Thursday, October 20, 2016

Truth and Perceptions....

I have a new hobby and it is taking over my life.

I have spent countless hours refinishing old furniture, lately. Some people would complain but I like that it has made me obsessive or rather that my obsessive disorder is triggered on it because if I am sanding and staining and scrubbing things beautiful, I am not obsessing about getting some rare cancer from inhaling Scandinavian sheep farts.

I kid, but the reality of my dysfunction can be literally exhausting. I am afraid of every pain, every ache, every fleeting moment. I am terrified of things getting contaminated or tainted. I am frightened of every day life. My brain makes me worry. If my side hurts I may have liver cancer. If my head hurts it could be a tumor. A rash could mean something nefarious and scary.  The gum under the table could give me Hepatitis. And even though I know this is all bullshit my mind makes up, it changes nothing for my anxiety.

And as much as I would love to, I can not turn it off. I can't stop thinking about it. The only thing I can do is distract myself when that same old broken record with the same old shitty song starts replaying in my head over and over and over again.

Being me can be so very tiring.

Days, weeks, months are filled with excessive worry. People see me as someone who has her shit together. I try so very hard to present myself that way but the truth and perception are two very different things.

The truth is that I have battled this mental illness for thirty three years. I know nothing else. It has stolen so much of my time and resources. It has ruined relationships. It has made my life hell.

But I refuse to be macabre and morose about it. I refuse to stay silent in the shadows and be ashamed. It is not me being brave it is me trying desperately to survive under it's clutches. And I will survive because I am not someone who gives up. I can't afford to be or this illness would take everything from me and I am not going down like that.

Which leads me to my point of this post:

Last weekend someone threw this table out to be picked up by the garbage truck. It was rough, dirty, and damp. It looked like it had went through hell and back and possibly a house fire and a war zone with angry bat wielding leprechauns. Someone had felt that it's ugliness meant that nothing beautiful was underneath the years of it's mistreatment and bad style choices. They overlooked it. They counted it to be less than. But I could see it for what it really was. Something that just needed some tlc. It just needed someone to see it for what it truly was, strong underneath all of it's ugly.

I saw myself in that piece of furniture. A little warped, some ugly bits on the outside, thought of as less than what I am worth at first glance because not everything about me is pretty to behold or easy to deal with. But under all of that distraction and dysfunction I am sturdy. I am more beautiful and strong than I ever thought possible.

Under the layers of paint and pain I am still me, still real, still a solid force to deal with. Maybe that is why this table, so casually discarded, moved me so much. Because I could see, even if no one else could, that this table was way more than just trash.

Refinishing this table delighted me. It healed me with every scrape of the paint chisel, with every piece of sandpaper, with every brush stroke of stain. Every moment of saving this table felt like me saving myself. Weird, I know.

 A little sanding, a little stain, and a little bit of soapy water and viola.....

How could something so beautiful and sturdy as this be considered as garbage?

So, I am going to keep at it and keep refinishing the furniture I find  discarded because of perceived flaws. I will make them beautiful again. And every time I bring something back to it's original beauty I will be reminded that deep down we are all beautiful underneath too. Despite our flaws and in spite of our supposed "ugly". Flaws don't make you weak, hideous, nor does it make you expendable. We are beautiful.

Truth and perceptions, people....truth and perceptions.

Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Hang In There....

        You are not broken. Maybe, there are some chips on the surface. Maybe, you are a bit tattered around the edges. Maybe, you lean a bit to the side. Maybe right now, it feels like your life is a raging inferno of garbage and it is all falling  down around your head. Maybe, the debris field of all of the things you think you have lost is all you can see.You might be different, unique, unwell, depressed, repressed, upset, scared, or complicated but you are not broken. Hang in there.

Being us is never easy. We know this. The people that love us know this. Life is complicated. Mental illness is complicated. We can be complicated. Hang in there.

I know that sometimes we get exhausted. The fall into bed face first, fully clothed, and reeking of last night's dinner and disappointment kind of exhausted. It happens. People have shitty days, shitty weeks, shitty months. I once had a whole shitty year. Things can always get better. Hang in there.

On some days we feel completely alone. It can feel like not another soul on the face of this planet understands how you feel. 
It can feel like no one gets you, knows your struggles, or can comprehend the pain you are in. You are never alone. We all feel this way on occasion and we do understand you. Hang in there.

People care about you. They do, even if you are unable to see it. Sometimes our illness can block out all of the good things in our lives or can skew our perceptions and view of life making us unable to see the good. Sometimes we can not see the love other people have for us or we mistake it for pity. Sometimes we convince ourselves the blatant lie, that they would be better off without us because we are a burden. There are people in your life that look up to you, that love you, that care more for you then you would ever guess and they do not see you as anything but the person they care for. They do not consider you a burden and they don't want to lose you. You are loved. Hang in there. 

Hang in there, the world is a vast place and you have an important role in it. You are important. You are worthy. You are unique. You are loved.  So, please hang in there because you matter. 

You matter to all of us. We are all in the same boat and by boat I may mean a shitty, moss covered pirate ship with torn sails, marooned on a sand dune full of rotten coconuts with no elected captain and no real sense of direction but we are making the best of it. We stand up for each other. We know how you feel. So, hang in there.

You are worth it.

Neurotic Nelly

Friday, September 30, 2016

Porch Opossums, Flower Pots, and Mental Illness......Oh My

I have an inside/outside cat. We have, on occasion, put out cat food for him. Problem being that we have discovered that he doesn't actually eat the outside food. The food bowl would empty but the cat would not be the one emptying it. It was like a bizarre magical trick until a few days ago. That is when we saw it.

We have an opossum. 

Smallish but getting bigger everyday. It has taken over our porch at night. It has become fearless. It doesn't really care if you see it, as long as you don't get too close. Last night, that bastard broke one of my flower pots and stood there defiantly licking his fur on my outside bench.  Clearly, it is not afraid of me or my outside cat, or my flower pots.

It made me think about mental illness, which is probably some sort of mental problem in itself, actually. How it takes what it wants. Slowly it feeds off of your fears or stress, especially in the night. How it becomes brazen in it's symptoms. How fearless it is when stealing little bit of your life away. How it has no issues knocking over your flower post and watching you whole world turn upside down. It isn't afraid. It is defiant. It is a little bastard and before you know it, it makes claims on your porch without your permission or knowledge.

And what do we do? Usually, we blame ourselves for something we did not ask for. We get scared. We worry about stigma and sometimes that worry gets in the way of the help that we need. We keep it secret a lot of the time. We struggle with sense of self worth.  We hurt.

But, I think what we need to realize is that just like the porch opossum, we are not responsible for mental illness befalling us. It is just something that happens. It is not our fault nor does it say anything about who we are as people. It does not label us. I t does not lessen our worth.

There is no need to blame ourselves for something we have no control over. And there are many things to help people with mental illness. There are therapies, medications, groups, and treatments that have been helpful for most mental illnesses. There are people that understand. there are people that know what living under the stigma of mental illness is like and there are people who care. 

Honestly, mental illnesses aren't even that rare. Much like finding an opossum eating out of your garbage can, lots of people have encountered it. The current statistics prove that 1 in 5 people in the US will have some sort of mental illness in their lifetimes. That isn't a small number. In fact, you probably know someone affected by mental illness right now. So, there is nothing to be ashamed about when you break down the sheer amount of people that suffer with you. Why we treat it like some majestic rarity is really beyond me. Clearly it is neither majestic nor a rarity at all.

That is the Point that I am making, I think. Mental illness should not be seen as a weakness or weirdness. It should be treated and looked upon the same way as any physical illness is. And until it is, we should keep fighting the stigma, keep helping ourselves, and keep being proud of how much we have been able to accomplish.  Because having a mental illness is hard and we should be proud of every single time we win against it. No matter how small that win may be. It is still a win.

I am strong. You are strong and we can do this. We can tell the mental illness opossums of the world that flower pots be damned we are not afraid to fight back and get help. That we are worth it. That we matter. Because we do and our minds and porches are not something we are just going to give over without a fight.

Neurotic Nelly

Friday, September 16, 2016

I Am Going To Be Fine....


Calm down. Be calm and breathe. Think about fluffy kittens and silly puppy faces. Jam your hands in your pockets. Tap your fingers on your knee. Breathe Nelly, Breathe. You can do this. You are going to be alright.



Deep breaths. Come on you can do it. Inhale and exhale. That's it. You got it. You got it! Again, inhale really deep and exhale really long. There ya go.

I am writing this trying not to have a panic attack. I hate this. I hate this so much. My heart rate goes through the roof and my breathing becomes shallow and fast. My palms get sweaty as I battle this overriding feeling of complete and utter doom. Dread encapsulates my senses and fear fills my nostrils. I can smell it. I can taste my own terror. I want to run. I want to hide......I want to throw up.

I could get angry with myself for not being able to do things like a normal fucking person, but what is the point? This is my reality. This is what I have to live with and who I am. This is one of my many, many issues and that is okay. I am going to be okay.

Just breathe.

I wish I had more control of this than I do. I find it embarrassing when it happens in public. I am not ashamed that it happens but it can be upsetting to other people. I wish that I could leave my house with the certainty that I will not lose my shit and breakdown in the middle of the floor in a public space. But I don't have that certainty and I have learned to just be happy when I surprise myself and do well. Tomorrow is probably not going to be one of those days. Not if I am already fighting of a tsunami of panic the night before. But whatever the outcome of this day, I am going to be fine.

I am going to be fine either way. Breathe....

Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, September 8, 2016

I'm Back and Hopefully Better....

Well, I have recovered....sort of.  Apparently while going to my doctor's office for a checkup I contracted what can only be described as the flaming gungamo.

I have no idea how it happened. I used hand sanatizer. I avoided direct contact with other patients. I kept my hands in my pockets. All of my OCD germ tactics to stay safe.

I was going to write but I was ill in bed coughing up a lung and wishing my ears didn't feel like I was trapped underwater.

The first day I awoke to the feeling one would have if they had swallowed razor blades. Thinking I had Strep throat I went to the Urgent Care. Spoiler alert: it was not strep throat.
 I was given antibiotics. The pharmacist tried to pander their flu shots to me while I waited in line looking and feeling like a snot zombie. I was not amused.

The second day, I felt as if angry bat wielding leprechauns had attacked me in my sleep. My head hurt. My sinuses were flaming balls of lava. My eyes refused to focus. I had what I like to call congestion stupidity, where the facial pressure makes you unable to concentrate. The pressure triggered my vertigo which allowed me to spend the day  bumping into everything and falling over as if I was drunk. It was fantastic....sarcasm.

The third day, I wanted to die. There was clearly no relief or hope in sight. I wasn't sure if I was going to make it and I was not entirely convinced I wanted to. The urge to crawl instead of walk from the couch to the bed to the bathroom was becoming more of a need rather than a desire. I don't remember much about it except whimpering sounds that I realized where coming from me as I laid rolled in a cover, scrunched into a ball, with kleenex shoved into my nostrils. I woke up choking from the chest congestion. I woke up unable to breathe from my whole face. I woke up having to blow my nose....I slept too much but none of it was long term bouts of rest. It was like a bad ironic joke and the punchline was clearly me at this point.

Thankfully, the third day was the worst and I was up and running on the fourth day. It has been twelve days since.

I now still cough but not as much as before and I don't sound like I have peanut m & m's shoved up nose. So, that's a plus. I did, however, pass it on to both of my children.  This is truly the gift that keeps on giving.....sorry kids.

That being said, I am in a way better mood than usual. Probably from my new found ability to breathe through both of my nostrils at the same time. Nose breathing is great, isn't it?

Other than being sick, I have nothing really to talk about. I am thankful to be back to my old crazy self. I am happy to be on the mend. I am still confused as to how I caught this bug in the first place but I am happy it is mostly over.

So, here's to you guys. I hope to write a better post than this for next week. I am hoping all of you are feeling well, and are having good days. If you are not, please just remember that even in the darkest of hours daylight is only around the corner. Just hang in there. You matter. You are important. You have insurmountable worth. You are heard.

Until next week guys,
Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Dear Self....

We don't tell ourselves good things about ourselves enough. We as mental illness sufferers can be very negative about ourselves and our accomplishments. Sometimes we fail to see even the smallest of victories as anything but failure. We get lost in the comparisons we make of ourselves with other not mentally ill people. Sometimes we forget to pat ourselves on our own backs for the things we have worked hard to improve on in our lives. We need to be proud of ourselves. We need to believe in ourselves. We need to know how important and worthy we are. If we don't then who will? So for the next few weeks I am going to write letters to myself detailing the things I have done that I am proud of. No negative criticisms, no put downs, no self deprecating backhanded comments.  Just positive feedback and maybe some humorous anecdotes. Because sometimes I need to remember that I do not have to be my own worst enemy.

Dear self,

I wanted to take a moment to tell you how proud I am of you that you didn't have a panic attack when going to your doctor's office yesterday. Sure, you tapped the arm rest of the car with your hands until they were sore, but you did not forget to breathe and focus. I mean, I would not be ashamed had you had a panic attack but I am equally proud that you didn't.

I also commend you on your extreme composure when the hand sanitizer in your purse ran out in the doctor's office and you used the one on the waiting room counter. Even though it was gritty and you promptly wiped it on your husband's shirt in front of your children with a haste only seen in Nascar races. You were completely unapologetic about doing so but I have to concede that it was the appropriate action since hand sanitizer has no business being gritty and your husband's shirt could never be a dirty as whatever lived and apparently died in that sanitizer bottle before you used it.

I would also like to congratulate you on last night. When you were staring intently at the garden orb weaver spider weaving her web on your porch and the cat touched your foot, you only screamed once. It might have been a tad bit hysterical and possibly over dramatic, but I give you props. It could have been a worse reaction. You didn't faint....

 I am proud of how you have handled school starting back up and all of the scheduling you have had to do. I know it is not your strong suit and that it gives you a ton of anxiety. You are doing the best you can and you are getting it done. Sure, the laundry is piling up around you but we can both pretend it is because of the stress of online public school. I mean, I know better because you hate laundry and your husband isn't really buying that little white lie either after fourteen years of half-assed laundry washing, but no one else needs to know. Your secret is safe with me.

I am proud of how well you have dealt with your Grandma being ill, getting better, and moving to live with her son six states away. I know this will be hard. I know that it makes you sad. I understand that change is hard for you.

Please know that it is okay to cry. I know you hate to cry because it makes you feel weak. But everyone cries, Nelly. It's just tears. It  can not make you something you are not. If it bothers you so much to admit that you do sometimes need to cry we can simply  call it "eye ball sweat" from now on. I am okay with pretending your eyes are just overheated when you are sad.

I know things have been stressful and hard and off-putting but you are doing great. No, it isn't everyone else's great but it is your great and you should be proud. You are doing the best that you can. So head up, feet forward and keep going on. Remember who you are. I believe in you, even if your eyeballs need to sweat occasionally.

So, be brave Nelly, and by brave I mean keep pushing through. You can do this.

Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Don't Be An Idiot.....

Words can not accurately describe how annoyed I get when I hear someone say that they believe that religion is a mental illness.

Mental illness is not something you pick. It is not a belief system. It is not a decoration that is worn around the neck like a talisman. It is not a side effect of religion nor is it a choice. It is not Voodoo. It is not a sign of demons. It is a chemical imbalance in your brain. It is a very real physical illness located in your cerebral cortex.

One can not simply choose to not have mental illness and turn away from it.  One can not switch one's mental illness for another one that they think better suits them. Mental Illness does not work that way because it is not a choice.

Some people do not like religion, but to compare it to something that has no bearing on class, race, gender, or belief systems is ridiculous. It is ignorant and anyone that repeats such drivel looks ignorant while spewing idiotic bullshit to the masses to try and make themselves look hip and different.

 To claim that religion is a mental illness is to make the words "mental illness", something that can be picked and chosen to label anything that other people don't like because it upsets them, confuses them, or makes them uncomfortable.

Calling something that isn't a true mental illness a mental illness is wrong and hurtful. It promotes the ignorance and stigma that we put up with on a daily basis. It makes our diagnoses seen as not a medical condition but a word to damn anything that is not thought of as acceptable or understandable. It takes our diagnoses and the lives that we live and  minimizes the struggle we go through and understates the triumphs that we accomplish.

If you don't want to believe in a religion, that is your choice, but do not use our diagnosis as a label for your decision to not believe. Because a chemical imbalance and a choice are not the same thing.

Don't be an idiot. Please educate yourself.
Neurotic Nelly

Neurotic Nelly