It’s been a while.

I haven’t felt the need to write lately, mainly because I feel like no one cares what I have to say. But tonight, I have that heavy, anxious feeling in my chest as if words are slowly filling up my veins, and if I don’t let them bleed out, then I will undoubtedly explode.

There are so many topics, sentences, and questions flowing through me – how do I pick out what to write down? After months upon months of nothing, why is this happening now? Words often flow through easier through my veins when I am in a state of depression, so my mental stability comes into question. I know I have been feeling more down and emotional lately, but surely my body realizes that I don’t have time to fall into a state of depression. Right?

Time has made a habit out of making the loss of a loved one easier. Time, this time, has failed me. It has been two years, three months, and six days since I lost my father. The longer he’s gone, the more of my life he’s missing, and the more it hurts like no pain I have ever experienced before. I can feel the emptiness swell through my body like a disease that eats every ounce of energy and happiness that I have left. Mannequins enjoy life more than I do sometimes.

I earned my Associate’s Degree (although useless, it’s still somewhat of an accomplishment), graduated with honors, on the Dean’s List, and a member of two National Honor Societies. You weren’t there, and honestly, I didn’t really want to be there either. I transferred to the university that I swore I’d never go to. I got into the Social Work program, and I’m a member of a couple of organizations. But I haven’t been able to tell you that. You haven’t been able to tell me that you’re proud and that you love me.

That’s what hurts so deeply, Dad. My life is moving forward without you in it. Some days, I want to just stand still. I want to quit, go back to bed, and never wake up. I want to be where ever you are. You are supposed to be here, at least until I’m done with school and get married. No twenty-four year old should have to lose their father. I’ve thought I was an adult since I was a teenager, but losing you was a harsh slap in the face. I still need my daddy, so come back. Come back and guide me, love me, and show me all of the things that I still need to know.

I live in two different realities:

  1. Depression, anxiety, sadness, irritability, anger, swollen eyes, exhaustion, migraines, aches, and pains. Nothing is worse than the sound of my alarm. I dread the thoughts of simply existing. I lack motivation. What is the point in all of this? Why do I stretch myself so thin all of the time? Why do I try so hard and care so much? We are all going to die anyway.
  2. My passions overwhelm me and I have too many things I want to get done. I am ready to start my day with a shower and an iced latte. The weather is beautiful and I want to sit outside, feel the sunshine, and listen to the birds sing. I feel my depression awakening, but I’m able to put her back to sleep. I put my anxiety back to bed as well. I’m able to overcome my negative emotions and everything is okay. I am going to change the world for the better.

To those who don’t struggle with mental illness, I may seem like a manic mess. To those who can relate, they know that this is a normal part of life. To outsiders unaware of my internal struggle, they would never assume anything was wrong. I seem like a ‘normal’ person. Some days, I even feel sort of normal.

My veins no longer feel like they are going to explode from the accumulation of unsaid words. Self-care is important, necessary even. Writing is self-care for me. I am still learning to love and respect myself.

Time. Everything takes time.

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Daily Reminders

A small step in the right direction is still a step in the right direction. I have to keep reminding myself of that, every day. I am enough. I don’t owe anyone anything. The only opinion that matters is my own. Loving myself is more than enough. Sleeping alone isn’t so bad. Always look at things from different perspectives. A day without talking is okay. Not knowing every single detail is perfectly acceptable. It’s okay to trust. It’s okay not to trust. Never apologize for sharing your feelings, even if they are irrational. Always be honest. Don’t apologize for being who you are; instead, learn to love who you are. Have control over your thoughts. Be playful. Accept that some people won’t like you. Worrying is normal. Accept that you won’t like some people. Your feelings are valid. If you care for someone, let them know. If you aren’t happy, then make yourself happy. Be open minded. Do things that make you happy on a daily basis. Saying no is okay; saying no without an explanation is okay. Know what your morals are, and don’t break them. Have hope. Never allow yourself to put in all the effort with nothing in return. Don’t be judgmental. Practice being compassionate. Expectations lead to disappointments; life is short and unpredictable, so avoid being disappointed. Be nice to people. Give yourself compliments. Know that nothing is concrete. If you are hurt, no one else can tell you that you aren’t. Find some sort of beauty in every one and every thing. Look to the past for advice. Say please and thank you. Mental illnesses aren’t anything to be ashamed of. Learn to listen to others and understand their feelings. Know that it’s okay to be depressed sometimes, as long as you pick yourself back up. Things can, and often do, change. Learn to communicate your feelings in a healthy way. Be faithful to yourself. Realize that everything isn’t as it seems. Don’t regret anything. Sometimes things fall apart, and that’s okay; pick yourself back up and try again. Know what triggers your anxiety. Treat life as if it is a magnificent journey. Know that arguments aren’t the end of the world. Sometimes, being selfish is necessary. Stop being so reliant on social media and text messaging. Know when to let go; know when to hold on. If you’re lonely, talk to God. Instagram likes shouldn’t give you a sense of self worth. Avoid going to sleep angry. Occasionally being lazy is alright. Have fun without spending money. Keep a journal throughout your lifetime. Use your talents. Yell when it’s necessary. Be charitable. Don’t put yourself down. Learn to truly laugh and find yourself being caught in a moment where you are overcome with happiness. Crying does not make you weak. Be selfless when you can. Don’t hold grudges. Smile. Have faith in something bigger than yourself. Don’t bottle up your emotions. Be environmentally friendly. Set goals for yourself that are attainable. Mental health is just as important as physical health. Only surround yourself with people who appreciate who you truly are and uplift you. Dress up for yourself. Be considerate. Enjoy nature. Create intimate and special relationships with as many people as you can. Talk to strangers; smile at strangers. Making someone else happy will make you happy in return. Most importantly, always be yourself. Spend each day learning who you are.

I once told a friend years ago that if there are two pieces of pizza left, I’ll take the smaller one. She said, “Misty, no one is going to get mad at you for taking the damn larger piece of pizza.” It’s okay to take the larger slice of pizza.

Caring for a loved one with Dementia/Alzheimer’s

I’m going to keep an online journal of my care-giving experience with my father in hopes of helping someone else going through the same experience. I am 24 years old and an only child. My mother and father have been together for over 30 years. My father is now 78 and my mother is 53. I have recently moved back in with them to help my mother with the task of caring for my deteriorating father.

My dad has chronic worsening dementia; he is also handicapped. He spends his days in a hospital bed in the living room. He enjoys watching TV, specifically Blue Bloods, Law & Order: SVU, NCIS, Criminal Minds, Walker Texas Ranger, and In the Heat of the Night. Most days, he sleeps the majority of the time; on his good days, he is awake and bright-eyed and enjoys laughing.

It has been less than a year since my dad was diagnosed with dementia; I’m still trying to understand why and how the disease has progressed so quickly in him. Two years ago, he was the same dad that I’ve always known. Somewhere between then and now, everything has changed. It started with several trips to the ER, numerous trips to his family doctor, and researching things at home- my mom and I knew something was happening, but we had no idea it was dementia. Not long after, he was too much to handle; he became crazed, confused, and violent; he was diagnosed with dementia and was put in the geriatric psych unit at a local hospital. From there, doctors and nurses worked with him during his waking hours, medications got regulated, and physical and mental therapy got started. After two weeks, he was sent to a nursing home for rehabilitation. My mom and I wanted to do everything possible to get him to be able to come back home. A couple months later, we were bringing him home. During his stay in the nursing home, the house was remodeled to be handicap accessible and I moved back in.

My dad has been home for about 3 months. He started off being able to walk (using his walker, of course), go to the bathroom, go to the kitchen table to eat, etc. As of today, he is bed ridden. I change his diapers, bathe him, feed him, and tend to his every need. This disease is the most quickly deteriorating illness that I have ever seen. When I wake up every morning, I’m unsure of how he will be. Sometimes, for days at a time, he can barely keep his eyes open; he will barely eat or drink. Other days, he is awake and happy and has the appetite of a hungry school boy. Communication is a constant issue, but again, some days are better than others.

Being his care-giver has taught me a lot. If you or anyone else you know is in a similar situation, remember that the most important thing is patience. Never yell or raise your voice. Never get in a hurry. Never ask “why.” Never talk quickly. Never ask open-ended or complicated questions. Never argue. Never debate. Do one thing at a time, and if possible, allow your loved one to know what you’re doing. While giving a bath, let him or her know exactly what you’re doing. Make a joke or smile at them so they that what is happening isn’t so bad. Their mood and reaction is based a lot on the emotion that the care-giver is emitting. If the care-giver is upset or tense, that is going to be sensed and transferred. Often, depending on the person being cared for, things can get frustrating; just walk away and take a deep breath. The person with dementia doesn’t want this anymore than anyone else does, so be patient and be kind, as you would with a child.

I plan to update this several times a week. If you or anyone you know is going through this, please, share this with them. It’s nice to know that you aren’t alone and that there are ways to handle going through this. I’ll also gladly talk with anyone that needs help or a shoulder to lean on.

I’ll be updating soon. Thank you.

Happiness (a brief update)

My Etsy shop, MistycalEmporium, as I told in a previous post, was just opened up (yay)! I am pushing my depression and anxieties out of the way and embracing the gifts that I have been given. For many years, I have used my bed as a safe haven..my happy place, or so I thought. Happiness, for me, is not lying in bed over-thinking or forcing sleep upon myself to forget the worries of the current day; happiness is cherishing every moment and doing all that I can to make use of my talents, whether it be helping others through a hard time or painting my thoughts. Daily, I am working on new items for my Etsy shop; there will be new merchandise added daily (hopefully)! Currently there are two items, both of which are hand painted by me. Prints of those items will be coming to the shop shortly. Exciting things are happening in my life and in my Etsy shop, so don’t be shy; keep up with me and my journey.

Thank you to anyone who has offered kind words, sent positive vibes, or encouraged me to pursue my dreams.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MistycalEmporium