Everybody Looses it…(even) people like us

My kids listen to different music than I do. Big surprise there. I have teens and they dont want to hear the “Oldies” station all the time… (which plays music from the 90’s mind you. Oldies is the stuff from the 60’s in MY book) I do pride myself on being more tolerant than my hubby however. He takes control of the radio the minute the engine turns over. I hand over the stereo dial the minute kids climb into the van with me. It’s easier. Plus, if I’m honest, I want to know what they like on the radio so I can run a mom’s ear over it. We have forbidden stations mind you, but the pop stations, yeah, they get to listen to them. One sure way to make them crave what I DONT want them to listen to is to forbid it flat out. I DO remember being a kid, even if they think it is impossible.

I heard a song on their station that I’ve probably heard a hundred times in the last few months, but for some reason, today, it just hit me. I haven’t a clue if my daughter has ever really listened to the words and thought of our hard weeks, but I hope she really hears the words. It’s not a song I would have thought about if it hadn’t been for this week. It’s been a hell of a week… UGH. But I want her to “hear” she isn’t alone… someone else out there gets her pain, her thoughts, and they’ve found a way through them. They’ve taken them and become stronger if by only sheer will.

Life has been throwing me curve balls lately. My health has been having a blast creating havoc and keeping me bound to the things I really don’t want to be. I’ve had to cancel plans this week and rework things with frustrating regularity. I’ve been miserable and I’ve been mad. I hate being undependable. I’ve been forced back into taking meds I loathe and dealing with side effects i hate worse yet. I’ve broken promises to my kids and seen the disappointment in their eyes. There is NOTHING I hate worse than a broken promise made to my family. It slays me.

Beyond that, Lindsey has had a tough month, and the last couple weeks have been particularly hard for not just her, but for us all. It’s like I’m just trying to survive this month. Is it June yet?? It is? Whew. Thanks, June, for running in to the rescue! I looked up at the night sky over the previous weekend and said to myself that that full faced Cheese-man looking down at me HAD to be the reason squirrels had taken up roost where somewhat sane and semi-normal people used to abide. Our cute little ranch is a NutHOUSE!

20130601-160029.jpgWithout getting into details, Lindsey and I have really had a tough time personally, and we’ve been hitting a wall that, as a mom, I just feel like at times I am just slowly loosing it. I want to understand and care, but at the same time, I am just a person. One who is trying her best to do all the things right as they come along, but no matter how hard I try, I always seem to get it wrong when it comes to her. She is a teenage daughter, with a crazy mother. That alone is enough to make most nod their heads in understanding.

With us however, there is a lot more to the layers that we dig through on a daily basis. There is the good, the hard, the bad, and the ugly. We’ve been living in the ugly zone a lot. Too much. I’m tempted to say, “careful, your face will freeze like that” on more than one occasion… though it really doesn’t have anything to do with facial expressions. More like a place we will be frozen IN if we dont just decide to move forward ANYWAY.

Because of the nature of Lindsey’s illness, her mind over reacts to normal frustrating situations. We only recently have made her doctor understand that when the doctor asks, “Do you feel like you want to hurt yourself, or have any thoughts of wanting to die,” that for Lindsey, that is a IN THE MOMENT question and answer. She answers based on what she feels when she is sitting in the office. She cant really remember or want to remember back in the last week or last month. The reality is that she at least once a week goes to this hard place, and on a bad week, she will visit these thoughts daily. A good week for us is when she is neither happy or sad, but walking a line where she is thoughtful and calm and content.  Highs are hard because being really really happy means she will plummet that far back down below the base line as well.  I’ve unconsciously begun to notice how long her highs are… because they directly have a tendency to predict how long she will stay in that pit of hopelessness when she falls from it.

That said, it is my greatest desire to see this girl smile, laugh, skip, run, dance, and jump freely.  I love nothing more than hearing her laughter when she laughs with abandon.  I love to see her face lit up and to hear her nonstop chatter when she is so full of life she truly just seems to forget her prison and blows right through the bars and escapes it for just an hour or two.  For whatever reason, her mind punishes her for these bursts of joy.  They are called manic phases.  She can move from one phase to the other within a few hours or less.  Adults will spend days in their manic phases and somehow i think that must be nice (when it’s a high) but the lows would absolutely suck then too…

All in all – regardless – we are still plugging away.  We are still facing this.  We are still battling it.  It is still not WINNING over us.  She is not captive to it – because we all choose to be sure she is not alone in her fight, and she knows, like it or not, we will never go away, give up on her, nor allow her to stay in a place of hopelessness.  The battle is wearisome. It’s often overwhelming, and honestly, there are days I wonder how I can possibly be of any help to this girl so imprisoned…  but I will never stop trying.  Never.

Do you hear me, baby girl?  You are not alone, and I refuse to let go of you, no matter how deep down into your pit of pain you recede and no matter how hard you push me away.  You are stuck with this mom (who’s all thumbs at this) who just follows her heart and listens to the voice whispered from above on how best to love you in the moments that come to us.

I love you.  Never gonna stop.



Perfectionism and me

Nothing makes me feel more worthless than my perfectionism.  I hate being this way, but it seems no matter how I try not to be this way, it almost seems to get worse.

This isn't my desk, but I want order like this.  I need it, not just want it.

This isn’t my desk, but I want order like this. I need it, not just want it.

For me, perfectionism has lots of ways it controls things in my life.  I really wish I could be different.  Sometimes it is how I do my homework.  I have to have all the writing on the page exactly perfect.  If one word looks wrong to me, I will redo the whole thing.  It takes a long time to get things done and it’s really frustrating when you cant stand things to be any way but just this one certain way.

For the most part,  it also decides how things are around me.  Like I cant handle chaos at ALL.  My room has to be clean and things in place all the time or I feel really crazy inside.  When things are out of order it seems like my whole life is out of control.  I start to feel like I am stupid and dumb, and the more upset I get the more little things bother me.  The only way to stop feeling worse is to clean.  I have to take control of it before it controls me.  Often, when I am cleaning because of this reason, I get really mad.  I usually will end up throwing a lot of things away, or tearing up things that later I wish I hadn’t really done.  At the time I just have to have things really really clean, and so when I am mad I dont care about anything but that.

It doesn’t have to be big things for me to get really upset.  I know I drive my sister crazy, because she is the exact opposite as me.  We share a room and have since she was born.  I am the oldest, but we are only a year and a half apart.   She really doesn’t care if there are socks on the floor or if her bed is made every day.  She is okay with her things just being any way she sets them down, and her laundry pile in the little hamper can overflow till it gets done, and she’s fine with that.

I do my own laundry a couple times a week

I do my own laundry a couple times a week

Me?  I have to have things picked up, my bed nice, and my things organized, perfectly.  I do my laundry myself, because I dont like people touching my things, and I do it the minute it starts to get part way full.  I dont like any other things added in with my laundry, so my mom lets me just do mine alone, by itself.  My sister and I have separate laundry hampers.  Mom usually adds things in with small loads to make a large load, but that makes me really upset and uncomfortable.  I dont like germs or dirt from something or someone else’s things mixing in the wash with mine.

Perfectionism upsets me in the whole  house, but it bothers me so much in our room that if I try to sit at my desk and work, I cant concentrate till all my things on the desk are neat and in order, the way they should be.  My mom doesn’t really understand I don’t think, because we have had some fights about this before.  She really got upset one day because I was supposed to be working on school work and I was cleaning my closet.  She came in and asked why I was doing that when I had so much school stuff to do.  I told her I HAD to.  I couldn’t think, knowing the mess in my closet was waiting right behind me, and I needed to be able to think to work.  She doesn’t understand because when she sees my closet, she doesn’t see a mess.  She says there is hardly a thing in it to BE messy.  But I know what is not right about it and I have to just fix it.

That is another thing that is hard for me, and for my mom too.  I would rather have almost no things at all, than  have things out of place.  I am constantly going through things I have and getting rid of things I don’t think I will need anymore.  I feel better if I just don’t have them to worry about.  My sister is so different.  She doesn’t get rid of anything.  She is real sentimental and she likes to keep all her stuff and says there are lots of memories attached to her stuff.  I don’t have memories attached to my stuff I guess.  The things I hang on to are just stuff I need mostly.  I cant handle having those few things out and accessible to people to touch and use.  They are mine and I wish people would just not mess with them.

I have a couple of these in different colors where I put all the things I need safe.

I have a couple of these in different colors where I put all the things I need safe.

I hide everything from people.  If my things are not safe, I dont feel safe.  If they are out and can be touched, messed with, or maybe taken, I feel like I am really open to be attacked or something.  It’s hard to put in words, but I just feel really panicked and I am upset.  I get panic attacks when things are not in order and they are where people can touch them.

My mom bought me two steamer trunks that I put locks on.  All my stuff goes in them and that way no one can get to my things.  I feel safer and I know things are going to be okay.

My sister doesn’t mind keeping all her things out on shelves and her dresser or around the room.  I could never do that.

My mom asked why it upsets me so much to have things out or maybe messy.  I feel overwhelmed and I just cant function when things are that way.

It’s not just my room that makes me uncomfortable though, and that is where my family really can get me upset and upset at me.  I cant stand crumbs on the countertops or table.  I don’t like it when there are dishes in our sink.  I really dont like it when people dont put things where they belong.  I will ask for help in cleaning up stuff when it bothers me, but my brother and sister just get mad at me for telling them what to do.  They don’t think I am asking them for help, but making them help me do things I want done.

I don’t want to be like this.  I really dont.  We don’t really have a messy house, but I need things to just be perfect all the time.  It’s not like I want to always be cleaning.  I really want to not care about all this, and to just stop.  But I cant seem to stop caring.  My mom says my trigger is chaos.  She says I don’t like the feeling of being out of control and that is why I get so upset and mad.  Maybe that is right.  All I know is it is really frustrating and I am really tired of feeling like this.  There is no medicine to make me stop caring about things being perfect and in order.

I feel so worthless and taken advantage of.  Since it doesn’t bother any one else, no one wants to clean every time I NEED to clean… and I feel like they take advantage of me for it.  My siblings don’t have to bother to help around the house very often because I will eventually do it when it bothers me enough.  At least this is how I feel like they think things.  My mom says that it’s not true, but it’s how I feel.

Perfectionism makes me feel very sad.  I feel hopeless and worthless and anything BUT perfect.

-Lindsey’s view

From the inside looking out

She looked into the mirror on the wall of her bedroom and groaned.  It didn’t matter what anyone said, all she could hear was the hissing of her own internal dialog like an old scratched up 45 record.   It skipped and jumped and came back to the same snarled and garbled up lines over and over again.  “UgLy, FAT, pAtheTic, UseLeSs.”

panicA tear trickled down her freckled cheek and followed the trail of mascara that had left tire tracks down each side of her face.  The perfect complexion that everyone saw was in her eyes fiercely marred.  With red blotches spotting up her creamy skin, she looked like a freak.  No one understood what it was like.  All it took was one second of her heart racing fast and the blotches would appear.  She wouldn’t even know it was there if it weren’t for the heat of her skin against her frozen like fingers.

With the palm of her hand she began to rub at the black marks on her face and she slowly increased the pressure.  The friction of the rubbing became hot against her face first, then her hand.  She rubbed harder and harder till her face was burning.  With both her hands she tore into both sides of her face and she rubbed at her skin till it began to roll like crumbs under her fingers.  The pain was like a welcome visitor and she embraced it completely.

She wanted to just scream, or rage at her own reflection, but that wouldn’t fix anything.  The girl in the mirror was not some impostor. It was really her.  She hated the face before her.  She began to cry and the tears came faster and faster.

She pulled back the curtains that hung around the bottom of her loft bed and climbed into her chair.  She closed them back tightly and they held the world at bay.  She sunk into her chair further and let the tears take over.  Sobs silently wracked her tiny body.

A wave of despair washed over her.  Nothing would ever change and she felt so hopeless she felt as if she were sinking into a big dark hole.  She was overwhelmed and all her senses began to buzz.  Tears, from a never ending supply, continued down her face.  Her whole body shook and a loud moan escaped her lips.  It surprised her, yet made her cry harder.

She no longer even truly remembered how she got to where she was now, all she knew was she was drowning and gasping for air.  It was as if she were dying.  She could hardly take a breath in and couldn’t push any air out.  The darkness that she had sought out now seemed to be pushing on her, weighing her down.

Now, at this point, every time, the trigger that brought her to this place no longer mattered.  All that mattered was that she had arrived.  She was now here, and she feared there was no leaving.  All she could think of was escape, and for her mind, there was only one way out of this cycle of hell… death.  She craved it and that scared her beyond words.

She began sobbing with a low moan and increasing wails.  She watched herself from a place outside her own body.  She knew what came next, and she was powerless to stop it.  The coming panic attack would consume her and leave her exhausted.  She began to cry harder, angry that she couldn’t stop what she knew was coming, livid that she didn’t even remember why she was upset to begin with, and even more incensed that she didn’t even want to stop, to be honest.

She was crazy.  She hated herself and she hated every inch of of that which made her up.  And yes, she was even mad at the one who made her.  Because if God makes all of us, why wasn’t SHE “fearfully and wonderfully made,” like everyone else?  Why did he make her like THIS?  She could see no good point, and if there was one, to her being like this, and she wanted no part of it.  All she wanted was to slowly evaporate, disappear, or to fade into nothing.

But here she sat, still, and she was not evaporating.  A low and painful wail escaped her lips and she let her emotions fully take over her mind and body.  Rocking back and forth, she stopped fighting it and gave into it and let it take her.  What was the point in fighting it?  She let it full consume her.


Nothing would ever change.


(This is a narrative written by Christi, Lindsey’s mom.  It is all real, as things here always will be, of a regularly occurring situation for Linds. She worked together with me to get the feelings and the emotions of the moment down so that hopefully readers can step, for a moment, inside her mind for a moment and see life from her perspective.)

Meet Lindsey

Lindsey2I have an vibrantly beautiful daughter.  She is talented, spirited, creative, hardworking, organized, independent, and full of life.  She is amazing.  Unfortunately, most of the time, she doesn’t believe a word of it.  The image she sees in her mind is not one just skewed by the jaded eyes of teen-hood, but ones far more intense and deeper wounding.  Lindsey is living in a fractured reality that is distorted by mental illness.

Wow.  Mental illness.  That’s a word I’ve only allowed myself to say out loud to a precious few people in my life, and only in the last couple of months.  They’ve been intense months and the fact of the matter is, it’s now fully impossible to deny that the ugly “M. I.” labeling words are the only ones to help shed light into a very dark place in our lives.

The only way I can describe it to people is that it’s like Lindsey is living in a glass bottle with a long narrow neck.  It’s been fractured and the glass is splintered and cracked.  Looking out at the world from inside the bottle makes it look like a distorted version of what it really is.  Nothing she sees is “NOT” really there, it’s just not the way she sees it.  It’s close, but it’s not nearly as ugly or scary as her perception of it is inside her bottle prison.  She cant reach out and touch things to prove they are not what they seem.  The glass prevents it.  Each time she does, she gets little knicks on her fingers, they bleed,  and she’s learned to be afraid to event reach out.

I cant join her in her world.  I can only reach down through the neck in the bottle and try to give her comfort.  Her Dad and I try to be the voice of reason in the midst of confusion and pain.  The hard and painful fact is that the only way  we can truly reach her is if she reaches upwards.  If she reaches up to God – with God we can reach into her world as best we can – then hopefully will connect through the nuggets of words and situations that God brings us to.

And he does.  Over and Over.  Then there are the days, for whatever reason, it just doesn’t work.  It’s a long hard truth.  I’d love to say that we connect more times than we don’t, but that isn’t the case.  There are long spans where we don’t connect at all.  It’s terribly painful and torture for us both.

I love my daughter more than I have words to express.  But it isn’t easy.  I plan to share our journey with you over time.  I hope you’ll join us.  I have no answers, I am not a counselor… but this is life as real as it gets, unfiltered, raw, and full of the trial and errors that we have faced that have lead to us still having our daughter with us to walk this road with.

We will fight daily for her, and help her learn to hold the hand she was dealt in life, and to play the game before her called life, without having to fold.  Because folding this ill hand is not an option.  Period.