cripsy13

Musings, mutterings from the misguided.


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ATYPICAL DEPRESSION

After 30 years of never really being diagnosed with anything concrete – well, finally – FINALLY something tangible.

ATYPICAL DEPRESSION

Reader’s Digest version of events:  After my ‘episode’ of a couple of months ago, where I wound up in hospital after a rather feeble overdose attempt (weaning myself off of Cymbalta was a most horrendous experience), my doctor put me on a new medication, which turns out I was terribly allergic to (I thought it was spring allergies, but it was much, MUCH worse).  She took me off of that and put me back on a medication that I used to take, and it was then that I knew I had to take some time to just get back on track and heal.

While the hospital experience was something I’d rather forget, it opened me up to a much higher level of psychiatric care that I’d never had in the past.  My GP fast tracked an appointment with the clinic’s resident psychiatrist and I was able to get in to see him in a matter of weeks.  The main reason being, was that my GP explained to me that she had run the gamut of antidepressants she was willing to prescribe; anything else needed to be prescribed by a psychiatrist.

So, I toddled off to see the nice doctor and in 45 minutes, he had come up with a diagnosis that made sense of all the different symptoms I’d ever had.  He was ever so kind, explaining to me the different symptoms and how he came up with the diagnosis.  Part of me was mortified that it had a name; the other part of me didn’t care – finally I could relate to something and understand why I am the way I am and that I’m NOT batshit crazy (okay, maybe a little bit, but aren’t we all?)

Since then, I’ve felt stronger, more empowered and certainly less frantic/weepy/messed up.  It is so wonderful (yes, wonderful) to know that it’s not just me acting like a weirdo – there is an actual name for my weirdness (ha).

And, so, for those of you wondering – here is what Atypical Depression looks like:

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erm…wrong picture, let’s try that again:

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So many things just fell into place – especially the ‘sensitive to rejection’ thing.  I can usually control it, but if I’m feeling particularly crappy, and let’s say I send out an email and don’t get a response, I automatically think it’s me, I’ve done something wrong, etc..  WHICH is extremely annoying to those closest to me – especially my boss and colleagues.  Trying to explain that is extremely difficult and frankly, embarrassing.  I’m often very tired and my body feels like I’m wearing concrete weights on my forearms and my legs.  While I don’t sleep in, given the chance, I do like to take an afternoon nap (which can sometimes be upwards of 4 hours).  I crave carbohydrates like an alcoholic craves booze; I always have. When I’m ‘depressed’, for the most part I don’t feel like I’m melancholic, rather, I’m more likely to feel angry and frantic.  Don’t get me wrong; I have fabulous crying jags worthy of an Oscar, but they don’t last very long.  Thankfully (I hate crying).

I had a conversation with a friend this morning about a woman she knows who has schizophrenia and while she has the disease, she is NOT the disease.  While I’m very thankful to have a diagnosis that I can work with and learn about, I too have a disease; I am NOT the disease itself.  My mother lived her whole life with depression as her identity; I don’t ever want to be that person.

If you’d like further information on atypical depression, please visit  http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/atypical-depression.

 

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Ah yes.  The inundation of Valentine’s Day is upon us once again.

The ads for jewelry, chocolates, flowers and yes, lingerie – has taken over.  Happy, shiny people looking upon each other with love and awe.  Big, tear filled eyes light up when they see the token diamond ring being presented to them.  Awwwwwwwwwwww?  Isn’t love GRAND?  Everyone on social media expressing their undying love for their partners…gag.

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Okay.  I’m gonna stop right here and say…I hate Valentine’s Day.  Sour grapes?  Maybe a bit.

As a kid, everyone at school had the little construction paper envelopes made up so that they could receive Valentine’s Day cards from their classmates.  How exciting it was to watch someone plunk one in your envelope!  Wait – who was that kid?  Are we in the same class?  Huh.  Then you’d go home and covet them, singling the one out from the cutest boy in Grade 3 (which, you knew was only because his mom made him make them out to EVERYONE in the class).  Remember this?

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Yeah, poor Ralphie.  Lisa broke his little booger filled heart.  It was the best of intentions for her to give him a card – nobody else would.  Broken hearts and promises at the ripe old age of Grade 2.

Junior High – the introduction of Harlequin Romances and heaving bosoms and throbbing manhoods.  Girl meets boy (girl is usually blonde, blue eyed with perfect measurements; boy is tall, handsome, rich and a CEO of some giant corporation and had a sexy name like Rock or Thorne – there were no Bobs or Mikes in HR) and they would fall madly in love, have 2.5 kids and live in a house with a white picket fence.  Ah…how romantic!  I couldn’t wait for that to happen to ME!

(INSERT THE SCRATCH OF A NEEDLE ON AN ALBUM HERE – young people, look up ‘music album’ on Google)

My very first real boyfriend ever was in Grade 10.  I thought it was going to last forever…well, it did until he dumped me for the school tramp.  But that’s not in the Harlequin Romances!  WTF?

My 20’s didn’t fare much better…met and fell in head over heels love with someone, only to find out (eventually) that he was engaged and dating several other women at the time.  And then there was the guy who was married (that I DID NOT KNOW ABOUT) as he had a cell phone (this was back in the early 90’s when they looked like the shoe phone from Maxwell Smart (young people – look up ‘Maxwell Smart shoe phone on Google) and was always at my place).  Then there was my ex brother in law’s brother (got that?) whom I was dating for a while – I went away for a couple of days to visit a friend and came back and found out he’d been sleeping with my roommate (that ended with me actually punching him the face and breaking my thumb).  That was ALSO not in the romance novels.  How about the guy I’d started seeing at work who failed to tell me he had Hepatitis B and that I only found out because the nice lady in Human Resources at the time, broke the confidentiality clause to tell me about it?  And wasn’t that fun having to get shots and praying to the universe that I never started to exhibit signs of having it (thankfully – nothing so far).  That was certainly NOT in any romance novel I’ve ever read.

So, I have to say:  ROMANCE?  WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?  The only thing I’ve ever received from a guy on Valentine’s Day was a card that said “Happy VD” on it.  Flowers?  BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Jewelry?  BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  Chocolate?  BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

I’d put myself out there, only to get knocked down again, so at the ripe old age of about 40, I said SCREW IT!  I’ve got a good life, great job, roof over my head, amazing friends – what more could I possibly need?  (Okay, well the occasional night out would be nice, but meh – I have Netflix).

So yes, I’m a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to Valentine’s Day and all its’ promises of love and romance.  Me?  You’ll find me curled up on the couch with a glass of wine, with my birds singing their little hearts out, as I watch a cheesy horror movie.  But hey, feel free to slip me a Valentine’s Day card in the construction paper envelope I have hanging on my door 🙂


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SELF INDULGENCE

Happy New Year!

So…how many of you made New Year’s Resolutions – hands up!  Right…now, how many of you are still following them?  Oh…yes, well, that’s to be expected.

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Every year, I vow to lose weight, drink less, do more, get out with friends, be more organized…the list goes on.  Most years I make it until about mid-January and then slowly everything starts to weaken…and I’m back to where I started, angry at myself for failing and then I wind up making things twice as hard for myself because if I’ve failed, I’m going to do it with a vengeance.

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Which ultimately means I eat too much, drink too much, slob out on the couch, ignore everyone and find myself looking for my bankcard at the bottom of my purse (because there is no way in HELL I’ll have put it back where it should go).

Bah.

Just prior to Christmas, I had a (as my father would have put it) a ‘come to Jesus’ meeting with my landlord.  I’ve been wanting to purchase my condo for a long time, but kept putting off attacking the mountain of personal debt I’ve accumulated in about the past 9 years.  She’s given me until the middle of the year to prove that I AM working on it and if she’s happy with the results, she will bend over backwards to assist me with the purchase – WAY above and beyond what a normal landlord would ever do.  Our meeting was extremely intense; not since my father died have I had such a conversation about my debt and my addiction to self indulgence.

Which started after my dad died.  I just put that together.  Interesting.

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but my dad was everything – dad, best friend, mentor – I admit, I was definitely daddy’s girl.  He did everything for me – got the oil changed in my car, bailed me out of stupid monetary decisions – the stuff most dads do.  I never panicked – or paid much attention to things, because I knew dad always had my back.  I’m embarrassed to admit that he helped me out financially WAY too many times.

My dad died suddenly in February 2005.  It hit me like a fucking sledgehammer.  If you were to ask me what the rest of the year looked like, I can’t tell you because I was in a complete fog.  My sister and I had to start caring for our extremely needy mother, who made our lives a living hell.  I had lost my dad, my best friend and my support.  My safety net, as it were.

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That’s when things started getting ugly.  I started drinking too much, spending too much – EVERYTHING was too much.  I didn’t care, nor did I think of the ramifications of my actions.  It made me feel better.  It stopped the hurt.  I started spending like I had an unlimited trunk full of cash.  I didn’t buy big things; it was the little things – $40 here for a new shirt, $25 here for groceries and I’m not even going to get into how much I’ve spent on wine over the years (that in itself is embarrassing).  Maxed out more credit cards than I can count.  Managed to get myself back on track by paying them off, only to get myself back into trouble – time and time again.

I just didn’t care…I didn’t stop to think that all those little purchases added up to one big, hefty bill.  Oh, I made payments regularly and was always very conscious about doing that, but it was all peripheral; it never entered into my mind that I was paying 13%, 15% or 17% and throwing a few hundred at it each month wasn’t getting me anywhere.  I was managing it and I didn’t have debt collectors after me and it was all good.  Carry on!

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After my mother died in 2010, there was a small inheritance left to me and I used most of it to pay off debt.  Yay!  A credit card with a zero balance!  Whoo!  I can start spending again!

Just before Christmas I got extremely sick and have only just started feeling marginally human again.  I had a lot of time to just sit and ponder things…when one day, I had what I like to call – a jelly donut moment.  A jelly donut moment is when you stick your finger in the middle of the donut and watch everything ooze out the sides and top.  Basically – my psyche started oozing, but with that came clarity – a sense of calmness that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

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I realized that for the past 9 years, I’ve been obsessively self indulgent.  I bought things because I wanted them RIGHT NOW and I drank too much because it made me forget all of my problems – but, I deserved it – didn’t I?

No.  Well, maybe.  My point is that all of the money I’ve spent, all of the wine I’ve drunk didn’t replace my dad – it only created a different dependency.  A dependency on being self indulgent.  ‘Poor me, I’ve had a bad day, I should go look at shoes.’

So, tucked at home in my jammies on New Year’s Eve, with some cold medicine and Netflix – I made a different resolution.  This is the year that I become less self indulgent.  I’m going to take care of myself by eating better, getting a bit more exercise and by not drinking.  I’m going to think before I spend.  Now, that doesn’t mean I’m going to be absolutely 100% ‘perfect’ – but what it means for me, is that those moments of self indulgence are going to be the exception, rather than the rule.  Because I deserve it – don’t I?


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On a typical day, I get up, feed the birds, brush my teeth, make myself look relatively presentable and head to work.

I work in a job where I am ‘on’ from the minute I get there until the minute I walk out the door.  I work with some very high level people and part of my job is to schmooze and make nice-nice with the people that come in.  We host meetings, special events, medal ceremonies – you name it, we’ve done it.  And, I can say with great confidence that I SHINE in most of these situations.  You would never know in a million years, that underneath the professional, witty and hysterically funny woman, is a little girl who is just wanting to be liked.

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The silly thing is that people DO like me (insert Stuart Smalley reference here).  I think I’m a pretty good person, I have some really wonderful friends and would give you the shirt off my back if you needed it.  I’ve an acerbic wit that has gotten me in trouble more than a few times, I will bend over backwards to help you – I will even let you share my bag of Doritos (that’s the biggest honour I can bestow upon you).

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So, you would think that I would have all the confidence in the world – that I could leap tall buildings in a single bound, take on a bully, stand up against injustice (thank GOD for news websites that I can rant on) – even show others how to be a confident woman in this world.

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Sadly, I do not.  Have self confidence that is.  Okay, in *some* instances I do, and I get a real charge of positive energy when I am up in front of others, talking about something I’m passionate about.

But it can just take one comment, in one wrong moment to make me want to crawl up into a ball and wait for it to go away.  It’s as easy as someone ignoring me or not answering my email or phone message.  I revert back to the little girl, who never really got any positive reinforcement as a child, but the negative comments came fast and furious.

As that kid, I was trained to be my mother’s slave.  If I disappointed her, I was punished with silence and harsh, abrupt words.  To a little kid, it was pretty confusing, after all – I was trying to do what she wanted me to do, but it was just never right.  I didn’t clean the bathroom properly.  I didn’t wash the ashtrays (yeah, okay, I SO wasn’t going to do that anyhow).  I didn’t make her bed properly.  I didn’t remember to take out the garbage.  The list goes on.  So, as a grown adult, when I feel that I’ve disappointed someone in some way, I go out of my way to make amends.  Now, there is a little voice in my head that says ‘SHUTUP, DON’T MAKE IT WORSE, IT WILL BLOW OVER.”  But I’m also not very good listening to myself, so I ignore it and go ahead and indeed, make things worse.

And, this week – it did just that.  I had called in sick to work because I was having a horrible fibromyalgia pain day – I could barely move.  Now, I’m one of those people that will go to work even if I’m bleeding from an eyeball with pneumonia.  I feel guilty and even while I’m lying there wishing for death, I feel the need to connect with my work place so they know I’m not in Mexico drinking tequila out of some pool boys’ bellybutton.  But they don’t think that.  They think ‘hey, she’s sick, carry on.’

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So, basically I made a bad judgment call on Friday and wound up – what was perceived to be as ‘pestering’ my boss.  He was annoyed, I was freaked out because of his slight and fretted about it all weekend.

I should back pedal a bit by explaining that earlier this year, I needed to take a stress leave.  When I came back, he bent over backwards to accommodate me and our working relationship has grown in leaps and bounds (there are really only two of us in our office).  For the most part, we get along very well.

It’s been a couple of days and things aren’t much better and I’ve apologized for my end of things, which is all I can do.  My insecurities reared their ugly head and now I’m suffering the consequences.

A friend of mine told me today that I’m a very sensitive person and I should learn to not take things so personally – this was said with love, because I know this friend will always have my back.

She’s 100% right.  I need to let the guilty feelings that I grew up with go.  Let the insecurities I have about not being good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, fit enough, funny enough – go.  My mother might have been the best travel agent for guilt trips, but she’s gone now, and I think I’ll make my own travel arrangements from now on.


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LET THERE BE LIGHT!

When I was a kid, I LOVED winter.  Playing in the snow with my friends, tobogganing, ice skating…having the neighbourhood Great Dane pull us down the street with our slip sliders firmly attached to our winter boots.  Getting all ready to go outside and realizing I had to pee…really, the fun never ended.

Wait, yes it did.  I now hate, loathe, detest and despise winter.  Which, coming from someone who lives in Canada, is pretty funny.

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Snow.  Ice.  -40.  It all contributes to my hatred of winter.  But all of those things pale in comparison to the darkness that envelops us for 4 – 5 months out of the year.

As someone who has suffered from depression most of my adult life, the darkness of the winter months turns me into a hormonal, weepy, angry slug.  I have no energy.  I eat too much.  I drink too much.  The littlest things can set me off – the big things seem overwhelming.  All I want to do is curl up into a ball, pull the covers over my head and wait for April to roll around.  It’s called Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD.

What is seasonal affective disorder (SAD)? 

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that affects a person during the same season each year. If you get depressed in the winter but feel much better in spring and summer, you may have SAD.

Anyone can get SAD, but it is more common in:

  • People who live in areas where winter days are very short or there are big changes in the amount of daylight in different seasons.
  • Women.
  • People between the ages of 15 and 55. The risk of getting SAD for the first time goes down as you age.
  • People who have a close relative with SAD.

What causes SAD?

Experts are not sure what causes SAD, but they think it may be caused by a lack of sunlight. Lack of light may upset your sleep-wake cycle and other circadian rhythms. And it may cause problems with a brain chemical called serotonin that affects mood.

What are the symptoms?

If you have SAD, you may:

  • Feel sad, grumpy, moody, or anxious.
  • Lose interest in your usual activities.
  • Eat more and crave carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta.
  • Gain weight.
  • Sleep more and feel drowsy during the daytime.

Symptoms come and go at about the same time each year. For most people with SAD, symptoms start in September or October and end in April or May (information courtesy of WebMD)

My symptoms started this past week – moody, weepy, tired – drinking and eating too much…and it’s very frustrating, because I KNOW what it is, yet I don’t seem to be able to put a stop to it – it’s sort of like having PMS for 4 entire months – it’s hard enough for me, but the people around me must be just THRILLED (insert apology to all, here).

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Work is especially delightful this time of year, because I find it very difficult to be around people and in my job, most days are spent with large groups of them and for the most part, all I want to do is poke each and every one of them in the eye.  Not because they’ve done anything wrong – I just don’t like people this time of year.

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It’s gonna be a long winter, folks.


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Here yesterday; Gone today…

The end.  Finito.  That’s all, Folks!

You see – I am the end of the line – family wise.  My dad was the only boy (he had two sisters) and I was supposed to be a boy (oops, sorry about the not having a penis thing).  It’s something that’s bothered me for many years, ever since I realized (and, was informed) that I am indeed, it.

About five years ago, I became very interested in tracing my family tree.  Now, my dad’s side has been traced back to Adam (we’re a bunch of drunken, Scottish heathens) – but my mom’s side – well, that’s a whole different ball of wax.

My mother never told me (or anyone, for that matter) much about her family.  My grandfather died about 5 months before I was born, and based on what my sister and dad have told me about him, he was quite the character and I’m very sad that I never got the chance to meet him.  He came from Russia in 1913 to join the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.  He fought in France, lived through Vimy and was wounded a few days later at (in?) Arleaux Loop.  He was sent to a military hospital in England, where he married his nurse and they returned to Canada.

That’s about all I’ve got.  My mother adored her father and didn’t have much use for her mother (who, according to my mother, was evil and batshit crazy…hmm…the apple didn’t fall very far from the tree on that one).

So, armed with that information, I started digging.  I came across some information in an old family photo album that actually listed all of my grandmother’s brothers and sisters.  Aha!  But the person I was most interested in was my grandfather.

On and off, over the past few years, I’ve done some research, even managed to get copies of his attestation papers from Veterans’ Affairs.  Reading them was just fascinating!  It detailed his military history, his health, what happened when he was wounded – every little detail was meticulously kept.  Except for the town in Russia he was born in.  The name he had listed doesn’t exist, nor did it ever exist.  I tried a million different variations, asked around to some of my eastern European friends – I just couldn’t get anywhere, so I sort of let it lie.

About a month ago, my sister gave me a bag of documents.  It was everything that was in my dad’s safety deposit box – she’d had it for some time, but had only recently come across it.  For me, it was like Christmas.  I found my mother’s birth certificate – and on it – was the REAL name of the town my Grandfather was born in!  Turns out that it’s now considered a part of Belarus (I guess that sort of makes me a Belorussian – I think we’re very good at shot put in the Olympics, if I remember correctly 🙂 ).  I also found out that my mother had Grade 12 piano (never heard her play a note in her life).  I even found copies of her high school report cards – she was a pretty smart cookie; dad on the other hand – erm, not so much.  It had my dad’s military records, a few photos and even a letter written to my grandfather from 1904.

In this bag, was a link to the family I never knew, never got to know and brought to light who my parents were before they were my parents.

My mother was HOT, I mean SMOKIN’ HOT!  And my dad was no slouch himself.  I learned through some reading and from my sister that she was a talented artist (again, I never knew of this). She was a real shit disturber during her Air Force days, and spent most of her time on her hands and knees, scrubbing airplane hangars with a toothbrush.  The pictures I have of her as a young woman shows a free spirit, full of fun and life and mischief.  Dad was the same way – some of his Air Force stories had me rolling with laughter (some of the crap he was allowed to get away with in the 1950’s is considerably different than what they can get away with today!)

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I’m sad that I never got to know my parents beyond them being ‘mom and dad’.  I did a little bit with my dad, but my mom remained tight lipped until the day she died.  It’s only now that I’m learning to appreciate who they were as people, as a young man and woman in the 40’s and 50’s.  Why they were the way they were – what happened to my mother to turn her into an old, manipulative and excessively codependent woman?  Why didn’t she share her life with us, her family?  Was my dad truly happy?  Did he live a good life and was he able to achieve some of his dreams?

While I’m writing this post for me – it’s mostly for all of you who might still be lucky enough to have your parents with you.  Learn from them.  Ask questions – not kid to parent questions – adult to adult questions.  Ask about their past, their dreams and what some of the best parts of their lives have been.  Would they have lived life differently?  Do they have any regrets?  Encourage them to tell stories about crazy Aunt Helen, about their first kiss – even their first job.  Get to know them as people; you’ll be pleasantly surprised about the things you learn – after all, they’re human too.


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TRUST…WORTHY?

When I was young, I trusted EVERYBODY.  I took everyone at their word and never once did I even consider that someone was being less than truthful with me or wanted to hurt me.  I was an open book; my mother used to tell me that I wore my heart on my sleeve.  You always knew where you stood with me – why would I lie?  Why would I hide my feelings away?

Thanks to lying, cheating men, friends who stabbed me in the back – I have done a complete 360 – I trust NO ONE.  It borders on paranoia.  Someone says something to me, I immediately think ‘can this person be trusted?’ – or, ‘is this true?’  Even people that I love – I have a hard time completely believing them – and believing IN them.  It’s not a conscious decision, rather something that has become ingrained into my psyche.

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If I were to write out all of the relationships I’ve had over the years, I’d have Hollywood writers knocking down my door, because NOBODY has the kind of luck I’ve had with men and this stuff can’t be made up.  From being in a long term relationship with someone who was engaged the whole time (this is where that ‘trust’ thing came into play; I had no idea) – to the guy who was married (yep, didn’t know that either – dumb? trusting?  stupid?  all of the above? – I only found out when I went to change my bird cage and saw the birth announcement of his daughter in the paper – seriously, no word of a lie – ha).  How about the guy who, unbeknownst to me, had hepatitis C and failed to inform me?  The only way I found out about that, was through a colleague at work (we all worked together) who had seen it in his file.  I had to go through the whole process of shots and updates for years.

Now, the occasional white lie – when appropriate – is okay.  I’m talking the ‘yes, you look AMAZING in those skin tight, white pants and no, I can’t see your happy face underwear through them’ kind of white lie.

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But soul destroying lying – whether it is outright – or lying through omission – is NOT okay.

I have developed a very cynical attitude towards most people.  I question people’s sincerity.  I question their motives.  I question their moral compass.  I feel – subconsciously – that I can no longer trust anyone for anything they say.  If someone says something nice about me, I shift into ‘WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY THAT?” – I can’t even accept a proper compliment without getting the shifty eyed ‘you’re lying’ look going.

If someone tells me something that just doesn’t sound right, I don’t say much of anything.  However, I have the memory of an elephant for lies – and if you are lying to me, I WILL catch you.  Imagine how exhausting it is to be suspicious of almost anything anyone says.

I never used to be this bad – it’s only been in the past 9 years or so (since my father died).  I’ve always had a wall, but his death made me build a wall AROUND the wall, put barbed wire up, build a moat with sharks in it and guarded with a fire breathing dragon.

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As you can imagine, this has caused many a rift in friendships.  I have a small handful of people that I call my friends and each one of them is very special to me and I hate the fact that from time to time, I question what they tell me – or what they’re not telling me.

As I continue my journey into healthier living – inside and out, I’m desperately trying to not question what people are saying and/or doing, NOT question their motives and NOT think that they have an ulterior motive when they say something kind to me.  Because – I’m learning that these people are in my life because they give me something – love, friendship, honesty and kindness – and I hope (and I’m not going to question this either) that they think the same of me.

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