Category Archives: Life Lessons from Lauren

PSA : Mental Illness is Not a Crime

If you’re suffering from mental illness and struggling with the isolation and stigmatisation that unfortunately accompanies having a sick brain, I want YOU to know right now that there IS a light at the end of the tunnel, that there is hope, and that there’s an abundance of help. YOU ARE NOT ALONE. I repeat: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

How can I make this declaration with such sweeping confidence? I am not a medical professional. I am not a therapist. I am not a social worker. I am not a counsellor. I do not have a graduate degree in Psychology, Cognitive Science, or Neuroscience.

Who the hell am I to tell you that you’re not alone?

I am someone afflicted by Mental Illness. I’m Lauren, and this is my World. I’m a 30-something who’s never been married and has no kids, and, while relevant in one sense of ‘alone,’ it’s my sick brain that makes me uniquely qualified.

I’ve been to hell and back so many times that the arresting sense of impending descent back down no longer fazed me. The feeling of Hell itself conquering Earth permeated my life so profusely that permanent residency seemed my inevitable fate; any former experience of heaven or purgatory were but temporarily illusions. Hell had come home to roost.

Mental illness has no shame, and it will stop at nothing to get its way. Stealthy and determined, an illness of the mind is so twisted and audacious that, somewhat like a cancer, it’s able to persuade its host to act counter to all survival instincts and become an instrument hellbent on intensifying one’s downward spiral endlessly into a black hole, ever re-defining “the bottom.”

I know what it’s like to be trapped in the darkness, plagued by defeat, and exhausted by everything, even sleep. I was caught in an endless loop of desperation and exasperation. Severe depression stole everything from me. Everything— friends, family, work, even my last remaining and dearest confidants, alcohol and drugs. Yes. I felt nothing. I craved nothing. I wanted nothing. Depression took and took until it finally stole even my desire to drink and use.

I was a shell of a person, devoid of the ability to emote, disconnected socially, incapable of sensing hunger, possessing no barometer for personal hygiene, lacking any desire to live, yet— this is the kicker— void of the desire to die. I spent months that became years just existing — desperate to find my way out but stripped of any sense of direction by an ever-malfunctioning compass.

I want to share my experience. I want to help others so that they don’t have to go through the hell I did. I want to raise awareness. I want to fight the stigma. I want to be able to talk about how my illness affected me without feeling like I’m being judged or that I’m making people uncomfortable. I want to be able to PROUDLY proclaim that I’m a fighter and survivor of a chronic, life-threatening illness, not shamed into a recurrence of my deadly disease.

Cancer survivors are celebrated, not stigmatised. Tanning-bed fanatics with skin cancer. Smokers with lung cancer. Do they hide in the shadows, afraid to mention anything about their struggles or medications? No. They are empowered— not stigmatised— for the most part, that is. Moreover, consider the implications for someone suffering from mental illness that’s found to be caused by a brain tumour. Why should this patient be treated any differently because the source of his illness has a physical manifestation that can be seen and held? Malignant or not, you can bet that this patient will be treated differently than the patient whose illness is rooted in chemical or structural differences in the brain. WHY?

Why do chemical imbalances involving neurotransmitters mean that I cannot discuss my illness openly? Why do we stigmatise that which we do not understand?

Be the Change.

Note: This is only the beginning for me in speaking out on mental illness. I have a lot to express, and I’ve only just begun to write, so please forgive me if this post lacks flow and detail, jumps around, and hits on a number of complex issues. It’s more important to me that I get this out to the world NOW rather than holding onto it in an attempt to massage it. I suppose that’s the nature of a blog, though, right? I can wait to polish and organise the content for the book. For now, it’s vital for me to publish my impassioned thoughts as-is. If you have a problem with it, blame my sick brain.

Fight the stigma.

Life is hard. Bacon makes it better.

Gratitude

I’m grateful for 81 days of continuous sobriety. I’m grateful that it’s been 112 days since I last took an antidepressant or mood stabiliser AND that my depression has finally lifted. More than anything, right now I’m grateful for the wonderful challenges and amazing difficulties that I’ve been through and am presently in the midst of navigating. It may sound strange to be thankful for hard times, and I was a bit surprised when the words, “thank you for my difficulties” came across my tongue in prayer last week, but I’m grateful for this gratitude.

It’s through these difficulties that I grow. It’s the financial challenges that I’m struggling with right now that humble me and force me to reach out and say, “I need help.”  Even in the middle of the storm, even with everything seemingly falling apart all around me, I’ve remained centred. That’s all faith. That’s all God. That’s all a Power greater than myself. Through this and my connection with my Higher Power, I’ve found stores of strength and grace that I never thought myself possible of wielding. I’ve encountered this gorgeous warrior of a woman — and she’s me! I’m not just becoming great; I am great… provided that I stay deeply connected to the Power that fuels me.

I’m grateful for the Hell I’ve endured. I’m open to the lessons I’ve yet to learn. I’m on fire and excited about life. Let’s get to it!

Who is the Fool?

You Don’t Understand Me

Who is the fool, the fool, the fool that you are fooling?

Fool me once? Shame on you. Fool me twice? Shame on me. Fool me three times? Fool, please. I’m not buying what you’re selling.

The only way I’ve found to ensure that I consistently take multi-vitamins and supplements is to buy them as gummies. Further evidence of my refusal to grow up— which, by the way, is grossly overrated.

No Longer ‘Prime’ Membership

I’m so done with Amazon Prime. In their continuing efforts to save money (and make more money, as corporations are actually legally bound to act in their own fiscal self-interest), Amazon’s packaging and shipping have gone down the toilet, at least in my experience. I’m OCD about my books. If I purchase a brand new book, it better arrive  without a crease or ding in it. Period. If you promise me 2-day shipping, then I better get my books on time as promised. This practice of transferring packages from UPS to USPS may save Amazon money on that transaction, but it’s losing loyal customers, such as myself.

I placed an order over the weekend for 3 books. It was split into 2 shipments, one of which arrived on time yesterday via UPS, albeit the book came in a barely padded envelope that looked like it’d been used as a football. The spiral-bound book inside was certainly worse for wear. Disappointing.

The second package was transferred from FedEx to USPS, who marked it as Delivered at 4:44PM. Was it delivered? Nope. How do I know? Well, I was home, for one, but my Postman doesn’t EVER even bother trying to deliver to my door. Anyhow, it also wasn’t in my mailbox. Nor was there a key for one of the larger parcel/overflow mailboxes. And, NOPE, there was not a notification letter in my mailbox indicating that an oversized package had been delivered to my leasing office. So, essentially, USPS LIED to me and to Amazon by reporting a package as delivered that was, in fact, not delivered. Their numbers don’t suffer, but I, the consumer, do.

I contacted Amazon, and their lack of alarm was very disconcerting. They treated this a commonplace, no-big-deal, be-patient scenario, which really frustrated me because I felt deceived and let down. If I pay for a service that’s meant to deliver my packages in 2-days, and, in fact, ⅓ of my order manages to make it on time whereas the other is deceptively labeled as having been delivered on time… and your response reveals this to be a typical occurrence, there’s something very wrong here.

Such a shame. I’ve had Amazon Prime for 5+ years. It’s hard to let go of a long-term relationship, but it becomes simple when you and your things are treated like crap.

 

Life is Funny. Laugh!

You’ve gotta be able to find the humour in even your most embarrassingly, stupendously erratic past behaviours and mistakes. For one, it’s cathartic. Even better, it takes the sting out of the lashings that come from the dastardly evil inner critic. I dunno about you, but (one of) my inner voice(s) can be a real cunt.

Oh, and it’s deeply rewarding if you’re able to recover gracefully and laugh even louder than all the assholes out there who will call you out on even the most mundane bullshit and the miserable fucks who are constantly willing to take your inventory whilst never checking themselves.

Finding beauty in the dissonance.