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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Returning from Hiatus

Hey Readers,

So, I have been on a long hiatus from this blog because my mental health has not been okay. I will be resuming my near daily posting and my investigation into methods of dealing with symptoms as they occur. Of course, I will be sharing these results and ideas with all of you as the time goes by. You may be excited to hear that I have gotten remarried and have been recovering pretty well from my last break down.

So here goes. That's the soft update.

Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows

Mandey Tewalt

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Back to God

Hey readers, I am so sorry that I have yet to become active again. Sometimes life just gets in the way. This is gonna be a short and sweet update post that might even make you smile. I promise more regular work soon. Lately I have been driving myself back toward the God of my understanding, and I have returned to AA meetings to get control of some of my old behaviors that put me at risk.

I cannot say my depression is waning. Rather, it seems to be overwhelming me entirely. Either way I can handle this, I know I can. God's working on my heart and I will be back on track as your loving writing lady soon. I promise.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

I Got A Day Job, Then I Lost It

Well, readers, I found a job on Monday.
I started on Wednesday
I lost it today.
I was really good at what I was doing - based on coach expectations. Only I was missing one key factor - they wanted me to have fun making cold call advertising sales. I couldn't do that. It was not fun, it was frustrating and hard to understand. The coach I had was certain that the script that we were supposed to follow was super effective while it did not allow us to practice the great sales ratio of 70% listening and 30% speaking. Instead it pretty much pressed us to put as much pressure on our leads as possible.
I was not having fun and I wasn't enjoying my work. So I was let go from the position.
Oh well. It's not the right spot for me.
I think I am just gonna go to school and work on my nursing degree while working part time and paying what I can to housing. Depends on what kind of job I find before school sets in and I have to make my semester choice.
One thing I can promise, dear readers is that I will not give up on trying to do better this time around.

Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Right, Daddy?

It's a moral choice,
right, Daddy?

The demonic screaming
that plagues everything
about me, inside me...

The voices of my abusers
convincing me - even now -
to push everyone away.

The obsessive and crippling fear of
falling asleep
losing too much sleep
getting my face wet
being alone in a quiet place

driving at night
the rain
loving anyone - even my own children - too much

because everyone I love is stolen from me
letting anyone get too close to me
saying the wrong thing
being touched
not being touched

being unwanted
being wanted too much
of creating anything
because there will always be people
who won't like it

of being wrong
of being right too often

needing help
needing attention
needing affection
needing intimacy
needing to be heard
needing to be understood
needing anything

wanting anything at all
because I cannot afford to be greedy
not wanting things
because that makes me apathetic

loving anyone for longer than a few moments
and so much more

But it's a moral choice,
right, Daddy?

The fact that I live my whole life
day in, day out, rain, shine, snow, hail, what have you
in a constant state of near panic level anxiety

But that's a moral choice,
right, Daddy?

Or was the moral part of it
the fact that sometimes
I fall apart,
I lose my grip on my anxiety,
I lose that battle for a split second
and everything inside of me explodes

in a fiery ball of fear
and pain
and confusion
and longing
and hatred

when I am not able to stop the explosion
once it begins, nor until it runs its course
and I am too exhausted to keep going.

These painful,
and terrifying,
and embarrassing,
and confusing,
and crippling experience

is a moral choice,
right, Daddy?

Friday, February 17, 2017

I Am Sorry

Dear Readers,

I've been kinda absent lately. My mind has been overwhelmed with a new symptom that I have been trying to come to grips with. Obsessions. My fear of water has gotten so bad that I am now too afraid of it to walk from my house to the car when it is raining, or from the car into the store if it begins to rain while I am driving there. I have to turn over exactly every 2nd cigarette in the pack, just to stop myself from recounting them every 20 minutes. Lately, I have been crying myself to sleep more - and sleeping soundly much less. If my hair will not allow me to brush it into the formation that best creates the shape that I want, then I will force it to, even if it scrapes my forehead enough times to make the skin stay red for half an hour.

I am losing it.

I have 48 drafted posts for this blog right now. Every morning, and most afternoons, I open this stupid page and I write. I start something beautifully crafted and sincere, and honest... but I have been so insecure lately that I haven't posted anything of any value. One post where I cussed out my father for ignoring and invalidating my disorders. That's it for the last few weeks.

I should be telling you that I had my audition for The Voice, and that they adored me. But, that I wasn't the flavor of the week and should come back on the next casting cycle. Or that I finally finished a set list of original songs to be produced when I have the money to do so. I should be telling you about things that I have succeeded at. I want you to know about them. But I am just not able right now.

So, dear Readers, thank you for understanding that my battleground is sometimes too rocky for much meaningful writing to be done.

I need you more than you know.

Thank you
Mandey T

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Your Questions Were Irrelevant (Warning: Vulgar Language)

So, this last week was my big trip to Las Vegas to audition for The Voice. While there I had a meltdown, and I mean a big one. This time it came on faster than most, between flashing lights, trying to help navigate through the city, and not being heard when I expressed myself my input and discomfort mounted up so quickly that I lost my composure.

During this meltdown, my father compared my Autism to a moral choice to kill someone. He actually believes that my meltdowns are a moral choice and that I can choose to stop having them. According to him, I am using these painful, embarrassing, and frightening episodes to hurt my loved ones intentionally.

So here it is, I am gonna cuss in this post so readers who are sensitive beware.

Who the fuck do you think you are? Were you there when I had to go through the hoops of being diagnosed as an adult? How about the behavior therapy sessions where they tried to help me gain even a little control over a disorder run rampant because you and my mother could not be counted on to really push hard and advocate for me? Where the fuck were you when I cried myself to sleep night after night because I just could not function as a "normal" person in your fucking society? Your questions are fucking irrelevant you sideways cocksucking bitch.

I am fucking sick of people like you. You put your own spin on something that is more painful to live with than it is for you to play the offended bystander for, then you force your cockeyed fucking ideology on me and make me the villain because I have the wherewithal to not kill someone, but not to avoid melting the fuck down. Your God must be so fucking proud of you. Just because you claim the fucking title "recovering hypocrite" doesn't make it okay when you belittle and abuse me for something I fight to control on a god damned daily fucking basis.

First off: this trip was supposed to be about me and my single biggest accomplishment outside of giving birth to my two amazing kids. This was MY thing, and I had a list of things I really wanted to see. Then your bitch of a wife, who I refuse to grant any form of a maternal title, decided that her fucked up ass knew what I wanted more than I did. Fuck that. I wanted to get a photo inside the Hard Rock Cafe, I wanted to get a photo at Diablos, I wanted to watch the god damned fucking fountains while some street kid played the drums on gallon buckets in the god damned fucking background. But no, according to her what I really fucking wanted was to go to Fremont street and have the overhead light show, and the loud concert, on the flashing casinos, and the tips performers, and the peddlers, and none of the fucking cool things that were on my god damned list. When I melted down, it was because I already aware of what "Oldtown" was and what it fucking entailed. I didn't want to fucking go there because I had chosen the things I wanted to see and do around what was reasonable for my fucking SENSORY PROCESSING DISORDER! And guess what, while none of you could fucking see me, I was huddled in a quiet place, trying to bring down my sensory input from the goddamned Fremont street bullshit. Three fucking times I had to wrestle not to have another fucking meltdown, and I was just barely successful. Why? Because I had my fucking Sensory Preparedness Kit on hand and managed to destimulate myself enough, regularly enough, and with enough precision that a second and third meltdown didn't happen.

I should not have had to work that fucking hard so you two fucking cocksuckers could do the thing that YOU wanted to do on my only night in Las Vegas. I didn't get to enjoy myself. I didn't get to have a pleasant experience in DownTown Las Vegas. And then, because you believe that being older than me automatically fucking entitles you to just being 100% fucking right all the fucking time, I could not even fucking complain about the unpleasant experience because it would have simply pissed your fucking self-righteous asses off, and I didn't want more unpleasant input from the unqualified fucking peanut gallery. So fuck you, fuck her, fuck your ideology, fuck everything you fucking rode in on.

I don't need that kind of abuse. So learn to think differently or stop calling yourselves god damned intellectuals. You aren't. You are fucking arseways fucking cocksuckers with no fucking mind to spend on your intelligence because you are so fucking wrapped up in abusing others to sate your fucking religious zeal for inhumanity. Suck my fucking cock.

Mandey T.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

You Didn't Have to Hit Me

Dear You,

When we met I found you fascinating. You were fierce and intelligent, and best of all – you liked my weirdness. That first time you kissed me it was like all the dreams of any pre-teen girl coming alive in my whole being. Fireworks sparked off in my brain, my toes tingled, my heart skipped a beat, and I could think of nothing else but you. You never bemoaned my habit of bursting into song; you saw that as a vital and beautiful part of my personality. One time you told me that my uncanny ability to pull up the perfect song for that precise moment – no matter the moment – was one of your favorite things about me. You loved me.

Then we moved in together. You got to see, and get to know, the other side of me. My depression introduced itself to you and made itself clear that my soul was its territory. At home I was anxious and sullen and sedentary; nothing like the ambitious and proud woman you knew when we were homeless, and being out and about was not a choice, but a mandatory part of existing. My anxiety and post-trauma stress marked their parts of me off as well. I saw you trying to love me through it, I promise.

I saw you worrying about me. The way your eyes grew dark whenever that weaker side of me showed up. Then your dark side made sure I knew that there were parts of you I could never have. You see, I have scars on my soul from trying, with those before you, to reach past that ugly self in them and take what did not belong to it back. That’s probably one of my favorite ways to get hurt. But, it just made you resent me.

We were resolved to make our lives work out, together. We got married. I won’t ever forget the way that you looked at me. I wore a wedding dress that was 4 or 5 sizes too big and had pins and clips holding it to me from behind. My hair was fiery red and shaved into a Mohawk. But, damn, I looked good – didn’t I. In your eyes was a look that said: “You are all I have ever hoped to find in all my life and I cannot wait to spend forever getting to know you.”

Then you got a job. My grandparents had been helping me pay our rent for a few months at that point, and that support was running dry pretty quickly. On top of that, I had gotten pregnant with our beautiful little girl. I pressured you hard to find and keep a job. Hurray, you found a good one, which paid full time at better than minimum wage. You had a bus pass that never ran out and a steady income. I am not good at money management and I overstepped often and on stupid things. That resentment I had seen before came back.

Then you said it. “You are so stupid!” And it felt like my whole self had shattered at your feet. I got angry back, and I know I am ugly when I am hurt – and that time I was badly hurt. You weren’t ever quite the same. Suddenly you were totally critical of everything about me. My art was no longer inspiring, intricate, or incredible. No, now it was more of the same, mundane, odd, and useless. My singing no longer drew you in like it had before. Now it seemed only to annoy and alienate you – even though it was the only thing I thought I could do well.

Then I got really sick with the pregnancy, and I was practically bedridden. I couldn’t hold food or water at all, my body grew weaker, I developed a fever, and I lost a ton of weight – from 145 down to 103 in 3 weeks flat. My doctor confirmed that I had developed Hyperemesis Gravidarum and that it was particularly severe. I needed to go to the ER anytime I went more than 2 days without holding fluids or food, and that was a lot. We considered abortion. If I couldn’t get my weight up, we would lose the baby anyway – and possibly me if we waited too long. Then my blood pressure went up, and up again, and up again. I was really sick at this point. You were your grand old self again. You understood that I was weak with your child inside me, and you grew to fit the places my strength had left empty.

You watched me break again at 28 weeks pregnant. I realized, to my horror and agony, that if I stayed pregnant while I had an open case with the Child Welfare department (something you took as part of me and had also stood beside me for) that we would lose our little girl too. No other reasoning would ever have justified what I did next. I surrendered my rights to my older child and closed the case nice and tight. I cried for a few days and sank into a really hard depression. You praised my courage and my strength – even though I felt that I was so weak that you could have been forgiven for euthanizing me.

Then my water broke at only 32 weeks. Almost 2 weeks they kept me pregnant, that hospital did, until at 3 days shy of my 34th week they had to induce me.  Our little girl wasn’t moving, and my stats were nowhere near as good as they wanted. So, we had a baby, 6 weeks and 3 days early. Before blacking out I remember hearing her cry and knowing that she had managed to start breathing. I came to and you’d put her on my chest. She was breathing, and so small that I was frightened of moving her. There were no efforts to nurse; her tiny body was unprepared for that challenge.

We did pretty well as new parents. You went back to work, and I stuck to the business of being a mommy again. I breastfed our daughter faithfully, allowing her to also get formula to help her weight go up, and to give me time to recover from the hard pregnancy and produce enough milk. A few times we got her onto only breast milk and that was always exciting. You praised my hand at motherhood. But then, there was that angry side of you again.

Pretty soon my mistakes seemed to outweigh my successes. You insulted me frequently. I was suddenly worthless, stupid, useless, needless, and inconvenient. When I expressed that I was suicidal your response was that I should do it. You didn’t know that I tried that night. That’s why I went 3 days without breastfeeding at all that first time. I had overdosed, entirely unsuccessfully, on my old antidepressants. I had grown so accustomed to believing what you said about me that, now that you were insulting and attacking me, I believed that too.

You told me I was crazy, so crazy happened more often as I adopted that view of myself. Then stupid happened, as I stopped having any faith in my intelligence and I became anxious about my skills in any field. Next, it was that I was a failure as a mother, and I began to really hate who I had become. I wanted to die more than ever before and I eventually stopped breastfeeding so I could try without risking hurting her. When 3 more attempts were so unsuccessful that they went unnoticed, I relactated and started breastfeeding again, in hopes that it would boost my morale.

Then we lost our home and had to move in with my parents in the High Desert. I guess you could pretty well blame it on my complete lack of money skills. Oh. wait… you did. We fought more often than ever, and your list of descriptives for me grew ever the longer. I was sometimes impressed by the creativity of some of your insults. You believed, after a bad trip a few years ago, that you were literally a god, and my level of imperfection was an insult to you, and to our daughter’s genetics. I cried more often, stayed in bed more, started cutting myself again, started drinking to numb out the wounds you left on who I had become. The more you cut into me, the worse it got, and so you would cut deeper; almost as if cutting parts of me away would reveal someone you had killed a while before that point.

Then you hit me. You slapped me hard across my cheek and I found that old fire in my heart. I ran, leaving our daughter safe in the home of my grandparents – with you parenting. I knew if you hurt her, they would deal with you appropriately, but I was on my own. I think it actually hurt you that I was able to fall in love again after you. You grew colder than before and showed me that it was always about your ego. Then I had to move back in to avoid the winter. We fought again – as was expected – and now you weren’t shy about putting hands on me. Even worse, you told me that I deserved to die. Apparently, you don’t remember it; which means that if someone pushes your buttons enough that you black out and hurt them without any forethought.

You may never grow up. It’s not my place to say. But you do need to know, you don’t have to hit me to hurt me. I know how to handle being physically attacked. Those wounds heal. But here I am, a state away from you right now, and your words echoed in my ears for an hour tonight. That hissing tone of voice, the hatred in your eyes “You deserve to die!”

The crazy thing is… sometimes I still believe you when you say things about who I am. You successfully destroyed all of who I was when we met. But there’s something you should know, right this moment; I am rebuilding from the wreckage. These new and stronger parts of me are like well-grafted branches on the tree of my life. I am better than ever and finding out that I am really good at things. Guess what, I am a freaking awesome mother, and singer, and painter, and sketch artist. I make the best lover, with the warmest of hearts. All the things you made me believe were lies, and you are a devil in your own right for speaking them about me when you knew I would buy it.

There is no hope for our marriage. We will never be able to make it work because you think you have no flaws, no imperfections – that you should not have to put up with anything less than perfection – and I am as I will always be, imperfect and somewhat damaged. That’s just me hun, and I am learning to love that about myself again. You can no longer rob me of my own identity and I will never love you like I once did. Someone else has filled your shoes.

The One That Got Away

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Having A Peanut Allergy Part 1: As A Homeless Person

So, I have two vastly different (and very similar) experiences with my peanut allergy. Today I am gonna write two posts about this thing in my life. One will be published today and one will be up in the morning. Today's part is going to cover what having a serious peanut allergy is like when you are homeless and unemployed.

When you have a peanut allergy everything you buy or consume has to be vetted before eating it. The big problem is that you can't even eat anything that was produced in a facility that also makes peanut products because of the risk of cross-contamination. Literally, any peanut residue can cause a reaction - which could mean death.

The problem here is that 90% of what you eat when you are homeless is donated to you from other humans, or at soup kitchens. Getting a "kick down" of a meal can be really, really exciting when it's from a restaurant or favorite grocer, but you have to ask that horrid question "does it have peanuts or peanut product in it?" You can get a lot of cross responses because too many, who do not have a food allergy, think you are being picky. If you get food from a grocer, then you have to check every single ingredient slip and make certain that there aren't any risks involved when you eat.

When I was homeless, my allergy caused me to forego a lot of meals that were given to me. One time, I had a retarded right-winger tell me that if I wouldn't eat what was donated to me, then I didn't deserve food handed out to me - even after I explained that my food allergy could kill me. The fact of the matter is - being homeless - the paramedic responses are less than quality when in an emergency - and I would have a better chance of being dead before getting genuine help.

Many times I have watched my friends eat and enjoy a dank looking meal, while I went without because it had peanuts or peanut products in it. Later on, I would end up with something I could eat - we made sure no one ever went without for too long.

Still, imagine having to turn away what could be the only meal offered to you that day because of the risk of an allergic reaction.

That is life for homeless people with food allergies.

Mandey T

Saturday, January 28, 2017

I Didn't Post Today - Again

Today was incredibly hard. I am still really upset that my bus to Oregon fell through. My roommate is still insane. Honestly, I struggle every single day to hide the symptoms of my illnesses, because they're not acceptable here, but - here's the thing, she makes me regret trying to function. There are frequent thoughts of just giving up and letting my illnesses take over, and they just don't let up. I mean, hell, I am staying up later than ever - and waking up earlier; I am crying more often than I have in over a year, and I am losing grip on my commitment to not self-harm. Everything about me is beginning to disintegrate here, and my whole self is miserable.

I promise, beloved readers, that I will resume posting my usual lists of advice, songs, stories, and ideas very soon. Right now, though, I am hurting deeply and really need to get back on my feet before I audition for The Voice, something I currently feel dreadfully unprepared to do. Mostly because this person in my life has a way of making me doubt everything good in who I am.

They leave me feeling empty of anything of quality. I am living in hell. But, only for one more week, and then it is over.

Until tomorrow, dear readers.
Peace, love, and bulletproof marshmallows,
Mandey T

Friday, January 27, 2017

Why I Still Identify As An Emo Kid

In my early teens, I hit that lovely Emo scene with all of my delightful weirdness. Dyed my hair, wore heavier makeup, listened to depressing music, defied authority whenever possible - you know, the works. But I used it to cover something up, something that was killing me more than anything else. I was in real pain.

My long, dark sleeves covered cuts that grew in number every single night. The dark makeup covered the weariness that would have shown through without it - while intentionally highlighting it. The wild hair took attention away from my problems and to my appearance. The dark music reassured me that I was not alone in the way that I felt. Everything had a place and a purpose.

I still think of myself as an Emo kid. Bands like Yellowcard, Relient K, Linkin Park, Breaking Benjamin, Green Day, Sum 41, and blink-182 are still heavy features in my music library. I still decorate myself in bright hair colors, heavy makeup, and dark themes. I am 3 months from the last time I hurt myself on purpose. This blog is living proof that my mental health is still weary and broken - but recovering. I am still an Emo kid. Not the stereotypical sensationalized version, but the authentic self-expressed and self-confessed Emo that lives forever in the hearts of every single one of those like me.

Being Emo, for me, represents using every part of my appearance and my world to express the stuff inside me. I try not to cut, and sometimes I fail to resist it. And, thing is, the rest of the ensemble really helps me get through it. Every part of who I am, and how I am, represents itself, or part of the internal me.

That is why I am still an Emo Kid.

Peace, love, and bulletproof marshmallows
Mandey T

Thursday, January 26, 2017

You Are Not My Doctor

Dear You,

You know exactly who you are, as you are reading this letter. It does not matter how much research you claim you have done. Nor does it matter if you took a few psychology classes when you were achieving your Bachelor's Depree so you could be a Peer Counselor for Drugs and Alcohol. You are neither my Behavioral Therapist nor my Neurologist, nor are you my Physician. You have not read the reports from the fMRI sessions to see if my brain is developed inside the norms for Autism (when my doctor wanted to be sure my symptoms were definitely PDD-NOS, and not something more serious), nor have you read any of the case notes from my Psychiatrist. You are not my doctor. Stop trying to un-diagnose me based on your under experienced, uneducated, irrelevant points of view. I know more about my brain, and how it functions, than you ever will because you don't bother to take the time to hear my story.

This is far from a comfortable thing to say to you. At one point I considered you an important player in my field. Unfortunately, now you are becoming a dangerous hindrance to my recovery and to my functionality. So I need you to read this, I need you to hear me out on the claims you made about me. When I told you I was clinically diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, you insisted that I lied so well to my psychiatrist - after a year of cognitive testing, medication attempts, and faltering - that they diagnosed me officially with a serious form of Depression. This did me nothing but harm. In fact, it fell in line as evidence that you have zero education on this disorder in any way shape or form. Insisting that I do not have the symptoms that you - not a doctor of any kind - would expect, proved was concrete evidence.

When you attacked my Autism, again from your point of view (while STILL not being a doctor), you attacked one of my greatest sources of insecurity. I am constantly anxious about going into public because I can only tolerate so much input before I turn into a puddle and start to cry and try to run away. That, by the way, is called Bolting. It's a last-ditch effort to avoid having a painful, terrifying, and embarrassing meltdown around people who will mock me, or call the police, or otherwise humiliate me even further. I would start cussing at you here because the way you treat me warrants it, but this is for my blog - so I won't. I am actively choosing not to regard your input as valid or important in any sense because you have made a case against your own self.

From this point onward, your input will be rejected as faulty, and not medically prompted. I will no longer consider your evaluations of me as valid in any form until you admit that you are not a doctor of any kind, and never will be. In particular - you will never be my doctor, and so you have absolutely no diagnostic validity in my medical care. Get over it. This is how it is going to be from now on.

Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows,
Mandey T

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Another Personal Day Post

I don't have any advice for you lovelies today. Really, my goal today is just to share how blessed I am in this moment. My son and I had the morning to ourselves and we took advantage of that opportunity by jet-setting into our neighborhood for an adventure. I found one of my audition shirts for The Voice. I am aiming to get into the alternative rock genre, so my options are delightfully broad for In-Genre clothing. He stayed by my side and pointed out a couple of outfits he thought would look good on me. He was right once.

Then we got his hair cut at a local Barbershop. He was jovial and friendly with the Barber and sat nice and still - despite being only three years of age. The Barber was skilled and efficient, with an easy hand and gentle touch. Xander really enjoyed that visit, and he got to pay the Barber afterward before getting a lolly. We really had a great visit.

Finally, we walked down to a classic style Diner where we shared a breakfast plate and he got ice cream. I was really impressed with the service. The waitresses never failed to keep my coffee nice and full, with enough creamer at hand to keep it to my liking. The food was great, the experience was even better, and overall we enjoyed that stop. I taught Xander about tipping by having him tip the waitress an extra $4 on top of the 40-something percent tip that came by telling her I didn't want any change from my $10 for a $6 meal. He really took pride in being kind to her, and he really made his mama proud.

In the wake of our disaster of an Election, I am striving more than ever to teach my son fundamental concepts such as kindness, generosity, community building, and empathy. Even if he doesn't stay my well-behaved kiddo, I want him to value these above all. Someone who would destroy Sacred land for profit, mock and gag those who disagree with their values, and punish their opposition is our current President, and my children will be raised as Revolutionaries who are willing to fight to their last breaths to stop evil like this from succeeding.

Right now, my son is well on the right track.

I am blessed.

Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Why I Will Not Be Staying in Boise Anymore

So last night I had a meltdown. This is a thing that happens when you have a Sensory Processing Disorder. It is usually preventable by controlling stimuli and can be managed easily if managed correctly. My roommate officially proved to me that she will never be qualified to offer the support and care that I need from the people in my life. Here is how the meltdown happened, how she responded, and what she should have done. I hope that her failures will help other people who live with Autistics to do the right thing,

When I originally became agitated:
What it looked like was me becoming sullen and distant.
What she did was accuse me of laziness, and try to cause me to feel guilt for it (and accuse me of being willing to do ANYTHING to get out of doing work).
The correct response would have been to notice that I was agitated and leave me to the dishes, not start pushing harder on me to do things her way.

When I became visibly upset:
What it looked like: Defensive yelling, some name-calling, an effort to make her want to leave me alone.
What she did: Scream at me, force me into the cold weather for periods of time as a punishment for being visibly upset. Tell me "you can get on a bus back to Oregon tomorrow" - which I am now doing because I cannot live like this.
The correct response: I see that you are overstimulated and are upset, do you need to be left alone right now?

When I was unable to stop being upset:
What it looked like: Yelling, crying, shaking, inability to focus, aggressive posturing, avoidant behavior, pushing, shutting down.

The correct course of action was to try to avoid the unstoppable meltdown, but once it was reached she should have left me alone and actually let me calm down. Instead, when she was not threatening or yelling at me, she was on the phone with family members telling them how horrible and out-of-control I was - INSIDE OF EARSHOT.

If this person, who I will not publicly post my actual connection to online, cannot understand that I am legitimately unable to turn off my Autism, or any of my mental illnesses, then she does not qualify to be in or involved in my life. That is an unfortunate fact, but still a fact of life.

So now my bags are packed, the bus is paid for, and I want nothing to do with this person in any way, ever again. They have proven that they are not worth my time, or my pain and suffering, to try to form any relationship with. I do not need their level of ignorance in my day-to-day life.

Peace, Love and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T

A Breakdown of My Recent Meltdown

Meltdowns are painful, terrifying and embarrassing. I had one recently and thought I would break down what happened and how it worked to what it became.

These episodes happen when my information or stimulation input becomes so intensely overwhelming that I am completely unable to function or interact with anyone. Again, they are painful, scary, isolating, and sometimes dangerous. But, they are not something I do intentionally, or for attention. I hate them as much as you do. I just wish some people would make an effort to understand it.

2 days prior

  • My child wet the bed. 
  • I was not heard when expressing an issue
  • I was told something that invalidated one of my serious issues.
The Day Before
  • My child threw several loud fits during the day
  • I went shopping and had a lot of new input
  • My child cried for two hours over pain in his teeth
The Day Of

  • I overslept and did not keep my routine
  • I didn't manage to eat early
  • Didn't get my chore done, and could not get the energy to do it.
  • Live-in person verbally triggered guilt over the unfinished chore
  • An argument
  • And then the meltdown
Here are the symptoms displayed leading up to the explosive episode, that must be noted.

Two Days Prior
  • Mild stress communicated
  • Less physically functional
  • Increase in irritability.
The Day Before
  • More difficulty functioning
  • Somewhat more irritable
  • Distant from everyone
The Day Of
- before the "Rumblings" really started -
  • Depressed behavior (bedlock, sullenness, tiredness, distraction)
  • Lack of interest in group activities
  • Mild frustration with environment.
- during the rumblings - 
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Vocal agitation
  • Difficulty staying on task
- when the alarm behaviors started - 
  • Hands held close to my person, twitching.
  • Pacing around the house
  • Angry vocalizing
  • Defensive behavior
- During the actual meltdown -
  • Yelling
  • Crying
  • Escaping
  • Demanding
  • Hardcore stimming (rocking, touching my arms, pulling my hair)
  • Seriously aggressive behavior
  • Repetitive language
  • Showy aggressive activity
This is what happened and how I got to the Meltdown level in my Autism.

Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T

Monday, January 23, 2017

Why You Shouldn't Believe That I Am "Letting" My Depression Win

When I told you that, for me, I couldn't just make the choice to not be physically, mentally, and emotionally depressed - you told me I was letting it win. That is simply not true. The true fact is, I am actually currently losing a battle with three interlocked illnesses that are sometimes terminal. General Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, and Major Depressive Disorder are my particular demons in this case, and they are often bigger, meaner and stronger than I am.

I want you to read this story the way you would if it were about Cancer, or Diabetes, or Alzheimer's. Take every word just as seriously regarding the symptoms, the progressive nature, and the way it impacts my whole life. The reason this is important is because you need to separate the word Mental from the word Illness in order to really grasp what is happening here. I am ill.

First off. Sometimes I just can't get out of bed.
There are days when my body feels so heavy that getting out of bed is like trying to get out of quicksand when you've already sunk down to your neck. Atop that, once that feeling has set in I begin to panic about what my family will think if I cannot keep up with them today. My mind starts to race in circles until I am literally not physically able to force myself up and out of bed. Nothing about me is able to push any harder, and my mind is already abusing me for it.

Second; suggesting that I am choosing to suffer this way could be fatal.
I already doubt the legitimacy of my own illnesses, and I mean constantly. My mind twists my symptoms around so much that I sometimes believe that I am just doing this to myself. That makes everything just that much worse because I begin to think of myself as a monster for doing all of this to you. When you tell me, in that matter-of-fact tone that I am just choosing to hurt like I am, then you enforce the thoughts I am already struggling with. These are the same thoughts and feelings that drive me to feel suicidal. I've attempted before because of these thoughts, and I am fighting daily to not ever get that low again.

Third; I need you to understand, validate, and advocate for me.
When you see me losing this fight, you are watching my chances of survival dwindle more, and more. If this was not a mental illness, but rather something physical, you'd be talking with my care providers, and advocating on my behalf. I desperately need you to take every last symptom as something that is as sinister as the loss of appetite in a cancer patient, or severe confusion in an Alzheimer's patient - because it could be.

Fourth; my illnesses play with one another - and not nicely.
Seriously, my anxiety bullies my depression, which triggers my PTSD and leaves me sweating, crying, and hiding from everyone I have ever cared for. When you cannot look at me as a sick person, who is fighting legitimate illnesses, you make all of this that much worse. You are contributing to the view of the world that my illnesses create. The world - to me - is a terrifying, and unwelcoming place wherein I could be seriously hurt just for existing as I do.

You have to look at my illnesses as real illnesses, or you will never be able to help me. Worse, you may just lose me to them. Every pill I take, every appointment I force myself to get to, every new treatment tried, that is me actively fighting for my life. If you cannot get behind me and be my advocate, I may have to ask you not to be involved in my life anymore. I don't want to die, I just want to stop being like this.

Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T

Sunday, January 22, 2017

This is Not Laziness

One of the bigger problems that come with being chronically depressed is that people often describe me as being lazy. With my illness comes a definite struggle to be anywhere but my bed. I am saddeningly sedentary. It's not something I enjoy, by any means, and it certainly is not laziness. For me, it is a manifestation of my Depression in the form of chronic fatigue. My body hurts, all the time, and moving around is more of a chore than a regular task.

So here are the things that are really happening when my loved ones see something else.

1. When I don't get out of bed before noon,.
The thing that is happening here is fatigue. My body feels so heavy, tired and sore that moving around is incredibly difficult - almost akin to swimming in quicksand.

2. When I am "argumentative" or "defiant".
You have to understand something here: I have a mental illness. Being constantly exhausted and incredibly sore from absolutely nothing tends to make me - or most people - more irritable and irresponsive. I don't mean to be this way, and I certainly do not enjoy it. Sometimes, too much interaction with others just overwhelms me and leaves me too exhausted for functionality.

3. When I am unwilling to do all of the chores asked of me.
I would absolutely love to get up and do the basic chores, they aren't literally hard - I know this. It's just that I get locked into my exhaustion and the day runs out of hours before I can get the motivation I need. There's nothing about me that is self motivated and those accusations really hurt.

4. When I don't want to go out.
More than anything in the world, I want to go with you. The thought of being with my family, enjoying the festivity of your adventures - is a dream. It's just that I do not have the physical, nor the emotional energy to do this.

In summation, please stop making my struggle - my symptoms - into something that they are not. It doesn't help anyone, and it gets us nowhere. Actually, it does more harm to my recovery thank it will ever do good. It only causes me to recede further into my depression; constantly doubting the legitimacy of my symptoms, and applying your logic to my very real illness. The only ending for this is worsening symptoms. So, please, just stop, seriously.

Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T

Saturday, January 21, 2017

What Post-Abuse PTSD Feels Like In A Good Relationship

Healing is hard. Healing from an abusive marriage is just as hard. My ex-husband was not physically abusive. He was emotionally and mentally abusive. It seemed as if he took joy and pleasure in demoralizing me, and in leaving me suicidal and confused. Worse, I didn't leave until he became physical the first time, so I endured nearly 2 years of this hell. He was amazing until he realized that I wasn't kidding or playing up my mental issues. I am chronically depressed and severely riddled with anxiety, and many times my mental health bars me from the way I want to be. Many times, when I was at my lowest, he would become sullen and resentful. When I expressed feeling suicidal - he would tell me to just do it.

I got worse, and worse, and worse over the course of our relationship; culminating in us fighting so fiercely that violence became a thing. Once it had happened, my family bowed to my mental health's classic stigma, telling me that it was my fault that he'd been "pushed far enough to hit". Even though this was a man who frequently mocked me, degraded me, bullied me, and insulted who I was. From calling me crazy or stupid to hitting me in my most vulnerable place - calling me a failure as a mother, and telling me that my children will always hate me. This is a man who spent the better part of 2 years tearing me down one part at a time, taking the time to make himself look like the poor pathetic victim of my mental health.

When I did leave him, I did not know who I was as a person. Finding the right path seemed impossible, and I was unsure if I even knew how to survive on my own. But, in time, I did grow and heal a bit. Then, a few months into my freedom, I fell in love again. I didn't mean to, nor did I want to. He just happened. Soft, and concerned, he stepped into my world - and knew my broken places. This was a person who'd been around me a lot after I left my ex, and had heard me cry in fear, and rage, and hatred; and he knew where I was vulnerable. The excellent thing is - he set about healing me, instead of using me. Our romance was, and remains, not without tribulations. I, not only, had already existing Depression and Anxiety, but also a newly developed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Some of the frequent nuances of our blossoming relationship were frustrating for both him and for myself.

"Are you angry with me?"
I am pretty sure this man could go on about how often this question was asked. He was rarely ever cross with me, nor was he really ever cross at all. He just had this very neutral expression that could be mistaken for anger in the mind of someone recovering from being abused. This question falls in the same lines as "have I done something wrong?", "Are we okay right now?", and "do you want me to leave?" These were all questions I have asked him over the course of our courtship.

"Is that for me?"
 This is one of the truly sad statements from this relationship. He would often bring me a perfectly made cup of coffee - something we would kinda compete to do for one another - or my favorite candy. I mean, he made a point to do these little things for me, just to love on me - to make me feel important. It took more than a month for me to stop thinking he was treating someone else before he would treat me. Even then, I still felt that twinge of surprise whenever he would do something kind for me.

"I'm sorry."
Both he and I are recovering from our abusers. When he grew tired of my endless apologetics, he would start counting the "mistakes" he made through the day, that other lovers would have abused him over. So we kinda made a game of it. This opened the door for me to express the things that my ex had left me insecure about. Not making the coffee before he was out of bed, not making his dinner every single night, spending my own money on myself, wanting things, having my menstrual cycle, not being in "the mood" when he wanted it; these were all things that I could count as mistakes my ex had actually bullied me over. Even with this, I was often apologizing for my faults - even when my partner did not see a fault in them.

"He hates me."
I told this one, exclusively, to myself. All to often, I would read his neutral mannerisms as resentfulness and anger. Instead of confronting him, or leaving, I would simply ask if he was angry with me. The continuous "no" responses often soothed and settled my anxiety and gave me rest.

This could go on for a dozen, or more, pages before I ran out of statements. These four are the big ones for me. It is a constantly changing battlefield - learning to love again and to be loved again. Understanding what it feels like to be loved; but, not just loved, wanted, valued, treasured, adored, and supported. I am still exploring the feeling of having someone completely accept my problems as part of the whole package. Through this adventure, I am healing.

Thanks for reading.
Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows.
Mandey T

Friday, January 20, 2017

What My Mental Illnesses Feel Like At 3 AM

“You’re so useless.”
“You got nothing done today”
“Could you be a worse friend?”
“Call them. Tell them to leave you. They deserve better.”

I am sitting in my bed, the couch I have been sleeping on since I moved to Boise; the voices of my anxiety and my depression are getting loud again. Sad music has been turned on to try to drown my own thoughts out. Usually, it helps. Feelings of uselessness and despair are completely overwhelming me as I struggle to find rest. Nothing eases it. Every attempt is met with still more self-loathing. Two days now. I have felt so sapped by my depression that I have gotten almost nothing done. My mother is growing impatient with me – as usual. She is blaming it on me being “inherently lazy”, calling up memories of me before I really got any help at all and I was so much worse than I am not. At least now I 

“They are never going to hear you.”“You are never going to be okay again.”“They are only going to assume it is your fault.”“There is no hope. You are always going to be like this”
The noise just keeps flooding my thoughts. I know that if I fail, again, to be a productive member of this family; one who always validates the other members, and never disappoints them… that I will always be judged as wrong. I had once hoped that my sister’s struggle with Depression and Anxiety would have helped them understand that I am not lazy, or unwilling – but that I am sick. It is the same as any physical illness. I am so numb that it hurts. It hurts my muscles, nerves, bones, eyes, nose, teeth, mind, soul, relationships, and anything it can bring suffering to. It’s almost kindred to being clasped in on by a massive breaker at the ocean’s edge, only, instead of being able to roll with the blow and float back to shore – I am chained and cemented to the very place I am standing. I am bearing the full brunt of every pound of force the wave has to exert on me… and I am feeble.
“Just give up.”“Run away from all this.”“You are not worthy of them
My skin is clammy, and I have adjusted the thermostat a dozen times in an effort to find comfort. All of my hair is standing on end because I keep pulling it and running fingers through it. I desperately wish I had someone to curl up against and to cry on and to tell all of this to. Yet here I am, telling it to you. Telling you all of my pitiful thoughts. In a mere 3 hours, I will have been awake for a full day’s time and I am nowhere near tired. Instead, I am wide awake, panicked and miserable. 
“What were you thinking? You’ll never fit in here…”“You are literally failing at everything.”“Nothing about you warrants compassion or affection.”
And there I am again, twisting in my own sweat. Hating every part of this illness, and of myself. I believe my gamily when they berate me for laziness and slacking off. Those thoughts embed themselves in my mind and echo until I can hear nothing else but them. It is literal torture. And what’s worse, no one seems to care when I am in this headspace. I know that they do. It is just a fact. Yet, all I can feel is them hating me for being so chronically ill, with diseases that don’t seem to have any physical symptoms or valid inputs. Genuinely, this feels as if having the distinction on my Illness as being “Mental” instead of “Physical” means that I am not valid in having it.
In case you were wondering, this is what my illnesses are like at 3 in the morning.
Peace, love and bulletproof marshmallows
Mandey T

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What You'll See When You Look At Me - A Mentally Ill Person

We see a lot of stories and articles that tell you what it feels like to be the mentally ill person, or how to help them, or what getting help looks like - but here is what I am like when you really know me. I struggle with Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Personality Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified. The NOS diagnoses mean that, while I am on that spectrum, and display the symptoms of some of the disorders inside them - I don't fit a particular diagnosis. The symptoms I display are a bit... well, odd. But, I am not really abnormal for mental health patients. At least, that's how my psych puts it. This is what you will see if you ever find yourself living with me.

1. I watch funny videos, a lot.
I am obsessed with laughing and finding sunshine in my world. When you spend a lot of time around me, you're gonna see a lot of giggling and interwebbing. It's just how I am. I'm often too exhausted/depressed/anxious to get out of bed, so I spend a lot of the time I am at least awake, finding things that put a smile on my face and a good thing in my day.

2. I am actually pretty friendly.
I don't make friends easily. A part of being depressed and anxious most of the time is that making new friendships happen can be impossible. Those who are close to me know that I am actually a really friendly person. Making good times happen when my loved ones spend time with me - that is a favorite pastime of mine. Things like good movies, fun music, stories, bonfires in the front yard, reading books to each other; those are what makes my life good.

3. I eat like a person - when I do eat.
Pizza, cookies, cake, veggies, different meats, those are all things I enjoy. There have been a few people that, once hearing of my being mentally ill and developmentally delayed, think that I eat some incredibly different diet. They seem to not know what to get when getting snacks for a hang-out where I will be involved. Making it even worse: it surprises them when I enjoy normal foods.

4. I am passionate.
This is the thing that confuses me the most is when people assume that - because I am depressed - I cannot be passionate about things. I am fiercely passionate about a few things, music, writing, activism, and homeless rights advocacy are among my greatest passions.

Overall, hanging out or living with me, you will find someone who laughs at what is funny, loves the people in her life, eats normal food, and likes to do things. My depression simply causes me to really struggle to do all of these things anywhere but in my bed - and sometimes not even then. It's true, I will get broody and sullen - a lot - and I am not always able to engage with people. But, please, stop assuming that just because I am depressed and anxious that you won't ever see the shavings of a somewhat normal person in me.

There's a real person in here, and it hurts when I am only seen for my bad days.

Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Illness That I Don't Talk About

Over the last month, I have discussed a lot about Depression, Anxiety, and some about Autism. However, I also live with one disorder that isn't so prevalent in my life anymore. Anorexia Nervosa. 
At 14, after a serious psychotic episode, I found myself in a psych ward. Upon admission I was measured and weighed. I was 5'9" and weighed in at 90 pounds flat - with a BMI of only 13, which is severely underweight. I was obsessed with control, and terrified of ending up like my other family members; all my elders were overweight. I wanted to rise above them and prove to them that I would never be the unpleasant, judgmental, and angry people that they were.

I spent weeks on fasting, and walking long distances on hills. Every new, lower, number I got on my weight felt like a huge victory. But, it spiraled out of control.

The good news? Being hospitalized did me a ton of good. While there I worked hard to recover from all of my issues. They measured brain waves, took pictures of my brain, gave me hours of psychotherapy, and finally, gave me medications to balance things out. 

Something miraculous happened.

I got better. I left the hospital with a BMI of 17, which is in the athletic range. At a weight of 115, never had my body looked better. The medications worked and supported my recovery, and sooner than later, hope was visible. 

Today I am 187 pounds, and technically overweight. In the last 4 years, I have had 2 children - and my body has changed a lot. Now, I am back in the gym, and losing weight again - and it is terrifying. Part of me worries about that old feeling creeping back in. What if I start to obsess about the weight I need to lose? What if I lose control? Now, I am aiming only for 170 pounds as my target. That is safely inside the healthy semi-athletic range for body mass. But, the thought of losing control terrifies me. I am blessed that, while my other disorders are still not under control, this one has been. This one has stayed quiet and left me alone. I do not want it to come back. 

Here's hoping.
Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

When The Road Has a Voice

Go ahead and hit play on this video before reading. It'll enhance the experience.
Okay, I've told y'all that I am always stricken with a desire to run, to run far and hard, away from the world I live in. This is a world that just won't have me. Night before last, my mother and I fought because I am different. My symptoms reared their ugly head and it was the "best" she could do to patronize me and attack me... not to see that I was in pain and anxiety. She failed, in every way, to read what was going on, and assumed - as so many normies do - that I was doing what I was doing on purpose. I almost grabbed my bag and walked out without a word.

The pavement had a voice. It really called out for me to find out just how far it stretches. Maybe, back to Oregon, back to my safe place in Eugene - maybe anywhere else. I want - so freaking badly - to escape the family that demands I just stop being the way I am... it is doing me no favors.

Not gonna wrap this blog post up. I am still angry. I am still hurt. But, I am here.

Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Sleepless Nights, Happy Mornings

I hate losing sleep. Last night I didn't finally pass out until around 4 in the morning. Nothing is worse than that, at least not in my book, because I take care of my son in the mornings now. My mother - his adoptive mom - volunteers at a food pantry every morning from about 8 to around noon. Believe me, I love this part of my life. When the state took my son from me at just 3 months old, I thought that days like what I have now would never be reality. 

But I am exhausted and depressed today. My alarm went off at 8:15, as usual, and I went back to sleep for a few. Then my mother woke me to take the boy from her. After that, coffee was poured - and yes, I know, caffeine agitates Autism - and food was had. Now, the boy is playing happily with his toys and I am writing a blog post and watching "Me Before You" and loving it. 

Truth be told, I am exceedingly blessed by a child who is normally quiet and self-contained. He's 3, so he does require some looking after, but usually he can be counted on to play and enjoy himself. It really is a blessing. I just wish I had better energy to be able to play the way that he deserves to be playing. 

In the end, I am tired, I am depressed - but, I am eternally blessed.

Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T

You can follow me more closely on my Personal Facebook Page and you can read some of my more formatted stories on The Mighty, at my Contributor Page. New to my blogsphere - I am on Instagram

Friday, January 13, 2017

Secrets I Don't Want To Tell Anyone About My Depression

Last month I submitted - to you, my readers - ten secrets I did not tell about my depression before then. To be honest, I had told them before - but only to my psychiatrist and my counselor. They were not my only secrets. Far, far from it. I've been doing a lot of work in therapy over the phone lately, and it's time for another Secrets story.

Secrets I don't want to tell anyone - even my mental health team.

1. Sometimes it actually is comfortable.
Don't get me wrong. I hate that my depression locks me into my bed, lost in being totally exhausted and feeling entirely worthless and useless. It's painful and embarrassing, and causes me to think - daily - of ending everything. However, there are brief, and often terrifying, moments wherein it is also comfortable. Somewhere between that last nap, the soft bedding, the slow and easy music playing, and chamomile tea - it gets easier to handle. My family doesn't usually bother me much on a bad day, and sometimes the quiet and the still is kinda nice. I hate that I sometimes feel this way, and I have barely even told my psychiatrist about this sensation.

2. Sometimes I don't want it to go away.
I do not know where this comes from. The probable reason is that it has become my "normal" and - on occasion - the idea of learning to live without this uninvited house guest is terrifying. I really, truly, want to be free from this illness and move on with my life. I look forward to the days when I can play with my family and love on them all day long; I want to work, and rent a home of my own, and perform on stage again. Still, admissions must be made that - from time to time - I am still scared of what life without Depression looks like.

3. Sometimes I hate you more than I hate it.
Every time I do make an effort to hide how badly my depression is affecting me, and you - my love ones - try to force normalcy of your variety on me... I secretly hate you more than I hate my depression. I am counting on you to be the closest people to me, and yet again, you failed me. It gets so frustrating - I mean, endlessly infuriating - to try to be okay around you. When I do snap or get upset, you demand that I "wrangle myself in" or just "calm myself down", and that makes me hurt and angry.

These aren't things that I like, or want to talk about. I am afraid that they will proliferate the stigma that people already have around Depression and other mental illnesses. There's nothing worse, in my opinion, than having contradicting  symptoms. It is painful and confusing.

Please, tell me I am not alone here?

Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T

Thursday, January 12, 2017

When Depression Hits You

It was coming on again last night. You knew this, you felt it coming. As you dressed yourself for bed, the sensation of heaviness started in on you - so you rushed to sleep. Heavy sleep befell you, something akin to the way that warm water feels once your muscles relax - only cold at the core of it.

Flash forward.

You woke up this morning, and it was sleeping in your bed with you. Black, overwhelming, and jealous of your loved ones; this creature has become a demon in your once perfect home. It is simultaneously entirely weightless and overwhelmingly heavy. Everything you are is irreversibly intertwined into its web of lies and helplessness.

It seems impossible to move with the weight pressing in on you, and this demonic beast growling and whispering in your ear. The voice given off by your unwanted bedmate press you further into your mattress and into its grip.

"You can't do anything right..."
"They don't need you..."
"Dear God! You can't even get up with your alarm."
"Nothing about you is valuable..."

This voice echoes endlessly. Soon, all too soon, you see that half the day has passed between pseudo-sleeping and pressing the pillows to your ears in a helpless act of defiance. The harder you try to escape it - the harder the demon grips you.

The day feels like - both - an eternity and a moment. You cannot believe the sun is now setting. It is now time to go to sleep. Pills are taken. A bit of writing is done. You sleep restlessly, then heavily, then restlessly again, until you repeat this day again tomorrow.

Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Message About Something Else

I am sitting in my living room, trying to watch "Miracles from Heaven", which should turn out to be a great film about miracles and such. Thing is, first they show the little girl getting sick to the point that her mother refuses to leave a hospital until she knows how sick her child is. Though I have never been in those specific shoes - I did have a baby spend her first month of life in the Hospital.

My daughter Geneva was born 7 weeks premature. She was sick, and small, when she was born - and I was sick too. She struggled at first to get stable. She breathed on her own from the start - only on oxygen for less than a day, the first time. A few days later, she stopped breathing in her sleep. They added oxygen again to help her not fall "too deep" into sleep. They told us, on day 7, that she was doing really well and could have visitors. We almost announced, but chose to give it a day.

That was a good choice, because our little victory did not last as long as we would hope. We returned to the hospital the next morning to find that she had been put into an isolette under UV lights. She'd developed Jaundice and was, again, not healthy enough for visitors. I only got to hold her for an hour at a time, once - maybe twice - a day. I was pumping breastmilk for her like crazy, and got my supply up to 8-10 oz with both breasts per pump session. I was vying to give her the best chance.

During this, I barely slept. The doctors worried that she was too small for her gestation point, and that she didn't move as much as others her age. I felt as though I were failing her. More days, than not, I felt helpless, confused, and powerless to help her grow. It was Day 19 when she finally improved enough to get more visitors. A few friends came by and adored her. She was learning to breastfeed and had finally lost her nasogastric tube, and learned to eat by mouth.

On Day 28, we went home. It was over, kinda. I was still supposed to be pregnant at that point. I took her to all of her Doctor's Appointments and we discovered that she - in all her smallness - had Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP), something usually attributed to much earlier preemie babies. Essentially the retinas of her eyes were growing abnormal blood vessels; those were at risk of bleeding and causing scar tissue on the retina - which would cause blindness.

We kept our little one blindfolded from sun up to sun down - trying to keep the light away from her eyes, which would strain them. Extreme care was taken, and more breastmilk was made. She ate often and plenty. At 8 months old, she was cleared. One small scar that will leave her with a minuscule blind spot.

At one year old, she had caught up with her termie counterparts in all the physical areas, and was not far behind them in her development. Our battle was over, and now we get to just watch her grow into the young lady we hope she'll be.

Movies that feature sick babies or kids - just eat me up. They hurt my heart for the (yes, fictional) parents and for the kids.
Good movie though. Very cool.

Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows
Mandey T

Monday, January 9, 2017

4 Things I Wish My Family Understood About My Autism

My mother and I really haven’t spent much of the last year of our lives together. I have been busy with my life, she with hers. It’s how life tends to go. She was getting my son – who she adopted when he was a baby – ready for an outing to a play place. I was meticulously preparing my own bag for an outing to a new place. There was an argument after I told her “If these headphones go on, please don’t bother me until I take them off…” She did not seem to understand how vital that one directive could be. She thought I was making a huge deal out of it. There are a few things I wish she could have understood this morning. 1. Going somewhere new IS a big deal.
When I go to a new place, anywhere unfamiliar, it is important that I have my Autism Bag with me. It is also important that I am allowed to USE my toolkit. Without it I have meltdowns more often, and become – quickly – less functional. 2. I don’t really have a choice. If I do become too stimulated, it can be disastrous. Meltdowns are ugly. I get angry, defensive and I have even become violent. They are terrifying, for me and everyone else; and they are painful. When I can’t stop them, it is embarrassing. My toolkit allows me to deprive the senses that are become overloaded, and to calm down efficiently. For me it is a HUGE part of being functional in a society that doesn’t welcome people like me easily. 3. I wish it was different. It’s easier to believe that this is how I want to be. I know this. I have thought this before. Many, many times I have wished that it could be different, that I could just make it stop. That, my lovely, isn’t possible for me. I am going to live with this my whole life. 4. It’s never going to be different. I would love to tell you that – with enough time and hard work – I will one day assimilate perfectly into your world; that I will be able to think, act, and respond like everyone else does. Truth is, that’s a beautiful pipe dream… but it is still a pipe dream. My senses are always going to be tender, and it will always be hard to come back smoothly when they become overloaded. There is not a thing in the world I would not give to change this. I would surrender everything I know and have to be neurotypical. I just can’t. Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows Mandey T

Sunday, January 8, 2017

6 Ways That Moving To The City is Good For Me

Just less than a week ago I moved from a small country town and into a bustling city. Since then I have set about expanding my small circle and making friends. So, here are the 6 things that my move into the city environment has done for me:
1. A More Controllable Environment
With more streets, more cafeterias, and more options in things to do, I can really control my level of stimulation, and interaction that deal with on a daily basis. I am happier, more relaxed, and I am enjoying my life more than I was in the country town I moved from.
2. A Wider Variety of Potential Friends More people means more choices. In my old town, I really did not have a lot of choices in who to socialize with. With this comes the ability to find friends who won’t reject me later due to my illnesses, and who will be more support than critique.
3. More Variance in Culture
I love culture. It is, for me, something that lets me find the place I want to be in the moment. From day to day I enjoy finding new spots that are unfamiliar to me. Be it a new Chinese diner, or a German bar, I find comfort in traveling through local culture. This helps my depression and my anxiety in phenomenal ways.
4. Better Medical Options
In a bigger place, I get more choices regarding medical providers. Though I adore the team I had in Oregon, I feel that I have more viable choices in who and how I am treated. It also opens the door to treatments that may not have come up before, which might be the right step towards stronger recovery.
5. Sweet, Sweet Freedom
Again, this move has given me one – very important – thing for my personal recovery. It has given me freedom. In Oregon I was pretty much locked into my home unless I convinced someone to lend me their vehicle, or got a ride. Here, I can catch a bus and go anywhere. This is so much help for my illnesses because I can change my surroundings whenever I need to.
6. Quiet
I am aware that most people associate the city with being loud and busy. It is. But it is also quiet and secluded. No one has time to pry into who you are and why. It allows me to find awesome places where I am left alone and the quiet is amazing.
There you have it, lovelies, the move is good for me, and I for it. Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows Mandey T

Saturday, January 7, 2017

3 Ways I Hide My Depression

Everyone has their ways of going undetected. Having a mental illness is still something we cannot have without being stigmatized and isolated from society. It is scary, and dangerous, to let the nature of our illnesses show around those who just would not understand it. So we find ways to appear normal. Here are mine: 1. Baking Cookies I get out of bed, wander into my kitchen, draw out ingredients and get baking. Sometimes - if she is in the mood - my daughter joins me from her high chair. I make 4 or 5 dozen cookies, and then I deliver them to the local homeless support. I have to borrow a rig from my family, in turn they tell everyone that I am doing things for the homeless community. 2. Great Makeup Depression and Anxiety bring havoc on our faces. Dark bags under our eyes, discolored skin, dehydration, and skin irritations make us look disheveled and tired. My way of coping with this is to put on a full face of makeup. Portraying an even skin tone, and clear complexion can do a lot to help me blend in. 3. Making Music I am a singer-songwriter. I put together lyrics and melodies, record them endlessly, and show off a little. This shows my loved ones that I am still working on things that I am passionate about. I am still doing things that I am interested in. Honestly, I have been re-working the same songs for too long now, and I am not making anything new. But, they see me being okay.
Peace, Love, and Bulletproof Marshmallows Mandey T