I’ve made some changes at that I’m quite pleased with. The community continues to grow and get stronger. The things that people share are so helpful to others. I get emails reflecting their appreciation all the time. I’m so proud to be a part of it.

Jess and I started it almost 2 years ago, and while I can’t speak for her, I know that for me it’s always felt like a safe place where I can work out mental issues. Everything is moderated, so there is no anxiety that some troll is going to get on and trash the place.

We have a few new forms to make submitting easier. The Your Story page is where you can submit your story or blog entry. I try to get them out within a few days of receiving them. It can be done totally anonymous or include a link to your blog or website.

As our community grows, it’s nice to know who is in that community, hence the Who You Are page. When you submit your profile (also anonymous or with a link) and share where you’re at at the moment, it really strikes a chord with others. I try to get those up as soon as I receive them.

There is also a short form on the main page right sidebar where you can quickly submit a link to a story or a photo that you think would be great to include on RM. We love all the submission! Keep ’em coming!

The changes on RealMental are mostly due to a wonderful session by Sarah Dopp I went to at WoolfCamp the other weekend at Grace‘s home. I met some wonderful people and came away with new ideas on how to make things better. In the session, Sarah talked about Genderfork and what she’s done to increase the community. I knew I wanted to make some changes to RM, I just wasn’t sure what to do. Thanks for sharing all that great info, Sarah. It gave us a great start.

If you have time, check it out and submit your own stuff.

Back To Myself

Originally posted at

When I was integrated in 2002, I knew it would be for forever. I’d worked so hard and sacrificed so much to get there, in that office, with the right doctor, to be integrated. There was just no way that I’d ever be split again. I knew it with every fiber of my being. And I was so grateful, thankful. Felt so blessed.

And then I felt SO STRONG. Holy shit, I was a newly ‘whole’ person with super powers. I could do anything and I did do anything it took to create a life worth living. Always working towards the goal of living so close to my kids that they could live with me half of the time. That goal was everything to me.

Through a comedy of errors, there were a few really bad weeks a couple of years ago that almost put me back in the mental hospital under surveillance. The disappointment of my kids not wanting to live with me was the worst pain I’d ever been in and I didn’t want to live. But, I didn’t have to go in hospital and I got on some heavy medication instead because I could feel my mind beginning some separation and it scared the shit out of me. I was so scared I barely could speak it out loud because what did that mean? That my mind was splitting? How could that happen? I was integrated and always would be. Right? Right??

The Invega put me in a mental coma. I couldn’t feel or emote. I certainly wasn’t splitting any further but I wasn’t doing much of anything else, either, which was just what the psychiatrist was hoping for. I was stable. And I couldn’t wait to get off Invega because I had lost my self. The bad and the good and the scary and the great. I had an echo in my skull.

I was scared to get off but I thought about it almost every moment I was awake. With every appointment to the doc, I took a little speech I had prepared to say to her – to allow me to prove to her that I didn’t need it anymore, even if it came with the consequence of the mind splitting being there forever. I had to have myself back.

In December 2007, I went to see friends and while we were driving down the snowy road, popping into thrift stores, I said it out loud to her that Claire was back and maybe she had never left and I didn’t realize it, but I had been lonely for her. And she just said, ‘Ok. Is that ok?’ And I told her I didn’t know for sure, but I thought so. And then we talked about her daughter and my kids and wondered when the snow would end and I felt relieved that I had said it to someone and nothing bad had happened.

In May of last year, I told my doc that I was going to try and get pregnant, so I could no longer take an anti-psychotic drug. She was VERY skeptical, but I persevered and with shaking hands and legs, I walked out of her office with so much relief I could barely make it to the car before weeping. And I slowly found myself again over the next few months after the jaw clenching stopped. I had bad days and some good days but I was always hopeful because I was having days and feelings and I could laugh again and my kids recognized me.

The huge emotions of the past year were slowly being processed. And with every therapy session, I almost talked about how my mind had not just split a little, but actually, Claire was there with every bit of her self as ever. But, I didn’t. I didn’t say the words because I was still scared about what that might mean. If Claire and I were so close together in my mind that we shared all moments with each other and all feelings, desires with each other, there was really nothing to disclose, right? I told myself that a lot. And I thought about what my kids would feel like if they knew. Would they pull even farther away from me? If I spoke the words out loud, would it make it a truth that could never be undone? And that would mean I failed. Because if I wasn’t ‘well’ and ‘integrated,’ then everything I went through and everything I put my kids through was for nothing.

I told my husband. And he asked if there was anything he could do to help my apparent sadness over the truth of it. And I told him no, but thanks for being so loving, kind and understanding. And I assured him that nothing would change between us because having Claire being her self with me didn’t change anything between he and I. Or us and him. And I believed it.

I started looking online and in books to find out if what was going on in my mind was something that had happened to any other integrated person. And I found out, yes. It did happen. And maybe more often than people knew. I felt a little angry that no one had told me. Or if they did, I hadn’t listened. So I was mad at myself. Because now it felt like such a failure when maybe it could have felt like just something that happens sometimes when an integrated dissociative goes through something stressful. But I still didn’t want anyone to know. And I felt like a fake.

For a year, every day, Claire and I would do everything together. And I did nothing and said nothing to anyone else that would alert them to that fact that I had become a We again. Suddenly, I needed a teddy bear. My old teddy bear. Molly. I needed Molly. And I searched through boxes in the garage that had been taped shut for years. I felt silly, searching for a teddy bear. I found Molly in a chest and put her under my pillow so no one would see. But, Joe saw. His eyebrows went up when Molly made her way to my chest before I went to sleep and I saw him wondering what it meant. I lied and said I was using a teddy bear to support my bad arm during the night. My arm did need support, so it was only kind of a lie, right? Partly true? I couldn’t go to sleep if Molly wasn’t tucked in my arms but I didn’t want to think very hard about why I needed her there. So, I didn’t. But in that space between being awake and being asleep, I saw a four year old girl who tucked Molly in her arm, put her thumb in her mouth and curled up for sleep.

We moved. Again. For the second time in a year. And I relied heavily on Claire to help us get boxes packed and things organized. It was too overwhelming to think about for me. So, Claire did it. Things went fine. And I didn’t think very hard about why I was allowing myself to fall back a little bit and why she moved forward a little bit and what that might mean. I just survived the way that my brain knew how to do.

We had Thanksgiving and Christmas and I didn’t write about anything on my blog because I didn’t know what to say. I felt guilty. Claire would do many things instead of me and I worried about what that might mean but I didn’t want to think very hard about it and every time I went to see my psychiatrist, I would lie and tell her that my mind was fit as a fiddle, there was no splitting going on and everything was great. She believed that having more than one personality was the end of the world for me and I disagreed and I just didn’t want to talk about it with her. She would try and make me get back on the Invega and I didn’t want to be a zombie again. And I didn’t mind Claire being around and she liked being back around. So.

In January, Tara started on Showtime, and I felt like a fake because I was split but everyone thought I was still a mono-mind and I felt so guilty. I thought about talking about it on my blog. Telling people the truth. But, I realized that almost everyone in my life now has either met me when I was first integrated and only knows me that way, or depends on my ‘wellness’ and integration to keep their relationship with me safe, namely, my kids and family. And I didn’t know what to do so I did nothing. And I realized that my mantra of always being honest with myself and others, no matter the cost, was a sad, old, worn out lie that I didn’t deserve to say anymore, in my head or to anyone else.

And every episode I watched of Tara reminded me that I was a liar. I loved the show. I loved watching Toni Collette. I was so proud to be a part of it. And then I would remember that I was a liar and a fake and I would go to sleep, knowing that I didn’t deserve anyone’s praise for anything. I stopped answering emails from people congratulating me or asking me for help. I didn’t know what to say anymore. And I’m sorry if you are one of the people I ignored.

A friend of a friend wanted to fly in and interview me for her dissertation. She wanted to talk about how trauma that causes dissociation might be similar to near death experiences. I was nervous. I wasn’t sure what to say or how to talk about it. And my mind just wouldn’t work. I couldn’t follow her questions. They were all about how and where Claire came from the first time when I was four and how Claire felt about spirituality and about her role as the connection to the Universe and all things good. I fumbled for the answers. I could hear Claire telling me what to say, but it didn’t make sense. I asked everyone to repeat what they had said and I tried to get a handle on the conversation because I really wanted to help this friend of a friend. And then suddenly it was just like old times. I felt myself moving back, back and the audio going softer. My eyes got a little fuzzy and I thought, yes. I remember this. This is how things used to be and I guess this is how they are going to be again. And I heard Claire talking with such emotion and inflection and she sounded so smart and she knew all the answers to the questions. Things I didn’t know how to explain and things I didn’t even know in the first place, even though we had been integrated for six years. I felt her voice in our throat and felt how much fun she was having being out after so long. Our arms felt like hers. Our legs felt like hers. And we adjusted a little and our body went into a sitting position that was more Claire and less Leah.

The interview was a great success. She was very pleased to have been able to talk to Claire and Claire was very pleased to have been able to talk to her. A few hours later, the friend and her friend left and we were left in the house with ourselves. I asked Claire if she wanted to stay out and she said, yes, if you don’t mind. And I guessed I didn’t. Devon walked into the kitchen and Claire was happy to see him with our eyes, being in front. And Devon knew, immediately, that it was Claire and not Leah in the kitchen. His eyes went a little sharp and he took in a breath a little too quick. And he simply asked, ‘Is there any problem between you and my mom?’ And Claire told him no, there wasn’t. Everything was cool and if he wanted her to go and have Leah come back out front, she would switch right away. But, she hoped he would say no, it was fine. Which he did say. And Leah wondered if it was because he was really alright with it or he could see in our eyes that Claire was hoping he’d say so.

Joe came home a few hours later. He came in, said hello and swept in for his kiss. And he felt like something was just not right. He thought our voice sounded weird and he looked uncomfortable. So, Claire told him it was her. And assured him that she loved him, too, just as much as me, and, trying to make sure he really got the message, she asked him if he wanted to go to the bedroom with her. Leah was fine with that, because intellectually, she knew that it was all her, Claire was her. But Joe was hesitant and said to us that maybe it would be better if he just got to know Claire a little more before jumping in the sack with her. And that was fine. But Claire and Leah both felt bad for Joe because he looked so uncomfortable, so Claire went back and Leah came forward.

My eyes got clearer. The noise in my ears got sharper. And my hands felt like mine and I touched Joe’s face and told him I loved him. He said he loved me, too, but man, that was a little weird. And I felt guilty. But Claire didn’t. And for the first time since she had been back, we had a different feeling at the same time.

I find myself telling you this long tale and wonder why I’m doing it. It’s going to make things complicated. Claire and I have continued to share space and time. We sometimes have different thoughts and different feelings than each other. But we make an effort to always do the thing that is for the greater good. I think she’s here to stay. Maybe I’m glad she is. I can no longer deny what I am. I’m tired of feeling guilty and like a fake. I know some people will not be able to accept this. I worry about my relationships with my kids, if things will change. I worry that my ability to help support our family will get harder because less people will believe I am stable enough to do good work. I worry that people who have been my friend will pull away because it’s too weird. I worry that my family will look at me as a failure.

But more than all those things I’m worried about, the need to get right with myself has become overwhelming. I want to be able to say that I face the truth no matter how hard and have it be true again. I want to say that I’m honest clear down to my inner core. That honesty with myself and others is still as important to me as it used to be. I want to tell people that having a split mind is by no means the worst thing in the world and it feels natural to me. I want to say that nothing has changed, except everything has changed, but I’m still the same person. We are the same person. Maybe things have gone back to normal. That I’m flawed but authentic.

In any case, welcome back Claire. And hello little girl who needs Molly. I’ll keep her on the bed for you for as long as you want.

Accepting Hell

So, this is it? Really? I can’t quite believe it. I keep asking myself over and over…is this it?

There have been a few days where I got really close to replying to that question with, ‘No, this will not be it.’ and it’s those days that are the worst, as I look for a way out.

The past few months have been insane. Literally. I feel like such a failure as a mother. As a wife. As a proponent of mental health. As a human being. I’ve struggled so hard and fierce, using every, single muscle trying to hold on to reality and then given up, fallen back and tried to accept what reality is and let it fold over what I keep trying to make it.

Reality is that for the rest of my life I’ll be on some kind of medication. Reality is that even though I went through therapy for years and years and then integrated and then brushed the dust off my hands, thinking I was done with the diagnosing and drugs and really hard parts, I will never be done. There is no such thing as done for me when it comes to brain disorders. I will continually have new and fun streaks and variations come out that will need attending to. Drug cocktails that will need adjustment. More weight to gain. More side effects to wade through.

Reality is that I should never, ever try to have any more children. It would be irresponsible to do so. Reality is that my kids have it so much better than they even know. Maybe they do know. After all, they chose the life they have now, not living with me. They must have had some internal compass that told them to stay the course at their dad’s. And, good, because life with me is not much of a life. Reality is that my feelings about that, about them and towards them are so huge that they threaten to splinter my mind again and I have a gray area lurking in the background that needs addressing and months and months of work to repair.

Reality is that my husband will be working with me and trying to help keep me stable for the rest of our life together. I have good spots, to be sure. I do some things that are fun, creative, and not always crazy. But more likely than not, those things do intersect with the crazy. And sometimes getting out the Dyson for a long-overdue vacuuming party is preferred to a new project’s birth.

Reality is that my life is hell and I make it hell for those close to me.

I don’t think I’m conveying how disappointed I am accurately. Your emails and letters have been sweet and I do appreciate them. Very much. But not one comes in that I don’t think, ‘They don’t really know who I am.’ If you did, you wouldn’t say the things you do. I am not the person that I thought I was and that I led you all to believe I was. I’m not healed. I’m not better. I’m no authority on anything, least of all mental health. I’m just one more person trying to figure out how to make it another day. One more person just like everyone else in the entire world that struggles with mental disorders. And to all of you? Wow. You inspire me with your getting up every day and trying again. Because I don’t know how long I can do this.

I’ve gone to the psychiatrist and a couple of therapists in the past few weeks and tomorrow I have another one. At one point three weeks ago, I was ready to go to Seattle. That is where Dr. Clancy lives. Dr. Clancy was the one who integrated me and the thought of trying to find someone else here was too daunting. My sister told me to get on a plane immediately. I made plans with a company up there to take a position. But Dr. Clancy’s first opening was mid-November and somehow, no one thought it was a good idea for me to go up there and wait that long. I mean, what good is a job at a great company if you’re crazy? So then it was off to our couple-counselor who suggested some people here in the area and made me promise to call if I started feeling suicidal. As did the other therapist, the psychiatrist and Joe. Which is kind of a joke since if I was really going to kill myself, I wouldn’t call them or anyone. But I couldn’t kill myself, anyway, because no matter how you slice it, it would hurt the kids and that is the last thing I want to do. There is no accident I could contrive that at some point wouldn’t fall apart and prove to be self-inflicted. I’ve thought it through. And, I’ve seen way too many episodes of Law and Order and Without A Trace to think otherwise.

I’m baking. And cooking. This weekend alone I’ve made fish chowder, beef stew, corn bread, butternut and spaghetti squash, apple crisp and Boston Cream pie besides all the normal meals. I’ve made thousands of lists in my head with all the things I need to do. These lists include things like wipe the downstairs bathroom counter, change out the mousetraps, find the canvases in the garage and make tomato sauce and that is four things on a list of a few hundred things. I’ve drawn a million shapes from the television, over and over and over while sitting in front of it, to the lines on the road and the clouds and the mailboxes and the trees when I make a trip to the store for butter. I’ve crocheted hats. Many hats.

One night, I had a dream about the egg sandwiches I was going to make the next day at lunch. It was very vivid and included the print on the paper towel that I used to hold the shells until I threw them out. I dreamed I peeled all the eggs, rinsed them and then separated the yolks from the whites, placing them in two bowls on the counter. Then I carefully took the whites, two at a time, and put them in the small canister for the Bullet. I pushed the cup down quickly, twice, and then dumped the perfectly chopped whites into the bowl with the yolks. I didn’t comment out loud in my dream, but in my mind I was remarking on how perfectly shaped the whites were and how two was the perfect number for everything.

The next afternoon, in real life, Joe was helping me peel the eggs. I got out the Bullet canister and two bowls and started separating the whites and the yolks just like in my dream. He looked at me, first sidelong and then full-on. As he asked what I was doing, I was ashamed. So embarrassed. But I couldn’t stop doing it the way I saw it. I pushed the canister down twice and then dumped the contents in the bowl. They were not chopped perfectly. Far from it. Half of them were mush and the other half were hardly chopped at all. But I kept doing it. And Joe kept trying to be helpful by suggesting ways to load the whites and how about we don’t use that thing at all and just do it the way we always do it? I finally told him that I dreamed about doing it this way and so I was trying it. I did two more whites and then realized it was not going to get any better and that I had to STOP. So I took a spoon and scraped out the mushy whites at the bottom. I turned to Joe and said, ‘You know what’s funny? What’s funny is that I thought doing something the way I dreamed it would be the right way to do it! I listened to something in my dreams!‘ And then I laughed. Hard. Manic. Harsh. And then I started bawling and it took everything I had to pull it together, not get tears or snot in the egg salad and keep making the sandwiches.

The kids were here for the weekend. Their dad went out of town and for some reason, they agreed to come over here instead of having someone in their dad’s family come up and stay with them at their home like they’ve done in the past. It was wonderful to have them here. Truly wonderful. And just around every corner I was about to lose it. I hope they didn’t know, but hell, I think it’s been established that my kids know much more than I give them credit for. It’s not at all impossible that they were very aware that mom was barely there some times. That mom’s face is red because she just got done crying in the bathroom. That mom is so busy in the kitchen because she has no idea what to say to anyone and sitting down for 2 minutes in the living room was just not in the realm of practical. That mom accidentally fell asleep on the couch in the afternoon and is sleeping in until 11am every morning because she is on new drugs that make her so, so tired.

I’m taking Invega for now. The Effexor, which was the sixth mood stabilizer I tried and the only one to work, and Wellbutrin, an antidepressant, are soon to follow. Do you know what Invega is? It’s for schizophrenia. It’s a paliperidone derivative and when the dose is halved, it’s supposedly good for Bipolar. It’s an anti-psychotic drug.

I’ve been diagnosed with Bipolar twice before and once I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. The former I never took seriously because the first time it was called Manic-Depressive Disorder and I knew I was not depressed all the time! So it could not be true! Oh, how much I sometimes miss my former mental health naiveté. The latter diagnosis scared the hell out of me and was given to me mere days before my first mental hospital stay. However, once I was diagnosed with DDNOS, there was no more reason to even look at that one because the dissociative disorder was well enough to keep everyone very, very busy.

Now I don’t even care. Honestly, who cares what the diagnosis is? I’m fucked up and always will be. The End. And that is what I have to accept. But I can’t.

The first night I took my new drugs was so hard. I thought about it all afternoon and evening and the closer it got to bedtime the more out of control I became. I couldn’t stop crying. I cleaned up dinner and bawled. I showered and bawled. I brushed my teeth and bawled. It would have been funny if it wasn’t so awful. And by the time I crawled in bed next to Joe I was a complete mess. I tried to tell him what was so awful about taking the new meds but I don’t think he could understand much of what I said between my gulps for air and wiping the snot off my face. And really, it’s not anything I can explain very well. It is just really, really hard. It represents the rest of my life. It says that I understand that there is no other way, that this is the ONLY WAY to get my brain under control. No amount of coping skills, positive talk, shaping my Universe, affirmations and prayer will change anything. This is it. This is me. This is the rest of my life and I don’t want to be here.

I was also crying because I was petrified. Anti-psychotics are well known for some really tantalizing side-effects like confusion, dizziness, weight gain and ticks/muscle spams, just to name a few. Being known as my kids’ crazy mom is one thing. Being known as their drooling, morbidly obese, dumb as a stick, spasmatic mom who is house-bound and afraid to drive in case she forgets how to get home is something else.

So far, I can tell I’m gaining weight around the middle. All my shirts are tight. I’m slightly dizzy most of the day and so, so tired. I get headaches about once per day. I see odd things out of the corner of my eyes. I’m absent minded and do things like load the coffee maker with the very last coffee in the house which I have just lovingly ground, turn it on and then forget to put the carafe under the spout. Guess what happens when you do that? You get an overflow and coffee grounds all over the counter, down the side of the oven where you can’t really reach and mud all over the floor. And no coffee that morning. I still cry. I still want to do a million things at once. Pretty much the only thing that has changed is that my mind races a little bit less and I’m too apathetic to kill myself. Or, too lazy because I can’t think of a good plan. (DO YOU HAVE A PLAN??) (That’s a joke for anyone who’s ever had suicidal ideation and talked to an authority figure.)

Wow, this post got really long.

Belinda’s husband Alex left a comment on my post on Real Mental the other night where I talked about getting back on drugs. Insights like his, from people who struggle with mental disorders, like all the good people that write me emails and send me letters and frequent Real Mental, are so inspiring. And I know at different times in my life I’ve given some not-too-horrible advice to people. But at the moment? I can’t find any of it. I can’t hear it. I can’t remember it. I feel frustrated and angry and like something was stolen from me. And I know what it was. It was the dream of being well. The story I told myself for so long where I was well, happy and a great mother to my kids. That has been irrevocably taken away from me and there is no way to get it back. All there is left is to accept it.

These past five years have been great and awful. Great because I had this dream to keep me alive and to work towards. It made everything hard worthwhile. I woke up telling myself how great it would be at some point in the future when the kids lived with me half the time or some of the time and how I would get to be their mom. I went to bed telling myself the same story. And every afternoon I told it again. And every hour in between. I feel like I should expound on this for a few more paragraphs just so it’s clear how much this was a part of my life. But, basically, that is all there is – I wanted to be a great mom. And the awful? well, the awful is, because that was my complete focus, I have nothing as a backup plan. My universe literally cracked in half and I don’t know what is next. And this is where the disordered thinking comes in – not only should I have had at least one back up plan, but I should have had some kind of maintenance program going with interval therapy going on and reality checks. But, I’ve been to so much therapy! I know what they’d say! I’ll just tell myself and it’s the same thing, right? Right?? Wrong. If you think you know everything, there is nothing left to learn and no one can tell you anything. If I had been on some kind of program, monthly, bi-monthly, hell, even quarterly and there would have been someone there to tell me WHAT IF then maybe I wouldn’t find myself in dire straits. And if I wouldn’t have taken off right after I was integrated and stayed with Dr. Clancy for a few more months like he wanted me to five years ago, maybe things would be different. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Or maybe things would be just the same. I’ve put off looking at this closely because it was easy to blame all this stuff on other things, like my thyroid. Avoidance and confusion.

I haven’t self-harmed in years. Since right before my last mental hospital stay. But it crosses my mind every five minutes. I won’t do it but it’s there. Instead of allowing myself to think of it, I obsess about getting a new tattoo. Where will I put it? What will it look like? Can I just cover up one that I have with a new design? What would that look like after? And then I draw it in my mind for hours.

I obsess about smoking again. About not smoking again. The last time I smoked was at a friend’s home during the summer and my kids saw and that was just a few days before my kids told me that they didn’t want to live with me ever. Never. What if that was the reason they don’t want to? What if I do smoke again and they say to themselves, yep! We knew it. Good thing we picked our dad. But I’ve got to keep my hands busy and I can make only so many hats before I have yarn coming out of my ears and I throw it at the wall and then can’t stop pacing like a caged animal that can’t get out. But, there is no where to go that is away from me.

The mania is so stealthy sometimes. I’ll be feeling so good, like I finally have it together for the morning and I can breathe a little easier and then I realize that I’ve been standing still, staring at the toothpaste in the little basket for who knows how long and wondering why it isn’t moved two inches to the left because THAT IS WHERE IT GOES. And if the toothpaste isn’t right, nothing can be right. And then when I get downstairs, there is a load of laundry from last night still in the washer. This of course means that Joe doesn’t love me because if he did love me, he would have moved it to the dryer so it didn’t go sour and then make me smell it when I go to check it. The sour actually assaults my nose and makes me cry. It’s that harsh to my nose. And it’s so awful, so HUGE that I can’t even think it or explain it. I just cry and then try to figure out how to make it through this god-awful day. Somewhere around lunchtime I’ve decided I have no friends. None. Not a single one. The people I know from high school are nice when I call them but let’s be honest, if I’m always the one calling them first to talk and catch up, if I’m always the one to make first contact and they never do, and they could just keep going years without hearing from me, then who’s friends with who? And who cares and who doesn’t? And why should I call them first anyhow? If they don’t care about me at all. And the same goes for anyone I’ve know in the past five years since I’ve been Healed (just thought I’d capitalize it now that I’m making fun of it) because none of them ever call me first. Why am I always making the extra effort to check in or stop in? Am I that needy? Why am I that needy? No one likes me. And by the time Joe gets home from work I’ve thought of about a million reasons why our relationship will never work out and how we should get divorced immediately and how I’m friendless and no one will ever consider me their best friend in the world. I might as well be dead. Now THAT is fun to come home to. Quite a treat.

A few weeks later, I’ll feel completely opposite. Everyone loves me, or would, if they knew me. I start awesome new projects like writing groups and reading groups and artist groups and mental health groups. Time sometimes eludes me. I’ll feel like it’s been 3 hours but it’s only been long enough for one song on the radio to finish. I’ve just thought of THAT MANY THINGS. Because I’m so awesome. See? Can’t you see how awesome I am? I could travel the world and interview everyone that interests me. I could go overseas and write a travel log. It would sell. Of course it would sell. Why wouldn’t it? I am AWESOME. Sadly, by the time some of the groups come around to needing me to actually do something like be in charge of a meeting, I’ve cycled back down to not feeling worthy of grime on the side of a quarter and I can’t function. I just can’t do it. Everyone will be looking at me and wanting me to say something. You know, because I am in charge.

Finding a job is never easy but in this new reality that I’m living in, I’m well aware that my options are limited. The regular 9-5 job does not work for me. In the years I’ve done it, it’s all I can do. I don’t do anything else besides commute, work and sleep because I can’t factor anything else into the equation. And then after about a year straight of it, I’m burned up and sick and have to quit. I can only ignore it for so long before it demands that I pay attention. And this sucks for many reasons, not the least of which is financial and probably making Joe feel alone and stressed and working 3 jobs so we can survive. I’ve written so much down in this blog over the years that any potential employer will find it and immediately throw my resume in the garbage. I couldn’t change that if I wanted to. But I don’t think I want to. I just have to have some kind of hope that a flexible position exists out there where I will fit in. Where I can make enough money to contribute to my well-being and take some weight off my partner. And if I can’t and that doesn’t happen, that is so unfair. And here we go on the downward slope again on the unfairness of life and how Joe is trapped and will never have a good life.

So, I don’t know how to answer all of your heartfelt questions. I’m fine? Maybe? But not really and never will be? But thanks for caring enough to send me your warm thoughts and wishes and I wish I was fine and could be different for you. And be the person you thought I was. But I’m not. And I don’t know how much I’ll be updating this blog for awhile still. It’s so hard to write the truth right now and I just can’t get into lying on purpose and saying I’m fine or alternately, revealing all the grisly details of the suckage. Instead, go here to see a photo of my bird, Bird, that Alison has made insanely, fiercely awesome to show the true spirit inside him.

Before You Can Snap Your Fingers Twice

I’ll be taking a short break, friends. Don’t forget, LA Angst is on the 20th. Sign up to be a reader of just drop by. Don’t tell LA Bloggers Live!, but Angst is my favorite. I mean, I love Bloggers Live! almost as much, but with a gun to my head, I’d have to pick Angst. It’s just that great. LA Angst has been canceled for this month. I’ll let you know when it’s rescheduled.

You might find me over at I’ll be putting up a few posts. The other writers over there make a visit worthwhile, though. They are pretty amazing. And maybe I’ll post at Schmutzie’s, if I can think of anything remotely engaging to say. I’m getting gaggy at the downer theme that’s been happening with all my writing, so we’ll have to wait and see if I can manage to think of anything else. And I’ll probably be Twittering. See? It’s like I’m not really gone at all.

In the meantime, know that I think you’re ACES and I love you like GANGBUSTERS. xo
p.s. have you listed your blog on BloggerNetwork yet?

For a very long time, I’ve wanted a place on the internet where I could talk about mental health issues with other people in an open and loving manner. I kept looking even though I couldn’t find it. My blog has served somewhat for this, but I talk about so many other things in here, that it’s just not quite the same thing.

At Blogher, Jess and I started talking about a ‘project’ together. Something online. Somewhere we could talk about parenting issues and mental health issues and somewhere around the third time she said, ‘Leah? So, are you ready to do this?‘, I realized, Holy Cow. This is the place I’ve been looking for, only I’m going to be creating it instead of finding it. is a home of sorts. It’s a place where everyone is welcome who wishes to explore what it means to have a mental disorder, be in a relationship with someone who has a mental disorder and all the other things that go along with that including medication, depression and self-help techniques. My greatest hope is to break down barriers and remove the stigma attached to the words Mental Illness, because they are just words. And it’s real people living those things and trying to cope with those things and it’s hard and they (and I) just want others to understand and not judge.

If you are someone who has something to share and no place to put it, please consider our RealMental home your home as well. Email me and we’ll talk.