Today is World Mental Health Day and I want you to know, that it’s okay not to be okay. I have wrestled with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Attacks, PTSD, Depression, Binge Eating Disorder and Harm OCD for many years now. Sometimes one replaces the other or they all hit at once. My mental illness is a shapeshifter, a manipulative dark mist that rolls in and causes my mind to play tricks on my body. I have periods of time where it gets pretty bad. Its like I’m stumbling around in a dark unfamiliar place that I can’t find my way out of. But I also have beautiful days, weeks and months where I feel like I can finally breathe again. I can enjoy the sunshine and nature and the beautiful little moments that life gives us. I am so thankful for those times that my mind and body are at rest.
Recently my mind has been loud. There have been more dark days where I feel like I can’t catch my breath. I feel trapped in a loope of endless WHAT IF’s. I convince myself that I’m going to drop dead or end up permanently crazy. Fear and panic take over and all I can do is hide and shake and pace, waiting for what seems like an eternity for the adrenaline to leave my body. I want someone with me but I don’t want to be touched. This restlessness causes me to feel like I am a burden on my family and friends. It’s exhausting. knowing that this is something that will always be apart of me is overwhelming at times. I will have to do battle over and over again but I have to remind myself and sometimes be reminded by others that they are in battle with me, fighting for me when I’m weak. Every time I make it through I become stronger.
I’m so thankful for those who stand with me, who love me and let me know that I’m not a burden. They remind me that I can break through the darkness because I’ve done it so many times before. Everyone needs someone to do battle with them. For those of you struggling with a mental illness you are not a burden, you are loved, you are worthy and you are stronger than you realize. I’m rooting for you. It’s okay not to be okay.
As I get older, I am reminded over and over again of how precious and fleeting life is. The words “Remember Amanda , Love Hard” replayed over in my mind today as I said my final goodbye to a very special woman, Maggie. Before last October, It had been some years since I had seen or talked to her. I got a call from my mom, saying that Maggie was in a nursing home. She had fallen and hurt herself. Her children lived in different states and wanted someone to keep her company and to make sure that she was getting the care that she needed.
I started visiting Maggie three days a week. I remember the first time I went to see her, I was a little nervous because Maggie had the early stages of dementia and I wasn’t sure if she would remember me. As soon as I walked into the room, Maggie’s face lit up and I felt at ease. I brought my son with me and she just adored him. She kept saying, what a handsome boy he was and how he was such a nice young man. My son enjoyed Maggie’s company and giggled as she gave us the scoop on everyone in the nursing home.
As I spent more time with her we talk about many things. I told her that I used to enjoy watching her cook when I was little. She used to make me this sweet rice with milk, cinnamon and sugar. She would sit me on the counter and teach me Spanish. Some words I still remember. She would say “Mi hija, tienes esos ojos bonitos”.
She talked to me about my grandma Betty and told me how they became the best of friends. She talked about what a strong woman my grandmother was and how she was the foreman over a bunch of men, during a time when that wasn’t very common. She told me many things about my grandmother that I didn’t know and I am so grateful for those precious conversations, as she was another very special woman in my life.
My grandma Betty and Maggie were a lot alike, two extremely strong women, who loved with everything they had but also told it like it was. They didn’t take any shit. I believe that Maggie’s message to me was to “Love Hard”. Hold your loved ones close. Let them know what they mean to you and don’t let anger or foolishness divide you because someday your going to close you eyes for the last time.
Forgiveness leads to such beautiful things ❤️
My baby Bowie,
you came to me at a time in my life when I really needed unconditional love, I was hurting. I remember seeing your picture on Facebook for the first time, I instantly knew I wanted to be your mom. I could tell by your cheeky grin that you would fit right in with our hodgepodge family of rescues. The first night in your new home you refused to sleep anywhere but on my chest, with your nose touching mine. You followed me everywhere. Even to places that I didn’t want you to, like the toilet. I’ll never forget the way you would look into my eyes and touch my cheek as if to say, it’s going to be okay mom, I love you. You were so much more than I ever expected you to be and I know that some people might think he was just a cat but to me you were a positive constant, a pain killer and that extra bit of light on my dark days. I love you my baby Bowie. Thank you for loving me and our family. I sure wish we could have had you in our lives a bit longer.