BELLAS BLUE JEANS POETRY SPOTLIGHT (email poetry to bellasbluejeans@gmail.com)

2015100695103530Any poetry that you would like spotlighted????  Email me Bellas at : bellasbluejeans@gmail.com

Waves of Grace

I don’t really know…

I can’t really say…

The words to describe how I feel always run away.

So much confusion in a picture that was once so perfect,

The moon and the sun have switched places

The Earth and its waves no longer their subjects.

My heart forever throbbing, beating, yearning to feel its own fire,

But my mind at constant war defeats it-

Is my heart a liar?

What I once thought I saw so clearly has become a broken blur,

My sight fails with the days dimming light of only myself am I sure.

Up and down, joy and pain, fear and ferocity

All at once but never the same.

All of these things I feel

Not in months, years, or eons

My heart encompasses all these in one day, one moment, one second.

Changes happening all around me and I can’t stop its whirling turn,

The only choice I have is to lay back and invite the quiet so that God’s peace can return.

He tells me that I am beautiful, a queen of this life ruling with a steady hand.

I am grateful for peace and feeling His grace again.

Written by Ify Love while at The Ridgeview Institute Summer 2015

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Everyone Deserves DIGNITY… In honor of #WorldMentalHealthDay 10/10/2015

Happy Day, my Bellas!!!!  It’s Friday!  I hope you are taking a load off… putting on some comfy jeans and spending some time with me!  You might not be aware of it but Saturday is “World Mental Health Day”! (click HERE for more info) This year’s theme is “DIGNITY”.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary’s definition of the word “dignity” is “the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed“.  Now why would the World Health Organization (WHO) choose the word “dignity” as the theme of “World Mental Health Day”?  Dignity as a part of mental illness is so important.  You might ask why.  Well, Bellas, dignity is one of the first things people with mental health issues lose.  Whether it is a perceived loss or actual loss is up to the person experiencing it.  So, my Bellas, let’s talk about dignity today.

HAVE YOU LOST YOUR DIGNITY?

Since dignity is defined as the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed.  Why would people with mental health issues feel as though they no longer have dignity?  Brainblogger.com writes that, “Half of the severely mentally ill do not deny the reality of their illness, but because of the stigma and discrimination involved will not seek treatment for some of these stigma-related reasons:

  • Fearing loss of self-esteem;
  • Not wanting anyone to find out they are on psychiatric medication;
  • Thinking they will spontaneously get better if they just hide the illness from others;
  • Believing that doctors might look down on them;
  • Fearing rejections and exclusions in the community;
  • Fearing losing the love or respect of their family or other loved ones;
  • If employed, being afraid of their employer finding out;
  • Fear that they might be declared incompetent;
  • Fearing losing custody of their children; or
  • Fearing that someone they know could see them at the psychiatrist’s office.”

All of the reasons listed can affect a person with mental illness and their dignity or lack thereof.  This scenario has played out for me more than once.  I have an appointment with a psychiatrist.  I spend most of the morning finding reasons NOT to go to the appointment.  These reasons are usually something like: “Ugh… another doctor to prescribe more pills… I don’t need that” or “Oh my gosh, the doctor’s office is right next to my old job.  What if someone sees me?” or “There’s nothing wrong with me… I can handle it.” which is the irrational excuse I have mad so many times.  The excuses can be different for everyone, but when it comes down to it… we are all mourning the loss of our own dignity in our own eyes and the eyes of others.  For some reason, society has attached such a terrible stigma to mental illness.  People’s reaction to mental illness can range from radical acceptance to “oh my gosh, this person is crazy…run NOW!  The true reaction to mental illness should not be one of pity, fear, or condescending conversation but one of true dignity.  People with mental illness are STILL people.  They eat, drink, and sleep just like anyone else.  It is our job, Bellas, to educate people and practice ensuring that each and every person with mental illness is treated with dignity and like a human being.

There have so many times when I have been afraid for people to find out that I have a mental health diagnosis.  The fear is that when people find out I’m bipolar, that they will immediately judge me based upon the last movie they watched about a sanitarium/psych hospital full of moaning and chained psychopaths and not on my individual character.  I’ve been in relationships with people I thought I could have possibly have a future with but sadly, the “bipolar pill” was too much for them to swallow.  Those conversations along with living in a society that judges the mentally ill so harshly chipped away at my dignity time after time after time.  There were times that I felt alone in a crowded room of people because my fragile secret proved to much to keep.  I felt like falling into a million pieces.  Sometimes, I felt like I wanted to die.  But at just the right moment,  God would place the perfect someone or perfect situation before me as a life jacket.  He would place a professor with an understanding ear, a stranger with a kind word, or even a sermon with an amazing light before me and my dignity would be restored.  I was grateful.

WHOSE JOB IS IT TO RESTORE OUR DIGNITY?

Well, Bellas, the answer to that question is not an easy one.  We all know that the power to restore is in God’s hands.  We also know that we positively affect our reality by changing our thoughts and actions into positive ones.  When it comes to dignity we must be our own advocate.  We must stand up and demand the respect that we deserve.  Besides, we are not our depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, eating disorders, etc.  We are still people.  We are still individuals.  We are still created beautifully and wondrously.  The Merriam-Webster’s dictionary definition of dignity in the case of the mentally ill should read, “The quality or state of ensuring that people with mental illness know that we are worthy, honored, and highly esteemed despite our circumstances.”  That’s what those with mental illness can do… but, Bellas, what if we don’t have a mental illness?  If we don’t have a mental illness, 9 times out of 10 we know someone who is struggling with it, either publicly or privately.  Our job is to speak about mental illness with respect and treat those with mental illness WITH DIGNITY.  For instance, how many times have you seen a woman on a tabloid talk show like Maury or the good old Jerry Springer Show be referred to by an angry boyfriend as “bipolar” after having a brick thrown at his windshield??? Countless times right?!  But does that make it true?  I’ve never thrown ANYTHING through anyone’s windshield.  So the answer to that question is a resounding NO.  But it doesn’t stop society from using moments like that to throw our dignity right out of the window when mental illness is revealed.  It does, however, make it our responsibility to stand up and correct that incorrect notion.

Dignity is integral to the recovery of the mentally ill.  I fight for my dignity everyday.  I not only fight for it in the eyes of others but in my own eyes.  We can be our own greatest critic.  I have to remind myself every day that my God gives me dignity right along with grace, mercy, and love.  It’s not up for grabs.

So Bellas, remember that we are all BEAUTIFUL EVEN WHEN WE ARE BLUE! Remind yourself and someone else of that today!  Enjoy your weekend and thank you for stopping by!  Celebrate “World Mental Health Day” by giving someone the gift of DIGNITY!

Love ya, Bellas!  xoxo

Ify

Happy Sunday, BELLAS!!! (Spiritual Health and Self-Love)

150-dpi-vera-on-the-verge-0013Happy Sunday, my Bellas!!!  Today is the day that we get up early in the morning, put on something presentable or Sunday’s best, and head to church to get our weekly dose of sanity.  There are those of us who don’t go to church every Sunday or even at all.  Are we wrong? Are we missing out on a key part of our recovery?  Well, I have heard both sides of that argument and I have been impressed but not totally moved because spirituality is NOT one size fits all.  (and I’m not sure if we weren’t raised in the Bible belt the argument would be as strong)

Spiritual health in our lives is just as important as physical health but usually there is not as much emphasis placed on it by mainstream society.  Some of us are physically and financially fit but still feel that something is missing.  There is still an emptiness.  Well, let me share my story with you, Loves.

I was raised Catholic and growing up there was no other “right” religion.  I even went to Saint Simon & Jude in Pittsburgh, PA.  The nuns wore traditional, dark, looming habits and walked around with brandishing rulers while singing Ave Maria.  (LOL… I am still traumatized when I hear that song to this day!) I had all of my sacraments (in Catholic Church…rights of passage as the Catholic matures) on time until I was about  11 years old and my world was rocked by my parents’ divorce.  I never doubted who God was or where he belonged in my life until then.  For some reason, I felt like the pain I was experiencing could never be taken away.  I wondered why God would abandon me and my family.  My first heartbreak.  Well, as I matured and grew up we lived with my mother who wasn’t big about getting me and my sisters to church on Sunday.  I remember my dad picking us up EVERY Sunday without fail.  Because of my father, I received the rest of my Sacraments and was even “Confirmed” as a Catholic in the 8th grade.  There it was, my foundation for spirituality had been laid.  It was a rocky foundation but it was a foundation that I can say nearly 25 years later that has saved my life.  As life continued, just like everyone else, my faith waxed and waned.  I was hurt, made poor choices, my own fair share of mistakes, and was diagnosed with a mental health diagnosis (more than one actually).  I became pregnant with my first child at the age of 19.  It was a terrible situation and a total disappointment to my Nigerian family.  I didn’t know where to turn.  I cried and cried night after night asking God to “fix it”.  He didn’t.  Instead, I went to a deacon at my church and asked him what to do.  He told me to go to a home for young pregnant women in Minnesota, give birth to my baby, and put him or her up for adoption.  I was mortified!  The deacon stared at me, his eyes scrutinizing my every move, and said, “You better because no one will want to marry a single woman with a child.”  I didn’t return to church for 5 whole years and when I did I chose to attend nondenominational churches.   At these churches I could feel God and only God…not a whole bunch of rules and judgments (how I perceived it).  As time passed, I was able to impart to my daughter the same foundation my father fought so hard to impart to me as a child.  To this day, I’m super proud of that.  Things were good for a while….

THE STORM THAT ROCKED MY WORLD

At around the age of 25, I began having worsening depression.  I had been sad before, but this was different.  I just couldn’t get it together.  For the next 7 years, I fought to complete anything.  Miraculously (and with the support of my family), I was able to hold a few jobs for short periods and get my Nursing Degree.  I also had so many suicide attempts and near misses that I’ve lost count.  Finally, two and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder Type 1.  I was totally freaked out!  I felt that I had been labeled crazy.  I couldn’t tell anyone…. they would all judge me and leave.  But, the doctor’s were right.  I would spend days upon days with no sleep, barely eating or eating everything, spend all the money I had earned within days, and gone out to clubs and done who knows what with no recollection of any of it… Life was a blur.  That’s when it happened when I started to feel ashamed.  I felt that I couldn’t ask God for forgiveness because I was “too bad”.  I mean everyone knows that SUICIDE is not something that God is cool with! (right?)  I couldn’t tell anyone my secret including God.  Besides, I knew what people thought about “crazy” people.  Society and the media have done enough to ensure that no one with mental illness feels comfortable in this world as it is with stereotypical portrayal of mental illness.  God couldn’t possibly want me anymore… I was wrong….

THE CLEAN UP EFFORT

Yes, I was wrong.  As you Bellas know, I am a single mother to two beautiful children, Brie and Brice (15/10), and I have accomplished so many things in this last year which has undoubtedly been the most difficult year of my life.  I have one Master’s degree and am on the way to my second one!  I have learned something about my spirituality.  I have learned that I cannot survive separate from it..  I believe in God… He is my spiritual anchor.  Everyday, I get up in the morning and give Him thanks.  I ask Him to give me the strength to get up and out of the bed.  I ask Him to help me “ROCK” my day.   100% of the time He is with me and never leaves me even when I feel lonely.  He is with me US when the world feels like the storms of life will never end.  I am not proposing that I know that your spiritual authority is God… but whatever your religion… You have to find a way to center yourself EVERYDAY!  There is too much flux and turmoil in the world for you to ignore your spiritual health and self-love.  I do not go to church every Sunday.  I used to beat myself up about it all of the time….sometimes I still do because I’m human.  The bottom line is your spiritual center lives within you.  It is up to you to protect it and nurture it…. and grow it.

Bellas, get spiritually centered today.  Your life depends upon it.  Your life depends on your ability to be still and realize that when you look in the mirror the face you see before you is perfect, good, and in love with you.  Heal your heart by accessing that deep quiet place within you.  You will be surprised at what you find there.  Love it, heal it, and share the love you get with someone else.

Okay, Loves… that’s all of my time.  I’ve been up since about 4am…but sharing with you guys never gets old!  Remember, YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL (BELLA) EVEN WHEN YOU ARE BLUE!!! Put on some jeans and pour a glass of wine (or juice) lol and meet me here!

Love ya,

Ify

 

OMG!!! It’s been forever! (Warning… I’m feeling long winded today) lol

OMG!  I missed you so much.  My world has been a roller coaster in the last few months.  Okay… I’ll just say it.  I haven’t worked since March.  I lost my house… my job… and for awhile, my self respect due to complications with bipolar disorder.  My world has been totally turned upside down and I struggle from day to day to stay positive and moving forward.  I’m human and despite losing everything I worked so hard for… I still have my beautiful kiddos.  Yep, that’s how I talk ABOUT them to people who will never encounter that FIYAH! lol  (Shhh… they might hear)

Anywho, I am all about rebuilding and learning to love myself exactly where I am in this moment.  OMG… it’s so easy to say that, right?  It’s even easier for other people to say it to you.  I sometimes wonder what they think I am trying to do.  They must think I’m sitting around in my bra and panties watching cartoons in tears for my own good health.  (a bad day)  I just want to scream at people who feel like they know what depression, anxiety, bipolar, borderline, and bulimia are!  They can possibly feel the sorrow that comes from seeing a small animal suffering, writhing in pain, and whimpering for its savior to come.  They will never truly know, though.

That, my loves, is the reason for me writing to you today.  I want more.  You have too.  The visits to the doctor’s office are created to be demeaning… a constant reminder of a permanent flaw.  The truth about that is that a mole is a flaw in the way a child’s skin developed in utero.  But when they are born… it’s called a “beauty mark”.  Your mental health diagnosis doesn’t have to be an ugly blemish.  It can be a mark of a beautiful triumph!

Do you know what the key to accessing that life is?  I’m stealing this from Alcoholics Anonymous… i think…lol!  YOU HAVE TO ADMIT THAT YOU HAVE A PROBLEM!  I think that it is more difficult for people with mental illness to be honest with themselves about their diagnosis because we spend so much time lying to everyone else about it.  We spend so much time trying to “act” like everything is okay that we don’t even know how to heal anymore.  I have spent so much time caring about what everyone will think of me if they knew I had a mental illness that I allowed that concern to become one of my biggest stressors!  Think about it… not many people hide the fact that they have high blood pressure or diabetes?  But, people with mental illness struggle to hide underneath the radar day in and day out!  My wish for the world is that the stigma against people like me would be totally obliterated!  People with mental illness are beautiful in their complexity and we deserve a fair chance at life just like everyone else.

Whew! I got that off of my chest.  So, yeah, I don’t have a solution to the problems of the world….or all of my own problems for that matter… BUT I can tell you my BELLAS… you are all BEAUTIFUL EVEN WHEN YOUR BLUE!

Love ya!

Hello world! Welcome to MY World! a.k.a. Bella’s World

Hello, Everyone! Welcome to my place…well OUR place! Bella’s Blue Jeans is a place for you to let your hair down and receive the love and care that you deserve in today’s rumble and tumble world.  First thing is first.  My family and friends know me as Ify Love…but I’ve decided to create a world where my alter ego Bella can run amuck! lol  No worries, Mon.  You can ask Bella anything and she will be glad to answer your questions…and if she doesn’t have an answer for you- She’ll go to the ends of the Earth to find one for you.  Sometimes, Bella just has an opinion that she wants to share with the world while wearing a comfy pair of blue jeans…and that’s it.

If you are reading this then I consider you a BELLA (just a pretty way for me to call you beautiful) too! (I guess I can stop talking about myself in 3rd person now…lol) and it’s an absolute pleasure to meet you.  I am the mother of two kiddos, a registered nurse, and I tend to lean WAAAAY towards the quirky-to-no-end side personality wise.  I have also been a few places and done a few things (details later…lol I guess).  I basically decided to start this blog because I felt like the craziness in my mind had no “safe place” to go.  Sometimes I just want to assert myself and listen to my craziness because…well just because.  I get tired of society today being so judgmental about nothing to do with them and EVERYTHING to do with everyone else.  For instance, “happy” has to look a certain way, everyone has to be “thin” fit, a woman’s intelligence cannot be aligned with her good looks,  and your private life MUST resemble that of a reality show ( Those will be a topic all their own).

So welcome, my Loves!  I am so pleased to have you here. Feel free to reply to this post telling me a little about yourself and where you are from.  And if you have any questions (about anything at all)… Ask away!!!!

Kisses Up Down and All Around,

Love Ya and Remember you are BEAUTIFUL EVEN WHEN YOU’RE BLUE!