Showing posts from 2022

Two Weeks Post Rotator Cuff Surgery when You Deal with Mental Illness

Monday it will be two weeks (it's now Friday) since I had rotator cuff surgery on my dominant hand's shoulder. In some ways it has flown... in others, it has crept. But one thing I don't vacillate about - it's definitely not what I expected. Though the recovery so far has been nowhere near a picnic, the worry that my anxiety disorder kicked up before the procedure was much worse. I talked to both my doctor and his nurse practitioner about the timeline of recovery. I searched Google and YouTube for tips and tricks to help with the post-surgery period. I questioned friends who had had it done. Doing all this should have decreased my nervousness, but instead, it made it worse. I know my friends were trying to be helpful when they told me it was horrible and extremely painful. One account I read online said that the pain for rotator cuff surgery recovery was the 3rd worst pain, after childbirth and a kidney stone. So though I was scared about the pain I would be feeling, I

Practical Tips for Planning a Wedding with Mental Illness

This is going to be a very different blog than I usually post. On this date, I've been married for just over six weeks. The craziness of the wedding is quickly fading. So my plan is to make a list and add to it over the course of a month or so, until I think I've remembered most of what I thought about right after the wedding was over.  However, first you need to know a few things about me: - I am 54 years old and was engaged to a 52-year-old man who had a full-time 8-5 office job. - When we were dating, I lived with my elderly parents; he had a roommate. Even while sharing expenses in each of our living situations, we barely lived paycheck to paycheck. - Every part of this wedding would be paid for solely by us. - Every part of this wedding would be planned and 95% carried out by me.  (Note that these are in no particular order.) 1 - KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid)...  When I first started planning, I knew I should keep it simple. I knew how important that was because I was doing

When Something You've Dreamed for Happens

(Note - this isn't a post about a stigma... but it is about gratitude, which is a major part of overcoming all of the stigmas that many of us have to deal with.) I had planned to write this right after it happened but life got in the way. Now, several days later, I finally have a minute to do so.  My new husband is a drummer. It's part of his identity, though he might not admit it. He hasn't played in years but still thinks about it a lot. I can fully understand this because being a musician (guitarist and keyboardist) is part of my identity, even though it's been even longer than him since I last played. Like so many other things in my life, like learning sign language or becoming a writer, I had given up on ever playing again, especially as part of a team. He hadn't... though he did recognize that it was very unlikely for him to do so again. When we first started dating and found out that the other had played on worship teams before, there was a slight hope that o


Today is one of those many days I've had lately where I'm full of mixed emotions - and where I possibly got something very wrong. I'm literally at a conference that I've covered for the last three years (well, it would have been four if not for COVID.) For this conference, I'm "just" a photographer. There are other writers covering each session. The first year I worked with this media outlet, I knew nothing about working with a newspaper - at least not for something like this. This is one of the biggest events that this media company covers each year - and that first year, I was the only photographer. I didn't slow down for a moment all three days. If I wasn't taking pics, I was culling and editing... and editing again because I second-guessed everything I did then (now I just second-guess about half of my editing. Sigh...) This year is really different. I was really upset and felt extremely slighted when I was told that I would only be needed for

Nerves, Part 2

 This time it's not the middle of the night. In fact, it's almost the exact same time I wrote "Nerves" - just change the AM to a PM.  My nerves are back, with a vengeance.  This time it's not as much physical as emotional. It's flat-out worry.  With anxiety disorder, worry is common for me. I have to actively fight against letting it overtake my life. Most days I win, if only by a slight margin in triple-overtime. Today I'm losing... badly. It's been a massacre. It's also been a long time since I was physically affected by the anxiety I'm feeling. My stomach is in knots. That feeling is not that uncommon for me but it's usually over something imminent and usually focused on one issue. Right now I feel this way because of a multitude of issues.  One is the surgery I'm having in, GULP!, 11 days to repair a torn rotator cuff. I've been dreading it now for a couple of months. As it gets closer, I am getting even more nervous. I think of

To Be a Sheep, or Not To Be - Only One of the Many Questions I Think About

Right now I'm in the church I attend. Note that I didn't say I was in a class or in the worship service. I'm in an empty room with my earbuds in while the service is going on about 200 feet away.  I'm in here for two reasons. One is that my stomach really hurts. I would rather run out of here than run full speed out of the sanctuary if I suddenly get a lot worse.  The other is much, much more complex.  I won't name the denomination or the church, but it's the denomination I grew up in. I would consider it a "high expectations" denomination, one built around following rules, with a lot of emphasis on "doing good works" for God.  Throughout my 54 years, I've questioned a lot of those rules, always trying to figure out what is a cultural expectation/tradition versus what God really wants us to do.  It makes me really angry when I hear all of the guilt trips that are a part of the church, at least all of the churches I've attended. These


It's 2:57 am and I'm obviously not asleep. Being awake at this time isn't unusual for me. It's my pattern most nights that I fall asleep early (my best friend calls it my "baby bedtime") then wake up somewhere in the 1:00 am to 3:00 am range. I'm awake for maybe an hour or so and then I got back to sleep and sleep through the night. Insomnia, unfortunately, is also something I'm really familiar with. I've had bouts of insomnia so bad that I didn't want to go to bed, knowing I wouldn't be able to sleep - or sleep more than an hour or so. However, I haven't experienced that kind of ongoing, overwhelming anxiety for a little while now. (Thank God!) This time was different. I woke up like normal and did what I usually do - play games on my phone and listen to ASMR videos on YouTube until I get sleepy again. But then I started thinking... Those thoughts have continued racing through my mind ever since I woke up. I'll come back to them la

Honeymoon vs "Normal"

This is going to be a super-short post. (I know, I know... you are wondering which alien kidnapped Tracy and/or is writing through her.) I'm tired of being negative but I need to vent. The wedding weekend was incredibly stressful but had many fun moments. The wedding was somewhat stressful but overall was wonderful. The honeymoon was slightly stressful but was overall amazing. Even though I'd call it a success overall, there was a part of me that was ready to get back to normal life. That didn't happen... not even close. It was like a Top Gun plane launching without any runway to build up speed. We had enough time to run by the house and unpack before heading off to a big dance performance shoot.  This was the first time I had ever done a dance shoot without attending the rehearsal because I wanted one more day of honeymoon before starting regular life again. I felt we were experienced enough to not have to see the dances to get really good images. But I forgot about someth

How the 12-Steps and Quality Mental Health Therapy Can Impact Life, Not Just Addiction

(Trigger alert... mention of suicidal thoughts) It's Tuesday, October 4th and I'm on my honeymoon. My husband (a word that's still very weird to say concerning him) is a late sleeper and I'm an early riser. I've avoided getting on my computer/laptop for the last few days - due to a packed weekend of wedding activities from Friday until Sunday then resting once we got to our honeymoon destination. I wanted to check my email and catch up on a few work activities for a few minutes this morning. I've reflected a lot on the wedding ceremony and the weekend before a lot while on the honeymoon. For the past six months, I've spent hundreds of hours planning this wedding and details about joining our lives together.  Throughout the process, my mental health issues interfered. From anxiety getting the best of me, to brain fog making it hard to remember what I had just done, to depression or mania just getting in the way of getting anything productive accomplished, the

Wedding Rehearsal Day - and My Dad's in the Hospital

There's a gorgeous sunrise. The weather is supposed to be beautiful today. It's the day I've been planning for about 6 months. It's the last step before the day I've been waiting for since my divorce over 15 years ago. It's the day of the wedding set-up and rehearsal. Sooooo many hours have gone into planning the wedding - and this day. I've tried to think of everything possible for it to go smoothly. I've made list after list, arranged for out-of-town guests, asked people to help on parts of the wedding that I couldn't do (such as playing the music during the ceremony or baking for the reception... I'm not a baker!), made decorations, packed and re-packed everything needed... and in a few hours, we will start making all this happen. In the past few weeks, I've already had some big hiccups/disappointments (note that I'm not listing everything that has happened - just the most important ones)... - We had to get a new officiant. - The sign

Seven Days and Counting... Planning a Wedding with Mental Illness

In hindsight, I should have been writing about this journey all along. But also in hindsight, there's so much I wish I had done differently, not simply recording this time in my life. It's September 25, 2022... seven days, ONLY ONE WEEK (yes, I meant to shout that) before my wedding - the wedding I started planning back in late March of this past year - about six months ago (... about 180 days ...about 24 weeks).  *Keep in mind, that's planning the actual wedding. I had been planning my dream second wedding since I divorced about 20 years ago.* When I started, it was all fun. I had a blast making my wedding unique. Basically, I took all of the parts of a wedding, researched the traditional way each is done, and then found an alternate way to accomplish the same thing. There are all kinds of quirky aspects of my wedding - things I'm proud of coming up with: - We couldn't find a wedding topper that represented us, so we found Lego photographers. - Instead of a fancy

Navigating a Professional Conference with Mental and Physical Issues

 Any time I leave home to go somewhere overnight, there are so many questions... - What will it be like where I'm staying? - Will I be on the first floor/is there an elevator? - Will the bed be too firm for me to be able to sleep? Will it be too soft? - What will the weather be like? - Is the water filtered? - What will the meals consist of? Will I have choices or have to eat whatever is provided? - What kind of seating is provided? (Tiny seats like wedding chairs don't work for someone like me.) - How will I get there? If you've been a part of my blog for any time, you know that all of these issues aren't just because I'm a diva. Though not necessary, these legitimate questions and answers make a big difference in how well I do while I'm gone. Earlier this spring I attended a conference for professional communicators in a city about five hours from my home. It was a big deal to get invited to go as a freelancer and I was excited about not only learning from som

Engagement, Surgery, and World Games - Oh, My! (Surgery and its Impact on The World Games)

So... the busy-ness hasn't stopped. I'm writing this much later than planned but I feel it's important to share. Today is September 7, 2022 and I'm writing this while in the waiting room as my dad is having a stint put in his heart. It's 25 days until the wedding. As of this point, I'm surviving. However, this post is about my surgeries and how they impacted The World Games - as well as how my ongoing issues affected it. First - my carpal tunnel surgery... As I mentioned in the last post, it took a lot longer to heal than I thought it would. When I scheduled the surgery, I knew that I would still be weight restricted (lifting no more than 5 pounds). I got home that day and immediately looked up how much my cameras weigh.  I wasn't surprised that my camera with the long lens is over the weight limit. It was about 5 lbs, 4 oz total weight. I thought about how I hold my camera and assumed, without testing it, that the bulk of the weight was on my right (dominan

Engagement, Surgery, and World Games - Oh, My! (Wedding Planning and Jury Duty)

As part of the mental health issues I deal with, I can be a little (ahem!)... a lot obsessive. No, it's not true OCD but sometimes it feels like it.  Wedding planning was one of those times for me.  A combination of factors led to a crazy frenzy of wedding planning during the months of April, May, and June: - Pure, unadulterated excitement...  I've been wanting to get remarried ever since my divorce was finalized almost 20 years ago. During that time I didn't just run around looking for a husband, but I did pray about it - a LOT.  When I met my fiance', I knew how great we were for each other, but he had never been married and wasn't sure if he wanted to ever get married.  The prayers started again in earnest. One thing I learned from my divorce is that God doesn't make someone do something so I knew my fervent prayers wouldn't necessarily lead to an eventual marriage. But I hoped so.  When it happened, I was more than excited. All I wanted to do every waki

Engagement, Surgery, and World Games - Oh, My! (The Beginning)

It's been a hot minute since I've posted. I know that many say that if you are a writer, then you need to write no matter what else is going on in your life.  Not to be mean or crass, but those who say that don't have the life I do (think about walking in someone else's shoes and all that jive).  Mid-March started a roller coaster ride - one of those with top speeds and extreme drops and twists.  Have you ever wanted something so much you cried over it, and prayed to receive it, and talked to your best friend about it, and then you couldn't talk to your best friend about it because she had heard it so much, and you saw signs everywhere that it was going to happen... but it still didn't. So you finally gave up. This is how this period of my life began. In March, the boyfriend I've dated for almost five years (at that point) and who I seriously thought might never want to get married, casually asked during a meal out, "What's your ring size?" I h

Dealing with Jury Duty with Mental and Physical Issues

Jury duty. Back when I was in another career and was a single mom to boot, I always asked to be released from serving jury duty. It wasn't that I didn't want to serve... it was that it was difficult to find a sub for several days in a row and I had no one to take care of my daughter. It was never an issue to get out of it. So when I found out I had jury duty as a freelancer, I was torn. Like I said, I had always wanted to serve. It seemed like it would be very interesting to see what goes on in an actual trial (as some of my past obsessive periods concentrated on law shows and books). However, I knew that a week (or more if I got chosen for a big case) would be extremely rough on my income plus, on the slight chance I was sequestered, it would be difficult for my parents.  The weeks before I was supposed to serve, I was extremely busy and let making the decision to try to get out of it slip away. Finally, with only a few days left before I had to be there for my first day, I re

What If It All Goes Away?

Nothing has changed in the last 24 hours. I haven't had anyone insult my photography or writing, tell lies about my character, or leave my life. Actually, it's been a pretty good day. No, the change has been in me. I've hit another low cycle. Being in a low cycle has made circumstances that normally would be neutral extremely negative. But I can't blame my low cycle for everything I'm feeling. I have realized how arrogant I've been over what I've accomplished lately. Yes, I've worked hard. Yes, I've gotten experience through hours and hours of practice. Yes, I've analyzed my work to see how it could be better. But none of that is how I've gotten to where I am now professionally. It's been God. Some might call it circumstances; some might call it luck; some fate... but I believe in a Higher Power and my Higher Power is God.  You might be wondering why I titled a post about my arrogance   "What If It All Goes Away?"  It was one of

Apps that Help Me Make it Through the Day (Part 2)

I don't know your definition of "later," but my guess is that it's not over four months. Yet, that's how long it's been since I wrote the first part of this post. If you want to read about some of the other apps that help me each day, look for a post with the same title on November 10, 2021. So... I'm finally getting back to sharing more about this idea.  On a side note, if you want to read something really ironic, read my post from February 5, 2022. You'll see why almost immediately after checking it out. Let's go back to the topic at hand (or at a magnetic stand, as that's where my phone is right now.) GOOGLE CALENDAR... Like Chrome, I found the wonders of Google Calendar years ago. There have been several times I've tried to switch to something newer and flashier, but I've always gone back to it. The best part of this calendar for me is that I can divide schedules into who is affected by them. I'm a very visual person and I can a

Gratitude and Stillness - The International Justice Mission (IJM) and the Problem of Human Trafficking

Yesterday I interviewed a man who works with the International Justice Mission (IJM) in order to write an article based on his work.  I am always amazed by people who work on the front lines dealing with such horrible atrocities as human trafficking - and their stories. This man had two which really affected me.  He gave me the figure that there are 40 million held in some form of slavery today. 2022. That blows me away and seems completely overwhelming. Sometimes it can also be hard to remember these victims are individuals who have been created in God’s image, not simply a number. A young man named Godwin is one such individual. Like many others, his family was deceived into sending Godwin into what they thought was a safe environment - where he could get the education he craved and learn a trade. He ended up being trafficked to Lake Volta to work in their fishing industry. Instead of fulfilling his dream of advanced schooling, he was in a nightmare of 12-14-hour days of hard labor.