Beauty from Broken Pieces

There’s beauty in brokenness.

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Untangled

I don’t hide in the shadows any longer. It was a conscious decision, although at the time I didn’t really know what that meant. My memoir was published a year ago. I went from no one knowing my story to letting the whole world know my story. It’s more than a story, it’s my life, my truth. It’s true that I don’t lay out all the sordid details of my past in my book, and very few people in my life have earned the right to hear all the details, but, I share enough of myself and the resulting struggles I have with PTSD that I’m comfortable with the volume of my voice and that I’m being heard and making some wonderful connections.

I still struggle every day. It’s the way it is for me. Fall is a particularly hard time of year. Now, instead of pretending all is well while feeling…

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Depression is happiness.

I’m so depressed I had to call in sick at work and set up an emergency therapy session this afternoon.  I couldn’t sleep last night at all.   I’m crying almost all the time.    This is more than just SAD.  That never got THIS bad before, even though it’s probably contributing to it.  My therapist thinks I’ve slammed headlong into the “void” and have lost all my usual defenses without anything to fill the hole yet and that’s why I feel like I’m losing my mind.    I know this is probably “good” and means I’ve made more progress but it sure doesn’t feel that way right now.   I have to keep telling myself this is not permanent.   I feel like what’s happening is some sort of grieving process.  But what exactly I’m grieving I’m not sure.

I did see this post this morning and it made me feel a tad better.   Maybe it can help someone else too.

Depression Is Happiness

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Gang-stalking: is it real or just a conspiracy theory?

gang_stalking

I’ve been seeing a lot lately about a phenomenon called gang-stalking (sometimes referred to as “community terrorism”).   Gang-stalking means one person is targeted by Dark Triad people (psychopaths, sociopaths and malignant narcissists and their flying monkeys, most who don’t even personally know you) for nefarious reasons that are never specified but who want you to know you are being watched.  The stalkers seem to have an uncanny, almost supernatural way of infiltrating and ruining every area of your life, even when logic would dictate some situations simply wouldn’t be possible (such as pre-emptively knowing exactly where you will be 24/7 in order to harass you).   The goal is to drive you (the “Targeted Individual,” or “TI”) insane or to suicide–or have you incarcerated in a prison or mental institution–or even killed.   Here are two articles about it.  You can Google “gang-stalking” and find hundreds more.

https://taknbsorbemwon5.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/suspect-gang-stalking-when/

https://www.newswithviews.com/Stuter/stuter78.htm

Here’s a well written, sometimes humorous, but VERY long, article by an individual who may have been gang-stalked (or maybe not), but at least has the ability to use critical thinking, something that seems to be in short supply in these post- 9/11 days where everyone, from the benign looking cashier at the grocery store to your kid’s teacher, becomes a potential terrorist:

http://in2worlds.net/gangstalking-and-targeted-individuals

I don’t know whether to believe it or not.   Of course it’s a fact that high spectrum malignant narcissists and psychopaths/sociopaths can and do recruit flying monkeys to destroy your reputation and your life.   I’ve seen it happen to others and I’ve experienced it.   But where does their power over you end?    I don’t see how it’s possible, for example, to be treated rudely in stores or given bad or dishonest service by complete strangers or how your abuser(s) would have managed to influence them ahead of time.   How would it be possible to be “black-listed” for every job you apply for if you don’t have a criminal record (unless they are somehow able to create a fake criminal background for you)?  How could they cause random people on the street to give each other knowing looks whenever you pass by, or shout abusive things at you?  How could your abuser cause you to get the “evil eye” from strangers sitting across you on a bus or deliberately have people move into the apartment over yours who blast their music and fight all night with the sole intention to cause you to suffer sleep deprivation and drive you slowly insane?

Some people suggest a demonic, supernatural influence.  They say this exists because the world is being taken over by evil and is under Satan’s dominion.   Although I’m a Christian, I can’t accept this.   I’m a skeptic by nature.    Not because I don’t want to believe it and am in denial, but because I think there are better, more scientific and reasonable explanations for the seeming increase of horrible human behavior.   Actually I don’t think things are any worse than they ever were.  I think there are just more people on the planet and there’s the Internet and mass media and the mass panic that always ensues following a breaking news story that gives rise to all sorts of conspiracy theories.

Things were actually far worse a hundred years ago than they are now.  Abuse of all kinds wasn’t publicized and called out the way it is now.  Neither was bullying.  Back then, if you were abused (or bullied), that was just your lot in life and you were just supposed to suck it up because that was your birthright as a child, a woman, or a person of color.   What we call abuse today was considered normal.   What we would throw a parent in prison for today was just “discipline” back then, and a parent had the right to treat a child however they saw fit, even beating them daily or sending them to beg on the streets.  Or sending them to work 12 hours a day in a factory, as child-labor laws didn’t exist.  No one tried to protect you from bullies either.  There were no laws against harassment, sexual or otherwise.    In the old days, if you were bullied you’d be told to “fight back” or “stop being a sissy” if you were a boy.  If sexually abused, you just didn’t talk about it because “nice” people didn’t talk about those things.    If you did try to call out someone for harassing you (and you were a woman) you’d be blamed for dressing “provocatively” or something.   It seems like there’s more bad news today because there’s just more news.    Good news doesn’t sell so you don’t hear about it as often as bad news.    I also think where there’s overpopulation, problems develop, and there are definitely too many people in the world.   Things like cyber-bullying and identity theft didn’t exist because (duh!) there was no Internet to make those things possible. But things like slavery and public hangings did exist and no one batted an eyelash.

I don’t know about gang-stalking.  It smacks of conspiracy theory to me, but I could be wrong.  I do know that evil people can and do recruit flying monkeys and can and do target certain individuals.  It happens in dysfunctional families all the time.  Scapegoating is not a myth, it’s a fact.   But the whole idea of them having so much power that EVERY sphere of your existence is influenced, that where no matter what you do or where you go or who you turn to, trouble will follow you and there is no escape and you are just screwed?  I don’t know about that.

What are your opinions about gang-stalking? Do you believe it or think it’s an overblown conspiracy theory, like the belief that Illuminati is taking over everything? *   If you know you’ve been gang-stalked, I’m not trying to say you’re just being paranoid.  I’m not saying it doesn’t exist, but I am highly skeptical.

* I’ve  come to the conclusion that all the convincing Illuminati symbolism going on in music videos, films and TV is actually a tease intended to play off our paranoia.    These industries see people freaking out about “Illuminati symbolism” and play on that, creating more of it on purpose just to get attention (and hence sell more product).

*****

ETA:  It occurred to me that since most alleged incidents of gang-stalking appeared following the passing of the Patriot Act, which gave anyone permission to spy on and report anyone else if they suspected them of being “un-American” (this could means having left wing politics, being of Middle Eastern descent, being atheist, or just being “different” in some way), that gang-stalking could be a result of this.  I hear police departments refuse to get involved and have been instructed to ignore claims of gang-stalking.    Maybe some sociopathic or antisocial people abuse this “right” and report anyone who they dislike as being involved in “un-American” activities, and government funds are used to harass the target in order to silence them.   I do realize how conspiracy-theory-ish this sounds, but it’s a possibility.

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Number of sites linking to mine is shrinking. WTF?

I have the Alexa toolbar.  I know they sort of suck, but I don’t want to pay for Google Analytics, which I know is a lot more accurate.  Still, there’s something worrying me.   A few months ago, I had 70+ sites linking into mine.   Over time, I’ve been losing sites linking in to this one.  Last week I was down to 59.  I just looked today and now there are just 50!

I don’t get it.   Are these websites just fly by night ones that no longer exist, or are some sites deciding this site isn’t a good one to link to?   I have no way of finding out what sites have de-linked to mine without paying for more advanced analytics (if I wanted that I would use Google).

Anyone else have this problem and is it something I should worry about?

 

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Ever just want to trash common sense and do something insane?

comfort_zone

I live in western North Carolina, which is a beautiful part of the country.   People actually envy me for where I live.   They’re right, too.  The scenery here is gorgeous.   The mountains are impressive.   The main hub (Asheville) is very cool too, very progressive for a small city in the South, with a surprising amount of arts and culture.     Go downtown and there are buskers on every street corner and a thriving artists’s community and people walking around dressed in tie dies and dreads.   There’s even a bumper sticker that’s popular: “Keep Asheville Weird.” I can understand why people find this area so vibrant and want to move here.

But I want out.    I’ve been living here for 23 years.  I loved it at first (or thought I did), but I’m over it.   I’ve been over it for awhile now.    I try to look at the positives; I try to look at it the way people who don’t live here and want to look at it.    Once in a while I can shift my mindset to more of an outsider one and actually appreciate it.    But it never lasts.

This is not a state that is friendly to anyone who isn’t rich, white, straight, and Republican (even though the town I live in is the opposite).   I can’t get health insurance (North Carolina did not accept the Medicaid expansion for people who are too poor to qualify for Obamacare because our governor has declared war on the poor–and he’s likely to get re-elected this November) and while we do have a “health department,” it sucks.  I won’t get into why here (I could write a whole post about THAT), but trust me, it does.    Someone in my age bracket should never be without decent health care.      The job market in this area is also terrible, even for college graduates.    Everything is unaffordable.  Rents and mortgages rival those of New York City.   That’s because everyone from New York City is moving here.    It’s lost its sleepy southern charm.

I can’t deal with falls and winters anymore.   I’m over “seasons.”  I’ve lived with seasons my entire life and don’t need to see any more snow or fall foliage.    Watching spring unfold is no longer worth enduring the five or six miserable months that precede it.   True, winters aren’t as intense here as farther north but it’s still too cold for me.    I want to move to Florida.   I guess that means I’m officially “old.”

A lot of people hate Florida and I suppose I can understand why.  Heat, bugs, crime, hurricanes, tornadoes, and never-ending summer.    But the advantages for me are that I’d never be far from the beach.  Having grown up in New Jersey and New York, I crave the coast.  It’s in my blood.   I was never more than an hour’s drive from any beach.  During the summers, I spent almost every weekend at the Jersey Shore, or any number of beaches on Long Island.   The mountains, as beautiful as they are, don’t speak to my soul the way the ocean does.   I feel closed in.   The sky here isn’t big enough because so much of it is obscured by trees and hills.     To get to the beach, you have to drive at least five hours (Myrtle Beach or Charleston, SC is the closest to me), which requires a lot of advance planning and money.    You can’t just get up and say, “Oh, I think I’ll hang out on the beach today” and still be home for dinner.

I could live near my son, and he could help me find decent work (the job market in his area is very good, or at least it beats the one here).  The rents are also dirt cheap.  My son isn’t exactly rich; in fact he barely makes more than I do.   But he’s able to afford an apartment in a beautifully landscaped gated complex with a pool, hot tub, gym, a tennis court(!), and only five minutes from the beach.   Here, to have digs like that you have to be pretty well off.  Although Florida also hasn’t expanded Medicaid to those who don’t qualify for Obamacare, I’m a lot more likely to get a job that pays well enough that I’d qualify for health insurance.

There’s only one problem though: money.   I live paycheck to paycheck.  My rent is almost half of what I earn, which leaves very little left for anything else.   It’s difficult if not impossible to save anything.  Moving costs money, especially moving to another state.

I know you take yourself anywhere you go.    Some people have told me that moving wouldn’t solve all my problems.  I’m aware of that.   I know all about “doing a geographic” and that a new locale won’t suddenly make my life perfect or stress-free.    I won’t suddenly be cured of my PTSD or BPD or AVPD or whatever it is I actually have (though it will probably vastly improve my SAD symptoms).    I won’t be any closer to God either, since He’s everywhere.

But I really feel like I’m being called there.  I’m more than ready for a change of scenery, to be near the water again.   But to do that, I would need to take a huge risk, and I’m a risk-averse person.    Since I can’t save anything, I’d have to live in my car for a month or two.   My son doesn’t have room to put me up in his place, and I wouldn’t expect him to.    I’m pretty sure I could find a decent job in a matter of a couple of weeks, if not sooner, and my son’s in a position that he could even find me a position in his company (he’s actually offered to do this).  I could also find out if the company I work for could transfer me to the Tampa area.

I’d have to sell or give away almost everything I own, which isn’t that much.   That’s okay.  I don’t need all that stuff.  I might even be able to make enough to afford the rent and deposit somewhere for a month or so until I’m employed.   Maybe.  But even if I don’t, I could keep what I need in the car and park somewhere safe and convenient.   Although I don’t expect him to do this, my son might let me keep some of my things in his large closet.

I know this sounds batshit insane, especially for someone in their 50s.   But it’s either that or stay in a place that’s too expensive and getting more so, a place that eats all my income and doesn’t make me happy. I have too many bad memories associated with this place, there’s been way too much dysfunction.  I can’t separate those associations from my time here now.    I moved here for dishonest reasons and by even less honest means back in ’93 (that would be a whole other post), and I feel like that’s put a sort of curse on my long stay here.   Call it karma if you want, but I don’t feel like I was ever meant to live here.

There’s a saying that goes, “life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”    Living in my car for a few weeks or a month or two would definitely be living outside my comfort zone.   But it’s my only option, outside of winning Lotto (which I don’t play), to live where I want, in a place not associated with bad memories.   Some risks are smart; others are just stupid.    I’m not sure if taking this risk would be smart or stupid, but if I stay here and never take a risk, how will I ever know?

I’m not saying I’m going to do this. Like I said, I’m not a risk taker.  At all.   But it’s something I’ve been thinking about.  And being too risk-averse has caused me to miss out on so much of life.   I’m sick of always having to be practical and reasonable and live in fear of “what might happen.”  My mother always liked to rail on about all my “bad choices,” and it’s true I’ve made a lot of bad choices–but the truth is, I never had many choices.  I always had to choose the lesser of two or three evils because the opportunity to make better choices was never available to me.    Or the choice was made dishonestly.  The one big risk I ever took was moving here, but like I said, it was a risk based on deception and co-dependency.  I still struggle with regrets over that.   Maybe you just have to wrestle life’s limitations to the ground and force that choice by taking a huge risk that most people think is nuts, but still keep your integrity in doing so.    I don’t think I’d have to end up like Dustin Hoffman’s character at the end of “Midnight Cowboy.”

Ever just want to do something crazy, that everyone tells you is crazy?  Have you ever gone ahead and done it anyway?  Was it the best thing you ever did for yourself, or do you regret being so impulsive?

 

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What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

sad_snow

I think it’s worse this year, but there are a few other things going on that are exacerbating my symptoms.   I seem to have a weird form of it, which starts in late July or August, when my body begins to notice the reduction of light, even though summer is at its peak. Even though I detest winter, my mood starts to pick up in late January or February, when my body notices the lengthening days. I’m at my best in April – June and at my worst in November and December. My SAD seems to imitate the sleep/wake patterns of hibernating animals.

seasonal_moods
Graph I made showing my moods throughout the year. This never varies much.

Here’s an overview of what SAD is, from mayoclinic.org.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder/basics/definition/con-20021047

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons — SAD begins and ends at about the same times every year. If you’re like most people with SAD, your symptoms start in the fall and continue into the winter months, sapping your energy and making you feel moody. Less often, SAD causes depression in the spring or early summer.

Treatment for SAD may include light therapy (phototherapy), psychotherapy and medications.

Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as simply a case of the “winter blues” or a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Take steps to keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.

Symptoms

By Mayo Clinic Staff

In most cases, seasonal affective disorder symptoms appear during late fall or early winter and go away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. However, some people with the opposite pattern have symptoms that begin in spring or summer. In either case, symptoms may start out mild and become more severe as the season progresses.

Major depression

Seasonal affective disorder is a subtype of major depression that comes and goes based on seasons. So symptoms of major depression may be part of SAD, such as:

Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day
Feeling hopeless or worthless
Having low energy
Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
Having problems with sleeping
Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight
Feeling sluggish or agitated
Having difficulty concentrating
Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Fall and winter SAD

Symptoms specific to winter-onset SAD, sometimes called winter depression, may include:

Irritability
Tiredness or low energy
Problems getting along with other people
Hypersensitivity to rejection
Heavy, “leaden” feeling in the arms or legs
Oversleeping
Appetite changes, especially a craving for foods high in carbohydrates
Weight gain

Spring and summer SAD

Symptoms specific to summer-onset seasonal affective disorder, sometimes called summer depression, may include:

Depression
Trouble sleeping (insomnia)
Weight loss
Poor appetite
Agitation or anxiety

seasonal-affective-disorder

Seasonal changes in bipolar disorder

In some people with bipolar disorder, spring and summer can bring on symptoms of mania or a less intense form of mania (hypomania), and fall and winter can be a time of depression.

When to see a doctor

It’s normal to have some days when you feel down. But if you feel down for days at a time and you can’t get motivated to do activities you normally enjoy, see your doctor. This is especially important if your sleep patterns and appetite have changed or if you feel hopeless, think about suicide, or turn to alcohol for comfort or relaxation.

Causes

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The specific cause of seasonal affective disorder remains unknown. Some factors that may come into play include:

  • Your biological clock (circadian rhythm). The reduced level of sunlight in fall and winter may cause winter-onset SAD. This decrease in sunlight may disrupt your body’s internal clock and lead to feelings of depression.
  • Serotonin levels. A drop in serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that affects mood, might play a role in SAD. Reduced sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin that may trigger depression.
  • Melatonin levels. The change in season can disrupt the balance of the body’s level of melatonin, which plays a role in sleep patterns and mood

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your risk of seasonal affective disorder include:

  • Being female. SAD is diagnosed more often in women than in men, but men may have more-severe symptoms.
  • Age. Young people have a higher risk of winter SAD, and winter SAD is less likely to occur in older adults.
  • Family history. People with SAD may be more likely to have blood relatives with SAD or another form of depression.
  • Having clinical depression or bipolar disorder. Symptoms of depression may worsen seasonally if you have one of these conditions.
  • Living far from the equator. SAD appears to be more common among people who live far north or south of the equator. This may be due to decreased sunlight during the winter and longer days during the summer months.

Complications

Take signs and symptoms of seasonal affective disorder seriously. As with other types of depression, SAD can get worse and lead to problems if it’s not treated. These can include:

  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior
  • Social withdrawal
  • School or work problems
  • Substance abuse

Treatment can help prevent complications, especially if SAD is diagnosed and treated before symptoms get bad.

Original article is here.

 

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Mountaintop view.

I was working in a home today that sits on top of a mountain.     This is the view from their porch.   Although fall isn’t my favorite time of year (and I would never want to live on top of a mountain),  I think the tree on the right with the falling leaves make the picture more interesting.

bear_left

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Slapped with the truth.

slapped_truth

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Falling down a mental black hole.

blackhole

I’ve been dealing with a situation that’s been somewhat traumatizing to me and has gotten me very depressed and experiencing feelings of self-hatred and shame (having SAD doesn’t help).   I became so depressed all I could do was lie in bed and sleep or just mope around and do nothing except wallow in self pity.  I lost all motivation to write anything at all.    I prayed for answers and clarity on this situation, and now that I finally understand the reason this thing triggered me so much, I’m finally starting to feel a little better about it.

I’m sorry, but I’m not prepared to say what the situation is.    I’m not ill nor is anyone close to me sick.  I didn’t lose my job. No one died. Nothing “bad” happened.   It’s purely a thing that has to do with my mental disorders and is probably something that wouldn’t bother a normal person nearly so much but sent me hurtling down a mental black hole.

I have therapy tomorrow where I will be talking about it.  The only person that knows exactly what’s going on with me right now is my therapist.    I hope I come away feeling almost back to normal.

I still don’t know how much I’ll feel like posting, though.

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I’m taking a short break.

I probably won’t be posting for the next couple of days.  There are some other things I need to catch up on, including answering some of the emails I’ve been neglecting to answer (if yours is one of them, my apologies and you should be hearing from me).  There’s also a situation I need to gain some perspective on and I can’t do that by staying online.   This doesn’t mean I won’t post (I still might if I have a “lightbulb” moment and just have to write about it) , but I probably won’t for a couple of days.

See you in a few!

 

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