RIP Melody

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(Pictures of Melody)

I just found out that a friend of mine passed away a year ago. I knew her through Facebook; but, that doesn’t diminish for a second, the deep connection we shared. We had endless Facebook chats and spoke on the phone a few times too. We shared our pain, our stories and quite a few laughs. We called each other Warrior Goddess sisters. We chatted about family, men, life, death, grief, physical pain, mental illness, creativity, fairies, magic, God and the Universe.

 
Melody was there for me, the way good friends are. At the time I was Agoraphobic and living in a one bedroom apartment with my 12 year old daughter. My disability payments barely covered the rent. Melody always cheered me up and encouraged me. She’d tell me to summon my warrior spirit, and I would do the same for her. We were survivors. We took our turns with insomnia and depression, and we would always try to be there for each other.

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(Melody’s husband photo shopped these for us. Her the warrior, and me the fairy)

Melody was a giving person too. She was an artist, and jewelry artist. One day I received a package from her with a beautiful bracelet in it for my daughter, and a fairy necklace for me, that she had created, accompanied by a couple of handmade cards. She even once mailed me $11. cash for a bottle of wine! We called it drinking grapes! 🙂

 
The last time I spoke to her was 2012. We both had things to go through and we fell out of touch. I tried sending her a few messages through the years; but no reply. Her Facebook account wasn’t very active.

Today, in my Facebook memories, she came up. I went on her page to see if there was any new activity. The last posts were all of us wishing her happy birthday Sept, 2016. I scrolled down a little and there was a post that said RIP, and a few after that saying she passed away.

 
My eyes filled with tears. Her obituary says she died May 2016. She was only 54. No details or explanation, and per her request no memorial service. I have spent today processing this news, my emotions, and memories.

Emotions and memories of a woman that I have never met in person; yet feel so karmically intertwined with. I wished I had reached out more or there was something I could have done more for such a generous, humorous, beautiful spirit.

 
I can’t help but to worry that she was sick or in pain. She often was. It makes me sad to think she may have never got the healthy life she wanted. It makes me want to hug myself tight and be grateful that I have found the strength to persevere, and that I am still on this amazing planet Earth. I set free the guilt because that is what she would want me to do. No more suffering now, my Warrior Goddess sister! I hope your wild heart is free and your soul traveling like a magical gypsy. I’ll see you at the Fairy dance. I hold up my glass of grapes to you my Dear Melody! RIP

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My Plant Journey has Begun

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I have finally begun my Herbal Apprenticeship at Misty Meadows Herbal Center!! I first heard of this course through my NH Employment caseworker. My daughter was a baby and I was in a program that helped single moms receive education needed to get back to work. I told him I was interested in Alternative Medicine and he mentioned he knew a woman, Wendy who offered some classes on herbs. He was going to mention me to her and see if he could work something out; but, shortly after that, President Bush cut the program. I tucked the aspiration in my pocket and went back to dancing;

After sitting on that goal for all these years it is enthralling it is finally a reality! “The Spirited Herbalist” “A plant guided journey to self” is the title of the course. Orientation was April 9, and I knew something magical was happening the moment there was drumming and a song to Mother Earth to open. I found it hard to hold back tears as deep primal emotions arose within. It stirred memories with my mom by the campfire, singing, and drumming. It made me feel connected to the Ancestors.

Class time is 8:45am to 5:30pm one weekend each month through November, and 10 practicum hours a month working in the gardens. In between classes we have to find, identify and gather plant samples, on our Plant ID list. It is quite the task. My first reaction was frustration, and negativity. I thought what the hell am I paying to learn if I’m just given a book and a list of plants to go find? Then it immediately dawned on me, Oooh! THIS is the journey part!

A journey it is too! I was feeling so much pressure gathering school supplies and trying to find plants that I knew nothing about. The feelings of self doubt grew strong. I felt like I wasn’t finding anything. I wondered if there was a late bloom because of the snow. I couldn’t even find a dandelion at first! One afternoon, I was extremely stressed out; I stopped at a thrift store for a glass bowl needed for the first class. I had planned on going to the woods at school to surely find what I needed; but, instead I locked the keys in my car. Of course my cell phone was in the car as well. I managed to borrow a passerby’s cell to contact a locksmith. Three hours later, I was back in my car. It was too late to go to the school, so I headed to a park with woods. I walked two hours in tears. My feet hurt, the bugs were biting me and I didn’t find one thing on my list; but, I was in nature, and it was healing. I dried my eyes, surrendered. and called it day. As I was leaving, I saw this beauty hiding near a murky swamp. For some reason, I felt better, hopeful.

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I posted the picture in our classes Facebook group and asked what it was. I shared that I stumbled upon her at the end of a very hard day and she cheered me up. I found out it is red trillium, also known as birthroot, and endangered. I felt honored and blessed that it presented itself to me.

Later that night, I messaged my faculty advisor and told him I was extremely overwhelmed and I wasn’t finding anything and didn’t understand why. The only thing I did know is that I am meant to be in this class and so I know it will work out. It was really hard for me to send that message, I felt like I failed and I was embarrassed. He messaged me back and was extremely supportive and encouraging. He said that if the Universe thinks I am ready then that should be an encouraging thought right there. He said it was perfectly normal to be feeling the way I did before first class. Then he offered to go on a plant hunt together at the school. The relief calmed my whole body and tears of joy were released.

I learned a valuable lesson from that experience. I can’t force finding plants or my relationships with them. I can’t neatly schedule it in and expect results. It is an unpredictable adventure. It’s absolutely mandatory to shed preconceptions. I have to put myself in a calm and centered space. I put out an intention and a message to the plants before I search. Sending love to them and gratitude for their lessons in advance. Suddenly, I found plant samples right at the apartment complex I live in!

The exploration of plants, spirit and myself have only just begun. It has returned me to a very sacred part of myself. A part that I used to only believe I could achieve with my mother’s guidance. I had my first weekend’s class on Mother’s day weekend. I mourned my mom as usual; but, I felt some contentment and peace in knowing I am doing something she would be very proud of. I am discovering my own mystical potential.

I believe there is a synchronicity to the timing of events, especially life changing ones. I am beginning to understand why the Universe had me wait almost 18 years. The spiritualistic lessons I am learning and experiencing I may not have been fully ready for until now. This is and will continue to be an extremely powerful awakening!

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Holy Birthday!

Growing up my birthday never seemed too special. It always rained. My mom never had money due to Easter or taxes, so I never had a big birthday party with friends, and I usually got I.O.U’s for gifts. As a result most birthdays were spent fighting depression.

This year, both American and Greek Easter fell on my birthday making it feel holy to me. There were no family plans for Greek Easter, which was a first. One family member sick, one not speaking to me and two were homeless. The rest were scattered. I had decided it didn’t matter. My daughter and I would celebrate and that would be enough. No matter the circumstances I intended to celebrate my birth and the resurrection of Jesus.

I had to put aside my hurt feelings, my sadness, my anger and all my worries. The day before my birthday, I wrote this:

Tomorrow is my birthday. I’ll be 49 years old. I wouldn’t have been able to convince my younger self that I’d make it this far. I couldn’t imagine even being 40.  I am entering Crone phase of life. A place of deep beauty and wisdom. I’ve begun my herbal studies. I’ve learned about and exercised boundaries. I’ve faced fears, and journeyed deep within. I’ve had a hysterectomy and learned that I still have sacred womb space. I have learned to love myself more despite menopausal weight gain, wrinkles, and family members alienating me because I won’t feed into negativity. I am learning everyday and these gifts will richen my life as time passes. I will become that beautiful bohemian gypsy in my mind’s eye. I will love unconditionally, and receive love. I will heal and be healed.  I will respect and deepen my relationship with Mother Earth, Great Spirit and the Universe. I will learn to listen to their whispers. Though my family is separated I feel content with my own celebration.

Though I realized that some traditions would be missed and recipes would have to be revised due to the fact that my daughter and I have gone vegan. I had to find a way to celebrate my culture, my spirituality and my birth.

I began the day with a purification bath with dead sea salts. I researched both Greek churches and Unitarian. I ended up at a Unity Church. I was going alone and fought much anxiety. They welcomed me lovingly and without judgement. When I got home I made myself a poster that read, “49&Feelin’Fine! My daughter and I had a blast baking vegan chocolate cake. For dinner, I kept it simple. Vegan Spanakopita and Greek Salad with Marinated Tofu. Surprisingly family members showed up to celebrate with me. We all sat outside and ate. The day was blessed with sunshine, laughter and love.

It’s not everyday that Jesus and I share a holiday. I reconnected with Spirit and myself.  It truly was a holy and magical birthday!18010615_10211671942901640_6132256117513424825_n

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Pure Panic

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This past Friday, I had a major panic attack. I hadn’t had one in a long while. They happen when my anxiety spins out of control. I have managed my anxiety pretty well; but, sometimes it sneaks up on me, and before I know it I am in pure panic mode.

When it rains it pours, and I was soaking wet. Last Thursday my niece had showed me a bedbug she found in the middle of the night. It’s been two months since that hell and now they were back. Friday my best friend and nieces dad was getting out of detox for alcohol and coming back to stay at my place. They both have been staying here because they are basically homeless. My best friend was drinking heavily again and we got into two nasty and emotional arguments. So, he went to detox. I really wasn’t feeling ready to have him back; but, he had no where else. Then out of nowhere my sister attacked me verbally and I felt deeply hurt. These things coupled with the fact that I had orientation on Sunday for my new herbal apprentice class stressed me out immensely.

My anxiety couldn’t be calmed even with xanax. My heart was pounding loud and fast. My hands shook and sweat poured out of me. I felt nauseous. I thought how am I going to do this course, with all of this going on? I can’t do it! I cried. I tried to do a meditation for anxiety and still couldn’t manage my panic. Fortunately, I had therapy that day. The first thing she had me do was ground. Put my feet on the floor feel the connection to Mother Earth. She said it’s okay to be scared, then the tears flowed. I was terrified. I was scared that this bedbug problem will never get under control. I was nervous about my best friend and I getting into an argument. I was stressed having less space in my apartment with everyone staying there. I felt depressed over my sister’s comments, and I was scared to take this class. My social anxiety was booming.  After grounding and crying it out, my therapist gave me some DBT interpersonal skills to work on to prepare for Sunday.

Pure panic had me in it’s grip for a bit; but, after facing the fear and letting emotions flow I felt better. I went to my Orientation and it went very well. Yesterday they treated again for bedbugs. My niece and best friend are looking for a place. I am not taking my sister’s comments personally, she has her own stress going on.  

All is good for the moment. Just breathe….

 

 

pic credit from holistichealthliving.com 

Parenting and Mental Illness

 

 

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Parenting is like the ocean. Somedays are rough and turbulent, other days more calm and serene. Learning to go with the flow of the waves is the challenge.

Being a single parent it often feels like you are alone and swimming against the current.

When you are a single parent with mental illness, raising a child with mental illness;  it feels at times like we are both drowning.

My daughter was 6 years old when my mother died and my mental breakdown followed. Despite struggling with deep depression, I swallowed my tears and used every bit of strength to provide for my daughter; but, there were times when I couldn’t move weighted down with sorrow. I think my sadness scared her because I was all she had, and my condition threatened our stability.

She was often emotional and had major separation anxiety since childhood. She often threw fits when I had to leave, and she hated night time. She cried to sleep with me most of the time. Family and friends would comment and suggest that I should get her on medication, or I shouldn’t let her sleep with me, or she needed help. I didn’t believe any of it. I just wanted to pacify her fear.

I started her in counseling when she was 10 years old as a preventive measure. She had been through some trauma and I thought it would be helpful if she had someone else in her life she could talk to.

When she was 12 years old she started cutting herself. I can not express the horror in my heart as my babygirl felt compelled to hurt herself. I have a memory of tucking her into bed one night and noticing some cuts at the bottom of her pajama leg, as I lifted the material up I discovered a whole paragraph carved into her skin. Nooo! Not again!

I have another memory of coming home from the grocery store, and as I opened the door, she was on the kitchen floor in tears, “Mommy, I didn’t want to do it.” “I can’t stop myself.” There was a large steak knife stabbed into the cupboard door. Cuts on her arms. She had taken handfuls of ibuprofen. To the hospital we went.

I was completely traumatized and couldn’t leave her alone at all. The school called several times a week for me to come pick her up, because she had hurt herself or had thoughts of doing so. That year she was placed in the state hospital five times and endless trips to the ER.

She continued in therapy, DBT groups and we had family therapy. She did really well using her skills to refrain from cutting for four years, until she turned 17 years old. The pressure of her approaching adulthood got the best of her. We have spent the last year in and out of hospitals and programs. She refuses medication, so there is only so much treatment that is available to her. She is now doing better but the depression and mood swings are mainstay.

Her anxiety about becoming an adult is partially my fault. She lacks confidence in her ability to take care of herself, because I have always protected her. I lacked in structure because of my own depression. I failed to discipline effectively because of her eruptions. I try not to beat myself up and I truly know I have done the best to my ability; but, still feel guilt.

Today I woke up to her crying and bellowing. I held her and let her release it. There is nothing I can do or say to make it better. I feel completely helpless. A few hours later she is crying again. It is draining and I wonder how much more I can take. Will she ever be able to be on her own?  I start feeling hopeless. Then I catch my own depression. The tricks my mind is trying to play on me. Trying to convince me that it is worse than what it is. Taking me to a dark place that is all too familiar.

Truth is, I can’t take away the pain, the fear or the mental illness. I can support and love her while she learns to love herself. I watch patiently while she figures out how to cope with her own mood. She went for a walk as I write. We both need space to calm our own minds. We are very close, too close maybe. Our feelings effect each other on deep levels.

Some days are filled with laughter and happiness. Days that are sunny and the surf is good.

Then there are others gloomy and gray, and we are pedaling water furiously just to stay afloat.

 

photo by LanWu on Deviantart

 

 

 

New Season, New Moon, New Beginnings

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Happy Spring everyone! Though snow is in the forecast for NH tomorrow, I can feel new life stirring around the corner.

It was an extremely drawn out winter for me. If you read my last update, then you know, between bed bugs, breakdowns and trips to the hospital, there wasn’t much time for myself.

No time for self means depression. Depression is inevitable for me in the winter; but, this winter was especially gloomy.

That’s behind me now. Spring is here, even though it’s taking it’s time to show.

There was a new moon this past Monday. Perfect time to set forth a new attitude.

New season, new moon, new beginnings!!!

Next month, I will be starting an herbal apprentice course. I have wanted to take this course for almost 18yrs. So, it’s a big step. I am terrified, but the kind of fear that comes when you feel deep inside you will change.

I will definitely keep you posted on my progress.

Speaking of keeping you posted…I feel terrible that I haven’t blogged much.

I am so proud of myself that I finally started this blog and managed to hold onto it for a couple of years. I am always thinking of things I want to write about; but never make it to fruition.

With Spring’s renewal I renew my dedication to my blog. I vow to spend more time and effort into my blog and my writing.

I have finally made it to the point where my mental illness can no longer hold me back.

It may stop me in my tracks. It may take a day from me here and there. It may even break me at times; but, it can not stop me.

Everyday I begin again.

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Update: Chaos, Upheaval and Change

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Happy 2017 Everyone!  I feel like I am still purging 2016. I hate that I haven’t blogged in so long; but, my life has been in a constant state of chaos.  If you read my last update, then you know last year was a rough one for me.  After my meltdown, I regrouped and started prepping for winter by going back on my antidepressant (Wellbutrin) and increasing my Vitamin D. I always get depressed in the winter, so I figured preparing better might help. The holidays were around the corner which has its own stress; but, somehow wipes away when family gathers and laughter and love fill my heart.

I had a few good months after my last update; but, then December hit me hard. My daughter was sinking into a depression. I believe part of it was because she was feeling anxiety and pressure becoming an adult. She turns 18 in June. She dropped out of her DBT group, and then her dance program. She loves dance, so this was a big red flag. We started talking about residential treatment; but, here in NH there isn’t much available, especially if you don’t have money. She decided to try medication. The psychiatrist put her on Seroquel. She hadn’t slept in weeks, and the first night on the medication she slept like a baby, and it warmed my heart. She also started seeing her counselor twice a week instead of once. Things felt better for a second. Then she started talking to and meeting up with a couple of older men she met on the internet. Talk about a mother’s nightmare. I absolutely insisted on meeting the first guy who was 22years old. I had them meet in the mall figuring it is a public place, got his full name, address and telephone number. The second guy she snuck out to meet.

I woke up in the middle of the night to a person laying on my floor with their arm outreached for what I figured out later was my purse. They had a black hat on and a flannel. I reached down and touched their head, and questioned, Serenity? I thought it was my daughter and she couldn’t sleep again, and came in to  curl up as she has so many times before. The second I touched their head, they took off swiftly, ran down the stairs and out my back door which was left open a crack. Not fully awake, I quickly assumed it was Serenity and she was sleepwalking on her Seroquel. I searched the neighborhood, calling her name. After about 15min of trying to find her, I knocked on my sisters door and she and her son came over my apartment as I called 911. Shortly the police were over taking her description. I said she was wearing a black hat; but, then I saw on our stand the only black hat either of us own, and her flannel was hanging in the hallway. Now, I was confused and unsure what she was wearing. The officer took my info and went searching with flashlights through the neighborhood. To no avail, they had to call in a dog to search. I gave the officer her pillow case to have the dog sniff out. Again, no Serenity. The fire department came and used thermal imaging to try to find her. No success. They finally concluded that she must have took off and they left. I remembered her saying she met a 25yr old online, and now I was terrified what may become of her. About 5am, Serenity came through the back door. By this time, I had picked up my other sister too. As hard as it was adjusting to both my sisters moving close to me, I sure was happy to have their support.

“Serenity!” I screamed and threw my arms around her. Where were you? Why were you in my room at 1am, on my floor? She admitted she had snuck out to meet this guy; but, she swore it wasn’t her on my floor, and that she had left around midnight. It dawned on me that there was an intruder in my room and was reaching for my purse. I called the police to report she was home. The officer came over and gave her a gentle lecture about the fact that nothing good can come out of a 25yr old man meeting a 17yr old girl in the middle of the night. He went on to tell her that I swore by her and believed she was sleepwalking, and that they used about $5000. worth of resources trying to find her. Serenity at this point was crying. She gave us the guys name, and my sisters and I went on the internet to search for him. He had a lot of dark stuff on his Facebook page. I was extremely concerned. I wondered if somehow the intruder in my room was connected to him. Regardless, I told Serenity that it IS connected; because of she left the back door open. I could’ve been robbed, raped or killed. I grounded her and we had an appointment the next day with the psychiatrist.

The psychiatrist wanted to increase her Seroquel. He explained that the medication isn’t at a high enough dose to help with her mood disorder. At this point I am a mess, and she is out of control. I know medication isn’t going to solve this. We saw her counselor right after the psychiatrist. She told us about an intensive outpatient program for teens. Great. Serenity and I were arguing and when we got home she ran up the stairs, smashed her full length mirror, grabbed a shard and cut her arm all up. I hear her screaming mama, and I see the blood, the mirror, I fall to my knees, and call 911….again.

At the hospital, Serenity is as sweet as pie. I am angry inside and not falling for it. I can’t believe this is where we are at. She hadn’t been this bad since 12-13yrs old, when she had to be hospitalized 5 times for self harming and suicidal thoughts. The good thing was she was ok. I was hoping she would get admitted somewhere so they could help her stop this path of self destruction; but, Serenity knew what to say to keep herself out of the hospital, and we agreed on trying the outpatient program that her counselor had mentioned.

At this point I am feeling distant, angry and hopeless. We are normally very close; but, I couldn’t even talk to her. On Christmas morning, she breaks down because I had been so closed off from her. I hold her while she cries, and outpours her emotions. I cry with her. Then we agree that we will try this outpatient program, and that we will get through this. First, we are going to have a great Christmas. After we have our Christmas morning we are all heading to my brothers and our family will be together.

My sister video calls me and says her son fell down the stairs and they’re going to the emergency room. All I can see is my little nephew with a neck brace on in the back of an ambulance. I honestly snapped inside and went on auto pilot. We got to the hospital and thankfully my nephew is okay. He got a staple in his head. My daughter and I are starving and went to the cafeteria. She looks at me and says she wants a turkey sandwich. We’ve both been vegetarians for almost 2years. Let’s do it I replied. Finally, we are all leaving the hospital and head to my brothers where we had an incredibly beautiful Christmas.

The day after Christmas, my other sister who wasn’t feeling well enough to make it to our brothers, says she is moving back to Pa. I was extremely concerned that she would move back and use drugs again. It was too much to handle and I told her to give me a day. The next day I managed to go say goodbye to her and hear her out. She explained that financially she could be making strides in Pa. and she had a safe, supportive environment to go to. She missed her kids. My daughter and I exchanged hugs and tears with her and she left.

The very next day pesticide control was coming to inspect my apartment and confirmed my fearful suspicion, bedbugs. We had less than a week to bag up every belonging, and were instructed to buy mattress covers, and get ready for treatment. I dug into my small savings to purchase the covers and then went into physical exhaustion bagging up and laundering our entire apartment.Not to mention I was already emotionally spent. My BFF/brother in law was now staying in the living room with us for a few days, because he was having trouble at home

The morning they came to treat, I was throwing up. I had to get my 3 cats into the car and stay out of the apartment for 6 hrs. I asked them if I should throw away my furniture, and she said she had no opinion and that they were going to treat it. On the third and what was supposed to be the last treatment, I am informed that both mattresses, and my living room chair and couch are infested, with adult, babies, and larvae, and that they had been feeding. Now, I had to throw away all my furniture. Plus, they said I had to relaunder everything, and my place was too cluttered. I had to move my things into a storage. I was exasperated. Why didn’t they tell me this before? How was I supposed to afford a storage? Even if I could afford a storage, I knew I had clutter that needed to be tossed. IMy sister made an appointment with the health inspector for me. I went in circles trying to get some answers. Basically, the landlord was doing minimal action in order to be legally compliant. In reality, they should be treating the whole building and preferably heat treatment. Regardless, it didn’t change the fact that I had 5 days to complete these instructions. I spent 4 days, from morning to night sorting, tossing, crying. They came to treat again last Monday.

Meanwhile, my daughter started the outpatient program. Because she refuses meds, the insurance won’t cover it, so we have to pay each day she goes. Last Friday, she called me from school with thoughts of self harm. I picked her up and she went to her program. A few hours later, I received a call that they feel she needs a crisis evaluation, she is having suicidal thoughts. We spent two nights in the ER and Sunday she was admitted to a treatment hospital in Vermont. I was hopeful that finally she would get therapy she needed; but, again because she refuses meds she is being discharged tomorrow.

This past Monday, pesticide control came to do an inspection and finally got the good word that they didn’t see any bedbugs. However, I am leery, and will be very careful unpacking our things. I am also wondering when I do get furniture again, will they resurface? Are they hiding in the walls waiting?

So, my friends, this is why I haven’t blogged in awhile, and these are just the highlights. Presently, I am sitting on my bean bag chair next to my air mattress with everything I own in clear plastic bags. I await a family meeting over the phone with my daughter, and the hospital staff. I am on my third cup of coffee, and feeling more tired than ever. Last year was hell, and this year feels the same thus far. Outside my personal life, it seems the country is feeling some radical chaos itself. President Trump and all the upheaval is felt by all of us.

I pray that soon the sun will shine on us again. That all this change will even out and life will be bearable. That the chaos and upheaval will pay off in a way that was never suspected. Here’s to 2017.

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