Hello everyone. I pray that the 2017 holiday season has been a blessed not stressed season for you all. It has been a bit since my last post let me tell you why.
Many of you may know that I am an active survivor living with bipolar with depression and PTSD with anxiety. Over the last few months, I have noticed my desire to do the three things that give me comfort: church/praying, writing, and crack head cleaning (Haha) were no longer there. My definition of crack head cleaning is cleaning for hours like you are high off some sort of upper.
My faith is a big part of who I am. Sadly, and in my darkest moments, it is the furthest thing from my mind. I sleep through my alarm for Sunday service. This action could be justified if church service was early in the morning, but my church offers several service times at various locations around the city and online. The latest service is across town at 1:00 CST. When I do wake up I would feel guilty by missing church, then repeat the cycle of crying myself to sleep from guilt.
Earlier this year, I turned my walk-in closet at home into my prayer closet. It is my quiet place to pray, study my bible, pour my heart out to God, sit in silence, and sometimes write. My closet was my holy place in my apartment to seek refuge when the world was attacking me. I started writing my second novel of my letters to God in my prayer closet.
While sitting in my special place, I asked why “God, why did you make me the way that I am? Why are my mind and life such a hot wretched mess? How does your word proclaim that I am more than a conqueror, but I can’t conquer the damn demons and voices in my head? Why I am told to pray for things and ask for healing when in reality I don’t think that is true. If I weren’t in this situation, I wouldn’t need to pray for healing. Why would you torture me with the racing thoughts, moments of rage, anger, extreme highs and lows, and so much self-hatred for myself? Why do I continually hurt the ones that I love?” This line of questioning would go on for hours until I eventually cried myself to sleep on in my closet curled up with a blanket holding my journal and pen.
Fast forward to a few months ago. My prayer closet has now been transformed back into an ordinary cabinet for clothes, shoes, and storage. The wall with my sticky notes of prayer request and answered prayers have long fallen off. I don’t feel God’s presence there like I once did. When I walked into my closet, I felt an empty void that left me feeling that I have disappointed God and maintaining my relationship with him. The mess of my spiritual life was starting to resemble the mess in my physical life.
My weight was still going up and down like a damn yo-yo, and there was no desire even to battle trying to work out or eat better. That menacing little voice in my head kept saying, “One more burger or snack cake won’t hurt anything you are already fat.” These internal thoughts would add to the vicious cycle of continued negative self-image and increased the level of low self-esteem. I would avoid looking in the mirror or taking pictures because I was looking at such an ugly person. I stopped sending my husband pictures of me because I didn’t want him to see the slob he married. I knew deep down he would be ashamed of such a fat and unattractive wife.
My house looked like I felt, a disaster area. I would clean one room and become too tired to finish the rest of the house. Some days were more painful than others due to chronic lower back and sciatic nerve pain from a bulging disc. Moving to use the bathroom was a challenge. Other days, I was just too tired to do anything. I had mounds of laundry that needed tending to, but only washed what I needed for a few days. When I did accomplish doing some laundry, I would fold them, and they would sit in my clothes basket for weeks or until I had worn them all and it was time to do laundry again.
My FAVORITE articles to wash, dry, and put away are my towels and bedding. I have an obsession with bed-in-a-bag/matching bedding and towels. I get excited when I launder a load of towels or linen like a strange sort of excitement that should be response associated with opening a gift. Another thing that settles my racing mind and gradually brings me down from a mania high is vacuuming. The sound of the vacuum drowns out the racing thoughts in my mind as well as has a constant soothing characteristic to it for some reason. I also enjoy scrubbing toilets and making the bed with matching bedding. It made no sense to have clean smelling linen when bathing was no longer a high priority.
I could go days (personal best is four days) without bathing. Merely thinking about showering process was so mentally exhausting. Turning the water on, waiting for it to get to the desired temperature. Removing my clothes. Getting into the shower to wash up my allotted three times ( once to get that first layer of ickiness off, the second wash to get rid of what was missed the with the first washing, and the third for the pure scent of my body wash). Getting out, drying off, putting on my body oil or lotion ( I am a black woman, and if I don’t put on oil I look like I have been rolling around in flour. Haha) Then ultimately getting dressed.
Just thinking of each simple step of that process made me tired. Instead of showering I would use cleansing wipes to wash those critical body parts that can cause offensive odors. I found myself fussing with my daughter about bathing every day; then it dawned on me, she is leading by my example. That goes along with bathing and proper housekeeping.
I crashed extremely hard on Christmas Day after about a three-day mania episode. Christmas this year had missed my house altogether. No decorations, no money for gifts, no time with family, and anything associated with the holiday annoyed the hell out of me. It was just like another paid holiday off from work. I slept all day. Working in retail for my second job was agonizing to hear the holiday music over the store PA system. I wanted to wear earplugs or cut my ears off, so I didn’t have to listen to another damn rendition of “All I Want for Christmas” or freaking “Jingle Bells.” Wednesday I started to decided things had to change. Thus, I created an incentives lists for me to get out of my dark place and get back to living.
Incentive one was for my spiritual well-being. I have the bible app on my phone as well as the pocketbook “Jesus Calling” that I carry with me. My goal is to actively read the scripture of the day and apply it to my life that day. The next day I would do the same. I will do all that I can to get back to attending church regularly as I once did. Which should be relatively easy since my requested off days from my part-time job are Sundays and Wednesdays. I will surrender to God and continue to recognize he runs this show. I will also set aside ten minutes of my day to be in my prayer closet again.
Incentive two is coming home to a clean house and using different cleaners to make the house smell good in conjunction with getting back to being a decent house in general. If you haven’t already noticed, I am drawn to different scents. My goal for better housekeeping is clean one room night after getting home from both of my jobs. A side note with incentive two is to walk at least ten minutes on the treadmill a day. (Yes, I have a treadmill in my bedroom that is being used as clothes rack. Shame on me I know.)
I have established the chores duties for the house between myself and my daughter. We were each responsible for our individual bathrooms and bedrooms, and we would alternate cleaning the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Often there are nights when I come home from my second job that I am too tired to think about cleaning, but I still do something small like wipe the kitchen counters down or load the dishwasher.
Writing used to be my coping mechanism to calm my racing thoughts, work through bouts of anger, sadness, or talk to God. The last few months my mind has been eerily silent. No ideas, no prophetic poems to describe the depts of love or hate. My heart wasn’t in it anymore. At this point, I was for sure I had lost my mind. The drastic change of a silent mind threw my mental equilibrium off. I felt I had lost my writing mojo and pretty much gave up on trying to get back into wholeheartedly again. I began questioning if I was as talented as I thought I was. Or was I falling for a pipe dream that I had sold my self as well as what others have told me.
That was until my editor contacted me with the full edited version of my upcoming memoir, “Bruised, But Not Broken.” When I read that email, my body went into this hodgepodge of all kinds of emotions. I was nervous, excited, ready to vomit, and pass out. I didn’t know if I was coming, going, or staying. As I began to read MY story, my mind became alive again with racing ideas for my next blog post or my next book idea.
My third incentive is to complete the publication process and brushing away the mental fog that has prevented me from doing one of the things that I love to do. After the final read through between my editor and myself, it is off to the copy editor for one last run through then off to the presses! I am looking forward to traveling for a mini book tour later next year around my state and eventually around the country! GO MEEEEE!!!!!
Lastly, incentive four is for bathing by experimenting with scents and textures different body washes. I adore the lingering smell of my body wash after a shower. I don’t use perfume or body sprays often, but I will wear the hell out of my body wash. 🙂 This week I am using a new scent of coconut water and mango splash. All of my incentives are important to me, but this one is special to me because when I smell clean, I feel clean. My mom always taught me that, “As a woman, we have natural scents that can become offensive, so we have to take extra care of our bodies.”
Today is a new day, and I know that each day will be another day to strive to reap the benefits of each of my incentives. I hope this post gives comfort to someone that may be going trapped in that same dark place where nothing matters. Just create one incentive and work your way up until you see and feel the warmth of the light.