Wednesday, March 30, 2016

I Am a Warrior

Imagine that you are stuck in a dark bedroom. Someone checks your room every 15 minutest to make sure you are alive. Outside, you hear people. You hear low-flying planes. You want to go check outside so you go and lift the window curtains but you are terrified. You are paralyzed. They must be after you.. You see a man in a uniform. Tall build. Slowly walking. with a flashlight.

Suddenly, you are back in your bedroom as a young teenager. Flashlights coming through the window. You hear the police arrest your mother and you start sobbing. A police man comes into your room and says everything is going to be ok. You call your pastor, the only person you can think of to talk to at 4 in the morning. She tells you, "You have a story to tell." That night you made a promise to yourself that you would make it through this life and help others.

Most likely, that man in the window is hospital security, not the FBI. No matter what people tell you, you believe they are the FBI coming for you President Obama is on one of those planes and he is here to take you away.

This was my first few nights in a hospital in 2013 I kept these nights pretty quiet for fear that they were actually real.

This was my reality.

I have been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder (schizophrenia and bipolar) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
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Simply put, my brain goes haywire and I have to work very hard to get out of these psychotic/paranoid moments that come and go.

But before you judge me by this situation, you should know about mental illness. Nobody asks to have mental illness. Nobody asks to have to deal with symptoms every day. Nobody asks to be humiliated or feel humiliated because of an episode. The episodes come. Like people with cancer, nobody asks to have a relapse.

I have friends and family and loved ones from cancer, but nobody I know is blamed for having it. So why should I be blamed for my mental illness? Why should I have to suffer with horrible finances because I cannot work and I have 10 years of medical bills? Why can I not raise money for my finances when there is no question for raising money for cancer treatments?

I suffer day in and day out with mental illnesses that could end my life. This is a battle I've been fighting since I was about 13. Now I am 26. Half of my life.

If I could wish anything, I wish that stigmas and discrimination would be replaced with love, respect and encouragement.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Lefts and rights

Change.

Change...

CHANGE!!!!!!!!!!

How uncomfortable were you when you read that word?  Chances are that you are uncomfortable with that wor and its meaning. Changes are uncomfortable especially big ones that change your life.

Life's a journey of ups and downs, lefts and rights. But sometimes we need to change in order to become all we can be. Tomorrow is monumental for me because I am making a big change in my life. I am standing up for myself.

 It's terrifying me.

Change is uncomfortable and can be terrifying.  But sometimes you need to change to become who God wants us to be. Change is not easy. But it's worth it.

I'm scared of other people's reactions especially those who are involved in the change I am making.

But if things don't change then we remain as they always were and are. Stagnant.

Sometimes downright hurtful.

Things can change for the better though.

In order to change sometimes you have to face that which you are afraid of. It takes a lot of courage and strength but again it is worth it.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Evolution of Masks

Many of you know that I am currently in an outpatient mental health program. Yesterday, I asked for a prompt for art therapy that I could work on over the weekend. I love expressing myself with pastels, painting, and color pencils.

The prompt that I was given was this: Draw a mask.

I have done more than that and have enjoyed working on this project.

This is the first mask picture I drew:
In this drawing, it looks as if the eyes are tired, and yesterday afternoon, I was exhausted from going to program every day. I felt drained yesterday. The mouth of this mask is neither happy nor sad, exactly how I felt. However, the mouth was not my mouth, it was the mask's. Sometimes I feel as though I do not have a voice. I often feel that I do not fully let everyone see who is behind the mask. The mask is dark on one side and fairly light on the other side. This represents the dichotomous nature of my mental illnesses and life in general.

This is the first picture I painted this morning.

In this picture, there is a lot less darkness. That's because when I drew this I only had a few flashbacks and no nightmares. There is no mouth on this mask. I feel that the viewer can sense what is going on in this piece without anything explicit or elusive. In the middle of the mask, there are swirls of black and some light colors in the back. This is representative of how I feel myself becoming whole and more light. Overall, the swirls of darkness are not so overwhelming. The background resembles the fact that I am slowly coming back to the present without having paranoia, psychosis, hallucinations, etc. The eyes are very dark, which is supposed to reflect that at this stage, I am scared to let people see all of me.

This was my second art piece this morning.

This is a great departure from my first two paintings. The broad spectrum of colors represents the fact that I feel a mixture of feelings. The colors on the mask almost fit together with the external colors. I am feeling that my feelings inside are being validated by those around me. They tell me I am allowed to feel that range of emotions. I am starting to let people "in" so they can understand me further. It is important to note that there is no smile on this mask, because I believe that the viewer can understand where I am emotionally at this point without blatantly saying it on the painting.

This is the third painting I drew this morning:


This painting, again, is a departure from the last few. There is almost no darkness in this painting. It is important to note that this painting was drawn right after going for a 2-mile run. The external area depicts a peaceful scene of nature, with the sun, a clear blue sky, grassy field and three flowers.  My emotions are definitely matched with my internal emotions. I feel renewed, inspired, and awake, as seen in the mask. I am reminded that there is a light within me that can conquer any darkness. The flowers represent my growth and transformation. My mouth is open, meaning that I feel like I have an important voice. Running helps me to feel strong and empowered. I feel close to God.

Finally, this is my fourth painting this morning.

This painting most represents how I feel in general these days. The mask is breaking and I am finding my voice again. I have learned a lot about myself and how much light there is inside of me. I love the power in this painting, shown through the colors and the fact that the viewer can begin to see my face. The colors outside are supposed to represent the people who have helped me and encouraged me through all of the difficult times with my mental illnesses. I feel that it is okay and safe to get rid of any mask I may put on. There are people who care about and understand me. I am very strong now and I feel that I can conquer anything set before me.


Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Serious Race

Now I am really upset.

I made the mistake of looking up on Google "Trump and mental health." Amidst articles declaring that he suffers from Narcissistic Personality disorder, I found an article in which Trump equated those with mental illness and sickos, in light of the current stigmatization of those with mental illness due to the increase in shootings. Sadly his view is not that uncommon.

I do not have a TV. Granted, sometimes I watch some shows on Netflix, such as "Fuller House." Thanks to Facebook, I do not even have to look far to find out what is happening during the Presidential race, or at least the last few antics. And what I see is an almagamation of a circus and a reality show. Every other post on my News Feed says "Guess what happened now with Hillary Clinton, Trump, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders..., "You won't believe what they did 5 years ago." You get the picture. People make mistakes but it angers me that the political race centers on everything going wrong rather than what each candidate has done to further our lives as US citizens. I want to see what they will bring to the table as President.

We are not just voting for the Last Survivor. We are voting for the President of the United States, who will transform our country for the next 4 to 8 years. I want the gravity of this situation to sink in.

Over the last few years we have seen all the good and bad things that these candidates have done all over social media. Everybody makes mistakes. It's what they do after the mistake that matters most. Did they learn from it? Have they moved past it in order to be a better person? If so, then I would love to vote for that person.

I want to go back to the days when families sat around the TV, listened intently to the debates and chose based on what they saw in each presidential candidate. I want to go back to the days when people focused on the real issues at heart, not which candidate made them laugh the hardest.

We are not electing the President for one day. This is not some sort of odd race to be the next Bachelor of America. This is a race to figure out who will further our country and make changes for the good of all of us who live in this wonderful country. America makes an impact in countries around the world. Think about this impact as well..

I am honestly frightened because I deal with schizophrenia, bipolar I and PTSD. It scares me that some of the candidates running for President carry such stigmas against so many people in America. I want a President who understands what disabled people go through.

Even though I have serious mental illnesses, I hold a Masters Degree in Biomedical Engineering and am currently waiting to find out if I am accepted into a PhD program. I have a few ideas that would transform our world while also alleviating the stigmatization of those with mental illness, as well as, other disorders and diseases. I have made it my mission in life to help those all around the world.

In other words, there are people with mental illness  and disorders who work hard to make a difference all over the world. I would never even think to do anything that would hurt people.

Change the stigmas and remain positive. Take the race seriously.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Clear Blue Sky

I was discharged from a 13 day hospitalization in the psych unit yesterday. I think it was my 14th hospitalization.

I majorly needed some medication changes, as I became resistant to one. My first few days in the hospital were a blur, with paranoia taking over and darkening my world to the point that I felt that everyone on Earth was against me. As the days went by, I told my nurses exactly what I was feeling and believed to be true. Some later told me that they had never seen the amount of insight that I had about my mental illness before. Even at my darkest, I was trying to climb up the ladder out of the pit as I fought to overcome the fog and terror that invaded my mind.

Paranoia is frightening.

But God can overcome and conquer anything.

About a week in to my stay, I began to feel much better. I honestly did not really keep track of the medications since I usually tend to believe I have a ton of side effects. I let the nurses/doctors do what they do best and left the rest up to God.

They told me they added a medication about a week and a half in and almost immediately, I felt a huge weight lift out of my head. I thought clearly for the first time in awhile. The paranoia began to dissipate until it was totally gone. The dark clouds gave way to a bright sun and a clear blue sky.

On one of the last days of my visit, a nurse asked me how my paranoia was. I replied, "What paranoia?" I cannot even describe the joy we both felt. I think I was grinning from ear to ear.

I got home yesterday and spent about 7 hours on the phone with friends and family.

To all those who supported, encouraged, prayed for, cared about, and helped me through the last 2 weeks, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I was a little upset that I had to break my 14 month streak without a hospital visit, but I know I made the correct choice by going there. I would rather stay 2 weeks in the hospital to get my medications adjusted correctly than not. I am eternally grateful for all of the support I received.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

I want it gone

In creating this blog a few years ago, I promised that it would be an honest portrayal of what it means to have mental illness, as I struggle with schizoaffective disorder and PTSD.

Like all of us human beings in this world, we encounter troubling times and things that really hurt us.

Last week, I felt all the above. Every day last week, I dealt with difficult symptoms of paranoia and PTSD. Even when I think back to last week, I feel the hurt, the pain, the fear. I was and am terrified.

I WANT IT GONE!

Last week, I also had a kind of flashback I have never encountered before. When I was in it, I could not talk. I was hyperventilating. It was one of (if not) the scariest  and deepest flashback I have ever felt.

At some points this week, I voiced to people that I am sick of this and cannot take it anymore. Even though I say things like that every so often, I always feel God's presence so I move forward.

Today, I am at a scale 2/10, 1 no flashbacks/paranoia, 10 all the time. Earlier this week I was at 15/10.

No matter how hard life is, it is always worth it to live.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Monumental Milestone

I struggle with paranoia and psychosis at times. I struggle with these symptoms from time to time.

Over a year ago, I went to a church that would be the last service I had been to.

I was disappointed greatly with that church.

During my last service there, I kept leaving the sanctuary to check if the FBI was outside. I felt no support with my symptoms. Nobody asked me how I was doing. Nobody came up to me even though I was distraught and confused. My paranoia was too difficult to deal with so I left the church and said I was never going to go back there or no other church in general.

It is very difficult to be symptomatic in church because I felt judged by the fact that I kept leaving. I assume they thought I was rude or I did not hear the sermon because I did not want to.

Trust me, I wanted to be a part of the worship time. But my paranoia did not let that happen. I heard people laughing at me.

Welcome to a year and a half later...

I was praying God to lead me to a church. I am one to believe that you can go to church every day of your life and be a minister everywhere you go through your loving kindness to those around you.Church can happen anywhere or anytime. Church is a place to find support in your walk with Christ. However, there is nothing saying that you have to go to church to be Christian.

I went to church this morning for the first time in over a year. I had no paranoia and minimal anxiety. The congregation was fairly small, which helped with my symptoms. I got to the church and a nice lady helped me find the door to get in. I was introduced to quite a few people. The nature was very kind and loving.

Granted, I did not tell anybody at the church about my chronic mental illnesses. I did not feel the need to since I felt so at home being there. I did not tell anybody there that it had been over a year since I went to a church service.

For me, it was a monumental milestone.