Surviving A Pandemic With Mental Illnesses | A Life I Deserve

As humans, it seems that we are rarely willing to agree on anything. The one thing we CAN all agree on, is that 2020 has been a rough year, especially for those battling with mental illness.

I haven’t smoked cigarettes in almost 2.5 years, yet I spend 85% of my day convincing myself not to smoke them. Each day is getting increasingly more difficult to convince myself not to pick that habit back up.

I haven’t used heroin in over 7.5 years, yet this year I have found myself fantasizing over the idea of making all of my physical + mental pain go away. Logically, I know that won’t work for long & it will only be a matter of time before I have all my current problems, plus a whole new set of them, which is what holds me back. When you know better, you do better. Getting and staying off heroin was far easier than 2020 for me.

Then the suicidal thoughts. Its a strange place to find yourself when you don’t want to live, but not ready to die, yet. It’s a lonely place to be. I have so much to be thankful for, yet I want to throw it all away so someone much kinder, happier, and more deserving can take my place. Someone who is more patient, someone more still. Someone who doesn’t have the long list of mental illnesses that I live with. Someone who isn’t set off over the simplest of things. Someone who won’t show them what the dark side of mental illness looks like. Someone who is nothing like me.

But in the midst of my latest stress-induced meltdown, I realized something really big that stopped me in my tracks.

I have 4 girls nearly 24/7.

4 girls who I have been isolated with inside a tiny house for the better half of a year.

4 girls who fight. & scream. & cry. & shriek. & yell. Usually all at the same time.

A newborn, turned infant, who is now running. Who has been attached to my hip since birth with no breaks.

An extremely high-strung, dangerously-fearless, independent, messy, busy toddler.

A half-day preschooler who we have to pile in a car (if you’ve ever watched this ordeal, you understand) to drop off, only to pile in a car again to pick up almost two hours later.

A very hyper-active 1st grader who I am now homeschooling 3 days a week. Who I can rarely bring into public due to behavioral reasons, especially without another adult present.

3 days at home, means 2 days at school. 2 days that start 30 minutes of each other, who because of covid cannot be dropped off together. With a baby & toddler who cry every time they sit in a parked car for any length of time. 2 days in a classroom with 6 other children with a teacher who doesn’t believe me that she displays every symptom of ADHD, and an ADHD test which is based entirely on what unrelated adults around her believe to be true.

Speech therapy appointments for my toddler.

Behavioral therapy appointments for my 1st grader.

Parent coaching appointments for myself.

Doctor appointments for all. Trying to find a dentist in our network that specializes in Pediatrics.

With not one break.

Not one single one.

I’m stretched far, far beyond what I can mentally handle. Yes, having so many children WAS my decision; but neither I, nor anyone else, planned for a global pandemic when planning for a family.

Nobody planned for this.

I am not alone in my struggle, but that does not make it easier.

When you live in a constant state of manic-depression, it is very hard to remember to be kind to yourself. It is difficult to see your worth and hold on to your will to live, if you can even find it.

I wrote this list of things I deserve in life, even if I don’t believe it yet. Someday I might.

And who knows, it may be exactly what someone needs to hear today.

We are all in this together ❤

  • I deserve to be built up.
  • I deserve to share my feelings without feeling weak.
  • I deserve to be loved despite my imperfections.
  • I deserve respect.
  • I deserve to be happy.
  • I deserve adventure.
  • I deserve to plan for the best.
  • I deserve to feel beautiful.
  • I deserve help. I NEED help.
  • I deserve a break.
  • I deserve kindness, compassion, & grace.
  • I deserve mental health days.
  • I deserve to feel stressed.
  • I deserve to embrace progress over perfection.
  • I deserve to relax.
  • I deserve to stand up for myself.
  • I deserve to be heard.
  • I deserve to live.

And so do you. ❤

The Priviledged vs. The “Drug Court”

I have 7 years opiate-free because of priviledge.

My priviledge was going to rehab 15 times, while most addicts can’t even make it to one.
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My priviledge was being able to go to the same rehab centers as celebrities, while most addicts receive the minimal amount of government funded resources for mental health and addiction.
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My privilege was being able to receive Vivitrol shots once a month for a year costing $1,700 a month, while clinics provide false hope with methadone to those who can’t afford what actually works to treat addiction or even the resources to find out about this miracle treatment.

My privilege was being gifted a home because my five felonies would have prevented me from being able to get any kind of housing, when most people being released from jail have to go back to their unstable environment.
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My privilege was walking away and blending into the “white society” to save my own ass, while NO black person is able to do that.

I spent the last 7 years growing, resting, refocusing, and educating myself because the way I was fighting before wasn’t working. I’m here to be a voice for the voiceless because 401 years of allowing this corruption to go on is inexcusable.

📷: Hamilton County Justice Center, circa 2013

I admit my privilege, but that wasn’t the whole story.
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Those expensive rehab centers didn’t get me sober. They were more like a vacation resort to find myself.

Government funded “rehab” is why I am sober.

I lived in trailor parks & crack houses with better living conditions than government-funded “rehab” centers and I made it VERY known while I was there. BECAUSE of my privilege I knew this place was deplorable.
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The judge looked me in the eyes and told me she wanted to ship me off to Marysville Prison for 5 years because I would never change. I looked her in the eyes and told her “You don’t know me. I am stronger than you and I will absolutely never return to one of those vile places as long as I live.” 7 years later and here I am. I vowed to never return, and now I will do everything in my power to try to make sure no one else has to either.

While in the government-funded “rehab” center, I said “I would rather be dead than be in these grotesque living conditions.” ⠀

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So they sent me to the psych ward for “threatening to kill myself.”
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Upon intake, they do their psychological evaluation and I corrected the report they had sent over and said “No. I didn’t say I was going to kill myself. I said I would rather be dead than live in those grotesque living conditions.”
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I begged them to keep me there, but I was sent back that day because clearly I wasn’t suicidal, I was angry for the situation in which I was living. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
JAIL was better than this place. I THANKED them for kicking me out and sending me to jail. I was having a difficult time not smiling for my mugshot.
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The government help is not helpful. It is a trap that you will never be able to escape unless you have the privilege to.

📷: Ella, circa 2013

I found out that I was pregnant while in this deplorable government-funded “rehab” center, so to make matters worse, my first trimester was spent here.

I was eventually kicked out & moved from this “rehab” center, to the Justice Center where I spent my second trimester.

Because I was pregnant, I was given a mat with a built in pillow lump that resembled a pool raft and a night-time snack 👍🏼. I couldn’t let myself get attached to my baby. I wasn’t sure what kind of sentencing I was going to get. I didn’t want to get attached only to go off to prison for 5 years or there be a major health complication due to lack of proper prenatal care.

Pregnancy is supposed to be celebrated, but I felt like I had nothing to celebrate.

📷: Ella, circa 2013

Finding out that I was pregnant was a complete shock to me.

Days before entering the government-funded “rehab” center, I was body slammed against the ground & more by the arresting male officer over a non-violent warrant I had. I had a welt slightly bigger than a tennis ball on the left side of my stomach.

A day after I arrived, I had began bleeding the heaviest I ever had in my life, which I had just assumed was my period so I said that there was no way that I was pregnant. When the test came back positive, I was flabbergasted.
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I began fighting to be sent to a halfway housing community for mothers where I could have my baby with me and work towards getting my son back at the same time. Providing absolutely no reason, they refused to let me go there.

So here I was, stuck in this hellish place, with a corrupt judge and probation officer putting up every obstacle to insure I failed, but hell has no fury like a Madison scorned.

📷: Ella, circa 2013

I was not supposed to go to this court room. There was a plan already set into motion, then at the last second my case was transferred due to the death of the prosecutor’s wife and being assigned a public defender.

A public defender is a “lawyer” of sorts for those who cannot afford representation for themselves. This public defender ignored the plan in place and transferred me without notifying the victim – my mom.

As soon as I was moved to this court room, my mom filed to have the charges dropped. They wouldn’t let her. She fired my public defender and hired a family friend who is a well known criminal defense lawyer, who has known me since I was very young and knew my heart.
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The judge was quoted saying, “how you treat people is as important as what you do to them.”

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I watched how she treated people. I watched what she did to them. And most of all, I have watched case after case of hers – my friends – die over the last 8 years. Because like I told her, her way doesn’t work.

7 Years Later

I have not used any opiates in over 7 years. I have not been arrested, or had so much as a speeding ticket, since 2013. I have paid off my restitution and court costs in full. I successfully completed probation in 2015. I put in my time and work.

I still cannot get a job near children, even though I have enough experience with children to run my own daycare. I still cannot get a job in any sort of medical field, even though I can draw blood better than any professional I’ve ever met. I cannot even get a job in retail, even at a grocery store. I cannot apply for life insurance. I cannot open a bank account. The list goes on and on.

If I did not have the PRIVILEGE of my parents and husband fully supporting me, I would still be out there committing crimes just to survive on a daily basis, because as much as Corporate America likes to *SAY* they don’t discriminate, that is all they do.

I didn’t make it out because I’m strong. I made it out because I had the privilege to. Privilege is the answer to the question: why “only a few make it out.”

STATISTICS

📷: Hamilton County Tax Levy Review
📷: Hamilton County Tax Levy Review
📷: Hamilton County Tax Levy Review
📷: Hamilton County Tax Levy Review

REVIEWS

📷: Rehab.com
📷: Rehab.com
📷: Google Reviews
📷: Google Reviews

Celebrating 7 Years

Me • February 2020

“Every cell in our entire body is destroyed and replaced every seven years. How comforting it is to know one day I will have a body you will have never touched.”

While the science behind it isn’t exactly accurate, it’s still a really cool idea, and I found it extremely fitting for today.

Today I have seven years opiate-free. Today is the day that I would have a new body that heroin has never touched.

Not only is it a new body, but a new decade for both the world and myself as I close the chapter on my 20s this year. How is that for awesome coincidental timing?

Even though it isn’t accurate, I’m going to look at it as if it were. So today I am beginning my new life, in my new body. I’m going to start looking towards the future and stop trying to hold onto the past.

I’m going to forgive myself, give myself grace, and move on. I’m going to stop thinking and speaking so negatively about myself. I’m going to let go of all of the self-hatred I have been carrying for so long. Those cells are gone, no need to hate them anymore.

Hi, I’m Madison. Nice to meet you.

Me • February 2013