Monday, February 27, 2017


You’re never too old to grow.  It took a lemon tree to reinforce that in my mind.
I’ve never been excited about flowers or plants growing in my yard. When I see flowers and fruit trees I think of insects. I hate insects of all kinds and I include butterflies in that lineup.
Recently I moved and discovered I now have growing in my backyard is a lemon tree and an Oroblanco tree. I was apprehensive about the plants when we first moved. I had no intention of going anywhere near them. I was hoping that the gardener would take care of them and I wouldn’t have to bother.
Then the trees started to get fruit. My family was delighted. I remember the day I actually went out there and stared at the trees. I just glared at them not sure what to do. So many thoughts went through my head.

Lemons from my tree.
Are there bugs on the trees?
What kind of weird insects would these trees attract?
Do insects burrow inside of these types of fruit?
Will picking these fruit bring bugs into my house.
Are the fruit safe to eat?
Will we die if we eat them?

My family had no such worries. They tried the Oroblancos (a fruit we had no idea existed) and they used the lemons to make lemonade. I tried to hide my fears. The thought of having the fruit in my house made me uncomfortable and feel out of control. Normally when I get that way my anxiety starts to peak. After awhile my fear began to subside. I began myself to use and eat the fruit. That may seem like a small feat but it was huge for me.
Oroblancos (sweet grapefruit)
Those trees in their growth helped me to grow as well. The fruit trees gave me the courage to move outside of my comfort zone and ignore the paranoid thoughts that plague me. Living with Bipolar disorder and anxiety makes me much more cautious than I want to be. It makes me hesitant to branch out and envelop myself in the world around me.
My fear of stepping into situations that make me uncomfortable consumes me most of the time. It stifled my growth and my ability to reach for or to want for more than what I have now.

It’s never too late to grow. With fruits from a lemon tree I have grown. Though it was a tiny bit every opportunity I have to move forward I will take. It is a step forward in my process with my mental illness. 

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Freedom (In honor of Black History Month)

I suffer from social anxiety disorder. Social Anxiety disorder is a condition when I fear situations where I may be judged. I am constantly worried of being embarrassed, humiliating myself, offending someone and being offended by someone and not having the courage to stick up for myself.  I tend to spend way too much time over analyzing my performance after social interactions. Because of this I tend to avoid social interactions if I can.
When I was in middle school I didn’t have a choice. My teacher required, for black history month, that we find a poem or a story to read in front of the class. It had to be about freedom and how to obtain it. We needed to find something that encapsulated the civil rights movement and present that to the teacher and the class. I began to get anxiety afraid that I would not be able to pull this off. The thought of presenting in front of the class brought about a wave of nausea and uncertainty.
Yet, I was a nerd and receiving an A on this project became paramount. I needed to get over my social anxiety in this instance and I needed to do it as soon as possible. So I searched and searched until I found the perfect poem. I knew it was the right fit when I found it. 
This is the poem…

MIDWAY, by Naomi Long Madgett

I've come this far to freedom and I won't turn back
I'm climbing to the highway from my old dirt track
I'm coming and I'm going
And I'm stretching and I'm growing
And I'll reap what I've been sowing or my skin's not black
I've prayed and slaved and waited and I've sung my song
You've bled me and you've starved me but I've still grown strong
You've lashed me and you've treed me
And you've everything but freed me
But in time you'll know you need me and it won't be long.

I've seen the daylight breaking high above the bough
I've found my destination and I've made my vow;
so whether you abhor me
Or deride me or ignore me
Mighty mountains loom before me and I won't stop now.

It empowered me to get in front of the class and present my poem with power and strength. Civil rights and black empowerment was the purpose of this poem but for me it meant more. My social anxiety is a hard thing to live with and this poem showed me that I could accomplish things despite the hardships. It meant more than being black or being proud of my blackness but that I could stand up for myself and overcome in many ways in my life.
“And I’ll reap what I’ve been sowing…” showed me that if I wanted a different outcome in life I had to reap it. In that moment I felt free, in that moment, from my social anxiety.

 In case you were wondering I received an A+ grade

Monday, February 20, 2017


There was a Facebook questionnaire that required you to ask your kids questions about yourself. I saw it and decided that I might ask my kids these questions. I had no plan to post their answers but I thought it might give me a laugh and see what my kids knew about me and what they thought about me.

“What does mommy like to do?” I asked my three daughters.
“Sleep,” they all answered in unison.
I continued to ask questions.
“What makes me sad?”
“Not getting enough sleep,” my nine year old answered.
“What is Mommies favorite hobby?”
“Writing and sleeping?” my five year old replies.

I laughed at their answers but it also gave me a moment of introspection. Do I really sleep that much? I knew that energy for me was a luxury item but I didn’t realize that it was that evident. I guess I wasn’t doing a good job hiding my exhaustion.
There are many days that I do not have the energy to do simple tasks. When anxiety hits and I begin to feel overwhelmed I sometimes end up sleeping and not accomplishing very much. That is also the case when I am depressed.
It’s not uncommon for those that suffer from anxiety disorder or depression can suffer from fatigue or exhaustion.  Anxiety affects the brain and when you have a prolonged case of anxiety your body and your brain may need time to reset and rest. Most likely, fatigue is caused simply as a result of your brain being overwhelmed with anxiety.
According to the Calm Clinic “anxiety actually affects your brain, your neurotransmitters, your hormones, your muscles, and even your nutrition. It's not unlikely that after severe anxiety, your mind wants to rest to recoup some of those changes.”

It is also the case, as I stated in previous posts, anxiety can also lead to not sleeping and compulsive behaviors.  Fighting your own brain for some form of normalcy can be exhausting. Trying to be “normal” when there Is chaos and anarchy in your head is laborious task. 

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Today was one of those days.
The moment I opened my eyes this morning I knew that it would be one of those days.
 For most people there are good days and there are bad days. When you are living with a mental illness there are no good days or bad days. There are “I’m content” days and “I survived” days. I can’t speak for everyone with a mental illness but, in my world those are my options. I know it sounds bleak but bare with me.
On an “I’m content” days, I normally have a relatively peaceful day. If I can laugh, smile, go to sleep slightly hopeful about the next day…that’s a successful day. If I woke not dreading the day ahead, able to shower, cook breakfast without the tightness in my chest that anxiety brings…I’m content.
Today was not one of those days.
I awoke with unexplained anxiety that persisted as I walked my kids to school. It didn’t let up when I was dragged to the gym by my husband hoping that would lift my spirits. I knew that it wouldn’t. I knew it was one of those “I survived” days.

On those days, I am moody and slightly depressed. Nothing good that happens that day can alleviate the pressure from my chest. Life seems bleak and hopeless but I know that I have to make it through the day.
Today was one of those days.
My husband took me to breakfast. He wanted to cheer me up. It did…for about an hour. When we returned home I laid across the couch as he rubbed my back. I worked myself up so much that my stomach began to hurt and I couldn’t relax or rest.
Eventually my husband had to leave. It was going away on business and it would be and the girls for a couple of days. I knew that it would be up to me until he came home and I had to do more than just endure.
Yes. Today was one of those days. One of those “I survived” days.
I survived today. That’s all I did. I wasn’t productive and I barely was able to make dinner and get the kids in bed. Yet, I survived.
As I type this, I am hoping for a better day tomorrow. I would love to just be content and just be able to shower, drink a cup of coffee, go to the gym and just have a normal day without the cloud that likes to hang around.

I’m hopeful; tomorrow will be a better day. 

Monday, February 13, 2017


Mop the floor.
Sweep the bathroom floor.
Vacuum the carpet.
Dust the shelves and picture frames.
Scrub the shower.
Clean the refrigerator.

My thoughts are hurried and fragmented and I am fighting for control. I can’t control the emotions and the feelings that have wreaking havoc inside so I must control my outward surroundings. The only thing that calms me when I am feeling out of control is cleaning.
I get irritable and irate when there is mess. I cannot control the mess that plagues me inside so I take it out on the dust sitting ever so gently on the top of the TV. I take it out on the candy wrappers that my daughters leave all over the house.
When my anxiety is flaring and my disorder is running a muck I develop a compulsion to cleaning. I don’t just have bipolar disorder, I also have an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorder is a severe form of anxiety where worry and fear becomes severe and heightened to a point it can disrupt the everyday life of the sufferer.

Dust karate trophies.
Must clean.
Everything has to be clean.
Not just clean but spotless.
Vacuum the rest of the house.

When my anxiety is at its peak I become compulsive about cleaning. Sometimes it mixes with bipolar hypomania and I will rip the house apart only to spend days putting it back the way it was in the first place.
When you have anxiety the scariest moment is the second when you feel like you’ve lost control.

Scrub the stove.
Clean the shower.
Mop the floor again.
Sweep out the garage.
Clean the bathtub.
Scrub the toilet.

When someone has lost control or fear that they have they would do whatever it takes to get that control back.
Me. I clean to get that control. It may not seem so bad that I clean when I am at my worst, but some nights I don’t get any sleep because I am mopping or dusting or folding and washing clothes. Because I don’t get any sleep I can barely make it through the next day.

Yet with medication I can control the anxiety and eventually I could control the compulsion. However, when it sparks up again it’s usually when the house needs a deep cleaning anyway. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017


It’s a long way to the bottom. Yes, it is a long way down, but if you continue to do all the wrong things right…you’re get there.
It took me 28 years to reach the bottom.
It wasn’t easy. I spent my time living through rage and depression. I wasn’t authentic with the people around me and I worked hard to convince myself I didn’t need those people anyway.
I suffered alone and I continued to suffer alone. I began to spiral downward unable to stop my free fall to the bottom. Along that fall was suicidal thoughts, bouts of depression and cutting myself. I never felt like anyone understood or would ever understand me. I began to loathe those closest to me. They couldn’t see that I was drowning? They never stopped in to see if I needed help.
Why does she sleep all day?
Why does she stay in her room all alone all day?
Why does she listen to such depressing music?
Questions that were asked but no one stayed long enough to hear the answers.
I’m depressed and I have no reason to be awake. Sleep is the only time when I stop falling…just for a minute.
So for 28 years I continued to fall to the bottom without help or even a rope to catch along the way.
Then my mother died.
My journey to the bottom sped up. I fell at a faster rate and had no control and no idea how to stop. Before I was alone and I could fall and fall without worry of anyone else. I had a boyfriend and then a husband but…he was an adult.
He really didn’t need me anyway.
If I reached the bottom and it all ended he would be fine, right?
But when my mother died I couldn’t settle for just falling. I had three girls that needed me. How could I leave them like my mother left me? I just knew I wanted…needed an end to this madness.
Four years ago, I hit bottom.
I slammed face first into my own self pity, dejection and insecurities. I came face to face with my mental illness. Battered and bruised I picked myself up but this time I didn’t do it alone. I sought help. The help included therapy, support from those around me and medication. I was on my way back to the top. Once you hit the bottom there is no place to go but up.
Lingering in my mind always is a deeply rooted fear, however. A fear that causes me anxiety and insomnia every night.

I fear that inevitable falling again…

Monday, February 6, 2017


Anarchy is a state of disorder due to absence of authority. It is the perfect word to describe my brain when I am manic and in the midst of a panic attack.
The bipolar brain is difficult to understand if you do not suffer from the disorder. I have Bipolar II disorder and sometimes it is not easy for me to explain to people what it’s like having this condition. How do you explain to someone that when you are manic your mind is complete anarchy?
My mind races and I can barely think straight. I feel high sometimes and other times I feel like I am completely losing control.  As I write this blog post I am having trouble completely explaining my emotions to you.
Thank goodness I found a way to illustrate this situation. A good example came when I was watching cartoons with my kids. My poor brain reminds me of this episode of Spongebob Squarepants.
In this episode, Spongebob wanted to be the best waiter he could be. He was told he needed to forget everything he knew and focus on learning what it would take to be a waiter.  So he studied and studied.
In the meantime they showed inside his brain these little people that were trashing file cabinets full of information. They were taking files and burning them and shredding them. Apparently these cabinets held all of his memories and knowledge. They were destroying to make room for the “how to be a great waiter” knowledge.
“Do we need to know our birthday?”  One of the little people would ask.
“Nah!” another would reply.
Everything was going great. He was serving the guests with ease. Everyone was enjoying themselves…until someone asked him his name.
Suddenly inside his brain there was anarchy. The place was burning and all the little people were running around searching for a file. They needed to remember the name!

That episode resonated with me not only because it was hilarious, but because it reminded me of my brain when I am going through a bipolar episode. I always felt like there were little people running my brain. When I am stable everything is managed smoothly. Everyone is doing their job and life is great.
Yet sometimes when I am manic I don’t get that high intense happy feeling.  I feel chaos and anarchy flowing through my veins. I have trouble remembering things, I have trouble breathing and my heart rate increases. Anxiety sets in and I get irritable.
The place is burning down and the medication I take is the only extinguish to the flames.
Just think. It only took a cartoon to explain.