Atheists believe it is more difficult for them to cope with grief after the loss of a loved one because they do not believe in an afterlife. What an unusual juxtaposition to begin that sentence with. Atheists believe. Because, by definition, an atheist does not believe in God. What I do know is that I spent ten years in disbelief as an atheist. Most of the time that lack of belief never mattered as I continued to make choices just as I would of I had remained a Christian. There were some instances where I could write off my manic behaviors because I dissociated them with morality altogether. It wasn't until my late twenties did I start listening to Christian music and pivoted my incredulous behavior towards a less chaotic resonance.

This was a choice I made and continue to make daily. Therefore, it can be argued that it is more difficult for a man or woman of faith, would struggle more while grieving because of how frail that connection is. Justifying God's existence is not the point of this entry. But I will say that since my cousin's passing last Friday I have undoubtedly questioned my faith over and over again over the last few days. But it is still a choice I continue to make, regardless of my atheist tendencies to disregard faith based on facts, every day. I will say this, there is comfort in absolutes. I'll never find solace because I'll always have a small part of me that doubts.

Today marks a full week since I have been in this rut of a depression. Most people start to see a light at the end of the tunnel at this point. I never do. This part resembles more a labyrinth than a straight tunnel. There are endless turns and trap doors. Sometimes quicksand and sometimes no gravity at all. A tunnel would be a dream, instead I'm stuck in a nightmare. At least the medication allows me the opportunity to sleep. Whereas before, it was just days on end forgetting to do simple daily tasks.

I don't mean to make this a short entry, but I've already finished quite a bit of homework and am not in the most elaborate of moods to express myself. Tomorrow, perhaps. But tonight I just want to empty all my thoughts. Goodnight.

Today is one of those days where having the types of issues that I have is both a blessing and a curse. Let me tell you why.

  1. I woke up after almost ten hours of uninterrupted sleep for the first time in weeks. This was only as a direct result of a new medication I started taking for that purpose. Me and my shrink (psychiatrist – read blog below for clarification on who does what) came to an agreement when I first started treatment with him I would not research side effects of medication or even their purpose. He wanted full trust as a trade for full disclosure. And, honestly, it's a system that none of my other doctors ever offered.

  2. Someone reached out to me for guidance. A perfect stranger, too. I think I may have freaked them out, but that's okay because they wanted the truth and that's what I gave them. One of the beauties of mental illness is most of us are usually very blunt in our efforts. Not because we lack empathy. We are well aware of how our actions or inactions affect others. There is just no filter. No output for relaying information that is less than the truth. We are accustomed to being lied to constantly by our families, our doctors, our friends. So therefore, it is not in us to reciprocate.

If I had to scale my wins or losses by days, today would absolutely be a win. Because I know I helped someone just by being me. If that's not enough for the world then I don't know what is. Now I need to finish my homework. Stop distracting me, blog. I am on to you!

Right now my oldest is on house arrest. Not literally, but she doesn't have her phone for the rest of the day. Cell phones were always something I thought I'd be against when they were younger. However, rather than resorting to the medieval methods my parents raised me and brothers with, taking their phones away has proven to be more effective than I ever could of imagined.

Right now I am enduring harsh stares and being reminded how much I am hated. It makes me chuckle though, remembering all the times I told my own parents how much I hated them growing up. It was never true and that is why I know she doesn't mean it either. If your a parent you should understand exactly what I am referring to. If you don't then you're doing something wrong. Parenting is an extraordinary feat. One I have never taken lightly. And as I stare back at her in complete awe of her defiance, I have to remind myself that it is just a phase and this too shall pass. Your children will hate you at some point. There are no perfect parents nor perfect children. Only choices we all make day in day out that define both of our roles.

Tackling pre-teen rebellion and my current mental health status is going to be the opposite of fun.. but such is life sometimes for me. A mother with an array of mental health issues. Struggling to keep my sanity all the while raising two wonderfully independent and at times defiant young girls. Striving to keep them young at heart and young in the mind in this day and age. No easy task. But it is mine and mine alone to face. The choices we make, and keep making every day to do the very best we can with what we have. Even if some says we lose a little bit of that.

One of the few opportunities I get to be almost completely alone are the three days out of the week my daughters attend math tutoring for an hour. I am probably a more obsessive advocate for their academics than I should be (most moms are) but I cannot stress enough how important math will always be for them in and out of the classroom. So I bring them, as it forces me out of the house as well since I work from home and rarely leave. So I sit in my favorite little independently owned coffee shop with my laptop and books and soak up the hour like vitamin D in the sunlight (something I also need more of apparently). Not because I don't love being with my children, that makes me sound awful. But because for about an hour I can be alone in my thoughts three times a week, and not all moms out there get that small pleasure.

So now my psychiatrist and my psychologist have different opinions about my next move. One would rather I start outpatient care immediately and the other prescribed me my seventh psych med to add to the current collection I already take. His thought process is if I could just get better quality sleep and more of it my other symptoms will subside and be easier to maintain. So I am torn.

To anyone who has ever been through the labyrinth that is mental healthcare you understand how much effort goes into treatment. First, you have to referred by a primary care doctor who knows nothing in particular about mental illness and therefore writes you off to a therapist. If the therapist (usually after multiple sessions) feels you need medication management then you are waitlisted (that is not meant figuratively as it can take months) to be drafted to a psychiatrist. Now psychiatrists, god love them, are not very conversational. These are not who you picture when you think long couch, notepad, incessant nodding. The visits I have usually are less that ten minutes and can be monthly to every three months depending on how well you're coping to the medication they prescribe. Then let's not forget about the therapists where it all started. You'll still see them occasionally. If you are really lucky maybe even get referred to group therapy.

The real heroes though are the psychologists. These brave souls are who you unleash your heart and soul to. They know you well and the great ones remember all the little details that surround your diagnosis. They do not however diagnose you. That's back to the psychiatrist. Now, don't get me wrong they're not bad doctors not in the slightest. They just want to get straight to the point of the problem. We are math equations to them. Science projects that they have to be able to separate themselves from when they turn the light off in the lab at the end of the day. I cannot imagine how many patients they lose or will lose to the cancerous thief that is depression. So I don't blame them. As a matter of fact I feel sorry for them all. So many people that need help, and not enough able to provide it.

So I bring my girls to an hour of math tutoring thrice a week. Because math.

My doctor wants me to start outpatient therapy for my mental health issues. My mom thinks I'm crazy, which is kind of the point. My boss wants me to get back to work. My younger daughter asks me why I am so tired all the time. My older daughter tells me that everything will be okay and we'll get through this together. My dad believes that I am making all of this up on my own. My brothers are all counting on me to be the strong one as the rest of our family gets older, sicker, and poorer. And my dog, Luna, well she just wants me to rub her belly and drop some of my sandwich on the floor.

Everybody wants me to do something. I just want to stop doing everything. The only thing I have the energy to do all day is breathe, at least up until now. Which is ironic because we don't have to focus so hard on breathing, do we? Not a single person has ever asked me if I could breathe today. Because obviously, I can. That makes me wonder what else other people assume about me. Does the fact that I look normal and speak normally tell others that I am? Because I know for a fact that I am not and never will be normal. Which I'm perfectly fine with.

Luna's breathing heavily next to my feet. I used to hate the smell of dog when I was younger. When we brought her into our home she was only three months old. She was our “pandemic puppy”. At first I wanted to train her to be my service dog. It just got too expensive and I realized that I would actually have to socialize her. So instead, a little over a year later, I've actually projected my anxiety on to Luna. Or so our last trainer says. Not cool.

Well I've just about exhausted all my energy for the time being... let's see what happens next. I've never written a blog. Probably terrible. But it is the most productive thing I think I've done today.