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. ❤

Remember Ebola?

The following cartoons are all 6 years old. Anything look familiar to 2020?

The signs are all around you. Watch for them.

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

My Journey from Religion to Spirituality ☮☯️

When I was a child, I went to a very prestigious “non-denominational” Catholic grade school.I was not put in this school for the religion, I was put in this school because with this school, I would have an incredibly easy life and future set for me, if I was anyone else 😂. But I’m no one but myself, so here’s what I’ve gathered along my journey.

RELIGION – Catholic & Christian

Religion is defined as: “the belief and WORSHIP of a “superhuman” CONTROLLING power, especially a PERSONAL God or gods.”

Synonymn: a cult.

The Catholic religion is focused primarily on the Old Testament – put the fear of God into the youth. They also live by these ten rules called the “Ten Commandments.” Do not rape is not one of those ten commandments, but you better not say the word “God” incorrectly. 🙄🤬I do not ever remember hearing that God loved me, but I very much remember regularly being told I was going to “hell” over minor things like my clothing choice or music selection, questioning the things that didn’t add up, or overall being a “sinner”.I very much remember being called a “sinner” and sent to additional confessions to get my “sins” out of me.
I only remember hearing about Jesus on Easter and Christmas. It was more about “God the Father.”My mother has told me a little about her own Catholic experience. She was required to fundraise for babies who are in “purgatory” because they died before Jesus could take their “original sin” away with baptism. 😲 I asked her who got the money, since it was already too late for these babies? She didn’t know.I do not believe in sin, heaven, or hell. I became an Atheist while reading the Bible in grade school. My grade school Bible was filled with highlighted versus of pro-misogyny, pro-racism, pro-violence and death, pro-beating children into submission, pro-beating women, pro-rape, and pro-hatred of everyone but themselves. I still cannot read the Old Testament without being filled with immense hatred. I have nothing positive to say about the Catholic religion.Fast forward to age 24 when I met my now-husband. He was adopted into a family of Evangelical Christians. I’m the real black sheep 🐑.
I refuse to let my children be raised in religion, and since I married into it, I became obsessed with “finding Jesus,” so that I would possibly understand how to navigate the constant battles in my home over religion. You can’t fight something you don’t understand, so I began reading the Bible.I purchased myself a She Reads Truth Bible so that it was pretty enough to WANT to read, had messages from other women explaining the “context” so I wasn’t reading “out of it,” and was in layman’s terms. I wanted a fresh start that wasn’t already decided to be a book of evil.The Christian religion focuses primarily on the New Testament, so I started there. This is where Jesus enters.So what I’ve gathered about Jesus is that he is the son of God, but still God because they are one? In my mind I see God as an authoritarian dad with a major anger problem that takes punishment to an extreme (Republican), and then Jesus is the rebel child that is like, “move along, pops, your days are done” (Democrat).He self-sacrifices himself to forgive the “sin” on Earth so that everyone has a free pass to do whatever they want under “free will” (your fate is already determined for you in the Christian religion because “God” has already written the story of you) and as long as at the end of the day they accept him and his dad, they will still go to this magical land in the sky called “heaven.”Heaven is a place where people are literally dying to get in 😂 (pun intended). It is not a place that I have ever spent fantasizing about. Its not a place I have ever wanted to go. It sounds overpopulated and very bland and boring. How could everyone be satisfied in the same place in death, while being completely unsatisfied with everyone while being earth-side? Everyone will just magically get along now that they are dead? Why are you not fighting for everyone to get along here, while we are already together?I hear people sit and talk about how amazing “heaven” is going to be, while talking about how awful life and the planet is, then say to let God take care of the problems, while choosing to ignore them themselves while waiting for others to solve the world’s problems for them, and thats not something I can accept in my heart, mind, or soul. I don’t want to go to heaven, but if you want me in your heaven, by all means have me there, because it’s your heaven.Back to Jesus. He tells us that all “sinners” are forgiven. He tells us not to use religion as a way to make money. He tells us not to store earthly treasures. He tells us to give what we have instead of hoarding for ourselves. He tells us to love and accept everyone, especially “sinners.”That’s all cool, I can dig it. I can see how he gained a following. I just wish his followers would hold themselves to as high of a standard of following that as they push upon the “non-believers.”A friend recently said to me, “I see a lot of humans, but very little humanity.” That is how I see the “Christian” religion. I hear great messages, I see very, very little action. (Message and action do no align)

CROSSROADS

Crossroads Church based in Cincinnati, Ohio is where I began forming my own beliefs.Crossroads does not classify as “Christians,” but rather, “spiritual warriors.” Their slogan is “Be the Church.”Crossroads lives out Jesus’ message through action, rather than just talking about it.

They DO collect money at services.

This money:
  • Provides free housing and meals to the homeless and those in addiction, as well as rehabilitation services and reintegration into society, including a culinary school to help criminals find careers.
  • Paid off $46.5 million in medical debt for people who do not even attend their church.
  • Provided* (pre-coronavirus) free coffee (& hot chocolate in the winter), not only during services, but Monday- Friday for anyone who needed a hot cup and someone to talk to, any time.
  • Provides free shows to the public, an extraordinary kids club, a spiritual camp, various free support groups, free events for the public, among many other things.
You can find their Financial Philosophy here.In the Spring and Summer, they clean up the community as a church. They tend to gardens, fix up damaged buildings, clean up litter, etc. They ask for nothing and supply everyone with breakfast and water. They believe in giving back however and whenever possible.In the Fall and Winter, they host the largest food drives. They did a huge free Christmas show which has now been moved to Broadway. They did Angel Trees and supplied Christmas gifts to many indigent families.In my experience, Crossroads is made up mostly of people who have endured religious abuse as children. It is a place to heal. It is a place to come as you are, however you are dressed, whatever you believe, or don’t, and be accepted and loved. No fear, just love. It is a place that is fighting to change the world and put an end to religious abuse and show the world they are spreading the wrong messages. Both message and action fully align.

BUDDHISM

Buddhism is NOT a religion. There is no “god.” It is a way of life. Buddhists believe in the Three Universal Truths and the Four Noble Truths.

Three Universal Truths

  • Everything in life is impermanent and always changing
  • Possession of material items or relationships will not make you happy.
  • • “Self” is a collection of changing characteristics or attributes.

Four Noble Truths

  • Human life has a lot of suffering.
  • The cause of suffering is greed.
  • There is an end to suffering
  • The way to end suffering is to follow the “Middle Path.
“The “Middle Path” is not living a life of luxury and indulgence, but not one of too much fasting or hardship. It is where you will find nirvana.

Buddhists believe and practice:

  • compassion over selfishness
  • tell the truth, avoid abusive speech and gossip
  • help others, don’t harm living things, take care of our Earth
  • do useful work (farming, florist, creative, librarian, teacher, etc.) and avoid work that causes harm (police, prisons, politicians, taxation, meat industry, etc.)
  • encourage positive thoughts, discouraged destructive thoughts
  • be self aware – think and feel for yourself
  • calm the mind, open the heart
I became interested in Buddhism when I was in rehab for the first time at 18 years old. I find it productive and aware, and the true path to happiness and world peace.

SPIRITUALITY

Spirituality is a personal relationship with your divine creator. It is your own personal set of beliefs, from what you have gathered on your own journey. It is taking what you personally believe, and ditching the rest. It is a physical connection with our earth and space. It is a path meant for you and your steps alone.
  • I do not believe in a “man in the sky.” – I believe that “GOD” is an acronym for Good Orderly Direction. Be a better person than I was yesterday. Do good deeds for the sake of being kind, rather than an “eternal reward.” I believe in being a good person.
  • I believe that it is abuse to put the fear of “God” or any adult figure into children. I believe it is abuse to beat children into submission and obedience. I believe it is wrong to strip rights and holidays from children in the name of religion. I believe it is wrong to hate in the name of religion.
  • I do not believe in “heaven” or “hell.” I also do not believe in a “devil.” – I believe in reincarnation. When I die, I want to be cremated and blown into glass jewelry and given to each of my children.
  • I do not believe that the Bible can accurately be viewed as historical facts. I do not believe in the “Ark.” I do not believe in talking snakes. I do believe in facts over beliefs.🤷🏼‍♀️
  • I believe that material items are of no worth because they will not come with me in death. I believe in giving freely to others. I’ve had it all & sold it all, and none of it made a difference- I am still here living. Do not live in greed. Do not support fast fashion. Buy second hand and support local artists over corporations.
  • I believe that I am responsible for my own actions. My actions are not out of “sin” or any other entity. I believe that ignorance is not an excuse or defense. I do not believe in “sin.” I do not believe in “sinful” thoughts. I believe in action.
  • I believe that men and women have individual skill sets. I enjoy the idea of men and women gods. I agree that if you are saved in death, it’s too late.
  • I believe in receiving signs from loved ones who have left Earth-side.
  • I believe in living a Buddhist lifestyle.
  • I believe in living Jesus’ message, but through a Buddhist mindset.
  • I believe that the Earth is the greatest gift. Always take care of it and make it beautiful. Pick up litter. Plant gardens. Live sustainably. Always recycle. Leave it better than you found it.
  • I choose to live a plant-based lifestyle because I believe in not hurting living things.
  • I enjoy horoscopes, astrology, tarot, crystals, and the idea of communicating with spirits from the other-side.
  • I believe that no human is illegal. I believe that people are born gay and that is a beautiful thing to be. I believe in pro-choice. I believe in freedom of expression. I believe in fighting social injustice. I believe in change.
  • I believe Jesus was probably a pretty cool dude. It’s not his fault his dad was the way he was, unless they are in fact one, then 🤷🏼‍♀️.

Freedom of Speech

“Some people’s idea of free speech is that they are free to say anything they like, but if anyone says anything bad, that is an outrage” – Winston Churchill

My fight against the government began when I was 7 years old and I learned the term “parental advisory.”

The pure hypocrisy of teaching children about “freedom of speech” while turning around and telling those say children that they are “not allowed” to use “bad words” is something that I will never understand.

• What even is a “bad word?”
• Who gets to decide which words are “bad” words?
• Are YOU actually “offended” by a “bad” word, or have you been spewing nonsense about “bad words” because that was what you were conditioned to believe?
• Have you ever actually thought about whether you are even offended or not?
• Do you use any “bad words?”
• If you answered yes, were also conditioned to “do as I say, not as I do?”

You either HAVE freedom of speech, or you DON’T. There is no inbetween. Pick and stick, don’t be a hypocrite.

HAVING freedom of speech and CHOOSING to use “bad words” are two entirely different things.

Give your child the right to use their freedom of speech AND guide them to choose to use kind words because kindness matters.

Give your child freedom of speech AND explain that what they say cannot be forgotten, only forgiven, and to choose their words wisely.

Give your children freedom of speech AND explain why others could be offended by “bad words.”

Give your children freedom of speech AND explain that “bad” is not a fair characterist of words. Words can be hateful. Words can be hurtful. Words can be offensive. Words can be kind. Words can be healing. Words can be misunderstood. Words can be powerful. Words can be persuasive. Words can be uncomfortable. Words can be out of ignorance. Words can be many things, but “bad” is not one of them.

Freedom of speech is a basic human right that ALL deserve, adults & children alike. Showing them how they use their words kindly & wisely is your job as a parent. Just because they have the right to use “bad words,” doesn’t mean they will. But don’t teach them that they have freedom of speech if you aren’t willing to give them that.

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