Stop treating me like a woman. Start treating me like a partner.
Stop treating me like a woman. Start treating me like a partner.
I am. I am raw. I am vulnerable. I am still here. What you see is… I am forever damaged through the death of my identity.
Sitting here listening to Red Table Talk, “Kelly Osbourne Comes Clean” episode, and “wow” what a great reminder of the power of addiction. There are so many great quotes that I could not help but share and re-numerate on the hold it has had in my life through her story.
In my life I have known addiction, personally, intimately, and compassionately. I come from a long line of drinkers, fairly stated more honestly, alcoholics. I was never going to be a drinker because I hated everything about it in my young life and still to this day the smell of beer takes me to a place that turns my stomach. However, my drug of choice was food and in that addiction, I managed to reach 274 pounds with more co-morbidities than I could count on two hands.
Addiction in my opinion, is a personality trait. Many people have addictive personalities that never spin out of control and the trait instead serves as direction and drive. For others, and what you hear most when the word “addiction” is used, the trail of destruction it leaves in its path ruins lives, theirs, and everyone around them. I can relate to both.
I love that the first thing Kelly Osbourne notes is that she “…made it all the way through the pandemic…” without alcohol, which speaks to survival. Daily survival without the addiction, rearing its ugly head, feels like success. This feeling breeds a sense of confidence that “…you are normal, and you are going to prove to everyone that you can do this…” thing that you have avoided, you are cured. You tell yourself one drink can’t hurt anything and then one becomes two, three, TEN. The lie that we tell ourselves that we can have one drink, one bite, or one of anything that we are addicted to, leads to a spiral down the rabbit hole of self-harm and hatred. You sober up and come to grips with your reality “I did it again” and “Now I have to start over” which then leads to “Well since I have already fallen “off the wagon” I might as well _______________ (fill in the blank).” “Normal” is not a thing for anyone with addiction relative to the substance that addicts them. The new “normal” is the process of avoidance of all that has control over you and in building a resolve that can never waver.
Kelly noted that she “let go of her tools” of those things that help her “stay clean every day”. This is always where it starts. We fool ourselves into believing something is more important. It takes work to work the tools that keep it all together every single day for the rest of your life. Staying in control of your addiction is paramount to your survival. It is knowing this that becomes your number one responsibility, to protect the place where self-care lives as your FIRST priority and put all else second.
Kelly notes that some of her “insane thinking” included the idea of getting “pregnant because then she would have to stop drinking”. It is where self-care is absent that we search for the “reason” to stop. That is when we are not reason enough. In my life I remember the same fucked up thinking where a diagnosis of diabetes or high blood pressure would now be the “reason” I would give myself to get serious about my food addiction because the threat of death would set me straight; until the drama of it all would wear off and I would live to eat again. It wasn’t enough to stop for myself or my family; it had to be life-threatening. It had to be dramatic. Addicts live in the drama. It is always life or death until it is death-defying.
Kelly notes “I make everything more difficult.” Yes, WE do. Nothing can be done without it being painful or wrought with effort. Addicts are people-pleasers trying to solve for everyone around them and as Kelly noted she “Drained herself (through helping others) and left nothing for herself.” It is through failed attempts to solve for everyone and everything around you that you finally realize and are forced to answer the question of “How are you going to help someone else when you are all messed up?” Addicts are addicted to everything and codependency is where we find our value. Tell me I am enough, tell me how much you love me, validate me for I am not worthy without your judgment.
The climb out of addiction is hard. “You have to get honest with someone” that can understand the power of addiction and is able to handle your vulnerability. The second part of that statement is profound because as Kelly stated “I tell too much truth” and “You cannot have a conversation with someone that understands…if they are not an alcoholic (or addict)”. I have experienced this so many times with those around me that would simply solve for me by telling me to “Just stop”. JUST stop eating. JUST stop thinking. JUST stop worrying. JUST stop doing. If it were only JUST that easy.
In true addictive personalities, there is no such thing as stopping. You don’t stop. You can’t stop. You learn to use tools to control, manage and live on the positive side of addiction. You also learn to be uncomfortable in the addiction as it is always there, looming in the background, pushing you to do the thing that feels right at the moment. And when we give in, after the instant gratification of that moment passes we are left stripped of our self-worth and confidence leaving us asking, “Am I good enough for help?” and doubting our strength because of the realization that “I have done this again.”
This interview was revealing. It was also a great reminder that addiction is “…so much more than not using.” If you are reading this you are not alone and if you are not addicted put this blog in your toolbox to serve as a resource for those addicted in your life.
I conclude with the final quote in the interview. The best gift you can give yourself is “The gift of giving yourself a chance.”
Life as I live it — L.
Yea, this picture, this is exactly what it feels like to be in my head on any given day. Contemplation over every single thing. Every single person. Every thought and emotion contemplated over and over and over again. Start…no stop. Do…no just be…still. My mind goes one million miles an hour from the minute I wake (before my eyes are even open) until the moment I drift off to sleep (only possible through medication). Obsessive? Compulsive? Manic? Depression? What does it really matter what you call it except that this is “Me”.
Interesting that I called this blog “Always Starting…The Art of Never Giving Up”. Initially, I wore this as a badge of honor; like a warrior in battle. Profound words indeed as I realize that the warrior in battle is only defined by how he leaves the fight; alive or dead. Success could be defined either way, if alive he won and persevered or maybe is alive as a prisoner of the war. If dead it could mean he was courageous in his fight or shot in the back while running away. Perspective. It is truly all we have; your perspective and mine.
I have learned through my life of therapy that you must respect everything that has helped you survive for without “it” who’s to say how it all would have ended. Addiction, compulsion, obsession, or whatever your tool, are survival mechanisms. Most are not sustainable in their original form but through adjustment can create incredible resources. Addiction in its most evil form can kill or harm however when redirected towards good can bring about major life change. Compulsion and obsession are also spontaneous and perfectionists in different forms. Perspective changes the judgment. If I say that “She is compulsive” it brings about a negative connotation however if I reframe it that “She is spontaneous” we reimagine someone free and liberated living a rich existence. Ha…perspective…what a lie.
By now you are reading and wondering, “Where is she going, as we are a mile down a rabbit hole and not sure if I am inspired or concerned?”. I am trying to realign my “resources” to stop the contemplation that threatens my sanity; and everyone around me. I am trying to figure out how to tame a “monkey mind” that is brilliant and yet all over the place. I am fighting deadlines and expectations as defined by me, myself, and I. I am wondering where you, the reader, fit into all of this or if you do. I post my writing and my activity to inspire…hmmm…or is it to get credit or yield criticism.
This is what contemplation looks like and where all other “diagnosis” exists. Call it what you will, or don’t. Understand it as you know it, or don’t. As one could guess I am not a “stick your head in the sand” kind of person; compulsive, obsessive, and contemplative people do not stick their heads in the sand. They do quite the opposite, they build 15 sandcastles and contemplate how many more to build; ultimately not needing one, let alone 15 sandcastles.
What is the purpose of today’s blog? Rant? Statement? I don’t really know. It is what was top of mind. It is where I am going to find an outlet. Contemplating the next thing I will write, the next thing I will do today or won’t. Contemplation.
Life as contemplate it — L.
I have sat silent out of respect for the massive amount of loss all around us. Sickness, death, solitude, and desperation are everywhere. We are scared, tired, hopeless and terrified.
Time has lost all meaning; when does it end, how does it end…there are no answers. We have been given no choice but to sit, raw and vulnerable.
As I sat here tonight gutted from what I will one day remember as the hardest day in my career I found myself watching an at-home concert by one of my favorite musical artists of all time and there at exactly 25:00 minutes into his 32:49 minute set, there were the words; that I needed to hear. This is what I was supposed to offer to YOU my friends, family, and followers. My universe always delivers what I need exactly at the moment I need it and here were those words:
“All time is precious no matter where you are at; every moment something sacred is at stake.” – Gavin Rossdale
YES, this my friends is what it is all about!
I remember this very well as I sat by my mother’s bedside in her final days; time had no meaning and every single one of those final moments something sacred was indeed at stake. My bond to her, the bond that was breaking, attempting to leave me, prisoner, without a cell, bound by no one forevermore.
Today as I was moving through the moments there was not a moment that was not precious. This time it was not about life or death but it was an interruption of a partnership if only temporary…we are affected. A place in time where everything was changing for them and within me. In those moments, every reaction was sacred and we were reminded that while it is all business, it is always personal.
What we are going through will forever change us, as a society and personally. I will always remember those days next to my mother knowing what was at stake was the change in me and today as I attempted to meet myself where I was and be there, in the moment with colleagues that I revere and respect more than they can ever know, I knew then as I know now…
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.” – Maya Angelou
We as a society are being shaken, we are being tested and we are uncomfortable. However, ultimately remember that you STILL decide; you still have the same power you had yesterday, one week ago or even a year ago. You are still the YOU, you always were; everything around you will change but ultimately YOU decide.
With all of my love, adoration, and respect for anyone suffering through these uncertain times.
Who am I? Sometimes this is a question I ask my many personalities. Scary, right? You just thought, “Did she just say that?”. Yes, I did!
I am in awe of the many moods we swing in and out of in any given day, week, HOUR, second…ha-ha. My moods sometimes catch me off-guard where I am wondering why in the heck I am in such a bad mood or why I am happy. Crazy it might seem but I realize that I am not my mood and my ability to dis-identify with a mood gives me perspective. However, this is not always the case.
Last night I was very anxious going to bed. I could not get something off my mind in anticipation and I awoke with the same feeling. Within an hour of getting to work my mind shifted dramatically to a happier state which led the way to a GREAT day. The anticipation alone caused the anxiety and if I was truly able to dis-identify it would not have consumed me. The reality of this is far greater than a mood, it is a state-of-being for a moment or moments in time and if we are not cognoscente of that we can and do make decisions based on that moment.
One of the ways I attempt to find perspective when anxiety, anticipation or worry get the best of me is to ask myself the question, “Will this matter in five years/minutes/days?” The answer regardless of the time frame assigned is usually “NO!” Admittedly the time frames has to be shorter; asking myself if something will matter in five years is too far of a time for me to consider in a world I navigate at 80 mph. While I would like to believe everything can be solved by this “reality check” it simply cannot. It is when the “no” is not the simply answer that I have to consider my next tactic.
The inability to see the “temporary” in any situation is that which feeds mental illness and its effects. When you are in such a dark place that you cannot see a tomorrow, another way, options, you cannot make decisions. Forget about the decisions’ relevance; right or wrong…you simply cannot make any decision. The paralysis of mental illness traps you in a state that feels isolating and the longer you stay in that self-isolation the more amplified the darkness. Yes, this is the core of suicide. By the time someone makes that decision, the decision to “end it all” they are so far beyond help that they likely could not be reached had someone been standing right in front of them. (Yea, I know that got deep…fast. Tough.)
This is WHY it is so important that you are in tune with your emotions, moods and states of being. If you are reading this blog you are old enough to be in touch with all of these things. You know how you feel in each of these moments and when you are “safe” and when you are not. Knowing is not enough though; unless you know when to ACT. The act of asking for help, the act of reaching out, the act of doing anything to get back to a “safe” place. This is WHY Mental HEALTH is key to preventing and treating Mental Illness.
Let me offer one simple analogy and then we will climb out of the depths of the “deep”. You absolutely know when you “feel” good or bad physically; it is impossible to NOT know when you have a cold. You are stuffed up, coughing, feverish. You go to the doctor if it gets beyond the point of a “common cold” to prevent a more serious condition, pneumonia, upper respiratory infection, etc. There is no difference when you “feel” good or bad mentally. However the way we treat it is VERY different. When we feel “blue” we might tell ourselves to “snap out of it” and sometimes that might work, but when it doesn’t how far are you willing to go until the blue becomes dark and you cannot see the light at the end of the tunnel to know how to get out…again WHY Mental HEALTH is key to preventing and treating Mental Illness.
I offer my insight on this tonight because I recognized that within a range of four days I have gone through a WIDE array of emotions, moods, states of being unexpected and unintended. I felt physically exhausted Saturday, excited with anticipation and then later emotions mixed with confusion, gratitude and disbelief Sunday, grief-stricken Monday and then moderate on Tuesday…not to mention the anxiety and anticipation described last night and today as I started this blog. My mental health is in good standing because I prioritize it as high as my physical health which I simply do not compromise. Even with a strong base there are days that suck. When you mix exhaustion with any one of these emotions it can be a recipe for a fast decline.
My hope is that regardless of your “mood” as you read this blog that you have tolerance for the “swing”. Our highs can be as dangerous as our lows and if we are not paying attention while on the “swing” we can find our feet swept out in front of us as we lie flat on our back from the fall. Next time you are in a “mood” hang on tight and control the “swing” it’s easier to balance when not pushed!
Moody and I own it – L.
p.s. Committed to Love and Transparency – Judgment has no place here.
I have found myself intimidated by the idea of writing. I have so much to share, so much to say and starting dialogues prompted and ready to roll but then I overthink it. Instead of writing from my heart and my very busy head I sit and think about what my audience wants to hear or read. I realize in this moment that this is where I am going at it ALL wrong.
I am not a fiction writer for a reason. Put simply, I cannot make it up. I write about what is real, what compels me and my writing is truly a form of journaling that I am brave enough to share. If I have to think about what I am writing it is a deal breaker because I have to “feel it”.
The idea of overthinking is one I identify with as I frequently overthink. I find myself overthinking about EVERYTHING in my life which is why I suffer from anxiety. I have worked to remind myself that most of what we “overthink” won’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I use tools like asking myself “will this matter in five years” to help bring perspective. But it happens anyway and it happens at various levels.
The problem with overthinking is that it then lends itself to obsessive behavior and elevated emotion. Neither of these are a compliment to my personality…ha! Obsessed in my word means I follow relentless routines, push harder than necessary and will exhaust that which I am obsessing. Elevated emotion in a Taurus is down right dangerous! The issue with the emotion attached is that I have an uncanny ability to rally those around me easily therefore I am not only getting myself amped up but all of those that support the “cause”.
I Googled “overthinking and the excerpt above came up. It is absolutely on-point. The reality is that the more you think, the more you obsess, the more anxiety that surrounds the situation and the spiral begins. Additionally the article attached to the excerpt above notes:
Thinking too much about something often involves more than words–overthinkers conjure up disastrous images too. Their minds resemble a movie where they imagine their car going off the road or they replay distressing events over and over again.https://www.inc.com/amy-morin/5-exercises-to-train-your-brain-for-happiness-and-success.html
I can relate to this excerpt admittedly worse than I want to, but admitting that something is a problem is the first step to solving, so once again I bear my soul.
In the end I criticize myself less and instead realize that my form of overthinking is truly about offering my best performance, work, relationships, etc. If I did not care I would not overthink and I will take “caring” over going through this life doing things that have no meaning. In my life, everything has meaning because if it doesn’t then I don’t engage. In this world, it’s easy to exhaust, it’s easy to letdown and hence my overthinking on how to manage it all.
With regards to my writing; today was a turning point of doing exactly what brought me to this passion to begin with years ago. Writing for me is not about thinking and certainly not about overthinking; it’s about getting out of my brain those thoughts that are circling, those things that have taken hold as an outlet. Just like this post I write it exactly as it is in my head and what comes out on paper surprises me to the point that it in itself is its own therapy as I now understand it better and can release my additional thoughts and emotions around it.
I have made a commitment the day I hit “publish” the first time to have the courage to share exactly what came out on paper. It is this commitment that will be my anchor and reminder to keep it pure; what is in my head will be what comes out on paper. Unapologetic-ally, not over-thunk and raw enough for YOU to get it even if you don’t.
Life as I see it – L.
Why is it taboo to talk about therapy? What is the shame in our mental health? We talk about mammograms, menopause and colonoscopies without hesitation. It makes zero sense to me and that is why I do talk and about it and will talk about it.
Mental Health therapy is no different than physical therapy or occupational therapy as it gives you tools to manage through an injury, to speed up the healing and ultimately to handle it when it comes up again. I can no more diagnose nor treat the breast cancer that a mammogram may find than I can diagnose nor treat mental illness. But both can kill you. If you have symptoms in your breast we are quick to tell you to go get it checked out right away because time is of the essence. But if you have symptoms of depression we rarely tell you to run to a therapist. Instead we may offer to have lunch and take you to a movie. We may sit and listen to what is on your mind with zero ability to help you solve it. But to suggest that you “go see someone” is considered extreme. Why?
The role that a therapist plays in unraveling the knots in our head is no less a skill that any other doctor possesses in curing us from any number of diseases. They know how to get to the core of the issues and most importantly what work to do to get past the issues.
As important as it is to see a Therapist when you are sick, it is as important to see them when you are well. Again, much like your doctor, you go and get an annual exam even when you are not sick to make sure that everything is well. It is in fact now called a “Well Visit”. Seeing a therapist when you are well is as important as when you are not. The more they know about your “normal” the better they can help when you are not.
The reality is that there is no shame in talking. We talk to our families, friends, coworkers, neighbors, store clerks; for God sake we talk constantly. Why then do we have to hide when we go talk to the one person that can make something out of what we are thinking and what we are talking about. The ridiculousness of it being taboo to find meaning in our thoughts and learning techniques to manage those thoughts and control those emotions is something we have got to continue to breakthrough.
I have heard many say, when the therapy-debate arises, that they don’t need to talk to someone. It is a choice like the many we have to make in our lives and you are entitled to yours. My plight is to to take the shame and judgement away from the discussion; the discussion with a Therapist and the discussion about therapy by talking about it…it’s what we do.
Medication or Meditation…that is the question. Or is it?
It is astonishing to me how many people have reached out to me after posting “The Smiling Faces of Depression” and to date the “mental health” tags in my blogs have received far more views than any other subject matter. It is clear that I have hit a nerve and while I am on your nerves allow me to continue the conversation with the hopes of settling your nerves.
I have had many conversations over the years on depression and the many solutions that exist; natural and pharmaceutical. It is my belief that if we engage in this conversation with the sentiment that we are speaking on behalf of mental health as we would physical health then it would seem to me that the following statements should apply.
Despite the debate the fact is that you need to do SOMETHING when you feel a depression coming on! Yes, that is not a typo…it is a “a depression” just like it is “a cold”; you are not depressed, you are affected by depression and can treat it and come out of it which is why we are not identifying with this condition as a characteristic versus the disease that it actually is. Not doing something about depression is where depression like any other illness can make us prisoners in our own lives. An analogy for you to consider:
This is the conversation that we need to continue to have with each other. It is through these conversations that we can save lives. Openly discussing mental illness as easily we do HBP or any other mainstream condition is important because we acknowledge that we are more alike than different. We all want to feel like we are not alone in any journey whether it be medical, mental or social.
Back to the original question…Medication versus Meditation? To this I say BOTH! Medication is prescribed as needed to offer the body what it is deficient in and there is no shame in that especially when it can make all the difference in your life. Walking around anxiety-ridden, panicked or overwhelmed is debilitating and that a medication can solve is what I call a no-brainer! Meditation is a form of exercise for the brain, for the body and most importantly for the soul. it can be done anywhere and is as easy as breathing. There are great apps, free guided meditations on the internet and books and magazines that can offer techniques.
I conclude by applauding YOU my audience for making this conversation the top trending all month. We have to continue to have these conversations and have the courage to share that we seek therapy, take medication and meditate and these things do not make us “less than” they make us BAD ASS. My life is AMAZING because I am as serious about my mental health as I am about my physical health and that combination makes me whole, it makes me who I am. This is life as I see it. L.
I started my morning watching an interview on Nightline with Scott Stapp. Scott Stapp was the lead singer of Creed, a very popular group from the 90’s and best known for the song he co-wrote With Arms Wide Open. I was definitely a fan of their music, and still am. Allow me to segue for a moment to share my faves:
My Sacrifice – the first two verses are so freeing…
Hello my friend we meet again
It’s been a while, where should we begin
Feels like forever
Within my heart are memories
Of perfect love that you gave to me
Oh, I remember
When you are with me, I’m free
I’m careless, I believe
Above all the others we’ll fly
This brings tears to my eyes
My Own Prison – this song served me in my long fight through weight loss feeling like a prisoner in a body that I knew was not representative of the soul living inside. “I’ve created my own prison” they lyrics recite.
MY ABSOLUTE FAVE is One Last Breath –
Hold me now
I’m six feet from the edge and I’m thinking
Maybe six feet
Ain’t so far down
I’m looking down now that it’s over
Reflecting on all of my mistakes
I thought I found the road to somewhere
Somewhere in His grace
I cried out heaven save me
But I’m down to one last breath
And with it let me say
Let me say
Hold me now
I’m six feet from the edge and I’m thinking
Maybe six feet
Ain’t so far down
YES all are perfect lyrics to bring us back to what was inspiring about Scott’s interview this morning. As someone who knows what it feels like to be “six feet from the edge and thinking maybe six feet isn’t so far down…” and also someone who said to her surgeon recently when they warned the risks of anesthesia that “I win either way; I am going to wake up with Gary or my Mom by my side…what is the risk?” the topic of mental illness/health is always one close to my heart, mind and soul and will continuously be thematic throughout my blog.
In 2014 Scott Stapp hit rock-bottom, posting disturbing videos and making paranoid 911 calls that were released to the public. He blames a mixture of alcohol and prescribed meds for the psychotic episode. He notes that his trauma goes back to childhood. Damn. Why is childhood such a traumatic event for so many. (I wonder what trauma my kids will claim?)
“The Space Between the Shadows” is his new album coming out next week. Getting much acclaim already is a song that he wrote Gone Too Soon as a tribute to his friends Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington who both committed suicide two years ago.
Scott Stapp notes in the interview “i don’t know that there is much that could have gotten through to me…because I was not in sound mind”. This is a testament to how dysfunctionally-private mental illness is; it builds a wall around its victim not allowing them to see OUT and rarely allowing those close to them to see IN; unless really paying attention and hopefully before it’s too late. This is why it is so important to be in touch with your own mental health and have a tribe around you that you can call, ones you can trust, ones that get it and that get you. But that is only a “thing” if you are fearless in calling it out.
A recent TED Talk from Eleanor Longden noted, as she was going through the throws of mental illness, that “someone died in that place and yet someone else was saved…a broken and haunted person started that journey but the person that emerged was a survivor”. You see not every story of depression ends in tragedy. Many come to know the process, the journey, to be worth the benefit of seeing it through. She, through her TED Talk, and Scott Stapp, through his music, are giving back to a community by “sharing the burden for someone suffering and holding the hope for their recovery”.
Eleanor goes on to note that “many people have harmed me in my life and I remember them all but they pale in comparison to those that saved me and helped me save myself. When you are aware of it you can do something positive about it for you cannot oppress the people that are not afraid anymore”. #Word
Another notable TED Talk with Elyn Saks notes that “everyone becomes psychotic in his or her own way” (Just ask my kids…Saturday CHORE mornings at the Kiel house will likely be what they will site to their therapists as TRAUMA!). Elyn goes on to note that “my head was too full of noise”. How many of us can identify with this in some form? My favorite quote from her talk is…
The humanity we all share is more important than the mental illness we may not #Preach!
We all have a responsibility to continue to acknowledge Mental Health regardless of our infliction or not. “For those that deny the experience are the most enslaved by what they have (or don’t). While you hide from it, it grows.” – Andrew Solomon
I conclude with lyrics from yet another favorite Creed song “What if”…
I know I can’t hold the hate inside my mind ’cause what consumes your thoughts controls your life
So I’ll just ask a question
A lonely simple question
I’ll just ask one question
You decide the “What If…”, what if you got the help you need today, what if you didn’t, what if you got better, what if you got worse? You decide…I did and my “What if”…well let’s just say I do the work and the work does me well.
This is life as I see it – L.