Life. What a trip! (originally written in April 2018)
I was all prepared to take the next step in my business to provide secondary income to my massage practice, ‘Body Blessings Massage & Aromatherapy’, which I have owned and operated for several years, and put my entire heart and soul into the last two years. I believe holistic and alternative healing modalities should be considered just as important as the traditional Western medicine. In fact, I believe in this so strongly that I have been donating free monthly massage to participants of both the Wyakin Foundation – www.wyakin.org as well as the Idaho Veterans Wellness Center, a ‘baby’ non-profit in Boise, for the past three years.
I have poured almost every single second of my time into either advertising my practice, building my practice, working with my clients, tending to the books, or keeping the studio clean and supplies stocked. After being sick seven times this last Winter season, I realied that I would need to cut back to 2-3 days and offer something else, which in my case was my ‘bath-erapy’ line that I conceived many years ago while living in Northern California. I had developed the name, created the labels and had them approved, researched the costs for insurance and getting trademarks created, and was ready to file the paperwork to create a ‘B’-corp, and then – out of the blue – I was pulled unwittingly into a fair housing issue where I have been living the past 19 months, and ended up having to go to court and moving. Not expected, certainly not desired, and now, once again having to rebuild my life by finding a decent place to live, as well as answering the age old question I am asked when something occurs that threatens my housing – ‘Were you taking your meds?'”
Yes, I have a mental health diagnosis – P.T.S.D. – since 1994, and possibly Bi-Polar III. I have been taking medication since that time, and after the most taxing time in my life, when I lost custody of my beloved son and was systematically cut out of his life and had fought so hard that I lost myself in the process – my housing, my direction in life, as from the moment I first felt life inside of me, my main concern was being a great Mom, since my own mother had taken her life when I was just eight years old. I made a conscious decision at the age of 23 to get into counseling to understand the dynamics of my family and a that time, I thought if you went to counseling, that guaranteed your life would be ‘normal’ – married to one person, raising a family, attending church – living the ‘good’ life, preferably in Boise, Idaho, my hometown.
I ended up on Social Security Disability some years ago, and if I had it all to do over and knew how going through the Social Security process would be a completely humiliating and long, drawn out process where I would have to lose everything first – I would have done my best to find another alternative. At the time, I did not know how to recognize my anxiety and to deal with it, I only knew that I pushed myself like crazy to make all ends meet – holding down a full time job, working a part time job, raising my child alone – I would end up ‘hitting the wall’, and I thought that I was ‘flawed’ because I would become overwhelmed with all of life’s responsibilities. When my P.T.S.D. gets activated, which manifests in me by unstoppable heavy crying, and my anxiety climbing to the point that my train of thought turns into an ocean full of fish swimming every which way – I cannot stay focused – and then I would experience periods of depression. – I have come to understand that the Mental Health system is NOT designed to help you gain mental health. It is a system to medicate those who face trauma and climbing out of it is a hard, hard job.
I wrote a book titled ‘Borderline – Swan Song of an Unfinished Life’ about my ‘dance’ with the Mental Health System of the State of California last year and thought I would be marketing it at the recent ‘Ride for 22’ and ‘Indigo Art Festival’, two events that deal with the subjects of Veteran Suicide and Mental Health Awareness. I had been planning and preparing for both these events since the beginning of 2018 when I first heard about them. It all seemed like perfect and divine timing!
It isn’t that I want to spend every second of my life discussing mental health and suicide, but the fact that these two awesome events came up and that I could have a presence to hopefully help others understand the mental health system from an insider’s point of view, including a section that offers ways to actually help those who are in panic or having anxiety attacks or suicidal, but these two events were back to back, and it seemed like a golden opportunity.
In fact, I am starting to wonder if it is at all truly possible, as now I am back in a position where I will have to rent a room from a stranger to live in, and since I had to close my practice to deal with this unexpected and unwanted life circumstance, and NOT willing to go BACK through the system again from homelessness to having my own business and maintaining my own apartment again, I have to stop and wonder just exactly WHAT my beloved State of Idaho is actually going to do to develop a healthy and productive mental health system.
Jesus, Take the Wheel! (August 27, 2018)
I found a very safe and quiet room to rent in the neighborhood I am very familiar with and want to stay in for half of what I was paying, and I found a case manager from a local agency, someone who I can call if I get in a pickle with my anxiety and she is there to help. That is a huge blessing in my life, as I do my best to handle it all on my own, and not ‘bleed’ into my family relationships. That can be quite the challenge when my anxiety monkeys start to swing to and fro!
I am taking a ‘time out’ from my massage practice for personal healing, and very thankful for the Borah High classmates of 1977 for stepping up to help me move and cover storage costs until I got back on the ground – what an awesome help that was! Very thankful for a few others who helped guide me through the anxiety, and for the first time that I have experienced an episode, I was able to sort through and process some very important nuggets for my always expanding tool box – to learn that there are people in my corner who care enough to step up and help, and I believe that some of my family members and close friends understand that there are times when I need a little guidance, a little direction, and I took the time to research some PTSD support groups on Facebook to see what others deal with, sorted through some very good explanations of what it is like when I ‘go there’, and I believe they may now see more clearly that it is not something I can always manage, even while taking medicine.
And manage it I must, for it is my responsibility to do so to the best of my ability. For my own self care and best chance at personal happiness and success in life, for my family members, and most importantly, for my beloved child who is now 27.
It is not an easy thing to speak of, and now that I am starting to move forward and begin speaking with NAMI, promoting my book, and doing my best to fulfill my promise to God all those years ago that if He brought me through it, I would do my best to help others with the experiences I have endured. Now that time is here, in my own little hometown in my beloved State of Idaho.
My walk may be filled with perhaps more obstacles and challenges than some, but I have come to believe that my soul must be very important to God, because that ol’ Devil certainly does like to try to lead the dance….but he HASN’T finished the dance yet, and that, my friend, is truly the most successful thing that I have accomplished in my life. I expect the more I do this work and express what I believe is my Father’s work, the more challenges I will face, but as I enter closer into my 60th year on this Earth, my definition of success is, on some days, just giving thanks that I am still here, and as I always like to say, ‘I am not important to the masses, but the ones I am important to love me massively,’ as I do them.
What challenges will come before me in this life? I obviously do not know, but for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
If you know someone who may be experiencing depression, please – guide them to get help. There are a myriad of ways you can do this depending on your comfort level, from simply just listening without judgement to becoming a volunteer at your local suicide hotline to keeping that number in your cell phone and simply asking that troubled person if you can make that call for them. Life is challenging and difficult, but well worth the ride!