My Thanks for Wellness : The 12 Days of Thanks

In the past, I have experienced a lot of trauma directly related to holidays.  As a child, my father would throw these epic temper tantrums, because he really wasn’t interested in participating in them.  He didn’t want to go out, and he was hell bent on making everyone pay for forcing him into it.

That, in turn, had some serious effects on the family.  My mother would get into a frenzy and suffer from terrible anxiety prior to each holiday.  On the day of the holiday, she would frantically try to get everything together and do as much damage control as possible.

My brother, who has autism, would pick up on this and throw temper tantrums of his own.  He also has the OCD component involved with some forms of autism, so things would have to be absolutely perfect.  If they weren’t, all hell would break loose.

Then, we would arrive at the homes of our family members.  They were just as stressed out as our own family, and always in plainly terrible moods.

The holidays season was usually a complete disaster for my entire family.  We were pretty poor while I was growing up.  There was the business of buying a complete Thanksgiving dinner, despite the fact that we would dine at my overly crowded aunt’s house anyway.  It was at my brother’s demand.  Then, there was the obvious inconvenience to my mother for cooking a Thanksgiving dinner when she absolutely despises cooking.

Rinse and repeat for Christmas.  However, with Christmas, there was the overwhelming burden of buying Christmas presents on a very limited budget.  As much as I can fault my parents for things, when I was a kid, they really did their best to not disappoint us on Christmas.  However, the stress of it all saturated the air around me.  The mood that hung around me was charged and dark.  And I picked up on all of it.

As I grew into a young adult, Thanksgivings and Christmases became disappointing and tedious.  Presents became fewer, and my parents became almost resentful toward me for having to buy me presents once I was an adult.  I was still obligated to participate with a smile on my face, even though I carried all of the bad memories of fighting in the car and vicious attacks from my brother.

My husband and I married, and just before our first Christmas as a family, he was laid off.  We were scraping by with a newborn son.  It was probably the most disappointing Christmas of all, when we basically had to ask our family for handouts, just so we could get by until the New Year.  It was just more likely that Xan would be able to be hired in a new job in January.

That was the Christmas the broke me entirely when it came to the holiday season.  I had few fond memories of Christmas to draw from.  The ones in the recent past had been so gloomy.  Everything about it was depressing, and there was hardly a reason to look forward to it.

Instead of loathing the holiday season this year, I decided to start a project called The 12 Days of Thanks.  This year, I would like to focus on all of the positives.  And I want to practice expressing gratitude for all of the wonderful things in my life.

Today, for my first installment of my series, The 12 Days of Thanks, I want to give thanks for wellness.  Both in body, mind, and wellness in those in my family.

I have had some serious health problems in my life.  In addition to having a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, I suffer from somatic health problems.  They are all relatively minor.  I have been plagued with asthma and allergies my entire life, causing me difficulty with breathing and recurring bronchitis most times I get sick with something minor.  I suffer from “knock-knee”, which caused me to develop tendinitis   Every time the weather changes, my knees ache and swell.  Throughout the years, I have developed prediabetes and developing heart disease, mostly related to a combination of bad genetics and weight.

But, worst of all, I battled cervical cancer for four years of my life.  Thankfully, my case of cervical cancer didn’t require me to undergo the usual methods of treating cancer.  However, it did cause me to go through a number of uncomfortable exams, painful biopsies, and two different surgeries that may have compromised my reproductive ability.

Despite all of these, I am thankful for my wellness.  On November 10th of this year, I celebrated my one year anniversary since my LEEP procedure.  So far, I’ve been free of cervical cancer for over a year now.  And in another six months, as long as my tests come back fine, I will be cleared of it entirely.

I am grateful for the periods of wellness that I experience within Bipolar Disorder.

And I have so much gratitude toward the doctors that helped me get to this point of wellness in my life.

But, most of all, I am grateful for the wellness of my family.  Xan rarely catches any of the illnesses that pass through this house.  And if he does, it’s relatively mild.  Beast is well, with no serious health problems.  Although he does have Autism Spectrum Disorder, I can be thankful that it isn’t worse than it is.  I grew up with my brother, who has ASD much worse than my son.  I realize that it could have been a lot worse.  And, I’m grateful for the Early Intervention he received from the most wonderful professionals I’ve ever met.

I’m grateful that my family is well, and continues to do well.

Advertisements

Regret Nothing : 30 Days of Truth

Day 22 : Something you wish you hadn’t done in your life.

I never regret anything. Because every little detail of your life is what made you into who you are in the end.
Drew Barrymore

As a woman with Bipolar Disorder, emotions are a quintessential part of my life.  So, naturally, it would be shocking for me to admit that regret is not an emotion that I often experience.  Difficult to believe?  I would certainly believe so, especially in a person where emotions are often extreme and feral!

I experience a certain lack of regret for a number of reasons.

I typically choose my words and actions wisely.  I have often said, “There are just some things in this life that you cannot take back.”  Once certain behaviors are out there in reality, there may be no amount of apology or reparations that can fix the damages.  However, this is not to say that I don’t make my fair share of mistakes.

I do not regret my mistakes.  Mistakes are learning experiences, not irreparable failures.  Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”  That is exactly the nature of mistakes.  They are meant to teach us lessons.  It is up to us to derive an appropriate lesson from our mistakes.

There is another saying out there about regret.  “Never regret anything, because at one time, it was exactly what you wanted.”  That is precisely it.  Often, the choices that we make seem like the best choices for us at the time.  I am a stubborn kind of person, and even if there was some kind of time machine where I could go back and warn myself, I would certainly not have heeded my own warning.

I am a firm believer in fate, and I have faith that everything happens from significant purpose to later be determined in hindsight.  You know what they say, hindsight is 20 / 20.  And when we begin to work out the course of the events in our lives, we start to see how the tapestry comes together to weave the people we have become.

I am a stronger person person for having bipolar disorder.  I am a better mother for having a son on the spectrum.  I am a better wife, because I have a husband who loves me.  I am a more determined person for having dropped out of college.  Each struggle provides me with more character and more things to build myself up.

A wealth of evidence exists in my life to prove fate to me.  Xan and I met ten and a half years ago, through my high school sweetheart.  The two of them had become college roommates, and I had grown quite close to Xan.  And throughout the years, we remained close friends, despite any falling outs we may have had.  It was like we were drawn together by some unexplainable force.  I explained a great deal of that in a series of posts entitled, “Possibility and Ascention”, “Seeds of Affection”, and “Mo Anam Cara”. After all we had went through in the five years we weren’t romantically involved, we came together after all.  And as imperfect as my marriage is, it is the most perfect, unconditional love I have ever experienced.  I have certainly found my soulmate.

Every experience has a place in the tapestry of one’s life.  Experience is an essential part of who we are.  Our successes and mistakes come to shape us into the people that we are.  And without those experiences, we might not be the people that we will eventually come to cherish.

Often, I treat everyday as if it were my last day, or potentially the final day for someone I love.  After Xan’s car accident, my eyes were wide open to the fragility of life and the certain mortality we all face.  Each day must have some peaceful conclusion, lest someone passes in the night.  A lesson has to be derived from each event, and work toward the betterment of my myself and those around me.  And each day, I attempt to say or do at least one thing to better another person’s life.  Or at least their day.

I live life to live it.  I regret nothing.  Because in the end, it is my life.

The Brilliant Blog Award

A lot of the same blog awards have been floating around lately.  I thought it was about time for some fresh meat.

The Brilliant Blog Award, hot and fresh out of the kitchen.

Of course, with every blog award, there are rules:
Da Rules

  1. Write an acceptance speech, linking back to the person who gave it to you.
  2. Write 7 things you believe in.
  3. Give the award to as many brilliant blogs as you would like to share the love.

Since I am the originator, I’ll skip to nominations:

  1. Manic Monday
  2. Seasons Change, and so have I
  3. A Canvas of the Minds
  4. Pride in Madness
  5. Mental in the Midwest
  6. Mm172001’s Blog
  7. A Little Bit Stronger
  8. Crazy in the Coconut
  9. Just a Thought
  10. witheringtulip
  11. aliceatwonderland
  12. A Clown on Fire
  13. How Do You Eat An Elephant
  14. Infinite Sadness . . . or hope?
  15. Laura Susanne Yochelson
  16. Anxiety Adventures
  17. Overcoming Depression
  18. Struggling with BPD
  19. Electra.me
  20. Disorderly Chickadee
  21. neveraloneblog
  22. Manic Muses
  23. Snippets and Glimpses
  24. Someone Fat Happened
  25. My Journey with Depression

The Infamous Accident : 30 Days of Truth

Day 21 : (scenario) Your best friend is in a car accident and you two got into a fight an hour before. What do you do?

It was the first day of June, and at hot, sunny one at that.  Heat makes me miserable.  Well, truthfully, it doesn’t take much to make me miserable.

Xan was late coming home from work as usual.  I was ravenous with hunger when he called on his way home from work.  My attitude was sour, because we were nearing the 7 o’clock hour.  It had been far too long since my last meal, and I was bitter that he had a blatant disregard for his family’s needs.  We bantered back and forth as to what we wanted to do for dinner.

Suddenly, the phone cut out.  This was a usual annoying occurrence during his daily commute home.  And I impatiently waited for him to call back, ranting to my mother about what an incredibly inconsiderate jerk he had been.  The wait continued, and I found that I was fed up with the situation.  I attempted to call him back, but the phone went straight to voicemail.

I was furious.  Just because I gave him a little attitude after a long day gives him the right to ignore me?  My anger continued to grow as I attempted him again and again without any luck.  Suddenly, a strange number came up on my phone.  I answered, expecting it to be a bill collector of some sort.

It was Xan.  He said, “Lulu, don’t panic.  I’ve been in a car accident.”

When someone tells me not to panic, naturally I go straight to it.  I am an alarmist, and I always expect the worst.  I frantically screamed, “Oh my god, are you okay?!”

“I don’t know,” he responded, sounding dazed and a little confused.  He continued after a brief pause, “I think you need to call an ambulance.  Could you call an ambulance?”  There was no urgency in his voice.  Only a flat tone.

I didn’t know what to do.  How could I call an ambulance for him when I didn’t even know where he was, or what was wrong, or really what happened in the first place?  Suddenly, the adrenaline started coursing through my veins.  My head cleared and I assured him, “Hold on, I’m coming.  Where are you?”  He gave me his location, and I prodded his broken mind for more information as to what happened for more details.

“I’ve got to go.  The paramedics are here,” he informed me.

Urgently, I told him, “I’m coming.  Tell the paramedics to wait, because I’m on the way.  Don’t let them take you without me.”

My father offered to take me.  My brain was buzzing like live wires during a ride that seemingly took forever.  Is he okay?  Is he going to die?  What happened to him?  What’s going to happen now?  Please God, please let him be okay.  I hate myself for all of the needless bickering.  Those could have been my last words to him.

I arrived on the scene and jumped out of the car.  I crossed two lanes of traffic and stared intensely at the accident scene.  AT first, all I could see was a circle of police cars, some policeman directing traffic, some paramedics, and the ambulance.  I started to panic again when I couldn’t see Xan.  As I continued approaching, I saw the other car.  The entire front end was completely smashed in.  My heart seized and my throat started to close.  I couldn’t know what to expect.  But, naturally, I feared the worst.  I feared Xan on a stretcher, profusely bleeding and broken.

The Jetta came into view as I frantically continued into the scene, and it was a sight that rocked me to my very core.  I gasped with what little air I could manage.  The whole driver’s side was entirely smashed in, looking as if it could have done lethal damage to the person in that car.  That person being Xan, my lover, my husband, my best friend.

I was still desperately searching for him.  Everyone took notice of me, and watched intently.  I called out his full name, “(Withheld)!!!”  And I ran, rounding the police cars to find him sitting on the traffic island.  I plunged to the ground, scraping both of my knees under my thin skirt, and I carefully embraced him.  I sat down beside him to inspect him.  I asked again, “Are you okay?!”

Once again, he replied in a very unsteady voice, “I don’t know.”

He bared a swollen knee and described his head and neck injury.  He didn’t even know it, but he had a piece of beaded glass embedded in his thick eyebrow.  That paramedic approached us and said to me, “He hasn’t decided if he’s going to the hospital.”

Xan started mumbling some things about transportation, but I sharply cut him off.  “Yes, he’s going.  He is going, and he’s going now in the ambulance.”

Once I determined it was okay to leave him for a moment, I went to assess the damage to our beloved vehicle.  It was absolutely heartbreaking.  My first car, the car that I worked so hard for, that I lived in abject poverty over, the car I never had a chance to drive, was completely demolished.  It had a car sized dent spanning the entire driver’s side.

I went inside, determined to find Xan’s glasses, which no one bothered to look for.  I collected the rest of our belongings, and that’s when I saw them.  They were jammed between the driver’s side door and the seat that now touched each other.  I dove across a glass covered seat in that thin skirt to retrieve them.

I accompanied him in the ambulance.  They preferred that I sit in the front as they loaded him on the stretcher and put him in the back.  I heard the conversation clear as a bell.  ”You are a very lucky guy,” said one of the paramedics.  The other said, “Yeah, that crash could have killed you.”

That’s when the seriousness of it hit me.  He was lucky.  Very lucky that day to be alive.  The car was impacted at least 35mph in the direct center of the driver’s side.  He was thrown to the side a bit, and came back with a nasty smack to his head, sending his glasses flying.  The driver’s side could have crushed him in.  He could have been killed.  He could have died that very day.  I would never have been able to take back all of the nastiness that happened.  I could have never made up for it.  I could have never seen him, held him, kissed him, or talked to him ever again.

I stood with him, holding his ice cold hand the entire time.  I ordered nurses and doctors around.  I made sure he was hydrated and escorted him to the bathroom.  He was irritated, but I didn’t care.  I was not about to leave his side.  I was going to care for him in whatever ways that I could.  I would stay with him, and comfort him, though he claimed he was fine.  I would joke with him and help him feel better.

That night, I stayed up as much as I could.  I woke him up every couple of hours with increasingly difficult questions.  It started with mother’s maiden name and our son’s middle name.  Eventually, we ended up with first address, grandmother’s maiden name, and his biological father’s date of birth.  I was determined to ensure he was alright.  I had people on call, waiting in the instance that he had to return to the hospital.

Luckily, he managed to escape a potentially deadly crash with a concussion, a bruised knee, a cut eyebrow, and a pair of slightly bent glasses.  Unfortunately, he did end up having post concussive syndrome.  For a long time after the crash, he wasn’t quite right.  In time, he got better.  But at the very least, he was alive and for the most part, unharmed.

Today, I still cringe and panic anytime the phone cuts out or he turns up late from work.  But, I’ve learned my lesson.  Grudges aren’t worth it.  Always reconcile as soon as possible.  Because, maybe one day, that person won’t be there in another moment to reconcile with.