The Fear of Death…

For as long as I can remember I never expected to live to see old age. I’m not sure if it was losing my grandfather when I was 10 or so that triggered my fascination with how long I would live or just what it was.

I was surprised when I turned 25 that I was still alive, then again ten years later, and living to 40 what a shock as well. See deep down I never thought I would live a long life. I never expected to honestly and truly. If you have been reading the last couple of weeks you will know that I am now 41 and at the age my mother was when she started showing signs and symptoms of having cancer, and that I have pre cancerous cells and major surgery coming in just over a week.

My ob oncologist is very thorough. See I have liver disease and there is an increased risk of my liver failing during surgery due to the way the body reacts to anesthesia.  So I’ve had to have extra blood tests and doctors visits and ultra sounds. Each time with the warning of the risk of my life during surgery.

I know I shouldn’t panic. I’ve already had one surgery and came out just fine but it was not as serious as this coming surgery. I am afraid I won’t make it to recovery, I’m afraid that my life will end on the operating table.

See after all these years of feeling like I wouldn’t live to be old I’m afraid now I won’t make it.  People keep telling me it’s a rational fear and that it will be okay and the doctors are just taking extra precautions but I’m afraid.

I’m afraid when I hug and kiss my husband just before they wheel me off that it will be the last time I see him. I wonder how it will feel to just not be anymore.

These are the fears that can eat you alive, these are the not so rational, rational thoughts that plague you when you face your mortality. This is why I’m going to see a therapist on Thursday. This is why getting help when you have a mental illness is so important. I know I’m spiraling. I know i’m fixating. I know in the rational part of my brain that this will be fine, but there is that little voice that keeps saying what if? What if…….I guess I will deal with what if when it happens.

So I guess that’s that…It’s not fair.

Well the visit with the oncologist was long and informative and exhausting all at the same time. It boils down to this.

I have a 6 inch cyst on my left ovary, yup you read that right six inches.  It is pushing my bladder and my uterus out of position which has been causing some auxiliary problems that I just thought were part of getting older.

The surgery will remove both ovaries, both fallopian tubes, my uterus and my cervix. They will be doing an open incision because they want to remove everything in tact so that they can do a frozen dissection and test for any other pre cancerous/cancerous cells.

I will be spending 4 to 5 days in the hospital afterwards and then 6 to 8 weeks on home rest after that.

Good news is that I will have plenty of time to complete my last three classes, bad news I won’t be able to do anything much.

We were hoping to keep one of my ovaries so that we could harvest eggs and possibly use a surrogate but the percentage of having viable eggs is less than 20% so adoption it is for us.

I’m sad, angry and ready to shout at the world it’s not fair. Because to be honest it’s not.

My husband and I have stable income a beautiful home and deeply desire to have a family of our own. Nieces and nephews are great but it’s just not the same.  Why is it that those that do not have these things can pop kids out seemingly on a whim?

I believe in choice and accountability for your actions but it’s just not fair. When I think about all the babies that are lost to abortions or not wanted or harmed by their “parents”.  Especially when their are loving couples that can provide all the love and support for these children. How do we live in a world where children are abused and tossed away so effortlessly?

When did it become okay for human life to become disposable? AGAIN and I can’t stress this enough what you decide to do with your body and the things that go in and come out of it is your business and your choice. I have no right to tell you what is right for you but for those of us that don’t have a choice it is very painful. It crushes our very souls. It weighs us down and makes us want to rip a new one in the fabric of society.

At the end of the day I will take my meds, put my cpap on and lay down and go to sleep and wake up in the morning with all these feelings bubbling to the surface. It has been like that for ten years. The yearning and desperate desire to be a mother, and who knows how much longer that desire will go unfulfilled.

At the end of it all I get to feel like it’s not ever fair nor will it ever be. I know there is no promise of fairness in this mortal life we live. I know that, and can’t change it.  I can acknowledge it and struggle to accept it but I don’t have to like it. Acceptance and like are not equal to each other. So therefore I can accept this hand dealt to me but I don’t have to like it.

Twenty Years later.

I graduated high school in June of 1992. I had big dreams I wanted to be the first college graduate in my family. I was the first to go to college I was also the first to leave college.

See I started school and immediately got in over my head. Twenty years ago the the only time I ever talked to anyone about my college path was to talk to a financial aid counselor about being declared an independent student because I had no parent or guardian living, that I knew about at the time.

See back then I choose a  degree field that I thought I wanted, there was no advisement. I ran to the arms of the local community college with not a single clue. I wasn’t ready for the commitment, the homework or anything remotely college related. I had no one to lean on, no support system that understood what I was jumping into. I was 19 and I was clueless.

I spent several semesters at the local community college in two different degree fields. I was so sure that I wanted to become a lawyer that I started the paralegal studies program. Mock Trial never prepared me for the classes I was taking. After a few semesters I met some people from a private college that told me all about campus life and how wonderful it was. I was hooked. So I applied got accepted and dove head first into a four year program. This time I only had 3 different majors. One of those majors was teaching. Something I had thought about doing other than being a lawyer.

Boy was I in over my head yet again. See in all of this I didn’t take into consideration my personal history.

See the February of 1993 I lost my mother to cancer. I felt all alone surrounded by well meaning family. I was also a people pleaser so I did what I thought I was suppose to do. Not once in the entire two years of my college experience did I have a clue as to what I really wanted to do with my life.

Truth be told it has taken me twenty years to know what I want to be when I grow up.

I think often of my 7th grade history teacher. He was inspiring. We got to choose to write a research paper or do a project.  I always picked the project.

It was in his class that I learned to program in Basic. It was in his class that I learned that I had more potential then I ever dreamed. It was in that history class that I learned to love history.

In the last twenty years I have learned many things. Of all the things I learned it was a silly Facebook game that ignited a fire in my.  I’m sure you probably saw the game or even played it. If you commented on someone’s status they would give you a number and you were suppose to share that number of things that your friends probably didn’t know about you. I got the number seven.

As I was creating my list of all the things one of those seven was the regret that I never got my degree. My sister in law commented that it wasn’t too late that I could go back to school and get a degree.  Pondering exactly that I pulled out our tax forms from last year and filled out a FAFSA to see if I qualified for any financial aid at all. While I was waiting to see if I would get any aid another friend posted about getting a scholarship to the only NCATE ( National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education) accredited online university. It peaked my interest and I took a look at the school and the programs they offered. I asked for more information and then paid the application fee and started the process not ever really expecting to get in.

So what did I decide to be when I grow up? I want to teach. I want to teach history. I want to teach history to 7th and 8th grade students.

Just a week or so later my application has been accepted, my financial aid is in place and poof I am a college student again.  My husband and I had talked about me going back to school after he graduated.  The day he graduated I got my acceptance letter to Western Governors University .

I never expected to get any financial aid.

I never expected any prior credits to transfer, but I am so happy that 19 of them did.

I never expected to be 40 years old and back in school and ready and focused and determined to succeed and graduate on time if not early.

It just goes to show you that when you decide to do something and it is the right path you are suppose to be one all the doors will open for you.

So what is one regret that you can fix? I shared mine how about sharing yours?

40 Years and 40 Random Acts

I am turning 40 on December 14th. Yup can’t hardly believe it but that’s the truth.

Besides hosting my first birthday party since I turned 8 years old I have decided to do 40 random acts of kindness. One act for each year that I have been so blessed to be a part of this amazing world.

Sure there have been not so great times and really amazing times but in the end all the good stuff is what matters.

I have been so blessed to have some amazing people in my life. My husband and family to just name a few but there have been others that were only there for a brief moment.

Someone who bought me a plane ticket to get back to California. The couple at the airport that found me a place to hang out while I waiting for 48 hours for a flight. The tow truck driver that accidently left his phone in my car then bought a full tank of gas for me when giving his phone back to him. The numerous people that have paid for my meal in a drive thru and didn’t even know me. The lady on the plane that held my hand as I cried all the way back to Nashville after my grandmother died. The countless people that make me smile and make my day.

There is so much good in this world, so much positive and bright and shiny. I need to share that, I need to make someone elses day.

So if you’re up for the challenge join me in 40 Acts of Random Kindness between December 1-14, 2013. Lets do something nice just because.

How life interrupts when you have plans.

If you follow me on social media you know that I have been tossed and turned in a sea of personal turmoil.  I got a job worked for almost 3 months then got let go because I was joking with a personal friend of mine and someone misunderstood the comments and situation. I’m okay with that. It’s been for the better I think.

I  have never been fired before……..I have always left on my own terms.  Not the path or plan I had, but as we all know life is what happens when you make plans.

I think many times when things change rapidly it is because we have prayed for an answer and something happens and we take that as the answer and forget to pray and ask if that is the answer or if it is a distraction.  I know that sounds confusing but it’s like this, when you are troubled and you pray for a way to solve your problem and you do all that you are suppose to do not always is the first solution the answer Heavenly Father has for you. It’s like jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

We want everything so fast and so easy these days sometimes I think we forget that it takes work. We lose site of the goal like and get distracted by the things right in our face.

When I was young I played soccer. I played on a pretty good team. We won more than we lost and this was in the days when keeping score and being a good sport about losing was a virtue you learned on the field.  I played the position of defender closest to the goalie.  I loved playing. Many times all the other players were down at the other end of the field and the other defender and the goalie and I would get distracted by playing with the flowers in the grass or the caulk that marked the lines. We were not watching the game we were occupied with what was in front of us.  Had we paid more attention we would have probably learned so much more that game.  We would have seen the break away and seen the ball and the striker headed for our side of the field.  We would have been standing up and ready to defend our goal.  But we were not paying attention and were too slow standing up, we were confused as to why the coach was yelling at us and pointing.  Needless to say the other team scored.

I was upset and it was disappointing. I wanted to blame the other defender and the goalie, I wanted to say it wasn’t my fault but looking back almost 30 years now I know it was just as much my fault as it was my teammates.

See I had a plan that day. My plan was to stop the ball and be the “hero” of the team.  As often it happens in youth soccer there is a great amount of offense and very little defense. I wanted to be the first one to stop the ball to keep from the other team scoring, but I was too busy with the distractions in front of me.  I let a moment of boredom keep me from being a team player.

I let the “prestige” of the place I was working get in the way of what my actual goal was.  I also began to let my self slip and be tested.  I am sure Heavenly Father often shakes his head in frustration with me.  I am walking the path but get distracted and stop or just nudge the line sometimes. I am by no means Molly Mormon but I know who I am and where I come from and where I’m going. Sometimes I need a test or a lesson to remind me just how far I have come and how far I have to go.

Getting fired isn’t the end of the world just the end of a page in the current chapter you are writing.

 

LB.

I can no longer stand silent.

When my husband and I first moved to our new ward in G’ville we met some of our dearest friends. One of those friends was a man named Brian E. Kiley.  Brian was such a great person. He lived his faith. He was the same person on Sunday as he was Monday thru Friday.  I had the opportunity to be his Assistant Seminary teacher. Basically I got the great opportunity to teach early morning seminary when he was out of town working on his comedy career.

Just last year Brian met and married the woman of his dreams. They compliment each other so very well. Brian got everything he ever wanted in a family. He even got the chance to be a dad. He was such a great dad too.

Tragically just over a month ago Brian was murdered by a drunk driver on his way to the airport after a comedy show.  The man that killed Brian thought his right to drink and party was more important than the right of other people on the road.

Just yesterday the drummer for a popular band that I use to listen to was arrested and charged with drunk driving murder. He to decided that his party was more important that someone else’s right to live. And today a popular movie star and her husband were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and he was charged with DUI.

Two public figures in two days feeling entitled to do as they please regardless of those around them.

I have decided that I will no longer use my hard earned money to buy their music, go to their concerts, watch their movies or buy their products.

I am one lone voice in the dark refusing to support those that feel drunk driving is okay.  Every year more men, women and children are murdered by intoxicated drivers than people murdered by a gun.

Now I know that prohibiting anything only causes people to want it more so this is what I suggest. Tougher laws when it comes to DUI’s, tougher sentences for convicted drunk drivers, the permanent removal of driving privileges of habitual drunk drivers, the immediate removal and impounding of said drivers vehicle.  Anyone convicted of DUI should have a  notation on the front of their state issued id and driver’s license letting everyone know they are a drunk driver.

There are too many “reality” TV shows that show young people drinking and driving and acting stupid look like fun. They should removed from airways.

It is a startling realization that once a drunk driver gets out of jail they have the opportunity to get back behind the wheel of a machine that they used to kill someone.

When are we going to stand up and realize that drunk driving is not a game?

When are we going to stand up and stop laughing at how drunk people act?

When are we going to realize that it is not cool, popular or neat to get so drunk you don’t know where you are, what you are doing or who you are doing it to?

I think the laws need to be tougher for drunk drivers that get caught the first time then we might see few drunk driving murders.

What are your thoughts? What can we do to make drunk driving murder a thing of the past?

Stigma This

There are days when getting out of bed is overwhelming.

There are days when the thought of going out the front door is paralyzing.

There are days when getting out of the house is an itch that can’t be scratched fast enough.

There are days when everyone around you laughs and you join them.

There are days when moving fast isn’t fast enough.

These are the days of my life. I am bi-polar with hypomania. Each person with this defect presents differently. I just happen to function and create on a higher level than others. I can have insanely organized and creative periods and times where being organized is not a priority to me.

Bi-Polar Disorder can be defined as the follow:

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder are more severe than the normal ups-and-downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated. A combination of professional counseling and medication helps most people live productive and fulfilling lives.

Bipolar symptoms are sometimes not recognized as parts of a larger problem, so it can be years before a person is properly diagnosed and treated. While some experience symptoms during childhood, bipolar disorder often develops in a person’s late teens or early adult years. It has been reported that at least half of all cases start before age 25. Like diabetes or heart disease, bipolar disorder is a long-term illness that must be carefully managed throughout a person’s life.

Bipolar mood changes are called episodes, and people usually shift from manic to depressive episodes.

For many generations the word bi-polar has been taboo. Telling people that you have depression or anxiety or a mental health diagnosis was social disaster. Many patients have been told not to tell anyone for fear of being denied jobs, being considered a social outcast. It can be intimidating to tell people about your illness. You fret and worry about whether or not you will have friends left. You worry about keeping your job, getting a new job. You worry about being shunned by friends and loved ones because you are “unstable”. Due to the stigma many with mental health illnesses will forgo treatment and self-medicate with illegal drugs, alcohol, food or other reckless behaviors. These things can seem to help for some time but are not directly treating the illness especially bi-polar disorder.

Facts v. Fiction of Mental Illness BringChange2mind.org

FICTION: People living with a mental illness are often violent.

FACT: Actually, the vast majority of people living with mental health conditions are no more violent than anyone else. People with mental illness are much more likely to be the victims of crime.

FICTION: Mental illness is a sign of weakness.

FACT: A mental illness is not caused by personal weakness — nor can it be cured by positive thinking or willpower — proper treatment is needed.

FICTION: Only military personnel who have been in combat can be diagnosed with PTSD.

FACT: While PTSD is prevalent in men and women who have seen combat, experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event can trigger PTSD, including violent personal assaults such as rape or robbery, natural or human-caused disasters, or accidents.

FICTION: People with a mental illness will never get better.

FACT: For some people, a mental illness may be a lifelong condition, like diabetes. But as with diabetes, proper treatment enables many people with a mental illness to lead fulfilling and productive lives.

FICTION: Children aren’t diagnosed with mental illness.

FACT: Millions of children are affected by depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. As a matter of fact, 1 in 10 children live with a diagnosable mental illness. Getting treatment is essential.

FICTION: “Mental illness can’t affect me!”

FACT: Mental illness can affect anyone. While some illnesses have a genetic risk, mental illness can affect people of all ages, races and income levels, whether or not there is a family history.

There has been some amazing and ground-breaking research in the last 5 years regarding mental illnesses especially bi-polar disorders. Quite a few studies have linking bi-polar disorder to a defect in DNA. The Medical News Today article explains the new research being done across the nation into what exactly causes or can cause bi-polar disorder.

The facts are that 1 in 6 adults are living with a brain-related illness including depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD and schizophrenia.

The fact is, your child’s teacher, the bus driver, the next door neighbor, husband, wife, best friend, police officer, fire fighter, pilot, soliders and just about everyone knows someone with mental illness.

We can all agree that bullying is wrong that making fun of people is cruel and mean. Why is it then that when someone is acting differently than expected they are describe as being “bipolar” or you hear “The weather is totally bipolar” We expect our parents and Military to be strong and brave. So much so that men and women in our armed services are committing suicide at a rate of 17.5 suicides per 100,000 in 2010. That is 17.5 to many. Many are afraid that asking for help and getting counseling will undermine their career. As of September of 2011 there was an estimated 1,468,364 active duty service personnel. This number does not include reserves on active duty for training.

Now I’m not great with math but let’s take a look at the numbers. 1 in 6 adults are living with a brain related illness so that means out of the approximately 1.5 million activity duty military personnel approximately 250,000 of those men and women are living with a mental health issue. Now don’t quote my math. Some of you know I married my husband to do the math and well he’s sleeping while I write the post……..but back on topic.

There are so many false stigmas about those of us with mental health illness. Why? Why do people automatically assume that you are dysfunctional if you share your mental health status?

One of the websites I’ve quoted above www.bringchange2mind.org is one of the best resources on the internet.

Another voice in the dark stigma of mental health is Logan Noone here is his story Bipolar Disorder Recovery.

I’ve read it and heard it said “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

I draw the line in the sand and I refuse to hide. I have bipolar disorder and I am not a stigma.