Starting over, again.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

And a Really Real Health post.

One of those ones where it’s hard to tell where health ends and mental begins. As we know, they are definitely intertwined.

This is a long one.

TW: exercise and fitness. Quick mention of past suicidal thoughts.

4.5 years ago, Parker died.

Shortly after that I went in for a minor surgery to remove an ovary that had a large, painful, cyst.

They couldn’t control my airway on the table and aborted the surgery.

It scared the shit out of everyone.

I was incredibly suicidal after the failed surgery.

I was in so much pain, and I was still in the middle of that early grief period, and it just felt like the end of the world.

At that time, my best friend was going to the gym every night.

She wasn’t willing to leave me alone, but wasn’t willing to miss the gym.

So she took me with her.

And I went for a walk on the treadmill while she was doing what she was doing.

At the time I could barely walk around the block.

When I first got on the treadmill I had to hold on for dear life because I was so unstable I couldn’t keep my balance.

I can’t remember how long I walked that first time.

But we went back the next night and I did it again.

And again.

And again.

Eventually I worked up to the elliptical and the Arc bike.

We added strength training.

My best friend and I had a great routine and we kept each other going.

I was in the best shape that I can ever remember.

And then life happened.

I stopped going to the gym.

I would start going again, and lose momentum.

Covid brought months and months of sitting in the house, afraid to go anywhere.

I fell back into old habits.

Covid kept me away from the gym, but I also wasn’t making myself walk in the neighborhood.

The concrete sidewalk hurt my joints.

The hills hurt my lungs and left me gasping.

My therapist and I have talked a lot about it.

About my lack of motivation.

About how much I wanted things to change but hadn’t figured out how to change them.

Today she asked me what would make me feel safe at the gym.

I thought about it long after the session ended.

I remembered those nights in the gym years before, going at midnight,

or later.

It was empty.

We had the whole place to ourselves.

So tonight,

I dug through my gym clothes to find ones I could still squeeze into.

I charged my headphones.

I filled up my water bottle,

I put on my mask,

and,

I drove to the gym at 11pm.

I had grand plans. I was going to warm up on the treadmill and then get on the elliptical.

But,

I felt like I was dying after 5 minutes on the treadmill.

Even at a low speed with no incline I was holding on and pulling myself along.

I felt unstable. I was out of breath. My whole body was starting to sweat.

At 10 minutes I knew there was no way I was using any other machines.

I wasn’t even sure I’d last 30 minutes where I was.

But I knew I could make it 5 more minutes.

And then, I knew I could make it 5 more.

And 5 more.

I made it to 30 minutes, just passing the mile marker during that time.

My face was red.

Sweat was pouring off of me.

My heart was pounding so hard it was giving me a headache.

And even though I’m back where I started 4.5 years ago,

I felt accomplished.

I still don’t feel like the gym is safe.

Even with a mask on and many machines shut down for distancing.

Even in a gym that had less than 10 people in it.

But I can’t just spend the rest of my life sitting in this chair.

Waiting for time to pass.

Not actively trying to die,

but not actively living either.

I almost didn’t write this tonight.

I was afraid that I might write it, and then not go back tomorrow, or the next day.

That I would say “I’m going to do this,”

and then not.

But,

I went to the gym today.

And that was a better decision than staying at home.

I don’t need to look forward too far.

I just need to make the next

right

decision.







Things are going well

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Mention of Suicide, Gun Violence.

I can always tell when things are going well.

It’s been over 2 weeks since I’ve written this time.

Don’t get me wrong, things aren’t

perfect

but they are pretty damn good.

I’m sleeping a little less than I was before,

still too much,

but it’s better.

A combination of adding Ritalin back in, and increasing my antidepressant, seems to be helping.

Today we increased it a little bit more.

We recently got access to Discovery Plus.

I’ve spent years saying “I don’t watch TV” but seeing the different shows pop up on this streaming network made me realize,

I did like TV at one time.

I liked documentaries,

I liked stories about families different than mine.

I liked cooking shows.

I’ve gotten sucked back into a TV series and have it playing on my computer while I’m doing other things.

Yesterday I tried working with a new art medium.

I had to move Wonder Woman’s Valentine’s creations to clear space for me to work.

I put it up on a shelving unit we have in the corner.

I realized that the “Parker Shelf” was just above it.

I smiled.

While I do still have some random things around the house that belonged to Parker, most of my memory stuff of her is condensed onto one shelf in the living room.

The front of the shelf says “Love is the answer to all questions.”

I had some “I need to tell Parker this” moments while I was at my dad’s.

I was sharing memories with Wonder Woman and Kidlet.

Showing them a fishing rod my dad had made just for me, one I helped design, one that has my name on it.

Showing them a toy set from when I was growing up.

Showing them some pictures.

Some items my dad made while I worked along side him.

This trip was very healing.

I was able to focus more on the positive side of who he was as a person.

The positive impact he had in my world.

Don’t get me wrong, he was a horrible human being.

But the worst people still have good moments.

A few times in the last couple of months I’ve ended up going 2 weeks between therapy appointments.

Six months ago my dad died.

Things got so bad that I was doing therapy multiple times a week. Then I was in partial. Then I went inpatient for about a month between two different programs.

Now, it isn’t that big of a deal when I don’t go to therapy one week.

It isn’t that big of a deal when group therapy is cancelled.

I’m going weeks without writing because there just isn’t much to write about.

I’m feeling that euthymia that I always strive for.

Not manic.

Not depressed.

Just, existing.

I still have dreams about my dad.

Weird dreams that take place after he shot himself, but he’s still alive.

Sometimes he is shaved bald on that side of his head, an obvious wound by his temple.

Sometimes someone else mentions that he shot himself and points out how it’s changed my life.

A few nights ago I had some dream where I was taking him around with me to college or something like that.

Someone asked, “What’s _wrong_ with him, he’s acting so weird.”

I replied, “Of course he’s acting weird, he put a bullet into his skull a few months ago.”

The dreams are less vivid now.

Less jarring.

They seem less real and I wake up from them easily.

The occasional flashback is easily pushed away.

I know things will come and go.

I know I still have a long way to go, and that I could be better than I am now.

But,

things are pretty damn good right now.

Just because

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I just felt like writing today.

I don’t have any real reason, anything pressing on my mind,

but I felt the need to put fingers to keys.

Earbuds in my ears, gentle piano music piping through.

My writing music.

I woke up before 4 pm today.

I’m already on my second cup of coffee.

I talked to my pdoc, and we discussed options.

Different anti-depressants that may be activating.

We’re restarting my Ritalin, something that the trauma unit discontinued.

And that’s when I started having problems with sleeping too much.

We’re also raising my antidepressant.

Hopefully this fixes it.

It will be a week or two before I know, she doesn’t use electronic prescriptions and will have to mail me a paper script.

She’s the best psychiatrist I’ve ever had, but at her age even a fax machine seems advanced.

She works for herself, no staff, just a tiny little messy office in an apartment building.

Of course, now she’s working from home. All of our appointments done via phone call.

I’m not even sure that she owns a computer.

I’ve wondered what will happen if she dies. Who will inform me?

Will I just suddenly not get the call at our scheduled time, and eventually I’ll find a new prescriber?

Weird thoughts that run through my head.

I’m starting on the preparations for the Florida trip.

Laundry is gathered, list is started, plans to clean out the fridge more completely for trash night tonight.

Tomorrow we will dig out the car and run some errands.

It’s still snowing.

Yesterday it was tiny little flakes, today it’s big and fluffy.

It’s supposed to rain and get icy.

Ew.

Snow days used to be the only days I took a break.

Running around for appointments and interesting things.

Plans with friends, the gym, long walks.

Snow days are just another day now.

I’m such a homebody.

Finding the balance between safety and using it as an excuse is just hard.

I haven’t found that point yet.

This trip is taking me way outside of my covid comfort zone.

But it’s with good reason.

And it will break the monotony that has become my life.

A monotony that so many people feel right now.

Ew.

Today my pdoc called me a lady.

I got that gross feeling that I get when I’m misgendered.

I don’t think I’ve ever told her though.

And by the time I realized I should say something, the moment had passed and we were on to other topics.

It’s hard to know when to say something, and when to just let it pass.

We’re heading south.

I know I’ll get “ma’am”ed and “miss”ed on a regular basis.

I’ll get that gross feeling but just let it go.

It’s easier that way.

I don’t get the weird looks and the lack of understanding.

Down Down Down

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’m super fucking down on myself right now.

So many voices running around in my head telling me I’m fat and lazy.

And useless.

I feel like I’ve fallen back into the pit that was my life before Parker died.

I’m just existing until I die, I’m not really living.

I can’t really find my way out of the pit because I’m too tired to do anything.

I need a haircut.

I

need

a haircut.

I’ve rescheduled it 5 times in the last week.

This time it’s rescheduled for Sunday.

But it’s so hard to find the line between pushing and accepting.

There’s obviously something wrong.

I’m fighting to get out of bed.

I’m fighting to stay out of bed.

Every time I say that, I hear my dad’s voice in the back of my head . . .

“Don’t try to do it, just do it.”

And I wonder why I can’t

“just do it.”

I feel like I’m just not trying hard enough.

Like I’m just making excuses.

Like I’m just being fat and lazy.

I remember my dad regularly waking me up with squirt guns because he felt like I slept to much.

I remember the time he dumped a bucket of ice water over my head because I slept in.

Tired=lazy.

Lazy=useless.

Maybe this is just depression.

Maybe I just need to fight harder.

Beat myself up a little more.

None of it makes sense right now.



I had a harsh memory earlier.

I’ve always been really open with my struggles.

My mental health,

my physical health.

I remember being really open about my hidradenitis back when Parker was alive.

Talking about the sores and where they were.

And Parker said “Do you really have to be so open about that?”

It embarrassed her.

I talk about this stuff, mental and physical, to try and shine light into all the dark spaces.

To try and combat the shame that comes from keeping quiet.

The more I feel like I need to hide something,

the more important it is that I talk about it.

Right now I’m tired.

And I’m tired of being tired.

And I hope I get some answers soon.

It doesn’t matter when

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’m normally pretty good about brushing my teeth.

I may go days without brushing my hair,

showering is often a battle of wills with myself. (I eventually win.)

But normally, I would wake up in the morning and brush my teeth immediately.

But lately that’s been hard.

I’m sleeping so so much.

When I finally wake up I feel like I just have to jump into my day.

I barely stop to make coffee sometimes.

Feeling like I don’t quite deserve it because I slept so much.

Self care is just,

weird,

when you’re sleeping 12-16 hours a day.

But I just finished dinner, and my teeth felt,

gross,

and I went and brushed my teeth.

And it dawned on me.

I’ve always had this attitude of,

if I didn’t do something at the

specified time,

then it had to wait till the next

specified time.

If I don’t brush my teeth when I get up.

I’ll have to brush my teeth when I get up tomorrow.

(We won’t talk about night time brushing, just pretend that’s not a thing for now, okay?)

But the reality is.

If I don’t brush my teeth when I get up,

I can brush my teeth the next time I think about it.

And that’s okay.

And it feels really weird to have to tell myself that’s okay.

I mean, it feels completely socially unacceptable to admit that I don’t brush my teeth every morning and night.

But the fact is, I don’t.

And honestly, I’m willing to bet that quite a few of my friends who have chronic illnesses of any type, don’t either.

And probably a few of my friends without chronic illnesses.

And sometimes it feels gross, and that’s what reminds me I didn’t brush my teeth.

And then I’m like “fuck, I’ll have to remember tomorrow morning.”

But no, I’m remembering RIGHT NOW, so just do it.

Or don’t.

It’s okay.

I’ve started being more gentle with myself.

I wake up and can’t move to get out of bed, and based on a meme/article/post I saw, instead of yelling at myself for not getting up.

I ask why not?

And when?

And I remind myself that it’s okay to be exhausted.

It’s okay to listen to my body.

I’ve found that when I really really have to do something, I can.

But I pay for it eventually.

Early next month, my sister, Kidlet, Wonder Woman and I are all heading to my dad’s house to take one final look before the estate sale and selling the house.

It means 20ish hours of driving each way for Wonder Woman and I.

It means 3 days of being “on” while taking care of stuff, and working through some of my own trauma demons at the house.

It means I get to see my kid (it’s been almost 2 years) and my sister.

And I’m excited.

But I’m also nervous.

I’m so so tired.

And what if I can’t stay awake to do what needs to be done over those few days.

What if I can?

What does that mean about these times that I haven’t been able to stay awake?

It’s this balancing act between pushing myself but not shaming myself.

I feel like such a lazy loser for sleeping this much.

Where did I get that message?

Why am I beating myself up with it?

It’s okay if I brush my teeth in the middle of the day because I notice it.

It’s okay if I stay awake when I can and sleep when I can’t.

It’s okay to be me.

It’s okay.

Tired

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’m tired.

I started to write out a list of all of the things I’m tired of, but it’s really hard to articulate.

I’m tired on a physical level, we still haven’t quite figured out what’s making me sleep so damn much.

But I’m also tired of the world.

Tired of the news.

Tired of COVID.

Tired of politics.

Tired of feeling like this country is going to explode over the coming weeks.

Tired of being afraid.

Tired

of being tired.

Tonight, I’m endlessly scrolling facebook.

Knowing I should put some effort into being creative.

Knowing I should

do

something.

But I’m tired.

We had to get up “early” this morning.

Early for me.

Clearing out the spare room and loads of old furniture and boxes in the basement.

Finally turning the spare room into an office.

Something that should have been done months and months ago.

I got so much done in the last 48 hours, but it has left me tired to the bone.

Worn out.

In pain.

I used spoons that weren’t really available to me.

Taking them from tomorrow, and probably the day after that.

I’m tired.

I have family that is so wrapped up in the MAGA lies.

Conspiracy theorists.

I’ve found myself pulling further and further away from them.

Backing away slowly.

Trying to maintain the peace while also maintaining my sanity.

It’s sad.

We were once close.

And now I can’t even be my true self to them.

They don’t get it.

And they have no interest in getting it.

And I’m sad.

All in all, I’m doing really well.

The dishes are done.

The stove is clean.

The trash cans are empty.

I’m not really

depressed

but I still don’t feel like I’m

living.

I’m stuck in this web of exhaustion that is taking over my entire body.

We’re decreasing my nightmare med, hoping that helps.

Trying to walk a fine line, keeping me nightmare free,

while hopefully releasing me from the grips of this exhaustion.

I’m tired.

I’m ready for this phase of my life to be over.

I’m ready to move on to where we can see each other again.

To where my calendar isn’t blank for days and days.

I’m ready to have enough energy to return to some sort of work.

I’m ready to make my own money again.

I’m ready to see what’s next.

I’m tired of what is now.

I’m tired.

He’s a human

This is a Really Real Trauma post.

I had more dreams about my dad last night.

I’m doing some serious processing around his death, how he died, how he lived, etc.

In these dreams he was actually human.

Like, he actually admitted he was fallible.

He admitted that he had fears.

He made a mistake in the dream, and my whole body tensed.

I was waiting for the explosion.

I was waiting for him to find some reason to blame it on me.

But he didn’t.

He laughed it off and said it was a silly mistake.

We’d just start over.

That night he had gone to bed without taking care of his hair.

I have no idea what that means, really,

but he woke up with a head full of frizzy hair that was standing on its end.

He said he’d have to shave it to fix it.

I told him I had shampoo that would help make it curly again.

He said “The only thing more fearful than shaving my head, is using weird shampoo.”

My dad used the same soap and shampoo for as long as I can remember.

When his old style herbal essence (in the green bottle) was being phased out, he bought a case of it, and was very grumpy about switching to their new product.

He used Zest, but only until the bars were half used. Then they ended up somewhere in a drawer to be used in the shower, or something.

Maybe just to fill up drawers, they were everywhere in his house.

When someone around me gets hurt, I laugh.

Not because I’m being an asshole,

not because I think it’s funny,

but because I’m anxious.

It’s a nervous laugh.

I’m waiting for the explosion.

I’m waiting for the yelling and the screaming.

I’m waiting for it to be somehow blamed on me.

He was such an abusive asshole.

And he never realized it.

He treated everyone around him like shit, to the point that I know I’m having a dream because he’s acting human.

Instead of acting like a monster.

But monsters are fictional.

And he was really, really, real.

Looking Back

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

And a Really Real Trauma post.

And a Really Real Growth post.

I look back at year after year of “this past year” posts that I have made.

Those where I was struggling to hold on through extreme poverty.

Those where I was homeless,

where I was staying with others,

where I’ve had my own place.

Those where Parker and I were holding on to each other for dear life,

as the world threw everything it could at us.

Those where I broke free from codependency,

where I learned to stand on my own two feet.

where I learned I could do anything.

Those where I learned it was okay to lean on my community around me.

This year all of those lessons were necessary to get me through.

I started off the year working for the first time in longer than I can remember.

I felt accomplished.

I felt like I had overcome so much.

This year I put my feelings and my abuse aside,

I went to care for my dying father.

A father who didn’t really deserve that care.

But I did it for me.

This year I learned that sometimes,

we get punished for a good deed.

My world was shattered with a single gunshot.

But,

I survived.

I’m coming out on the other side.

Slowly.

I learned that I can make really hard decisions.

That I can save my own life.

I learned,

again,

that I have an amazing community around me.

I learned,

again,

that I am loved beyond measure.

This year was hard.

Harder than most.

Covid was only part of it.

The lack of in person socialization.

The struggle to find safe ways to stay connected.

So,

much,

Zoom.

Bonfires.

Flames keeping us warm while we stay 6 foot apart.

I learned that it’s easy to fall back into old habits.

And hard to climb back out of them.

I learned,

again,

that love will get us through.

Don’t try this at home.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I did something that I always tell others not to do.

You see, when I was in the trauma unit, they started titrating me off of a medication.

They said I shouldn’t be on it with the diagnoses that I had.

They said it was a bad idea.

They sent me home with instructions to continue titrating off of it with my pdoc.

So my first appointment I asked her if we could lower it.

And my second.

And my third.

And,

you get the picture.

She sees the drug reps from this particular medication, once a month.

I wonder if that has something to do with it.

So last week I stopped taking it.

I was already on a pretty low dose, and I was tired of asking her to follow the instructions that were given to me.

That were given to her in the paperwork that was sent over.

So I stopped.

Two days ago I cleaned up the landings outside of our apartment.

Gathered the empty boxes and rearranged what was left.

Put things back on shelves and in the basement where it belonged.

Things that we just didn’t feel like lugging down the stairs at the time.

It had gotten unmanageable.

The perilously balanced ecosystem tumbling down whenever we needed a roll of toilet paper.

It didn’t take me long.

Yesterday I cleaned the spare room.

The spare room that’s been used as a makeshift office since this all began.

It hadn’t been cleaned in all of that time.

Trash had built up on the floor.

Random bits and pieces of discarded

things

that had never been put back in their place.

It was a disaster.

I’ve been looking at it for months and saying I’d get to it,

one day.

And yesterday I cleaned it.

It didn’t take me long.

Today I folded my clothes.

Clothes that had been living in baskets since this all began.

I put them away.

I threw away things that were stained or otherwise unwearable.

There’s a semblance of organization, even though I can’t use my drawers and such in the spare room.

I can find things again.

I uncovered shirts that I’ve been looking for, for months.

It didn’t take me long.

Today I washed the mat that sits under my dish rack.

The one that was covered with grime and gross

things

that grow in standing water.

I scrubbed it and bleached it and left it to dry.

I organized the spices that had been spilling over onto the stove.

Random bottles of exciting things that no longer had a place.

Wonder Woman helped by putting up the spice racks I had bought.

The ones that had been sitting in the box since they were delivered,

months and months ago.

I could see my stove again.

The stove that was covered in grease and bits of random food that had fallen down into the burners.

The stove that I wouldn’t even touch with my sponge because it was too dirty.

Soapy paper towels,

more and more,

until it was white again.

A magic eraser took care of the baked on stuff that had been left, burned into the enamel.

It didn’t take me long.

I’ve felt this blanket of depression sitting on me for months and months.

No matter how good I felt I still felt

off.

The medication was supposed to be helping with my depression.

But the trauma unit didn’t feel that it was.

I’ve wondered for quite some time.

I feel much better.

Even though I’m still sleeping most of the day away.

I feel like I can accomplish things again.

I feel more like me.

It has taken too long.

Weight for it

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Weight, weight loss.

I’m fighting an internal battle.

I’ve gained back every bit of the weight I lost since Parker died.

Actually, I’ve gained that plus 5 lbs.

It’s heart breaking.

But I’m stuck.

I’m stuck where I don’t have the drive to get up and walk.

I have every excuse.

And I can’t get back into the gym because it doesn’t feel safe.

I’m really trying to love my body as I am.

But my body hurts so much more at this weight.

It’s hard to go up the stairs to my apartment.

It’s hard to move in bed.

I get out of breath walking the shortest distances.

I feel gross.

It’s hard to love my body when it won’t do the things I want to do.

When I lost the weight after Parker died, it was almost effortless.

I enjoyed the journey.

I was also on a migraine medication that helped, a medication that stopped helping as my body got acclimated to it.

And there were cognitive side effects that were more than annoying.

I’ve been through this before.

The drastic weight loss.

Followed by inevitably gaining it back.

It doesn’t feel good to move right now.

It doesn’t feel good to walk.

It doesn’t feel good to move my body in any way that would help.

Because it hurts.

I’m embarrassed because I get out of breath so easily.

I feel like I’m eating better.

I feel like I’m making better choices.

I feel like I’m not eating quite so many sweets.

And yet the scale keeps rising.

I’ve had multiple people tell me lately that I’m glowing.

That my smile is amazing.

That I seem to be doing so well.

But I’m not taking pictures of myself.

Even though I feel that pictures are so, so important.

I see the extra roundness in my face.

I see the pictures from last year and the years before that and I’m so heartbroken.

I see the pictures from before Parker died.

The pictures that I looked at and said “I never want to look like that again.”

And I look like that again.

Maybe with a brighter glow this time.

Maybe with a bigger smile.

Life isn’t like it was back then.

But yet, the weight still came back.

I’m just not there yet.

I’m not ready to

do

anything about it.

But I need to.

I was afraid of starting before the holidays.

Afraid that it would be too much to keep up with and I’d fail.

I’m afraid of starting around new years.

New years resolutions never work and I don’t want this to be that.

I’m afraid of failing.

I’m afraid of beating myself up more.

Again.

I’m afraid.

I keep waiting until I feel like I can do it.

But what if that time never comes.

Why can’t I just push past this block?

Why can’t I just

do it?

What am I waiting for?