Category:

Mental Health

carrie Fisher, bipolar, addiction, Princess Leia

Today, in some bizarre twist of fate, the moment Rogue One began to play on the screen, my Apple watch flashed the breaking news, Star Wars icon, Carrie Fisher, dead at 60. Her big, beautiful heart just stopped beating. Just like that, she was gone and all the air was sucked out of my lungs. It was a cosmic punch to the gut. I sat there in shock in the dark theater as the words, in a galaxy far, far away flashed on the screen. It was surreal and the most ironic thing I’ve ever experienced.

carrie Fisher, bipolar, addiction, Princess Leia, star wars, rogue one

I spent the duration of the movie watching from behind tear-filled eyes, stifling inappropriate sobs. I wasn’t crying over the loss of Princess Leia, that was just a character that she played in a movie. I was devastated by someone that I felt a kindred spirit in so many ways.

Carrie Fisher was a hero to me for her outspoken, feisty, live out loud female empowered way that she lived her life but she was particularly my hero because she was a survivor. We survivors, we recognize scrappy in one another and we admire it. I admired her.

carrie Fisher, bipolar, addiction, Princess Leia, star wars, rogue one

She survived addiction and Bipolar, and believe me, if you’ve not had to survive either of these you have no idea just how strong this woman was. She faced it head on and said, “Fuck you! I’m not going down without a fight! Bring it on, bitches!” (That’s NOT  a direct quote but a sentiment sort of an inner warrior princess battle cry.)

When we are children and young adults, we naturally gravitate towards heroes to emulate that we recognize glimpses of ourselves in. I saw myself in Carrie Fisher. I loved the way she just told it like it was. There was no time for bullshit. Life is too short, especially when your mind takes you on a perpetual roller coaster ride.

She came out publicly about her struggles with addiction and her bipolar diagnosis in the mid-90’s. She inspired others to do so too. Soon after, I was diagnosed bipolar 1. When you are suffering undiagnosed and self-medicating just to try to feel “normal” it’s like you’re not even really living; you’re getting by. You feel broken and to find out that there is a name for it, to find out that you are merely bent and not broken, is sweet relief. I could identify on so many levels with her on this. We shared that experience and its sort of like sharing cancer or war together. It etches that person on your heart in a way most others can never be.

carrie Fisher, bipolar, addiction, Princess Leia, star wars, rogue one

After I was diagnosed, I made it my mission to learn everything I could about the disease. Not only did I see my psychiatrist and psychologist weekly and religiously, I read every book I could get my hands on, including the DSM. I gave books to my family and friends so that they could educate themselves and understand why I was the way I was. I learned all of my comorbid diagnosis and how to cope with them; some with medication and all through behavioral therapy. I learned what made me tick. I embraced the madness. I even took it a step further and took a few graduate clinical psychology courses just to wrap my brain around it as much as possible. I learned how to diagnose not because I wanted to diagnose anyone but because I wanted to recognize, educate and help anyone else who was feeling broken.

Every time Carrie Fisher spoke up about mental illness and advocated for mental health, she made it easier for the rest of us. She also inspired us to be honest to tell our mental health truths. Having a mental illness diagnosis is not like having a physical illness diagnosis. When you have a mental illness, somehow the world sees you as defective by your own choice; as if you did something to deserve it or it was some punishment for being weak-minded but no one would ever say that about someone with diabetes or cancer. Carrie fought those stigmas at every chance because once you can separate yourself from the disease and see with that intuitive clarity, you just want to help anyone you can.

carrie Fisher, bipolar, addiction, Princess Leia, star wars, rogue one

Carrie Fisher’s bravery inspired me to share my own stories; my diagnoses. I told the world things I hadn’t even said out loud to most of my friends because I was ashamed they would somehow think less of me or make every fault about the diagnosis. I was terrified to tell you my deepest, darkest most stigmatized secrets but I wrote them out and became an advocate because by being open it destigmatizes it just a little bit for the next generation; the next group of sufferers. That’s who Carrie Fisher was to me. I saw myself in her and I will miss her. She gave me hope.

In the last 5 seconds of Rogue One, just when I thought I couldn’t possibly hold it together for one more second, there on the screen was Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) turning around to face the audience, beaming in the way only Carrie could, and she said, “We have hope.” It was one last serendipitous pep talk from a woman who has inspired me to be strong and brave when I was at my most vulnerable. Rest in peace, my fellow warrior.

carrie Fisher, bipolar, addiction, Princess Leia, star wars, rogue one

 

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Amanda bynes, mentally ill, mandatory psych hold

Last week, I read in the Daily Mail that Amanda Bynes‘ doctors are seeking to have her held in a psychiatric facility for up to one year and force her to take medication. ONE.YEAR! 365 Days of her life. Her doctors were planning to ask a judge to allow them to hold her for up to a year, during which they’d be allowed to keep her confined and, if necessary, restrained and force her to take medication

“A judge will only grant this type of hold if the person is deemed “gravely disabled as a result of a mental disorder or impairment by chronic alcoholism.”

So, hopefully the judge will find another way to help Ms. Bynes without needing to confine her to an institution for an entire year. Maybe they could make a stipulation of freedom be that she is medication compliant. A simple blood test could be used to check for compliance.

I feel like the media is reporting this matter of factly, as if having a mental illness diagnosis warrants immediately being locked up. Would we ever consider locking up a diabetic against their will, withholding sugar and forcefully administering insulin? I think not.

Media rubberneckers find this to be an entertaining topic of conversation. “Oh that “crazy” Amanda Bynes with her “crazy” antics, setting things on fire, tweeting out salacious photos, doing the most off the wall behavior for attention.” The thing is, this is serious and this is scary.

 

Amanda bynes, mentally ill, mandatory psych hold

When I see this photo, the only thing I think is maybe she looks a little thin…not crazy.

If you’ve ever had a mental illness diagnosis, as many people do these days, you know that our biggest fear, aside from outing ourselves as “mentally ill” because then everyone just attributes everything you do to being “crazy” and having it undermine and tinge every single thing you do for the rest of your life, we.fear.being.locked.away against our will. This is why mentally ill people keep their mouths shut, don’t take meds, don’t share with friends and family and don’t get better because if the price of help is being locked up against your will, it simply is not worth it to us.

Why the world thinks it has the right to banish her to an institution or condemn her to a life of being “crazy”, I don’t know? She is young. She has made some mistakes. She has exhibited some bad behavior but that doesn’t mean that she should be written off as a lunatic.

I was diagnosed at 27,with BiPolar 1. If you knew me then, you might have thought that I was “CRAZY” if you had spent any extended amount of time with me. In small doses, I could pass for funny and enthusiastic but if you spent a substantial amount of time with me, like my husband did, you would have quickly realized that there was no off button.

I was reckless, careless, I drove fast, I shopped a LOT, I was hyper sexual, I drank almost constantly, I did very outrageous things simply because I was bored, I was the life of the party and then I was the meanest bitch you’d ever have met. Luckily, I was not a celebrity nor were Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat or Pinterest in existence or maybe I would have been the token crazy online.

I got help. I didn’t need institutionalized. I never became psychotic. I was able to control my mania with medication, reducing triggers like alcohol, caffeine and sugars, behavioral therapy and cognitive therapy. I made every effort to know and embrace my illness. I did this privately, with the help of my husband. My family knew but I didn’t live near any of them. It wasn’t something I told strangers. I was allowed the dignity of keeping my mental illness private and this allowed me to not let it define me.

Years later, I came out about my mental illness on my blog because I was ready to share my story in hopes that maybe it could help someone else know that you can get through it.

Maybe Amanda Bynes needs to be institutionalized for help but a year is a sentence. She’s done nothing wrong. She is being punished for a crime that she didn’t commit. Mental illness is not a crime, it’s an illness.

I understand  72 hours or 2 weeks to get meds stabilized  and make sure someone is not a danger to themselves or others but  isn’t a year a bit extreme? If this happens, this could happen to anyone with a diagnosis, including you or I. Consider that.

Do you think doctors should be able to ask for a mandatory 1 year psychiatric hold to a mentally ill Amanda Bynes or anyone?

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Robin Williams, parkinson's disease, 1-year anniversary,robin williams, suicide, bipolar, manic depression, depression

As I sit here, I am saddened no I am devastated by the suicide of Robin Williams. I am, however, not shocked. I want to scream and cry and I am mad. Pissed off that this f*cking disease has stolen another brilliant mind from this world. He was a genius, with eyes tinged with sadness who always made everyone else around him happy. We shared something in common, Robin Williams and myself, aside from being from Chicago, a bipolar diagnosis.

I don’t talk about it often because I am so much more than a diagnosis. It does not define me. But, I take this personally. It’s a punch to the gut because many of us who suffer from this diagnosis know that suicide is a very real outcome for our lives. It’s not so much a matter of will he or won’t he kill himself, it’s more of a when will he just not be able to bear the burden any longer because even though our pain threshold is higher than most, even we have a limit to the torture we can endure.

I’ve never suffered from an official diagnosis of severe depression, but I have spent a lifetime suffering from a diagnosis of bipolar 1 which for me has mostly meant teetering between mania and extreme irritability. People love you when you are manic because you are the life of the party. You are fun and funny and everyone loves you.

But when you stay manic too long, you become irritable; irritable at the fact that you cannot calm down from your manic high, annoyed with yourself for being this person; for breathing. You begin to feel out of control and then you become angry and mean. You hate the world. You hate yourself. Then, just to add insult to injury, sometimes you fall from your vibrant mania heaven to the deepest, darkest pit of depression hell. You feel worthless and unworthy of the air you breathe.

I haven’t been “depressed” since my teen years. Like I said, I used to exist between manic and irritable. I’ve been non–episodic for 12 years. I’m 41. I was officially diagnosed when I was 27 but I had been exhibiting symptoms of bipolar from about the age of 15. At that time, I did frequently got depressed. I used to lay awake at night crying trying to figure out a way to disappear; to kill myself because living felt pointless and it hurt to feel that worthless. But the thought of breaking my mother’s heart was too much for me to bear so I held on.

When I was diagnosed with Bipolar, I wept with relief. I was so happy to have a name for this terrible demon that had literally turned my life upside down. When I was diagnosed, I was on the brink of losing everything but I was so manic that I did not care. I was drinking heavily to try to quiet my mind. I would wake up chipper and pleasant and happy-go-lucky and then it was like my engine got stuck, revved up and I just couldn’t stop and I was so tired of being “up” so then I drank myself into a stupor. When I was irritable, I was mean and biting with my words. A part of me wanted to alienate everyone and destroy anything that was good in my life because I didn’t feel like I deserved it when I was coming down. That’s the thing. It’s a shame spiral. You get manic and feel like the king of the world and then you come crashing down and feel unworthy of life and that’s when the demon creeps back in. Sometimes your meds quiet the demons, sometimes they can’t. But you choose to fight, every single day until you can’t anymore.

I am non-episodic but I know every day could be the day that I become manic. I know that every day could be the end of my life as I know it. I fight. I fight to stay here to be here because today, I know how wonderful it can be. Right now, I am living as close to normal as I’ve ever been.

Robin Williams was 63 years old, he fought his demons every day for all these years but today he was too beat down to fight back and we lost a comedic genius, a father, a husband, a friend. Today, I lost a fellow warrior. He has fallen and my heart is heavy. My thoughts and prayers are for those who loved him that he left behind, may they find the strength and courage to carry on. May he finally rest in peace.

Don’t let his death be meaningless. Don’t let one more person die in mental health vain. We need to be more open, remove the stigma and support one another. Bipolar disorder, manic depression, depression or whatever it is that you call your demon can only be defeated when all the warriors stand tall and share our stories and own our issues. I won’t lie, Robin Williams’ suicide scares me because it makes me feel vulnerable.

There should be no shame in being sick, there should only be compassion and understanding and HELP! Share your stories. Come out of your mental health closet. #RobinsWarriors If you need help, don’t be afraid to reach out. You are not alone. Don’t give up.

24-hour Hotline

National Suicide Prevention Helpline

1-800-273-8255 (1-800-273-TALK)

Do not go gently into that good night…rage until you can no longer draw breath into your body. Rage warriors, rage harder than you ever have before.

Robin Williams, there will never be another you and you will forever be missed.

 

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No, How to say no, Saying No

You know what no one teaches us as children? How to say NO! Sure we may say “no” for a few years in obstinate defiance as children but soon, that is beaten out of us ( not literally but we are told over and over again that it’s not nice to say no!) We are taught from the time we are toddlers that to be pleasing in word, deed and action to those who surround us. We are even urged to look pleasing. Inadvertently, we are turned into yes to people. We are taught that to say no is to be disagreeable. “No” comes with a metric ton of guilt. But what no one tells you is that  “no” can be empowering. We all need to learn how to say no, not feel bad about it and carry on. Guilt is overrated. I have enough guilt from drinking the Kool-Aid that’s told me there is such a thing as the “perfect parent”, when we all know the “perfect parent” is no more real than unicorns.

I’ve spent my entire life trying to fit in. That is what society dictates. To be “pleasing” is not the same as coloring my world all unicorns and rainbows but it is also not in your face instigation. I assume it comes from growing up in a household and a society where I was told regularly to ‘be quiet” as to not rock the boat or cause discourse. Why the fuck is it so important for everyone to like what everyone else says or wants? Once I really thought about it, sure who doesn’t like to be “liked” but then I thought, if I’m always saying yes to shit I hate, it’s all a big lie anyways and no ones pleased really; not the people I am saying yes to and certainly, not me. Not to mention, saying yes can become overwhelming and you will find yourself bogged down with things that you don’t want to do and missing opportunities that would be better suited to your life. This can happen in your career, school, family or friendships.

I’m sure the people pleasing started when I was a child. I wanted to make my parents happy like all children. I wanted to feel special among the 6 children they had. My claim to “special” child was pleasing disposition and great grades. I said yes, I did my chores, I did my homework and I strove for perfection in all areas. I thrived in the praise of , “Good job, Debi!” But then it was never enough. Parental approval became like a drug and soon I found myself feeling let down and never able to meet the standards.I just kept saying yes to please people, even though I was becoming completely miserable. In fact, I found myself finding excuses to refuse offers to go or do things because I just felt like me not wanting to was not a valid reason. It seemed selfish and warranted disapproval.

Why can’t we all just have our feelings without seeking validation from others. I have friends that I love but we don’t agree on politics or religion or even the color of the sky but we are friends still; we agree to disagree. I respect them as people and I respect their right to their opinion even if I don’t agree. I like hearing their perspectives. Hell, maybe I’ll learn something or they will point out something I never even thought of. I would never want a friend who only always said yes because if they only ever agreed with what I said, I’d have to wonder if they ever had a thought of their own and if they were genuine at all.

I know all this about myself and I am trying to break the involuntary response to placate others without ever considering first what I want. Still , on a regular basis people ask me to do stuff that I don’t want to do and do not benefit me in anyway and I say yes because I don’t want to hurt feelings, piss people off or I simply have no excuse to refuse other than I just don’t want to. Saying no doesn’t make you selfish. People do huge life changing things for the wrong reason all the time because they are afraid to say know. People marry the wrong person, take the wrong career path,stay in a marriage and even have children because it was what was expected of them. That is just not a good enough reason.

Who says no because they don’t want to unless they are a two-year-old throwing a tantrum? I am an adult and somehow saying no feels petty. Who wants to be thought of as petty? I often find myself frustrated and doing something I didn’t want to do but didn’t think I had the right to say no. Why can’t I say no? I don’t want to do it. I am an adult. I have the right to make a choice. The right to refuse. Remember to consider if when you say yes to others are you saying no to yourself? I am saying no from now on when I don’t want to do something and I refuse to qualify why to others.

Last week, it just clicked for me and someone asked me to do something that I didn’t want to and before I could even think about it, I said no. I caught myself and I felt embarrassed and guilty. It was a simple request from my husband to help him shovel the snow, during the blizzard. He never asks me to but there was a LOT of snow. But I was cold and the thought of shoveling snow that was 14 inches high and still falling felt too daunting a task and I wanted no part of it.I said no and I meant it. I think I shocked him. I eventually acquiesced and we shoveled together. Thank God, it may have killed him shoveling al that snow by himself. But when I said no, you can’t believe how happy it made me to say it out loud.

It starts with little things like, “Come on try a piece of this or that, just a taste.” You want to say no but why bother it’s only a small piece but then before you know it, it’s your virginity, your career, your happiness. It’s your life. When does it stop? We get into a habit of avoiding conflict and just saying yes. Say NO. What’s the worst that can happen? You inconvenience someone else? So what. Isn’t your happiness just as important as theirs.

Forgo the guilt and soak up the giddy excitement and sheer joy that comes with saying no. It’s invigorating to say no. Now, I understand why the two-year-olds love it so much. The liberation of saying no to something that you genuinely don’t want to do is one of the most . Consider yourselves, your wants and needs before you answer and if you don’t want to do something, feel free to confidently and graciously say no. Grinning and bearing it never made anyone happy and lying to get out of things is exhausting. Feel heard and know that you should never feel afraid to have an opinion. Somethings in life we have to do, even if we don’t like them because they are what is best for us. Guilt should not be a part of saying no.

How do you say no and not feel bad about it?

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keith Vidal, Throat Punch Thursday, mental illness, Schizophrenic teen, Schizophrenia, Bryon Vassey

The family of 18-year-old, Keith Vidal, called their local police for help when their son was behaving erratically during a schizophrenic episode last Sunday night. The 18-year-old from Boiling Spring Lake, North Carolina, was first tasered by two police officers and on the ground when shot and killed by a third officer, Bryon Vassey, from the neighboring town of Southport.

According to this emotional video by Keith Vidal’s stepbrother, Mark Ryan Wilsey, Keith was recently diagnosed with Schizophrenia and was coping while dosing was being figured out.

Vidal’s father, Mark Wilsey, called the police Sunday night because his son was armed with an electric, six-inch screwdriver and was threatening his mother. According to the family the two officers had the situation under control, with the 100-pound Keith Vidal on the ground tasered, when Officer Vassey entered the premises and within 60 seconds said, “We don’t have time for this.” Then he shot Keith Vidal in the chest, killing him. I can’t get the disturbing image out of my head of someone putting down a lame dog.

Officer Vassey first said he was ‘defending himself,” only to later say through his lawyer he was defending another officer. How could deadly force be the only option when there are 3 officers and a Taser involved to subdue one skinny teenager?

My heart breaks for this family. Any person who has ever dealt with, loved with or been mentally ill knows that getting the right meds dosage is critical. Sometimes it takes months or even years to find the right dosage. Meds can alter your state of mind sometimes even worse than the mental illness itself.

This kid was 18-years-old and recently diagnosed. Can you imagine what a pill it is to swallow to be told that you have a mental illness and will be medicated for the rest of your life just to be “normal”? I can. When I was first diagnosed with Bipolar 1, I was at a point in my life where I had been ill for years with no help. No diagnosis. I felt irreparably broken. I felt alone and severed from everyone around me.  I can’t even describe to you what it feels like to feel so broken. The closest I can compare it to would be like living in quick sand and you are being swallowed whole by the disease but the more you struggle to resist, to survive the deeper you sink and the more likely you are to lose yourself. It is terrifying because you don’t know why this is happening to you. Was it something you did or didn’t do?

When I finally got a diagnosis, I was terrified but relieved. Relieved that there was help to be had and to find that I wasn’t so broken as much as really bent. It was a struggle to get back to “normal”; whatever that is. I’m not sure I really know. Normal is relative, I suppose.

It took months of highs and lows. I was originally misdiagnosed as depressed and given enough anti-depressants to kill a horse, which made me ever increasingly manic. In the end, I was at the brink of psychosis. I saw madness. I felt it. Touched it. Lived it. It was the biggest part of me.

Eventually, anti-depressants were taken down to next to nothing; stabilizers and Ambien entered the picture. Where mania once ran rampant, now zombie like living: walking into walls and all-consuming lethargy had become part of who I was. After a few months, I was finally regulated and began to feel “normal” for the first time in years; maybe ever.

It all seems so cut and dry when you write it out but it’s not. The part I haven’t told you that before my medication dosage was right, I was highly erratic. I was like a ticking time bomb. What was going on inside my head was so distracting that it left me annoyed and irrationally angry with myself and everyone around me. Later, through therapy, I realized that the irritability was directly proportional to my mania. My body and mind were pissed off because no one ever turned the lights off. My body and mind were exhausted and there was no off switch to be had.

I did irrational things just to feel alive because I ALWAYS needed to feel alive; I drove fast, lived fast and never considered consequences. I teetered between feeling invincible and wanting to die. I drank a lot. I know now that I subconsciously did that to shut things off. It’s actually pretty common. I alienated family and friends because I overreacted to everything. Sometime between high school and college graduation, I had spun completely out of control. The insomnia was just fuel to the fire.

I fully accept responsibility for my behavior in those days though, honestly, I had no real control over a lot of it. I never wielded a weapon at my parents but I did throw a friend’s belongings off my balcony and came pretty damn close to tossing her as well during a particularly manic episode. I used to be quite good at pushing people away. I think I was afraid they’d see the real me and know something was “off ”. Even before I knew what it was, I knew something wasn’t right. I hoped and prayed that there was a reason for the behavior.

My whole point for this very long and drawn out story is that if you met me today, you’d know that I’m not the same person I was at 18, 21 or even 25. I am the mother of two, a wife, and even a room mother. I am just like you but maybe I wouldn’t be if someone decided that they had no time for me to get help; to learn to live with my diagnosis. Perhaps, this is the problem with the world, we resign ourselves to believe that those who are mentally ill are dangerous, less than or even worthless. We forget that they are people, just like you and I.Well, more like me than you, I suppose:) My point is that just because someone is mentally ill doesn’t mean they can’t be valuable members of society or good human beings. It only means that they might have a more difficult journey than the rest of us.

Officer Vassey might have been scared and felt threatened because sometimes in the midst of an episode, the person suffering looks scary. The fact remains that if two officers had Keith Vidal tasered on the ground, what possible reason could there have been to shoot him? Unlike me, Keith Vidal is dead and now, will never have the chance to learn to live with his disease; to grow up, to have a family, to be a dad or a husband.

What are your thoughts on this tragic story? What would you do if you were Keith Vidal parents?

 

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ash beckham, closets, truth. honesty, being yoru authentic self

I watched this TedX video of Ash Beckham and she reminded me that hard is hard and we truly all do have our closets that we live in. Me, I’ve had a few. Unfortunately, they shroud you in shame but better the devil you know, right? Rejection is the worst and no one wants rejection. Most of us would prefer to not try at all than to try and fail and that is why we live in closets. Closets are not just about being gay; closets are about being afraid to tell your truth. It doesn’t matter how big or small or what color you paint it, a closet is a closet is a closet. No one should be afraid to tell his or her truth because your truth is what makes you who you are.

In my lifetime, I have had many closets. Thankfully, with the birth of my blog, I started busting out of all of my closets. It was one of the scariest things I ever have done; telling the whole world all of my faults. Most of the time when I hit publish, I feel sick to my stomach and I think that is a good thing. How can I be honest with you, if I can’t even be honest with myself? Now, I wish everyone had a blog to help them bust out of their closets. Hard conversations: mental illness, child abuse, obesity, eating disorders, alcoholism, miscarriage and not being the kind of mom I want to be to my children. I used to hide them deep inside me, because who wants everyone to look at them like they’re a freak? It’s one thing to be crazy, it’s quite another to announce it to the world.

When you spend your whole life pretending to fit in but feeling like you are an imposter in the house of life, you might be living in a closet. Have the conversation and like we’ve all heard, those who matter won’t care. Well, that’s a lie, they might, but they will get over it because they love you. Those who have a problem with you being your authentic self? Well, who the fuck wants them in your life anyways? Not me.

You know. I spent all of my life, up until I met my husband, pretending to be what everyone wanted of me. Good girl, good grades, friendly, attractive, fun-loving and life of the party but inside, inside my closet, I was a hot mess and it was like juggling jello trying to keep myself in the closet while the version I thought everyone wanted to know came out every day all day. I cried a lot. My poor husband, he had no idea what he got himself into.

When you hide in that closet for so long, you become a master of convincing, even yourself, that the performance you give every day is the real you but at night, when you are all alone with nothing but your thoughts, you feel like a fraud and that is one of the worst feelings you can have. You feel like a liar. Turns out, once I came out of my closets and had those hard conversations, I was free to be me and guess what? Anyone who has read this blog and then met me will tell you, I am the same online as I am in person only slightly less in your face. Turns out with the freedom of being out of my closet and living out loud and proud, I am the person that I pretended to be only I don’t need to cry at night because I’m not living in that damn cramped, dark closet hiding like a scared child anymore and it is liberating.

So, watch Ash Beckman’s video and come out of your closet. I promise you’ll be so much happier out in the open. Sure, you might feel nauseous right before you have the hard conversation but that’s because it’s important. Do it anyways. Teach your children to be honest with themselves and the people who love them. A closet is no place for a human to live.

What’s your closet?

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women's issues, body image, self-image, expectations of being a woman

I read a post written recently by Petra Collins titled Why Instagram Censored My Body. You need to read it. Petra’s instagram account was for the crime of posting a photo of herself from the waist down in a pair of bikini bottoms. She had not had a bikini wax. There was no Borat like tactics with rogue pubic hairs escaping at alarming rates but there was a definite shadow at her bikini line. I was not offended. Hair grows naturally; it’s supposed to be there. Grown women are not supposed to have pubic areas that mimic small children. Even though I’d never have the balls to grow in my pubic hair never mind snap a photo and post it to Instagram, I respect Collins for doing so.

We live in a world where women are expected to look, act, be and do things a very specific way. The manual for how to be a woman was obviously not written by a woman. It is very meticulous in the wish list for the perfect woman. Perhaps a teen boy wrote it at the beginning of time. It’s nearly ridiculous enough that I could believe it.

We all live by these imaginary, unwritten rules, whether we intend to or want to or not. We may wish we did not or pretend that we don’t care but every single woman who has ever lived has known that these rules for how to be the perfect woman exist. We either chose to embrace it, hate it, fight it or pretend to adhere while hiding who we really are and live with the shame of not being good enough. That is where most of us live, in the shame and unhappiness of not being good enough to meet these crazy unreachable expectations. If we are beautiful enough, we don’t feel smart enough. If we are smart enough, we don’t feel attractive enough. If we are thin enough, we don’t feel interesting enough. If we are interesting enough, we don’t feel exciting enough. If we are exciting enough, we don’t feel responsible enough. We never feel completely satisfied with who we are in the world. Do men?

Too much sex; we’re sluts. No sex: we’re frigid. The assumption is that men want to date sluts but marry virgins but no one wants to date a virgin. It’s a woman’s personal choice why can’t we all just have a preference without being labeled? An average sized body is considered too fat. Fat is considered disgusting. Malnourished and eating disordered is considered beautiful, no one cares the toll it takes on that woman to get there. Small breasts are not big enough. Big is never big enough. Damn your back and the fact that you look like a cartoon character. If you work, you should be home. If you stay home, you should be barefoot and pregnant. If you don’t work, you are useless. If you don’t want kids, there is something wrong with you. If you can’t handle your kids, something is wrong with you. If you’re succeeding at your career, you must be shirking your responsibilities as a woman elsewhere; unhappy husband, neglected children or bad hair. The expectation is that the house is supposed to be clean at all times and a home cooked meal is supposed to be on the table no matter what else is going on.

You are supposed to be beautiful, thin, patient and love motherhood. You’re never supposed to rest or complain. You’re always supposed to be happy. If you have an opinion, you are overbearing. If you don’t, you’re an dumb. If you’re smart, you’ve got a good personality but no dates. If you speak up for yourself, you are bossy. If you take a stand, you are a bitch. The world is a masochistic, ironic murderer of the woman’s self. The dichotomy of who women are and who they are expected to be is enough to make the sanest of our heads spin but then if we complain, we must be bipolar, PMSing or just bitter. How sad is it that we live in a world where women commonly use fat as a protection against their sexuality or the sexual advances from others? How fucked up is it that the worst thing a woman believes she can be is ugly or unattractive in any way to men? How sad is it that we live in a world where women still confuse sex as love?

We’ve been forced to stoamch women being treated as less than for so long that we accept it as the state of affairs. The unspeakable is status quo. We have been beaten down for so long that we no longer fight. We are too weak from the fury of fighting just to be treated as equal human beings.

I’m here to tell you that you are….
More beautiful than you can see. Special in your own way. Smarter than you will ever believe. Stronger than you think. Talented in ways you never expected. Perfect just the way you are. Better than enough. You set the rules. This is your life. You deserve to be happy. Fuck other people’s expectations. The only one you answer to is yourself. Choose to be happy. Shave. Pluck and wax if you want. If you don’t, let your bush flag fly but never let someone else dictate your happiness. To truly be perfect, we need to be free to be ourselves all the time without consequence of backlash for being scrutinized for every choice we make.

What is the one thing that You love about YOU?

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Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke, VMAs, MTV, Blurred Lines, We Can't Stop, twerking

Miley Cyrus, RObin Thicke, VMAs, We Can't Stop, Blurred LinesOkay, Miley Cyrus, I get it you are not Hannah Montana. After last night’s VMA’s everyone is wondering just what the hell went so wrong in Miley Cyrus’ young life that warranted last night’s performance.  Was she over the top? Absolutely. Was she embarrassingly crass on stage? For sure! Has she not enough bootie to do the twerk justice? Indubitably. But is she some sort of anomaly who has gone completely off her respective Disney rocker? I’m going to say, probably not. Maybe but I seriously doubt it. My bigger concern was Robin Thicke , 36, in a Beetlejuice suit pushing his junk up on a twerking Miley Cyrus, 20. Ewww!!!! Can you say, dirty old man?

In my opinion, Miley Cyrus is not doing anything worse than most girls her age on college campuses and in clubs all over the country. I also have a sneaking suspicion that while “Molly” the lyric may have been banned from the VMAs by MTV, Molly the drug may not have been. The only difference between Miley and other 20-year-olds is that she is in the public eye and she used to be a Disney kid. You can’t be a Disney kid for the rest of your life, even Annetter Funicello got a little down and dirty with Frankie Avalon in those beach movies.Oh yeah, there was definitely some twerking like moves exhibited on the beach in bikinis, no less.

I’m starting to feel like either there is a Disney curse imposed on all young stars who dare leave the superpower or Disney is systematically taking all their deserters down. Selena Gomez, you better watch out. You might be next. I mean really where else can you go on the moral spectrum but down after Disney?

Miley Cyrus twerking, I find mildly offensive mostly because she has no ass to speak of but then again, I find twerking in general to be in bad taste. The Chucky Cheese furry leotard she was wearing when she took the stage with all the gyrating teddy bears surrounding her was really something my nightmares are made of but really did she do anything worse than Lady Gaga, Britney Spears or Madonna? Hell, no. She just happens to be a little more in your face about it. Miley Cyrus doesn’t just want to shed her Disney skin, she apparently really wants to full on destroy it, runit over and then back over it a couple of times. She never wants to be confused with Hannah Montana again. I mean who honestly wants to be type cast as everyone’s favorite crooning, saccharin southerner with a penchant for bubblegum snark and getting into I love Lucy like trouble, for the rest of your life?

She is growing up. She is not married. She is young and she was having fun. Not to mention, do you really think this was all her idea? You think she choreographed and put it all together? NO! Some adult, who probably has children themself, is capitalizing on what very well could be her breakdown. Or maybe she is the sanest young star in Hollywood ever. I don’t know. Either way, I love her new song and I found the performance funny and entertaining. She is an entertainer, right? You’ve seen the video? WTF did people expect?

Robin Thicke, however, is a married, grown ass man with a child, he should not have been pushing up onto a 20-year-old. But no one is saying boo about his behavior. Did the penguin suit give him pedophile immunity?Are we really such a woman hating society that instead of feeling sorry for the hot mess Miley Cyrus’ life appears to be, we judge her with impunity.If we really gave a shit wouldn’t someone try to help get her back on track? Where are her parents? Where did her fiance go? Doesn’t she have any friends? Where the hell is Leslie? Can we just stop with all the judging, she is the one who is going to have to live with doing these things.

As someone whose already been through the finding yourself process, I know I did some stupid shit only my “twerking phase” was not televised and exploited. It was limited to a few hundred people at a club or at a frat party but I certainly did some embarrassingly stupid things in my day; way worse than twerking and sticking my tongue out while dry humping a foam finger. As a woman, I know the early 20’s is exactly when this happens. Freedom plus alcohol equals bad judgment.

As a mother of girls, I know this can happen to any of our daughters. Do I hope my girls don’t go through this phase? Yes, I hope they bypass it all together. Will they? Probably not. Will I shame them and mock them? Never. Will I worry? Of course. But most of all, I will be there to catch them when they fall. I will be their soft place to land and I pray it doesn’t all end up on the evening news.

Miley Cyrus is not some out of control twerking fool. She is just someone who is 20 trying to figure out who the hell she is. Robin Thicke, however, has blurred the line between what is sexy and what is full on pervy.

Think what you may, you will not soon forget the Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke VMA performance for years to come and to semi quote Kevin Hart,

“Miley Cyrus might need a pregnancy test after her performance with Robin Thicke.”

 

 

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mental health awareness month, mental illness, bipolar, depression, OCD, PPD, Eating Disorders

You’re crazy! Oh My God, she is acting so bipolar! I can’t go shopping this afternoon, I am so depressed! Get over it. Take a chill pill! Don’t have a panic attack.

We hear these statements made almost daily. For some, they may seem harmless but to those of us who suffer from these diagnoses, it’s far from funny.  It’s serious.

My chemical imbalance is not your bad mood. My battle with eating disorders is not you trying to lose 5 vanity pounds. Someone’s deep depression is not the same as you having a bad day or being sad because things didn’t go your way at the game tonight. My inability to see myself as I am in the mirror is definitely not the same as being slightly concerned with the way your ass looks in your jeans.  Someone’s PPD is not the same as you being overwhelmed because you took on too many things. Somebody’s OCD is not the same as you wanting to wash your hands before meals. Being afraid to take a risk is not the same as being so terrified to be in a room with people that your heart races so fast that you are sure you are having a heart attack.

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loving yourself, self-esteem, self-image, eating disorder, body dysmorphic disorder

Today, I don’t hate my body. I can’t even remember the last time I could say this and not be being sarcastic. It may be the first time since I was about 6-years-old that I didn’t look into the mirror and wish that what I saw reflected back at me was something/ someone else. It’s been happening gradually over the past few years. Don’t get me wrong, this body is not the end result that I am looking for but I am losing that all-consuming uncomfortable in my skin feeling. I don’t loathe the skin I am in today. I don’t feel disgusted by the gentle curves and sway of my body. I feel protective and loving towards it.

I’m not sure what changed in my way of thinking or shifted in my perspective but I do know that the other day as I was changing my clothes, I caught sight of my naked body. I stopped and looked at myself; really looked at my body. I’ve been too afraid to do that for many years because it always ended in disappointment and dissatisfaction culminating in anger and frustration. I was never happy with what I saw staring back at me. It made me feel small and defeated because I just couldn’t get it right. I preferred to look in mirrors the least amount possible because it only served as a reminder of my physical shortcomings. Remember, my seething case of body dysmorphic disorder?

But the other day when I saw myself in the mirror, I saw a woman who doesn’t have any wrinkles, only a couple gray hairs and though I am a few sizes larger than I want to be, this body still has some appeal to it. My legs look good, they carry me to all the places I need to be. My arms may have residual wave because I am sporting a slight case of bat wings from weight but these are the arms that allow me to hug and cuddle those people in my life that mean the most; the family I love and the friends I adore. My hips and waist are bigger than I would have ever wanted but they have also carried my babies. These are the parts that my children hold tightly to when they hug me. My breasts are further south than I thought it possible for breasts to go but they have breastfed my daughters; these low hanging breasts have given my girls nourishment and a healthy start in life. I am not my parts. I am the woman who lives behind the mask of my body. I am the great and powerful OZ of myself.

I’m not saying that I am a reformed body dysmorphic disordered woman or that I can just wish away the years of eating disorders but after 15 years of being recovered I am finally saying that what I see in the mirror doesn’t make me want to starve myself, vomit or punish my body into submission anymore. I know that I want to be healthier and I know there are the right ways to do it and I know those options are available to me. If I want it, all I have to do is work hard for it; slow and steady by not giving up, not getting discouraged and not thinking that I don’t deserve the success. I’ve hidden behind the curtains of excuse too long. The body that I have isn’t so bad. My body just needs a little TLC and my heart needs to exercise a little more forgiveness towards my body. I am worthy of love and I deserve happiness. What’s the point of all this misery, anyway? Who is it appeasing? This struggle with my body and my mind is self-inflicted. No one else thinks that the size of my body determines my worth. It’s me. It’s always been me.

You can’t force acceptance. It has to come naturally or it isn’t acceptance at all. Like love, when you are not looking is when you will find self-acceptance and learn to truly love yourself. I am on the precipice of changing my life forever by changing my perspective. I don’t know how this happened or what changed my way of thinking.

I do know that I will not be who I am today for much longer. I am metamorphosing my life from the inside out. I am not giving up my dreams of long lean legs and non-flapping arms (a girl’s gotta dream) but I am giving in to loving myself as I am because just because my body doesn’t fit a mold doesn’t mean that it is not amazing. There is beauty on the inside that surpasses any superficial beauty I could ever imagine. I don’t judge the people I surround myself with by their appearance and I don’t imagine they do me either. We love the substance, the meat of the person, not the make-up, clothes and hair. It’s time I allow myself the same unconditional love that I would extend to anyone else in the world.

What do you love about yourself?

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