#TBT – A Much Needed Vacation

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The other night as we were getting ready for bed I complained of my lack of writing lately to my husband.

“I just feel so disconnected from my illness. Like I haven’t been experiencing any symptoms so how can I write authentically on my blog?” I whined.

He smiled at me. “That’s a good thing.”

I’m not arguing that a lack of symptoms is anything but wonderful. These past four years I’ve felt better than I ever have. At about year five was when I crossed over to the point of understanding why my body did the things it did, and what I needed to do in order to control my illness lest it control me.

Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of scars from where I’ve been. I especially remember the emotional rips to my heart from the stigma I feared in talking about what I was going through early on.

I wasn’t the only person affected this way by my illness.

Less than two months after my first two episodes and the hospitalizations that followed, Ben and I found ourselves in a tropical paradise. That fall we had booked a romantic February vacation to celebrate our birthdays and Valentine’s day. I spent months researching bed & breakfast spots on the island before settling on one that looked absolutely breathtaking, cozy and perfect.

I still can’t believe I made it through the trip.

The sunsets were magical and sitting across from this man who had cared for me so lovingly brought me to tears almost every night. Even though I was desperate to talk about what had happened to me, to try to figure out why my brain got so screwed up, we couldn’t. It was too soon. It hurt too much to revisit those excruciating moments so soon after we had managed to pull through.

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Our B&B host was welcoming and sweet, and I would have loved to have chatted with her if I would have been able to make it through three sentences before getting choked up. I could barely tell her how much I enjoyed her homemade breakfast let alone tell her how special this trip was to us, how we both needed the relaxation the island was providing more than she’d ever know. It was as if my story was caught in my throat. But why wouldn’t it be? It was so raw and I hadn’t yet been able to process everything that had happened so no wonder my words got stuck and jumbled. It was easier to let the tears speak for me.

My love. He must have been so scared of what was ahead of us. Would I recover? Would I ever be the same woman he fell in love with? Would he be able to hold on to our marriage until I was able to pull myself out of the fog I was sinking into?

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{After I snapped this picture, Ben came face-to-face with a barracuda when he was snorkling!}

People often write to me and ask how I was able to make it. They look at my highlight reel and wonder how I make it look so effortless. But the photos of today don’t reflect the pain and suffering of eight and a half years ago. If you look closely at pictures from 2006, my eyes show the trauma. My feelings may have been bottled-up back then, but photos can’t lie. My smile isn’t as bright and true. My eyes are distant, cold, afraid of the future.

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The future keeps coming. And now I find myself here, ready for what is lies ahead still. But I haven’t done it alone, that’s for sure. My partner honored his vows and stayed by my side, cheering me on each and every day. Through the days when I said I didn’t think I wanted to go on anymore. Through the days when I doubted whether we’d ever have a family. Through the days when I fell asleep crying for it to be over, for the clouds to make way for the sun again in my life.

The sun came back. And although I know that it will come and go at times in my life, I hold on to the past as a reminder of how far I’ve come and how grateful I am for the life I have today.

Our Love Survives Mental Illness

View More: http://staceywindsor.pass.us/marshall_familyPhoto Credit: Stacey Windsor Photography

When I got married at the age of twenty-four, I never imagined I’d be looking back at our past ten years of marriage with the realization that our love has survived mental illness.

But the reality of mental illness is that it doesn’t discriminate. Like cancer, it strikes without warning. Like cancer, it’s life-changing. Like cancer, it tests the strength of the important relationships in your world. It’s ruthless and heartless, and at times I felt as though I were drowning and I’d never come up for air.

I met my husband when I was nineteen years old. We dated [Read more…]

My love anchor

10thAnniversary

I woke up before anyone else in the house did on my wedding day. It was six o’clock and my nerves had driven me to the bathroom. Back in bed, I pretended to go back to sleep, but my mind kept running through the events of the day ahead of me. I wanted our kiss to be perfect.

We got married at twenty-four. Some may say that’s young, but I knew I wanted to be with him forever after we had only been dating for three months. I’ve always said I’d be ready to take the next step, build my life, when I knew we were right for each other. My anchor. He’s always been my anchor. This is what I’ve learned after fifteen years together, ten of those as husband and wife.

I didn’t know back then how many obstacles we’d be faced with in the years ahead. Neither of us saw mental illness in my future. How could anyone predict that? And even if we could, it’s not like it would have changed our minds about wanting to be together.

It’s not easy being married to me. I have tumultuous moods, get frustrated easily, am the most stubborn person I know, and I’m sure sometimes… [Read more…]