Caution: Instability Ahead

I’m afraid to write this. But I think that’s why I need to.

At this time last year when the azaleas were blooming and the days were getting a bit longer I didn’t notice. I could not stop crying. I could not eat. I could not sleep at night but I also couldn’t get out of bed in the morning. I fantasized about going to sleep and not waking up. When I was really desperate I thought about driving my car at top speed off the freeway and into the river. I seriously could not get the song Crazy Train out of my head,

“Mental wounds not healing, life’s a bitter shame, I’m going off the rails on a crazy train…”

My work suffered, my family suffered helplessly watching me slip away. “Mommy don’t be sad. Mommy cry?” my sweet daughter in her limited vocabulary was trying to find the words to understand:

Oliva 2

On her 2nd birthday I finally fell apart. My dear husband could not watch any longer and gave me the encouragement I needed to make a phone call and ask for help.

Why am I writing about this? I guess it’s been on my mind because my daughter’s birthday is coming up. Last year instead of planning a birthday party I was making arrangements to attend an intensive outpatient program, doctor’s orders.

The azaleas are in bloom again. The days are getting a bit longer. And this time I’m happy to be around to notice.

I wrote a little bit more about this experience here if you’re interested: Rogue Waves.

For more about how you can help yourself or a loved one here’s an online resource: Support Alliance.

In Self Defense

I fastened the sun to my head for this shot.
I fastened the sun to my head for this shot.

“I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”

-Frida Kahlo

I’m new to the DailyPost Weekly Challenges and I regret that it’s taken me this long to find them. It amazes me how sometimes all it takes is one simple word along with the command to “show readers your interpretation” and suddenly the fog of writers block lifts, my thoughts take flight like a dove release. So my first order of business today is to thank the beautiful minds behind the DailyPost. I appreciate the wealth of inspiration!

The most recent challenge posted involves the “Selfie,” you could almost hear a collective groan from the WordPress community. Why is the reaction to selfies or “self portraits” as Frida called them so visceral? A simple 7 letter word moved more than a few writers to ignite their torches and circle the wagons it would seem. I frequently write from my own perspective. Illustrating what the world looks like from where I stand. How is that any different from a photograph of myself? If maintaining a blog makes me guilty of being a selfie then so be it. I’ve been called worse. I’m not saying it’s easy or natural.

I’ve been in treatment and have been instructed to trade in my self-loathing for some self-compassion to improve my emotional well-being. In the process I’ve realized that I would never treat a stranger the way I do myself at times. I’ve been learning to appreciate who I am faults and all. It’s in that spirit that I post my selfie.

I challenge you to do the same. I’ll even sweeten the deal for you. Post a selfie on your blog before next Sunday, February 16th and I’ll treat 3 winners at random to a cup of coffee, don’t worry you don’t have to drink it with me. I’ll give you a $10.00 Starbucks gift card via email. If your beverage of choice is stronger than coffee, you might prefer the $10.00 itunes gift card option via your email inbox instead. The choice is yours. And yes dear reader you are worth so much more than $10.00! But this is a blog by your average Jane, not Oprah.

So there’s the deal. I encourage you to show yourself. I need to know it’s okay to live in a world where we like ourselves. I want my daughter to grow up with a sense of self worth and confidence so that others will hold her in the same regard. Help me show her it’s okay to be in our own corner. Because if we aren’t in our own corner, how can we expect others to be?

Want to play? Here’s how:

  1. Take a picture of your beautiful self, head-shots only please. I wish to maintain G-rated content here as this blog is a tribute to my toddler.
  2. Post a comment leaving a link to your entry. Please do specify that you want to be entered to win. Pingbacks alone without confirmation that you want to participate will not be considered.
  3. Tag your post with: SquareOneSelfie
  4. Link back to this post so that others can participate.

I will announce the winners and post their entries on Monday February 17th.

Rogue Waves

DSC01324There are no easy answers, but getting stumped at the grocery store was not something I expected. Let me explain, the place was packed after work on a weekday. I swiped my card to pay and before I could process the prompt on the screen “credit or debit?” the cashier sternly said “Ma’am, please, paper or plastic?” with a get-your-head-outta-your-arse kind of expression on her face. From her body language and tone I take it she tried coaxing the answer out of me more than once by this point. “Paper or plastic…is she talking to me?…paper or plastic…she can’t be talking to me…credit or debit…there’s no way she scanned all my items that quickly…”

“ma’am, we’re very busy, paper or plastic?!”

I imagine that on most days the majority of people have no problem choosing between paper and plastic but when you are clinically depressed no one can see that you are drowning right in front of them and the question of paper or plastic becomes moot and tearful. The sheer act of showing up at the grocery store altogether and collecting the items in the cart in this state is a wonder. So at ease sergeant cashier lady!

I use the word drowning because in trying to process what this diagnosis means a childhood memory replays over and over in my mind. On a family vacation to Monterey I once ventured too far into the water, lost my balance and ended up beneath the waves. Just when I thought I’d figured out which end was up I realized I was moving in the wrong direction having touched the sandy bottom of the ocean floor. When I got it right and began groping for the surface I was struck by another wave that disoriented me all over again. That feeling of darkness, panic, and breathlessness that I experienced as a child is as close as I can get to describing this condition.

Oliva, this collection of notes on this blog is for you sweet girl. My intention is not to scare you but to make you aware, if you do wade through this clumsy electronic diary, of an illness that runs in our family. I am not always very good at finding the right words in conversation and have an easier time organizing my thoughts in writing so that’s why I’m sharing this way. I wish this were a lighthearted post. But in life everyone experiences darkness and light. Without the dark we wouldn’t have the moon. I know how much you love the moon. Love you sweet pea.