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.”

Collage 2018-04-15 14_57_12.jpg

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

RA and Me

I wrote a post a while back about having chronic illnesses and being a mom. Chronic Conditions and Momming was written before my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis.

1. My older sister has lupus and we had the same rheumatologist at one point. Once we discovered this, we thought it was hilarious. There’s a lot of rheumatologists in Louisville, and we ended up with the same one?

2. My grandfather had severe RA. He died in 2016 at the age of 83. His hands were curled up from the severe joint deformities. He took medications for it, but still had issues that weren’t able to be reversed.

3. I am currently taking a mild medication daily. I had to wait for my thyroid meds to be regulated before I could start RA meds. That sucked but things are good in this area. (Short version: I’m on Levothyroxine due to a partial thyroidectomy in 2017.) Joint pain is REAL.

4. My biggest issues? Joint pain in my hands, knees, and hips. Like many others, I’m super stiff in the mornings and it takes at least an hour to loosen up. Hot showers help. Moving around does help but also hurts. Eventually, the stiffness goes away. Usually. If it doesn’t, then it’s a bad pain day, which leads me to #5.

5. I don’t like taking pain meds. They make me tired and nobody has time for that mess. I usually won’t take them unless I can barely move. I’ll use a heating pad, massage, stretch, etc. The pain meds I do have, however, are non-narcotic.

My doctor is pretty smart- probably not a good idea to prescribe a recovering alcoholic hardcore narcotics. She probably enjoys having a license to practice.
Rheumatoid arthritis sucks. I hate missing out on things because I’m tired, hurting, or both.

Pic with Cameron

It’s possible to live life with chronic conditions. I have two. Some days are just worse than others. I can get through them with humor and my support system.

If you have a chronic condition, how do you get through it?

Book Review- “Black Pain”

Thanks to Bonnie for recommending this month’s book- “Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We’re Not Hurting”. This was a great book. It was definitely an eye-opener. I admire the author for opening up and telling her story because sharing your pain, no matter where you are in life, sucks.

She tells her story while letting others share theirs, which is something I do on this blog. I think it’s important to let others tell their stories as a way to give hope to others and you may never know who may get something out of it. These blog posts are a few examples of others telling their stories:

Guest Post with Adam

Guest Post with Carissa

Guest Post with Brynn

Clearly, I don’t know any famous people but I don’t think that really matters. (However, if Demi Lovato, Stevie Nicks or Gillian Flynn happen to ever read this blog and want to say something, I’m not stopping them.)

Terrie did a wonderful job looking at depression from different perspectives. It’s important to not have a close-minded view of depression or any mental health issue in general. That’s how things get misconstrued and stigmas occur.

There are some lines in this book that really stood out for me- I actually made notes so I wouldn’t forget them.

“A loss of a friend pushed Ellin to the edge, but it was the love of friends that brought her back”

I cannot say how much truth there is to this line. I went a bit over the edge after losing Jake. My family, therapist and Matthew helped, but my friends have been priceless. My friend Scott almost dragged me out of my house countless times in the first few months. I barely made it to lunch some days but Scott never gave up. He’s a great lunch date and one of the funniest people I know.

“When people only look at you physically, it is easy to start to see yourself only in a physical sense”

 

I really struggled with seeing myself as more than just a set of boobs and a pretty face. Thanks to how my own husband saw me, that’s what I felt reduced to. I forgot that I was smart, funny, creative, etc.

I lost 60 lbs over a couple of years mainly due to stress. I’m sure spending 4 days a week in the gym helped, but I really wasn’t taking care of myself. It is easy to forget who you are when others make it easy to do so. Thankfully this changed. Jake helped me remember that I’m so much more. Matthew apparently paid attention because he suddenly remembered all of this.

“Very few suicidal people want to die. They just don’t want to live the way they’re living.” – Althea Hawkins

 

I believe this so much. I’ve watched friends and family struggle with suicidal thoughts and attempts. People sometimes reach a point that they feel they cannot keep going anymore. That’s when tragedies happen.

The last part of the book emphasizes the importance of a support system. Everyone needs support. Nobody is meant to go through life alone, especially not the tough parts.

Picture credits:

Google

Pixabay

Book Review- “Weekends At Bellevue”

This month was a bit of a struggle, reading-wise. I started with a different book in mind and it wasn’t that great. Then Bonnie Price, a fellow blogger, recommended a book that I started but am still reading. I’m a multi-book reader, so this month’s review is on the other book I was reading at the time. (No worries, Bonnie! Your recommendation is coming up next month.)

I got “Weekends at Bellevue” at a book sale, and I was super curious. I love books about mental health facilities, mainly because I spent most of my career working at two. I was a mental health technician/associate, depending on the facility I’m referring to. I was at one facility for one year and the other for four.

If you don’t know what that is, think of it as a CNA with a BA in Clinical Psychology. I am not a CNA, but I did pretty much everything that covers. This was not always easy, but it was almost always fun.

I do know I will never work in geriatrics again, and thanks to not being able to perform a chokehold defense move thanks to my thyroid surgery, I’m pretty much retired from this line of work. I’m okay with this. My rheumatologist would not be happy to see me still doing physical managements with kids twice my size five days a week.

Lily and I were actually a “tech and a half” at one point (I was pregnant while working at one facility) and I literally have scars from working at the other. That happens when you have a 15-year-old hit you in the face with a stereo cord. My right eyebrow has not been the same since. That’s just one example, and I can’t make this stuff up if I wanted to. I have a full post devoted to this time- Real Stories of a (Former) Mental Health Worker

If you’ve never heard of Bellevue, feel free to look it up on Google. It is a very large hospital in New York City and has a very long and not-so-glorious history behind it. I’ve read another book about its history and I was glued to every page. This book, however, tells the story of a 3rd shift physician in charge, Dr. Julie Holland. She was there for 9 years.

It’s hard to work in a mental health facility. It takes a toll on you, physically and emotionally. This is why the turnover is so high. You see and hear things that you cannot unsee or unhear, and it’s hard to process. If you are involved in physical managements, you run the risk of getting hurt. I worked on one of the “worst” units in the second facility and loved those kids.

They may have been aggressive, loud and destructive, but for the most part, it was not entirely their fault. They also needed love, direction, and other things. You cannot leave work at a mental health facility changed, and I didn’t. Dr. Holland somewhat mentions that in the book. It certainly helped me put Julian’s diagnosis into perspective, among many other things.

Dr. Holland did a great job in explaining the symptoms of certain mental illnesses for those who don’t understand because there are many who don’t. I appreciate that, even though I knew exactly what she was talking about.

She broke things down in an understandable but not condescending way. That makes it even better. She explains what led her to psychiatry because anyone who works in psychology has a story. She also dedicated a chapter to how a day goes in the ER of Bellevue.

My story is simple- I want to help others. I originally wanted to be a child therapist, but I honestly didn’t want to go to grad school after having two kids while getting my BA. What’s next? I have no idea.

Throughout the book, she balances telling how her life flows in and out of the hospital. She watches a friend get sick from cancer (no spoilers here), gets married, has babies and even works on Christmas. When you’re Jewish, working on Christmas isn’t really on your radar.

Dr. Holland experiences a lot while she works at Bellevue, and it leads her to make some life changes. What are those changes? You will have to read to find out!

Guest Post with Adam

Yes, you read that correctly. Adam is my first male guest blogger! He’s super nice and has a very relatable story to tell. I like getting different perspectives and I was thrilled to get a man’s thoughts on experiencing depression. Thanks, Adam!

What I Worry About As A Dad With Depression

I started having depressive thoughts when I was 14 or 15. By 16, they’d progressed to suicidal ideas, to the point that I was making plans. Thankfully, I never followed through. But depression has been a fact of my life since I was a teenager. My depression comes and goes, sometimes disappearing for years at time, but it always seems to come back.

In 2015, things got bad. A combination of health issues and work stress pushed me over the edge and I had a mental breakdown. I completely stopped being a functioning adult. After years of trying to manage my depression and anxiety on my own, I finally sought professional help.
It helped. A lot. I received medication to help balance the chemicals in my brain and I learned techniques and skills to help me reverse the psychological damage my depression had done to me. I also got treatment for sleep apnea and epilepsy, major health issues that were making my depression worse.
Now, at 32, I’m a step-dad of three, and I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. My family is the light of my life. But even with my depression under control, I still worry about it. Here are three of my biggest worries as a dad with depression.

I Worry About My Family’s Reactions
My children have never seen me depressed. Their mother has never seen me depressed. My depression isn’t a secret from them, though — I’ve spoken openly with Angela about my experiences, and she’s read other blog posts where I’ve talked at length about my mental health. She’s had her own experiences with mental health, so she understands. Professional help isn’t a taboo in our family.
When my children are old enough, I’ll talk to them about it too. I’ll do my best to make them understand that some people are sad for reasons they can’t control. Even as preschoolers, I already talk to them about the fact that some people’s brains work differently.
Still, I worry my children will think my depression is their fault. I worry that my daughters will think they’ve done something to trigger or exacerbate it.
I Worry About Checking Out
When my depression is at its worst, I let a lot of important daily tasks slip. Things like paying my bills or maintaining relationships. When my depression is bad, I withdraw into this tiny black hole.
My depression has been under control for a long time now. Therapy and counseling taught me powerful skills to help me manage my depression. I’m better equipped to recognize when things are getting bad, and I’ve worked past the pride issues that kept me from seeking help the first time.
But depression has been such a presence in my life for so long, I can’t stop wondering if and when it will come back. When it does, I worry that my new coping skills won’t be enough, or that the medication will stop working.
I worry that if my depression rears back to the forefront someday, I’ll start to slip and I worry about the financial or emotional damage I’ll cause to my family.

I Worry My Kids Won’t Talk To Me
When I first started feeling depressed as a teenager, I took it as a sign of inner weakness. I felt like the sadness and futility I felt were feelings I needed to overcome on my own, and if I couldn’t, it meant I wasn’t strong enough.
As a result, I never spoke to anyone about my feelings. I became very good at putting on a functioning, happy public front. I never reached out to my parents, and if they suspected, they never said anything. Even if they had, I would have told them I was fine. My pride and my ego wouldn’t allow me to admit my depression was a thing I couldn’t handle alone, and it wasn’t until things came to a crisis in my 30s that I finally sought help.
If my kids ever struggle with depression, I worry they’ll do the same. I worry I won’t be observant enough to notice the signs. I worry that even if I do reach out and ask if they need help, they’ll reject it because they feel they need to be strong.

I Don’t Worry About My Worries

These worries crop up all the time, little nagging negative thoughts at the back of my brain. I could let them overtake me and pull me away from my family. If I’m so worried, why have a family at all?
But the truth is, I don’t have to listen to those worries all the time. I don’t even listen to them very often at all. I don’t have to give them power. I’m not the same miserable, scared teenager I was when my depression first started.
I’m older now. I’m less stubborn and prideful. I’ve opened up to my family, to my friends, to my parents, in ways I never would have years ago. Even writing this post is something I never would been able to do years ago.
And letting all those people know about my depression has given me the safe support structure I needed to overcome it. The coping techniques I’ve learned through therapy have helped me establish better practices for managing my depression. Seeking medical treatment, not just for the chemical imbalances in my brain, but for the other health issues that were aggravating my depression, helped stabilize my moods and repair the damage.
All those things work together to make it so my depression isn’t a barrier to caring for my children. They work together to make it so I can be a good partner to the love of my life without my depression getting in the way. If you’re a parent with untreated depression, I urge you to seek help too. Reach out to your family, to your friends. Depression doesn’t have to rule your life.

Adam is the author of Too Many Redheads, a family blog.

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