Masks

I took a few really great pictures this weekend of me smiling and having a great time.

They weren’t a lie, but they were taken during the moments where I was able to put on the mask that I wore for about half of the weekend. The other half of the weekend I spent hiding in the car, or in the hotel room, too tired to keep my eyes open. Falling asleep across the bed with my shoes still on because depression has set in so fully that, while I know there are reasons to live, I can’t always feel them.

Riding home, Wonder Woman points out an amazing city skyline, Philly I think, and normally my heart would want to explode with the beauty of it, right now, I appreciate that she pulled me out of my own head to tell me, but I can’t FEEL it the way I normally can and that makes me so so sad.

I can wear the mask and smile and fool lots of people but I can’t make myself feel the way my face appears to be feeling.

Apathy is a horrible emotion.

A beautiful sky still looks beautiful and I can appreciate the colors and the beauty that is the sunset. I’m glad I’m alive to see it, but I also would be just as happy if I wouldn’t wake up to see another one.

And that makes me sad. It also terrifies me.

But I put on the mask all weekend because it wasn’t about me. I knew enough to keep myself safe. I had lots of friends supporting me from afar..

One of them saw one of my selfies and was shocked when I told her how I was really feeling. Guess how many rejected selfies it took for me to capture one where the mask was adequately covering my real feelings.

The mask is exhausting for me, and the more I wear it, the harder it becomes to reach out. The harder it becomes to tell people I’m in danger.

I’m starting to understand how those who wear it all the time can’t reach up and find a hand to grab. Maybe it’s time to take the mask off for awhile. Maybe it’s becoming too comfortable. Pretending is exhausting but it’s almost easier than being vulnerable and telling someone just how nice it might be to drift away.

Alone

One of the things I have loved most about derby is how incredible the community is. I’ve spoken about it before, you walk into a rink with a few dozen women and feel like you’re home. Or at least, at home I feel that way. I have family there. I’m among my peers.

It took me a little while to get there. At first, the fact that I was surrounded by doctors and lawyers and people who were doing real things, felt really overwhelming to the part of my brain that still doesn’t know how to answer when people say “So, what do you do?”

“Well, I’ve spent 20 years trying to get a 4 year degree, and I’m disabled . . . Ummm, ummm . . .I’m trying to figure out what’s next.”

But eventually, they told me they wanted me around enough times that the doubting part of my brain started to actually believe it, and now, I walk into that skating rink and I know that I’m one of them, even on the days that my brain tells me I’m not.

And then I show up at something bigger like this and I’m reminded that I’m alone.

In the real world, my bright pink hair becomes a conversation starter. My outfits put people at ease when I nervously start talking to complete strangers for no apparent reason about completely off the wall topics that most people avoid. Those conversations help me connect to people in ways that most people don’t. I offer insight and information that most people don’t have. I end up with little connections everywhere. I’m awkward but it lets me own it.

This is derby. I blend here. But also, everyone runs in packs and I’m alone for a good part of the day while Wonder Woman is NSOing. It feels like every time I sit down to watch a game, someone is going to end up talking about that girl who was sitting alone acting awkward and eventually it will be figured out that I’m the only one here that’s alone among a thousand other people.

I’m also not all that into derby right now. I enjoy NSOing when my brain cooperates, but mostly, I don’t have the concentration to just sit and watch. I barely have the concentration to make it through a conversation.

I’m here because I wanted to do it back before I crashed. Back before I lost my concentration again.

I came anyway because it isn’t safe for me to be home alone all weekend. I needed a babysitter because I couldn’t be alone.

So instead, I’m in a car alone, listening to the rain, feeling alone in a group of people knowing that if my fucking brain would shut up, I could probably have a decent time like I did at BOTAS, but instead this feels like a punishment because I’m sick. And I know that it isn’t like that. I know I could have stayed home but I know that would have been a horrible idea for me. Right now I’m not sure if this was the right idea either.

I hate my dumb brain. I’m not suicidal, I’m not even horribly depressed or manic. I’m anxious as hell, I’m tired, I’m uncomfortable in my own skin. I’m exhausted.

I’m alone even though I know I’m surrounded by people in so many ways.

I’m alone even though I’m not.

Explosions

anger

So much anger wrapped up inside of this body.

When I’m alone, and it’s ready to come out, it explodes.  I don’t always know how to contain it.  I don’t know where to channel it.  I’ve stopped yelling, stopped screaming at everyone around me.

I feel horrible for the years that Parker and Kidlet lived with that and I’m working through it all.  But there’s still so much anger.

Life fucked me over.  I fucked me over.  My illnesses fucked me over.  People around me fucked me over.

And I’m ANGRY.

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And now that I’m not just screaming at people and expecting everyone else to take it for me I don’t know what to do with it.  The gym or walking helps when I get myself out of the house when I start to rage.

Last night the rage took over while I was in the worst sort of mood and all I could think of was breaking things.  Breaking myself.

I was alone, things went wrong, I couldn’t find peace in my head and I couldn’t figure out where to start to make peace in the space around me so I started hitting things and then when the urge got too bad to self injure I sat down and started kicking things until I heard wood splinter.

I grabbed tattoo pens with the intention of drawing on myself and when they wouldn’t write I dug them too hard into my skin and then sobbed realizing just how bad my anger has gotten.

Today there is a broken kitchen cart and red, welted, angry skin as a reminder that anger leaves lasting wounds.

So much trauma for one person.  For years and years people have told me I’ve been through so much and I’ve brushed them all off.  “You’re so strong”  No, I just don’t have a choice.

But no,  really, I’ve been through so so much, and I’m finally allowing myself to feel a lot of what I’ve turned into stories and hidden away.  It’s so easy to tell these stories when they are just that, stories.  Words strung together.  It’s far more difficult when I’m in this program that’s helping me feel all of the feels that are underneath the words.

And I’m angry at all of the things that have been done to me.  I’m angry at the fact that no one protected me.  I’m angry that I was never able to protect myself.

I’m really fucking angry but I need to figure out how to stop taking it out on myself because I need to survive this.

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Warning Signs

They ask “what are your warning signs?”

I know mine by heart. I know I’m crashing.

What good does it do when you can’t stop it. I can’t intellectualize my way out of it.

I’m on the new meds, at the new levels that they keep raising.

I finally got sleep thinking that would stop it. It either made it worse or I was able to sleep because it was already getting so much worse.

The pills are still locked up tight.

“Trying to put it back together

As I watch it fall apart”

Damnit. I don’t want to ride this again. I’m in the fucking program and doing the ducking things (and I never ever mean ducking you damn iPhone).

How much of a drain will I be on everyone this time around? How far down will I go? How dark will it get?

Will I make it out alive?

Falling Apart or Falling Together?

The last couple of days has been a special kind of hell.

The kind that doesn’t really feel like a true hell but at the same time it does.  I’m just kind of here.  I feel hypomanic, I rated my depression at a zero yesterday, but the depression crashed in hard as I realized I was way sleep deprived.

I went to PHP and left from lunch because I was too tired to stay awake, I was getting too pissy and irritable and I couldn’t even keep my eyes open.  I feel judged and at the same time I’m judging everyone, not just there but everywhere.  It’s a symptom of my mixed episodes, I’m withdrawing.  Next is the suicidal thoughts.  It happens this way every time.

I went to my free meeting with the trainer last night.  First strike was her insistence that with enough exercise and physical health I could get off psych meds.  “That’s not how this works.”

Then the fat and size shaming.  Which I retorted with, “I don’t want to be small like you.”  She didn’t like that, she doesn’t consider herself small, and really didn’t like it when I called her tiny.  Fuck her.

Later she said “I thought you said you were a widow, you’re dating?”

You know what . . . fuck you.

It could be because I’m oversensitive and feeling judged anyway, but holy shit, don’t do that.  I deserve happiness and I’m so glad I have Wonder Woman.  I can be a widow and in love again.

Being over sensitive like this sucks so so badly because I feel like everything and everyone is trying to attack me and I respond in kind.  It makes life harder than it has to be but it’s not like I can stop just because I know it’s happening.  It takes time to get back out of this mood and in the mean time I want to isolate which is the worst thing I can do for myself.

I went to bed early and managed to sleep for 10 hours.  I woke up feeling drugged because of the amount of sleep but it was so so needed.  Two – four hours of sleep night after night isn’t enough especially with super full and emotional days.

Today I just want to crawl into bed and sleep more, but instead I got up, fed the animals, and soon I’ll get dressed and head to therapy before a full day of PHP, maybe breakfast with my girl beforehand.  Tonight I’ll either NSO or at least sit there and spend time with my derby people who I miss being around.

I’m tired of this fight.  I’m so so tired of the fucking roller coaster.  Sometimes I just want to demolish the whole fucking amusement park and let someone else clean up the mess.

But Parker already did that to me, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to do that to someone else.

What Takes Courage?

Today riding home in Uber I was doing what I always do and yapping away about my day, group therapy and mental health treatment in general.

He asks something along the lines of

“Do you think focusing on your problems helps?”

I explain about getting at the underlying emotions and figuring out what’s hiding in there.  About coping skills and how to distract yourself and that sometimes the focus is on living in the moment and not just in the future with upcoming worries or the past with the problems from then.

I mention that mental illness is just an illness like heart disease and that it takes medication and also symptom management and eating right, exercising, lots of different things to try and manage the illness.

And eventually the topic moves to suicide.

“That’s the cowards way out, if someone believes in a higher power, with enough faith . . . ”  etc, etc.

Well, my late wife was a Christian woman, she loved God, she also managed her illness to the best of her ability, and she still died by suicide.

“Your what . . Oh, I’m so so sorry, I wasn’t saying . . . ”

And the conversation continues.

“You know, it dawned on me, it takes a type of courage to complete that act.  Someone must be in a lot of pain to follow through with that.”

Eventually he asks how long she battled that illness.  I told him, I didn’t know exactly, I knew she had been a teen when it all started for her, but that I’ve been fighting them for at least 22 years, spending the greater part of most of those years fighting against my own brain to stay alive.

And he says . .

“Now, THAT takes courage, battling your own brain for years and years just to stay alive.”

When we got to my house he said.

“You know, you educated me today.  You’re just talking but you changed my mind about this, you educated me.”

When Parker died two years ago I remember sobbing as I typed out “her suicide will never be in vain” and it’s not.  She’s changing lives and changing minds as I speak up and speak out.  It’s hard for people to hear, I see the cringes when I drop the suicide widow bomb, but I also see the people I educate.

Speak your truth.  Let it educate people.

courage

Panic

Really real mental health post . . .

This was supposed to stop once the death date passed. I’m doing all of the right things, I’m going to PHP, I’m doing the work, I’m even going to the gym. I’m staying active, I’m staying busy, why is there a fucking elephant on my chest.

Why am I so fucking angry.

Why do I feel like I can’t fucking breathe.

Why can’t I fucking breathe.

I don’t know what’s worse, having a panic attack and not knowing, or having one, knowing, and still not being able to stop it.

Laying in bed and feeling my chest tighten, not wanting to fight against myself to breathe, knowing thats just going to make it worse, and at the same time feeling the need to fight.

It looks so peaceful on the outside but on the inside my brain is screaming. How many years did it take me to learn to stay calm through that?

The good news is, I’m learning to fight against my own instincts to fight. And by that I mean fighting in general. I’m not fighting myself, I’m not fighting the people around me, and I’m not fighting to breathe when my body panics. The bad thing is, my body is responding by making me panic.

More work to be done, more groups, more tears, more long days and exhausting nights, many many more panic attacks I’m sure.

This fucking sucks, but it’s still better than the alternative.