Family Issues: Why Did it take me over 30 years to notice this?

I thought I had a close, trusting, open, caring relationship with my parents. I tell everyone how I grew up in a small, close, great family. But lately I’ve been seeing something that I never saw before. (My husband said he saw it back when we were dating.) But I am starting to wonder if these family issues were there all along and I had selective viewing.


I am seeing that my parents have an unhealthy relationship. My dad makes the rules and decisions and my mom (being the “good wife that she is”) just follows. But she never voices her opinion, but just follows like a good little martyr. 


My parents just moved half way across the country because my sister made my father feel like he owed it to her to live there. Although my mom was depressed for over a year….and already has issues with depression that go unchecked…he made her pack up her favorite house and move just because my sister and her family decided to go there.


After selling many of their personal items, antiques and keepsakes, and putting the rest in storage out there, they moved. (Their new place was so small that they had to rent the storage garage for quite a bit of money every month.)


When they got it all cleaned out eventually, they were relieved. Messes and unfinished business makes my mom worry and unable to rest.


Then the boxes filled their new place. Stress unfolded again as they unpacked again. Relieved they had the boxes out of storage (although they had to again sell most of the items), they had to unpack again.


Now, after buying some shelving units, a new table and chairs, new couch and so forth, they have to pack it all up and do it again….all because my sister decided to build a bigger, better house.


She wants them to move in with them and live in their basement. They will pay rent, but it will be “cheaper” than what they pay now….(Hmmm…I hate to be a pessimist but I am not seeing a pattern of goodwill here on my sister’s part. She seems to be using them over and over. But my parents…or my father… doesn’t see it and lets the cycle continue.)


She has two little children who are often in need of childcare. And although my parents were only babysitting twice a week, they are now babysitting five days a week. (Imagine when they move in.)


That will save my sister money! And it will give her money from the rent they will pay! My mom said that this is supposed to give her and my father more “freedom.” What? How? She is not seeing things clearly.


Now they won’t give us a date on when they will come and visit us for Christmas. I also have two children who want to know when their family members are visiting us. My sister hasn’t been to visit us in several years, although we have flown and driven to see her family countless times. 


My mom said my sister has been selected for a raise of some sort in her job, and will need to do more training. This seems to always be the case. I really don’t care what the reason for this dysfunctional cycle is. I want it to stop.


I want my parents to enjoy life…to travel and not be afraid of the world (or each other…or themselves). I also want my sister to stop being so selfish and pretending to be altruistic. I mean, we’re all adults. Ugh.


Sorry for this outburst. I am in need of advice, so I hope someone out there can hear this and will respond as to what the best, most Christian way to handle this is. I want to turn the other cheek, but I also need to stop the abusive cycle and not allow harmful behaviors into our family.


Rest well. God bless.


I Fired My Psychiatrist!

Blogging is a fun activity, but sometimes I wonder if I’m just writing for myself, or if there is life on the other side of the screen. Not that I care, but I am a curious gal who likes to know her audience. I am writing for therapeutic reasons, and blogging gives me a chance to possibly reach others or hear from others when I am voicing my opinions.


The question often comes, however, “Do I let my friends and family know of this site?”


My answer is to opt out of promoting it. I am not ashamed of it, but I also feel more honesty coming from my fingers on the keyboard when I don’t have to worry what the immediate society encircling me will think. It’s more fun to type away, spewing random thoughts into cyberspace.


And, it has been so fun to hear back from others. So, thank you to those who listen and respond.


I want to let you know that I am on a different med right now (kind of tired of talking about it)….but the other one (Cymbalta) and its sister drug (Effexor) were causing my tongue to swell and my body to puff up. I am now back on Escitalopram (can’t remember the real name). Anyway, it seems to be working great, except I feel more panic attacks and also more tired. Seems like an odd combination, but whatever.


It’s just a pain to have to go through all the switching of meds. I also fired my Psychiatrist! Hurrah for me! She was being stubborn and not listening to me, telling me that those side effects were in my head. Well, anyway, I’m not as puffy anymore after going off of it. Although I still have some puffiness to lose….but she said she wouldn’t switch my med and I had to take Cymbalta, even though my tongue felt huge and puffy. I said, “Then I want another psychiatrist!”


The nurse patched me in to the receptionist and I was scheduled with anther doctor. He is AWESOME! Wonderful, caring man who actually listens to me. Wow! What a change! He has compassion and told me he’d work with me on the phone if I need to since my health insurance is in limbo right now. I didn’t know there could be such a difference in caregivers!


My other psychiatrist told me rude things all the time and was totally void of any emotion. I think she needs some help herself. But, whatever.


It’s cold. It’s rainy. And I thank God I have a roof over my head.


Can Angels Have Multiple Personality Disorders?

So, my homeless friend…Let’s call her Mary…has become a part of my life in a strange way. I don’t bring her around my family because she has outbursts, is unstable emotionally, has been severely abused in many types of ways, gets in trouble with the law, is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict and has many mental illnesses (no offense to anyone). But, my goal is to protect my children from any exposure to these types of things. But I don’t have a problem being her friend and talking with her and helping her out. In fact, she has blessed me many times with her spiritual advice.


People without mental disabilities struggle (and sometimes don’t care) to understand people who have them. So, when you have questions that need serious answers from someone who really knows what you are going through, it can be tough.


That’s where Mary comes in. She called me the other day at 5:30 in the morning. (Luckily I was up.) She had had a rough night, got kicked out of a hotel and was cursing up a storm. She had had an encounter with the police because she complained about the cold water in the shower and made a stink about it to the front desk. (I can tell you by seeing her in action that she can be very threatning and loud.)


When she asked for prayer, I said I would definitely help her out with that. She thanked me for picking up the phone. She calmed herself down and proceeded to ask how I was doing. I told her that we just found out my son may have Tourette’s Syndrome.


She said, “What happened to cause this? Someone doesn’t just develop this overnight!”


When I explained that the signs were there for a few years, but we thought they were just annoying, bad habits that recently turned into loud squeaks and uncontrollable tick fests for my son, she was still not convinced. “Has he been bullied? Did something happen at school?” she asked.


“No,” I told her. I knew nothing was going on. My son and I have a very wonderful relationship. He tells me everything when it comes to these types of concerns. I know who says what to whom, etc.


I explained that he had his first basketball game…ever in his life….that night! So, he was up all night, not able to sleep well. When he gets nervous, he sqeaks more.  His tics get a lot worse. It’s constant. And then that takes more energy too.


She asked me if he could skip it or miss school for a day. “No!” I said. “I want him to face his fears. I know that if he runs from his fear, he will be controlled by it. He needs to just do it.”


Since my son couldn’ t concentrate on homework that previous night, we made him go to bed. He was so nervous that nothing was going in or out of his head except that game. I told him I would get up at 5:30 a.m. to get ready before work, then help him at 6:00 to 6:30 a.m. before I had to leave. So, that had been our plan until Mary called.


She asked if he could go in late. “Hmmmm…” I thought.


After praying together on the phone, I realized God had sent her into my life to make that phone call to help my son. This lady, who has no place to stay and has the world against her, just helped me make a stellar, life-changing decision that ended up benefitting my son.


I let him sleep more. I got home from work at 8:30 a.m. and helped him finish up his homework. Then I drove him to school late. He was in a great mood and was ready to take on the world. He played his first basketball game, was in the whole time, and loved it.


After that one game, he couldn’t wait for game number two, which was last night. They have won both games, and my son feels empowered and so encouraged. Thank God for wisdom. Thank God I listened to wisdom….even when it came in a strange form.



At What Age Does Bipolar Show Up?

I can seriously remember sitting on the end of my “Holly Hobby” bedspreaded bed, thinking about how sad I was.


I was only about 7 years old. Can this be? I had a good upbringing. My parents never beat me, screamed obscenities at me, called me names, neglected me or did anything else to cause my childhood to be unpleasant.


They loved me and treated me with respect. They loved God and treated Him with respect. But, I still remember having a weight on my shoulders. I felt a heaviness that didn’t always lift. During the summer, it was better. I went to a private school that had high standards, and I felt the need to perform…especially being the oldest child. I was to set the standard, and I was just born with the Type A personality (like most first borns).


But, when I was talking to my homeless friend the other day, I was telling her about this. I was sharing how my mental illness is purely chemical because I grew up in a great, loving home. Of course, I did mention seeing a family member hit the bottom of depression’s well quite often. This person would lock themselves in the bathroom, leaving my sister and I to wonder if they’d ever come out alive. (My sister, being 3 years younger, probably was too little to have such thoughts. But I knew what types of deadly tools that were hidden in the bathroom. Anything could be used to end one’s life, if one was so desperate.)


Was this caregiver “so desperate”? I don’t know. In fact, I don’t know if anyone else even knew about these episodes. And to this day, I am the “strong one” in the family. I am the “rock,” the one that helps hold things together. But when you are in that position, you have no choice.


My homeless friend said that maybe that day my brain chemistry was changed. Maybe it wasn’t just a genetic thing. Or fate. I didn’t have an answer. I had NEVER thought of it. I had never even thought of this episode (or series of episodes) until now. And why not? I guess I figured it was normal…or something not to be talked about. I don’t even know if my sister remembers.


I should ask her.


Gave a Homeless Woman a Ride to McD

What does this have to do with mental illness and other such topics? Well, like many homeless people, she is suffering from some different diagnoses that all have to do with mental health issues: depression, detachment disorder, PTSD, multiple personality disorder, etc. She has been sexually abused by her father and possibly her mother (she’s not sure).


I don’t normally drive around, picking up homeless people. But one day my son and I were at the post office and saw a lady sitting outside. We went in and mailed our package, came out and got into the car. Then, as we pulled away, we saw her and I felt a compassion and a nudge from God to offer her a ride. I asked her, “Do you need a ride somewhere?” She said, “Well, actually, yes. That would be great. My knee is hurting a lot and I was just going to call a friend to ask her to pray for it.”


It turns out she is also a Christian and believes the Bible and that God can and does heal. My son was also with me, and he just sat there watching and listening. We dropped her off at McDonald’s where she was to meet a friend and her sponsor. (She is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic.) It was interesting how she came into my life, and we have had some interesting conversations on the phone….very encouraging. She is such a fighter and is not giving up on getting well. She volunteers, applies for jobs (knowing no one will hire her because of her past), goes to church, goes to her psych and counseling appointments, etc.

I look around at my problems sometimes and feel overwhelmed, but she gives me hope. I can’t imagine how hard her life must be. How does one live without a job? How does one eat without the kindness of others? Her parents offer her free room and board, but she must tolerate continual sexual and mental abuse, and she knows it. So, she promised herself she wouldn’t move back in with them.


She has been with other men and found out the hard way that that road doesn’t bring her happiness either. So, she is still relying on the grace of God and others. Unfortunately, she has seen that Christians judge her and they don’t understand her. She feels like they give up on her and don’t want to help. Of course, I’m not foolish enough to think she’s innocent. She is loud, somewhat obnoxious and critical of others and not afraid to say it, and that makes people feel threatened. She is also unstable.


Anyway, I’m sure there is a lot more to the story. She has been kicked out of shelters, safe houses, etc. And she says it’s always foul play. (Maybe once or twice that could happen, but not all the time.) I see clearly how she tries to use manipulation (although I am not sure if she is just being honest or manipulative). Either way, it doesn’t matter to me because when I do something nice for someone, I am doing it for the Lord.


This gal called me last night at 10:30 and asked if I could meet her for coffee at MD’s. I was leery, but agreed. I stayed out with her until 12:30 a.m. talking. It felt good to just talk as I like to help people and I really haven’t met a friend for coffee for a long time. (I am finding more of my “friends” are alcoholics who don’t want to admit it, etc., which is worse than those who face their demons.)


She didn’t have a place to stay and MD’s closed at 1 a.m., and I didn’t feel comfortable offering her a bed in my house with my family there. (Plus, I don’t know her that well. She could flip out on me.) I took her to a motel and paid for it with cash. I registered the room in my name since she lost her ID…even though she had it yesterday. Maybe one of her personalities took over and misplaced it…I’m not sure.


So, this is my latest adventure in life and my latest dealing with the mystery of mental illness. God uses everyone. He used her to bless me on days I needed a phone call. She is a perky, positive lady who tries to remain that way in spite of all the chaos around her. She is homeless, remember. Wow! How crazy is that? I really don’t know how she does it.


What hope does our society offer her? I am not sure.

More later… God bless. Pay it forward.


Got Some New Meds– Oh, Yeah!

So, I’m loving the new meds I am on now. I am no longer on Effexor, but on Cymbalta, and it is great! It feels like when I was on Prozac 12 years ago. It allows me to have more energy and be more creative, yet be on an even keel. I am LOVIN’ it!


Now I am taking it one day at a time. I am trying to be balanced–keep everything in balance. I am eating better…more protein and fruit and trying to eat less sugar. I found that my hands had been numb in the morning and my chiropractor said it could be medicines I was on (probably the Effexor) and artificial sugars and salt substitutes. So, I cut that out, and was adjusted by my awesome chiropractor and it went 100% away! Awesome!


It feels good to get some control. After having pictures and mirrors and art sitting around for a while, I finally hung them up. It was a great feeling. I know it sounds like a small thing, but it was a symbol to me of what was to come. It was still an “accomplishment.”


For today, I will take it. I will hold on to hope. I will keep the good fight and stay encouraged. God bless!


Why Do We Turn to Food?

Why is it that when I get stressed out, I turn to food? I want to eat large amounts of chocolate ice cream, hot fudge sundaes, and cookies, and maybe wash it down with a Coke. When I was younger, starting at at 15, I started this obsession with food, and it led to unhealthy eating habits.


I would give in to these urges to indulge, then I would purge in some way. Later that week, I would starve myself by eating 500 calories a day until I lost weight. Then, I would be so hungry and felt so deprived that I would binge again….purge…binge…purge…starve…etc. Not a good cycle. It lasted about 10 years before I got help. I finally recognized this unhealthy cycle and admitted it.


In fact, I found a friend who had the same problem and I confided in her. It’s easy to see the signs when it’s something  you struggle with. So, we made a pact to tell each other when we were feeling like binging. It worked for a little while, but we were so competitive that we still were trying to see who could weigh less. Then, her fiance told her one day that she was getting fat, and that she needed to lose weight. (She wore a size 2 for crying out loud!) What? Crazy!


Well, that ended our honesty. She lied to herself and to me about the disorder, so I decided not to be around her as much. It wasn’t a healthy influence. But, it wasn’t until I went to a church meeting that I was prayed for by a visiting pastor, and that changed my life. I finally had the power to turn things around. I felt like I was given wisdom in dealing with the urges I had.


Instead of giving into them, I had to go the opposite route. I had to ignore those urges to binge. I had to ignore the urges to purge. Even if I gained some weight, I needed to learn to love myself the way I was. It has been a life-long battle, one that you never truly get over. But I have overcome the disorder by nutrition standards. (It’s still a desire in my mind to binge and purge, but I don’t do it.)


So, when I deal with depression, it’s like the serotonin gets all messed up and my body craves that adrenaline. I want that “high” of binging, but then the “shame” comes and I need to fix it.


I am 30 pounds heavier than I was back then. I enjoy my curves, but I also need to lose some weight to make sure I don’t get diabetes or heart disease. I am 5’6 and am 157 pounds. I feel like I need to lose 25 pounds to be healthy, but I don’t know for sure if that’s possible at the age of 40. And I don’t know if I’m being extreme again. It’s hard to tell.


I was doing fine, and was healthy until my husband almost died twice. Since then, I think I stuffed the fear and feelings down deep inside. And now I think it’s showing its ugly face in my desire to binge.


Helpful advice, anyone?