Book Review: “Fall to Pieces”

I love to read memoirs. For some reason, I really enjoy reading memoirs of those with addiction, and this was before my drinking became a problem. I’ve read “Life” by Keith Richards, which was fantastic but took three weeks because it’s over 500 pages.

I’ve also read Nikki Sixx’s book, “The Heroin Diaries”. It was a bit wild, but still very interesting. I’m just waiting for a member of Fleetwood Mac to come out with their memoirs. If anyone knows of one, please let me know.

I”ve read “Fall to Pieces” before, but it was a bit different re-reading it this time. This book was written by Mary Forsberg Weiland, the first wife of Scott Weiland.

He was the lead singer for Stone Temple Pilots, one of the best rock bands of the 90s. If you’re too young to know who this band is, you might want to go on YouTube. They were a great band. Scott died in December 2015, unfortunately from an overdose.

Book cover

The book opens with a very descriptive explanation of her childhood in California, a bit in New Jersey after her mom’s remarriage and, of course, when she met Scott.

Mary also became a model while moving around and became quite successful while still a teen. She also met her best friends during this time. She became friends with Anthony Kiedis, lead singer of Red Hot Chili Peppers. They have remained friends for many years.

It wasn’t until I read Scar Tissue, his autobiography, that I understood all the while Anthony was being my true friend, his own soul was being badly shaken.”

This stood out. We don’t always know what our friends are going through, much less anyone else. People hide things but still make things look at least bearable. I’ve been there for my friends through their own issues but yet struggling through my own.

The story of her relationship and later, marriage, with Scott, is so well detailed. She tells of the good, bad and in between. They were together off and on nearly a decade before marrying, and they had two kids together- a daughter and a son.

During this time, Mary drank and used a lot of substances. She knew it wasn’t the best way to live, but it took multiple attempts to finally stop using.

Mary also has had a long battle with bipolar disorder, possibly beginning when she was a teen. It’s hard for her or anyone else to know. She wasn’t diagnosed until well into adulthood, and this is well documented in the book. She struggled to accept this diagnosis along with being an addict.

Many people with either issue do. I will say she is being treated and is sober, but I won’t spoil the ending for you on how she got there.

Mary shared a quote from a community college class:

“In recovery, we look for progress, not perfection.”

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This is very accurate. Nobody is perfect, and anyone recovering from any kind of addiction certainly isn’t. Progress is what counts the most. It is not close to easy, and anyone who tells you it is- they are not entirely correct.

One of my best friends, Tyson, once asked me if I was okay while sitting at dinner and the talk to turned to beer for a while. I wasn’t a fan of beer to begin with, and he knows this, but he was making sure I wasn’t thinking about having a drink.

I wasn’t, but I am very grateful that he asked. It took a year before I could even go into a sports bar. “One day at a time” is the best quote I have ever heard that applies to recovery.

As many of us know, Scott and Mary did not work out (the section about the end of their marriage is a sad one) but they were able to co-parent, at least as of the writing of this book. I’m one of the millions of fans that were saddened to hear of Scott’s death. He was incredibly talented, like many others, but yet, he had an addiction that he was never quite able to end.

Pic courtesy of Google

Filling the Hole in Your Heart

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There are times in which the people we think love us really don’t. Instead, they break our hearts in a number of ways.

We forget to love ourselves. We forget that we are worth love and even in a world that values relationships and marriage, we forget that it’s okay to be single.

I’m not single, but I would be okay if I were. Taking time to work on yourself may require you being single. Sometimes it doesn’t.

The love that you have for yourself can make up for the love that others don’t have or show for you. It hurts. It’s not pretty to realize that people that you love may not love you back or even in the way you want them to.

This missing love can leave a bit of a hole, an emptiness in your heart. Fill it with happiness, good times and love. This will carry you through the harder times.

Book Review: “Valley Of the Dolls”

For this month’s book review, I chose a book that was a little different.

“Valley of The Dolls” is one of my favorite books, and I have loved it since the first time I read it. I don’t know how many times I have read it. The “dolls” that the book refers to is not the kind of doll your children may play with.

These dolls are pills, and there is a variety of them mentioned. In this book, which is set in the 1940s-60s, they are mainly sleeping pills, with some diet pills mentioned. I don’t think any of the pills mentioned exist today, but I’m going to assume that some of them are the basis of some of the pills that exist now.

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The book is based on the lives of three young women living in New York City- Anne, Neely, and Jennifer. They meet while trying to make a life in the city coming from three very different backgrounds. Sometimes they clash, at other times they do very well together.

They fall in love, experience heartbreak and one becomes a famous movie star and singer. One reaches her dreams of being a model and actress, and the other is happy as a secretary then falls into modeling for a makeup line.

Neely is the somewhat troubled one of the three. While chasing her dreams, she becomes addicted to pills and begins drinking heavily. She eventually ends up having to step back from the world to take care of herself, but not because she wants to.

She also became very depressed and attempted suicide more than once. She had a hard time dealing with the pressures of stardom and her chaotic life.

Jennifer goes to Europe and back, but doesn’t find true happiness until it’s almost too late. She didn’t want to live for her body, but it is all she knows. She marries twice and almost a third to someone who truly loves her, which is all she wanted before the unforeseen occurs.

Anne finds the love of her life in Lyon Burke, the friend of her boss. She refuses to give up on him, no matter what. This love remains even after he leaves her not once, but twice. Everyone thinks she is mad for not letting go, even when she has a relationship with another man. Does Lyon ever come back for her? You’ll have to read to find out.

This book does have a sequel, set much later in everyone’s lives, and includes Anne and Neely’s children. This is called “Shadow of the Dolls”. I’ve read this, and it’s interesting. I didn’t include my thoughts on it for this review, but I definitely recommend reading it.

Jacqueline Susann died in 1974 and Rae Lawrence wrote this sequel based on the outline she left behind. The storyline flows well from book to book, even though there is a very large time gap between them.

If you need a novel to keep you well entertained, this is definitely one to go for.

Picture courtesy of Pinterest

How Do You Embrace Vulnerability?

Showing your feelings to others can be difficult. There are fears behind it that others may not see and/or understand. Those fears and feelings can be used against you by the wrong people, which is one of the worst things that can happen to your emotional well-being.

This can make you want to withdraw into a shell and shut people out. It can seem easier to shut people out than to let them in and see your not-so-amazing side. Showing others your tears, anger or even your deepest thoughts, can be mentally tiring and tough.

A Big Word with a Bigger Meaning

It is hard to predict who will and will not be the right person to open up and be vulnerable around. Let’s start with the definition, according to Webster’s:

capable of being physically or emotionally wounded: open to attack or damage. (The third definition doesn’t apply to this situation)

Who really wants to be open to attack? Not me. I’m not a fan of being capable of being wounded either way mentioned. My immune system wounds me enough, thanks. I’ve been emotionally wounded enough for a lifetime, starting with my parents’ split when I was a kid and its aftermath.

Basically, my dad literally said in court that my mom could have my sister and I because he didn’t want us. To this day, we still aren’t very close. He didn’t walk me down the aisle when I got married in 2005 and has missed out on a lot of events.

That will mess a girl up and create some trust issues. If you can’t trust people, there goes the idea of vulnerability.

Rose quote

I used to have a huge circle of friends, thanks to school, work and later college. This continued until 2015 when my life took a very sharp left turn. It took losing a lot of my friends after Jake’s death to realize who my friends really are.

Clue: it definitely isn’t anyone who flips on you at a funeral home. If someone asks you how you are doing (at the wake of someone you were in love with) then says, “This isn’t about you”, then maybe you should look into a new circle of friends.

I opened up to a circle of people that I shouldn’t have. They talked about me behind my back, didn’t believe in me at all, but I didn’t see it that way. I was too busy drinking away my problems.

In response, I blocked about 100 people from my social media and quit my job. I don’t normally recommend this, but it was a matter of my immediate mental health and I do enjoy having a clean legal record.

I have a bad temper, even after therapy, and I knew I would never make it back to that job without someone getting hurt. I also stopped talking to almost everyone that I still spoke to. I didn’t trust anyone and I wasn’t in the mood to try it again anytime soon.

Two things happened: therapy and Sara. She was the first person I was able to open up to in the time after my life blew up, and I had no idea if she was truly as nice as her cousins (Josh and Jordan) told me she was. Learning to be vulnerable again would have to start with her and Matthew.

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A Flower in Bloom

I consider embracing vulnerability as being somewhat like a flower in bloom. It starts out slowly because you have to take your time. It doesn’t happen overnight. This also requires patience, something Matthew had to learn the hard way. He didn’t understand that I couldn’t just forgive him and move on.

I needed space and time to deal with all of the events that made our marriage go bad, figure out if I wanted to stay and what we needed to do to change. This was a huge task to take on, with grieving Jake’s death added to it.

I had to basically relearn how to trust him with my thoughts, feelings and my body again. I also had to work on the anxiety of old thoughts returning, something that I still struggle with. Sometimes I’m like, “Did I really just say that? Is he gonna be pissed? What if he starts yelling at me?”

I learned, however, that if you don’t give yourself the chance to be vulnerable to others, people can see you as cold, as fake. They might see you as something that you aren’t, and that isn’t something you want.

Jake once told me that when he first tried flirting with me, I barely paid attention to him. I was so wrapped up in my own thoughts that I brushed him off repeatedly. He went home, rethought his approach (he was not used to being ignored) and talked to Jordan, who knew me a lot better. I felt so bad because that isn’t me. I apologized. Luckily, he kept speaking to me.

What can you try to be vulnerable to others?

  • Choose people that you can trust. Who is there for you? Who can you talk to about anything? Let trust build over time.
  • Start with small things. You don’t have to tell people everything that has happened in your life. Start with the smaller things- like if you’re having a bad day, if you’ve got a stomach bug and need soup, etc. This helps you build trust in others and realize it’s okay to show a softer side. Over time, it will be easier to let others in and be okay with risking yourself.
  • Remember that you’re not clingy or needy. Opening yourself up to others does not automatically mean that you are clingy or needy. There’s a difference.
  • There might be setbacks, but take the time to learn from them, pick yourself up and move along. This sucks. Mistakes are made. Feelings get hurt. You can and will get through this.
  • If you need to, talk to someone. This was a topic that I worked on for most of my time in therapy. For further reading, please see Rebuilding Trust in Others

If vulnerability is difficult for you, it may be holding you back from some great connections. Consider which parts are the hardest and work on them, either alone or with a therapist. This may take work and time, but your emotional wellbeing is worth the work.

Love Through Bipolar

This post might be triggering, as it discusses loving someone with a mental illness, so here is the official **TRIGGER WARNING** Topics discussed in this post include bipolar disorder and loss.

I Was Enchanted

I could go on for a while about all the good things about Jake because there were so many.

But yet, he struggled, like many of us do. When I met him, I really had no idea. Mental illness really isn’t the first thing most people talk about when they first meet someone. In fact, our first conversation was about Julian. However, ADHD and autism is a whole different story from bipolar disorder.

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Jake had beautiful blue eyes and a smile that would melt your heart. I didn’t know that he hid so much, even up until the very last day I saw him, the day before he died.

Meds and the Truth

I’ve tried many medications for migraines and one just happened to be Depakote. This is also used to treat mental health illnesses, including bipolar disorder. We were talking about this one day and finally…

I take that too, but not for migraines.”

What?? Was this it? I’d been waiting for Jake to say something. I’d seen signs of something going on, but I wasn’t sure what. Sometimes we would talk constantly and then go days without speaking. His birthday had just gone by and instead of wanting to hang out, he had said he’d rather be alone. He’d even told me he considered himself as a “project” for me to take on. I didn’t see him like that at all and made sure he knew it.

“What do you take it for?”

He looked away for a minute and then back. “Because I have bipolar disorder.”

Well, then, that was explained. He actually asked me if that changed how I felt about him (nope, not even a little). Apparently, this had caused issues in the past. Some people just aren’t equipped to deal with it, but that’s still really painful for the person involved.

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“The stakes are high, the water’s rough..” – “Ours”, Taylor Swift

Jake’s darker side did make a few appearances, but never once did he get aggressive towards me. We argued a bit, but that’s it. In two years, he only yelled at me twice. Me? More. But then, I’m just naturally loud.

Meds? It’s a well-known fact that many people that have bipolar disorder (and other illnesses) have compliance issues with taking medications, and he was one of them. Along with his brother, I tried to remind and encourage him to take his medications, but it didn’t always work.

Jake and I learned how to read each other- I have always been good at reading others. Thanks to this skill, I was able to tell when he was or wasn’t taking his meds, or when he was or wasn’t having a good day. This helped on his end when I was deeply upset and didn’t want to talk.

He tried so hard to hide this from me, but I still saw everything. I told him that I wasn’t scared of what he was trying to hide. I needed to see it to know what I was dealing with. There were days he just wasn’t the person I knew. He wouldn’t talk or return my texts, but everything was in his eyes.

In his manic episodes, he’d barely sleep, get paranoid (this went really bad a couple months before he died and we didn’t speak for a month), and other things would happen. In a depressive episode, he basically shut down. I would literally have to wait for him to come out of these periods.

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Google Became My Friend

I started researching. I knew a lot already about mental illness, but how to love someone with one? Totally clueless. I learned to give Jake his space, even though it hurt. I made sure he knew I was there when he needed me. I learned not to take everything so deeply, especially if he was agitated and it just wasn’t him. None of this was easy, and it hurt so much to watch him struggle.

This wasn’t perfect, not from the first day. Let’s start with the fact that I’m married. Jake was a huge flirt, and that’s a whole different post. I had to learn that just because he didn’t show me that he cared in the ways I thought he should have didn’t mean he didn’t care at all. He just cared differently. He made sure I took my migraine meds and had breakfast at work, asked me daily how Julian was doing, let me cry, and among many other things, he cared about me for me. That is the best thing he could have done. I did exactly the same for him.

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I know you can’t love someone out of a mental health situation, but you can definitely help them through it. Love helps with that. Jake was a bit quiet and distant in the days before his death, but none of us saw anything like what would happen on September 1, 2015, coming.

It is entirely possible to love someone with a mental illness. Just remember to take care of yourself, don’t let them get away with everything because of whatever they may have and as always, reach out if you need to.

NAMI

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