Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Be You......

For those of you that feel broken, damaged, different, ugly, fat, dumb, wrong, and worthless. This post is for you. You are none of those things. You are you and that is a beautiful thing.

Be you. It doesn't matter what other people think. They don't know you. Their ideas and opinions don't matter.

Be you. You are magnificent. You are an original. You are perfectly irreplaceable. No one else can be you. No one else can take your place.

Be you. Be strong and brave and different.

Be you. Hold your head up high. Hold your back straight. Look others in the eye when you talk to them because you re just as important and as valuable as they are. You are just as worthy. You are just as important. You matter in this life.

Be you. Because the world is full of people that look like cookie cutter cut outs, that follow everyone else, that lack the ability to understand that what makes life unique and beautiful is not the sameness of the world but rather it's differences.

Be you. Because if you don't who will?

What makes snowflakes so intriguing is that not one is the same. What makes gardens beautiful is that each flower petal is unique. What makes the eyes the windows to the world is that no two people share exactly the same eye pattern. We are all unique and different even if we try and pretend that we are not.

Stop pretending. Be you.

Learn to accept that you are who you are and that is perfectly okay. It's even better than okay, it is great. Life is hard and it shouldn't be made harder because we loath ourselves because we are different. We are supposed to be different. We are made that way.

I know that we listen to the negative voice in our heads that says we can't, we won't, we aren't. That voice is wrong. That voice is a poisonous lie that keeps us down and makes us afraid to be who we are.

I am a woman. I am a mother and wife. I am a blogger and an avid reader. I am a person that lives with mental illness. I am different and strange and unique and beautiful all at the same time. Not because of the way I look but because deep down I believe that I matter, that I am worthy, and that my oddness makes me that way.  It makes me exactly what I am supposed to be.

Some may not see me that way and that is okay. It's their loss. Some may not understand me and that is okay too. It is not my place to correct them. It is my place to tell you that you are just as worthy, valuable, magnificent, strong, and as beautiful as I am.

We are different. That is  something to be proud of. That is something to treasure. No one ever remembers the person that acted like, dressed like, or pretended to be just like everyone else; but they all remember the person that shunned the ideals that being the same is the same as perfection. There is no perfection only perfectly you.

So be yourself...unless you can be Batman. Then still be you, because this world is full of people dressed in cheap superhero costumes acting like asshats and trying to be like everyone else under the guise of being special. You are already special. You don't need a poorly made Halloween costume to prove it.

Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Write hard and clear about what hurts- Ernest Hemingway

I love this quote. Ernest understood writing at it's finest but he also understood mental illness. Mainly because he struggled with it and sadly he eventually lost his lifelong battle with it. I admire his honesty and I have to agree that writing should be about the taboo more painful topics as well. They are just as important as the comical oddities and the feel good stories of the day. Mainly because although all of us love to laugh and feel good, it is my belief that painful things need to be purged so they can be examined and then worked on. I find that writing about them has helped me to do that. It has helped me close open wounds and heal older scars. It has made my voice heard for the first time in thirty four years and I finally feel like the struggles I have gone through have a purpose to them. If I can't let go of them than at least maybe, they can help someone else. And while ignorance may be bliss to those it that suffer from it, it is hell on the rest of us.

 I haven't ranted in awhile. It is hard to make me mad, mostly. I am the not typical red head in that fashion. But oh my God when you do anger me it becomes a boiled over pot of pissed off and it is not pretty. I don't like to get angry. It scares me a bit. I have never been violent in my life, however when angry, the rise of emotions makes me uncomfortable.

Certain things make me angrier quicker than others. Bullying for one. Whether done on the internet or to a person's face, I become irate. As a victim of bullying for most of my life, I know how bad that affects people and I know the pain it causes. In all of my situations of being bullied I do not remember the faces of those that stood by and let it happen to me. It becomes a blur of flesh colored smears. There were many. Too many. But what I do remember is the faces of those that stood up for me and stood up for themselves. I remember those people's faces in stark clarity. They were my heroes, who I strived to be like. Not a nameless faceless coward who sat back and watched other people torment me, but someone who may not have even really liked me but knew that what was happening was wrong. And even twenty years later, I am still thankful for them. They saved me not just from the bullies but from the negative way I viewed myself. I am grateful that they were there and that they refused to be part of the humiliation and pain inflicted upon me.

As a victim I know that to stand by and say nothing makes you equally as guilty as the person inflicting the humiliation and torment. It makes no difference whether you are the one actually bullying, if you stand by and watch it happen you are an accomplice. You condone those actions. And I will never be that kind of person. Never.

Bullying as whole is a complicated issue.  Why it occurs so frequently is a mystery to most of us except that the one main component is ignorance. Just plain and simple ignorance and fear of what we don't understand.

Suffering from a mental illness puts us, the sufferers, in a hard spot. We are so afraid of being singled out, which we often times are. We are afraid of being ostracized, because we become that way. We are afraid to openly talk about what we go through because of the ever oppressive stigma that hangs over us and our diagnoses like a damp woolen coat that smells like mildew and vomit.  And it is painful.

And even when we don't tell people about our problems we often times hear others making negative comments about mental illness and it makes us less willing to openly talk about it. I mean, if you hear someone talking bad about your particular mental illness are you going to feel comfortable actually discussing that you have that diagnoses with them? Hell no.

We have mental illness, we are not stupid. We already suffer. The last thing we want is to be harassed or punished for having it.

Stigma. It is such a small word and yet it carries such a profound weight to it. It smothers us. It suffocates our progress. It shames our sense of self worth. It stifles our growth and it prevents our treatment. It keeps us sick and in many cases it promotes our suicidal population.

Make no mistake stigma kills just as surely as does the weapon we use to kill ourselves with. It is the poison that keeps us sick. And the worst part is, it doesn't have to exist at all. If people would just educate themselves.

No I am not talking about reading a few pamphlets and watching one episode of Dr. Phil. I am talking about really educating yourself. Talking to people. Gaining insight and not becoming some deranged arm chair psychiatrist full of misquoted statistics and opinionated ideals.

It angers me. When I hear people have lost their inner fight to live with mental illness because they were afraid to get help simply because of the ramifications getting help could cause. The shame they feel and the agony of having to face the people we love or respect and have to admit that no, we are not okay. It is a hard thing to do. It's hard because stigma confines how others think about us. It confines how we think about ourselves. It confines everything we say or do.

And until we stop being ignorant and judgmental we will continue to lose good people that could have gotten help but were too afraid to. And it really pisses me off, because stigma is just another form of bullying. Yet another form of ignorance.

Mental illness is looked down upon and completely misrepresented. It makes our lives harder and harder for the ones we share our lives with as well.

Today I heard some idiot, for lack of a better word, talking about how one in five people have a personality disorder.....

Really, where did you get that statistic, a the back of cereal box? Are you serious? What the hell is that? Do you even know what a personality disorder is? I am pretty sure that people with personality disorders don't have three heads and green skin so how would you know? Do you realize that they are people just like everyone else and that they have their own issues to deal with and one of them shouldn't be your crappy attitude, unbelievable amount of ignorance, and ridiculous accusations?

Or how many times have I heard about the guy that killed those soldiers in Fort Hood this last time? The guy that was trying to get help for PTSD but was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. Now everyone with an anxiety disorder or depression gets the sideways glances. Like we are all closeted murderers in waiting. Thanks, like we didn't have enough problems already. Now people are afraid of us for being afraid. Awesome (sarcasm).

And if it weren't maddening enough with the media trying to come up with what mental illness is the flavor of the month that may make a person a mass killer, they keep saying how he was taking antidepressants and sleeping pills so he was being treated....

Listen, just because they throw a few pills and a diagnoses at you doesn't mean that you are being "treated". That is akin to cutting off your leg and slapping a few band-aids over the gaping wound and then wondering why you are bleeding to death. I mean you put band-aids over the problem area so in theory you are being "treated" right? The word treated isn't necessarily in question. What should be in question is the words "treated properly". You can treat diabetes with tomato soup and hot tea, it doesn't mean that it is going to  work.  It ridiculous!

Treatment is a long process. For some of us it is a life long process. Just because you get medication doesn't mean that it will work effectively. Doesn't mean that it won't react to other medications. Doesn't mean that you will wake up and everything be rosy and perfect in the morning. That is ignorance at it's finest right there on the nightly news.

Treatment requires the right diagnoses, which for some us takes many wrong diagnoses and treatments to figure out. It takes therapy and constant mindfulness of our  limitations and triggers. It takes time and effort and down right grit to deal with it on a daily basis. It takes the proper therapy and medications. It takes a lot and it is not an easy fix. And it certainly doesn't help to be constantly reminded of just how ignorant the rest of the world is on the subject.

We are not worthless.

We are not crazy.

We are not broken.

We are not evil.

We are not the demons living under your bed waiting to get you.

Somewhere, somehow over the millennium, mental illness has become a dirty word. A secret kept closed to the vest. Something to disregard and make fun of. Something in which to use as a scapegoat or a easily ready excuse. It has become synonymous with evil and bad. It has become something to be ashamed of and feel worthless about. It has become an entity other than itself. A curse. A damnation. A character flaw of the highest kind and it is all wrong.

We are not the danger. Stigma and ignorance are the danger that lurks behind the shadows. Lies and misrepresentation are the killers of people that could be helped. Shame and discrimination are the chains that bind us all.

We can not get help if we are too scared to admit there is a problem. We can not get better if we are to ashamed to seek treatment. We can not get treatment if we are not allowed to because of others incorrect ideals of what having a mental illness is.

For every mass murder you hear about on tv there are thousands of mentally ill people not being dangerous. Not harming others. Not becoming killers and yet we never hear those statistics. We never hear about the fact that we are less likely to be violent than addicts or domestic abusers. We never hear about the fact that the mentally ill are twice as more likely to be victims of violence rather than to perpetrate it.

So when I say ignorance is bliss, I don't mean for those of us that have to live in it's disfiguring shadow. It's crushing misrepresentations. It's shame.

If bullying is from ignorance than it stands to reason that stigma is also a form of bullying. It has the same result. It carries the same stench of discrimination.

So before you continue to spout degrading, incorrect, misrepresentations of what you think mental illness is like, educate yourself. Because if you don't stand up for us and say something then you are condoning the ignorance that has been allowed to be broadcast all over the world for hundreds of years. Are you going to be a hero or an accomplice? It's your choice but make no mistake it is our lives that hang in the balance and we deserve better.

Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Unplug and Plug Back In....

 As a person who suffers from OCD I find distractions comforting. I use them to help me stop obsessing about things. I use them to help prevent the overwhelming sense of guilt and the daily barrage of dread. I have learned to use distractions in my daily life just to get by.

But last year my smart phone broke. I wanted to get it fixed but the part was pricey and so I decided to wait and use the money for more family oriented things. And I found out something quite amazing.

I don't miss my smart phone. I have realized that although I need distractions to cope, my smart phone had become more than just a distraction. It had become a way of life and it wasn't good. Now, I am all for making social media easier and I understand people needing smart phones for work and long distance family situations. But me? I am just a blogger and house wife. What do I need a smart phone constantly attached to my hip for?

Yesterday I took a long walk with my oldest kid. Being diabetic means I need to take better care of myself and I thought it would be a great way to spend time together. As we walked we had long conversations and as I spent time really listening to my son, I was struck by how if I had had my smart phone with me, I would only be half listening. In fact I look back in the last few years that I had my smart phone attached at my hip and I don't remember any conversations I had with loved ones. I don't really recall things we did together and I truly believe that it was because I was only half participating in those things. Because another part of me was on the phone checking e-mails and apps. How sad is that? I was always half listening, half participating, and half assing time with my loved ones. What message did that send to my husband, my kids? I am sorry but I just can't pay attention to you right now, mommy needs to see if she has any new notifications? That has to be stellar for their sense of self worth.

Now that I am unconnected with the internet everywhere I go, I notice how others aren't. I see teenagers walking down the street texting and not looking where they are going. Parents texting at the park while their kids are vying for their attention. Spring flowers being ignored and walked on because something on the screen seems so much more important than noting the beauty life has renewed. No one bothers to actually stop and smell the roses anymore. Unless they are digital roses that sparkle. I even saw the trash man the other day standing up in the back of his truck texting on his phone while being bumped around in the back from not holding onto anything but his smart phone. Apparently safety isn't as important as messaging.

It just seems odd to me, the amount of life passing us by as we send half assed texts to each other or play angry birds. How much are we really listening to when someone we love talks to us? How present are we actually in the moment?

In the year of my smart phone being absent, I have started really plugging into my family and friends again. I feel a sense of freedom from the internet. I don't have to worry about texts or news notifications. I am not pressured to look at what has been sent until I make time for it. If and when I want those things, I carve out time to get on my computer. I am now in control of my time, not my smart phone.

I find that now when my husband and I go out for lunch on Mondays, we have become closer. Why? Because we have no distractions at the table or in the car. We have no other recourse but to talk. We discuss. We communicate with speech rather than texts and e-mails.

I find that if my friends want to talk to me, they actually have to make time for me by picking up the actual phone and calling me. They make time for me now, and it lets me know they care. Just as I have to make time for them. Like friends should. Because we are important to each other and maybe it is high time we all started acting like it.

I don't want to become  a stranger to my family and friends and only communicate through the internet. I want to sit and talk with them. Get to know how their day went personally and not second hand from a face book post. I want to hear their voices and see their reactions. I want them to know I am here for them physically not just behind the screen of two hundred dollar hand held computer that fits in my pocket. We have lost the ability to communicate with others face to face without distractions or correct verbage. So worried about what we are missing out on that we end up missing out on some of the most important times in our lives. We are missing out and we don't even realize it.

We hide behind our internet masks and say things or troll horrible things that we would never say in real life because we would never have the "courage" or meanness to say such things in person. Not when we actually would have to see the pain in the other person's eyes after we inflicted such damaging diatribes. We have become strangers to our loved ones and worse yet to ourselves. I don't know about you but I am not okay with that. I don't want to become less of a person in real life just so I can be more of a person online. I want to be both me and to do that I have to allocate my time accordingly. My family should and will always be what I spend most of my uninterrupted time for. They certainly deserve me fully present with them.

I am not saying you should get rid of your smart phone, but I am suggesting you not carry it with you constantly. Apps and e-mails and notifications can wait. They aren't meant to take the place of actual conversations or life. They should be viewed as the distractions they are and not the life altering situations they have become. Cell phones are supposed to make life easier not dictate what we do. Maybe we should take a really long look at ourselves and ask when is the last time we actually unplugged from the internet and actually plugged back into our lives. Think about it. When is the last time you actually listened to your kids or loved ones without looking down at a smart phone screen? When is the last time you had a conversation on the phone rather than sent emoticons? When is the last time you realized that studies show that about 75% of people admit to using their smart phones on the toilet? That's right people text you while using the bathroom. First of all that is just nasty and secondly don't you think that you are worth more than a poop text? And even worse some text during intercourse or while driving. We have become a people that distract ourselves with smart phones while doing things that should require our full attention. Whether it be a family day out or operating a two ton vehicle. Whether it be intimate time with your significant other or simply using the restroom, shouldn't we be doing these things without distraction? Don't we owe it to ourselves? I mean in twenty years are we really going to remember that text we sent when we got food poisoning? Are we really placing e-mails over the short years we have to watch our children grow into the adults they will become? Will we still value a smiley face emoticon over sharing an intimate meal with our partner/husband/wife?

It seems really silly to me and quite possibly damaging to our growth as human beings, the growth of our children, and the growth of our real life relationships.

Unplug from the phone and plug back in into your lives people. You will thank yourselves later when you realize how much you have been missing.

Neurotic Nelly

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Author......

Sorry I have been sporadic on my blogging lately. Life has been giving me some fumbles and some great days as well but all of them have been rather busy. Thankfully my kids will be out for summer break soon so my schedule should start to go back to normal.

I was remembering my great grandfather the other day. He died when I was rather young but what I remember about him was his quiet demeanor. His strong meaty hands. His bald head, plaid shirts, and glasses. I remember he was not one to love nonsense and since I was a rather bubbly hyper little girl it must have been tiring when I came to visit. He was nice but I remember being intimidated by him because he didn't say a whole lot. He had had throat cancer and although they had cured it, he still didn't talk too much.

Growing up I always thought of him as strong. He was a farmer since childhood. He raised three great kids and had many jobs. He was the one who found his brother after his brother had killed himself. His real mother died early in his life. His life had been hard and yet he had made the most of it. He took care of his family but he was the type of father that was strict and demanded respect. Not necessarily a bad thing just different than what I was used to. He was a family man and he was a good man.

Living the way he did in the time that he did he was forced to quit school after third grade. He was needed to help provide for his family and so this interesting, strong, and definable man was unable to read or write. He could sign his name and write a few small words but he was unable to read the newspaper, or a book, or even a pamphlet.

My grandma was telling me a story the other day, about how he had gone to church and got saved. He had started going to Sunday school and at one visit they asked him to read a page from the Bible. He became so embarrassed that he left and  never went back again.

And it made me sad to hear this. First of all I am a very literary type person. I love to read. I love to write. Language arts has always been my best and most favorite subject. I can not imagine how it would be to not know how to read.

And it also made me realize something. Everyone has something they feel ashamed of. Whether it be something like not being able to read or something like mental illness. We all have something we are embarrassed about. Even if we don't openly talk about it.

My great grandfather was not one to discuss his lack of literacy and in fact, I didn't even realize that he couldn't read. It wasn't his fault that he had to quit school at such a young age. It wasn't anything to be embarrassed about really, in that generation many people couldn't read. In fact that is why in the eighties, this country started a huge adult literacy program. But he was a proud man and he didn't want to be looked at like he was stupid or ignorant.

I may not have known my great grandfather as well as I would have liked but I do know we have some things in common. I too know what it is like to be embarrassed about something that isn't really my fault. I too know what it is like to feel the need to hide the things I perceive to be wrong with me. I also know what stigma is like, even if we were stigmatized for separate reasons.

It pains me to think that there was something that made him feel less of a person. I know exactly what that feels like. And maybe in honor of his memory I can choose to look at myself in a different light. I can refuse to let the things I am embarrassed about keep me from doing the things I want to do. I can be open about them because I know that I am not alone just as he was not alone in his. I can choose to not look at my dysfunctions and disorders as a negative and just look at them as they are. They are a part of me and a part of what makes me who I am today. Maybe I can look at my strong, wonderful, enigma of a great grandfather and see that one of the things that makes him seem more human to me is that he wasn't perfect and maybe if I am open and share mine as well, I can be more relatable. I can be seen as more human through my faults. Because I am human and all that being human entails. I can embrace my faults and shed the shame that tends to come with them. After all, no one deserves to go through their whole life feeling less than, simply because their lives dealt them a hand with a couple of crappy cards in it. It doesn't mean that we can't accomplish things or have to hide from our own imperfections.

It occurs to me that we are the authors of our own lives. We don't have much control over what life throws at us but we do have control over how we choose to deal with it. We have control over how we choose to look at the hands we have been dealt. We have control over whether we are going to let shame and embarrassment rule over our lives like evil dictators. Dictating what we think we can or can't do.

We write the stories of our own lives and we have the ability to change our own plots, our own character summaries, our own titles. Do we want our titles to say defeated, afraid, and ashamed or do we want our lives to have titles like strong, resilient, and unstoppable.

In reality, it doesn't matter if we falter. It happens. It doesn't matter if we are sometimes unsure of our next step. It doesn't matter if we get scared that we may take a misstep. It doesn't even really matter if we can read the stories that we have written. What matters is that we live them and that we try our hardest to be proud that we do.

Today, my title is going to be Acceptance, because I refuse to be ashamed of something I can't help or embarrassed because I fail at something other's don't. I want to be proud that I tried and trying is everything. Never give up. Never surrender. We can do this and we can do this well. We are more than just victims of our lives, we are the authors of them. We can't rewrite history but we can write the future from here on in.

Neurotic Nelly

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What If We Could...

I was thinking the other day. I know scary right?

I am a lot of things. A woman. A red head. A mother. A wife. But first and foremost, I am a Texan. It's not my fault that I place being a Texan as my identity. It ,like so many of us children born and raised in Texas, has been ingrained in me since my very first days. Even in school we were taught for the first five years in history class all about Texas. Until we all knew everything about Texas's past and it becomes a sense of belonging, a sense of pride. It is almost a brain washing to some extent. Want proof?

Ask a Texan, any Texan, what the state flower is, the state bird, the first and only president of Texas, and or the state capital.  They can name them off from memory without hesitation. Start to sing "Deep in the heart of Texas" out loud in Texas and watch how everyone stops and finishes it with you regardless of what they were doing before you started singing it. Ask what the state rose is or how long their family has been in Texas. All of us know when our families first became Texans. My family has been in Texas for almost two hundred years. Yea, really, I am just that Texan. ( Except I moved and married a wonderful but ever deemed "Yankee" so my children are only half Texan even though they have never set foot in that state) It is treated as not just a place but also a pedigree.And even though we have a pride of being from the deep south we have even more pride of being specifically from Texas. We have to be, it was taught to us to be that way from our parents, and them from theirs, and so on and so on. It becomes more than just a place that we are from and becomes part of who we are.

Ask a Texan what is the greatest state in America. Ask a Texan if they are a Texan ( HINT: you wont have to, we tell everyone we are a Texan in the first five seconds of any conversation when we are out of state) And even though we have many military members that serve America you can bet that most of them identify as being Texan before they identify as being American. Not that they don't love America with every waking breath, it's just that they love Texas more. We are a proud people and that is why every ten years or so there is the same talk of succession. Not that it will ever happen, not even sure we actually want it to, but we Texans just like to get all riled up at the possibility. It was taught to us to love God first, Texas second, and then America. That may seem wrong in some people's eyes but it is a tradition that has been passed down for hundreds of years and will probably continue for hundreds more.

It becomes something to belong to. If I see a license plate of Texas where I live, I feel the need to wave to the driver. Because even though I do not know them personally, I feel as if we are some how connected. Like we have something very important in common. We are Texans and we are brethren. Not from genetics but from location. We are tied together from our experience of simply being from the great state of Texas.

Now you may say, we get it Nelly, you love Texas but what the hell does this have to do with mental illness?

So glad you asked.

It got me thinking. The reason we are so proud of Texas is because it was ingrained in us to believe such. What if we took that same teaching methods and turned it to a belief system that is positive for future generations. What if we taught small children that beautiful doesn't have a size or a color or a religion? What if we taught that beauty is on the inside? What if we could give these children a reason to feel that they are worthy ,beautiful, important individuals that belong in our society? Would fourteen year old girls that weigh eighty five pounds still post selfies on facebook claiming that they look fat? I mean if they believe that weight doesn't depict beauty, would they be so hard on themselves? Would at risk youths still join gangs because they want to belong to something other than the only painful existence that they have ever known, if they already felt they had a place in today's society to belong to that didn't end up in violence, prison, or premature death? Would there be so much bullying if children were reinforced with the idea that different is a good thing and not everyone should try and be similar? Would there be so many suicides if people that suffer or feel lost and hopeless felt that they were not alone and that what they felt and had to say was valid to the rest of the world?

Would people like us, that suffer from mental illness have to be afraid of stigma if stigma was erased and replaced by compassion? What if we could eradicate discrimination in all of it's forms?

After all children are born free of such things. Stigma discrimination, self hate, and even pride are things that are taught and learned not genetically predisposed.

What if we could somehow take all of the things that make us broken adults and teach our children and their children that it doesn't have to viewed in a negative way? That people are human first and individuals second. That we all fundamentally desire the same things. Love, acceptance, respect, hope, friendship, and happiness. What if we could give them the sense that they belong to this world no matter what life has burdened them with, no matter what they look like, what family situation the are in, what belief system they have, the color of their skin, or the struggles they may encounter? That they are beautiful unique worthy beings that have the power to change the world with one simple sentence, "I love you."

What if we could teach love and a sense of belonging the way Texas teaches it's children to love and feel a sense of belonging to Texas? How different would our world be? How different would our children's lives be? Could we make our fractured children become whole if they were taught to love rather than ostracize? Have compassion instead of annoyance? To believe that they are worth more than what ridiculous unrealistic magazine articles and misguided self beliefs say they are? To believe that they matter because every person in this world matters and has the right to know that they do. They belong, you belong, I belong, we all belong and we are all important.

Just a thought....
Neurotic Nelly

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Freaking Myself Out...

So an update: I went and had the massage and it was nice. A bit awkward at first but it really helped my back and shoulders. Would I do it again? Sure. Do I want to get massage more than once a year...not really. It just really isn't my thing to do it very often. I mean hell, I haven't gone to a hairstylist in two years. I am just not very high maintenance, I guess.

I am having a problem as an OCD sufferer, that seems to be a reoccurring issue. I am freaking myself out...again. I won't sleep tonight. I have the sit down with my oldest's school and my lawyer in the morning. I am nervous. Sick to my stomach. My anxiety level is through the roof. I am worried they are going to lie some more and try to make this all seem like my fault. I am not really good with confrontational people. I have learned to stand up for myself better along the years but the thought of sitting in a group of confrontational people makes my pulse rise, my mouth dry, and my stomach turn. I just have to remember that this is for my son. If I remember that then I can do anything or take any kind of criticism. I will do anything for my children.

I hope that I look nice. I hope that I can pull off putting on enough make up to cover up the twelve pound bags I will be carrying under my eyes. I hope that my nerves don't get the best of me and I cry. I really hate when I do that. I hope that I can say what needs to be said to help my son and also to get the point across that how you treat your students really affects their performance. I hope that they see how my son needs their help and how the way they have acted only hurts those they are supposed to be helping. I hope that we make headway and the 504 goes through. We only have seven weeks of school left and I really need the good habits and work ideas figured out before he starts home school next year. I need this but more importantly he really needs this. I can't do it all on my own. I really need their help.

I guess all of this anxiety is just really a culmination of hopes and fears and a God awful case of the what if's. I really detest the what if's.

Sigh. It is just so scary to put your child's future in other people's hands or ask unwilling people to throw you a bone and be more helpful. I am scared plain and simple. I mean what happens if they don't give him the help he needs or they just keep doing what they have been doing so far? What does that mean for him? Will I have failed him as a mother again, like I did when I took him to the doctor in first grade and asked if he had ADHD and the doctor said no because he wasn't hyper? And I didn't push harder because maybe the doctor said what I secretly wanted to hear? That there was nothing that was going to make my child struggle. I didn't willingly let it go , I really trusted that doctor, but I remember being so relieved. Because I was ignorant on ADHD and I wanted my child not to be struggling. I clung to that branch of denial like a person drowning in a lake full of trees. I wanted him to not have this and so maybe looking back on it, I didn't push for answers strongly enough. I just took what that doctor said and ran with it. It ended up hurting my son in the long run and I will always hold that blame. That it took so long to get him correctly diagnosed.

Now I don't want to waste anymore time. I want to get started with helping him right away. I want to help him now and get him the help he needs with his school now. I don't have time for the teachers to take it personally or have their egos get involved. It isn't about me, or them. It is all about my son. How can I make them see that?

I wish I could just write what I want to say. Things always come out better if I write it.

I keep going over what I want to say over and over again. Trying to memorize it even thought I know there is no point in that because it never plays out the way you imagined it would.

I guess, I am just....worried.

So I wanted ask if you guys would do something for me. If you are a praying person would say one for me and all of the parents and kids that have to deal with this ridiculous crap? And if praying is not your thing, will cross your fingers for me? I could really use all the help I can get.

Thanks guys,
Neurotic Nelly

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Most Beautiful Heart....

I don't celebrate April fool's day. It's not so much as don't as it is can't.

I don't mind pranks so much. I like jokes even better, but this day is a source of pain for me. A source of loss. You see, twelve years ago my uncle's funeral was on April fool's day. And it hits me like a ton of bricks every year.

I wish I could say it gets easier each time. I wish I could say the sting is less pronounced or the loss is less evident. But it isn't and it's not and I refuse to lie to you....April fool's day to me is dead. It died with my uncle and it will never be fun for me again.

I am not going to write an post about how my uncle was a saint. He wasn't. He had issues and problems like everyone else. He had regrets and accomplishments. I don't want to canonize him and his memory because I think that somehow diminishes the man that he turned out to be. An amazing man. A relatable man. A man with passion and drive and a witty sense of humor. A man with the most beautiful heart.

My uncle was more like a father to me than an uncle. He walked me down the isle in my first marriage. He took me on trips to the carnival when I was a child. Since his name was Woody he bought me a tiny stuffed Woodstock from the Peanuts cartoon when I was around five.  He signed his name with the two o's in his name as eyes and the end of the y as the smiley face. He hung out with me and he gave the biggest back breaking bear hugs and slobbery type face kisses. He wore too much cologne and he loved light houses. He used to tuck me in when I would spend the night and tell me to not let the bed bugs bite. He always said I love you. He held my hand when I was nervous. He made me laugh. He scared the crap outta me when we were on the Ferris wheel and he would shake the basket and swear he wasn't the one making it move. He took me on my first roller coaster ride. He was a prankster, a complete unapologetic prankster and he was really good at it. April fool's day has always been his kind of day.

He was loved. Not because he was a tall six foot something, big redheaded man that had a small black poodle as a pet. Not because he would walk that dog with bows in it's hair or bandannas around it's neck down the street and think nothing of how absurd that looked to passers by. Not even because he never met a stranger or someone he didn't like, but because he was a unrelenting force of positivity, of support, of love.

You see my uncle grew up in the same house as my mother, and while he was not sexually abused , he was verbally and sometimes physically abused by his father. He turned to alcohol and drugs early on in his life and he had the same gut wrenching experiences that all addicts go through. Homelessness, prison, loss of family and friends.

I remember visiting him in prison and him bouncing up and down when he saw me. In my child's mind I thought it was because he was so happy to see me. As an adult I realize it was because he was coming down off of the high. There you have it. That was his life. Except it wasn't. My uncle, Uncle Woody, did the most remarkable thing. He got clean and sober and then he payed it forward. He joined NA and he went to the dances, he went to the outings. He went to every meeting he could. He became other people's sponsor and he helped them get clean and stay that way. He became a champion and he had no idea. He only saw it as he was helping those who suffered like he had. He helped my brother get clean. He helped my Aunt. He helped dozens and dozens of people. Each time giving a part of himself to them. Without knowing he was doing it. Whether it was his laughter or his support, Woody gave little bits of his heart to each and every addict he came across. He was so passionate about NA that he got the symbol  tattooed on his big toe. I asked if it hurt and he said emphatically yes!

My uncle and I shared more than I ever really thought about. The love of family, loyalty to friends. red hair, and OCD. We liked the same music. He cleaned with a gusto that would make a sterile room jealous. I dubbed his cleaning skills with the moniker "Woody clean". As in, "Well, it's not woody clean but it will do....ect". We even got our divorces in the same year and he helped me through that as well.

To know Woody was to know a man who loved life. Who supported those around him.  Who went out of his way to help those in need and to help people stay positive. He gave with all of his heart, every day to every person he came across. A man who forgave his father. Who reached out to everyone regardless of the things they had done in life. (Things I am not sure I would be capable of.)

More than anything he was known for his huge sense of humor and his pranks. Clawing at the window at night to scare my mom and aunt when they were teenagers. Having hidden water guns at parties to take out and squirt someone unawares.

Aside from that he was exceptionally gentle. He made a "pet" of a wild squirrel that lived outside his apartment by hand feeding it until it began to trust him. He loved dogs, especially poodles. He gave donations to many places, his biggest being to the 9/11 museum. When one of the steel pillars came to our city to sign it in support, I went not because I wanted to sign it for myself per say, but because I wanted to write Woody's name on it. He would have wanted that. And so I did. I wrote our names side by side. As did my mother and my grandmother....It was a bittersweet time.

It was ironic that the so full of life, prankster would have his funeral on April fool's day. Poetic, sad, appropriate...

He died of a massive heart attack on March 26. He was forty five. He never got to see my children. I think he would have been just as fantastic with them as he was with me. In fact, I don't think, I know he would have been.

He died because he had no insurance and had been just out of the hospital with MRSA which he got from work. He was diagnosed as diabetic. He was self employed and although he was doing well, the hospital bills from the last visit worried him. He thought the chest pain was nothing to worry about and that he would just see his doctor later in the week. He didn't make it....We only know this because he wrote down the times and how bad the pain was on a piece of paper so he could tell his doctor.

Written hauntings of a passed loved one. It still seemed he was standing right next to us as we read it. Heartbreaking. And infuriating as well. If only he had gone to the hospital. If only....

We are left with memories, pain, loss, and if only's, true, but we are also left with his ideals and his passions. His legacy. I don't know if he realized how much he helped change people's lives or just how many people he affected but we found out. At his funeral there were literally dozen's upon dozens of strangers. They all knew our Woody. They all had stories to tell. Beautiful heart warming stories of a man who was sometimes selfish but always selfless. A man who was so wonderful because he was imperfect and accepted that fact. Because he laughed at his faults and he acknowledged his past. Woody was successful not just because he was wonderful but also because he was relatable. He never forgot who he was when he was using and he never judged anyone that was using. He would just stand by them and offer them help and support. And if they let him in their life, he would do everything possible to keep them clean and sober.

And he touched more people than the people where he lived last...We know how many people's lives he changed in other places because of all the cards we received, the NA flyers they made in Texas for a makeshift memorial so they could say goodbye to him where he had first started, and from the mass amount of flowers. People we had never heard of. People we had never seen before. It was astounding and it was moving. This silly goofy and amazing man was magnificent and he never even knew just how magnificent.

A few months before his death he told me a story. A story that I will never forget. Something he had read somewhere or heard and I would like to share it with you.

One day a young man was standing in the middle
of the town proclaiming that he had the most
beautiful heart in the whole valley. A large
crowd gathered and they all admired his heart
for it was perfect.

There was not a mark or a flaw in it.
Yes, they all agreed it truly was the most
beautiful heart they had ever seen.
The young man was very proud and boasted
more loudly about his beautiful heart.

Suddenly, an old man appeared at the front of
the crowd and said, "Why your heart is not
nearly as beautiful as mine."

The crowd and the young man looked at the
old man's heart. It was beating strongly,
but full of scars, it had places where pieces
had been removed and other pieces put in, but
they didn't fit quite right and there were
several jagged edges. In fact, in some places
there were deep gouges where whole pieces
were missing.The people stared. 
How can he say his heart is more beautiful, they thought?
The young man looked at the old man's heart
and saw its state and laughed.

"You must be joking," he said.
"Compare your heart with mine, mine is perfect
and yours is a mess of scars and tears."

"Yes," said the old man, "Yours is perfect
looking but I would never trade with you.
You see, every scar represents a person to
whom I have given my love - I tear out a piece
of my heart and give it to them, and often
they give me a piece of their heart which fits
into the empty place in my heart, but because
the pieces aren't exact, I have some rough edges,
which I cherish, because they remind me of the
love we shared. "Sometimes I have given pieces of my heart
away, and the other person hasn't returned
a piece of his heart to me. These are the
empty gouges -- giving love is taking a chance.

Although these gouges are painful, they stay open,
reminding me of the love I have for these people too,
and I hope someday they may return and fill the
space I have waiting. So now do you see what true beauty is?"

The young man stood silently with tears running
down his cheeks. He walked up to the old man,
reached into his perfect young and beautiful heart,
and ripped a piece out. He offered it to the old
man with trembling hands

The old man took his offering, placed it in his heart
and then took a piece from his old scarred heart and
placed it in the wound in the young man's heart.
It fit, but not perfectly, as there were some jagged edges.
The young man looked at his heart, not perfect
anymore but more beautiful than ever,
since love from the old man's heart flowed into his.
They embraced and walked away side by side. 

That was my uncle Woody, a man with the most beautiful heart. I do not just not celebrate April Fool's day because of the pain and loss it reminds me of, I don't celebrate it because for me, it was his day and I refuse to celebrate his day without him. So instead of jokes and pranks, I reserve April fool's day for remembrance. The remembrance of a great man who changed not only my life but so many others as well. Rest in peace Uncle Woody.

Neurotic Nelly

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Teach The World......

I heard once that mental illness is the dulling of the senses, the cloudiness of the mind, the misty fog that envelopes one's emotions, one's surrounding, one's reaction time. That may be for some but, for me it is the opposite. It is a sensory overload, too much information, too many germs, too many unwanted stimuli, too much, too fast, too loud. It burns the senses. It tingles the nerve endings. It emotes the fear, anxiety and an overwhelming sense of guilt that never leaves it's roost. That feeling. That feeling of dread, merciless as it is patient, waits to spring on you but only when you are unaware and unprepared. (Figures).

Many people misunderstand OCD. They chalk it up to being quirky or think it is a humorous dysfunction. I want to yell.... scream.... plead.  "Please for the love of god, some days I am barely hanging on here! Some days I want to melt into the universe like molten rock and seep far away into the depths of the dark alone! Some days I want to pound my head into the wall until I finally knock whatever sanity I am clinging to out of my head, so that way I wont realize that I am crazy and can just be crazy without the responsibility of knowing it. Worrying over it. Judging myself for it.

People don't get it.....

I am told constantly to stop worrying or just try and be calm. Try and be calm???!!!???  One does not stay calm with an anxiety disorder. You do not/can not calm the storm of emotions when the storm is really a tornado wrapped in a hurricane enveloped in a typhoon. It is impossible. It doesn't work that way. This isn't simply a thunder storm of fear with simple wind gusts and rain, this is a God given natural disaster. Blowing everything down and sucking up everything in it's path. This is a declared devastation area, not simply a little bit of anxiety.

The saying time heals all wounds is wrong. OCD sufferers never forget. Time makes no difference.  Once the information, story, scolding, or fear is said aloud it sticks. It gets thrown in with the other information and swirls and spins in the washing machine of our obsessions. Never to stop, never to be set free, just filling the machine more and more full with no where for the run off to go, until it it starts leaking from the top. Pouring unto the floor in monumental amounts and with scary accuracy. My mental illness is showing again....it isn't the first time and wont be the last. The information, the fears, the doubts ricochet through the vacant halls of the mind. Bouncing from one fear to another. I can hear the them as they ping off the concrete and speed at break neck speed into the vast darkened corners of my mind.

Asking me to calm down or to forget is like asking a drowning man to stop flailing his arms as he struggles to stop inhaling water. It is like asking the child to forget their mother's voice. Asking the lion not to hunt when it is hungry. It is like asking your body to simply forget how to breathe. It is as involuntary as an allergic reaction.

OCD is no less unintentional. I can not control it but I can learn to function with it. It is not my fault that I have it and it is not my shame to carry. It is however, my cross to bear and I do it as best as I can.

It is for me like the water I swallow, the air I breathe, the feeling of earth beneath my feet. It simply is. So, please don't ask me to turn off something that has no off switch. Please don't ask me to stop. Please don't act like I am just doing this because I want to.

Try and understand my plight and my pain and then go on and teach the world. All of us suffer. No one enjoys it, some of us are just more used to it than others. Some of us handle it better and some of us are better at pasting a plastic smile on our faces and faking it.

Neurotic Nelly