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Welcome to the blog!

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First of all, let me say welcome and thank you for checking out my blog. I created “The Life of a Phoenix” to help not only myself, but maybe some others as they go through their journey of learning to live with and own their mental illness. It is my vision for this blog to be a safe place for EVERYONE to come and learn, share, grow and heal together.

My name is Caitlyn but you all can call me Caity…or whatever is you would like (might be fun to get some new nicknames!). I’m 24 years old and by no means am I an expert on mental health. Again…I AM NOT AN EXPERT OR MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL! The information in this blog will mainly be personal opinions and experiences; though I will try to incorporate some factual information in from time to time from medical journals, etc.

A little about me…I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder a few months ago. Up until then, I only thought I had severe depression and anxiety since that was my last diagnoses a few years ago. I was born in Ohio, raised in Tennessee and now reside in Mississippi. I am in a relationship with a wonderful human being by the name of Terrence…5 long, beautiful years. (If there are things that you wish I would elaborate on, trust me, they will be covered in other posts).

As I stated, this blog will be mostly my personal experiences and opinions about mental health and illness, but I will also try to include some medical facts and information just as reference and if I find anything new or interesting I think we could all benefit from. I will also be adding…different surprises here and there…so you must stay tuned in! As for you my dear readers, I expect feedback. I want you to let me know what you want to hear about, what you would like to see (you’ll see what I mean when those surprises come out). I also want you to share your stories with us. This is going to be a safe, judge-free zone where we can come together and talk to one another, lift each other up, learn and heal.

Again, let me welcome you to this blog, and I hope you are patient with me as we grow together in this journey. I hope you find something in this blog that will uplift and inspire you to be the best you you can be. Let’s get this party started.

Things to Remember When You’re Going Through It

A while back I came across this picture on Facebook. I saved it in hopes to use it everyday or whenever I needed it. Sadly it has sat in my photos, only glanced at a few times. I never stopped to give this picture any thought until recently. Here’s the picture:20181207_1318085243024043800471066.jpg

Like I said, I saved the picture with plans to use during those dark times (and Lord knows I could have used too), but it sat in my phone until I really needed it I guess.

  1. When we are caught between a rock and a hard place and it seems like everything that can be wrong is wrong, we want to throw in the towel. It seems like no matter what we do to try to make any situation better, it only gets worse and there is no hope in sight. Things can change, and they will change. Most people want overnight change and success, and it can be understandable if you take into consideration that someone has been suffering for a long time, but that’s not how things work unfortunately. Change, all change, takes time, hard work, persistence and patience. Think about it, you didn’t just appear one night. Your mother had to carry you for nine months before you were born. You didn’t go to sleep one night at the age of 5 and wake up the next morning at the age of 30 (though sometimes it does feel that way). Patience is key, as hard as it may be.
  2. Remember when you couldn’t walk on your own, tie your own shoes, figure out that one math problem? You eventually figured things out right. Same applies here. Though this challenge may be bigger than learning how to tie your shoes, the point is you’ve faced other challenges in your life before that you thought at one time you would never get through, but you did. You’re going to look back at this challenge in a few years and laugh thinking about how stressed you were about it because you knew all along that you would make it out okay on the other side.
  3. You don’t enter this world knowing everything. Therefore, you are going to make some mistakes here and there. Just chalk it up as a learning experience. They say that mistakes prove that you’re at least trying, and I believe that. You might be trying to do the right thing, but because you’re not sure what the right thing is or how to go about doing the right thing, you make a mistake. We all make them, and it’s okay. Just learn from them and keep moving.
  4. Everything that you want is not good for you. Everything that you want is not good for you. Yes I had to say it twice. You know that good looking individual that you’ve been eyeing at work who smiles at you everyday and brings you coffee every Friday that you’ve just wanting to take home? Well they have a significant other with children they abuse everyday. It can be upsetting not to get what you want out of life, but sometimes there’s a reason you didn’t get, and sometimes that reason is because it wasn’t meant for you. Be appreciative of what you do have and what you get from life, because life doesn’t owe you.
  5.  You can’t take life too serious (my biggest problem). You have to “let your hair down” every once in a while and have some fun. Otherwise you’ll end up old, mean and bitter. Laughter is good for the soul. The sun is good for your overall health. Nothing is more relaxing than the sounds of the waves crashing on the beach. Do you see where I’m going with this? Play just as hard as you work. It’s called balance.
  6. Self care is the most important thing someone can do for themselves. Self care means taking a day or three (lol) to yourself and doing things that make you happy. That could mean cuddling up on the couch, binge watching your favorite shows, chowing down on all your favorite foods, wearing your favorite pajamas with the holes in it, etc. Go get your hair done. Go for that walk. Stay in bed and get those extra hours of rest.
  7. There are some people who just enjoy being miserable and negative and they want others to be just as miserable as they are. These type of people you need to stay away from. Whatever negativity they are trying to sell is not something you need to worry yourself about. Simple as that.
  8. This is something that I have to remind myself of a lot. We get so caught up in that’s going wrong that we forget to pay attention to what’s going right. It could be something as simple as the fact you had enough money to buy yourself something to eat today, or as big as the fact that you woke up, left your house, and made it home safely because there are many people everyday who don’t wake up from last night’s sleep and who don’t make it home from that day’s adventure. There is always something we can be thankful for to look at and remind us that everything isn’t as bad as it seems.

I hope you all can take this list and apply it your lives, make it useful. Share it with your friends and family because we all need a little help and a little reminder every now and again.

Until next time…Caitlyn xo

A Journey Back from the Edge

I know that I promised that I had more blogs coming a while ago, but this pregnancy brain and exhaustion is real. However, this morning I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep because I kept running these scenarios of myself on different talk shows sharing the story I’m about to share with you now. Therefore, I had to go ahead and get up so I could write it down (and maybe go back to sleep lol). There are other things that I apparently need to get off of my mind and heart, so hopefully I will get the chance to get them out before my life gets too crazy with the new baby. Hope you enjoy this (and upcoming) stories.

 

Before I got pregnant, I was in a dark place mentally and was standing at the edge of a cliff with one foot hanging off and my eyes close ready to jump. There was just so much going wrong and I couldn’t see any way for things to get better (or worse). I had even take; n one last trip to my hometown to visit my family at the last minute (DISCLAIMER: there was no plan in place for me to end my life, I just knew that I was about to withdraw from everyone and everything and was about to push everyone away; therefore I wanted to enjoy this last bit of happy time with the people I loved and that loved me). When I got back home from the trip, I was two seconds away from flipping that “screw it all” switch, but then something I still can’t wrap my head around happened…I found out I was pregnant. The day I found out I was pregnant, I put that one foot that was hanging over the cliff back on the ground and opened my eyes. I wasn’t sure how I was feeling, but I wanted time to process it. As I was trying to process things, the winds (negative thoughts and emotions) started to blow. They got close to pushing me off that cliff, but I still wanted time to figure out this pregnancy thing. So I stood my ground. The winds started to pick up and become more aggressive, but every time I heard my baby’s heart beat, saw his little face (the day I found out he was going to be a boy) and felt all of those uncomfortable yet heart warming kicks, I took more and more steps backwards away from that cliff. After a while, it seemed like the winds had stopped and I was in the clear to enjoy this new experience and develop some positive thoughts and emotions about it. However, one day out of nowhere, those winds hit harder than I ever knew they could. I knew that I had to take shelter behind something because I wasn’t strong enough to battle those winds by myself anymore. There stood this tall, strong and sturdy tree. I hid behind it as the winds continued to blow. The tree did its job in protecting me. The tree was not invincible as the winds got to it too, making it sway from side to side and causing it to lose its leaves and branches in the process. No matter how much damage that tree took, I wasn’t giving up. I stayed behind that tree until it was almost stripped completely bare.tree
Then one day, this huge boulder with a little cave appeared out of nowhere. I crawled into it and used the leaves the tree sacrificed to make a warm bedding for myself. (Stick with me…I promise this will all make sense in a minute). That boulder didn’t budge and I couldn’t hear nor feel the winds anymore. smiley-vector-illustration_k7786889The combination of the boulder and the leaves was all I needed. I’m the very end of my pregnancy and that tree despite being worn out is still doing its part to protect me, along with the boulder, and I’m finally starting to get to a point where I can say that I’m genuinely okay.

Ok, now I know I may have confused many of you with this story. Obviously the tree and the boulder both represent something. The tree represents my husband (yes I forgot to tell you all, I got married!). I’m not the type of person who likes to lean on others for support, not even my husband. However, it got to a point where I had no other choice. We were already in this journey together anyway as a newly married couple and soon to be parents, but because these problems somewhat existed before that, I didn’t want to include him in them and risk him getting hurt in any way. He knew I needed him. He begged me to let him help, but I wouldn’t. Eventually I had to. I felt bad about it for a long time (and some days I still do) because I saw how it was affecting him, but never once did he complain about it or make me feel bad about leaning on him. I knew though that we both needed something more if we were going to get through this together. That’s when that big boulder caught my attention. It was always there, but because I had wondered so far away from where it was and all my of sense were being manipulated in some way I paid no attention to it. The boulder represents God. He’s always there for us whenever and however we need him to be, but we have to have our minds, hearts and eyes open. God gave me the coverage I needed against all that negativity, and my husband was what kept me warm and comfortable. It is true that God will send you exactly what you need when you need it. When he sent my now husband my way, my life was headed in a different direction…in a not-so-good direction. My husband showered me with unconditional love and support, encouraged me to get the help I needed, encouraged me to follow my dreams and passions (no matter how crazy or far fetched they were), and stayed by me despite my many mistakes and “episodes”. He did all this before becoming my husband, which I couldn’t understand but I didn’t care because I was so thankful. Words can’t express how happy I am to be his wife, and to be bringing a new life into this world with him.

Now with all that being said…I’ve never completely strayed away from God. He was always there in the back of my mind and in my heart. I will say that I got lost and confused several times. My mental health only made things worse as confusion came with the territory. Every time I get close to being too far away, God reaches down and pulls me back. I’ll notice it because I’ll either get the sudden urge to go to church (I live about an hour away, so that was always my excuse not to go), or I’ll get the desire to listen to gospel music. God is always blessing me but I can never see or enjoy them because I’ve been fooled by the devil too many times and it has caused me to not trust anything good that happens to or for me because something bad will always follow. I’ve missed many blessings because of this, but God just keeps on. I guess he figured one day I’m going to get it right and trust him, which I’m learning to do. My husband and my son (and of course the life and health of my family and friends) are my biggest blessings right now that I thank him for everyday.

This post may seem all over the place, and I apologize for that. This is how my thoughts came to me and I didn’t want to edit them too much in fear of not getting out everything that I needed to.

Now that I am 37 weeks pregnant, I’m just counting down the days until I get to see my son’s face. I have some things that are bugging my in the back of my mind and are causing me a little panic (nothing like those negative thoughts before), but my focus right now is my son and my husband  (and some things that I need to take care of asap).

Also, I want to say thank you to those family members who were there for me during those times mentioned above. Your love, whether it was some kind words or a kind gesture, did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. This post was just to highlight the bond my husband and I are building and my relationship with God.

I ask that everyone reading this please keep me in your hearts and thoughts as I continue on my journey of life, and I will do the same for all of you.

Until next time…Caitlyn xo

Forgiveness…Not as easy as you think.

Forgiveness is hard, there’s no doubt about it. It’s easy to say that you forgive someone, but to actually mean it is a completely different story. What does it mean to forgive someone? Forgiving someone means that you no longer harbor any negative emotions such as anger, resentment, aggression or vengeance towards someone or something. When you forgive, does that necessarily mean that you have to let it go? In a way, yes. You can’t hold on to it like a grudge because that means you never forgave in the first place. Some people hold on to the event as a way to remind them about a lesson they learned.

I’ve had to learn how to forgive many people over the course of my life and it’s never been easy. Having to forgive over big or small things, it doesn’t matter, it’s still never easy. However, there is one person I can’t seem to completely forgive, and one person I can’t seem to forgive at all.

After my parents divorced, I tried so hard to hold on to my relationship with my father. It was not easy. I didn’t want to hate him like my sister because he was my dad and of course I always help on to the hope that one day my parents would get back together. For years, things with him were fine. After a while he started pulling these disappearing acts on us. He stopped answering our phone calls, wouldn’t return any messages…it was as if he just dropped off the face of the earth. However, because I loved him so much as was not about to give up hope that he loved me too, I kept trying for years to reach him. Calling him, texting him, doing whatever I could think of to try to reach him despite knowing deep down that he wasn’t going to answer or respond. Years and years later, I was old enough and we finally reconnected and caught up. Though on the surface I was so happy to have him back in my life again, there was a part of me deep inside that was so angry at him for so many things. He missed so much in my life, things that were very important to me. I blamed him for a lot of things; some things made sense, others not so much looking back at it now, but I wanted to be mad at him so I had to come up with whatever I could. He and I talked on several occasions, coming clean about feelings and such, but each time never felt like it was enough. No matter what explanation he would give me, I just felt like it wasn’t enough to make up for what he did. We must’ve had the conversation 4 or 5 times. To this day, despite us having a good relationship, there is a part of me that still can’t forgive him for leaving us all those years ago. I know with my son coming it’s going to bring up some more issues for me because I don’t want my son to go through what I went through; I want my son to have a family. As an adult, I realized that sometimes things just don’t work out no matter how hard you try or want them to, but the inner kid in me still holds on to that pain and hurt. Hopefully one day I will be able to fully move on from my past so I can fully enjoy having my dad back in my life.

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This is my old man. I don’t have any pictures of us together (guess I’ll have to eventually get one). My dad is so cool and smooth, it’s hard to be mad at him for the things he did and said in the past, but unfortunately I can’t get rid of these memories no matter how hard I work on it. I love my dad, always have and always will (though it was hard to admit that at one point in my life).

Person #2

We are our own worst critic, and that is why the person I can’t seem to forgive is myself. Why can’t I forgive myself? Oh boy, there are so many reasons. I’ve made so many mistakes over the years, too many to count. Though not all of them major, they were all major to me because of this idea I created about myself based on what others said about me. I was supposed to be the perfect, golden child. Kind of tough to live up to, right? Well it was. Of course any normal person would crack under pressure like that, and crack I did…like Humpty Dumpty when he fell off of that wall (but unlike Humpty, I’m working on putting myself back together again). I cracked hard…big time…many times. I cracked so much I eventually broke, but not to the point of being beyond repair (though I came close several times). I blame myself for things that I know for a fact aren’t even my fault. I blame myself for things I literally had no control over. Why? That’s just my personality I guess. Of course I have things that I actually did that I can’t let go of. My subconscious beats me over the head with my past all the time. There are times when I think I have finally gotten over something and BOOM, my subconscious will bring it up in a dream or even while I’m awake. I’ve tried many different therapy techniques to help me forgive and forget, but nothing has truly helped. For a while part of me thought it was because I didn’t want to forgive and forget; that I wanted to hold on to all of this misery and pain because without out, who would I be? I quickly learned that that wasn’t the case. I’m done being miserable and holding on to all of this pain. I truly want to let it go, but no matter what I’ve tried I can’t.

I’m sure you expected me to talk about some other people in this post. Believe it or not, I have forgiven them. It took some time, but I have forgiven everyone who has done anything wrong to me. Some times I can’t forget simply because of the damage it caused me physically or emotionally, but I have forgiven.

Who do you need to forgive in your life? Why haven’t you forgave them yet? Life is too short to hold on to any grudges. To forgive does not mean to forget. You don’t forgive for the other person anyway. You forgive for you…to bring yourself some peace of mind and heart. To forgive is to heal…it’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

Best-forgiveness-quote-2015

If I Could be Any Age for a Day…

If I could be any age for a day I would be two years old. Do I remember anything from when I was two years old? Other than what people have told me and what I learned from home movies and pictures, I don’t remember anything. Therefore I know you are asking yourselves why would I want to be two years old, go back to a time that I can’t remember. The answer is quite simple really…my life was better back then, and I don’t mean in the ways you naturally think. For example, it wasn’t better because I didn’t have bills or responsibilities, but better in ways that are much deeper than that.

If you’ve been following my blog since the beginning then you’re familiar with my story. If not, long story short…heartache, heart-break, pain and misery for lack of better terms. So let’s get down to it…why do I want to be two years old again?

  1. When I was two, my family was still together and happy…as far as I knew. My parents weren’t divorced, my mother was relatively healthier and we were all just living our best lives. I always dreamed about going back to a time when my family was a family, whole, complete and happy. I’ve always felt that I was robbed of that experience because it ended before I even had the chance to make any real memories. The only memories I have, that don’t come from movies, stories or pictures, are the bad ones, the ones I wish I could forget. I know some people grow up never knowing what it means to have a family, but I did, at least for two seconds anyway. My mother did everything and then some to make sure my sister and I grew up happy, never wanting for anything all by herself, and she did a great job because we were happy and we didn’t want for anything. However, I’m only human and at the time I was only a kid. There was nothing that could fill the hole my father left when he left. Though those issues have been resolved (kind of), I would still want to experience my family together again just one more time.
  2. We still lived in my hometown. My family moved to Memphis when I was about 4 or so and it sucked. I didn’t know hardly any family down here. I felt like I didn’t get a chance to really grow up with my cousins despite going back to Cleveland every summer. It just wasn’t the same. I can’t even imagine how different my life would’ve turned out if we never moved to Memphis. Those what if questions will always linger in the back of my mind.
  3. When I was two, I was happy and so much healthier. I didn’t have any mental or physical illnesses like I do now. I was living my life, running around in my pull-ups without a care in the world. All I had to worry about was learning my ABC’s and how to use the potty. Who wouldn’t want to go back to a time like that.
  4. Ok yes, being an adult sucks for me. I just feel like I wasn’t prepared enough because of the other stuff that happened throughout my life that distracted me every step of the way. So sure, being two and having no responsibilities, no bills, no job, no debt would be fantastic, even if it only lasted for a day.

baby me

This is me at roughly 2 years old. Don’t ask why this pose because I honestly couldn’t tell you. I guess I was ahead of my time (I mean doesn’t this look like the club pose from the 90s and early 2000s!?!?) That smile on my face, genuine. I laugh looking at this photo because I know I was happy, but I can’t remember it. I was so freaking cute wasn’t I? LOL

caity & rissa

This is me and my sister (more than likely taken on the same day). If you know me personally, you know that my sister and I have not always been close. As a matter of fact, we were always “at each other’s throat” so to speak. It wasn’t until maybe my highschool days that we started getting closer and acting like “sisters”. See in this picture, you see us before the rivalry started (and why it started exactly, I couldn’t tell you). I don’t remember the good days with my sister before we “grew up”, so these pictures are the only proof I have that we actually got along before…which is how I knew we could do it again.

emma

Lord look at my mama’s legs!!! LOL (sorry mom) See….happy family!!! We took my grandmother EVERYWHERE we went that didn’t require a plane. My dad isn’t in the picture because like most dads back in the day, he was always the one taking the pictures. I don’t have any clear photos of my dad from my child hood. Any that ever existed was probably destroyed by either me or my sister when we were hurting during and after the divorce. However, see the smile on everyone’s face? Pure happiness (at least from what I knew back then). If my memory serves me correctly, I think this was the trip to Disney World (my sister and I trashed the many photo albums my mom put together collecting pictures for ourselves for various reasons).

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This is me now. I put this in here for comparison. Look at my face in this photo compared to my face in the other photos. I was “happy” this day. It was a beautiful day, I looked cute and I was feeling good. I looked through a dozen recent photos and my smile is always the same. You can see the hurt in my eyes, the pain behind my smile (if you look close enough). No filter can change that.

Making a Tough Decision

Recently I made an extremely hard and terrifying decision: I decided to quit my job. I’ve mentioned before about my struggles at work, finding and keeping a job. Well, now that I’m pregnant, things only became more difficult. For those of you who need a little refresher, let me take a minute to explain exactly what was going on before I made this decision.

I lost my job (one that I now wish I could have back) in January 2017 because the store closed. I went 7 months without a job. It of course put me into a deeper depression because I felt like I wasn’t pulling my weight in my relationship, and it just seemed like no matter what job I applied for I simply wasn’t good enough to actually get it. I finally landed a job at one of the casinos near where I live. At first I was happy, thankful to finally have a job. Although I was on my feet for 8 hours, it was a small price to pay after not having a job for a long time. The first few weeks were rough just as it would be at any job: getting used to the culture of the environment and the people. After a while, things got a little better. However, shortly after things started to look up, they took an interesting turn for the worse. I used to cry everyday before going to work, and sometimes while at work while on break. I couldn’t explain it because I knew that I should have been happy about having this job, but there was some part of me that wasn’t. My boyfriend saw how miserable I was and helped me get another job where he worked. I got the job and couldn’t have been happier. The best part about the job was that I got to sit down the entire time. The schedule at first was cool: I worked the weekend only at night, meaning I had the entire week to do whatever I wanted to do. I didn’t have a social life so working on the weekends didn’t bother me. The job was great at first, I met cool people and was actually enjoying myself. However, things took an interesting turn for the worse again. I got pregnant in March, and some time around May is when I started to notice major changes. I didn’t enjoy going to work anymore, I was either annoyed or frustrated by something that happened at work, and as the weeks went on things got worse. I went on my family vacation at the end of June. When we came home, something in me changed. Just  like before, I  started crying and having panic attacks before work, during work, and any day just thinking about going back to work. I took a month off from work to get my head together and see if I couldn’t figure something out. Therapy was really no help because my therapist just kept telling me to quit. I had many others tell me that I needed to just stick it out, at least until the baby came. Then I had others who kept suggesting other places (that were a great distance from me) for me to considering working at. It seemed like no one was really taking the time to listen to me or consider anything that I was saying. My boyfriend, bless his heart, would try his best to console me and help me look for other jobs and solutions, but would always say that he supported me and wanted what was best for me. I know he got tired of me bringing up the situation to him, but I really was lost, scared and confused and wanted to make sure that whatever decision I was going to make was going to be the right one.

Once my month off was over, I went back to work hoping that things would have changed. They didn’t. The environment at work, my feelings about it…all the same. I worked one week before making up my mind. I had and still don’t have a plan as to what I’m going to do about money, but the stress at work was too much for me to handle, especially being 6 months pregnant. It was hard for me to make that decision because I knew the issue of money would be in the back of my mind forever. I also felt guilty about putting all of the financial responsibility on my boyfriend. People would tell me that I shouldn’t and that he should just step up and do what he has to in order to take care of his family, but that’s just not how I think. He has been totally supportive of me and every decision I have made about my health. I was worried that me making this decision would cause him to resent me, not want to be with me anymore, etc. He assured me that this was not the case, but the thought still lingers in the back of my mind. Honestly, I think these are my own thoughts and feelings that I’m projecting onto him because if I were him I would resent me or at least be disappointed in me. I disappointed in myself. I sometimes feel like less of a woman and a failure as a mom and I haven’t even had my son yet. I’m still looking for work at home jobs or job that I might actually enjoy, but I’ve gone so deep back down into a depression I can think of nothing at the moment that I really enjoy.

I made this big decision leaning on my faith to get me through the hard times that are about to come up. Do I have any plans or ideas about the future? No not really. I’m hoping to find some inspiration during this time before baby boy gets here. Right now, all I can think about is the present and the farthest I can plan for right now is up until his birth. I’m going to have to take things one day at a time.

 

 

**I’m trying to decide whether or not to start a YouTube channel and link it to this blog. Some things are easier to talk about than others. Sometimes just talking is easier and a lot more helpful than sitting and trying to find the right words to say. Be on the lookout for that…maybe. When and if it happens there will definitely be an announcement about it. Until next time…<3