Category Archives: Mental Health

Fitness Wasn’t Everything


I had someone tell me once, “Fitness isn’t all there is to the world.” And, although, I knew that, I didn’t comprehend what that looked like or how does one practice that kind of lifestyle, until life told me to take a seat with a cast on.  It was during this time I learned fitness wasn’t everything in life.  Fitness no longer always became the focus for which I identified with.  That changed my perspective on everything else, and it also made room for everything else I had to deal with.

I believe fitness has helped me to manage my bipolar for over a decade.  The first time I was diagnosed I didn’t want to believe it.  I think it’s not uncommon to say that before I was diagnosed, life was better.  But, that isn’t necessarily true.  I want it to be.  However, I understand that the notion of my life being better in the past is most likely stemming from not having the diagnosis in the first place since I can’t unknow what I know.  Nevertheless, the moment when fitness became unavailable for me, it was easier to see how difficult it became to stabilize my mood swings and irritability in general.

I used fitness as a crutch for many things like anger, depression and the void.  There were times I genuinely enjoyed gym-hopping because I naturally thought it was healthier than barhopping.  But, those hourly long sessions five or six times a week at the gym were where I chose to avoid certain life reflections.  So, rather than cut myself with a blade or fracture my hand on a solid wall, I would train to injury repeatedly.  I was using a different method to continue to hurt myself.

When I couldn’t train for a period, I had to learn to sit with my passions.  I had to observe my pain and find times for when I could adjust in healthier ways.  I had to find new ways to regulate my recurring moods, triggers and symptoms.  This was one of the most difficult things I had to do, despite allowing myself to feel what I feel when they arise.  It took a long time for me to realize that not every feeling will remain and not every thought was something I had to believe in.  I also didn’t realize in the way I trained my mind and body reflected my pain, avoidance, passion, anger, sadness and loneliness.

I’ve been a queen of silent pain, abuse and trauma.  I’ve been cold and brutal many times, not only to myself, but to others as well.  Once I started to transition from a masculine approach to more of a feminine one, I learned how to become softer and not have a meltdown.  With changing my mindset, from being open to change and flow while being less critical, clarity came along with ease and it reflected in my training styles as a form of better awareness, in and out my fitness, and life itself.

-Pennington

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The Vanishing


I haven’t been in the best state of mind.  Lately, I’ve been trying to adopt different approaches such as talking gentler to myself.  My therapist says, “Try coddling yourself as you would do a young child that you actually like.”

I’m up with the moon throughout the month and down in the soil all the other times.  Occasionally, I wake up passive and on other days I wake up aggressive as fuck.  I’ve come to terms with my mood disorder.  It’s behavioral, it’s learned, it runs in the family.  A few years ago, I’ve become aware of many effects and suspected my actions may or may not have been completely me.  Things have gotten to the point where even the most basic functions of existence do not seem basic anymore.

I lost who I was.  I think this is the way it goes, right?  Aging.  I’m not sure who I am anymore, aside from a maturing woman who’s both lovely and extreme.  I must admit loudly how I’ve been working on how to manage my mood swings for years and for a good part of my life, exercise and writing have kept a slight handle on the swings, but every day the things that used to work then haven’t been working now.  I’m puzzled.

So, I’m older and in some ways, I absolutely adore it and in other ways, I don’t think I enjoy it because the short-term memory keeps failing me.  It dissolves.  I think because there’s something in the water, something in the air, you know, there are things in our food we can’t pronounce, and that shit doesn’t allow our minds, bodies or spirit to function at an elevated level.  It’s like people hit a certain age and they flatline.  I feel there’s so much working against me in general, and this goes back to how I’m not in the best state of mind.

Over the years my discipline and motivation have taken a dive, so much so, it frightens me.  There are plenty of details in between, some you guys know and others I won’t bother getting into at this time.  Still, I’ve been trying to find my new normal concerning everyday life.  I’m going back to the basics on everything and am currently on a search to reestablish some things I used to love about myself, that now feels like the vanishing of a short-term memory.

I feel like there’s a sport psychology book calling my name out there somewhere.

-Pennington

I Heart Pearl Jam


pearl jam
I’m a grunge lady, a 90’s baby.

I love anything with rock even though in the hood of where I grew up I wasn’t supposed to.  I wasn’t cool if hip-hop wasn’t the focus.  Of course, 90’s hip-hop was the best for me, too.  But, when I left my friends and their prejudices, I’d go home, crash in my room, yell-sing at the top of my lungs with all my heart and delve into the pits of my anger and depression along with Nirvana, Guns n’ Roses, Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam.

During this time, I remember enjoying Nirvana more than Pearl Jam.  I think it was partly what the media spun though:  Were you more of a Pearl Jam or Nirvana fan?  I think since I was twelve or so, Nirvana took the cake for me, especially after his death.  It rocked me to the core.  I believed I wanted to commit suicide too, just like Kurt, and I tried.

Well, fast-forward to 2001, I was living with a boyfriend at the time and he was a heavy Pearl Jam fan.  He bought their new album that came out and told me to give it a listen or three.  And it brought back memories of how I’d listen to rock music during my deepest darkest depression and write my heart out.  Once again, I was at my most miserable.

And Pearl Jam’s album entitled Riot Act became one of my many blessings in life.  Instantly, I became a Pearl Jam fan again, but this time I knew I was a fan for life because their lyrics, jam and flavor hit me in my core unlike any other band.  This album got me out of a miserable time, and it also made me go back six albums to relearn who Pearl Jam was/is, then/now.

What I love about them is they don’t change their style to fit mainstream.  They’re a 90’s band and they have done a hell of a job keeping up with sounding like a 90’s band.  There’s a lot that goes into Pearl Jam I won’t even bother to get into, but I will a little like when they went up against Ticketmaster or how they sang songs about how fucked up the Bush Administration was even though they got booed and shit thrown at them as they performed in their own concerts.

But, more than anything it’s the evolvement of the band, their songs, lyrics, personal essence, how they individually matured and yet remain collective on every album.  And, so, in turn I have grown with them and I revisit their lyrics because as I age, my perspective grows differently with each passing year.  I go back to what they’ve written, and I get it now or I get it better.  Here’s some I want to share by Pearl Jam.  I wish I can share them all, but that would be endless.

I picked out some lyrics that are dear to me because I either went through it or it resonated with me.  If you have some of your own Pearl Jam lyrics you love or song, please share them with me.  I would love to know!  Of course, I have their concert playing as I type this and sing now:  Pearl Jam Live at the Garden.  Cheers.

Pearl_Jam-Live_At_The_Garden_Bonus-Frontal

Song TitleIn My Tree:  I remember when, yeah, I was young, I swore I knew everything, let’s say knowledge is a tree, yeah, it’s growing up just like me, yeah.

Song TitleWhy Go:  She scratches a letter into a wall made of stone.  Maybe someday another child won’t feel as alone as she does.  It’s been two years and counting since they put her in this place.  She’s been diagnosed by some stupid fuck and mommy agrees.

Song TitleWishlist:  I wish I was a sacrifice but somehow still lived on.

Song TitleBetter Man:  She lies and says she’s in love with him.  Can’t find a better man.  She dreams in color.  She dreams in red.  Can’t find a better man.

Song TitleI Got Id:  My lips are shaking; my nails are bit off.  Been a month since I’ve heard myself talk.  All the advantage this life’s got on me. Picture a cup in the middle of sea.

Song TitleLove Boat Captain:  And if our lives became too long, will it add to our regret?

Song TitleLife Wasted:  Darkness comes in waves. Tell me, why invite it to stay?

Song TitleUnthought Known:  Dream the dreams of other men, you’ll be no one’s rival.  Dream the dreams of others then, you will be no one’s rival.

Song TitleI Am Mine:  The sorrow grows bigger when the sorrows denied.

Song TitleLight Years:  I’ve used hammers made out of wood.  I have played games with pieces and rules.  I undeciphered tricks at the bar. But now you’re gone, and I haven’t figured out why.

Song TitleAll or None:  Can we help that our destinations are the ones we’ve been before?

Song TitleFaithful:  We’re faithful, we all believe, we all believe it.  So faithful, we all believe, we all believe it.

Thanks for reading. 🙂

-Pennington

Under Constant Consideration 2


Under Constant Consideration Part 1

Dr. Endocrinologist referred me to a nurse educator who I believe holds dykeish (is this a word and did I spell this correctly?) qualities because she made jokes (that I didn’t think were that funny) yet blushed with tears flooding her eyes like she was on a date with me that lasted two hours according to her notes.  She even googled her address in front of me.  Then showed me the trail and mileage of when her and her daughter walked from home to school on their journey to lose additional weight. Odd, no?

Anyhow, she explained in more detail about diabetes, showed me videos and we went through the correct ways to use a One Touch Verio.  Lastly, she informs me that I can get rid of the diabetes since it’s in the early stage.  Then goes on to assume I eat white rice and beans because I’m Hispanic.  I said, “No I’m Italian, and that’s where diabetes came from; you know the pasta.”  She chuckled.  I think we left off great after that date because she said if you ever want more education, just make another appointment to come see me.

*

Then there’s this psychiatrist who’s in the wrong field for the discussion subject of choice were forever about weight loss, even though at our last session she says,”Stand up.  Oh, you have lost weight” as she orders me to step on a hippopotamus scale.  She thought it her duty to give unsolicited nutritional advice in her horrible fucking Dolph Lundgren accent:  No peas.  No carrots.  Zero carbs.  Don’t eat carbs at all.  This includes sweet potatoes!   Maybe one day when you lose all the weight you can eat carbs again.  Don’t weightlift anymore.  Weightlifting makes you bulky.  You’ll never lose weight that way.  Only cardio!  Jump.  Walk.  You know what I’m saying.

Every session felt like I watched a bad sitcom with my presence in the hot seat as this insensitive cunt tried to tell me who I was based on 3 fifteen minute conversations we engaged in.  Then she tried to question my purpose in life, inquire if I ever soul search and spoke about people who sleep past midnight aren’t normal.  She took the cake by getting angrier than I was because doctors diagnosed me diabetic and it didn’t matter if it was the beginning stages.

There were many things that amused me about her terrible character, but what got me is the fact that she works in a mental health industry yet treats (many) patients (according to many who work in the building with her) like shit and never bothers to read anyone’s chart because she believes she’s too good to do so.  The thing with putting people in boxes is it isn’t accurate even though on the surface it seems the people you deal with are all the time, which I expressed to her.  Then I never saw the cunt again.

Thank god I’m not some shrimpy insecure person.  Thank god I don’t allow other people’s opinions to affect me or my life decisions.  Thank god I’m not a newcomer and have been weightlifting for over 13 years and swear by it.  So, I’m a professional yo-yo dieter, but I’ve also had my share of steady weight loss, conditioned fitness and extra curves that come with it.  I’ve always been proud, but I believe some people want to come in your life and not necessarily lecture or cast dirty spells on you, but they want to destroy whatever good you hold for their own reasons.  I swear that’s what it is.

*

An angelic bird, close partner and an acquaintance each whispered to see a podiatrist.  Once again I had to verbally fight for a referral to see a podiatrist and prayed for the doctor to be a woman for I could use thoroughness and words of light from maternal grace.  Well, I got a woman and one of the first things she mentioned was, “If you didn’t have diabetes, your insurance wouldn’t cover the orthopedic shoe cost.”  (Life, working in mysterious ways again.)  Goes on further to say:  With the shoes, both your ankles should feel stable; you’ll be even and wobble less since you’ll have built in arches.  You’ll experience less pain as you walk.  It’ll be good for you.

What this all boils down to is I’m still under construction.  This is probably why I haven’t written much on any of these blogs lately because I’m not in the best mindset and part of me doesn’t want to display the pessimism in every single one of my entries.

It’s disappointing, this long journey I’ve been riding on, how I continuously see this trend of people (doctors, therapists, psychiatrists, endocrinologists, etc) who are in these fields to assist and inspire people to live better healthier lives physically, emotionally, mentally, etc, but fail to do so.  How is it and when does it begin for some people that a job just becomes a job and not what it was intended for?  I guess I believe in practicality and being above and beyond with sensibilities like empathetic (empath) abilities along with a higher vision for existence depending on the occupation.

Still, I don’t want to take nothing away from the two people who did give me hope of course – the dyke nurse educator and podiatrist.  The first gave me positive pep talk, smiles, and probably touched me a few times too many since she thought we were on a date, but she came off focused, direct with the right balance of sincerity, care and concern throughout.  Or maybe she was just being extra nice to me because she enjoyed my presence?  Who really knows?  It doesn’t matter because she was one of the nice ones who did her job and assisted in the best way she knew how.

As for the podiatrist, she mentioned that the good thing about my foot/ankle dilemma is it’ll get better over time, not worse.  The little that she did say carried weight.  I needed to once again get the surge back, the kind where I can remain on the optimistic wave, so I can keep fighting and more importantly never give up.

-Pennington

hiding


art-crespella
I’ve been trying to get out.
I’ve been trying to unearth the right time.
I’ve been talking to dead fish by the river.
I’ve been talking to the celestial body, reigning orb of night.
I’ve been trading places with shadows.
I’ve been in hiding.

I’ve been throwing things out.
I’ve been investigating my patience.
I’ve been talking to ducks by the Brooklyn bridge.
I’ve been talking to the brightest star, singeing god of land.
I’ve been trading in shades of light.
I’ve been in hiding.

-Pennington

Barrier Break


A year and a half ago my life changed when I fell backwards on the skateboard and my foot got caught in the back of my other leg just before my bodyweight came crashing down on it and I broke my ankle.  My life changed just because I wanted to have fun, just because I desired to take risk, just because I desired to feel emancipated.  I made a choice despite peer pressure.  I made a choice despite my beginner status.  I made a choice because of adrenaline because of confidence and that single moment changed my life in a nanosecond.

After the cast, wheelchair, crutches and learning how to walk all over again I became afraid of everything from tying my sneakers to going outside.  I also didn’t like anyone.  I felt I couldn’t relate anymore with others.  The people who I thought would be there when the chips were down weren’t even there.  So I kept myself in isolation because this felt easiest.  I wasn’t feeling the world.  During the process I questioned the world.  I debated on my entire existence.  I no longer identified with the biggest part of my life – fitness.  I only identified with healing and recovery.

So I became afraid of everything living in a repeated trauma.  The body is an amazing machine.  Still, the psychological portion is where my issue exists.  For a good amount of time I didn’t want to walk on my crutches from fear of injuring and falling again.  After the cast came off and I could walk without an extreme limp I had the problem of wanting to step in the shower because I could slip in there too.  To this day I fight through many different mental and physical barriers.  I tell myself, “I’m a warrior.  I’m fine.  I can do this.  Everything will be okay.”

But no matter how wintry or full of spring it is, going outside is another battle because stepping on or stepping off the curb sends an apprehensive trigger within.  Then in a split second an image appears with a thousand ankles all lined diagonal breaking at the same time and the bones make a big sharp crunch sound.  This is where I remain frozen.  I get lightheaded.  I feel the panic and anxiety creeping like mad ants throughout my entire body.  I stand on the sidewalk like a lost little lamb trying to hide my terror from everyone outside.  I stand under the shade for 5-20 minutes or find the nearest bench I can sit and rely on.  I try to shake it out my head like it’s the nightmare it has been for over a year plus but it’s painfully difficult.  I wonder when these fears and worries will take flight?

Time, strength, online friends, partner support and my current therapist have been by my side.  I had to break wall after concrete wall in order to get to an elevated place.  What I learned is recovery comes in different stages.  Healing takes forever and a day even with positive self-talk.  Now I have to push through a new obstacle – one I used to love doing actually – riding a bike.  Before the accident I remembered loving to cycle.  I remembered the feeling of the wind giving me foreplay all over my body with its soft breeze.  I remembered feeling like a madwoman cycling and eating down bridge after bridge like some sort of luxury freedom like a huge accomplishment.

But now I’m scared.  Once again mental preparation becomes my only way through.  Like everything else, I’ve come very far, and baby steps are how I work back to the old or with the new.

 -Pennington

MEDS


drugs

God.  I apologize to everyone.  I haven’t been inspired lately.  I write on the side when I can (and I suppose I can put up all my Part 2 postings that were to be continued despite how awful they read?), but it’s hard to feel like I can write something blog-worthy and share it with the rest of you guys.  I can only write from the heart or what I’m personally experiencing at the moment so I’ll share some recent events with you’s. How’s that?  Thanks for reading!

*

I’ve been on an interesting ride these last few years when it comes to seeing therapists and psychiatrists.  At the age of twelve I was diagnosed with Depression.  I had old features, black circles under eyes, razor cuts on my arms and protruding ribs from starving myself at the time to show for it.  However, decades later it seemed I’ve graduated a few years ago (2013) because now new psychiatrists and therapists have diagnosed me: Bipolar.  This explains all the wicked instant mood swings, triggers that were really landmines and how come many of my relationships as well as friendships have failed.

Of course I debated with these so-called experts about nature and nurture because I’m suspicious of everything and everyone that isn’t me.  I debated about all the things that come from my family’s blood and all the things that come from social disease and conditioning.  Still, in the center I fought with myself and knew the truth: There were cracks in the instances and in between all these instances is where I was getting worse.

I’d go into subterranean dark places for leisure, fun and to isolate myself from the world.  I’d write in essays, poems and prose my suicidal ideations which continued from childhood.  I’d meet with a new friend called anxiety again and again and again questioning the past, present and future concerning everything that became (or was) broken.  Was I going to make it another day in this physical realm? My other good friend (since I was 5) came knocking hard on my door and I’d go through all my cycles of chronic loneliness, hopelessness and meaninglessness and stare at the bottomless grief that arrives to taint and place a million holes in my mind, spirit and heart.

Those cracks in the instances became clear as well as my past history when I was going through one of my most tragic experiences at the age of 12 – signed over to two mental hospitals for over six months – I was fed medication for the supposed imbalances in my brain.  First was Prozac, and then came Lithium.  And of course, I didn’t agree with medication being fed to anyone less than 18 years of age, but my mother didn’t share the same views as her 12 year old.  I had zero control as any kid does at that age and was subjected to doctor’s tests, special diets, wondering what was love and how did it look like and was it true I wasn’t normal and these two medications would be the cure everybody else was looking for?

Prozac made me hyper – so hyper that cartwheels became my favorite thing to perform.  I couldn’t stop!  However throughout the day I’d have hallucinations (of what? I don’t remember anymore – but I’m sure I wrote about it in a lost book for the universe to know) and during the night when I closed my eyes to go to sleep I’d have white flashes come over my eyes like strobe lights.  And when I finally fell into deep sleep, the nightmares were horrible – once I dreamt of giving birth to a demonic alien baby.  (Why would a 12 year old dream of having a baby?)

After the hyperactivity, doctors thought to give me Lithium because my grandmother took it and they had reason to believe it succeeded. (I’m not sure how?)  But something tells me this was all a plot for me to lie on their silver platter to undergo a Spinal Tap procedure.  Lithium had its own issues and the dosage was higher – I had to take it 3 times a day.  With this medication came weekly blood work because mercury and other dangerous things a doctor wouldn’t inform you about were concerns. Then there were countless yeast infections my tiny body couldn’t handle.  Lastly, long-term usage meant my kidney and thyroid would be altered, better yet, damaged to a degree in the future.

So every time a current psychiatrist or therapist would bring up the idea of medication to balance the chemicals in my brain – it’s not a wonder why I would say FUCK NO for years on end!  But a few months ago before bringing on the New Year, I made one of the biggest decisions of my adult life and figured I’ll try medication to stabilize my moods and prevent sudden manic highs and lowly lows.  The reason why I decided to try it is because I’m committed to fixing all aspects of myself.

Then again, who’s to say I need fixing if it’s not someone outside me like a relative, a partner or a societal authoritative figure who keeps claiming there’s something about me I need to fix?

 

To be continued.

-Hall