  So Tony, may you rest in peace and know that we all remember what happened to you and how she humiliated you and some of us were ashamed for what she did, but too afraid and too little to speak up for you.  I'm sorry I never told you this before, but I'm sorry that happened to you.  You deserved a better first day.  You deserved a better beginning.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Monday Madness "C"

Shah is doing an A-Z post in April which I've already missed, but I can tell you, yes, I've tried some of the C's and am still on one of them.  First drug I was given was Celexa.  There is a reason you go to a psychiatrist for psychiatric drugs.  THEY KNOW WHAT THEY ARE PLAYING WITH! I went to my family doctor and after three days on Celexa I decided if this was what life was going to be like, a zombie like state of living, I would rather be dead.  Not at all good for a person edging towards mania.  I have also tried Clonazepam and am still on it in the generic form Klonipin.  I was on 4 mg for sleep and am now on 3.  I have found with the lessening of it, my dreams have returned, I don't sleep well, but I can feel a lot more.  The numbness is gone.  My son tried clondine, but whatever it was supposed to do didn't work.

I find that the trial and error of medications with this disease, oh I have Bipolar Disorder, is the most frustrating part of it all.  I don't know of any other diseases except mental illness that have such trial and error, no exact medicine that treats all people.  Heart disease, they have a couple of drugs, a cocktail to give you that helps you, doesn't cure it, but helps.  Diabetes there is insulin.  But for those of us with depression, ADHD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and various other mental disorders we take drugs that are off label, some with horrible side effects, usually in conjuction with several other drugs and we have to work up to a dosage called the theraputic level.  But then I'm probably preaching to the choir. 

What has really started to piss me off though is the plethora (I like that word) of books that depicts those of us with mental illnesses as burdening our children with our care because we don't take our meds and our spouses have left us because of the strain of caring for a person with a mental illness.  First off, where is the condemnation of the spouse who left behind the child to take care of the sick parent?  Or another adult who knows about the parent's condition.  It seems that only the sick person the one who can't think straight without medication is the only one condemned in these books.  Unfortunately, these books seem to keep falling into my hands and my anger is building towards the general writing community.  They say they have done their research but only site they googled the disorder they wrote about.  How is that research?  Let them feel what we feel on a daily basis, let's say, just the side effects of our meds for a week and then write a book condemning us for not wanting to take them.  I stumble, get dizzy, need naps, feel nauseous and  have trouble concentrating as well as getting out of bed.  Do they feel that every day?  And there is a fine line thinner than a hair that I walk between depression and mania, and that line is called balance.

Anyway that's my rant!


Lilly's Song from my Current WIP

This is Liam of Liam and the Poets.  He is sitting on the stage singing only to Lilly, a song he wrote for her, for her birthday.  She says words have lost their meaning because everyone leaves her, mothers, fathers, brothers, people that make promises, they'll never leave her, always protect her, never hurt her, always love her.  Words don't mean anything at all because they break their promises, they leave without goodbyes, break her heart and leave her empty and alone wondering what she did wrong.  Liam wants to say "I love you" but they're just words to her.  So he says, "This song is for Lilly.  I know she doesn't believe in words, but I hope when they're sung to her, they'll mean a little more to her.  She'll understand the difference between words and songs and I hope she'll believe them.  Happy Birthday, Lilly."

                                                                        Lilly's Song

                                                      Sunflower yellow, midnight skies,
                                                      Whisper soft wind, tells no lies.
                                                    Wildflower picking, swimming, fishing
                                                    Summer nights full of falling star wishing,
                                                       That Lilly would give a sign,
                                                        She's wanting to be mine. 
                                                   Days of band practice, guitar riffs
                                                   Lemonade smiles, shady picnics
                                                      Back to those eyes those heart shaped lips
                                                   Lilly won't you give me a kiss?
                                                     Your smile, your laugh, your shining eyes,
                                                   I'd be yours, I'd tell you no lies.
                                                       If you'd give me a sign you want me too,
                                                  Lilly how long I've been waitin' for you.
                                                       Summer is past, turned to fall,
                                                  You have my heart, I've given it all.
                                                       To Lilly with your eyes so blue
                                                    Lilly I'm in love with you.
                                                      Take my heart you have it all,
                                                        The only thing I ask is very small.
                                                         Give me a sign you want me too,
                                                      Lilly how long I've been waiting for you,
                                                    I don't ask for much just one small kiss,
                                                        It's all I want, It's all I wish.
                                                        Lilly with your eyes so blue
                                                        Lilly I'm in love with you!

In case you're wondering, Lilly is spellbound and Liam gets his kiss. And no, I don't have any tune in mind because the only thing I play is a piano, but I have no access to a piano.  And Liam plays guitar.

Okay, not that you'd want to, but you may not beg, borrow, steal, reprint or use in any form any where else.  Please.  Read the disclaimer.  It tells you what I'll do if you do!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Weekend Creation Blog Hop

This is my own picture so I am allowed to use it! Feel free to use it!
It is Plymouth, MA.

It's bitter cold.  Not the kind that makes you shiver, but the kind that makes you feel like tiny needles are poking into any exposed skin leaving marks where other needles will bite in deeper.  The water is blue and choppy, but I can't tell if its a pod of whales, right whales, or just fish.  Seagulls and seals brave what I'm sure is iceberg cold water.  It's cold enough to numb my toes in July, I can only imagine what it would do in March even with the bright sun.  Rocks litter the beach, white, gray, brown, red, pink, rust.  They make it hard to walk in my boots, but then I hadn't planned to come here to this empty parking lot, to this shuttered restaurant.  The jetty to my left is braved by a lone kite flyer.  The lime green breaks the watery blue of the sky, its brightness making up for the lack of color in that small part of the sky.  Giant mounds of rocks look like piles of shit left by some giant creature unknown to me.  Perhaps it is my life, representative of what I've amounted to, what I've accomplished.  They are too large to be washed away or even covered by high tide.  Even the fierce nor'easters won't wash those rocks away.  They are as permanent as the ocean behind them and as steadfast as the rocky beach before them.  I stumble back to my car.  No answers here.  Only freezing fingers and ears.  A wind whipped face and a pile of rocks.  Solid.  Unmoving.  Ugly.

Heather Town Neck Beach Sandwich

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Madness

Monday Madness is a meme started by Shah at Words in Sync to blather on about mental illness or provide useful information or share something with the rest of the group.  I tend to blather.  So, here's my blather:

I'm so tired of the cold of the aching loneliness.  Depression is a lonely disease.  No matter how many people support you, only you are in it and only you can get out of it.  Only you can see the darkness, get lost in it, lose your way to the light, can't find your way out.  Only you cry and wish for someone to hold you through the pain and loneliness.  Only you feel the pain.  Only you lose track of time as you sit in your darkness.  There is no reading, no writing, no talking , no smiles no socializing, no answering the phone, no Faith, no belief, no trust that this will ever end.  There is only time and darkness.  And I sleep waiting for the light to find me again.  Waiting without hope.  Because hope is light and I am completely black.  Drenched in it, encased in it, floating in it, weighed down by it, drowning in it.  But for two pin pricks of light, no bigger than the eye of a needle, I would end the blackness permanently.  But one pin prick is 11 and the other is 14 and they have a lifetime of fighting this blackness.  And if I take the coward's way out, if I don't fight for the light, then they might not either. So I suffer the blacknes because of them and hope they remember to fight.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Madness Chocolate Ice Cream

This is a new meme started by Shah atWords in Sync.  For those of us that have a mental illness or our caretakers or partners or family members.

I thought I'd share a little humiliation I endured as a child and actually well into adulthood at the hands (not literally) of my uncle who suffers from Bipolar Disorder.  His way of feeling better was to put people down and I'm not sure why he chose me, perhaps I was the weakest link.  I was the most sensitive.  I swear I'd be richer than Bill Gates if I had even a penny for how many times I'd been told I was "too sensitive".  Anyone else?  Because I cried so easily.  No one knew how deeply depressed I was and how much I thought of checking out of this nightmare called life.  No one cared.  I was taught to put on a smile and keep all the rest inside.

So every birthday (there were at least eight a year) Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, Easter, Fourth of July, Mother's Day, Father's Day, any excuse at least once a month and more if there was a birthday or holiday in it, I was subject to his belittling.  It always started with, "Did I ever tell you about the time when Heather got chocolate ice cream in her shoes?"  That was the whole story.  I was probably four at the time it happened.  I never defended myself by explaining how the ice cream melted and dripped down my arms and onto my legs then down them into my shoes.  I just crawled deeper into my shell and got embarrassed first at the attention and then at the imperfection that was me.  I was the only one that got chocolate ice cream in my shoes.  The thing was, that wasn't the only story like that.  There were were others and he told them every chance he got, in front of new people, in front of boyfriends, new friends any way to embarrass me.  And I don't know why.  I loved him better than my own father.  Yet he hurt and embarrassed me constantly.  He and I share the same disorder.  I've helped him with his medications when he's told me some symptoms he was having I suggested his medication might be doing it and he stopped it and it helped.

Now days, he's slowly sliding into dementia and the stories don't come up.  Now when I'm strong enough to say, "That's not how I remember it.  I remember licking a chocolate ice cream cone that melted down my arms and dripped on my knees.  And with gravity it naturally dripped from my knees down my legs into my shoes.  What did I care?  I was four.  I was just enjoying my chocolate ice cream.  What else did you want me to do?"  But now, I get trapped by him as he tells me I can use his property in Virginia anytime I want, that they built it for me and my sister too.  Not just for his son and daughter.  And he talks in fatalistic terms as if this will be the last time I see him.  And it takes his son in law and son to rescue me from his still firm grasp as I wipe my eyes and they explain to me how much vodka and wine he's had.

Once again, he makes me feel little and small and trapped.  He can throw me into depression faster than a bottle of wine and a migraine.  He breaks me down every time I see him.  So what does this have to do with mental illness?  To show you two different sides of it, the sufferer and the watcher.  I am both in this situation and both parts hurt.  I would take the belittling again not to see him not battered down by his disease.  Is that what I'll look like at his age?  Will my mind be so ravaged  by the medication that I'll have dementia?

I wish I was four with chocolate ice cream dripping down my arms and legs and running into my shoes and not a care in the world.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I bet this little girl or is it a boy had dreams.  I wonder what they did to make, let's just say her, stand still long enough to get this picture?  How does the velvet feel under her tiny little fingers?  Is it bumpy where the designs are?  Is that why she seems to have moved her hand just above the swirl of the paisley so she's not touching it?  Is her collar starched so stiff that it makes her neck itch  and she's dying to rip it off?  What are they tempting her with?  Or are they threatening her?  That's not exactly an exuberant smile on her face.  It's more like a straight line curved neither up nor down.  Is she thinking about where she'd rather be right then?  Where?  Playing down the hall with her brothers?  Bouncing on the chair in her bare feet?  Or somewhere far away from the camera and the people trying to make her smile.  Somewhere that exists only in her mind.  Somewhere they cannot take from her.  Where her fingers do not rest on bumpy velvet.  Her starched collar does not itch and they do not threaten or cajole.  She is silent and alone and the smile she gives is to her self and it is genuine.  And she can dream.

Weekend Creation Blog Hop #3

Better late than never I always say!  So I'm not feeling sorry for myself any more and I am going to create a piece on another post.  Just wanted to say I'm joining in today!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Buried Dreams

It's time to let go of a few things that I know will never happen in my life.  One, my lifetime dream, is that of being a published author.  My words are bland.  My phrases unoriginal.  Even I'm bored reading them.  My imagination has finally been eaten away.  The drugs have won.  I am no longer creative.  I can only read the products of other people's imagination.  So, I'm burying this dream before it eats away at my soul too.  I have lived with this dream since I was nine.  I have lived with this disease since I was nine.  The disease has won.  But not because it has reared its ugly head or controlled my life.  No, because in controlling it, I've lost the ability to dream.  I've lost my creativity.

I know.  I know.  Creativity and mental illness go hand and hand.  That's only if you aren't medicated to the point that you can't walk a straight line.  You can't get out of bed until after noon.  You can't hold a job.  It's enough to make me want to stop taking the damn pills, but I remember standing in Wal-Mart and not remembering what I was there for.  I remember filling a shopping cart full of shit we didn't need only to have my husband  return it all.  I remember buying expensive cameras and furniture and always, my husband would have to take it back.  I remember waking at 5 am because I'd just gone to sleep at 3 am and the baby needed to be fed and I was so angry at him for waking me up.  I remember keeping the shades closed tight and the doors locked to make sure we were safe.  I wanted to be the perfect mom, but I couldn't handle being a mom.  It pushed me over the edge when previously I'd just been looking over for a view of the abyss.  That crash made me a monster.  I see her in the mirror when I look and I still haven't stopped apologizing to my kids, making sure they know it was never about them and always about me.  But the pills, the drugs, they killed that monster.  She only shows shadows of her former self.  It's like a mirror image of herself.  Not the real thing where she stayed for days.  She makes a flash appearance and feels immediate remorse and is gone.  And that's because of the drugs.  So, for my family, for my sanity, for my life, I'm giving up my dream.  I'll never be a published writer.  The story in me.  It will have to come out in another lifetime.  Preferably one where I don't have to medicate myself.

I read a Q and A in the back of a book and the author was asked something to the effect if they had to choose their sanity and their creativity, which would they choose?  They chose creativity.  It's an obvious choice, if you haven't felt the insanity.  If you haven't functioned for five days without sleep because you can't.  Because you had to write this novel.  And you wouldn't choose it if you knew there was a big gaping black dark hole waiting to swallow you up for the next six months so that you did nothing but read the same novel over and over and didn't remember it.  That you only lived in a tiny corner of your room, your bed.  That you hated your family, but you really hated yourself more.  That ugly, dirty, hate, and other dark words like suicide and kill and overdose went through your head daily swirling like a whirlpool in your mind with the words of the novel you've read at least a hundred times.  And you don't remember anymore what's real and what isn't because you haven't slept for days or you've slept for weeks and cried so much that your eyes are swollen shut and your mother just doesn't understand what your crying about and you cry more because she doesn't understand, that's just it.  There is nothing to cry about and yet you can't stop.  You have everything you could possibly need, but you still cry.  And if you could stop crying, you would.  If you could fake smile like you have for the past thirty eight years you would, but once a name was put to it.  Once someone said "mental illness"  and gave validity to the feelings that everyone told you were normal that everyone felt, you had to let them out.  You weren't "too sensitive".  It wasn't that you couldn't feel happiness, you just didn't feel it as often as others because you were generally feeling depressed.  And all those unfinished projects....results of your mania, there would be more.  Except for the pills.

And so I let it go.  I will remove it from my profile.  I know how hard it is to become published, but when you've got so much working against you instead of for you, it just isn't going to happen.  When you can't even write a single original sentence, it's not gonna happen.  But I have my books.  They've always been my friends.  And it's why I don't let them go.  Why I hang onto the ones I love so much.  It helps my memory.  It's another thing the pills take away from me.  Memory, creativity, imagination, dreams.  I can have tangible dreams.  I won't be able to fly that plane.  I think I have to walk that straight line and not see double and triple.  I doubt I'll be able to ski or snowboard.  Again the balance thing.  I'm feeling the glass is half empty right now.  I'll look for the silver lining another day.  Let me have my pity party.  I've been picking fights on the blogosphere.  That isn't like me.  I stay away from confrontations.

I think as I've been reading this book I've been reading, it's been showing me  the reality of what I won't be able to do.  What I must accept if I am to continue to stay on my medication.  There will be no books.  No artwork.  Nothing creative.  Because yes, for some of the greatest intellectuals and artists ever known, they had mental illnesses, but somehow, they lived with theirs and were able to have their creativity.  I can't have both.  I choose to be sane, even if it means the end of all the things I've dreamed of being.  Even if it means proving my mother and my dead father right.  I lose either way.  And the disease wins either way.  I give.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Out of The Corners of My Eyes

Often, as I sit reading or writing, I see things out of the corners of my eyes.  Most often it's people that aren't really there.  I don't know if I'm slowly going crazy or if I'm becoming a part of one of the many novels I'm writing or maybe I'm just a victim of my overactive imagination.  Or maybe there's more to it than that.  Maybe all the medication has taken over and I'm just a pawn in the side effects of their hands.  Today, Mr. T has decided to make it so I can't stand up straight and makes me walk like a drunk unless I hold onto a wall or a piece of furniture.  The combination of Mr. T., Ms. S, the two C's and not enough rest night before last ensure that I slept until noon today.  And the corners of my eyes see mice and dogs we don't own and I sink down in my bed. 

I haven't gotten used to this new house.  We aren't friends.  We are strangers still after a year and a half.  I don't respect it.  I cannot make it mine because it doesn't belong to me.  Therefore I don't know it's creaks and cracks.  The sounds of the heat coming on.  The sound of snow falling off in heaps like slabs of  concrete off the roof.  I don't understand the moths I think I see out of the corners of my eyes.  Sometimes they really are there.  But they aren't the scariest thing I've seen.  They aren't the scariest thing I've faced.

The worst is the one I face head on in the mirror every day.  That stranger that is me, but I don't know.  My hair is dark, with a few gray squiggles sticking up.  I have to wear glasses and the scars from the surgery are prominent still.  But that is not what bothers me.  It's the eyes.  They are the eyes of someone who has accepted defeat.  I am beaten.  Mr. and Ms. Side Effect have won.  They have drained the living out of my life.  I exist.  I take up space.  I see the world from the corners of my eyes.  And that's how I live it, from the corners.



It was the first day of fourth grade and my best friend was late.  We always walked the three suburban blocks to school back in the days when it was safe to let your kids walk to school by themselves.  I paced in my driveway waiting for her to appear at the corner where we met.  I smoothed my dress my mother had sewn for me, special for this day.  I knew Jody and I weren't in the same class and my cousin didn't have the same teacher either.  Secretly I was relieved.  It was my turn to see who I really was and what I was capable of instead of standing behind them and letting them shine.  Finally I saw her dad turn the corner and he pulled into the driveway.  "Dad's driving us, I couldn't figure out what to wear."  I scrambled in and shut the door saying, "Good Morning Dad Kringle."  That's how close Jody and I were.  I didn't say Mr. and Mrs. to her parents.  They were Mom and Dad Kringle.  My parents however were Mr. and Mrs. Marshall.  In the thirty five years Jody and I were best friends, not once did that ever change.  Neither did her tardiness nor my promptness.

In my house, my clothes were always laid out the night before.  My books were on the desk ready for me to pick up on the way out the door.  My lunch was packed, only my sandwich to be grabbed out of the refrigerator to complete it.  This made morning run smoothly at our house.  Tranquility was treasured at our house.  Don't upset your father was the motto.  So I got extremely anxious to the point of nauseau when Jody was late for school.  I didn't want to upset my father even though he was already at work and had been for two hours.  And my mother was at home and could have easily taken me to school.  She was just relieved to have me out the door.  No kids.  Had she been given the chance to do it over again, I think she would have looked at the inability to give birth as a blessing from above and kept working.  She didn't enjoy motherhood and nurturing wasn't in her nature.

Finally on our way to school I noticed the school patrol had already left their crossing posts and the crossing guard had already left.  I was going to be late on the first day of school.  I couldn't help but resent Jody.  She was always late.  Couldn't she be ready on time just this once?  We got dropped off on the first bell.  We had one more bell before we were officially tardy.  I thanked Jody's dad and didn't even speak to her as I rushed to my class.  The only seats left were in the very front, but I didn't mind.  I liked to be up front so I wouldn't be mistaken for getting into trouble that always happened in the back of the room.  This was the first time I would be in an air conditioned room.  Slowly the PTA was working towards raising the funds to air condition each of the rooms in the school.  It was Northeast Florida and it was sweltering for most of the months of school.  I tucked my lunch box under my desk and put my notebook filled with notebook paper and my pencil box under my desk.  Back then the school provided crayons and pretty much anything else we needed.

Our teacher was named Ms. Johnson, a thin friendly looking woman and back then we would have called her black.  She was very light skinned.  She had curly hair that framed her face and a soft voice that made you listen.  This was only the third year of desegregation and I wondered how far she'd had to drive to get to my school in the all white neighborhoods my school was in.  I wondered how she felt looking at a sea of white faces with maybe two black faces looking back at her.  There certainly were no Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Arab or any other nationality represented in our school.  The closest we had come was a French boy all the girls had a crush on in the third grade who had moved back to France in the middle of the year.  Where did they go to school?  I think maybe one bus load of black students were bussed over from the other side of town, from their friends and families to go to a school where they knew no one.  I don't remember having any black friends until fifth grade, but they were very loyal, protecting me from the other black girls that wanted to beat me up for no apparent reason!

But back to Ms. Johnson.  I liked her immediately, until she started calling girls up to her and whispering things to them.  They would go back to their seats, holding a secret that Ms. Johnson told them, that I didn't know.  I wanted in on the secret.  But at the same time, I liked to fly under the radar.  I didn't like to bring attention to myself.  The motto of    "Don't upset your father" carried over to school as well.  "Don't upset the teacher" was just an extension of that motto.  Because if she got upset enough and called home, the "Don't upset you father" was out the door.  And if you upset father, it wasn't pretty.  He may have wanted children, I'm not really sure which one wanted to adopt, I just know the preacher told them something like those who can't adopt after ten years of trying.  But, he didn't want children that made noise, upset him or were visible when he didn't want them to be.  And he didn't want them to have opinions.  But that's another story.

So, I was torn.  I wanted in on the secret.  I wanted to belong to the club.  I wanted the teacher to like me enough and trust me, think I was reliable enough to share the secret with, but it warred with the part of me that needed to be invisible.  In the end, I didn't get to make the decision, Ms Johnson did.  She motioned me up to her stool, a bar stool she sat on to instruct us.  Then she whispered me the sacred secret that would make me part of the club, "Young ladies sit with their legs together so their panties don't show.  Try to remember."  Mortified, I nodded and slithered back in my seat with my thighs glued together.  Yeah, I was part of the club, the show the boys your panties club and I hadn't even known it.  But when I looked up she gave me a smile and a reassuring wink when she saw my eyes brimming with tears.  And just like that, I knew I hadn't ruined anything with her.  She didn't think any less of me.  I hadn't  "upset the teacher".  It was okay.

Throughout that year, Ms Johnson gave me enough encouragement to develop a love of writing and to overcome some of what was happening at home.  I never told her about home, but she seemed to have a sixth sense.  She never missed an opportunity to make me feel special.  She let me design the bulletin boards while the other kids were still working because I finished all my work early.  She would single my writing out to read as an example of excellent creative writing, but she never used my name, because she knew I'd be embarrassed.  When a new student showed up with type one diabetes, I was given the assignment of getting sugar cubes for her when she needed them.  For some reason, it was a big secret that she had diabetes, but they trusted me enough with this secret to give me this life saving duty.  Only now do I know the importance of this job.  Ms. Johnson gave me the confidence to speak out in class, to write in a journal and to write poetry. 

Ms Johnson also kept me alive.  That was the year I first thought of suicide.  Although I didn't know the word, I knew I was extremely depressed.  I wanted to melt into the picnic table I sat on writing poetry.  I wanted to be the wind in the trees.  I wanted to be anything but what I was.  My family did not understand me.  Of course they didn't.  I was a product of another family so dissimilar to them and they never tried.  They wanted me to be like them.  But if ever there was a case for nature versus nurture it was me.  I cried a lot, got my feelings hurt a lot, felt everything deeply.  And their answer was, "You're too sensitive."  I was rarely happy, but I was always smiling because I didn't want to "upset your father".  The only time I thought I might be differnet from everyone else was when I was told "You're too sensitive."  But I wondered if other fourth graders wanted to die.  Did they care if tomorrow didn't come?  Did they feel like there was nothing in their life to look forward to, to get up for?  Ms. Johnson gave me a reason to keep going.  She gave me poetry and writing and a feeling that I was special.  That not only did I belong on the same step on that ladder but I might belong on the next step up. (See previous post Illegitimate).

I wish I could see her now and tell her what she did for me.  I can't even remember her first name and she was only there that one year.  But she gave me permission to be creative and told me I was good at it.  And she nurtured it when I needed it most.  When my parents didn't have the ability to nurture.  I know where I came from now.  And yes, it's a very emotional place and I definitely got my mental illness from her.  But I got my empathy and compassion from her.  I got my love of animals and need to help others from her.  I got my love of reading and writing from her.  But unfortunately, she's still sixteen letting go of a baby she couldn't raise and I was thirty three when I met her with a two year old.  But I know I'm not "Too Sensitive" anymore and I'll slap those words right out of your mouth if you say it about my kids.  No one took up for me as a child, but I will take up for them.  But they're cut from the same cloth.  They might have gotten my bipolar disease, but they are also compassionate, empathetic, loving  and sensitive and no one can tell me this world doesn't need more of that in this world.  Before I was ever diagnosed as having bipolar disorder I had a therapist tell me that she thought it was wonderful that I was so sensitive.  She told me the world would be a much better place with more sensitive people.  And like Ms. Johnson, she made me feel special again, able to hold my head up through the shame of mental illness and realize that there were some things that were good about being bipolar.  Being sensitive is one of them.  I can read the emotions of a room in five seconds flat when I enter it.  It's how I survived, "Don't upset your father," as a child.  So thank you Ms. Johnson.  I know you had to drive probably an hour in rush hour traffic to get to Holiday Hills Elementary School but for that one year, you made a huge difference in my life.  You're one of the many reasons I'm here today to write this.  I'm sure you had an impact on plenty of students.  And thanks for getting that staple out of my finger!