Christmas Treasured Memories

imagesCAV6F9JACHRISTMAS MEMORIES

These, among others, are the greatest presents I ever received as a young child:

Thumbelina (I adored this doll – the doll that had the thumb permanently in her mouth).  Doesn’t sound the greatest, however, she was the greatest doll to me.

Etch-A-Sketch – this to me was the invention of all inventions.  I drew lines on this flat screen for hours – it was amazing.

64 Crayola Crayons – a necessity for any child, and I absolutely adored mine

Easy Bake Oven – I dislike cooking, even to this day, but I loved my Easy Bake just for the fact that I could create cookies that were never fully cooked, yet still tasted fantastic.

xmas image

Memorable not so memorable gifts

Hot wax removal system thingy – this apparatus was absolute torture.  When I applied the wax to my legs and tore the strip off; I am positive you could hear me scream clear across the city!  This was painful stuff.  I forgot the product name, as it went into the dumpster the next day.  As for my legs, the hair was removed alright, as well as any possible hair follicles underneath and I didn’t have to shave for long after.  Thanks, Aunt Sandy.

The Clapper Clap-On Clap-Off – This gadget uses a sound-activated switch sensitive to hand clapping to turn on/off such things advertised as: lamps, radio etc. (up to two appliances that are plugged into it).  Too much clapping for me; felt as if I was at a concert.  Thanks, but I forgot who gave this to me.

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FITNESS CLUBS & NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

Written by: Deb

Here we go with the New Year’s Resolution thing again.  I didn’t make one as I generally only seem to keep it for less than 2 weeks.  I describe my protest of New Year’s Resolutions, the reason being is I, along with 88% of the world, also don’t end up keeping them past March. I recollect one year that I did make it to late February on a daily diet consisting of skinless chicken breast, grapefruit and unlimited water and 3 daily workouts per week.  I shed the pounds, however, gained it back faster than I lost it.

On four occasions I have gone the fitness club route – all I have quit and lost money.

The last club I joined, caught my attention with an advertisement “Join 4 months for $1.00.”  Who wouldn’t sign up?  Was this too good to be true….yes, as it turned out, it was.

I made an appointment; meeting the sales rep/personal trainer/receptionist who gave me the club tour (I think her main job was more the sales rep dressed in work-out fatigue).  She talked extremely fast, and showed me the club just as fast, with me having a work-out just touring the club!  Next came the all out sales pitch.  I asked about the “4 mos/$1.00” deal – “works out in the end for the annual fee, (she was bubbly), but doesn’t include towel service”, she stated.  Towel service?  I always bring my own towels anyways?  I was then presented with a long, legal sized 3 sheet document written in 6 font.  Lots of “I” this and that.  But all in all it was a decent price, I could afford it and I signed on the dotted line.

I was bound and determined to make a go of this.  At least 3 times per week I promised myself; no less, no excuses, aqua fit and floor apparatus with each visit.  Commitment.

After about a month, what began as 3X per week, sort of dwindled to 2, then 1.  Every excuse I could think of for myself; library to pick up books, going out to dinner (should have been working out-not eating), too damn tired, groceries, Wal-Mart before it gets busy, etc. etc.  Flimsy stuff; easy to think of excuses.

Not to make excuses, but the club was a little shy of the number of treadmills and other equipment causing wait times.  I am impatient to say the least, and sometimes just headed out the door home.  The first time on the treadmill (I’m sure others can relate to this), I stupidly stood on the belt, so when the machine started, I darn near went flying.  Thank goodness I was holding onto the metal side bars, as that would have been a sight.  Red faced and attempting to appear it an equipment malfunction, I did it right the next time ultimately becoming a pro after that.  I never enjoyed the huffing and puffing and that was only in the walking position on these machines; comparing to the more fit ladies next to me who were jogging, no huffing/puffing and staring at the TV above at the same time.  A wonderment at best with this coordination.

The aqua fit I really did enjoy, as being wet in the winter time was a turn-off.  Another flimsy excuse.

I never lost any weight or inches, and somewhat embarrassed when out of curiosity the sales rep/trainer did a 6 week follow-up of my progress.  Progress?  My numbers were worse than when I started!  Humpty Dumpty potato chips along the way didn’t help I guess!

I eventually quit and once again – more money went down the drain.

So this year, I am going to tough it out on my own; eating the celery and carrot sticks at my desk, soup or salad for lunch, and god knows what for supper.  I’ll just do my best and aim for a regimen of walking the dog more often, and parking further from the mall doors when I go shopping.  What’s a gal to do?  No excuses.

Quote – PTSD – Narcissistic abuse from mom

NARCISSISTIC MATERNAL ABUSE

My mother was uncaring and ignored me for most of my life...and wonders why I ve abandoned her now that she s elderly? cherished79.com blog "Living in Stigma"

I wrote this quote referring to the selfishness of my narcissistic mother.  She fails to recall the days of ignoring me, joining in on anything I found enjoyable or excited about or the entire way she treated me.  Her abuse had an enormous impact on my life, and I remain in therapy.

Now she is elderly, feels isolated and displaying signs of illness.  She questions “Why don’t you ever visit or come over for lunch because it’s lonely every day in this apartment?”.  Hmmm, I wonder why?

I finally went NO CONTACT three years ago as I was tired of her never-ending abuse.

Is your doctor always running late? Does 10:15 become 11:15?

Doctor’s appointments, do you really ever get in @10:15?

I doubt it. Success in seeing your doctor at the scheduled appointment time is like a crap shoot, and typically not my luck. I’m forever on time, I don’t know why she never is and I keep forgetting to bring my camping gear to set up for the day.

You recognize a dilemma when the receptionist slides the plexiglass window and smiles, “Hi Deb, she’s a little backed up this morning, we’ll call you soon”. ‘Backed up a bit, call you soon?’ “Backed up” in my experience translates to at least a minimum of 1 hour or more.

I detest these ‘backed up’ doctors, people are trapped in the waiting room fearful to leave for even a snack or pee break in the event your name is called. I think to myself, “Why did I take all morning off work, run like an idiot for the bus, not grab a coffee or something to read on the way, all so I wouldn’t be late for this appointment. Why do they book every 15 minutes, when they’re never on time?

After you have called everyone you can think of (most are at work or waiting at their doctor’s office), play scrabble or crossword on your phone or delete old contacts and your cell is frantic for a charge…your name is called. Yippeee! Now you are escorted into a smaller waiting room to wait and wait and wait some more!

~~~ Article written & copyrighted © by Deb McCarthy

The Fog Between My Fingertips

BLACK DEPRESSION

Hollowness, loneliness

Black hole

No light at the top

Drowning

No one saving me

Why?

No future

Just black dreams

Despair

Feels like a prison cell

Handcuffed

Black fog

Feeling the fog between my fingertips

Nothingness

Empty

No treatments working?

No doctors helping?

Why?

What kind of life is this

Black death sentence

Written & copyright by Deb McCarthy

Is it all because of Genitals?

Ok, so here’s the story:

A women-only spa in Toronto, Ontario, Canada took some massive criticism and triggered a social-media outcry last week, that prohibits some transgender women from using their facilities.

On Facebook, a woman stated that she refused to revisit the spa on account that they canceled her friend’s (who is transgender) appointment due to their spa’s policy which states “no male genitals” rule.

The spa explained, “because we are a bathing-suit-optional environment, our current policy is to ensure all clients are comfortable in an environment with nudity, including minors.”

The backlash was extreme from the public, transgender and LGBTQ communities. However, the spa further clarified that it’s a ‘single-sex facility with full nudity, and unlike other facilities.’  They stated they supported these communities, but the spa has policies to adhere to.

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PTSD ~ Those ‘Dirty Little Secrets’

I’ve written many posts about my PTSD (childhood sexual abuse); which was a ‘dirty little secret.’  Have you held on to secrets for years and years?

Recollecting my past, at around eight years old, while my friends and I played in our yard, the predator next door sat on his veranda puffing on a cigarette or repairing whatever under the hood of his car.

I was panicked for them and me, wanting so much to convey to them of the sexual abuse at the hands of this man, yet at the same time felt bewildered.

I had a secret; an ugly little secret, to something that I didn’t cause – or did I?

There was the distressing apology, forced by my parents to blurt out and recite with sincerity to this predator for abusing me.  That sincerity was met with confusion wondering how I wronged in the first place.  All kinds of feelings swished around: guilt, helplessness, and I was embarrassed.

A 30-year-old man is forcing sex on a child.  Would that warrant an apology?

Perplexing also was permitting this predator into our home for Sunday dinners.  Were my parents attempting to soothe the predator’s feelings for being wrongly accused?

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Welcome – Connecting With Everyone Struggling With All Invisible Illnesses

“Living in Stigma” connects with everyone coping with chronic pain, mental illness, and all invisible illnesses.

My blog Living in Stigma was launched in 2007 and originally dedicated to all of us struggling with mental illness.  I felt as if I was living in stigma with my own major depression.

Many forms of mental illness comprise of DepressionBipolar Disorder, Personality Disorders, PTSD, Eating Disorders, Alzheimer’s disease and much more.

I struggle with both mental illness and chronic migraines, and with news articles, social media, research and valued readers sharing comments and opinions on my blog, it’s a reality that invisible illnesses such as fibromyalgia, lupus, headaches, recurring back and leg pain, and so many more are also a vast portion of invisible illness stigma.  Continue reading

Little Girl

LITTLE GIRL

Hey, little girl, I saw you with that man

what were you doing, letting him have his way

didn’t you know it was wrong, why didn’t you stop it?

you could have said no, but you still let it happen

what’s wrong with you? how could you not know?

~~~~

I tried to say no, he was bigger than me

yet he made me feel wanted and special for once

I was his “princess” and he said I “danced like an angel”

and I was invisible to everyone else

even though it hurt, it was worth the warm feelings

that I craved so much, and he granted me so lovingly

but then came anguish and pain

~~~~

Finally, I did try to tell, but no one would listen

the words came out, yet no words were heard

no one will really know

that my mind and my heart

died back then

I was little and

I didn’t know how to say no

_______________________________________________________

Written & copyright Deb McCarthy/2017

*I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, and it feels so much better to be able to say ‘survivor’ rather than ‘victim’ now.

Mother, Do you deserve a Card? PTSD – Survivors of Abuse

As an unloved daughter of a narcissistic mother, the cards or flowers I handed to her with ‘love’ throughout the years were given with the expectations and desires that one day she would hug me with love.  Giving her a card each year was presented or mailed with a fake smile or strained “Love you always mom.”

She by no means ever deserved a card, lunch or dinner out, and especially a visit when I was an adult.  When I moved across the country, there was one year I ‘neglected’ to send a card or call.  This resulted in a ‘hissyfit,’ possibly threw one of her notorious tantrums including tears, resulting with my father phoning me, blasting “how could you treat your mother like this?”  I can’t recall my reply, but more than likely, I said I was sorry.

A few days passed, and what do I receive in the mail, a multi-page letter from my mother ranting how self-centred I am, this is the way I treat her after everything she’s done for me throughout my life, took care of me, and will sever our relationship now.  This was due to not sending a card?

To be honest, I feel jealous of others who have/had a wonderful mother.

So to all of those who are survivors of narcissistic emotional abuse, or never received the kind of motherly care, empathy, encouragement, and love; this post is dedicated to you. You are all Warriors!

Hugs,
Deb

It’s not just a ‘headache’ ~ It’s ‘CHRONIC MIGRAINE’

These chronic migraines are not “pop 2 aspirin and call me in the morning” headaches……

Image Source: “Making Migraines Visible” image included in a slideshow by: Teri Robert on HealthCentral.com

Chronic Migraines

That’s me, that’s what I suffer with.   Winter has been unkind to me, especially January through March, where very few days did I escape not having a migraine headache.   The pulsating, throbbing head and face agony had me bedridden most days, and other times unable to wear my glasses due to tenderness over the bridge of my nose.

Since thoughts of jumping over the balcony crossed my mind to end this crap and a trip to the emergency isn’t an option anymore (wait times approx. 10-14 hrs. and their refusal to use narcotics), I had to ‘suck it up’.

My neurologist suggested Botox treatments, but I’m unsure of this method for chronic migraines, and the research I’ve done has shown some people were worse off with the treatment due to constant stiff necks and even more pain + medications.  I am considering chiropractic or acupuncture methods, but for this past week, I’m experimenting with a natural herbal medication which has shown good progress so far.  Fingers crossed!

This wonderful link provides a more in-depth look at migraines @ HealthCentral.com http://www.healthcentral.com/migraine/cf/slideshows/migraines-visible#slide=1

(updated and reposted)

Broken Trust

Trust was broken

you knew it was

But that didn’t stop your

desire and craving

~~~

My hands were tied

literally

above my head

to the bed

Who cares, you thought

I’m getting what I want

~~~

This secret between us

no one will know

I’d never tell

because you persuaded me

told me I was lucky and special

to have someone like you

a special person

for protection and care

Trust wasn’t broken

You were was entitled to this

______________________________

Written and copyright by Deb McCarthy/2017

Would saying good-bye to your therapist cause you trauma?

If you're looking for a therapist, keep these things in mind. 50 Signs of Good Therapy:

Would this be a tough decision? Have you prepared yourself?

Presently, I still require individual therapy from my therapist, for she has been the most successful in tackling the secrets and hurts that I’ve been holding onto for so many years. I remain needy to be heard and reassurance from her, so I will continue on for now, and for me at this moment, it’s distressing to consider parting ways, but I recognize that day will come and I will have to prepare myself for it.

How gruelling therapy is in the first place, and yet to be so secure with a stranger, to trust and disclose your most private inner thoughts, secrets, feelings and emotions; a person who listened to you when no one else does or ever did, never criticized, nor judged and was actually absorbed in what you had to say. It’s a reassuring relationship.

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Am I being punished for having Depression?

Rummaging through my unorganized closet, I came across an article I wrote during my years in the hospital fighting depression. A roommate during my stay, whom I became close friends with, recalled her descent into hellish depression, as well as her suicide attempt. She gave me permission to write this article (excluding her name).

Dreaming. In tranquil waters. I’m sitting in my dinghy cross-legged, floating. The sea and sky are black.

I awaken. Black. Black is black. The room is black, but it must be morning. I’m all mixed up. I thought I heard the food trays arrive. I sneak a quick look out my room, and yes it is morning, but the halls also look black. All I sense is dread. Am I in a dream world? I shuffle back to bed.

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Dark Clouds and Shattered Sanity

Dark clouds, isolated

Lack of faith

Laughter faded, only tears

~~~

I hate my mind, I hate my brain

I hate my heart for it breaks every day

~~~

I will perish this way I know

I’ve run away from life

I don’t fit outside

I don’t fit inside

I drown in my disgrace

~~~

Black circles beneath my eyes

Hands grip my head

I’m all alone

My life isn’t cherished

Why should I pretend it to be?

I’m not living for me

I’m living for you

~~~

Shattered sanity

Worthless, pointless, hopeless

Tears flow from my eyes

Depression has taken over

Written and copyrighted by Deb McCarthy/2017

Originally posted on Niume.com

Are you faking PTSD for attention? or is this a scam?

I have CPTSD (sexual and emotional abuse), and just hearing the word “fake” & “scam” was an enough to cause an actual trigger to my past, coupled with huge anxiety and intense anger.

Yesterday, while sitting in a coffee shop sipping tea and reading a book, two women around 30 – 40 years of age sitting behind me, actually had this conversation. True story. I’ll call them A & B.

A –Do you believe in all of this PTSD shit?

B –I don’t know what to think sometimes. I do know a co-worker who’s sister is going to therapy for it, I don’t know what exactly for, but she just said something that happened to her when she was young and has PTSD now.

A –Do you think it’s for real, or is she looking for attention? How old is her sister?

B –I think she’s in her 30’s, not sure. It’s something about molestation or something, I didn’t want to ask and be nosey.

A –Yeah right, like she can remember things that happened when she was a kid!

B –Well it’s her business

A –I’m just asking because I saw a show last night showing how some men in the military and some police are actually faking having this PTSD, just to collect disability. Some of them have collected $100,000.00, what a shame when people that have an actual disability need it.

And, their discussion continued……..

PTSD is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event such as a natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, rape, or other violent personal assault. PTSD is a real illness that causes real suffering. (source: psychiatry.org/ptsd) Continue reading

Do I want Group Therapy? Yikes!

funny

Most of my therapy has been individual, and I shied away from group therapy due to the fact that I was uncomfortable sharing my problems relating to depression and sexual abuse with a bunch of strangers.  To be honest, my biggest fear was losing it and looking like an idiot if I started bawling my eyes out!   However, I had no choice at the eating disorder program, it was 90% group and about 10% individual therapy.

I loathed it initially, others speaking out about themselves, revealing deep dark secrets that they had been holding onto, and slowly I became to trust them and I opened up.  In short, it was very helpful in my recovery, yet I have to say honestly, I still prefer one-on-one.  Give it a try though, it may suit you.

This article appeared in PsychCentral.com

Individual psychotherapy will always be the staple. It establishes the bond. It explores the ups and downs of that bond and probes the depths of the psychodynamic patterns of that bond and other bonds. It is the primary mode of understanding. It exists of and for itself and is not dependent on anything else. Group therapy is an adjunct to individual therapy.

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What happened next when you told someone about your sexual abuse?

There has been a secret you’ve been concealing, that’s most likely eating you up inside, however, you now have mustered enough courage to tell someone you trust. It’s rough, and you’re just a kid.

Protection and trust have already been shattered by your abuser; you just couldn’t take it anymore, now it’s time to receive compassion, tenderness and told you were so courageous for coming forward and that person will be punished.

It may perhaps have been very positive for you, you were believed, acknowledged, obtained love, affection, sorrow and apologies for this ever happening; possibly counseling. You went on to recover with perhaps some difficulty, but you received support.

OR

Instead, it was the most regretful day of my life.

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I was incarcerated because I panicked

This was my first time “behind bars” taken via a police car and booked tonight just because I panicked. One feels this is jail, tossed into a cold cell awaiting the guard to slam shut the heavy metal door. Lying there frozen, shivering, alone peering down to shackled ankles. Why do I deserve this? Jailed because I have a mental illness?

Bolted down. Incarcerated.

Eyes open slowly and encircle a dingy room. Everything is bolted; windows, a desk, chairs, and including this bed. The windows have bars attached, walls are an ugly light pink and the curtain dividing my neighbor’s bed looks hideous also, but what was I expecting; a hotel room?

Is it daybreak? A rap on the door startles me, followed by a female voice stating, “breakfast and meds”.

I prefer not recalling what happened last evening, dialing the Distress Center, talking for what felt like hours with a counselor who had a monotone voice about my obsessive suicidal feelings. Thoughts danced in my head for days, dreaming of ways to carry out my demise. Then, at some stage in this conversation, I became irritated and slammed down the phone, prompting an unexpected visit from the police. Next a knock at my door where I was unconvincing as to my state of mind, and there a decision was made, I was to be transported somewhere?

Neighbors, who don’t as a rule, walk their dogs, now saunter by the police car, peering in, along with others peeking through window blinds and curtains. The back seat of this cruiser is larger than expected, however, I am seated with my mind in a muddle, confused, uncertain of the future yet despising the present.

Both police officers chat quietly in police jargon; I assume they are awaiting word of which hospital to take me, then suddenly I’m on my way. The drive is a speedy drive, yet for me, a lengthy one. A time to reflect… a time to sob…. a time to sit in wonderment. In the back of a cruiser – how can this be? Punishment? I’ve never committed a crime in my life. Will I go before a judge; am I to be sentenced and charged for suicidal ‘thinking’ and (to some) selfishly wishing to end my life?

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Is your psychiatrist helping you, or is it time for a trade-in?

Wow, I have had my share of psychiatrists throughout my mental illness journey, both as an inpatient and outpatient, beginning in 1994. I won’t list them all, simply the ones who stood out.  

#1-Dr. C. I’m convinced this man was 80, coughed his brains out with every visit, and actually asking “are you sure this is depression you have”? Hmmm…..He left me feeling desperate, confused and asking myself if I did have depression. I know I did, others doctors confirmed the diagnosis.  He was the only doctor available at the time so I was ‘stuck’ with him for a couple of years.

#2-Dr. D. He was the lead psychiatrist who was responsible for my care during the severest years of major depression and hospitalizations. Opting for quick visits while an inpatient, his attention appeared to be given to more youthful patients. Dr. D. was forever ready with a script pad for a refill or new medications and believed in the power of useless ECT’s. Continue reading

The “Everything Happens for a Reason” statement is Crap

Opinion

I think about this statement often, and when someone utters these words, it pisses me to no end. 

What precisely does it mean, and why do people say it? Are they so narrow-minded, wrapped up in religion, or in another world?

Does it mean when there is a world disaster, a plane crash due to a mechanical issue, a school shooting, childhood sexual abuse, people diagnosed with an illness, serial murderers and rapists, riots, war veterans killed or any other horrible occurrence, it happened for a reason? Please explain.

For me, it goes way back to my very ill years struggling with major depression and my mother once commenting the ever so “everything happens for a reason” words. Really, mom? You mean the sexual abuse, which led to therapy, which led to depression, which led to hospitals, a myriad of meds, which led to suicide attempts, countless ECTs, which led to losing my career, almost foreclosure on my house, hubby losing his job, losing friends etc. What exactly do you mean?

I don’t believe people recognize how much these words can sting, it’s almost a “whatever”. IMO, just support that person, show comfort and most of all keep your trap shut.

Written and copyright by Deb McCarthy 2017

Triggering Triggers (PTSD)

Trigger Warning!!

Triggers can pop up just about anywhere.  Just when you think that you have tackled an issue, whether it is dealing with a traumatic experience or re-living memories in a disorder called (PTSD), post-traumatic stress disorder, triggers may resurface.

A trigger is something that sets off a memory tape or flashback transporting the person back to the event of her/his original trauma.  PsychCental.com

For me, traveling the tough therapy road, confronting issues relating back to my horrid past of childhood sexual and emotional abuse (PTSD), I lived with flashbacks and frightening dreams.  Certain smells, certain surroundings…..hard to pinpoint, can trigger a recollection.  Luckily, I have moved on with my life and can swiftly shove these painful thoughts aside.  It took years though to be able to achieve this.

A couple of years ago, a tough test for me tackling triggers was put to the test.  Nine years of hospitalizations ended in 2002, and I had not visited the inside of any hospital ward since that time.  My psychiatrist’s office was in the hospital, and although I had to pass by the doors to the ward for each appointment with him, it never bothered me due to the fact that I was an outpatient now.

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My chronic migraines ~ I’m cranky

I’ll admit I’ve been cranky with an awfully short fuse lately, however, I’ve also been bedridden with ice-packs stuck to my head, isolated, and living in dark spaces for months. Winters in Canada aren’t kind to me, the barometer changing from day to day and week to week promotes wicked chronic migraines. Weather changes are my triggers.

I’ve posted previously about my 40+ year struggle with these crappy recurring headaches doing anything to prevent a trip to the hospital emergency for an IV drip to end the agony. The waits are lengthy (8-12 hours), torturous and almost always have some nitwit beside me who wants to chit chat.  Leave me be, please!

Currently, in my city, though, migraine sufferers cannot be treated with narcotics relief at any hospitals only providing Toradol which is comparable to placing a band-aid on my forehead.  Best to remain at home and suffer in peace.

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My Teacher Wore Oven Gloves

Have you ever had someone enter your life that really made a difference when you were a child, validated your feelings or listened with concern when you spoke?

Perhaps it was a mentor, coach, Girl Guide leader; you get the idea. Reflect for a minute who that person was. For me, it was my high school home economics teacher, Mrs. Fox.

Each day I was greeted with a brilliant smile from her, and the only teacher throughout my entire schooling that I connected with.

I was emotionally abused by my narcissistic mother, forever feeling depressed, apathetic, sullen, despondent and isolated. Her home economics course, for grades eleven and twelve, included both cooking and sewing/crafts (this was back in the early 70’s when it was assumed girls who graduated would ultimately become secretaries or housewives!).

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Have you ever felt handcuffed to your house?

Yes, it felt as if I was handcuffed to my house.

Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? But for countless years, and at times even today, depression = dark fog and black clouds. Recalling my most difficult years of major depression, that’s the way things were.

My life was filled with such overpowering blackness; the black, muddy life of depression. The massive hands took hold of me and wouldn’t set me free.

Days upon days were spent just existing in my house, rarely venturing further than the end of the driveway. Appointments with my family doctor or psychiatrist became a major production; organizing what to wear, bus route times, what to discuss. As the months and years progressed, I became a depressive recluse. Outings with my husband for dinner or lunch were a rarity, as well as, a trip to the mall. Life was just too dark.

I lost contact with friends, triggering further feelings of abandonment and isolation; that coupled with not having any energy, just hating life itself, propelled these horrid feelings of “who gives a shit”. I grew comfy in my house, and never a “sleepy” depressive, I forever arose fairly early, planted myself on the sofa and spent the better part of the day there.

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Can you tell if I have Bipolar Disorder?

Face, Women, Look, Girl, Think, Eyes

Mental illness is surrounded by a glut of half-truths and untruths. If you tell someone that you’ve been diagnosed with, for example, bipolar disorder,  they are likely to roll their eyes and say, “I don’t believe it – you don’t look mentally ill…?”  What does mental illness look like then?

Which brings me to my question: Do I perchance look like I have Bipolar Disorder? I don’t think I do. Am I perhaps making something out of nothing? Self-confidence and self-esteem slid into the basement and remained there for too many years. Trudging through the mud, and finally locating a ladder to climb up, rung by rung, I achieved the surface.  An awfully scary surface.

To look at me, I hope you’d never guess I’ve been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and struggling with PTSD. There’s no sign around my neck, but if you worked with me, for example, you’d soon notice that I’m perhaps “different,” or a little “odd”. For one thing, I’m somewhat negative at times, having difficult moments following directions, have to write everything down or repeated. Sometimes I can’t keep focus, have mood changes and where other people find new work assignments challenging; I sit in self-doubt and bewilderment.

“My self-confidence feels in jeopardy each moment”.

I’m the one who takes their performance review to heart. If I only score nine rights on my monthly performance review and one is negative, I feel total devastation, berating myself repeatedly. A true perfectionist, at least, I try to be, however letting myself down is somewhat of a crucifixion. But, I am your dependable employee,  the one who shows up promptly for work, the gleeful one, the one who shows little anger, and the one touted as paramount in customer service. I must apply a mask for the most part.

Although I felt as if a hex was put upon me years ago, I feel slightly different now. I’m still bitter about the illness at times but realizing that THIS is ME.

Written & copyright by Deb

You Know You…..and invisible illnesses

YOU know you are strong inside despite what mental illness or a chronic illness has dealt you.

YOU know you are doing the best that you can, with what life has handed you.

YOU can pat yourself on the back right now, for a job well done. Mastering and surviving each day with an illness, in my eyes, is a full-time job.

Only YOU will know when it’s time to return to the working world; if that is your goal. It’s alright to be coached and nudged, but you are really the best judge.

Only YOU know the blackness felt during depression – how the pitch black mud swallows you up and is unforgiving.

Maybe YOU don’t know how very precious you are, and that you didn’t ask for this illness, and you didn’t choose to be ill, and that mental illness is not a character flaw.

YOU will find society’s thinking and attitudes on invisible illness stigma still remain, but with education, perhaps people will alter their opinions and/or judgment.   

But YOU know YOU, and that is all that is important.

Written and copyrighted by Deb McCarthy/2017

Imagine asking: Are you even trying to get better?

What kind of question is that? Who would ask someone that? Mental illness stigma at it’s best.

There are still so many comments made by society concerning mental illness, striking close to home with me and my struggles with depression.

Dusting off some old journals, back from my days in the hospital, I came across one stay where I “interviewed” informally some fellow patients enduring their experiences. While there were many more stories; I only selected these three:

These are samples of mental illness stigma and what society perceives.

~~~

*Denise in her early ‘20’s gave a rather heartrending account of an outing just that evening with her mother.

Denise’s mother picked her up from the hospital for dinner at a mid-priced restaurant. It was trivial talk mostly, due to the fact that she had just undergone an ECT the day prior and depression was relentless. After dinner, they both drove to the mall where they shopped for a new outfit, but it was on the drive home that anger and that feeling of failure set in.

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Depression continues…

I didn’t compose the words in this quote, and for the past few months, I’ve been struggling with depression several days per week.  Researchers state that there is a connection between migraines and depression, and living daily with excruciating migraine pain; who wouldn’t be depressed. I’m pretty much housebound. Depression seems a never-ending crawl through muck.

But, writing is my passion, keeping me sane, and distracting my mind off my thumping head.  I’m starting Somatic Experience Therapy next week, anyone ever heard of it? Does it help for trauma?

Deb

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STIGMA – IN THE WORKPLACE

STIGMA ~~

Considering so many people have such difficulty opening up to people close to them, it’s no wonder that there are real fears about being stigmatized in the workplace. The cost of mental illness in the workplace is enormous: 30 to 40 % of disability claims are for mental illness, and the losses amount to about $33 billion a year, not including treatment and health care—plus the unknowable costs in lost productivity by those people who suffer in silence.

Employees should think carefully about how much and to whom they are planning to disclose information. If an employee is performing a job well despite a mental illness, then there would be no obligation to disclose his/her condition. In fact, the benefits and risks of disclosing should be carefully weighed before any action is taken.

Sharing information with co-workers is a matter of personal choice. Trust is the issue, and although there is always talk among co-workers, be wise when or if you choose to disclose. This could be detrimental to your future with your company. Really ask yourself – am I going to be farther along by disclosing or just remain silent. Will it hurt or harm? And is it worth it?

*In my personal situation, I never uttered a word fearing possible job loss.  Trust was one reason but stigma was the main issue.

THE JOURNAL – Thoughts on Paper

THE JOURNAL

My first diary dates back to 1972. I was in high school and not enjoying life a great deal. The majority of my entries were depressing and distressing, and this seemed my only avenue to express feelings. I have been somewhat devoted to journaling throughout the years, and cherish them written throughout my darkest, blackest depression days.

Lengthy days spent in hospitals, which included charting extensive medications prescribed and daily feelings were recorded. Memory loss can be recaptured now due to these entries. Even though I am on my road to recovery, I still record daily, or weekly and it’s somewhat of a habit.

The journal itself doesn’t have to be an expensive, leather-bound book – mine is an inexpensive spiral ‘4 subject book’ purchased at a department store. Keep in mind this is YOUR journal.

Getting Started

Find a comfortable chair or seat yourself at the kitchen table. Clear your mind. Relax. Let your thoughts and emotions flow freely. It is important that you do not censor yourself as you write. Do not worry about grammar or punctuation errors. Put every thought onto the page.

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“Lucy Shares Some Secrets” (children’s book)

lucy shares

Childhood Emotional Neglect and Narcissism

I’ve always been curious about writing children’s books and this is my first attempt.  My goal here was to create a book, that would have allowed me at age 8 to realize that my mother’s anger was there and how sad and lonely I felt.  The way she treated me was unfair, and I craved to tell someone who would believe me and validate my feelings.

However, I grew up in the 60’s and back then we didn’t have access to teachers, school guidance counsellors, neighbours or a therapist available for our chances to trust and come forward with sad or scared feelings.

Perhaps a young child now may read this and choose to trust a teacher, or friend or someone whom they can share what emotions they are holding inside.

Lucy is beginning to observe how terribly her mom has been treating her lately. She’s puzzled, she can’t understand why her mom continues to name her stupid and clumsy when she struggles so hard to please her mom. She just feels she’s never good enough.  She holds her emotions inside, never telling anyone how she is feeling.

Read this Free book ” Lucy Shares Some Secrets

I was able to use the tools and platform from StoryJumper.com.