Road to Crazy – The Beginning

It’s funny to me how people always talk about the long road to recovery from mental issues.  They describe it as a long, drawn out, painful, seemingly impossible feat.  It doesn’t matter what they are recovering from really – addiction, abuse, depression, obsessive disorders, etc.  What they talk about is very true don’t get me wrong – but I rarely hear them talk about the road to the actual thing they had to recover from.   Most people don’t wake up one day and think, “Man – my life is great – I think I’ll go ahead and get addicted to Meth – who needs teeth”  or “I’m so happy all the time – great childhood, great life – let’s change it up..I’m going to be really depressed today – so back to bed!”  No – it doesn’t happen that way (usually – there may be that odd ball statistic out there that says otherwise – but I’m going with my gut on this one.)  Typically – as it was with me – it is a very long road to what I lovingly call “crazy”.

Crazy is what I claim.  I know – there are all kinds of people out there really trying to get rid of that word because they believe it is too derogatory.  Well guess what – I’m going to print a t-shirt that says – I’M CRAZY BUT I TAKE ZOLOFT SO I’M COOL.  Do you have any idea where that comes from?  My defiance to bottling it in some “pretty” label?  It comes from the fact that I am so very NOT ashamed of my mental issues.  I have no problem with the fact that I had a nervous breakdown, that I struggled with severe anxiety and obsessive thoughts since I was 6 years old, that it took me years to finally find the right equation to fit my life to equal sanity (or my definition of sanity).  Why you ask?  Because mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of – but it is something to face head on – take seriously – not hide – and something we must actively work on so to  keep our minds as healthy as they can be.  You see – shame doesn’t help anyone to be healed or deal with their issues.  Actually it’s just a tool to keep people down.  Shame sucks.  So I threw it out the door – screaming.

From 2 years old to "nuts" was a very long road
From 2 years old to “crazy” was a very long road

My “road to crazy” started when I was born.   I was born into a family where both my father and mother’s family histories were wrought with stories of severe mental illness, addiction, abuse, suicide, depression, etc.  Now I’m not going to argue whether or not it is inherited completely.  I’m not a doctor.  However as much as my parents tried to shelter me from all of the issues of our family and their own issues – the “crazy” crept up on me – slowly.  The earliest thing I remember was trying to count to 8 before the refrigerator door closed – and if I made it to 8 – then the rest of the day was going to be ok.  Most could brush that off as a silly thing a little 6 year old girl might do for fun – I did it every day for quite a while – but at that age I didn’t know that I should probably let someone know that this was the way I would get through my day.  8 comforted me I think because I loved music and singing – so counting in “4’s” seemed natural.  Crazy right?

Flash forward 15 years when horrible, unwanted thoughts were crowding my head.  It was like a cloud of Hell over my head and in my soul.  The “real me” was there – fighting  and exhausted.  I withdrew from the ones I loved for fear of hurting them.  From morning to night I had the same, awful, intrusive thoughts over and over and over.  I stopped caring for my 3 year old daughter when it happened so my parents had to take over.  They didn’t understand why I couldn’t just “snap out of it”.  However I didn’t tell them how vivid and terrifying fears had become.  How I couldn’t even imagine giving the little girl that I loved so much a hug because in my mind my hands and arms became razor blades.  So even imagining being near her was terrifying.   I drank to make my mind slow –  had sex to numb my body.  All I really wanted was to be the mother I was before I broke completely.

Now from 6 years old to 21 years old – I didn’t live this perfect, untarnished life.  It was my road to crazy – a very long one.  One that I will share bits at a time.  My recovery however was a leap onto the highest mountain – screw long roads – sometimes you just gotta take a bull by the horns.

xoxo
Angela
 
me with glasses
 
 

Through Their Eyes

I have been fortunate enough to have experienced many different cultures and peoples while living in Hanau, Germany.   My ex-husband was in the military and  I had just turned 18 years old, had never been much out of North Carolina much less out of the country when we were stationed there!   It was a wonderful experience that I will relay more of in later posts, but for now I just needed to set the scene for one of the most profound experiences that I had ever had in my life.  One that I am still very blessed to have had and that changed me forever.

In Hanau, we lived in government apartments.  It wasn’t your typical base housing because it was still in the German city.  I met many different people on a daily basis – different states, different countries, different reasons for being in Germany with the military.   What was so funny is that the southerners there seemed few and far between so you can imagine that my southern accent was pointed out quite frequently by Americans, Germans, and anyone else I met. At times it predetermined how we viewed one another.  Northerners have certain ideas about southerners and of course we have ideas about northerners.  So most conversations were begun with talking about those differences – even if it was a German and myself or a Latino and myself.  It was by no means a bad thing – I love learning about what others see about me and the differences others may have.  But there was one group that allowed me into their world – a world so different that it felt like I had broken new ground – at least for myself.  They normally would have never allowed someone like me to come into their home with people like them.

I remember being a very little girl, sitting in my mom and dad’s car in a parking lot when a very tall, thin man came up to the window.  He didn’t speak a word but my parents didn’t seemed alarmed although I was a bit perplexed.  He was dressed in a nice black suit with a crisp, black hat and handed them a small booklet through the car window.  My dad took out his wallet and gave him what I thought was $1.  The stranger nodded his head and put is hand to his mouth and then lowered it.  Again..my parents understood – I was still puzzled.  My mom then showed me the book he gave to us.  It was for American Sign Language and he was raising money for other deaf people like himself.  I looked through the pages and started learning the ABC’s – and was quite proud of myself.  My mother was intrigued with sign language but had never gotten to learn it.  So we learned what we could together.  Flash forward 13 years…

There was a knock at the door one day while cleaning my apartment and caring for my 2 year old little girl.  As I opened the door I saw a small, Asian woman standing there holding a piece of paper and several rolled up canvases.  She didn’t speak – at first I thought because she didn’t know much English.    She smiled and gave me the paper.  As I read I became quite excited…she was deaf and was selling her paintings to help raise money for her family and other deaf people.  I invited her in and she rolled out the canvases on my floor.  What I saw was absolutely one of the most beautiful paintings I had ever seen and here is why…

If you don’t have the ability to hear a voice, a stream, a cricket or anything else  – especially from birth – you must realize that the person doesn’t concentrate on what they can’t hear.  They concentrate on what they see and feel.  We as hearing people imaging being deaf and it just seems so horrible, so isolating to us because we use our hearing along with all of our other senses.  But – if a person has never had that sense – he may not know what he is missing.  He will use everything else he has more, without even thinking about it.  That being said – the way she saw the world and how she recorded it was breathtaking.  Reds, greens,blues and  textures that brought to life everything that she painted. They seemed alive.  I bought the first painting I saw.  I wrote on a piece of paper to please come back the next day so I could look at more.  She smiled and bowed slightly and I remembered the sign for “thank you” which made her smile just a little brighter.

The next day I was ready – I found a sign language book that I had for quite awhile but hadn’t really taken out.  I heard the knock at the door and rushed to open it with book in hand.  I waved hello,  showed her the book and she became so excited!  I was very confused at the moment as to why she of all people would be excited about an elementary level sign language book, but soon realized it had nothing to do with the book at all – It was because I wanted to communicate with her and wanted to understand her world.  She didn’t even pull out the canvases but sat down in the floor with me for over an hour “talking” to me.  She would sign, I would flip through the pages, then I would sign back (as best I could!) and so on until I learned that she was there with several of her other family members who were also deaf.  She was married to an American Soldier and lived in another set of apartments close by.  If I didn’t understand exactly what she was signing, she would take the book and show me – it was so very intimate.  I felt like a little girl making a new best friend – and one that was not only Korean as I found out, but deaf.  When she left that day she told me she wanted me to come to her apartment to meet her family (this was after my father bought two of her paintings and I bought another!).

The next day she came back to my apartment and I was ready to go – book in hand.  Her smile was so big and bright while walked to her apartment.  I stepped in and realized that I was the only hearing person in the room surrounded by four other women and men just as excited that I was there.  All smiles, so warm and welcoming.  Her sister had a huge book that she brought to me of advanced sign language as she took the little book I had and sat it down on the table next to me.  Then the frenzy started.  Imagine teenage girls who get together in a room that haven’t gotten to talk to one another for a very long time.  They would drown out any other sounds with their quick chatter and laughter.  This was the same – but silent.

They were all signing – all wanting to talk to me, so excited that I wanted to learn – about sign language, about them and their lives and their talent.   They talked with a blurry of signs…so fast that I had to quickly learn how to say “slow down”!  I was there for over 3 hours flipping through pages just as fast as I could – laughing and talking with them.  Toward the end of the time there her husband came back home along with her son who could both hear.  They began translating everything for me but I would still search the book because I wanted to know their language. I learned more sign language in a few hours than I had ever learned on my own.  You see, most people would not have known how to try and communicate effectively – as not to offend them.  I’m the type of person that I don’t mind looking like an idiot if I want to know or understand something or someone.   I just wanted to meet them…connect with them.  They were kind enough to allow me into their life – one that most hearing people were never allowed into simply because the two worlds seemed so separate.  I was the different one there…the odd ball in a sense but they accepted me gladly.  A true honor.

I had the painting for years – rolled up – until my Chris, my most wonderful husband had it stretched and framed for me and hung it over our bed.  When I  saw it hanging there, it took my breath.  I remembered how honored and humbled I felt that day and could see all over again how beautifully they saw the world and how they shared that beauty with me.  Through their eyes the world was bright and bold and through their eyes I learned true acceptance and to celebrate our differences.

If you would like to learn a little sign language yourself check out Lifeprint that has an on-line American Sign Language Dictionary!

Beauty from my deaf friend in Germany
Beauty from my deaf friend in Germany

 

xoxo

me with glasses

Eating My Frog – Part III

So my friend and I – we’ll call him Bill – were sitting and watching television in the front room of my parents’ house.  It was the episode of Friendz where Phoebe was having twins…and it was hilarious!!  Bill – whom was truly and still is one of my best friends – was just getting a kick out of me laughing hysterically.  He didn’t realize thought that my laughing had turned to sobbing in about three seconds.  They sounded a bit the same.  When he did realize he quickly was asking me what was wrong – I couldn’t speak.  It was the first time in six months I had thought about it – really thought about it…

Seeing those babies being born – as funny as it was – made me realize what I had “gotten rid of”.  Every emotion that had been held back by the dam of my mind suddenly and painfully flooded in.  I wanted to go to jail – I had killed my baby (the pro-choice group just made new protest signs).  Bill just held me – he didn’t know what to say – how could he?  I cried and cried until my face hurt and my eyes burned.  I started thinking about all the other faces that day and I sobbed more.  Every lingering piece of regret, pain, guilt was pushing its way to the surface – scratching at my soul and bleeding my heart out.  It was then though – that I started the long road to recognition and forgiveness.

Over the next several years around the time of my abortion I would become depressed – at first not realizing why but then knowing my body hadn’t forgotten.  That has faded now.  I went through all the decisions I could have made, all the reasons I may have had, what the baby would have looked like, hoping I wouldn’t be punished later by God for this decision.  I’ve hidden it and I have revealed it.  But the one thing that I had to finally accept is that I couldn’t change it – not one piece of it.  I’m not even sure that if I could go back that I would even change my mind (this is where the pro-life people should really get upset).   You see this is where I am now.  I have a wonderful husband, wonderful children, a purpose in my life.  This has shaped me.  And to be honest – if I was the person I am now – none of it would have ever happened – but because it happened is WHY I am who I am now.

We cannot change the past nor can we dictate the future.  We can make decisions along the way and lay claim to each of them as our responsibility.  If you ask me if I think that abortion is “right” I will say no.  I think that it is a life – I know it is.  I saw the heartbeat and I have felt the soul of each of my children.  If you ask me if I think it should be illegal – I’ll say absolutely not.  We don’t need young women going to “butchers” because they have no other choice.  We can’t force others into the “right” decision regardless of what we think it is.  I think protesting these women is a horrible thing to do – what are they protesting?  Are they going to adopt the baby?  Are they going to give her financial and emotional support if she decides to keep it?  Probably not.  They would better serve as people that women can come to to talk with regardless of their decision and get help and support.  I would give more education about the process, what you may go through and offer an array of support for these women – if they need it – and its okay if they don’t.

I do not applaud nor do I celebrate abortion – it is here.  I happen to regret mine in many ways and have had to deal with it.  I learned so much that day about the human heart, different reasons for doing the same thing, and about myself and for that I am grateful.  I hope that anyone struggling with this will talk with someone – get help – forgive yourself and help others to do the same.  And if you don’t ever want to have to make the decision – never have sex.  That’s the only sure way.

Remember…you are not alone…

Here are several post-abortion counseling sites I found that may help anyone that has had an abortion and is still struggling with it…

Hope After Abortion

Exhale

Pregnant Help Online

If you are considering abortion there are also many agencies available to help you make the right decision for you…Planned Parenthood has many of these options available.

Angela

Eating my Frog – Part II

Day two of this is just a little easier.  Not because I’m spilling my guts – but because I know that some woman somewhere has read this and realized that she doesn’t have to be silent.  That she can talk to someone – even if they don’t understand because what’s done is done.  I realize too though that there are women currently trying to make the decision on having an abortion, or those that will in the future.  I’m not sure that this will help in your decision making – not even sure that I want it to.  We all have to make decisions based on the knowledge we have at the time, our current believe system, and where we are in life.  That’s all we have to go on really.  So be sure to know my intent is not for guilt or even for forgiveness – it is purely to share what I experienced.

They called me from the waiting room into the “intake” area.  They asked me questions about my health, gave me some literature about the procedure and had me watch a video of how the procedure worked.  They gave us the option of pain medicine for the procedure but it cost extra so most of us opted out.  The we waited again.  When it was my turn I hear my name and I went.  I laid down on the bed with stirrups – nothing different than that of a gynecologist’s and they did an ultrasound.  They told me they had to be sure of where the fetus was for a successful procedure.  I made the “mistake” of looking at the ultrasound.  I saw this little dot – a small heartbeat of life – and for a moment I smiled at how precious it was.  I then realized that I had to look away because I wasn’t there to enjoy this so I didn’t back out nor did they ask if I was sure.  The pain of the abortion was the worst pain I had ever felt.  They used a “vacuum” type instrument to perform the procedure and I remember coming up off the table.  It only lasted a few seconds I guess and it was done.  The nurse was very kind and walked me to the post-surgical room.  All of the ladies – except the one that never spoke – was back there with me.

The one that made her decision quickly and painlessly – walked out painlessly.  I was in some pain – but not like I thought I would be.  But the woman who so desperately didn’t want this – was crying in pain.  She had waited until the very last minute – so her baby had grown larger.  She didn’t get the pain meds either so she was in a ridiculous amount pain – emotionally and physically.  I sat with her, held her hand, and told her she was going to be ok and she made the best choice she could.  I walked with her to the bathroom and helped her sit down.  She had large clots and I called the nurse over to check her.  The nurse starting taking care of her and looked at me and said – “You should do this for a living.”  I didn’t realize at the time that she meant helping others – I just thought she wanted me to be an abortion nurse – and it pissed me off a little.  So I went back and sat down.  The nurse told me I was ok to leave.  I went out and told my friends I was just really hungry.  We went and ate – and I really didn’t feel anything.  I didn’t think about what I had just done or been through – it was lodged into the back of my brain to deal with later.  It was six months before the emotions started.

Now I will tell you – the nurses and doctors there were very kind and respectful.  There was no push/pull in any direction.  I used to be angry that they didn’t tell me that in a few months I may have some psychological scarring.  I realize though that they may have – I just wasn’t listening.  It wasn’t their job to track every emotion or lack of that I may have – it was there job to be sure that I did it safely and could write about it later if I wish.  I had to take full responsibility for what I did and felt – period.  It was then that I started healing.

Tomorrow will be the final piece to this story and hopefully a beginning for others…

me with glasses

Eating my Frog – Part One

There is a GREAT book called “Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time” by Brian Tracy (it’s only $9 on Amazon and worth the read).  The book is geared toward time management but once you read it, it can be applied to life management.  The premise is that if you do the absolute worst thing you have to do all day first – then everything else won’t seem so bad.  I would have to say eating a frog would definitely be the worst thing I could do – so yeah…everything else would be awesome compared to that!  So as I tried to decide what to write about next – I chose the subject that is the absolute hardest for me to talk about and share with the world.  It was something I left off my “life list” in my introduction – because for me – it is the pinnacle of guilt in my life and took the longest for me to forgive myself for it.  My Abortion.

I am going to make Pro-Life and Pro-Choice mad – just mad.  Each will think for a moment that I am “on their side” then I’m going to slam each of them with the reality that my side is the one I decided on between myself and God and from learning and experiencing so much during this episode of my life and the women I learned from on that very day.  I’m not going to share everything up until that period – for this it doesn’t really matter yet.  I just know that there are so many women out there that keep this a secret before anything else in their life.  They would rather tell the world they had been a prostitute than tell someone they had an abortion.  So if they are struggling with the action they took – they struggle alone.  No more.

My life had been out of control for a while – this was all post breakdown and lots of “boyfriends.”  I had just started working at a great company but was still really struggling with my mental health issues so I was also still partying quite a bit at night.  I had met this guy – we’ll call him John – through my friend at the time.  He was tall, polite, lots of fun, etc etc.  We dated for just a little while until he started trying to tell me what to wear and “owning” me.  I had already decided at this point I wasn’t going to see him anymore – besides his idea of a great time was sitting around smoking weed – a lot of weed and then smoke some more weed.  I have no ill opinion of anyone that smokes weed – but when something takes your life over – and keeps you from living – then it sucks.  This could be television, food, drugs, or popcorn – doesn’t matter.  But I digress…

I went to see him one last night – gave him what I considered a “going away” present.  Now here is where everyone would like an “excuse” as to why we had unprotected sex.  I don’t have one – I made a really stupid mistake – period.  I knew almost immediately that I was pregnant – it was instinct.  He told me I was just paranoid.  He was an idiot.

Three weeks later I missed my period.  I was sitting next to the person whom I didn’t know was going to be my best friend for the rest of my life when I made the call to the doctor.  We were at work – she was wearing a dress like she did everyday (this will be significant in later stories) and was just supportive.   I found out I was pregnant.  My daughter at the time was only 4 years old, my head was still a cloud of crazy, I was living with my parents and the “baby daddy” was, as it turns out, one of the biggest jerks I had dated.  I cried for three days trying to figure out what I was going to do.  The day I decided – I stopped crying.  I stopped all emotion.  It was decided.

I made the appointment and I had two really great friends who agreed to go with me and support me.  The days before the actual abortion I wouldn’t drink or smoke because I was pregnant.  If  this doesn’t tell you how screwed up in the head I was at the time then you need to re-read this again and again until you do.  The day I went in was surreal.  I and my friends went to the clinic in Charlotte.  I happily didn’t see any protesters telling me I was going to hell – no need to confirm what I was already thinking.  We went into the waiting room and sat there with several other women – women that would touch my life forever…

I have to go back to when I was 17 and pregnant with my first daughter Lydia.  We were all having a heated debate about abortion in class.  I was very against abortion – I let everyone know that.  In my opinion any woman that could have an abortion was a horrible person – they didn’t realize the gift they had inside of them.  I wouldn’t budge on it – because I just knew how right I was.  Because of my steadfastness a friend of mine was afraid to tell me that she had an abortion – and had to do it alone.  That is something I will regret forever.

Flash forward to the waiting room.  One girl there was telling us that when she found out she was pregnant she did made the appointment immediately.  She told her boyfriend that she would take care of it – no problem.  Another girl there was with her “significant other” I assume.  She never spoke.  She was so beautiful – fair skin, tall, healthy, with black hair that hung in her face because she never lifted her head.  He was reading magazine unaware of her detachment.  It seemed that he didn’t really care and that she was there against her better judgement.  I’ll never know.  Another was there because her life was at risk.  With her first daughter, that was now 7 years old, she had developed antibodies to RH positive blood (for more info on this check out this link).  So with her second pregnancy her body had rejected her baby.  They did blood transfusions for the baby in utero – she gave birth to a still born child – half dead herself .  From then she had made sure that she had very strong birth control with an appointment to have her tubes tied – but it failed.  She was then 4 months pregnant and her doctor told her that if she tried to carry the child – they both would die.  She was grief stricken.  Her husband was there holding her hand.  She waited until the very last week she could do the abortion hoping for a miracle.  I told her she had to be there for her daughter and she was making the best decision she could.  As she cried I felt so low for my “reasons” for my abortion.  I was still numb though…but not numb enough.

Come back tomorrow for Part II…and remember you are not alone…

me bb