Silent Screams

I keep forgetting. My mind runs so fast I can only catch a thought or two before they disappear forever. One side effect of depression I guess. Maybe that is why I write. My thoughts need to be as slow as my fingers can type. Even so, my brain gets confused and mistakes are made. I can’t be perfect.

Since I was a child my mind always ran at the speed of light. Perhaps I can attribute some of my intelligence to this. I’m constantly thinking about something— well multiple things. I’m analyzing, comparing, processing, faster than my body can handle. My handwriting is atrocious I believe because my hand can’t keep up with my mind.

Is this another side effect of depression? I’m not so sure. I believe my thoughts don’t help any. I get trapped in a paranoid state of ‘what if’. Every singe possible outcome plays through my mind like I’m watch an old movie reel. Each real takes up a fraction of my head and they all play in unison. My mind is left trying to decipher alternative realities. I choose the one that makes the most sense to me.

I think and I think and I think and the wheel never stop spinning. I just want my brain to shut up for 5 seconds. I’m focusing so hard on negative outcomes that positive ones seem like trash. All good things come to an end. I’ve learned all things come to a horrible end no matter what, the end. I stopped getting my hopes up years ago. When your hopes are high, your spirit crushed harder. I have no expectation of a good or happy life anymore. Existing is all I can do. Every single day I wake up, I exist, I go to sleep and pretend I don’t.

Even existing is hard work. When your brain runs a mile a minute, when you have no expectation of happiness, when you brace for disappointment, existing can be nearly impossible. I’m not looking for pity, but maybe I am. I don’t think anyone can begin to comprehend so I don’t expect them to. I share my feelings because I need to be heard. I feel my cries of agony are silent. I post the stuff I do because I need to be heard. I need my screams heard. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

Here lies me

Here lies me

Cause of death: suicide

That can’t be right can it?

At 10 I loved my life

Joyful and carefree

I understood more at 17

A narcissist taught me fear

I was my happiest at 20

College was a world of opportunity

21 changed me

The darkness crept in

Like a smoke it filled every crevice

At 23 the darkness tempted me

I followed it into a trench

When I was 25 I married

I was happy, but never joyful again

Every moment lived is another burned

Pretending until I can’t

Making mistakes

Hurting those I love with my hurt

The darkness controls me

The happiest days of my life have passed

Here lies me

Cause of death: the darkness

Burn Unit


Burning
Sizzling Flesh
Rather be dead
Pain prison
Disfigurement

Depression
Sizzling flesh
Wants to die
Pain Prison
Burning

Suicide
Lost cause
Easy way out
Tormented soul
Freedom

Gasping for Air

Depression feels like…

Being unwanted

unloved

a failure

burning alive

Living a lie

Being fired from a job

Living in poverty

fear for your life

hunted by a predator

Torment

Gasping for air

Drowning

death is the only cure

Loving but not being loved

Grief

A life worth nothing

Hard work

misunderstood

Judgement

A guilty verdict when you’re innocent

A terminal illness

hospice but you’re not able to die

Sadness

Hopelessness

Anger

A death sentence

Depression

What Should I Tell My Mentally Ill Friend? How Do I Help?

The worst therapist I ever had told me, “You’re a lost cause. No one can help you. You should kill your self because you’re wasting mine and everyone’s time.” Harsh? Yes. Tough love? Maybe. Helpful? No.

The best Psychiatrist I ever had said, “If you’re going to get better, part of you has to want to get better. You may hate yourself and hate this pain. That’s okay. You can be suicidal, but you have to deep down know there is something worth fighting for. I can’t help you if you can’t help yourself.” This changed my whole perspective on my fight with depression and mental illness.

I just gave you two examples. Two mental health professionals saying essentially the same thing. One, made me want to end it all permanently. The other, gave me something to think about- something to work for.

In my illness through the years I’ve gotten some advice that has been extremely helpful. I’ve also gotten a lot of advice that (though well intended) actually has been very hurtful.

When someone you know is struggling with a mental illness, it’s important to know a few very important things.

First, and most importantly, do not think you know what they are going through. You can Empathize but don’t Sympathize. Even if you have had similar experiences, trust me when I say everyone’s journey and pain is vastly different.

This idea comes often with people who are grieving. I lost my father this year and I got well meaning messages say “I know how you feel, I lost xyz” Well no, you don’t know how I feel because you don’t know me, or my relationship with my dad. I also don’t know you and what types of feelings you felt. I can’t imagine my moms grief because she lost her soulmate, her husband. I can’t even know my brothers grief because he had a different relationship with dad and he lives farther away. I’m sure I don’t know how he feels in his grief. In the same way, everyone’s mental illnesses, traumas, life journeys are different. You can’t know the pain I’m experiencing because you are not me.

Second, it’s important to understand the ill person before offering advice. Let me explain. Imagine a man has a tumor in his brain. He goes to the doctor and he recommends chemo and radiation because he is young and healthy otherwise. Now the next day, another man goes to the same doctor. He finds out he has the exact same tumor as the other man. Now this man is the same age and seems healthy enough. The doctor decides that this man’s tumor is inoperable and he is put on hospice. Same tumor, two different recommendations. The one man was healthy and his body could fight and withstand the chemo. The second man found this tumor because he was recently diagnosed with sage 4 lung cancer that metastasized to his brain. Without knowing the patient, we couldn’t possibly give advice to either one.

In the same way, people with mental illness have gone through different things. Some need medication to survive. Other may find therapy is enough. Some respond well to harsh criticism like my therapist above. Others need a gentle push in the right direction. Some people, like me, are treatment resistant, meaning I will likely struggle the rest of my life. Others get hit hard with it, but with therapy and a first line anti depressive can live a normal life in a few years. So, before giving advice, think about the person you are trying to reach. Maybe instead of telling them what to do ask them what they think has been helpful. Ask them if they need extra support and then ask what support you can give. Don’t assume anything. You can offer advice but make sure you say something like, “I’m not sure if this would help you and if it doesn’t that’s okay. I just wanted to share something I have done to help me when I’m feeling sad/anxious etc. Don’t feel any pressure but just know I am here for you if you ever need me and I want to help.” Be kind and loving. Asking questions can help more than giving advice most of the time.

The third and final thing to remember is to respect their wishes. *I will preface if someone is suicidal or homicidal the most loving thing you can do is reach out for help for them* I know it may be hard to see someone you love stay in bed all day. I get it. You can absolutely encourage them or try to entice them to get out of bed for a little bit. In the end though, do no force the person. It will only make them grow to dislike you.

If I say, I’m feeling suicidal but I will reach out for help if I need it. Trust me. I will reach out. You are welcome to check in on me but don’t call the police because I’m working through hard thoughts. It’s all a part of the process. It’s about learning your self and your emotions. Coping is about control urges and temptation. General reminders are good and can be helpful. Always ask what is the best was to help.

Obviously I am not a medical professional and this should be read from the perspective of someone with a mental illness. I can’t claim any of this will be true for all people but my hope is that sharing my experience can help others and help reduce some of the hardships mentally ill people face. Thanks for reading.

Hope Comes Through The Darkness

I share this because it was written in the darkness and it deserves to be brought to light. What follows is my suicide note that I drafted about five years ago.

I share this note now after coming through the worst year of my life in multiple ways. I share this note because I am alive! As dark as the following note may seem I have fought and I have won!

I am a survivor and I have survived multiple attempts at my own life. I proud to share my story. I’m proud to share my hope!

My heart is aching.  I hold this pain of the past and present.  I think of death everyday.  I think of the escape that it holds.  The sweet, sweet, relief its emptiness holds.  Its unknowns hold in its hands the key to my happiness.  Life on the other hand holds my sorrows, hurt, pain.  Deep pain that cannot be quenched.  Pain that a fire no amount of water can touch.

In my pain I have hurt others, countless others.  I scold them passing through. It would be better off if I weren’t here.  I would be better off dead.

My thoughts consume me. I am better of gone.  I am better off dead.  Those around me fail to see I hurt more than I help.  Everyone will move on without me.  Their lives will be better off.

Maybe I can’t share my feelings.  Maybe I have to keep pretending.

Maybe this is my goodbye.

I wish it would be.

I’m glad it was not. Stay alive friends.

 

Some Seriously Depressing Stuff

I have been yearning to write during the past couple of months but my brain forbade me. With everything going on in the world right now, politics, hate, the death of my best friend-my father, and seeing so much distress in others lives, I couldn’t put to words how I was feeling.

I was feeling like a shipwreck on an unknown island. I had to figure out a new way to live and come to terms with some hard losses. I’m still working on it. Grief is like a leach slowly sucking and draining my emotions. It’s always there reminding me. The smallest things set me off. I can’t focus. I sleep for 18 hours a day if I’m not working. If I am working I cry on and off for 8 hours straight before I get done. Then I go back to sleep.

I snap, I go crazy like a loose wire breaking it a windstorm. The electricity in my brain gives me a new surge of energy. I turn into a suicidal Harly Quinn with a smile on my face I will laugh as I tell my poor husband how I plan to inhale cloramines until I get to see my dad again. I’ll laugh through tears stumbling around trying to find something, anything to take away the pain and fear that grips me.

Hard Grief plus Bipolar Depression plus COVID 19 equals the worst possible combination of death eaters I’ve had the displeasure of knowing. There is only a handful of reasons to live and an ocean of reasons to die. Do I like those odds? Nope. I don’t think there is much I can do about it. I’m doing all that I can. I’m getting out, spending time with my Mom and Husband (my two biggest reasons to stay alive), I’m (trying) to keep going to work even when I can’t breath because the anxiety closes the chest in pain, I’m taking my pills, I’m talking to my doctors, I’m meditating, I’m eating healthy, I cut out pop, I’m exercising more. I’m doing it all right. Pain wins in the end.

I’ve started to discuss, much to my husband regret the possibility of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT). Over the years I’ve changed drugs so many times they are running out of things to prescribe. Perhaps rewriting my brain will be my only hope at getting ride of this dreadful disease. It’s a last resort, I know. But, I’m sick this same rotation. I should not have to find myself in this place over and over again. It has hurt relationships, jobs, and life. There has to be a solution.

I know there is more to life than this. I’m not meant to live my life crying underneath the blankets. I’ve seen good and I know it’s out there. I just wish my brain didn’t want me dead.

A Fathers Day Memorial

My dad was hilarious. He would make jokes in casual conversation that could make the whole room laugh. Even when the whole room didn’t laugh at the joke, I promise they would smile at the boisterous laugh my dad produced after telling said joke.

One joke he always told was when we would both be sitting in the living room, watching tv or whatever, and he’d look over and say, “Hey Tori, as long as you’re sitting there not doing anything. Can you get me some ice cream from the kitchen.” When he told this he was also not doing anything and generally closer to the kitchen.

He always loved spending time with his kids growing up. He didn’t mind listening to us talk about things he didn’t care about. He just liked to talks and spend time with us. I remember he had my brother convinced he was just as interested in Pokémon cards as my brother was.

When I was really young and not in school yet we would have “Daddy Tori Time” every Friday morning. It was my favorite day of the week. We usually would go out, just the two of us. We usually went to get doughnuts at our favorite place Marges Doughnuts. After we would do things my dad loved such as, go to Thrift Stores, Big Lots, Dollar Stores, and Garage Sales. It was my favorite time because he usually would let me buy a little something. It was so special.

You could always tell that we were related because we had a super similar taste in food. He passed on to me his love for peanut butter, all things cookies, and salt-on everything. He enjoyed life and passed that on to me. My favorite food he would make for me we called “Daddy’s Special”. Even in to adulthood I could count on him to make me the best Daddy’s special. All it was is buttered toast with peanut butter and apricot jam on top. It was simple but only my dad could make it just the way I liked it.

Dad loved to share stories from his childhood. If you got all the Torreson brothers in a room, I promise you could probably write a book using all the story’s they have from growing up on a farm in rural Iowa. From corn fights to big foot, you would find hours of entertainment.

One story my dad told I think captures his joking spirit. When he was a teenager he would work in the summer at some neighbors farm to make money. Well when he worked he would always borrow the owners work boots. One day, the end of the work day, he took off the boots and saw a couple of salamanders. He decided to put the salamanders in the boot to surprise his neighbor. The next day came and his boss told him that he was surprised when he put on the booths because he thought dad has left some wet socks in them. Apparently he didn’t mind though and continued working. When he took off the boots he was shocked to find the wet socks were salamanders.

I’ve probably never heard all the stories my dad could have shared. I am sad I’m starting to forget some of them too. His stories brought his personality to life. People who never sat and had a conversation with him missed out on so much joy and knowledge.

Much like in his story above he loved to pull pranks. Usually they were small, like taking your dinner plate and hiding it when you got up to get something to drink. He always laughed and laughed at your confusion when you came back. His face looked like that of a school boy when you walked in the room. You could always tell he was up to something.

My dad was one of the best people in the world and one of my best friends. When I was diagnosed with depression anxiety and bipolar disorder he was always understanding and loving. He could always listen and understand things I probably never would have felt comfortable telling anyone else. He understood when I shared with him terrible things I had done. He was able to relate with me. We shared a bond that was so deep because we understood each other in a way others didn’t. We were similar and that helped me. In my adult life I shared many heart to hearts with him over doughnuts at Marges.

My dad created these relationships with everyone he was close too. But probably the most noble quality was his commitment to our family. He worked every single day at a job he HATED. A job that drove him to depression, he would work hard at everyday to provide. He rarely complained. He held it in. In fact, I didn’t know just how much he hated his job until he was laid off 14 years later. He is a hero, a true hero.

I think my dad lived his best life. He loved us and his hobbies. He loved antique radios, lawnmowers, bikes, good food, and family. I can’t help but think he is doing all of those things and more in heaven.

I could write forever. I don’t think there is enough I could ever say that would come close to capturing how great my dad was. But with that, I beg those who knew him to share him. Help me keep him alive on earth with his memories and stories. One part of the COVID funeral that I really missed was the luncheon afterwards. You know, the one where people get up and talk about happy memories and share stories. I need that. Please comment here on my blog if you have anything you would like to share to keep his memories alive.

With the most broken heart and the hardest hurt I’ve ever felt, I wish my Dad, William Torreson, a happy Fathers Day, the first Fathers Day spent with our Heavenly Father. Love you Daddy.

The Struggle Of Faith

It feels strange to write again, however my thoughts need to be expressed. Sometimes I bottle up my thoughts and feelings to the point that it hurts me to continue on. It’s odd, as I have always been a talking a social. Growing into my adult self I found that the more I said the more shame or embarrassment I felt. I feel like I am wasting others time by talking. I’m sure that is the reason why I am privy to writing. I say what I want and no one has to read it. I can speak even if no one wants to listen.

That might be a long intro into what feels like an entirely different topic. The reason I bring it up, though, is that if you find yourself reading this, you can understand at least why I am writing it. It’s not that what I have to say is particularly important to anyone but myself. It’s that my words are some that may have been held in shame or embarrassment. I freely write these words to share my own personal experiences and pain. I share for myself but I do hope others may stumble upon these writings and learn. I pray they will learn from my experience.

With that, I want to begin my story my freshman year in college. I was young and full of hope for the future. As time went on I lost that hope. I’m fact, I lost all hope. I became withdrawn, frantic, obsessive, crazed, and I hated myself. This is how my journey started. I have shared that story on my blog before but this time I need to share something a little different.

During this time I thought I believed in God. I’m not sure if I actually believed or if I was putting on an act. This whole part of my life felt like I was putting on a show. The sicker I became the less I publicly professed my christian Faith. I hung on to it for a long time and tried to believe until something broke me.

I’m both ashamed and not ashamed to talk about this part of my journey. You see I became actively involved with a family of believers that encouraged me more than I could have ever imagined. Now I don’t think it’s fair of me to judge so I’ll say this as kindly as a can. I really believe this group of people had good intentions, unfortunately they did not understand mental illness. I try not to blame them as it’s a hard topic to understand unless you have experienced it firsthand. And though this is another topic entirely, it’s one reason we should be advocating for mental health first aid and training in our churches. Again, this wasn’t the case for me and I was asked to leave the group that became my family.

This event crushed my spirit, and absolutely demolished any shred of faith I had left. I was left feeling empty and broken. I was angry. I couldn’t sit in church without crying because I could no longer believe a loving God existed. I eventually stopped trying and claimed agnosticism. I didn’t know what I believed.

I went down a horrible dark road and after I never fully recovered. Even after getting married I still struggled with anger, questions, and doubts. I wanted to believe and I did research. I read books and studied the Bible. It never felt real to me. There was a disconnect and no matter how much I tried I couldn’t do it.

It’s interesting to think about your life as a story. I know everyone has one. It never turns out the way you expect. In February of this year, we found out my dad had Cancer. I knew he was going to die. Every hopeful thing we tried was cut short. I knew with every step he had very little time. I was lost and alone and without knowing where to turn I cried out to the God I used to know. I cried to the God I once believed in. I wailed and screamed. I talked and listened. He answered me with a stillness. I had never felt more at peace in my life.

I talked to him for probably an hour about everything on my mind and he answered by putting words in my head. I finally asked God if my dad was going to die. I felt a overwhelming “yes” wash over me. It was followed by images of heaven and my dad biking through the perfect mountains and fishing in perfect waters. I felt peace.

Not but two weeks later I learn he had passed. I hurt so much missing him. I would not be able to continue without that peace.

He prayed for me every single day. He loved me unconditionally. He listened to my doubts and anger. He forgave my mistakes and made me feel less alone. He gave everything to be a great dad. I believe he was praying for me the night I prayed about him.

My dad is gone and nothing can make up for the hurt or the sense of loss I feel. I grieve daily. I believe I will see him again someday. I’m a reborn Christian and despite the hurt, I’m thankful I was given this chance to embrace faith in Christ again and my identity in him.

Cursed Springtime

I hate the spring. Spring is supposed to be a time for new beginnings, but instead for me, it is filled it sorrowful losses. Today we received the news I was dreading to hear. My dad does not have much longer on this earth. As a child, we know these things will come. However it’s hard to think it’s coming so soon.

This isn’t the first time I received bad news in the spring time. All 3 of my deceased grandparents died in the spring. A neighbor who was like a grandfather to me passed away in the spring too. My Facebook “memories” this time of year are filled with obituaries and memories. Every year I brace myself for another loss.

The losses align well with my life as the hardest times for my mental illness also align with the spring time. My longest stay in the hospital, my terrible struggle with mania, and even now with this quarantine. Springtime seems to bring nothing but pain.

I feel selfish for feeling the way I do. I almost can’t handle the amount of pain that it inevitably coming. As awful as it sounds, I feel envious because I wish it was my life that we were counting down the days too.

I hate this cursed springtime that continues to bring death and pain. I hate that I’m so helpless. My dad is the most amazing man and he does not deserve this. None of us do…