Hold On, Baby : When Tomorrow Might Be A Better Day


With tears gathering on my face, I snuck out of my house and into my car. Driving down my lightless street, I couldn’t move fast enough.

I made it to Waffle House because it was the only thing open. I dried my face and kept my head down in hopes no one would see my splotchy face. 

I sat down as my sweet waitress came to serve me.

Hash browns sounded good.

As I waited for them, I pulled out a sketch book and started my D/L list. (Die/Live)

I quickly filled up the D list with reasons I shouldn’t live while I struggled to find anything to write on my L list.

With my hash browns in front of me, I stirred, stirred, stirred them only coming to attention when my waitress asked if everything was good. 

I ate a little and wrote a little.

I looked up when my waitress said: “I hope you don’t mind, but you are absolutely gorgeous.” 

For someone who not only looked like a punching bag but also felt like one, that hit me deeply.

While I had been sitting there, a middle aged man had parked his nice Lexus and came in. He was neatly dressed in a crisp polo and jeans.

As I was starting to wrap up, he came over, grabbed my check, and said: “Will you let me buy your meal?” 

I barely squeaked out “Thank You” as I swallowed a sob. 

I found a few dollars to leave on the table, said my double thank-you’s, and let the tears continue their path down my cheeks.

I’ve often said that I’m glad I didn’t act on my suicidal urges because I always pull through and have better days.

Sometimes it takes God using complete strangers to extend grace and kindness that you in no way deserve just so you can know that you’ve been seen, you’re not alone, and you are meant to live.

Even though my thoughts were dark, a little light went terribly far.

Hold on, baby. There will be a better tomorrow.

The Problem with Unprocessed Grief Part 2

I needed to be in a facility because I was slowly killing myself.

I began to share with you my experience with grief the other day, and had to stop. What was coming out was debris from an old, deeply scarred over wound that is in the deepest, darkest pocket of my heart.

I have always remembered that I told my dad that he was the best daddy in the whole world, but it had never dawned on me that those were the last words that I said to him while he was still living.

I mean, what a blessing. A gift, really.

Something beautiful was able to surface underneath that thick, calloused part of my heart.

I told you that someone told me to mourn in my own way in a previous post, and I thought that I did, and with flying colors.

I’ve always been one to seek out applause and approval, so naturally, I wanted to be the best mourner out there. I thought that looked like someone who didn’t cry, who carried on normally, and who didn’t make things weird around people.

Seriously, if you want to kill a moment or just be completely awkward just say “My dad is dead” nonchalantly as if it were just any other idle piece of conversation.

It’s not that I didn’t miss my dad, I just wouldn’t think about it. I shoved all the pain right back into that wound, and forced it shut by applying diversions that could weigh down my thoughts.

I became an incredible student. In middle school, I thought school was boring and spent most of my time doodling and daydreaming. However, once high school started, I was making all A’s (except a constant B in math because math sucks).

I stayed very busy learning and excelling at sports. I was in the Beta Club and on Student Council. I took photos and edited pages for the school yearbook. I sang, acted, and danced in all the performances that were offered to us.

I dated a really nice guy that I really shouldn’t have dated because I only started dating him because the one guy I liked was dating someone else. In the end, our relationship was just toxic. We were both good people who weren’t so great together.

When I was in 10th grade, I developed anorexia which flourished over that following summer, and I went into my junior year, tiny, tired, and in an incredibly deep depression.

In the midst of all the activities I was involved with, my paper thin body was pitifully hiding that scar tissue with all the grief and pain I had never faced. Anorexia eventually became friends with bulimia in the form of taking boxes of laxatives a day, and working out to the point my knees were over-extended and swollen.

I was someone who always felt the pressure to be put together at all times. Hair, make-up, clothes; those things were pressed on me by my dad. With that said, I would show up to school in my PJs, no make-up, no contacts, with a greasy,messy bun on top of my head. This was because I had jumped in bed at 3:45pm the afternoon before, stayed asleep until 10:00pm, got up to do my homework, and was asleep again by midnight. I would wake-up around 10 minutes before my first class started just so I could get as much sleep as possible.

I didn’t want to hang out with friends, and never really enjoyed it when I did. I just wanted to sleep. My irritability was through the roof. I didn’t care about myself, so I found it hard to really care about other people.

My eating disorder consumed my thoughts more than anything. I was so miserable inside that I thought if I could achieve a certain weight or size then I would be happy.

I can remember grabbing the my love-handles (I’d kill for those love-handles now) and squeezing and pulling on them so hard it brought blood to my skin.

I could eat whenever I wanted to. However, I distinctly remember telling my mom “I hate food.” Often she would see me picking at my plate and snap “Just eat that!” That instruction helped in the moment, but it never did in the long run.

I needed to be in a facility because I was slowly killing myself. But I don’t think anyone really saw it that way.

I read in books and articles that most eating disorders stem from control issues. I would read that and roll my eyes. I did NOT have control issues. I just wanted to be thin.

It wasn’t until recently that it occurred to me that it WAS a control issue, and that I was struggling to control the wound inside my heart that was festering with infection underneath all of that thick, scarred tissue.

At the time, I had friends confront me about my eating and my weight. I would often deny it as being anything. Eventually admitting that I had an eating disorder as if it was something to be proud of, as if it was the way to have a great life, as if it weren’t a sickness.

The couple of times I did cry out for help, it was met with silence then nothing. If you don’t confront something, it goes away, right?

W R O N G.

Not eating made my body susceptible to illness, and I don’t know if I had Mono or some other infection, but I kept a swollen throat, sore muscles, and over-whelming exhaustion for more than a year.

As much as I hated myself and everything else around me, I still finished my junior year with a 4.3 GPA and as MVP of my Cheerleading team.

Too bad I missed the award ceremony because I was sleeping.

Until tomorrow, friends

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Re-scripted : How Do I Edit My Thoughts About Myself

I have a degree in theatre arts. Among all of the things that I had to do, I most often had to either memorize lines or write them.

Somewhere throughout the years, because of life experience and a little biology, I have formulated this script that I deliver to myself when my anxiety is high and my depression is low. Even when I’m feeling OK, these lines circulate in like a steady fan blowing in the background.

“You’re never going to feel better.”

“You add no true value to anyone’s life.”

“Your kids are going to be traumatized by you.”

“Your husband deserves way better than you.”

“You are a burden.”

“You’re never good enough.”

“I’m sorry for being me.”

This is my script, and it is on recitation in my mind every day. It is so ingrained in my thoughts that it has become muscle memory; there is no straining to remember these lines.

Logically I know that these are all fallacies. Therefore, I have to edit my thoughts and re-script the monologue to say something that is true.

“You are working toward wellness. Better days are ahead.”

“Your family loves you for you, not for what you give them.”

“Your kids are going to see that you are a strong, persistent mom who will be there for them.”

“Your husband chose you and has loved you through your worst. He has told you he’s in it for life, and he’s not a liar.”

“You are not a burden. You work hard and pull your weight.”

“Perfection is a joy thief. Your best is enough.”

“God is finishing what He has started in you. There is no need to apologize for being you.”

After learning something one way, it is extremely difficult to try to learn something a better way. When I was in acting classes and we forgot our line, instead of breaking character and losing the moment, we’d simply have to say “line,” and we would be given our line.

My way of calling out for my line is by working on writing these down so that I can see them in places such as my car or my kitchen. I say them out loud, usually in my car or my kitchen, I have my rock of a husband who speaks these truths into my ear when my eyes are filled with tears, and I can only remember the lines from the old script.

What are some lies that you believe about yourself? How can you re-script them in a positive way? I’d love for you to share in the comment section below.

Break a leg with your re-write!

Until tomorrow, friends!

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House Divided : Growing Up in a Broken Home

My kids can spot things that I easily miss. As soon as we get into a store, my son can point out a renegade balloon that is tucked up in some rafter that I would have never noticed.

My daughter can find Elsa or Anna on anything, even if they are only an inch tall.

Growing with my kids has reminded me of how keen a kid’s senses are. I firmly believe that kids have a sharp intuition to discern a person’s character embedded in them as a defense mechanism.

At least that is how I was as a kid.

I didn’t like J.C. (this definitely does NOT stand for Jesus Christ). Looking back, he was like a snake in the grass, seductively slithering his way into our house.

He began spending more and more time with my dad, which I thought was odd. My dad had few friends, and they were usually guys that he worked with.

J.C. constricted our family time by showing up in the evenings, and not leaving until after I had gone to bed.

We had a teal leather sectional couch that I took many naps on. My parents sat across from while I was sitting on it one evening.

“We’re getting separated. Daddy will be moving out.”

The leather stuck to my legs as I slid out of my seat, crying hysterically.

I was almost six.

My dad had decided to leave my mom for J.C. or something like that. He had lived in torment his entire life, knowing that he was different and battling things that I will never understand. His decision to liberate himself destroyed my family.

He took about a year to go out and discover his new found life before steadily coming back into mine. Fortunately, J.C. was thrown out of the picture.

There is a lot that I don’t remember about that time, but I do remember being overwhelmed with sadness, writing in my school journal everyday “My parent’s are getting divorced,”and having excruciating stomach pains everyday.

I was asked who I wanted to live with, and my reply was with my Granny. How could a six year old be asked to choose between her mother or father.

From what I was told, I blamed my mom for my dad leaving. I don’t remember that part. I just remember my mom always being there. Even in her immense sadness, she was still there.

I grew up spending a week with my mom then a week with my dad. This was always the arrangement, and it worked for us. I always joke about how good I am at packing a bag because I lived out of a suitcase for the majority of my childhood.

My dad finally settled into a relationship with a good man who was kind to me, and he lived with us for many years.

Growing up with a gay dad in the 90’s wasn’t easy. Dad told me that I had to keep it a secret, and I did, even to the point of causing me great duress.

So there we were. A single mom who worked all the time to make ends meet, and a gay dad. We loved each other, and eventually fell into a routine that was comfortable.

Half of you reading this probably came from a broken home, but do you know the statistics that are attached to us?

  • Children in repeat divorces are generally less pleasant to be around.
  • Teenage children of divorce are three times more likely to need psychological help within a given year.
  • Children from divorced homes have more psychological problems, than children from which one of the parents has died. (I’ve dealt with both)
  • Between children of divorced parents there are relatively more cases of injury, asthma, headaches and speech defects than among children whose parents have remained married.
  • Children of divorced parents are fifty percent more likely to develop health problems than children in two parent families.
  • Children that are living with both biological parents are 20 to 35 percent physically healthier than children from broken homes.
  • In 1991 a study was done of children from which the parents were divorced six years earlier. The study found that even after all that time, these children tended to be lonely, unhappy, anxious and insecure.

  • Children divorce statistics indicate that children of divorced parents are four times more likely to report relational problems with peers and friends than children whose parents have kept their marriages intact.
  • (Adult) children of divorce are almost twice as likely to attempt suicide than children from normal homes.

These stats are a bit dated, but it is hard finding new stats on the Google.

I never thought that my parent’s divorce had anything to do with my depression and anxiety. It never occurred to me until I heard a pastor spitting out a bunch of stats like the ones I listed above. It was like a light bulb went off in my head.

Honestly, I don’t think that my parents’ divorce is the sole reason that I’ve dealt with a lifetime of mental illness, but it is a part of my story, my truth, and a puzzle piece in my story of healing and recovery.

Divorce isn’t going to destroy your kids, but it is important to learn how to help your kids navigate through it as well as getting help for yourself. You can go through it on your own, but it’s so much better to go through it with some help.

I’ve got my fuzzy socks pulled up, and I’m settling down under my soft comforter for the night. I hope you are able to rest easy and have sweet dreams!

Until tomorrow,

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Grace Upon Grace

The depression has been big today and the guilt even bigger.

I cannot form meaningful sentences. I cannot write anything that is border line profound. I cannot push my mind to stretch in that way today.

So, I leave you with this. In the mess that is whirling around in my mind, I hear this being whispered.

GraceuponGrace

My Way, the Right Way

I’m an incredibly judgmental person.

Not in the sense that I dislike someone for what they are wearing, their socioeconomic status, the color of their hair, or their job.

I judge a person’s character on how they drive. If you are a bad driver, I secretly want retribution to find you. Put down the cell phone. Stay in your lane. PAY ATTENTION. Are these too hard to ask?!

I judge a person by the way they treat wait staff at a restaurant. If you do not acknowledge the person that is bringing you your food, and you do not use your manners when they refill your glass and bring you more tortilla chips for your third run to the salsa bar, I will secretly think that’s you’re not quite Satan but maybe some other loser demon that  does all of the lackey work around the office.

Here’s a hot one that’ll push some buttons. I will judge you for smoking cigarettes. I think they are disgusting and proven to kill you. I’ve seen how addicted people can become to them and will choose buying a pack of cigarettes over buying food and drink or their kid. Both of my parents smoked, and I have an overwhelming disdain for it.

Let’s take a step back for a second.

It’s easy for me cast out these judgments and proceed to be offended by the fact that others aren’t going to do things the way I would do them. However, what does it accomplish? Who does it benefit?

Nobody.

I work hard on re-framing my thinking. If someone is driving super fast and switching in and out of lanes, I try to think “Well, maybe his wife has just gone into labor, and he’s trying to get to her.”

The person who hasn’t looked up at their waiter may be severely depressed and finding the words to say require too much energy. He may be sitting in a complete daze not even able to concentrate on what is going on around him, let alone say thank you every time someone refills his cup.

People who smoke all have different reasons for why they do it despite the known health risks. Someone may be smoking because they needed to trade an addiction to a more dangerous substance to cigarettes. Someone may be very lonely, and that cigarette provides them with enough comfort to keep moving.

My judginess began to shift the more familiar I became with mental illness. I found myself to be more empathetic in seeing why people do things the way that they do instead of getting worked up over why they just don’t see it my way which is more efficient, well thought-out, and just all around better for the world at large (I have a chronic case of Imalwaysrightus that likes to flair up from time to time.

Tomorrow I’m going to share with you some specific examples from my life where I deliberately chose to shift my perspective about someone(s), and how it liberated me from one link in this chain of mental illness.

Thanks for stopping by my comfy corner. Come back again tomorrow night as I share a bit about childhood trauma and its affect on me as an adult.

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Taking it Back

TRIGGER WARNING: THIS CONTENT MENTIONS SUICIDALITY

Dr. So and So : Mrs. W, how long have you felt these symptoms of depression?

Me : Every since I can remember. 

According to the most sought after medical expert, WebMD, depression can have a slew of symptoms including but not limited to:

  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and/or helplessness
  • Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Overeating or appetite loss
  • Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

Additionally, it is said that you have to have one or more of symptoms for 2 weeks or more for it to be classified as a type depression.

Dr. So and so: So you’re telling me that you’ve dealt with feelings of depression for your whole  life as long as you can remember?

Mestanley

Kids can’t process their emotions on their own, and I was no different. I was hit with a minor trauma which I will go into later, and the results sent me into a downward spiral of childhood depression. It manifested most painfully in excruciating stomach aches that would start mid-afternoon and last until I fell asleep. I was also very weepy at school, lacked energy to play with my friends, and felt like I was just a burden to be around. No one knew much about childhood depression at that time, so I was given a strong set of antacids when the stomach issues became so bad that I was shaking in my dad’s bed as the reflux bubbled up into my throat.

Moving on a few years, I hit puberty earlier than anyone else I knew and started middle school at a new school where I knew one person a few months later.

Not only was I more physically developed than any other girl in my 6th grade class, I was also the outcast because I was new. Everyone had their “clique,” (read:squad if you’re a young millennial) and I was so uncomfortable in my own skin and awkwardly stuck out like a sore thumb. At least this is how I saw it.

Making friends was not easy, and I was just learning the finesse of sarcasm which I felt gave me an edge. (Sorry, Ma!) The classwork was boring and hard for me to concentrate on (depressive symptom #1). I grew more and more irritable with my family by the day (depressive symptom #2). I was sure that no one liked me or cared that I was there, not even my evil homeroom teacher (who really was a minion of Satan) (depressive symptom #3) And lastly I became unusually fascinated with death and pain (WARNING: depressive symptom #4)

I heard of the term “cutting” while watching Mtv (The TV channel that used to play music videos). I learned a bit about it on one of their segments, and it appealed to me. I felt like I was just bad. I couldn’t get anything right. No one wanted to be my friend. My parents were always mad at me because I was getting bad grades. I had no one to turn to. So I used cut my hands and arms as an outward way to express my inner anguish. I felt like I deserved to be punished for not measuring up, and could breathe a little easier when I was done.

This behavior morphed into thoughts of how I didn’t want to live anymore. How could I kill myself? Would anyone even notice if I was gone? Fortunately, the accessible internet was still young, and I didn’t use it regularly to research anything, so I had a very limited knowledge on how one would kill themselves. Still, the thought raged angrily in my head for months until I was given some relief when summer break came.

I was 11.

The last sentence rocks me to my core because at the time, I felt like I was so mature and so grown in dealing with such heaviness. Now that I take a look back, my chest tightens because   I    w a s    a    c h i l d.   I didn’t see myself that way then, but I now sob because I see myself from completely different eyes.

Dr. So and so: Sounds like you’ve had a difficult time with this. Let me prescribe you three different medications you can’t pronounce and one that is highly addictive and easy to abuse, but I’ll only give you 30 of those so you’ll be fine. Take those when you feel a panic attack coming on. I would also recommend counseling in addition to sleeping 8 hours a night, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and exercising 8 days a week. 

Me: Okie doke! Sounds like a swell plan!

Being a depressed kid is hard because your brain isn’t developed enough to know how to form words and sentences to express the wretched emotions and processes your body is dealing with. If you have a kid or are around a kid that exhibits any or all of these symptoms, do something about it. If a kid can get help while they are young, it can help reduce the chance that they’ll turn out like me and have to deal with it their entire life. The information and education wasn’t available when I was young, so I don’t blame anyone for not recognizing it in me. However, there is plenty on the subject now, and you can help save a kid’s life by acting on it.

Tonight’s post was a little heavy as I took it way back, but I appreciate you sticking it out with me. I hope that you come back tomorrow with your fuzzy blanket, cup of hot tea, and comfy jammies. The content will be hard at times, but there will be some sunshine here and there to make the journey sweeter.

Until tomorrow,

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If you are anyone you know are struggling with suicidal thoughts, PLEASE reach out to a professional for some help. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a great resource. You can call them at 1-800-273-8255.