Heart to Heart

I have been blessed, and I have been cursed. Life is a double edged sword.

In my life I have had the amazing experience of a strong, loyal and fiercely connected family. It has been a blessing unlike anything I could ever put into words.

But it’s also a curse to love so many people.

When you are capable of deep empathy, the more people you love, the more joy and pain you are destined to feel. I am not angry over my aunts death anymore, but I feel like I walk around with a whole in my heart and soul.

My family is my heart. My family is my world. When they leave this life, they take a piece of my heart with them because we are connected heart to heart.

I have experienced exponential loss in my 33 years, but they all hurt in a different way. I lost my cheerleader in Aunt Joanne. I lost my night owl who would comfort me when I couldn’t sleep in a 3 hour conversation about life and nothing specific.

I wouldn’t have been any better off if she died from any other cause besides the Coronavirus, but I would have had the chance to hug her and let myself be hugged by her one more time. The simple comforts of a hug can change a lot about how you experience the loss of someone you love.

Life doesn’t feel the same at all without her, but I know where she is and how much the Lord must enjoy her. I know we enjoyed her so much.

Rest In Peace. You gave me so many reasons to believe in me. 🙏 I love you

Deafening Defeat…

My anger quelled today. I realized a number of things that were flawed in my thought process about my aunt dying at the hands of the pandemic.

The magic that I believed in was tested and I feel like I partially failed at that test. Here’s what I learned.

Anger is Part of the Normal Grieving Process

My anger was bad, but it was part of my personal grieving process. Had I acknowledged that fact, I would have come out of it a lot faster.

When you lose someone you deem special, and they go so fast that you feel like you barely even had a moment to digest what was happening before the outcome, it is frustrating. I will always miss her laughter as well as the fun conversations we would have. This is hard to accept because I really enjoy her jovial personality and all the amazing times I have had with her. Knowing it won’t happen again, gives me a loss of control which is frustrating and enraging to me.

You Can Have Trust or Control…

I did a bible study a few weeks ago that had never left me. The Bible study devotional said:

“Nothing is going to happen without me being forewarned and prepared to face it.

The problem, however, is that trust and control do not coexist. You can have control or you can have trust, but you can’t have both.”

YouVersion Bible App

Reading this really opened my eyes to some truth I never realized. I have spent my life thinking I was trusting when truly I was forcing myself to be controlling of each situation in hopes I could navigate the outcome somehow. I am now making a conscious effort to be more trusting.

I have to tell you, choosing to trust is a more beautiful way to live. Living with trust over control is also one of the most challenging things I have ever had to do. I didn’t realize how much effort it is to change an adherent quality of myself until I started making an effort.

With all that being said, by honoring my journey to choosing trust over control, I have quelled the anger of my aunts passing by remembering that I have to trust that this was meant to happen.

Additionally, a conversation with my aunt B. opened my eyes to how being inquisitiveness doesn’t always serve us. Sometimes you have to accept the intricacies of human existence as it is because you cannot change the past. Why question what happened when it all worked out as it should? (But I suck at this because I need answers when frankly there aren’t always answers readily available.)

Love is The Beginning & Love is the End

The last thing that helped stop the angry and frustrated thinking was remembering that I loved aunt Joanne. I loved her like a mother figure, like someone who believed in me with fierce loyalty no matter what I did. I never felt as if I deserved that level of faith, but if she was capable of that for me, don’t I owe her my loving support in her departure?

Love begot the world, and love will be there in the end. She was loved and maybe she didn’t hear it enough, but at the end, we made sure she knew how loved she truly was. We comforted her with our voices while she laid in a coma, telling her how much she meant to us. I will never be able to thank God enough for that.

The pandemic is terrible. Many people are dying alone. It’s enraging and devastating, but please try to take a moment to pray that God is opening his gates to all these souls, even if they haven’t had the chance to come to Him before dying.

I could never believe anyone is unworthy of the love of our Lord, no matter what the Bible or religious leaders teach. The Jesus I have come to know is so full of love that there is no way he would leave even the worst of us to burn in some hell fire. That love from Jesus makes the anger within me feel less severe.

I didn’t intend on turning this post into a religious one, but when death, grief and loss are involved, it’s hard not to share faith and belief.

Today I am grateful I found a way to let go of my pain and anger. The feelings are still raw and the wounds deep, but I know that I can’t be angry forever. Thank you all for not judging me as I ranted about my disgust and rage yesterday. I am only imperfectly human and the shock crippled me.

Rest In Peace my sweet Aunt Joanne. You are loved everywhere you go and missed deeply. Your loss is not what I would have ever wanted, but I’m eternally grateful to have had you in my life, to have had your love, and your faith in me. Rest easy my angel. 🙏

If I Shall Die Before I Wake…

People are sick.

People are dying.

My family barely braced for the loss of my aunt Joanne, before she was gone faster than a speeding train.

I am feeling the pain, agony and desperation of loss in the air and it’s suffocating me. I feel like each death is leaving its mark on me.

Death is a part of life. I know that but why does someone have to die alone?

I just hate life today and I hate this whole fucking Covid situation. I have always had trouble doing this goodbye thing. My stomach is in knots, I can’t sleep because I loath nothing more than grief. I don’t do well in situations that are fast moving. It’s the one thing about faith I have struggled with.

Today I am struggling to understand why I am forced to say good bye to someone who is so special to me. It’s making my heart really heavy. I feel about as useless as I can feel. I hate feeling useless, and I hate saying good bye. So I won’t do it.

For you aunt Joanne, I say my final “oh Haaa.”

Strength is a Curse

Where do the Strong People Go to Fall Apart? Where do I lean when my whole entire life is ripping at the seams? Where do I cry? How do I cry? How do I feel joy? Where is the joy in the world when everyone leans on you?

I’m falling down, but no one sees me, no one notices it. They all believe my strength will save me. This time I don’t know what to do, who to turn to, who to talk to, what to feel or even what to think. My insides are hurting, my whole body is drained from fighting off the anger, the pain and the stress of everyone else around me. I’m so tired.

Being strong is a curse. It’s a curse because you know you have to be the leader, the one who has to break themselves in half to help the people who can’t see that you are doing them a favor.

Being strong means you have to be capable of handling heartache and sadness in a raw and miserable way. You have to hear how you are an asshole for hurting someone when you are trying to help someone be the best version of themselves while also trying to give them the best version of you.

Being strong means you have to be comfortable being alone in your pain because no one will be able to handle the pain you carry. Even if you just lean on them slightly, you will crush a person who isn’t meant to carry the load you are meant to carry.

Being strong means you have to shovel shit, while shoveling more shit and then keep shoveling even when your arms are begging for a break.

Being strong means you have to cry to yourself because your break down is more comparable to an atomic bomb exploding and wrecking everything in its path.

Being strong means giving others your positive energy even when you need it. This is because just some of your strength can move mountains for those with less strength.

Being strong means you will attract people who are weaker because they need you and believe in you.

Being strong is a curse. It’s a curse I would gladly walk away from and happily find a strong person to lean on.

I’m exhausted, bleeding inside, breaking at the seams and ready to escape this hell or being a strong person. I don’t want this curse, I don’t want to break my own heart to feel like I’m doing the right thing.

The worst part is that the strongest people I know die young. They die from trying to be too strong for too long. I have to hope for a different outcome. I hope my Lord is watching my back as I struggle to find good in a world that has crushed me and devastated me over and over and over again.

It Takes me Under Fast…

Some part of me is losing control. The balance is off so badly that I don’t know what to feel.

I feel insecurity. I feel distant. I feel messy. I feel chaotic.

Why?

This is so out of left field, it’s so frustrating!

I know bipolar is not curable. I know I have to learn to deal with that fact, but there are times when I want to run away and never look back. Today is one of those days.

My anxiety is overwhelming, I want to cry and I want to scream in frustration. I want to be angry with my Lord, and the people around me who are thriving while I’m barely maintaining.

No one fully understands the feeling of being tossed and turned on mister toads wild ride like a bipolar patient. It’s miserable to be so completely fucked in the head. You don’t know when the silent threat will strike or if you are even prepared to fight for your life in an exhausting battle against a part of yourself you don’t know.

People go from loving you to thinking your crazy. People go from looking up to you, to wondering how they could have ever thought you knew shit about shit. That is demoralizing and painfully fucking depressing. You can be educated and know what you’re saying is true, but you’re crazy so they don’t hear you anymore.

I watched a good friend fall victim to this condition just the other night. Watching her cry in frustration for the life we are stuck living, is a sad reminder of the waves of hell coming back and devastating the forward progress I have earned.

Brain disorders, which now includes bipolar disorder, affects the brain. Some doctors say:

Medication is the only way to live a normal life.

Others in the field say:

It’s going to take a lot of work. It will never stop being work, but if you do the work, you have a chance at a normal life and a more balanced life.

What about the moments when you stare at yourself in the mirror and think:

Is it worth it? Am I worth all this pain? And how much pain can I take before I end the pain?

Sometimes, I contemplate what true peace is. Like what is it like for someone who doesn’t have bipolar? Are they able to be happy for healthy reasons? Are they more secure in knowing who and what they are? Do they know what it feels like to be lost in their minds pleading with the Lord to help them find strength to survive another demonic attack from within?

I’m exhausted when the depression hits. I feel depleted and lost when the waves of bipolar depression start ripping my mind into shreds and I’m begging for mercy to no end.

To me, it feels like a my brain senses a bad cell that is misfiring and passively bumping into the healthy parts of my brain causing chaos and mayhem. It’s like playing hot potato until the bad cell decides to die off and leave the healthy parts alone. Before it dies, it temporarily kills my joy, my energy, my personality, my stable mood, my beliefs, my values, and all the other things that make me who I am. It’s like watching a horror film where the killer is inside you looking for a chance to attack you when you’re vulnerable and happy.

I love the life I have now, but I feel like I know it won’t last. I know this because I am incapable (despite my truly powerful efforts) to stay balanced with my illness. This illness will be always be my till death do us part unwanted partner. If I neglect it, I suffer. If I focus on it, I suffer. If I beg for help, I suffer. If I fight for my life, I suffer.

Why does this have to happen to me? To all of us suffering (some in silence, some out loud)? Why can’t someone care enough to find a treatment that works all the time? Why can’t I experience joy and happiness without wondering when it will end and I will be lost in the abyss? Someone, Please tell me why I feel the urge to give up? And why tomorrow I can’t sleep for weeks or talk without speaking too fast that I seem neurotic? Someone please tell me why I sometimes can’t feel a thing? And other times I can’t stop feeling all things (good or bad)?

Remember that I am fighting a threat you can’t see or hear, but it is a living hell for me and I’m fighting to remind myself everyday that I am worthy of goodness. I fight every single fucking day till I’m bleeding and begging for a break that never comes. Remember that I survived before but it only gets harder until it ends.

If you care about me, remember that I am partially broken, but my heart is good, my intentions are pure, my shortness or nastiness isn’t from me, it’s from my careful care of my debilitating illness that affects my brain. I suffer and struggle to hold it together but I will not give up if I keep fighting with my whole heart and soul, and sometimes I might look lost and in need of support. Just remember that you don’t have to be stuck in my hell with me, I wouldn’t be here if I had a choice, and I would never want anyone to feel struck by my hell.

Just choose where you want to be and don’t love me at all if you can’t love the parts of me that are broken, because they will never be perfect and I will never be able to apologize for all the pain I can inflict on myself and unintentionally on those that love me.

I’m sorry if you love me, I know I’m hard to love. 😢

I’m Thankful for…

Today is a holiday I used to believe to be a waste of time. I used to say selfish things like:

What do I have to be thankful for living with bipolar disorder?

Or

Should I be thankful I didn’t commit suicide this year?

It used to be an unhealthy day for me, one where I couldn’t see the people, places or things in my life that were worth being thankful for. Rather, I saw only the bleak light of surviving another year.

Truth bomb right here!

This year, I felt as though the holidays were going to destroy me. With the break up of my 5 year relationship, the 2 suicide attempts, the messy career moves I made that nearly put me over the edge, and the horrible people I allowed into my life under false pretenses, I was uncertain that I would be thankful for anything again this year.

Fortunately, I am.

I am thankful for bipolar disorder and my ability to be more open about my life with bipolar.

There are moments when being myself feels impossible but impossible means I’m possible!

I am thankful for my children and my family who have had my back through the darkest of times.

My reason for being alive comes from the children I created. Born out of love and loved through and through.

I am thankful for my beauty, and my heart that is always full because of family and friends.

When I asked myself, “when did I feel most alive?” My answer was, “when I smiled casually for myself and no one else.”

I am thankful for my will power to survive the darkness even when I thought it would eat me alive or I wouldn’t survive the emotional pain.

I named this graphic “The pieces of my broken heart 💔 “

I am thankful for Bali and all the amazing people that brought healing, love and kindness into my life without expecting anything more than honesty from me.

My adventurous Brother from another mother Jim!

And my brother from another mother Dan, the bloody Englishman who loves to complain in a funny way, but he is an awesome friend!

Finding a family on the other side of the world was a blessing I could never thank the Lord enough for. Thank you to my friends and chosen family in Bali.

My home is on a stage with the ones I love surrounding me. My heart is where I feel alive and loved and blessed.

I am thankful for my breakup from a toxic relationship that brought the worst out of two good people. The change was hard to accept but I am beginning to realize that he was a part of my journey to healing myself and he will always be in my life because of our child.

He had my heart, but then my heart decided that love wasn’t enough. He gave me my sweet little boy, but he also gave me a lot of pain. Thankful for him but definitely thankful for the lessons he taught me. He will find his happiness and I will find mine. ♥️

I am thankful for the difficult lessons I learned in life and in my career, the exciting opportunities I have barely tapped into, and even the frustration with websites that have had issues or were more work than I realized.

My time in Los Vegas at the Reign Beauty Conference for MaskCara Beauty. Check out my website nikimaria.maskcarabeauty.com

I am thankful that the truth always wins and that eventually the harsh truth, whether we like it or not, can save us from making mistakes or not learning from our mistakes.

The truth will always win my friends. Trust until you have a reason not to!

I am thankful for the home I live in and the amazing neighbors and friends I have been blessed with.

Remember to always take the positive with the negative and make something great. #sortasweetsortasavage

I am thankful for the food I am able to buy and the bills I am able to pay.

I am thankful for my Lord for protecting me through the dark times, even when I didn’t think He was there.

I am thankful for myself. For the strength I earned through picking myself up from every disaster and finding new reasons to be balanced.

Rocking the sick look to remind myself that I am still beautiful and worthy of love!

Lastly, I am thankful for my three close friends that all make me feel loved and cared for regardless of my choices or mistakes.

The loving motherly friend who always checks in on me. My Heather! ♥️

The super sweet, super loving Mallori who has my back ride or die style! ♥️

My Andrea who turns the negatives into positives and always shows me how much she cares! ♥️

Lastly, I am thankful for my parents who always worked hard to care for me and give me every opportunity, and every experience I needed, to be the best version of myself. They also combined all their best qualities in creating me.

Mom and dad

There are always things to be thankful for, and I guess this year, rather than believing that my “issues” are not worthy of being thankful for, I choose to be grateful and thankful for them. After all, I wouldn’t be me without them.

This Instagram profile is awesome! Follow @2minds_allign

While this has been a tough year to go through, I struggled a lot and I felt a lot of loss, I realized that today I have more reasons to be thankful than ungrateful. I always have in fact, and it took some reminding to myself that I am stronger and braver than I ever believed.

Being brave was the hardest thing I ever had to do!

I can and did overcome the hard times and learned from those hard times, that I can walk away even if it hurts, I can say goodbye without coming undone completely, and I can live with bipolar disorder without medication because I will not let my brains chemical imbalance live my life for me. I feel blessed to have found my balance during the hardest of hard times, that I have found strength when I wanted to be weak, that I found hope when a situations seemed hopeless, and that I found joy when I felt joyless.

Embrace your beauty and know you are loved by someone or many!

I can only hope that at this time of year, when giving thanks is the theme of the season, that you all will find your reasons why being alive, and being grateful as well as thankful are the true healing sources of living a life with a brain disorder or mental illness. The goal is to create the life worth living by pushing yourself past what you may think is holding you back, and finding joy on the other side of the heartache and suffering.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! May you find one or many reasons to be thankful for the little or big blessings in your life. I encourage you to embrace your journey today and to find new meanings for the dark or less favorable realities of your life.

This picture I took when I was sinking inside myself, lost in a loveless relationship, feeling manic and not sleeping or eating well. I was sick, scared, taking substances to cope and not facing my demons. I was lost and not trying to be found. Circa 2016

Even if you feel that getting out of bed seems impossible, you will get through the storm with determination and patience if you believe, have faith, be kind, and let go of the things that are done.

Xoxo 💋 Niki

The Truth About Suicide for World Suicide Prevention Day

Suicide is not selfish. Suicide is deep and inescapable pain that could only be ended when life is over. September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, educate yourself on suicide and save a life.

Today is “World Suicide Prevention Day”. It’s a little ironic that it is one day before 9/11 when a group of men decided to commit suicide and take the lives of many innocent people while ending their own lives.

I have struggled to understand suicide until I myself was forced to face the overwhelming feelings of wanting to end the pain during some tough depressive episodes. I was surprised to learn that suicide isn’t isolated to just those who suffer from mental health disorders, which I had always believed, however, suicide affects many people for many different reasons. I feel blessed to have had a strong support system in my toughest and darkest moments.

What World Suicide Prevention Day Means to me: My Suicide Stories

Today is an important day for me because I have struggled with suicidal thoughts and ideations for many years. Trying to remind myself that I am not a burden to those I love is the hardest thing to do when I feel as low as I could be. Many times, I fought for my survival before I would reach a point of Suicide because of TJ.

When I was 15, TJ, the first man I ever loved, took his own life. I spent 17 years blaming myself, feeling enormous grief, and struggling with the agony of knowing he was gone. Until recently, when I spoke to his brother about what really led to his decision, I blamed myself for being the last one to speak to him before he made the choice that changed my life forever.

I didn’t know then what I know now. What I learned through my own depression is that suicide doesn’t discriminate about whether someone is beautiful, popular, easy to get along with, caring, and honest, suicide is an inescapable depressive state where your mind is at war with itself and has convinced you that if you live, the people who love you have to be burdened by your pain and hopelessness. That the people who love you will always have to work exceptionally hard to remind you that you are worthy and that you will be okay.

The simple truth is people who commit suicide do so to save the people they love from having to be burdened by their own deep sadness and pain. Suicidal thoughts don’t see another option when you are staring at the abyss of deep and endless depression. The depression becomes all consuming, sucking away your energy, all the positive thoughts, all the love you have, and all the reasons you are worthy. Depression doesn’t fight fair, in fact it fights you with your deepest fears, your worst memories, your hardest losses and all the self conscious parts of yourself. It reminds you constantly that you are worthless, ugly, unloved, unhappy, and a huge burden to the people whom you love.

Most people say to me when I’m low, “what about your children? What about your family? You have so much to live for and so many people who love you. You are so kind, beautiful, talented and you are better than this.” I have even heard people say, “snap out of it, stop being dramatic. Your life seems so perfect. You are going to hurt so many people. Don’t leave me because I love you and it will kill me to see you gone.”

The reality is this, when you are at the edge of a cliff, you have already made the choice that the ones you love are better off without you and the burdens you believe yourself to be (no matter how untrue it is). In your mind, you are staring into a great void. You have been fighting for days, weeks and years to convince yourself that you are worthy, but you have failed at doing that and the only way to escape is to end the pain, to stop the thoughts and be at peace. There is no, “get it together” switch inside the mind. Being attacked by the mind is a war far greater than most people realize.

Depression illuminates the brain and sets your mind into a free fall of all the sadness and negativity you have ever experienced. It’s traumatizing to experience painful memories all over again in vivid detail as the brain fires off one thing after another.

I used to have panic attacks when I would think about suicide, then I started to embrace that I wasn’t enough and never would be. Many of you have never, and hopefully will never, know what it feels like to stare into the darkness and how much strength it takes to come out of it with your life. I don’t have a desire to die, but many times I had a desire to end the torment so I can be at peace.

Today, for World Suicide Prevention Day, check on someone who you feel or know is struggling. Take it from me, if someone would have checked on me during my hopelessness, I may have had a reason “why not” to resort to suicide. Someone sharing that they care in my darkest hour may have given me a small glimmer of hope to get help before I found myself writing my final goodbyes. A phone call, not a text, or a visit can save a life. Be someone’s hero so you never have to attend their funeral and feel the blame of not having done something to show them you care.

Learn more about Suicide

A great resource is The Depression Project. They share incredible information about detecting whether or not someone you love is at risk for suicide. The Depression Project started the Semicolon Project

Suicide is a complex issue involving numerous factors and should not be attributed to any one single cause. Not all people who die by suicide have been diagnosed with a mental illness and not all people with a mental illness attempt to end their lives by suicide.

Learn more at The Depression Project

September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day

Andrew Solomon delivers a deeply profound truth during his TED Talk entitled, “Depression, the Secret We Share.”

We know depression through metaphors. Emily Dickinson was able to convey it in language. Goya in an image. Half the purpose of art is to describe such iconic states. As for me, I had always thought myself tough, one of the people who could survive if I had been sent to a concentration camp.

He continues to say,

One of the things about depression is that you know it’s ridiculous. You know it’s ridiculous while your experiencing it. You know that most people manage to listen to their messages and eat lunch and organize themselves to take a shower and go out the front door and that it’s not a big deal, and yet you are none-the-less in its grip and you are unable to figure out any way around it.