Everybody Sees The Scars

Nobody sees the wounds,

We walk around day by day,

We turn our heads,

And raise our noes,

Willful ignore,

The stranger is something more,

We create a narrative,

Comfortable to us,

Swiftly walk away in disgust,

But that person,

That human,

That fellow star stuff,

Had problem been through some stuff,

Be kind.

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Farewell Muffin Buffin

I woke up to a heart breaking text this morning, my cat passed away last night. She had been acting weird the past couple of months but she was a seasoned lady so I figure maybe she had a cat form of dementia. In hindsight we should have figured she was nearing the end of her life, she started sleeping on my moms bed last week, something she hasn’t done in years.

We adopted Muffin in 2003.

My friend’s cat escaped and came back pregnant. I begged my mom for one of the kittens and after days and hours of begging she agreed to let me have one if I took care of it. We went to my friends house to pick out a kitten and my mom immediately wanted one that was all white, that kitten was spoken, but there was a tiny grey and white kitten we could have and we named her Muffin.

Muffin was the runt if the litter, while we were observing the kittens I witnessed her being crowded out by her brother and sisters when they were eating. When she finally got a spot her mom got up and walked away. She was also the smallest, she had big paws so we thought she was going to grow into a big cat, but she was always small for a cat.

Once we got her home we put a cage in my room full of blankets and I took responsibility for caring for her. But to my anger and dismay, she was so loveable that my mother and brother also fell in love with her. So I couldn’t have her 24-7.

Muffin had some quirks that were adorable. She was cross eyed, walked side ways, and would sometimes try to get the kitten in the mirror that she didn’t realize was her. When she was put down for a nap in her cage everyone knew when she woke up. She would yell and climb the cage and hang on to the top like she was Tarzan.

We had a cat when we brought Muffin home. Muffin tried to be her friend but she(Honey) was not having it. On one hilarious occasion Muffin killed a mouse then Honey stole it and tried to take credit for the kill. We eventually had to separate them, they would take turns in the basement while the other got to roam the house. We did this until Honey died.

When I went away to college Muffin basically became my moms pet. My mom would joke that she was my cat that got foisted on her. She would tell me to take Muffin home with me.

My mom adored her though, she’d never let me take her. Muffin became a princess after me and my brother left home. She had a princess dish and dish mat. She had fancy cat carriers and cute little cat outfits, one which you can probably guess was a princess outfit.

It was at this point Muffin became spoiled. She’d demand attention, she’d only eat wet food and she even had preferences with that. Fancy Feast was her food of choice. She’d go on hunger strikes if she didn’t get her preferred food.

Later on in her life Muffin became more loving and relaxed. Shed curl up in my lap for hours or hang out on my shoulder when I held her like a baby. She did this cute thing where she’d give you a cat kiss. She’d smell your mouth, I read they do this to catch your scent but she would mostly do it when you gave her kisses so I’m anthropomorphizing her actions even if it isn’t true, which I believe it is.

The last time I saw Muffin she begged for attention and I ignored her, that is tearing me up right now. I know it was probably inconsequential to her but I’ll never get to hold her again, never get to hear her loud purrs as I stroked her. I’ll never get to talk to her and ask about her day. We had conversations, she would answer my questions with different meow tones and durations, she’d tell on my mom if she was being mistreated.

I’m going to miss Muffin, I came to my moms house today and her dish was gone. That was too real a moment for me and I feel like sobbing right now.

I can take comfort in the fact that she didn’t die alone. My mom told me she let out a meow she never heart before so she picked her up and held her. Muffin knew she was dying it doesn’t sound like she wanted to go. She meowed and meowed until my mom held her against her chest the way I described earlier. She rested her head on my moms shoulder and calmed down. My mom then cradled her like a baby and she gazed into my moms face until she passed. I’m glad she was knew she was loved before she passed.

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It Doesn’t Just Affect Us

I began my journey in seeking help in maintaining my mental health over ten years ago. At first I dealt with it alone, well not entirely, I had one dedicated friend who was awesome. My family however was in deep denial. It wasn’t until my suicide attempt this past fall that I realized my illness doesn’t only affect me.

The big shift in my perspective came when my mother said to me while I was in the hospital. I was in intensive care for two days and nobody came to visit me.

I was angry at my family for obvious reasons. During on of our many tense phone calls, my mother said: “do you know what you did to your brother?” My brother is not speaking to me. I guess my attempt upset him. My mom has started networking with people who have family members with mental illness, she’s started reading books on the topic, and has made a one-eighty from the years where she tried to convince me I could pray away my illness. This, only after I tried to end my life.

What I took away from this experience is an understanding of why my family reacts to me the way they do when the rain pours in my life.

They worry but they will never tell me “I’m worried about you.” Their worry and anxiety presents as anger and distance. It’s not that they don’t care, they care too much to see me, see what I’m going through when I’m at my worst. When the sun shines in my life they come back. When they don’t have to see me struggling.

I used to yearn for them to be different but I accept them for who they are and how they express their emotions. To their credit they are changing in small ways. My illness doesn’t just affect me although I walk my journey mostly alone.

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Quiet The Voice Telling You To Do More And Be More

“Quiet the voice telling you to do more and be more, and trust that in this moment, who you are, where you are at, and what you are doing is enough. You will get to where you need to be in your own time. Until then, breathe. Breathe and be patient with yourself and your process. You are doing the best you can to cope and survive amid your struggles, and that’s all you can ask of yourself. It’s enough. You are enough.”

There was a time in my life where nothing was enough. I felt pressured while looking at what others in my cohort were doing and the expectations my family and friends placed upon me. Nothing was ever enough. They always wanted me to be more or less of something. A few examples: More of a hard worker, more active, less emotional, less schizoaffective, more outgoing, etc.

These expectations weighed on me and caused me distress when I tried to live as their person instead of who I was authentically and what I was capable of at the moment.

I’ve released these expectation and accepted that I am enough and what I am doing at the moment is enough. Forcing myself to do things before I was ready because of outside pressures only caused me stress. We are different from moment to moment, we are new people each day we wake up, so what we might not be doing at the moment may come later when we are ready.

You are enough, what you are doing at the moment is enough. Don’t let anyone tell you different, be authentically you and true to yourself.

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There Is No Lemon So Sour You Can’t Make Something Resembling Lemonade

I had a relative make a comment to me not too long ago. She told me I “get comfortable in bad situations.” But, sometimes it’s not an option to leave a situation or change it, these situations are the sour lemons life gives us that nobody talks about. When I’m in a tough situation my approach is usually to cultivate a safe space within myself that I can rely on when stressed, find a way to authentic and comfortable way exist in the situation and to work with what I have for the best possible outcome.

Because after all there is no lemon so sour that you can’t make something resembling lemonade.

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I Never Thought I’d Make That Call

Last night I made a judgement call that I’m not entirely sure was a good idea, in fact it makes me feel like a bit of a hypocrite.

I work where people live, so I meet a lot of different people who come to my job for all sorts of reasons, most people are between rentals and need somewhere to stay temporarily. I met one couple who were struggling financially who were evicted from their home.

Both persons struggled with their mental health. One of them disclosed to me that he couldn’t work due to his disorder and the other had meltdowns pretty much every night. She would yell, scream, cry, and I had to try to stop her from disturbing other guests.

Over the past couple of weeks the guy would say things that hinted at the fact that he was hopeless. I’ve been in that mindset and the language spoke of someone who was considering suicide even though he didn’t outright say it.

Last night they had another blow up and the woman starting screaming “I don’t care anymore.” I’ve wanted to call someone to do a welfare check on them for awhile, but I held back. Last night things just felt off and I was growing a little tired of this happening nightly so I called the police to do a welfare check.

It turned out the woman had been self harming and was in the process of doing it when the cops arrived and they took her to the hospital. For all the good intentions of the husband who tried to assure everything was ok when I checked on them before I called the cops, he clearly could not handle her.

This experience is at odds with what I try to practice or what I thought I believed. I like to think that suicide is a personal choice, that if someone wants to self destruct it’s their choice. That if someone wants help they’ll seek it out and calling the police and having them forcibly helped takes away someone’s agency.

But I guess I no longer believe that or maybe it’s always been an abstract idea that I never had to apply in the real world because I don’t know anyone personally whose had mental health issues besides myself. I never thought I’d make that call. My fear is that this woman will be forced to take too much medication or will be detained for a long period of time.

I want this couple to rebound to get through their hardship and come out the other side in one piece. To get the help they need. I took action for good or for bad, unlike my coworkers who just gossip, and I can live with that. I just hope I did more good than harm.

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The Costly Price of “Sanity”

I have a pattern I follow every year,well almost every year. Something about the season change between Spring and Summer makes me more prone to hypomania and recklessness. I bet you can guess what happens next, I start messing with my meds. I skip doses, sometimes going an entire week or weeks without taking them consistently.

Well this year it lead to a pretty intense hypomania where I became angry, explosive, and verbally abusive. I was staying with a relative who would not let me stay unless I went to the hospital for inpatient treatment, I didn’t really need it but the alternative was homelessness so I went.

The psychiatrist in the hospital decided to change my med regimen. I was not entirely happy with my antipsychotic so I welcomed a change to that, he wanted to change my mood stabilizer and I hesitantly went along with it. This was a bad decision. Fast forward two months I lost my job, was homeless, and had attempted suicide.

I have never had a serious suicide attempted in the twenty years I’ve been in treatment. I overdosed on my mood stabilizer and was in intensive care for two days. Nobody came to visit me and even now some family members aren’t speaking to me.

Depakote was the worst thing that ever happened to me. I lost everything because of this medication, well I still have life but even that could have been lost. Be careful with med changes and listen to your intuition. Mine was telling me to stick with the mood stabilizer I was already taking but I went along with the psychiatrist.

I’ve read horror stories like this on Mad in America’s website, I never thought I would have a horror story of my own. Before this incident I didn’t give the anti psychiatry movement much thought; but now I firmly believe it has merit and that there is a need for the movement.

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