Feet First!

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I’m not sure exactly when it clicked for me. The past 6 months, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching. Not just the sitting in silence, pondering life part. I mean the making lists and digging REALLY deep into who I am and who I want to be. Maybe it was turning 44—a mid-life crisis sort of thing. Maybe it was having my dream job and still feeling unhappy and unsatisfied. Whatever started this ball rolling, I am glad it did. I have never felt more empowered, motivated, and aligned as I do right now, in this moment.

This uneasiness I was feeling, this sense of having  no purpose, no path—it literally brought me to my knees. And I’m being completely honest here. I spent much of April and May of this year in bed. In tears. In complete and utter hoplessness. If I had the job I always wanted, the love of my life by my side, two magnificent boys ensconced at top-notch colleges, my elderly parents still alive and living with me, all the material things I wanted, why the hell was I in complete and utter despair? What the hell was wrong with me?

Yes, I’ve lived with depression my entire life. I know its in’s and out’s. I know its lies and destruction. I know how it seeps into your blood and into your soul. I know how that bitch sneaks into your bed at night and steals every ounce of happiness you had, with no reason, no rhyme, no warning. This was beyond that. This was a completely new thing. This was me floating helpless with no idea where I was going. I was no longer just depressed; I was lost. I, the real me, was gone.

I’ve been changing my eating habits and fitness habits since the first of the year. I’ve blown up over the last 18 years. I mean, BLOWN UP. I was about 100 pounds overweight. And I think here is where the moment of clarity came to me. It was on a treadmill, when I thought I couldn’t go any further. I was about to push the “stop” button on my treadmill, when I looked at my time. I was on there for 40 minutes. At a high speed and incline. When I first started in February, I could barely do 10 minutes with no incline and at a low speed.

Wait a second? Did I really do that?  Did I really come this far in a few months?  And I did this on my own. Yes, with support, but ultimately I was in control. It was when I realized how strong I could be physically that I realized how strong I am emotionally and mentally. I have been through so much shit in my life—I mean seriously. And here I am. Still. No matter what life has thrown at me, I’ve gotten through. And there it was, the truth I needed. Everything I needed was inside ME. I didn’t need to look to a job, to my love, to my nice car—-what I needed to thrive was me.

Now, I feel free. Is everything perfect and happy? No. Is my depression suddenly gone? No. But, now I know that the power lies inside me to overcome anything life throws at me. I am scared to death. I’m flying without a lifeline. I’m starting my own business to coach others to find themselves, to harness their power, and to do so with writing. I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself.

I’m jumping in feet first! And I’ve never felt so fearless in my life.

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Fluidity

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I went to the water to find peace–

somewhere in the waves,

where the sun fades and the noise becomes hollow.

 

I went to the water to find resilience–

like the aqua liquidity bending and shaping

to whatever it encounters.

 

I went to the water to find a sense of permanence–

like the lasting effect of years upon years of continuous movement,

that leaves its mark on all it touches.

 

I went to the water to find something, anything–

grasping for something concrete to hold onto

or finally letting go forever.

 

I went to the water to find comfort—

but in between the droplets, I found myself.

 

Walking Through Fire

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All my life, I’ve been an outsider. Maybe not on the surface, but I was an inside outsider. I never felt comfortable in my skin. I’ve always felt just a little off somehow. Even as a child of 4, I can remember feeling broken. It’s difficult to explain to someone who has never been there. I had what most would call a perfect childhood—2 loving, married parents. Upper middle class family in a nice neighborhood. My parents were always there, giving me all the love and support one girl could ever need. But, it never filled up what seemed like a black hole inside of me.

The first event I remember was when I was 4. We were on vacation at an amusement park and I wanted to ride a kiddie roller coaster ride for the 8th time. My parents just wanted to move on through the park, but I insisted. When I was given that final “no”, I snapped. I tore off my clothes. Right there. In front of everyone. It was the first real “meltdown” in what would become the normal of my life. I had no emotional regulations. I hated everyone one minute and desperately loved them the next. My emotions had more ups and downs than that stupid kiddie coaster. It was constant. It was exhausting. For 13 years, I plugged my way through school. I immersed myself in academics and books and hid my true self from others. To everyone around me, I was normal. Except I wasn’t and I knew it. I knew there was something fundamentally wrong with me.

Relationships with friends and boys were full of constant drama. I couldn’t keep friends. I had a few long-term boyfriends, but they were mostly clung to out of fear of being alone. I didn’t care about them, I just needed someone to help me. After high school, I was sexually assaulted in college. That was the absolute straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. I went downhill from there. I stayed in a mentally and emotionally abusive relationship(obsession, really) for far too long. I went crazy on drugs, alcohol, and sex when that ended. I was on a downward spiral with no escape. Till I saw one on my college adviser’s wall and hopped a plane for a study abroad in England.

It was just what I needed. I got myself together and in the process, got pregnant. My English boyfriend and I got married out of necessity and started a family. I thought having a baby might be the catalyst to bringing what was broken inside of me together, but it didn’t. Nothing did. Those years were full of screaming, crying, throwing of objects, etc. and that was me, not my two toddlers at home. My marriage stood no chance and neither did I. During our separation, I went to counseling for the first time in my life. I never even considered it before, as I was raised to be a strong woman and never ask for help. This is where I got my answer. Borderline Personality Disorder. This was 6 years ago, at age 37. I had walked around for 37 years thinking that I was just fundamentally broken.

As I read more on this disease, I finally understood myself. I understood I was not alone, but felt hopeless, since many of us cannot hold jobs, friendships, and marriages. I was destined to be alone. But, I was in for a surprise. The universe threw my high school freshman boyfriend into my orbit. I kept trying to convince him that I was too damaged to love. Too broken to put back together. But, he persisted. He read everything he could on my disease, bought books, joined online support forums. And in the process, he became the light on my darkness. My now husband walks through hell and back every week because of me and my BPD. I’ve learned through the years and DBT on how to try to control my emotions and quiet my meltdowns, but it’s always there bubbling under the surface.

I just need to thank him.

For taking care of me.

For loving me, no matter what.

For understanding me when no one else does.

For being the one that wipes the tears from my face.

For stepping away from me when he knows I need space.

For ducking when I throw things.

For putting his arms around me, even when I push him away.

For never giving up on me.

For seeing me as imperfect perfection.

For walking on eggshells and knowing my triggers.

For walking through fire and broken glass and never complaining.

For simply being my light through the broken cracks.

For pulling me back from the edge every day.

Thank You

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Once again I find myself in this unwanted position—the mother of a graduated senior. It feels like I was just here and now three short years later, I’m back here again…..for the last time. I’ve sat through my last parent/teacher conference, read my last report card, attended my last awards ceremony. The past week has been an emotional roller coaster. I’ve been happy one minute, a sobbing mess the next.

I’ve heard a lot of graduates talking about gratitude and thanking their parents and teachers for helping them get through the 13 years of school and supporting them all the way. As I sat at the Graduation ceremony, a few nights ago, I thought about how thankful I am to both my sons. So, I write this to them.

Dear Holden and Harrison,

I want to thank you. I know I should be soliciting gratitude from both of you. I mean, I did create you(well, I guess your dad helped). I did nurture you both for 9 months, through 2 high-risk pregnancies. I did spend excruciating hours trying to birth you into this world…..years of breast-feeding, late nights, bumps, bruises, hospital visits, temper tantrums, etc. etc. etc. Then, let’s not forget the 11+ years I home-schooled you both. Some days, I just wanted to send you to the principal’s office, but that wouldn’t have done much, would it?  Oh and all the money spent, time given, tears shed, did I mention money and tears? But, through all of this, there isn’t one moment I would change. Not one single tear, I would take back. Every second being your mom through the years has been a pleasure. It’s an honor being the mom to two such magnificent creatures.

Today, though, I want to thank YOU both. Thank you for showing me what unconditional love truly is. You taught me that I have a capacity to love that I never dreamed I had in me. You taught me to laugh more. Thank you for the laughter that was always around both of you…..from Holden’s squirrel friend to Harrison’s love of my credit cards(inside jokes), there was never a shortage of fun around the house.

Thank you for showing me how to be a nerd. I had always liked sci fi and all that geeky stuff, but you both opened me up to a whole new world of geekdom and I couldn’t be happier. I love watching tv with you, going to all those superhero movies(who likes those crappy rom-com’s anyway).

Warning: Mom is going to get serious now. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, for being the lights in my darkness. I know having a depressed, Borderline mom has not exactly been a walk in the park, I know. I know it’s been extremely difficult some days. I know it’s felt like Mom is crazy and the craziness was spilling over into you. But, it was never about you. It’s just me. Always has been. Always will be.

The days I couldn’t get out of bed. The meltdowns. The tears. The screams. When I was in the darkest recesses of those caves in my mind, there were these 2 points of light that always hovered around me. When I was on the edge, contemplating whether or not to jump, there was always something tugging on each of my legs, pulling me from the brink. That, my beautiful sons, was both of you. YOU saved ME.

The thought of not seeing those blue eyes. The thought of never hearing the word, “Mom”…..that is what pulled me back to reality. My reality. Not perfect, kind of broken, but MINE. You were my salvation. My saving grace. So, while I may have given you life. You returned the favor.

As you both continue on this journey of life, take with you my absolute gratitude. You made me want to be a better person. You made me want to survive. You made me want to live. Because, in giving you life…I found mine.

I love you both to the moon and back times infinity.

Love, MOM

Tears of a Clown

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I’m not one to follow the crowd. I know everyone is writing about Robin Willliams’ death today. But, as a huge fan and fellow depression sufferer, I have had so many thoughts that go through my mind since I heard the sad news last night, that I couldn’t get it out of my head. I am doing the only thing I know how to do, write it down.

I fell in love with Robin Williams watching Mork and Mindy as a kid, as so many in my age group did. I was so struck at this odd, hysterically funny character. He truly was unlike anyone I had ever seen on tv. I followed his career and always appreciated his humor. I believe his demons were always there, right under the surface. I think that’s why I related to him so well. As a life-long sufferer of depression, I could see it. I can see those demons peeking out between the smiles.

Dead Poets Society was an integral part of my formative years. As a long-time English geek, Mr. Keating was a hero, an inspiration. Walt Whitman had been on my bookshelf for years. To see a film all about life and how literature contributes to our life and nourishes our soul, was awe-inspiring. I cannot tell you how many times I have since seen this film. It seriously had an impact on me studying English in college.

When I had my two boys, they loved watching Disney movies and dancing and singing along to the musical numbers. We would act them out and sing along. Aladdin was a favorite. Robin Williams started the whole tradition of big name movie stars lending their talent to these great Disney characters. I can measure times in my life with Robin Williams’ body of work.

It’s hard to describe depression to someone who has never suffered from it. It’s not the opposite of happiness. It’s not extreme sadness. It’s a lack of every emotion. It’s hollow. It’s empty. It’s darkness. It’s a hole. It’s a void. It’s like a black hole within your soul that everything gets sucked into, leaving you with nothing. It’s a chasm that nothing can fill….not love, not money, nothing. You feel such a lack of hope that you cannot imagine that void ever getting filled, you cannot imagine that things will ever get better. Some of us try to fill that void with something, anything—–drugs, alcohol, sex, money, etc. But, that just makes it a million times worse. It causes a vortex that just pulls us deeper into that chasm and make the climb out even harder.

I’ve been there a few times, at that point where the only thing that I could imagine would bring me some sort of peace was death. I made a few attempts over the years. I think, deep down, they were half-assed. I think I was far too much of a coward to make a real attempt. The devil I knew was better than the devil I didn’t know. My depression has been difficult to deal with over the years, but they absolute hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with was the severe depression of one of my sons.

I saw the warning signs in him, but by the time I knew the whole truth, it was almost too late. A 2 a.m. visit from the police after a desperate call from a friend about his safety, led me to having to go into the bedroom to see if my son was still alive. There will never be words to describe those few seconds. They will never, ever leave me. They are tattooed on my soul forever. My son was okay. We called a hotline who spoke to him for a while. We got him help, therapy, and medication. But, I knew what he was feeling and I was helpless. I could lend support and give him all the love I have, but I knew from battling the depression demon on my own, that he needed to slay the monsters on his own terms.

It took a while, but he’s a normal teenage boy now. I am in a much better place than I have ever been. Through therapy, medication, and lots of love and support, we are not only surviving, but thriving. Every once in a while, without warning, that darkness starts to seep in. But, we are prepared this time. I think about Robin Williams bringing so much happiness and laughter to everyone, all the while suffering in this cesspool of pain and it makes me so sad. But, I have worn that mask. I have put on that smiling face and made the world think that everything is okay when deep down, all I saw was blackness.

I just hope that someone who reads this knows that they are not alone. I just wish that Mr. Williams’ death helps someone reach out for help. But, the problem is when you are down there, you don’t think to look up in the darkness to find a rope to hang on to, all you see is a noose to end the pain. I send all the love in the world to his family, especially his children. I know that the one thing I’ve learned through all the pain I’ve felt, all the lack of feeling I’ve had over the years comes from Mr. Keating himself. “Carpe Diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” Thank you, Robin Williams for making our lives extraordinary through your humor and being the extraordinary human being you were.

Shards

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I was doing so well keeping up with this blog. I was doing daily posts, writing poetry, etc. But, just when you think it’s safe to get back in the water, so to speak, along comes more water. And more water….and more…and…..well, you get the picture. Last year–we just finished in November of 2013, actually– we did a huge remodel on our house including $20,000 on the basement. Well, with the enormous amounts of snow and then torrential rains that we have been getting here in PA, our brand new basement flooded. The first time was about 6 weeks ago, then last Wednesday, it happened again, only this time MUCH worse. Thousands of dollars worth of damage. Today, everything was finally dry and all the rooms cleaned up. Except my youngest son’s room, where the floor is completely ruined and has to be replaced. All in all, there was thousands of dollars worth of damage. 

Now, I know that I should be thankful it was just things, no one was injured, etc. And believe me I am. But, when I struggle most days just to get out of bed and face the world, things like that throw my entire well-being for a loop. I always feel like every time I’m on the right path again, like I’m feeling better and stronger, something always happens that throws me back five steps. It’s this never-ending vicious cycle. I have learned, over the past 4 years, how to stay stronger in crisis—-because of my husband. Sometimes, I feel like no matter what I put out in the universe, it always comes back to me in a negative way. OK, no pity party here. Just simple facts. But, life goes on , so on I go.

 

Shards

by

Allison Cline-Saia

My reflection looks cracked in the shiny metallic

a fractured nondescript visage—

human, yet not quite

scrambled features.

.Each time the demons arrive

they throw rocks—

breaking the smoothness

causing distortion.

Pieces of glass falling

to the floor–

dangerous and sharp

drawing blood.

He walks across them

time and time again–

feet oozing red

searing pain.

But he doesn’t stop

doesn’t hesitate to pick them up—

putting on a bandage

he walks through.

 

Borders

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Today’s poem is another original, dealing once again with my my BPD. Borderline Personality Disorder is a horrible disease to live with, both for the sufferer and the family who has to deal with it. I write so much about mine, because somewhere in the words and phrases, I hope to find some understanding. I want to understand myself and I want to find a way to control it. I hope others will realize that they are not alone in their struggles.

 

Borders

By

Allison Cline-Saia

 

Sometimes I lie in my bed

Lights out, eyes closed

Breathing in the silence

Exhaling a guttural scream

Heard only in the darkest parts of the universe

Originating in the sinuous depths that are known only to me—

I dream of violet vistas and aqua shores

And long to feel the cool velvet drops on my face and in my eyes—

But with each breath the screams get louder and the silence begins to strangle me

Once again.