Over a year ago, I did something I never thought I’d have to do. Because doctors were not helping me with my mother (who has dementia and is getting worse), I contacted adult protective services on my own to beg for help. The state came through, albeit an extremely slow process. They sent a wonderful man by the name of Mr. Hardin out to my mom’s home to evaluate things and he immediately agreed, upon meeting my mom and seeing the state of what I was dealing with (alone, as an only child), that I needed and deserved help in dealing with her.

That day back in January of 2018, I started a process of trying to get guardianship of my mother. Not something fun. Not a responsibility any human being really “wants” to have, but one that I knew in my heart was necessary. Now, we have reached a point where I need conservatorship, as well. And this is posing a problem at a number of levels. Alas, the doctors have all finally come through and given the state the information, documentation, and support that was needed to start a court case and here we are.

Except, today I found out that there is a thing called a “conservatorship bond,” and it’s something I have to not only pay for myself (which is hilarious because the reason for filing for legal guardianship and conservatorship for my mom is mostly financial – or the lack of finances, rather, for being able to put her into a better living situation with round the clock care or even in home care) but also something I have to qualify for based on my credit history. My credit history is not perfect, I’m not ashamed to say, because of student loans (which I have recently managed to get out of default, but still…). This could easily put a cramp in things, depending on the judge who hears the case.

I am anxious, I am stressed, I am worried, I am just almost at a loss. I have fought for so long to be able to legally care for my mother in the ways in which she needs care but refuses to allow me to care for her on my own, and in ways that a simple POA will not effect. And here I am, at risk of not being able to receive the legal help I need because of student loans and credit history and my disabilities due to mental illness (major depression, PTSD, extreme anxiety, etc.).

I just want to be able to take care of my mother and the law says, “you may not be competent.” Well, I’ve been competent enough for the last three years since my dad died to do so. And nothing has changed about that, except I am stronger and have learned so much about taking care of someone with her issues and illnesses. I don’t know what to do anymore.

I just want it to be over.

Hopefully within the next month I will FINALLY hear from a state appointed lawyer. Hopefully by the end of the year, I will be given my day in court with my mother to plead for the ability to care for her properly, make decisions she can’t, and make sure her bills are being paid (which they are not, at least not regularly, now).

If anyone reads this and has been in this situation or has any words of wisdom, I’d really appreciate reading them. I’m slowly coming to an end with my ability to see any positives about any of this, except keeping my mother alive…

My friend Dawn shared a video that touches on something that I have been considering and trying to figure out how to express for a long time. Thank you so much for sharing this, Dawn. I have had SUCH turmoil in my spirit for SO long about the things shared in this video – and now, that’s just gone.

Before 2015, and even for a short time after my father died – while I was still in denial – I was who and what Dawn expresses throughout this video. I believed. I didn’t believe in religion – I had already fought my battles with that and overcome and undone the hold religion had had on me as a child and teenager, because of the way it was so misused and so abusive and manipulative. I had not (and still have not) completely overcome the trauma of that abuse, but I am much farther down the road of recovery. I didn’t believe in “that” God – but in the Source. A higher power. An energy. And I believed in signs.

I believed in our ability as humans to connect with higher spiritual energies and forces and to receive guidance and to guide others. I knew that I had a gift and that I always had – I was able to understand that part of the reason I was so strongly opposed to religion was that I had always been more connected to that source than to buildings and books and that the source was found in the natural world that I had adored and revered throughout my life. I believed in the power of nature to heal, to guide, to teach, and to comfort. I believed in life, and not death.

I had faith – so much faith. I was positive and more happy and at peace with life and with myself than I had ever been, and all just felt right. Real. And yes, peaceful, even in times of pain and struggle. Even though I was at this place and knew I had been awakened and was living with my eyes and my heart open, I struggled with the physical complication of depression and anxiety – not because I didn’t believe in good or higher power or whatever you want to label it but because my body didn’t manage its chemicals very well.

When my best friend was diagnosed with cancer, and I was going through a loss of a different kind along with that terrifying and excruciating experience with my best friend, I held fast to my faith despite the creeping depression. My father died unexpectedly one week after the one year anniversary of her diagnosis with terminal cancer, and I continued to hold fast, knowing that he had been prepared and ready for his own death for some time. He had struggled and suffered for many years, and though his death was unexpected (diabetic coma leading to stroke and then to the sepsis which eventually shut down his body one organ at a time over the course of five days), he was at rest. At peace.

For another 8 months my best friend fought and struggled and suffered, and I was there. I was there until she pushed me away and asked me not to be. She did this with many, to be fair – she was afraid, she lost her ability to cope, and instead of realizing t was a brain tumor and fear speaking for her I believed it was what she really wanted and thought I was respecting her wishes. Weeks went by and during this time my faith began to waiver and my grip began to loosen on that rope that had always held me through those difficult times. She passed away 8 months to the day that we buried my father, and in that moment, part of my soul quite literally died along with her.

Since then I have struggled. I slipped so far down that taking my own life was an option and something I planned out and would have followed through with and completed had something inside me not spoken up and cried out to my husband for help. I don’t know why that happened, aside from my fear of leaving my son without a mother and destroying him, but it did happen and because of his help, and my willingness to fight a really fucked up system, I was able to finally get the help and the medication that I desperately needed. I still struggle. I still rarely leave my home. But in so many ways, I AM better.

In the spiritual areas, though? I have continued to struggle the hardest there. To founder. To nearly drown only to be held afloat by the tiniest life preserver with the thinnest thread attaching it to me. That life preserver has been comprised of my son, of music, of art and photography, and my unwillingness to just pretend like I’ve been ok. I found more strength in vulnerability and allowing myself to share my reality than in “faking it.” Only through doing that was I able to cross paths with some of the most healing people I’ve had touch my life in the past year. People who have encouraged me to continue to share and to have faith and hope, if not in healing, and the possibility of mending and growing and learning to live with the ache of grief, loss, and the “not understanding” or not having the answers or the closure I thought I needed.

Dawn has always been one of those people, and I am so grateful. Even though Dawn and I may be on slightly different paths in career and life in general in many ways, we also share things in common that connect us in very special ways – cancer, loss, grief, “the struggle,” seeking the way (whatever that may be for each of us) – and, what she expresses here about “giving it all away” is so accurate and in tune with where I am…

And that is the other issue that’s been weighing on me: the issue of why I give away (or dump out, as someone once said to me, and I can’t help but laugh at that because it’s so close to true so much of the time) so much stuff – just give it away with no real concern about marketing it or branding it or selling it. “Why do you just give all this creativity and energy away for free? You don’t even try to gain followers or build your brand.”

Because…I don’t want to. I create for the same reason that I breathe. I don’t WANT to make money from it. Making money from it takes away the spiritual connection and soul that I want to express. I LIKE giving myself away, as it were. I LIKE sharing myself and my creative stuff.

I used to like working on computers and tinkering and writing weird programs and so on, and then when I let people convince me to turn it into a career the heart got lost. It became stress. The same thing happened with my photography. I let people convince me to “work harder” and to get into shows and to build a site to sell it and so on, and it became stress instead of joy.

I don’t need to sell these things and I don’t want to sell them. I don’t feel like they can be valued by a price tag and that if they are then it somehow takes away from the true value of what is there. You can’t put a price tag on peace – your own or anyone else’s. It is PRICELESS. And if anything I have to offer can bring that to me or to anyone who shares in my creative endeavors, it’s absolutely worth the “freedom” – at many levels.

Ultimately, as Dawn shares, it’s healing for me to “give it away” because it’s healing for me to create – it’s my PURPOSE to create. I’m going to create regardless and if I feel that giving it away and even just possibly being of help to someone else, even if inadvertently, can be a part of that process…well, why shouldn’t that be free? A lack of monetary value doesn’t make that worth nothing. At least, not in my soul…

Sharing is priceless. It helps me to believe – and it helps me to believe even more when other people cross paths with me via my creative sharing and say, “hey, I believe, too!” or better yet, “hey, I know the struggle so well but I’m hanging on, too. Let’s hang on together. Let’s learn together. Let’s share. Let’s grow together.” Those people exist. Many of you who are regular readers of my blogs, or listeners of my music, or followers of my photography, have shared with me that you are those people.

While I love that others find success in selling their creativity and I even often purchase it from them, it’s just not something I want to do with the things I share creatively online. I need that connection – at least right now, that connection is worth far more to me than money ever will be. I want to be better. I am, at this time, extremely blessed to be able to survive and work on becoming better and not worry whether there will be food in our mouths or clothes on our backs or a roof over our heads without me having to sell my soul to cover it. I am so thankful for that – for my family.

I’m SO grateful that Dawn’s shared this and that it’s available for me to share with you. This has been on my heart for so long and I’ve not been able to figure it out until now. Thank you again, Dawn. So much!!

I encourage you to watch Dawn’s video and listen to her story, which you can do by clicking here. In many ways – especially the spiritual things she speaks about – it mirrors who I was and who I am re-becoming. It inspires me to continue to seek my own heart and hear it, as well as that of whatever this higher power has to offer me.

I hope that you will find some inspiration or encouragement in it, as well…

All the love,

C.

It’s easy for people who don’t have major depression or a chemical depressive disorder to look objectively at a person’s life and point out all of the logical reasons why someone should not feel sad, angry, anxious, or any number of other emotions and emotional experiences that come with depression. But depression isn’t logical. Depression doesn’t care to reason, and certainly not to show mercy.

You can’t talk your way out of it, pray your way out of it, think your way out of it, spiritualize your way out of it… You can’t analyze, theorize, medicate, or meditate your way out of major depressive disorder. You can’t shop, travel, read, or even act your way out of it.

For those people reading this who are in my shoes, you get it. For those in my life who can’t grasp it, I’m sorry. I know that you can’t get it. I’m sorry that I’m sick. I’m sorry that I am not who you want me to be or who I want to be to/for you. For those reading this who don’t get it at all, I hope this helps your mindset.

Please try to remember that it’s a disorder, not a decision. You can’t fake your way through depression every day. You get tired. And when you get tired, and feeling especially tied up in the straightjacket of depression, you really don’t care who sees or doesn’t understand.

Then, you regret that, because they think it’s them. They try to make it about something it’s not, because you should know if you pray or get spiritual or meditate or walk outside or even “JUST TALK” TO THEM!! then you will suddenly be ok! Then, you REALLY hate being here. You REALLY feel misunderstood and unloved. You REALLY want a drink and you REALLY don’t wanna take your meds – because you just want to sleep.

You want to sleep forever. You can’t move. You don’t shower. You don’t even brush your teeth. All you manage to do is go ahead and swallow the pills and go ahead and feed your kid and fake your way through homeschool. So…

The cycle continues. Until one day you say, “f*** the cycle. F*** it. F*** other people. F*** how it looks. AGAIN. I’m going to just make it stop.

And then you don’t. AGAIN. Because of him, in my case. My son. Because you’re too filled with love. That’s right – people with depression still love. They still feel “positive” things. And most often, when they commit suicide, they do so because they love others and they truly believe that the world and their people are better off without them. I know that’s hard to understand. But, it’s the truth.

Why? Why do they think the world would be better off without them? Not because of depression itself. Because they’ve had to fight their depression alone, which is impossible. They believe they are a burden. They feel their depression is causing too many issues for other people.

They feel…. Unloved. Ignored. Unseen. Without worth to add anything good to the world. They don’t want to make the world a darker place because they love. But when they end their lives, and usually while they are still alive and it’s often what pushes them to the end, along with the depression itself, they are labeled with things like selfishness, negativity, cynicism, laziness, etc.

None of those things are true.

You can’t do it alone, and anyone who says they did or do or that you can is a liar. Even if it was influences from media that helped them (music, movies, speakers, writers. etc.), nobody survives depression alone – especially not the kind that wraps itself around you like a second skin and doesn’t let go, and can’t be peeled off, and hurts even to try to put clothes on and cover it for the day.

And that’s the only reason I’m still here.

#welcometomyweek

I haven’t shared any of my music for a while, but, whelp, here’s a thing. Enjoy. All I can do right now is express the music (and the image edits) and that’s what this is. I may not have the words but I have the music. So far, I’ve always had the music.

The basis of this song is to end stigmas, to understand that those with mental illnesses need compassion and they need to be reached out to, not ignored or shunned or pushed away or further labeled, and saying goodbye to those labels.

There is some sort of problem with the video playing on mobile devices so if the video doesn’t work for you, you can listen to the song on SoundCloud as well as download it for free, for listening later.

I hope that YOU are doing well, and I hope that you get something out of this post that helps you better deal with or understand anyone in your life who struggles with depression.

All the love,

C. ❤️

**This song was mixed with Auxy using samples from Fanton ’87’s “Pay Phone.”

Several weeks ago I shared a post about my hair and how I had almost buzzed it. Here is a quote from the post:

For a very long time I have thought about shaving my head. For a time only the slightest bit less than the amount of time I’ve thought about it, I have wanted to shave my head. I’m talking buzz cut, not slick. But either way – bald is the name of the game. I go back and forth about actually doing it, but I WANT to do it. I’ve come to a time where I’ve really begun to think more seriously about it – to the point that I presented the idea to both the man and the child and they have no opinion at all other than that they want to be involved in the process.

Well. Here we are, about three weeks later, and the deed has been done. I actually did this almost RIGHT after I shared that post, but I wasn’t ready to share THIS post right away because I wanted to see how it went. I wanted to see how I really felt about it. I wanted to collect some pros and cons after having done it, and I wanted to feel fully “buzzed,” if you will, before I started spouting words about the experience. I am ready to do that now.

Before I go any further, there is something I want to talk about – perhaps clear up, so to speak. One of the most consistent experiences I have had since the buzzing took place has been this one (or, at least, this one in so many words), over and over again:

“You are so brave! I could never do it – even if I wanted to! It’s very courageous to make such a huge change!”

This bothers me and I want to tell you why it’s not true. It did not take courage for me to buzz my head (or shave it, or whatever term you wish to use). I am not courageous. I was not looking to completely change my life in a matter of moments with a hairstyle (ok, maybe in some ways I was – which I will discuss further in the “Pros” section of this post). I just WANTED to do it. So I did! It really was that easy. For a long time I couldn’t understand why people had to attach more to it than that – sure, a lot of thought went into it before I did it, as shared in my original post. But I feel really awkward when people say, “you’re so brave! I could ever do that! That took a lot of courage.”

No. It really and truly didn’t. For me, what it took was being fed up with my hair for a number of reasons. It took wanting it the hell out of my face and to stop wasting my time. Oh, and it took a quick flip of the on switch and running the clippers over my head. That’s all it took. There’s a difference between being brave and just being done.

Brave is charging into a burning building or jumping out of a helicopter into the ocean to save lives. Brave is working as a beat cop during this day and age. Brave is facing your demons, getting help with addiction or mental health issues or finding a way out of an abusive relationship. Brave is being a woman in a country where women have no rights. Comparatively, I am not brave. I have only done something I wanted to do… Maybe that IS brave to some, and I suppose that I can accept that and allow anyone who feels that way the right to feel that way. But personally? I don’t feel that way about it. I don’t feel it was a “brave” thing to do, and it truly makes me uncomfortable to be called “brave” over something so insignificant as shaving off my hair.

Now that I’ve expressed my thoughts on that, I want to share with you some of the other things I have experienced and learned since flipping the on switch and the best way to do that, I think (for me), is a (hereto incomplete) list of pros and cons.

The Pros (so far):

  • MONEY
    • First of all, it doesn’t cost anything to run the clippers over my head. I don’t have to pay someone else to do it (yet – I’m not into styling at this point, just being uniformly buzzed).
    • I also spend almost zero money on hair products.
    • The only hair product I use is shampoo – although I use it daily now as (con) my head gets oily much more quickly.
    • I also have found myself using the Argon oil I gave to my husband for his beard on my head the last couple of days because the winter is drying my scalp out (not my hair, which still gets oily by morning even without the argon oil – go figure). I haven’t quite found a balance there.
    • But the bottom line for this bullet is that this is CHEAP and I love it.
  • EASE OF EXISTENCE
    • No bed head.
    • Shower time = five minutes.
    • No drying time.
    • No styling time.
    • No fuss. No mess.
    • No, “Oh God, you have to wash your hair? You should start getting ready an hour ahead of me,” from my husband.
    • My life has become so much easier and I love it.
  • MY FACE
    • It exists.
    • I can see it.
    • I am learning to love it (actually, I almost loved my face more instantly after a long time of being very insecure about it).
    • No spider web hairs to tickle it.
    • No random hair everywhere in my eyes when I’m trying to do EVERYTHING I DO.
    • I love it.
  • HATS
    • I get to wear hats of all kinds now and they fit my head.
    • I have a REASON to wear hats now.
    • I like hats, so this a definite pro for me.
    • I love it.
  • LIGHTNESS
    • My head feels so light, even still. After years of the weight of my hair (I literally lost almost two pounds after I had buzzed it – despite it falling out like crazy that sh*t was so thick and coarse and heavy), I now feel so much lighter.
    • It’s not just the weight of the hair itself – it’s the lack of worrying with hair.
    • I love it.
  • IT IS COOLER
    • I live in the south, where the humidity doesn’t end until January (usually). Therefore, for most of the year, having free head air conditioning is a wonderful thing. There are also some cons to this, which I’ll list below, but mostly it’s great.
    • I love it.
  • ME
    • I just feel so much more like me. I can’t explain that. But it’s the truth. Not having my hair to define me (which I’m sure it still does for some, but not for me – like those who think I’ve lost my mind, ha!) has liberated me in all the ways I expected and in some I didn’t expect (like that whole having a face thing)…
    • I used to love playing with makeup looks. I love that again now, and have a lot of fun with it. I’ve only actually done my makeup a handful of times since the buzzing but had a ball doing it and bought myself the Naked 3 palette from Urban Decay for my birthday.
    • I love it.

The Cons (so far):

  • GROWTH
    • My hair apparently grows VERY fast. That’s annoying. I buzz it at least once a week. This has impacted my OCD a tiny bit, but that’s OK. Good grooming is a factor of my depression that I could stand to be a bit more “on top of.”
  • ITCHING AFTER CUTS
    • My husband used to complain like all get out about tiny hairs poking him when I’d cut his hair. I used to say he was overreacting. HE WAS NOT OVERREACTING.
    • The itchiness when you finish a cut is INSANE. I sometimes have to shower twice in one shower to get the hair off of me.
    • Sometimes the little hairs get stuck in my bra and don’t wash out (don’t ask, I don’t know how or why), so I sometimes look like a man scratching his balls except it’s my boobs I’m digging at. Sigh…
  • HATS
    • I mentioned the pros of hats. The only con I have found is that my head is much smaller than it was with hair (MUCH SMALLER) and my baseball caps do not fit properly. I can’t get them tight enough without the bulge in the back…
    • Silver lining? I will eventually get to buy smaller baseball caps!
  • COLD
    • The con to the pro of coolness. Now that it’s really cold here, it’s REALLY COLD here.
    • I have to wear hoodies to bed some nights…which is awkward because I generally don’t like to sleep in very much clothing because I get these weird sweats. Not with my shaved head. Nope. Not right now… But, sleeping in bulky clothing is still not very comfortable for me.
    • Going outside without a hoodie or hat on is unwise. Just plain unwise…
  • HOT
    • By the same token? Getting hot and sweating is not fun without hair, either.
    • Sweat drips in my eyes, and I actually find that I sweat MORE without hair than I did with it when I work out…or maybe it just has nowhere to go and I notice it more.
    • When it’s hot and I wear a cap to keep my head from getting burned, I sweat more…but that’s OK. I’d rather do that than have a charred scalp.

Other Strange Expereinces:

  • STARING
    • People stare. A lot. It doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, what with my social anxiety and such. It’s actually made me more confident because I am learning how to ignore people far more efficiently through the experience.
  • BEING HIT ON
    • Women hit on me openly, even here in the south. This NEVER happened until I didn’t have hair. Go figure.
    • Men (surprisingly) flirt at me (I refuse to say with because I do not reciprocate). I thought men would be more put off by a woman with a buzz cut but apparently, I was wrong.
    • Don’t get me wrong – it’s always nice to be noticed in this way, but I realize that in this way my hair still defines me to some extent. I don’t like it being sexualized, this way or the other way (long). I guess that is something we will (ALL) always have to live with in our society…
  • ARE YOU SICK?
    • numerous times people have flat out asked me if I was sick or if I had cancer BEFORE they asked me why I shaved my head (usually strangers, oddly enough). It’s like they feel sorry for me right off the bat. That’s annoying and to some extent upsets me because I know what it’s like to be that person who has little or no hair due to sickness (from the experience of cancer with Dorie) and it’s no fun for people to judge you either way in that aspect.
    • At the same time, I don’t blame people – not many women have this sort of hairstyle. It’s almost an automatic assumption that there must be something wrong if they do have this sort of hairstyle.
  • NO IN BETWEEN
    • people either love it or hate it. There is no in between. So when people dislike it they tend to make it known (much more so than those who love it), for example when they shout ugly things across the parking lot at you (generally racial things, hello – I live in the south, am white and have a shaved head – I must be a racist), it’s a bit saddening. I don’t hate anyone and my hairstyle has nothing to do with anyone but me. I know my heart, so I am learning to let that go by. But it’s a telling sign that racism is still alive and well here in the south. And that’s just really wrong and saddening.
  • TOUCHING ME
    • My final and most annoying con is that people randomly touch me. Sometimes they ask and before I can even say, “no, please,” they’re already rubbing on my head. It’s like when a woman is pregnant (or at least this was my experience): people can’t help themselves – they want to touch your belly. Same thing with my head. It’s like a hand magnet. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll get a bigger bald spot than the small couple I already have (from celiac) or if all my brains will get sucked out from all the rubbing going on up there….
    • I wish people would stay out of my personal space, that’s all. I really wasn’t expecting that. I have, however, invited all of the boy’s little friends and most of my own friends and family to have a feel of the buzz cut – it seems to ease their minds a bit. They aren’t used to a woman with this kind of hairstyle at all and it’s a little unnerving for some of them, I think. Bless their hearts.

So I suppose that’s it for my buzz cut run down after a few weeks of living the buzzed life. Ultimately, I absolutely LOVE it and wouldn’t change a thing. I have NO regrets and I don’t think I will grow my hair out at all for a very long time (which for me could range from a few more weeks to several months, ha!). I haven’t felt this free or in control of myself for a very long time. There is peace for me in having no hair. I have, within myself, taken, “no hair, don’t care, to a whole new level. Suddenly there are a LOT of things I’ve let go of. But that’s another blog.

I suppose now you’ll be wanting to see what it looks like, so here are some photos (some candid, some posed) of the buzz cut. Ultimately, I hope the message taken away from this blog and this experience is that people will find the wherewithal to just be themselves and do what they want to do with their hair, their faces, their bodies, whatever. Just be you, and do what makes you happy. It’s worth any cons that might come your way, as long as you know what you’re doing is where your heart truly is.

Until next time, take care and enjoy this last night of the year…

C.

Dear 2017,

What can I possibly say to you? As I begin this I am speechless. I sit here overwhelmed with all the challenges, all the horrors, all the sheetrock dust… I don’t even want to think about any of that. That’s not where I want to focus. Anyone who really knows me already knows all of that – anyone who follows this (very intermittent) blog already knows a lot of it..

I want to focus on this:  I am alive today.

I am alive today. That is…both a miracle and a feat of inner strength I didn’t know that I had but found only because I was loved, even when I didn’t realize I was being loved.

I’ve needed the friendship and love I’ve had in my life this year more than any other I’ve faced. As everything from the past few years came to a head within me, and as I lost my grip and slid down to as close to rock bottom as I have ever gone, I found myself in a darkness like no other I’ve ever experienced. But with support and love from so many people, I began making the changes I needed to make to begin to get better both physically and mentally (like fighting my way back to the meds I knew I needed – and what a fight it was…).

2017 has been one my hardest fights with depression and anxiety and after being diagnosed with CPTSD and some specific physical health problems that I have had to learn how to manage, well, initially I didn’t handle anything very well at all. But then, I came to a precipice where I realized how life or death the situation was, and I did something I can hardly believe I did. I showed my weakness.

First, I showed this to my husband. It is truly to him that I owe my life this year. He has taken control in ways I have never seen him take control and he has exhibited patience beyond what I have ever seen in him – and that is saying a lot. He is my rock, my partner, my saving grace in so many ways, and still, after 18 years, my best friend. He and I have grown apart and back together more than once but never like this year. I love him so very much and I am so grateful that he is a part of my life. That’s a choice he made, and I am so blessed that he did.

I was also very open with my son about what was going on. I leaned on him, perhaps more than anyone, whether he realized it or not. It was simply his existence and the fact that he needed me as much as I needed him that gave me purpose and something to fight back with in my brain when my pain and my depression would try to convince me to give up. He is the light of my life, my dear friend, my little hero, and my biggest inspiration. I love him dearly. He is so much of my strength – and isn’t it amazing how such a small human can be such a source of healing and love… God bless that mess, as my father used to say…

My mother in law and her husband have gone above and beyond to help me by making the hardest things much easier and by being so incredibly understanding about my not being able to drive. They have come to us here so many times to pick up and to drop off the boy, and the phone calls I have shared with my mother in law have been another huge source of comfort and of feeling loved and supported. They are both more than inlaws to me. They are like my own parents. And Lord knows I’ve needed their help this year more than any other.

My cousin and her farm have also been a huge part of my sanity this year. I haven’t spent as much time there as I have in years past because, well, I wasn’t leaving home very much and certainly wasn’t able to drive myself. But even from a distance, sharing with her via phone calls and texts, always being able to ask her questions about the physical issues and cry on her with the emotional issues…she has continued to be an incredible blessing in my life and I love her dearly.

My friend Ralph – he has come back into my life in a grand way this year – staying here for weeks and helping to solve problems and support us and heal me (and us). I can’t even begin to share here all the ways he has helped me this year. Listened, understood, allowed, accepted, taught, hugged – he’s been my dad reincarnated while still being my Ralph. For quite some time I forgot that he was my friend – I viewed him as the boy’s godfather and friend and I focused more on their relationship with each other. This year I have relearned my own friendship with him and he is one of the best friends our lives have ever been blessed with. He has gone out of his way to help with anything that we’ve asked for help with, and even stepped in when a need was there and we weren’t asking – no matter what it was. I wouldn’t be here without the teamwork between him and my husband to steer me in the right direction, make sure I got to appointments, make sure my rights were fought for despite my inability to fight for myself.

And then, there’s the internet. You. All of you who have commented on my Instagram and blog posts, who have emailed me or private messaged me. Strangers, friends, all the same – you have done much to propel me forward and help me to keep hope somewhere in the darkness. I have received so much love and shared many conversations with people like me, or people with friends or family struggling with similar problems, and all of these conversations have helped me to see things differently, to see through other people’s struggles, to learn different ways of coping that I’d never tried or even heard of before. While I’ve become quite private in the last half of the year, you have all always encouraged me to share when and what I wanted, and to remember that it always helps us, too, when we help each other, and that that is what sharing could amount to.

One of the things the internet gave me – nay, the universe – that has helped me tremendously this year was a reconnection to a person that forever changed my life years ago but still has that same role in it – teaching me, listening, showing me by her own example and opening my eyes to the me I CAN be, to make more and bigger steps forward and not stay there as long when I take steps backward, and to own the fact that I must and I CAN do it myself. It waivers, still, but my faith and confidence in myself and in spiritual things is returning in huge waves through the existence of this person in my life and the experiences we have shared in common, and I am so very grateful for the blessing that has (always) existed in our friendship.

Yes, 2017. You have been tough. The toughest. Even still, in the fall  of the year I found myself going more places even when it was hard and being more and more open with certain people in my life to heal the bits and pieces a little at a time. I found myself being pulled back to nature and spending huge amounts of time in it, hiking and climbing, exploring and camping… The winter came, and as always the struggle has returned in some ways. The cold hurts my body and the darker days hurt my mind. But I’m not planning on letting that stop me as the new year turns over it’s new leaf.

2017, you gave me the hardest battles I’ve ever fought – most of them with myself (and with doctors). But what you gave me that is really just about all I can see today is love and friendship despite the hard things. Support, kindness, compassion… You surrounded me with it – and while I didn’t realize I was accepting it until recently, I DO realize it and I am grateful for it. So, 2017, while your beginning was the most difficult, sickest time of my life, your ending comes with my realization of these lessons:

The harsh (for me, the independent) lesson in the reality of how life is not meant to be lived alone.

We are not meant to merely survive these horrible things, nor do we HAVE to do so, alone.

We are meant to give and receive love, and sometimes, although the balance is off, love is always there.

Good is always there – good things, good people, a good life to be had if we persevere.

Sometimes endings aren’t endings at all – they are mere pauses. The heart knows which is which with each situation and circumstance.

It is always worth our hope, and our hard work, to continue on.

There are ALWAYS people out there who can be touched by us, even by our worst experiences their lives can be made better.

It is okay not to be okay.

It is okay to take the time we need and to retreat.

It is okay to doubt, and to fear, but not to stay there.

It is okay to be who we are – those who are meant to be in our lives and bring good to our lives WILL. No matter what.

The universe truly does provide.

And, ultimately, that we all struggle, and we all matter, and we are all worthy of the help we are offered – sometimes, the hardest thing is to accept it.

So, in closing, I am grateful for the help that’s been offered me this year, and I’m grateful that I somehow accepted it. I wouldn’t be here without having done that. I wouldn’t be here without every one of the people mentioned in this post, including you. I am filled with gratitude and with love for you all, and to close this year I say, “thank you,” to you, to my family, and to 2017.

May 2018 overflow with all the love, friendship, joy, and blessings that you – that we all – deserve.

All my love,

C.

Herbs and essential oils are and have been healers and helpers for all of time, for humans and animals alike. I have really bad headaches – sometimes (a lot lately) they turn into migraines and these are not remedies so much as just helpers/soothers during migraines but they REALLY help and sometimes completely relieve my tension or sinus headaches.

I have two things that I use – one with dried herbs and one with oils. For dried herbs I just put one part each of eucalyptus, mint, and lavender into a small sachet bag or tie it up in a thin piece of cloth (cheesecloth works well) to make an herb bag. Then I just put it on my face and sniff it for a bit and try to nap or rest with it near my head.

When it comes to oils, I use the same three herbs. I use 15 drops of peppermint eo, 15 drops of eucalyptus eo, and 11 drops of lavender eo, dropped into 10ml of carrier oil in a (10ml) roller ball bottle. I prefer jojoba for the undertone in scent but also like grapeseed as it is a little thicker and has no scent at all once mixed. The last bit I made, I didn’t have either of those oils so I just used what we all always have on hand – EVOO extra virgin olive oil). To use this I simply roll a bit on my temples and rub it in with my ring fingers, kind of massaging. I often rub it down along the bone of my eye socket or even on my forehead for the cooling. Don’t get it in your eyes, though!!

EVOO is a great deal runnier than other carriers, in my opinion, but it blends well and I do not notice much of an underlying scent at all once its mixed well. Another note: you can use more or less of each eo – I played with this until I found what I liked best and what seems to work the best for me. I like the stronger scent of the eucalyptus and the cooling of the peppermint oil. Some have better luck with 10 drops of those and more of the lavender for relaxing. It’s all your preference. If you’re very sensitive to scents (especially with migraines), you may want to mix some with 10 drops or less of each. Again, personal preferences and what your body desires is what matters.

Neither of these things are a cure all (NOTHING is for migraines, except time, just to be perfectly honest – or so has been my experience), but these old time “remedies” really help to soothe any headache I have and often will help to clear up a tension or bad sinus headache (as the mint/eucalyptus) is so good for helping loosen and drain mucous).

I hope this might help someone out there if needed…just a random little thing I did again recently and wanted to share. Hope you are all well and have no use for these “remedies,” too!

Take care…

C.

Hair. Oh, the hair. I’ve been having some issues with mine lately due to my physical health – things like having it falling out in record amounts and even getting patchy underneath. It’s not as visible to anyone who doesn’t know me well but it’s annoying to me. Recently I cut nearly a foot of my hair. Nay, CHOPPED it off – myself, in my bathroom, with the man’s scissors. Hair that once sat just near my lower back now sits just above my shoulders. It was a test, more than anything. And I am left with the same thoughts as before.

For a very long time I have thought about shaving my head. For a time only the slightest bit less than the amount of time I’ve thought about it, I have wanted to shave my head. I’m talking buzz cut, not slick. But either way – bald is the name of the game. I go back and forth about actually doing it, but I WANT to do it. I’ve come to a time where I’ve really begun to think more seriously about it – to the point that I presented the idea to both the man and the child and they have no opinion at all other than that they want to be involved in the process.

Many years ago I got my hair cut really short. It was buzzed on the back/neck and left a bit longer on the top/sides. I HATED IT. Even though I THOUGHT that I didn’t care what other people thought, I subconsciously did. I hated it because other people told me that it didn’t suit my face, it didn’t fit my jawline, it wasn’t pretty on me…many negative things. I got to a point where I believed that my hair was my only good trait – my hair was my beauty and without it I was nothing if not disgusting. I reached a point where I hated my face. I was SO INSECURE.

At the time, I was 21. I was newly married. I was still in college, driving an hour and a half one way to classes four days a week, spending the other three either studying or trying to figure out how to be a wife and live with someone else (which I hadn’t done for nearly two years before I was married) and struggling to get through the semester with my brain still intact. It was around/during midterms. It was one of the supreme eras of stress in my life (there were a lot of things going on I won’t mention here, for length/time’s sake).

Long story short? I got the haircut for the wrong reasons entirely – only one, really – I did it because I hated my hair. My hair was being difficult on a daily basis, it was not working with me, it was SO THICK back then, and BIG, almost just like the stereotypical (but beautiful) southern female hair you see in Steel Magnolias and other “southern” movies and tv shows. Getting that haircut was one of those throw-your-hands-in-the-air moments in life where you do what feels like the only thing you can do, and in that case what I thought was the only option ended up being a HUGE MISTAKE.

I didn’t want to do it in my heart – I just wanted to get rid of my hair. Others ridiculed me for it, and that hurt, yes – but it wouldn’t have hurt if I was doing it for the right reasons. Well, I suppose it will always hurt for those close to you to judge you but I don’t believe it would have bothered me so much or made such an impact on how I saw myself if I had done it in and with confidence in the first place. The truth is, I didn’t know what I was doing.

Today I am 38 (39 in two weeks) years old and I am a very different person. I have, for all my life, had a good relationship with my hair (aside from the time I just mentioned). I have always loved my long, thick hair. I have always seen it as my best feature – even before the mistake haircut, to be honest… But, I have grown to a place where I have a LONG list of reasons that I have been and continue to think about and want to COMPLETELY shave my head.

The only real reason is this: I WANT TO SHAVE MY HEAD. Ultimately, I want to do it because I want to do it. I am anxious about it because I know the risk – I know the risk because I know what I went through with only a “near shave” all those years ago.I know there are going to be cons. I know that sweat is going to get in my eyes if I don’t wear a hat or something else when I exercise or mow or do things that make you sweat, like just walking outside in the south in the summer is prone to do. I know that it is going to be cold during the winter.

I know that it is going to be a problem for certain religious folk down here where I live in the a-woman’s-hair-is-her-glory Bible Belt. I know it is going to offend certain people who have lost their hair because of sickness rather than choice. I know this because one of those people has already made me well aware of how disrespectful it is for women to shave their heads by choice when other women would give anything to have their hair back and didn’t have a choice in the matter (which I think is completely ridiculous but at the same time I can see where she is coming from).

Those two things I know more than anything. People are GOING to judge me – especially when it’s summertime and my tattoos are visible. People are going to assume things about me, like that I must be sick or have something wrong with me or that I am gay (um, well…). I know that people who already know me are going to just think I’m having a Britney Spears meltdown/mental health moment.

People are going to look at me more than they already do when I go out in public and that DOES NOT appeal to me at all (social anxiety already makes going out almost impossible). The last thing I want to do is draw attention to myself and I know the worst possible thing I can do to cause that to happen is to shave my head. That thought absolutely terrifies me.

But then there’s the thought of dying without doing something I really want to do – something that isn’t really that big of a deal, except the big deal society turns it into. There’s the thought of how I don’t want to be the mom who talks about doing something I really want to do all the time but never doing it and leaving my son thinking that it’s OK to let the fear of what other people might do (stare at you in public, shudder) keep you from doing it.

There’s the thought of how much money and time I will save by not having to buy hair products or dry my hair or straighten my hair. There’s the thought of the bliss of not having my heavy hair on migraine days, or of not having it in my face no matter the fact that I’ve pulled it up or back while I’m exercising or cleaning or doing ANYTHING at all. There’s the thought of wanting to do it with Dorie when she lost her hair and shaved hers during chemo, and her not “allowing it” – something I really wanted to do with and for my friend, as much as for myself…

But now I realize something very real and very important – she did not stand in my way because she didn’t want me to do it. She stood in my way because she knew that I was still not doing it for the right reasons. She knew that afterward I would say, “I did it with and for my friend,” rather than, “I did it just because I wanted to do it. I did it for myself. Got a problem with that?” That almost hurts my heart now. I would have done anything for her, and in my heart I did want to do it for her – and that was her whole problem with it. She knew I was not doing it all for myself, and she wouldn’t allow me to do something that I was not sure was 100% true to me.

But ultimately, there’s the thought of my remaining insecurities and how I want to and am being encouraged by many people to step outside of my comfort zone. To face my fears. To live for ME. To overcome certain anxieties in order to eventually overcome other anxieties and on and on. There’s the thought of  looking at myself in the mirror without my “glory” and going, “hey, there you are. Let’s get to know each other – let’s learn to truly love each other.” That is what I want to have happen, and despite the risks and despite the fears (I can’t help but doubt that anybody who says they’re 100% secure the first time they shave their head is telling the truth) I am beyond ready to have that happen within myself.

But am I ready to embrace my own power and do something so drastic with my hair when I can’t seem to embrace my power and drive or go places alone or get beyond certain other issues in my life? I don’t know… Perhaps it could be a start. But will I be brave enough to do what I want to do? I guess we will find out soon enough.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever considered anything like this for yourself? Have you ever done anything that would be considered drastic by society – or at least the society you live in locally? What were your reasons? How did you cope? Let’s chat about it…

Partially rewritten from an old instagram account – the one that used to bear this username, I wanted to take a moment to catch up with you and tell you, in short, I’m doing a 5k in two weeks. 

I know, I know. What!?? My husband has been helping me prepare and is doing it with me, along with our little pup. It’s been a definite lesson in learning to listen to my body. Yesterday I made my best time, averaging just at 15 minutes per mile, which is basically shit for a runner but a miracle for someone pushing through with chronic pain. 

I suffered last night. Today I can hardly move. But this evening, weather permitting, we’ll be out again, pushing that time. Why? Because I WANT to. Neighbors and acquaintances alike are openly calling me crazy and expressing concern for my sanity more than my safety but using my safety as the key words, and I want to combine two things (this older writing rewritten for the now and a piece I wrote last night) and share it with you. Why? Because it helps me to share. 

Walk A Mile in My Shoes

I wrote this a while ago but was afraid to share it because I didn’t want to be seen as a complainer or as weak. This is what the stigma of invisible disease does to people. My friend sent me a challenge to share my truth as I used to – it’s called the #vulnerabilitychallenge. So, I AM going to post this & not be insecure, & know I am not complaining. 

If you have loved ones with CI or chronic pain, be patient with them. They can’t control their bodies & battle with them every day & some days every second. It’s hard to live with pain, especially invisible pain. Try to give them a break. 

Literally hours ago I felt like this black cloud over my head was lifting. I felt…happy. I got excited because the depression was leaving. But what I forgot is that it never leaves. It just rises & falls like the temperature…or the ventilator that kept my dad alive during his coma.

I realized I keep waiting – waiting to get better when I know I never will. I may not necessarily get worse, but never better. That’s what CI means. So I do the best I can…but forgive me when I suddenly crash, or snap at you, or act out of sorts or distant. It’s not just a mood. It’s not just pettiness or whining. Its not selfishness or taking you for granted. It’s fibrolife or a celiac flare. Don’t be angry with me & fuss at me or cuss at me or take it personally. Worse yet, don’t compare me to yourself or others – especially others with CI or depression. 

Instead, just take a moment to try to imagine your skin feeling like it’s on fire. Feeling like your legs are wrapped in barbed wire, and let down because it’s backpain again tonight, first headache in a while, leg cramps, stomach cramps, everything hurts, and it’s stress. My body reacts very bitchily to stress – especially extreme stress, like my preparations for this 5K. 

The day has settled down & now it all catches up with me. Don’t hold it against me if I don’t cope well with stress. But rest assured – I WILL walk on, I WILL keep pushing through, and I DO love you. But I am also upset with certain aspects of how I’ve been approached recently. 

It’s comparison that gets to me. Tonight I was reminded by a film I watched during this painsomnia marathon how my mother has always doubted me and how sensitive I am to rejection, being doubted, being abandoned as the weak or the crazy one…and how that has been feeding my insecurity lately from several different directions. This all in turn reminded me that I am plenty “enough,” and never “not enough” or “too much,” at least not for MYSELF, which is what matters, and I started thinking about how even though I know it will never happen, anyone who doubts me needs to stop judging and assuming and just sit back and watch me succeed despite the challenges I face or my ups and downs. 

Then I wrote this note (blog) that was amazingly well thought out and put together and accidentally deleted it because it posted twice but it was a glitch so when I deleted one it deleted the actual note (and yes I’m pissed). Sigh…

The whole idea was that I no longer believe that our thoughts alone create our experiences, or that life has “terms.” I believe that there is a reaction for every action and that regardless of our thoughts or best intentions sometimes bad shit happens. I don’t believe we can control our lives with our minds alone, and that our hearts and our spirits have just as much to do with it. I believe that our actions and reactions, good and bad, feed on themselves to create our lives, and I also believe (know) that our lives can be effected by the actions and reactions of others but that we ALWAYS have a choice in how we live and face our challenges. 

I don’t believe in living life on life’s terms, I believe in creating my own regardless of what life has to say about it, even if that’s the harder way of dealing with things sometimes, and I’m sick of hearing people tell me lately that I need to accept life’s terms, I need to be careful with my body or I’ll make it worse, I need to just accept that I’m older or that I’m sick and so I can’t do the things I used to. Pffft. I know that they THINK that they have my best interest in mind, but they’re not ME. How can they know what is best for me – especially when they’re only a neighbor or an acquaintance I ran into in the dollar store? They can’t – not even just because they had an experience and found out what was best for them. 

Look… Listen to me hard right now. How many people who get a cancer disganosis say, “ok, I’m terminal. I’ll just die now and not try to fight back?” Some may, I’m sure…but all the people I’ve ever known to get that diagnosis, in real life or friends/acquaintances online? They may already know they’re terminal and they’ll die but they still fight – 99.9% of people I know who have had that diagnosis have not just accepted it as “life on life’s terms.” I even asked Dorie one time, because I used to judge that choice and think, “if I end up like that I’d never choose chemo,” why she made that choice and continued to struggle with it even though it was that that was killing her and not the cancer… Her response? “It’s the only way I know how to fight this.” 

My experience with Dorie and cancer and caregiving and watching her fight…that was the moment that I stopped believing in life’s terms and started believing in the human spirit and in the human heart rather than some stupid idea about how life works the same for all of us. IT DOESN’T. In a general sense, we all live and die. Everything in between? Not exactly the same for any two people. That was a huge lesson and realization for me. I’ve always known we are all different and we all do things differently and for different reasons. But that was my first slap in the face of how stupid it is to compare people or hold them to a standard we might think we have for ourselves but that can change in an instant based on any number of scenarios we may face. 

Fighting my body but learning to listen to it at the same time has reminded me of that. Especially today, after reaching that milestone in my mile time. My hip and my knee – my whole right side from the ribs down, really, is screaming at me. But it’ll pass – and it would have screamed anyway, probably louder, if I hadn’t reached this point. It would all come in waves regardless of any choice I did or didn’t make – because hello…that’s how it works.

Anyway, all of this reminded me about comparison. That was the whole premise of this whole bit of word vomit to begin with. Don’t compare – don’t compare ANYONE but especially not people with mental or chronic or physical illnesses in general. It’s not fair, because we ALL do things and face things and accept things differently and at different times and in different ways and even on differently on different days.  

I get that people may think I’m super crazy or annoying because I deal with life at both ends of the spectrum to an extreme and refuse to just exist or live somewhere in the middle but that’s because I don’t WANT to be or live a mediocre life. And, it’s also because I’ve always been a passionate and very free spirited person and I’ve always had to fight – it’s a learned behavior. I’ve always had to fight – those are hard words for me to “say” out loud, but it’s true and a realization that deeper discussion in therapy has helped me to accept.

I’ve ALWAYS HAD TO FIGHT and it is a LEARNED BEHAVIOR – my mother, my health (yes even as a child – mostly because of allergies and reactions which we now know was related to celiac but especially the time I had chicken pox and then scarlet fever and almost died when I was 7, which is what led to my heart issues as an adult), my depression, and a whole hell of a lot of people in my life as a young person (family, not people just randomly existing in my life, but yes, some of those…) who never accepted me because I was adopted and who always judged and hated me and belittled me because I was different…I was bullied a lot in school when people found out I was adopted – and I still have no idea exactly how that happened; because of how my “family” treated me I NEVER talked about being adopted to anyone. I guess there’s always that “one friend” in middle school… LOL I digress…

Rest assured – I may appear weak at times, especially when depression has me down – depression is the hardest and cruelest battle I face and yes, I face it head on daily and “fail” miserably sometimes in the eyes of others and even myself when I forget that surviving another day is a huge achievement some days, but weak is the farthest thing from reality that I am or that ANYONE with depression is. It’s the farthest thing ANYONE with ANY disease is, physical or mental. So just because someone doesn’t complain or express thoughts about their illness to you and you think, “ohhhh they’ve got their shit together, why don’t I or why doesn’t she or why doesn’t he?” Just don’t. Because they DON’T have their shit together. They’re just dealing with it in a way that makes it look like they do – and if they’re not talking to you about their struggles it’s easy to think they’re not struggling. 

News flash – not everyone talks about their struggles. Some people are very private. Some only express their physical and emotional exhaustion when they’re alone in the shower or in bed at night crying themselves to sleep. Some express it with a scream into a pillow that no one ever hears. Some express it by not expressing it. Silence is a sound, too… I’m not one of those people that is very private, and that doesn’t make me a bad person or a weak person or an ungrateful person or a “not coping well” person… And tonight I’ve been reminded by art imitating life imitating art of how much I HATE to be compared to anyone else and how much I strive not to compare anyone else to myself or to others. 

I don’t want to hear about what you approve of or disapprove of how I have a goal to make it through this 5k coming up with a “broken body,” or about what I should do or what I can’t do or what precautions I should take and so on and so forth. I CAN READ and I have been researching my physical conditions a lot longer than you’ve been thinking about all the ways my legs might not work during a 3.3 mile trail run. Speaking of which, it’s ONLY 3.3 MILES. It’s not the fucking Iron Man. 

What I want is for you, if you’re one of those people, to just sit back and watch what I CAN do, despite my insecurity and fear and pain and my body that screams, “fuck you!” to me every time I begin and end a walk or a jog. I want you to sit back and choke on those words of doubt and judgments, even if you’re only thinking them. Because I will NEVER say them to myself and I don’t want to hear them from anyone else, and I don’t want to be compared to anyone else – especially not anyone else’s imaginary standards for me (which are generally double standards, anyway). Nobody does. 

Tonight I’m laying here with heat on one spot and ice on another, and you know what? I’m relishing in it – I feel strong. I think I’m stronger than the doubters and judges in my life because guess what? I’m doing something besides worrying about what everyone else’s is doing. I’m focused on MY goal and MY current “dream.” And I’m gonna get a T-shirt for this particular experience, whether I come in first or 80th or dead ass last. But what I’m really gaining is a window back into myself. And that is priceless to me, even if it costs me more than I have to pay in the end.