Worn Out

Tired Collage
Photos taken & poem written October 2015. It’s that season again…

Exhausted

Overwhelmed
Not thinking clearly
Not able to complete sentences
Not able to answer direct questions

Fumbling with language
With spoken language
With what I hear
With what I read

So sleepy
Feared falling asleep
Driving to doctor’s office

Door locked
Looked at calendar
Over an hour early

Went back to parked car
Overlooking hill of eucalyptus
Enjoyed view

Tolerated gardeners
Noisy leaf blowers
Those things should be illegal

Wish I had slept
That extra hour
Though not sure
It would have helped

Seems there’s no refilling
This empty tank
No overcoming
This fatigue right now

Seasonal and situational
Wait it out?
Perhaps
Not sure

I Don’t Want to Write About #Suicide for #WorldSuicidePreventionDay

Do Not Want to Write About Suicide. Background image is chainlink fence with people playing basketball behind it

I don’t want to write about suicide
I don’t want the image of her
Clinging onto a chain link fence
Chef’s knife in hand
Chef’s knife inside of her
Looking through the chain link
At kids playing in the park
She mourned the loss of her son
She could not contain her grief
She could not hold on
She had other children
They no longer had a mother
My father no longer had a cousin
I no longer had a cousin once removed

When I was 18
I, too, wanted to kill myself
I thought the world
Better off without me
My family
Better off without me
The emotional pain
Unbearable
A living hell
But I didn’t kill myself
I sought help
I got help
But I was not a mother
Grieving the loss of her son


International Association for Suicide Prevention - September 10, 2017 - World Suicide Prevention Day - Take a minute, change a life.

World Suicide Prevention Day 2017

I do not whisper. I ROAR.

I do not whisper. I ROAR.

Motherhood transformed me. My identity changed. Now it changes again. I have constantly reinvented myself over my lifetime.

As a pre-med biochemistry major at UCLA, I was miserable and suicidal. Then I studied part-time at a community college, biding time to find my direction. Finding a niche as a legal studies major at UC Berkeley, I tried to reconcile my inner turmoil with very high professional aspirations.

First I worked as a legal assistant, then went to graduate school, earned a master’s in psychology and became a psychotherapist, only to crash and burn. Recovering from that breakdown, I re-entered the workforce as a temporary file clerk in the commercial real estate industry where I had ten years of success.

Trying to balance work with motherhood, I failed miserably, and ended up hospitalized in a psychiatric unit with rapid cycling and mixed symptoms of bipolar disorder. After months of partial hospitalization, I became a reluctant stay-at-home mother on disability.

What does an overeducated and reluctant stay-at-home mother with a recurring sense of calling (or a manic and delusional symptom of bipolar disorder, depending on one’s perspective) do with her mind? Why attend seminary, of course, which I did on two separate occasions and on two separate occasions had to quit due to symptoms.

Here I am writing my story again. To what end? To reinvent myself once again – not as someone who is ill, but as someone who fights and loves and writes and has hope that new chapters of her life lie ahead.

I have a voice that must be heard. I have a message to share and share it I do. I am not just my son’s mother. I am not my diagnosis. I am able. I am able to affect change. I wield power. I am a mover and a shaker. I do not whisper. I ROAR.

Book Reviews: fAdE tO bLuE and mOnOchrOme

fAdE tO bLuE by H.M. Jones

He did not go gentle into that good night... Fade to Blue, H.M. Jones
fAdE tO bLuE is H.M. Jones‘ prequel to mOnOchrOme. Those of us who read Monochrome met the fascinating character Ishmael. This prequel gives us Ishmael’s back story and explains more about how the hellish world of Monochrome works. Monochrome is a creative metaphor for depression, specifically suicidal depression.

Ishmael’s childhood was filled with trauma and neglect. As the novel opens, he finds his mother’s body after she dies by a particularly gory suicide. He descends into a suicidal abyss, and finds himself in Monochrome.

Though my life was far less traumatic, like Ishmael, I was a suicidal young adult. What saved me, and what keeps Ishmael alive, was the fight to live. Fight depression. Fight those lies depression tells you.

mOnOchrOme by H.M. Jones

Monochrome: What would you do to save your most precious memories? H.M. Jones

mOnOchrOme by H.M. Jones is a blue cold scary fantasy world, a metaphor for depression, an infernal purgatory where the protagonist Abigail survives by paying for her basic needs with positive memories.

As Abigail struggles to leave Monochrome and return to her baby, she fights the despair of postpartum depression. She fights the lies depression convinces her are truths.

Monochrome is a powerful, compelling novel. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it as a work of fiction that told important truths about depression through the metaphor of Monochrome.

Depression Lies

Depression lies. You matter. You have value. You are loved. Those you love are not better off without you. Fight the lies depression tells you. Fight and reach out for help. Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

You are not alone. I, too, have experienced the hell of severe suicidal depression. I’m thankful that I fought it and got the help I needed. Those I love, those who love me, are thankful, too.

Please Don’t Ask Me to Review Your Book

Recently I’ve written two book reviews, and am about to write one more. BUT, I do NOT consider myself a book reviewer, so PLEASE don’t ask me to review your book.

As a mental health writer, I have many online connections, authors whose writing is fueled by mental illness such as depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. My heart wants to reach out and support all mental health writers (all writers, poets and artists, for that matter), but I simply cannot.

I read far fewer blogs than I once did and very few mental health memoirs or novels, preferring to escape living with mental illness. Usually I read novels which do not involve the subject of mental health.

That said, I did read both mOnOchrOme and fAdE tO bLuE and thoroughly enjoyed them both.

Thank you.

Review: Birth of a New Brain #PostPartumBipolar

Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder by Dyane Harwood. Foreword by Dr. Carol Henshaw.

Dyane Harwood thrilled me when she sent me an advance copy of her memoir, Birth of a New Brain: Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder. (I pre-ordered it and was anxiously awaiting it’s October 2017 release.) Her memoir fills a much-needed niche in sharing the experience of bipolar disorder, peripartum onset (beginning during pregnancy or within four weeks after delivery).

With her friendly approachable writing style, her strong spirit shines throughout her memoir, even when describing the devastation of bipolar disorder. Her story shows how important it is to not give up. She had to undergo ECT and multiple medication trials to find what worked for her.

Dyane explains both the traumatic symptoms she experienced and technical psychiatric information clearly and accurately. She managed to inform and inspire me. Her book is well-researched and includes useful and informative resources throughout and in her appendices. She even includes me as a resource (I’m totally flattered).

I identify with Dyane’s experience as a mother diagnosed with bipolar disorder postpartum, for I too began hypomanic ramping when breastfeeding my son. Honestly, I began ramping during my pregnancy — which led to workaholism, overactivity, and then bed rest — but I wasn’t diagnosed until he was a toddler. My diagnosis of dysthymia, which I had since I was eighteen, changed to bipolar type II. Both Dyane and I had our worlds turned upside down by the onset of our illnesses. As I write, I’m almost brought to tears remembering that time.

Shortly after I began blogging in late 2013, I met Dyane Harwood through her personal blog — Birth of a New Brain: A Writer Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder (Bipolar, Peripartum Onset), which you can find at proudlybipolar.wordpress.com. Meeting Dyane online made living with bipolar disorder easier. Her support and friendship has been instrumental in my personal mental health recovery.