The Pain That Never Ends

Before the tragedies of this week even happened, I wrote a note. It feels like something is in the air causing distinct pain and hopelessness in people right now. I managed to avoid the psychiatric hospital only because we are leaving today for vacation. I doubt seriously vacation will help me feel any better, so we’ll see how things are when I return.

In my note I wrote that I was ready to end my life. I’m frustrated, beyond depressed, feeling extremely self destructive and like the only thing that will make me feel any better is to just disappear.
I cannot keep up with this lifestyle. There is nothing that is helping my mental status and I can’t keep going based on the hope or idea that maybe one day something will help.

I am not mentally well; my mind feels hazy, engulfed in shadows with nothing left but absolute darkness. I feel like I am a failure, and that everyone I know would be better off without me.
I feel so done. There are no answers. There are no solutions. I don’t know what to do. I’m tired of fighting what seems like a never ending battle.

I live a life of never ending anxiety, pills and frustration. It’s just not fair. I just want the pain to end.

Suicide isn’t the answer… until you feel like it’s the only way out of a spiral of cycling bipolar disease (or other mental illness).  It doesn’t feel like you’re abandoning your loved ones; it feels like you’re freeing them from the burden that is you and your illness. You feel like you are doing the world a service by leaving it.

I don’t have the answer. Some people would say pray it away. I find that pointless to even try after years of relying on that method. Some people would say “Get help”. Well, I have a therapist and psychiatrist who are notably the best in Cincinnati. I rely on them and while they do help, they aren’t the answer either. I just want this nightmare in my head to go away. I want the pain of bipolar to disappear so I can live a life of joy and hope and love.

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on June 8, 2018.

How Quickly Life Moves On

Two years ago, life for us nearly changed. You see, I have a disease. I have a mental illness. Multiple illnesses, actually. I suffer from bipolar depression, anxiety, PTSD and an eating disorder. On a warm June day, despite so many efforts, I nearly succumbed to my diseases. I was in therapy, receiving both conventional medication treatment as well as the unconventional electroconvulsive therapy- all as a drastic measure to try and relieve my symptoms. Unfortunately, the trial and error of medication for mental illness is one that can’t be avoided. My medicines and therapies were not the right combination. I couldn’t see clearly. I was desperate for a way out. I remember thinking to myself that there was no way that my family could possibly love someone as broken and messed up as me.  I felt like a burden. I felt like a failure as a person, wife, mother, daughter and friend. I felt so lost. I was feeling like all I did was care for everyone else, and yet still believed my love wasn’t enough for everyone.

I’ll never forget skipping my son’s baseball game and instead going for a drive. I remember on the drive when I texted my best friend and told her I was done and I couldn’t do life anymore. I remember crying in the car begging God to let people know that I was truly sorry and that I didn’t want them to hurt because of me.

I stepped on the gas pedal and after exceeding 100mph on the highway I jerked the wheel of my car to the right and went head first into a tree on the shoulder of the highway. I hit at such a speed that my engine flew out of my car and landed on the highway. I went through the airbag and my head through the windshield.

I don’t remember much. I remember firetrucks and good samaritans who happened to be in the medical field trying to find a way to get me out of the car due to anxieties around a small fire that had started. I remember waking up in the trauma unit of the ER with a doctor standing over me telling me he had no idea how I was even alive. I remember crying to him about how sorry I was and to tell my family the same.

I lived. I survived a car wreck that firefighters and police told me was one of the worst they had seen in their entire careers; i survived with little more than a concussion, bruised body and cuts on my face.

I survived. Death did not grab hold of me that warm, June day.

Here’s what I want to share about how I feel about that entire situation. It’s what I think most people who attempt suicide feel:

  • I wasn’t running from my problems. I was desperately searching for a way to conquer them
  • It wasn’t about dying. It was about escaping the horrendous pain
  • It was not a cry for attention
  • I know I am blessed to have survived but I still struggle with the demons
  • You never forget the unbearable pain a suicide attempt creates
  • It becomes additional trauma

I still pass that section of the highway all the time. The tree I hit was deformed but still stands strong. I often feel connected to that tree. I stand tall today, a little deformed from that accident, but still alive.

My depression didn’t end after that. I’m still in therapy and receive ECT. But, I am better. New medications and an increase in other therapies have allowed me to find a balance that I can sustain.

I still cry. I still feel guilty for what I put my family through. I was lucky enough that they rallied around me to love me and care for me instead of shoving me aside. I share my story when I can so that I can hopefully let others know that they are not alone and that there is hope both before and after attempts such as mine.

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on April 22, 2018.

Technology and Mental Health

When I was growing up, things like social media and having personal cell phones while in middle school didn’t yet exist. I had nothing to hide behind and who I was, was just that: me.

But take a look at today’s social media. We have Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and more that have the ability to portray a life that we want others to think we are living, but may not actually be the case.

You can choose the best pictures of whatever you are doing to share with the world while hiding behind the veil of a phone. I suffer with depression and severe anxiety, but no one on Facebook knows that based on my pictures and statuses that I post. I post inspiring quotes, fun pictures of trips to the zoo with my kids and vacation photos that make it appear that I live a life of near perfection. But, on the inside I’m slowly dying and no one knows.

Think of how this affects us. Everyone these days now lives two lives- the real one and the one they post on social media. This can foster worsening depression, anxiety, and things like eating disorders. Everyone just wants to look perfect for their friends. I didn’t have this worry when I was younger, so if I had to guess, social media and technology has something to do with the increase things like suicide attempts and declining mental health overall.

We spend so much time trying to keep up with what we are seeing on everyone else’s social media accounts that we forget to just be who we are. We forget that they, like us, are just posting the best of the best. It causes detachment with reality in some ways as everyone only sees the best.

So how do we change this? How do we stop comparing our lives to those around us on social media? I wish I had the answer to those questions. But what I do know is that as we raise our children in this cyber world that we live in, we need to remind them that things aren’t always what they seem and we need to spend more time in face- to -face relationships and conversations so we can remain grounded in what is actually real.

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on December 18, 2017.

Mental Illness Every Day

A few days ago as I was digging through boxes in the garage looking for the yearly Christmas decorations, I stumbled upon a box of books. This box was filled with about 200 of my book that I wrote a few years back that I hadn’t sold at my speaking engagements. I picked one up and next thing I knew an hour had passed and I found myself sitting on the hard garage floor reading through it.

I was reminded of what led me to write that book. Being in therapy and revisiting events that caused my PTSD, depression and anxiety led me to putting some of my stories on paper in order to hopefully, in an ideal world, help someone else who was struggling. My goal in life at the time was to reduce stigma surrounding mental illness. Rereading that book reminded me of just how many details I left out. Details that changed my life in far greater ways that I was still so shy about sharing. And then a year and a half after that book was published, I drove my car at 100mph into a tree on the side of the highway in a suicide attempt. I did that not for attention or pity, but becuase of the events that I had left out of said book that were still not dealt with. Deeper, larger, more in depth pains that I was afraid to admit to anyone. I wrote a book, sure… but it wasn’t the book my soul needed to write. It was only a few of the details I was allowing people around me to know.

And here I am almost 15 months from that crash and I feel even worse. I’ve talked my way through so much. I’ve made great progress. As a matter of fact, my therapist of 7 years told me at my last appointment just how well I was doing. Truth is, I’ve avoided him for a few months under the disguise of insurance issues, when in reality I just can’t talk anymore.

Why? You might ask. Because I’m tired. Mentally exhausted. I have no more words to say. I’m finally on a medication that has regulated my mood. So that is, indeed, improvement. But, one thing that hasn’t left me is this deep desire to die. I’m suicidal.

Before you get too worried, let me explain. I view life through the darkened glasses of depression. I get anxious every time the phone rings thinking someone is sick. I constantly feel like I am nothing but a burden to my family and that they’d be better off without me, even though they tell me otherwise. I don’t have a plan in which to die and don’t need immediate hospitalization or care. This is just a daily battle I have to fight.

Every day with mental illness is a struggle. It affects my kids and my friends and all my family. I see the affects of my illnesses on my kids as they ask me if I’m ok or why I’m sad or how they can make me feel better. It breaks my heart and so many times I wonder if they’d truly be better off without me. I know the pain of losing a parent as a child and so I think sometimes that experience alone keeps me around for their sakes.

I’ve been living with depression that has been far worse than I’ve let on to my family in recent months. I’m hoping the excitement, hustle and bustle of the holidays will be enough to keep me up and moving and my mind distracted enough to keep the other thoughts at bay.

 

 

 

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on November 22, 2017.

I Am Me

There’s a song lyric that speaks to my heart every time I hear it. It’s from former American Idol contestant, Danny Gokey. The words are:

“Yesterday is a closing door,

you don’t live there anymore.

Say goodbye to where you’ve been,

and tell your heart to beat again.”

How often do we live in the past? I know I am guilty of this. I seem to overlook the life that is in front of me, instead spending too much time focusing on regrets of the past. Don’t get me wrong, decisions we’ve made in the past make up all of our life, so it’s hard to not think on them. But, there isn’t anything we can do to change the past. I sometimes dwell on all the wrongs I have committed and tear myself down, when it would benefit me so much more to focus on the blank slate ahead of me and how I can better myself, my family and those around me. I’ve wasted a lot of time being focused on the past and feeling like I just want to give up. But, I have so much in front of me if I will just focus on where I’m going instead of where I’ve been.

My calling is to be who I was meant to be. I can own and accept and embrace the fact that I am bipolar, that I’ve dealt with suicidality and that I’ve struggled with eating disorders. I live a life that is sometimes crippled by anxiety and depression.

I’m not supposed to be anything but true to who I really am.

And I am me.

I am not ashamed of that.

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on September 20, 2017.

What I really need when I tell you I’m struggling

I’m going to be frank for a moment. I have several mental illnesses, chronic mental illnesses, which I will likely struggle with for the rest of my life. I take medications daily and I have electroconvulsive therapy weekly. I go to therapy, have a strong support system and a strong faith.  But, bad days will happen regardless of how rigid or committed I am to recovery and health. Awful days will happen. Days where the suicidal thoughts are relentless — they happen. Those days, which sometimes turn into weeks, where I can’t get out of bed or shower or smile or remember to brush my teeth, they are expected. Bad days will happen and it’s often on these days that I receive more judgment than I do gentleness and understanding. On these days I need compassion, grace and understanding that I’m fighting something really hard. What I do not need is to be questioned about whether I took my medication, if I had too much to drink this past weekend or if I’ve been staying up too late. Unless you deeply and truly know what it’s like to wake up one day and have your own voice telling you to kill yourself, I don’t think you are allowed to pass judgment.

I know that you care, but on the days when I tell you I’m struggling, I don’t need you to point out where I probably went wrong because my biggest fear is that you’re going to assume I am not trying hard enough and walk away. When I reach out, I am afraid that the frustration of this “thing,” this inconvenience, also known as my mental illness, will eventually be too much for you. Unlike me, you can walk away from this, downplay the severity or outright ignore it, and I am terrified that you will. On the days that I tell you I’m struggling, there are 100 other days for which I said nothing. I live in constant fear of being a burden to my family and friends.

When you don’t live with a mental illness, I think it can be hard to comprehend how something like this can take a hold of your mind. I know because I remember not being like this. I realize now after being medicated that my moods were never stable, but I can remember what it’s like to not have suicidal thoughts, to not have to be vigilant about sleep or refilling my medications or monitoring sugar intake to avoid a mood swing. I completely empathize with the mindset that there is no way something can be so relentless, persistent and unavoidable. I know it is hard to understand and uncomfortable and awkward to sit with, but on the days when I reach out I don’t need judgment. I don’t need answers or solutions that neither of us have. I don’t need perfect words. On the days I reach out, I need to know I’m loved. I need to know that the voice, which sounds an awful lot like my own, telling me the world would be better off without me is wrong. I need to know I’m not alone. I need to know there is someone who will go for a walk with me, pick up dinner for me, pray with me or just sit with me.

 

I want to take the liberty to speak up for anyone reaching out on those bad days. On the days we tell you we’re struggling, we don’t need judgment or solutions, we just simply need you. I need to know you won’t walk away, that you aren’t going to abandon us.

I just need to know you’re there. 

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on August 28, 2017.

Inside The Mind of Mental Illness

It’s as if I have a mood- system like the weather. It is independent of whatever is going on in my life. It doesn’t care if I have plans. Being bipolar means whatever I wake up to is what I have to live with. Once the smothering blanket of bipolar depression drops, it often seems as if nothing will lift the gloom.

Right now, I am deep in the throes of a depression deeper than any I can remember. My thoughts are killing me. My brain has this obsession and fixation with my own death; with death being the only solution. I can’t take a pill without thinking of overdosing. Can’t shave without thinking of cutting myself. Every day is a battle in my mind. I try to talk myself into living all the while dreaming of dying. I see my death in my sleep.  Depression is killing me. My mind is sucking my will to live. I don’t know if I truly want to die but my brain insists on flooding my thoughts with the idea of death being the only way to truly escape.I have plenty to live for and things to look forward to. I just don’t know how to keep up the fight against my own mind.

I just want to walk right out of my life. No matter what I do, it’s never enough.  The older I get, the less patience I have. I’m so tired of people expecting more from me than I can give. What appears as laziness is actually just depression that breeds lack of motivation. I truly believe I’ve been on enough medicines to know that where I am is the best I’ll ever be and it sucks knowing I’ve been cheated out of a better life. Worse than that, my family has to pay the price as well. I’m tired. I’m tired of fighting to find happiness and peace of mind. For me, it has never come naturally. Sometimes I think I’d trade the rest of my life for one week of knowing what it feels like to be happy and have a genuine love of life.

Recovering from mental illness includes not only getting better, but achieving satisfying life. This is not something I can ever achieve. My life is filled with pains and all-consuming thoughts that my ill brain floods my mind with. It makes me believe that I am a burden, that my children would be better off without me, and that my life is nothing worthwhile to keep alive. Instead my life is something that is a pain, a hassle, and a disappointment.

My depression is bad, and my anxiety is driving me crazy. I spend so much time trying to treat this with Therapy, medication, meditation, ECT and I still have days I’d rather die than face another day of this life- all because of an illness I can’t seem to control. It’s not that I want to die. I just don’t want to exist.

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on August 16, 2017.

A Letter to My Children

 

HI kiddo,  how are you? I want to talk to you for a second because life isn’t always puppy dogs, sunshine, and smiles — because my life is rarely those things— and I want you to know why.

After all, you deserve an explanation.

You see, Mommy suffers from an illness. It’s different from other illnesses. It’s a mental illness — that means it’s an illness that lives inside my brain.

Of course, I know this doesn’t make sense. I mean, I’m not laid out. I’m not throwing up, and I don’t have a fever. I look normal. I sound normal, and I seem normal.

I appear to be A-OK, but not all illnesses can be seen, my child. Not all conditions come with a cough or congestion, and “sick” doesn’t always mean what you think it means (my disorder cannot be fixed with snuggles and soup).

But I am sick, my love. Sick with a mental illness.

“De-pres-sion?” you ask. “What is depression? Are you okay, Mommy? Do you need medicine? Are you going to be OK? Are you too sick to play?”

Well, yes and no. No and yes.

You see, these are good questions. Good questions which deserve an answer. Unfortunately, depression is muddy — very, very muddy — and the answers you seek aren’t always cut and dry.

They aren’t always black and white.

But I will tell you what I can when I can. And right now, I can tell you this: Depression is an illness which affects your body and your mind. You can’t catch it, like pinkeye or a cold. You can’t pass it through a kiss or by sharing straws, and depression can be treated.

Thanks to my medicine, most days are asymptomatic. (That means mommy feels fine. Most days, Mommy is good. She is OK.)

However, sometimes my depression acts up, and when it does, I am achy and sleepy. Weepy, short-tempered, angry, and sad, and I don’t want move. I don’t want to eat. I don’t want to stroll through the park or even to the playground across the street because I don’t want to do anything.

I want to hide in bed or lie on the couch.

And it is these days which hurt you most — it is these days which affect you most — because you are young, and you don’t only need my attention, you want my attention. You yearn for my attention. You beg for my attention, and yet I don’t give it. Not fully. Not completely.

I am with you, but not present. I am beside you, but my mind is missing. I am not truly there.

And for that I am sorry. I am so, so sorry.

Make no mistake: I’m not sorry for my depression. I cannot be. It is an illness like any other, and it is beyond my control. But I am sorry for how it hurts you. I am sorry for how I have hurt you, and I am sorry for how it has affected you.

I am sorry if my apathy has ever made you feel neglected, unwelcome, or unloved.

I am also sorry for the “little things.” For the canceled playdates and the “not tonight” dinner dates. For the “mommy’s napping through breakfast” breakfasts and the cold cereal suppers. I am sorry for the games I haven’t played, for the puzzles I haven’t done, for the pictures I haven’t colored, and for songs I haven’t sung. And I’m sorry for the trees I haven’t climbed, and for the picnics we haven’t had. I’m sorry for the baseball games I missed and the school parties I didn’t attend.

Because if I’m being honest with you, there have been days in which I’ve been too sick to play. Where I’ve been so lost in my mind and consumed by sadness, fear, anger, and self-loathing that I cannot function, but I can only imagine how that makes you feel.I can only imagine how sad, disappointed, and rejected you feel. And I can’t help but wonder, as you scuttle away with your eyes turned down and your head hung low, if you think this is somehow your fault.

If you think the anger, the apathy, the tears, or my “no, not now, dear” answers are your fault. And that crushes me.

It guts me to the core because it isn’t true. It couldn’t be further from the truth.

So listen, little one: While I know this depression thing is confusing — while I know it is hard to explain, and even harder to understand — I want you to know that I’ll keep trying to be better and to get better. I’ll keep talking (and working) to explain it to you better, and I’ll do whatever I can to be a good mom. A healthy mom. To be the loving, present mom you deserve.

But there will be bad days and sick days and days when my depression will win. And on those days, please remember that I love you. I will always love you, and no matter what happens — no matter how many tears I may shed or naps I may take — my moods are not your fault. My feelings are not your fault. My erratic thoughts are not your fault, and my illness is not your fault.

My depression is not (and never will be) your fault.

Love, Mom

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on June 13, 2017.

Parenting with Mental Illness

Mild anxiety and depression have always been a part of my life. I hid it well in my younger years; coping by using eating disordered behaviors to ease any feelings I didn’t like. I purged my food after binging while alternating that with periods of restricting my intake of food.

As I got older, I began self treating in other ways. I would abuse prescription pain medication that was given to me for a chronic arthritic spinal disease. I abused my anxiety meds by taking whole bottles at a time so I could spend the day in bed.

Being a mom is hard and brings a new, additional set of challenges. Dealing with my mental illness has not been easy. But, I learned to give myself grace… it was the only way I could, and can, keep going.

My children have been to the sterile white walls of a psychiatric hospital to visit mommy. They knew only that mommy was sick and not the exact reason why. They have visited me in residential treatment where I spent 30 days away from them getting an accurate diagnosis and trying to find a treatment that would make me able to function.

I love my kids. With every hospitalization (which now is over 70 days total spent in a psychiatric facility) I have had to deal with the mommy guilt. As if there isn’t enough guilt with parenting all on its own, I had to learn to tell myself that I was doing what was best for them by helping myself. I told myself that over and over and it took years for me to accept it.

Life is far from perfect now. I’m more stable and my suicidal ideation has dissipated for the most part. I no longer look for ways to hurt myself. But, I still have my days where depression looms and I want to hide away in bed for the day. I know my children are always watching. So I try with everything in me to push on if for no other reason than to teach them strength and resilience.

I want them to know that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. I don’t want them to stigmatize others or feel stigmatized themselves should they ever have any sort of mental illness. They know I go to therapy, take meds and have ECT (electroconvulsive therapy) twice a month. I’ve talked to them about mommy being sad sometimes and that it’s ok to have down days.

I want them to know that I fought for myself and for them. That I fought to be here for the little moments and the big moments. That I gave myself enough grace to accept the bad days and embrace  the good ones.

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on June 13, 2017.

Slipping

I read an article today written by someone whose mom committed suicide and how Mother’s day just isn’t the same without her. In my heart I felt a sting. Because that’s one of my biggest fears- how my suicide would impact my children.

My mental health has quietly been declining and yet I can’t seem to find a way to talk about it. Six weeks ago, I saw my therapist of 6+ years for the last time. I haven’t met with my psychiatrist in as many weeks. A change in my mental health care coverage has shorted me the ability to take care of myself.

See, I had managed and been able to balance my mental health a little better when I was seeing my team of professionals knew me and were helping me. But, my insurance- or lack there of- denied me my mental health coverage at the facility that had saved me from myself. This facility helped diagnose and treat my bipolar, an eating disorder, severe anxiety and other symptoms/illnesses. They gave me personalized care that covered every aspect of my well being. I had a dedicated team there that helped me both inpatient and out. I felt like I was at home there.

Finding a new facility feels like too big of a task to tackle.  I don’t want to deal with the daunting task of going somewhere else. It was exhausting enough going to the one place I felt comfortable with as it is.

I don’t have it in me to start all over.

And because of that, I feel as though my life is slipping away.

I don’t want to be another statistic. I don’t want to become the reason people put a support ribbon on the back of their car. I don’t want my family, friends, children or husband to have to bury me. But a lack of medical coverage, and the inability to pay the large cost for mental health care out of pocket leaves me feeling helpless and even more hopeless than before.

I’m trying. I really am trying. Tears stream down my face as I try to convince myself to get up every day. This isn’t self pity or anything like that. It is this inability of being able to fight an illness(es) alone and feeling so isolated and exhausted. It’s not having the treatment from people who really “get it” in my life anymore. It’s the pain I feel like I’m causing everyone around me as they pick up my slack becuase I can’t function.

I’m so grateful for the people who gave me over half a decade of care and love and help. I’m sorry that I’m slipping away- or so it feels. I hope I can fight on.

~Lindsay

This entry was posted on May 14, 2017.