The Worse Relapse I’ve Ever Had and the Start of My Comeback Story

As I posted several days ago, I recently suffered kidney failure which was most likely caused, or contributed to, by years of taking lithium. Lithium has been a major part of my treatment for schizoaffective disorder, but given my current health situation, I had to stop taking it. This led to the worst relapse I’ve ever had. I’ll be honest, I was pretty scared.

I have started a new medication to replace the lithium, and am feeling a ton better. Since medications can be a trial-and-error process, I might not be out of the woods quite yet, but so far so good.

The last few weeks have been grueling both mentally and physically, and I want to share my story. Mental illness is so common, and I hope others can see the light at the end of the tunnel like I have.

A little about the symptoms of my relapse…

My thoughts were rapid-fire snippets. I’m normally not much of a talker, but I just couldn’t shut up. I randomly switched from topic to topic and could laugh and cry in the same sentence. Through all of my rambling, I kept telling my husband, “I’m still in here!” 

It was exhausting – an up-and-down rollercoaster ride. I felt confused, a little disoriented, and out of control. It was like I had symptoms of depression and mania at the same time which I had never experienced before. I also had a few panic attacks – another first for me – and it was absolutely terrifying.

I got to a point where I let my hygiene go. I smelled, I couldn’t remember the last time I washed my hair or my body, and I apologized to my husband for my sasquatch legs (although he really didn’t care). 

A little confession – It was kind of funny because I wasn’t sleeping and I was writing blog posts in the wee morning hours, but I was too afraid to post anything in case it didn’t make sense. I was aware that I was symptomatic. Unfortunately, I did embarrass myself on social media and am now in damage-control mode. It hurt but the only thing I can do now is look back with a sense of humor.

When I started to feel better, it felt like a fog had been lifted, like the last few weeks were a dream and never really happened. I’m not quite 100 percent yet, but I’m getting there. I plan on returning to work this week.

The Wonderful People in My Life

My relapse was embarrassing because most people in my life now have never seen me so symptomatic – including my husband. I have been on medication for twenty years and for the most part, they’ve done a good job of managing my symptoms.

Despite this being a new experience for him, my husband was amazing – nothing but patient and supportive – and my daughter made me laugh easing the pain and heaviness of the situation.

My daughter is only seven, and while I don’t think she totally grasped what was going on, I still felt guilty. Part of me was hoping my daughter wouldn’t remember this when she’s older, but let’s face it, she probably will. I can only hope that this will be a lesson in resilience. When you need help, help is available, and it is so important to value and respect our minds and bodies.

I couldn’t function and missed quite a bit of work. I was already low on PTO, so if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. Ouch.

But I want to talk a little about my work. I work for the most amazing organization and my boss and coworkers have been nothing but kind, understanding, and accommodating. I am so inspired by the people I work with – both staff and clients. I have worked in direct care in the mental health field for seventeen years, and have had so many different experiences. Currently, I work as a peer supporter and art teacher for a local mental health organization. I have seen people struggle and seen people heal. I appreciate the people who have shared their personal stories with me as well as those who have listened to my story. Sometimes you can form the most powerful connection during your darkest hour.

Obviously, my psychiatrist and therapist have been invaluable, but I have to admit while being stuck at home, our kitties and guinea pigs have been pretty good therapy, too. It’s really amazing the emotional connection you can form with your pets. It’s like they know when you’re down, and by wanting attention, they are also giving you attention.

Making My Comeback

I am finally starting to feel like myself again. It might sound weird to say I feel like myself by putting chemicals in my body, but taking medication to treat my mental illness is all I’ve known for half of my life.

This whole experience just reinforces how important it is to take care of yourself. I got the help I needed and now I’m ready to move forward. I am so grateful for all the kindness and support I have been shown both on and offline. I am one very fortunate woman.


If you’re up for it, I would love to hear your own recovery story – from whatever it may be. Let’s connect with our darkness and be inspired by our light.

The Cost of Keeping Our Bellies Full

I was a little iffy about writing this post since I struggle with an eating disorder and often try to avoid the subject of food, but this topic is definitely worth discussing and I could use some new ideas.

Let me start by reiterating something I’ve learned in recovery – there are no good or bad foods. It’s just important to eat a variety to get what you need. This is something I’m trying to work on, but it’s difficult when money is tight.

Is it even possible to spend less than 200 dollars on your weekly grocery trip anymore? Many weeks we spend more than that.

What’s worse is my husband and I don’t like to cook. I tried so hard to cook after I left treatment, but it’s just not something I’m into. Maybe I’m a little lazy but I don’t like the process or hassle, and I definitely don’t like the pile of dirty dishes after dinner. Sometimes I’ll cook simple things like spaghetti, a roast in the crockpot, or hot dogs. I think one of my favorite simple meals to make is taco salad. 

This means my husband and I depend a lot on take-out and delivery. Pizza once a week. We are also familiar faces at the nearby Chinese restaurant and Subway. As much as I want to eat a variety, unfortunately, when we’re struggling, fast food is the cheaper option. I know there’s nothing wrong with eating fast food, but when choices are limited, it can get old pretty quickly. 

The price of different foods leaves me flabbergasted. There’s a grocery store next to the office where I work, and I walk over there every day to grab something to drink. I often buy a twenty-four-ounce bottle of Faygo pop for just a dollar, but when I want to switch it up with flavored sparkling water, it comes in a much smaller fancy glass bottle and is nearly three dollars. I don’t understand why water is more expensive than pop and why does it have to come in a fancy bottle? What’s up with that?

Even produce is expensive when we go to Kroger. Bananas and grapes for my daughter’s lunch box. Romaine, basil, carrots, and yellow bell peppers for our two guinea pigs, Nibbles and Nugget. (Have you ever had a guinea pig? They are eating and pooping machines!) Watermelon and sweet corn are definitely family favorites when they’re in season. But why does it cost so much?

It’s no secret that people struggle where we live. In desperate times, my husband and I have had to visit the food pantry at our daughter’s school. The food at the pantry isn’t the most appetizing but it doesn’t matter. You do what you gotta do and I am grateful for their help. This is very common where we live. Even the school’s parent’s page on Facebook lists locations and times of local food pantries. I love this community because maybe we’re struggling, but we also help each other out.

My daughter’s school offers free breakfast, most of the kids qualify for free or reduced school lunches, and after school kids can go to the library a block away from the school and get a free sandwich, fruit, and milk for dinner. The library offers food to every single kid who walks in – no questions asked.

My daughter is a picky eater and we always pack her lunch, and when we can we send her to school with extra food – extra packs of Goldfish and fruit snacks and an extra applesauce – so she can give it to her friends if they want it or need it.

With the cost of food where it is, do you guys have any money-saving tips or very simple, cheap meal ideas to share? I’m sure the real solution is to overthrow the capitalist pigs that run this country, but does anyone have any ideas in the meantime?

A little health update…I am on a new medication and there is now a light at the end of the tunnel. It’s like a fog has been lifted and for the first time in a few weeks, I have a clear head. I am not 100 percent yet, but I’m getting there. I will post more about it soon.

Update: When It Works So Well Until It Doesn’t

I apologize for my absence.

I have been on lithium for years and years to treat my schizoaffective disorder, but it may have negatively impacted my kidney functioning so I had to stop taking it. Lithium was probably the medication I depended on the most, and while my doctor is working hard to find something to replace it, I’m not going to lie – I’m pretty scared to go without it. All I’ve been doing for the last few weeks is lying around the house and going to doctor’s appointments, and I really, really hate it. I just have to keep telling myself that this isn’t for forever. I think through this experience I’ve developed a healthy respect for my medications because while all of my medications help me and give me a somewhat normal life, I am still putting chemicals in my body, which can have some nasty effects. I will not stop taking my medications – I know I need them – but I never want to go through this again.

I’m trying to get back in the swing of things by submitting my art to a gallery in Cleveland later this week. It might just be the motivation I need.

I will be posting again soon. Thank you for all of your support.

How do you show empathy to someone who has wronged you?

How do you go from viewing someone as malicious to seeing them as a person in pain?

How do you move past anger?

This is more for me than them.

I want to be able to walk away from people and situations in my life and feel peace. I don’t want to hate anyone for the damage they’ve caused because they are in just as much pain as I am.

How someone treats others directly reflects how they feel about themselves – the whole “hurt people hurt people” thing. But that’s hard to keep in mind when you’re on the receiving end of mistreatment.

How do you protect yourself and keep moving forward when you are also a hurt person?

An even better question – As a hurt person, how do you prevent hurting others in the way you were hurt?

Giving myself distance has done wonders for my growth and recovery, but is it really to right answer? On the other hand, how much is a person expected to tolerate? I hate the phrase “keep the peace” because usually, that’s not peaceful for anyone.

It’s a tough realization to see that you have so much in common with the person who wronged you.

I don’t want to be like them. It’s really motivation to take care of myself, be present, appreciate the supportive people in my life, and respect the world around me. I’m trying my best and I wish the same for them.

Through therapy, I am learning to become a more empathetic and introspective person, and this blog has been a part of my growth. I always appreciate your support and feedback. I learn so much from you and I feel a sense of validation knowing others can relate. I often feel powerless, but here I have a voice.

Coming from a red state in the Midwest, Freethought Blogs is the only place where I am surrounded by like-minded people – even if it is just online.

Thank you for reading. I would love to hear your stories. Can you relate? Have you been in a similar situation?


Also, I am dealing with some mental health issues and medication changes right now, so if I take a little break or post something weird, that’s what’s going on.




Rejected before first contact –
I remain in my own world
isolated by choice.


My brain is swimming
in muck and confusion –
vulnerable words to a fault.

I don’t live in stability
but rather a fleeting reality.
My comfort wanes
as opportunities tick by.

Seasons change
when I’m willing to venture out
but most days, my fear holds me back.


Ridicule doesn’t exist
if I don’t open my mouth –
a fortress of lipstick and secrets.

My smile is my armor
and every day is a battle.
I don’t want to be a soldier
but this is a fight for survival.

Shots fired.
Confidence gone.

Do you think you’ll ever “come around”?

Tonight I went to the store with my husband and daughter, and while my husband was waiting for his allergy medication, I was running up and down the aisles with my daughter. There weren’t many people in the store and we were having a lot of fun. An older lady noticed us and asked about my daughter. She said she looked a lot like me and asked if she was my only child. I realize this is the Midwest and strangers talk to each other here, but I’m not really one for small talk. I answered her questions and then joined my husband in another aisle. 

We went to check out and the lady was ahead of us in line. She looked at me and asked me what church we go to. Oh man, here we go. Unfortunately, asking someone what church they go to seems to be common small talk around here. Personally, I feel it’s an intrusive question. I told her we don’t go to church and nervously waited for her response. She said, “I used to feel that way, too.” I felt she was a little condescending but thankfully she dropped the subject.

Why do people assume one day you’ll “come around”? 

This made me think of an ex-boyfriend’s father who said, “If you’re not a Democrat by 20 you have no heart; and if you’re not a Republican by 40, you have no brain.” 

Just for the record, I’m 40 and I am not a Republican. I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Once again, we’re expected to “come around”. Is there something magical about getting older that makes you want to conform? 

Back to the church thing, do people ask you what church you go to? What’s your response? Do you feel it’s an intrusive question? 

Also, do you feel more pressure to conform as you get older? Unfortunately, the Boomers in my family are concerned about keeping up appearances, so I feel there is pressure there. I’m not saying all Boomers are like that, but I can definitely see generational differences.

Do people assume you’ll come around? I can understand older people turning to god because they’re afraid of death, but it still seems so strange to me. Can a fear of mortality make you lose common sense?

Where do you get your news from?

A few days ago, my daughter asked me who my favorite YouTuber was when I was little. I told her that not only did we not have YouTube, we didn’t even have the internet. She just couldn’t comprehend. 

But now we do have the internet, and there are a million places to take in information.

Does anyone still watch the evening news? I did for a while but it was mainly for the cute weatherman. Since then, my husband and I have gotten rid of cable TV altogether. We just don’t need it.

So where do you get your news from?

The other day I was watching Good Morning America on Hulu. Well, I wasn’t really watching it; it was more for background noise while I was cleaning. My husband came home, looked at the TV, and said it sounded like one big advertisement. He’s totally right.

My husband hates anything that smells like capitalism. I agree with him although I’m not as passionate as he is.

My husband listens to a podcast called Breaking Points. That’s where he gets his news.

I think I mainly get news from social media, and I now get the weather forecast from an app on my phone. Sorry, cute weatherman.

I’m really curious; Where do you get your news from? Is it trustworthy? Reliable? How do you know? Give me some new websites and podcasts to check out.

Is ambition caused by a fear of mortality?

Why do I pursue the things that I do?

I have really grown as an artist and writer, but my projects are a double-edged sword. While I want to get a lot accomplished, I also get overwhelmed very easily. I’d like to blame my mental illness, but I know that it can happen to anyone. I’ve always taken a lot on regardless of the inevitable consequences.

But why? You can strip me of my projects and accomplishments and I’m still a complete person. 

I’ve always found being an atheist to be motivating. If you only get this one life, you don’t want to miss out, right? Turn your dreams into goals and do as much as you can.

If that’s my attitude, does that mean I’m scared of dying?

As humans, we are insignificant in the universe, but I think it’s human nature to want to be remembered. Will my words live on after I die – even if it’s just to a few people?

My mom died when I was a little girl. She was an artist and I have her paintings all over our house. The paintings are fascinating to me because they show her growth. Some of the paintings were done when she was in high school and college and some were completed later in her career. I was too young to remember my mom after she died, but seeing her paintings every day reminds me that she was still a part of my life. 

When I think of my projects, I am for the most part proud of the final product. However, the actual process of completing a project is really difficult for me because I’m a very impatient person. Which do I enjoy more, the accomplishments or the process? Which is more important?

Why do you pursue the things you do? Sure, we all have things we enjoy, but when you take it to the next level, is there another motive behind the ambition?

Are you doing anything to be remembered after you die? Do you feel a need to be remembered?

How do you remember your loved ones? Are there items you’re holding onto?

Sorry for the somewhat morbid post, but I think it’s really fascinating to figure out what makes us tick – even if you’re just exploring your own motives.

Weight: A Poem from My Book “Unsettled”


I take up space
because I’m allowed to.

My place in this universe
is forgiving, soft, and flexible.

The outside doesn’t always match the inside;
but what if it did?

What’s wrong with the outside?
I’m larger than life with a body and mind that’s thriving.

Head up. Chin up.
My defiance brings me home.

My curves are gorgeous,
my freedom is mine,

and I relinquish the weight of your words.

Physical Pain and a Wake-Up Call

This post is about my physical health, however, I am going to keep my issues vague because I am not a medical professional. I am not qualified to give advice. I’m just curious if you’ve had a similar experience.

A few weeks ago, I was having a lot of pain in my knee and my coworkers noticed I was limping around the office. My boss said I looked distressed and asked me if I was okay. I ended up calling off work a couple of days before finally going to the doctor. 

I did receive a diagnosis but unfortunately, because of other health issues, I am unable to take pain medication. I didn’t know that. I knew I had a few small problems physically, but maybe they weren’t as small as I thought.

This was a wake-up call.

After thirty years of an eating disorder and twenty years of psych meds, it’s probably no surprise that I have a few health issues. The line between physical health and mental health has blurred – they’re intertwined and now both require my attention. 

Could it be that after forty years on this planet, I’m finally going to take care of myself?

My concern about my knee bled into other areas of my life. I am taking doctor appointments more seriously. I’m doing well at work and I appreciate my coworkers’ concern and support. I’m also addressing issues in therapy I’ve never talked about before. I am actively recovering from a destructive youth and toxic people while also healing my body.

Older and wiser? Maybe. A little scared? Probably. 

This may sound weird, but having knee pain – while it sucked at the time – may have had a good effect. I learned more about my body and looked at my health as a whole. Also, if this hadn’t happened I still wouldn’t know that I couldn’t take pain meds. Now I can prevent further damage to my body.

My knee pain has subsided and I’ve really thrived in the last few weeks. I hope it continues, but if it doesn’t, I know to ask for help.

I would love to hear your stories. Have you ever had a wake-up call? What moves you to take care of yourself?