Broken peace

Last week Paul and I had our first opportunity to volunteer at a center that offers assistance for families in need. There was someone who sticks out in my mind, a young woman in her early 20’s who was very pregnant. Apparently she usually comes in with another lady who was also pregnant. But this time she came in alone and said the friend she usually comes in with was in the hospital delivering a stillborn baby. It was heartbreaking and I didn’t even know the lady.

Later the volunteer coordinator said to us she would get through it and be fine since she has the Lord to lean on. I really hope so. Does anyone ever really get over the loss of a child? Today it’s been 4 years since my friend Lisa lost her daughter in a car accident. I still worry about my friend. It’s hard to watch her suffer and only have thoughts and prayers to offer.

I don’t know about you, but I am really horrible at having a strong faith in times of trouble. I am pretty good at doubting though. Do our prayers change the heart of God? Does he really care about the continuum of time? The truth is we are all going to die.

I’ve had to accept a lot of things. Sometimes I have fleeting moments of peace. I’ve come a long way from feeling I would never be able to climb out of the despair.

Maybe I’m forever stuck in the loop of viewing my heavenly father as my earthly father. I’m just being honest here. I felt anger towards God. I’ve had to parent my parents since I can remember. Why can’t I just walk away? Why do I feel responsible for them? I never had parents I could go to for support.

When I found out about my dad’s crime and a few months later my daughter attempted suicide, I turned to our pastor for support. But I felt like I was doing something wrong. I didn’t forgive. I wasn’t good enough or have enough faith to be blessed with a healthy family. I took advice from a pastor who had some of the best parents I’ve ever seen. He wasn’t abused. His dad wasn’t a pedophile. He wasn’t dealing with decades of childhood trauma. He didn’t grow up in a household of worry and fear. His childhood gave him good memories, mine gave me PTSD. It was like trying to get marriage advice from a priest. He couldn’t relate.

But somehow I came through it. I made my peace with God. Our new pastor is great, although I know he can not relate. Not many can. Our church has a shortage of pastors. The other day my husband said if he was younger he would’ve liked to be a pastor. I think he would make a great pastor, I would not however make the best pastor’s wife. The sad thing is Paul said he didn’t feel like he would ever be good enough to be a pastor, he is too broken.

But somehow I think it’s better to help others when you have been through it yourself. Between Paul and I, we’ve both been through a lot of hard times and maybe we can use our experiences to help others. It took me two years to get to the spot where I thought maybe I could experience joy in my life again. It took a lot of work. I still struggle. Sometimes I wonder if God cares. If you find you are having a hard time getting by with the little faith you have, you are not the only one.

I wish I had good advice to help other people in our lives who might be hurting. What did I want in my darkest days? What I wanted more than anything was to be left alone, but that also wasn’t healthy for me to isolate myself. It helped to have a couple people to talk to that didn’t treat me like something was wrong with me because they couldn’t understand. My best friend would check in on me every couple of days. Don’t just offer thoughts and prayers, look at me with pity, and go on your merry way. Ask what you can do to help. Say kind things like…I don’t know how you can stay sane. Talk about your problems with me. I felt bad when friends wanted to talk but said my problems are nothing compared to yours.

When I see others struggle with similar circumstances, I try to tell them they are not alone or that I felt the same way they did. I understand why people don’t cut their dysfunctional families out of their lives. It’s because they are a good person. They want to help. They have been conditioned from a young age to have to do things most people have no understanding about. The fear of a parent killing them self and you are the only person who might be able to stop it, fix it can not just walk away. Don’t tell someone who has lost a child to just get over it. There is no timeline for grief.

We can really hurt others with our words. But more importantly, we can offer great comfort and help. That is the true joy of suffering.

Life lately

I started having bad dreams again, nothing too terrifying. Last night it was the wild animals. I spotted a bear in the distance that wanted to get inside of my house. Then there were the dogs. They snarled and clawed outside my door if I tried to lock them out. It was horrifying to let them in, but if I did they ran through my house then were gone.

Sometimes I feel memories clawing through my mind. Memories I want to repress, but the more I do the more they nag me swirling endlessly awaiting connection. Incomplete memories, a camera, the fish tank upstairs that I don’t remember being upstairs, other things…

My therapist asked if remembering would change the way I feel about myself. I said it could go one of two ways. I could be more bitter than I already am. Or I can think I survived more than I thought I could with a certain courageousness.

My therapist asked if it would change how I felt about my parents. I said I didn’t think so. I will always view my mother as weak. She always seemed to protect the wrong people. My dad, I don’t even think all my children would even attend his funeral. He never made an impact on anyone’s life. Oh, I stand corrected. He never made a POSITIVE impact on anyone’s life. At this point, what would it matter?

I did learn something new about my dad. When my brother Luke called he told me about some things my dad did to him that I didn’t know. But the new details weren’t upsetting as much as my brother calling me to vent. You see, Luke is the strong one. Most times I think he is stronger than me. He rarely calls to vent. He said that time wasn’t healing his wounds, instead they are oozing and festering. I feel sad he can’t escape the pain anymore than I can.

Then Arabella came to visit for a few days. She lost her job. She is never to work on time and has a tendency to not get along with her managers. It is hard not to get wrapped up in my worry for her.

Then my mom came over. She didn’t sleep well the night before and emotionally was a big mess. I can’t help but feel some of it is her own fault. She has had several therapists tell her if she doesn’t like her life, she should change it. They tell her she should leave my dad, but in the end she always leaves the therapists who tell her that. My brother Luke said if my dad dies my mom will either wake up and realize she was in a bad relationship all along or she will immediately find someone else just like him.

I think about that a lot lately, my parents dying. My mom is in a really bad head space right now. It wears on me. Then I am worried about my daughter and my own aging. My doctor appointment is less than two weeks away. My therapist said I should focus more on my wisdom and insight versus the aging process. She is right. I might not have all the cards I want in my hand, but it would be smart to play my strong suit.

My therapist also said I have an extraordinary amount of stability for everything I have been through. I sometimes wonder…shouldn’t I be crazier? I found her words to be very encouraging. Yet I have to be careful. Last week I read the whole childhood portion of my book. I thought to myself, what a bit pile of shit. I got into a ferocious mood. I have to take writing and reading in small doses. I can’t do it when I am under a lot of stress. Writing has been healing for me. But it also can be the sword that cuts open my wounds if I am not careful. Having nightmares and a hard week with family is a good time to back off a bit.

I have not be happy lately. I feel as if I have been neglecting this blog. I am going to try to write more even if I don’t have anything to say.

Frustrated with the brokenness

As a parent of a teenager with significant mental health challenges, I am extremely frustrated right now. As you may remember, last week I mentioned that my daughter just got home after her fifth inpatient stay at the psych ward. She was given 5 different psychiatric medications and was sent on her way. This week she had a follow up appointment with her regular doctor who refused to fill some of her medications. I am so beyond frustrated right now.

Her doctor said she wouldn’t fill her ADHD medication because she wanted proof my daughter has ADHD before prescribing. I don’t really have a problem with that although she was diagnosed with ADHD at residential and the medicine they gave her for it really helped her. No one is on the same page or takes the time to get to know her. I am all for doing a psych eval for diagnostic purposes. So far she has been ‘diagnosed’ with 9 different mental health conditions by multiple providers. I know she doesn’t have all the things she has been ‘diagnosed’ with. How hard is it to actually test her so there is no question what she is struggling with so she can have the proper treatment??

She also couldn’t get her prescription for a mood stabilizer. There have been three medications I felt helped my daughter, one is the ADHD medicine and the other is the mood stabilizer they prescribed in the hospital that the doctor refuses to fill. There is one more mood stabilizer that helped which causes weight gain. My daughter also is a binge eater and is considered obese, so although it did help I don’t want her on it.

So we are back to square one. She is not on any of the medications that have historically worked for her. Everyone keeps yanking around her meds. No one can agree on what needs treating and no one is doing the testing that would point to treatment options. Arabella did have a psychiatrist for 5 months. I really liked him and thought he was spot on. But then he dropped the bomb on me by saying he thought she has borderline and schizoaffective with bipolar II. Then he abruptly retired and she has not been able to see an outpatient psychiatrist since. She dropped her regular doctor and psychiatric nurse after she thought I turned them against her.

Now Arabella is splitting with her therapist and her therapist does not want to see her anymore. She really liked this therapist until she didn’t anymore. This was her sixth therapist not counting the inpatient, outpatient, and residential therapists. I want to get involved in her care, but last time it didn’t work out well for either one of us.

I think the system is broken. Part of it is my daughter’s fault for doctor and therapist hopping, although it is not unusual for someone with her mental health struggles. But it is so hard to find someone who will take the time to listen and manage her care. I told her she needs to be forceful about getting the help and medications she needs because her life depends on it.

How hard can it be? It isn’t like this for a medical condition. Oh, you have cancer. Nah, we don’t really need to know where or how bad it is. Here just take these pills and come back in 6 months. Oh, then you probably don’t have cancer, you probably have high blood pressure. Just try these pills instead. We aren’t going to give you the pills that worked in the past because we don’t think you are feeling sick but we are not going to test you. What is your billing address again? Next!

Arabella has an appointment to see a new psychiatrist in July. By then it will be a year and a half since her previous doctor retired. I never would have guessed how difficult it is to get good mental health treatment when you need it. I feel really stuck now in what I can do to help her. The best I can do right now is to encourage her to advocate for her own care. I’m afraid if I help her again and she goes back to hating me again, she will drop her whole care team like she did before.

But most of all, I feel frustrated with the broken system. You can’t help people if you only spent 10 minutes with them before moving on to the next patient.

Dreary days

Today is the fourth dreary and rainy (or some form of precipitation) day in a row. I’m feeling it to the deepest part of my core; the cold, the dark, being locked inside not able to get out and find the light. There is so much trouble in the world, so much trouble in the people that surround me. It never seems to end. It is heavy, denser than the fog.

Yesterday Paul and I stopped at my parent’s house before going out to eat with Matt for his birthday. It is something I have to prepare myself for like wearing a winter coat on a cold day even if it looks like it could be sunny and warm. I will be triggered. It will be hard. Sometimes I ask Arabella what it is like living with my parents. From the sounds of it, not much has changed. My dad roams the house in his underwear. My mom cleans up his messes.

Then there is Matt. Matt can not do complex tasks like washing the dishes, but he can do simple tasks. When Matt is home, my dad has Matt wait on him hand and foot. Matt go get me a cookie. Matt get me some water. Matt hand me my remote. My mom tells my dad that Matt is not his servant. Then mom gives Matt permission to wait on my dad to feel like she is in control. I don’t miss the games, the power struggle between my parents.

The visit home was uncomfortable. Paul said he really doesn’t want to go back again. I don’t either. My parents complain Arabella is messy. She is, yet they fail to notice the own mess they live in. My mom wants Arabella to leave, even if it means moving to an apartment with a boyfriend she has been dating a few months. Before my dad’s crime, my mom would’ve been aghast to the idea. But now there aren’t any morals anymore.

They are all hard to live with. But what’s even harder is to see some of their very own struggles manifested within my children.

That’s one thing we never thought of before having kids. I just looked at the autism in my brother; the violence, the voices in his head telling him to hurt someone. Maybe we didn’t examine our parents enough; their relationships, their modeling, their own mental health. Then add a random bio dad to the smorgasbord of genetic maelstrom. All I can say, as if it’s any consolation, at least what we are seeing passed down is not entirely foreign to us.

It is sad. Sometimes I feel like crying with the rain as it pours down.

One of the most important things I’ve learned over the last couple of years is acceptance. That doesn’t mean I will accept poor behavior. It means it is what it is. I am not going to be able to change things. An apple is an apple even if I want it to be an orange. It also means being mindful of triggers. A visit to my parents house may cause me to feel depressed, anxious, or even angry. If I can prepare myself in advance for the possibility of those feelings, it doesn’t hit me so hard.

Today, though, I just feel tired and blah. Under the weather I guess. It seems hard to focus and form thoughts into words that make any sense right now. This post did not go where I was expecting it to go, but that is okay. I can accept that as well, I guess.

There is no warm up in sight. The weather forecasters are saying it should be warm and sunny, spring like on April 1st. What a joke!

Gratitude week 116

  1. It’s the first day of spring! Personally I am not a big fan of spring as someone who has seasonal allergies. It’s also the time of year where we have a couple of nice days then get a snowstorm. But I am grateful for the longer hours of daylight, sunshine, and the anticipation of my favorite season summer. I think I even saw the first robin of the year yesterday.
  2. I’m grateful to get out and go for a walk on the couple of nice weather days we had.
  3. My second tattoo. It’s starting to heal nicely. My second tattoo was totally different from the first. This one was more painful. It’s also different not being able to see it. Looking in the mirror, it looks as if brilliant light is going into the prism and darkness is coming out. I would say that I like both tattoos equally though.
  4. Arabella came home from the hospital. They put her on some new medications that hopefully will help her. She is on 7 or 8 pills now which I am not excited about. But if it helps her…
  5. We celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by having an old friend over for lunch of grilled cheese and corned beef sandwiches on light rye bread. Our friend is Paul’s late best friend’s son. He is in the military and was visiting family in the area with his two little kids. He is a relatively recent widower whom we haven’t seen in over 10 years. We never got to meet his wife. I forgot how much energy little kids have. I’m not sure I am quite ready to be a grandparent yet.
  6. I am grateful the last two nights I went to concerts by a local Pink Floyd tribute band. They were awesome. The audience was totally pumped, partying like it was 1999. It’s been 3 years since they performed last and everyone was so excited. One night I went with Angel and Paul and the other night I went with Alex and Lexi.
  7. Friday night was a blustery evening and my son was on standby in case he had to work, so he ended up switching shows with his sister. I’m grateful for that because Friday night there was a pretty intense light show. I totally forgot that my son’s girlfriend Lexi has epilepsy. First I take her with us to the waterpark remembering she can’t swim as we are heading towards deep water in the wave pool. Then I take her to a concert that has a pretty intense light show when she has epilepsy. I swear I’m not trying to kill her off. The light show wasn’t as intense last night. I’m grateful we ended up switching shows for her unknowingly and she didn’t have a seizure.
  8. I started making TikTok videos this week and posting them. Angel said that both Paul and I regressed after she moved out. Paul is always on his video games and I am making cringy videos sure to embarrass my kids who oddly are liking them probably to make me feel better.
  9. Paul got some big projects done around the house. He, with the help of a friend, cut down a dead tree in our yard. He also replaced a showerhead that was spraying water everywhere.
  10. I’m also grateful for our friend Ted who is willing to help with projects.

Gratitude week 115

  1. This week I planned a trip out west for my husband and I for our 25th wedding anniversary. We will be staying a couple days in Idaho and Montana, two more states to check off my bucket list. I thought it would be funny to visit Yellowstone and see Old Faithful on our anniversary. Funny story, when Paul and I were in New Orleans we met a lady on a tour who was from Idaho. I told her I would like to visit her state and asked her what the best thing to do was. She said don’t, go back to New Orleans instead. My daughter told me to bring back some potatoes for her. I know it doesn’t sound like an exciting 25th anniversary trip, but I believe there are good things to see and experience in every part of the world. If you are looking for it, you will find it.
  2. Since Paul and I cancelled our trip to Puerto Rico in January because non-essential travel was not recommended due to COVID wrecking havoc and running rampant, Expedia gave us an airline credit. The extra protection travel insurance was total crap. They wouldn’t refund anything even though travel was disrupted and not advisable. So, I booked the above trip using the credit which was an absolute nightmare. What should have taken me a couple hours to plan literally took me all day. I didn’t get anything else done, like write on this blog. But anyway, I was unable to apply the credit when I tried to book it myself. But to talk to an actual live person through Expedia and the airline itself was a two to three hour wait. I tried chatting through the airline and got nowhere. I almost gave up on being able to use the credit, but finally tried Expedia’s chat. The person I worked with was absolutely amazing and was able to book the trip for me using my credits over chat. I’m grateful they also gave us credits for the cancelled trip since the insurance company refused to cover any of our costs although it was advertised as being refundable for any reason.
  3. My husband learned how to play Mahjong and taught me how to play. The game was a Christmas gift a couple years back from Paul but we never learned how to play until this past week. It is rather time consuming and intimidating to learn. We ended up having Angel and Dan over for homemade pizza and Mahjong this week and it was fun.
  4. I had a dentist appointment this week for a cleaning. No problems!
  5. Last night we set the clocks ahead an hour for Daylight Savings Time. Spring is coming, even though we woke up to a couple inches of snow. But at least it will be light later.
  6. Yesterday we had some friends and family over for a board game day. It was nice to do something fun and get our mind off of things. We played several new games.
  7. It’s been hard with Arabella in the hospital. Paul and I have been having a difficult last couple of days and haven’t been getting along well. I thought we would get used to it over time but it doesn’t seem to be going that way. It’s stressful and doesn’t bring out the best in us. However, our relationship is going better now.
  8. I’m grateful that Arabella is talking to me now and we are getting along a lot better than we did before. It’s easier to help her through her depression this way.

It didn’t last long

I intended to write more than I did this week. Yesterday I actually opened my computer up to write when I got a call from my daughter Arabella. She wanted me to pick her up. She was going to be admitted but the hospital was full so she was scheduled to be admitted to another mental hospital a couple hours later.

Her boyfriend Will was with her but he had to leave for work. She called me to pick her up and wanted me to take her to her car at my parents house so she could drive herself to be admitted. All in all, it was an hour and a half of driving for me. Before she could leave with me, I had to talk to someone about a safety plan. They told me all the ways she was planning on killing herself and wanted me to keep an eye on her until she was admitted.

I drove her to my parents house. She talked about how Will and her were fighting which triggered a depressive episode for both of them. Neither one was doing well mental health wise. Arabella went to pack a few things. My mom came up to me and told me she only slept four hours, that she wasn’t okay herself. It took longer than I thought for Arabella to pack her things. My stomach dropped. Was she okay? I didn’t want to go to her room because I was sure it would be upsetting to me which it was. There was clothes everywhere, empty containers of food, and a bottle of anti-depressants strewn across the floor.

I left as soon as I could with Arabella following behind me. I was worried when she spent too long in the bathroom. I was worried maybe she would find a way to skip her appointment. I tried my best but I wasn’t sure she was going to be alright. It didn’t take long for things to go to shit after our fun weekend away. But this is her fifth inpatient stay within the last two years, so it’s nothing new.

Just the day before my mom came to visit. She brought my brother Matt with. With all the rain we got last weekend, his bedroom in the group home got flooded so he is staying with my parents for awhile. While they were at my house, my Aunt Jan Facetimed my mom so my brother Matt could see her grandchildren she babysits for. She had no idea my mom was at my house right away and started talking about me behind my back in front of me.

My mom has this really bad habit of ALWAYS being on speakerphone and not telling people she is. I almost had to laugh when my aunt figured out my mom was at my house and she was talking about me while I was sitting there. She didn’t say anything bad, but it was funny afterwards because she texted my mom asking if I heard everything and asked my mom if she said anything she shouldn’t have.

Just the week before my mom was on speakerphone with my Aunt Jan while at my house. After awhile she did tell my aunt she was at my house. My aunt said she wanted to talk to me. She asked me when Angel’s bridal shower was because she already bought a gift for her. I felt manipulated by her. She didn’t want me to be a part of family functions but now she wants to go to my daughter’s shower. After everything, I wasn’t even planning on inviting her or any of my aunts really unless that is what my daughter wants. If she does, I’m planning on calling my aunt and airing my grievances but I don’t even want to think about that right now.

Right now I just feel sad. I feel sad because my daughter is back in the hospital. I feel annoyed my mom was more concerned about not sleeping. I think my aunt is trying to control me with gifts instead of apologizing and I don’t like it. It’s okay for us to be rejected by her, but she doesn’t want to feel left out?? I feel angry that my parents or in-laws never helped me with my kids while I was at work. It was just a big free for all while I was gone trying to help my husband run our business. It’s hard not to be bitter about these things. I feel guilty because I do have a lot of good things in my life. I feel guilty for not feeling happy and for focusing on the things I don’t have instead of what I do.

At least I am mindful about how I feel. Maybe I just need a break from other people’s problems for awhile. But sometimes that is hard to do when I feel like I have to fix everything that’s broken.

The old normal, part 6

Before COVID, I spent a lot of time at the gym. I don’t even have a gym membership anymore. How things have changed.

Back in the day, I used to go to the gym three times a week for at least an hour. In the summer, I would run the streets. I did countless marathons, a half Iron, and a 50k. When I first started blogging I wrote about training for my first marathon after reading a marathon training book written by a blogger. At the time I thought I could run a marathon and I could write on a blog, and I did. I even have running in the title of my blog. Over time this blog has morphed into something more than that.

I always thought I would be a runner. I didn’t often see a lot of older runners competing in races, but when I did I thought to myself that will be me someday. Running helped me burn off a lot of my anxiety and stress. I worried a lot about becoming injured because I didn’t think I would be sane without running. I know I have posted before if I couldn’t run someone would need to check on me because I would not be okay.

Then the world changed. When COVID hit my gym closed and all the races I was planning on running got cancelled. Not long after that, I had a 10 day bout of colitis that knocked me off my feet. A month later it was hard for me just to put the laundry from the washer into the dryer. I thought I would never be able to run again. I was able to but I lost most of what was left of my endurance. Then I started to experience joint pain which made it all but impossible to run without being in pain.

I’m not sure what is wrong. It could be a number of things or it could be nothing at all. I have an appointment scheduled with a specialist in May. My doctor thought the joint pain could be related to colitis. I recently read stress and trauma can cause inflammation like I have. Or maybe I overused my joints by all my long distance running. I also saw it could be a symptom of perimenopause. Or maybe I’m getting arthritis like some of my other relatives did. I started noticing bumps on the knuckles of my fingers. But until I see the doctor I’m just guessing.

I started doing low impact workouts but I find them to be frustrating because it doesn’t feel as if I am doing anything. I had to take a step back because I just couldn’t do it anymore. I miss running, I really do but I don’t feel like I will not be okay without it anymore. I don’t need to beat the hell out of my body anymore. But I don’t want to do nothing either. I’ve gained some weight. But is it realistic to think I’ll always be able to keep a youthful figure as I age?

Sometimes now I run into people from my running days. I’ve been asked what race I am training for. It’s hard to admit I am much more of a walker now. For 15 years I identified as a runner. Now it’s just another area of my life I don’t know who I am anymore. But one thing I can say for sure, I can live without running. I am okay. I never thought I would be saying that. Now it’s time for something new. I’m just not sure what that is yet.

The old normal, part 5

Right before COVID we pretty much cut my dad out of our lives. I have very limited contact. Sadly, or maybe thankfully, it wasn’t a big change for us. My dad is the oldest living relative in his family line. I was very close to his parents and aunts and uncles. They were all wonderful people. I’m not really sure why my dad turned out the way he did.

My mom is also the oldest living relative in her family line. Unlike my dad, she comes from a large family. We would typically see the extended family at Christmas and the yearly family reunion.

This year I was not welcome to attend the family festivities because of my vaccination status. This was mainly spearheaded by my Aunt Jan. I felt angry and hurt. It was hard to understand. It wasn’t like I was going to be killing grandpa and grandma because they’ve been dead a long time. I do not consider my aunts and uncles to be elderly. My youngest aunt is the same age as my husband all the way up to my mom’s age of 73. Most of my aunts and uncles are in their 60’s.

Pretty much all of them do high risk activities (including my Aunt Jan) such as going out to eat at restaurants, travelling by airplane, and going to church. But I was not okay sitting across the room wearing a mask after getting tested?

It also didn’t matter that I was going through hell and probably could use the support of family. Aunt Jan knew about my dad’s crime. She was the one who told me I needed to take care of my mother. She always told me I needed to take care of my mom even when I was a child and needed someone to take care of me. Then she went on with her own life which did not include ever once taking any of us four children so my mom could get a break. She knew I spent the last couple of years dealing with my daughter’s serious mental illness.

This has been a pattern of behavior for my Aunt Jan for a long time. I just didn’t realize it until now. She acts like she cares, but is controlling and rejecting. When she was hosting showers, she invited one of my daughters but not the other. She also didn’t invite a cousin who was between the ages of my daughters. My other aunt and I were upset about this because our daughters felt hurt and left out.

My Aunt Jan also wanted my daughter Angel to sing in her son’s wedding. She said if Angel was singing then she was invited but our other children would not be. The wedding was out of town and we needed to get a hotel room. She told me my mother-in-law could watch my other children. At the time my MIL was at the end stages of lung cancer. Before that she didn’t really help with the kids that much anyway.

I can think of several other examples, but I think you get the point. Now my Aunt Jan is reaching out to me and I have been ignoring her. I really want to tell her off but now I heard she is having some health problems. To make things even more complicated, now there is a family feud and some of my aunts and uncles have vowed to never speak to each other again. With my daughter getting married, this has been one big mess.

At this time, I’ve decided to really limit contact with my extended family. One good thing that happened because I wasn’t able to go to the Christmas party was that I was able to reestablish my friendship with Lisa again. She came over the weekend I should’ve been with the extended family.

I’ve decided to let go of some relationships with friends and family because they are unhealthy for me. COVID has been a time of great reflection. I’m finally starting to realize what’s important in my life and when it’s time to let go. I’m starting to be a lot more selective about who I spend my time with. I just don’t know why I didn’t realize it sooner.

Navigating life

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t struggle with depression, anxiety, insomnia, and nightmares.

Why should I expect that to change? The likelihood of no longer struggling with these things is about as likely as me waking up one morning with schizophrenia. It’s probably not going to happen. I was thinking about these things while I laid awake the other night.

Some things have changed. I started taking medicine prescribed by my doctor to help me sleep at night. It works better than nothing. I still struggle with insomnia and nightmares. The insomnia part has improved, but the nightmares have not.

Do you ever have dreams where you are falling and you wake up before you hit the bottom? I don’t wake up anymore until I’m dead. Sounds strange, right? In the last week, I’ve had two dreams where I was shot point blank, heard the sound of gunfire, and woke up after I died in my dreams. The nightmares just seem to go on forever. In one of the nightmares I was shot while I was cleaning my house. I mean, seriously??

Then I got to thinking, people really don’t change either. Most of my childhood I believed my autistic/schizophrenic brother would become normal again. If only we could find the right doctor, the right diet, the right medication. I was waiting and hoping for this. God was going to heal my brother. I didn’t know what this was going to look like. Would he be able to suddenly read and write like me or was he going to start life over in his toddler years. I thought it was going to happen, but it never did.

When my own daughter started having mental health struggles a couple years back, I thought the same thing. If only I found the right doctor, the right medication, the right inpatient program, outpatient program, etc.. Surely an expensive residential treatment facility would do the trick. But it didn’t cure her. It didn’t take her mental illness away. She is not the same person she was before. She will never be that way again. She may decide to end her life someday and I have to accept that and love her where she is at. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

After my dad committed his crime, there was a period of time where I was under the impression that he accepted the Lord and was a changed person. I wanted so badly to believe that was true. I thought maybe he would finally be the kind of dad I always wanted. But guess what? Nothing changed.

If I pray more and have enough faith, then my anxiety will go away. I used to believe that too. Maybe something was wrong with me because when I prayed for my struggles to go away, they didn’t. I don’t believe people anymore when they tell me those kind of things. It sounds like a gimmick to me. God is bigger than that. I don’t see God in that way anymore. I think faith is a wonderful coping mechanism. But I think people do more harm than good by telling others if they do certain things then their sibling, their child, their parent, or they will not struggle anymore.

Miracles do happen, but they are truly one in a million. I’m better off accepting that the way things are will probably be the way things will always be. If I look at it that way, my life makes a lot more sense. Look at the patterns of behavior. It’s very simplistic, but for me it was a real aha moment in the middle of the night. People don’t change. They may grow and mature over time like a baby turns into an old lady. But it’s still the same person with the same strengths and weaknesses with a little more wisdom and mindfulness on how to navigate life.