Matt: My friend, my love, my heartbreak, my inspiration

Hi. I honestly did not know if I would ever use this blog again. I did enjoy getting to know my followers and sharing a little bit about myself. It was not an easy step to take starting this blog, nor was it easy to stop posting. I am not sure the exact reason why I stopped. Real life, I guess. The reason I came back today is to share a story. This is about a wonderful man who helped guide my life to where it is today. This is the story of our short time together here on Earth. Warning, this is the whole story and I am holding NOTHING back. Parts of this may not be for everyone. But, this is our story. This is our truth.

Once upon a time, waaaay back in 1989, a boy named Matt Patton joined a show choir I was a part of. He had come in from a rival school/show choir in our district and wasn’t exactly welcome with open arms in the beginning. He took a bit of ridicule and hazing at first, but as people started to see what a good person he was, most welcomed him in to our little family. I took to Matt right away. There was something about him that made me feel happy and warm. No matter what adversity he was facing, he seemed to stay positive. We became friends, but I could feel he was keeping his distance from me. He would be snarky towards me at times and make fun of my relationship with my then boyfriend. I was quite oblivious to the fact that he was jealous. It wasn’t until the next year that we would grow much closer.

In 1990, Matt became my dance partner in our show choir. It was a hilarious match up. Matt measured in at 6′ 1″, at least, and I was 5’7″ on a good day. My dance shoes helped, but he still seemed to tower over me. At first, we were rather awkward together. I could sense some trepidation on his part, and I was just as nervous. But, within a few weeks we became one. He was a great dancer and made me feel quite at ease. I loved the way he would pick me up and twirl me around with ease. It felt natural. It felt right. It felt like nothing I had felt before. I knew right then that this was a person I wanted in my life forever.

There were so many humorous moments that come to mind when I look back, but one sticks out the most. Matt was standing behind me while we were singing this one song. (I can’t for the life of me remember what song today.) I was struggling to hit a note that was towards the top of my range. Hearing this Matt, in all his prankster hilarity, came up with a plan. Our next run through, as soon as the note came, he pinched my butt. He pinched my butt hard! I squealed loud enough for all around me to turn around and stare. I turned around just in time to see Matt hit the floor because he was laughing so hard. Our director settled everyone down and we started again. As soon as the note came, PINCH! But, this time, I hit the note perfectly. From then on, every time we sang that song, PINCH. Every time I hit the note. To this day, I still laugh thinking about how his mind came up with that plan.

As the months went on, we grew closer. I came to really know Matt. We talked about our hopes and dreams. We laughed hard at each others silly jokes. If I ever needed someone to talk to, he was there. Wherever we were, his “office door” (as we came to refer to it) was always open.  I was going through a lot of transitions in my relationship with my on again off again high school boyfriend that year and Matt was always there to listen or to give me a shoulder to cry on. I wasn’t naive. I knew by that time he had strong feelings for me, but he never acted on them. He respected me too much. As an adult looking back on this time, I admire that so much. I don’t know, if the roles were reversed, if I would have had the same strength and resolve.

In the Spring of 1991, I had my final break up with boyfriend. I was devastated. Matt was there to help pick up the pieces. There were times that all he had to do was smile or give me a warm hug and I felt like I was able to go on again. Matt started to drive me home from practices here and there. He had this old style yellow VW bug. (To this day, I smile every time I see one on the road.) We would jump in and he would immediately ask me how I was doing. That car became our special place where I could talk to Matt about anything. That 20 minute drive home became my sanctuary. I got to the point where I trusted him with everything. I told him my darkest secrets and fears. I talked about my future and how I had no clue what I wanted to do in a few short months when I graduated high school. Every time I got out of that car I was given a gentle touch or a warm hug that let me know he cared. Then one day, as  I was exiting the car, he stopped me and pulled me back in. “Thanks Steph.”, he said as his arm draped around my shoulder. I was confused and just stared at him. He continued by saying, “Thanks for letting me in. Letting me get to know the real you.” I just blushed. I thought the whole time I was just rambling on for my own sanity, that I was only helping myself feel better. I had no idea he was feeling that way. I smiled and he pulled me close for what I thought was to be a hug, but he gently pressed his lips to my cheek and sighed. I knew he wanted to kiss me, but I just wasn’t ready yet. I pulled away and left the car and went in my house.

My life became a whirlwind the month leading up to my high school graduation. I was sad to leave my school and my friends I had drawn close to. I had decided to take a year off and that was freaking me out. I had to get a job. I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. I was still fighting and frustrated with my ex. It seemed like most of my friends had sided with him and they were all being extremely fake around me. I was at my limit. I couldn’t take much more.

The night of my high school graduation, I had a party. I really wanted to cancel it, but I decided it might lift my spirits. I was wrong. The friends that did show up were acting up and blaming me for the break up. My ex even went so far as to ask for his class ring back that night, right in front of everyone. It was all more then I could handle. I finally, told everyone to leave and started to shut the door. That was when I saw the little yellow bug drive up my driveway. Matt started towards the door and I was forced with the decision of letting him in or telling him to go away like I had told everyone else. I decided to let him in. I needed him. I needed his shoulder to cry on. We talked for what seemed like hours. I told him everything I was feeling and he sat and just listened. That was all I really needed in that moment. My spirits started to lift. Someone cared. Matt motioned for me to join him in my Dad’s LAZ-E Boy chair. I sat on his lap and he held me tight. Suddenly, this felt right. This felt wonderful. He took my head and gently tilted it towards his. His eyes stared into mine as our lips met for our first kiss. At that moment, I felt love. Real love. No words were needed. He held me for a good 1/2 hour in silence. This was all I needed in my life at that moment. This was happiness.

Eventually, my Mom came down the stairs and told Matt he needed to go home. I walked him out to that little car we had shared so many moments in. He gently kissed me goodnight, got in and drove off. I watched until I could no longer see his tail lights, then headed back in my house. I walked up to my bedroom and reached for a box I had hidden under my bed. I took that box into the bathroom and stared at the contents inside. It was a bottle of vodka and a mixture of sleeping and pain pills I had stolen from my Mom and various other sources. For a week, I had planned on committing suicide that night. Now I realized that I was still loved. That life was worth living. Matt had inadvertently saved my life. I dumped everything into the toilet and flushed it down. I looked in the mirror and smiled. The flush from our kissing was still on my cheeks. I knew I was going to be OK.

Over that summer and into the next year, Matt and I dated on and off. It was awkwardly wonderful. I knew I loved him and that he loved me, but things just didn’t progress into a full out relationship. He was still in high school and finding himself, and I was bumbling around trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life. I eventually decided that I would try college.

Matt graduated high school and went off into the Navy. I had decided on a small college and had packed up and moved out of state.  We kept contact the best we could with the occasional letter or phone call. But, it became harder and harder to stay close. From time to time, we were both back in town and would see each other. It was always wonderful to see his smile and to feel his arms around me. I had not found anyone else to date, but I had no clue if he had. He really never talked about the military when we would meet up. He always wanted to know about me. Looking back, I wish I would have asked him more. I was just a kid at that point who was excited to spend anytime I could with my friend.

One evening around Christmas time, Matt and I went together to see the IU Singing Hoosiers. Every year they put on a great Christmas show and we were both excited to see it. We held hands and sang through the entire concert. It was like old times. I was so happy to be there with such a wonderful guy. It had started to snow quite hard while we were inside, so Matt asked if I would like to stay at his Dad and step-Mom’s house, rather than risk driving back home in the storm. I was excited to spend more time with him, so I said yes. His parents left us alone in the living room and we watched TV on the couch for awhile. Everything was wonderful. I snuggled up against his shoulder and we began to kiss. At first, it was like we always had been. Sweet, innocent. No real urgency. Then things changed. His hand quickly reached up my skirt. Before I knew it I was naked and we were pawing at each other feverishly. I was nervous, but wanted this. I wanted him. Matt looked at me for reassurance and I nodded my head yes. He started to undress when we heard a noise. His Dad was walking into the adjoining kitchen. Matt quickly rolled me off of him and onto the floor with a THUMP. He threw a blanket at me just as his Dad walked into the living room. His Dad stared at both of us for a minute, realized the situation, then told Matt it was probably time for him to head up to his own room for bed. His Dad turned and left. We waited until we heard his footsteps on the stairs then we both burst out laughing! Just one more minute and his Dad really would have gotten an eyeful! Matt helped me up off of the floor and held me for a moment. We kissed goodnight and he headed up the stairs. I stayed up on his couch most of the rest of that night and thought about what had almost happened. I knew I wanted him to be my first.

That next summer we met up one evening for a movie. We made it half way through before neither of us could stand the tension anymore. We practically ran to his car and drove off to a secluded spot where we could be alone. We started to kiss frantically. He motioned for me to hop in the backseat. I did as he exited the drivers seat and met me in the back. We stared at each other for a moment not quite sure what to do next. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. “Hey. At least I have a condom tonight!” He said as he took it out of the wallet. That broke the tension. We both started to laugh. He pulled me on top of him as we quickly undressed. I will leave out the rest of the details, but I will say that it was the most beautiful, scariest, awkward thing I have ever experienced. It was incredible. Afterwards, we laid in each others arms in silence. No words were needed. I loved that guy. This was something I was happy to share with him. A girl only gets one first time and I had made the perfect choice. As he dropped me off that night he whispered, “I love you Steph.” in my ear as he hugged me goodnight. Those words were amazing to finally hear. I whispered back, “I love you too Matty.” I turned and walked away smiling from ear to ear.

We only made love a few times again after that night. But, each time was amazing. He was always a gentleman. I wanted this to be a real relationship. I wanted this to last. But, things didn’t work out that way. He continued his stint in the Navy and I eventually met someone and got married in 1994.

The next time we would see each other would be in 1998. I was working at our local Wal-Mart trying to make ends meet after a messy divorce and the death of my first child. I was dating a man who I am know married to and, unbeknownst to me at that moment, pregnant with my second daughter. I heard this booming voice yell my name, “Steph!” I knew instantly that it was Matt. I ran over and gave him a huge hug. We almost at the same time asked each other what we had been up to. I told him about what had been going on with me. He said he was sorry, but was happy that I was better. He showed me a picture of his baby daughter on his keyring. We had both moved on. It was sad, but inevitable. I was genuinely happy for him. He deserved happiness too. We quickly said goodbye because I had to get back to work. I wanted to stay and talk. I wanted to know everything about his life since I had last saw him. But, I couldn’t. I didn’t even get his phone number or anything.

Years would pass again. Luckily, social media had kicked into full swing. I finally got on the bandwagon and signed up for Facebook in 2009. It took me awhile, but I finally found Matt again. We chatted here and there, but never really found a time to get together until a few years later. We both had families and busy lives. He had recently recovered from an extreme fight with Leukemia and I was on the mend from my own health issues.

Eventually, after many attempts to get together, we finally met up for lunch. I was a nervous wreck. What would we say to each other? How would we act? Would we still have anything in common? Would he want to be my friend after all this time? My mind was swirling as we sat down at the bar. He just smiled at me like no time at all had passed. We both ordered a drink. Mine was to calm my nerves. We instantly started to talk about our kids, family’s, the choir we were in. Everything, but ourselves and our past. I realized that maybe that past should stay there and we should move forward as friends. I really wanted him back in my life. I needed my friend. As we were talking I noticed he was so positive. Much more then he had ever been in the past. This caught me by surprise considering everything he had been through with the Leukemia. He said something profound that sticks with me even today. “Everyday I wake up is a good day.” (I talked about this right after it happened here:  https://stephssoapbox.wordpress.com/2013/02/28/inspiration-what-is-yours/ ) Wow. Such small, yet profound words. Matt really made me think about my own life. To this day, everyday I wake up, I hear those words replay in my head. So incredible.

We met off and on a few more times. Every time, we would be more comfortable around each other. We always talked about our kids. He just gushed over his. He was a great Dad. After his bout with cancer, he fought hard to get custody of the kids from his ex. He won and was doing the single Dad thing. Working hard, two teenagers, being a great friend to so many people.

Then in September of 2013, Matt got the news he was dreading. His Leukemia was back. He had bravely kicked it’s ass once, but I knew the facts. I knew it wasn’t good news. I slowly started to see him getting worse. When we would meet for lunch, he would have to take a ton of medication. He was losing weight again. He was tired a lot. But, amazingly, he never lost his spirit and positivity. I admired that. I looked up to that as my example. Just amazing.

One of the last times I saw Matt was ironically at a musical put on by our old show choir. I bought us tickets to see Les Mis. It was one of our favorites. We sat and watched together. Every now and then I would hear his sweet voice singing along ever so softly. It was nice to hear after so many years. I would smile at him and he would realize what he was doing and stop. At one point, I instinctively leaned over and put my head on his shoulder. Just for a moment until we both realized what I had done and I quickly sat back up. It just felt so good to be together again in that element. It felt like time hadn’t even moved a second. I will forever cherish that moment. It was like we had come full circle. Matt walked me out to my car and gave me one of his big hugs. I started to pull away, but he didn’t. He held me a few more moments and said goodbye. I started to unlock my car as he walked away. He quickly turned around and said, “Hey Steph. This was really nice. Thanks.” I smiled and thanked him for coming. We both drove off. That would be the last time I would see him outside of a hospital bed.

A few weeks ago on Valentines Day, Matt’s Mom was gracious enough to allow me to come visit Matt. He was staying with her and his step-Dad since he needed around the clock care. Hospice had been called in by this point and time was not on his side. I was nervous about seeing him so sick and weak, but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t go. I mustered up my courage and drove over to the house. Along the way, I decided to get flowers for him and his Mom. It just felt like something I could do for them. I walked into the house and waited as his Mom finished preparing him for my visit. I went into his bedroom and put the bouquet of yellow roses down where he could see them. I turned around and really looked at Matt. He was skin and bones. It took my breath away. I steadied myself for a minute and put on a smile. I sat down by his side and took his hand in mine. He smiled at me and said, “You know, guys are supposed to get girls flowers!” We both chuckled. His funny bone was obviously still intact. It broke the tension like he had broken the tension between us many times before. I sat and talked with Matt for as long as I could. He could barely keep his eyes open most of the time, but I could tell he was happy to have the company. At one point he even rolled over on his side, wincing in pain, just so he could see me better. “Now I can see you.” He said smiling. I sat with him as he attempted to eat some lunch, but he kept falling asleep like a toddler. At one point, I even removed the straw from his lips as he fell asleep drinking. I took that as my cue that it was time to leave. I took his hand once more and his eyes popped open. “Give me some sugar, please.” He said as he reached out his arms. I leaned in and gently started to hug him. He pulled me in tighter as if to say it was OK. He wasn’t going to break. I whispered into his ear, “I love you my dear Matty.” He whispered back, “I have always loved you, Steph.” I gently kissed his forehead and headed out of the room. I whispered, “Goodbye. Have a good trip home.” as a tear slid down my face. I knew that would be the last time I would see him here on Earth ever again.

Today, I am steadying myself to go to the viewing. Tomorrow is the funeral.  I know this will be one of the hardest things I have ever done. How do you see your best friend, love, and one of the most amazing people in the world like that? How do you say that final goodbye? I will put on that brave face once again. I will be positive. I will be strong. I will live my life always remembering the impact he had on me.

Matty, where ever you are, thank you. Thank you for the friendship and love. Thank you for helping me out of the darkest places I have ever been in. Thank you for showing me that life is worth living. I will live by your example. I will spread positivity and light. I know one day we will meet again and you will take me in your strong arms and swing me around like the old days. We will be together once more. Love you forever.

Image taken from Facebook

Image taken from Facebook

Triplesticks

Triplesticks

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Inspiration: What is yours?

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OK. Admit it. You have had one of those days where you just can’t find a reason to get out of bed let alone find inspiration. I have been there so many times it would be impossible to count. Yet, most days, we do get up out of that bed and get on with our day. What inspires you? What makes you say, “OK. I can do this.”?

I have many things to motivate me. Most days, it is my family. I know I have to be there for my daughter, to be an example. She needs me to be her rock in these arduous teen years. It’s hard enough for her to get out of bed some days too.

If that doesn’t work, I turn to music. As I have mentioned, music is emotion to me. I have certain songs I know I can go to for comfort and encouragement. It’s kind of cliche, but I still love Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” for those days I need an extra boost.

But, my biggest inspiration for quite some time came last week. I met a friend from high school for lunch. Other then seeing each other in town every once in awhile or talking for a minute or two on Facebook, we really hadn’t had much contact for about 18 years. It was a bit awkward at first, but then we just started to talk about life and our struggles. He had been diagnosed with Leukemia and was now almost 2 years into remission. He went through so much in that time and came out on the other side with a great attitude. He said to me with a smile, “Every day I wake up is a good day.” That hit me hard. With all of my struggles with my own health I had really gone into a depression and most days couldn’t see the good in life. What he said made me think, “Wow. If he can be that positive after all he has been through and will continue to deal with over the coming years, why can’t I?” I decided that day to start seeing things differently. To start noticing the things and people around me again. To truly open up my heart to the world again. I am scared that I will get hurt again. I am scared that my own health issues will continue to make life hard. But, I feel I should really try. I don’t know how long I will stay this way…when the depression might seep back in or the pain in my body will cause me to doubt again. I just know that I owe it to myself, my family, and my great friend to be a bit more positive about life. I lost so many years and relationships because of my depression. I want to heal that pain and start a new journey in life.

Today is a new day and I will embrace it. What will you do? I hope you find your inspiration and have a great day.

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The Music In My Heart

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Those that know me in real life know I love music. I’m fairly certain I have been singing as long as I have been been talking. I’m no Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, or the amazing Ella Fitzgerald, but I can carry a tune. I have been in multiple choirs/groups throughout my life. Everything from church to show choir to acapella. My taste in music varies widely…from Bach to Beck.

I have been known to just bust out singing for the hell of it. It doesn’t seem to matter what mood I am in, I can find a song to match it. If I am in a bad mood, I can break out the angsty tunes by Avril Lavigne or Alanis Morissette. Lighthearted mood, gotta go Colbie Caillat or Jason Mraz. Straight No Chaser is always a good pick-me-up. You get the picture…

Music, to me, transcends boundaries. There is no color, no nationality, no prejudice. It is notes on a page magically brought to life by talented artists. That’s how I choose to see the world. We are all artists bringing our unique talents to the world. Each of us have a different melody in our hearts, but together we make beautiful music.

Take a moment today to find the music in your heart.

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My ride on the bipolar train (with multiple diagnosis stops along the way)

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I came here today not knowing exactly what I wanted to write about. I have had a multitude of subjects running through my head the last few days. I’m sure I will hit on those subjects soon enough. I decided to look through the blogs I have been following for inspiration. It hit me as soon as I saw this: http://acanvasoftheminds.wordpress.com/2013/01/25/blog-for-mental-health-2013. Being new to WordPress, and blogging in general, I had no idea how many people blogged about mental health. I began to read through several of the blogs listed on this site. I was moved, truly amazed by the honesty that people were conveying.  They made me feel less alone, like they understood me and what it means to live day in and day out with a mental illness. These are just a few that touched me today:  http://disorderlychickadee.wordpress.com/ http://sitdownatatypewriterandbleed.wordpress.com/   http://shemustbemental.wordpress.com/   http://adaywithdepression.wordpress.com/

They all had the bravery to tell their stories, so here is mine:

I knew from a young age that I was “different”. I always felt over emotional about everything. No matter how hard I tried, or how much I knew I should stifle my emotions in public, they always came pouring out. Sometimes at the most inopportune times or inappropriate ways. (Who knew laughing in the middle of a funeral would be so frowned upon?!) Back then you were labeled as “spirited” or “odd” or, my favorite, “mental”. There was no running to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist for help. You were just told you would grow out of it or it was just a phase you were going through. I just went through my early teens thinking I was “different” and didn’t think much more about it.

When I hit high school and my hormones really started kicking in, my emotions heightened drastically. I would laugh uncontrollably at the stupidest things. I could cry at the drop of a hat if someone looked at me the wrong way. Dare to piss me off or yell at me, and I would be inconsolable for days. It would get so bad that my physical health would take a nose dive and I would have to miss days of school. I knew this wasn’t something “I would just grow out of”. I knew this was something that I would have to endure for the rest of my life. I knew I needed help. I remember explaining all of this to my mother one afternoon after having a rough day of school in my junior year. We cried together while sitting at our kitchen table. She promised to get me the help I needed. Shortly after, I started seeing an amazing therapist that helped me to understand that I was not alone in this world. She asked me if I had ever heard of a condition called “bipolar disorder”. I shook my head “no”. As she explained it all to me, I remember nodding my head as she listed off the symptoms. Racing thoughts? check Mood swings? check Hard time completing tasks? check Uncontrollable laughing or crying? check and check The more she listed off the symptoms, the more I felt a little bit of the heaviness lifting off of my shoulders. It all made sense now.

Shortly after that conversation, I was sent to a psychiatrist to be properly diagnosed. He told me the depression side was a bit more prevalent so he wasn’t sure the bipolar diagnosis would be correct. I was diagnosed with major depression and generalized anxiety disorder. Although it wasn’t the diagnosis I thought I would receive, it was a relief to finally be able to put a label on what I had been dealing with for years. I was put on Prozac for the depression and was told to watch for and severe changes in my anxiety. When the medication started to work, I could feel my emotions start to balance out. I felt better than I had in years. Like I could take on the world.

Then the bottom dropped out. My Senior year of high school was full of highs and lows. I was finally part of a show choir I had been wanting to join for 2 years. It felt amazing to be up on a stage singing and dancing. I finally felt like I was a part of something, like I mattered. I was making friends and having a great time. It was a place I could let loose and let my emotions go. But, I was also dealing with an on again off again relationship that had encompassed my world for 2+ years. My boyfriend had moved on to college and was finding his way in life, and I was still in high school still trying to figure out mine. Late in my Senior year we decided to finally break it off. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I had planned on dedicating my life to this person and now he was gone and I was lost. I went through the motions of the last days of high school feeling moody and depressed. Too depressed. I would here things from my friends like, “What’s your problem?” or “Why are you being such a bitch?”. I no longer had the energy to talk with them to try explain what I was going through. I was done. I felt myself slipping down that slope of no return. I knew that I didn’t want to exist anymore.

I had it all planned out. The night of my graduation party I was going to drink a bottle of whiskey I had pilfered from a friends parents liquor cabinet and swallow down a bottle of pain killers I had found in my Mom’s bathroom. I went through the motions of the party, exchanging pleasantries, thanking people for their gifts, etc. A fake smile plastered on my face the whole night. Everyone had left and I was getting ready to go upstairs to my bedroom and start my “goodbye party” when I heard a car driving up the driveway. It was a good friend of mine who I didn’t think was going to show up. My first thought was to tell him to leave, but then something changed inside me. I knew I needed to talk to him, even if it would be the very last time. We ended up talking into the wee hours of the night. He helped me realize that life was still worth living. After he left I took a good hard look at the pills and the bottle and knew that this was a cowards way out. I could do this. I could live. I ran to the bathroom, poured the liquor down the sink and flushed the pills. I made a promise to myself that day that I would never commit suicide no matter how rough my life would get. I had no idea how hard that promise was going to be to keep.

My first marriage was turbulent. We met, fell in love, found out I was pregnant, and got married all within a span of less than a year. We were both quite young and had no clue what we were doing or how to handle any of this. We faced it head on, but just couldn’t make it work. (Much more happened to me in that marriage to make me who I am today, but that story will be saved for another blog.) I moved out and back into my parents house, 1-year-old in tow, and filed for divorce. I was now forced to start my life over while trying to raise a young child.

I, somehow, was able to pull it all together. I got a job. I was raising a child. I was saving up for a place my daughter, Darienne, and I could call our own. Oddly, I was happy. I finally felt good about life again. My daughter and I moved into our own apartment in the fall of 1996. Things were as good as they could be. I had met a new guy, David. (My now husband of 14 years.) I was in a good place emotionally. Then in June of 1997, the bottom dropped out again. My beautiful, sweet little 2-year-old Dara was dead. (Another looooong story for another day.) My world was over. I fell into a state of shock and despair. I moved back in with my parents. I took a leave of absence from my job. I just holed up in my room wishing it was all a disgusting nightmare I would wake up from at any moment.

Things after that are a bit hazy. (Most of this paragraph is what I can piece together from different things people have told me throughout the years.) I was staying over at my now husbands house one night woke up with no recollection of who he was, where I was, or how old I was. I had regressed to where I thought I was about 8-9 years old. I overcame pieces of that, but still needed help. Shortly after, I was admitted to a psych ward and was diagnosed with retrograde amnesia and PTSD. My mind just couldn’t process the trauma any longer and it had to shut down to protect me. (I still to this day cannot recall a good section of this period in my life. It is like a giant jigsaw puzzle where no matter how hard you try none of the pieces will fit together.) I now can look back and call that a blessing in disguise.

I eventually, with many months of psychotherapy, meds, and help from friends and family, was able to get my life back to normal. As normal as one possibly could, anyway. I went back to work and moved back out on my own. I was in love again and happy. I found out in 1998 that I was expecting another daughter. I was happy to hear the news, but completely scared and panicked that something would happen to this child as well. I pushed that thought aside and David and I got married. In 1999 we welcomed Caitlyn into our lives. I went into protective overdrive. Which sent me into deep postpartum depression. I was having panic attacks and crying all the time. It was time to get back on my meds after having to off of them while I was pregnant. I recovered with the help of the meds and therapy again. I was happy. I was a Mom again. I was in a great marriage. Things were looking up.

Then in 2004 my Mom was diagnosed with brain cancer. She had 6 months to live. BOOM! My bottom dropped out again. I went back into therapy. I knew it was the best thing I could do for her and for myself. I held it together the best I could for her, but it killed me inside to see her slowly fading away from this world. She passed away right before Christmas 2004. I went through all the stages of grief quicker this time. I was afraid of falling back into that deep dark hole of despair. I was depressed. My anxiety kicked in vehemently. But, I was able to keep myself stable. I had strength inside me I had never known.

That inner strength has kept me going through many things. I have had my own medical issues over the last 10+ years. (I will write about that at a later date as well.) My daughter, Caitlyn, (now almost 14 years old) has her own string of diagnoses – ADHD, ODD, and possible bipolar. With what I have been through, I have been able to help her understand why she is the way she is and guide her through her tough journey. I just hope that hers is a much less bumpy road.

Recently, I was sitting down with a health advocate introducing myself and explaining what I had been through and all the mental health diagnoses I have had throughout the years. After a long pause and lots of consideration, she looked at me and asked if I knew what bipolar disorder was. I literally had to laugh out loud. I had come full circle. After all this time and all these different meds, it was true. I am proud to say, “I have bipolar disorder!”

Thanks for reading my LENGTHY story. I know I went off subject at times, but that is how my mind works. It was important to me to tell you about my life and how I ended up where I am today. I know there are many gaps to fill in, but I didn’t want to go overboard. I will write about those things and whatever else comes up in my life soon. I welcome all comments and questions.