Well damn.

This is a Really Real Health post.

Well, it’s a Really Real Mental Health post, too.

And for that matter, it’s a Really Real COVID post.

And it’s a long one (really, a long one, but important).

I got a text from my sister earlier today.

“I just got the call that Dad tested positive.

He’s being moved to the COVID unit tonight.”

My response “Well damn.”

You see, I’ve been waiting for this. Almost holding my breath. Last week 7 employees tested positive in the physical rehab hospital where he’s staying. I knew it would make the rounds, even in an environment where everyone is being more than careful.

But this is COVID. It spreads like wildfire.

And my feelings on him being positive are so so mixed. So so hard to weed through. And there’s so much guilt and shame wrapped up in my thoughts.

But I’m not sure there should be guilt and shame.

Even before COVID, Dad was dying. A slow miserable death from a neurological disorder that I can never remember the name of. It’s been taking his speech and reasoning for the past year, taking his ability to walk safely and care for himself, all the while he was refusing any sort of help.

And through a lot of this, he’s still been in there, just unable to communicate clearly. Phone calls would be long and difficult, with 90% of it consisting of “umm” and “uhhh” as he tried to find the words to say what he called to say.

He’s been falling a lot, while still trying to live his normal life. A month ago, give or take, he went to mow his expansive lawn on his tractor. He ran out of gas. Trying to walk home he fell into a ditch,

where he spent the entire night.

When he was found the next morning, he still refused help, other than a ride back home.

He fell later that day and spent that second night on the floor, unable to get himself up or get to a phone.

That’s what led to his stay in the hospital. That’s what led to him being transferred to rehab.

That’s what led to him being transferred to the COVID unit.

He’s dying, a slow, miserable death. He’s living out his worst nightmare, trapped in a body that no longer serves him.

I remember a conversation awhile back, either with Dad or my sister, about how much Dad hated the idea of being restrained. The idea of being arrested and put in cuffs for drinking, was enough to make him quit cold turkey, after years of alcoholism.

He’s being restrained by his own body now.

And he’s being transferred to the COVID unit later tonight.

His response, when he finds the words, is to insist that he doesn’t have COVID, that the test was bullshit.

Of course that’s his response. That’s the hill he will die on.

And he will die.

If not from this, than from that. One just prolongs the suffering.

I hate seeing him suffer, even though my relationship with him has been strained for most of my life. I hate knowing that he’s in there, mostly aware, at least some of the time, and watching his body fall apart around him.

No one deserves to live that life, no matter how they’ve treated me and everyone around them.

But I feel guilty for wanting this to be quick, for hoping that this is the thing that helps him walk out of this world with at least some of his dignity left.

It feels shameful to hope your parent dies sooner rather than later.

But I have to wonder, is he even living anymore?

“I just got the call that Dad tested positive.

He’s being moved to the COVID unit tonight.”

Now we wait to see if he ever makes it out of there alive.

Wear your mask, wash your hands.

This is kind of personal now.

They grow up

This is a Really Real Parenting post.

I’ve been sitting on this one for awhile.

Mulling it over and under and around. Letting it float in my head. Taking undefined thoughts and turning them into words and sentences, so that I can put fingers to keys.

I miss my son.

Not just because I haven’t seen him, but also because he’s growing up, and growing more distant.

It’s developmentally appropriate of course.

“This is developmentally appropriate behavior.”

That was my mantra while he was growing up. As frustrating and annoying and difficult he could be, his behavior was always exactly what it should have been, even when I didn’t like it. (My son?!? Noooooo, not my son! He was a constant pleasure to be around, of course.)

And now is no different.

I was incredibly lucky that for his first 2 years living so far away, we talked almost daily via Messenger. He called me every week, often reminding me that it has been a whole week since we talked last.

We were close before he left (even though we fought horribly) and we were closer after he left.

But time has passed, the world has changed, and he’s settled into his life out there.

And it felt like overnight we went from chatting daily, to chatting every week or two. From weekly phone calls, to monthly phone calls.

This is developmentally appropriate behavior.

And still, that doesn’t make it easier.

I had a dream last night, that I was in the basement where I lived pre-parenthood. I remember how fun it was to live my life without the constant oversight and judgement that came from my parents.

Of course, I got pregnant, and there went the carefree life of early adulthood. (Don’t worry, I’m making up for it now.)

He’s living out that time in his life. That carefree life of early adulthood.

And I have no interest in holding him back.

It’s hard though. I’m always afraid that he’s realizing how much I fucked up while he was growing up, and that he’s distancing himself from me because of it. I worry that I’m becoming that obligatory phone call that he dreads.

I don’t believe that he owes me phone calls. I don’t believe that he owes me anything, honestly, because I brought him into this world and it was my job to raise him. He doesn’t owe me because I put that time into raising him.

It’s a type of grief, a type of loss, as he grows up and our relationship changes.

This is developmentally appropriate behavior.

He doesn’t need me in the same way anymore, and that’s good stuff right there.

I raised an adultier adult.

And when this is all weighing heavily on me, and I miss him so much that it hurts . . . I get a random text message. . .

A song that made him think of me.

A song that brings tears to both of our eyes.

He ends the message with, “I love you, Mom.”

Of course, I respond, and he never replies, but . . .

This is developmentally appropriate behavior.

Parenting is hard when they’re little. It’s hard when they’re growing up and fighting against you with everything they have.

But I feel like it’s a different kind of hard when they are grown.

And I guess my feelings are developmentally appropriate too.

Still a Widow

This is a Really Real Widow post.

Widowhood is weird.

Like, it’s no longer really a noticeable thing every day.

Well, I mean it is, because it profoundly changed me, and this version of me only exists because of it. But it’s not something where it is in the forefront of my mind on any sort of a regular basis.

And then some anniversary rolls around. Her birthday, her death day, our wedding anniversary.

And these next two.

The anniversary of the day we celebrated her life, and the anniversary of the day we met.

Each anniversary brings with it different memories. Memories of when she was alive, memories of that whirlwind year after she died.

It’s so strange sometimes, the way I end up with a foot in each world. One world where I wonder what would have been if she was still alive. One world where I’m so happy to be. A world surrounded by chaos and a world where there is stability.

Somewhere in the basement I have a scrapbook with her recollection of the first time we met. It was a book she planned to add to, giving me her side of our story, because I was the one who normally told the stories.

At one point, after she died, that book was always on the coffee table. I read it often, it felt so comforting to have her words to hold onto.

And now, it’s packed away in a box, probably along with my baby book. Things that I can dig out and look through, but not anything to concern myself with on a regular basis.

Sometimes there is guilt in this. Did I really love her if I’ve been able to pack those memories away? Did I really love her if she doesn’t have a predominant space in my home? Did I really love her if I’ve been able to more forward?

I know the answer is that I absolutely love her. Not only in the past tense, but now, still, always and forever.

The Parker sized hole in my heart has smoother edges, and I’ve learned to live around it. Her death forever changed me, I see her influence in things that I do every day.

Often I have some grand point in mind when I start to write these posts. And with this one, there wasn’t really an ending in mind. I just felt the need to put fingers to keys.

She will always be a part of me.

I miss her.

Six Months

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

So, I’ve been really torn about writing this. It seems silly to celebrate something that most people just, do. But it also feels like a really big deal, to me.

As of this week I’ve been working for 6 months.

I’m fighting the urge to minimize. Fighting the urge to say “I did it, but . . . “

But, the truth is, this wasn’t possible for a long long while. This wasn’t within the realm of my abilities. I could barely make it to doctors appointments, and then I could barely keep up with school work, and then I could barely keep up with volunteering. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to work again.

And now, I struggle, I take mental health days, I’m not always at my best, but I’m holding down a job.

I’m working like a real adult.

And still, in the back of my mind there is the not-so-quiet voice telling me, I’m only kind of doing it. I work from home, I work for family, it’s just part time.

It’s not a real job.

I haven’t done anything special.

But also, I have.

Working is scary. Working is hard. Working leaves room for failure and mistakes.

Sometimes, working sucks.

And yet, I am.

I’m doing the thing.

It’s taken me a long while to get here, but I’m doing the thing.

Haircut

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’ve needed to get my hair done since this all started, months ago. My normally shaved sides were 3 inches long. My bright and vibrant unicorn hair was faded to a muddy pastel.

I couldn’t believe how much it was destroying my self image. Not only had I put on a significant amount of weight, but now my hair, something that was normally raved about, was unkempt and gross. I stopped working to bring out the curl. My hair lived in days old ponytails, the long sides tickling the inside of my ears.

But I had made and cancelled a hair appointment before. I had set up plans with family for an outdoor hair cut and that got cancelled too.

There was so much anxiety holding me back. Anxiety coming from every direction. I’m anxious about catching/spreading COVID. I’m afraid to leave my house.

But it also masks an underlying situation. My agoraphobia is rearing its ugly head again. My anxiety is becoming more than I can easily live with. I’m out of practice with pushing through it, so that mental muscle has atrophied.

My world has closed in upon itself. Even taking the dog out is scary and uncomfortable. Leaving my front porch seems like I’m walking through quicksand. The world is large and scary and feels dangerous.

And this is where COVID comes back in. The world is dangerous right now. So telling my brain that it’s safe, feels like a lie. But not feeling safe is what makes the agoraphobia worse.

Every anxiety imaginable comes to the forefront when I need to leave.

I’ve been here before.

Multiple times.

But I know the only way out is through. Pushing myself to go when the last thing I want to do is open that door.

So I pushed, and my bright pink and purple undercut is back. My smile is just that little bit bigger. My face feels a little less round. I feel like myself a little bit more. And this morning it was a little bit easier to push myself out the front door for a frivolous trip to Starbucks.

There needs to be more (socially distant) frivolous trips in my future. I need to work that muscle again.

I’m tired of being scared.

Haircut

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’ve needed to get my hair done since this all started, months ago. My normally shaved sides were 3 inches long. My bright and vibrant unicorn hair was faded to a muddy pastel.

I couldn’t believe how much it was destroying my self image. Not only had I put on a significant amount of weight, but now my hair, something that was normally raved about, was unkempt and gross. I stopped working to bring out the curl. My hair lived in days old ponytails, the long sides tickling the inside of my ears.

But I had made and cancelled a hair appointment before. I had set up plans with family for an outdoor hair cut and that got cancelled too.

There was so much anxiety holding me back. Anxiety coming from every direction. I’m anxious about catching/spreading COVID. I’m afraid to leave my house.

But it also masks an underlying situation. My agoraphobia is rearing its ugly head again. My anxiety is becoming more than I can easily live with. I’m out of practice with pushing through it, so that mental muscle has atrophied.

My world has closed in upon itself. Even taking the dog out is scary and uncomfortable. Leaving my front porch seems like I’m walking through quicksand. The world is large and scary and feels dangerous.

And this is where COVID comes back in. The world is dangerous right now. So telling my brain that it’s safe, feels like a lie. But not feeling safe is what makes the agoraphobia worse.

Every anxiety imaginable comes to the forefront when I need to leave.

I’ve been here before.

Multiple times.

But I know the only way out is through. Pushing myself to go when the last thing I want to do is open that door.

So I pushed, and my bright pink and purple undercut is back. My smile is just that little bit bigger. My face feels a little less round. I feel like myself a little bit more. And this morning it was a little bit easier to push myself out the front door for a frivolous trip to Starbucks.

There needs to be more (socially distant) frivolous trips in my future. I need to work that muscle again.

I’m tired of being scared.

Where’s My Roller Coaster?

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve written. Now granted, time is going super fast, so it feels like less than that, but it really has been 2 weeks. I wrote daily for a long time, I wrote at least twice a week for a long time. Now I’m lucky if I write every couple of weeks.

Part of it is Covid. Nothing exciting is happening in my life. It’s the same shit, different day, different week, different month.

But a bigger part of it is that I’m just stuck in this low grade, constant, depression.

I miss my roller coaster. The monotony of day to day life with mental illness was broken up by constantly changing levels of mania and depression.

Good news: we stopped the rapid cycling.
Bad news: we stopped the rapid cycling.

Mental health was an obstacle course before. Making it through this episode just long enough for the next one to kick in. It was exhausting, but it was interesting.

Now my mental health is a long marathon. Just keep functioning at some constant level, reserving energy for the long haul.

The benefit to the obstacle course was that the adrenaline, kept me going, The hypomania and the influx of serotonin that it brought, kept me going.

That said, I read the posts I made in years past and I know that it wasn’t all that comfortable riding the roller coaster either. The suicidal thoughts were worse (and more dangerous) during mixed episodes. The hypomania brought along poor decision making. The lows were so dark, so so dark.

But, this version of stability is its own type of difficult.

I mean, I should be thankful that I’m stable. The suicidal thoughts are fleeting. I’ve held a job for close to 6 months. I’m not constantly in crisis.

But I’m also depressed enough that I’m often doing the bare minimum. Just enough to get me through to the next day. I can’t seem to find the will or the energy to do more.

I have enough work available to easily pull 20-30 hours a week. Yet, some weeks I’m lucky if I do half that.

And it isn’t that I don’t want to. I sit here stuck. I want to work, I know what I want to work on, but I just can’t find the energy to actually do it.

And it’s not just work, so it’s not just that I’m avoiding that.

I have a list of cards to make for friends. The list was made in April and May. It’s July. I’m still only part way through this list.

Side note for those that requested cards, they will make it to you eventually, I promise.

I sit here, aimlessly scrolling facebook. I want to craft, I want to game, I want to do SOMETHING, but I can’t find the will or the energy to start.

This is hard. A different kind of hard than constant crisis.

I miss my roller coaster.

Just hold on

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

TW: Talk of suicide, including plan. Talk of weight/weight loss/weight gain.

There’s so much in my brain and I don’t know where to start. This ended up being super super long, but I need to get it out. Words of encouragement and understanding would be greatly appreciated.

Last night was really, really hard.

It started with boredom. None of my usual activities were grabbing my attention. I tried pushing through and making myself start something anyway. Just start, just design one card, just complete one quest, just plan one dish.

Just start something.

But I wasn’t able to. So slowly I felt myself drifting towards bed. Once there I couldn’t even bring myself to turn on the TV.

Laying there my mind was wandering. Is this the medication change, it’s supposed to make me less flat and sometimes it just doesn’t seem to be doing that. It’s supposed to help me eat less, and I thought I was, but yesterday morning I had gotten on the scale, and I gained another 10 lbs.

Inching ever closer to my heaviest weight. A weight I swore I’d never reach again. I worked so so hard to lose so much. Even at 300 lbs I was proud of my body and what it could do. I felt accomplished at the gym. I was far more at peace with my body, even though I still had a lot to lose.

I spent months working towards bariatric surgery, for the 3rd time, and right as I cleared the last hurdle, they thought that emotionally it could be very dangerous for me to move forward. I walked away from the program on the day I was supposed to set a surgery date. I still don’t know if it was the right decision.

That was when this latest weight gain started. I had already stalled with losing, due to the medication increase, but then I started gaining. We increased the medication more, and I gained more. First I noticed 10 lbs, then a couple of months later there was another 10. Then in the first couple of months of quarantine it just kept going up and up and up.

And as much as the numbers suck, even worse is that I’ve lost my ability to walk as far as I used to. My pain is worse. I get out of breath just getting adjusted in bed. Walking up to my second floor apartment feels like running a marathon.

I don’t feel proud of what my body can do anymore. I spent almost 2 years celebrating accomplishment after accomplishment, and now I’m back to living in my desk chair barely able to hold myself up.

And last night it crashed down on me. Weight is such a huge trigger for my suicidal thoughts.

It started with a quiet whisper. “You failed again.”

Then a little louder. “You’re right back where you were, fat and useless, and no matter how hard you work, you’ll always end up back here.”

With a little more force, “You’ll never overcome this, it’s not worth trying anymore, it’s not worth living.”

In the back of my mind I started telling myself. Get up, get dressed, go for a walk. You don’t have to give in to this.

“See, you can’t even do that, can’t even bring yourself to work on this. You’re such a fat failure and you’re just taking up space. The world would be better off without you in it”

Then the quiet voice again. Please, just get up, put on shoes, and walk. You don’t even have to change out of your pajamas, just get out of bed and walk.

There was a back and forth battle between the voice that wanted me to die, and the quiet voice trying to stand up and help me live.

I came out to the living room and checked some pill bottles. I don’t have enough of this, this, or that . . of course we keep most of it locked up, but maybe, maybe if I take all three different ones.

I started hoping that Wonder Woman would go in the other room. Go into the bathroom, so that I had enough time to take what I had. I know she’d notice if I took the pills into my room, and she’d definitely notice if I took them right there. I just needed to take them and go to sleep. Hopefully I wouldn’t wake up.

It was a calm sort of suicidality . I wasn’t afraid, I wasn’t rushed, I was just waiting for the right moment.

Just waiting in bed and listening for the moment when she got up from the sofa.

Quietly waiting.

Instead I sent her a text. A that small voice fighting to live. “I’m calmly but intensely suicidal tonight.”

She asked how she could help. I didn’t have an answer.

Eventually, I heard her get up. I was waiting to hear the bathroom door. It would finally be my chance. But instead she turned off the lights and came to bed. We talked.

I told her my plan.

She locked up more meds, and I felt like a child in need of a babysitter.

And then I felt defeated. I felt, and still feel, like there’s no way out of this mess I’m in. This mess that is me.

We went to the store this morning. She reminded me that I had to stay alive to cook the food we were buying. I felt the voice slowly fading away. Slowly backing off.

I’m worried that these thoughts are because we’re lowing the medication. But staying on such a high dose is just going to exacerbate my weight problems. It’s nearly impossible to lose weight when the intense craving for food feels like a drug addiction. I can not adequately explain the drive to eat that has been occurring the last 6 months or more.

And you can’t just quit food cold turkey.

I don’t have any answers. I don’t have any uplifting ending to this post. I don’t have any feel good words.

I just have me, feeling like I don’t want to continue to fight.

I just have me sitting here, getting my words out on the screen so that they don’t eat me alive.

Asshole Brain

TW: Suicidal Thoughts

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

My brain is an asshole sometimes.

Last night was one of those times.

Stuck in bed at 9pm, unable to fight my way out without help. Brain beating me up for everything I might have done wrong in the past months. Brain beating me up for my weight, my lack of motivation. Beating me up for existing.

Not wanting to exist any longer.

The suicidal thoughts were fleeting, but they were there, quietly humming in the background under a very loud chorus of self loathing.

I hate my body. I hate my brain. Sometimes it feels like I hate life.

Even though life isn’t all that bad, really. I mean, the world is going up in flames, but my own little bubble isn’t all that horrible, considering what my past has looked like.

Isolation is getting to me.

We were supposed to get out of the house today, taking a break from these four walls to visit someplace that wasn’t a necessity. Getting some fresh air. I was hoping for it, looking forward to it. And instead it’s going to storm.

I guess we’re staying home again.

These four walls are exhausting.

It doesn’t help that I’m hurting. Whatever is going on in my chest is this constant dull roar seeping it’s way into all areas of my life. While the hospital ruled out the most dangerous things, I’m still worried.

I’m still scared.

I’m still anxious.

I’m still feeling lethargic, unable to do much of anything before I’m exhausted.

Which makes me climb in bed.

Which allows asshole brain to speak up again.

Hello my old friend.

It’s almost, in a strange way, comforting to hear the quiet hum. Comforting in the worst sort of way.

It’s what I know. It’s what I’m used to. The constant roar of my trains of thought, underlined by the hum of wanting to die.

It’s also scary.

My doctor called in a med that, in high enough doses, could kill me. It took everything in me to speak up and tell Wonder Woman that she needed to take the pills when I pick them up, handing it out small numbers at a time, so that I don’t have access to it.

Another pill bottle in the safe.

I wanted to hold onto this one. Comfort myself with the knowledge that a way out was right there.

But that just makes the hum louder. It makes it more real.

It’s dangerous.

I have to be protected from my own asshole brain.

I have to be protected.

I have to be.

Four Years Ago Today

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

TW: Talk of Suicide including method and post death graphic stuff.

Four years ago today.

Four years.

My new normal started 4 years ago today.

I still replay the movies in my head. I remember waking up earlier than her.

I remember going in to wake her up so that I could bring her something back for breakfast.

I remember the way her skin felt, that eerie cold that didn’t feel quite right. I knew the second I touched her that she was gone.

I remember the rigidness of her limbs.

I just knew.

I remembered hearing the rustling of her pills the night before. I thought she was just taking her night time meds. The bag that held her medications was empty. She took every last one of them.

I remember sending a message to my closest friend and neighbor, asking her to get Draven out of the house while I was on the phone with 911. I didn’t want him waking up to the chaos. I wanted him safe from the new reality.

I remember making phone calls that changed lives forever.

I remember sitting in my desk chair lost, numb, unsure of how to process the way my life was changing.

I remember my mother sitting here, strangely she was up from Florida, strangely she was going to take me to breakfast that morning, strangely she came into the house as the first wave of paramedics did.

I was so thankful she was here.

I remember taking a drive, to Burger King, to get us out of the house as the coroner took Parker’s body out.

I remember ordering food that went uneaten.

I remember being thankful that Draven already had therapy that day, and that I was able to get in for my own appointment.

I remember crying more tears then I ever thought possible. The feeling of my eyes being so raw from wiping them.

I remember.

Four years.

Four years ago today.