Friday, March 28, 2014

Out Of My Comfort Zone.....

So, that massage thingy is going to happen this Monday and I am trying to brave about it. It is way out of my comfort zone but I am going to do it. Why? Because it was a present from my thoughtful husband and children. Because I would love to alleviate some of the stress I am carrying around on my shoulders. Because I deserve to be pampered dammit, even if it means I need to take a brown paper bag with me in case I need to hyperventilate whilst going through it. I can do this.

I learned a good lesson three days ago and I think it is always good to share lessons. Ya know, in case I can spare anyone from making my mistakes. My grievous errors, if you will.

I was letting my bangs grow out. I usually cut them to right under my eyebrows but I thought I would branch out and be cool and have side swept bangs. Again out of my comfort zone, but that is what I am trying to do these outside of the box I have created for myself. (Box or jail cell, whatever term you feel best applies) But, the weather has been unkind to my hair and made it static clingy and frizzy. The bangs refused to stay over the eye I can't see out of and stubbornly hung over the one I can see with. Think unkempt sheep dog. It was irritating me. When I pushed them over, they parted and stuck to the sides of my face like some  frizztastic hair mask. A hair mask, people. I got up in the morning after dealing with this crap for two weeks and I snapped. I decided I could not take it, not one second longer or I was going to just shave my whole bang area off like a reverse Harre Krishna. So I got my dull scissors out and chopped them off. However, I had made a miscalculation. I had forgotten the golden rule of cutting hair. Don't do it when it is wet. And do you know why that is the golden rule? Possibly the most important rule of hair cutting, ever? Because it dries shorter. Hang with me here for a sec. I cut them where I usually like them. And then they dried. An inch shorter......  ....... ......

So I am sitting here at almost four in the morning complaining about how my hair looks like a twelve year old  girl's circa 1985. When I put my long hair up I look silly, and when I put it down it reminds me somewhat of a mullet. Great, just the look a 34 year old mother of two was going for. Yep, that's all me, business in the front and party in the back. Ugh.

And then I started thinking to myself. (look out!) Is it really wise to make decisions when you are frustrated? Probably not. I have never regretted a decision I have thoroughly thought through and I almost always regret decisions I have made when frustrated, angry, or otherwise in a negative frame of mind. So my advice of the day is, don't make decisions when upset and never cut your hair when it is wet...period. That way when are looking at yourself before you go out and do whatever it is that you do, you won't end up looking like someone maliciously attacked your head with a weed whacker. You can thank me later....

I mean, yea sure it grows out....but not nearly fast enough.

I was also thinking today that I am afraid of a lot of things. That is why I am trying so hard to step out of my comfort zone this year. It is all small steps but small steps lead to bigger ones and before you know it, you are running. That is my positive attitude talking, anyway. Although, I do feel that I am failing at stepping out of the box sometimes.

I am scared. I am scared of failure. To fail at being a good enough mom or a good enough person. I am afraid to reach for the things I want. Lest it be rubbed in my face that I have found yet another thing I stink at doing or can't do altogether. Like working or being "normal". Although, I certainly don't pass for normal after this hair cut debacle, so I guess that ship has sailed. Scared of germs. Scared of invisible diseases. I am scared of losing my loved ones. Scared of being yelled at or hurt. Scared of trusting people. Scared of anxiety. Scared of spiders and rabbits. Scared of having to take the bus. Scared of the what if's. Scared of messing things up. Not getting things right. Being the klutz and absent minded professor I sometimes am. I am just plain scared most of the time. I mean, I don't think that being scared is abnormal. I am not even sure it is a "bad" thing. I do know that I am proud of accomplishing things I never thought I could before. Like this blog and my mental illness G+ group. I am proud that for once in my life I have stepped out from behind the curtain and talked openly about the things I have held shut in so tight because of fear. Because I didn't want to be judged or misunderstood. That is until I realized that being silent wasn't keeping me from being those things. They still happened to me whether I was willing to admit it to myself or not.

I guess, what I am trying to say is that I think being scared of everything is okay, as long as you push on  anyway. No, you are not always going to succeed but you can't prevail if you never try.  Yes, it will be scary, and uncomfortable, and downright daunting. But it can be done.

I want to be more free. More independent. I want to feel like the adult I know I am. I want to feel proud of myself for once. I want my children to be proud that their momma can do things even though they may seem scary. I want to teach them that fear is normal but perseverance is everything. Nothing good in life is easy. So, I will continue to scratch and claw along and take one step at a time and slowly crawl out of my comfort zone day after day until it finally becomes less scary. Until I can finally see the light and have confidence that I can do the things I have always wanted to....

Until next post, Keep it Fancy....
Neurotic Nelly

Monday, March 24, 2014

Change The World....

 Thursday's post took a lot out of me. I have to admit that writing about some of the more painful things in life tend to do that. I think back to all of the painful things my mother has dealt with (sexual abuse as a child/ abusive marriages/ect) and I am reminded daily of her strength and compassion. She is a fighter. She is a hero. She is a living breathing inspiration. Not just because she is a survivor ( although that is heroic and inspiring and brave in it's own right) but because she keeps going and has always been very open about it. She through years of agonizing therapy has learned to place the blame on the abusers and throw the shame back at them where it belongs. She is truly just one amazing woman. And I truly hope that some of her wisdom and strength will rub off on me as I get older. Maybe some of it already has. After all, she is the one who taught me to never hold back and always be honest and open. To believe in myself and that if one person tries hard enough, they just may change the world.

That being said, I am not self absorbed enough to believe that I will change the world all by myself. I do however, believe that if I can inspire others to talk openly than we all can inspire others to do the same and so on and so on until we effectively end up changing the world. I mean, that's possible right?

I believe that changing the world is inevitable. Many people have done it, most of them without the notoriety and fame that most celebrities have today. While most are familiar with the likes of Kim Kardashian or Paris Hilton and their exploits. Their fame is neither earned nor deserved. Most people today, know nothing about  about the sacrifices made by amazingly brave and awe inspiring individuals such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Medgar Evers,  and Nelly Bly. People that fought for the rights of themselves and others. People that stood up to discrimination and bias. Just because their names are not as readily slipped from our tongues does not make their contributions any less magnificent.

Do you know one of the reasons I chose to write under the name of Neurotic Nelly? I chose neurotic because I suffer from an anxiety disorder and anxiety used to be deemed as neurotic behavior. And I chose the name Nelly because of a magnificent heroin that wrote under the name of Nellie Bly. Not that I am a journalist by any means(although that is certainly a dream job of mine) but because she did something so heroic, so unheard of  that she changed the way the world thinks and effectively  managed to change the treatment of mental illness institutions with one simple experiment.

Nellie Bly born May 5, 1864 – January 27, 1922 was the pseudonym of American journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochrane. Known was a ground-breaking reporter she set a record-breaking trip around the world in 72 days, in emulation of Jules Verne's fictional character Phileas Fogg, and an exposé in which she faked insanity to study a mental institution from within. She was a pioneer in her field, and launched a new kind of investigative journalism. She got her start as a reporter after writing a rebuttal to a piece written by  Erasmus Wilson, claiming that "women were best served in the home, conducting domestic duties such as raising children, cooking and cleaning, and called the working woman a monstrosity." Bly's rebuttal letter to the editor got her a position and the rest is history.

Although, I find her writing accomplishments to be ahead of her time and wondrous, what she did for the mental illness community is insurmountable.

That's right, she did an article about not only being mentally ill but the treatment the people received in an asylum. And to do that she simply acted like what the world then concluded an "insane" person looked like. And it worked.

Burdened again with theater and arts reporting, Bly left the Pittsburgh Dispatch in 1887 for New York City. Penniless after four months, she talked her way into the offices of Joseph Pulitzer's newspaper, the New York World, and took an undercover assignment for which she agreed to feign insanity to investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the Women's Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell's Island.

After a night of practicing deranged expressions in front of a mirror, she checked into a working-class boardinghouse. She refused to go to bed, telling the boarders that she was afraid of them and that they looked crazy. They soon decided that she was crazy, and the next morning summoned the police. Taken to a courtroom, she pretended to have amnesia. The judge concluded she had been drugged.

She was then examined by several doctors, who all declared her to be insane. "Positively demented," said one, "I consider it a hopeless case. She needs to be put where someone will take care of her."The head of the insane pavilion at Bellevue Hospital pronounced her "undoubtedly insane". The case of the "pretty crazy girl" attracted media attention: "Who Is This Insane Girl?" asked the New York Sun. The New York Times wrote of the "mysterious waif" with the "wild, hunted look in her eyes", and her desperate cry: "I can't remember I can't remember."

Committed to the asylum, Bly experienced its conditions firsthand. The food consisted of gruel broth, spoiled beef, bread that was little more than dried dough, and dirty undrinkable water. The dangerous patients were tied together with ropes. The patients were made to sit for much of each day on hard benches with scant protection from the cold. Waste was all around the eating places. Rats crawled all around the hospital. The bathwater was frigid, and buckets of it were poured over their heads. The nurses were obnoxious and abusive, telling the patients to shut up, and beating them if they did not. Speaking with her fellow patients, Bly was convinced that some were as sane as she was. On the effect of her experiences, she wrote:

What, excepting torture, would produce insanity quicker than this treatment? Here is a class of women sent to be cured. I would like the expert physicians who are condemning me for my action, which has proven their ability, to take a perfectly sane and healthy woman, shut her up and make her sit from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m. on straight-back benches, do not allow her to talk or move during these hours, give her no reading and let her know nothing of the world or its doings, give her bad food and harsh treatment, and see how long it will take to make her insane. Two months would make her a mental and physical wreck.

…My teeth chattered and my limbs were …numb with cold. Suddenly, I got three buckets of ice-cold water…one in my eyes, nose and mouth.

After ten days, Bly was released from the asylum at The World's behest. Her report, later published in book form as Ten Days in a Mad-House, caused a sensation and brought her lasting fame. While embarrassed physicians and staff fumbled to explain how so many professionals had been fooled, a grand jury launched its own investigation into conditions at the asylum, inviting Bly to assist. The jury's report recommended the changes she had proposed, and its call for increased funds for care of the insane prompted an $850,000 increase in the budget of the Department of Public Charities and Corrections. They also made sure that future examinations were more thorough so that only the seriously ill actually went to the asylum. 


She reported of people being unfairly committed.

Thus was Mrs. Louise Schanz consigned to the asylum without a chance of making herself understood. Can such carelessness be excused, I wonder, when it is so easy to get an interpreter? If the confinement was but for a few days one might question the necessity. But here was a woman taken without her own consent from the free world to an asylum and there given no chance to prove her sanity. Confined most probably for life behind asylum bars, without even being told in her language the why and wherefore. Compare this with a criminal, who is given every chance to prove his innocence. Who would not rather be a murderer and take the chance for life than be declared insane, without hope of escape? Mrs. Schanz begged in German to know where she was, and pleaded for liberty. Her voice broken by sobs, she was led unheard out to us.
---Ten Days in a Mad-House

And the treatment they received.

Just as I reached there Superintendent Dent came to the door and I told him how we were suffering from the cold, and of Miss Mayard's condition. Doubtless, I spoke incoherently, for I told of the state of the food, the treatment of the nurses and their refusal to give more clothing, the condition of Miss Mayard, and the nurses telling us, because the asylum was a public institution we could not expect even kindness. Assuring him that I needed no medical aid, I told him to go to Miss Mayard. He did so. From Miss Neville and other patients I learned what transpired. Miss Mayard was still in the fit, and he caught her roughly between the eyebrows or thereabouts, and pinched until her face was crimson from the rush of blood to the head, and her senses returned. All day afterward she suffered from terrible headache, and from that on she grew worse.
Soon after my advent a girl called Urena Little-Page was brought in. She was, as she had been born, silly, and her tender spot was, as with many sensible women, her age. She claimed eighteen, and would grow very angry if told to the contrary. The nurses were not long in finding this out, and then they teased her.
"Urena," said Miss Grady, "the doctors say that you are thirty-three instead of eighteen," and the other nurses laughed. They kept up this until the simple creature began to yell and cry, saying she wanted to go home and that everybody treated her badly. After they had gotten all the amusement out of her they wanted and she was crying, they began to scold and tell her to keep quiet. She grew more hysterical every moment until they pounced upon her and slapped her face and knocked her head in a lively fashion. This made the poor creature cry the more, and so they choked her. Yes, actually choked her. Then they dragged her out to the closet, and I heard her terrified cries hush into smothered ones. After several hours' absence she returned to the sitting-room, and I plainly saw the marks of their fingers on her throat for the entire day.
This punishment seemed to awaken their desire to administer more. They returned to the sitting-room and caught hold of an old gray-haired woman whom I have heard addressed both as Mrs. Grady and Mrs. O'Keefe. She was insane, and she talked almost continually to herself and to those near her. She never spoke very loud, and at the time I speak of was sitting harmlessly chattering to herself. They grabbed her, and my heart ached as she cried:
"For God sake, ladies, don't let them beat me."
"Shut up, you hussy!" said Miss Grady as she caught the woman by her gray hair and dragged her shrieking and pleading from the room. She was also taken to the closet, and her cries grew lower and lower, and then ceased.
The nurses returned to the room and Miss Grady remarked that she had "settled the old fool for awhile." I told some of the physicians of the occurrence, but they did not pay any attention to it.
Once a week the patients are given a bath, and that is the only time they see soap. A patient handed me a piece of soap one day about the size of a thimble, I considered it a great compliment in her wanting to be kind, but I thought she would appreciate the cheap soap more than I, so I thanked her but refused to take it. On bathing day the tub is filled with water, and the patients are washed, one after the other, without a change of water. This is done until the water is really thick, and then it is allowed to run out and the tub is refilled without being washed. The same towels are used on all the women, those with eruptions as well as those without. The healthy patients fight for a change of water, but they are compelled to submit to the dictates of the lazy, tyrannical nurses. The dresses are seldom changed oftener than once a month. If the patient has a visitor, I have seen the nurses hurry her out and change her dress before the visitor comes in. This keeps up the appearance of careful and good management.
--Ten Days in a Mad-House

And after all that she reported on and saw, her article helped force the health care system for the mentally ill to review their policies on both what classifies a person as "insane" and the treatment those persons get.
 Sadly, asylums continued and many became even more abusive and vile but Nelly Bly was able to shine light on how the system was dealing with undesirables and the mentally ill in the late 1800s. Years before the lobotomies and medical experiments started. Because of her courage people could no longer walk by an asylum and pretend these atrocities were not going on behind the locked gates and barred windows. 

I chose the name Nelly in part as an homage to Nellie Bly and what she stood for. I do believe that one person can change the world but I believe it is better to have the world join in and help change itself. The best way to do that is push through the fear and expose the truth about discrimination, stigma, bias and the ugliness those things promote. I believe that we all can stand up and change the way we are viewed and treated. We just have to push through the fear and stand up.

Neurotic Nelly

For more information on the expose Nelly Bly wrote look up Ten Days in a Mad House. It is a sad, disturbing, and yet interesting read.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

What Ifs and Should Haves....


I was just reading a post and it brought up some issues I have yet to deal with in my blogs. Not out of fear or shame (I am quite over that by now) but because it hasn't really fit into anything I have been talking about lately and I think I need to change that.

You see at the age of of fourteen I was assaulted at a party I really had no business being at. It was a friend's mother's friend's place. One of those not really organized or safe kind of parties. There was drinking and pot. The kids (us) did not partake in these vices but the adults became drunk and high and therefore were unable to properly watch over us. It was way out in the country two states over from mine and we all spent the night camping in campers and tents. It was the fourth of July and there was fireworks and old rock songs blaring on the radio. The air was thick with camp fire smoke, burning hot dogs, and marijuana. At first I thought it was going to be really cool. Really different than any outing I had ever gone to before. And it was but not the way I had hoped.

The first memory of this party I have is when the guy at the party took out a gun and shot it around. He was a bad shot and I think at that moment is when it hit me that I was not in a good place, that there was no way out because I had no idea where we were, and that I was in shock. I mean, I didn't realize I was in shock but I now know that is what was going on.

One guy who was twenty seven took an interest in me. I was flattered. No guy or boy had really expressed interest in me, let alone one that was "decent" looking. He asked me how old I was and I told him. He then preceded to be vulgar with me by the campfire and then take his beer can and stick it between my legs when I was sitting cross legged. I froze. I knew it was wrong, but I didn't know what to say. No other adult seemed to care and even though I looked for my friend's mother, she was uninterested. I just kept whispering no and removing the can placing it back on the ground. He would then grab it and do it again.

Here is where the hard part comes in. I was confused and high from the fumes. I was flattered at the attention but freaked out by the attention at the same time. I liked him I thought, which made it even more confusing. At one point my friend said she liked him and I said he was mine and we laughed. I remember hallucinating from the fumes of the copious amounts of pot that the plastic dog house in the back yard turned into a green leprechaun sitting on a green hut. I also remember thinking how strange it was that a leprechaun would sit on top of a tiny hut in the middle of Western America. Didn't they live in Ireland and where in the hell did the dog house go? I remember everything albeit confusingly and with yucky feelings attached. The worst part for me, even worse than the beer can thing was that he whispered to me when no one was looking. I don't remember what he said but what I do remember was that he had just come from the bathroom and he caressed my face. His hand was rough and it was wet under his thumbnail. I instantly cringed and I wanted to puke. It was bad enough the things he said to me, the looks he gave me, the placing the beer can between my legs and asking if it was cold or did I like it over and over after I told him not to, but the touching of my face burned in my memory. It seemed somehow even more personal to me than all of the other things he did. And then came the excuses. I mean why should I feel so yucky about what he did? It wasn't as if he actually raped me. It didn't seem like a big deal to everyone else at the party. Maybe I was just blowing it all out of proportion.

No one cared what he did to me but when he reached out and grabbed my friend's mother's boob the day after, she had an outright fit. Everyone rallied around her and threatened him but me, I was fair game. By the time I got home two days later, I had changed. Something in me was broken. I felt stripped of my dignity. I felt dirty and no amount of soap and hot showers could take it away. I developed flash backs when people would touch me. When certain smells would waft in my direction. When certain old rock songs came on the radio.....For the first time in my life I became unable to stand being touched by strangers even in passing. I developed the trigger of people touching my face. I can not tolerate it even to this day. I flinch. It seems to almost burn my skin. It makes me cringe and it makes me feel dirty.

It took me a few hours to get up the courage to look my mother in the face and tell her what had happened. I was afraid. Afraid I had done something wrong. That it was all my fault. That I asked for it. That because I thought I liked him, maybe what he did wasn't wrong and I was just making too much out of it. But if that were true then why did I feel like crying and throwing up every time I saw his face in my head?

She was understandably pissed off but not at me. My friend's mother had sworn to watch over me and that no drugs would be there. She had sworn that I would be safe and well looked after. That I would be able to call home if I wanted.

My friend laughed at me and told me I was being a wimp when I told her how messed up I was that he did that to me. That ended our friendship, to say the least.

My mother supported me but when I told my Dad's then girlfriend she yelled at me. She said I should have called home. When I explained that we were out in the open and there was no phone she yelled at me because I didn't walk in the country, in the dark, by myself to find a payphone and then she yelled at me for not having enough change to use said imaginary payphone. I should have just looked at her like she was acting like the idiot that she actually was, but instead I took it all in. I blamed myself just that much more. And because my mother is an abuse survivor, that pissed her off even worse. Because she understood something I was too busy blaming myself to see. What happened to me, happened to me. I was not a willing participant. I did not ask for it and it made no difference what I was wearing, how much change I had on me, or if I stayed instead of walking around in an unfamiliar place in the dark to get to some random phone that never existed in the first place. It didn't matter that I trusted the wrong friend's parent to be responsible. That I thought he was cute. That I was unsure how to get away or worried about ruining everyone else's good time by being uncomfortable. I was sexually assaulted and it was not my blame to carry, it was his. All his. Period.

And that is what why I believe sexual assault and rape are not reported nearly as much as they happen. I did not report what happened to me. I was too afraid. Not just of having to relive it, because I did that everyday for years anyway, but of the not being believed or worse yet, judged and blamed.

It took me a long time and years of therapy to understand that no one, NO ONE has the right to touch you without your permission. That sexual assault is just as damaging as rape. What he did to me was a big deal and it was wrong. That sometimes victims are so shocked and or scared that they freeze instead of yelling no like you see on t.v. That it doesn't matter if you walk down the with nothing on but your birthday suit and a pair of your favorite socks, it doesn't give anyone the right to molest you, rape you, or touch you. It took me years to learn that my reactions to the assault were normal reactions many victims go through. That it was not my fault because I did not react a certain way. I did not deserve it nor the punishment I placed on myself after it was all over. The shame, disgust, blaming myself. The years of what ifs or I should haves. I should have left. I should have screamed when he touched me. I should have hid in the camper. What if I had said no louder? What if I had not thought he was cute? What if I had not gone to that stupid party in the first place? Years of therapy to understand that none of these things mattered. What ifs and should haves should not be in the assault/rape victim's dictionary nor should it ever be wielded in their direction. Especially, by people who have never been violated and have no idea the pain and damage being violated causes. People that find it easier to make excuses for the crime or blame the person it was done too. The blame relies on the predator and never on the victim.

I wanted to share this story, my story because I know that I am not alone. That there are many survivors of sexual abuse, rape, and assault out there and many of them carry around blame and they shouldn't.

Here are some statistics and I find them to be staggering:

Every 2 minutes someone is sexually assaulted in America.

1 in 3 women will be sexually abused in their lifetime.

1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually violated before the age of 18.

Less than half of sexual assaults and rapes are reported to the police.

If you can take anything from this post, I hope it is that you realize that sexual assault and rape are never something you ask for. It makes no difference if you were drunk, if you were too scared to yell no, if you were in a situation that you ended up in because you made the wrong choice of who to trust. You are not at fault. You are not to blame. You did not deserve it.

Mostly, I want you to know that you are not alone. You can get through this. It is hard and it is scary but you will get better each and every day. You are a survivor and you are heard. What happened to you is not in anyway your fault and it never was.

Neurotic Nelly

Monday, March 17, 2014

Driven to Distraction.....

I took a hiatus. I had to, really. The stress of all that was going on was overwhelming me and although I find writing to be therapeutic, there comes a time when writing it is reliving it and I had already been reliving it over and over and over again. Such is OCD. The broken record that just keeps spinning. Same song, same hitches in the record, same grooves of the needle being etched into my memory. Each time the anxiety and stress reaches the same exact level. Thirty times a day, forty maybe? It was too much and since I aspire to be positive, I just couldn't stomach writing one more post in that constant state of fear. I wanted to be less of a Negative Nelly and more of the usual Neurotic one. I wanted to write again when the storms in my mind had calmed. When my words were more than just jumbled obscenities and the sputterings of a mad woman loosing her ability to function. I mean I am a mad woman but today I am functioning. Sorta. Good enough to write again anyways.

This week I wanted to stop feeling so upset, so tense, so sick to my stomach with anxiety that I did something I learned as a child. Distraction. I was driven to distraction. I actually used my OCD to distract my OCD. Sounds crazy right? (see mad woman above). The truth is that I am used to  the cleanliness OCD symptoms and I know how they work. Sometimes when I am "obsessing" about something, I simply turn that obsession into a different obsession. It doesn't always work but sometimes it does and those few rare times, I am truly grateful when it does. Instead of worrying about all of the crap going on with my son's school or my doctor, I simply started obsessing over the cleanliness of my home. It sounds strange, but the cleaning of those of us that have that symptom, really is just a distraction anyway. We clean to distract the voice from telling us everything is dirty. Same principal, except I was able to obsess about cleaning or sprucing up my home, rather than listen to the intrusive thoughts and stressful mental replays of what else had been going on. And the best part was I did something that both calms me and fills the "cleanliness" need. I painted.

 I love house paint. The smell reminds me of a fresh start. Not just a new color or look but a clean one. No smudges, nor dirt. Everything can simply be painted over and made new again. And I love it. I love the power of just slapping a fresh coat of paint and refreshing everything. It feels on the world. Well, the OCD world anyway.

So instead of sitting around and "ruminating" about the things I am stressed out, I would simply get up and start painting. I have done the baseboards and doors. The oldest child's room. It fills the need of accomplishing things. It makes the house look clean and fresh. It allows my house to finally be u to my strange mad woman OCD standards and most of all, and probably most important, it has distracted me from reliving the pain, frustration, and anxiety of these last few days. I mean painting something is an instant result kind of transaction. Dealing with the things I have been are not. Sometimes it is nice to have an instantaneous result for once. And because of the distraction I was able to go out with my kids and husband and actually enjoy a day out without feeling overwhelmed and upset over things I have no control over. It was simply sublime. And so far this week seems to be following the weekend's happy trend.

So, in conclusion, the mad woman is back. Maybe not any less mad but at least a tad bit less stressed and certainly with a fresher looking house. I am ready to start writing more positively now and I hope you can forgive my little pitty party/distraction/hiatus. I am glad to be back and I hope to be back on schedule.

Neurotic Nelly

Monday, March 10, 2014

Keep on....

I have been so stressed. So stressed I feel like everything inside me is wound up too tightly like a cheap pocket watch. Like my springs are about to pop and my gears are about to break. My shoulders have been so tense that I swear to God, I could chop wood with them. I have been in a state of constant nausea. I have lost the ability to sleep with any kind of normalcy, even for an insomniac. In the last four days I have slept only six hours. I am exhausted but too stressed to relax. Too freaked out to fall asleep. Too full of anxiety and worry to nod off.

My face is puffy and the circles under my eyes are so dark it looks like someone used my eyes for a punching bag. And I don't think I have ever been so stressed out in my entire life. I am almost certain if I can't distract myself I will end up having a heart attack. I now understand the meaning behind the phrase mental distress.

It all started with my oldest child's school again. Let's just say a teacher was extremely rude to me, refused to make any plan to help my son, and laughed at me while telling me to stop making excuses for my son. This was about a homework assignment that he spent two hours writing that she marked as a zero because he forgot to put a title on it. He is in college prep classes but has a learning disability and is expected to be able to keep up with the gifted kids and even those kids find what she teaches a struggle. No exceptions, no behavior modification plan, no support. Nothing. He gets nothing and because of that he is failing. I am devastated, frustrated, and just plain angry. I called the school board, the principal, and now a lawyer. I am sick of this shit.

I am worried when I send him to school. He has so little self esteem left and I feel like those teachers just suck the little bits left, out of him. Like self esteem leaches or something. I worry about him coming home with the self defeated look on his face and him calling himself stupid...again. I am his mother, he is struggling, and I am worried. I don't know what else to do to make it better. The teachers refuse to help so I feel helpless. We are supposed to be working together to help support my son. It isn't happening.

It doesn't just upset me because they are being totally unprofessional and in my opinion harassing ( that is upsetting by itself), but it brings up all of my anxieties I had in school dealing with my OCD. I had to drop out because my anxiety attacks became so bad. I feel like that every morning now. Not an attack because I have to go to school but an attack because he has to. My anxiety is going overboard and I can not seem to get it under control. It ebbs away only to flash back and slap me in the face again. I am so tired.

I am hoping the lawyer can scare them enough to make them act and stop dragging their heels until school is out, which is what I believe they are doing. I hope that by me taking legal action they will never end up doing this to another person with a learning disability. That they will understand that this is damaging to the child and just plain wrong. I hope anyway. It all makes me very sad and it makes me feel helpless and I so detest feeling that way.

Because I have OCD I haven't been able to shake loose from thinking about it. I cant get the sound of her voice while she snickered at me out of my head. The way my pulse raced and my heart started beating rapidly like I had just got done running a marathon while she insulted my son and tried to intimidate me over the phone. I can not stop worrying about whether my son was chastised in class for his not being able to focus in class again. It has truly become an anxiety ridden hell for me the last few days. I so hope that the lawyer can do something. I hope, I hope, I hope.

I am not sure how long this takes but I hope to God it starts moving  faster or I may never be able to sleep again at this rate. I am going to tty and remain positive. Try being the optimal word here. Oh well, here's hoping it all gets worked out, my son gets the help he not only needs but deserves, and that some of this anxiety takes a damn vacation.

Until next time peeps, keep on keeping on.
Neurotic Nelly

Saturday, March 8, 2014


Sometimes you feel like you are drowning in a capifony of crap. Sometimes it seems like no matter what you try, everything fails. Everything crumbles to dust. Everything falls to the floor in heaps. Sometimes it seems like you just can not get a head. Sometimes it seems like you are just not cut out for this. Sometimes doubt creeps in and you lose the ability to believe in yourself. Sometimes....

Everyone goes through their own personal trials and tribulations. Everyone has doubts. Everyone has days where they feel like getting out of bed was a mistake. That facing the world is just too much today. Everyone has times where they feel lost, alone, and confused. Everyone....

Crap happens. Whether it is new crap or old crap you have dealt with on a regular basis. It happens and God forbid it feels like hanging around. It can really be exhausting. It can be stinky. It can be an absolute force of sheer willpower just to open up the blinds and feel the sun on your face. Crap happens....

Facts are I have been there, and I will be there again. It's a fact that life is made of beautiful, complicated, painful, confusing things that can take their toll and exhaust the mind. It's a fact that struggling is necessary. For what, I don't know but everyone has their own roads to go down. Their own battles to wage war upon. We are given a choice to bend over or break in half. To move with the wind or against it. To sink and drown or swim and survive. There is no other option. It is try or fail. Do or die. Get up and move or let the word pass you by....

There are no right answers. No cheats in life. No map key to tell you where to go or how to be. It is all trial and error. Sometimes that can be terrifying. It can be daunting. It can be a struggle to believe in oneself. Especially when there are nay sayers running rampant in our lives, pooping on our parade. Making excuses and trying to convince us that we are unable to do what we want or be what we want. Even the most successful people have had people tell them they can't. They won't. They will never.

I would like to put an end to these words. No more damaging words have been said than can't, don't, and  will never. It prevents beliefs. It crushes self esteem. It stops personal momentum cold in it's tracks.

So, now not only do you have enough crap to deal with you are now being told you are not good enough. You can not achieve.

What a load of hooey. Seriously, what do these people have going on in their lives that make them qualified to tell you what you can and can not achieve? I mean, have you ever really sat down and took a really long and hard look at the people that tell you these things? Are they really the happiest most successful individuals on the planet or are they bitter unhappy people? I mean, we should really start considering the source before we let their crap wash over us and hurt our sense of self pride.

I am not here to tell you what to do. My mission is not to tell you the plethora of negative things you have been told all of your lives or had hurled upon you because you are different. I am here to tell you that you are different and that makes you beautiful. You are strong. You are the master of your future. You are a fighter and you can be whatever it is you put your mind to. And it doesn't have to be a CEO of a fortune 500 company. It can be simply being a good mother, a loving husband, a person that has managed after a night gut wrenching flash backs and horrid anxiety to get up in the morning and walk to Starbucks and get a coffee all by yourself. Being successful doesn't mean being rich and living on a yacht somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. It just means getting up and trying. Bending but not breaking. Swimming and not sinking. That is all it means.

I think we have gotten so far from reality in society that we sometime fail to see accomplishments as what they are....getting something done. Nowhere in that description does it say it has to mean something huge or something earth shattering. I just means, you did something. And for people like us, the small things can be more important than the big ones. For people like us the small things are just as validating as being a CEO. For us, it is even more important to feel successful and to believe in ourselves. Because we are worth it. We are deserving of it. Because we matter and it's high time we start believing that. No, I am not here to tell you what every other self loathing critical ass hat has told you, I am here to tell you something you need to know and more importantly something you need to believe. You matter in this world. You have potential. You are worthy.

Anyone else who doesn't see that is either blind, stupid or quite possibly both. And they are not worth one more iota of your time. Let them go be miserable and judgy all by themselves.

I am going to close this post with a request. I request that you stop whatever you are doing (after you finish reading this of course) and go to your mirror or the bathroom mirror at work and you look long and hard at yourself. And when you have felt you have truly seen yourself, I want you to say aloud, I am beautiful. I am strong. I am important. I matter and I am valid. I am successful because I try each and every day. I am worthy.

Because my dear friends, you are.

Neurotic Nelly

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Loving The Change....

As someone who suffers from an extreme anxiety disorder, I do not like change. It makes me uncomfortable and it can even trigger panic attacks. I am just not really good with change. It can be scary. And I loathe being scared.

I am a country girl. A country girl from the south. As such I spent almost my whole life barefoot. So much so that there is a pronounced gap between my big toe from my other toes. Think flip flop feet. I can wear a flip flop and not have the toe hold irritate my skin. They are the perfect feet for summer and I love flip flops. It's as close to barefoot as you can get without actually ya know, touching the ground with your heels. So I have always, always detested socks. They make my feet feel like they are suffocating. I hate the constraints that socks put on my skin. I hate the way they rub and bunch under the toes. Now that I live in the north, I put off wearing them for as long as possible. Like to the point of almost getting frost bite. It has to be extremely cold for me to put on a pair and I still make it a point to complain about it the whole time. I just hate them that much. I don't even own a pair of socks because of this. I just snag a pair of my husbands. I mean, why buy something I am never going to purposely wear?

And here is where the change part comes in. I was at the store the other day buying tennis shoes, or as youngins refer to them...gym shoes. I equally dislike tennis shoes for the same reasons I detest socks. They make my feet feel strangled, they are sweaty, and I think they look like brightly colored clown shoes or maybe even oddly shaped boats. I just don't want to wear them. But where I live it snows a great deal and you can't go around barefoot in the snow. Not if you are insistent on keeping your toes.

I found a pair of shoes that were less bulky and brightly colored and with that I needed an actual pair of socks. I mean, I don't want my feet to smell. Ew. So I was dreading the task. I wanted to just throw a good ol' fit like a four year old. Complete with fake tears, pouty lips, throwing myself on the floor and banging my fists on the ground. I was not happy. But then out of the corner of my eye I saw these brightly colored mustache socks. They had different types of mustaches printed on them. A big furry one on the green socks. A pencil thin french mustache on the pink ones. A handle bar mustache on the purple ones. A Tom Selleck mustache circa 1985 on the blue socks. Each pair had these funny and kooky mustaches on them and I was intrigued. Yes, I am just that nerdy. I love mustache memorabilia. I have no idea why, except it amuses me greatly.

So I decided if I was going to be forced to wear such ungodly contraptions as socks, I would get ones that at least made me happy to look at them. I got home and and slipped the first pair on. The yellow pair with the medium sized mustache and I giggled. I giggled every time I looked at my feet. And as it turned out these socks weren't like other socks that had burned me before with blisters and uncomfortable bulges. These socks felt almost like silk. Or maybe fuzz. Anyway, they felt like wonderful foot gloves and I was a changed woman. I now love wearing my socks, but only those kind of socks. I am so convinced of the quality of these socks that I am going to get more of them. They have many different socks that have even more mustaches on them and I am kinda excited. Little ol' me excited about socks? Who would have thought?

So, through trial and error I realized something. First of all mustaches make everything better. Seriously. Think about it. And secondly, change isn't always a bad thing. Sure, it can be scary. Sure, the unknown can be daunting and a tad unnerving. Yes, it is just easier to keep doing what you have always done but you miss out on new experiences that you may have never known you were missing out on. It may be uncomfortable at first but you can learn to love it. It took me thirty four years to adore socks and now that I have found the right brand, I have no issue wearing socks all of the time. My oldest even stole the blue Tom Selleck ones from me....I now have to find a better place to hide my socks. Lol. Thief!

It is strange something like socks can change your whole perspective on life, but ya know I take inspiration from anywhere I can get it. I believe that change is hard for me but if I find a way to make it less scary or even fun, I may be able to do things I once thought impossible. And of course while I do, I will be rocking these super funky mustache socks. Because I am cool like that.

I mustache you a question? Are you going to try something new? Maybe you should. Ya never know, you just might like it....
Neurotic Nelly

Monday, March 3, 2014

You Ever Get That Feeling....

You ever get that feeling that the people you thought would most understand you on a very basic level, completely misunderstand everything about you and everything that you do? 

Yea, it's been one of "those" kind of weeks. I am still trying to recover from it all and I feel really down in the dumps and frustrated. I was hoping to have excellent news to share today. I was hoping to have an upbeat post that was inspiring and left you with the feeling of content. Unfortunately, that's not going to happen. So if that was the kind of post you were hoping to read today, you might want to stop reading this right now.

Or now....

Definitely by now...

Okay, you have been warned.....

It started when I talked to a dear friend the other day. I was explaining some issues with my kids and I don't know what I was actually maybe? A friend's compassion? I don't know. What I got felt more like judgment and maybe a tad bit of stigma....not the greatest of conversations, I assure you. I am not sure that was her intention, she is a very busy person and has a lot going on. I caught her at a busy moment so that may have had something to do with it. I can't really spread conjecture on her state of mind or on how she thought the conversation went, but for me it felt like a heart break. I felt misunderstood and possibly blamed. I have no idea how I am supposed to get over the lump in my throat every time I think about it. I am sure we will get over this issue but at the same time, now I am afraid to share things about myself and family I would have never thought would be an off topic.  I am afraid I will be wounded again.

Then it was the doctor's office today. I don't even know where to start. I thought my doctor would be happy that I have lost twenty pounds in two months. That I have been keeping my blood sugar down to excellent levels. I am pretty sure I am actually borderline and not full blown diabetic and she had originally put me on two metaformin a day. Something that made me violently ill. She then put me on one a day, and since I have lost the weight it has been really hard for me to make sure my sugar doesn't go too low. No missing meals for me. At it's lowest it was 79. Not super low but anything 70 and under can be extremely dangerous.

She was mad at me. Because I ate. I had to, as I explained, because when I miss a meal my blood sugar dips way down. She didn't care. She said next time just make the appointment in the morning.....Now, I am no rocket scientist, but I eat at 6.a.m. when the doctor's office is still closed and that means to have an appointment where I haven't eaten would have to be noon. Which would be fine, except you sit in her office for a while and by the time she got in to see me, it would be really low. How is that safe?

I was hoping I had lost enough weight to get off the metaformin. I suppose not....not that she said anything about it. I felt completely invisible. How does one feel invisible while participating in a doctor's appointment about oneself? I dunno, but apparently it is possible.

Then the actual reason besides the check up, that I went to see her was totally ignored. She snapped at me again when I asked her what my blood sugar level was and then recanted when my numbers where excellent...Yea, no kidding. 

To top it off she then said she couldn't give me a flu shot because they were out, but she couldn't look me in the eye when she said this and I was pretty sure she was lying and just didn't want to have to write it up and give it to me. She told me to go to my pharmacy. Well, that would work except none of the places giving out the flu shot take my insurance. So I would have to pay out of pocket, when in my doctor's office it is totally covered by my insurance. I mean, what the hell lady? Yea, to say I was angry would be putting it mildly. And then after all of her being rude and snarky about me eating, and how my tests would be faulty now that I ate, she made me get the blood tests anyway. Now I ask you, how does any of this make any sense?

Short doesn't. I knew we had crossed a line of no return when she made me take the meds but never said I was actually diabetic. Nor did she tell me to get a machine and check it. I mean who does that? You are diabetic but don't bother checking your blood sugar...I found out my levels were one point over normal when she "diagnosed" me.  Now it has been nothing but one big hassle and she doesn't even take the time to explain anything to me.

I need a new doctor. I have decided I can't trust her in any fashion. And it bothers me that now I have spend all day tomorrow trying to find a new one. The anxiety is overwhelming. I am frustrated. I feel like vomiting when I even think about doing it.

And that is how anxiety works. I don't know what others expect from me, but when I feel like I am being judged or blamed, I get anxiety. I suffer from an anxiety disorder...go figure.

I feel like those that should understand me don't and trying to explain it to them in a way that totally makes sense to them sometimes feels like I am banging my head up against the wall. I am not alright. I am not always as capable as I appear and yes, spending the whole day trying to find a doctor that will actually listen to my concerns and answer my questions seems like a daunting task. It seems to me like climbing Mt. Everest. So there. I never claimed to be perfect or even healthy. I am not. I have a mental illness and sometimes it rears it's ugly head and I am left to deal with all of the fallout alone. I am sorry if it inconveniences anyone or takes up their lunch hour. I am just trying to get through my issues and live my life....sue me.

And that is where the frustration comes in....I have known both of these people for years, many years and I am dumbfounded as to how in the hell neither of them understand me at all. Dumbfounded. I wish it was only them, but alas  there are tons of people that just don't get what is wrong with me. Even those that understand somewhat, have moments of obscured believability and it just makes me sad. And tired. Mostly tired....I am just tired.

Sick and tired of trying to explain, make excuses, prove that I have what I say I have and how it affects me, and that it isn't because I am lazy or distracted, or looking for attention. My God, if it were only so simple as that. 

I guess I am just wounded. I feel judged and ignored, placated and disillusioned. I guess my heart is broken. My nerve endings are burnt. My feelings are raw. I just over all want to go sit somewhere quiet and cry. Sigh, see I told you this post wasn't hopeful or fun...

I know it will all work out for the best. I know that getting a new doctor is a must for any sense of freaking sanity. I know that this too shall pass, but until then everything kinda sucks right now.

Oh well, I will post again on Thursday and maybe things will be a lot better. Thanks for always being there for me. I really am glad there are people like me that understand what this hell is like. I am so glad to not truly be alone.

Neurotic Nelly 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Crop Circles in the Carpet...

They are the whispers traveling on the breeze. The haunting of the mind. The crop circles in the carpet. Things heard and seen that aren't really there. Askew perspectives, false perceptions, misguided misconceptions.

It really is no surprise I am the way I am. I can trace back the mental illness in my family over years, decades, and in some cases centuries. There is poison that runs through this family tree. A necrosis of the nerves. Voices of the past mix with our voices of the present and we are much the same. Most of us have not spoken publicly about the terror that goes through our minds. Many have never spoken about it at all. We are strong people and strong people don't talk about such things. Strong people don't admit that they too, have weakness. Strong people don't talk about mental illness let alone accept that they have one. At least not in my family, at least until  recently in the last twenty years. Before then, it was only discussed in hushed whispers followed by haunted stares and only if someone was put in the asylum. Which, not surprisingly, some were.

My great great grandmother seemed by all descriptions to have suffered from OCD. As did her daughter (my great grandmother), and my grandmother, as well as my uncle. And then there is me and quite possibly my two children....For us, it wasn't discussed. In fact, until I started really talking about what I go through and asking my grandmother what she goes through, I do not believe they even knew that what they had was a mental illness. Sadly, they are all gone but my grandmother and my kids. The conversations with my grandma, I believe, have healed us in many ways. We now share more than just the love of grandmother and granddaughter but also the companionship that comes between two sufferers of the same illness. We understand each other on a very deep level. Different symptoms same debilitating disorder. Different severities and yet the same understanding. We have OCD. We are OCD. We reside in its confines and adhere to its anxiety.

I am not sure why we as human beings tend to want to hide the deepest most painful parts of ourselves, nor do I understand what hiding these things are supposed to achieve. Really, not talking about something like mental illness only promotes guilt, shame, loneliness, and despair. And who wants to live like that? Not I. Not my grandmother. No one wants to suffer in silence. Why do we blame ourselves for something we never asked for in the first place? Why are we weighted down by the sheer shame of having a mental illness when mental illnesses are no more than a simple chemical imbalance in the brain? Or a trauma to the cerebral cortex? Why do we carry guilt around for something we are not the cause of nor have we ever been?

I wish that I had known it was okay to talk about these things years before. Maybe I would have been able to have connected more deeply with my uncle and great grandmother. Maybe we could have had the deeper understanding like I share with my grandma. Maybe we would all have had a chance to heal a little more. Maybe...

If there is one thing I have learned in the thirty one years of suffering from a mental illness, it is that keeping silent doesn't make you strong. It makes you lonely. My old family motto was wrong. It was hurtful and it may or may not have contributed to the suicide of my great uncle and the attempts made by mother when I was younger. Strong people don't keep things in. They don't bottle up all the hurt in the world and swallow it down like poison. They let it out. They offer up themselves on a platter and they refuse to hide. They remove the curtain that shelters them from the sometimes cruel judgments of the world and they stand there unprotected and vulnerable. Not because they enjoy being ridiculed or ostracized but because they are tired of living in the shadows. They long to feel whole. To stop living in fear and darkness. To stop hiding like a thief or a criminal. They don't discuss the pit falls of their issues because they enjoy hearing themselves talk. They do it because they know that someone somewhere is hurting, someone feels alone, and they don't have to feel that way, because they are not.

I have to admit that talking and being open is not always received well. It can get touchy. It can be utterly terrifying. It can be exhausting and sometimes extremely off putting to others, but I really can't think of anything more courageous than to put yourself out there and let the chips fall where they may....except doing it doesn't really make you feel very brave. Crazy maybe, but not brave. Then again, not everything you do makes you feel like superman now does it?

Superman isn't always super, he is plain old Clark Kent half of the time. Those of us that share, are more the plain type of superman. Not really all cape and spandex but the more practical, less flashy, type with glasses. Still superman, just less exciting.

Trying to discuss what suffering from something that so many misunderstand and are scared of can be complicated and frustrating. To try and get others to see that we just want to be treated like normal human beings can seem almost impossible. In a world where other human rights violations are front and center it is painful that we are not included. Whether it is willfully or accidental, it still hurts. It still feels like we are being somehow ostracized and forgotten. Where are our rap songs, our protests, our political platforms? It makes me wonder and it kinda saddens me as well.

We are oftentimes left to our own devices when trying to openly discuss our trials and tribulations, the discriminations against us, our media image. We are left with only a few films, books, blogs, and a handful of great organizations trying to educate and shine light on our plight. And the only thing that keeps that going is the sufferers willingness to speak out and be heard and the wonderful people willing to help by continuing to support us.

I have decided to go against my old family motto that has done nothing but keep most of us hurting and muted. I talk openly to my family members. I offer a conversation full of truth and honesty. I make sure to communicate with my children that having a mental illness does not make you doomed or any less valuable as a person. It isn't anything to be ashamed of or frightened of. It isn't dirty or scary or offensive. It simply exists and simply is, and like anything else, it has a right to be talked about. It needs to be talked about. It deserves to be talked about. I think it is most important to be open with them about the fact that I and many others in my family suffer from mental illness because, they are our future and it one day will be up to them to change it. And I want them to change it not with anger and misunderstanding, but with compassion and with truth.

I have chosen to call this piece crop circles in the carpet because as an OCD sufferer I am really weird about shapes in my carpet. I try and make straight lines with the vacuum because I feel like the carpet ins't fresh if I don't. Then inevitably, my oldest will come in desperately to concentrate on something and unconsciously take his pencil eraser and and draw large round circles in it. Circles that I don't see until he has finished what he was doing and goes into the other room.  Circles that remind me he was just there. It has become a sign to me. A sign of presence. A sign that if he was there, I was there too, and so is my whole family history. Our history of struggles, achievements, values, strengths, our truths, our love, and inevitably our history of mental illness. Our sign that we existed, we matter, and we no longer have to suffer in silence. The circles are a sign of us. They were here. He was here. I am here.....They are our footprints of not only what we have been, but also what we have yet to become. Whispers on the breeze, hauntings of the mind, and crop circles in the carpet.

Neurotic Nelly