Tag Archives: struggle

A Piece of Me Dies

There are few things in my life that I’m proud of. My life has been a hard one. I grew up poor surrounded by drugs, alcohol, and parties. As an adult, I pride myself on being a decent mother, fairly intelligent, and a strong Zumba fitness instructor. This last year has brought everything I had been proud of shattering around me.

One: not being able to give my children the things they want to “fit in.” Recently my 10 year old daughter attended a birthday party where her 10 year old friend received an iPhone 6. I then had to watch my daughter cry silently as I explained that she wasn’t old enough for such technology. She does have a tablet, which was not a gift from me, but suddenly that’s not good enough for her. She wants to fit in. She wants to have an iPhone like so many of her friends. I stand by my decision on her not being old enough, but what about other trendy items? I can’t afford wardrobes from trendy stores like Old Navy, The Gap or P.S. by Aeropostale. Sadly my girls wear clothes from Wal-Mart of K-Mart. More often than not, their sneakers come from the same stores, or from Pay Less. Even though they choose their own wardrobes, a part of me dies inside that I can’t at least give them name brand clothes and sneakers. I see many of their classmates wearing Uggs, another item I will not buy because of how fast they are growing. But if I had the money to constantly replace the boots, I would buy them for my babies in a heart beat. They’re unable to participate in sports not only because of start up fees, but the fact that I work nights and cannot transport them. They’re unable to play an instrument in the school band because I cannot afford the instrument rental. I know many people will tell me that all of these things are trivial, but the truth is that they’re not. These things are important in a child’s life, especially the sports and musical activities. And when I have to tell my babies that they can’t do the same activities their friends are doing, a piece of me dies.

Two: realizing I’m not as intelligent as I think I am. Currently I am in my third semester of college. Each semester I have found myself in tears due to struggling with my academic load, and honestly it’s not a heavy one. I’d always been a good student through elementary and high school, but 10 years later I find myself on the tail end of everything. I sit in my biology class twice a week struggling to follow along. My professor’s words could just as easily be in German for all that I am able to understand. I look around the room at my fellow classmates who don’t appear to be having the same issue. They participate actively and ask questions in the same German language while I desperately listen for some small shred of the English language I’ll be able to jot down for later use. Perhaps I’m not as intelligent as I thought I was…perhaps I waited too long to return to the world of education.  I’m a receptionist at a gym and I teach Zumba fitness classes…not exactly positions I can make a living out of. I’m unable to go into the military because I’m a mother. College is, sadly my only option, but I’m afraid I won’t make it to graduation. A part of me died when I realized I’m not longer able to keep up.

Three: watching my Zumba career go down the drain. A little over three years ago I decided to get licensed, not to teach, but to have access to amazing events that only instructors could attend. I was pushed into teaching, but sadly I still have not been to any of the fantastic events I’ve longed to go to. When I first started teaching, I considered myself to be good. And I felt wanted. I was always a part of something, whether it be performing in a Zumba event or substituting for another instructor. Suddenly I am not an outcast. Only 3 or 4 instructors ask me to cover their classes and when I do I’m lucky if any students show up. A piece of me dies when only 2 people show up to a class I’m teaching. I’m rarely asked to do an event outside of any I’ve started or help start. The lack of interest hurts. People have posted hurtful things about my class on social media and it affects me…very deeply. I have my true friends who will say nice things to lift my spirits, but I can’t help but wonder what I’ve done wrong. Why am I so alienated? I’m currently on a break from teaching, and am unsure if I’ll return. The honest truth that many people will not notice or care kills of piece of me. I had Zumba dreams after teaching for the first time. But as with every other aspect of my life, I do not have the money to turn my dreams to reality.

It’s said that money can’t buy happiness. Maybe that’s true. But more often than not the people who make that statement are financially sound, and that is a fact. They may not be rich, but they are comfortable. They do not understand what not having money does to a person. They do not understand what it’s like to have a negative balance in their bank account. They do not understand what it’s like to live on hot dogs, noodles, and frozen pizzas. They do not understand what it’s like to have a piece of their spirit die.

I’m rebuilding my life…but so much of me has died.


The Ugly Truth

In 2013 my physician suggested that I see a therapist. I did not do this. I didn’t see how expressing everything that bothered me to a complete stranger would fix any of my problems; because it wouldn’t. The truth is that I’m sick. The thoughts that haunt me aren’t something that simply talking about can ever fix. These thoughts aren’t something that medication can hide; I know because I’ve tried. So instead I turn to writing…and you; the reader of this blog. 

I hate myself. Not like those girls who squeal about hating their hair, face, clothes…whatever. I honestly hate myself. It goes beyond physicality. I wish I was a completely different person. I wish I was a different person living a different life a different way. This is the first time I’ve ever confessed this to anyone…not even my fiance knows that I feel this way…until now. This is the worst feeling a person can ever possibly experience. Let’s face it: we don’t live in fairy tales. There are no fairy God mothers or genies to ease our pain or change our lives. And while we can change our physical appearance, status in society, and the level of comfort in which we live, we cannot change the way our minds behave. I can’t anyway. For years I’ve battled with being content with myself, but I’ve never been able to achieve it. Even when these ghosts are quiet, the smallest thing can set them a blaze. For example, seeing a peer from elementary school that I had idolized. 

Sometimes instead of wishing to be a different person, I wish I had made different life choices. Made different friends. Had been more active in school activities.  Been better at sports. Basically had done everything in the complete opposite way than I had. Maybe if I had stayed within the popular circles instead of settling in where I thought I belonged…with the below average, the trouble makers. I grew up poor so I assumed I could never “belong” to a higher crowd. That I wasn’t worthy of them. I know now that it’s not true. I was well liked in school. I pretty much created my demise. I dropped out of any clubs and sports team I joined because I never felt like I was good enough and I was just dragging every one else down. Where did those thoughts even come from? I never had any one telling me I wasn’t good enough or smart enough or pretty enough. I told MYSELF these things. This is what sick minds do. 

The reality is I can’t change who I am and I can’t become a different person. Even if time travel did exist and I was able to go back, I wouldn’t know what I know now so I’d most likely make the same choices all over again. So either way I’d probably be exactly where I am now. Once in a while I’ll try to convince myself that everything happens for a reason and if I hadn’t made certain choices in my past I wouldn’t be where I am now. The problem is that I’m not happy where I am now. To me it’s a lose-lose situation. I have no reason to not want the life I have or to feel the way I do about myself…but it’s still there. Every day it’s there. 

So what’s the solution? What’s the answer? How do I move on from this. I can’t. This is a struggle I will always battle. Darkness is a powerful thing. It can drown out even the brightest light if it so desires. I live in darkness. Sometimes there are stars that light my way, but even they aren’t as strong as I’d like. Sometimes I’m afraid of myself and wonder how I can live out the rest of my life with these issues…with this sickness. But…what other choice do I have?

Lacking Motivation

You know what my problem is? Motivation. A severe lack of motivation. I’m not happy with my body right now because of a 30 pound weight gain caused by a medication. I’m now off the meds, but instead of being insanely driven to get back in shape, I’m just depressed over it. I’ve been trying to get myself in gear but I feel like I’ve been failing more than succeeding. I’m sure it doesn’t help that my stress levels are extra high. I need to get my act together.

I find it disturbing how situations in life can affect me so hard. Weight has always been a HUGE issue for me(no pun intended). In 2008 I weighed in at 232 pounds; I’m five foot five so it wasn’t pretty. I decided I needed to make a change. I got involved with different fitness programs: Zumba, running, Zumba toning, pilates, Urban Strip & Fit, and even Richard Simmons. After a year of actively participating in all of these, I successfully dropped 50 pounds. I wasn’t skinny, I was FIT. I was so proud of myself! I kept up my workout regime and eventually got my weight down to 155 pounds. I had muscle definition, including my abdominals. Not bad for a mom of two who opted to lose weight “the hard way” as opposed to surgery. I didn’t necessarily diet, but I did practice portion control. After hitting that weight loss goal, I didn’t give up on working out. I kept it up to keep it off.

Fast forward to 2013. I was working as a manager in a fast-paced, customer service business. There were never any breaks or time of peace and I was working 45-50 hours a week. I was burnt out and getting run down. After suffering a nervous breakdown while on duty(highly embarrassing by the way), my doctor recommended I give an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication a try. I obliged, and was surprised at how controlled my moods became. My stress levels dropped and situations that were out of my control didn’t bother me as much as they used to. However, over the next year I noticed that my weight slowly began to climb. I began increasing my workouts and changing the way I ate, but my weight continued to rise. It was devastating and my depression began to return. Sort of ironic since I was on medication for that problem. When I finally hit a 30 pound gain I went back to my doctor. She admitted that a side effect of my meds was weight gain. Holy. Shit. I was furious. Being overweight depresses me so why would my doctor put me on something that would make me gain weight? I just couldn’t have it. I had quit my job a few months before this visit so I felt confident about my self control to come off of the medication.

I’ve been off of these pills for about two months. My weight is currently fluctuating because I’ve been inconsistent with my workouts and eating. My drive is gone. There are other aspects in my life which are adding stress, such as financial issues and decisions about my fitness career, which probably aren’t helping my focus. I need to find a way to get myself together and find a balance. I won’t be happy if I stay at the weight I’m at now, which is 189 pounds. Being an overweight fitness instructor isn’t appealing. People tell me I look fine, but I know they don’t mean it. Sometimes people just feel obligated to be encouraging. I know eventually that little switch in my brain will flip and I’ll be back on my fitness journey. The waiting is driving me mad. 

My Dark Side

The death of Robin Williams has affected me so deeply. It’s strange be sad over someone you’ve never met. I’ve had moments where I’ve cried over the loss of this amazing man. Learning that Robin Williams suffered from mental disorders hit me in the chest. I know exactly how he must have felt. I’ve been in those dark moments when choices are made. I’ve hated myself. I’ve wished for release.

My name is Amy and I suffer from depression and anxiety. For the first time I’m going to tell my story. Judgments are NOT welcome here. Comments aren’t needed. This is just to hopefully open the eyes of those who overlook the silent struggles.

When I was 7, I used to visit a friend every day to play. I noticed that I looked at her differently than I should…I noticed there was something “wrong” with me. Throughout our many play dates, and play dates with other female friends, I realized that I was attracted to them. At 7 years old I knew I was a lesbian…I didn’t now the word for me then, but I still knew I liked girls the way I should have liked boys. Don’t roll your eyes. People don’t CHOOSE to be gay…we are BORN this way. When I was 13 I had my first sexual experience with a girl. It was one of the toughest moments in my life. How could I want something that was considered wrong?

I found myself in a secret relationship with that girl until I went to high school. There weren’t any other openly gay people in my high school…none that I met anyway. I had also been accepted by the “popular kids” and didn’t want to do anything to mess that up. So I started dating a guy. He would later be the father of my daughters. My relationship with him was off and on for 5 years. He didn’t treat me well but I couldn’t blame him since he knew I wanted to be with girls. He was abusive…not physically but mentally. The scars aren’t any different.

When I was 17, I learned I was pregnant. I was on birth control but as we all know it’s only 98% effective. Guess who was in the 2%? As I tried to accept what I’d just learned, 10 years of hiding myself and the choices I’d wished I had made came crashing down on me. I suffered a massive nervous breakdown on the bathroom floor of my grandparents house. I had to be hospitalized. I did not want to be a mom. I did not want to be with a man. I laid in the hospital bed waiting for the doctor to come in as my mom whispered hateful things in my ear. She told me I was too lie about what was wrong with me. I was not to tell the doctors I didn’t want my baby. She told me I had to knock it off. As a result of this first hospital visit and the keeping of more secrets, I spent my pregnancy being hospitalized due to recurring nervous breakdowns. I was scared about what would happen to me. I felt disgusted with myself for not wanting to be a mom.

When Cadence was born, my life changed. I was confused, happy and sad all at the same time. I ended up suffering from postpartum depression. If my sisters and Cadence’s grandmother(his mom) hadn’t been there to help me in that first year…well I don’t even want to think about what might have happened. I eventually got myself together and became a real mom. But I hated myself. Hated myself for not being true to me. Hated myself for not taking care of me. Hated myself for the way I had felt about my beautiful baby. Hated myself for not being prettier, skinnier, braver. The nervous breakdowns stopped…but anxiety attacks began. They were small but still scary.

My life over the next 3 years is a blur most of the time. I still struggled to find myself. I still wasn’t able to break free of Cadence’s dad. Still hating myself and ashamed of everything in my life that I felt was out of my control. I then found myself in a very familiar position: pregnant. For three months I debated over what I was going to do. This is the first time I’ve ever admitted this publicly: Corrina was almost just a memory. I am not proud of those moments. When I look at her now I wonder how I could have even had those horrible thoughts. But if you’ve never been a lesbian in a relationship with a man because that’s what you’re “supposed” to do…then I don’t expect you to understand. And that’s ok. This is for me…not you.

Fast forward to two years later. I found myself in a relationship with a woman. It was great. I felt like this was where I was supposed to be. At 21 years old I worked up the nerve to “come out.” My friends weren’t surprised. They all had their suspicions. Breathe. Then I told my mother, who also said she had her suspicions. Breathe. Nobody cared that I was a lesbian. A weight should had been lifted off of my chest, but their acceptance made me wish I had came out sooner. The anxiety attacks returned. I hated myself again. Almost a year later my relationship fell apart. I wasn’t the one she loved. She loved another…lived with another..had a life with another. The darkness returned with a vengeance. I suffered a nervous breakdown for the first time in 4 years. My babies laid with me while I cried over something I couldn’t tell them about. They hugged and kissed me and told me they loved me. That’s true love: comforting someone even when you have no idea what’s wrong.

After spending years of bouncing from house to house, I finally moved into my own apartment. Just me and my babies. It was one of the happiest days of my life. No one telling me what to do. No one judging me. I was free. Free to make my own choices and do things my way. It was scary living on my own. There were nights when I would cry myself to sleep. But I was doing it. I was working full time. Paying my own bills. Taking care of my children.

I hadn’t been looking for anything, but I once again found myself in a relationship with a woman. She was fun, a hard worker, loved kids. I allowed myself to put time into this. We would visit each other at work, have lunch/dinner dates or just spend time at my house. Then one night, almost 6 months into this, she drops a bomb on me: she was married. I felt sick. How could I let myself end up in this situation? How could I not know? The anxieties returned. Once again I found myself in that dark place. I cried over my stupidity. I hated myself once again. Maybe if I was prettier, in better shape, a gold star lesbian…maybe everything would have been different…better.

Wawa was the company I was working for. After spending 2 years in the Millville area, I was shipped down to a store on route to the shore. Ugh. What a disaster it was. The store was super busy. The crew was super slow. The combination just didn’t work. I found myself working over time and double time to make up for what my lacking crew couldn’t do. It was exhausting. The anxiety attacks started to return. My stress levels were super high. The only positive thing about this store was Misha. She worked there during the day. Even though she wasn’t exactly my type, I found myself attracted to her. I needed a connection wit someone. I still don’t now how I convinced this amazing girl to spend a night with me, but I’ glad she did. We hit it off. What I thought was going to be a one time thing turned into the best relationship of my life. She was there. She was nice to me. She accepted everything about me. She was the first person I ever told my entire, horrible story to and she didn’t even bat an eyelash. Mish accepted me just as I was…completely broken…and she loved me anyway.

I’ve only suffered one other nervous breakdown in the past 2 years and it was the day I left Wawa. Enough had just been enough. I was crying so hard I was hyperventilating by the time I got home. Mish and my girls were waiting for me. They told me it would all be ok. That we would figure it out.  And somehow we have. I’ve found myself very blessed.

This is not a fairy tale. Every day is a struggle for me. I have no self esteem. I’m insecure and have no faith in myself. I have to talk myself off the edge every single day. I have to convince myself that everything happens for a reason and if I hadn’t made mistakes in my life, I wouldn’t have received the blessings. I smile publicly. I smile every day when people are watching. I’ve become a master at putting on a show. But inside the walls of my house, I am in a dark place. And while I work to get out of the darkness, I thank God every day for the people in my life. You all know who you are. The ones who post on my FB or send me a text message just to check in or the ones who’ve come to my rescue when life was kicking my ass. To you these things may seem trivial, but to someone like me these gestures make the difference between up and down.

I’m not sharing this for pity. I don’t need anyone feeling bad for me. This story is for awareness. If you think someone is struggling, reach out to them. Ask your friends if they’re ok. Send them a message just to say “hi.” You never know the struggle another person may be going through. We all have our silent demons. We’re never alone. Sometimes we just need to be reminded.