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I’ve been to paradise…

“I’m selfish, impatient, and a little insecure. I make mistakes, I am out of control and at times hard to handle. But if you can’t handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.”

― Marilyn Monroe

We often leave the first part of this quote off. It feels better to just be empowered, doesn’t it? To scream “accept me”. To cry “love me”. Yet by ignoring the first half we only put the burden on others w/o turning an understanding eye on ourselves. When we partake in the #toxicpositivity of ignoring the shadow side we don’t have a full picture. And honestly, this is a recipe for unhappiness. It is only in embracing and loving and forgiving and working WITH our darker less perfect nature can we expect anyone else to do the same. And how many humans have pasted this quote and have not given that same unconditional acceptance to someone else. Personally, I might not want someone’s “best” if their worst makes me miserable. Come to think of it I’ve done that with many many (MANY) co-dependant miserable relationships. I don’t want that for me and I sure as heck don’t want to foist it on someone else

Because that’s the thing, we don’t have healthy boundaries so we don’t understand what that means. We can have our reasons for our less pleasant side but that in no way makes anyone else beholden to putting up with them. Each of us gets to choose what is acceptable. What is tenable w/in the context of relationships? And relationships are not quid pro quo, end sum equations. We don’t get to, or should I say it’s not healthy, to keep a balance sheet that says I get to be this if you want this. That’s simply not how it works. When we learn that each person has their limits, their triggers, their abilities we stop thinking of them as accepting or rejecting us and come to understand that it’s always been about what they can handle and accept for themselves. Telling them they don’t “deserve” your best because of what they can and cannot handle shows a lack of compassion. And my friends, compassion starts at home.

What we think about ourselves, how we treat ourselves, that is how we treat others. And that’s what I’m here to unravel. The most important relationship in our whole lives. Ourselves.
We spend so much energy and time seeking out love and acceptance outside of ourselves that we forget we get to have both right here. Right now. And when we give that gift to ourselves it’s easier to share it with others, and it’s easier to understand that someone else’s journey doesn’t have to reflect on our worth or value or lovability. #aswithinsowithout And don’t others deserve happiness as well?

And so it begins for me. I’m reclaiming my power. I’m learning to love, accept, treasure, and understand myself. It doesn’t mean I’m not already lovable. I’ve got a lot of great qualities and I’m very generous and caring, all of that is true. Yet that can all be true as well as understanding – I’m volatile, controlling, suspicious, and really hard to love because of my fears. My walls are high and fortified and I’m done asking other people to do the work to tear them down. I’m done putting all my worth and happiness on someone else’s shoulders.
self-love is not ego it’s germane to our very existence, the foundation of all things. And when we learn to love ourselves exactly as we are then we can begin to allow others to do the same. I’m not asking anyone to fix me anymore or to complete me. I am complete. And when I truly embody that, maybe then I’ll be willing to share that fully with others. #breakingdownthewalls

Hamster Wheel – A medication Journey

we decided to call it quits and try something else. …

It’s true I’ve been absent again. It’s been another roller coaster ride the last few weeks. The Latuda was so hopeful when it started. That first week on it I felt like I was coming to life. But as we adjusted and the medication built up the hypomania gave way to pure unadulterated panic attacks. These weren’t like anything I had ever experienced in my life. At least twice I was ready to check myself into the ER because I was coming out of my skin. So my doc gave me some anti-anxiety meds – Clonazepam with a side of Hydroxyzine – it took about a week for me to be able to sit still again and sleep. Honestly it was one of the worst mental health crisis I’ve had in awhile only to be topped by the coming depression. I was incapacitated. Couldn’t sleep, couldn’t watch tv I was that agitated. Plus now I was on 3 meds instead of one which I despise. Additionally because I was so sensitive to the Latuda and it has no XR option I had to take it 3 times a day split up to keep from going into freakout mode. Now this wouldn’t have been so bad but they had to be taken at very specific times and I had to eat 350 calories minimum when I took them. Eating when you take them helped them be better bioavailable but also prevented nausea. (I tried to cheat a few times and the nausea was BAD) So my days felt like I was tied to my meds. No mistakes allowed. So after three months of trying, and only getting up to 40mg (for like 3 days immediately had to drop back down to 30) and after gaining 8lbs, and after so many terrible panic attacks- we decided to call it quits and try something else.

But BOY HOWDY DO YOU DO – trying to fight the panic/mania triggered a depression and then coming off the Latuda? well that’s when I knew for sure it was good at keeping depression at bay because it was like falling off a cliff. I wasn’t just down I was out…I was in freeze mode. Dissociation mode. Can’t Even plus ultra mode. And no amount of ANY suggestion was getting me out of it. I could barely eat. And at the end of it all I spent a whole day just crying. that was fun. My suicidal thoughts came back triple fold and again I had a few days were I wondered if I needed to be under observation. I do not like to feel that way…mostly because logically I know I don’t want to die but my brain goes off the rails and the thought was nearly constant in a way I hadn’t experienced for a few years and hope it stays away for a long, long time.

So I started on Lithium. 150mg to start for the first week. And then about 6 days ago I upped my dose to 300mg. (we are hoping to get me on XR tablets because I just seem to do better when things are spread out and not happening all at once) and in the last three days it’s like a veil has lifted. I did get a little hypomanic today so I have to watch myself and not take on too much or make too many crazy decisions. Sometimes coming out of a deep depression I can get over zealous because it just feels so good. But I was able to make plans and PHONE CALLS this week without freaking out, even answered unknown phone numbers a few times today — that’s crazy! LOL (for those that don’t know me I have suffered with terrible phone phobia for over a decade and it has really affected my life fairly significantly so this was a pretty big deal)
Normally? panic attack city being on the phone at all, let alone answering an unknown number… today just casually said “Good Afternoon this is Aminda”. So nice.

So once again feeling hopeful and hope we can get a dose that keeps me out of the depths but doesn’t send me into a frenzy. Last week when I was still deep in the depression my therapist and I discussed things like ECT (Electroconvulsive therapy) for people who have medication resistant depression. I’m hoping that this time we can not go down such dark paths. See I’m anxious to get this mood stabilized a bit because we can’t focus on my ADHD until that happens. So fingers crossed this medication can get me to a place of alert without being a basket case. OH also my appetite is back to normal so that feels good!

Anywho that’s about it for now. Just a peak at the trials we have to go through to get our medication right. I’m 4 months in now and we are still trying so if you are going down this road you have to have patience and persistence. I hope I’ve found my therapeutic answer, and I hope you do too!

Which came first anxiety or depression (One Shot Poetry)

my mind, my heart, my soul cry out
LET ME GO

Sitting in the darkness eager for the light
my heart beating a syncopated rhythm
desire to fly overcomes my soul
the shackles of fear keep me tied down
struggling against the status quo
my mind, my heart, my soul cry out
LET ME GO
and I wonder sitting in the darkness
is there even light or just a mirage
heaviness envelopes me
flying seems like it’s a lie
a fantasy sold to me by charlatans
and yet my inner voice screams
LET ME GO
thoughts rattle in the darkness
fears scrape in the shadows
hope, faith, trust cower in the corners
reaching out they try to shine
pain, mistakes, recrimination lurk
my dreams and desires and designs call out
LET ME GO
Trapped inside my head
anxiety begets depression begets
anxiety begets depression ….
the cycle never ending
the only form of flow I know
inside I’m crying out, trying to break free
LET ME GO

Woke up feeling trapped, and just majorly stuck in a cycle of physical and mental health dilemmas and I just want a major change, a way to break free. It feels good to express that feeling with poetry, oddly that feels like at least some progress.

For those that don’t know #oneshotpoetry I write free flow and do not edit what you see is what comes out raw. I do that so that I don’t overthink it or destroy it’s original intent. It’s one way to silence the inner critic and get to the heart of any true feeling.

I’ll give you something to cry about

More importantly most of us have been taught our feelings are wrong, inappropriate, inconsequential and our pain is not “enough”, …

Feelings. Emotions. They are the cornerstone of how we interpret, interact, and react to the world. And so many of us simply don’t know what our feelings are or what they mean. More importantly most of us have been taught our feelings are wrong, inappropriate, inconsequential and our pain is not “enough”, others have it worse, others are less sensitive, others have more control. etc etc etc. And we are subsequently taught we are fundamentally “wrong”. At least that’s been my life experience so far. And this makes sharing very very difficult. I was reminded of a story about someone’s reaction to the book “Eat Pray Love” during my morning pages and I think it exemplifies why so many people struggle with being emotionally honest. The world is pretty judgy.

Now however you feel about “Eat Pray Love” for a lot of people it resonated and for a lot it was a dream to be able to deal with emotional hurt in such a tangible and relaxed way. But that’s where I got the biggest kick from someone I thought of us a friend (this is where I remind you what you say about others can absolutely harm people you care about if they see themselves in you recriminations, food for thought) I was reading the book at work and was really enjoying some of what Elizabeth had to say, I was especially moved by her pain when to an outsider her life “looked great’ that more than anything struck me. We can have “things” that might seem like we have it all but we can still be hurting and feeling hollow and alone. And a woman at work went on a TIRADE.
“I hated that book what a whiny b*tch”. I was taken aback… Me: “Surely you can see that people can hurt deeply no matter what their outside life looks like and no matter what they have”? Her — “are you kidding she is just a selfish person who wants too much” …. this went back and forth for awhile until my relationship with this person was forever changed. I was never ever going to tell her again anything that I felt. Because I had felt that from so many people my whole life and here was more proof that people judged our pain and anguish and compared it. Did I realize that my loveless marriage was not the same as someone in a war torn country? yes OF COURSE but yet it doesn’t’ take away my feelings of emptiness, failure, and loneliness. But I was just shown that this was not a safe person to open up to and honestly I approach most people like they are just judgemental time bombs waiting to go off. I’m super sensitive and have an almost outsized sense of injustice and want everyone to be happy and be treated well. But that means I can’t compare people’s suffering. I do not ever want to belittle someone’s pain. But it happens so much how are any of us to ever be able to be honest. But I suppose that is what finding the right people is all about – finding the place where you can be real even if you to some your pain seems trivial or inconsequential, we don’t get to determine that for others.

But doesn’t it all start in childhood. Did anyone else here the phrase “I’ll give you something to cry about” — has it ever hit you as much as it did me recently how belittling that is to your feelings? Have you ever thought how much our faith in ourselves was beat (for some of us literally) out of us? How the hell are we supposed to understand our feelings when we are always told they are not the right ones. When our honest reactions to life are questioned and weighed. When tears are see has warfare?
I may not have the same trauma as the next person, objectively what some people experience is far worse than the next person, HOWEVER that does not diminish or negate the pain one person feels. This is why I am starting with self compassion. Because I want to store up enough compassion to understand that everyone is struggling and until we let them freely express their pain they will simply continue to lash out. Violence, depressions, anxiety, addiction, cultism all are the voices of the unheard, the misunderstood. If we want to change the world we have to start listening without judgment and hearing what people’s fears, hurts, and desires truly are. Start with yourself and go from there. No one’s pain or shame needs to be ridiculed it needs to be healed. As #brenebrown reminds us about the “Gifts of Imperfection” to be honest and to feel brings us #courage #compassion #connection and that is how we heal the world. I have something to cry about everyday and that is the suffering of the unheard.

Full Moon

washing away the old so that I may be freed

Blessed Full Moon

I come to you full, so l may be emptied.

releasing all that no longer serves me

washing away the old so that I may be freed

ready to receive your blessings

Words are whispered beyond my hearing

longing to hear your voice again

I will wait patiently, quietly,

listening for your wisdom

open to all that you have to offer

It was I that abandoned our connection

denied my blood and my soul

I allowed the words of others

to steal my power

to dim my fire

so it is I that begs forgiveness

returning humbled

yet empowered

I wash away the weight

of judgment

of fear

I am renewed

I hear your song

I am home

Rediscovered Poetry – Outside In

and I heard myself think it’s not very good,

From a FB post last year – I almost didn’t share. I am trying to write “a thing” every day. A story, poem, non superficial thoughts, and I heard myself think it’s not very good, felt nearly fear and shame at the thought of people seeing it and realized it’s one of my monsters I need to slay. A story I need to untell…. So I had shared it in my private #thewayofyourinnervoicegroup originally, so now it’s time to be a little less scared and share here. Also I have not written a post in 10 days TEN days…it has been some rough times. Partly because I’ve started to come back to the world and do my work and it’s harder than I imagined. So this is still all I have for now. A rehash but still so relevant

The Scratching the clawing

Fighting to get out

Or in?

Outside in, inside out

Impossible to tell

The voices come

Either way

crawling under the skin

words trapped in between

Heart barely beating

Blood rushing

You’ve been at this door

Pounding screaming

Pleading

So many times before

Crying

Hoping

Dreaming

Door cracks

Light enters

Don’t stop now

It’s finally time to go

Jan 29 2021

From the deepest corners…wipeout

… Man this is where I wish I knew if you have seen “Doom Patrol” (and if not why NOT??) because it would be so much easier to understand if you knew Jane, if you understood the underground. ANYWHOOOOOO….

This morning my Inner Voice Exploration Practice (AKA modified #morningpages) spat up a deep dark core belief that I have joked about but honestly didn’t realize the actual depth of this feeling and wow it really gets to the meat of my bipolar dilemma. These are the words that came out of my head, “… I’m kookoo bananas and inconsistent and no one can rely on me, not even myself”.

and boy am I mad about it, because it’s not WRONG perse. But I want to kick and scream it’s not ME. I – ME – MY personality is so very disparately reliable but it’s buried under all this. *gestures vaguely* . And then I stop and ask, but is that true as I look out on ….all this…. I realize you can’t really separate me from the brain chemistry. You can’t just pretend I don’t have terrifying mood swings. We can’t just laugh away my grown ass meltdowns. We can’t whistle while I weep uncontrollably because I’m just so happy. We can’t just pretend nothing is wrong and that I’m stable and can get shit done.

I will cancel plans. I will be late. I will forget. I will panic. I will get sick. I will have to back out sometimes. All of these things are real. And yet I’m a ride or die bitch in my heart.

See, it’s like the main me, the real me is trapped inside this meat puppet and there are a few different puppeteers… Man this is where I wish I knew if you have seen “Doom Patrol” (and if not why NOT??) because it would be so much easier to understand if you knew Jane, if you understood the underground. ANYWHOOOOOO….the point being there are these factors these parts of me that interfere with being the person I want to be.

ENEMY NUMBER ONE IS FATIGUE. I feel like if I wasn’t so exhausted maybe I’d have more resilience to ride the waves. But as it is I feel less surfer and more fearful white knuckled passenger.

It’s endlessly tiring to constantly be fighting yourself and your #neurotransmitters #moodswings and #meltdowns OH MY. And let me be clear I’m still just talking about dealing with the bipolar issues we haven’t even glanced at the ADHD, OCD, and smattering of part time phobias that lurk about.

UGH it still all sounds like excuses and that my friends is where we come to our crossroads. Where half of me wants to embrace the bipolar and learn to work with it and not be so exhausted fighting and the other half wants to be “normal” (whatever the bleep that is) and do things when I want without having to form a committee of barely functioning parts of myself who, honestly don’t agree on a lot of things. Having some “Crazy Alice” vibes right now.

It’s really REALLY hard to know thyself when that “self” is interrupted by mental struggles that you often have no control over. Want to visit friends today? OH no we will have a panic attack instead. Want to write today? OH no you will lose all focus and concentration. Sure it gets done eventually but a girl can’t make a living like this.

Dear employer can you hire me to work sporadically when my brain is functioning? When and how often will that be? Well that is definitely the million dollar question.

You see therapist I have so much proof that I’m unreliable. It’s hard to build self-love and self-worth on such a basic tenet. Today I’m smart and charming, tomorrow I may be recalcitrant, or perhaps just a titch agoraphobic. I may want to be around 100 people or I may wake up the Grinch. I’ll be so productive you’ll wonder where I’ve been all your life and then it will dry up, whither and turn to dust. Teeter Totter Teeter Totter.

and maybe one day will discuss what all that has done to my physical system….

But for now this is your warning. Healing is messy, it hurts, and you gotta face some shit my friend. I’m a little hurt with myself. She’s not being very compassionate. But I’m pretty impressed she was able to admit such an icky truth. Maybe now that it’s out of the shadows we can work on making it a little less ick and figure how to build a life that has room for the waves. Don’t need a new ocean, or a new rider, maybe I just need some new moves and maybe a new board. (Surfing is too easy to use as a metaphor it should be illegal like a writing cheat code, but hey it fit) OH maybe I DO need to find different waves…..

Are you riding the waves you want?

Neurotransmitters are Bastards

At one point in my life I considered myself pretty darn smart. I thought I could do just about anything I set my mind to and thought of myself as a “problem solver”. What I didn’t know was how much I was just banging my head against walls of my own creation. Those “problems” were often just the consequences of what I now understand to be some fairly severe issues with being an untreated, unregulated bipolar human. From my anger issues to my impulse control there was always some self-sabotage that was happening at any given moment in my life. The roller-coaster that has been my emotional life has been an exhausting, and often, terrifying ride. (For me as well as everyone that knows me)

This whole blog was started as a way to chronicle my life of being bipolar and the ride that is having a brain that… just …. well – vacillates (LOL the understatement of the week) and more importantly my work to accept and work to be more regulated. I’ve talked about my relationship with being bipolar and how part of that rollercoaster has simply been my own understanding and acceptance of the diagnosis and its ramifications and implications on my life, actions, personality, and choices. What I’m trying to suss out is what is ME, what is just some haywire neurotransmitter, what is the trauma, and what are the consequences of my actions. And recently I had a crash course in dealing with neurotransmitters gone wild – it was so not spring break worthy. That tale is one of medication reactions that I may not have the energy to fully express because I’m still trying to recover from them. (I think I’m on day three of writing this post, which sadly doesn’t mean it’s great, just that it has taken that much for me to focus long enough to do it. UGH)

OK but this time it really wasn’t my fault. No really LOL, March 8th, 2022 I started taking latuda to treat my bipolar depression. It was one of my longest, deepest depressions of my life. (and yes that is saying something) And I had been doing all this great work with “The Artist’s Way” (and my own subsequent work to build a more non-theistic and neurodiverse accessible version “The Way of your Inner Voice” which will be starting up again in August – get on the email list to get the deets: Is That My Voice Newsletter Signup ) For you see doing that work gave me the courage and the drive to finally face my demons and work on getting stable enough to do the things I generally just dream about.
Bipolar can be degenerative and I realized that the longer I avoided the hard work the worse it would be for me. So here I am battling it out with neurotransmitters that are being poked and prodded by medications and the results are sometimes nearly unmanageable. And that is where I have been the last week. Fighting side effects that have sent me into outrageous panic attacks with physical ramifications and a few times I was ready to go to the hospital because it got bad enough I was worried I would snap. But for once in my life long journey of dealing with this I got HELP!!! At first I just suffered through it, (if I’m 100% honest part of me blames myself and sees myself as “weak” and a “failure” for not being able to fix it on my own, mixed in with some deep fears about the medical establishment, I’m sure that’s a few therapy sessions deep) but finally I got to talk to my psychiatrist and I was properly, but kindly, admonished for being stubborn. I have some new resources should it get that bad again. And overall I felt heard, believed, and cared for. If I wasn’t such a giant ball of stress waiting for the next wave of crazy I’d probably be crying with joy over that victory. Maybe when I stabilize a bit more I’ll have a good cathartic cry wherein I relive all the times I was no heard, believed, or supported. But right now I’m too tired. I’m fairly heavily medicated in the short term to give my body time to adjust to having feelings again…those feelings really agitate me 😛

Dear Jibbers Crabst will I ever get to the point? This has been a hell of a week with panic attacks, dives into nihilism, a little self pity, and a whole lot of fight to not give up. But we make our adjustments. I share my thoughts with my therapist and I keep moving forward. Slowly like an ancient world turtle slow I keep doing the work, #fillingintheforam #nevergiveupneversurrender
And maybe when those neurotransmitters get feisty find your way of laughing at the folly at being a giant chemistry set with emotions. Drink your water. Get your sunshine. Write sad poetry. Rinse. Repeat. And as I struggle with my side effects NOFX sometimes lives rent free in my head.

*I 100% believe in the purpose and efficacy of modern medicine when applied with conscientiousness and while fully aware of its limits and side-effects. I believe when can use modern and traditional healing modalities concurrently to support whole mind-body healing that accounts for individual needs, differences, and experiences. To eschew either is to our peril.

Rediscovered Poetry – Come out and Play

This time I am not running away.

From a Facebook post from – Feb 2 2021 in our “The Way of Your Inner Voice” group, this was written during the very first go of “The Artist’s Way”. I think I’ve been here before, but I always panic and re-lock the door. This time I am not running away. I’m still trying to break free, still pushing on that door, battling all the blocks. Here’s what I wrote on the post – I’m remembering now that writing them is easy the work is the sharing. Because at the end of the day that’s what this is all about, being actually seen and heard. What are you holding in that needs to get expressed? Perhaps your Inner Voice is calling to you as well?

Come out and Play – one shot poem written Feb 2021

There is a knocking

Inside my head

At first just a rapping

A gentle tapping

grows more insistent

Each passing day

a sense of wonder

trapped inside a box

Buried under fears

wrapped in layers of shame

it grows louder though

more insistent, consistent

let me out to play

becoming a banging

begging for attention

a chance to spread

its wings

I try to keep it closed

It’s very wild and

Unpredictable

It always wants to play

It isn’t very grown-up

And others say it’s wrong

But if this racket keeps up

My wall, my resolve

may not stay as strong

I wonder what will happen

If I let it out to play

Alexander Milov’s sculpture, Love, appeared in the 2015 Burning Man festival and is so much an image that makes me think of our Inner Voice work and this ongoing struggle to know and let the real and best me out to live, love, work, and most importantly….PLAY!

Life is what happens…

I had a series of unfortunate events (hey mr. Lemony Snicket it happens to all of us) Nothing earth shattering in and of themselves but combined with my current mental health work it sent me skittering off the rails and barely able to handle day to day living let alone making actual progress.

While you make plans.

I knew it had been awhile since I had written but I had no idea it had been over 10 days :O Talk about life happening. I had a series of unfortunate events (hey mr. Lemony Snicket it happens to all of us) Nothing earth shattering in and of themselves but combined with my current mental health work it sent me skittering off the rails and barely able to handle day to day living let alone making actual progress. While I’m focusing mainly on controlling, understanding, and working WITH my bipolar nature I have other health issues I am trying to resolve as well. One of them has been my ongoing allergy/sinus kerfuffle issues. This led to a CT scan that showed my nasal passages are a wreck and that I’ve been living with a chronic sinus infection for probably years – yippee kay yay MFs – so I went on a massive antibiotic course along with a week of prednisone. Can I just say that adding steroids to your body while you are trying to get to an even place emotionally is not something I recommend to anyone. I am also notoriously extra f-ing sensitive to everything (my personality is tough my body is weak sauce LOL ) and antibiotics throw my whole digestive system into cement mixer mode which seriously impacts my ability to think straight. Just as I was coming off the prednisone I had my scheduled 2nd Covid booster AND my Shingrix(TM) Shingles vaccine…it was on the books and I didn’t think much of it. HOLY AUTOIMMUNE REACTIONS BATMAN. Now I don’t think the covid booster did much to me, I’ve already had covid and all the boosters so I feel like my immune system is pretty on board with that whole thing and never did any other of the shots HURT. But this shingles vax? OH BOY. (I got the new shingrix vax…see pic for info)

Y’all this shit KNOCKED ME ON MY BUTT for close to a week. And it hit FAST. Within 1/2 hour I was fatigued, feverish, dizzy…it hit so hard so fast I didn’t even realize it was the shot at first. I mean I couldn’t imagine that my immune system would react that quickly and severely. Boy was I in for a ride. My arm was on fire, swollen, red – it looked and felt like a softball pitch had hit me at full speed. My tattoos all got raised (a clear indication that my immune system is on high alert and a reminder that they probably aren’t all that healthy but that’s a whole other oprah) and I was tired, I mean, as someone with CFS I thought I knew tired but my idea of tired LAUGHED at the body fatigue that overtook me.
I was still faithfully taking my antibiotics so I was still dealing with cement mixer digestion as well, it is an understatement to say I was not running on full cylinders. So writing was at the bottom of the list. I had ideas a few days but couldn’t hold a thought for longer than like a minute.

So this may be the world’s most boring blog post but it’s a reminder that sometimes our best intentions are sidetracked and that is not a reason to give up or surrender. (#nevergiveupneversurrender) All things are temporary, #thistooshallpass is such a great thing to remember. So past me probably would have given up and said some dumb things like “well I ruined that”, “I can never catch-up” (to the arbitrary goal I set), “here’s proof that I’m a loser”, and other fun downer thoughts. But new me post #theartistsway me knows that you have to get back up and just keep #fillingintheform and one thing that kept me going was no matter what I wrote my #morningpages and that kept me from losing the thread entirely. It matters.

So that’s it my totally boring, non-sequitur blog post that serves mostly to remind myself that I can keep getting back up. And when life happens plans are just delayed or mutated not destroyed. What have you let lapse that you could pick back up? It’s never too late to start again.

Is Aminda on the bus…childhood bullying memories

My morning writing spat up some memories this week and I realized I’ve been writing my “origin” story from the point of my husband’s death. But let’s be real this all started at the beginning and just because I don’t want to relive or think about (or honestly remember much) from my childhood doesn’t mean it’s not important to this story.

I started writing this a week ago. That first paragraph was all I got out and then I haven’t been able to write more. It’s amazing to think how much of my childhood I just keep in a box and all the feelings associated with it I try to distance myself from them. I can feel my breath catch. I can feel my body curl in on itself. When I allow it to come over me I can feel the helplessness and the gnawing sense of other.

Does bipolar happen because of brain chemistry? are we born that way? or do the events of our lives push us and push us until our brains are wired a certain way. As I think about it I’ve never felt safe. Well that’s not true, a few moments here and there with Rob I felt safe, for a moment and that is perhaps why there is a before and after Rob. That all my childhood fears felt put away when I was seen, but they came roaring back with a vengeance. I see now it’s because the feeling was external and conditional. So that’s why I’m here on this journey working on making that feeling internal, from within so that no one can take it from me. But since I have so little experience with it, it continues to be elusive.

But I digress.

I was not a healthy child. Think some 80’s movie where there was a kid who had an inhaler and was the weakling – that was me. Only I was just a side character so I didn’t get a makeover montage. I was just odd and sick. I’ve come to understand that what I experienced was being seen as a moral failing for not being hale and hearty. I never had the energy other kids had. So much so that I knew early on something was wrong with me, but I was born in ’68 and went to school in the ’70s, and catholic school no less, so we didn’t have any idea how to help a kid with food allergies and who was too tired to function, even at the ripe age of 8. I had terrible IBS even back then, I woke up everyday with a stomach ache. I had so many stomach aches that they were treated like I was always faking and that set me up for a lifetime of not believing my body signals, but that’s for another post. All that is to set up that I was bullied for being meek and weak. And to understand that my sickliness was also making dealing with life already difficult. At home it was my dad abusing my mom and drunken fights but at Church we were the perfect family. I may never know if I was born healthy and the abusive stress is what caused me to be sick but either way I was not well. A pale, scrawny, asthma having, eye glass wearing, book reading outcast. And that would have been fine if people could have at least been understanding or kind, but no as I said, moral failing. And it wasn’t just kids that were mean. I learned early that cruelty was not limited to a select few bullies and that even nice people will be awful in the right crowd. Sure I was bullied in school by the nuns for my left handedness and my general lack of vim, seriously berated for being pale and tired. Literally just made me laugh to think of it, how insane is it to make fun of someone for being ill, no wonder I have struggled with accepting it and now just want everyone to know. I want to heal that wound and feel like people give a crap. UGH again I digress. It seems so silly now, a trifling. Yet for me, in the first through fifth grades riding the bus was one of the greatest sources of trauma for me. It might be tied with my P.E. teacher but we’ll leave Mrs. Larimer out of this one and just focus on the bus driver. I’m not 100% sure what her name was, as I called her “bulldozer” in my head. Was her name Dozer or Dosier? who knows, the truth is lost to time. I only know she was not a happy person and she allowed me to be harrassed so much on the bus, even taking part on occasion. Like maybe Matt and Trey had a similar experience?

From the classics like tripping, stealing of items and playing keep away, and no available seat gaffs to the more upsetting gum in the hair, and ruined homework, riding the bus was a nightmare. Made extra so because I was beyond timid and being noticed was its own hell and somehow that was like a flame and all the bullies moths. Sigh. I will never understand the urge to pick on the weakest one. All that I suffered with as much dignity as a sad victorian child could. It was the bus stop fiascos that truly gave me the anxiety. Now I gave you all the lead up about being sickly and tired. Now put me in a stressful situation everyday and throw in my sensitive stomach and hypersensitivity to smells and my bus rides were like a fugue state. I could barely function I was always so overwhelmed. And more often than not I would fall asleep. (I presume it was the beginnings of a strong flight/freeze response to stress) Now my bus driver decided to punish me as often as possible. She wouldn’t help me procure a seat up front where I wouldn’t be harassed or get as car sick. No she would watch the kids block the seats until I was in the back. So many times. I stopped crying and begging for help that seemed to only make her angrier. She would call me pity party princess. LOL I just remembered that, huh. Anyway if I fell asleep sometimes she would just drive past my stop and make me ride the whole route and drop me at a different stop on the way back making me walk further. (realizing now how much she endangered me) Sometimes she would get the kids to chant – “Is Aminda on the bus” on the way to my stop and then they would jeer and thrown things and call me names as I exited. Good times.

Now I can look back and see how tiny those things were individually. I can even understand that Ms. Bulldozer probably had her own trauma and reasons for being a complete a-hole to small children. Yet it doesn’t change that those daily interactions were a constant stressor on my tiny little pathetic nervous system. There was no relief. You didn’t admit weakness to the nuns, that brought down more wrath and punishment than help. And ya know the few times my mom got wind of anything hinky she was quick to defend me but she did it in way that always mortified me and generally had a backlash of being bullied harder. Now there is so much more history from St. Gregory’s. come to think of it all the people that were the worst to me where all the women in charge. It’s no wonder it took me years to trust women. Recently I’ve been wondering why I’m so sensitive and reactive and reliving/remembering my childhood reminds me that I was trained to be wary. It’s wired within me to be protective and scared. And my digestive system never did figure out how to life all that well.
Bullying is a health crisis. And make no mistake the “grown-ups” have always been as bad as the kids.

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