Today

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Today I just don’t wanna. So I’m not.

I’m not going to the gym.

I’m not even going to DBT.

(I never, ever skip DBT.)

I may not go to derby.

It’s not even my busiest Wednesday, it’s my low key one. But I just don’t want to participate in life. So I’m not. I’m fighting to stay out of bed, and I may not even do that. I may let the bed win.

Today I don’t feel like fighting.

I don’t feel like fighting so hard just to live a functional life.

I don’t feel like riding the roller coaster.

It’s not that I want to die, for a change it’s not that feeling. I just don’t feel like making myself participate in this glorious mess.

I want a break from pushing myself through everything.

Today I’m being willful and even obstinate, because I know this isn’t the best way.

And I’d love to say I don’t care, but I do. I feel guilty for giving myself this break but I just don’t have the energy or the willpower to fight it today.

Today I just needed to take a sidestep off the ride and let it pass me by.

Today I just don’t wanna. So I’m not.

Not Just The Food

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

But also a Really Real Poverty Post.

Last night I got a quick reminder that food insecurity doesn’t end just because there is food in the house.

I was food insecure for a really long time. Parker, Kidlet and I relied on food pantries and handouts from friends and family and there were a lot of times I didn’t know how I was making it through the month. There were times I didn’t know where the next meal was coming from. There were times I ate less or didn’t eat because I was making sure everyone else got enough. There were times I ate food I didn’t like because throwing it away meant one less meal later in the month.

It hasn’t been like that in a few years now. I have plenty of food and even have problems with my limited cabinet space. (How many jars of borscht does one person need, love?) If we run out of an ingredient, I can replace it. If I change my mind about what I want for dinner, I can normally go buy something else. By logistical standards, I am no longer food insecure.

Last night I tried a new noodle replacement. Edamame noodles. They weren’t bad on their own, but mixed in with spaghetti sauce it was a horrible failure.

It was bad.

Wonder Woman couldn’t even hide her hatred of it and I don’t blame her.

I easily made her more (regular) noodles to eat with the rest of the spaghetti sauce while I tried like hell to eat mine.

I tried, I really tried.

But eventually I threw it away.

And then my brain told me, “You can’t eat anything else because you just wasted perfectly good food and there may not be enough food this month.”

Now, I know that’s bullshit. That food was NOT perfectly good.

It was perfectly horrible.

And I’m looking around my kitchen at bags of food sitting on the floor that wouldn’t fit into cabinets. I know I have a freezer that will barely stay closed because I just went shopping. I know there is plenty of food. I know there is money for more food.

But food insecurity doesn’t end just because there is food. Food insecurity is a trauma that doesn’t really go away that quickly.

I went to bed hungry last night. Unable to push past the voice that told me I wasn’t allowed to eat because I’d wasted the food I’d been allotted.

And yeah, one night without dinner isn’t the end of the world. I’m sure there are even those who are saying “You could afford to miss a few meals” (Oh, is that just my internal voice? I’m sure I heard it somewhere first. Who the fuck gave me these messages.)

Anyway, my point isn’t that I missed eating dinner last night. It’s that this stuff has lasting effects that a lot of people don’t think about. The internalized messages, because of poverty, that are so hard to overcome even after things stabilize.

It’s not just about getting food in the houses of people who are living in poverty.

It isn’t just about the food.

Brain, Brain, Go Away

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

My brain is an asshole.

A quiet asshole, but still, an asshole.

This has been an incredible weekend. Calm and quiet. Sitting around the house playing video games side by side with my girl. Something that we don’t do often. Both of us doing our own thing in the same make believe world.

It’s nice to be fully engaged in a game again. It’s nice to be interested in something, anything, again.

But then, in the back of my head is this little voice

It starts telling me I’m never going to be anything but a failure. I’m never going to make it. I’m never going to be enough. I’m never going to be skinny enough, stable enough, pretty enough. I’m never going to have enough money. I’m never going to be successful at anything.

It tells me I should just stop trying.

It tells me I should just die.

It tries to convince me everyone would be better off, everyone would be happier.

I push it away, I go about my day. I ignore the voice. But it’s still there, quietly, whispering in the back of my head.

Brains can be assholes sometimes.

This weekend has been amazing. Cuddles galore, and little moments when Wonder Woman walks by me in the kitchen and steals a kiss or rubs against me.

I tell her “You make me so happy”

“Good, because you deserve happy”

And the voice in the back of my head speaks up again. Telling me I don’t deserve this. Telling me it won’t last. Telling me that any day I’ll fuck it up, or that somehow it will be taken away from me. The voice reminds me of all the sadness in my life, tells me that’s what I deserve, that’s where I belong.

That’s why I should die.

Brains can be assholes sometimes.

This has been a really good weekend. Quiet and low key, the kind of weekend that I almost feel guilty for having. Nothing got done, except for a trip to the gym, and some cooking.

But I also spent the whole weekend quietly fighting a battle in my head.

I know the quiet voice is a liar. I know I’m making huge progress in my life and that my life worth isn’t even based on the progress I make. I know I deserve happy and that what I’ve been through in my past is just one part of my life and there’s so much more to live.

But, my brain is an asshole.

Brain, brain, go away.

Come back when you can play nice.

 

Wednesdays are Hard

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Wednesdays are hard.

I leave the house at 930 in the morning and start with gym and get home at 1030 at night after derby. The middle of the day is filled with DBT and NAMI and school work during my down times and transportation issues and eating on the go.

Wednesdays are hard.

By the end of the day I’m emotionally and physically exhausted.

This week they moved NAMI to a new building and I couldn’t find food locally so I went way too long without eating. It just added to the complete feeling of overwhelm by the end of the day.

Wednesdays are hard.

Yesterday was harder than most, and I came home at the end of the day and felt completely overwhelmed and couldn’t tell if I was seeing real problems or thought distortions but I knew my emotions were bigger than me and I couldn’t contain them. I wanted to lash out. Well, not really, I just I needed them out of my head.

I went and laid with the covers over my head. My bed is my safe space. My cave in the covers is my place to be unsure of things and still be okay.

I told Wonder Woman about my fears and my insecurities. I vented out all of the emotions that were bigger than me until they seemed a bit more manageable.

I cried.

Wednesdays are hard.

This morning the last thing I wanted to do was get up.and go to the gym. I spent the morning in bed thinking of a million excuses, a million reasons why I just couldn’t go today.

I just needed a break from life after yesterday.

Wednesdays are hard.

But instead I got my gym clothes on before I sat down for my morning coffee, getting one step closer, making it a little more difficult to back out.

I’m still not quite sure how to fix Wednesdays. But it doesn’t have to bleed over into Thursday, too.

We Look Like You

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’ve heard it a few times before.

“You don’t look like you’re crazy.”

But what exactly does mental illness look like?

I sat in my DBT group today and couldn’t stay focused. I spent some time looking around at our group of 10 people, 12 if you count the instructors (who, as Social Workers, most likely have diagnoses of their own, it’s pretty common) and we are all different shapes, sizes, ages, backgrounds and education levels. This class is taught in modules with a few of us switching out every month and with me on my 37th week, I’ve seen a lot of people come through here. We all look different, we all have different stories.

None of us “look crazy.”

Well, maybe a few of us, especially those of us with pink and purple hair, and bright pink unicorn covered skirts and sparkly rainbow Docs.

That’s me, maybe I look a little crazy.

The other day on mobility there was a huge mix up and I got stuck on the bus without a drop off scheduled. “It’s really important that I don’t miss my therapy appointment, is this fixable quickly?”

“What? Are you one of those bipolar people, turn into the she-hulk or something, start hitting people with trash cans?” I told him it wasn’t quite like that. He says, “I don’t know, you look like you’ve got a streak in ya.”

What exactly does that streak look like? And we won’t go into just how wrong that entire conversation was, fuck that nonsense.

But, mental illness doesn’t have a look, and I’m amazed that there are people who think it does. It’s part of the stigma that still attached. You’re crazy therefore you must be visibly ill, visibly disheveled, you must wear it like a scarlet letter.

What exactly does mental illness look like?

It looks just like me.

It looks just like my neighbor down the street.

It looks just like that law student.

It looks just like that therapist.

It looks just like that EMT.

It looks just like your doctor.

It looks just like you.

Give Them Wings

This is a Really Real Parenting Post.

“Landed.”

“Are you in another country now?”

“Yep”

Kidlet is 19 years old and he just took a solo trip out of the country. He planned it, got his passport, paid for the tickets, saved up the spending money, and is doing the thing.

“No time for a drink yet, the next flight boards soon.” He’s old enough to drink in Canada and is looking forward to buying his first (legal) adult beverage.

He still has 2 more flights until he arrives at his final destination, some online gaming friends he’s visiting for a few days.

And I couldn’t be prouder.

I was 21 when I made my first trip (mostly) alone, relying on some inheritance to take a road trip from Maryland to Texas. Kidlet riding along in his car seat, still in diapers. The Tarzan soundtrack kept us going through that trip. I belted out “You’ll Be In My Heart” every time it came on, singing it directly from my heart to him, unable to imagine a day that I wouldn’t be right there beside him. I couldn’t begin to see this far into the future.

But here we are.

“What’s your soundtrack for this trip?”

“Ride” (By Twenty One Pilots) “I’ve had that song playing in my head.”

I smile.

Three years ago, almost to the day, Kidlet and I took a road trip to NY. It was right after Parker died and we just needed to get away. We went to see one of my best friends, also someone I knew from online. When we started I had never heard “Ride” but we spent the trip playing music for each other and it was one that got played often. By the time we were driving back it had become one of my favorite songs. We belted out the lyrics together the whole way home.

“I love you Kidlet.”

“Love you more Mom.”

Love you more isn’t a competition, it means he loves me more than all of the miles and distance between us. It’s a reminder that no matter how far apart we are, we’re still together, we’re still close.

I realize how lucky I am to have this relationship with my son. I’m still not quite sure what I did right or how I did it in the middle of all the things that went wrong for us.

In the midst of our closeness I spent his life letting him stretch his wings whenever I could.

And he sure is using them to fly.

 

Wait For It

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

But also a Really Real Mental Health Post.

One of those that blur the lines because in the days after Parker died it was hard to tell where grief ended and depression began, where mania subsided and constant running for distraction took over.

That first year was probably the hardest year of my life. I found dozens of different methods to cope, trying one thing after another, some of them helping, others being left behind. One thing that kept me going was making playlists based on where I was in my grieving process. There was”Cry” and “Remembering Her” and “Joy” and the one that got the most play was the “You Got This” playlist.

One of the songs on there was “Wait For It” from Hamilton.

For me, that was my song that told me no matter how bad I felt in that moment, if I just kept fighting, things would get better. I just had to wait for it. There were nights that my suicidal thoughts were screaming in my ear, urging me to join Parker out of desperation to see her again. I would put “Wait For It” on repeat, blasting it through headphones trying to drown out the thoughts. It was one of my anthems urging me to just hold on.

I listened to the entire Hamilton soundtrack on repeat hoping that one day they’d put it on TV so that I could actually see it. Seeing it in person didn’t even cross my mind, because that was outside the realm of possibility for me. It wasn’t even on my radar. That was something that other people dreamed of, my hopes were much simpler than that.

But in the three years since then my life has changed. I’ve started seeing more of life, started seeing there is more than just survival. I knew it wasn’t likely, but just maybe, one day I’d get to see Hamilton in person. The soundtrack was such a huge part of my life, I knew the lyrics by heart, seeing it preformed would be amazing.

Tickets went on sale locally. Of course they were way outside of my price range, and they were so hard to get. I knew there was no way.

And then Wonder Woman calls me to tell me some friends were taking us to see Hamilton as an engagement gift.

What?!?!?

This can’t be real.

I spent weeks just knowing it wasn’t real. That any day now someone would tell me it was all bullshit. That I wasn’t really going. I had misunderstood, they had changed their mind, I dreamed it. I refused to get excited, I just got anxious. More and more anxious.

And then the night is here. We walk up the street and I see the marquee. Holy Shit! I’m going to see Hamilton.

Such a mix of emotions the entire show. While there was amazement and excitement and awe, there was also this mix of grief and remembrance. What if she had just realized that she could wait for it. That life could be like this. That maybe one day she could sit in a theater and see something as amazing as Hamilton.

But holding Wonder Woman’s hand, sitting beside her and feeling her emotions, feeling my own emotions, just being there. Actually being present in that moment. The audience disappeared and it was just us and the stage. My anxiety was gone, my grief was gone,

I was enthralled.

I’ve had a hard life, there’s no denying that. I’ve been through more than a lot of people can imagine. I still have a lot to process and heal. But my life is good. Honestly my life is pretty amazing and as hard as it is to see sometimes, I believe I will continue to make forward progress It might be slow progress, but it will be forward progress towards better things. And you know what?

I’m willing to wait for it.