This might be long…

Today I am going to share as much of my story as I can for some of my recent followers. My family growing up consisted of my mom, my dad, and my two older brothers. My dad was an alcoholic from as long as I can remember. My mom tried to hold things together for a while, but then she too joined the party scene. They were functioning party people though. They both worked and looked pretty much together on the outside. Both of my brothers were doing good things with their lives while I wasn’t.  I was always an impulsive  child and strong willed so when my parents finally ended up divorced things got bad with me. I became angry and rebellious, but at the same time I was very insecure and started struggling with very low self-esteem (a lot of that is typical teenage stuff). However, my grades started falling, I quit school, and I didn’t care anymore. Even though I had been around alcohol…I was turned on to it when I was in middle school. It came along just in time to help me deal with my insecurities. It gave me false confidence and made me feel invincible. Which led to other destructive behaviors. I became an alcoholic quickly and alcohol started to consume my life. I couldn’t or didn’t want to do anything without including it. While I was going through this both of my parents were driving me crazy. They were doing the exact things they told me not to do. I couldn’t understand that, but I was always made to feel like I was the problem with everything going on. But I was just dealing with life differently than them. However,  I guess that was the easiest way to not deal with their own shortcomings by criticizing me and mine or whatever. They always thought I just wanted attention and that was annoying too.  My life proceeded to get worse and worse. I added drugs in and a lot of other bad habits. I was very impulsive and was in trouble with the law quite a bit with alcohol related issues. I went to rehab several times, but it never helped because I was so engulfed with my addiction that change wasn’t a factor to me. I had suicidal tendencies and tried to commit suicide as a teenager. I overdosed on “speed” and it just made me throw up a lot. There was no structure or discipline in my life unless I was in jail, rehab, or a group home. Looking back, I believe my mental illness played a factor in some of my choices…not ALL, but definitely some along with an unstable home life.  When I was 19 I became pregnant with my first child and did not drink through the whole pregnancy and for a while after. That didn’t last long because I always had triggers that set me off. Some of those triggers were through others being controlling or belittling. My choice of escape was always alcohol because it relieved the stress and pain from the hurt caused. Anyway…..I was back in forth in my addiction with child now. During this time, I met my husband and we both wanted to get out of this lifestyle but didn’t know how. I had always had a belief in God and I knew about prayer so I prayed for God to help take away my addiction. Well, He did and He also helped me to realize I had to choose my environment wisely and not go to places or be with people that would influence me at that time. Instead of finding a support group, my husband and I just went to a church and starting meeting friends there. We met people that didn’t drink and that could hang out with us without it. We met a great couple and other people that were very supportive of us. We had 2 more children together plus my oldest daughter that he adopted at the time. Along with not drinking and two more pregnancies I started getting depressed. It may have been postpartum related not sure, but I was living life with a smile on my face. I had always had suicidal thoughts and was extremely hard on myself.  If I had a bad day or lost my patience I would cry feeling like a failure constantly . It was very hard and somehow even going through that and having those thoughts I managed to spend really good time with my kids. It was hard because I was very unmotivated at times because of the depression. We had a good and stable home for them for the most part. My husband worked and I was a homemaker. We did a lot together. We ate as a family, I read to my kids all the time, we played and went places as a family. I still struggled though and felt like I was never good enough. Even though they would see me cry sometimes I tried to hide any emotion from them that didn’t seem like a happy one. Me and my husband both had a drive and commitment that we wanted to be different than our parents and that we also wanted to stay married. Our parents weren’t terrible people we just both had bad experiences and we felt we never connected to them.  We wanted to have good relationships with our kids. We were also determined to stay married unlike our parents. Looking back, I remember we both got really religious, but me more than him.  Our lives became very rigid and it started affecting me mentally. I felt like religion was setting way too many standards for me and I was also setting extreme standards for myself because of it. This affected every aspect of my life. I started getting very high strung and then would be very depressed. I would go on fasts and eat very strict. Then, when I would come down I would eat junk and feel like I couldn’t function. This was when my Bipolar Disorder really came to surface. I remember one of my friends diagnosed me pretty much and I blew her off. I thought I could fast and pray and renew my mind with scripture like I was told by religious people and I would be okay. But I wasn’t okay…that was a facade and it got worse. This started around 2008 and continued without medication or treatment for 4 more years. We had moved out of state and came back to live with my dad for a while. My dad and I never had a good relationship so it was very stressful and hard living there. Especially in the beginning because he was still a practicing alcoholic and I wasn’t anymore. The stress of living there was almost my downfall to drink again, but my faith in God and my family was with me and I stayed strong. After living there for 2 years with no relationship with him and a lot of tension always in the air…I lost it. My moods were still up and down and at this point I wasn’t eating because I started a fast. I thought God wanted me to do it and that it would make me closer to Him (another sign of Bipolar Disorder).. So, I wasn’t eating and barely drinking. I was wasting away to the point people were talking about how skinny I was. While I wasn’t eating I had sleep deprivation. If you read my blog with the poem about my experience in the mental institution you will see where this is leading to. I was there for a week and was put on medication. I became stable enough to eat normal and finally sleep. It was a nightmare and very scary for me. I knew I was dying and I thought I wouldn’t make it, but I did. Things slowly started to get better. After being on my meds for a while I no longer had suicidal thoughts which was weird because I had them for so long they were just normal for me. It felt good without them… real good!! I would still have a tendency to be hard on myself, but it wasn’t as bad. But if I got too stressed it was hard for me. The temptation to drink a couple of times was almost unbearable, but I didn’t do it. I think  I became dependent on my meds alone and that worked for a while, but I wasn’t really taking care of myself. I wasn’t eating many healthy foods and I hardly got any exercise. I knew I needed to take action to help with that so I felt compelled to start running at the end of 2014.  I got hooked on running and it started really being a big part of my recovery along with my meds. It was my stress relief and I also went to the gym. I was doing great for a while! However, in 2015 my daughter became very ill. So, I chose to put my running on the backburner and that was a mistake. It had been working for me with my stress and I didn’t know I was about to be under some serious stress. She had been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in 2013 and had a flare from it. She was hospitalized many different times and I was trying so hard to take care of her that I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was up a lot through the night with her. I slept by her side all the time because she was so sick and I didn’t want her to fall if she got up to go to the bathroom. She was very frail and very sick. One of the medications I take is for sleep because without it I don’t sleep. It is very sedating and there were times I would have to force myself awake to help her. It was a very trying time. I experienced a lot of mental anguish, paranoia, and psychosis during that time, too. My husband and I really fought through this with her. It was a battle for all 3 of us, as well as. our other 2 children. For a long time she was under the care of Drs. and a hospital that wasn’t helping her get better. We felt like we were alone fighting this battle, but we finally found new Drs. and a different hospital. Now we have support from extended family that we didn’t have before. One aunt of mine has been a huge support!  We are thankful for that.  Tori and I both are in recovery together now. She is in remission and gets infusions every 8 weeks and I am still finding new ways to manage my mental illness. Her illness requires a lot of the same maintenance as mine. We both try to avoid very stressful environments and practice a lot of self-care. We go to the gym together at least 3 days a week. I still run and find other ways to physically stay healthy and we are doing great. We have 3 cats and a dog that provide us with lots of pet therapy. She does home bound school and is excelling. I believe we are both doing better than we ever have. We talk and laugh a lot and we have become very close through all of this. We both realize that everything we have been through has made us stronger. We also know that both of our illnesses are not curable and we have to stay on top of our recovery so we will have the best quality of life that is possible for us. We also know that God (not religion or religious practices) brought us through this and He has helped us with all the tools necessary: Drs., nurses, hospitals, medications, people that have been by our side on this journey, and many other things. We are thankful we are alive and actual LIVING. I blog because it’s an outlet for me to express my heart or my feelings and I hope while doing that I can help someone or myself to gain insight.  Maybe soon my daughter will want to share her story, too. But we both have learned we do what works for us individually which sometimes are things we can do together. There are a lot of people out there that struggle and live with Mental Illness as well as Ulcerative Colitis and I know our stories can inspire others. If people would educate themselves they could understand both of these illnesses and realize how debilitating they can be. Every person that suffers from any kind of medical condition is fighting their own battle. I hope more people can learn to have empathy for each other and be less skeptical/judgmental. And to always know that what works for you might not work for them. Everyone has their own path and recovery.

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