Good Enough

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I spend so much time not confident in who I am. I often think others are judging me by my appearance or because they don’t like the person I am. I have started to try to remember the times that I did feel good about myself fully and I try to remember what I felt like in that instance so that I can start to crave feeling like that so often that I can begin to make a habit of it.

Not good enough for my grade school friend

I have been told before that confidence comes from within, however my inside voice tells me I am inherently bad. Let me explain, when I was in grade school I was taught by my best friend I wasn’t good enough to be her friend at school in front of other kids because I was over-weight and poor not to mention I was annoying and considered a cry baby. She made me believe the thought that I was not good enough for anything. Not even common friendship. Now about 6th grade she finally grew up some and told the other girls that I was her friend and they were wrong for thinking I was not good enough to be friends with because of the way I looked but by then the damage was already done.

Not good enough for the guys to date in school

In junior high and high school boys didn’t date me. I was the “fat, ugly friend”, by age 12 everyone at my school knew I was considered ugly and fat and even if their opinion of me differed they would have never had considered dating me because that would mean going against what their friends had made them believe. I wasn’t good enough to date.

According to a PE teacher in my high school I would never be good enough to parent a child

A lot happened in high school. I had a teacher who told me that she hoped I never had children because I was a poor excuse for a human and any child, I would have wouldn’t have a chance in life. Yes, a teacher said this to me. It felt crappy and that PE teacher did get a phone call down to the dean’s office after my mother called the school to discuss the topic, but the damage was done. I was bad. I wasn’t good enough.

Not good enough for my own father

Then in high school my father left my mother and I for another woman and her children leaving us behind. He then raised another woman’s children and left me, and we hardly spoke because she wanted it that way. In fact, on one instance because of this other child that he ended up raising he hit me numerous times and security was called at a hotel because of it. He explained it away to my mother as I had gotten out of hand. What was out of hand was his and his wife’s expectation that I and my step-sister could handle the other step-sister with-out their interaction that day and they would not help get her to cooperate. He got mad and I got beaten and I don’t mean spanked, I was beaten. I had welts left on my arm for well over a week. Again, I was taught I was a bad person. I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead, but facts are facts. This did happen and it is a part of my teenage years.

Still not good enough for that grade school friend as an adult even after 30 years of friendship

As an adult I handled things fairly well with my confidence level for quite sometime but I was having coffee with the same friend who taught me in grade school that I wasn’t enough and she looked at me and said “I can only handle so much Tosha at one time” I know it seems like such a simple sentence. It doesn’t seem like it should stick with someone for the next 15 years. However, as a young adult trying to make my way in the world it hurt me, and it stuck with me that this same girl felt that I still wasn’t good enough after almost 30 years of friendship. I was her maid of honor, her mine and yet I wasn’t good enough to be her friend most of the time around her other friends. I mean, when she got married the last time, I met her husband only one time. Sadly, he passed away not too long ago.  I am sure it isn’t easy on her and I do care about her very deeply as she is my oldest friend. I also don’t believe she understood the damage she was doing when she did these things to me. I don’t think she understood that what she was saying to me or how she was acting could do so much damage to someone’s self-image that it truly changed the person they became.

Ran away from the job due to other ignorance of bipolar and their belief I was not good enough to be around their children

I then as an adult let it be found out I was bipolar while working in a small town. (https://inbipolarfashion.com/2019/05/02/stigma-in-a-small-town/) As a bus monitor. I ended up having the whole school district of parents calling the superintendent of the school and the school principal. The parents were making so much of a fuss about me being with their children that I finally gave up and quit my job because I was already battling depression so badly I had no fight in me to battle the storm that was happening around me and my public lashing with being bipolar. I again was taught I was inherently bad just by simply being who I was.

Through out my life I have had message after message that has told me from others that I am not enough and bad. Why? I am not. I am smart, I am compassionate, I am empathetic, I am generous and caring. I am kind and a hard-worker, and I give a whole lot of myself to others. It is now though, that I am finally realizing that all of these situations really had nothing to do with me, or the person I was. These situations all had to do with the individual that was at the root of the problem. It was because my friend wasn’t confident enough in who she was to say, she wanted to be my friend as a child. It was the teacher who should be ashamed of the way she spoke to a child in her classroom and obviously did not have the emotional intelligence to be teaching young kids who were being shaped into the individuals they would become as an adult and should be encouraged and nurtured not degraded and taught they are bad and not worthy of the life they are living, my father, well, he was just a jerk, and the people in my former community, well, they just weren’t educated enough to know that bipolar didn’t mean bad, and there is always going to be that ignorance and that stigma in the world. As much as I wish there wouldn’t be as long as we have people blaming mass shootings on the mentally ill, we are going to have stigma. It’s a fact. BIPOLAR PEOPLE ARE NOT VIOLENT! There I said it! I’ll leave that soap box alone.

My confidence level has been shot a long time. I however, for the first time in a long time no longer think I am a bad person or think that people automatically don’t like me. I am actually kinda cool. Maybe we should be friends!

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Stigma In A Small Town

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When waiting for the school bus, children should know not to play in the street and to stay far enough back from the curb so they can’t accidentally step into the street.

I always wondered how I would tell my story if ever given the chance. Having bipolar 1, ADHD, and general anxiety I have so much to share. It was cold out. That’s all I really remember. I had on a stocking cap and I was wearing a sweatshirt. This was my common attire for my then-position as a bus monitor for the school district I lived in. The depression was back and it was hitting hard core. I had lost faith in my current psychiatrist and getting in to see a new one proved to be a challenge. I had an appointment, but it was a month away. I was going to see a doctor who was newly out of school, young, and hopefully wouldn’t, as I called it, “cookie cut” me when it came to medications. I had just found the webcam feature on my new mac, hit record, and “Ramblings of a Bipolar Mom” started to flow from my mouth. After I was done speaking I thought, I am going to use this for good. Maybe someone else needs to hear it. I posted it on Facebook without a second thought. I did a video about every other day, talking about having bipolar illness and how it made me feel and some of the things that it did to me. I got some positive feedback from friends; supportive feedback. “Good for you Tosh, maybe this can help someone else,” one friend said. I felt good about the video blogs. I was very depressed, but I was getting into the doctor and hoped I would be OK soon. I remember getting one message that didn’t make any sense to me until later. It said, “I don’t care what people are saying, I have depression and I am behind you 100%.” It was from a neighbor. I live in a very small town, small enough that it is actually called a village. I just took that comment as a compliment, and it didn’t dawn on me to pay attention to the part that said “what people are saying”. I would, however, find out very soon.

 I was at the bus barn in between runs when my boss asked me to follow him into the offices of the administration building. My chest tightened and my heart sped up as I walked through the hallway leading to the HR manager’s office. On the screen of his computer was my face, my blog pulled up as if I was doing something deceitful on the job. The whole school district was in an uproar over my videos. Some of my children’s friends were on my Facebook page and some of their parents were as well. News of my illness traveled quickly among administrative staff, principals at the schools, and all the way up to the superintendent of the district. They were flooded with calls demanding my immediate dismissal.

 I sat there blank faced. I explained I was trying to help others who have bipolar, asking why there was a problem. They told me I yelled at the students. I said I have never yelled at the students, I talked loudly. There were 70 students on the bus. If I didn’t speak loudly, how would they hear the instructions? I was dumbfounded. I was advised strongly to take the videos down immediately and not do anymore. I was hurt, and ashamed, and worse than that, I worried about my boys and how would this affect them at school. Would the other kids make fun of them for having a crazy mom?

Without thinking I took the videos down and sank even deeper into depression. The shaming, however, had just begun. Day after day I was told of phone call after phone call to the school and the administrative offices. The parents were relentless. The principal, with whom I preciously had a good relationship since my sons were in preschool (now my oldest was in high school) asked me rudely, “Is it worth it for this stupid job?” when I tried to apologize to him for all the phone calls he was having to deal with. I told him yes it was since the school board paid my insurance. I was crushed that he hadn’t assured the parents I was fine to be around their children, that he knew me personally and knew I would never harm them.

 Then the unimaginable happened on the first warm day of spring during an afternoon bus route. Seating on our bus is by grades with kindergartners sitting in the front progressing towards the back with first and second graders next, through fifth graders at the back of the bus. I always sat with the fifth graders because they tended to be the noisiest and needed the most supervision. We stopped in town where the majority of the children and I got off the bus. Seventeen kids got off starting with the youngest. I was the last one off the bus after the fifth graders exited. The snow had melted, the air was fresh and my children decided to walk the two blocks home instead of riding in the car home with me. I remembered that my oldest son had lost his key to our van in the snow a few weeks earlier so I started looking for it along the side of my car. I noticed another van parked across from mine but didn’t see who was in it, just figuring it was another parent picking up their child at the bus stop. My twins called to me, asking what I was looking for. I called back, “The van key that Colton lost a few weeks ago”. After a few more moments I gave up the search got in my car and drove home. The next day my boss asked me to come to his office. He had received a call from a man who said I had pushed his son, a kindergartner, off the bus and then went up to his son and wife sitting inside their van and started growling at them, trying to get into their van, all of which was a complete fabrication. I asked my boss, “Why do they want me gone so badly? I have done this job for four years without a problem. I don’t understand.” I had never dealt with the stigma of bipolar before that moment. Why would someone go out of their way to fabricate a complete lie to try and get me fired from a job that I had done for years for with no complaints from anyone. I couldn’t understand how people, knowing I was already depressed, would try to take something from me that could send me further into depression. I still don’t talk to many people in the town we live in. Fewer than 700 people live there, and most know of my diagnosis. They choose to think I am different because of that. I know that I’ve read somewhere that 1 in 5 people have mental illness. Is it possible the lady who made up that story about me growling at her is dealing with some undiagnosed illness of her own? Then again, maybe she is just that mean-spirited. Either way, I wouldn’t change what happened. It set the course for other things that happened in my life, and the changes that came next were bigger than anything I could have imagined. Although not all of them were good, they all did prove that I have Amazing Strength.