Shatter Me Not

Bitter cold on my skin

I long to lie beneath again

Kept warm by the sweetest sin

This imbalance in my mind

Reaches down into my soul

I feel the reigns letting go

Tie me down

Press me against the wall

Are you holding me up

Or am I starting to fall

Bitter memories

You never knew

The way you touched me

You can’t undo

Sweet addiction beckoning me closer

I feel the taste

I feel the high

I know I’ll fall to pieces after all the lies

This shattered mirror

Reflecting back at me

I’m standing still

No longer do you get to shatter me

Advertisements

Social Anxiety Meets Graduation 

August 3rd was a day I marked on my calendar very early this year. It was my graduation day. The sleepless nights, anxiety, mania and exhaustion were battle scars and my diploma was my victory. As I watched my fellow classmates enroll in campus classes, I remained in my online classes, content to be in the safety of my little house. I only had to drive to campus for supervised exams and then I got to go home again. As summer passed, August loomed closer and my excitement mounted. I bought my cap and gown. There were announcements with my name on them. I felt disconnected, as though it was not real. I compulsively checked my online account 4-5 times daily until graduation day because I was certain a mistake had been made. I called the records office and was told multiple times it was correct. Finally the big day arrived! Me, a college graduate. Sure, I am 30, but it made it sweeter. I got my nails done, my hair done and put on the outfit I had carefully chosen. After being in public all day, interacting and overwhelmed, I ignored the feeling of panic inside of me. I chalked it up to graduation jitters. There was no rehearsal for graduation which made me feel unsure and confused. It was a new social situation and I had these racing thoughts from my anxiety. Finally, we began to walk into the auditorium and I saw the stage; the stage I was supposed to walk across, in heels. We stood for ceremonial purposes and I began to feel the room swirling around me and black spots in my eyes. Still, I stood. Praying for relief, we were finally motioned to sit. As I sat down, the words coming from the podium were quieted by the ringing in my ears. Before I knew what was happening, I had nearly fallen out of my seat. My anxiety attack had become so severe I was barely able to stay conscious and my heart was racing. I ran out of the building in tears and disappointment. My crowning achievement in academia was overshadowed by my mental illness. I was taken to an urgent care center and given an exam and an EKG because the doctor was so concerned with my heart pounding. However, despite this experience, I would do it all again. My error was not listening to my body because I was convinced I was above it all that day. I did not take care of myself and I got very sick. I still earned my degree and it cannot be taken away. Education is fiercely important to me. As the school year begins for so many, please come up with a plan with your medical team or educate your teachers on your illness. There is no shame in it at all. Being prepared sets you up for success. Good luck to all the students this year and take care of yourself. You deserve it. 

Let’s Get Physical… 

Mental illness hurts. 

No, I’m serious, it hurts. 

After many years of suffering mental symptoms, I sought refuge in a great psychiatrist and primary care physician and we have worked closely to create a treatment plan to assist me in living my best life. At first, it was great. However, after the initial relief of treatment began to wane, I began to notice little things that seemed unrelated to my mental illnesses. My heart would race and palpitate. I was suffering from terrible night sweats and insomnia. I could not even concentrate on the most simple task and the icing on the proverbial cake were my weight changes. I went back to my primary care physician, begging for answers. I was so convinced I was afflicted with some new or horrifying malady. However, after examining me and running the necessary tests, he came back with a surprising diagnosis. Strictly speaking, nothing was wrong. My physical symptoms were unpleasant side effects of my mental illnesses. The connection between the mind and body is real and in many cases, symptoms that seem unrelated are. It’s the nausea, sweating and heart racing we get when we have an anxiety attack. It’s the joint aches and pains and fatigue we feel when we are extremely depressed. I am fortunate to have a great medical team by my side that treats me as a whole person, not just the symptoms. I find my physical symptoms improve when I eat less processed foods when possible, take a walk, snuggle with my dog or my personal favorite, sit outside for a few minutes a day and get sunshine. What helps alleviate or lessen my physical symptoms may not work in your situation so check with your medical professional to see what is best for you. No one knows your body like you do and you deserve to feel as healthy as possible.

Messages From Heaven 

This post was originally published on Reader’s Digest. Originally Titled “A Solitary Buck.”

 I pray each year he is happy and proud of his littlest girl who never got to know her daddy. 

On a warm day in January, I went to visit my father at the cemetery for his 72nd birthday. I sat on the clay mixed with grass next to his grave, lay a rose, and told him about me. I pray each year he is happy and proud of his littlest girl who never got to know her daddy. Suddenly, I felt a warm touch on my back and looked upward to see a deer in the middle of the cemetery, solitary and staring. My eyes wandered to his headstone where a buck is carved and I smiled a joyous smile. I knew he was alright. 

Current Situation 

Endocrinologist. 

Primary care physicians.

Psychiatrist. 

Endocrinologist again. 

CT scans. MRIs. Blood tests and stool samples <– because that one was fun to say. All to find out why I’m in constant pain. Why my joints ache. Why my muscles are weak. Why my heart races. Why I’m so fatigued I can’t get out of bed. 

I take their medications, I just through their hoops and for what? No answers. I feel like I’ve taken dozens of tests (which in retrospect I have) and I don’t know if I’m passing or failing. 

Today was shit. Like, I have the whole gratitude of simply being alive down. But, as a day, today was shit. Stomach flu for the first part of the day, kept nothing down, couldn’t even take my little boy to his occupational therapy appointment (#momguilt) and when I finally felt human enough to shower and see daylight, I develop a migraine from the depths of hell only the devil himself could have wrought. Hashtag totes awesome. ✔️

I love sunshine, dressing up in summer cuteness and walking along a beach and believe me, I’m fighting like hell to get back to that point, but today was fucking shitty. 

Thanks for listening. XOXO

To Anyone Who’s Gay, Mentally Ill and Coping With the Pulse Shooting Anniversary

“Never let anyone make you feel invisible, ignored or undeserving…”

Below is a list of the names of the 49 victims of the Pulse Shooting so we never forget:

Stanley Almodovar III, 23 years old

Amanda L. Alvear, 25 years old

Oscar A. Aracena Montero, 26 years old

Rodolfo Ayala Ayala, 33 years old

Antonio Davon Brown, 29 years old

Darryl Roman Burt II, 29 years old

Angel Candelario-Padro, 28 years old

Juan Chavez Martinez, 25 years old

Luis Daniel Conde, 39 years old

Cory James Connell, 21 years old

Tevin Eugene Crosby, 25 years old

Deonka Deidra Drayton, 32 years old

Simón Adrian Carrillo Fernández, 31 years old

Leroy Valentin Fernandez, 25 years old

Mercedes Marisol Flores, 26 years old

Peter Ommy Gonzalez Cruz, 22 years old

Juan Ramon Guerrero, 22 years old

Paul Terrell Henry, 41 years old

Frank Hernandez, 27 years old

Miguel Angel Honorato, 30 years old

Javier Jorge Reyes, 40 years old

Jason Benjamin Josaphat, 19 years old

Eddie Jamoldroy Justice, 30 years old

Anthony Luis Laureano Disla, 25 years old

Christopher Andrew Leinonen, 32 years old

Alejandro Barrios Martinez, 21 years old

Brenda Marquez McCool, 49 years old

Gilberto R. Silva Menendez, 25 years old

Kimberly Jean Morris, 37 years old

Akyra Monet Murray, 18 years old

Luis Omar Ocasio Capo, 20 years old

Geraldo A. Ortiz Jimenez, 25 years old

Eric Ivan Ortiz-Rivera, 36 years old

Joel Rayon Paniagua, 32 years old

Jean Carlos Mendez Perez, 35 years old

Enrique L. Rios, Jr., 25 years old

Jean Carlos Nieves Rodríguez, 27 years old

Xavier Emmanuel Serrano-Rosado, 35 years old

Christopher Joseph Sanfeliz, 24 years old

Yilmary Rodríguez Solivan, 24 years old

Edward Sotomayor Jr., 34 years old

Shane Evan Tomlinson, 33 years old

Martin Benitez Torres, 33 years old

Jonathan A. Camuy Vega, 24 years old

Juan Pablo Rivera Velázquez, 37 years old

Luis Sergio Vielma, 22 years old

Franky Jimmy DeJesus Velázquez, 50 years old

Luis Daniel Wilson-Leon, 37 years old

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When a hateful man took the lives of 49 men and women on June 12, 2016, I vomited for two days. I did not leave my home. I posted tearful pleas on social media for people to teach their children about love, empathy, tolerance and how not to hate those who are different. I screamed at the video recording on my phone, “We must be better. We must be different.”

I was simply “another gay person” affected by this slaying.

However, I happen to have rapid cycling bipolar disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. This event left me reeling. I became paranoid that if I ever left my home, my son would be left without a mother. I winced when my girlfriend held my hand because my heart beat so fast I thought it would break from my chest. I could not breathe. I could not sleep. There was no reprieve. I felt compelled to grieve for the 49 lives lost. My emotions were unchecked. 
I was angry at myself that I was alive, complaining about so-called “first world problems” and having suicidal thoughts when they had died for being who they are, for being who I am. I felt unrelenting guilt for my depression. I was alive, I was breathing and my heart was beating. How dare I be so ungrateful after what happened? My anxiety and fear felt like nothing compared to what they must have felt in their last moments.
However, one day, as I was in tears, my son came to me and said, in the wisdom of a 4-year-old, “Don’t be sad, Mommy. Be brave.” The Pulse victims, casualties and their first responders were brave. They were strong. I had a light bulb moment. It took time and medication changes, but I found courage in Pulse. A pulse is a heartbeat. My heart was beating. My guilt turned to action. It was OK to grieve in the same way it was OK to recover from mental illness. It was OK to hold my girlfriend’s hand. It was OK to go outside.
I may have confused fear with anxiety. I still could not tell you. If I let fear win, the opposition wins.
I am mentally ill and that’s OK.

I am gay and that’s OK.

Forty-nine people died and that will never be OK.
They will never win.
Love is a victory and I intend to celebrate it every day.
So, to anyone out there on the fringes like me, I can only offer the truth. The truth is, the atmosphere for the mentally ill and LGBTQIA community can feel dark. The truth is, we feel each other’s pain, because we are a worldwide family and their blood is our blood. The rainbow flag flies above our cause because of its fierce colors. It demands to be seen and heard. If you’re like me, be seen and be heard; in the doctor’s office, in the psychiatrist’s office or even simply at the grocery store. Never let anyone make you feel invisible, ignored or underserving in the medical community or in the human family. And if you ever feel alone, know that I am on the fringes right there with you.

This post previously appeared on The Mighty 

I Don’t Think You Understand 

Don’t think you understand that I wanna care 
Don’t think you understand I’m on the edge of the bridge 

I’m on the precipice 

I don’t think you understand that I don’t wanna fall 

I’m one heartbeat away from losing it all 

I don’t think you understand 

That I wanna smile and I wanna dance 

But right now I barely stand a chance

I just wanna sleep 

I just wanna slumber 

I don’t think you understand I’m being pulled under 

I fight like hell to take a breathe again 

I fight like hell to not fall in 

I don’t think you understand my constant struggle

I don’t think you understand what it’s like to beg for your life on your knees 

To pray for relief 

I don’t think you understand 

I’m always on the edge 

I’m one heartbeat away and I scared I don’t stand a chance