The more I read about mental illness, the more I understand about my own mental health. Whether its through memoirs or fiction, I’m learning that I’m not alone. I always thought that I didn’t become depressed until I started to have chronic pain. I contributed the two to one another; I have depression because of my pain, there is a direct correlation between the two. I can’t be the person I want to be because I’m limited by my illness. This causes me to be depressed. However, I’m coming to realize that I was showing some signs during childhood that weren’t exactly healthy or normal.
It’s Fibromyalgia Awareness Day! I was diagnosed six years ago when I was still in college. Fibromyalgia impacts my entire life: physically, emotionally, and mentally.
There is no cure. It only gets harder. All we have is to raise awareness and to get people to understand and listen. No I’m not “lazy,” or “faking it.” Just because we don’t look sick on the outside doesn’t mean we aren’t a complete mess on the inside.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month! Over this month, I plan to do different posts about mental health and how it affects my life. To start, I present my story:
I thought that this we would be a nice way for you to get to know me in relation to chronic illness. This might not be for everyone but I thought it might interest someone.
James Patterson presents this emotionally resonant novel that shows that while some broken things can’t be put back exactly the way they were, they can be repaired and made even stronger.
Kira’s Twelve Steps To A Normal Life
1. Accept Grams is gone.
2. Learn to forgive Dad.
3. Steal back ex-boyfriend from best friend…
And somewhere between 1 and 12, realize that when your parent’s an alcoholic, there’s no such thing as “normal.”
When Kira’s father enters rehab, she’s forced to leave everything behind–her home, her best friends, her boyfriend…everything she loves. Now her father’s sober (again) and Kira is returning home, determined to get her life back to normal…exactly as it was before she was sent away.
But is that what Kira really wants?
As a daughter of an addict, this story hit very close to home. My tells stories about the crazy things he used to do when he was young and drinking. I don’t remember much from my childhood when it comes to his drinking. I was eleven when he was forced to get sober. He was supposed to come home to take my sister and I out to dinner, mom was out at a work dinner. It started to get later and later and we were starving. We were calling both our parents and no one picked up. My mom finally got home a little after ten and she said she would talk to us tomorrow, then sent us up to bed. We then found out that my dad had crashed his new Lexus and had a DUI. His license was taken away for a year and he had to serve four days in jail. Because my mom worked, my dad started taking the bus to AA meetings at night. My friends never understood why my dad kept having “meetings” at night time and wasn’t available for carpool.
It wasn’t that all this was a big shock to me, but I guess I didn’t see it coming. My dad has always been a very silly and boisterous person. And loud. Oh, he is so very loud. It wasn’t that he would get smashed every night and was a fall-over drunk. To my sister and I, when he drank we would have dance parties and he would teach us about movies late into the night. But he was also very angry. My sister was 13 and not the best student—or the nicest teenager—so my dad would yell, or throw CDS at the wall, or throw open her door so hard it made a hole in the door. I think the drinking helped him get through the shit time he was having at work and the stress of a long commute. And it wasn’t like he drank all day, every day. He just didn’t have the voice in his head to tell him to stop.
My dad just celebrated his 15th sober birthday. He is extremely involved with AA, going at least three times a week. He leads meetings on occasion, done talks at the Salvation Army, and even sponsored a few people. He’s traded in the wine stains for food stains and beer for cookies.
I know how Kira is feeling in this book. She just wants everything to go back to normal when she returns from her aunt’s house, but it can’t. Though she’s afraid to admit it, things can’t go back to the way things were before. People have made mistakes, herself included, and people have changed.
Overall I did like this book. I flew through it. I think the reason I flew through it so fast is because it wasn’t that deep. The emotions that the characters were feeling and express were at times, but the writing itself didn’t provide much depth. The characters felt very young. I usually read YA books that have a more mature voice, despite still being set in high school but 12 Steps felt more on the younger side of high school even though they were starting their junior year of high school. It seemed like ideas and feelings became very repetitive and redundant. Kira would be feeling a certain way about a character and then the next time they return she has completely flipped her opinion. This would happen multiple times throughout.
Penn mentions in the author’s note in the back that she really wanted to focus on the recovery aspect to addiction, which I really enjoyed. It’s rare to see this perspective because the rock bottom angle can offer higher stakes and drama. I thank her for this book.
I got another piece published on The Mighty! If you’ve never heard of The Mighty, they’re a website that focuses on articles and stories about disabilities, disorders, diseases, mental health. I’ve been helped immensely from the site, comforted in finding people just like me: trying to survive and have a life despite my many obstacles. Definitely check it out! But first, here is the piece I wrote about how my chronic pain took away the great love of my life: dance
One of the biggest joys of living in Southern California is obviously the weather…and Disneyland. We don’t really have specific seasons. It’s pretty much 75°F all year round. And because we are still in a severe drought, it’s very dry. The summers can get pretty hot, but I’ll take it for a winter in shorts and a T-shirt. Ideal weather for someone suffering from chronic pain? For the most part, yes.
Most people have one physical thing about themselves that they like: legs, calves, arms, smile. I have always loved my hair. It helps that people have been complimenting me on my hair since I was a toddler. Growing up, I basically looked like Snow White—very pale skin and VERY dark hair. So dark, that kids asked me in elementary school if I had blue hair. It was thick and curly, though the curls have calmed down into waves. Once, a woman came up to my mom at a toy store and asked if she had dyed my hair—at five-years-old!
Something about me: I’ve been sick for about nine years. It all started New Year’s Eve 2008, halfway through my senior year of high school. I had my very first migraine and from that day on, I’ve had some type of headache every day. Every day for the past nine years. Then in the middle of college, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Strange word, right? Fibromyalgia is a disorder that causes widespread pain, fatigue, memory issues, and basically anything else that can go wrong with your body. One way to look at it: my body feels like a gigantic bruise. My headaches only added to the problem. I spent a lot of time stuck in bed. I STILL spend a lot of time stuck in bed.