Monthly Archives: June 2015

Getting Out Alive

Getting out alive

My spirit is full

and I’m running from myself

I meet me around every corner I turn

and the disappointment grows stronger

minute by minute

I’m looking for that one thing that will

save me from myself

on this journey that never ends

The road gets longer the more I travel

Where is my freedom? I beg the question

Crying out for salvation

exhausted and abused with no one

to

break my fall

now I am confounded and confused

my heart is broken

This moment feels like forever

The darkness is the brightest thing I see

Sneaking up behind myself I am startled

by the realization of my sorrow

in all its majesty reigning

over the kingdom of my plight

I have struggled long enough

and my resolve is gone

finally I give in and lie down

with the melancholy of my truth

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Mental Illness and Two Types of Therapy

I have been in and out of treatment for my bipolar disorder and substance abuse for nearly fifteen years and I have gained a lot of knowledge about different treatment therapies.  Most recently I have been exposed to two types of therapy that have helped me tremendously. Following is a brief summary of each one of these therapy models.  I encourage further research on both.

The first of these is DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy). DBT was developed by Marsha Linehan to help people suffering severely with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). DBT deals with helping to reshape detrimental behaviors that can stand in the way of effectively living with BPD and, over the course of its history; it has been expanded to treat other mental illnesses and recovery from a number of addictions and disorders.

DBT is made up of four specific skill sets being taught that help with the stabilization of extreme moods and addictive behaviors.  These skill sets are mindfulness; being fully present and aware in the moment, distress tolerance; how to tolerate uncomfortable situations without the need to change them, interpersonal effectiveness; how to ask for what you want and learn to say no while maintaining positive relationships and emotion regulation; how to change emotions that need to be changed when you want to change them.

The dialectic module of treatment focuses on self-acceptance but also realizing that some behaviors need to change in order to facilitate mood stabilization and recovery.

The second therapy I have been in is CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy).  This was developed by Dr. Aaron T. Beck and it deals with helping people with depression combat “automatic [negative] thoughts” that can increase this depression.  CBT helps patients to realize that how we see the world will affect how we feel; this, in turn, can increase or decrease depression.  Therapists help patients with anticipated challenging situations that may arise, and they help them to come up with a plan to combat these situations in a positive way.

Of all the different types of therapy and groups I have been a part of I would have to say that these two have been the most beneficial to my current journey towards recovery.  They have also helped me to develop skills that help me to deal with everyday life situations with bipolar disorder.  I highly recommend these therapy models to anyone suffering from mental illness and substance addiction.

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Medication and Mental Illness

To those of you, who have been recently diagnosed with any sort of mental illness, riding the roller coaster of medication regulation; hang in there.  I know how frustrating and nerve wracking it can be those first months trying to find the right medication or combination of medications to get you stabilized.  Let me tell you that, in the beginning, you will most often feel worse before you feel better.  You will feel like giving up and going off your medications altogether; don’t do it.  Finding the right recipe for your illness and circumstances will take time.

I know too well the ups and downs of medication management.  One drug is meant to stabilize your mood and is supposed to make you feel better while causing you to gain ungodly amounts of weight which just makes you feel horrible all over again.  Then there are those medications that zoot you out so much you can barely keep your eyes open causing you to spend hours in bed.  During this time you wonder how in the world these medications can be helping you.  You ask yourself why you even bother to keep up with something that can make you feel so bad.  This is par for the course unfortunately.  Fortunately, the longer you still with the prescribed medications the sooner you’ll start feeling better.

Initially all I had to worry about was finding the right medications for my bipolar disorder but during this time I developed several physical ailments which have made my journey quite challenging.  I suffer from diabetes, diabetic neuropathy, hypertension, hypothyroidism, pernicious anemia, severe acid reflux in addition to my bipolar disorder and anxiety.  I also had a neuroendocrine gastrinoma causing me to need major surgery during which a portion of my stomach and small intestine was removed and now I suffer from major nausea and vomiting at one time or another.  Because of all of this, finding the right combination of mental health medications has been an ongoing battle for me.  Since I have to take medications for what is wrong with me physically there is a delicate balance that must be reached in managing these medications and any medications I take for my bipolar disorder.

To date I have been on all of the following at one time or another; Effexor, Paxil, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Prozac, Latuda, Saboxone, Geodon, Cymbalta, Haldol, Lamictal, Trazadone, Topomax, Risperdal, Invega, Abilify, Saphris, Depakote, Xanax, Buspar, Pristiq and Neurontin (for my mood and pain).  I’m quite sure that this list will change and probably increase as my bipolar disorder and other physical ailments change their faces.  I say this simply to encourage you and let you know that you’re not alone and to appeal to you to stick with your medications.  It may take some time but the right medication or combination of medications is out there for you.  Try to look at the big picture and not get so consumed with how you may be feeling at this moment.   Over time you will find that you are feeling more balanced and you will see the benefit to sticking with your prescribed medication(s).  It may not be easy at times but, trust me, it is worth the fight.

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More About Bipolar Disorder and Substance Abuse

Having a dual diagnosis means that I not only have to battle mental illness I also have to do battle with my alcohol and drug addiction.  Going off meds for me doesn’t just mean that my mind will start turning cartwheels; it means that I will go full-steam-ahead into an alcohol-infused, cocaine-snorting, pill-popping tirade that leaves me not knowing whether I’m coming or going.  It’s hard enough staying regulated when you suffer from a mental illness but pair this with any kind of substance abuse issue and you have the potential for an eruption of volcanic proportions.

For the years before my bipolar disorder diagnosis my alcohol and drug abuse pretty much took over my life.  At my lowest I would run home from work on my 30-minute lunch break, drink a 32-ounce beer and pop several Vicodin caps then drive back to work and finish out my shift.  After work I would drive home and down a case of beer, pop about six or seven more pills and wash all this down with a whiskey back.  Sometimes I would drink and drug until five or six o’clock in the morning.  My normal work shift was from 2PM-11PM.  Ironically, there were many days when I actually did overtime going in to work at 11AM after keeping the same out-of-control regimen of substance abuse the night before.

What I didn’t know was that this whole time I was abusing substances in an attempt to quiet the demons in my head of my undiagnosed bipolar disorder.  My addictions were a symptom of my mental disease; my disease was not causing my substance abuse.  Being drunk or high I could, I thought, function in my life and win over the feelings of anxiety, uneasiness and get rid of the feelings of wanting to jump out of my skin.  I abused substances because I couldn’t really put into words what was going on in my body and my head.  For me, it’s the chicken or the egg type thing.  Through therapy I found out that I abused substances because of my bipolar disorder; my bipolar disorder was not, inherently, the cause of my addictions.  Not everyone who has a substance abuse problem has a mental illness and not everyone with a mental illness will have a substance abuse issue.

Knowing that I will always be an alcoholic/addict and struggle with substance abuse has made it easier for me to manage and work through my bipolar disorder.  I know that in order for my medications to work I can’t abuse other substances…period.  I also know that when cravings bombard my brain I have to use the skills I’ve learned in therapy to help me get through to the other side (more about these skills later).  My life may be a struggle from time to time but I know that I can beat this monster if I just stay in the fight.

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Glorious Submission

Just the thought of you sends me to dimensions unknown where my feelings

transcend time and space and each and every fiber of my being is

interlaced

with

heated reserves of lust that I must satisfy by being next to you

What you do

to me

internally

far surpasses all that I have ever experienced in my core

for

you have me captured in the beauty of the rapture you invoke

in all I am

You are decadent and delicious and I crave the sweetness in the

most tender recesses of your thickness

I desire to claim you in the best way

play with my emotions and arouse my senses because

you intrigue me and satisfy my curiosity and each time we meet the heat

rises

and it is truly unbelievable how you make me come alive

I am your ethereal captive caught in the orbit of your timeless existence

where passion is of a placid fashion

uncensored

unencumbered

unrivaled

unbridled

it is all that we want it to be here between you and me where totally

we can love

you are the fix that can ease my pain and help me regain all that was lost

when I was tossed to and fro not so long ago

In your warmth I feel safe and I rest in the solitude of your mercy

your embraces soothe my hungry soul

and any remnants of control I had are now in your hands

You are the gentle breeze that blows across my heart

calming all uncertainty making me open to the possibility of blissful eternity

Take me I am yours to have as your own

mold me as your needs arise so that I emanate with all you desire

and whatever may transpire is meant to be

You called me forth from the darkness with your presence and placed in me

the full essence

of your womanness and my acceptance was effortless

in the presence of your light

Move me

come through me

consume me

transmute me

You are my savior and I worship at your feet with all humility for the way

you rescued me from myself

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Finding Myself in A Dual Diagnosis

My life with a dual diagnosis of bipolar disorder and substance abuse is a challenging one but I am glad that I am, again, on the road to recovery.

I can remember, looking back, being a young child exhibiting bipolar characteristics but not being able to verbalize to my mother what was wrong.  I remember getting up in the middle of the night at five years old remaking my bed so that it was neat and orderly then getting back in it in such a way as to maintain perfection.  I remember organizing and reorganizing my toy chest putting toys in complete order then not wanting to pull anything out because it would mess up the order of things.  At any given time I could be found cleaning and creating order around me; I started helping my mother clean the house as early as seven years old.

When I became a teenager my bipolar disorder changed its face and I spent night after night crying, throwing fits in private and engaging in self-mutilation.  I was a latch-key kid so I was home alone for hours before my mother came home from work.  Being alone gave me the chance to totally demolish my bedroom taking my clothes out of drawers and the closet throwing them all around.  I would tear pictures off the walls; break all my fingernails off, engage in cutting myself and screaming at the top of my lungs.  I was able to hide all of this from my mother because I had time to throw a major tantrum then clean up from it before she got home.  My mother was, however, able to see some of my pain because of the numerous occasions when I would just break down into tears in front of her.  I could never really put into words how I was feeling; the closest thing I could think to say was that I was ‘tired’.  Throughout the years my need for order in my surroundings escalated so I did a lot of cleaning late into the nights which, unbeknownst to me, was a sign of the manic side of my bipolar disorder.

In my late teens my mother started taking me to the doctor to try to figure out what was wrong with me.  At that time bipolar disorder was not a common diagnosis so I was simply diagnosed with depression.  I was switched from one antidepressant to another trying to get me well.  At the same time I was diagnosed with pernicious anemia; an inability to process B12 in the body due to a lack of intrinsic factor in the stomach.  Ironically a lack of B12 can cause major disruptions in the nervous system which, in turn, was actually making the undiagnosed bipolar disorder worse.  Over time I was on and off B12 injections.  Eventually I was taken off these injections all together and this just helped my bipolar disorder to quickly progress.  I am currently on a regular schedule of B12.

Another aspect of my life that was a symptom of my undiagnosed bipolar disorder was the fact that, at the age of twelve, I’d started experimenting with drugs and alcohol.  Of course I hid this from my mother for years and years.  Any time I could get a hold of any type of drug or alcohol I did it.  I did this on quite a regular basis well into my teenage years and early twenties.  Before I was old enough to purchase alcohol on my own I had adults who would provide it to me.  As for drugs, I often got them from friends who lived in my neighborhood.  I did drugs and alcohol throughout my high school years and into college.

When I entered college I was very heavy into my addictions.  I had advanced to drinking and getting high every day.  My drink of choice was gin and I would smoke marijuana and snort cocaine every chance I got.  At this point I’d still not been diagnosed with more than depression.  Though I was typically under the influence at all times I was able to get my degree in communications.  During this time being under the influence of drugs and alcohol was my normal and I couldn’t function without them.  For many years after college my drug and alcohol use escalated and I eventually got addicted to pain killers along with the drugs and alcohol I used on a daily basis.  My life continued to spiral out of control for many years until my mother came to visit me.

When my mother came to visit she questioned me about my alcohol use; she was not aware of my addiction to drugs.  At this point I had graduated to drinking a case of beer and a fifth of whiskey a day every day.  Though I was always under the influence of something I managed to maintain my home, handle business and hold down a job.  After questioning me about my habits my mother took it upon herself to get me help for my addictions.  It was at this time, in my early thirties, that my bipolar disorder was finally diagnosed.  Because of my drug and alcohol abuse along with my bipolar disorder I have what is known as a dual diagnosis.

Over the years I have struggled with my bipolar disorder and drug and alcohol abuse on a daily basis.  I have had many periods of sobriety as well as suffering relapse after relapse.  I have been in intensive therapy and I have been on several different depression and bipolar medications.  Currently I am coming up on a year sober and I think that, with the help of my doctor and psychiatrist, I may be onto a promising path of stabilization with my bipolar disorder.  I attend group therapy three days a week and I go to individual therapy at least two to three times a month.  I do get overwhelmed from time to time but I know I have to continue doing what I’m doing if I want to overcome my addictions and my mental health disorder.

This road to recovery is not always easy but I will continue to put in the work so that I can finally find success.  A dual diagnosis is not a diagnosis for failure; life can go on with hard work and dedication.

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A Man’s Man

Women are bombarded daily with society’s standards for beauty.  Make-up ads, makeover shows, hair product commercials and the like constantly play to the images women see when they look in the mirror.  At times it seems that no matter what a woman does, she will never measure up to what she is told about herself from other outside sources.  This is a topic that is discussed all the time but there is a similar topic that is just as relevant but a lot less prevalent when talking about standards.

Just as women are constantly trying to live up to magazine, movie and talk show images of what is visually pleasing and socially acceptable, men are a segment of the population that is often overlooked when the conversation comes up about this topic.  Women are not the only ones who have to shoulder the pressures of being told what is physically acceptable and what makes someone a model of societal standards.  Men, too, are being hit up one side and down the other telling them what is wanted from them, what they should look like and how they should act.  If a man is losing his hair there are countless commercials telling him that he should get his hair back and look younger.  He can get the latest in hair transplants or an expensive, life-like toupee to boost the perceived lack of confidence that he suffers from.  If he is experiencing difficulty with intimacy he is told there is a pill, cream or spray that will instantly restore his virility and make him a sexual dynamo.  Commercial after commercial shows the next great invention to give him washboard abs, massive pecs and legs of steel that he must surely sport.  Men are constantly being told that they must live up to the requisite position of being the strong head of the household despite the fact that, in many households, both men and women work contributing to the household equally.

Men are also held to emotional standards that can be difficult.  Whereas women are encouraged to show their emotions, men are told to ‘suck it up’ and ‘be a man’.  Many times men are seen as weak if they show their emotions especially if they shed a tear.  These standards are oftentimes handed down to sons keeping the misconception going that a man who shows his emotions is less of a man.  Only emotions such as anger and aggression are shown to be acceptable for men by society and this is perpetuated by images we see in such areas as the sporting community, business and industry and action movies to name a few.

I don’t understand where this double standard comes from.  With society being so advanced why isn’t it okay for a man to be okay with his self and why isn’t it acceptable for men to show the same emotions as those that women do?  What’s wrong with a man just because he may have to wear a bald head because of hair loss or one who has a few extra pounds around the middle?  Why isn’t it okay for a man to cry when he is hurt or has suffered the loss of a good friend or loved one?  Why is a man seen as less of a man if he isn’t working the bedroom like a porn star or knocking out bad guys like a crazed vigilante?  It just doesn’t make sense.

In all of our fighting for equality in marriage, race, sexual orientation, age we should not be leaving men out and holding them to a different set of standards.  Men should not be demeaned for being themselves, whatever that may mean to them, whether or not they sport perfect hair or the latest designer suits or have the hardest body.  They should be able to be the same emotionally balanced human beings as their female counterparts and they should not have to live up to unrealistic macho images to be considered ‘real’.

When it comes down to it, a real man is a man who lives life on his own terms not those dictated by society.  We would do well to remember this.

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Losing My Religion

What’s wrong with Wicca?  That’s what I’ve been asking for nearly four years now.  I have yet to get an acceptable or plausible answer to my question.  I arrived at this endpoint of being a practitioner of The Craft not through hasty decisions or following the novelty of a thing; I did much research and asked a lot of questions before I embarked on the road of the Old Ways.  This was not something that I did or do take lightly.  The step to Wicca was a very sacred thing for me.

I grew up in a Christian home the youngest of three girls with a single mother.  It was required of us to attend church with my mother until we were 18-years old or we moved out on our own.  Over the years I never questioned my mother’s religious or spiritual leadership nor did I ever question what church we would attend.  I guess it could be said that I was following my mother along her spiritual journey without even a thought as to tending to my own.  Throughout my life I’ve been a member of several different denominations; the Disciples of Christ, Baptist, African Methodist Episcopalian and, finally and most recently, I was baptized as a convert to the Catholic Church.

I’d studied religion quite a bit but I never really committed to one or the other fully.  Of course with my upbringing Christianity was pretty much inherent in me even along my search for the perfect fit.  I think that for too long I was caught up in the religiosity of religion more so than the looking for the satisfaction in my spirit and the relationship with the God I was searching for.

When my mother passed away prematurely I became very angry with God as I identified God at that time.  I searched the Bible, televangelists, gospel songs, Eastern philosophy and anyone or anything else I could get my hands on for answers to why my mother would be ‘taken’ from me at such a crucial part of my life.  At this time I was gravitating towards Eastern philosophy because it seemed to hold the most answers for me but, after a while, even that wasn’t working.  I truly felt like a lost soul.

For many years after my mother’s death I claimed no allegiance to any sort of religion or philosophy or spiritual path.  I gathered a hodgepodge of practices and did the best I could with my spiritual yearnings.  Through my studies I had heard about Wicca but I had never given it much thought.  Like many other people I equated it with little more than witches, magic and spells.  I did know that it was a sort of nature religion but as for the other things; I couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Image result for images of wiccan symbols

I had a co-worker who I knew was a practicing Wiccan.  I never thought to ask him about his beliefs until one day when we were having a casual conversation about religion/spirituality when I got the nerve to start asking questions.  I was still a bit hesitant but I was curious.  I started doing research and reading anything I could find about The Old Ways.  The more I read and discovered the more increased my affinity to this path of spirituality.

To go back a bit, for a large portion of my life there was some sort of draw to the Catholic Church for me.  I was drawn to the ritual; the way Holy Communion was shared, the act of confession, the reverence for the Saints and even the Rosary.  I liked the observation of the different times of the Catholic calendar and the attention to the various Christian holidays.  It wasn’t until I started researching and learning about Wicca that I found how closely the two resembled one another.  When I got even deeper into my exploration of Wicca I learned why these two things looked so similar and why I was feeling Wicca in my spirit.

When The Church was organized there was a very large pagan population.  These people were primarily agrarian and they lived their lives observing ancient practices and rituals that had been handed down to them from generation to generation.  Being agrarian it was important for them to be in tune to the seasons, the phases of the sun and the moon and, more importantly, to the land.  The ways handed down to them were a guide for their way of life.  Not only were they a guide but they were also a systematic observance of the divinity in all things nature and man’s place in the world.  The goal of this belief system is to live in harmony with the world around us.

The Church, in an effort to convert these people, revamped many of their holidays and festivals, known as Sabbats and Esbats, so as to draw them in while letting them still have a semblance of what they were used to.  This is the reason there is so much similarity between the two.

One of the most widely observed holidays, Christmas, comes from the pagan Sabbat Yule or the winter solstice which takes place approximately December 20-23.  This holiday celebrated Mother Earth giving birth to the Sun.  It was a time to give gifts and lighting a Yule log and decorating with holly and mistletoe.  All of these practices were adopted by the Catholic Church.

Another major holiday, Easter, coincides to the Pagan Sabbat, Ostara, which is a festival of fertility, new birth and a time to celebrate the earth coming alive again.    It is also a time of new beginnings and a time to plant.  This was a colorful and happy time of celebration.

Lughnassadh is yet another festival incorporated into The Church.  This holiday is celebrated in August and is a time of baking cakes and harvesting wheat.  It is also a time of feasting and a time to begin storing for the winter when the earth sleeps until Spring.  Though originally celebrated in August this time was ultimately moved to November and became what we now know as Thanksgiving.

Halloween is also a holiday that has its roots in the Old Ways.  Halloween comes from the pagan Sabbat of Samhain.  During this time animals were killed to have food stored up for winter.  It was a time of sacrifice and, according to pagan ways, a time to observe the death of God who would be reborn during Yule.  It is at this time that the veil between the planes of the living and the dead is the thinnest and this is a good time to make contact with deceased loved ones.

Over the centuries The Church incorporated more and more of the pagan ways as a means to convert the people of the land until it was, eventually, unlawful to practice the Old Ways.  It was, quite simply, because of this that these practices went underground due to fear of prosecution or even death.

When it was introduced back into society after being underground for centuries there were many misconceptions about the truth of Wicca, it is for this reason that clarification is necessary.   Following Wicca does not mean bashing of other spiritual practices or religions.  Quite the contrary, Wicca is about kindness towards all people and recognition that we are all a part of the divine in the world.  Wicca is about reverence for nature and all of God’s creatures and elements.  Wicca is about recognizing God in all things and in all people.  Now, yes, some of us do practice spells however these are not directed to interfere with anyone’s free will or to cause any type of harm.

Wicca is not about worshiping Satan; it is not about animal or human sacrifices and it is definitely not a cult.  Practiced in its true, original form it is about love and harmony for all and in all.

My spirit was never as content in my past as it is now.  Wicca has taught me so much about love and tolerance and harmony with the world.  Every day I grow closer and closer to the earth and all the creatures in it.  I have a tolerance for other people and other religions and spiritual paths like never before and I have no need to be better than this person or that person or to try and put my beliefs above someone else’s.  I am learning to be a better human being, a better sister and a better member of society.

So I ask again; what’s wrong with Wicca?

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Seductive Musings

***Contains graphic content and language***

I vibrate at the sound of your voice

and when I hear it

I have no choice

but

to let my juices flow

down below

where I find myself touching and wishing

it were your

Each breath I take reverberates

with the heated anticipation of the

satiny smoot

gyrations of

your

eloquent locutions

sent out on high

where by and by I

absorb your essence

Open my soul

with the verbiage that you let

roll

seductively from your lips

landing in a place

amidst my hips

stirring a pleasure that I treasure as

secretly sublime and with each rhyme

you prime me for the next installation of the

dissemination of your light

When I take a toke of the words you spoke

I am high and

without hesitation

I know why

you draw me in and it’s so flyy

still internally I cry

out

because of a propensity to be drawn to the

intensity

of who you are

I am overcome with the primitive hum

cumming from the sensual drum of

your tongue

against my cerebrum

Hand to hand, love to love, breasts to breasts

against your chest I long to rest so that I can hear

the rhythm of your heart from where all elements

of you have their start

Feed me with the spoon of your hand as you

command my

full attention and freely given

submission to your brilliance that consumes

all

as I release my inhibitions

to the fall

that drops me deeply at the call

of your spell

emphatically and radically you possess

the rest

and the best of what I am

lest

I lose myself to the uncertainty of the rest

of whose women who envy seeing me blesst

by your presence

Lying beneath you I feel your weight

as I greatly welcome your touch to

abate

this burning I know from head to toe

each time I allow myself to go

further into your mind

where I find

peace to release this desire that consumes me

to aspire to rise higher and higher to the

level you require for

true intimacy

I am an open book and I want you to look

into me

so that we can be free

to express ourselves sensually without speaking

as with our hands and mouths

we explore one another seeking

skin on skin and

her on her as it were because

this is what makes us one

You make love to my body but

the real capture is my brain

where you never refrain from

filling every

receptor, synapse and vein

with your juicy mental nectar

With you I am never warm but

HOT

because you know how to access that spot

to get from me what I’ve got

when you fuk my mind not just a little

but a lot and

unmeasured states of consciousness persist

because what you have I can’t resist

and the thought of you makes me squirm

and twist

in

my

skin

The decadent torture of my whole person

that you give

makes me ecstatic just to live

with the knowing that each moment with you

leaves me growing

more enlightened and much less frightened

of what the future may hold because

our pluralistic union has made me bold

and

so I am told

nothing can hold me down now

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