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Saturday, December 31, 2016

How I Explain My Disorders to Neurotypicals

Everyone knows at least 1, if not many neurotypicals. They don’t understand why you are the way you are. Life has never been, for them, what it is for you. They are the “just get out more” and “starving children” culprits we, so often, bemoan in our stories. They are “normal” for what the word is worth. We all have found ourselves – as a result of knowing them – in the sticky place of trying to explain ourselves to them. Here is a list of my diagnosed issues:
  • Pervasive Development Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (Austism Spectrum)
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Major Depressive Disorder
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
These are the labels pasted on my personal set of symptoms. They aren’t always entirely accurate – but I have a great therapist who is using these diagnoses as a means of helping make me better in the long run. On a fairly frequent basis I am asked to explain myself, and my illnesses, to someone who has never, ever felt them before. So I start off simple.
“I’m Autistic. Specifically, I have a non-specific Autistic Range disorder. I am more highly functional than many other Autistics; but, the disorder makes social interactions – like this one – very uncomfortable for me. That’s because I am not instinctively certain of how to handle them.”
Once they grasp that first branch on my Mental Health tree, I ease them up a bough higher, one at a time.
“I also have PTSD from several very traumatic social events that I was a part of. My Autism, as I already said, makes being in immersive social situations very hard for me, so with these events causing trauma, I developed a PTSD response to any situation that is high-stress.”
“I am also a Major Depressive – or Clinically Depressed. It’s not that I am overwhelmingly sad – which I’m not most of the time – it’s that there is just no fuel for me to run on in my daytime. Most days I feel as though the air is too thick to move through, and I have serious trouble convincing myself to get up. There are a lot more facets to this illness, for me, where I lose a lot of my functional ability if I don’t keep it in check diligently.”
“Lastly, I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Panic Disorder. They are not the same thing, and they are not stress related. I have anxiety that is often not triggered by anything at all. It doesn’t usually come from anywhere – but it is everywhere and in everything I do. I doubt and over-think every move I make and sometimes – often even – I have completely untriggered panic attacks that can – and do – completely shut me down.”
Once I feel like they understand the symptomatic side of all of these issues, I summarize it carefully.
“These all play together, and sometimes it’s all I can do just to try to sleep it off. I am working closely with a therapist and with a primary physician, to get better – but bad days still happen more often than not. Please understand that, until I find the medication and therapy cocktail that works for me, there is nothing I can do about them. Be patient with me, and it will all get worked out eventually.”
That is the concise way that I explain my mental health issues to those who would not understand without a well-educated and thought-out explanation.
Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows,
Mandey T
You can follow me, and help me make my writing a career at the following links.
Thank you SO much for all the love and support you have shown.
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Friday, December 30, 2016

Another Year Older, and A Year in Review

On the 30th of this month (December) I will turn 24. I was trying to sleep a moment ago and could not help but think how awesome this birthday is for me, and of all the things that happened this year. So, I want to reflect back on how I have grown and changed in the last trip around the sun. 
The list of this year’s events, and how they changed me.
1. Uprooted.
In January, my landlord (live-in roomie as well) relapsed on alcohol. This prompted me to pack my small family up and move home to my family’s property. With a 6 month old baby, I was not going to allow him to expose her to the angry and out-of-control individual he becomes under the influence. This put me back in a place where, historically, I only seem to get more and more depressed and anxious. It has never lasted more than a month or two before I get so depressed that I am barely functional. I spent a lot of this time wondering why it was like that. 
2. Suicide AttemptIn February I attempted on my own life. My, now ex, husband had been angrily cursing my depression and had grown increasingly intolerant of it. Surviving it changed the way I looked at myself. My sickness got worse, and I began to long to escape the world I was in. I was sure that I was a useless mother, a failure at my most basic station – that I was hurting everyone around me.
3. The Worst Mother’s Day in The History of Mother’s Days. 
My, now ex, husband had been growing increasingly frustrated and intolerant of my depression and anxiety. We had been fighting more than ever, and things were escalating pretty quickly. That morning we were arranged to have our daughter dedicated at our church. I woke up feeling sick and depressed. My husband felt, that particular morning, that he was entitled to me getting up and making his breakfast and coffee. We fought about it, he got physical. We went to church. Walking into church I find out that my mom (who adopted my first child after the state took him from me on BS allegations) has found a home in another state and will be moving. I spend the whole day being told how worthless and useless I am to my family (only by said, now ex, husband). I told him he would never touch me again. I meant it. In that moment – leaving him – I found a strength and a surefooted heart in myself that I forgot existed. I began to see myself in a two-faced light. 
4.Homeless And Alone. 
It was not an option at this point. I packed a bag, and I ran away from my family. I landed a good job and started working on getting on my feet. I was sleeping in the smoking shelter outside work, and trying to conceal serious mastitis from suddenly stopping breastfeeding. A friend of mine who was working with me stumbled upon me one morning and took me in. I worried about the day that my daughter would defy her father and press his temper. He – even to this day – has been a wonderful dad to her. But, he was violent with her mother – with me, and I worried about what time would do to their relationship. I felt like the world’s worst mother, and thought more about suicide than I ever had before. 
5. The Irish Gent. 
I met and had a wild and shortly lived relationship with an Irish migrant. Got my heart broken, moved on. What this relationship did for me, is it got me back in touch with my roots. Even after we split he wanted me to be certain of the beauty and strength in myself. I believed him and began to feel good about myself.
6. The Native. 
I got into a relationship – that is still flourishing – with a Native American man twice my age. He saw my scars and my pain at its rawest and angriest. He nurtured healing in my heart, my mind and in my body. His work healed some of my physical ailments and made major repairs in other departments. It wasn’t in the way he sang praises about me to other people, or the way that he beamed with pride every time I got better than I was before that gave me hope. It was the fact that he got my coffee right when he made it, and that he would make sure it was ready when I got out of bed. It was the leather Biker jacket he bequeathed to me. It was the little lessons he gave to me. By far the most amazing human being I have ever encountered. The strength he poured into me is still holding on to this day. I began to see myself as worthy and powerful – as someone worth being loved.
7. The Market Experience. 
I worked a Saturday Flea Market of sorts every weekend. It was my job to be the driver from our place to the market before 6 AM set in. I took my job seriously and did my best never to fail at it. I was at least good enough for that job, and unlike my failed marriage, my partner made a point to speak his appreciation of me. He tolerated the moments when my Autism would have me shutting down at inopportune moments, and he comforted me during panic attacks. I became a pretty awesome salesperson. I was interested in my work. It was here that I realized what caused my depression to worsen so rapidly on the family property. In the city, in that situation, I was challenged in a real and beneficial way every day. This challenge helped my depression to go into remission and for my mind to grow and get better. I flourished. At the farm, in the country, I don’t have that. My days are simple, quiet, and dull. I rarely leave my bedroom – for lack of anything to do. In that environment I only get sick, never better.
8. Winter Came. 
With my body being sick and weak, sleeping in an RV that had no heat or power wasn’t an option. My love sent me back into my family’s home to stay safe and warm through the winter – and to write my story. He stayed in touch and our love for one another managed not to suffer from the distance. My mental heath, however, did suffer from the move. Within two months I was sick again, getting angry more easily, staying longer hours in bed, crying more often, and even relapsing on self-harm. I stepped into this writing idea as a way to challenge myself and to push myself to be better than I was yesterday. It is helping, and I am glad for that. I am still hoping to get out of here someday soon.
A Year in ReviewThis year I was reminded on a few occasions how strong and beautiful I am, in my simplest form. I have had so many people breathe such life into me. I have made a ton of new and life-long friends. I have developed important skills. I am much healthier than I was on my birthday last year. I am stronger and more determined than I have ever been. I am proud to have survived the beast of a year that has been the year 2016. I am looking forward to what 2017 holds for me.
Peace, Love and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T
can follow me, and help me make my writing a career at the following links.
Thank you SO much for all the love and support
you have shown.
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Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Playlist I Go To With My Depression

Everyone has their favorite kind of music. For my grandmother, it is old timey gospel music. For my brother, it is hard rock. For me, it’s anything where I can relate to the lyrics. My playlist consists of everything from country music to classic rock. Everyone, also, has their reasons for that kind of music being their favorite. I thought I would share a list of songs that are particularly poignant for me. This playlist is where I run to for relief from the things happening in my head.
1. Emilie Autumn – One Foot In Front Of The Other Foot
“How did I get myself into all of this mess? How did I end up with this deadly home address? How did it come to this, where every song I sing is nothing but a list of pain and suffering?”
For me, this song speaks to the feelings that I wrestle with on a daily basis. It also offers the solution of moving forward just one step at a time. Emilie is a Manic Depressive herself, and a lot of her music revolves around what goes on in her own head, and how she sees the world. Currently her two biggest albums “Fight Like a Girl” and “Opheliac” are available in Mp3 download format for free on her website
2. Christina Perri – Sad Song
“I’m gonna write a sad song, gonna make it real long; so everyone will see, that I’m very unhappy.”
Between you, me, and the world, this song is a beautiful momento of what Depression feel like, and the admitting to those feelings. 
3. Plumb – Cut
“I’m not a stranger, no I am yours. With crippled anger, and tears that still drip sore.”
In this song, Plumb talks about self-harm. The lyrics expose the singer’s thoughts and mindset. How she hates this part of herself, and wants to stop, but she needs the relief of it. I’ve stopped myself from engaging in self-harm using this song on several occasions.
4. Poets of The Fall – War
“Do you remember standing on a broken field, white crippled wings beating the sky?”
This song comes from a place of gratitude and recognition for the person in the writer’s life who stood with them at their lowest points.
5. Emilie Autumn – I Want My Innocence Back
“And I demand, you put my heart back in my hand – and wipe it clean from the mess you’ve made of me.”
This is an angry song. It’s filled to bursting with the hurt of a woman who has been abused by lovers, friends, and doctors alike. She demands that they make it right, that they redeem themselves. This song offers me catharsis for my own anger and pain. 
6. Poets of The Fall – Illusion and Dream
“Whatever makes you see, makes you believe; and forget about the premonition you need to concieve. The images they sell are illusion and dream – in other words – dishonesty.”
The singer expresses his discontentment with the world. He reviles the way that the media sells a world that is not real, and expresses a solid dissonance from the dishonesty of it.
7. My Chemical Romance – Disenchanted
“When the lights all went out, we watched our lives on the screen. I hate the ending myself, but it started with an alright scene.”
My Chemical Romance is famed as the proverbial gods of the Emo culture. They were revolutionary in their invitation to the struggling to just be emo with them. This song expresses feeling dissatisfied with what has become of his life and what it looks like – and his loved ones’ reactions to it. “And if you think that I’m wrong, this never meant nothing to you.”
8. Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks
“Though the truth may bury us, this ship will carry our bodies safe to shore.”
The two singers in this song have a conversation. The woman is struggling with the “old, and empty house” where everything creaks and keeps her awake. The man in the song is attempting to console her and help her find sleep. It is a comforting duet for me.
9. Laura Curtis – Loving a Ghost
“Cause loving a ghost is easier than the thought of letting somebody else hold my heart”
This song was produced by someone I knew in real life. We attended the same high school and shared an art class. Her whole Loving a Ghost album is incredibly airy but also melancholy. This song in particular is one that I relate very closely to after losing two different loves and only wanting them back for a long time.
10. Christina Perri – The Lonely
“2 AM, where do I begin? Crying off my face again… the silent sound of loneliness wants to follow me to bed.”
I am convinced that Christina was describing the grieving process here. It just rings of longing and of loneliness. It offers me a particular catharsis.

11. Poets of The Fall – Heal My Wounds
“Nothing else can heal my wounds”
This song is longing and pining at its finest. There is real pain in the words and it is vastly relatable to my own mental issues. 
12. Sixx A.M. – Skin
“Paint yourself a picture of what you wish you looked like. Maybe then they just might feel an ounce of your pain.”
This song talks about self-harm and depression in the light of an understanding loved one talking to the depressed person. The singer is talking right to the sufferer, and he is telling them that they are more than their scars. This song is like a warm, soft blanket for me when I am in the middle of my symptoms.

13. Emilie Autumn – Start Another Story
“Start at the beginning. Finnish at the end. Everything you’ll tell them is true, nothing is pretend.”
Emilie Autumn is the auther of a Semi-Autobiographic/Semi-Fictional novel “The Asylum for Wayward Victorian Girls” and her album “Fight Like a Girl” is set as somewhat of a soundtrack to the book. In this song, after the girls in the fictional part of the book have defeated their enemies and have found freedom from the abuse they suffered at the hands of their doctors, they don’t know how to be free anymore. One of the main characters is a talking rat named Sir Edward. This song is him, talking to these girls, telling them how to move forward from what they have survived.
14. Avril Lavigne – Tomorrow
“I don’t know how I feel, tomorrow”
Avril is talking to a potential lover in this song. She just feels like he will hurt her again. Though she is not sure what she will feel any day following, she just says “Not today. Maybe tomorrow.”
15. Tracy Chapman – Fast Car
“You’ve got a fast car, I want a ticket to anywhere.”
Tracy is talking about the lover in her life, and about her undesirable living situation. I know that I often feel like I could just run away and never come back. All I need is a fast car and enough fuel to get somewhere else.
16. Kings of Leon – Use Somebody
“You know that I could use somebody… someone like you”
This song is sometimes exactly my headspace. I am distanced from the world and in desperate need of someone to be near to me.
17. Evanescence – Tourniquet
“My wounds cry for the grave. My soul cries for deliverance.”
This song is a cry to God. I am in the middle of a pretty hardcore right now and this song just echoes the way I feel, especially as a Christian in my own right. It is everything about me sometimes. “My God, my tourniquet, return to me salvation…” 
18. The Killers – When You Were Young
“You know the Devil’s water it ain’t so sweet – you don’t have to drink right now – but, you can dip your feet every once in a little while.”
The singer takes all of us back to that place, when we were young, where we found sollace. It is a real place for me, and this song makes me feel more like I am not alone in wanting that place to return.
19. Blue October – Hate Me
“And will you never try to reach me, it is I that wanted space.”
This song is, for me, about addiction and depression. In my depression, I learn to hate who I am. I see the way my depression is hurting my loved ones. It tears at me and I hate myself for that fact… This song – I feel – speaks to that part of my depression.
20. Disturbed – The Sound of Silence
“Hello darkness, my old friend, I’ve come to talk to you again.”
If you really listen to the words in this song (originally by Simon and Garfunkel), the singer feels a terrible dissonance from a world that has become unreachable and -worse – unteachable. He feels the silence between hearts is growing “like a cancer” and that the neon lights in the city have become Gods of their own right. This song is a real expression of the way the world feels to me many days.

21. Omnia – Toys in The Attic
“I could fly if I wanted to”
Who doesn’t, occasionally, love a goood “crazy” song? For me, it’s this one. The singers dance around the topic of insanity with various references like “toys in the attic”, “bats in the belfry”, and “looking for my marbles” that just kind of sink in and resonate with the symptom, that I have personally, of being afraid of going insane. 
22. Daniel Powter – Best of Me
“I’m hoping you’ll sing along – though it’s not your favorite song”
In this song I find that the singer is telling his loved ones that he is weak, and hurting, and just wants them to hear his own song – and sing along to it – even though they may not think well of it. He is offering them the best he can offer, and praying that it will be enough.
23. Marina V – I’ll Be Alright
“Every time I tell myself I’ll be alright – I’ll be alright. But, here I am, not better now than the day before.”
Marina sings, in this song, about feeling distanced from herself, and failing to get any better. She speaks to how she often tells herself that she will be alright, but never sees herself getting any better from what she was yesterday.
24. Apocalyptica – Not Strong Enough
“Hard to choose between the pleasure and the pain”
We all know that one person that bring us to our knees. It’s a joy to love them, but it is hell because we are sick and it hurts them. This song was probably written from a different perspective, but for me, the singer is telling the loved one how his pain is making it so hard to love them – and how that love makes it impossible to pull away from them.
25. Jessica Lowndes – In All My Dreams I Drown
“Please don’t make me go to sleep. In all my dreams I drown”
This is a melodic tune between the Captain of a ship, and a maiden who struggles with nightmares. There’s a storm rolling in, and she is afraid of suffering another nightmare of drowning. The Captain is worried that the storm will sink the ship, and he would rather she be sleeping for it – if she can. It’s a melancholic love song in reality, and it resonates with me.
This playlist is soothing for me. It echoes a lot of what goes on inside my head. With Major Depressive Disorder – that feeling is priceless.
You can follow me, and help me make my writing a career at the following links.
Thank you SO much for all the love and support you have shown.
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(New!) YouTube Dedicated Channel

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

4 Things That Help Calm Me When I Am Having a Panic Attack

In my experience, and from what I have read by other people with my disorder, panic attacks can often come on without a warning or a known trigger. Last night I was in the most comforting, warm, soft place I could think of — my bed, with my fleece bedding and soft blanket. My music played softly, and a sleep-safe scented candle burned nearby. I felt pretty far from the place you would expect panic to set in. However, it did, and I shot up from my prone position and began to hyperventilate. My heart rate jumped into the 110-plus range, and I felt dizzy. I flipped open my computer — having told my therapist I would try to document my attacks — and I hit record and started to talk about where my head was. 
This got me thinking. I have a list of methods I use to try to shorten the duration of my panic attack, and often they work really well for me. So here they are:
1. Cold: Thank God for the winter — in my case — because this is actually my most effective technique. I open my bedroom window, sit nearby, and it lets in a deep chill. The cold calms me down pretty quickly and without any real effort on my part — which allows me to focus on my other skills.
2. Chamomile Tea, Lukewarm: Once my window is open, if I am not totally debilitated, I go make myself a cup of hot chamomile tea. I place it on my desk to get to lukewarm. At that temperature, it helps calm me and slows my panic into a humming anxiety — which I can deal with more easily. 
3. Classical Music: I turn on “Canon in D” on the violin and let it play on repeat. If the first two techniques are not helping for whatever reason, this is my go-to.
4. Sensory Intake Survey: This one is simple. I stop and observe the following:
  • 1 thing you can taste
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 4 things you can feel
  • 5 things you can see
It helps get me out of the panic and into the real world again. It’s often effective for me in a need-to-calm-down-right-now kind of way.
There you have it — my four skills for coming out of a panic attack. I hope they might help someone else, too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Why My One Christmas Gift Was So Perfect

I got one gift this year. Just one. Now, I am here to tell you why it was everything I could have asked for in all of my wishing. I got a guitar for Christmas! A beautiful black acoustic with a decorative sound hole and 6 perfect strings, it came with a shoulder strap and two picks. That’s it. Here are the reasons I do not want anything else this year (even with my December 30th birthday).
1. Music is my lifeline.
With this guitar comes a new challenge, a new experience, and a new way to connect to my own needs through music. Science has shown that when someone suffering from depression or anxiety (or a multitude of issues) takes up an instrument and gives time to learning to play it – they get better. This is because the reward of learning to play music is a core part of our brains. The success that comes with practice triggers hormone dumps in the brain that make you feel good about yourself. This is true for me as well. I play several instruments (Piano, Violin, Flute, Trumpet, Harpsichord, Organ, Cello, and Panflute) and every time I master a new instrument I feel validated and excited. 
2. It’s an open door!
This guitar is a new venue for my creativity. It is something I can do when my anxiety/depression won’t let me leave my bedroom. I can pour myself into those strings and escape whatever triggers are holding me down. It’s safe passage out of my darkness and into something new and wonderful.
3. It was the only thing I requested this year.
This point is simple and beautiful. The $120 guitar that was on display at my local BiMart was the only gift I asked for this year (once my mind was made up to learn to play). No further explanation is needed for this: my wish list is all checked off, and that makes me feel like my family values my passions and my needs. I feel genuinely cared for, and that is priceless.
My family didn’t spend $120 to get me JUST a guitar. What they bought for me was freedom, creativity, validation, and importance. They have opened a doorway out of my pain and fear and into a world where I can breathe again. I could never ask them for anything beyond that. 
To my family, when you read this, thank you – so much. You could never measure the value of this gift. It is the sweetest thing you’ve ever done for me. 
Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows,
Mandey T

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Panic Sets In

I had the plan to post a really well made introduction video to my new YouTube account. Something that would give my viewers and readers a great look into my life, and into who I am as a real person - not just as a writer and vlogger. That was supposed to be my first video.

Not so lucky it seems.

Last night, after shutting down for the night and trying to rest up for a busy day - it happened. I had a full blown panic attack. Since part of my YouTube channel is documenting my conditions and explaining my coping skills, I hit record and started talking about it. Something new happened, though, and I did not expect it. I calmed down in record time. Usually, my panic attacks last for 30-60 minutes and have a ramp-up and a wind-down time, this time I just started winding down while I was talking.

So, the video is up for viewing - and is posted here - it's nothing special, just me having and talking about a panic attack.

Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows,
Mandey T

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The Weird Kid

Lately I have been talking to a relative about my strong passion for music, 
and the way that this passion has effected me my whole life. They seem to 
find every reason to excuse themselves from any blame (hint, by relative I 
do mean parental figure) in my dreams and ambitions feeling worthless and useless. 
I was the worst kid possible. Undiagnosed and untreated Autistic, rolling through 
life’s adventures without anyone really trying to figure out what would genuinely
 aid me in my growth and development. My brothers were “Normal” kids by most
 standards. Two of them raced motorcycles and they were GOOD at it, so their 
ambitions were fueled. We were a Motorcross Family. Trailers, bikes, continually
 updated gear, trips to races, tickets bought for family to attend, ever cheering on
 those two little champions. Don’t get me wrong – I am very happy that they got 
to feel so valued in their talents. I just kinda feel like an underscore in my family’s
From a ridiculously early age I started to show a strong desire to be my own person. 
I defied boundaries with a fiery bullheadedness, argued with authority figures, pushed 
myself forward by all means necessary. Okay, yeah, the Weird One in the family. 
The wild and unruly beast-child. The broken one that has to go to private school because 
social norms didn’t seem to apply to me. Now that I want my family to start owning up to 
letting who I am take backseat to my oddness – they have every excuse in the book. 
“You never listened.”
“You were expensive.”
“I don’t remember you being so passionate.”
“I can only remember you ever singing a few chords… not really any whole songs”
“Your brothers did ________, and were rewarded. That wouldn’t work with you.”
“You just didn’t want to do what needed to be done”
Yeah, that’s me in a nutshell to them. The defiant, expensive, unpredictable child who could
 not have possibly had any passions because her family suddenly doesn’t remember them. 
Please, dear readers, do not be angry with them. They did the best they could with what they had 
to go on. I am promising you this: I have a loving family that is going to awesome lengths to help 
me now. They just don’t seem to see any fault in themselves for what happened to a helpless little 
girl who was at the mercy of ASD and was quickly developing mental illnesses as a result of
it going untreated. This happens so often to so many High-Functioning Autistics. I didn’t 
have speech delays, I didn’t require intensive one-on-one teaching and isolation from social 
settings. I wasn’t THAT Autistic, therefore, I guess it was not supposed to be a problem.
To this day I struggle with socially acceptable behavior. It is a daily challenge for me. 
I still melt down when I am too stimulated, or when I have the wrong kind of stimulation 
presented to me. I hide for days on end because I am now terrified of being too Autistic 
around other people. The good news is this: I am diagnosed now, and I am getting the help 
I need to retrain myself in social situations. I am working hard on how I present myself, 
and keeping track of my successes, moreso than my failures. I am rewarding myself 
for getting better at being a person. I am fighting the Major Depressive Disorder that has 
developed over the last 10-15 years of my life. I am recovering from PTSD in huge ways. 
I am pressing through my General Anxiety Disorder to being a better version of myself. 
I am winning.
And to any family members who read this. This is my truth. This is what it looks like from 
my perspective. I don’t blame you. I am no longer angry with you. But, I do need you to help 
me keep winning. Understand that music and art have ALWAYS been passions of mine. I have 
been writing songs and poems since I was 11. I have been singing myself to sleep since I was 
very young. I have been singing myself out of bed since before that. Music is the place that I 
go to when the voices of my doubters and my disorders won’t shut up. It stills the world and 
lines all the planets up in perfect harmony. The stars in all of their galaxies spin, alongside the 
planets, to the steady beat of Canon in D. This is who I am. I just want you to invest in me, not 
in my problems. Start buying stock in the things that I am in love with, instead of the things I 
am getting wrong. Be about me, the real person who has real goals and real dreams, not about 
the weird kid. 
Peace, Love and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T

Sunday, December 25, 2016

What I, With My Major Depressive Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder, Am Doing In 2017

I will admit, I was kinda wary of writing a list of New Year’s resolutions. So I am not going to.
Instead I have decided to somewhat mirror something a friend of mine did. Her name is Bo Stern, and she made life happen by saying #YesToLife. When her dear husband passed away after a five-year battle with ALS, she needed to find a way to do life as a new creature, and this was her answer.
Project Yes to Life
In the coming year I will do my level best to defeat my demons by saying yes to life, instead of yes to fear or depression. The following are the things I will be doing as my own way of engaging in my personal #YesToLife. I do intend to write daily about it.
1. Every Day I Will Say Yes to Something I Normally Would Not Do
Knowing what my depression and anxiety look like, I am going to allow this one to be little, bite-size things that I can do.
  • Get that daily shower in
  • Make someone else’s coffee
  • Get lunch with a friend
  • Read that new book I left on my bookshelf
  • Make a family meal
  • Take my daughter on an adventure around my property
2. Every Week I Will Adventure to Challenge Myself in a New Way
I am really good at ignoring challenges for fear of failure. I can come up with 10,000 reasons not to do something I am not sure of. So, these things will be weekly choices to face that fear and do that thing. I recently landed myself a slot auditioning for next winter’s season of “The Voice,” so there’s a great place to start.
  • Practice a song with a note in it that I am scared to hit
  • Drive to a place I haven’t been yet, with just the instructions on how to get there
  • Go to a social event
  • Host a social event
3. Every Month I Will Walk Through a New Open Door
New chances to do new things happen all the time. A cool offer on a job you’ve never done before. Some big chance at your church or your kids’ school opens up. Doors fly open all the time. For me, with my depression, they typically close before I get around to checking them out. Here are new ways to walk through an open door once a month.
  • Sign up for the new temp positions at my church
  • Volunteer at the local homeless shelter
  • Join a community project
  • Teach local kids to sing
  • Actually go to my Voice audition.
4. At Least Once This Year I Will Accomplish a Serious Goal 
I have a few things I would love to do in 2017, and the likelihood of all of them happening is slim to none. So I am vowing to say yes to everything I gotta do to accomplish one of them.
  • Compete on “The Voice”
  • Get into college
  • Buy a new car
  • Buy an apartment
  • Try for another baby
With these Project Yes To Life ideas in order, I will be endeavoring into the new year with the determination to best my battles and be the better, stronger me I can see waiting on the other side. So, in conclusion – see y’all in January for this topic.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Morning With Depression and Anxiety

8:15 alarm goes off. I rub my face multiple times, pulling my hair some to get blood flowing. Immediately, the demons who slept in my bed begin their morning parade of shouting into my thoughts.
I can’t do this.
They don’t even care for me.
I’m just a burden to them.
I am not good enough for anything I aspire to do today.
What if I piss them off again?
8:45 a.m. I sit up for the first time and look over to my makeup. It’s important for my family’s namesake in this little town that I look good if I go anywhere today. The thoughts keep flowing as I smoke my first cigarette.
I’m not even pretty.
Why do I even bother?
Is this too much makeup?
They’re going to hate it.
I’m taking too long. 
The baby’s been up an hour now.
Just give up already.
9:15 a.m. my makeup is finished and set. I stare at my mirror helplessly searching for any sign of attractiveness. I find nothing and let the whispers continue for a while longer.
OK, now what?
I don’t even look good.
I should have a beer first. 
I am friendlier when I’ve had one.
No, I haven’t drank in almost six months.
So? Maybe, I need to relax.
No, I need to go see my baby girl.
Between 9:30 a.m. and 10:00 a.m., I wander into the living room and find myself in the same chair I always sit in. I play mildly with my daughter. I am already exhausted from the ordeal inside my mind, and I cannot really play with her like I want to. I remember it’s been days, if not weeks, since my last shower and deodorant only works so well, even with good perfume.
I need to shower.
That’ll only serve to wear me out even more.
Everyone can smell my self-loathing right now.
Just spritz a little more fragrance. That’ll cover it.
But, how long can I really keep that up?
Between this point and noon, I spend time doing a little cooking, a little cleaning, a little conversing and I usually run back upstairs to my bed and remain there most of the day, having lost my battle with my mind badly enough to retreat.
I live this way, every single day of my life. It is the reality for many of us who live with the toxic mix of anxiety and depression.  If you have a loved one who struggles with these disorders, then there are ways you can help them succeed.
Take things slowly when they do emerge. They’re slow to come to life and being pushed can make the anxiety worse. Feed them. Engage with them. Most importantly, educate yourself on their disorders and advocate for them. Understand when they can’t get out of bed, they really can’t. They want to, desperately, but their bodies won’t allow it. Forgive them for it because they need you right now.
Peace, love and bulletproof marshmallows
Mandy T.

Friday, December 23, 2016

10 Secrets I've Never Told About My Depression

1. I think about suicide every single day.
It is pretty much a constant thought. I try not to dwell on it, and I actively resist making any plans. No matter how hard I try, though, it’s always there. I feel like your lives would improve if mine ended. I hate what my illness is doing to your hearts and I want to stop it. I see the damage my disorder is doing to you, and I hate myself for being this way. I would give up the whole world to stop it.
2. I sometimes hurt myself.
Yes. Sometimes I do slip into a dark enough place, and I hurt myself. It helps to get me numb enough to get out of that place. It draws me away from the darkness that is swallowing me and forces me into the very real present moment. I do not advocate for this! It leaves scars on my body and forces me to make excuses. I am without any real recourse if anyone guesses at my secret.
3. I am really, truly, quite lonely.
Isolation is a killer. I miss my loved ones dearly. It hurts to be pinned to my bed, missing them from only a short walk away. Hearing them laughing and enjoying themselves without me is unbearable and heavy to carry. There is nothing I can do about it without more clinical help.
4. I fare better online, inside mental health communities.
I thrive in my online communities. When I start sharing whatever it is that is going on, the mental health forums light up on my behalf and they all have advice on what to do. I give good advice too, so may people enjoy my presence.
5. I am not usually sleeping when I lay in bed all day.
I am going to say I didn’t feel well, and that I slept it off. That is, however, a lie. I laid awake most of the day, being hurt and angry at myself for failing yet again. That’s what I use most of my days for.
6. I have extremely vivid nightmares.
It’s 2 a.m. right now, as I am writing this. I sedated myself only to wake up from a horrible nightmare. Not a new thing for me. Rather, very familiar to me. I have been having nightmares since I was a kid.
7. I didn’t really eat earlier, I just don’t want to eat now.
Again, I will lie to you. I haven’t eaten in two or three days. I am still not hungry enough to want food. So, I am gonna say I snacked out on my own food, and that I am too full to eat again. It gives you a good reason not to pry any further.
8. There is no real reason I am depressed. 
None. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing. I wake up this way. I live this way. I sleep this way. Nothing really causes it, and nothing has — so far — done much at all to fix it. There isn’t a “why” to my sadness or emptiness. It just exists. Please stop asking me why I am depressed.
9. You’re letting me down again.
Sometimes I wish I could scream this one from the rooftops. Whenever I reach out for help and you mock me. Whenever I try to do better and you point out past failures. Whenever you give me some pep-talk about starving children. It doesn’t help me. I need you to reach into your own darkness and show some of it to me so I know that I am not alone in this fight. I am losing, and you are not fighting with me. Sometimes I wish I could just ask you if you want me to revert to when I was angry instead of repressed, back when fighting was my first choice. I want to demand answers. But I won’t. That’s too exhausting, and I have to try to be human today.
10. I want to run away, all the time.
I long to disappear into the wild and find a new city to call home and start working my way in. It’s fun and invigorating. The city really breathes life into me and gives me a sense of drive and of purpose. I have child and a life here, so I can’t. But I want to.
Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T