In 2015, at the age of 21 I hit my ultimate low. All throughout my life, I have felt that I have had mood changes, significant changes that caused drops in my mood. Typically, I believed I was just lazy, I loved to sleep and could sleep days away and sometimes food was important and other times it was just a nuisance and eating was for survival I guessed after several days and light headedness. Well March, 2015 came to a screeching halt when I realized after 2 weeks in bed with no desires, the tears were beginning to stain my face and my eyes were just too puffy and I smelled so bad of not showering that I realized- this time it may not pass. I made the calls to those close to me and said it’s time we get some help and without a doubt I had the…
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Life always seems to be going well when the biggest boulders come across our path. This time last year I was filled with passion and fire as I had just experienced The African American Museum in Washington D.C. a few days ago. The morning that I was going to visit the African American museum, I had experienced a high amount of abdominal pain and passed it off as gas. Now, we all done had some painful gas experiences. First and foremost, LISTEN to your body. I continued my day, the pain subsided- I drank some tea and all seemed to be well. Little did I know my gallbladder had developed gallstones and I would be having gallbladder attacks for several days. Finally, after several hospital visits, I was admitted to Fairfax Hospital for surgery. I spent 2 days on dilaudid- a very strong pain medication that left me drowsy and begging for medication every 4 hours as it wore off. I was nervous.
Now, in all honesty I have had emergency surgery previously to removed my appendix. I was aware of the risks, but the nerves were still here. As the baby that I am, my mom was there for me right as I went into surgery and was waiting for me as I came out of anesthesia. The surgery was a success, I had 3 small incisions on my stomach and one incision next to the incision from my appendix located right in my belly button. The worst, the surgery, was over… or so I thought. Typically after surgery, you are tired from all the anesthesia, you move a bit slower from the painful incisions and of course your on some pretty strong drugs to help ease your body into all the trauma it just experienced. I am not entirely sure when we realized that my healing was not going as planned. I could not keep down any food and had spent every day asleep. Trash cans and toilets was all I was seeing day in and day out. At this point, I was throwing up blood and my stomach lining and no medication was working.This began the routine drives to and from the hospital. The stays in the hospital ranged from 3 days to 2 weeks, costing over 500K in hospital bills. Every test was ran to determine why the nausea and vomiting continued to persist and to no avail each surgical team and doctor came up empty handed. At some point, we were throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what would stick. MRI of the body, MRI of the brain- if you know nothing about an MRI it is a very enclosed space where you lay still for quite some time while pictures are taken- it is scary and it is LOUD. Barium study- you give a nauseated person who frequently vomits a whole bunch of nasty milky liquid to consume and take pictures to see if there are any blockages. Endoscopy- a small camera inserted down the esophagus to take pictures as well as biopsy the stomach. These were just some of the test run, in addition to all the blood work tests and countless possible diagnosis that were just terms being shouted above my head.
Around March, I would begin using a scopolamine patch and there is a 1% chance that your vision would be impacted- guess who fell into the 1%? This chick right here. I woke up and could not see clearly. I used siri to contact a friend to take me to my eye doctor who gave me an additional pair of glasses to wear on top of my contacts but the patch was all that was keeping me from hurling my guts up everyday. Up until now, I had been out on sick leave from work for almost 3 months, I was down 30 pounds and still no idea of what this sickness could be. I was managing constant meds, seeing gastroenterologists, eating radioactive eggs( tastes just like eggs) , and ultimately going through the motions of each day without food, feeling fatigued and throwing up raw foods like salad, fruit and vegetables. These bouts of nausea and vomiting would range in its severity from everyday sickness to having an okay week or day. Life continued on around me. Work continued on and I had to find ways to cope but the mental anguish of constant sickness, inconsistent abilities to experience life, to write, to spend time with others only heightened my depression and caused me to question my faith. Being sick meant relying on others- to help walk my dog, to take me to the hospital, to help manage meds, to grocery shop, to do all the things I couldn’t do because my body had deteriorated – 40+ pounds lost at this point. Everyone had advice, change doctors, try other meds, try other remedies and it all seemed daunting and overwhelming when all I wanted was to simply be okay again. 10 months later, I began seeing a nutritionist in hopes to find foods that worked and even that was a struggle. Learning how to make bone broth, almond milk from scratch, eating the basics of life and not enjoying the things I wanted. After a complete meltdown in the office of my gastroenterologist he agreed to repeat the endoscopy which revealed a stomach bacterial infection known as helicobacter pylori. We began a triple antibiotics regiment, only to finish and reveal Lyme disease which began another regiment of antibiotics. In addition, my hemoglobin- iron count had been dropping for the entire year which led us to the office of hematologist.
Unfortunately, I can’t say much more because there are still appointments, tests and more going on. I write this because the pain of 2017 casted me into very dark shadows. So much tears, missed events, sadness, being poked with needles and anxiety around food, anxiety around appointments, anxiety around test results and its not over. I will not suggest to others that are dealing with physical ailments, mental or emotional ailments that all will be well and you will skip away. Unfortunately some of us are plagued with things that effect our every day, that makes work hard, that makes planning for the future hard, that makes getting off the couch hard and all we can do is put one foot in front of the other. Remember to just be, you don’t have to be strong, you don’t have to conquer the world, and you don’t have to always have the right feelings or words… simply be… in whatever way that means to you.
It doesn’t matter why you stopped, it only matters that you start again. I stopped writing for the entire of 2017. Unfortunately, I did not have a choice. Physical health took its downfall and continues to step in the way of my ability to consistently write. But no matter how inconsistent to writing I will be, have been, or whatever- I will try again. I am really starting to understand that falling is not bad, its not getting up that is truly horrible. So go ahead and get another gym membership, try to be vegan/vegetarian/pescetarian again, or just commit to something new. Goals are to be achieved but they are not meant to be binding. Maybe you didn’t reach a goal in a time frame, maybe the goal is just not possible anymore, nonetheless you have to keep going. I write this, because my writing is not for you, it’s for me. Writing has been my release and I choose to blog because maybe just maybe my words will help others, inspire others or just keep me in contact with friends and families. I am not sure, but I know I have fallen, I know I am trying again and I am pretty sure I will fall again. New year- growing me.
I am not Jesus Christ
I can not bear the lashes and the whips and the taunting and the feeling of my flesh being ripped from my body
I am not Jesus Christ
I can not bear the agony and the pain of this soul longing to save every person I come across and see
I am not Jesus Christ , I can not forgive you time after time for breaking me over and over
I can not bear another story of a rape victim . I can not watch her bottom lip tremble and her eyes fill with tears, as her feet shuffle from one leg to the other because the emotional pain is as heavy on the physical that she can not stand up straight . I can not bear to look at her as she struggles to find words that make sense to what has happened . I can not bare to listen to her speaking her truth one aching syllable at a time . I don’t want to look at her, I don’t want to hear her… I can not bear this pain .
I can not bear the pain of the suicidal boy. The boy whose heart aches from the time he wakes until the time he sleeps . I see him sitting on the edge of this building , feet dangling 20 stories high as he watches cars below pass by. I can not bare to watch him every night as he stands up to leave that ledge because one day he will jump instead of walk away. I can not bear his pain , and neither can he.
I can not bear the pain of the cutter , the people who keep a box of razors in hidden drawers next to bandaids and gauze . The children with the long sleeve shirts and hoodies in July’s heat. The teenagers and adults that no longer wear hoodies but now don’t wear bikinis . For everyone believed the art had ended , it simply switched its canvas.
I can not bear the pain of the pill popper. The pill popping mental health chick that takes a pill for the ups and the pill for the downs , the pill for the sleep, and the pill for the in betweens. Night after night day after day she hopes these pills will one day make her okay. She’s not on the edge staring down at the ground, she walks back and forth and back and forth along the very same ledge. She feels a tether something holding her back from the final jump and those are the pills. They’ve chained her, so she takes one pill for the up and another for the day, one for sleep and one for everything in between . But one day she’ll wait and she will take every pill she has because what’s holding her down from jumping can also make her fly .
I can not bear the pain of the girl wrapped in bedsheets . Her legs spread as she moans in ecstasy for the 9th time this week. She looks down to see a face she can’t recognize . A face attached to a body she has no connection to . She is here for her urges , she is here to purge her pain in ecstasy the only way she knows how . Her mind numbs, her emotions settle and her body takes over . Each flick of the tongue, each suck of a breast , the stroke of a dick- she finds herself full . Feeling elated and no longer full of unborn pain. But when it ends , she must find new bed sheets, another unfamiliar face , she has to get this high again to help her bare all this pain.
There is but so much pain one soul can truly bear .
There is nothing more beautiful than finding and loving a fierce woman. To see her blackness, her tears, her stripes of pain but she stands, she withstands, she moves, she glides, she may fall but never breaks. We have observed the crooked room, we have stood within the crooked room and brick by brick we attempt to dismantle the room that remains crooked. I am my sister’s keeper. I am the midnight phone call, I am the shady one in the group chat, I send memes, and ask for permission to travel out the state. Maybe I’m even the one with the bat willing to fight someone for you.
But no-one can see, understand or love a black woman like another black woman can. A year ago when I was told of the opportunity to study beneath Dr.Wendi Manuel-Scott later renamed Dr.Muva, I couldn’t have imagined the women, the knowledge , the growth , and fire that would forever change my life. I didn’t know the universe had aligned the moon and the stars to allow this group of women to not only to find each other but love each other fiercely. We have cried, we have eaten, we have wrote…then spent time reading what was written. Supporting each other we’ve shared our dreams and passions in the safe room of sisters. I. Needed. Them. My Heart. Needed Them. My mind stimulated by them, unintentionally gave me the confidence and strength to take steps in directions I couldn’t have fathomed.
I am glad to walk hand in hand with activist, with defiance, my protestors, my system agitators, my teachers and mentors, my government officials, my day to day workers, my students, my beautiful black women that I now call sisters.
Recognizing we need this space I pen this letter because black women need a black woman’s support. There is something in our soul that desires to reach depths that only a black woman can pull out of us. There is something about vulnerability, honesty, truth, laughter and pain. Creating these spaces is hard, but not impossible. It took will, it took guts, it took hard working women fighting an educational system to say I will create a space for women of color. This space focused only and solely on the untold and hidden stories of THE black woman.
It is with these women, I learn to laugh and get my chakras right and put on my make up otherwise known as war paint. It is with these women, that I learn every single day of breath is a day of resistance and we exist to resist.
One year of sisterhood, a lifetime to go.
In 2015, at the age of 21 I hit my ultimate low. All throughout my life, I have felt that I have had mood changes, significant changes that caused drops in my mood. Typically, I believed I was just lazy, I loved to sleep and could sleep days away and sometimes food was important and other times it was just a nuisance and eating was for survival I guessed after several days and light headedness. Well March, 2015 came to a screeching halt when I realized after 2 weeks in bed with no desires, the tears were beginning to stain my face and my eyes were just too puffy and I smelled so bad of not showering that I realized- this time it may not pass. I made the calls to those close to me and said it’s time we get some help and without a doubt I had the support of friends. I was checked into a hospital and spent several days quietly thinking, watching around me and feeling comfortable knowing everyone around me was struggling just like me. After several days, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. With complete disbelief, I couldn’t believe it. I could not be bipolar. Bipolar people switch moods every 5 minutes. They laugh and then cry and then run naked and then do something else random. That was NOT me. But I had not recognized my knowledge of bipolar disorder was highly distorted by the media. It was the images of drama, of drug addicts, of people who were the absolute extreme of bipolar disorder and for some reason that stigma hit me hard. I recalled using my phone calls to explain to my best friend that it could not, simply could not be that I AM bipolar. As soon as I was discharged and sought out my psychiatrist beyond the psych ward I did everything to change my diagnosis to depression. For some reason depression seemed to make me feel better than bipolar disorder. This façade worked for a while but several months on medication, I realized I was having these rapid mood changes. The ups and downs and confused states of mind that the medication was not controlling. It was only then that I looked into Bipolar Disorder and realized these were called manic episodes, depressive episodes, the mix of the both, and the slither of time when I get to see myself in a clear view without the episodes. But the first thoughts, I have always wondered with my mental health issues is- Who is going to love me, love me like this?
Dating someone with mental health related problems, I feel like is a gamble for many. Many people would probably report not wanting to be with someone who has schizophrenia, bipolar, depression or the other list of mental health disorders listed in the DSM V. It’s a risk factor. Many know that mental health has been linked to some degree to be hereditary. According to Darwin’s theory, we want to reproduce with those that give us the best combination of genes to pass on, and some may feel like that is just not a risk they want take. Others simply do not just want to love, fall in love, or like someone with “issues”. I have watched two shows that have talked about mental health and dating- The United States of Tara and Empire. Empire depicts Andre Lyon as someone who is bipolar, sometimes manic- going off his medication, high levels of energy, rapid thoughts but extremely motivated. In recent episodes he struggles with hallucinations of his dead ex-wife, but is soon found to be in love with a new woman. Andre has overall struggled to manage his medication and also keep his secret of bipolar diagnosis from his new girlfriend. Andre loves this girl so much that when he tells her during one of his depressive episodes and her reaction seemed at first that she would leave him; His instant reaction was recognizing that he was tarnished goods and by finding out this secret, she would simply walk out the door, in which she did not. In the episodes of the United States of Tara – she struggles with Multi-Personality Disorder also known as Dissociative Identity Disorder. Tara has 2 children and a husband who go on the journey of not knowing who Tara will be each day and how to constantly get the family out of trouble, protect their secret, live in fear and uncertainty. Tara reminds us of the unpredictability of mental health. The reality of who will you be each day, each moment, each hour and how that can change not just the person suffering but those around them- their families, their friends, their job and anyone who interacts with them. Unfortunately, these two examples come with a script, a television show and complete control over how people react and respond to mental health. No Andre’s girlfriend did not walk away and yes Tara’s family stuck by her, but this is not the case for everyone.
Dating has been the hardest scene for me to learn to manage in these past 2 years. I have learned that I am not my mental illness however my mental illness is apart of me. My mental illness, determines a lot about how I view and interact with the world. Some days, I am overly excited with the energy to write six or seven blog pieces, my mind races, my speech fast and I am ready to take on the world 17 steps at a time. In this state of mind, I push my mind and body to its max doing everything I can without thought. For others in this sense of mania, its cleaning, its shopping, its compulsion and bad decision making, which I have participated in as well. Other days, I wake up and give myself a pep talk… Sounds something like this… “ I am okay”, “I can get up”, “just put your feet on the floor”, “turn on the lights”, “go pee”, “do I have to shower today?” “How many hours until the day is over and I am back in bed?” “Are you hungry? No. Okay grab the apple just in case…” Those days are hard, I fight the hardest to move, to breathe, to live and to not wince every time someone touches me or even talks in my direction. Those days I want to be invisible and I want to disappear. Those days I wonder just like Andre, how could anyone stand me, put up with me- I am tarnished goods struggling just to stay afloat and trying my hardest to stay one step ahead of this illness that rears its ugly head into my life.
Sometimes, when I date I wait months to tell someone of my bipolar disorder. I cancel dates abruptly because I want to just lay in bed or I send random texts saying I want to go to the movies like right now in this moment. They take those things as me being spontaneous and random and not medicated, manic and depressive. I let them believe what they want until I am ready to sit and explain. Other times, I have tried the approach of letting people know early on- sometimes that’s tricky. You see someone you like, slightly squint, slightly frown because they don’t know what that means. Those unaware of the disorder ask questions, want to know what it means and ultimately how it affects their life and this new found friendship/dating or future relationship. Some ask no questions and simply disappear from your life altogether. This state for me is the hardest because it’s vulnerability. The level of vulnerability to let someone see you, for who you are is daunting. It is explaining your random moods, your bad decisions, your tears, your anxiety, your need for answers in the moment, your ability to over think and obsess, your everything. It’s the explanation of who you are and what your illness is and how the two do not always match. It’s the vulnerability piece of opening who you are but also opening the door in preparation that this person can simply say “hey this is not for me, I like you, but yeah this mental illness stuff is just too much” and that person walks away. With that open door and the shutting of it behind this person you may have liked, your heart hurts. Now many will say, well they didn’t deserve you, or its their loss. But in the end it is ultimately your loss. They liked you for who you are but they did not like the intrusive nature of this illness/monster that has attached itself to you. Remember, I am NOT my illness!
To those who have walked away, I do not blame you, I commend you for knowing your boundaries, setting them and sticking to them. To those who support their spouse, lover, partner, or even friend through mental health I commend you. I commend you for sitting in the dark during tears, for bringing home ice cream and watching episodes of Magic School Bus and for being okay with the 3rd cancelled date this week. I commend you for asking how are you, helping to navigate medications, and forgiving me for the umpteenth time. I commend you because you too are affected by this. To those dating in the mental illness world, it is hard. It is hard deciding who to be vulnerable with, who sees you beyond your illness, beyond your mistakes, beyond the ups and downs and willing to help you along this journey. But all you can do, is be yourself, learn yourself, identify your triggers and be your own light in a very dark tunnel.
Always trying to navigate a crooked room.
As dark as this world may seem, I saw something in the distance I was drawn to be intrigued. There was a fire burning in you, a bright beautiful purple flame. With everything in me I wanted to feel the warmth of your flames.
What you did not know was, I too had a fire burning in me. Something you could see but I wouldn’t allow to quite touch.
We know that fire leads to two things- we can come together and burn the world down or we can warm even the iciest of places.
Time was our enemy but also our energy. To allow flames to grow big and bold you must allow time to take its toll . For if the flames collide to quickly they simply create combustion, while if the flames are left exposed too long without access to fulfillment they will begin to diminish.
You could see the flames in me diminish as I slowly shut down, weakening my strength, weakening my core as I became trusting, vulnerable and willing to be engulfed by your flames. Willingness to bare my soul , reveal my body and be entangled deeply into your warmth. Willing to risk my guard and my heavy calculations , simply to spend time next to a purple flame. Willing to learn your coals , be your lighter fluid and bake and bake and bake and bake as you rolled up a new one to spark in this flame .
Unbeknownst to me… I came too close to the flame too fast. I could feel it’s heat but I got too close to fast , the wind knocking me down and instantly feeling … cold…
Here we are… I can not see your flames, I can not feel your warmth , you are long out of my reach . But my flame has diminished . My flames have changed. The moment of vulnerability, the moment of affection and attention – over, because rejection has caused a change to this flame .
We said we could warm the world , but instead we just burned mine down. But I’d do it all over again to see the truest form of this flame wrapped in purple sheets .
“If I seem edgy, I want you to know, I never mean to take it out on you. Life has its problems and I get more than my share… baby I am just human… don’t you know I have faults like anyone, sometimes I find myself alone regretting some little foolish thang, some simple thing that I’ve done…. “- Nina Simone