Posts

Showing posts from 2021

A Diary from the Holidays

December 17...  I'm sitting at a local church, getting ready to cover a Christmas concert with a well-known Christian artist and I should be really happy. But I'm not. I'm sad. I'm incredibly sad. What gets to me the most is there's no reason to be sad. It's been 2 1/2 years since I was diagnosed with Bipolar Type 2 and even before I knew I had it, I've had these cycles of depression and hypomania for as long as I can remember (it just took a while to be diagnosed).  So, in other words, this isn't new. I know that this will eventually go away. I also know there's not much I can do to make it go away... I can just ride it out. But it truly sucks that it's the worst it's been in a while  - and it's during the holidays... December 18 (morning)... It's my dad's 84th birthday. My family is meeting at a Mexican restaurant and then they are coming back to our house (I live with my parents) to celebrate.  However, I'm still in a low c

New Year's Resolutions for Addicts

I am the main writer and editor for a newsletter for one of my support groups. Earlier today I emailed the group its 38th edition. When you are the main writer of articles sent to mostly the same group of people every month, sometimes it's difficult to think of a topic.   However, it came to me pretty easily this month... I realized I've never written about New Year's Resolutions. I pretty much avoid making them myself as when (not if) I stop working on them, I beat myself up for a while. That said, I don't think they are a bad thing. Staying realistic about how much you can do as well as remembering that life-changing support group that says, "Progress, not perfection," makes attempting them worthwhile. On a side note, this is the 100th blog I've posted. This is another reason I chose to use the article on New Year's Resolutions for this special post.  When I started this blog, I couldn't imagine even getting to 25. The idea of writing 100 posts c

Thanksgiving... Sigh...

Hallmark movies. Holiday commercials. Magazine spreads. They all perpetuate the myth that holidays are a joyful time for everyone. I don't want to be a downer, but I'm one of those who doesn't like most holidays.  The noise is overstimulating. I feel guilty when I eat foods bad for me... but I'm still struggling with saying no to them, especially when everyone else is. I feel pressure to socialize, which when I'm in a low cycle is especially hard. Today, Thanksgiving 2021, has been rough. It started out rough, with several difficult to deal with situations first thing this morning.  I thought it was getting better. When I first arrived for Thanksgiving dinner with my family, I was able to talk to them without too much trouble. I thought that it was going to be a "good day." About an hour into the gathering, I was done. I started having a hard time just talking to others. I wanted to hide. And then one of my worst fears happened.... The chair I was sitting

Pushing Through When It's Difficult

It's been a rough few weeks.  I've had a lot of work, which as a freelancer, is wonderful.  However, I've had a lot of work, which as one who struggles with several invisible illnesses, is terrible.  Yesterday and today I've felt especially rough. I would almost swear it's the flu, or even COVID, except that 1 - I'm not running a fever and 2 - I've felt this exact way before and was tested, and was negative. I'm in a low cycle right now with my bipolar though because of my tremendous work ethic, I've been able to get any work with deadlines done on or before those deadlines.  But that's where it ended. All of those other things that I want to do when I have time, like work on my book ideas, research some more in-depth articles I want to write, or get more done on personal projects, simply aren't getting done.  I can't help but think back to a few years ago, before I found a medicine that helped my mental health issues, when I wrote an art

Apps that Help Me Make it Through the Day (Part 1)

I jokingly call my smartphone my "external brain," but honestly it's not a joke. I can't imagine living without it. Yes, I use it for fun, for entertainment, but more than anything it's a tool to keep my life somewhat sane. If you have any issues with mental health or auto-immune diseases that affect your mind and body, I'm sure you can understand. No matter how much I try to keep my life organized, there is just way too much information to try to keep up with and less brainpower than I've ever had in my life in which to do it. I thought this week I would list some of the apps that I regularly use to help stay on top of things. CHROME INTERNET BROWSER...     I found Google's Chrome browser many years ago, when they were one of the very few, or maybe the only, browser that you could use on multiple platforms and share info. I have a system of bookmark files for various parts of my life and I save bookmarks like crazy. Sometimes I go through them to clea

Sometimes Really Good Things Happen

So much of this blog is focused on the negative that I thought I would mention three really wonderful things that happened this week. 1 - My ex-husband sold the house he inherited from his parents. He owed me a LOT of back child support. For years, I've been thinking about going after him for it. However, since he doesn't have a regular job, I didn't think I could get anything from him. In other words, you can't get blood out of a turnip. For over ten years, he has been telling me he was going to sell his house to pay what he owed. EVERY time I talked to him about it, he told me that it should be ready to list on the market in "about six weeks." This went on for years.  Then four or five years ago, he inherited a house from his parents. By this point, I pretty much never talked to him as our daughter was older and so I didn't need to (no more co-parenting). I just assumed that he would sell that house as it was ready to sell, no major issues that needed to

Focusing on Commonalities Instead of Differences

One part of my freelance work includes writing articles for a denominational newspaper. I won't go into my feelings about organized religion in this post, but you need to know that they are mixed. There are times I've had to write about issues that I didn't feel as passionate about as others, but for those, I would make them into a challenge to write a good article about something I don't necessarily believe in. Yesterday I interviewed a man who is doing something amazing involving racial reconciliation. You might wonder why I'm bringing this up on a blog dedicated to mental health and invisible illness awareness. I'm doing so because there are many similarities to the fight for racial inclusion that we have for the inclusion of those with the issues we face. Roy started an organization called "Pledge Group" in 2014, which later organized an annual event called "Shrink the Divide." Though it didn't come up specifically in our conversation

Frustration

Sometimes I feel like I'm making headway against all of these invisible illnesses... and sometimes I feel extremely defeated by them. Today is one of the days I feel so defeated.  In the past, I was able to juggle so many parts of my life - mother, daughter, volunteer, employee, pet owner, photographer, musician... I could go on and on. The vast majority of the time I could keep all of this in the air and didn't miss a beat. Of course, there were the occasional missteps - forgetting about an appointment, being late to an event because I went the wrong way, getting behind on cleaning or grocery shopping - but overall, I felt I had a handle on life. This ability to handle so much was still the norm even with a few invisible illnesses. For example, I've been dealing with major depression and anxiety as long as I can remember. Both would get in the way at times but usually I was able to keep functioning in spite of them. But as I've gotten older, more conditions have piled

Update on "Perplexing Depression Symptom" Post

On September 4, 2019, I blogged about my depression: https://www.spotlightonstigma.com/2019/09/perplexing-depression-symptom.html Earlier this week, I was working out IN THE POOL and happened to remember that post. I just wanted to do a quick update. Things CAN get better. It's now almost exactly two years later and I have been consistently going to the pool on average twice a week since last July (with the one exception of a time when a major ankle injury sidelined me from even walking for over a month). The wildest part of this is now I feel still bad if I don't go - but it's not a "I feel guilty about not going" bad but an "I miss getting to go" kind of bad. I am now up to working out in the pool for over an hour each time and there are even times I've had to stop before I wanted because of scheduling conflicts. I will admit that it took something as bad as COVID to get me to start going in the first place. As all of us were, I was going stir craz

Four Go on a Day Trip... All Have Invisible Illnesses... Resulting in a Day to Remember

For years I have wanted to visit the Georgia Aquarium. Due to a series of circumstances, earlier this week I was able to finally do so with some of the people I love most in my life - my boyfriend, my daughter, and her fiance'.  I won't say who has what, note that some of these conditions are dealt with by more than one person, and know that I might miss some of the diagnoses, but between the four of us we deal with... - MDD (major depressive disorder) - Bipolar Disorder Type 2 - Dysautonomia/POTS - Still's Disease (similar to Rheumatoid Arthritis) - Anxiety issues/various phobias/PTSD - Addiction - Mobility issues - Migraines/headaches - Osteoarthritis - Fibromyalgia - Joint Hypermobility Syndrome - Sj√∂gren's Syndrome - Sleep issues/Insomnia/Sleep Apnea/Narcolepsy - ADHD - Dissociative Identity Disorder Like I said, I might have missed some. But needless to say, going on a trip, even a day trip, with the four of us is, um, an adventure. For one thing, because any one o

Disappointment

As I'm writing this, I'm in the media room at Barber Motorsports Park. I'm here to photograph a Motorsports chaplain for an article I wrote about him and while I'm here, I also have been able to get some decent photos of the practices. I should be incredibly thankful. I mean, how many photographers my age ever get these kinds of opportunities? A few months ago, I wasn't able to be in the media room, but I was able to shoot trackside for an Indy race - and one spot I shot from was about 10-15 feet from the cars as they passed at approximately 150 mph.  But yet I'm disappointed. This weekend has had horrible rain. Friday (practice day) was wet but it only sprinkled some - no torrential rain.  Yesterday (Saturday) the real rain started. I shot a foot race in the morning and even though I took most of my photos from the car, I still got soaked. I ended up using my poncho as a barrier to protect the electronics in my door (the locks and window controls). Eventually,

One of "Those Days"... and Expectations

Today has been one of "those days" - the days we all have but no one enjoys... the days when everything seems to go wrong... the days we feel like we are spinning our wheels. But today I realized something - expectations make days like this seem even worse than they actually are. Let me 'splain. I woke up ready to go. Woo-hoo, I'm manic! Being manic for me means waking up early, ready to work. It means I'm able to tackle difficult tasks with much more confidence than usual. It means I'm able to socialize, make phone calls, and deal with people in ways I can't when I'm depressed or even sometimes when I'm stable. (If you haven't read my other blogs, I'm bipolar, type 2, which means my mania is less severe than type 1 and I'm usually able to function fairly well. I don't want to make it sound like something everyone should have, though, as it also has many drawbacks. I'll often find myself talking too much and even when I realize

Colonoscopy While Dealing with Invisible Illnesses

Author's note... This post is taken from my experience and my research. I'm not a doctor and so don't utilize any of my tips unless you talk to your doctor about them. I just had my first colonoscopy this past week. This is something I had been dreading for at least 20 years, as I have a bad gag reflex and I had heard all of the horror stories about the prep solution being difficult to get down. One of my biggest worries other than gagging was that I would do all of the prep and it wouldn't be done well enough. This caused me to second-guess the way I interpreted what my doctor said in his "before-the procedure" notes. As with so many of the experiences that those of us with anxiety worry about, it wasn't as horrible as I thought, though I did run into some issues I hadn't even worried about. As the day came closer, my anxiety increased. I found myself online more and more, looking for tips and the experiences of others to help me fight the worry.  One

My Introduction as a Guest Blogger for Blanket Fort Hope

My story began over 50 years ago in Birmingham, AL. An early value that was instilled in me was the importance of church. My first outing after being born was going to church and being enrolled in the “Cradle Roll” at two weeks old. I grew up in a family that was at church just about every time the doors were open. Though I was raised in an intact, lower-middle-class, Christian family, I had a lot going on. I had several medical conditions that were difficult to diagnose and I had to do a lot of things differently or apart from peers. I was considered gifted academically, which is a blessing, but that also made me different. Then as a teenager, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression which made it hard to navigate life during those transitioning-to-adulthood years. I did experience success in my young adult years, graduating top of my class for both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees. But I also experienced a lot of failure – or at least times of major frustration and waiting. I wa

"You Can Do Anything if You Try Hard Enough" is a LIE

With the Olympics just finishing, I hear it even more than usual: "You can do anything if you try hard enough." This is simply not true and it's one of my biggest pet peeves. I was interviewing a mom whose daughter has a very rare condition with multiple physical and mental impairments and she mentioned this too. She realizes that her daughter can make great strides and do great things but can't "be anything she wants." I love her attitude, because it's just not possible. When I was young, I first thought about this, ironically, concerning fair employment practices and acting. I knew that an employer was supposed to consider each candidate equally for a position. But how did that work if the part was obviously for a child and the one who wanted it was a senior citizen? In the times we live in, it would be possible to do make-up or CGI to make that elderly person into one much younger, but in most cases, it would be cost-prohibitive... and frankly, unnece