mental health

*THE STRUGGLE IS REAL*

It’s been almost 5 months since my mom passed and the world still feels just as confusing as it did the day she died. The feeling of complete emptiness is unbearable. It’s like I am going through life on auto pilot and no sense of direction at all. My therapist who I started seeing before my mother passed away told me this past week that I am in such a grief fog that I am disassociating from reality. When she said that I was like “Damn I’m really that jacked up”. I told her how I can have a full-blown conversation with someone and not remember it later on. Like I’m waking up from a massive hangover everyday not remembering stuff from the night before. Only that I haven’t had a drink in 5 years. So, she gave me some homework. I have to spend at least 3 hours by myself outside of my house to try and re-group and ground myself again (as best as I can). Currently I am sitting in a Mediterranean cafe eating a delicious gyro salad lol. I can’t not lie this feels weird as hell. I am so used to being in my house because I work from home, when I log off from work I just move over to the next room to my living room. So I really don’t get a break from being at my house unless its to take the kids to school or go to the store. So here I am…

These past 5 months have been such a strange transition. My daughter and I have been doing grief peer support for the past couple of years (she was having bad anxiety since my husband’s stepdad passed because she was really close with him) So with all the coping skills you would think I would be ok to process everything rationally right?(Shout out to Hopeful Hearts!! Love you all ❤️) But that would be a big fat negative of the coping skills. Every single one of them went out of the window that morning on 11/28/21 at 4:36am. We had a session last week and our group leader told us that our upcoming session would be our quilt night. Quilt night is when you and family (or just yourself) get together and make a quilt square for your lost loved one. Our first quilt square was of course for Daddy Ed. Then the following quilt was for both of my grandmothers. It was in that moment that I realized I was going to make one for my mom and I just lost it. I was doing good in group up until then (Damn you Laura lol jk). I don’t know if anyone else is like me when you are trying to control your crying and then someone says those 3 magical words “are you ok?” and then you just loose it even more?? Yeah that was me. But the tears were much needed. I don’t get to full out ugly cry at home because my daughter would start freaking out so I silent cry in my office trying not to sniffle but she has hound dog ears and can hear me sniffle 2 rooms over lol. So its hard. But that was a release that I needed bad. So quilt night will be a rough night, but I will try to compose myself as much as I can.

In these 5 months I have noticed a few things. Family members who we may talk with a couple times a year we are talking to a couple times a week. My brothers and I communicate more. One of my brother’s *cough Kyle cough* actually answers his phone all the time now lol! Shocked I know (anyone who knows him will understand lmao). My sister and I communicate more. Being the baby is different when you have 6+ years between each other. But she is just as strong as she always has been. It took losing the anchor of our family for us to come together. We are all we have now and it is a very weird and bittersweet feeling. My dad is still my rock as well and I still bother him all the time lol. If it wasn’t for him, our Aunt Barb and our Aunt Cheryl, I really don’t know how we would have gotten through all of this. Everybody actually. My mom’s church has rallied around us so much it’s unreal. But it’s a love that is needed. My mom was such a bright presence at church FOR YEARS that they become your family. It has been a while since I have been to church due to work and then it was shut down for a while due to Covid. But best believe my next weekend I am off and don’t have pre arranged plans already I will be sitting in my mom’s seat next to my “Aunt Linda” praising his name. I do feel closer to my mom at church and its because she was such a god fearing woman that when he called her name she went home with open arms.

So to say that the struggle is real… is an understatement but I didn’t know how else to title this post lol. I miss her every single second of these last almost 5 months that I put myself in such a fog that I am disassociating from reality. I know I have to keep going for our family. I am afraid that if I’m not missing her or thinking about her that I’m not loving her or carrying on her memory. But my therapist said one thing to me that has stuck to me and I am trying to put my energy to it. She stated “Sometimes your mom needs a rest too” and that hit hard. So all we can do is live life and make her proud. She wanted me to find my inner strength that she knew I had and I will spend the rest of my life making her proud.

** I love you mommy and happy early birthday (4/21/59)

*much love* ❤️

mental health

WHO AM I NOW??

That is the one question that has been eating at me since losing my mother. Who am I? For 36 years I was “lil Marianne”, “Marianne’s twin” or “Her precious gem”. That’s all I really knew. But now that she’s gone I have no clue who I am anymore. I always knew losing a parent would be a pain that hit way different. But what I didn’t know was that I would completely lose who I am as a person because I didn’t know how to be anything else. Being a motherless daughter has my mind so confused that nothing makes sense anymore. I don’t know my place in the family anymore. I don’t have that mother figure to call whenever I needed advice on anything. Being a motherless daughter has completely f****d me up because I feel lost. This is in by no means to over shadow the horrible pain that my brothers have. If I could take away their pain I would in a heartbeat. I told them that we all had our own unique relationship with our mother. I am trying to make sense of everything from a daughters point of view.

I have 2 kids of my own and trying to grieve while still being a mom is extremely hard because you have to be strong for them. My kids have seen me cry, but its usually my daughter coming in to give me a hug. How do you grieve properly without completely breaking down because you still have to be a parent. That’s what I am trying to figure out. Balancing the two while not going completely insane.

When I say “who am I now?” I mean that as not only a mother, sister, daughter, wife. Do I take over the roll of “mom” for the family to make sure that everyone is doing ok and that they aren’t alone, or keeping up with the traditions that we would have with her. My entire identity is in question and that hurts. People tell me just to be myself but how can I be myself when I don’t even know who the hell I am anymore. I know I feel stuck, confused. Not sure about feelings that I have. Trying to find myself and happiness has me scared that it will lead me away from people. I have really dove into religion because 1 my mom always said god will make a way and 2 it makes me feel closer to her. But how do I know if I’m on the right path or if I’m going in the right direction for my own happiness and inner peace. I have so many questions about my life, my marriage, my womanhood and I’m so confused on them all I just wish my mom was here to help talk me through it. Trying to become yourself again after losing one of the biggest impacts in your life has you questioning everything. Is the sky even blue anymore lol.

I don’t know who I am going to be during this new walk of life but all I know is I can’t keep doing it for other people. And that is the type of peace I am looking for. Doing me without being worried about other peoples reactions or critiques. My mom would say “people are going to talk about you no matter what. But just do you boo because that’s all you can do” I wish she was physically here to help me through it all. But I know she is walking right beside me. Making me strong for myself. I just hope whatever path I’m walking on is the right one.

**MUCH LOVE**

cancer · death · mental health · self love

* A MOTHER’S LOVE *

Growing up with divorced parents is hard enough. Especially when things seem to get torn apart. Once you get older the relationship changes especially with your mother. You notice that you have a lot of her mannerisms. Whether its you looking like twins or just being one of the same person. That how it was with my mom. Like any other mother and daughter relationship you fight and argue. But at the end of the day you hug it out and say how much you love each other. For the past year and 4 days my mom was battling leukemia. Then she contracted pneumonia.

She got admitted Thanksgiving of this year and I went down to be with her like I always do. She was doing good. She had shortness of breath but it wasn’t as bad as as we thought. My brother, nephew and his fiancé went to my brothers son’s championship game and we call her on Bluetooth just to talk about it. The last thing she said to all of us was “I love you all”. 4:34am 11/28/21 I got the worst phone call of my life

“Me- Hello?
MD- Hi is this Antoinette
Me- Yes it is. Is everything ok?
MD- Hi Antoinette this is Dr. Rivera with Shadyside Surgical ICU. I don’t have good news, Marianne is gone.
Me- Wait.. Wait do you mean???
MD- I’m sorry. But your mother passed away just a few minutes ago”

My silence was met with a scream I could only feel as my heart breaking. What do you mean she’s gone. We just talked to her earlier that night. What am I do to do now? I called my brother, dad, nephew, aunt, husband. Everyone I thought I had to call. I ended up speaking with the nurse that took care of my mom during that time and she said “Antoinette, Everything went so fast. She called out and said she wasn’t feeling too good so they agreed to put her on the bipap mask and when the nurse said “are you ready” She said my mom’s eyes went into the back of head and her heart stopped. My mom was a DNR with limited restrictions. So she did not want to be on a ventilator. The MD’s said she developed a rare lung disease and caught covid pneumonia. In my heart I feel it was something different than the covid but we have to wait until the autopsy results come back. We got to see her at the hospital. We had to gown up but she looked exactly like her self. It was so hard for me to leave her there. I never liked leaving her at all. I was always scared. The week leading up to the funeral was a complete overwhelming blur. But seeing all of the love from everyone that knew her I knew she was looking down saying “Oh we about to praise his name” and we did. The hardest thing to do was my siblings and nephew and aunt closed the casket. If I’m being honest I almost threw up right there.

Its been 2 weeks and my heart still feels shattered. I feel empty. I’ve tried to call her I don’t even know how many times because we talked so much. They say time heals all wounds. But this wound won’t ever be healed. I lost my best friend. We lost our matriarch and when you lose the glue of your family it makes the whole dynamic so off it doesn’t feel right. I ended up joining my mom’s home church. She’s been asking me for years to do it, I just never felt ready. But yesterday I did. I’m ready to see what she has in store for all of us and the teachings that we learned from her. If I have one request. If your mom is still alive and even if you two are fighting. FIX THAT SHIT NOW. Because I thought I would have able to call my mom the next morning but the only thing we could do is say “see you later”

Please pray from my entire family because this pain is so unbearable. But I made her a promise before we left her room and I promised her that I would not relapse. And as god sees fit me for to continue to live. I’m not taking one drink.

Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers. Always hug our family and tell them you love them no matter what.

**MUCH LOVE**

mental health

** ADELE… WHY YOU DO US LIKE THAT??**

Just like every other millennial right now Adele’s new song “Easy on me” got me all in my feels. It is astonishing how one person with one song can bring up memories and feelings that have been suppressed for so long. This song is living rent free in my spirit because a lot of what she sings about in that song rings true to my life. Like she is personally singing to me (I know she’s not but you know what I mean lol)

To make a starting point to why this song makes me feel like crawling in the fetal position is that I have never really been “on my own” let alone “felt the world around me”. I lived with my dad until graduating high school, went off to college where my roommate was my brothers now wife and after graduating I moved in with my boyfriend from high school. 2 long years later we broke up. It was not a good break up. Do I hate him? No, But definitely no loved lost but whatever he’s doing I hope he’s has the day he deserves. 3 weeks after that I met my now husband Jason. A mutual friend of ours set us up and when we first started talking during the “myspace days” I made him in my top 8 (you had to be there lol). We instantly started dating and after about 5-6 months I called it off. I felt like I needed to find out who I was because I had no clue. I was 20 years old. Who the hell knows who they are at 20. So a friend and I moved to Erie because that’s where our best friend lived at. And let me tell you. That was by far one of the best years of my life. I made so many new friends there, so many memories. It definitely was a pivotal time in my life.

Six months into living in Erie, Jason and I ended up getting back together. I ended up getting pregnant with our son Jackson. Which was a blessing since because from JR year of high school I was told I couldn’t have kids due to having endometrioses. So to say it was a shock was a huge understatement. But boy was I thrilled. Scared… But thrilled. I ended up moving back home to Indiana and moved in with Jason and so started our life together. Almost 2 years later we got married. Being married and having 1 kid it felt like life went from fun and games to exhaustion and solitude. My depression started to creep back up and that is when I started to drink more. Not a lot. Just a glass or two after work just to calm my nerves. It seemed like life was just passing by and it was like I blinked and then I was pregnant with our daughter (3 1/2 years after our son) so emotions on full drive. Working full time with a 3 year old son who has some special needs. Life was hard. But we made it work. But then an incident occurred where I completely lost who I was as a person. Infidelity… When a spouse has an affair it can literally destroy you. For whatever factor it makes you question who you are as a person and why you weren’t good enough. I lost my entire self. I was so hurt that I wanted him to hurt as well. 2 wrongs don’t make a right but I was slowly self destructing. I just did not care about myself anymore because I had no clue who I was anymore.

Fast forward some years and I had my life changing breakdown. To this day I am very thankful for that. God knew I needed to settle my ass down and sure as hell he sat me down. So this new chapter in my life has me wanting to try new things, find my calling. But more importantly find my self again. Not for anyone but for myself. I can’t tell my kids to do what makes them happy and live up to their potential if I’m not doing the same. So thanks to Adele and her soul searching words I have now made myself a priority. I am TIRED of living by everyone else’s standards. Take me as I am or leave me where I am. It’s never to later “feel the world around you”

https://youtu.be/U3ASj1L6_sY

*** I DO NOT OWN THE RIGHTS TO THIS SONG***

**MUCH LOVE ❤ **

mental health

**WHEN YOU SEE RED FLAGS**

Depression is not a once size fits all type of disease. It isn’t always crawling up in your bed with the covers over your head bawling your eyes out. But in all fairness, I have done that a time or two. What people who don’t know how it feels to be that deep in depression is that we slowly start to show red flags beforehand . Sometimes not enough to warrant any concerns but they are there. So if you see any of these signs no matter how small, make it known to your loved one it can possibly make a huge difference.

SOME RED FLAGS TO LOOK OUT FOR

  • sadness
  • tiredness
  • trouble focusing or concentrating
  • unhappiness
  • anger
  • irritability
  • frustration
  • loss of interest in pleasurable or fun activities
  • sleep issues (too much or too little)
  • no energy
  • craving unhealthy foods
  • anxiety
  • isolation

Now these aren’t all the signs, just a few to be on the look out for. If you see a loved one experiencing any of these signs don’t it slide thinking that maybe they are having a bad day or week. It just might save someone’s life

*MUCH LOVE* ❤

Addiction · alcoholism · mental health · self love

**Another New Med???**

One thing no one really talks about while suffering with mental health issues is the constant medication change. I first got diagnosed with depression at the age of 16. Back then (2001) no one was open about depression. It wasn’t so much frowned upon but more of an “embarrassment “. It definitely wasn’t publicized like it is now. People either thought you were crazy or just looking for attention . So as a teenage girl already being hormonal and then on top of that getting put on antidepressants. I honestly felt like an outsider, ashamed that I would be labeled like as a weirdo or something. The 1st antidepressant I was put on at the age of 16 was Paxil. I honestly don’t remember if it made a big difference or not because I also was also put on birth control to try to stop the endometriosis that I had. I was on Paxil until I graduated from college (age 19) because I was no longer on my dad’s health insurance. So I went a good amount of years before I ended up back on antidepressants. I was 26 and just had my daughter and I just felt off. Just down in the dumps and felt like I could cry or snap at any moment. So I went to my MD and he kept trying to tell me that it was all in my head. So needless to say I switched doctors.

My new MD was very thorough with everything. Ran all kinds of blood test and he asked why I went to my other MD because he didn’t do “shit” (which was completely true). So we ended up increasing the dose of the Paxil to see if that would help at all. A few months later it felt like there was no change. The meds weren’t working because I was extremely depressed still and had no motivation for anything. In comes antidepressant #2 Prozac. Now that med did help. But after about a year and a half and two strength increases it stopped helping. It was getting to the point where I just wanted to give up because it felt like I would never find a medication that would work fully. So we ended up trying to switch it again and that was the 3rd medication change in about 3 years. We tried Lexapro next and once again that seemed to help. But around this time was when I started to drink heavily because it seemed like nothing was going right. So I decided to go see a therapist and try to talk through my depression and anxiety.

The MD was ok. Not really my cup of tea but I kept going thinking it would just take time. So here comes antidepressant #4 Zoloft. And lets just say once I was on that med is when the shit show of my life really started. I would throw up about 45 minutes of taking it and it was like that for a couple months. I let therapist know and he just kept saying “it takes time. I don’t want to switch you to something else” That’s when I started to feel helpless. I just wanted to feel happy and it seemed nothing would work, other than alcohol. Zoloft + alcohol= self destructive Antoinette. I really didn’t care about anything at that point. I was so hurt by things that was going on in life at that moment that I felt extremely exhausted with life. After a few months of living in that mind frame I just gave up. I stopped taking the meds correctly and tried every other day thinking that would help. But it didn’t. So the drinking was in full force because that seemed to be the only thing that would help. And all it did was destroy my life. That’s what led up to my breakdown.

At the mental facility I checked myself into the psychiatrist that was there was awesome. He was very patient and kind. So we tried going back to using Paxil. So when I got out of there my primary MD kept me on it because it seemed to help. Whelp that fairytale didn’t last to long and as of this moment right now I am on antidepressant change #6. I have been on trintellex for about 2 years now and it was helping. Then covid hit and my depression and anxiety went through the rough (just like everyone else) So my strength got increased and a “booster med” was added to help. Wellbutrin was added to the mix and so far it seems to be ok. But still having all of this stress and lack of self worth it feels like I might has to change again. But I really don’t want to. Having to go through that whole routine of waiting for a month or so for the meds to work is complete shit and it sucks. So now I am trying to find something to help calm me down that is not a medication. And this blog has definitely helped.

So no matter what your situation is. Whether you are medicated or not. Its still a battle trying to get your mental health to a point where it doesn’t consume your entire life. No matter what you are going through. Just remember that you are going to be ok. It won’t seem like it. Hell it still doesn’t feel like it for me but I’m hoping that connecting with people going through the same thing as me will help break that stigma embarrassment that we feel.

*Much love*