Monday, March 30, 2015

On Depression and Mental Illness

I am copying and pasting this from my Facebook post.

On Depression and Mental Illness:

Meds: Yes, there are side effects. No, meds aren't perfect. Yes, they require a lot of communication between patient and doctor to get it right. No, it doesn't always stay right because body chemistry changes. No, meds aren't for everyone. But that is for the doctor and patient to work out, not an armchair therapist.
Doctors: Doctors are people, too. Remember that. A good doctor works with the patient, listens, and makes adjustments according to the patients needs - not textbook answers. Because nothing with depression and mental illness is black and white. Ever.
Therapy: Therapy rocks. A good therapist makes handling life, med changes, and down days so much easier. If it's covered by insurance or is available through other means, take it, use it, live it.
Psychiatrists: Mine manages my medication. He doesn't do the therapy bit, he mixes up a cocktail of meds specific to my needs and my brain. He listens, he makes adjustments, he coordinates with my doctor, he is there when I feel I need him.
Alternative treatments: Oils, exercise, diet change, sunshine regiments, natural light lamps, etc, etc - ALL of these have their place. All of these work to different degrees with different people. None of them are a cure-all for every single person.
-- I saw a comment earlier today that said "Depression is as real as the idiots who believe in it make it to be." Along that line were other comments about how it's a made-up disease so pharma companies can profit from it. How people are using it as an excuse to be lazy. Blah, blah, blah. I've heard all that before, but it is frustrating to see how many people out there believe this.
Do pharma companies profit from it? Sure. Do some doctors overmedicate? Yep. Are people perfect? Nope. Don't like what your doctor is telling you? Then change doctors.
Depression is real. it is debilitating, life-threatening, and paralyzing. Telling someone who has sought help and is on meds that they are stupid for taking those evil, horrible drugs is harmful in so many ways. Words are such powerful weapons, and the depression twists and turns them into a cancer that eats away at resolve, logic, and belief in lovability and worth.
Just because you might not understand brain chemistry - just because YOUR brain functions correctly so you cannot comprehend living inside a head that's depressed - doesn't mean that it isn't real. Doesn't mean that person isn't fighting to stay alive, to actually LIVE life, to not give in to the overwhelming blackness that wants to suck them in.
Have some empathy. If you can't have that, try sympathy. If you can't have that, then at least try to be open minded enough to understand that not everyone is going to treat their illnesses the same way.
I know some people who just drink cranberry juice for a bladder infection. Others immediately get antibiotics. Some creams work to treat eczema, other skin clears up by eliminating eggs and milk from the diet.
There is no One-Cure-Fixes-All, so please, please, please show some humanity to those around you. Stop trying to fix them, and just love them.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Is it a cup? Or a pocket? Or a backpack?

Tonight, I met someone who not only used her bra as a phone holder, but as a holder for keys and I'm not quite sure what else. Was I being rude by trying to figure out what I was looking at?

By the time I realized that I was trying to figure out what all the shapes and shadows were on and around her cleavage, I realized that I was staring at her cleavage.

-- Awkward.   For me. Obviously not her; she didn't seem to mind at all. --

The artist in me wondered if I could get away with doing a quick sketch to record the ridiculousness that I felt had become her bosom.

-- still staring at her cleavage --

The mother in me hoped, hoped, hoped that my girls wouldn't think that they were seeing the new up and coming fashion and try to emulate it.

-- can't. look. away. She just pulled out a pen. A PEN! and wrote with it. AND SHE PUT IT BACK IN THERE! --

The woman in me wondered how in the world she could stand having all that stuff mushed in her tank top with her ladies. Ok, yeah, when I'm nursing new babies I go numb there, but that's out of self preservation. Purposely filling up the area around my areolas with pens and keys just because I don't want to wear pants with pockets? Or carry a purse? OUCH!

Admittedly, the cups of my bra aren't all that big, but they're full of what they're full of. And that does not include cold metal bitey things that can scratch and hurt.

-- Yep, still staring. Look away, look away!--

The curious cat in me wondered if she had incredible pain tolerance. Perhaps I should be in awe? Or give her some kind of award for creativity? Or maybe her boobs were somehow formed to be more utilitarian than decorative or recreational?

They really ARE a shelf to hold food that won't stay on your plate! Check this out: They come with extra storage space underneath with the right bra attachments!

-- definitely still staring. I'm going to start snickering if I don't turn my foot, pivot, and look at other people in the room RIGHT NOW--

Oh sure. I looked around, but at this point I was completely entertained by the whole thing. Instead of hearing the actual conversations going on around me, I began wondering what the new marketing campaigns were going to sound like.

Check out my boobs with the nobby bobbles on one side and key shaped edges on the other! Who wants that boring round shape, when you can have handles, edges, and texture?

It's no longer, "What do you have in your wallet?" but "What do you have in your bra?"

Before long, manufacturers of the boulder holders will have zippers for loose change and beepers for lost bits that get missed in the folds of those who are well endowed. Bra straps will come equipped with snazzy leashes or ties for ease of use when texting. Phones will automatically flip back into place on the chest for prominent display when the phone is not in use. Maybe they'll add flashing lights and glitter to the phone holder?

For those like me who have little to no cleavage, the new miracle bra would not only lift and shape, but have strategically placed pockets so my wallet and credit cards could provide maximum enhancement to my assets.

Removing our bras at the end of the day would be like removing Batman's utility belt, only with more gadgets, because you KNOW we're gonna find a place for lip gloss and mascara. Along with bandaids, scissors, dental floss, extra panty hose, super glue, and maybe some fingernail polish alongside the grappling hooks, wings, stun-guns, night sticks, grenades, and other kick-ass super hero gear that being a woman calls for. And apparently our breasts are the beasts of burden to carry it all along with our phones. Who knew?

It's plausible that phones are becoming the 'sock' for women. How big is that bulge in your bra? "Ooooh, what kind of phone do YOU have in there? Mine's heated in the winter and air conditioned in the summer." "Well MINE tells me when it's time to feed the baby before I get engorged." "Yeah? Well MINE can tell me the exact nutritional content of today's lactation, and how to adjust my diet accordingly." "/scoff/ MY phone uses my natural cold weather detectors as a thermostat."

Or maybe all that crap in the bra will make folks like me wonder, "Just what are you compensating for?"  Aaaaaaaand that takes me into an unexplored metaphorical area of phones and women's anatomy I am just not willing to explore any further.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tattoos

My religion teaches that our bodies are a temple and that we should take great care of them. Tattooing is frowned upon, but it's isn't technically against a commandment or anything. Kind of like drinking caffeine. It's frowned upon, but isn't specifically forbidden - like coffee, tea, or alcohol.

forbidden. now that's a word. Makes my hackles rise. Because that's really not the word used in the scripture. Agency, people. AGENCY. It's a big deal.

(aside: I do not feel like capitalizing much of anything, so if your grammar nazi self is going off, suck it up. I'm having a day, and my correctness skills are hit and miss.)

so, as I've been struggling with this stupid brain issue and the corresponding ups and downs, I feel trapped. there are quite a few things about my life right now that have me feeling trapped. i will probably not ever be able to escape most of them.

which makes me want a tattoo. because if I can't really have freedom, I'd like to at least have the wish for it permanently etched on my skin. because inside my head, i dream of being free. 

i'm not addicted to anything, so it's not that kind of freedom. I... well, i'm not going to get into the realities of parts of my life that are difficult and overwhelming. sometimes I'm fine with the situation. I've chosen it, I've accepted it, and I really shouldn't complain about it. But there are moments when I long to escape. And plenty of moments I wish for the freedom to choose how I feel.


So I want this tattoo. Or something like this. I love butterflies. I love the whole metaphor of escaping the cocoon, the ugly to beautiful, all of it. 

yeah, i have family members who would probably be extremely disappointed in me for getting this done. some who would probably disown me. but right now, in this moment, I don't care about any of that. 

and yeah, i'd have to go in and have this done on a bad day. on a good day, I just don't do pain. at all. on a bad day, well, pain is kind of my friend. it grounds me to my body. I can't really explain it. It's just easier to say that on the bad days I can tolerate a whole lot more pain than on the good days.

I want a tattoo. I can't afford one right now, but I want one of butterflies on my right shoulder. I'd like an ankle bracelet of vines - on my left ankle, and a bracelet on my left wrist of small dragons.

wishful thinking. I am not some stupid teenager getting my current boyfriends name emblazened on skin that will later be wrinkled and saggy. I'm a middle-aged mother of six going through some freaktastically hard crap, and I want to tattoo beautiful reminders of dreams and wishes so I don't give up. So I don't grab a coat and shoes and walk out the door and never come back. So I don't face the wall and let the illness win. 

Freedom. Strength, Persistence. Magic. Me.


Saturday, March 7, 2015

Laughter, oh how I love thee

This evening, my husband was watching Comedy Central. The program he was watching hurt my brain, but it was hilarious. It left so many inappropriate phrases in my head that I couldn't write because my fingers kept typing them.

After the show was over, we lay in bed giggling and laughing so loudly that I was afraid it would wake the kids up. It would have been worth it though, because laughter truly is the best medicine.

Oh, how I love to laugh. I might just break into that Mary Poppins song just thinking about it. But it's an awesome thing to do. Especially on bad days. That is the very best part of life, finding things that are funny and goofy and silly. It drives the bleakness away. Most often I laugh at myself, or with my kids. They say the most hilarious things.

And while my prudish side cannot believe that I didn't put headphones in or leave the room while the program was on, I laughed so hard. I just couldn't help it. It felt good to sit next to my husband and just giggle. I swear, laughter and really good sex hold my marriage together.

TMI? hahaha, well, it's truth. I can laugh about it and probably admit that out loud because, well, I'm feeling rebellious and inappropriate today. Besides, the hubster and I disagree over so many other things, there has to be *something* we have in common, right?

Which, you know, would explain the six kids... hahahahaha

Friday, March 6, 2015

On Faith

Wow are there days when my faith is tested. Let me just say here at the beginning that my scriptures are a set of my best friends. They are well worn, marked, cross referenced, wrinkled, full of various bookmarks, and filled with things I love that make me feel enlightened, peaceful, and full of hope. Ok. So you get where I am starting from.

--If you're not religious or don't believe in God or a higher power or whatever, that's cool. You may or may not want to continue reading my rambling thoughts.--

The last 30 days have been difficult for me. The last week has been a sob fest in more ways than one.

I get snippets of happiness now and then, but they are fleeting. My mind is an emotional beach, the wet sand under my toes a source of peace and joy. Then the surf rolls in and pulls the sand out from under my feet and I am helpless to stop it.

When it comes to dealing with the emotional ups, downs, ins and outs, I go through various stages:

* I can feel God with me, loving me and helping me through.
* I don't understand what I'm supposed to be learning from this, but plead for help anyway.
* I try to be patient and get through the days, looking for things to be grateful for and laugh about in a world that seems gray and dreary.
* I get angry and frustrated, and instead of just talking to God, I yell and cry and demand that He fix me. I know He can, I just don't understand why He won't. What more does He want from me???

There are days when I can feel the Spirit walking me through life because I can't do it myself. And then there are days I am so angry that I couldn't hear God if he was in the same room with me and yelling back. On days like those, I find myself thinking, "Well, I'm in hell now, I might as well be prepared to be there when I die, because this is too hard."

My mother would be so ashamed to hear me admit this. It's hard to admit this out loud, but it's the truth. And on those days when I just don't want to hear Him, when I curl up and sleep or stare at the wall because I just can't make myself read my scriptures or get on my knees to pray, those are the days I get small miracles.

There is a sweet Jehovah's Witness woman who comes around once a month. She has the best smile. I swear this woman is an angel in the guise of a woman. She stops at the door, checks on how I'm feeling, apologizes if she's woken me up, and then says she'll come back at a different time if that's better for me. But she's already there, and I always ask her what her message for the day is. She gives me this sweet, loving smile, and shares a scripture and thought with me. Her bible is different than mine in its verbiage, but the message and the spirit are the same.  It doesn't matter what scripture she chooses or which thought she shares, it's always what I need to hear.

On days that I just don't believe that I'm loved anymore, an angel shows up in one form or another and says, "Yes you are. Don't give up yet."

Even though I get angry, petulant, pouty, grumpy, and throw tantrums, somehow it's still ok. Even though it's not, it is.

What does all this have to do with faith? I think it boils down to: Faith doesn't mean God will fix me. It means that I understand He's there, no matter how bad it gets. And He understands. I absolutely, totally, firmly believe that He understands my illness. That if it gets so bad that the illness wins and takes me, that He understands that, too.

I may not always be able to feel Him with me, but that doesn't mean He's not there.  That is my definition of faith.

-- Let me just add... this doesn't mean I don't 'kick against the pricks' or struggle with basic commandments. Oh I'm so far from perfect... There are days when I'm so angry that I want to go break every covenant I've ever made, just because I can. Just to say, "So there!" Not that it would accomplish anything but cause me pain, but honestly there are days that I believe that's all I deserve. So please don't come away from reading this post thinking that I feel like I'm somehow... I dunno... perfect, or above, or more blessed, or 'better than' or whatever. I'm just me, struggling through life as best I know how, given the tools I have at hand. And one of those tools is the belief that I am not alone in this fight. --

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Success vs Failure

I have been trying to figure out how one measures success.  I feel like a failure so often that when I step outside myself and look at my life, I have to wonder what I can say I succeed at. And by what measuring stick do I check?

As a working mom/wife, I climbed that corporate ladder. I was good at it. Probably going to sound vain here, but if I put my mind to it, I learned quickly and became very good at what I did. I made twice as much as my husband. And I hated it. Ok... I loved the travel when I worked for Marriott. AND the travel when I worked for the cable company. But aside from the travel, I really hated it. So is that a success? I'm not sure.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Not Alone

The last few months have been full of ups and downs - ha, surprising, I know. More downs than ups, but I guess that's to be expected, all things considered.

Once a week on Sunday afternoons I go to a friends house and we play board games, D&D, or just watch movies. But mostly, we laugh. There are no kids running around, no loud pressing groups of people to set off the social anxiety, no loud noises, just fun with a few people I love, and lots of laughter. I usually end up going home feeling recharged and ready to face the week.

Last week was not one of my better weeks, though, in spite of all the things I do to try to cope with the down days. One of the days I was pretty sure I was going to have to walk myself across the street and check myself back into the psyche ward because I could feel myself slipping.

That "I just can't do this anymore. I don't want to do this anymore. I'm done." feeling. Perhaps you know this feeling. I think everyone knows this feeling. The danger when I feel that is that it's two steps from "Ok then, end it, already." And I can't do that. I'm not allowed. I'm needed.

So instead, I call my psychiatrist and say, "Hey, my meds need to be adjusted, because I can't talk myself out of this slide, and I feel like I'm going to be a danger to myself really soon." And then I wait until he calls me back. If it's a day where he's working the floor at his hospital, which it was last week, I end up waiting a while. If it's a long wait and I feel it getting worse, I then call a friend or sister-in-law, arrange for the kids to be taken, tell the hubster to take me out to a movie, anything, I don't care what we see, I just need to get out of my head for a while, and then take a xanex to sedate my brain enough to wait for the change in meds. Because I have help, I have people who love me, I can do this.

It can't be easy for the people who live with me to deal with my ups and downs. My mood swings that go from exuberant and excited tail-wagging puppy to curl up in bed and not move because I suck, I suck, I suck. Yet they do. I've discussed it with my kids and they try to understand. My eight year old understands the anxiety more than she understands the depression, but she is the sweetest little thing on my bad days.

Today my cousin linked a blog entry that I found touching. Robin Merrill Kramer's blog entry about dealing with her husband's ups and downs. And while I'm not on her side of the fence, my husband and kids are. And I admire her viewpoint and strength as much as I admire the folks suffering with mental illness who continue to fight the fight.

I have to admit, though. It's so nice to know I'm not alone in this fight. I know there are people who don't understand. My mother is one of them. She just doesn't get it, or understand why I won't stand up in church and do a flute duet with her now, or why I curl up and hide in bed when the kids are being normal kids and laughing and being loud and it triggers the anxiety. And that's ok. I'm glad she doesn't understand.

But there are people who do get it. There are people who live it. There are people who care, who pray, who hug and hold and don't judge me if I have to leave church early or if I can't make it at all. Who understand that I can't do the things I did a couple of years ago. Who step up and help and are angels.

Oh, it's such a relief to know I'm not alone.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas at my house

I felt I needed to share how Christmas turned out. I will forget if I don't.

I couldn't do this Christmas by myself, so all of my big kids helped while I directed traffic.

Those who know me, know that I reaaaaaalllly don't like holidays. With the anxiety, it's even worse. BUT, I've discovered that if I turn Christmas into a game, it's not about the presents, it's about the fun with family. This year, though, I really wasn't sure how to do that. But we had a theme: Monsters.


On Christmas Eve, we had some surprise visits. Santa Claus showed up at our door and delivered presents to the kids. My husband and I about had heart attacks. Completely unexpected. And then another secret santa came and left several bags of presents on our door step. I have no idea how to express what a blessing that was. It was wonderful, and I am extremely grateful for it.

Ok, so here's what happened Christmas Eve night:

I put Daughter A's husband in charge of sorting presents into piles. One pile for each person, family presents to be put in mom or dad's pile.


I put Daughter B's boyfriend in charge of finding most of her small presents and taping them to the ceiling and walls throughout the house.

Daughter A, B, and C sat at the table and made monster footprints, eyes, and teeth. And a misspelled sign that said "Monsters in Trayning Came and Played with your Presents. Go Find Mom and DAD!!!"  - it was more misspelled, and quite cute, but I can't remember now exactly how it worked.

We had all the little kids sleep in the main room in the basement so the monsters could hide presents in their closets.

There were eyes and teeth on the dishwasher, laundry washer, and dryer. There were footprints on the walls, floors, and even ceilings.

Son-in-law separated gifts for the various closets and locations chosen for the monsters to have dropped or played with the presents. Boyfriend took extra presents that didn't fit evenly into the hiding places and taped them randomly around the house on walls. Daughter A helped sort presents and hide some in the tree.

Daughter B and C  helped formulate the scavenger hunt and game.

Here's how it went:

* Kids came in to mom and dad's room to wake us up. There was a note that said, "Go wake up Sister A and her hubster in Brother's room. While you're in there, grab one of the matchbox cars, then come right back to mom and dad's room."

* Instructions there said to read the Christmas story from the Bible, sing a song, and then have family prayer. After that, the dragon on the container of presents would allow them to open the gifts. At the bottom of the container was another note. "All monsters must race their cars down the hall to the little brother's room."

* Once in the room, they had to ... I don't remember now... do something crazy? Like dance? before opening the presents hidden in the closet. And from there, they had to go brush their monster teeth to get rid of their monster morning breath.

* Oh my goodness, there were presents in the tub. And a note that said they needed to do a rain-dance down the hall to sister D's bedroom. In that room, they had to work as teams to build the biggest tower out of blocks before they could access the toys hidden in that closet.

* From there, the monsters were led to the front room where Daughter A's hubster, the Monster Wrangler, had them play a game to not only find the presents, but play a matching game to figure out the clues to the next set of instructions.

* Which led them to the kitchen where monsters needed to make breakfast and eat it. Because monsters need to feed their bellies, right? Then they had to load their dishes in the dishwasher. When they opened the dishwasher and the teeth appeared, they squealed in delight. Oh the giggles when they found presents on the washing racks.

* then they had to follow the footprints to the basement. Oh no, the washer and dryer had tried to eat some of the presents. The dryer had managed to close his mouth around them, but the washing machine had thrown some up onto the floor.

* they were then directed to the family room where they had to dance the Charleston. Which Sister A taught them. Someone had to win at Just Dance before they could get the next clue and move in to Sister C's bedroom, where the presents were hiding under the bed.

* Then in sister E's bedroom, there was a pile of presents hiding in her closet under the stairs. (I can't remember what goofy activity we had to do there.)

* And finally we ended up back upstairs in the living room with stockings and hunting for the presents hidden in the tree.

-- I couldn't have done it by myself. No way. But it was FUN. It involved the entire family, we all had to play and do the activities together. It made the morning about much more than presents, AND it made the morning last longer than the ten second flurry of wrapping paper flying everywhere.

This is the third year I've planned out a complicated Christmas morning. And in spite of all the anxiety and overwhelm and emotional issues I have before the big day, I have never regretted it. This is the first year that my big kids have actively asked to participate. A holiday I've hated for 32+ years has finally become fun for me. On the plus side, my kids love it, too.

So while it's a purely selfish motive for me to plan Christmases like this, my kids love it enough to help me pull it off. In fact, the little kids were begging to have the Grinch come steal Christmas again. Now I just have to figure out what I'm going to do next year :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

December

It's been a while since I've written here. It's been a while since I've felt like doing much.

This addition of anxiety to everything has not helped my mindset at all. Things I have done my whole life now seem monumentally hard.

* going to church
* going to a restaurant
* going to my husband's work parties
* family gatherings
* letting my children be loud when they play

I have turned down several opportunities for graphic design work because just the thought of a deadline or working and failing to meet someone's expectations made it hard to breathe. Sometimes it's not even the thought of failure, it's simply the idea of being creative that makes me feel completely overwhelmed.

I am barely able to be a human mommy. I am tired and annoyed at being an animal mommy. That makes me so sad. I have raised these cats since we found them abandoned at 4 weeks old. And now having to care for them and clean up and vacuum after them is too much. I just can't do it anymore.

This whole last few weeks has felt like that. Like 'I just can't do it.' 

I *have* done laundry. I *have* made myself go to church except the last two weeks. I *have* attended my daughter's school play, although it terrified me and I was shaking so bad by the time I got home. I *have* gone to my husband's work Christmas party, although he had to hold my hand a LOT while we were there, and by the time it was over, I was sure he owed me big time for making the effort and surviving.

So, obviously I *can* do it, I just have to force myself to try. And it is so hard.

And this year my three oldest daughters have volunteered to help me do Christmas. We came up with a theme and a way to make it full of games, and planned it out... and it feels overwhelming and hard now. Not fun. The idea of having to get out of bed, tolerate the sounds of the laughter and squeals hitting my eardrums and reverberating through my head, and deal with the mess of wrapping paper and packaging... See, those are all things that usually make Christmas worth it. The smiles, the laughter, the silly games and things we do to find presents. The ability to play.

And the especially sad thing right now, is that the idea of playing is hard. Once I get into it, it's fun and I enjoy myself, but it's work. And I'm so tired afterwards.

I often wonder if the phrase, "I never said it would be easy, I said it would be worth it" was coined just for me.

Because I *know* what I do is worth it. I know my friendships and family relationships are worth the extra effort it takes to keep at them. I know it's worth the effort of reading and doing homework with my kids. I know that time and effort pays off.

I just wish it wasn't so exhausting. I wish my brain worked. I miss it. I miss being able to do things that shouldn't be hard.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Choices

I made the mistake of reading comments on a cartoon about "if people treated regular illness like they treat mental illness."

Oh boy. People really believe that "You should just change your outlook" is a valid option for people suffering from depression.

Let me say this:

CHOOSING HOW I FEEL IS **NOT** AN OPTION

When I turned 40 and my brain chemistry altered so I am now Bi-Polar Depressive, I lost the option to choose the emotions that roll over me. I know the difference. I remember being able to say, "I don't want to be sad, I'm going to do something happy and think positive." And it fixed it.

That is no longer how my brain works.

When the dark oppressive weight of depression sits on me, I CANNOT say, "I'll just think positive and it will go away." That is not how it works.

Because I can look for and be grateful for all the things going right in my life. It still doesn't affect how I FEEL. In fact, when the depression is really bad, I can't feel anything but heavy and exhausted.

I DO have the choice to tell someone that it's a bad day.
I DO have the choice to go for a walk with my husband if he wants to get me out of the house.
I DO have the choice to use coping skills to try to relieve as much of the weight as possible. Or interrupting that negative tape that plays over and over and over. That tape that says I'm not good enough, why bother, my family would be better off without me.

Believe it or not, it's true. I am so tired of people who have never had real, true, clinical depression telling me to just think positive.

I firmly and will always believe that God sent me here to let me experience agency. I get to choose lots of things in my life. But now the choice of anger, grumpy, happy, sad, overwhelmed, discouraged, numb - my emotions are no longer in my control. I never know how I'm going to feel from one day to the next. All I can do is be prepared for any outcome, have coping methods in place, and trust that I will make it through the day.

I know I am blessed. I have good friends, good family, an awesome support system, and a nice safe bedroom where I can hide when I need to. I have great doctors and therapists. I have a good balance between medications and alternative supplements. I am doing the best that I can do. That still doesn't change the fact that my emotions are out of my control.

I really, truly, am glad for those who don't know depression, who don't understand it, who have never experienced it. I don't wish it on anyone. What I do ask, though, is for them to TRY to understand and not to attempt to tell me how to fix it. Just be there. I know I'm hard to live with. I know it requires a lot of patience, a lot of hugs, and a lot of tolerance of my mood swings. I get that. But for the love of all that's holy, STOP telling me to change my outlook.

My outlook is this: I will survive. I will do what I have to in order to survive. I will fight this battle for as long as I live, and dammit, I will win. My kids need me. I am stubborn, I am persistent, and I am resourceful. I have a condition. I am learning how to live with it and still experience life in a good and productive way.

That is the best I can do.