The Why Behind the Madness

The Madness Will End

It still shocks me to think that he said, during the midst of a complete breakdown, “It’s OK to have a pity party now and again”.  There was a total lack of compassion and understanding.  How could he not understand, with all of the information that was given to him during our marriage and family counseling sessions that a pity party was far from the problem?  I cried and pleaded for understanding as to the depth of my ex-husband’s anger.  He knew about the Department of Social Services, and the fear.  He knew about the loss of control and his anger.  Yet empathy was at a complete loss.

I was even told in retrospect that he thought that I was making a pass at him.  Where in the world we live in, could he possibly think that?  I was twenty-one.  He was my pastor that I craved guidance from, and I was losing my mind.  I was delusional and trying to explain a picture of a cross that I had colored on my basement floor to him.  I was coloring this picture the night before when I was searching for guidance and answers as to the direction of my path in the Bible.  My Bible was located upstairs and my coloring was on a cold concrete basement floor, so the sweat from running up and down the stairs could be felt that night.  My mind was beyond lost, yet would I even have the capacity to make a pass at him that day when explaining my picture?  Now who was the crazy one?

My only answer that I found that long torturous night of madness, when searching for guidance was that, if the sun came out, I would go to church.  If not, I would stay at home.  Brilliant, huh??  Then the response that I got while going to church was disregard to my severe depression, and complete lack of awareness to the beginning of my loss of reality.

Previously I was told to be submissive to my ex-husband.  I had to follow the Bible and the teachings, so though there was ignorance, anger, and lack of respect for me and the children, I had to follow these teachings.  Submissiveness – not questioning.  My mind could only tolerate that for so long until it began to twist.  I could no longer be the submissive mouse that was quiet during outbursts and said to the children, “Listen to your father”.  Dear God, how much could be taken?

Yet it was my pastor that was my teacher and helper during these times.  The DSS even allowed him to take over the counseling sessions after they finished their weekly inspections of care-taking observance, to which my ex-husband was never a part of.  It was my ex-husband’s hand that caused the havoc, yet I was left to pick up the pieces, because he worked.  Ha!!  And my pastor was going to guide us to the next step of recovery for our marriage, our children’s welfare, and to the end of the abuse that was taking place.  What a messed up plan.  What a messed up time.  And I was the one who was categorized as mad and mentally ill with a problem?  This was the beginning of the stress that started the mental breakdown.  Under the circumstances, I think the most rational person could have lost their mind.  I was just the one on the battlefield during those trying days.

Always Keep Hope and Faith

Openning the heart to a new beginning

There was a time when I believed that I would never have a close relationship with my only sibling, my brother.  There were hard times that seemed impossible to muddle through.  It’s funny though, my belief that we would never be close has turned into an unbelievable faith that time can change our thoughts and perceptions.

Now that my parents are gone, my brother has become a big part of my life that I rely on.  He makes things tolerable when I don’t know who to turn to.  I trust his opinion, and look forward to his humor.  And I thank God he is MY brother.

My mom, on the night that she died, waited for my brother to be there with both of us (her and I).  I know in my heart this to be true.  He drove quickly from Rhode Island to New Hampshire, missing exits and going through highway medians, to get to my house.  His goal was to be there for my mom.  Though mom was breathing quickly and strenuously until she heard his voice, her breathing slowed and she was at ease when she heard him say, “Mom, I am here”.  She died only fifteen minutes after he arrived.  We were both at her side when she died.

Mom with her stubbornness, and God with His perfect planning made this happen as it did.  They both knew that with our dad already having died a few years earlier, and with our mother at the end of her life, we needed each other more than ever.  This would be the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next.  And I’m so thankful that he made it there and was by both of our sides at the end of our mother’s life.  That was truly divine timing.

Victorious Battle

Clear your mind of can't

Back twenty years ago, I was in nursing school and traveling about an hour and a half each way from New Hampshire to Boston, Mass for my classes.  Life was stressful at that time and my Mom was a main supporter helping with the children before and after school.  My mood and prayers for minute by minute relief were relentless.  This was the time that I went to a new psychiatrist and was diagnosed with what was called, “Manic Depression”.  Of course the new name is Bipolar.

I have written about my first breakdown at the age of twenty-one in another story entitled, “My Break in Reality”.  Therefore the time of diagnosis took almost five years from my psychotic breakdown.  My psychiatrist from the time of my mental breakdown, when asking him why I had lost reality, he would say, “I might grow out of it”.  I never quite understood that answer.

Upon diagnosis, there was relief in knowing that I now had a reason for my emotional up and downs, but there was also a sense of fear because of the stigma associated with a mental illness.  I was now in Nursing School to get a Registered Nurse Diploma, so I had to keep up the portrayal of a clear, level-headed professional.  Yeah, right!

The road that I had in front of me and the stumbles that would be endured along the way were incomprehensible.  My husband reminded me that keeping up the charade and hiding who I was, was still being represented when we met well over a decade later.  To hide who I was in fear of negative consequences for all of those years was ridiculous, though maintained.  The stigma remains though it may have decreased somewhat.

I was told that I had to make the decision to start medications that would need to be taken for the rest of my life, and this decision was considered for sometime.  Though ultimately to help with the dramatic ups and downs, this is what was needed to be done.  I suppose the possibility of a severe stressful moment causing loss of reality could once again happen, and medications would help to prevent this and stabilize my moods.  Also with my racing mind, there was continuous loss of sleep which magnified the problem.  I was questioning if whether the choice of my career and taking medications for a mental illness was a bad mix.  Though, this thought should have been disputed by a psychiatrist or therapist, at that time.  Having another blow to self-esteem was definitely not needed.

2/6/95  Journal Excerpt

“It’s impossible to figure it out.  All I know is that I’m doing the best that I can.  I don’t think, at this time, I could do any better than what I’m doing –  except of course to sleep better.  I want to sleep more, but there is ALWAYS something more to do!  Be an adult – not stupid!  Make the right choices!  Don’t be childish – Be and adult!  Keep on keeping on (cliche’).  I can do it, I will do it, and I’ll do it to the best of my ability!”

The battle always simmered inside, and the struggle of living and raising children while in an often hostile environment and keeping calm on the outside was a terrible fight.  I had no emotional support from my ex-husband, therefore most of my dependence was on myself and the help of my parents.  I was twenty-five and the children were ten, eight, and six.

Though I had a questioning, struggling mind, I won that battle.  The children were kept safe and loved.  The home was kept clean and maintained.  And I got my Registered Nurse license and was honored with the Highest Scholastic Achievement Award in my class, as well as an award for compassionate care.  And I worked as a nurse for many years until the fight with Anxiety, Bipolar, and PTSD became too much.

As my mother would say, “You can do anything you set your mind on, Kelsy.”  And of course, she was right.

God is Good.

Morning Beauty

Morning Beauty

The crickets are chirping.  A light soothing air is blowing in the open windows.  The morning is here, while still in the darkness.  Now is the time to poke around in new pursuits of interest, while enjoying a cup of tea.  Gratitude for another day coming and the gifts of each day that God has allowed the time to see.  So very thankful.

Learning to Fight for Myself

Self Advocacy - The Journey of Peace and Happiness

I couldn’t handle anything anymore.  It all felt out of control.  I was tired of trying – tired of the falls backward and wishing life would be no more.  I got into my car with a mission at hand.  It was time to be with my grandmother.  She had died many years ago and I so missed her understanding of me.  I went to the grocery store on my way to my hometown which was two hours away.  When there, I picked up the bottle of sleeping pills.  My mission was to go to my grandmother’s grave and just submit and give in.  It was time to let all the pain go.  I couldn’t live with the turbulent effects of my mind anymore.  I needed relief.

Somehow, hours later, I ended up where I started – defeated.  The paranoia was setting in.  There was a cop in the driveway.  But that was the only place to go.  My mind drifted away to the memory of being held against my will.  The memory in which delusions managed my existence.  Was this the case again?  Would I be set free, or would the policeman bring me to the hospital to relive the pain and fear?

I was aching for understanding and a compassionate helping hand.  The policeman was kind, and my boyfriend, with concern in his eyes, met me outside to ease my fears.  The night ended better than expected.  Though to my astonishment, this was the beginning of a new chapter in which navigating the community mental healthcare system would be started – a nightmare in itself.

This experience happened quite a few years ago and to my horror, I was dropped as a patient by my psychiatrist of ten years and my counselor who helped me through my divorce.  I was unwillingly turned over to the community mental healthcare, with the extremely long wait times of months for care and the lack of treatment and appointment availability.  This was a time in which I was able to gather the strength to be able to fight for myself.  Though a new fear arouse – fear of abandonment, which was unfortunately started by the healthcare providers entrusted to help me.  And self-advocacy became the focus.

I still frequently struggle with my mind.  But I have learned to try to seek out help when needed.  I have a new doctor and counselor, in which I have good professional relationships with.  And my support system is strong.

Though the path twists and turns, I try to keep myself grounded while running, walking, or crawling with its curves.  I keep on going forward.  And my cries to God for his strength and help remain.  It’s going to be alright.

Recovering the Mind

 

Recovery

The aftermath and recovery from a mental breakdown, I believe, is a less understood process for family members and there is a lower awareness for the public in general.  It is hugely accepted that when a person undergoes a physical trauma of some sort, the recovery time and the need for assistance also may be part of the healing process.  However, less understanding and compassion is given to the one that is in need of an emotional or mental recovery.  Why is that?

Physical ailments to the body and mental ailments as well need to be treated with respect in regard to the difficulties and assistance that one may require after the damage.  A physical recovery can be seen by the eye as to how to help the one in need, whereas a mental recovery is a more hidden wound.  There are physical therapists, nursing assistants, other healthcare providers, and family that are seen with the difficulty of a physical rehabilitation or recovery.  However, less empathy and physical help is given when there is a psychological insult and hospitalization is required.  The road to recovery is achieved with much effort, no matter what the condition may be.

To be in a place of recovery for a mental illness is decreasing the stimuli and focusing on the “milieu” of the treatment facility.  There is a need for emotional help and therapeutic skills to help with anxiety, as well as coping skills.  Education is available for medication management.  Treating the chaos and recovering the mind is the goal.  And if someone is depressed, has anxiety, has been treated for a psychotic experience, or any other multiple conditions, they need a great deal of understanding and an ability to maintain some of that stability when leaving the hospital.  To jump right back into a stressful daily lifestyle with children and work and family or relationship demands without a plan of obtaining some form of help is setting someone up to fail.  There may also be outpatient care that can help with that aspect of care as well.  Sometimes getting someone to help with parenting duties, laundry, or help with reorganizing every day lifestyle needs (including medication management) is a supportive way to be of help.  Maintaining a decreased stress environment and gradually readjusting is so necessary.

Helping to guide someone or just being a friend and being close by when able is useful as well.  A supportive ear and helping with day to day chores and organization is helpful also.  Being isolated immediately after hospitalization without someone to check in and talk with is not ideal.  Also coming over to someone’s house who is recovering, and being someone who is loud, fast-paced, or has the idea of being a house guest without the assistance of being supportive should reconsider.  Recovery is what is most important.

If someone just had their appendix out, and was trying to do laundry and run after the kids while having their brother and spouse arguing and mocking each other loudly over a game in the kitchen, this would obviously be too much for their first day home.  This concept is the same for a psychological recovery.  Healing always needs compassion.

Looking for Guidance

There is hope. There is ALWAYS hope. Have faith and move forward, and stand.
Official video by Rascal Flatts.

It’s a wonderful thing how the lyrics of a song can speak right to the heart.  The words can give you strength when needed, fill a void, move us forward, give us determination, and will to achieve.  That is exactly what the lyrics of this song is brilliant for doing.  Stand by Rascal Flatts serves to inspire, make the weakened fight, and to guide and move us toward victory!

During happy, difficult, sad, or any other emotion there is, there is a song to be there with me.  It’s amazing how this brilliantly written song gave me the strength when I needed it so desperately during the time when I left my husband and began moving forward into a new unknown area.  I was scared, lonely, and felt so lost.  This was the first time that I would be on my own.

I went from childhood to adulthood in a…

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Living Through Fear

Living with a daily fear in your mind for years and years is crippling to the spirit.  It is what is accomplished, though this fear exists, that shows our determination.  And what is of utmost importance is decided when one pushes through this anxiety and fear.
It is draining to on a constant basis live with the thought of devastation and ultimate loss, but it is this thought that can be the motivator to be triumphant.  The thought of loss for me which would cause my devastation was having my children taken away from me and given to someone else.  Caring and loving my children was my position in life in which I took with great responsibility and care.  My children alone were the reason I moved forward despite this difficult fear.
This was not a made-up or fabricated fear in my mind that I began to consider for no reason.  This…

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A Beautiful Soul

Help Others See - The Journey of Peace and Happiness

My first nursing job was at a Nursing Residence for nuns.  I so enjoyed this job and it was a great stepping stone to more things to come.  Yet the reason I liked this position so much was the company in which I got to spend time with.  The nuns were gracious knowledgable women, and I enjoyed hearing their wisdom.

There was this one nun who was one hundred and one years old.  She was a tiny women and still very independent.  One day she asked me a question, and I recall our conversation so well.  She asked me, “Honey, what religion are you?”.  In response, I told her that I was brought up Catholic, but switched later in life to another religion.  She went on to tell me her thoughts on my answer.  “Oh, that’s OK Honey.  It really doesn’t matter what religion you are.  All that matters is the base of the religion.  It’s like a large tree, if you think about it.  The tree trunk with the roots are at the base, just like God being the base of our beliefs.  And as you go toward the top of the tree you have all the branches, which are all the different religions.  As long as you have the deep roots of the trunk with God, the different branches don’t matter”.

Though this analogy has been used before, her story brought a spin to the meaning for me.  This is the beautiful knowledge from a beautiful soul.  I have never forgotten that conversation.  And I am inclined to spread that wisdom at will.

She was truly a light in this world!

Believing at All Times

Wait for God's Answers

For many years now, I have prayed for daily minute to minute hopes and wishes.  I have prayed selfishly asking for all of my desires to come true, and I have realized that there have been a lot of no answers and waits along the way.  Just because I’m praying that the day goes well and my dreams are attained it doesn’t mean that these prayers or longings will be answered.  But it is when I pray with true depth and desire for God’s answers that I feel the blessings around me (even in the storms).  And to see the amazing grace of God at work is awe-inspiring.

I have felt the presence of divine intervention, and have been led by the Holy Spirit.  And to see the paths clear and to run with those answers and guidance from above is living with the ability to put my faith in something much bigger and stronger than imaginable.  Thank you Lord for the ability to talk to you even when I’m self-seeking, and to realize that the true understanding of your presence is with the deep cries that are yearned for and the answers that are boldly seen by believers.  These are miracles indeed.

I have come to the realization also that all of God’s wait and no answers with my daily prayers, even though they are misunderstood and heart-wrenching at the time, will eventually be understood and will be achieved in what is His ultimate divine plan.  And seeing some of those answers many years later is magnificent.

I am not claiming to be someone who understands all that God has available to us – far from it.  What I am saying is that I do have faith and hope in God.  I have seen the grace of His power.  And even though I could learn much more, I still believe.

That belief at one time wavered when I had a emotionally painful psychotic experience in which I believed that the plan of life could be seen and followed.  This breakdown was inevitable under the trying circumstances.  It took me many years to rebuild that trust, even though as I see it now, God was the one who sustained me.  I was scared and fearful for a long time, but God was patient.  The reasons for the trials were not always understood, but when looking back I see His calm love in the chaos.

God is truly amazing!