Wednesday, July 30, 2014

First Stage Of The Storm

I found myself looking at cloud formations. Which is normal unless you spend the entire day looking at clouds. I was feeling elated and euphoric. I had just picked up a new job working at Thai restaurant. I could easily talk to anyone for about thirty minutes until I got pulled away by another server. It seemed like the customers loved talking to me as well. They even wanted to shake my hand before they left. I felt like everyone was my soul mate. This should have been a warning sign for me. I am usually very shy and keep to myself.

I was happier than I had ever been in my life! In reality my life started to fall apart. I called to tell my restaurant job I was running late but they simply said not to come back. My FL best friend became frustrated with me because I would lose track of whole days. I did not know where I had been or what I had done.

I could not understand why people were upset with me, in my world life was wonderful! I was happier than I had ever been.

Little did I know that my mind was starting to become ill. The worst was yet to come. I started sleeping less. Sometimes only a few hours a night.

My life was quickly descending into darkness and I was completely unaware. The skies were filled with dark clouds ready to unleash their fury into my life.

Monday, July 28, 2014

College Years (Calm Before The Storm)

At eighteen I moved in with my mom. I did not like where my dad was living. He was in the country. It took a long time to get anywhere. My mom lived in the city. I am more of a city girl than I am a country girl.

I stayed with my mom for about two years. It was actually her boyfriend's house but he was almost never home. It was not easy going a lot of the time. I blamed my mom for all of my problems. Sometimes I was angry with my mom for no reason. She was my scapegoat. I still feel terrible today about how I treated her.

On the flip side I had no curfew. I could come and go as I pleased. I was free. There would be times I could stay away for a few days. This would be considered unacceptable at my dad's house.

While enjoying this freedom I started college. I chose a college where I could major in fashion. I was not really sure of what I wanted to do. However I did like fashion and it has always been my dream to work with lingerie.

Soon after I started college I landed a job at Victoria's Secret! Sometimes I would work on the sales floor helping customers find lingerie. Most of the times I worked at the cash wrap where we checked out the customer's purchases. I really enjoyed working at Victoria's Secret. Often I consider going back there but I do not feel confident about it until I slim down first.

During this time my mom and I parted company. Her boyfriend was leaving her so we both had to move out. My mom briefly stayed at an extended stay motel until she had to go to the hospital. Then she ended up in a group home.

I moved in with auntie and my FL best friend for a month. Things got cramped so I decided I could not live there very long. I found a room to rent near my job. The young woman renting the room was close to my age. She was the ideal roommate. She is friendly and very tidy. Thankfully our schedules keep us home at different times. We do not see each other often so it is kind of like living alone.

For the first time in my life I am independent. Often times I feel alone. My dad had moved to AL several months before. My mom was in a group home. My brother was in the military. I was truly on my own.

While all of this was going on I was dating a guy off and on for about four years. I fell in love with him. Sometimes he would take me to his friends' houses. Him and his friend would go into a room and my boyfriend would tell me to wait in the living room. I was very naive. I did not know what was going on. Later in our relationship I found out my boyfriend had a bad coke habit.

Even though I had a boyfriend, FL best friend and a few close friends most times I felt alone. Loneliness and sadness were closing in on me. I have heard that your true feelings emerge when you drink alcohol. I was known as the depressed drunk. Most of the times when I had a drink a sea of sadness and tears would flow out of me. At this point the storm was ready to unleash it's fury but first was the calm.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Bear My Fur Child

Today I want to talk about my son. However he is not a human son. My son is a large stuffed bear. Auntie and my FL best friend gave him to me when I was eighteen. I named him Mr. Bear but call him Bear for short.

Bear soon became someone I looked forward to seeing when I got home. He is always patiently waiting for me. He was always ready to listen to my problems, to comfort me when I am sad and depressed.

Bear always has a sunny disposition. He is never sad or blue. He always enjoys getting kisses and cuddles. Bear is my anchor.

I have always been very shy. Often times I do not know why I feel sad or depressed. That never bothers Bear. He is always there to listen or console me. Some people may feel that they know a lot about me. However Bear is the ONLY one that knows everything about me!

Bear does not talk back. That is not his job. He is there to listen and comfort, to be kissed and hugged. Bear is a huge part of my life. He helps me cope with everyday struggles, he is always there for me. I depend on him and love him very much!

When dealing with schizophrenia you do what works. This brain disorder makes my life more difficult than life for the average person. Bear helps me cope and gets me through the tough times. We do what works and Bear works for me!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

High School Years

We continue my journey making the leap to high school. There was plenty of changes going on with me physically and mentally. I was becoming a young woman. I missed my mom incredibly at this critical point in a young woman’s life.

I dreaded going to high school. More people. Making new friends. Some people thought I was stuck up. In reality I was actually very shy. It made me sad that some teens thought this about me. Only my close friends knew about my shyness.

My undiscovered brain disorder made an already difficult transition worse. There was not a lot of traumatic experiences. I was a typical teenager for the most part. I made new friends and still had my close friends to support me.

Some teens are shy. I was painfully shy. I was sad more often than normal. Sometimes not knowing why. My refuge and comfort was my music. Through music I would escape the problems of my day.

As I have said above I managed. I was your typical teenager. I loved being with friends, listening to music, and having fun.

Then comes the summer right before my senior year. The winds of changes are blowing. These changes would deepen my sadness.

Right before starting school we move about forty miles away. Being very shy and at this stage in life the thought of making new friends was terrifying. Most teens at this stage have already formed their own groups. After only a week I could not do it. I could not fit in. I just could not do it!

I tried to enroll back into my old high school. They told me that since I had already been removed from their school they would not let me back in. I did not want to go back to the new school so I decide to drop out.

All of this coupled with my older brother, my protector, joins the military right before we move. My mom left us when I was ten. She was suffering from a mental illness. Now my older brother was leaving. I was devastated to say the least. My brother leaving, moving, trying to fit into a new school. My sadness deepened.

Life goes on. I took a part time job at Marshalls. When I first started working there they put me in the shoe department. I do not enjoy it very much. I get moved into the ladies department. I get to work with lingerie so I am excited! I make new friends. I was thankful for my job. It kept me busy and occupied my thoughts.

Even with all of this going on I kept moving forward. Auntie pushes me to get my high school diploma. I decide to enroll in the local community college and obtain my diploma.

All these changes, all these emotions were almost too much. However I keep on going. I stayed in touch with my older brother through snail mail letters. I was managing I thought, looking forward to college.

All of this may not sound extraordinary but remember I had a brain disorder. Slowly but surely it was beginning to take its toll in small ways. The storm is getting closer....

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Daily Living With Schizophrenia

I want to take a moment to interrupt my journey and explain what living with schizophrenia is like for me.

First of all not all schizophrenics hear voices or have harmful thoughts. Neither do we all live in a fantasy world.

More often than not I end up sleeping too much. Most days it is hard for me to even get out of bed. Some days I wake up feeling depressed for no reason. Mornings is when my depression is at its worst. I get up, take a shower, get dressed and take my medicine. If I do not have any morning plans I go back to bed for no longer than thirty minutes.

Then there are days when everything is normal. “Normal” people do not understand that this brain disorder affects my everyday life. I love to be around people but large crowds make me very uncomfortable.

I feel guilty for feeling so exhausted and depressed. I do not want to feel like this! I do not believe anyone does. I want to be productive. Take good care of myself. Be fully independent one day.

So do I just lie in bed all day? No! Well I mean for most days. About once a month I will allow myself to spend all day in bed with Bear if I really need it. Almost everyday there is something for me to do. My favorite thing to do is visit my friends. I enjoy going out to lunch. In my spare time you can find me either downtown, in an art gallery, or at the library. Sometimes I like to go shopping but I try to limit myself. I stay productive.

I am a functioning adult contributing to society. I volunteer at a nursing home. I help my friends in need. I pay my bills. I have dreams and goals but negative thoughts come in and tell me I can not achieve them.

This brain disorder makes my life extremely difficult but not impossible. I take my medications and get out of bed regardless of how I feel! It is a daily struggle but I am proof that people with brain disorders can lead a normal and productive life.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Middle School Years

My journey continues through my middle school years. I still had no idea of the trials I would face in later life. 
My dad finds a new wife. My step mom and I were not always on the same page. She has not been in America for very long. I am an American teenager. She still holds on strongly to old fashioned Laotian customs. People tell me they need their moms the most at this stage in life. There are a lot of changes going on in my mind and body. I have no one to discuss these things with.

My life changes dramatically when my little brother is born. I feel excited and scared at the same time. I loved my little brother dearly and still do but I found it very difficult to show him love and affection. This guilt was added to the sadness I already endured.

There is a girl that lives near me that becomes my best friend. I have known her for several years but we do not become especially close until I'm in the eighth grade. Her mom is like my second mom. I call her my auntie. Auntie and my best friend take me to their Christian church. My best friend and I go to teen bible studies. This is all new for me. Before I was used to going to Buddhist temples. Sometimes I feel hopeless. I am better at expressing myself through letters. Even though my best friend lives down the street I write her letters about how I want to give up on life. She always lifts me up and encourages me. Tells me everything will be okay. She is still my best friend till this day. Sometimes I call her my sister.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Childhood years

My earliest childhood memories are clues of what was to come. A lot of kids referred to me as a mute. I was very introverted. I rarely ever spoke. Usually I would not even speak unless I was spoken to first. I did not have many friends.

The person I spoke to regularly was my big brother. I have had a close relationship with him for most of my life. He is two years older than me. I also loved my stuffed animals dearly and they kept me company whenever I felt lonely.

When I was in the fifth grade I met a good friend that remains a good friend of mine until this very day.

A new girl joins my class. Sometimes I like to share my treats with other kids in my class. Everyone is sitting down to lunch. I give the new girl a piece of my licorice. She asks “What is that?” Another girl tells her “It is a piece of licorice.” Later as I am about to walk home the new girl tells me “Wait I do not want to walk home alone.” So we end up talking and walking home together.

Somehow I discovered music. Listening to music makes me high and lifts me out of my sadness. Most of the time I live in my own world and music is my ultimate escape.