I read a great article tonight about fibromyalgia and it showed me something very important. I am reactive because I am embarrassed and ashamed.

Here’s the article:

Fibromyalgia and complex trauma are connected in so many ways. Do you deal with any of these symptoms?

22 “Embarrassing” Symptoms of Fibro That We Don’t Talk About

I don’t deal with all of these, but I do deal with many of them.

For me the most embarrassing thing (and the thing I get defensive about, and now thanks to this article I realize and accept that it’s because I AM embarrassed) is that I’m “too young” to have ANY of these issues.

People who don’t understand this kind of illness look at me like I’m nuts when I talk about my pain or my exhaustion, and tell them that those things are part of the reason I don’t go out much, but the MAIN reason behind my anxiety is that I don’t want to puke or get a messed up tummy in public.

I don’t make a lot of plans and I really don’t leave the house very much because between CPTSD and these symptoms, my anxiety is constantly through the roof – which leads to regular panic attacks and to depression in itself, in its own way, on top of “regular” depression.

I was recently diagnosed with both Celiac disease and major depressive disorder and put on a whole new cocktail of medication for depression (celiac is only treatable by diet, basically). And as the article says, all the meds have their own symptoms. But it makes me crazy and embarrassed when people say, “you’re not even 40 – you can’t possibly have that many health problems.”

They often have the same reaction – you’re just making excuses. It’s SO embarrassing when they say that it’s just nerves because I’m too young for any of that stuff. And it’s disheartening when they say things like, “you’re just not trying.” Like, you have to be 50+ to be excused of these symptoms.

I fall down every so often because of my joints and I often have a hard time keeping my balance. Sometimes I think people probably think I’m drunk. That’s ok, because that’s how it feels.

I also drop things CONSTANTLY because of sudden weakness in my hands and random shakiness. I have turned into Miss McButterfingers. That’s hugely embarrassing to me – especially when you drop the same thing like 7 times in a row before you finally have a grip on it.

And, the worst thing at home (which causes some tension in my relationship) is that my brain doesn’t work. Literally, if it’s not music I can’t focus and I’ll forget what I’m doing while I’m doing it. Even reading a book takes ages now because my brain can’t comprehend what I’m reading half the time. Homeschooling is SO complicated, even though I have notes and a curriculum to follow with my son.

Even writing blogs and these posts here, I have to read and fix them a few times (and usually still have errors I see and fix later). That’s hard because I love to write. I hardly blog anymore because of it. This post alone took over 45 minutes to write. That’s ok – insomnia means I have nothing better to do at nearly midnight. ((thumbs up!))

It complicates everything. It even effects friendships – but it’s generally me, not them. It effects moods and the way I process and see things…as well as how I react, often…to many things. Those who stick around, well, I don’t know why they do. It really is (and I am) too much for people. So…such is life.

I don’t share this to complain or to simply verbalize my experience. This has been therapeutic. These are real issues and I’m grateful to have read this article with quotes from people who go through the same things.

It doesn’t matter how old you are, how much money you have, what your ethnicity is, where you live, what you look like…having any chronic illness is HARD. It’s good to feel united with others who deal with these issues even if it’s just in an article on the internet.

If you are one of the many, many people who struggle with chronic illness, you are not alone. I see you when you’re invisible, I hear you when you’re silently struggling.

I support you and believe in you.

Lots of 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.”

I was challenged on Facebook to share “just me” in images and not just words. I suppose that’s a REAL challenge for me because I really despise sharing photos of myself, as most of you know. I’d much rather share the intimate details in words than to let you see my physical self. Who knows why – that’s so backward, right? I mean…that’s true nakedness.

Anyway, I didn’t copy and paste what the full challenge is but I did write my own thing because that’s kind of the space I’m in right now. The point of this challenge is to share just you, and lift yourself up, and by doing so encourage others to do the same. So…

This is just me. No filters, no makeup, sweating from hiking, in my element in nature. 

This is just me. No pretentions or expectations, a bit of a grimace coming through my attempt to smile because of the pain I was feeling in my body. 

This is just me. Christy. Leigh. Whoever I am by name, wherever I came from. 

This is just me. The nearly 39 year old mom of one who is struggling through grief, and who has so many diagnosed mental and physical illnesses I won’t even bore you by listing them again. 

This is just me. A woman you may not know anymore because I’ve changed so much or may have never really and truly known but who has been through hell just like so many others and is still here, somehow. Still has goals. Still has dreams. Still has a self inside. Still has a light somewhere inside all this inner darkness of depression and still fights on and walks through a lot more than what can be seen or expressed in words. 

This is just me. Yep, the fighter, the pusher-through. The trying-to-remain-an-optimist. The hoper. The lover. The never-giver-upper. The warrior. The mama bear mama-ing and trying to be the best example of surviving and thriving she can possibly be for her son, despite what she shares with the grown ups in her weakest moments. 

Here are the photos I chose – no makeup, no filters, just as I am about 99.9% of the time. This is JUST ME. I am beautiful as I am, I am strong despite my weaknesses, and I am enough.

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” -John Muir

…a very raw, and real one – one of the ones I almost always keep private…

April 5, 2017. 10:55AM

First of all, how is it that my writing today coincides exactly with the timing of my writing about volatility on March 28th, the last time I day-journaled? That’s weird…or not…but mostly, yes.

Today I feel ESPECIALLY volatile. In fact, I just texted that to a friend. The reasons are many. I haven’t had sleep in many hours (one hour, about, in the last 36 or so hours). Anxiety is the fault AND the cause of that, and of many things in and of itself. And all of those things are the cause of many other things. I mean, it’s like I told the fairy god-therapist recently:  we can sit around analyzing that until we’re blue in the face and we’ve managed to work our way all the way back to our time in the womb, maybe even before that based on some belief systems, but it’s going to solve NOTHING about now. I hate that sort of cognitive psychology. Mind stripping bullshit… I hate it, but yet I love it and it’s a huge part of my personality – especially personality and understanding of self – to do just that.

Today, due to lack of sleep, due to anxiety, due to the chaos of thoughts that NEED to escape my mind and can’t escape fast enough, and then annoyingly get lost and ruin my train of thought all together and then I almost obsessively try to start all over (with that cognitive bullshit that I have a love/hate relationship with)…I just feel volatile. This flood of expressive thoughts that I can’t express fast enough, and all the noise around me – even the little noises like the birds chirping – make my head feel like it will explode.

They are like fingernails on a chalkboard, even the positive, happy sounds that we often invite into our environments. Everything makes my brain feel like it’s going to explode and all I want is perfect stillness and perfect quiet – kind of like the “perfect darkness” you achieve deep in caves, which is the only place on the planet you can ever achieve that. I don’t know where to go to achieve a literal perfect stillness and quiet in this physical world, and I certainly can’t escape to a cognitive version of it, even with meditation, with this “dis-ease” that seems to be swallowing my mind and consciousness.

I have been getting to know a new, light-warrior friend via Instagram through chat, and I was just expressing a similar (but not nearly as immediate frustration) in a conversation last night, during the peak of that episode of insomnia. I relayed how I have found myself simultaneously nodding my head and saying, “yes,” out loud as I’d read each thought they shared, whether in their posts or conversation on my posts or the human transactions that were being shared via DM, and how I was so grateful for that but it was also overwhelming.

Isn’t that so odd! To connect with someone who also wishes to spread love and positivity and happiness… Light…. And to be so blinded by that because of my condition. It both took me by surprise and made me sad. I was so happy – ecstatic, almost – to have felt such a deeper level connection with someone again and to have these conversations, but also sad and annoyed at my brain and chemicals and processes being as they are so that I also felt such an immediate and almost panicky need to express all of this I was feeling because I’d forgotten it all once before and I didn’t want to lose it again before I understood it, but mostly before I LEARNED from it.

A conversation ensued about the issue of “dis-ease” and I shared about how I will have down days, sad days, mad days, doubtful days, as part of my “dis-ease” as they call it (doctors and therapists and so on – the “helpers”). Even as a part of my grief. But the reality is that there can be kindness and love shared from THEIR realities (“normal, functioning” realities that they exist in, within themselves) versus MINE (the disturbed, lost, seeking, hurting, grieving, sick version of myself that I have become). They’re just so judgmental, in their perfect little boxes, conforming to a broad spectrum of socially acceptable norms that I don’t fit.

They don’t tell me or teach me positive things. They constantly teach me or relay to me, whether they mean to or not, that I am broken or in some way not good enough. I know I need HELP with my issues and conditions but I do not need to be FIXED. There’s a difference and that’s very frustrating and counter-productive for me.  This new friend said to me, “what if you just looked at it as down days or feeling anxious, instead of labeling it a disease? Don’t listen to mainstream media, doctors or anyone that has no concepts of living outside of that box. You can help ease some of the anxiety and depression simply by not ever calling it a disease anymore. You just have more ups and downs and anxieties a little more often than others. Yet all the same – we are all sharing these same emotions. You’re not alone – just let them come and go. The words we say to ourselves mean everything – shaping reality thought by thought and word by word.”

It was really fascinating because it was like reading back my own expressions not so long ago – mostly, before heartbreak and death… I LOVE it. I totally get where they were coming from because I used to 100% be and live as that person with that mindset. And then, the “dis-ease” of it became a reality that suddenly touched, and then began to swallow me. It was almost like a suitor, wooing me – that’s how it always happens. It woos me and taunts me with certain aspects of it that are appealing to me (the melancholy, the muse of it, the creative expression that comes from it) and then once it begins it sucks me into this “toxic relationship” whereby I end up swallowed in darkness with NONE of those appealing qualities actually being a part of it. It’s a sneaky little bastard, that one.

And it IS disease. It IS illness. There is no escaping from or denying that, or there is no getting better at all. It’s a variance back and forth, for me personally, with the things I face mentally, between believing that our words can shape and even literally heal us and accepting that sometimes that’s just not the case. It’s like cancer – some people are healed and they claim that their believing was part of the recipe. But that doesn’t work for everyone.

When Dorie died I came to accept that even if everyone else believes along with you, with all they have, with all their being, sometimes it’s just not enough to overcome death. It’s similar with my mental health – it’s a hard balance to find when a) it’s hard to find meaning and purpose and believe in positivity and self-worth (depression, ptsd) and b) I’m working with therapists/doctors to try to get help for the medical aspect of it (replacing/balancing hormones and chemicals in the body, along with healing my physical body from the damages of chronic physical illness and rebalancing and at least stopping further damage, even though I can never really repair what’s already wrong – celiac disease).

Those people, as I just mentioned, may be trying to help you in a gentle way (as human beings doing the best they can) but the system is flawed because it’s always spoken about in such a negativistic way. What COULD you do? What SHOULD you do? How COULD you or SHOULD you change and what COULD you or SHOULD you change? All of this, when from the other side of their mouths (and the spiritualist parts of society and our selves), it’s all about how we’re all good enough, worthy, loved, made of love, perfectly designed, etc. Really? Because that’s not how it feels when you struggle with mental illness.

It’s because it IS a disease, down to a physical level. I can’t pretend it’s not or I end up missing out (due to escapism and avoidance) some of the good and even best ways I can be helped. But, at the same time, what that person shared does apply. The disbelieving and the labels and the basic bullshit of American medicine are not helpful factors and it IS important to try to steer clear of those things from a subjective place within ourselves. I love that suggestion and somewhere inside me I DO still believe and need to live more from that place. But mental illness is part of a two-sided coin of very real medical condition for me and it’s all so very hard to cope and to live with.

I try to remain in that positive space regardless and to not give up on myself or doubt when I step outside the positivity zone – I try to avoid definitions and labels of failure or success from that perspective, and I tried to address that in some writing I did about how just continuing to try is, in itself, success for ALL of us. That’s what I encourage others to do, and I know that I have to walk the talk as much as possible, mistakes though I might (WILL) make, and just continue to walk and grow. I feel like if I owe anything to anyone I owe THAT to my SELF, to my loved ones, and to the world. We all do. Just our best, and our love. You know?

He understood all this, even in all it’s chaotic and insomnia-influenced version of expression. He said, “Definitely – always breathe and be grateful for NOW…and YOUR continued journey. It’s not selfish to live and dance for the ones that no longer can… We are all here by ourselves, really, anyway. Love yourself, talk to yourself. Be your own best friend (again). It could a long one, friend!” And he is so right – that, what he described in those statements, that’s who I’ve always been. Even in my darkest times and struggles with depression and mental illness in my past, I was always able to hold on to that somewhere and  now, with her death, it FEELS like that is gone. And I’m so terrified at every level because I literally feel as though I have lost myself.

I love his perspective and his confidence in life and in love – and so many of my other kindred spirits in that community. I can’t even wait to write more posts from the food for though he/they have gifted me. I can’t wait to continue these conversations together and with the world at large. But it’s also daunting, because I have very little faith in myself that I CAN do that. The darkness says, “there’s no light, tunnel or not, you are deluding yourself.” The me that desperately seeks to not become wholly lost forever strives to believe and convince myself that that itself is the delusion. How ridiculous this carousel is, and seems to remain…

In closing, for now, I thank you for reading, and for existing as a very important part of the tool set for me to at least attempt to express myself. I am so grateful for you.  I wish you all the love and light that I want to believe is out there and within you and me – all the light, everywhere. May we all continue to seek it and to find it, and even if in the most unexpected of places and ways may we always allow it in.

C.

It’s February. I can hardly make myself believe that we are already one full month into 2017. Since before the beginning of this year I have tried to make a conscious effort to be very positive in what I allow myself to focus on – whether it be thoughts, activities, even the things I read. I am falling off of that wagon this morning, only 32 days into the year, because there is this topic boiling inside of me that I wish to plead with you to consider and to change about yourself if you’re one of the people this shoe fits. The topic of the day today is “toxic people and toxic relationships.”

I am inclined to share my thoughts about this  because it’s a topic that has really begun to irritate me. It’s not just the toxicity topic – it spans a broader spectrum, really. I see it frequently “discussed” on social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube (and no doubt on Facebook and Twitter, which I have happily been distanced from for some time now). People throw around this terminology and are turning it into this new rage with new meaning and my problem with that is this: mental illness, nor emotional/physical abuse, are fads or hot topics or momentarily interesting adjectives. They are serious, and they are long term, and they are important, and people who are truly dealing with them suffer and struggle beyond what those who do not deal with them in a real sense could ever imagine or understand.

Here are my thoughts, in short:

Just because a person disagrees with you doesn’t make them a narcissist. Just because a person shares a different perspective on life or lives in a different world than you do doesn’t make them “bad for you” or “mentally ill” or wrong. Just because you have an argument, or a person makes a mistake, or a person does or says or feels things that do not make sense to you or things that make you uncomfortable does not mean that they are a toxic person. Just because a person doesn’t understand YOU doesn’t make them daft or stubborn. What all of those things MIGHT mean are that perhaps you are using blame or judgement or being unkind to others in order to validate yourself.

I wish that people would stop throwing around terms related to mental illness and psychological problems like they are just every day adjectives, and blowing every day situations, perfectly normal behaviors, personality types, and differences out of proportion. Terms and phrases like:

Toxic

Trigger

Delusions of grandeur

Going mental

Suicidal

And, even using the actual names of mental illnesses as adjectives or modifiers or verbs:

PTSD

Panic

Anxiety

Depressed

Bipolar

Narcissistic

Really? Because chances are, you have NO IDEA what it’s like to deal with ANY of those issues in a real way. The one that really aggravates me is the current trend of talking about people and relationships that are just not great or maybe a little bit unhealthy but far from abusive or utterly horrible as “toxic,” and to accuse the other person of being “unstable,” or “bipolar,” or “narcissistic.” Until you have actually been involved with a person who carries within them the ACTUAL traits of any of those illnesses or states of being, you have no clue how detrimental, how painful, and how truly disabling those types of relationships/people can be.

It’s not cute – not even a little bit – to have a painful or bad breakup that is really pretty average or normal (breakups hurt, OK?) and to then lash out with some descriptors like the ones I’ve mentioned above in order to validate yourself or to make yourself feel better. It is one thing to refer to someone as selfish, or as wrong for you. It’s something completely different to use descriptors like the ones above when referring to them or to your opinion of them.

Society in general needs to get over itself. It needs to change it’s perception back to the reality that NONE OF US are the same, none of us have the same experiences as a whole, or beliefs or ideas about the world or about life or about anything – even science disagrees with itself some of the time. And what does it do? It accepts that and it works to make things “right,” because it has to. That’s why the majority of ideas in the world of science are still called THEORIES, and theories are acceptable until proven to be fact or proven to be bullshit.

Speaking of bullshit, I’m calling bullshit on all the hype about toxic relationships, and toxic people, and narcissists that seem to be out to get a few of you…because you know what? You’re lying to yourself and you’re making mountains out of molehills, and most likely you are simply trying to avoid personal responsibility and owning what YOU HAVE ALLOWED in your life that you are now sick of. You can’t blame other people for what you have allowed to continue, or for not understanding you when you do not express yourself well, or for not treating you in a way that you deem as “fair” when everyone is entitled to believe and express themselves as THEY ARE, just as much as you are.

I’m not on a rant today, I promise! I just had one too many blips of the term “this person is so toxic” appear on my screen this morning, and I wanted to address the utter unreality of truth to this, in a general sense, and the overwhelming lack of compassion involved in using terms like that to describe the most mediocre of issues that people see in each other. I’m not even going to pretend that I haven’t at some point been guilty of this myself. I’m sure that I have. But, perhaps if we could spend as much time diagnosing ourselves the way we do others, and then HELPING OURSELVES to become better in the areas where we see a need for improvement, and work together to gain an understanding of these terms I’ve described, instead of running off at the mouth and spouting DSM terminology as though we understand it and are qualified to do so, the world would be a much kinder and better place. As a person who does feel qualified to intelligently discuss mental health terminology and issues (a trained and well schooled psychologist, as well as a diagnosed sufferer of CPTSD, anxiety and panic disorder, and the classification of depression that falls under the umbrella of those issues), I can’t help but feel some sort of obligation to say, “PLEASE STOP!”

Thank you for reading, and for attempting to understand where I am coming from, friends. I only wish to protect the people I love – namely, ANYONE who suffers from any sort of mental illness and/or is dealing with/has dealt with abusive people/relationships, including myself – who are hurt by the offhand and very casual usage of these terms and phrases that are so readily pulled out and used these days, and to say that if you’d like to have an actual discussion about the reality of these issues, I’m game to share in that conversation with you. The world can be a better place. Can we work together to make that better place a reality? Please?

I do hope you’ll have a beautiful day, and a very blessed one…

Much love, friends.

C.