Rape, Trauma, Money: The Economics of my Mental Illness

www.bettysbattleground.com-I will not be silenced anymore.

How surviving rape and developing PTSD has kept me poor-bettysbattleground.com

Even if I don’t exactly remember the day, my mother has told the story enough times to imprint what looks like a memory into my mind. We’re at my elementary school playground. It’s a mild, overcast day, because it’s Seattle, and yet everything seems to glow, as if drenched in sunlight, because it’s a memory of my childhood. I am seven…no: eight years old. My hair is still blonde, my eyes a grey-blue that will turn hazel brown within a year or two. In my story-memory, I am wearing a frilly white dress; pleated skirt, pink and yellow tulips stitched across my chest. In reality, I was probably wearing something more like pink sweat pants and a green sweatshirt with some kind of smiling cartoonish animal printed across it.

I run over to my mom from the playground, cheeks ruddy from play, eyes glittering. I have something to tell her, something important. I wait a moment, pause to catch my breath, then lean toward her, voice low and conspiratorial, and confess, “Mom, I think I’m going to be famous.”

Kids are notorious wild fantasizers. Hearing a child declare her future fame is not uncommon or particularly noteworthy, but when I said it, I really meant it. I believed in my future fame. It wasn’t completely unfounded. I had my first poem published when I was eight, in The Sow’s Ear Poetry Reviewa magazine to which established poets aspire for publication. I made my first $100 off writing that same year, and for several years I was the chronic first place winner at the Mercer Island Books youth poetry contest. I’m not telling you all this just to brag. I’m telling you this because I was not born a failure. I had every reason to believe that I would grow to be, if not actually famous, a successful writer. Or at the very least, not poor.

My mother, who once loved to recollect the story of my self-predicted fame, has stopped telling it. Last week, I missed therapy because I had to go to the Department of Human and Health Services to apply for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. Otherwise known as Food Stamps. I hold two writing degrees, and still receive compliments and offers for publication, but I am also unemployed, my credit is an abyss I will never crawl out of in this lifetime, and I struggle to maintain tenancy in a roach-infested rundown apartment owned by Seattle’s most notorious slumlord.

Why? Why does someone who once held so much promise, whose claims to future fame were believed not only by herself but everyone else too, who could incite middle school kids to forgo recess to rehearse in the plays she had written; why is she living chronically poor on the brink of homelessness?

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Off-Fridays Mental Illness Blog Share, Week 1: Mothers with Mental Illness

Mental Illness Blog Post, week 1 Mothers with Mental Illness Share bettysbattleground.com

Hey hey! It’s Friday! If you’re looking for the current Fiction Fridays prompt, check here. Last week I decided to make Fiction Fridays biweekly rather than weekly to give YOU more time to enter to be featured on this here front page, and to give ME more opportunity to actually do some new writing.

But I also promised that I would find something awesome plus interesting to add for the off-Fridays. That’s a tall order, but here it is! A blog share for mental illness blogs!

One of the best surprises blogging about PTSD has offered me is the ability to connect with like-minded, supportive people going through similar struggles. So far I have met a number of amazing mamas with PTSD, and other kind, intelligent, interesting, and brave mental illness warriors who are breaking stigma to smithereens every day. But it seems like almost every day I’m reading a blog post with a shout-out to ANOTHER amazing mental illness blogger, and, frankly, I can’t keep up. So I have created this link up! My hope is that we can use to this to come together, drop our links, connect, and create a big STIGMA SMASHING MACHINE! Orrrrr something of that sort.

Anyway, I don’t like rules so much. I find a ton of rules annoying. However, rules do have their use, and a few simple rules can help a thing like this run smoothly. SO, here we go…

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7 Soothing Mother’s Day Suggestions for the Mentally Ill Mama In Your Life

How to help the mentally ill mama in your life this Mother's Day-bettysbattleground.com

Today my daughter came home from daycare with paint on her hands. Not an uncommon occurrence and I didn’t think much of it, but when I was helping her wash it off, she looked at me with a big grin and said, “I was making you a Valentine’s card mom!”  Well….Valentine’s Day isn’t coming up…but I can think of one day that is…

It makes me smile to think of the sweet little cards my kids will probably be bringing home this Mother’s Day weekend; smudgy pieces of construction paper with writing that obviously came from their teachers (my 3 year old once brought home an especially clever Christmas card in which her teacher actually transcribed what she said…”This one/ Yeah/ I want my card”…it was fantastic). And I remember thinking back on the gifts that I gave my mom as a kid; crummy little handmade gizmos that I made with such care and they still came out like such crap…yet she still has them on her shelves.

Still…as wonderful as our hand-made kid-gifts truly are, the gifts that adults give to the moms in their lives are special in a totally different way. Like, they can actually be used. While I’m not going to speak out against the typical chocolates, jewelry, and flowers, mamas with mental illness have our own sets of special needs. If you want to go the typical route, I’m sure she won’t mind. But if you want to do something truly special for the mentally ill mother in your life, try one of these tips. Whether she’s your mom, partner, sister, daughter, or friend; whether she lives with PTSD, PPD, Major Depression, Bipolar Disorder, or something else; these Mother’s Day tips from one mentally ill mama to you should give you some ideas of ways that you can really help her this Mother’s Day.

I understand that if you are economically tied to a mentally ill person, you may not have a lot of extra cash. For that reason, I have provided budget friendly alternatives to the more expensive suggestions, and several inexpensive-but totally awesome-options.

Please note: Like all of the other Mother’s Day guides floating around, this one uses affiliate links. You can read my full legal disclaimer on the bottom of any and every page, or in my Mission+Legal page, but basically: if you make a purchase via one of these Amazon links, you will be helping this mentally ill mother by gaining me a small commission at no extra cost to you. Woo-hoo!

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