Tattoos

  • Moonflower layered with phases of the moon: My Grandma Martha planted moonflowers along the corner of her patio on the day she and my grandfather moved into the red house on Parkview. For forty years on every evening, she would check the vines for signs of a moonflower bud. The only time the plant bloomed was on the night of the day she died. The flower was ten inches across. My aunt found it and I can still remember her explaining to my baby sister, older cousin, and I how it was a sign from God that she was with him then.
  • Mirrored sunset beneath the moonflower and moon phases: My Grandma Joyce is turning ninety this year. About three years ago, I began staying with her on weekends. She talks about my grandfather more often these days, telling me stories about him I’ve never heard before, and can barely picture. The one I remember the most was from two years ago. My grandma was in the kitchen, facing me with her back to the backyard window. She was glowing from the Sunday morning sun and was telling me about the dream she’d had that night. She said my Papa Phil had come to visit her in her dreams and his presence alone no longer made her cry, but just feel an intense peace. She told me that she is happy with these dreams and the thought of no longer waking up from them. The sun was so bright that morning. She told me how my grandfather had dreams that no one would have ever believed. My solid, stern, Italian grandfather was an incredible artist and teacher. He loved to travel and the one place he wanted to visit before he died (but never did) was Norway, so that he could “see the sun at midnight.” My grandma told this story unprovoked and almost as if she forgot I was in the room, but the intense feeling of peace this story brought matched the way I felt sixteen years before in the garden of the Parkview house.
  • “Breathe deep and dive”: Along the inside of my left foot, in my own handwriting, is a partial lyric of my favorite Andrea Gibson poem. The larger quote from “Dive” is; “We teach our sons and daughters there are sharks in the waters, but the only way to survive is to breathe deep and dive.” Tattooed in Taos, New Mexico, alone and on a day trip from work in Red River, New Mexico for the summer.
  • Upside down wind turbines in a cornfield: You can’t have Illinois without cornfields. Growing up in central Illinois, my family would make at least five routine visits north to visit my Grandma Joyce and the rest of my mom’s family. I usually slept most of the three hour long drive, but would wake up for the bathroom/McDonald breaks and for the wind turbine field. My dad knew I loved the wind turbines, and honestly I can’t remember why I loved them so much. Looking back, I think it’s because they make me feel so tiny and yet they bring me so much peace in a way I can’t explain. So fast forward to the end of high school when my dad found four extra pails of paint in the basement and offered to let me paint a mural on my bedroom wall. He said he thought I would paint a mountain, but instead I chose three wind turbines against a sunset. Granted, the sunset was a mix of orange, green, yellow, and purple paint because those were the leftover colors. Him and my mother kept the painting up for almost five years before painting over it. Fast forward again to the end of college and interviewing/applying for my first teaching job somewhere in the state. I was at a loss for where to go and eventually (after over a hundred applications and twenty-five interviews) moved to Mendota where I knew no one. A tiny town full of no one I knew and family at least an hour away. So naturally I grew homesick and frustrated with the move. Completely regretting moving my life to such an isolated place, I drove myself up to my Grandma Joyce’s one of the first weekends. Much to my surprise when merging onto the highway, I saw the field of wind turbines just on the edge of my new little town. Naturally, I pulled over to the shoulder and sobbed.

 

Little God moments have been scattered all over my life, and slowly, all over my body. I want to remember and take with me those moments of intense peace because they feel so rare and so important. And I would love to travel to Norway someday in my lifetime to see the sun at midnight and watch the northern lights.

 

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Crying spells

I met a girl in early May. We started dating 2 weeks ago and 1 week ago I fully tapered off/then quit cold turkey from my psychiatric medications.

The withdrawal symptoms are described in a recent post, but in short, that week was physically AWFUL. Still, I get little heart flutters and am slow to stand up. The nausea has mostly died down and the migraines are gone (thankfully).

The new symptom is the crying spells. I saw an old picture of my sister’s elementary soccer team posted on Facebook and bawled for hours last night. My sister is alive and well and living with my parents, but just seeing her little baby face in that picture still brings sad, desperate tears.

Why? I couldn’t figure it out with the timing because I’m no where near PMS and the physical withdrawal ended last week. So I googled it. It’s apparently super normal for people (major depression and bipolar 2 patients alike) to experience crying spells lasting for hours and suicidal idealization after withdrawing from the same anti-depressants and antipsychotics that I did.

So the fact that I’ve spent about 6 combined hours between last night and tonight crying over my baby sister’s elementary soccer photo is justified.

Do I want to tell my new girl about the crying spells? No, mostly from shame and a little from worry. Bipolar 2 keeps me from talking about it because I’m either stuck worrying that my loved ones will instantly think my crying spells or low thoughts mean I’m suicidal, and I don’t want to worry them. Or, that I don’t have a good enough reason to be sad, so I feel ashamed of my puffy eyes and scratchy throat.

My new girl’s been through hell and back with her physical disease and even though she knows about my Bipolar and tells me I have every right to feel pain and sadness and struggle on some days, I still feel like I don’t have a good enough reason to be crying compared to everything she’s been through and the way she handles all of it. And what I’m describing is textbook for how a lot of depressive/Bipolar people feel about their disorders, I know this. I know I should be able to feel all of these intense emotions (now more so since coming off the medications) and be open with loved ones, especially my girlfriend, about this, but I’m still ashamed of it. I want to feel all the emotions, just not the sad-for-no-reason ones? I know that’s not how it works.

Withdrawal

So, I’m going through withdrawal from anti-depressants and anti-psychotics at the moment. It’s awwwwwwful. I’m nauseous/vomiting, dizzy, tired, sore, shivering then burning up, irritable, and most of all, I have the worst headache on Earth. One that’s so bad I’m considering if I’m experiencing mini migraines.

I’ve gone officially 2 nights and almost 2 full days without taking any Seroquel or Lexapro and the side effects are already better now than they were the first day. I’m hoping (and after reading almost every Seroquel/Lexapro 1st page Google review withdrawal story) I’m expecting these nightmare days to be over within this week. I was weening myself off 75 mg of Seroquel and 10 mg of Lexapro. I was weening myself off both over the last few weeks until 2 nights ago when I was finally down to 5 mg of Lexapro and about 20 mg of Seroquel when I decided to quit cold turkey.

At the time of quitting cold turkey I just figured withdrawal wouldn’t be tooooo bad because I’ve already walked myself off both drugs (only ever one not both) at different times and though I had headaches or nausea, it was never this unmanageable. Lexapro withdrawal is kind of a godsend because it’s just this out-of-body floating high that fluctuates throughout the day. The Seroquel withdrawal is the bloodiest beast. Seroquel is the one giving me these killer headaches and nausea and cold sweats followed by heat flashes that turn into me running to go puke every other hour (again, much better than even a day ago). Finally followed by these mini migraines where I can’t stand light or noise and my brain feels a little too swollen to be resting instead my skull and I can’t sleep without waking up with neck or back pain (elbow and knee pain is most likely from the rain outside and the cramps are from my period) and I just feel like I can’t get anything done when I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO this week because I’ve only got 10 days left in this place before I move out.

And maybe a little stress thrown in on top. GAHHHHHHH I hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate hate this pain. I hate hate hate how terrible these drugs are and I can’t believe and am so frustrated that they exist to help someone if they felt that terrible to be on and are this impossible to stop taking. It’s so tempting to take a mini dose just to lessen the withdrawal, but I don’t think it would. Plus, I don’t ever want either of those back in my system ever again.

I found a holistic mental health doctor who’s got me set up on a supplement schedule that I will hopefully not have to take for the rest of my life and even with taking them now, DON’T GIVE ME WITHDRAWAL and are not harmful to my system down the road or like right now.

I’m so angry at the mental health world for those terrible medications being the first option given when they are so painful. Why aren’t those the last possible option they give us to try? I’m done, so done, and so ready to be done with this pain.

iPhone – Cameron

May 5, 2018

Cameron kissed me last night when I was drunk. We were under his sheets in our underwear and I told him I didn’t want to have sex. What I couldn’t tell him was that I didn’t feel a single thing when he kissed me. He’s good and sweet and the kiss was normal, I’m just in no way attracted to him, I guess?

It’s been almost 2 years since I had sex with a guy and I’m really wondering if that desire will ever come back. I’ve been into girls for the past 2 years and that’s still all I want.

Cameron described me to his roommate as bisexual in that I’m physically attracted to both men and women, but more emotionally attracted to women. I want to say that’s accurate, but the more time passes, the more I wonder if I’m just a lesbian and, like Hanna said, was only with guys because they were convenient and comfortable.

I’m so at peace and in love with myself and still so questioning of my sexuality. It feels amazing that all those emotions can exist at once.

I feel it

like a fire. I am going to start walking myself off the antipsychotics starting tonight. Then just stay with the antidepressant for a bit. Then schedule a doctors appointment for soon, then just get on antidepressants then be okay with just those. No more psychiatrists, just general doctors.

I hate the meds. I want to feel everything again. Its kind of terrifying, but it’s more terrifying to enter into another relationship with a clouded mind and barely any emotions. I feel everything so much more grandly when I’m not on meds.

Honestly, with still questioning my sexuality and if I really ever liked men at all, I want to feel it all with a woman, nothing held back or muted.

So I’m still terrified this will backfire on me, but we’re going to try it. Maybe I can function just fine without the heavy duty meds…