Shattering Societal Norms and Expectations

Earlier today I got to talking with a very good friend of mine about societal expectations vs reality, especially for those of us whose lives dwell somewhere on the mental health spectrum. We specifically were touching on work and sleep patterns, how society expects us to be one way, but how we are creating and living life on our own terms, in a way that not only works for us as people, but also within the confines and limitations of our mental health. Society has very strong opinions about how people should live their lives, we see it reflected every day in movies, media, posts online, within our families, and beyond.

For some they are in the mindset that having a college degree automatically sets you up for success, that somehow that degree makes you smarter, better, more reliable. However, for those of us with mental health, college may not always be the best avenue for success. Between the pressure and expenses of college, it can become very overwhelming very quickly. I am in no way knocking college nor am I denying the benefits of having a college degree, but rather saying a degree doesn’t necessarily guarantee you success. Several of my friends have various college degrees across many subjects, but few of them actually work in the fields in which they have those degrees for. Instead, they have mountains of debt, but are unable to enter their desired field due to various factors such as a lack of the necessary experience, an over saturation of prospects vs positions available, and more. Then there are those who work within their desired fields, but it is not enough to make ends meet, or they are working so much, they have little time for a life outside their jobs. I tried the college thing a few years ago, but mentally I wasn’t in the place to be dealing with the stress that comes from college. A part of me would love to go back to school, but the money required is a major hindrance for me, as I already have an exuberant amount of medical debt, as well as a lack of consistent income which I will touch on later in this post. Times are far different than when our grandparents or even our parents pursued higher education, as the cost of living and tuition have gone up significantly while the minimum wage hasn’t risen enough to account for the rise of expenses of everyday life

For others, they have the mindset if you are not working a full-time job, you are lazy, you are a plight on society, you are worthless. Yet, for those of us with health conditions, and even those without, there are a plethora of reasons for why we may not be working. For myself, and others who live with mental health and/or chronic illnesses, we are unable to work full time or even part time hours. Many of us have to rely on friends or family to survive, use programs such a SNAP/Welfare (which comes with its own strong opinions from society, we will touch on this later), or we have to start our own companies or get creative with ways to make money. I did the working full-time thing, for quite a while, I was even working 2 jobs at one point, but was still hardly able to afford my bills and worse I was putting my health in serious danger. Eventually after pushing myself so hard, after putting my health on the bottom of my list, I broke. I found myself in my mid 20s physically and emotionally broken and unable to work. I tried to apply for disability, since I live with severe mental health, but was denied more times than I could count. Despite having a lawyer and years’ worth of proof, they still kept denying me. I also applied for programs like SNAP and state insurance, but that only covered groceries and left me less than desirable options for doctors. That didn’t help me with my regular expenses like shampoo, conditioner, rent, etc. Then there were the comments and the looks you get anytime you pulled out your EBT card. People would scoff, they would call me lazy, they would say that I am abusing the system, they would tell me to just get a job like everyone else. So many more comments were made, but you get the idea. Then there are those who want to or even are able to work, but there are no jobs available for them. To which most people respond with, “Just move to an area with jobs,” yet they fail to grasp the fact that moving is expensive and it isn’t always a viable option.

Since, I stopped working in the manner in which society expects me to work, I have bounced from one work from home job/idea to another, with little to no success. I have had idea after idea for ways to create income, for businesses to start. I have even tried starting a few businesses but have once again have little to no success. You see, when for those of us who live with mental health or any chronic illness, we live life by a whole different set of rules. The never-ending struggle and battle is to find/create a job that works for us on both a monetary level, but also within the limitations our health conditions places upon us. To the outside observer, I may look flaky and unreliable, I may look flighty, I may look like I am unmotivated, or even lazy. Yet, few realize how hard I am working to create consistent income. Few take the time to understand, that each of these ideas, each of these attempts, each of these businesses are my efforts to create income. While they may fail or it may seem like I give up too quickly or easily, that is rarely the case. I have lived with my health for long enough and spent far too long getting myself to a more stable place emotionally and physically to risk my progress for a job/company that will ultimately do more harm than good. Initially the idea, may seem viable, but as time progresses, I may come to the conclusion that for one reason or another it isn’t actually as viable as I had hoped, predicted, or expected it to be.

For those of you, who wish to comment something along the lines of, “just suck it up and stick to something,” as I said above, I REFUSE to risk my well-being for money. I did that before, and it nearly cost me my life. I vowed to myself I would never do that, I would never put myself in those sorts of situations, I would never put money above my health. That, however, doesn’t mean I am giving up on creating consistent income either, as anyone who knows me, knows that I have an abundance of ideas for creating enough income to give me the financial independence I seek. I will exhaust every idea until I find one that works for me. There are also those who think, I am okay with my life like this, that I just sit on my ass all day doing nothing. Yet they do not understand how hard it can be to just get out of bed some days, they do not see the massive amounts of work I am doing on myself, on my health, on so many things. Many fail to realize just how exhausting life is with mental health, or even how much work it is to function more days. MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, THIS IS NOT THE LIFE I ENVISIONED FOR MYSELF, NOR AM I HAPPY WITH HAVING TO RELY SO HEAVILY ON OTHERS. What people do not see is the hours spent on my computer writing, working on business ideas, researching viable work from home jobs, working on myself and my health, growing, and more. Every single day I work towards my goals, even if some days they are small steps, even if I get knocked back several steps, even if I fail at one idea, I refuse to give up.

For others they have the mindset that if you sleep all day, once again you must be lazy, yet for many of us, especially once again with mental health ailments, sleep quite frequently alludes us. For many of us, like myself nighttime is when we are most active or when many of our diseases are at their worst depending upon the day. I personally have tried just about every remedy, idea, medication, and solution out there for getting consistent sleep, but sleep still alludes me a lot of days. I am far from lazy, but insomnia has always been a massive issue for me. For years, I have tried to force myself to get on a more “regular” or “acceptable” sleep schedule, to absolutely no avail. It may work for a few weeks or even a few months, but eventually I revert back to my wonky schedule. Most nights, I was/am lucky if I get an hour of sleep, which is spread throughout the night, depending upon the day. A few months back, I decided to stop fighting my sleep schedule, to give myself permission to find a sleep pattern that works for me, society be damned. Let me tell you, that was the best decision I have ever made. While, I may be sleeping my day away according to some, I am getting real consistent and restorative sleep for the first time in my life. By allowing myself to go with the flow of what works for me I am no longer fighting sleep, I am no longer forcing it. I find myself falling asleep easier and staying asleep. This is not to say there are not days where I still struggle either, but I am getting more sleep than I have had previously. Small steps in the right direction are something I will always take. Part of this is due to discovering a new CBD which helps to manage my pain, anxiety, PTSD and other health ailments while I sleep, but part of it is also due to allowing my body to work at its own schedule. Here’s a little fact for you as well, for those of us who are considered “night owls,” this is not on accident, but rather a leftover biological response to the times of cavemen. Back during those times, we had to have someone watching the village/livestock/family 24/7 to prevent attacks from others, from predators, etc. For those of us who find we work better during the night, we never fully evolved out of that mindset, that need to be awake to protect. While my sleep schedule may not be societally acceptable it is a schedule that works for me, far better than anything I have ever tried, and for me that is more important than anything.

Far too many years of my life, far too many days, far too many nights, were wasted worrying about what others thought, were wasted trying to fit within the limiting societal expectations, molds, and boxes. I spent so much time risking my health, my life, my peace of mind, and more trying to be what everyone wanted me to be. Little by little, I started fighting against those expectations, I started breaking free of the mold, I started making myself the priority. Over time, I have started caring a whole lot less about what people think of me, what they say about me, what they expect of me, and a hell of a lot more about what works for me, about what is right for me, about putting my health and well-being first and foremost. I’ve stopped trying to justify myself, the way I live my life to others, because quite frankly, I just don’t see the need in it. I still try to educate people, but I no longer take what they say or think so personally. I think that is the most difficult thing for all of us, but especially those with invisible, chronic, or mental health ailments. There is something incredibly freeing about not caring though.

As always my Beautiful Badass Unicorn Phoenix Goddesses/Gods,

I hope you have a magical day!

We are NOT Unworthy!

Our past, the relationship with our parents, with previous partners, with friends, with ourselves define so much of who we are, of who we become, it defines the ways in which we see ourselves, the ways in we speak about ourselves, the ways in which we perceive the world, the ways in which we interact with others, it becomes a part of our very soul. Many times these lead to deep seeded feelings of unworthiness, of being unlovable, of powerlessness, of fear, of so many terrible things. After time we start to believe these projections of the insecurities of others, the times we were abused, the times we were made to feel broken, made to feel invisible, made to feel like a burden, made to feel underserving, the times we were spoken down to, the times our power was stripped from us, all the horrible things we have endured become a part of our identity. We take all of that from relationship to relationship, from childhood to adulthood, from friendship to friendship, we allow it to define us, we lose sight of our value, we forget our magnificence, we dim our lights, we build up walls, we send the wrong messages to the Universe.

Feelings of unworthiness do not simply happen overnight, they are created from years of abuse, years of being told you are too much this or too much that, years of people tearing you down, years of people breaking you, years of harsh words, years of so much trauma, so much pain, so much turmoil. But, we have the POWER to change the effects of that, to break that cycle, to heal, to recover, and to discover our love for ourselves again. We have a choice to how long we allow that to control us. Life always presents us with choice and we as humans have this amazing thing called Free Will, which means at any point you can decide that enough is enough and choose to change. I am not saying this will be an easy journey, for undoing years of negativity, of anguish, of feeding yourself these lies will take time, it will require some serious work on your part, there will be set backs, and even when you have made progress, you will find moments where you still need to make improvements, but it can be done.

For me, it started with removing toxic people and toxic situations from my life, for I understood that as long as I kept myself in that sort of negative environment I would never truly be able to escape, I wouldn’t be able to grow, to change. Let me tell y’all that was not easy by any means, because it meant leaving my marriage, leaving my friends, leaving my family, leaving my entire life behind, it meant leaving what was left of my support system. In the weeks after I began cutting out the toxicity I could feel myself finally being able to breathe again, I could feel myself finding myself again, I could feel my fire starting to roar back to life, I could feel my power seeping back into me, this was of course little by little, but progress was still progress. As time progressed, I felt myself growing, I felt the vice grips that once suffocated me loosening, I could feel my inner goddess itching to be free. But I was SCARED, I was still so scared, to let her out, to step into my power, so I regressed back into my hole of self-loathing, of negative self-talk, and of self-sabotage. I wrapped myself up in a blanket of the lies I had been working so hard to forget, I allowed the demons I had fought so valiantly to regain their power positions, I took solace in the darkness and dimmed the light I had built, I allowed the weeds of self-doubt to take over my garden once more. I allowed myself to fall back into my old patterns, I let that vicious inner voice drone on and on for months, as I sank further into my castle of self-hatred, of feeling unworthy, of feeling sorry for myself.

You never truly realize how much all those words, all that you have endured affects you until it has taken over you, until you are sitting there alone at night bawling your eyes out, until you take time to stop and really listen the way in which you speak about yourself, until you pay attention to how you react when others compliment you, until you find yourself wanting so desperately to escape, but then running scared when you start to taste that freedom. But, I had to change, I knew it with every fiber of my being, I knew this was not who I truly was, I knew I had to face all the pain and really allow myself to work through it, I had to face the demons and slay them one by one once and for all, I had to stop speaking such venomous words about myself, I had to get comfortable with being myself, I had to and still have a lot of work to do.

With the toxic people and toxic situations behind me, with a newfound determination to face my fears head on, with a renewed vigor for true progress I delved into mantras, into journaling, into discovering myself. I trudged through the trenches of despair, hacked at the bushes of anger, and hiked the mountain of self-sabotage. When I arrived at the top, before me I saw all of my potential, all that I had forgotten, and all that I had yet to discover. Along the way I saw the strength I had gained from all I had endured, I found my voice amidst the screams and echoes of those who tried to silence me, I recited mantra after mantra until I started to believe them as reality, I realized all the amazing value I had to give to the world. I finally started to open my heart to love, to open myself up to the Goddess within, to be proud of who I was, of all that I had accomplished, of what I had to give.

For me, that realization hits me, a bit more each day, as I delve further into this journey of self-development, of self-love, of soul work. Each time I think I have worked through it, each time I feel like I have found my acceptance for myself, each time I think I have moved on, I have healed the wounds from my past, I am reminded that there is still work to be done. This is becoming especially evident in recent weeks, with all that I have been learning about people from my past, about myself, and with my current status in life. Each day I discover more stuff which I need to work through, I find areas where I still struggle with my worthiness. Yet, unlike before I refuse to run and hide, to make myself small, to fall back into my own patterns. Instead I choose to work through it, to deal with it, to change my mindset.

For the first time in my adult dating life and honestly, in my dating life as a whole, I have found and am with a partner who respects me, who sees all of me, who doesn’t judge me, who makes me feel worthy, who makes me feel beautiful, who makes me feel like what I say matters, who makes me feel intelligent, who makes me feel the way that so many others should have made me feel, but never did. I have a partner who sees the darkness within me, who experiences the mood swings that come with my battles with mental health diseases, who knows of the wounds of my past, and rather than shaming me for it all, rather than adding to my pain, rather than belittling me, he instead embraces it. He allows his light to shine on my darkness, he gives me understanding and patience when my mood fluctuates, and he caresses my wounds with words of comfort, of empathy, of healing. I am lucky, but I also know that the reason he came into my life when he did, is because I changed the way in which I view myself, the way in which I speak to and about myself, the message I send to the Universe.

This is of course not to say, that I do not still struggle with those feelings, but rather that I now have the tools and support to deal with them when they come up. The entire reason this post came about was because some of those insecurities, of those feelings of unworthiness came rearing their ugly heads during the end of our conversation last night. He did nothing wrong, but the wounds of our past are not so easily forgotten. They still plague me, as we get further into our relationship, as I adjust to actually being treated with respect in a relationship. To me, the ways in which he treats me are so foreign to me, I am unware of how to react, of how to handle it, I still find myself looking for something wrong, questioning everything, fearing getting to close. But, I do realize he is sincere in his affections for me, he truly does love and respect me, so instead of allowing them to win as I have so many times before, instead of silencing my feelings, I was honest with him and myself about how I was feeling and decided to write it all out, so that I could work through it, so that I could overcome it, so that it wouldn’t consume me. Now here we are at the end of the post and I feel in a much better place than I did when I first started this post. I realize these feelings will always be a part of me, but at the end of the day I know my value, my worth, and I honestly do love myself, and I take great comfort in knowing that I have someone who loves me too…

As Always,

My Beautiful Badass Unicorn Phoenix Goddesses I Hope You Have A Magical Day!

What I Want People To Know About My Mental Health

I’ve see a ton of these posts and videos where people who live with various mental health say what they really want you to know. I have always loved the posts, always wanted to do one of my own, and finally decided to make my own version.

For those of you who do not know I live everyday with the following mental health diseases; Bipolar with schizo-affective disorder, borderline personality disorder (Yes, I have both Bipolar & BPD, although not common, it is possible to have both), PTSD, Anxiety in all its various forms, as well as a history of Anorexia.

Living each day with these diseases comes with it’s own unique set of struggles, of complications, of hurdles to overcome. I see my diseases as both a blessing and a curse. While I am exponentially better than I have ever been in the past, it doesn’t mean I do not still struggle with my diseases.

Things I want people to know about my mental health:

I feel everything so deeply, which means I will love you more fiercely than anyone else, but I will also feel sorrow so deep in my bones that I don’t have it in me to get out of bed some days.

I am one of the most understanding people in the world, but I also need constant reassurance.

I am sick, but I am not broken.

I do not need to be fixed, I just need to be loved, to be accepted, to be understood.

I can be crazy, neurotic, and many times irrational, but that doesn’t mean I am a bad person or that my feelings do not matter. They may be intensified by my diseases, but they are still valid feelings.

I over-analyze EVERYTHING and will constantly believe that you hate me, that you don’t want me in your life, that you’re leaving me that I am unworthy

I will have plenty of good days, but there will also be some bad days, days where you simply cannot reason with me, days where I just want to hide out and isolate from the world, days where the smallest things set me off. It is on those days I will need you the most, I will need your patience and understanding more than ever. It is on those days I will need you to hold me, to reassure me that you’re not going anywhere, that I matter, that I am loved, that I am not a burden.

I will drive you insane constantly asking you if you really love me, if you really want to be my friend, needing constant reminders that you want me in your life. I swear I am not trying to annoy you. My diseases have the innate ability at convincing me that no one loves me. BPD especially manifests itself in a severe form of abandonment issues. Which makes having relationships whether they are platonic or romantic quite difficult and can leave me feeling incredibly discouraged.

If I feel we are getting too close, too happy, too in love, to comfortable I will do everything in my power to push you away. It is in those moments I need you to stay, to comfort me, to not give up on me. As much as I do not want people to leave me, I will also try to bolt to protect myself from getting hurt.

My diseases are not your fault, they are not a reflection of you, they are not about you. Please understand that, on the days when I am being irrational, the days when I am being unreasonable, the days when it seems like everything things sets me off, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with me. While it can be difficult to not take it personally on those days, that is exactly what I need you to do. I know that I am being all of the things I listed above, but I can guarantee you I am already beating myself up far worse than you could ever, I am already aware of how bad, how irrational, how frustrating it is and I am being. It is on those days I need your love and support more than ever.

My anxiety makes even the most mundane of tasks feel overwhelming, feel impossible, feel insurmountable. Even something as simple as handing a cashier money feels like the most daunting task to me.

Big crowds or even having people over without my prior knowledge can and will send me into a panic attack. I need time to prepare myself, to gather the energy.

Being with someone like me, whether it is in the form of a friendship, a relationship, or any other form will not be without challenges, it will test your patience, it will frustrate beyond words, but you will also find a loyalty within me not found within most, you will find a deep love that will transcend you to unimaginable places, you will feel a level of deep empathy of understanding you never thought possible.

I know much of what I say and do doesn’t make sense to you, but it is what makes sense to me. It is how I manage to stay sane.

I know my coping skills can be a bit odd, but they truly help me. These help me process the world, my diseases and the fallout from them.

I know my diseases make life far more difficult, but they are just as much a part of me as the color of your skin, as the DNA flowing through your body.

There are plenty more in which I will add to as time progresses, but I feel like this is a great place to start.

Feel free to leave any of yours below in the comments!

As Always,

My Beautiful Badass Unicorn Phoenix Goddesses I Hope You Have A Magical Day!