2

The Move

“There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.” -Nelson Mandela

As I said in an earlier post, we moved a week after Elijah was born (because we are certifiably insane lol). What I don’t believe I mentioned was that the move was to an area Scott & I are both from. To give a bit of a backstory, because his job is so specialized, it doesn’t offer many positions in certain areas. Unfortunately, the, “small,” city we lived in didn’t have any openings & the uncertainty of his former job continued to loom over our heads. So, with being responsible for a new human life & all, we chose to bite the bullet & leave before his position was cut. We had a few choices in bordering states, as well as some down in Florida but chose to go closer to family since a job opportunity was here. Here specifically being Eastern, Kentucky.

For my U.K.. & out of state followers: Eastern, KY is a different sort of place than the rest of the U.S. It’s a very rural area with not nearly as much forward thinking as the rest of the states have to offer. It was also an area that massively helped Donald Trump gain victory in the election….let that tell you what it will. lol

With that being said, there have been a few things about living here that have bothered us.

For one, for the most part, the people here don’t trust other people & are leery of outsiders. One quick way we were reminded of this was noticing it’s rare for people to smile at you or smile back at you. I’ve heard of this also being the case in NY as there are just so many people & the lifestyle is so fast paced but I find it interesting this is also the case here. One reason I think this mentality is present in the area is, years ago when out of state people came into the area, they presented these legal documents to Appalachian people who could not read to sell their mineral rights for next to no money & ripped them off big time. Ever since, it seems as if the don’t trust outsiders has remained a common theme.

Something that ties into people not trusting others is that the area, minus within individual churches, is there isn’t a sense of community. What I mean by this is that, unlike places like Lexington, there aren’t any groups like mom groups.. There are no weekly or even monthly events within the community. I had even, going out on a limb, posted on Facebook before the move back asking if anyone wanted to get together for a stroller group sort of thing with their children. Zero interest lol Not one person commented & there are a lot of people on my FB from here.

Another thing my husband, his manager (who lived away from the area for a few years as well), several other people he works with that live out of the state & commute, & myself have noticed is that a lot more people who live here are rude. For example, we were grocery shopping last week &, while I was getting Elijah out of the baby wrap, a lady came up behind me. The parking spaces were at an odd angel so I asked her if that was her car she was trying to get to. She replied it was & I moved over, shutting the door a bit to let her through. My husband came around by that time to put him in his car seat. As he was strapping him in, the woman starts backing up &, had he not stepped out to hold his hand up, would have taken out my car door that she could see was present the entire time. When he closed the door, she backed out & sped off. His manager, who Scott shared this story with, said she’d experienced much of the same while living here & even noticed it in the elementary school her children go to.

THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT ALL PEOPLE LIVING HERE ARE RUDE, I know a lot of really good people living here/who are from the area.

There’s also a depressed feeling being in the area because it is so rural. There is A LOT more poverty concentrated here than other places. There are a lot of empty run down buildings sitting around, along with some run down ones that are still occupied. In the place we’re currently renting, we’ve seen a few run down or empty homes as well.

There’s also just not a lot of diversity here. I.E. white is the racial majority & you don’t even see a lot of people from other groups. Among other things.

With all of the above, compounded with the fact that you are away from common conveniences (like the mall, Target, Starbucks, a wide selection of restaurants), you are also away from good healthcare/specialty healthcare as well. For example, Elijah needs suck training so I’ll be taking him to Lexington for that biweekly because it’s not something that’s offered here. My husband & I, along with his family that lives here, don’t trust the hospitals in the area &, if possible, would make the drive to Lexington anyway for better care. Fact: 2 out of 4 of my grandparents died in a hospital here due to the fault of the hospital. So yeah, it’s not exactly a promising place to be here.

I asked my cousin who had tried moving back to the area before how he had managed & what his experience had been. For him, it was much of the same, adding, “Once you move away & your perspective of the world changes on every level, you become inherently different.” He also agreed that there is definitely a depressive energy in the air. On surviving it, his advice was to, “try to find people you can relate to…& buy lots of alcohol.” LOL

While I won’t be following the latter part of that advice, Scott & I have already came to the realization that we cannot stay here. Our plan is to ride out the year (as we are locked in per his contract) & then, ideally, move back to Lexington or another city we’d feel more at home in.

I am not saying Eastern, KY is an awful place with nothing to offer the rest of the world. I think it has a lot to offer. What I’m saying is that, once you leave & are use to a totally different lifestyle, it’s very hard to live here again.

In other life update news, we will be moving within he next month…again thanks, to our crapyy landlord/living situation. The AC has never worked upstairs, despite us bringing this up to him, & his solution to cool the 3 bedrooms & 2 baths up there was to, “provide a window unit.” We can also hear our neighbors through the walls, as well as any & all traffic noise. So yeah, it’s not working out lol We will still be living in the area because of the contract, just not here.

I also need to give an update on our breastfeeding journey & what that has entailed but that’s for another post.

Have a beautiful week, friends!

2

Infertility & Rural Areas

In recent years, women are typically having children later in life. Since the time of Rosie The Riveter & the we can do it all generation, women want degrees first and motherhood second.

At least, that’s the case in most communities within the U.S. Deep within the hills of Appalachia, is one exception to this cultural norm.

Soon after I graduated high school, & some even before this, most of my peers got married. After that, they immediately began having children. It’s been eight years since we all left our last four years of regular schooling behind and most of them have at least two children already.

My sister followed a similar path when she graduated, immediately getting married the month after and having her first child before her first anniversary.

In short, while the rest of the country is holding off parenthood while they get their dream jobs,  a lot of Appalachians are not following suit.

As someone who is infertile, you automatically feel like an outsider. Everyone your age is talking about pregnancies, gender reveals, baby showers, and first birthdays while all you can do is nod and pray no one asked the loaded question, “when are you going to have kids????”

Couple being infertile AND being Appalachian and you’re in for even worse of a disconnect. While most of my cohort’s children have already or are now entering pre-school, etc we still haven’t gotten our miracle baby.

Scrolling through my newsfeed, I see most of my old classmates posting baby photos and talking about not knowing what sleep is and I’m still over here posting about my fur babies, caffeine fixes, and, until recently, grad school.

Facing infertility is difficult at best for anyone. Once you reach a certain age literally everyone is pregnant. Where I’m from, however, this occurred at a much faster rate. Instead of everyone I knew getting knocked up around their late 20’s & early 30’s, people were doing it at 18-20 years old.

I’m not sure if this is the product of rural areas in gender or just an Eastern, KY thing, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.

So, until we get our BFP, I’ll be over here like…….

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Are you from a rural area?? Have you observed much of the same?? 

What are your thoughts????

5

An Open Letter To My Family About My Depression

This past weekend, my family came to visit. Well-let me rephrase that-being from a divorced family, half my family came to visit. Nearing the end of their trip, my dad noticed my newest tattoo & asked what it was. I told him & then retorted with, “Yeah, but what does it mean?”

It’s a semicolon. If you aren’t yet aware of The Semicolon Project, it represents, “When something could have ended but it didn’t.”

My stepmom, perched beside me on the couch, turns her head toward me saying, “It must mean something to you then?”

“…..Yeah….”

“But you aren’t going to share that with us?”

I was stunned. My eyes widened like a kid caught with one hand in the cookie jar & the other shoving two chocolate chips in their mouth.

Very awkwardly, I responded with, “Uhm….you know….some shitty things have happened to me…& they didn’t end me.”

She half smiled back at me, squinting her eyes knowingly.

“Well…I want you to know I’m very proud of you.”

I was, & still am, stunned by this. You see, being from a rural area, I haven’t exactly been surrounded by people who understand mental illness. Not at all. It’s something that is laughed at. Something that is seen as a weakness & a choice. Shockingly, drug addiction (which is also a symptom of a mental illness *cough, cough) is not looked at near as negatively as any sort of mental health condition is.

It’s something that is not talked about. People look away from you & change the subject if it is brought up. Or talk about whatever the M.I. is very negatively, with no hesitation to share how they feel about the issue. Most of the time when talking with my family I pray to God it is the first.

A few weeks ago, I’d just gotten home when my iPHONE screen lit up to show a picture of my grandmother. We talked for a while & then she asked what I’d been up to that day. I answered that I’d went to the grocery…& that I’d seen my therapist.

“Therapist? Shew, are you still doing that? You don’t need a therapist! How are you going to be a therapist when you’re still seeing one? That’ll be on your record. I don’t see the point in wasting money to talk to somebody.”

Note: I love my mamaw. She means well & we have a phenomenal relationship. This attitude just speaks to how the area views mental health issues.

This attitude was also seen on a recent episode of Teen Mom 2. One of the girls, Leah Messner, desired to check into a treatment facility for her depression & anxiety. Instead of being supportive, her ex, Corey Simms, was hateful towards & belittled her for needing help. They called her a bad mom & accused her of being a drug addict. They stated she chose to leave her children behind when all she was doing was trying to get help for issues nobody in rural Appalachian areas cares to talk about.

While there are a plethora of difference mental health issues (I.E. an entire book known as the DSM), each one effects each individual person differently. I’m going to share with you how mine have, & on some level always will, effect me.

What Depression, PTSD, Eating Disorders, & Anxiety Look Like

It’s four am. I still haven’t been to sleep. I’m finishing up my senior year of college this week. My PTSD does not care. I see him every time I close my eyes. So I don’t. Instead, I get out of my tangled blankets & jog.

I don’t like walking down the street alone. Actually, let me rephrase that, I can’t walk down the street alone anymore. Last semester, a few men yelled vulgar things at me so now I’m afraid to walk the streets alone.

Looking in the mirror, I move my hand over the bulge in my abdomen. It wasn’t there yesterday, how is it there now? I went down 3 jean sizes just this week.

I’m meeting a friend. Riddled with anxiety I tap two of my fingers against my steering wheel while listening to a meditation soundtrack. I’ve seen her a thousand times. We’ve been out together before. We’re meeting at a safe place. It doesn’t matter.

It was a great day. Calm. Present. Filled with the things I love. Two hours later, the fog rolls into my mind. Everything is darker now. I want to cry & sink into a bath for the rest of the day. I don’t know why.

My chest is pounding. Not in the way it rises & heavily falls after a good run. More like the rapid pulsation you’d encounter if an elephant were resting on your chest. I can’t breathe. The air is getting thinner & thinner. Soon it will be gone.

I think to myself that I can’t have any peanut butter today. I’ll need to eat a box of chocolate laxatives later if things get bad again & those will be my sweet of the day.

Now Showing: A series of events I would give anything to forget. Who am I kidding, Now Showing? They’re always showing. They make me want to die.

The nights aren’t as restless now as I lay next to my husband flooded with dreams (calling them nightmares seems too kind) & flashbacks. I still feel the touching that happened not many years ago. I smell the bourbon & Jager that isn’t in the air around us. I feel like I can’t get enough air because I can’t stop feeling as if I’m being raped. Right now. Time & memory don’t seem to have an off switch for me. I wake up feeling dirty. Perpetually dirty in the worst of ways. Forever damaged. I can’t get the water hot enough to wash it off.

Something is going to go wrong. I just know it. What if someone dies? What if I fail out of grad school because I forgot about the ONE discussion board? What if my dogs get lost? & other random thoughts on an anxiety ridden day.

If I could say one thing about my walk with depression, it is that it makes you want to die.

If I could do the same for PTSD, it would be that you feel like the dirtiest human on the planet. Even if it couldn’t be further from the truth. You know it is because you remember. & you know, you know, other people would think it too if they knew…

Anxiety is a computer on overload. A million tabs are open & pop up after pop up keeps clouding your screen. It’s hard to focus in on one thing.

An eating disorder clouds your eyes, along with your version of reality. You can no longer see yourself as you actually are. To you, you’re five sizes enlarged. Wouldn’t everything be better if you just lost X amount of pounds? Even if it has never been the case before….

I’ve had too many days to count in which all the lies I’m hearing become my greatest truths (even when they’re not). Even after years of being out of certain circumstances & not being hurt anymore….they’re all still here. I can’t control them. I can cope with them. But I can’t make them go away.

Hell, wouldn’t everyone make them go away given the chance?

The next time you suggest someone struggling with a mental health issue takes control, or-one of my favorites-“just stops,” ask yourself this: would you say the same to someone with a physical health problem?

Would you tell someone with diabetes to stop taking their insulin because they were weak? Say they didn’t need to see their doctor anymore because they should be able to handle it on their own by now? Tell them they better not see a doctor because it will go on their record & stop them from getting jobs?

No?

Days that I have to convince myself that life is worthwhile, that I am worthwhile, are decreasing as time goes on. But they’re still lingering in the back of my mind & pop in to say hey! ever so often. Days in which thoughts of my eating disorder, along with their visual distortions, cloud my judgment & ruin my days don’t win anymore. I know they’re lying. Days when my anxiety has me by the metaphorical balls aren’t nearly as often as they were before. They are not an every day occurrence. An every moment occurrence.

However, that does not mean they are gone. & on some days, they still win.

“Of course, there are days when darkness wins – days when all the lies I’m hearing become my greatest truths.”


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“Sometimes I’m certain
those who are happy
know one thing more than us…
or one thing less.”
— Anne Michaels, “The Weight of Oranges”

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“I’m laying in my bed, in my house and all I want to do is go home.”

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“I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind…
— J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

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