“Outside my Head…Inside my Heart”

I have recently been told from on of my  fave tribe members is that I am always in my head. Now I kinda knew this. Ok wait, (Lies, Unicorns, and Fallacies)! I know that I live in my head. I have created a whole furnished studio apartment in my head….Go ahead…take a seat on my Ikea couch…

When I am in my head, I can sit in a room and my mind is racing so fast that I cannot keep up. I ruminate over and over about every single detail that I face. I am a self-proclaimed pseudo empath. For some reason, I soak up the feelings and auras of others that aren’t spoken. On the other hand, I am very assertive and am constantly assessing everything around me. I think of the worst possible so that I can prepare myself….EVERYDAY! No wonder I am exhausted, and when I am in a mood this is just magnified. I become over sensitive to everything, I cower, and unfortunately find something…ANYTHING to beat myself over. Everything overwhelms me and I am totally unable to express myself without sobbing. Ugh it must be horrible to be subjected to this…(See…Here a bih go).

 

As I write this, I am realizing “Girl…. Get a grip…life is too short.” And though I know this… I sometimes hold onto ALL the guilt, and project it on to those closest to me; when in reality I should be Moving the eff on, accept that in that particular situation “I effed up” and rid myself of all my mistakes.

Basically, I do an amazing job at beating myself up, but I suck at cheering for myself during these times. At some point in my life, seeking validation became a characteristic of mines. I honestly don’t remember when this began; however, I remember a blog… or maybe it was a poem…anyways; it was written a long time ago, and I stated “sometimes I feel like a girl with two faces.” The thought process behind this was that sometimes on the outside I reek of self-confidence, I walk with my head up despite what’s going on inside of me. I glow…I have this regal aura about myself. People tell me I light up a room. I can legit beast a presentation with little to not effort simply because I know my skillset…and I am amazing at procrastination. But on the inside, I am constantly assessing myself…I am constantly worrying about the most ludicrous and random shit on the planet. I can be sitting there watching tv feeling guilty that I haven’t folded all the clothes. I can be dead ass tired and not feel like reading Dr. Seuss to my babies, and feel like a horrible mom. My favorite effed up thought is that I feel bad for taking time for myself. Another example, I can have an issue with someone, and automatically assume that they are disgusted with me….when they haven’t said a thing.

I ask myself, “Self…When TF did this happen?” How? I hate to say that this is magnified when I am hypomanic, but its true. When I feel the moods shifting that is when I notice that I become very paranoid. I am anxious…I ruminate, I am imposing guilt on myself about everything, and the dumbest of all …I am good at nothing which is FAR from the truth. I immediately seek validation that I am a good mom and wife, because these roles are important to me. I like to think that I simply forget, because honestly this whole time is literally a fog. My thoughts get all jumbled and my brain is mush. I will try to recall an event that was literally a day ago, and I am unable to. Or, I repeat myself over and over in my rapid speech and hella emotions, and my friends go “Erie…. You already told me that”. I then notice my demeanor and one of two things happen: My tribe will say something and I go “really…..what….? *Erie voice* or I isolate myself, and my thoughts. It’s truly a vicious cycle. Then….I either become super diligent in not feeling that way i.e contact my therapist, confide in my inner circle, inform my husband how I feel, use healthy coping mechanisms… and as of late…WRITE.

The ultimate thing that occurs eventually is that I crash….like literally. I get swallowed up. I sleep too much in order to function, I barely eat or gorge food, and I feel utterly overwhelmed, anxious, tearful, and ugh!!!!!!!!! BTW this blog is all over the place. If only I could get out of my head more and start living in the moment…life would be a tad easier.

Don’t get me wrong…I know that I am a work in process. “I am a living document” as corporate America says. I am on a quest to constantly grow and stretch myself. This phase seems to be uncomfortable to myself, and I am sure to others, but it must be done. After all, I am finally at a stage (my 30’s) where I made my dumb mistakes in my twenties, and now I am applying the lessons. I have picked the path that I am walking on, and I am realizing this shit is ROUGH mmmkay! Also, in this phase, I have surrendered to my faith; even when I am beating myself up. My faith Is ultimately my reminder, and provides me with the sincerest validation. In this phase, I ensure to take my time to soak in the moments with my babies and husband. I appreciate the relationships that survived my manic/depressive phases, the relationships that did not grow with me, and appreciate the fact that those people had their role in my play of life….

 

Ahhhh… As I write I feel the change…. getting out of my head bit by bit and enhancing my heart! Outside my mind, and inside my heart! Writing therapy is truly DOPE…and FREE!!!!!

*Sips red blend and gets ready to watch “broly” on a jailbroken firestick with my forever bestie #dontjudgeus*

 

Truth is….

Sometimes I am unsure how I feel. Even on days where I am able to “make it all happen;” I stop and think HOW? Like HOW SWAY?! How was I depressive, suffering from lack of energy able to wake up, go to work and smile in corporate America, pick the babies up, feed and bathe them…make time for my husband and myself….DAILY. Like HOW? I know for a fact that I am not the only woman who feels that way regardless of race, creed, and/or color. In my opinion, being a wife and mother has been one of the hardest roles that I have tried to master. For one, both roles require so much energy and time. Two there is no accurate manual to tell you how to be a wife and mom. Sure, there are cookie cutter manuals, but that’s about it. Most manuals do not address black women, our unique traumas/circumstance, in my situation, managing a mental illness. Despite these roles are the hardest to do most days; they are ever so rewarding. Some days, when I am not baseline, and I am able to feel…and cry; I am able to bask in the unconditional love that my family gives me. I truly believe that they love me through the moods. When I am not emotionally present, when I am able to focus, when I forget how to breathe; and my chest/heart/soul crushes….they still love me.

I want to note that this blog….is not about the beauty of my family…I mean we all know that. I want it to be about the beauty of the journey to self. I have recently started to be challenged with the questions of What does marriage look like to me? What kind of wife and mother I WANT TO BE? In order to accurately answer these questions; I have to figure out what kind of WOMAN I WANT to BE. Over the years I have documented…discussed…thought about my journey into Womanhood. From the highs and lows….to the stagnant “who am I?” phase. I have analyzed over and over about things that did happen, what should of happened, and why did they happen. I am now in a place where I can honestly say; I know who I am. Sure, every day I grow. Every day is a new day; a new day where I have no idea how I will react and or behave. What I do know is that I pray…and I trust God that he will lead me. I love myself …and I love my family. But that’s not all that’s important. This cannot be what life is all about.

Right now, I am putting thought into the things that make me tick. I sometime feel the weight of anxiety and depression, but I push through. I understand the importance of finding out the things that make me happy as an individual. Identifying and putting action into my passions. Writing not just my thoughts onto paper, but new goals and dreams (if it’s not actually ON PAPER it doesn’t exist; I learned that in my DFCS days). I think that this new phase in my life is appropriate. I have graduated with my master’s degree. My husband and I got over the terrible two year of marriage. I am stable with my bipolar for the most part, and my kids are little people now. It only makes sense for my aura…my inner woman to shift. It makes sense for me to look, taste, and feel different. It makes sense for me to feel uncomfortable because God has stretched me so much. I must put effort into feeling different. I must put effort into being Erie even on my worse days in some fashion. Even if I am not glowing on the outside; I must glow on the inside in some form or fashion. I must channel myself to not just push through taking care of the house and my family, but effort into me. I am still figuring what that looks like outside of personal care.

 

For the past couple of years, I believe that I made the rookie mistake of just going on what I “thought” a wife should be. My sole thought on my roles were “I just don’t wanna be like so and so.” “I just don’t wanna fail.” Those thoughts lacked detail…lacked…insight on who I truly am. Though that mommy/wife idea was sufficient; it was leading to burnout. I realized that though that version of me can be great…. it’s not truly me, not sustainable, and I would be doing a disservice to myself; and ultimately my loved ones. It started to make me unrecognizable. Now, I realize that Erika is different now. The growing Erika does not succumb to the trauma anymore. Don’t get me wrong; I have triggers, but I don’t allow it to rule over me anymore. I am still Erika without all the unhealthy habits. After all I have a family to live for, and I am walking into God purpose but still be Erika…and that’s ok. With the difficulty of the past two years, I lost myself in my roles and my moods. I legit looked in the mirror and had NO CLUE who I was looking at. I would stare so much in the mirror that I would make MYSELF uncomfortable. How is that even possible? After much thought, I wanted to enhance myself. I wanted to really fall in love with me. Leave the trauma behind, and ensure that the past is NOT MY IDENTITY. Though this new stage is a lot of work and sorta draining; it is so necessary. It is draining because one has to put true thought into who they are. One has to ask themselves some difficult questions that may make themselves, and others uncomfortable. I figured that learning myself…falling in love with myself will positively impact my marriage; thus my role as mommy. I read somewhere that I was a person before I became a mother. I have also spoken to some women (usually older women) who state that I must put my life on hold now that I am rearing children. Though this seems plausible; this is a new world. I need to be a shining example for my baby girls to know that YOU can and WILL do what your heart desires. I want to ensure that they deserve to be happy, and that is okay to dream. Erilyn and Eriane do not have to settle.

Truth is that I believe the act of finding truths about self and the world around you are cyclic. At the age of 33, I am ever aware of mortality though I don’t like to think about it. I know that this Is the time to build my legacy and my identity outside of my education and career accomplishments. Outside of the blessings of my family. Outside of the material things. Outside of my outward appearance, but the gifts inside of me. I want to walk around knowing about the land that I work on. I want to be aware of the universe that God made for us. I want to be focused on my advocacy that I contribute to not simply for myself, but for all. I want to be cognizant of the choices I make and how that affects others. After it isn’t ALL about me, but I am apart of all the choices that I make. The choices reflect the transition of the new me, and the riddance of the old me. I must admit that I miss that Erika. She resembled a different type of freedom. She was feisty and did not care about…. anything lol. She was selfish and ok with that. She was comfortable, and sure of herself. I want use some of the traits, but she can keep the recklessness. She can keep the pain. She can continue to be lost. Though after much pondering; technically, she is not lost anymore. She maybe reckless, but her true heart has found a home.

 

Truth is that I have zero idea of what I am doing…or what I am supposed to do. I am literally just free styling. I want to love without expectations. I want to see those outside of the ghosts that haunt them, and the ghosts who haunt me. Ghosts who are still living and breathing. Even though I don’t know about the road I am traveling, but I want to continue to be transparent. Perhaps, this will help someone. Overall, I want to learn about Erika…Inside and Out.

Because I’m Happy…?

It has been a LONG time since I have blogged or just documented how I feel…or simply what’s going on in my life. Well…*drum roll* Everything is going on in my life. It seems as if my rollercoaster life is in high speed gear, and my mind/body is desperately searching for the brakes. In just a short period of time, my honeymoon baby has become a member of the terrible two sorority, and my four year old…well she has way more drama in her life than I do (btw I am totally ok with that). My husband is still Captain America; though lately I so badly want to coin him as Mr. Incredible….because to be honest….our whole little Pope gang can definitely=be considered the “Black Incredibles.” And daddy still lives with us and secretly assisted my children in stealing candy canes).

I have since graduated from Grad School (Lawd….I am still trying to get used to NO SCHOOL). For your information “I aint never goin back” *Joseline voice*Throughout all of this I have been medicated; I even lost my depression/manic weight from the wedding…(I am fully aware that it took me forever). Several times over the last year or so; I would have a complete and utter meltdown daily. Even though I faithfully took my meds; it seemed as if EVERYTHING was a trigger and EVERYTHING drained me of EVERYTHING. I felt EVERYTHING; yet nothing at all. One might think, how is that even possible? Well bruh/sis is its hella possible. Several times I had to call in my supports, and legit use every ounce of energy I could muster to ensure that my family was not completely impacted by me stressing myself so thin.

Fast forward to the past couple of weeks, and I believe my brain just couldn’t take it anymore. It felt as if I. Just. Couldn’t. Do. It. My whole body was tense, and I literally cried for several days. I was anxious to the point where it felt like I was going to jump out of my skin. My symptoms that I had hid for so long exposed me. I could no longer hide my symptoms from my babies, and my husband; well he felt everything. As my spouse, he legit feels EVERYTHING that I feel and vice versa. Any who, I had become paranoid of everyone and everything. I couldn’t understand for the life of me how I felt so bad, but was following my medication regime? How is it possible that I have been depressed for over a year? Sure there were times I dug DEEP to show the world, family, and friends that I was “ok.” The people who know me best; knew that I was just putting on my mask. Up until two weeks ago, the mask began to crumble. I had migraines every day….all day. I even ended up in the ER due to having a cluster headache that lasted almost a week, and riddled me with numbness on the left side of my face.

Everything was extreme. I either ate too much; or nothing at all. I was up and down and around the corner. During these times all I could do was sleep. I had to take several naps just to function. I rather sleep than eat. I still don’t know how I graduated Magnum Cum Laude with a 4.0 and all I could do was sleep. When I was done being mommy, and took off all my hats; I slept. It’s like my life revolved around sleep. Now that I look back it was obvious that I was in a deep depression. I found joy in very little things, but somehow I mustered up whatever I had left for my husband and babies.

Some days though it felt like I was just baseline. I call that my “zombie phase.” Where no matter what happens I am neither sad nor mad. I could easily see/hear the saddest thing happening; yet unable to release any emotion. I could be “38 hot” yet have no ability to respond. It is extremely frustrating and it made me irritable; because as a Sagittarius’ we are emotional beings. I want to FEEL things; especially my own feelings. And again, during all of this…I. Am. MEDICATED. So, reader you might say; how sway? Well, for starters I had a rude and incompetent psych who just wrote me prescriptions. On several occasions I asked for blood work to no avail. No, I did not search for another psych (HELLO I AM DEPRESSED). Thus, this became a never ending cycle.

Last week, I had enough. I was tired of crying all day…in my car, in the shower, in traffic on 85, hiding from the babies in my closet, late at night while everyone was asleep. I HAD ENOUGH. Thankfully, my husband added me on his insurance (Yassss) and I HAD to get a new psych. I was extremely blessed to find a Black Woman PNP (psych Nurse Practioner). Basically, she’s a unicorn. She did a FULL medical assessment, completed a full depression/anxiety screening. She listened as I explained my symptoms in between sniffles. All in All, she changed my meds. She increased my mood stabilizer and my anti-depressant. As I sat in her office she stated that she was afraid to let me go home in my condition and with my depression scores. My social work skills kicked in and I proposed a safety plan to have my two best friends come to my house immediately. They were able to secure my children and ensured their needs were met. And then they simply hugged me. Told me that I will be okay. Waited till my husband was able to get off work. Ahhh thank God for amazing peeps in my life.

Back to the title, “Because I’m Happy…?” I immediately felt the depression lift within a day or so. I felt a lot like me to the point where I became AFRAID. I thought I was manic and got really scared. I thought to myself….”Bih you too happy.” Picture this….I am up all night afraid that the reason why I am happy is because of mania. I am downstairs at 5 in the morning….washing dishes. So, now I am really scared, because isn’t this manic behavior? I called/texted everyone in my call log….no one answered of course because they were SLEEP (even my Groupme “The Café” was silent). I sat downstairs trying to figure out the last time I was happy, and I couldn’t come up with anything. Even during my grad school graduation; I cried all damn day, and I was not happy. It took an act of congress for me to fake it. My daddy came down stairs in my housecoat and slippers washing dishes at 4 am and said. “Wtf is going on?” I just cried and said, why am I happy? Is this happy? Am I manic? Is it the meds? He calmed me down and assured me that he was thrown off at my recent mood, but proposed a question, “Isn’t this what medications are supposed to do?” In that moment, I realized that it never occurred to me that perhaps I just forgot what life was like NOT being depressed. I forgot what it was like to be productive and present in the moment. I forgot what it was like to smile a genuine smile. I wiped my tears, and was like “Well damn”.

So, I said all that to say that having a chemical imbalance is REAL, depression is REAL, anxiety is uber real…and it happens to Black people…especially Black women. So, the answer to my question to myself is“Yes Erie, you are happy!”

*hums “Living my best life” … “Smile bih Smile bih”*

It won’t always be like this…..?

There are times where I feel like I am drowning without water. Sinking though I am floating. Suffocating despite breathing normally. It is a dangerous slippery slope. I have been practicing speaking positivity in the atmosphere; however, I feel the way I feel. I feel stifled….like is there MORE to this life than simply working to pay bills, being wife and mommy, and looking forward to sleeping at night. Perhaps, I feel this way because of the impending doom of student loan debt….the uncomfy feeling of growth, or perhaps that my generation is expected to work HARD; yet not be compensated for it? Or maybe it’s simply because I have always been a free spirit that requires self-expression and freedom?

I am not quite sure of the culprit, but I find myself getting antsy every now and again. Antsy for change in my surroundings…a break from the monotony of waking up, getting kids ready for school, working, sometimes going to the gym, making dinner, give baths, read a bedtime story, and then eat and do homework. By the end of the day, I can finally breathe; however, I am exhausted. Hell, I am exhausted just typing this. I can take a nap and STILL be tired. I believe this is so, because when I wake up it is back to ALL the different things I have to do. I don’t feel depressed. Anxious yes, depressed no. In fact, I have been sorta kinda sleeping.

In the end, I realize that perhaps this is how it will be for now. That hopefully as my babies become older and independent that the crush I feel on my chest will lighten. A time where I don’t have to dream about a vacation, but actually take one. A time where I don’t long for sleep because that’s where I can relax (If I am able to fall asleep). I dream that I owe no money….and What are student loans? LOL

Until then, I will continue to speak my desires into the universe, hide in my favorite coffee shop, take long baths, ensure that my hair/nails are done, and splurge on a massage or two.

Is there something more out there?

All is Well…it has to be

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Nothing Like Loving You

I have been wanting to write for quite some time. The urge would come while I am in the shower, in the wee hours of the night, when I am giving the babies baths, or when I am completing an assignment. I usually have a whole idea in my head, but by the time I am done doing whatever it is I am doing….my brain is now mush. I am currently hiding in my favorite coffee shop where I can think for myself….if only for a moment.

Lately, things have been up and down as usual. Seriously, I can be feeling like Wonder Woman who can move boulders and mountains; all the while doing laundry, and writing a ten page paper. Then there are days where I can barely make it through the day without breaking down. Days it feels like my body is sinking in quicksand. Days where I have to physically pick up one leg out of the bed….and then the other. Those days tend to creep up on me and just drag me down. I usually use whatever strength I can conjure and I get.through.it. Fighting for myself….my sanity…fighting the urge to just fall apart because it seems as if it is just easier than pushing my body through yet another battlefield. This year feels like a blur. I can’t really remember things. There have been times where my words come out jibberish that even I cannot comprehend. And what’s crazy is no one sees it. It seems that I have gotten so good at hiding it that it exhausts me by mid-day.

One day something happened; I can remember the moment…the feeling…the squint of my eye when I started seeing my babies… when I saw that my husband was drained and in need of me. The moment I felt the world stop moving underneath my feet…and I could sort of breathe….easier. I know some might think that this is crazy, but I promise it is not. I truly felt the world stop and I felt like….Wow….I am alive. My babies are right here… They are here…right in front of me. There is a misconception that depression renders you life-less and zombie like. And though I felt that way; it appears that I am functional. But I can look in photos and see vacancy…but then I can see a smile…all teeth and I wonder…how the hell did I manage to do that? During this period, I had trouble connecting. I felt purposeless. I felt numb and just exhausted. My self-esteem was in a bottomless pit, and I felt fragile. Now that I think about it….I had trouble connecting with the close people in my life. I lost all ability to communicate. I had no idea what to say; or how to convey my feelings. If you know me; you’d know this is unlike me. Nothing seemed to make me feel joy. When I did feel joy it was short lived.

Anywho back to that day…. The veil of depression lifted. Don’t get me wrong that heffa comes back at times, but I refuse to allow it to get me to the point of being the walking dead. To be honest, I am currently afraid of venturing into something new. Getting through graduate school was hard as hell, but what do I do now? I silently think that has been somewhat of a culprit of my low self-esteem. The need for constant validation, because I simply have no idea what I am going to do. The fear of changing careers….The inner essence of me is changing…it can all be a bit much at times.

Sometimes it feels like I have lost myself, even though I am giving growth my all. After thought, I realize that I am doing the work…and that Erika is there; just a different Erika that I have to accept. Somethings I do know about the new Erika is that she’s a damn good mommy, and that she is a nurturing wife….who will FIGHT for her family. She is caring and has a constant need to give even if it means herself. She loves and loves hard…and very forgiving. She can make people cackle…. And is willing to stretch herself for the greater good. I asked the other day how is it that Women….have trouble loving themselves unconditionally? I got some interesting comments, but dag I am learning that I need to do better. I can’t give if I don’t give myself. I cannot hear others if I cannot hear myself. I cannot truly forgive others…if I don’t forgive myself. I wanna not only see the beauty in others, but myself. I want to accept this new body, and embrace these random ass gray hairs. I want to be healthy and feel true Joy. I know this is all achievable. Issa struggle, but I KNOW its necessary…after all it’s nothing like Loving YOU

YOU