My Very Real Truth

I’m a liar. I’ve lied about being well. The truth is that I’ve had decades to perfect this lie. I learned from a very young age how and what people need to see or hear to make them think I was okay. I haven’t been okay. I know I have talked about myself not being normal before. I don’t mean that in a “I have a unique style” or “think outside the box” way. (Although I guess I fall into that “not normal” too though.) What I mean when I say that I am not “normal” like others, is that my brain is different than others. I don’t hear, see, smell, process, etc., like others. I remember as a young child (kindergarten) being very overwhelmed by the world around me. Almost as if I was being suffocated by my overly heightened senses. Not knowing what to do with feelings of panic or being able to communicate what was happening shut me down. I am just a few weeks shy of 34 years old now and just now being able to identify and communicate my minds funny tricks, but only after I recently lost my mind. My mind has had 30 years to settle into what I now know as my manic world.

Mental illness, the silent killer. When you don’t treat an illness, it has the potential to get worse or even kill you. Mental illness is not excluded from this. I can’t believe I lived through the last two weeks and I am here to tell you about it. I wasn’t sure that I was going to be able to survive the day to see the next. Would you have had any idea? Here’s the other part. Me not making it would be at the hands of myself. I would’ve been the one to end my life. That’s what my illness will do to me. Kill me. I’ve left my mental illness untreated, and it’s almost costed me my life more than once. Struggling with depression and anxiety most of my life it was easy to chalk up things to that. Add in some trauma and PTSD and well how could I or anyone tell what was that and what was something else? Not to mention when you start doing drugs at a young age (as I had) that can also mess with the development of your brain affecting my mood, decision making, actions, etc. I had enough strikes against me that it was easy to blame things on any number of things.  Basically, I was fucked up.

I started to work on my recovery 7 years ago. Thinking I was suffering, because I didn’t have any coping skills. Thinking I was suffering, because I didn’t know how to communicate. Thinking I was suffering, because I hadn’t faced my trauma. Well that was true. I did have to work on all that,but little did I know that was just the tip of the iceberg. Slowly by slowly, I started to clear things up in my world and learned new skills to cope and live. I’ve continued to push myself in every aspect trying to get myself to a point where I can just feel better. I pushed myself psychically, mentally, emotionally, etc. I managed to build myself a beautiful life in my time of healing. I did feel better. The thing is when you’re manic, everything feels better. I compare it to being on meth. For those of you that can not relate, it feels like a super hero feeling. Euphoric, false sense of confidence, hundreds of ideas flowing, intense talking, little to no sleep, etc. Looking back I can see my mania revolved around my recovery. So I went hard. Only to turn around and feel more depressed than I’ve ever felt in my life. The good thing is that I was doing REAL work on myself. Learning actual coping and life skills, communicating, talking about my trauma, forgiving, meditating, exercising, counseling, learning, etc. I wonder if I had not been working so hard on building myself a healthy life, if  I would’ve been able to survive thus far. The reality of my situation is that I can do all the work on myself as I can and want, but I need help. Real professional medical help. I’m sick and I need help.

I’ve spent the last four years trying to get back to my only moderately crazy self that I was prior to fertility treatments and having a kid. However, I never could get back to that version of crazy. Things had changed for me. Yes, obviously I had a kid and that was huge, but I’m talking inside of me. Once again I started with the reasons why I felt the way I did: I have postpartum depression, I’ve struggled with depression all my life so of course it’s just worse for me, my hormones are off, I have endometriosis, I’m still healing, etc. However, this time things were very different. My episodes of mania and depression were on their way to getting worse and worse for me and I had no idea I even had episodes of mania. I was in for a very rude awakening. I made it through to around a month ago, where I just couldn’t. I felt BAD. I say bad, because I don’t think I can put into words just how bad I felt. There wasn’t a day that went by where I didn’t wonder if my family would be better off with me killing myself now or later on. I started to not have any control of my brain (losing my mind).  I started to actually see that I was in a manic episode. I was out of control in every aspect. Absolutely terrifying. I was in fear of my life.

I spoke up. I said I needed help and reached out. Counselors would tell me I needed more care than they could provide, psychiatrists said they could take me.. in november, I could go through the system, but they said it would be months, before they’d get to me,  I considered just admitting myself into the ER and telling them to lock me away, etc. I just wanted help. I needed help. I was in a deep depressive state and wasn’t sure I could survive another episode in either direction. Out of desperation, I saw my primary and explained a little that was going on. She started me on medication and then I was thrown over the edge. Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly feel any worse. Boy, was I wrong. I couldn’t walk in a room without seeing all the ways I could off myself.  I needed my mom to come be with me ASAP, because like all other grown ups, when you’re sick you call mom still, right?

I have been fighting my illness alone for long enough. I have been hiding and lying saying I was well. Thinking I had this under control and I could handle this by myself. I spent decades getting really great at convincing others that I was okay, and I couldn’t and can’t anymore. I am not okay. I am sick. I am mentally ill and there is no cure for me. With a lot of desperation, tears, panic, hunt, money, and the help of a couple random people who saw the light going out in me, I am able to finally get some help. And I wonder about all the others that struggle and do not have the resources that I do. That are at their end and can’t chase help. What about the people that can’t afford private care? What about those that reached out and got an appointment months away, because it’s all their insurance would cover? WHAT IS WRONG WITH OUR SYSTEM? PEOPLE ARE DYING!!!

I write this now at the beginning of my new journey. I now have a team of clinicians working with me. My life will forever be changed as I move forward. I’ll have a lot to process and work through as my diagnosis becomes more clear and I rebuild my life to better suit my brain. I can’t do it alone though and I can’t do it, if I’m not honest. Honest with myself and honest with others. It’s easy for me to tell you all what you want or need to hear, but I need to give myself a full chance at survival and it’s has to start with honesty. So here I am putting the embarrassment, fear of judgement,  and all that petty shit aside. This is me. You all know me when I’m manic, happy, funny, confident, etc., but this is me too. I hide this other huge side of me and this is ALL of me.

I’m Gabi. I’ve struggled with mental illness all my life. I’ve tried to kill myself two times in the past and I thought I was passed that. However, the last 2 weeks I didn’t think I was going to be alive to see today. Now in my 30’s I am in the process of being diagnosed with a mood disorder. I want to share my journey with you.

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1 in 8 

Years ago I woke up in the middle of the night to excruciating pain. The pain continued to get worse and by morning time my brother had found me on the bathroom floor unable to move. Come to find out I had an ovarian cyst that had ruptured and messed me up like no other. I spent days in the hospital. The Dr. told me that the cyst had caused some damage inside and I may or may not struggle to pregnant, when that time came. Back then, I really didn’t mind and wasn’t saddened by the news. I never wanted children. 

Years passed and as you all know… I fell in love and wanted a baby. We knew that my husband shoots blanks (sorry to put your business on blast babe) and we knew that it may be difficult for me to get pregnant. My problems with my reproductive organs had continued up to this point. We knew it would be a process in every which way. Emotionally, physically, mentally, and financially. It was something that we decided was worth going for. We started to line stuff up and work on turning that dream into a reality. Which meant looking for a lot of money. 

We chose to move to move to Los Angeles for work. For a job that would require a lot out of both of us. James would be a slave to the job and I would be alone in a new city. A gigantic, packed, loud, city. We knew the sacrifices that were going to come, but we felt ready. We had our vision board, our plan, etc. We were on a mission. Thankfully this journey took us to Los Angeles. We were able to find one of the top fertility treatment centers.

Our first round of IVF was exciting, scary, and painful all at once. I had spent the years prior rehabilitating my mind and body. I was in great shape. I was in a good place mentally. Well that all went to shit. Hormones overtook me and I was ballooning up and crying and happy and mad and in pain. Not to mention alone in a new city. Yep, hot mess express. I figured since I was young and in decent shape that it would be smooth sailing. I thought the procedures would be uneventful and it would be an easy case. That wasn’t the case for me. When it came time to retrieve the eggs from my ovaries, we found that they weren’t great quality. After all the pain, blood work, procedures, etc., we only had one embryo survive. A boy. A boy that my body would reject. That was painful. 

James and I were crushed. When you’re going through infertility problems, it seems like everyone around you is pregnant. You also tend to focus on the 13 year old that could have a child, but you can’t.  You see fake pregnancy announcements and want to punt the laptop or the person that posted it. You try to not to take to heart the pregnant women complaining about it.  You think about the babies you read about that have been abused or abandoned, but you can’t have a child. You get asked about having babies or told its time to have a baby as if a baby just gets dropped on your door step. A lot of self loathing starts to kick in. It’s horrible to feel like you’re not in control of your body. It’s horrible to know that your body isn’t working the way it’s supposed to. However, we weren’t done with this dream. We knew we had to try again. We believed in this. We couldn’t just walk away. We did what we had to do and decided to try again. It was brutal. My body hated me. My Dr put a new plan together and it worked. My eggs looked better and thankfully we had four embryos survive this round. My Dr. decided to transfer two embryos and we froze the other two. During the waiting period (time after transfer, until you go back to see if you’re pregnant), time goes by incredibly slow. I think since we had the memories of the first round, it made everything go by in slow motion. I was paranoid about every pain, twitch,wipe,drop of blood, etc. During this time, I’m still pumping myself full of hormones. We learned during the first round that not only does my body reject pregnancy, but it also doesn’t make the hormones to carry the pregnancy. So I took hormones all day long in all forms. Pills, shots, suppositories (sorry tmi). (I would continue to do this, until the pregnancy was viable.) It was horribly painful and made me so sick physically. The first round I waited for the pregnancy test at the clinic. The second round was different. Before it was time to go get tested, I was feeling different. I was super sick and just felt something else.  So you know my impatient self tested at home. There was a power outage and there I was peeing on a stick in the dark. I shined my phone flash light and waited for that line to pop up. It sure as heck popped up. Super super light, but it was there. Pregnant. 

My pregnancy would be anything, but easy. It was traumatizing. I would eventually run out of skin that didn’t have hot welts and bruises and I still had to give myself multiple shots throughout the day. I was so sick I couldn’t stand up or ride in a car. Lifting my head would make me want to be sick. Eventually we found out Bells’ twin didn’t make it, but we still had one strong heart beat. As we entered the second trimester, I reluctantly put together my pregnancy announcements and had them ready to go out. Later that same night  I started bleeding profusely. We were terrified. I thought for sure this was it. I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. Please, God. No. My little girl held on. When we heard her heart beat, I can’t even tell you what it felt like. Tears flowed. My cervix had torn. Leaving me to be on bed rest now. I didn’t care as long as my baby stayed put. Here was the ultrasound from that scare. She was like, “heyyyy, I’m still here!” 

I carried her for 41 weeks, before I made her get out. She’d probably still be in there, if I hadn’t made her come out. 

People constantly tell me I need to give her a sibling. People constantly tell me it’s time for another. People constantly ask when I’m having another. People tell me I’m waiting too long in between kids. Not knowing the amount of sacrifice, pain, and struggle that we have gone through to even have one. At first it would make me angry. Now I just realize that most people are completely oblivious to the fact that 1 in 8 people struggle with infertility. Not that it’s anyone’s business to comment on someone having children, but most people truly don’t think about infertility. 

My Dr isn’t too sure that my body could handle another pregnancy. I’m not sure my mental/emotional well being can handle it either. We are so beyond blessed to even have Bells. Truth of the matter is that I have more than I ever believed I could or would have. We have our miracle. My heart is so full. I can’t imagine taking from these moments or missing anything. 

Infertility is real and it’s common. I can promise that you know someone struggling with infertility. It’s shameful. It’s hurtful. It’s hard. It’s heart breaking. It’s not understandable. It’s not fair. It’s secretive. It’s judged. It’s not taken into consideration. It could be the person next to you at work, your brother or sister, your cousin, your best friend. You never know who. We are 1 in 8. 

Half of me 

My parents split up when I was around 3 years old. There were 3 of us and my mom was pregnant with my brother, when we left our sperm donor. That was it. He never wrote, called, showed up to court, never gave my mom a cent, etc. Nothing. 4 children that were half his and he couldn’t mail a damn birthday card. Jerk. 

When I was 17 years old, I was on meth and a mess. I moved away to my aunt and uncles to get some help. I started to see a counselor. Her name was, “Judy.” She was lovely.  I remember our first session she asked me what my first memory was. I remembered being in a crib. I remembered playing and trying to get a tooth brush (I think) off the bed next to the crib. I remember my father yelling and smacking my hand. I remember him leaving and never seeing him again. I never knew how that one moment would define so much of who I am. I didn’t want people to leave me. I didn’t say no to anyone. I didn’t fight. I was  fearful. I was a pleaser. I would let someone take my soul and not say anything. The list could go on and on. 

It’s funny how our heads work. I have a wonderful mom. She’s been there from the begining. Loving, playful, and full of  fight for us. Why couldn’t my first memory be of playing with my mom? What was it about this one memory that made it stick and be first? Why?  I’ve often wondered why I was left with this memory instead of him just not existing to me. I’ll never know. Just like I’ll never know most answers to questions I have about him. 

I honestly don’t know if a child will ever get over being abandoned by a parent. I don’t know that there’s anything that will ever fill that void or answer so many questions that being abandoned brings. We had a good family that helped raised us and loved us. A power house mom that somehow not only survived, but thrived with all 4 of us. We were never without. I mean, we grew up with a lot less than most. We struggled to make ends meet, but we were never without. We always had clothes, shelter, food, etc. We could have everything, but we still didn’t have a father. Well we did have a father. We’ve always had a father. He may have been a horrible father, but he was ours. 

He ended up getting into a horrible car wreck and survived years later. He was paralyzed, and could barely talk, but he was alive. We received a letter some time after the accident. My mom told us there was a letter for us to read, when we felt ready. A little bit of time passed and I didn’t read it. One day I was high on God knows what and went looking for that damn letter. Big mistake. I read it and put it back like I had never seen it. Boy, I was livid. Before I was sad, hurt, confused, maybe even a little angry, but now? I was shaking in anger. I kept that a secret and just held on to it alone. Never told anyone I read it. He ended up dying. 

My mom asked us if we wanted to go to his funeral. She left the choice to us. My brothers and I decided to go. So we made the trip to Mexico with my mom. I remember my heart racing as we stood in front of the church. I remember being scared. I wasn’t scared of what I would see or the people. I was scared I wouldn’t be able to control myself. I was scared I would go kick the casket over. I was scared I would start screaming in anger and not be able to stop. I saw people crying and mourning this man that I had mourned my entire life. I was so confused. Could a man that abandons 4 children be lovable? Could that man be someone that made people happy? There across the aisle sat a girl with her mother. The girl was sobbing uncontrollably. The girl looked like me. That girl was his daughter. He was a dad? She knew him? Why? Why her? How could she love this man? I was so angry and so jealous. I knew he was a piece of crap, but I was still jealous. Why was she ok to love, but not me? We made it through the funeral. I didn’t kick the casket. I didn’t scream.  Instead, I walked up to his daughter and I told her I was sorry for her loss. I gave her a hug and told her I was so so sorry she lost her dad. 

I read that letter again eventually. Years later. I read the letter sober and as a mother. You know, I like to believe that I’ve done a lot of work on myself. I’ve worked hard to try and get over my shit. Reading the letter again, I still have anger and confusion. It no longer consumes me, but it’s there. In the letter he had said that we weren’t his kids. We were my mom’s kids. She raised and cared for us. The thing is that’s not how this works. When you have a child, that is your child. No matter what, he was my father. I was his child. He had that role whether he wanted it or not. I am a mother and I am responsible for the type of parent I am to my daughter. If I were to leave her, she suddenly wouldn’t stop being my daughter. He was a coward and in the letter I felt he was still trying to avoid responsibility. My aunt asked him what he wanted to say to us. He said, “I’m sorry.” My aunt had asked him if he loved us and she said, “He yelled at me as he was pounding his chest, “aquí los llevo!” (“I have them here”). Reading these things in the letter I felt as if I was being lied to. I wondered if a person that can abandon four children and never look back can even feel remorse. He was sorry? For what? Years and years and years and yearrrrss went by. Where he could’ve talked, written, etc. Now he was dying and he said, “I’m sorry.”  It just wasn’t enough for me, but it’s all I received and have. 

I never asked any questions I had. I never screamed and let it out. I never attacked him, while I sobbed as I had envisioned so many times. I realized I had everything I was going to get from him. Long lashes, issues, and my brothers. 

He had substance abuse issues (alcohol and drugs).  He was a liar. He was abusive. He was selfish. He hurt my mom. He hurt my brothers. He hurt me. He hurt everyone. It would be really easy for me to be just like him. I can’t tell you how terrifying that is. I have everything inside of me to follow lead. I have to fight like hell so that side of me doesn’t win. Today I write this as a 32 year old that is still angry and hurt. My father died and we never made peace. I was never given the chance to love my father.  I feel like that will probably be with me forever. Just like he’s always been with me forever. Whether he wanted it or not. He was there.  

My Good Thing 

I never imagined I would be alive at 32 years old. I never imagined I would live outside of my early 20’s. It’s a sad way to think and live, but that was my reality. I didn’t have a fear that I was going to die or get killed. I had terrible secrets hidden inside me that had already taken my life. In my mind, I was already dead. 

I lived with those feelings in this dark dark place for years. I painted this picture on the outside of a fun loving funny girl, but secretly I felt incredibly lonely and battered to hell. I had this deep pain that nothing could comfort. That wasn’t the only thing I was hiding. I was also a drug addict. 

I can recall a couple times that I tried to end my pain. I took more and more and begged for it to end. When I would wake up, it wasn’t a sense of relief. It was sadness. I “lived” like this for years. I was dying in front of everyone’s eyes and they had no idea. I’m not sure what happened, but suddenly I was just done. I couldn’t anymore. 

I was clean for a little while and thought, “hey, I’m clean. I’m alright now.” Uh no. That’s not how it works. I still did not know how to cope. I still had horrifying memories and secrets. I also had been doing drugs and living this way for most of my life. I didn’t know any other way to live and cope. I didn’t know how to make peace. I didn’t know how to stop making mistakes. I entered rehab voluntarily and sober in 2011, at the age of 26.  

Is everyone ready for it? Alright ladies and gents, here we go! I remember walking into the room without expectations or a clue about anything. I walked in and saw all these people that were just like me and yet I was terrified. I looked around and there on the couch sat a tall, handsome drink of water. His name was James. I took a seat and that was the end of life as I knew it. Don’t tell James this, but within minutes of meeting him, out of nowhere, my head told me I could marry this man. I want to add that I was the type of girl that never wanted to get married and men were nothing but disposable fun. I was never looking for anyone and I most definitely wasn’t looking to fall in love and get married. Ever. 

Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. James and I continued to be friends throughout the process. We would go on walks, talk, deal with anxiety attacks, be silent, cry, etc. We were friends and we fell in love. Love I never knew exsisted. Love I never knew I deserved. Love I never knew I wanted. The kind of love that gives songs meaning. Hard, soul consuming, make you want to throw up kind of love.

I married James, after knowing him for less than a year. We walked down to the courthouse in Oklahoma wearing David Hasselhoff t-shirts and jeans and said, “I do.” There was never reservation or anxiety. I had never been more at peace with anything in my life.

I truly believe that every ounce of pain, sadness, guilt, etc., had led me straight to this very moment. I believe that I was right where I was supposed to be. I believe that I had to go through all this, in order to get to him. I believe that James is my good thing, my unicorn, the climax (interesting choice of word) in my book, my gift, my sign from God, my one big moment. I believe that if the only thing I ever do in this life is show our daughter this great love, it will be enough for me.

I’m not magically fixed. I still suffer from depression and anxiety. I still seek help in more ways than one. I still have my crap, but I am different. I’m clean. I’m hopeful. I cope. I love. I learn. I share my old secrets. I live. I’m ALIVE and I get to figure this whole life thing out with James holding my hand. I couldn’t be more grateful. Thank you God for letting me live.2011