Call It What It Is.

Some of us predominately white people have encountered racism but feel ashamed to admit that we have. I was born in a small city named Petersburg in Virginia that has been largely black for quite some time. I then got older and began hanging out and then attended college (briefly) in Richmond, Va. RVA, as how we abbreviated it and would become it’s acronym, was also largely black populated as well. Where am I going with this? My point is, I’m not unfamiliar with living among a different race than myself. I moved down to Raleigh, NC and actually experienced more racism from the blacks that I’ve interacted with here. Maybe, it’s because there’s a lot of transplants from across the U.S. that took up here, I don’t know. But, if it ain’t the damned truth and Raleigh isn’t even predominately black, nor is it nearly as hard of a city as places I’ve been and known before.

On the exterior, I appear as though I’m white, but I’m over 30% direct ancestry Native American from both my mother and father’s side. I identified more with my Native heritage even before I found out my heritage ( because I was adopted and then reunited with my biological mother at the age of 10.) I felt different than my other friends that were white despite that I’m also of Hungarian and English decent to make up the 70% rest of “me.” Labels do irk to me to an extent. It’s not like you have any say into what your ancestry is. So, to me, to say “I’m proud” to be of whatever race just because of your ancestry is ignorant.

It’s like saying, I’m really proud that I got blue eyes. How can you be proud of something you had no involvement in? I DO understand if you’re proud of your ancestry due to the strife and struggles that your people endured to still be relevant and on this earth. Back to encountering racism as a “white” person. Maybe we don’t talk about it because of the white guilt we should feel or own because of things that happened so long ago that some of our ancestors had nothing to do with?

One specific racist encounter I had experienced was at the Department of Human Services in Raleigh NC. Years ago when I was going through the process of applying for disability, ( I had been turned down several times as that’s how the system works) I needed some help with obtaining food and attempted to file for food stamps ( EBT debit card ) hopeful, that the disability would go through within that time period.

Going through this process is demeaning enough. I was treated the whole time I was there, as though I needed no help. You know, I’m white, the world’s just handed everything out to me as it was already. I was childless and still am. Everyone in attendance had to listen to a short black woman with a Napoleon complex and a tampon shoved up her insides sideways as she dryly reads through the brochure and the audience is to read along with her.

I was bored with the whole thing and begun flipping to the end of the damned brochure as I could read much faster than her and I get bored very easy. Finally, after she calls me out in front of everyone and everyone looks back at me, and I look up back at them like, WTF? She chastises me for going ahead in the fucking book. After the brochure fiasco, the people that were representatives of the administering of the benefits, began doing personal interviews with each person/family/ platoon/etc.

I’m sitting there acting like I’m only minding my own business, but I overhear part of some other people’s spiels as to why they don’t have a job and need help. One woman says she quit her job because she couldn’t take her boss “picking” on her when her boss lady was on her cycle. So, I’m thinking, “Damn! Your boss has her monthly for 28 days? How is that a fucking relevant reason as you’ve got kids to feed as well?!” So, it comes my turn. ALL the representatives are black women and most the applicants were either black or Latino. I’m one of the few white or whitish looking people in the vicinity.

The representative starts asking me questions and I’m immediately distracted as I notice the woman that couldn’t work with her bitchy boss, and the representative that was assigned to her ( the napoleon bitch from earlier ) leaning over whispering to the woman that was asking for help. Of course I’m immediately motherfucking pissed like a fire ant as the representative that I was dealing with was asking about my current employment situation. I told her I was NOT working at the moment and didn’t offer any explanation.

The representative then asks me why I’m not working, and I almost scream in her face that I’m disabled and currently going through the process of waiting to hear back if my disability is granted, that’s why! I’m then told that if I want any kind of assistance in the way of food stamps, that I would have to sign up to work in the work first program and found out that I most likely wouldn’t even get $50 in food stamps for an entire week anyhow. I asked how was I supposed to work in that program when part of my disability involves PTSD, anxiety attacks and not to mention I cannot work because of my multiple disabilities.

I don’t like handouts and I don’t like feeling like I must rely on the government for help. The truth is, I was turned down several times when I applied for disability. And, that was with a doctor’s approval. Finally, I sent in every single shred of documentation that went as far back as when the military doctors started noting marked depression as early as age 14. I bombarded the disability investigators’ inbox with my collected records.

I’ve actually heard the argument out of a black person’s mouth, that they can’t be racist, because, they’re black. WTF?! Can’t even say, “like seriously?” to that because it’s just got no rationale behind it. And, I will never forget that time at the food stamp department not because it was the first time I’ve encountered racism by a black person, but because it was blatantly systemic. There were other reps doing the same thing to other people they were helping that were of their same race.

I could’ve complained. I could’ve gone about finding the manager of all of them, but what then? I was so angry and seeing red at the moment, that to have someone that was just like those bitches try to invalidate me, would’ve definitely caused me a paid ride straight to county as I would’ve caused a lot of damage in a short time frame.  It’s not like I know what it’s like to deal with racism on a almost daily level. So, to be honest, it wasn’t even about the blatant favoritism the representatives were showing.

It was the fact that I’d worked for almost my whole life. I even had to have enough work credits to be awarded disability. It was how the representatives used their power and control over people in general to determine who would get help and who wouldn’t. I hope they pray to their “god (s)” when they’re laying up in an old folks home, that the person that is in charge of changing their diapers and taking care of them, doesn’t leave them to sit rotting around in their own vile creations and beat them just because they can.

Karma can be the demise of all the mightiest bitches. Don’t ever be afraid to call it what it is.

Please Invalidate Me

My last visit to the psych nurse that I’ve been appointed to has just been enough. Admittedly, I was under the influence of Valium, which helps me take the edge off my anxiety and gifts (Hell yes, I know I typed “gifts”. Tiny ones indeed!) me the ability to carry out errands and attend appointments. However, those little pink pills have a dulling effect on me. As though life is occurring in real time around me, but I personally feel “off” in my time in relation to the present.

For example, I’m listening and interacting in a active conversation but sometimes things feel very sped up and the Valium is slowing my thought process to be able to consume what the other person had said and be able to respond within a reasonable time period. So, I’ll just refer to it for now as my “V” delay. I tell my psych nurse that “no” I have not yet received the Geodon and I had communicated with my pharmacy and what not.

She asks, “Did you call Joann?” (The psych nurse’s asst.) I look at her like WTF? I say “NO. I didn’t.” I didn’t elaborate about why should I call someone else or why didn’t I. I get fucking tired of playing phone tag in regards to my medications and for some reason, on that visit, the Geodon went right through and my insurance covered it. We move on quickly to the subject that I’ve been under a lot of stress recently due to my neighbor’s kids and the adults lack of supervision of the said kids.

I explained that things had escalated between the neighbors and myself and my partner as we tried to tell them what their kids were doing to intimidate and be generally aggressive to myself and my companion animal. There really was no “discussion” between the neighbors and us as the female adult comes out yelling and interrupting in her chador and her kids look over at us like we killed their gold fish.

It was extremely hard for me to keep my composure because I suffer from PTSD and don’t respond well to anyone yelling or acting aggressive towards me. I’d had enough of the neighbors and had to leave for our apartment to control myself. The male adult had the audacity to go and have a sit down with the upper management of the leasing company and told the assets manager that we scared their children so much that they cried for the rest of the night and they didn’t feel safe with my partner doing work orders anymore in their apartment as he’s the maintenance supervisor of the property. The reality of the situation was, I watched the kid’s faces as their mother came out yelling at us and they looked crestfallen and we passed by later walking my companion dog and the kids were out still playing and very jovial as they were yelling at my companion dog.

So, the neighbors are stirring around a shit stew of lies and fabrications and have gone as far as playing the victim stance to have upper management favor them. I have to hand it to them, they should know how to deceive the best as they are the masters of it. After a short synopsis to my psych nurse, I also add that I already have issues surrounding going outside as it is and now, all this compounds things.

She goes on about how blah,,,Oh, yeah I was still listening. She drops a psych term that I honestly forgot because of the fucking Valium and I was trying to go back mentally and retrieve the term because I can sometimes do that pretty quick if nothing’s in my system slowing me down. But, here we go. Most important things to remember. Her parting words for me until 6 weeks from that session.

“Sometimes we make things a bigger deal than the actual issue because we’re constantly being forced to deal with it.” she says about my issues at hand. Okay, notice her language. “We, we’re.” So as to not place blame and maintain neutrality. I nod my head as I mull over what she said as it made slight sense but then I ruminated further. I started thinking well, how does a person with social anxiety just make themselves get over that omnipotent and oppressive anxiety? They don’t and I don’t.

I have to medicate myself to do what “normal” well adjusted people do day in and day out. Just going to the local grocery store is a anxiety producing mess! See, as a patient, you view the people you encounter in the mental health field as part of your support system. It’s a lot like Russian roulette that ideology. Be damned aware that there’s a valid reason medicine is referred to as “practicing” in many fields. Experimentation and studies are constantly being conducted making the information that some of the professionals you encounter are not entirely up to date, sometimes antiquated and all the time needing to be altered to suit you as an individual.

That being stated, I also know that professionals are always attending new workshops and learning about new drugs and techniques. I’m constantly telling myself, reminding myself. Mentally pinching myself, to be my own advocate! I won’t say it can’t be done, but it’s terribly hard when you deal with that every time you visit the place you receive your medication management and therapy and they’re supposed to be on your team but you leave feeling like if you had stayed in bed that you would’ve been better damned off!

Working Knowledge

Working Knowledge: Knowledge and not doing are equal to not knowing at all. ( I found this printed on a ubiquitous fortune cookie wrapper. )

I know that this adage seems as common as a fortune cookie, but it fell into my hands at an appropriate time in my life. I’ve been told by people before especially when I was younger because I was much thinner then, that I was “pretty”. And, many times I’ve been told, “you’re smart or intelligent”. I’m not easily flattered either by any means.  In fact, I felt it was meaningless or insincere. I felt uneasy about others saying I was pretty because to me, I just felt this ceaseless pressure throughout my life growing up to live up to some perceived ideal of what it meant to be “feminine.”

Femininity was a tough concept for me to grasp, especially other’s perceived concepts of it as I had a feminine body since my early development, yet I was the type that liked to play in the woods and ride my bike all day. Then, the media had it’s own take on what it meant to be feminine in society as well. I decided at some point, I had to draw a line in the sand of what to make of all this in my own head. I mean, I’m supposedly smart, so am I going to listen to someone’s opinion I don’t even care about make me decide on what makes me feminine or not?

I admittedly went on a personal “strike” against what society deemed a woman should do to be “feminine.” For an entire year, I didn’t shave my body parts, or wear makeup and I did my best to buy the minimal in hygienic products. I honestly did get tired of how furry my legs became, but I felt no less of a “woman.” I feel like just like for women, men also fall into that consumer trap set by corporations and society. That men are to look a certain way in general and women are to also fill a mold.

So, I’m 38 now and finally coming to a semblance of coming to terms of things. You know, I remember the pretty girls I went to school with, were sought after throughout our academic career. When, I was a little girl, I was jealous of them. They were the polar opposites of me, though. The boys that flirted with them, were the same ones that I kicked their asses. I hung out with the “rejected” girls at that time.

To me, the definition of “working knowledge” is like sage advice. To listen to that inner voice from within yourself before anyone else. I’ve been “pretty” in my own special way just like all of us can be. And, “yes” I know I have a above average I.Q. and I also know I’m more than that intellectual quotient number too. What’s more important is, all that I have left to learn. I don’t want to feel like I’ve already learned what I need to know. I want to feel like it’s okay to still be learning and still not feel like you’ll ever “know” it all. To take everything you’ve collectively learned throughout your life and turn that knowledge into a working knowledge.

Products Of The System

**I wrote this poem after I was robbed at point blank with a gun held in my face at my third shift job at the airport as a cashier.  And then being held suspect by the cops.**

Products of The System

You aimed your weapon
at me.
First, concentrated
on my chest.
This gets my attention.

It’s about 1:20 a.m.
and honestly, I was
half asleep until
you walked up to my
toll booth window
and pulled your
semi-auto on me.

Re-focusing your aim
from my chest to my
face, to show you
meant business.

I took notice myself
of your intent and
you didn’t even have
to waste your breath
on telling me to fill
the bag.

All of this went down
so fast.
I was literally by
myself at Park and
Ride 3.

A state of shock
had settled in my
body. My PTSD symptoms
from the past surfaced.

I was having trouble
breathing and I was
just trying to maintain
focus on my breathing,
so, as to not go into
an anxiety attack.

Everyone says the same shit.                                                                                                        They’ll say well,
“I would have been a mess”.
or “I would have did this”.

Reality of it all, is
you’re going to do exactly
what your mind and body
coordinate and decide to
do.

The most ironic thing
was the experience felt
surreal. As if, I was
not present.

I didn’t give in
and pray to invisible
things I don’t believe in.

All, I wished for
was not to die in that
man-made glass encased box.

And not to be slaughtered
over the dollars that I
must earn for a mere living.

There’s that unfortunate
similarity I share with
the suspect. We were
both there for the same
reason.

Albeit, we both
went about getting
our money in different
ways.

Him, the outlaw
and me the wage slave.
Neither of us being
truly free.

–The detective focused his investigation on me. The robber only got away with approximately $120 and I had made my 2 $500 drops in the safe that night before I was robbed. The RDU police ( Raleigh Durham Airport ) didn’t arrive on scene until almost 11 minutes after I was robbed.

Because the suspect got away on foot, the detective decided to pressure me and did interrogate me that same night that I was robbed. I didn’t know my rights then. But, all of us no matter your ethnicity or place in class, should know your basic rights when it comes to dealing with the law. The police had not read my miranda rights. They hadn’t charged me with anything and they kept me there for hours questioning me.

I have now been “awarded” my disability status since then as I suffer from more than one mental illness and physical issues as well but I tried to explain to the detective that I suffered from such issues and was under medical supervision. My mother told me I should “cooperate” with the detective because if I didn’t that it wouldn’t look good. I reminded her that he still hadn’t charged me with anything and was trying to get an attorney, but they wanted a lot of money I didn’t have to represent me. My finance spoke to his cousin whom is a officer and his cousin had the audacity to say that I must be guilty if the detective is spending so much time focusing on me in the investigation.

Of course,  I have choice words for his cousin as I never liked cops for the longest time. I’d seen them only act like total dicks from by way of Richmond, Va and down to where I live now in Raleigh, NC. I know it looks like minorities are the ones that cops seem to have a hard on to beat on, kill and throw in jail. But, I’m part Native American and I’ve seen things from both sides as I’m fair in complexion and people just make assumptions based on what they see instead of what they know.

I suppose it comes with an advantage as from what I’ve seen, it’s not an easy life being red, brown or black. I won’t lie. It wasn’t easy to know that my life rested in someone’s hands that I had no way knowing of their intention. The incident did trigger some PTSD issues for me, but I was at the time going through trauma focused therapy and what I did was wrote a poem about how the situation made me feel and it was through that realization that made it easier to cope and push that experience behind me.

 

 

Heathen

Black girl flexing muscles outdoors

I AM POWERFUL!

Yeah, I was. I had a best friend that was a male whom was 5 years older than me that I gave him a black eye because he taunted me after stealing my flip flop. I told him once. “Don’t steal my flip flop!” He laughed and I punched him as fast and hard as I could flailing my short self up to hit him in the face. He began screaming horrificly as he held his eye and hauled ass back towards my step-mothers house. I was messing about in the mud or something knowing he was going to get his some how before dinner was called.

Matthew, my best friend went to tell my step-mother what I did. She told him to go and hit me back. That was all the impetus he needed to bring him back just as fast on his skinny legs where I was at near the playset and he sucker punched me in the same fucking eye. We shared matching black eyes for weeks. My step-brother was 10 years older than me and mean. He thought he should make me “tougher” since I already played with boys older and sometimes bigger than me. So, he had these different things he’d try. One of them involved how long could I keep this stuff called “snuff” in my mouth before spitting it out.

His friends would teach me a lesson when I tried playing catch with them and purposely aim for my stomach. I think at times he was mentally challenged or his testestorone just got in the way of his brain working properly. He tried to be funny and teach me to shoot his  double barrelled shot gun by telling me to keep the butt of the gun slightly away from my shoulder and pull both triggers. The thing almost knocked me down and I got mad and jammed his shotgun barrels first into the dirt and left it sitting there.

Being a girl while trying to get by in a boy world wasn’t easy. It was really fun and tough and I know I learned so much more than if I just hanged out with girls. I eventually did move to neighborhoods where it was mostly females and it was hard on me as I was always the one playing in the woods and just being off the chain whenever I could. The girls thought I was way too rough and mean to play with them most of the time. I still own more weapons than shoes to this day and I know how to proficiently use all said weapons. I have no problem with my femininity but I know that I’m always going to be that heathen, tom boy, warrior that you better watch your back around and if you’re my friend, I’ve got your back!

Take Some Credit

HClabel

Frankly, I’m an atheist and it’s because of my life experiences overall, that I’ve arrived at my ideologies surrounding any and all religion. I’m not writing this to debate or argue with anyone on the subject of religion. These are my established beliefs and are not subject to debate as I refuse to debate over those things I don’t believe in. A lot of you maybe familiar with the poem, “Footprints in the Sand.” You know, how when times were so hard for you, it was me (“god”) that picked you up and carried you and that’s why there are only one set of footprints to be found left behind in the sand.

I was told when I was a child, that if I prayed, not only for myself but for others first and also admitted my (and were honestly sorry for them) sins, that my prayers would be answered. I prayed a lot. I prayed a lot for everyone else first, like the kids in Ethiopia that I would see on TV with swollen bellies and crusted faces. I would pray for everyone else but me, first. Than, I would usually pray for a real pony or horse and call it a night. I was severely sexually abused from whenever I could begin to remember until the age of 7 by my step-father that had adopted me when I was six months old.

During these times that he was abusing me and the weight of his grown body was bearing down against me and I was enduring the worse pain of my life, I would scream and cry. To no avail. I started to pray too. I prayed incessantly to myself and “god” above, so hopeful my child prayers were heard. I had prayed so much that I stopped and never uttered another word to “god.” I was forsaken and I knew it at such a young age. I knew what that word meant at such a young age because it was through those times of abuse and trauma that I knew I was given up on.

My step-mother even caught my step-father abusing me as she began to descend the steps to the ground level of the house. I couldn’t move but all I could see as I looked up to see her, was her turn her back and ascend back to the top level of the house and all she did was go back to bed. At a very young age, I knew betrayal intimately as I would come to know vengeance, retribution and anger. My step-mother was a coward and rat of the worse kind and I never forgave her for betraying me nor all the violence and abuse she doled out on me until I finally left her house as I was tentatively scheduled to be kicked out when I graduated high school anyhow, so good riddance.

Take some credit! Through the shit storm that was my life, it was me, that weathered every storm over again only to get through another one. It’s been the same for you. You got yourself through the hell of life too. I never once gave up on myself. I’ve had the lowest of lows when I didn’t want to be alive anymore, but it was the will to survive that pulled me through. It was my voice telling me, “How fucking dare, you let the scum of the earth keep you down for so long to submit to a defeatist way of thinking! You always had the strength you needed and the proof of it all remains right in front of you, because here you are still standing. Still ready for the next battle because life is made of both the light and the dark.”

My life did a significant 360 when I was ‘tween 15 & 16 years old. I was enduring bullies at school, my step-mother’s boyfriend was putting his hands on me whenever he got the chance. I was a 120 pound girl that was fucking tired of being pushed around and used as a punching bag. I had a mental shift. I began to gain the courage to fight back and I lost the fear that held me back and was keeping me stuck in the victim role.

I began to attend punk rock shows and then hardcore and the message behind the music and the empowerment I felt was a very positive reinforcement for me in my life at the time. A lot of people talk shit that they don’t know about. I was attending shows in the mid-90’s and it was obviously largely male dominated, but I grew up also fighting and playing with males ever since I was very small , so it was like everything was coming full circle for me, in a literal sense.

There were brutal and chaotic shows, that to just be on the dance floor would most likely get you kicked in the head. I looked at the people of the punk and hardcore subculture as my type of people. A lot of those people were not wealthy, knew hardships, abuse, and had been knocked down more than once in life. I liked those that were like me. Legit, had nothing to prove, and only had love for the music and not fashion. I took what I learned from the hardcore lifestyle and applied it to my life and embraced it tightly against my heart.

I began to start to personally take on every bully that even stepped to me and also other bullies that I would see pressing others. When my step-mother’s boyfriend put his hands on me, I fought him the best I could. The most empowering thing I’ve felt in my life, was to lose that fear of someone putting their hands on you. What I learned, was to tap into that deep seated anger and resentment I will wholly and always own and unleash it against my enemy. I use my hate and anger at my discretion and it burns within me like a infernal flame that can never be extinguished.

I’ve had therapists discredit my resolve to not relinquish my anger. They say, that it’s “energy zapping” or just negative energy altogether. FUCK THEM! This is what I say to them. This is what I say to all of your therapists too! The only reason that I am still alive today, is due to my anger and hate. I have many mental illnesses and PTSD is one of them. I’ve never been a soldier, but I’ve fought my whole life and struggled.

I will say this to those whom have been soldiers, never let your anger and hate die. You survived for a reason. If you lost your friends, you must live your life in memory of them. This is your legacy and the greatest gift you have to give to those that gave all. Their sacrifices are your’s too. So, now it is for them and yourself that you have the greatest reason to live and continue to be the warrior you still are.

Everyone’s had their own battles and lived their own wars. It’s how we come out in the end that matters. WE are not just survivors. We are all warriors for fighting day in and day out. Your struggle is unique to you and I dare not invalidate your experiences. The same goes for my own struggles. I take credit for myself. I take credit for becoming the person I am today despite all those people that hurt me so much. I would at the same time, like to thank each and every one of those assholes because, had you not made things so terrible for me, I wouldn’t be nearly as battle hardened and unfazed by those of a softer existence that have tried to press me. Take credit for your accomplishments!

On Being Your Own Best Shrink

Some background on me is, that I’ve been in relationships with mental health professionals since the age of seven. These relationships have been sporadic since the age of seven until my current age of 38. It wasn’t until my later 20’s that I actually was under more constant mental medical supervision of some sort. I think I can safely ascertain that when I speak of these things about myself and due to the experience I’ve obtained from working with the mental health professionals that I’m speaking objectively and obviously biased, since these are my opinions and experiences. However, my statements are also subjective because of those same experiences that happened and how they affected me mentally in my life.

My first experience with a social worker, was when I was approximately seven years old. I was pulled out of my class and felt like something was wrong and I also felt awkward because everyone’s attention was then focused on me and what was concerning me. The social worker takes me to a room and I thought I’d done something extraordinary wrong for the manner in which everything was taking place. It felt very covert and I obviously felt like all the attention was diverted to me, but in a overwhelming way.

The social worker makes an attempt to make small talk and eventually asks me if anyone had been touching me in an inappropriate way or hurting me. There were many times that I would wear pants to school to cover the welts in the warmer months and that was until my ass would start to mend and then my step-parents would switch off so I could wear the appropriate clothes for the weather. I suppose that was clever on their part.

I lied straight faced and without even having to think much over my response to the social worker’s questions. I didn’t tell the truth because I was afraid. I was afraid of where I’d be put if I was put in the foster care system and I was even more afraid of what would happen if my step-parents found out I told the truth of the sexual trauma, physical, verbal, and emotional abuse I endured day in and out. The devil you know is sometimes better than the devil you don’t. All I know is for a seven year old girl to have so much on her plate, she had to think fast and be a few steps ahead of things.

So, from that time when I was seven and until now, there’s no telling how many people know the intimate details of my life story. This is what I do know about it all now, though. From the time I started working with mental health professionals, I would have to say through my experiences, that very few individuals actually helped me make any productive head way whatsoever in my daily life.

I readily admit that I’m what any DBT therapist will describe as, “willful.” It’s entirely true to a default. I’m both a realistic and pragmatic when it comes to everything in life. If someone is hocking an idea or strategy to me that I know will not work for me, than I just discard it right away. THIS is my whole point with the mental health field. It still is medicine being practiced. New studies are being conducted constantly and nothing is truly static.

What I’ve learned for myself that works tremendously and it doesn’t require an hour long session to accomplish is, to assess your own self. You don’t have to have a degree in anything to do this. It’s something that I regularly do to figure out what is working for me in my life and what isn’t. Take for example, my relationship with my biological mother has always been a strained and rocky one. Last year, I wrote her a letter that would forever change our relationship. It contained something that happened that she needed to have knowledge of.

Her lack of response was the only indication I needed that I needed to move on in my life as she was no longer anyone to me anymore. I realize for some people, these are not easy life tasks to accomplish. Permanently severing my relationship with my biological mother was a painful process and definitely a decision that I ruminated over. But, the empowerment! If you are able in your life to make these decisions on what’s not working and only adding more stress to your life, with a clear, stable, and sober mind, than you will find that inner strength you always had to persevere through the strife.

I go to my therapist almost on a weekly basis. I don’t feel any stigma about having to deal with the mental health professionals. I know I’m a pain in the ass because they probably think I’m a know it all, that doesn’t listen to their suggestions (when they actually provide feedback ) but it’s my hour. Having multiple mental illnesses is enough combined with the physical problems I have as well. Ultimately in life, it is you that is going through and dealing with your mental illness and other problems. Your mental health professional isn’t going to be there with you when you’re stuck in a public restroom stall willing yourself to breathe because of a anxiety or panic attack.

I know all about these times. Twenty or so minutes spent trying to collect yourself so you can leave the bathroom and go pick up your prescriptions. Do the breathing exercises. Focus, distract yourself with just about any method that works for you. You know you better than anyone else. You know when you need a break. You know if a place is subject to trigger a panic attack. Take care of yourself the best way you know how. If something isn’t working, THROW IT OUT! I personally only use the strategies that work for me and everything else is background noise, because I have tried many mindful skills, and DBT skills but they don’t work for everyone.

I don’t have a little notebook of skills compiled for the panic attacks and all of my triggers. I just know. At this age, it’s second nature. Everyday is a struggle for us all. I’m just trying to learn as I go about what’s helpful and what’s not. Fight on my fellow warriors!!

 

 

Pills for What Ills

So, I had an appointment with my assigned psych nurse this past Monday in which we discussed how neither of my insurances would cover a new med that she wanted to put me on. I’ve tried ALL kinds of anti-depressants all in the SSRI category. Many were simply ineffective. Some were just terrible for me to take period, ( lamictal, prozac, wellbutrin of any milligram ) those are a sample of a few.

I even took this genesight test that tests your DNA to determine what psych medicines would work better with your chemistry. Before I entered the nurse’s office, I already had mentally prepared myself for what I intended to say. I told her I had no faith in any anti-depressant and that I refused to think my salvation or “cure” could be found in pill form.

Her reaction was that I was resigning to my illnesses and how they affect my daily life. I’m very realistic and pragmatic. I took her comment offensively because, as far as I view my illnesses, I didn’t chose to acquire them at any point in my life. She ultimately advised me to get exercise and make sure that I was getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D.

The same nurse that told me prior to this appointment that I should really start taking a multi-vitamin as my folic acid levels were low and my medicines metabolize better when I’m not mineral deficient. I’ve only been on the same meds for almost 8 years and I’m just now receiving this advice?! WTF???

I’ve also been told by previous therapists that, “you need to be your own advocate.” I agree to that sentiment. However, sometimes, just making it to a doctor’s appointment, etc. is a feat in itself. I then thought, would you really fucking give your own damn self this advice?! I suffer from major depression as well as other mental illnesses. I’ve been disabled since 2012 and I would like to ask them how is it when someone is sick, to advocate for their selves when they’re already doing the best they can???

I want to know the answer to this question. I can’t tell you how many therapist sessions I’ve spent in the restroom (partially) due to my stomach issues that are related to my mental problems and negatively affect every aspect of my life as well. When I had private insurance, the level of “care” wasn’t better. I had a psychiatrist. I hated him. I wanted to stab him until I exhausted myself with a dull letter opener. He focused a lot on my past and asked a lot of questions and took a long time to speak. I believe he did it to waste time. As he certainly did not have any great contributions to offer in regards to my “therapy.”

So, sometimes private doctors suck worse than the places that are state and federally funded. I’m 38 and I’ve been seeing social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and others in the mental health field since I was seven years old, off and on. At some point, you begin to question the validity of the mental health field as a whole. Honestly, I owe my stability to two drugs, Lithium and Depakote. I have to use Valium to help with my anxiety. I used to be on more, but had adverse side effects.

I have a sharp insight into what’s wrong. I approx. said this to my present therapist, “Imagine how frustrating it is to have endured the suffering and strife you were dealt throughout your life to only have to relive all of those memories because you cannot forget. You are haunted by your past every waking day.” I’ve told my prior therapists the same thing before. Do you dare think I want to hold onto those memories for the pain they serve to remind me of? The same memories that rob me of my present life because of the hell my past was.

No one really has anything profound to say. Yes. It would be patronizing on anyone’s part to say something they think may make me feel better. I know they’re smarter than that. If I were in their shoes, I guess if hadn’t experienced my own history, than I wouldn’t know what to say either. I’ve had ECT referred before. I may do it. I’ve found the depths of depravity that I’ve reached are as deep as I’m willing to sink.

What would it feel like to swim? Is it even a possibility?

Bearers

Stains and collections of mistakes.
The blood we shed
so much easier
than what is carried.

Men folk don’t know
the strength required to
be a woman.

Blood washes more easy
from their hands.
Just like it’s easier
for them to walk away
from a life they helped
to make.

You go put a baby
inside her belly
with all your ideas
of what a man should
be for it to grow into the
person you wished
you could’ve been.

**This poem is going to be published in a chapbook and is owned by the writer, Vita.**