“Bag Lady”

It’s the wee hours of the morning and once again…..I am awake. I mean wide awake. Come to think about it, I have been for a while, but have recently decided to sneak out of bed ensuring to not awake my husband. I’m starting to get good at it….So I think. I creep downstairs into my chaise or recliner, plug up my laptop, make a cup of tea, but first, I usually go check on Erilyn who is usually sprawled about her crib at the opposite end of the bed where we tucked her in. Now don’t judge me, but I still have a habit of checking to see if she’s breathing. I have been doing this since they removed her from the monitors in the NICU two years ago. One of the main reasons outside of my irrational fear; is that though she’s sprawled all OVER the bed she looks so innocent….so at peace. At part of this makes me smile deep within; the other side makes me envious. I am usually having a fitful night, and I am talking pre-pregnancy.

It’s in those wee hours in the world, where I am alone in my shell that I have been thinking about working on my second novel. A novel that will explore being a wife, mommy, and career woman with a mental health diagnosis. So far, I haven’t gotten that far. It seems lately, I have been very few with my words which is SO not me LOL. I am usually plagued with random thoughts….then I get side tracked because I feel……I dunno.

One thing about being medicated is that the medications are usually very potent. I used to be on meds that would knock me out before my head on the pillow, and yet there was no resting. As I sit and ponder, I believe the reasoning is because my mind still has pockets of emptiness. Since becoming a mother, I have been revisiting my childhood often. I have no idea why, but for the most part the visions I am able to conjure up aren’t blissful, and the other times there are pockets of blankness. It is not uncommon for one to purposefully yet ignorantly block out huge chunks of life in order to function.

I have never used my blog platform to “air out” the drama and trauma of my childhood simply because it’s not the appropriate place (by the way….when is?) And right now, I am anti-psychologist. I haven’t found the right one. For one, choosing someone to pour out your soul is hard. I compare it to the equivalent of dating in Atlanta…..you gotta be uber lucky. Especially things you aren’t quite sure if you are able and/or ready to divulge. I must admit that I have this nagging feeling deep in the pit of my stomach that makes me feel off balance. I don’t feel leveled….and everyone who knows me knows that this is very uncomfortable phase for me.

I believe that the reason why I am so fixated on digging up these feelings and exploring why I feel the way I feel is because I don’t want to carry that onto my daughters. Also, because I have always been a reflective person. I’m a believer that children soak up everything from their parents. Not just behaviors, but those spiritual vibes. My parenting style is that of “I wanna do things different….I want to break the generational curse.” Of course due to my bout with post-partum I kinda got a late start on the nurturing piece and I STILL beat myself up for it. Weird thing is now that I am uber focused on mommyhood….my toddler is so independent (wonder where she got that from *sarcastic voice*), vocal, stubborn, and has a mind of her own. Simply put, I went without appropriate nurturing as a child, and I am deathly afraid that she is seeking it from others….just like I did. Now for one, I know this to not be true because we have our times, we have our secret language, and most importantly I tell I her I love her and believe in her every second I can. See, this is what I am talking about…..projecting my past onto my child unbeknownst to her and sometimes myself.

 

So, where in the world am I going with this blog? I don’t rightfully know; however, I felt the need to unload. I can remember when I first started blogging and I was just figuring out bipolar and what it looks like to me. I can vividly remember feeling just like this, but instead I was ANGRY. I was angry for the right reasons, but I can see things differently now. In fact, when I think about it I am rarely angry. I get frustrated, but am able to talk it out with someone close. But mainly, due to being baseline, I am very thoughtful and aware of my actions and the consequences that will follow. I also tend to pray more and ask God to please…..heal my heart. But how can you move on and heal fully when the person involved does not acknowledge that the hurt actually occurred? How can you get peace of mind from things said and done to you without the closure needed to fully walk away with a healed heart? For the record, I have figured this out when it came to moving on from past relationships. I knew that most of them wouldn’t admit to wrong doing and apologize. But I also must admit that most have apologized at some point….maybe that’s why I have been able to fully walk away into my destiny.

Maybe I will put it into words….to that person. Writing is like the window to my soul. Nothing in my soul derives from malice, but there has been a dark place that I have ignored most of my life. Not dark as in evil, but dark as in a bruised and/or dark area because there is no adequate blood flow. There is no light to allow the bamboo planted in my soul to grow. Ultimately my lovely readers, these are the things that I am trying to gather up and put into my lil bag. You know that bag that you pick up just to run to the store to get that ONE ingredient to complete your meal? The bag that matches nothing, has no real contents, but is heavy as hell for no real reason….Well I have decided with my husband to no longer pick up that bag just because its comfortable. He has charged me to fill the bag with other useless items that I have yet to purge due to me being…oblivious or because I have been caught up with everything else. So far, I have been accumulating a lot of random baggage and hurt into that raggedy bag. My goal is to destroy that bag when the time is right so I don’t get the urge to pick up the familiar. I am hoping to complete this short term goal before my baby love Eriane gets here. After all, I won’t have time to hold her, hold Erilyn’s hand to guide her, and the energy to continue to merge my heart with the love of my life.

So, this blog is a declaration to say Good bye to the beautiful bag lady….and hello to the regal Redemption Queen.

 

“Over the Rainbow”

Today I woke up focused and with a plan. Thanks to my fetus Eriane Gabrielle Elizabeth; I am unable to fully enjoy sleeping in. And everyone knows, I LOVE SLEEP. I NEED SLEEP. I mean little mama has me up at the butt crack of dawn. I have been trying to utilize this time to get my thoughts together, pray and possibly write. I am trying to decide if right now is the right time to do my infamous digging into whatever is bothering me. I did some errands outside the house. Came home a tad exhausted and decided to go ahead and make dinner before I lost my drive. Then I felt that familiar feeling….that uneasy feeling that I get when I begin to exhibit anxiety. Before I knew it as I lay on my couch my old foe depression popped. I immediately became frustrated because I feel like this is not a good time to be weepy and feeling….blah and low. I mean for one, I am currently carrying my love child, my daughter Erilyn is amazing, and my husband is heaven sent. I have some stuff that I digged up that are a little unsettling in my heart, but for the most part I am excited. So, why oh why must Bipolar rear her ugly head during this time of harvest? Mind you I am medicated, and have been instructed to decrease my anti-anxiety medication once my third trimester begins due to fear that the baby will be born addicted. It’s a tough situation….Do you tough out the gut wrenching anxiety for the sake of the potential withdrawals in your newborn, or do you concede to the overwhelming feelings of drowning without water? I have currently chosen to use my anti-anxiety medication PRN. This decision is rough to make; however, it’s harder to hear my two year old ask me “Mummy are u “otay?” “mummy are u crying?” or the doozie “Mummy get some rest.”

I for one have not been prepared for communicating with my little princesses that Mummy is a little different. I honestly don’t have the words to say because nothing comes to mind. So, I resort to hurriedly drying my tears and convincing my baby lamb that mummy is okay, and pick her up to kiss her little cheeks as she clings to my legs. It’s a feeling that I have yet to process. What is heaven sent is my husband. He asks…. “What can I do to help you?” “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me.” I pondered and then I simply asked for a hug and to hold his hand. He then ran me a hot bath where I was able to retreat to my little space in the world to recoup…to meditate…and listen to mellow vibes while sipping tea surrounded by candles. Slowly but surely, the anxiety seeped out of my pores and I gave in and took my PRN medication. I will just pray diligently that Eriane comes out healthy just like her daddy. I don’t think I could take another NICU fiasco. Then again, God has a way of prepping us for things unknown and unseen.

One of my favorite movies is The Wizard of Oz. Please don’t ask why, but for as long as I can remember My dad and I would watch it. It always amazed me that Dorothy got into everything….and it seemed she was miles and miles away from home when in reality she was right where the heart is….at home. Despite the storms of my past and the remnants of my trauma there is still a rainbow. All of the things I prayed for have not only come into fruition, but they all had a lesson attached. As a result, my faith is incomparable. When I feel weak I lean onto not MY understanding, but to the higher being. I believe that though I get frustrated that I STILL have bipolar that affects my daily living. I can rest assured that I have not given up. I still push forward….I still believe that God will never leave me. And guess what, he won’t leave you. Sometimes the easiest remedies are right in front of us….we just   have to acknowledge we need help and allow the ones who love us try to understand us….and let the rainbow shines after the misty rain…..in the land of Love.

*sips sleepy time tea and cuddles with Captain American & baby Eriane*

Are You Comfortable being…uncomfortable?

Life can be only what you make it….. So why is it that everyone is so comfortable being well comfortable. There are several different types of people I see pillaging around this earth in my rearview mirror. Those with potential and those without it. Despite the differentiation both types of people can and will be a success if and only if they are okay with being uncomfortable with freeing their mind. Being uncomfortable is a state of mind. It is a temporary state that in my opinion is cyclic. I know for me I am an optimistic person when it comes to seeing the good in everyone despite their faults (maybe that’s what I am excellent social worker). I was told by Captain America that one of the things he loves about me is that Im never complacent. That I push myself to be uncomfortable being comfortable. I think that this is an accurate assessment. I am always looking to do something better. Always focusing on achieving that next thing.
There was a time where I could not dream anymore. Not only could I not dream at night while I slept, ut I was unable to see my future. I was so cynical that I was not okay with being comfortable or uncomfortable. I just felt like being blah. Now I can’t remember how long I stayed in that stage, but I do know that I eventually felt stagnant. I felt like I had to do something…..anything. I was used to having this drive that could be a double edged sword. I used to work hard and not smart. Exhausting myself into depression; all the while, working myself into a stress state thinking that I was simply putting my “Dues in.” I am sure during those times I was hypomanic and just glad to not be depressed. Now that I am appropriately medicated I can feel the wheels turning in my head. These thoughts are mostly jumbled, but praise the Lord for the lack of fogginess! The hard put comes with having the energy to force myself to be uncomfortable. Now when I use this term, it simply means that one is never complacent with their circumstances. They take risks and put themselves out there to be under a microscope. The choice is yours no matter what it is. The ability to manage stress and identify triggers is an act of maturity and wisdom. This struggle is cyclic because you cannot always prepare for the unseen stressors. The trick to being uncomfortable is knowing that its only temporary and that good things do not come easy. I will use myself as an excuse. Before I got pregnant with Erilyn I had all the ideas of public speaking, book signings, one day being interviews. But because I listened to the enemy, I thought this was not attainable. What that really meant is that I needed to go through some more experiences that my future audience can identify with. Once I was bitten by the motivational speaking bug I became recharged. I knew without a doubt that my story would transcend to others. I still don’t know where to go from here, but I trust this process.
In closing, I still don’t stress I am more than often an insomniac. In fact, I composed this blog at 4 in the AM. Though due to my new many hats to wear I wouldn’t use the words obsessed with getting it all done. I know my limits and I’d rather move by the spirit of the Lord. I’d much rather avoid the crash and burn and instead take things one day at a time. This doesn’t mean I am less passionate, it just means that my priorities are in order. Overall, I release all the weight weighing me down. I rid myself of the negative and can’t do it mentality because I can do ANYTHING uncomfortable or not.
*yawns, winks, and waves*

“The Heart of a Woman”

Now that I am the big 3-0 I feel like a super hero at times, and there are times where I feel so vulnerable. I feel everything; from the moods of my family to include my husband, my toddler, and random people that I come into contact with me. I am starting that this is one of those Woman super powers. I also must admit that I am exhausted. I so desperately need round two to our 7 day honeymoon, but that’s why Im with child at the moment. I will settle for a blog post for now.
One of the things that I have noticed as I am now I am in a reflective mood more than ever is that women feel the pressure to be EVERYTHING to everyone ALL the time. From my friends who I talk with on the daily to my random lurk sessions on social media that make me go….hmmmm. I see women taking precious time out of their days and away from their many duties seeking validation or some sort of attention for doing ALL the things they do. Most times, they are seeking this feeling from the men in their lives. Well, my loves I am here to say that this is on one hand a compliment, but mostly it’s a disservice to us. To have that weight on our shoulders and our hearts is too much to bear…..thus the heart of the woman. By the way, I believe these issues occur regardless of race, creed, or color. Let’s a take a journey for a second, do you mind?
My entire life I knew that I wanted to be woman of all trades. I come from a long lineage of women who just “make it happen.” I knew from a very young age that I wanted to most importantly take care of myself. I saw that the old views of depending on a man were not always in the deck of cards that we are dealt. After the several traumas I witnessed as a child, to the after effects of my parents’ divorce; I decided in my 7 year old mind that I would do anything and everything to not have to depend on anyone else. In retrospect, this wasn’t a solid plan; however, it prepped me to work my butt off. I knew that in order to change my alleged predestined life I had to think outside the box, and create my own. Tricky thing is I did not have an appropriate model to follow after. Even now as I reflect back on that time in my life I had to grow up mentally and emotionally sooner than others.
I was thrust into a space where some people in my life were deceptive and were not dependable. Fast forward through high school, my learned behaviors were able to catapult me into a space I never thought I was able to achieve. During my formative years, I was obsessed with the idea of being in love, but never really saw myself as someone’s forever….someone’s wife and ultimately mother. I stayed far away from those serious situations that led to that till well after college where I then became obsessed with “why am I still alone.” This thought process made no sense because; for one, I never allowed myself to be fully immersed in love. I had 2 real relationships that I was sure going to lead me into forever, and when they died out, I was left questioning myself. Don’t get me wrong being alone taught me tons about myself and who I wanted to become as a woman. But after becoming “independent” I longed for the opportunity to be one with someone. It was hard to put myself out there, and I was definitely attracted to the direct opposite of me. I wanted to unattainable and unhealthy, because I truly believe that I didn’t feel that forever component and as a result, I only entered situationships where the outcome was short-lived. I mean I was cut throat and diligent. I was only in love with the idea of being in love. Then I changed my mindset, and then one day I met the one.
After I found myself and lost myself all over again. I had become a mother….and I had gotten stronger than I could have ever imagined. Now that I pray and exude faith without effort has made life a tad easier.
And now, I have the husband, the children, the home, and the successful career and still there is no template. And still there is no reprieve through the transition. The journey of fully becoming one with another human being is a journey into the unknown. One with many “manuals,” but no template on how to do it right…. What takes precedence? How to balance motherhood with a career? How to ensure that your duties at home and that you still have a slice of life all your own?
The struggle of a woman.
I was reminded very recently that I was in dire need of validation. I NEEDED to know that I was “doing it right.” I can remember being a little child being so hard on myself to be perfect despite knowing that the idea is mythical. Well now that I am a super adult, I still feel the urge to be perfect. Raise perfect children, maintain a happy and healthy marriage, excel at being comfortable being uncomfortable…..ahhhh the list goes on. Well, thanks to my husband, “Captain America” told me simply….ask and if you have to DEMAND the validation that you need. He also challenged me to figure out why did I need it so bad….in this phase of my life.
So, I dug deeper….I dug up the superficial reasons….pondered over my past issues and came up with nada. I mean for the most part things have been addressed …publically I must add. So, What was it? Then I remembered…..my identity. The identity for the most part had a huge chunk missing. Yes, I have a loving family, and I have even been uber blessed to have a father figure in my life. All this did not negate the fact that I, did not know where I came from. Sure there was speculation, drama, and unanswered questions, but no ANSWERS. Answers I so desperately needed and wanted. So, the validation piece. I expected more validation from the men in my life to make up for the lack thereof from my biological link to life. I took my husband’s advice and asked for the validation. Which came very easily I must note. My next step is still in process, but I had to become comfortable and okay with the idea that I MAY NEVER know. And that killed a little piece of me….but I am human.
I once heard that a woman’ s heart Is a deep ocean of secret, trauma, heartache, rejection and disappointment among other things. But that’s what makes us special creatures, we are able to carry the weight and rarely buckle. So, what am I ultimately getting too….take some of that unnecessary pressure! If you are looking for love….and it seems to be in all the wrong places then interject that energy to look for the unconditional love with you. If you are a single mother doing it all by yourself and dealing with the stigma that comes along with please know that you will not be single forever. And please note, that when that real man comes…LET HIM LOVE YOU AND your CHILDREN. If you are at your wits end about just where you need to be in life…start digging! Pick up that shovel, dig into that gravel of pain and see what’s the hold up. And finally if you’re like me, which is a type C personality who wants and craves to be perfect then STOP….it doesn’t exist. Dwell on the fact that you’re trying the best that you can with what you have. It’s okay to wear the superwoman cape if you’d like, but every superhero needs a break to recharge and regroup.
As for me, I may have to dig a little bit more. Self-discovery and healing does not come into fruition easily. I still gotta figure some folks. Still gotta unload this baggage so I can relinquish my title as bag lady. Despite all this, remember the heart of a woman is that made of precious medals. Though your heart may be a little scuffed, there is still a polishing process that I am looking forward to.

*sips bedtime tea and listens to belly buds with Eriane*

“Not a day goes by”

 

I have been wanting to write for some time now…and I have not been able to and it’s ANNOYING! It was irritating to know that I was able to document all the struggles, but unable to write about my new challenges and blessings. I know people are thinking…..challenges….what challenges? I would laugh in the faces of those that believe that just because I have been blessed with SO Much in such a small time frame that I am “exempt” from challenges. Granted, I have a new way of thinking…I have more responsibilities that requires for me to think and act differently…and most importantly, I have grown, but that does not mean that I am anywhere near perfect.

 

For those who have followed my journey…know that I was on a plight of finding happiness and to find myself. Throughout my many ponder sessions, vent sessions, bipolar ups and downs over the years there has been a yearning within me. Something in me that craves growth. In the year of 2015, things simply came together. Because I was able to truly fall in love with myself, I accepted my failures and was able to strive to be greater in my past that I was molded into the women who became all that I prayed for.

I first became a mother…that’s right a mommy! After all that time of beating myself up for being a single mother(yes I did this), I actually was only a single mommy for the first 6 months of my Panda bears life. For that all I can think is “Aint God Good?”

The early stages of being a mommy were filled with anxiety riddled nights, and also loneliness that seemed to swallow me up at times. I was angry because I was in it “alone” or so I thought. What happened is that this Lioness that I always knew I had in me decided to show herself. During that time of deep depression coupled with post-partum depression, I started to feel this strength radiate within me. I was broke….I mean broke! My job at the time did not want to warrant any PTO even though I was on maternity leave. My short term disability was taking forever to get approved. So, I consulted God, and he whispered to me go to DC. So, I called my aunt and told her to “come get me” because I was drowning without water. I was battling all these issues and on top of that this small little chinky eyed baby was depending solely on me. I couldn’t take the thought. Alas, she drove to get me…..and I was there at her home for maybe 2 days before her scheduled vacation. I was “alone” again….or so I thought. I then began to just hop into mommy mode with incisions and all. Though this mode was robotic; Erilyn was cared for. I was unable to hug my baby, smell her hair and little feet, and this drove me insane. I was unable to eat, intake fluids, and/or sleep. I did not have any of my bipolar medications….all I had was the word of God. During this transition phase, I had every thought to NOT return to GA. I simply didn’t think I could do this all alone. It wasn’t until my baby needed diapers. My family was out of the country and I only had 6 dollars. But somehow that doubled by an unexpected source. In that moment, I thought, “God didn’t whisper to me for no reason.” I picked up that phone and didn’t take no for an answer, and got my disability started. When that burden lifted off me, I decided that I could in fact do this. I prepared for myself to go back to GA. I knew if I followed his words that things would change. So, I changed my mindset, and it was the best decision I ever made. See, if I stayed in DC, I would have been great. I have family there who would do anything for me, but that’s NOT me. I had my daughter so that I could care for her. I wanted to be responsible for my choice and for my blessing.

I always knew that when God decided it was my harvest time that there would be no denying it. I mean things happened FAST. Once I returned back to my itty bitty apartment with my newborn in tow; things looked bleak. My entire apartment was flooded and my lease was up. Mind you, my job would not pay me. I started back work and was informed that the timekeeper had mutilated my time, and that they believed that I owed THEM. So, it was decided I’d only get a $600 check on the first and 15th till I “paid them back for time they weren’t sure I was supposed to have.” I was a social work intake supervisor so this was considered pennies by the way the $600 was taxed of course Ha!. Not only was I expected to work for pennies literally, but I was still expected to work 12-15 shifts afterhours with no overtime pay. I immediately began countering the decision, and began looking for work. I had no luck with my measly Bachelors of Social Work. I figured well I might as well go to grad school because I cannot raise a child with only a social work salary with zero assistance from the man who helped me create her. So despite all the craziness, I enrolled into a Master of HR program and took on the responsibility to care for my disabled father. The peace began in that moment. We did not have food so I trucked to the nearest food bank, got a utility or two paid for, and I waited. I volunteered at Hospice a place I felt peace and empathy. I attended church for learning purposes. I worked out and took myself out to lunch. I read and I prayed from the balcony of new apartment.

I didn’t have to wait long. I got a call from an organization about a job that I did not apply for. There was a substantial increase and flexibility to care for my father and newborn. I readily accepted and told the state of GA a thing or two. School began and I put my all into it. I still felt empty….I felt numb and I felt the spirit while sitting in a hot tub with a glass of wine and journal. I felt this feeling wash over me and I got my answer….I needed to wash away the pain. It was imperative that I wash the old Erika away. I needed to wash away the Erika that carried deep rooted hurt from my childhood, regret, fear, depression, and feeling of abandonment and heartbreak. I signed up for the next opportunity to get baptized. I had been baptized SEVERAL times as a child and teen, but this was now my choice for MY reasons. And when I tell you, I emerged from the water a new woman. I felt renewed…..born again. My shoulders had never felt so light.

Within weeks of my baptism, I met my husband as friends and we became one within a year. It’s like I was able and willing to let someone love me for who I was. So, I didn’t hide a thing from him aka I had diarrhea of the mouth. I told Gabriel (I call him Captain America), all the good and bad about me, and he didn’t deter. He became even more determined. I never knew I was capable of having someone love me unconditionally. I have changed so much because of that unconditional love. I feel the strongest in my life. And we prayed….for everything we have now. Our beautiful home, new love baby, and our happy and healthy toddler. When I decided to shed the layers of the old, I gained a new family, a new outlook, and a new level of faith. It seems I rarely worry about things. I simply pray and move on. I also see myself praying it forward for others. I have some answers that have plagued me, and I still struggle with some, but that’s simply life.

Though I do not have the answers at this I am ready to document the journey so that I can once contribute to the world what it feels to not only be Bipolar, but that you can also have it “all” and still stay afloat.

At this moment, I am desperately trying to find that delicate balance between all the roles and hats I wear. To be honest, I believe that is unfortunately one of the reasons why I was unable to write. In my mind, I didn’t have the answers. How do you manage being wife, mommy, student, social worker, friend, daughter, confidant, etc.? Then I realized I never readily had the answers. In my past blogs I had theories, and that’s it. Usually the journey is what helped me to come up with my random Erie conclusions. And now I am with child again. This journey has been different, but a journey nonetheless. Not a day goes by that I do not reflect on where I came from, and ponder where I am going. I am constantly in reflection as I always am. Life is cyclic, and right now though this territory is uncharted from me, and at times feels like I am blindly walking; the journey is so rich in love, forgiveness and understanding. Processing forgiveness of those who caused trauma to me to still struggling to forgive myself. Loving everyone even when they do not righteously return the favor, and understanding that what God has for me is for me……After all, not a day goes by.

 

*sips tea, rubs belly, and listens to music with Eriane via belly buds*