Short story: Mama’s Angels

bodium-castle-sussex-medieval-fort-stone

So this is my attempt at writing something with more of a horror style. I rather like it.

A mother’s love for her children is a sacred trust. When that trust is broken, things can go horribly wrong.

Small feet pattered across the cracked tile floor. Two figures in flowing white nightgowns crept along, stifling giggles as they slipped along towards the spiraling staircase leading to the rest of the house. A tiny bell chimed discordantly from the hall. They paused just at the top of the stairs.

The only light below came from the moon shining through the broken windows. She sat on a worn settee and stared out at the encroaching rose bushes. Thorns as long as her hand gleamed in the silver light, looking like strange and twisted daggers.

She knew the children were there. The giggling was unmistakable. She didn’t look up, though. She closed her eyes and prayed for sleep to come. It didn’t. It never did. Not since that day. She fingered the pendant around her neck and cursed her husband. Her imprecations didn’t matter. He was dead, buried and turned to dust.

The children giggled again. She sighed. “Back to bed with you,” she called.

“Why mama?” The voice was of her beautiful Light. “We want to stay up and watch the moon too.”

“Don’t you love us, mama?” That was Gale. His piping voice was as easy to recognize as that of his sister.

“You know I love you,” she said, rising from the settee. Agony ripped through her heart as she turned to stare into the faces of her children. She walked towards the stairs with slow, heavy steps. Her tangled hair brushed against her back and the tattered remnants of her nightgown stirred up dust on the broken tile.

“Mama, tell us a story,” Light begged. Her smile was bright. “Tell us the story.”

The woman stopped, swaying a little on her feet. That wasn’t a request she’d heard for a long time. She halfway hoped to never hear it again. “The story?” she asked.

“Yes! Yes!” Gale shouted, jumping up and down. He looked like a little boy pleading for his favorite treat.

She bowed her head. “Come down here and join me then,” she whispered. She returned to her seat. The children scampered down and climbed into her lap. Their little bodies were cold and hard as they squirmed around in her lap. They settled into comfortable positions and waited.

“Tell us, mama,” Light demanded.

“Once upon a time, there was a little family that lived together in a grand mansion,” the woman began. “To everyone else, they appeared happy and loving. The parents seemed to dote on the two little angels they’d been given to raise. But the mother wasn’t pleased with them. To her, they damaged her beauty and limited the amount of pleasure she could take in life because of her vanity.” A tear slid down one cheek. “Her husband was a kind man who couldn’t understand why his wife didn’t love the angels as much as he did.”

“What happened next, mama?” Gale asked when she paused.

“One night the woman was sitting by the window dreaming and singing to herself. She was admiring a new necklace in her small hand mirror. The angels came downstairs, frightened by bad dreams. The woman, angry with the interruption, scolded them instead of offering them comfort. The children ran back up to their room.” Her hands trembled and the words choked her.

“Go on, mama,” Light said. Her eyes flickered a restless crimson.

“One of the angels knocked over the candle used to guard against the night,” the woman said. “Their mother ignored their screams until it was too late. All of the upper part of the house was aflame and the angels were dead. She was blamed at first but her grief made most people believe her when she said it was an accident. Her husband never forgave her and she was cursed.”

“How was she cursed, mama?” Gale asked.

“She was forced to live in the house that was where she’d been happiest, and was the place of her greatest sorrow,” she said. “There she lives to this day. She is unable to die and unable to forget. She watches as the world she knew leaves her behind.”

“What else?” Light demanded.

“She is haunted by her angels, who have become demons to punish her for her crime,” she said in a barely audible voice.

Light laughed. “We’re going to be together forever and ever, aren’t we?” She wrapped her bony arms around the woman’s neck and hugged her.

“Yes, Light. We’ll be together forever and ever.”

Advertisements

3 Mistakes that Will Make Readers Want to Punch a Book in the Face — Kristen Lamb’s Blog

Kristen Lamb has an awesome blog post about big writing mistakes. Read it and make it a point NOT to do them to your story.

 

To do my job well, I do a tremendous amount of reading. Additionally, I make it a point to make sure I read different genres so I get a sense of what writers do well (or not so well) regardless of the type of story. I’ve been inhaling Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series as of […]

via 3 Mistakes that Will Make Readers Want to Punch a Book in the Face — Kristen Lamb’s Blog

Animals in mental health

I am a cat person, as evidenced by my plethora of pictures of my cat Reidar. I am also a rabbit person, as evidenced by my pictures of Stormy, my gray Rex. I love my animals and they return that love. At least I think they do. Sometimes I’m not so sure about Stormy, but I know Reidar does.

Reidar and Stormy are great for helping me with my mood swings. Cuddling up to them seems to help ease some of my depression. Reidar sitting on me keeps me grounded when the hypomania sets in. I absolutely love my furry babies.

Animals are very useful for people with mood disorders. Animal assisted therapy is a real thing. Those with mood disorders are encouraged to bond with animals who can help them. There are those service animals who are trained to deal with psychological problems, which can be useful. But just having a pet can be beneficial as well.

I read through an article on WebMD (yes I know it’s not the greatest site, no it didn’t tell me I was dying). It talked about the benefits of having an animal in your life. One of the points it brought up was uncomplicated love. Even when your relationships with friends and family are strained, your pet will love you without judgment. Then there’s activity. If you’re so depressed you don’t want to move, having a dog to walk is a drive to get out of bed. There’s the companionship of your furry friend when you want to isolate so you’re not entirely alone. There were other points, but those are just a few of the ones that stuck out to me. I’ve included the link to the article at the bottom of the post so you can take a look at it yourself.

A wide range of mental health conditions are now treated through pet-therapy programs. Interactions with animals are considered to offer benefits to patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, autism, and challenging psychiatric disorders. There have been several studies, and many articles written on it. I’ll have a couple more links for you at the bottom of this post.

I’ve often thought of getting a dog that I can take out in public with me to help me deal with my anxiety. Unfortunately, that would be classed as a therapy dog and wouldn’t be protected through the Americans with Disabilities Act. Many times, people don’t see mental illness as a “legitimate” disability and it makes things difficult for us to get the help we need. That help can include the company of a service animal to help us deal with our mental illnesses.

If you have the ability to do so, look into adopting a pet that would be suitable for your family and your life. You’d be surprised at just how much of a benefit a furry/finned/scaled companion can be. I don’t know where I’d be without Reidar. He’s saved me several times in the past. He’s six now, so he’s got some years left in him, but sometimes I can’t help having a dark turn to my thoughts and imagine what would happen if he were to die. I’d be devastated, and it would have a definite negative impact on my mood. These thoughts start cropping up and I start looking for him. Then he does something typically cat-like and I crack up laughing and the thoughts are gone.

If you are seeing a therapist, talk to them about animal assisted therapy. They may know more about it than I do and would be able to point you in the right direction for assistance. They may even have local contacts for you to get you started on the path.

Links to articles on pet therapy:
WebMD
Dogtime
PsychCentral
Theravive

Living with an eating disorder

photo-1444059965852-405276258481

I have an eating disorder. It isn’t anorexia or bulimia, and I’m not entirely sure where it falls into the scale of things. My eating disorder is the fact that I will skip meals because I’m “not hungry”. In the past I could go three or four days without eating. No one seemed to notice, so I kept doing it. When I started getting counseling as an adult, my eating disorder was brought up and I was given some ideas on how to deal with it. It was suggested I start setting a schedule in which I made food and ate it. I tried to do it, but it got to the point where I dreaded even seeing the clock.

My husband has been a huge influence in keeping me eating. Sometimes he gets distracted and doesn’t notice I’ve started skipping meals again. But when he does, he pushes for me to eat something. He doesn’t get nasty about it. He just encourages me – although sometimes his “encouragement” is him ordering me to eat, which I do while grumbling about “not being hungry”.

I’ve trained my body over the 20+ years I’ve been dealing with this to not recognize when I need food. Even now, when I feel hungry, my body isn’t sure what that signal means. In the past, when I did acknowledge I needed food, my go to was always junk food instead of something healthy. Now I work on healthy alternatives because I feed a house of five people and cook as fresh as I can, given our budget constraints. As soon as the farm starts producing vegetables, it’s going to get a whole lot easier. Don’t get me wrong, I still snack on junk food if I can get it, but it’s usually a few pieces of chocolate or a hard caramel. I’ve cut way back on soda, which is another “comfort food” for me when I’m dealing with depression.

I’m seriously overweight, so people look at me and tell me that I can’t possibly have an eating disorder. Those with eating disorders are “unnaturally skinny”. Um, no. If you read up on eating disorders as I have, you know that there are some atypical eating disorders to where you don’t show the kind of weight loss you see with anorexia and bulimia. I also have trouble losing weight. It’s partly my own fault for not being more active. My problem is if I overdo it – and my body can change what overdoing it means whenever it feels like it – my sciatica kicks in and I’m forced to move minimally if I don’t want to cry from the pain.

The point of my ramblings is that if you even think someone has an eating disorder, whether it’s yourself or a friend, talk to someone. Let them know what you’re seeing/feeling. Sometimes, if it’s a friend, they don’t want to admit they have a problem. In their minds they have a valid reason for doing what they are. I know I do. I’m overweight so somewhere in my psyche I equate not eating with getting thin. I don’t use the usual methods that someone with anorexia or bulimia may use, but it’s still a problem. Without my husband, I’d probably still be starving myself regularly. His support is what gets me through my bad days, and the knowledge that he loves me no matter what I look like is a boost to my mood.

Eating disorders can affect either gender, though only an estimated 15% of the male population will find themselves with one. Part of the problem is society’s skewed perception of beauty. More and more girls are turning to extreme measures so they can look like those models that are in the public eye. The media’s idea of beauty isn’t healthy. Everyone has different body types so what works for one won’t work for another. But because we focus so much on white women with narrow waists and small busts, we send our children a very negative view of the world. More teenagers have eating disorders because they’re trying to fit into what they think society expects of them.

I’ve been fighting my depression for years now. My self-esteem has never been very high. But I’m beginning to love myself more now as I continue to get treatment. Yes, I’m still overweight. But I can do something about it. I don’t have to relegate myself to being fat for the rest of my life. Or if I choose to, I can stay the way I am. It doesn’t matter what society thinks. All that matters is how I feel about myself. Having affirmation that I’m still beautiful no matter what from my husband has gone a long way in improving my view of my self-image.

If you have negative people in your life who think they are “helping” by giving you crap about your appearance, ignore them or get them out of your life. You don’t need their form of assistance. If it is someone you can’t ignore or cut ties with, try to explain how you feel to them. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes just expressing yourself in a reasonable matter will make people think twice about what they’re saying.

Monday maundering

So this should have gone live this morning, but I haven’t been feeling good the past few days so I didn’t actually get this written until just now. I’ve had a wicked headache that’s most likely caused by caffeine withdrawal. I almost completely stopped drinking caffeinated soda (actually soda in general), only having it once in a great while. Recently I’ve started back up drinking it again and it’s messing with my system. So I quit again. Now I have to suffer through the pain until my body finishes purging itself of the caffeine. So yeah, not a pleasant few days.

I honestly don’t have much to say today. My creativity has been devoured by these stupid drugs that don’t even work right, and I’m least a month and a half from getting different ones. The med manager is gone for the entire month of June, which makes things interesting since she’s the ONLY full time med manager in the area. My therapist says if it gets bad enough I can go to another nearby city, but that’s a three hour round trip and I’d rather not if I can avoid it.

I will admit my moods have been easier to deal with, though I’m back to having the issue of wanting to sleep all the time. The Zyprexa really does a number on me. I take it at night because it has the tendency to make people drowsy. I take it and a short while later I go to bed. I’m sleeping through the night now, for the most part. But I’m also groggy and always trying not to fall asleep during the day. That only wears off when it gets closer to the usual time I take my Zyprexa. So it could be causing me all sorts of problems. Then again, I’m not sure it isn’t just my body having issues with the meds. I have a love/hate relationship with medications – either they work great, they stop working, or they work in wonky ways that don’t make a lot of sense unless you know me and my family.

This Thursday is my first individual counseling session. I’ve finally graduated from the four weeks of group therapy. My therapist is going to be the woman who ran the sessions since the two of us have developed a rather thin (at the moment) bond over talking through some of my issues in dealing with the group setting. I have one with her this week and one with her next week, and this week in part will be setting up my June visits with her since she needs more time to figure out how to fit me into her schedule. Hopefully by doing this, I’ll have my sessions on the same day at the same time. She said it’s usually every two weeks, but she’s trying to get me the four visits requirement for med management as soon as possible.

Today’s post is short, but it’s all I have in me to write at the moment. I’ll see about the rest of the posts later. For now, I wish you all a wonderful week.

A little drivel for science fiction fans

I’ve been doing a lot of heavy, serious posts lately. I needed a break so thought I’d share this little piece of fiction I wrote a while back for a contest. I didn’t even get an honorable mention, but I like it. It’s also my birthday so I’m not really here today.21773060701_75cbf7deff_o

The footsteps were getting closer. Aushka clutched the blaster tight in one hand. The other was pressed to the hole in her leg. Drops of blood spattered over the walkway showed where she’d been. Her breath came in short bursts.

“Aushka, where are you?” The sing-song voice froze the blood in her veins. “I know you’re here.”

“Trill, she’s been hit. Don’t you think that’s enough?” Beck wasn’t as bloodthirsty as his sister.

“She stole from me,” Trill said, her dulcet tones taking on a note of ice.

“You got the board back, you shot her, and you’ve ruined her reputation on the station,” Beck said. “She’s going to have to go planetside. That’s a death sentence right there. Why do you need to be the one to do it?”

“No one steals from me and comes out of it alive,” Trill said.

“Trill, let it go,” Beck said.

“If you don’t like it, go back to the habitat sector,” Trill said. “I’ll take care of her.”

Aushka heard Beck sigh but there was no sound of him leaving. Aushka peered out through the grate covering the access to the life support units. Trill and Beck stood to one side with Trill’s current toy standing to one side. He looked a little sick. He wasn’t going to last long. Not with Trill’s pastimes.

“She’s probably down the life support shaft,” Trill said. “Beck, you go look.”

“Go look yourself,” Beck said.

“Kal?” Trill looked over at him. “Never mind. You’re useless at times like this.” She stalked over to the grate. Aushka pushed herself back farther. She aimed her blaster at the opening.

“Trill Hiver, stop right there.” Trill froze. Aushka let out a slow, deep breath.

“Come to rescue your precious little girl?” Trill asked. She turned away from the grate and went back towards her brother, hips swaying with each step.

A blaster bolt stopped her before she got very far. “I said stop.” Aushka trembled at her father’s voice. Garrett Leo was not a man to cross. Aushka couldn’t see him but from the expressions on Beck and Kal’s faces it was obvious he wasn’t alone.

“What do you want?” Trill asked. There was no sweetness to her tone now. There was more of a growl to her voice.

“Two things,” Garrett said. “My daughter – alive, of course – and that board you stole from my son.”

“I didn’t steal anything from your son. Your daughter stole from me,” Trill said.

“That board still has our family mark on it. You never cut it off. Now, either I get what I want or I start shooting. Either way I win.” There was the sound of blasters powering up.

“Trill, give him what he wants,” Beck said. “I can’t afford you dying.”

“I don’t have his daughter,” Trill said. “The board is back with Neal.”

“Don’t make me laugh,” Garrett said. “I already spoke with Neal. He said you had it with you, and that you were tracking Aushka.”

“Well your daughter is in hiding,” Trill said. Aushka saw her pull something out of a pouch at her side. “Your board is here.”

“Set it down,” Garrett said. “Then go over there with that genetic waste heap you’ve attached to you. Beck, join them.”

Trill set the tiny thing on the ground. She sauntered over to where the two men were standing. “There. It’s on the ground. Good luck getting it without killing me.”

“Aushka, it’s safe now,” Garrett said, raising his voice a little. “We’ve got them covered. Come out.”

Aushka pushed the grate off and crawled out. Blood seeped out from behind her fingers but she managed to stay on her feet. “Sorry dad,” she said.

“I should have sent your brothers, not you. You weren’t ready for this,” Garrett said. “Get the board and come over here.”

“Okay.” Aushka limped over and picked up the tiny board. It was half the size of her hand. As she walked towards her father, she heard something behind her. She turned her head in time to see Trill pull her blaster. The impact of the energy bolt spun Aushka around. She collapsed. Her eyes dimmed. She was given the chance to see Trill’s body twitch and jerk as it fell not far from her. The last bit of light faded and she released her final breath.

Her eyes opened. She was cold. “Aushka, I’m sorry.” Garrett helped her sit up. “I knew she couldn’t be trusted.”

“How many does this make, Garrett?” Her mother looked angry. “How many more are we going to have before you stop?”

“This is only her fourth life,” Garrett said. “The implants are good for six. I’ll be sending her brothers out for a while, until I’m sure she’s back on her feet.”

Aushka turned her head to the side. On the reflective metal panel just to her right, she caught glimpse of her image. Her face was distorted but she could make out a shock of red hair and a metal band running around her head and down to her jaw. “I’m okay, mom. I’m always okay.”

My mom

Bullfrog

My mom loved frogs.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. That is a hard day for me, both because I lost my children and am no longer their mom and because of losing my mom. My mom and I had a strained relationship most of my life, but things changed the last few years of her life. She was diagnosed with bipolar II and got started on meds. She became a whole new person.

My mom was emotionally and physically abusive to me when I was growing up. For the most part I never knew what would set her off. There were things I knew that if I did them I’d get yelled at, sometimes even smacked around. Those were easier to avoid. But when she was on what I now realize was a manic episode, she’d get angry and lash out without control.

I was a child of the 80s and 90s. This was a time when child abuse wasn’t as well documented as it is now. (Though I think it’s too strict as to what’s considered “child abuse” now, but that’s another thing altogether.) I could show up to school with bruises and no one batted an eye. I got very adept at lying and telling people I fell down, I ran into a wall, things like that. I was labeled a klutz. I was already naturally clumsy so no one really paid attention to me.

I was also a very isolated child. This one wasn’t really because of my mom. It had more to do with my issues with social anxiety. I didn’t connect well to children my own age and preferred books to dealing with people. My mom encouraged my reading, and that was one thing she left me alone while I was doing, so long as my chores were done.

My mom hid her mental illness very well from outsiders. None of her friends saw it. I don’t even think my dad knew what it was. But we kids knew. My older siblings often said I was spoiled, that I didn’t have to deal with what they did while they were growing up. The closest older sister to me is nine years older. She never talks about how bad mom was. Neither my brother nor my other older sister did either. They just kept claiming that I had it better. If what I had was “better” than what they dealt with, I’m frightened to learn just how my mom behaved before I was born.

I alternated between living on my own and living with my parents as an adult. Usually living with my parents was because I was having difficulties dealing with life on my own. I was still struggling with my bipolar and didn’t always behave responsibly when it came to my meds. I was working temp jobs through multiple agencies and not getting far with my life. I’d dropped out of college because I couldn’t handle it. My parents were after me to get on with my life. One of my older sisters suggested Job Corps. I thought I was too old (I was 22), but the cut off age was 24 so I left for Washington.

I managed to survive a few days before my anxiety got so bad that I called my parents and told them I wanted to come home. My mom made it clear that if I came home without completing my trade training, I wouldn’t have a place to live unless I could get one of my siblings or my friends to let me couch surf with them. I felt abandoned and angry. I got off the phone and went into my dorm room. I couldn’t even vent my pain there because there were other girls in the room with me and I didn’t want to let them see me cry.

I graduated from Job Corps and went to live with my fiancé’s family. (He’s now my husband.) We had a rough time and when he came home, the two of us moved out on our own as soon as we could. We rented a trailer for a while, and then we moved in with some friends. One night, my fiancé and I got into a horrible fight. We broke up at that point. Thanks to my friends and my parents, I got a bus ticket from Seattle back to Boise. I was a total mess on that bus ride. I tried to read and keep my head down. I didn’t want to talk to anyone.

I got into Boise at 2 AM. My dad picked me up from the bus station. I got home and saw my mom was up. I expected a lecture and how I’d made a bad decision. Instead I got a hug and told I was worth so much. It blew me away. We talked until almost 7, when I finally managed to relax enough to get to sleep.

A few days later, I saw my mom taking pills I didn’t recognize. I asked her about them. She told me they were for her bipolar. I was stunned. My mom was just like me. She said that I inherited it from her, and that she was fairly certain that several members of her family had some sort of mental illness too. She told me that the meds helped her make the changes I saw. I was thrilled to finally have a mom I could trust.

My fiancé and I started talking again and ultimately we decided that he’d come down to Boise. So in January he arrived and moved in with my family. He and my mom got along very well. She treated him as if he was already part of the family. He stood up to her and the two of them became friends. My parents had made the “no sex” rule in the house, but my fiancé and I ignored that rule often. I think my dad was oblivious, but my mom knew. She’d knock on the family room door before walking in, giving us time to hide what we were doing. She never called us out on it.

Then my husband and I got married. She was ecstatic. None of us had a lot of money to spare, so we just got married at the courthouse with a few friends and my family with us. My mom threw a huge brunch at her house to celebrate the wedding, and then she and my dad helped my husband and me move into our apartment. This was in October.

The following April, we found out I was pregnant with my daughter Kathleen. My mom was ecstatic. We talked a lot about giving birth, taking care of infants, other mother-related things. It was an amazing experience. But through it all something was wrong. My mom was finding it harder to eat and sleeping became difficult because of the pain in her stomach.

For several months she tried talking to her doctor about it. He kept brushing her off, telling her to “get a hobby” and giving her even more of her anti-depressant. Finally my mom got pissed and went to another doctor. This one ordered a whole slew of tests. When they came back, the results were devastating. My mom had stage four stomach cancer and it had metastasized into every major organ in her abdomen and into her lymph nodes. Chemo would give her maybe 10% longer to live. She opted not to do it.

Instead of staying in the hospital or going to a nursing home, my mom came home. We thought she had a few months left. She hoped to be able to hold on long enough to see Katie born. Katie was due in two months after mom was diagnosed. She didn’t make it. My mom went from diagnosis to death in three weeks. I spent as much time as I could with her in those three weeks, including reading a short story to her that I’d written to deal with my pain at her impending death. The day after I read her the story, she slipped into a coma. She was dead by that night.

My mom has made a lasting impression on my life – both in a good way and a bad way. The good way showed me that perhaps I too could control my mental illness. The bad way in I’m still to this day dealing with the aftereffects of her abuse. I forgave her before she died, but the mental scars are still there. I still miss her, and probably will the rest of my life. The mental scars can heal, and I will be able to focus more on the good memories those last few years of her life.

Flaws can be beautiful

Kintsukuroi-Collage

For the longest time, I lived without any real support network. When I lived with my parents, I had few friends and even fewer I can honestly say I could truly trust. I was the “easy mark”. I was gullible, naive, and willing to do quite a bit to keep someone in my life even though they were toxic.

It wasn’t until I met the man I eventually married that I realized that there was something out there other than being used and abused. He helped build shaky supports underneath my weak foundation and began to help me repair it. He saw something lovely in my flaws and found it was worth getting involved and working to see what I could do.

My husband is my biggest supporter, which makes life difficult when we have problems. Yes, like any other married couple, we have our disagreements. Sometimes they get out of control and we end up in fights (vocal, never physical). Others we talk and sort things out like reasonable adults. It’s those out of control ones that frighten me the most, and are the ones I hope to talk to my therapist about so I can get more help at dealing with certain situations. A good majority of the time, those conversations that get out of control are because I’ve reverted back into my “I’m on defense ALL THE TIME” and “he’s angry/I did something wrong/I’m a piece of shit” modes.

This isn’t good. It isn’t healthy. It can tear down a good relationship to the point where nothing seems to go right and, in worst case scenarios, can lead to divorce and bitterness. This is something we’re trying to keep from happening by altering our attitude and ways of thought. He has his own problems; I have mine. We work together and try to be as supportive as possible as we work our way through our tangled thoughts and bad habits to make ourselves into the kinds of people we want to be.

I have a lot of negative aspects to my personality that I’m not proud of and that I am working to change. I also have some positive ones that I’m trying to strengthen. I’ve let my past dictate my present and influence my future. I have to get past that in order to progress.

I’ll be 39 next Wednesday. I’ve been told that it’s absurd for a woman my age to still be trying to find herself and that I should already be the person I want to be. I suppose some people find out who they are when they’re young and hold to that self-image tightly. If that’s what works for them, that’s wonderful. Their lives are their own and if they are happy, I hope they stay that way. But that isn’t how I want to be.

I want to get rid of my negative personality traits and replace them with positive ones. I also want to keep improving my mind. I don’t think a person ever truly stops changing. I think that each event in a life – no matter how small – can change a person. I want to keep changing for the better as my life goes on, finding new talents or thoughts or ideas that improve my knowledge of who I am and what I want in life.

My husband sometimes teases me about how I try to be perfect. I always joke back that “perfection is boring.” The more I think of it, the more I realize I’m right about that. I’ve heard it many times in my life, but never really connected with that statement. Perfection, by definition, means the condition, state, or equality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws and defects. The lack of flaws means there is no chance of improvement. It means that you’ve gone as far as you can go and will never be better.

I am far from perfect. I don’t know anyone who is. I prefer being this way. I am a work in progress, and I will be until the day I die. Only in death will my journey in my mortal life end.

What I’m trying to say here is don’t let your flaws depress you. All of us have them. We are, all of us, works in progress. Embrace what makes you different, find positive ways to address what you see as being your flaws, and enjoy life. And don’t think that everything you think/do/are is a flaw. Pinpoint those things that don’t make you happy and see what you can do about fixing them. If they can’t be changed, and there are some things that can’t (physical flaws are the biggest part of this one), so be it. Accept it and move along with your life.

I’ll be honest. The “move along with your life” part is still extremely hard for me. It’s a daily struggle to remember that some of my flaws make me an interesting person. There are things that I see as flaws that my husband and our friends see as something quirky to be cherished in my personality.

No matter how old or young you are, taking time to learn yourself is something that could benefit everyone. Talk to someone if you’re unsure if what you’re seeing is a problem, or if you’re just being hypercritical of yourself. Someone who loves you will tell you the truth, and may even have suggestions to offer that will help you. Listen to what they say with a grain of salt, think long and hard on what you’re told, and in the end decide if you can live with yourself or if you want to change. Once you’ve made up your mind, go for it with all you have.

Go on. Believe in yourself. Be the person you know you can be. And always, always, ALWAYS keep looking for ways of going beyond your limitations.

Questions, questions, so many questions

Question-Mark

So Becca from Becca Does Life Things left me a comment suggesting I answer some questions. I read through her post (which you can find by following the link) and decided I would do it. Since this month is Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought it only fitting that I talk more about mental health.

  1. What mental illness do you have? – I am bipolar with moderate to severe anxiety, general panic disorder, and have recently been diagnosed with PTSD.
  2. When were you diagnosed? – I was diagnosed with bipolar when I was 16, and I’ve had that diagnosis carried through my life and validated by several different psychiatrists. I’ve also had the anxiety diagnosis, but the general panic disorder and PTSD have been more recent diagnoses.
  3. Who knows about it? – My family knows, as do my friends. Oh, and all of you, my dear readers. I don’t talk much about it, not because I’m worried about being judged, but because I get exhausted dealing with the “it’s all in your head” and “you’re not sick, you’re just lazy” crap.
  4. Has your mental illness stopped you from doing anything? – I can’t work a normal job outside the home anymore. Before I moved to the farm, I wouldn’t move from my bed for any reason, other than to go to the bathroom. My mental illness also prevented me from being a good mom.
  5. Is there anything in particular that has helped you? – Finding a support structure in being with family and friends, something I haven’t had in years. Talking to a counselor helps me deal with my guilt and depression caused by my life experiences. Medication helps with controlling the symptoms, when they work.
  6.  Can you describe what it feels like to have your mental illness? – How do you describe the way your mind works? The best example I have is a roller coaster. You have ups and you have downs. You can be thrown for a loop. You can feel dizzy and helpless, the pressure pushing you down so hard that your body doesn’t want to answer your commands. When you get off, you are so exhausted and in pain that you don’t want to get back on. Yet you are forced back on again and again.
  7. What is a common misconception about your mental illness? – “You’re the cause of your depression/anxiety.” “Being manic must be awesome. You can get so much done with that kind of energy.” I will admit that I do have issues with beating myself up mentally for making mistakes and not doing as well as I’d like at things, but that isn’t always the source of my depression. And being hypomanic is nothing like having all extra energy. I do get it, but I’m dealing with irritability and racing thoughts instead most of the time.
  8. What do you find the most difficult to deal with? – Being judged for not being able to do things the same as everyone else. I get upset with people when they tell me that I should be able to handle being outside the house in crowded places without needing someone with me. I get told I’m an adult and I need to act like one. I also find the mood swings themselves difficult to deal with. Even with meds, which I also have issues with because many times what I was prescribed turned me into a zombie.
  9. Do you have anything else you’d like to say? – If you even suspect you might have a mental illness, talk to your doctor. It may be nothing, but on the other hand finding the right help could literally be the difference between life and death.

April has ended…now comes May

may-2016-calendar

So, April has passed us and we are onto May. April was a rough month full of ups and downs. It is my hope that May will be better.

I turn 39 on May 11th. I’ve been taking stock of my life lately and find myself wondering what I’ve been doing with myself for the last 39 years. I’ve lived in three states, moved a lot, gotten married, been homeless, had children, lost those children, lost almost everything I’ve owned in various storage units we couldn’t afford, written a lot of words (some I even still have), and dealt with a near crippling issue with mental health.

April was also a pretty heavy month for me on my blog. Usually I try not to post a lot about my personal problems. I rarely ever bring up my kids. I still carry a lot of guilt and shame over that. I don’t tell anyone out of fear of having people turn against me because of it. But I’ve shared more about my struggle with mental illness in this past month than I have in all the years I’ve been blogging. (I started a blog on Blogger in 2010, I believe. Google still doesn’t show this blog in its searches. I’ll have to figure out how to fix that.)

I will still be posting things about mental health, my struggles, and whatever random articles strike my fancy and trigger a writing binge for me. I will also be posting little snippets of what I’m writing, pictures of the farm, and some more lighthearted things just to keep my blog from getting too serious and depressing.

So, let’s try making goals for this month. I plan on writing a blog post every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I will finish Into the Sands, my current epic fantasy novel. I will edit Fury, a sci fi novel I wrote some time ago. I got my beta reader’s suggestions and I’m going to revise with those in mind. I will read something other than Little Women. I’m a writer. I need to be reading more books, and ones that are also more current to our day for publishing. If I get through Into the Sands and Fury, I’ll get started on my cyberpunk project again.

I will learn one new recipe each week and try it on the household. I will bake more cookies. I will attend my group therapy without looking for ways to get out of it. I will talk to my individual therapist and try to take her advice to heart. I will be patient and wait for the referral to the med manager now that I have meds that are good enough to take the edge off of things, though they don’t help me completely.

I will try self affirmation every day. I will look into the mirror and tell myself that I am a good person, that I’m not a failure, that I have made mistakes and lived through them so I am stronger because of it. I will take the time to enjoy my life as it is now and not focus on the past so much. I will take pleasure in the simple things such as tending the animals who look forward to my coming in the morning, and the appreciation I am given for my cooking.

We’ll see how these goals work out for the month. I’ve set goals in the past and not had much luck. But these are far more reasonable goals and I think I can do them. That is all I have to say today. Wednesday’s post may or may not be longer. It’ll depend on what I feel like doing.