I'm Not Crazy
Mental illness. A label I never thought I'd carry. But I do, and that label doesn't define who I am. My depression, anxiety, and insomnia are just another part of me. Please don't ever call me crazy because I'm not. I have my good days and bad just like you, except my bad days result in me sleeping more often than usual, being very moody, easily agitated, messy room that piles up for days while I'm in a funk, and strangely gets cleaned when I'm triggered and am in a rage of anger. I noticed I was having symptoms of depression shortly after I started high school. Then my high school days started to take a toll on me. First, it started with new teachers, more homework than I had last year in the eighth grade. Then it escalated to stress from friendship issues to completing projects for my drama, music, and photography classes on time. Lastly, it was stress overload from trying to graduate and my boyfriend at the time. One chilly day after school at the end of my first semester in my senior year I just snapped. I ran to my bathroom, pulled out scissors from the first aid box and cried a bit as I put the scissor blade near my arm. I can't do it. My mom will be very angry, but I have to do it. I'm overly stressed and hurt by all that my boyfriend has done to me thus far, from cheating on me four times to lying to me to yelling at me. My thoughts kept racing, I wanted the thoughts to stop, so to make them shut up I took a slice at my arm. I felt relieved, the "high" I got was phenomenal. I cleaned up my arm with the good old makeup trick. I did this about four more times. May of twenty fourteen comes around and I find out I'm pregnant with my boyfriends' kid. I immediately go into mother mode and no longer cut. But then the anxiety of all the challenges I'd face ahead kicked in. Few short months later in November, I gave birth to my daughter. She made me happy. Gave me a purpose in this world. However, my "boyfriend," also her father, was still in and out of the picture. He ran away from us quite a bit when I was pregnant with her and after I gave birth to her. By this time now insomnia tagged along with the anxiety. I was up until the wee hours of the morning. My boyfriend was very controlling of me and my daughter. He was also a well-known liar, manipulative, controlling, and mentally abusive. A classic narcissist. His behavior towards me and my daughter really amplified my anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Three and a half years later he's out of our lives but my mental illnesses are stuck with me, and they are worse than ever. My ex left so many wounds in my heart and did damage to my head and soul. I view my mental illnesses as big demons that are always at war in my head. Depression is when you just let things go, and don't really care about things. Anxiety is when you care way too much about everything. Having both is like hell. My depression demon will leave me so depressed at times all I can do is sleep. My room will accumulate clutter. I am also moodier when in a funk, but yet if I get angry I'll obsessively clean. Vacuuming, cleaning the windows, organizing my daughter's toys and clothes. I no longer cut, I clean like crazy rather than cut. As for my anxiety demon, it has two demon friends that tag along, insomnia and my new diagnosis, body-focused repetitive behavior disorder. My mind is always racing; it never rests, thinking if I said the right things to people that day. Did I say anything to offend them? If the anxiety is really bad that day or that week I go into anxiety attacks. Hands tingle, heart tightens and races, pacing the room, lots of pacing, and shaky. Then my body focused repetitive behavior comes into play. I start picking away at the skin on the nail bed till my fingers are raw and bleeding. Also picking off my nails. I'll do this when my anxiety is bad, or even absentmindedly while watching the television, or putting down a book I'm reading to pick to get that relief. Because of all the open sores on my fingers, I have to wear band-aids just to peel an orange because if the acid gets on an open cut that stings. Those hangnails on my fingers are always there and never go away. Telling me to stop picking, or making comments that my nails are gross, hurts me. I'm working on controlling my urges to pick just give me time to heal. I've been picking for about three plus years, undiagnosed till my therapist told me I have all these issues. I've been seeing her since I first cut years ago. She's a great asset to the healing process of my broken past and mental illnesses, though I know I'm the one that has to really do most of the fending off demons on my own. I struggle every day and celebrate good days and small victories. Like today, for example, I was cutting an apple for my daughter's lunch. I didn't have to wear band-aids on my finger since I fought off my urges to pick the night before. I was proud of myself and she was proud of me; she exclaimed: "wow Mama, no ouchies, good job!" For those suffering from mental illnesses, you are stronger than you think. We must fight to go to work, care for our families, and be there for our friends, all while acting 'normal' when we are battling unimaginable pain. All that you are is enough. I love my beautiful, broken brain.
Why Box Kids In?
When I was a child my experience was that I had all "girly" items. Dolls, makeup, pink clothes, and barbies. While my younger brother had nerf guns, trucks, and blue clothing; that was in the late 1990s and that's all people knew at the time. Pink would be the color girls are associated with and blue would be the color boys are known for. Girls shall play with dolls, boys should play with truck gender equality was not an issue back then. But 22 years later here I am raising a 3.5-year-old girl. But I don't want her to experience that challenge in her life. So how can we teach gender equality to our children?