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Forced Silence & Seeking Support

This will read like a rant from the pity party parade. It’s written with frustration for those like me who suffer from and/or care for those suffering from mental illnesses. I’m in tears right now as I write this. I’m spiraling into the anxiety of the situation I am currently in. The truth is most people will never understand. This won’t be a plea for support and understanding. This will be another issue that is swept under the rug by the society who forces us to stay silent. It won’t be shared across the world or spark the social change that needs to happen or stomp out the stigma surrounding seeking help for mental illness. I will be labeled, criticized, judged, and scrutinized for how I choose to raise my threefold and for how I mom mental illness while managing my own from those that have no clue how real the struggles are. Yet still, I feel like I am obligated to speak up. If not for myself, then for my threefold, because at the end of the day I’m the one left advocating and fighting for them. Even when no one else will.

I’m in tears, not because I feel sorry for myself and feel the need to place blame. I’m crying because I know how hard this road is. It’s not a road I would wish on anyone. Yet, it’s my reality and the reality of my threefold. I have just admitted my youngest daughter to an inpatient acute psychiatric facility. We walk down this road of life with mental illness weighing us down. I am too familiar with the inpatient stays, the safety plans, the medication management, the highs and the lows of bipolar. This isn’t my first rodeo with admitting a child or myself to a psychiatric facility. We’ve been here before. We’ve battled the suicidal ideation and self harm demons before. It wasn’t that long ago. It’s not a fun ride on the bipolar express. I’m not going to sugarcoat the truth and paint pretty, positivity filled pictures with sunshine and rainbows about overcoming the obstacles. The obstacles we face are ominous, over whelming and either over criticized or completely overlooked by the society that surrounds us. Ignoring and judging is not helping anyone, it is silencing our voices, while the screams inside our head are so deafening. The stigma is real. It’s a social injustice. I don’t say that lightly.

I am a single mom. I have three girls that I lovingly and sarcastically refer to as my threefold. They are me, and then some. They were cursed by my genetics and an illness that was passed down to us from the generations before us. It is what it is. The cards have been dealt and we are forced to play this hand or fold. Folding for my family is not an option. I will fight for us to survive. Even still I would be lying if I didn’t state that my own inner demons are begging to run rampant and it’s taking everything I have to hold it together.

I could sit and pretend that I have it all under control. I could act like I’m the picture of mental health leading my threefold on a ‘live laugh love’ journey through their mental illness struggles. I’m barely holding on right now. My grip is slowly slipping and I’m on the tipping point of an episode. I’m not sure if I’m cut out for this. I feel like I’m failing. I feel like I have very little support to make it through this day, week, month year. I’m silenced, because no one needs my sob story about how hard my struggles are. People have their own problems. I’m just a drop in the bucket of like. No one is going to save us, that’s all on me.

Seeking support seems like a great concept in theory. no one is jumping up and down to be friends with someone who has children in tow 24/7. I can’t go out, mom nights are nonexistent, and my threefold is more important than those things. Yet it’s lonely. When there is no family support nearby, it’s all left to you. You are responsible for every therapy appointment, psychiatric consult, evaluation, treatment team meeting, and every single hospitalization. You don’t get the break from school IEP meetings, teacher conferences, and the carline. Days off surround seeing how many appointments you can squeeze into a single day.

It’s not easy Mommin’ mental illness when everything costs money, especially the treatments required and the medications needed. Therefore I work, hard. Every phone call from schools or hospitals and every appointment means I lose money. When a child goes inpatient it only increases your mental stress because now you’re overloaded and overthinking every path forward. There is no rest. Even when you try it’s futile. You are left tossing and turning with anxiety as you worry about how you are going to do everything. Alone.

My relationships suffer, because not only am I completely wrapped up in my own children’s life, but now I am not a nice nor fun person. I’m angry and I’m emotionally drained. I’m overwhelmed with anxiety and I want to be alone. Until I don’t. Then I am needy. To top it off I don’t want to share my spiral with my family. I don’t want them to see me fall apart. I don’t want the ‘everything will be ok’. I want it to be ok now.

We hide these struggles from outsiders because we are already being ripped apart as if I am being pulled in a million different directions at all times, but right now the last thing I need is society’s stigma ripping me apart too. People don’t see the bravery and strength it takes to seek help. The balancing act required to keep it all from crashing down on you. They instead want to pick apart your past, your flaws, your parenting and your children until they can find a reason to blame for the mess you are in. I know my guide to Mommin’ mental illness why managing my own was just right here…oh wait I didn’t get my copy. Can I borrow yours, judge Judy? That’s what I thought. We don’t need more judgment.

That’s not even close to support that’s shoving the stigma in our face. So we swallow that stigma and suck it up. After all, we can beat ourselves up without having others do it for us. We are black belts when it comes to beating up on ourselves and we can kick ourselves when we are down. No extra help is needed in that department. If you think I don’t cry alone as I try to figure out how I messed up this bad. Then you are mistaken, I’ve been blaming myself relentlessly. Even when I can rationalize the why and the purpose for the pain my guilt still follows me. Pretend I’m the bad guy, it’s ok I play that part of the villain of this story in my own mind over and over. It’s not going to be the first time I’ve been validated by society that my self deprecating thoughts are true.

So why should we even speak up? Why seek support? Why shouldn’t we just fight our invisible enemies solo? This fight, the one that is life or death, needs support to be victorious. this isn’t a singular battle we are fighting. This is a war. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy and we need the support of others to fight for us when we begin fighting against ourselves. It’s not fair. How childish of me to say. It’s not something everyone can handle. It’s not easy to understand. It is a real fight everyday to not give in.

If the options are to lose everything to save one of my threefold or lose one to hold everything together then I know what I’ll choose. I’ll lose everything before I let this invisible enemy win. Even if it means I go down with the darkness myself. I’m not afraid to fight. I’m afraid to fight this in silence alone and fail. I’m not sure what enemies are lurking in the shadows that will darken my doorstep. I refuse to let those enemies take my threefold captive without seeking support and rounding my troops. Until I can find our path forward again, I’ll be here fighting. Fighting for all of us. I will continue to speak up and stomp the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. Failure is not an option.

☮️❤️😊~M

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Goal Getter: 2021 in Review

It’s the new year, but we have to look back to move forward. It’s time to recap the year and plan for the year ahead. I know I have a goal getter mindset that is determined to achieve my goals. It’s not going to just happen. We have to stop sitting on the sidelines of our life and waiting for something or someone to push us into the action. You have to pursue what you want, it’s not just going to smack you in the face even if it is right in front of your nose. Don’t be so busy waiting for it to happen to you that you don’t realize when it’s there waiting for you to just take it!

I challenge you to take some time to reflect on the past year. How honest can you be with yourself? Can you get introspective and reflect on your year? Some questions are going to be easy to answer. Others, however, will require thought if you want to get to the hard truths that could lead you to find the answers of why you haven’t reached your goals in the past. I know this exercise has been challenging for me and cathartic as well. Pen to paper with brutal honesty always makes me realize my strengths and my flaws. That honesty make me motivated to improve upon my life and helps me to develop my plan for my self growth.

The following are the questions I use when recapping my month and making my assessment of myself. I just expand on them for the year in review. My answers to these questions help me to formulate my goals for the next set of questions.

  • Overall this year I felt:
  • My highlights from 2021?
  • How can I improve in 2022?
  • What lessons did I learn in 2021?
  • What goals did I want to achieve in 2021?
  • Did I reach my goals?
    • If no, what stopped me? If yes, how did I do it?
  • What was I most thankful for in 2021?
  • My strengths this year were:
  • My challenges this year were:
  • This year I was most proud of:

That is the same layout I use each month in my personal journal. The next set of questions will be how to format your goals for the new year.

  • What do I expect this year?
  • What do I want? {really want not the bs you think you’re supposed to say.}
  • What goals do you have for the year?
  • What plan do you have to reach them?
  • Why are these goals important for you to reach?
  • How will your life change once you reach these goals?
  • What challenges do you foresee that could halt your progress? What is your plan to overcome them?
  • How much time are you planning to commit to reach these goals?
  • How will you keep yourself accountable and track your progress?
  • How do you plan to stay motivated?

It’s important to remember that it’s not a goal if it is dependent on an outside factor. A proper goal is not ‘to get a raise’ however, you can say ‘I will be on time to work each day, complete my job duties to the best of my abilities and increase my sales by 3% over last year’. You now have a great set goals that will, when achieved, have the foundation to support why you deserve a raise. I hope that makes sense!

Now, go make some time and get ready to go after your goals. You are the key ingredient to your own success, but you are also the number one obstacle that stands between you and that same success. It’s all about progress, not perfection. Resolutions are broken usually by February, but goals those are more concrete and though they evolve they remain priorities throughout the year! Stay positive! You’ve got this! ☮️❤️😊~M

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Aim For Progress NOT Perfection!

As promised, I am going to share a step in the Goal Getter’s Guide that sets the tone for my entire day and can be beneficial for everyone else reading too. Having a morning routine! A morning routine is just what you would think it is and whether you realize it or not you already have one. I’m simply suggesting you become more intentional about that routine! It’s easier said than done {believe me I know!} If you’re routine is a mess and there is no method to the madness then I know where you are, I’ve been there too! It’s time to revamp it!

My morning routine was shit. It just was. My morning routine consisted of rushing out of bed {after the 5th alarm} while running around the house trying to make sure my threefold was up and moving. It involved yelling, frustration, cuss words and missing the bus. It was full of negativity and wondering what I was forgetting. I was not only starting my day off in the worst way, but also everyone else’s. I don’t think anyone really realizes how much the morning affects their whole day and how your actions can set the tone for how the day will play out.

Now, I won’t lie, my routine is still in need of improvement and isn’t one making other moms jealous. I have learned what I do in the morning, how I speak, and how I think has the power to make or break my entire day. My new routine makes me much more prepared for my day! It also gives me time to mentally set my intentions for the day. I still need the five alarms and sometimes a swift kick in the ass to get moving, but it’s improved in nearly every other area. We don’t have family breakfast before school or a big motivational pep talk. I can tell a difference though as I realize now that my routine not only affects me positively but also my threefold {even if they won’t admit it!} I bet you’re wondering what I do in the morning that doesn’t involve an hour workout, a big chunk of my day, or getting up at the butt crack of dawn.

Revamp and Rev Up Your Routine!

  1. Wake Up With Gratitude. Those five alarms I set, well the final three have notes reminding me to be grateful! So when my eyes open and I immediately want to moan and groan about getting up I instead stop and think about what I’m thankful for. This forces me to be mindful before the endless list of to do’s start running through my head demanding all of my attention. It doesn’t always work out {mainly because I sleep through that damn alarm, all five, and don’t even bother turning them off!} some days I’m still on too big of a hurry to take the two minutes to sit in gratitude. {that’s bullshit, I don’t MAKE the time.} We all have two minutes, will you take them to be thankful for another shot to do better?
  2. Get Motivated! As I stated my routine still needs some improvement, but my motivational audio and specific morning music playlists are on my morning agenda! I usually listen to my morning motivational audio on YouTube while driving #1 of my threefold {the oldest kid} to school. I continue that while doing my make up at the bus stop waiting with #3. The playlists are a great way to get inspiration and fuel my get up and go for my day!
  3. Meditate!!! Meditation is my way of mentally preparing myself for my day and one thing I feel is necessary in order for me to be at my best throughout my day. I clear my head and breathe. If I have to choose to be on time or meditate then I will choose meditation EVERY time. I usually do a quick meditation in the morning {10-15 minutes.} Meditation quiets the noise in my head and the noise around me. It relaxes me and resets my thinking so I can move to my next step.
  4. Manifest! I not only think about what I want for the day, but put pen to paper and write it down. Writing or ‘scripting’ my intentions for the day is my favorite thing about my morning routine. I put it out into the universe exactly how I want my day to go. I imagine myself having an awesome day and the part I will play in making that day happen for myself. It sounds hokey and too easy but it works! Do I have a great day everyday? Nope. I do have more good days than bad ones. Honestly, I have bad moments not bad days~because I am the only person who decides if I will allow a bad moment to change the course of my day. My advice is to decide what you want for the day and fully imagine it then write it down. That’s all there is to scripting your day.
  5. Positive Affirmations. I fought this one the hardest {well besides the actual get out of bed part} I thought these were so cheesy when I had a therapist I wasn’t that fond of recommend trying it because my self talk was so negative. I was getting really good at speaking positivity into others, especially my threefold, but I was beating myself up. At first, I sounded sarcastic and thought how stupid it was to repeat ‘I am control of myself and my emotions’ amongst a million other lines that felt so silly to be saying. I don’t know when it happened, but at some point I started to believe them and I didn’t sound sarcastic or doubt the validity of what I was saying. After a while, I was saying them in my head when I found myself in a situation where I would normally start my verbal assault on my entire way of life. I listen to these on the way to work in the morning or anytime I need the extra reminder that ‘I am enough!’

I definitely won’t pretend to have it all together but my 30 minutes in the morning that I split up between my drop offs and waiting on buses, makes me feel better prepared for my day. The little chunks of time that would be spent mindlessly worrying about how much I need to do are now better spent taking actions towards reaching my goals. These little changes that I fit into my morning mayhem with my threefold have made me less stressed, more positive, and more productive. It’s not always easily accomplished, but it’s time well spent not wasted on worry.

Starting your day off on a positive note will boost your mood throughout the day. You’ve already accomplished a goal {no matter the size} first thing in the morning. The days where the morning routine is seamless and all goes accordingly are awesome, but when I accomplish all of my morning routine even amongst the morning mayhem it feels amazing. Before I began this little routine I would let one minor hiccup hijack my mood and my day. I had decided off the bat that however I felt when I woke up was how I would feel all day. The fact is that we decide what kind of day we are going to have. We decide to be a good mood or a bad one. We decide how we handle the obstacles and challenges that arise throughout our day. It’s not by chance that you have a good day, it’s by choice! It’s not about perfection, it’s about progress. If you don’t like it, change it! Stay positive! You’ve got this! ☮️❤️😊~M

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Emotional Rollercoaster

This weekend, I was all in my feelings {as my kids would’ve said probably years ago, but I’m always late.} I was emotional for reasons that made sense to me and to me alone and other reasons that made sense to those around me. I was riding my own crazy hot mess express freight train straight into bipolarville where manic episodes meet depressive ones and triggers meet emotional roller coaster rides. Then these rides travel down the roads of my feelings leading to pit stops along the way of irrational thought and anxiety, breakthroughs and breakdowns, scattered thoughts, and sanity that is single handedly fighting for the spotlight back from these conflicting mix of emotions. That’s my best description of triggered anxiety while fighting against the sleep deprivation that too much sleep from days prior brings. This complicated run-on sentence is also sponsored by mixed episodes of bipolar disorder.

People hear more often about the depressive episodes and the manic episodes that are famous for the original manic depression name of bipolar depression’s previous identifier. When a person says ‘mood disorder’ this is the usually what people think of. Most don’t know the different types of mood disorders nor the different types of Bipolar that a person can have. They don’t understand the nuances of the disease and they tend to mix up facts due to the stigma placed on bipolar disorder.

Episodic cycling is what makes Bipolar different from other mood disorders. Episodes often range in severity and length of time depending on treatment and type of bipolar disorder a person is diagnosed with. I experience mixed episodes with my bipolar which is characterized by having a more often cycling of symptoms that can overlap each other, have symptoms of both mania and depression simultaneously and a lack of recovery period before the opposite cycle begins. This type and cyclomathic bipolar are two types that are difficult to spot and diagnose due to the more rapid cycling process that characterizes each disorder. This is due to the length of episode which means that a person experiencing both mania and depression in rapid succession might have severe depressive symptoms that overshadow the manic symptoms that are more likely missed.

Bipolar I (which #2 of my threefold is suspected of having) is the more intense presence of mania symptoms than Bipolar II. Bipolar II (what #1 of my threefold has been diagnosed with), is considered less severe as type 1. Type 2 presents with less intense symptoms of manic involvement, their manic episodes are decreased and termed as hypo manic.

Most people, including myself, are quicker to dismiss mania symptoms because it’s almost like a reprieve from the depression that is all consuming. Mania doesn’t always seem as bad as it is. It seems like that is what people love to see. Mania makes you feel on top of the world, confident, brilliant and you have an energy that makes you so on the go. Manic symptoms seem harmless but that is untrue. It involves risky behavior, recklessness, and makes a person not care about the consequences of those actions. You may suddenly spend all your money on unnecessary items. Maybe it looks like sexual promiscuity or infidelity. It can show up as aggression and stealing. It is a myriad of bad behaviors that are almost like the person has no care on the world and is invincible. Mania is much less recognizable in the hypo manic episodes also. The depression is so much easier to pinpoint and the main reason why people find that depressive diagnosis easier than that of bipolar.

The depressive symptoms of each are similar in severity and the lengths of time vary from person to person. The manic episodes are the determining factor of defining bipolar instead of major depression which is unipolar with or without mania involvement. Depression presents in the classic ways with one major distinction that is more likely to point to bipolar. This major differentiation is in that episodic nature of bipolar. No manic symptoms would lead to a diagnosis of depression. You only need to have had one manic episode to have a diagnosis of bipolar. If it’s missed or mistaken as something else then you leave likelihood of reporting those symptoms is likely to be the key that changes the treatment plan from one that isn’t working to one that will work.

There is so much stigma surrounding bipolar which is why those who suffer tend to hide their illness from the people around them. It’s why people don’t accept the diagnose easily or seek treatment for themselves. It’s also tricky to diagnose and most doctors aren’t quick to do so. It’s genetic with a high probability of family links. This is why it’s not unheard of or unusual to have bipolar diagnoses in multiple generations of a family tree. If an adult has an established diagnosis in a family then it is much easier to begin seeing signs and symptoms at an earlier age and begin treatment earlier than it is to diagnose in an adult who has never expressed the symptoms they displayed in an accurate way or suffered from the more severe complications or consequences that this disorder brings on.

My emotional state was brought on more from lack of sleep after having too much sleep this past week, an increase in anxiety and a lot of nostalgia as #1 of my threefold prepares for high school graduation, college, and turning 18. However due to our struggles, my threefold is hyper aware of the slight changes of behavioral patterns and moods than the average teenagers. It also has come from some process work I have been doing on that little {enter sarcasm} goal of moving on from my mom guilt from the past and from the person I was when my bipolar was left untreated for years on end. I have also been working on this small issue I’ve had with holding grudges, resentment, and forgiveness. {Actually I’m the worst about if you hurt me I will remember forever.}

Thankfully I’m not actually in an episode of mania or depression currently and am on a regimen of medication that helps to prevent that cycling of intense episodes. I know my triggers, how to care for myself, my symptoms and my plan of action in the event of severe episodes. It’s very {knock on wood and glass!} calm in the unpredictable waters of bipolar at my house right now. It’s been a breath of fresh air after the year of drowning in crisis after crisis that in the present moment storms aren’t raging through the waters and everyone is safely wading in the shallow end. In less metaphorical terms for the first time in years no one is amidst an episode at the current moment and no one is in crisis. That is a beautiful thing in a life of a mom with bipolar with kids with bipolar that is hard for people to understand. Why would I celebrate us just being okayish?

Being ok for us, all at the same time, means medication changes and adjustments have ceased because we have a regimen that is working for us and consists of tweaks not new meds to find the combination that works. It is a celebration of a taste of stability not normalcy. It is a celebration of growth and progress. It’s being excited to track your mood because you have seen marked improvement. It’s a time where we can accomplish goals and we can be proud of ourselves. It also means we are in self harm recovery {another thing people don’t understand why we celebrate.}

Recovery from self harm is like that of addiction and just like you would celebrate milestones of someone who hasn’t had a drink in six weeks we celebrate the same milestones for self harm. It’s been over a year since #1 self harmed, nearly 6 months for #2, and for me {yep I’ve been there too} it’s been multiple years. These milestones mean that medications {and awareness of the consequences} therapy, and our own ability to safely communicate our feelings have come to a healthy meeting place. That is something worth celebrating at my house.

Thanks for attending my ted talk on bipolar disorder and it’s presentation. It’s a hot topic discussion that no one seems to want to talk about. For those unaffected it seems to have the lack of education almost like why learn about something that you have no use for? Like learning to do wood working when you have no interest in craftsmanship and no plans to ever use the skills. I find it important for even those unaffected because the informative awareness can help assist a friend or a family member distinguish symptoms and marked changes in behavior. If you know someone who needs help or is in crisis please seek help. You could be the difference between someone seeking help or risking their life. Be positive! You’ve got this! ☮️❤️😊 -M Ps. If you have another three minutes for personal research I have created this anonymous survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/66K3QSL on mental illness. I would love for you to participate! Thanks in advance!

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Oh Happy Day:

Today was an amazing day! For the first time in a week I’ve felt like almost a whole functioning person again! The lingering cough and general tiredness aside, I actually made it a whole day without needing a nap or feeling like my head would explode. Covid was no joke and I’m grateful that the worst {still crossing the fingers, and toes and my legs because I’m a damn lady} is behind me. I marked a couple Christmas presents off the list and even splurged a little on myself. That’s right, Momma got some new shoes! I found a new pair of Nike tennis shoes {I’m overdue for a new pair} for $37.95! I love a deal! I’m not a coupon lady, but I don’t buy unnecessary items {don’t look at my extensive collection of journals or my colorful pens.} without scouting out the deals. I’m a TJ Max, Good Will, thrift shop, white-trash garage sale kind of spender. If I have something expensive it’s most likely because someone got it for me. I’m not the designer hand bag and matching shoes kind of mom, but I can rock my $40 nikes and my under armour hoodie I got for $15, the messy bun, no make up, sweatpants hot mess mom look all day, every day. I don’t think I would be any different if I had the funds to support luxury spending sprees. My journal collection would be obscene and I’d most likely own every motivational knick knack that caught my eye, but my sweats, worn out tees and tennis shoes would never go away.

What I was really excited about today was getting my printed copy of my Goal Getter Workbook in my hands! It was a sense of accomplishment to see my artwork, my quotes, my words, and my vision printed on paper with a cover and bound. It was my first big ‘aha’ moment where I could fully visualize my dreams coming to life! It was a dream of mine to write and it’s one I’ve put off for years. My hopes and dreams were left collecting dust and slowly dying while I was busy being too scared to even attempt seeing them to fruition. I was scared to fail and I was scared of the judgment of people in my life or the criticism of people that know nothing about me. After all, I was the girl who secured a Facebook page years prior to posting publicly and bought my domain mythreefold.com three years before even designing my first piece of digital artwork or writing my first piece. For me to go from ‘maybe one day’ to holding my own piece of work just 7 months since starting this journey -in my hands– is the most awesome feeling. I’m patting myself on the back today and beaming with pride at my 15 page workbook. Pardon my huge goofy grin, my ego, and my excitement but I deserve to have this day to celebrate my first big moment. {insert awkward happy dance here}

I’m so pumped I’m already starting on my next creation and looking at all the opportunities available to me in this writing world. I am making moves people, best watch out for this girl, I’m a goal getter with a determination and a drive that is unmatched by many, equaled by some, and surpassed only by few! {can you sense what my family is dealing with right now? Pray for them!} I’m going to accomplish my goals and create a life that is my brand of amazing. I am open to tips, tricks, recommendations and any other constructive suggestions that may be useful as I explore the future of My Threefold. As Dr. Seuss said ‘Oh the Places You Will Go!’ Ready. Set. GO! Here I come, ready or not! It’s going to be a wild and crazy ride, but the crazy train is leaving the station! All aboard the F-yeah Freight Train! Be positive & believe in yourself! ☮️❤️😊~M