Original Poem (submitted by Dani)

By Kim Shannon on 4:23 AM

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The author of this poem submitted this piece on a day where she says "I'm feeling alot like this today"...

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Whirling twirling spinning flying
Twisting running trying finding
Seeking racing searching pacing
Never stopping

Crashing crying dieing lying
Drowning spiraling falling yelling
Throwing losing screaming sobbing
Never stopping

When You Need To Come Back to Earth

By Kim Shannon on 6:02 PM

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There are times when I feel as though I'm losing my mind.... Times when it's just TOO much. Times when I'm not sure if any of this is even real, because something THIS bad has just GOT to be a nightmare...  We've all been there, right?  So what do you do when you feel like you're about to lose it???


Here are some grounding methods -  Ideas for when you feel out of control, are having a flashback and/or need grounding...  If you're coming undone and need to be brought back to earth, try these:






Remind yourself "I'm going to be ok" and "I'm not crazy"... this is a normal part of the recovery process


Plant your feet firmly on the ground


Count up 1 to 10 then back 10 to 1


Say out loud things you see and smell


Touch the wall, the floor and objects close to you


Call someone on the phone


Walk around and watch your own feet - listen to the sound


Listen to yourself breathe - Do deep breathing


Listen to music and count the beats


Don't be afraid to ask for help


Hug someone safe


Hold someone's hand (someone safe)


Tear up paper, throw ice, chew ice chips


Visualize the memory as an object and put it "away" (for example, the memory is a blue rubber ball and you put it in a toybox)


Focus on details... leaves on trees, blades of grass, fibers in carpet


Call your therapist


Call a Hotline


Hold and/or talk to a stuffed animal


Fight the voices - change the negatives to positives


Play an instrument


Gently wash your face, hands or hair


Do gardening, shovel snow or mow the lawn


Color in a coloring book


Rock in a rocking chair


Touch a familiar object that you carry with you (keys, a necklace) or listen to your watch ticking


Hold and pet your cat or dog


Make a list of things to do or shopping list


Write down who and where you are


Pray, talk yourself down or yell


Say what you feel outloud, even if you have to yell or cry!


Change your environment... walk out of the room, touch something different, change the sounds around you (put on music, turn on the tv, etc.), eat something different and "safe", smell something different (perfume, flowers, food, grass, etc.)


Visualize a stop sign


Dance to music


Say outloud "I am here right now"... assure yourself that this is a normal process for you


Do self-affirmation... read books, listen to tapes and write down good things about yourself


Identify your triggers (things that make you feel badly or have bad memories or flashbacks)






Dont ever forget - you're allowed to feel a little nuts every now & then... just make sure you don't lose yourself in the moment.

Not All By Myself...

By Kim Shannon on 5:45 PM

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Just when you think you couldn't be more alone, a friend raises their head, raises their hand, raises their voice and lets you know
                                
 you couldn't be more wrong....

Satellite (Submitted by Terry)

By Kim Shannon on 5:40 PM

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SATELLITE

i hate him

for one precise moment

as i watch my friends

animal attack, relentless


my hatred

orbits me

elliptical trajectory

seduces me

licks me slowly

toe to erection

to nape to lips

seers my senses

burnt raw


with exquisite precision

hatred floods my empty margins

so pure

like addiction


he’s punched to the ground

kicks vicious

blood and rain tangle

he says nothing

grasping for

air or saving

both causalities


i kick him

back of the head

hard it feels

but only glances

focus on leg now

thinking damage would be less


the others, i don’t recognize

frothing, feral

still kicking kicking

blood seeps thick

like plasticene from his nose and mouth


nothing in my ear but thrash, wallop

gurgling, wheezing after each

hard target strike

the inertia of aimless hate


slave to primordial childhood

i become alligator

i become dinosaur

foot targets the small of the back

AGAIN!!

AGAIN!!

AGAIN!!

until his back cracks

goes paranthetical


my hatred evaporates, breathes its last

collapses against the back of my skull

it sits there

not answering questions


i fall to my once steel haunches

his face is no longer

his eye – clouded, near to rupture – latches to mine

pleading? pleading? with me?

i’m powerless


i’ve spent my moment of hate

my second i’ve caring missed

i put my eyes between my knees

listening to the dust of his

tears, blood and dying


and pretend i’m not there

Therapy (Submitted by Tarani) - True Fiction

By Kim Shannon on 5:45 PM

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This compelling story was submitted by a gifted college student, who has been coping with mental illness in her family since childhood.  Tarani is a compassionate and gifted young woman who has seen both her father and sister afflicted with symptoms of bipolar disorder.  In this true fiction piece, she relates how easily lines between bipolar people and their family members can become blurred...
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The dim room smelled funny, and I laughed because the scent was both familiar and unexpected: It was latex. The clay bowl next to me was the culprit. It was filled to the brim with condoms and--- God, who would've guessed ---the same potpourri Mammaw keeps in a jar by her bathtub. I knew places like this well, and after they locked my sister away, I stopped going as often. Besides, I don’t go here for myself so much as I maintain these visits to keep my mother worry-free.

I don't mind them. It's just that, somewhere between latex-apple-cinnamon potpourri concoctions and armchairs that sigh louder than the patients, we are supposed to feel comfort. It’s impossible. The only feelings I can muster are cousins of indifference. So, I even feel apathetic when the receptionist smiles at me a little more sincerely than she smiles at people like my sister. I think she smiles because I'm not anything like Hayley or most of the people I've seen walk out of here. Maybe receptionists have an eye for crazy, and I don’t fit the mold. Still, I have a feeling everyone that sits in this chair fears they might be perceived as mental, kind of like the girl who was opening the glass doors as I walked in. She looked normal enough. She had hair like a firework that swirled around her face in a highlighted jungle of bobby pins and cigarette smoke. Under different circumstances I imagine she would have smiled
at me, but just as I was expecting to catch her eye, shame grabbed her by the ears and pulled her head down.

People like this walk staring at the ground, and they pretend to count their steps. Well, I know what they’re thinking. They’re muttering, "She'll think I'm busy thinking. I don't want to make eye contact and know she saw me leave this place. I have friends I'm going to see right now. I'm normal. Stranger, don‘t assume I‘m insane." Then they count their steps "1-2-3--". For the record, I don‘t look down on them. I understand why these people watch the pavement and skip over cracks. They've got a scar on their pride from Amelia, the receptionist that scoffs, just as simply as I have a scar on my lip from Zach, the Australian Sheppard that bites. Where our scars rest proves to be the only definite difference between Client 2 and I as we shrug in these chairs. Confidentiality forbids Client 1, Client 2, and even Amelia from assuming too much of anything else. This is fine because Amelia doesn’t seem like she would understand my file even if I sang it to her.

I thought of starting a conversation with her, but there was a stack of paper teetering next to her coffee mug. Beyond the calm ocean scene occupying her mouse pad, I observed the soft skin of her hands at war. The skin had obviously lost ground to an army of band-aids, but she ignored them. Paper cuts illustrate Amelia’s obvious dedication. So, I decided not to disturb her work. She would consider conversation unproductive; I would stress her out. I was almost too tired to hold my head up anyway. The clock on the wall gasped 1:45, and I sympathized with it because I know how hard it is keeping track of time.

At this point, Client 2 or Tim, as I read from his nametag, had been gone for ten minutes. Before he went upstairs he reached into the bowl and grabbed a handful of condoms and--are you serious?--potpourri. I wouldn’t have noticed how awkward this was had he not topped it off with a wink. I feel sorry for any girl that has sex with Tim, not only because I don’t understand how the potpourri will come into play, but mostly because I can’t understand the logic behind picking up girls who need therapy.

The clock showed 2:00. I was listening to Amelia’s papers shuffle when I heard a moan. The louder it got, the harder it was to identify. A dog whimpering? A TV? A portable radio that’s making its way towards the door? Judging from Amelia’s expression, she was clueless too. So, I laughed a little and caught her attention “Jesus, that sounds awful…” In an instant, the sound came stumbling through the door. Immediately mine and Amelia’s raised eyebrows and shoulder shrugs turned into an explosion of paperwork followed by Amelia-like paralysis and Tarani-like jumps. The girl with highlighted hair was ripping through the room. Before I knew what I had done, she was on her back. My knees were pressed into her shoulders, and I was shaking with anger. “Hit me!” she screams. “Hit me!” My face is red. My knees are pushing so hard into her shoulders that I can feel the stranger’s back cracking on the floor. I hate this girl, and I hate this place. I hate this girl because she doesn’t look me in the eye. And I hate her because she stares at the ground like a coward, but I hate her most because she haunts my dreams.

“My sister lives behind my eyelids.” I sighed. “I can’t close them without having nightmares about her.” The short woman’s eyes frowned at me through square glasses as she helped me from the couch. Water played against the glass cup as my hands shook.

“Why do you think that is?“ She asked while observing my obvious angst.

“She gets the best of me. I hate waking up to a house that feels like a waiting room in a therapist’s office.”
I walked downstairs to breakfast the next day. I felt my mother’s eyes follow me to the table as my hand glided the old mahogany chair over the kitchen’s wooden floor. I took my seat and, for the first time, noticed the matching table was scarred. The light from the blinds danced over my plate and spread to the wood revealing cracks in its finish.

“So,” she sighed as I massaged my temples sensing the hesitation in her voice, “How did your first hypno-therapy session go?”

“It was alright.” I shifted in my seat as I continued, “It confused me.”

Mom grabbed the crackling bacon skillet from the stove and turned for the cabinets. Her shaking hands reached for our plates; her eyes saw everything in the kitchen but me.

“How did it confuse you?”

“I felt foggy. It’s almost like one of my dreams was blending in with reality.” My heart dropped as I watched her expression transform from anxious to what my friends and I refer to as the “I really wish I understood” look. The plates clanked against the blemished table top.

“Well,” she said marking the beginning of another failed attempt to comprehend, “what was the dream this time?”

“The girl I saw leaving the office turned into Hayley. The guy who was waiting with me in the lobby was Tim. You were the receptionist somehow. Tim left the office early, I can only guess to fuck Hayley again, and you were busy. So, we didn’t talk. I heard Hayley sobbing in the hallway. When she walked in I pinned her to the floor. She was begging me to hit her, and I froze like I always do.” There was an awkward silence, but what more could be expected? “I never felt like I went to sleep. There was no transition from the waiting room to Dr. Tillery’s couch.”

She hugged me before I drove away with frail arms and warm hopes that Spring semester on the coast would bring me flowers.

Carl Jung saw dreams as a way of the unconscious communicating with the conscious part of ourselves in order to bring something to our notice and restore our equilibrium. So, maybe these appointments are meant to make me see something I’ve been ignoring. Maybe it’s the same concept as the kitchen table. I sat next to the wooden surface every morning for nineteen years being so preoccupied with my bacon that I never noticed the scars--at least not until the sun crept its way through the blinds.

A few Mondays into Spring semester, I found myself walking across Santee field glowing in the same sunlight that graced the table’s surface. The girl hitting the volleyball threw herself on the grass in a desperate attempt to stop it from hitting the ground. I laughed, “It’s not glass, Caitlin. You can let it hit the ground every now and then.” But I adored her for her dedication just like I admire the receptionist for her band-aid hands and the stranger for her guilt. In the end, we all relate. I’ve been throwing myself on the ground, diving through the prickly bushes of hypnosis and therapist offices in order to stay in the air--to find a little peace and awareness.

Last week the dreams stopped. The counseling started foggy and left me feeling really confused and empty, but leaving the post office I felt l finally understood. “Dear Mom,” I wrote, “I got your flowers. Thanks for everything.”

Semantics, Hypocrisy & Other Things On My Mind

By Kim Shannon on 1:27 PM

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Bear with me folks... I am a smidge manic today (I know - you're shocked.)

I've been attempting to decide which of the 98 1/2 subjects zipping through my head I'd like to talk about, but I can't settle firmly on one...

Therefore, I will be making brief statements about a few different things today...


1. Is it just me, or is anyone else's curiosity piqued as to why we can't buy a 50 Cent CD at Wal-Mart because he raps about guns, but what you CAN buy at Wal-Mart is a GUN?


2. I'm thinking that if your bedtime is "Tuesday", there's a good chance you may be bipolar.


3. I really for the life of me CANNOT UNDERSTAND why some people get so bent out of shape about how their Bipolar Disorder is referenced in relation to them as a person.  Is there a collossal difference between "I AM bipolar" and "I HAVE Bipolar" ???  I submit that no, there is not.  Use your valuable breath to talk about something that actually matters, like the fact that Baby Ruth bars only have about 45% of the nuts they used to have, or that a seven year old committed suicide -


WHICH BRINGS ME TO MY NEXT SUBJECT....

WARNING!*TRIGGERS* WARNING!



WARNING!*TRIGGERS* WARNING! 


4. A seven year old Iranian boy committed suicide. Yeah. A SEVEN YEAR OLD.  When I read the article which talks about the boy's self inflicted death, I literally became sick. A SEVEN YEAR OLD.... it makes one think, does it not?

But here's the kicker folks; the powers that be are (of course) blaming the media.

An excerpt from the article, which was published on Medical News Today:



This seems to be the first case of attempted copycat suicide in a child under 10 years old. Exposure to suicidal behaviour in the media has been strongly linked to copycat suicide attempts but never in someone so young. This case warns of the potential danger to young people who are exposed to suicide even when it is fictional, and exposes the previously ignored role of attention deficit and impulsive behavioral traits on suicide...

I'm not sure what I think about a 7 year old hanging himself, and the media being faulted... but I'd be really interested in hearing from anyone who DOES know what they think about it.  The jury is still out on that one for me.

You can get the full article here: 
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/138177.php


It's sad, sad, news.....



That Was Then, This Is Now (Submitted by Dani)

By Kim Shannon on 11:58 PM

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The following poems, submitted by Dani, were written at different periods in her life. The first one was composed when the author was just sixteen years old. The second piece was created 2 weeks prior to her bipolar diagnosis...



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A Stranger's Eyes - Age 16


Looking through a stranger's eyes
Hiding - Out of sight
Wondering if these stranger's eyes
Will hide me from the fright.

A stranger's eyes so full of love
A heart so full of grace
But no one sees what's inside me
They only see my face

I do not want to know myself
What inside me lies
When I stare into that mirror
I must simply close my eyes

Through the darkness of those stranger's eyes
I find some happy place
And only there can I open up
To show my love and grace




I Sigh 2008: 2 weeks before diagnosis


I sigh but don't cry
I want to cry until
I am purged of the pain

I can't cry
It is like a dam
Waiting to break

The pressure building from
A raging storm
What if the dam breaks?

The water floods
It can't be stopped - unrelenting
Leaving distruction in its wake

More pain
But for all the others
Release is the dam's alone

Release for the damned
So I sigh, but don't cry
The price is too high

The small cracks in the dam
slow release nor real relief
Just cracks and slow leaks

The pressure still building
Cracks hidden without repair
Integrity weakening

Maybe there is not stopping the flood
Planned, contained flood
To protect those in its path

Options - not options
Responsibility, fault, blame
Never purged from the pain

I sigh

Forgiving - (Submitted by Terry)

By Kim Shannon on 3:28 PM

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Forgiving






i want to forgive
you or him or she
or them or that race


someone, somehow
i don't care right now who


liar


liar


just a primal urge
a fountain of reminding me


adding my burden of remorse
to the great back that
ends under the weight
of the universe all us


now i need to forgive
misuse the misappropriated
fantastical slide rule i



don't understand but



governs leftover calculus equations
                       in the queasy pit of my stomach
                                    that i tangentially know are me


forgive me - myself


for anything


for everything


for nothing


i can't


you can


i can't swallow to forgive
what i did and didn't do


you can - you will
this is not a test


who are you? who the fuck are you?
telling, telling, that to, to me
numbers don't count


you can
forgive


i can't


of all in the world
you know why


you can


i can't
i can't look into my eyes


forget what shame transcends
i can't lose my desperation
never vanish my shadow


you will


i won't
forgive
me.


again.

It's Just Me - (Anonymous)

By Kim Shannon on 5:43 PM

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Some of you reading this might not know what a wonderful person the author of this blog is. She's kind, loving, intelligent and drop dead hilarious. I met her through my support group, and she is like a sister to me. The Bipolar Support Group has been a life changing and life saving experience for me. Finding that group and meeting and becoming so close to others in the group has been incredible. Having bipolar disorder can make you feel profoundly alone. It has been the one place where I have been able to feel understood, and it's the place where I have met the people I now consider to be like a second family to me. If you're suffering, check it out. You won't believe how it can feel to have the support of people who live what you are living.

I am a 41 year old single mother of two little boys who are the light of my life. I am an attorney and I own my own practice. My parents and brothers and sister are my best friends in the whole world. I am part of a truly amazing family and I'm thankful for them every day. After getting divorced at the age of 38, and having resolved to be alone, I accidentally met the love of my life at age 40. I have a wonderful psychiatrist who respects me, works with me and truly cares about me. I know so many people through my job, through living in a small town and through the two different universities I have graduated from, but the few people I listed above, and my second family at MDJunction are the only people who know me. For clients, judges, other attorneys, people in my community, people I volunteer with and on and on, I wear a mask and hide so much of who I am. It makes me sad to have to do that, but if I didn't, no one would hire me and I have two children to support, so wearing the mask is the high price I pay. It is exhausting.

For as long as I can remember, I have lived on the edge of a world everyone else seems to understand. I always thought that everyone else had the same feelings I do, but that they just understood how to handle them, whereas I did not. It was only after being diagnosed and finding the right combination of medications that I realized this wasn't true.

The rest of the world does not feel the way I do. I am a rapid cycler. I can go from manic to profoundly depressed in the course of a few weeks or a few days or a few hours. When I am manic, I don't sleep for days at a time. I have so many ideas that I can't keep up with my mind. I have so many different projects going on at the same time, but I often don't finish any of them. For some people with bipolar disorder, the manic phase is when they feel really great, but we are all different. When I am manic, I feel so anxious and out of control. I live in a state of fear. I cannot have a conversation with anyone because it feels as if they can't understand the desperate importance of my thoughts. During manic phases, I have said and done things to the people I love that are hurtful. I have made horrendous decisions and have spent money I didn't have.

Then comes the crash. It's a horrible, dark hole that is filled with a void. The void is hopelessness, self loathing, powerlessness, and fear. It is the feeling that I am such a bad person that I don't deserve the air that I breath. When I am depressed, I often feel as if I shouldn't be taking up space in the world, and I try to make myself smaller and smaller by talking less and less, leaving the house only when absolutely necessary and constantly believing the voice that tells me over and over and over again that I am less than, lower than and that I have done something unforgivable and so deserve to feel the pain. It is crying and crying and crying.

Whether depressed or manic, and even now that I am basically stable on medication, I always have racing and repetitive thoughts. A snippet of a song playing over and over, along with a fragmented to do list and "movies" my mind creates of past, present and future events, all at the same time. Even when I am asleep, I dream constantly and vividly. When my partner sleeps next to me, he tells me in the morning of the many conversations I have during the night. My mind doesn't rest very often.

For years before I was diagnosed, I punished myself through destructive behavior. I allowed myself to be used and abused, believing it was all I deserved. I self medicated my way through episodes, sometimes successfully but more often with consequences that just made life more difficult.

Through all those years before I was diagnosed, I wore a mask for the world. I wore a mask for family and friends and professors and bosses and anyone with whom I had any contact. No one ever knew me. No one could. It was exhausting to be me. I lived life in a constant state of fear, even during the good times.

I was diagnosed with depression after the birth of my first child eleven years ago. I was diagnosed as bipolar after the birth of my second child eight years ago. I was hospitalized twice because I wanted to die. I only accepted my diagnosis within the last two years, after several years of therapy and after years of being on one anti-depressant after another, which only ever made things worse.

I now take five different medications several times a day. It took months of trial and error to find the right combination of medications, but it was worth it. I still have ups and downs. My moods still swing from mania to depression. The medications make the swings less profound and more manageable. Logging on to MDJunction every day and getting the support I need from people who understand me is almost as important as the medications. Although the side effects of my medications can be difficult to live with and they unquestionably negatively affect my artistic creativity, it's still worth it. My world falls apart far less often now and I don't live in a constant state of fear. I know I will have to take medication for the rest of my life. That's ok.

For those of you who create the stigma surrounding mental illness through your ignorance, it's time for you to learn what it's all about. For those of you who suffer with this disorder in silence, know you're not alone. I can only hope that as more of us become willing to share our stories, there will be greater understanding and acceptance, and the stigma will slowly disappear. I am a good person. I am a good mother, daughter, sister, lawyer, friend and lover. I am sensitive and compassionate and smart and loving. The fact that I can say that and mean it on most days now is the best feeling, and holding those days in my mind and having people remind me of those things about myself helps me get through the other days when I still hate myself.

That's as much of my story as I can tell you. The rest is in my mind and my mind alone, and it really isn't something that can be explained. It's just me.

- Submitted by Anonymous

Dual Diagnosis - (Submitted By O Sun)

By Kim Shannon on 10:54 AM

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This story was submitted to me by a member of my support group - her name is O Sun...
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I came into this world breached. Feet first. But really, the delivery man forced me out head first with the use of forceps. Heaven only knows. Maybe he accidentally squeezed my delicate little cranium too tight with his tools triggering some kind of chemical eruption in my infant brain. Then again doctors are not supposed to reposition a breech by the head right? I couldn't say. What I do know is that from a very early age I had a heavy feeling of displacement. I have been on this search for something or someone to turn me around or realign my neural configuration.


I have lived most of my life shaken up by a volcanic tide of emotions. My moods are always oscillating and I am somewhere inside of them trying to find a life preserver be it illcit drugs (self destructive and futile), modern medicine (a work in progress that knaws at my patience), or therapy (compatibility also takes time and I am a tough match).


When I was first told "You are bipolar" I did not believe it. Not because I was ashamed or in denial, but because it was (and still is) the trend of the mental health world. Everyone under the sun was being diagnosed bipolar and I did not want to end up just another mistaken statistic. However, when I did my research, looking for symptoms and signs I could not relate to in order to challenge my diagnosis, I couldn't find an argument. I was actually overcome with a flood of relief. An explanation was given to me as to why I was experiencing such difficulty and pain in my life. I was able to stop punishing and blaming myself for my intense instability.


I have been hospitalized three times for depression. I was also in the hospital overnight because the cops came to my house and four pointed me. My family called the police because I was out of control and they were worried about what I would do if I left the house (which I really wanted to do at the time and probably would have ended up in some dark alley with strange people doing drugs). Drugs are very much a part of my story because I used them to medicate my uncomfortable fluctuations of mood. I have experienced extemely uncomfortable highs and detrimental lows quite rapidly. All my life I have been on this quest to make myself feel better or at least to get to know what it is like to feel semi-normal. I am dually diagnosed with addiction and bipolar and the road is a very hard and sometimes excruciatingly difficult one. I was put on disability last year because my condition makes it hard for me to hold down a job and fend for myself independently. I am thirty-one and I still live with my parents: I dream of one day having an apartment of my own like so many other people. I also dream of the day when I can feel comfortable in my own skin without drugs. I am sober now, but I am currently experiencing the depressive side of my illness that makes it hard for me to shower and put on my own two shoes in the morning. I have been through many pharmaceutical drugs, most to no avail, and I have to sit with this until my nurse practitioner comes up with the right combination. I feel like my life is in slow motion. I am trying to separate my feelings and intellect so that my intellect will tell me that I am moving through and this will pass. The highs I've experienced are twinged with irritability and it gets to the point where I want to hurt myself or someone else. I take an antipsychotic to relieve myself (and everyone else) of this state. I am currently in an outpatient program for the dually diagnosed and a DBT program to help regulate my moods. This program is like going to school and learning instructions for living; I seemed to miss out on the instructions early on and I get bored with them very easily. I am trying to learn to have patience in order to survive. It takes a lot of patience to get the insurance I need, the doctors I need, finding the right therapy, and not wanting to end my life when my moods start racing or slowing me down and shutting me off.


I watch people go to work and I watch them walk by me and drive and shop and I wonder why they seem so far away and why I don't feel as human as they seem to be. What would life be like if I did not have a mental illness or an addiction? Would it be easier? It looks very easy for some to do the day to day things that are so tremendously hard for me. It seems as if I am looking at life through a glass wall and I am stuck on the other side, in a different dimension. Sometimes it seems that I am a semblance of a person. I never quite feel whole. It is hard not to trust what I will be one minute or one day from the next. My goal is to one day be comfortable and stable and to know what consistency means. Until then...patience.

Where Am I Going???

By Kim Shannon on 8:47 AM

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