Daddy

dady

BY: ANONYMOUS AUTHOR

It’s play time on the bed. Me and my sister are hiding under the covers, trying not to breathe. To make a single sound. Thinking we can hide from Daddy. Our hearts are racing with excitement.
The smell of mom’s perfume on the sheets is comforting and strong.

We feel SAFE. We feel LOVED.

All of sudden we hear Daddy’s footsteps coming from around the bed. We squeal with laughter. How did he find us?

Daddy is the best.
Playtime is our favorite time before bed. Wrestling, tickle wars. We are gasping for air from laughter. Faces red.

It’s bedtime now. Me and my sister fight over whose in the middle. Who gets to sleep next to Daddy tonight. We hug him tight, finish our bedtime story and sing….

“Now it’s time to go to sleep S-L-E-E-P spells sleep goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite….goodnight.”

It is reflecting on those moments that get me through the dark ones. Right now I’m sitting in a stale, frigid hospital waiting room.
We are nothing but a number.
Mama’s eyebrows are frowned. Eyes look drained. It’s 3 a.m. and they’re telling us there’s “no room” for Daddy here.
We cry to the social worker… “Do you understand us?”
No. They don’t.
We are exhausted, empty. Young children explaining medical terms we barely comprehend. Daddy has been sick lately.
He told us this would happen. 
We look into his eyes and it’s as if we are looking into a strangers. We just want Daddy back. We beg to the nurses to take him in. To fix Daddy.

We miss play time, we miss laughs.

I close my eyes, drained from long nights watching over him. Babysitting. Making sure he didn’t leave the house. We don’t want people starring at Daddy. Thinking he’s crazy…
We need to protect him. Like he protected us.
Mama promises us it will all be over soon. But just for now. She looks us in the eyes and tells us to be STRONG. To not be AFRAID . We look back at her wondering how she ever did this without us.

We are Daddy’s fighters.

I close my eyes after finally getting home. They finally took him in.  I go to lay down in my room. Picture myself back in my Daddy’s arms. Listening to bed time stories. drifting asleep
Daddy has been away now for almost a month now. We visit him, but sometimes it’s scary. He’s NEVER scary. But it’s a frightening place. Honestly, it’s a nice break for Mom. But we miss him home.
Family and friends are starting to wonder.We are good at making up stories, excuses. No matter what…we protect our Daddy.

His ideas are less GRAND. His eyes are becoming more recognizable. Finally he can come home.

We re-set the clock for ‘the next time’ – it’s only a matter of time. Days and years pass. Routine continues.
Check his pills. Look deep into his eyes. Is Daddy still there?

We’re on our toes.

I’m older now, so this time I’m more prepared. I know how this works. This damn system ONCE AGAIN denying him a bed. Is he suicidal? NO. But he is sick. How can you deny care?

Why can’t you help my Dad? I want to SCREAM.

We continue to fight this battle, this routine of life. But whenever we end up in the same damn frigged room, fighting to protect our Daddy…I take myself back to my happy place. Where Daddy is just Daddy. Where life is normal.
And I rest my head on my Mama’s lap, close my eyes and repeat..
“Now it’s time to go to sleep. S-L-E-E-P spells sleep goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite…goodnight.“——

You are not alone. For family support of the mentally ill please visit
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Mental Illness Doesn’t Have To Be A Terrible Thing

by: Anonymous Author

drug-addict

A few months ago I read the article “Living With Bipolar Disorder” and it hit so close to home. It encouraged me to write this and share my own story. It has taken me a few months to write it (well, more like 28 years and a few months) but, I am finally ready.

I grew up without a dad. It’s not that he died or anything, but he just never really existed in my life. I have no memory of him other than that I hated him for not being there. I hated him for not being normal. Dad has suffered with alcohol and substance abuse since before I was even born.

It has consumed his entire life. There were stints of “sobriety” here and there, but never long enough for me to remember any positive memories.  My only memories are of my mom crying so much when I was little. She was so alone and angry with him but she never put him down. She would only ever say things like, “he’s really sick” or “he’s not well” and her favorite “mental illness is a terrible thing.”

And it was a terrible thing. It was terrible not knowing if he was roaming the streets or if he was even alive. It was terrible not having any traditions with him. It was terrible feeling anger and resentment for someone I hardly knew. But most of all, it was terrible whenever the phone rang from the mental hospital letting us know dad was there. I never wanted to go see him.

Every birthday and every holiday gone by was another reason to hate him even more. I hated the excuse of mental illness – because thats all it was to me, an excuse.

I made it a point to roll my eyes at my mom every time she said the words “mental illness”. We would have fights about it because I couldn’t believe it was an illness. To me it was a choice to pick drugs and alcohol over me and my mom.

I spent the majority of my life with this unwavering opinion. This opinion and this hatred was like an illness in itself. I was sick of feeling so trapped by these feelings of bitterness, so the last time we got the call, I decided to go see him— and it changed everything for me.

I walked into the Behavioral Institute or “mental hospital” where dad was currently residing. I brought a list with me of things to say while I was there. Questions, complaints, regrets. But when I saw him, the list disappeared. He looked so sad and lost amongst his peers of mentally ill patients in the room. He looked so ashamed and embarrassed to be there. But most of all, he looked helpless. I knew the last thing he needed was a list of topics to discuss. I don’t know what came over my heart in the moment but I just declared to show him love. I was kind, loving, patient, interested in everything he had to say, I listened to him, smiled with him, and started to create memories – our first.  I acted as though we were the best of friends and not strangers. I realized that I didn’t know if this could possibly be the last time I saw him, and if it was, I didn’t want it to be a terrible thing.   I had had enough terrible things. This meeting wasn’t going to be one of them.

Instead, I wanted this to be a good thing – and it was.

Once I made the choice to be kind and loving instead of bitter and angry, I was set free. I only wished he could have the feeling of being set free too. Mental illness can hold you captive and hostage for years until you seek recovery…and sometimes even then you’re still never fully free from your addictions and demons.

The look on his face was of light and also of shock. I’ll bet he was ready for me to scold him and cry about my lifetime without a dad. And so when I didn’t, something wonderful happened inside of him.

It was the greatest gift I could ever give to this perfect stranger. And I’m thankful I have at least this one good memory with my father.

As of today, I don’t know where my dad is. He checked himself out of the hospital (because the mental healthcare system is f%$ked up and it happens everyday) so there is no way of knowing where he is. I have to wait for the call from the hospital the next time he surfaces.

But while I wait, (like I waited all my life)… at least now I can say I have a happy memory with him. It’s as much of a healing process for me as the one he needs to experience for himself on a deeper level. I just have to keep the faith that someday, he will.

The Random Act of Kindness That Saved My Life

by: Anonymous Author

lonelygirl

An act of kindness saved my life. I realize how bold this statement is, but it’s entirely true. Three years ago today I had planned to end my life after school.

I was lonely, angry and bitter after spending so many years feeling unseen. I spent most of my high school years as an outcast who nobody wanted anything to do with. I never went to any dances. I never went to any high school football games and I always sat by myself at lunch. It wasn’t entirely the fault of my peers. I just never felt comfortable in large crowds because of severe anxiety, so I shut down.  I was socially awkward and didn’t want to put myself in uncomfortable settings where I would be forced to talk. So I “protected” myself from that entirely and avoided people altogether. It started my freshman year and by my junior year nothing had changed.  Time moved so quickly and I had single handily placed myself so deeply into this “protective” space that I closed off any real chance of friendship. And by then, everyone already had their set “cliques” established on campus leaving no more room for a new friend.

At home my life was also falling apart. My parents were going through a divorce, and everyday was filled with yelling, fights, and one or both of them slamming doors — or leaving. So that’s what I wanted to do — to leave. Forever.

I wanted it to be quick and easy. I planned to overdose on a ton of pills that night and hopefully just die in my sleep. But I still wanted to finish off the week at school and say my “goodbyes” in my head: Goodbye to sitting alone; Goodbye to walking alone; Goodbye to the school hallways that overflowed with students and teachers, but was empty of awareness and kindness.

So the next day at school I followed through with my routine. I walked the same exact way that I always did to each class. I sat in the same exact desk in all my classes. And I planned to walk home the same way I walked everyday for three years.

But today was different. I decided to walk home a different way. I don’t know why I decided to take the longer route but it’s a decision that impacted my story profoundly.

As I turned the corner into my neighborhood a dog came running up to me and started to playfully attack me. The dog was pretty big so he startled me and my books fell to the ground as he jumped up to greet me, eye to eye.  Just then, the dogs owner came running behind him. “Sit, Kermit! Sit!” I smirked as I started to pick up my books but Kermit’s owner stopped me. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry! Let me get those for you! Sorry! Kermit’s just a big puppy and very playful. Did he ruin anything? I feel so bad! He didn’t scratch you did he? Are you cool? OMG I love your shoes by the way.  And your orange backpack too, orange is my favorite color.”

No one had ever asked me that many questions in a row, let alone cared, or looked at me while talking to me. I didn’t know what to do.

“I’m fine. I’m ok. Thank you. And cute dog.” That was all I could think to say as I turned to walk away.

“Wait! Whats your name? Kermit obviously really likes you! I’m Samantha or Sammy – just call me Sammy. Do you go to Desert Ridge High?”

Again, I was shocked. I told her my name. She told me how she stayed home from school that day because she wasn’t feeling good. And before I knew it we had spent like 20 minutes talking… and even laughing. We had never seen each other at school before (though I wasn’t really surprised that she never saw me- because no one did right?) Regardless, she kept asking me more and more questions and seemed genuinely interested in anything and everything I had to say. We ended up getting each others phone numbers and she actually text me that night to apologize again for Kermit running up and startling. Little did she know that I would secretly always love that dog for running up to me on that day. Of all days!!

It felt so cool to be texting with someone my age — a new friend. That night I didn’t take the pills like I planned to. I was too busy texting with Sammy. Something so simple that most teenagers do obsessively, but I had never truly done before, with a friend.

Sammy and I had lunch together the next day at school. And the next day after that too. Her friends became my friends and before long, we were hanging out all the time and I felt like I belonged, for the first time in my life.

Things at home still sucked. Mom and dad finalized their divorce by the end of the school year, but for some reason, I knew it would be ok. I had a new sense of belonging and security with my new friends, my first real friends, and all because Sammy put in the extra effort to talk to me that day.

Even today, Sam doesn’t know the state of mind I had on that day. She has no idea that i was ever depressed or suicidal – and I don’t know that I will ever tell her. But her kindness literally saved my life and I will forever be grateful to any kind hearted person I meet. I consider kind people with kind hearts to be angels. I mean, she didn’t have to engage in conversation with me. She could’ve easily grabbed her dog, apologized to me, and then walked away. But she didn’t. And because she didn’t, I didn’t follow through with my plans to end my life that night. Simple as that.

Today, I’m an entirely different person. College is going great and I have the confidence to be around people unlike I was in high school. In fact, I have the passion to be around people because I am aware that there is a dire need for socialization and interaction – simply because you never know who is out there feeling lost and alone like I was. I try to be the same way Sammy was with me three years ago. I make it a point to put in the extra effort to be kind to everyone I meet, because it just might be a game changer or a life saver to them like it was for me. Paying it forward and being kind has become my passion and purpose in life and I pray that anyone who is reading this story and can relate, has the courage to share their story and help this wave grow even bigger.

When Anxiety Attacks

by: Anonymous author

anxiety

I remember being younger and clinging to my mother at social events because I was so anxious. I would get a stomach ache whenever she would drop me off at school or at a social function. This began at the age of eight and I still deal  with anxiety today. From a young age this chemical imbalance in my brain made me feel inadequate and scared. It wasn’t until I was 17 that I decided to finally tell my mother how I felt, and I broke down crying and said that I needed help. In high school, I was so anxious all of the time that I barely spoke in class and going to school was unbearable. Imagine the anxiety that you feel before a big test, or something that you are very nervous about. Sure, that may be a temporary feeling for some, but for me it was constant and I could not turn it off. That constant feeling caused me to miss school dances, events, games, and many other social gatherings during my teenage years. I felt so ashamed of myself. I thought, “How could I let this stupid disorder take away my teenage years.” When I told my mother how I felt, I was taken to the doctor and started treating my anxiety with medication which helped immensely. As soon as I started to control my anxiety, things turned around completely. I began having fun my senior year of high school, went to the gym and lost a ton of weight that I had gained from hiding in my bedroom all of the time, and I began hanging out with friends and actually went to the homecoming and prom dances. It was finally then that I had realized that I had taken control of MY life and this chemical imbalance in my brain was not going to take away my life any longer. I think that the main thing to do is recognize it, treat it, and not be ashamed of it.

However, this wasn’t the end of the battle for me. When I graduated high school, I was on my way to college in the fall and I couldn’t have been more excited. I spent the summer on the beaches in San Diego, traveling, and getting ready to start college. Once I started my classes at the university, I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of work I had. I had always had good grades, and I was sure that it would be okay but I also was terrified at the same time. As the weeks went by, I was so consumed with schoolwork and a part time job that I began to gain weight again, and I stopped caring about myself. I was always the one to get dressed up and ready for the day, but now I was completely neglecting myself and my health. This is when my depression began. I resorted to hiding out in my bedroom, not caring about my appearance, and ignoring everyone around me. I lost so many friends because I simply would not feel like answering the phone when they called, or let alone go out somewhere. There were only a few of my close friends who understood what I was going through, but others were just quick to stop talking to me altogether. I became almost unrecognizable. I had gained over 50 pounds and was not even the same person anymore. Every time I tried to help myself and get better, I decided that it was more important to immerse myself in an insane amount of schoolwork to get good grades. I was completely neglecting myself and I had no idea if I would ever be the same again. I can not tell you how many different medications I have tried at my young age for depression. All of these medications of course had different side effects. I started gaining even more weight on some, I began feeling even worse on others, and I felt like I was completely spiraling out of control.

I felt pathetic. How could I let this change my life so much. I would show up to family gatherings and could feel the eyes on me and people wondering why I gained so much weight. As college went on, I decided that I needed to finish and not let this ruin my plans of a college education. I pushed through it, and with the help of my best friend and family I was okay and stable and graduated. As time went on and I slowed down on pushing myself to work so hard and I began to focus on my health, I felt better. Slowly but surely, I was going back to normal and deciding that it was important to recognize how I felt and to treat it. It’s never easy to tell somebody that you deal with depression and anxiety. I feel like there is so much stigma regarding mental health. Some people are completely embarrassed to even tell close friends and family that they need help. The most important thing for someone who is suffering from a mental health issue is SUPPORT. The worst thing is the stigma that goes along with it. It is hard enough to deal with a mental health issue, but society makes it even harder when we have so much stigma surrounding it. I learned to not be ashamed. I decide to keep it a private matter since it is my health, but those close to me know that I deal with it and help and support me. I urge anyone who is suffering to seek help and support because you are not alone, and I urge those to make fun of mental health issues or those who don’t take them seriously to stop the stigma and to help those who may be suffering because a single sign of support and encouragement could change their lives.

Living with Bipolar Disorder

by: Anonymous author

bipolar image

I was 8 years old when my mom first sat me down and told me she had bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. It’s when a person experiences grandiose delusions, restlessness, hallucinations, fits of rage and paranoia. i didn’t fully understand everything she said but over time I experienced it all. I was 10 when I started helping my dad take care of her when she had her episodes and needed to stay in a mental hospital because she kept throwing away her medicine and running away from home. I was fifteen the first time she had to stay in the hospital for over two months while they tried to balance out her meds and protect her from committing suicide. My mom became her illness for so long, so I was quite literally living with bipolar disorder.

Today I’m a 29 year old woman and I still feel like I have so much more to learn about mental illness, despite having so much first hand experience with my mom’s severe case.

She missed my high school graduation, was sick during my sweet sixteen, was heavily medicated when my fiancé organized his proposal to me, and got sick when I went into labor with my first child.  So many milestones in my life have been ruined because of this disorder and I grew up resentful. I hated bipolar disorder. I hated my mom.

And then there are the rumors. The secrets. The lies. The threats of divorce and separation when I was a teenager because their marriage was falling apart. The whispers as my mom walks by at a family function. There is so much ignorance about the illness that I’ve had to stop myself from getting into fights with relatives who were talking poorly about my mom, even though I hated living with bipolar disorder, aka my mom.

The thing about her illness, is that most of the time she is perfectly fine. In fact, a lot of people don’t even know she’s sick because we’ve done such a good job of covering it up, as if we are ashamed of it or something. Even now I know I can’t say her name, or even my name within the context of this article because “they’re not ready” to talk about it. That makes me sick. I’m not ready to talk about it either but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t. This is a release for me to open up and share my personal story about mental illness-  the topic no one wants to talk about unless it’s behind someone’s back.

It’s in the news all the time whenever a celebrity “goes crazy” or commits suicide. Those are the stories that hit way too close to home for me. It’s headlining news when it happens and the world stops in shock because they didn’t see it coming. Family and friends will cry about how they had no idea he or she was suffering in that way because they seemed so happy on the outside.

Makes me think of my mom. To the people who have no idea of her chemical imbalance, my mom seems 100% “normal” – whatever that means. She smiles, interacts with others, has a full time job, does normal mom things. But when she starts to slip into an episode every few years, she becomes an entirely different human being. She secretly spends money, talks about things that make absolutely no sense, slips into her depression, disappears and even talks about suicide.

It’s scary as shit. And we’re expected to keep it between us. We don’t want “the wrong people to find out and cause us more problems.”  Because that’s what’s happened before. Mom almost lost her job because her “friend” at work started talking about how weird my mom was.

But thats the world we live in.  Shame, gossip, fear, illness, stereotypes. Where is the kindness we should be pouring out instead? I’m guilty of not being as kind and compassionate as I should’ve been to my mom all those years. The bitterness and resentment took over my life for so long. The only thing that made it better was talking about it more instead of keeping it inside. There is so much power in opening up and not pretending like everything is ok.  I hate the filters people put over their lives these days. Perfection is not relatable. There are so many people who try to portray perfection and happiness to the world when in reality they are in pain and suffering. Fuck filters! Be real! You’d be surprised with how many people can actually relate to the truth.

I don’t know why some people are born with mental illnesses but I do know we need to talk about it more often. There are way too many silent sufferers in the world and I’m so tired of seeing the topic go ignored. I used to feel like I could snap at any moment with how alone and afraid I felt. But once I stopped pretending everything was okay, I began finding friends who could relate to me. And I began to heal.

My mom can’t help what she was born with but we as a society can help by showing more compassion and kindness to perfect strangers. You just never know what can trigger someone to hurt themselves or slip deeper into their illness. “We should always be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle.”