Really real mental health post.

Sometimes I get stuck in these loops.

I’ll see dishes start to pile up in the sink for a day or two or four or five.  At first, I’ll say no big deal, there aren’t many of them and I’ll wait till there are a few more.  Then it’ll be that there are too many of them and I’m overwhelmed.

Then the loop starts and I’m stuck.  I know I need to do them and they are annoying the hell out of me but I can’t figure out where to start or how to start and the prospect of doing them becomes too much.

This isn’t even all that many dishes normally, maybe a couple of pots and pans, a dozen pieces of silverware and a few cups, some Tupperware.  It’s no where near the overflowing piles that used to happen in the sink before I got some control over this.

But my brain still freezes.  I have to find a way out of it because I know how bad it will get and I know that when it gets to be too much, I can’t physically dig my way out.  Mentally it’s hard to get out of the loop, but because of my physical limitations, I have to break the cycle.

Right now my solution is to just start.  Give myself permission to just do one thing.  Like, put the dishes away out of the drainer, that’s all I need to do and I can wash later.  Or, organize the dishes and make sure they’re fully rinsed.  Normally, that starting point is all I need to get the dishes completely done, I just need to break the loop of overwhelming anxiety over starting.

It’s hard to explain to someone who can just walk in and do things.  It becomes and impossible task where I know I have to do ‘the thing’ but until I find the trick, the thing becomes impossible.  Sometimes the trick stops working and I get stuck again.

The dishes are just one thing.  When I was in school, sometimes schoolwork was ‘the thing.’  I could be completely excited about an assignment but it would feel impossible to start it.  Right now, with my attempt to write more, as important as it is to me, often I find myself spending hours just trying to get the first word on the page, just trying to open up the editor to start is a fight with my own brain to get out of the loop.

I’m learning, I’m growing.  I know that putting it off doesn’t fix any of it, and often compounds the problem.  Just taking the first step is often easier said than done, but is normally the answer.

And once I get out of the loop, it’s nice to sit back and see an empty sink.

Believe Me

Really Real Trauma Post

Tonight I’m pissed.  I’m pissed because Facebook isn’t safe for me.  Facebook, where I can go to zone out and scroll mindlessly when my brain gets too loud, is making my brain even louder right now.

Facebook is not safe because the world is not safe.

But I spend most of my life trying to convince myself that the world is safe.  I spent most of my life trying to forget all of the reasons that my world has never been safe.

And right now Facebook is doing exactly what needs to be done.  It’s being a space where everyone can speak their story and share their truth and do what they need to do but I’m pissed because while everyone is doing that I’ve spent the last week saying:

I’m fine, this isn’t going to bother me, I’ve dealt with my demons long ago.

I spent all day today saying:

I’m fine, this isn’t going to bother me, I’ve dealt with my demons long ago.

And tonight it finally hit me that I’m not fine.

And I want to speak my story and share my truth and for once I CANT FUCKING DO IT and because I can’t get it out it’s eating me alive tonight.

This is my place to process, I put fingers to keys and spill my thoughts onto the screen and afterwards I have some clarity as I connect with everyone.  I know that so many people have a story that’s just like mine and I’m watching so many of my friends get so much loving support tonight.

But I can’t speak my story, I can’t share my truth.

And I’m not fine, and this is definitely bothering me, those demons are still here haunting me.

Remember those of us that are silenced and hurting by all of this, and we need to remember to find ways to take care of ourselves.

We need to find ways to stay safe in a very unsafe world.


I write, but I’m not a writer.

Really real life post.

For 6 or more years, when people would ask what I did, one of the things on my list was chainmaille.

I’ve never done chainmaille professionally, I’ve only sold a few pieces here and there, did a few flea markets but never really sold much.  Honestly, selling things takes all of the enjoyment out of it for me so I’d rather make things and give them to people I care about, when the mood strikes me.

But either way, I consider chainmaille something that I do, I don’t need to make money at it, I don’t need to do it full time, it’s still a pretty intense hobby and something I spent a lot of time thinking about and working on.  I’m not great at it, I haven’t invented new weaves, but I can follow a pattern pretty well and I’ve taught a few people how to make their own jewelry.

I even made a kick ass necktie with about 2700 rings that took me far too long but looks fucking amazing.

But, that’s not where I’m going with this post.

I didn’t need to do chainmaille for a living to easily consider it something that I did.  I enjoyed it, I put a lot of time and thought into it, and it was part of who I was.

For some reason, I’m having  hard time thinking of myself as a writer.  I mean, this is becoming something I spend a lot of time thinking about.  I think about topics to write about, word choice, how to get my point across in ways that are clear and concise.  Over time I’ve seen that my writing is improving the more I do.

I may not make money with it, that isn’t something I’m looking to do now and I may not ever do it in the future, but, is that really a requirement to listing it as something that I do?  I don’t write books, I don’t write articles, but I do write informative pieces that other people gain something from.  I write things that other people see and enjoy.

I still don’t know why that question “What do you do?” becomes such a big deal for me, but for now, it seems like writing is another thing that I do.

At the very least it’s a hobby that I’m getting a lot of enjoyment and fulfillment from.  It still feels weird to say it’s something “that I do” because I’m not a writer, but I am writing.

I’m not really sure what the difference is between the two, but it feels significant.

Phone Number

CN: Really Real Widow Post

Today I went to search for someone in my phone contacts and up popped the listing for:

Parker – Wife

and my heart dropped out of my chest for a second.

After more than 2 years I still have her number saved in my phone under that listing.  I never removed it from my favorites on my old phone, but I have since switched phones and her number carried over to this one.  I don’t think I realized it did.  I don’t think I realized it was still there, but maybe at some point I consciously didn’t delete it.

Her Facebook page has been memorialized and now says “In Memory of Parker Tarbutton” but she’s still on my friends list.  Sometimes I’ll go to type something and it’ll try to tag her and my heart will do that familiar drop.

I still can’t type the work “park” without trying to capitalize the first letter and finish with an -er, it’s muscle memory, even after more than 2 years.

I wonder, if I were to call the number, who would answer.  Who has her number now.  Did they get calls for her after they first got their new phone?

Part of me thinks it won’t be a big deal to delete the number out of my phone, I’ve moved past those sort of things.  But, you never move on, you only move forward, and the truth is, it made me stop and I still haven’t gone in and deleted it.  Instead I stopped to write this out.  To process it, to work through it.  To remember.

When we first moved to Maryland we shared a phone to save money.  Just one phone between us, because you never saw one of us without the other anyway, there was no need for 2 phones.  It was basically my phone because she let me take the lead on almost everything.  Draven had what he wanted and needed and I came next and she didn’t worry about herself.  I didn’t realize how much she took the back seat until she was gone.


I remember when we finally got her a phone with her own phone number again.  She picked out one with unbreakable glass because she was finally working and she knew it was a job that would probably take it’s toll on something more flimsy.

She was so happy to have a phone.

I never did memorize her number or keep it separate from Kidlet’s, they were too close together.

I had her saved as Parker – Wife so that under emergency contacts they could see who she was if anything happened to me.  Just like Kidlet was listed as my son and my mother was listed with her name.  Always worried that something would happen and making sure we were safe.  They thought I was too cautious, nothing would ever happen like that.

But now, Parker – Wife, is Parker – Late Wife, and it’s time to delete a number out of my phone.

It would be quite a long distance call to wherever she is and I don’t think she has that number anymore.

New but still the same old stuff.

New name, new layout, same writing.

One of the reasons I’ve started writing as often as possible, is because eventually I want to do something with it, I’m just not sure what.  I’m not going to be that person that says I’m going to write a book, because it’s so cliche.  Honestly, it requires a level of follow through that up till this point, I’ve never had and I don’t see myself suddenly developing it, as much as I would love to.

But I can still write.  I can write on here, and maybe something can come from this.  So far I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback and it’s my journal of sorts, in a very public forum.  I would like to have more followers, a more public forum not just confined to my Facebook friends.  However, I’m not willing to take away from the time I spend writing, to chase down followers.  It’ll either happen, or it won’t.

And beyond sharing my journey with others, this is my space for processing my own trauma, mental health and widowhood.  That comes before any of it.

While the nickname, Self Saving Warrior Princess, fit well for me, it wasn’t a great blog name, I never really loved it when I made it, but I wanted something outside of my personal Facebook.  Every Facebook post is a Really Real snippet of my life, so this is the Really Real Blog.

I can see how this fits, and if it doesn’t, I’ll try again.

Hopefully I can keep up the rhythm of writing almost every day.  I find it’s way easier when things are hard, or when they are going really really well, I have more to write about.  When things are just, okay, I find myself searching for topics and reasons to write.   The normal days don’t create much material.

So, welcome to the new blog.  Not much has changed, more writing, hopefully more people outside of my little community.


I’ve had this post running around in my head for a few days now.  Figuring out how to get it into a logical series of words on the screen has been difficult.  Often I can feel a concept before I can explain it, a gut feeling of sorts where it makes total sense in my heart but I’m not sure if I can get it on paper.

This one kept bugging me though, and I know that shining light into all of my dark spaces is what helps me.  I knew this one would keep triggering me over and over again until I figured out how to put it into words.  Sometimes that’s all it takes, is finding the words.

My psychiatrist asked if there was a trigger this time that caused me to crash.  We knew that part of it was medication related but often it’s more than that.  Something needs to tip the scales to make me go so far in one direction or the other.  Often for me, it’s money or scarcity related, that’s a big one.  But this time I had money in the bank and I was doing okay.

This time it was the fact that I was gaining weight and my mobility was starting to suffer, the back and joint pain was coming back in ways that I hadn’t felt in well over a year and I was starting to have problems with functionality.  It was because I could feel that my blood sugar was out of wack and my blood pressure was going up.

But it wasn’t just directly because I was backsliding in my physical health.  Not that long ago I felt like I’d lost so much progress in my mental health as well.  The backslide in relation to Parker’s death was the trigger for me.

I had put so much stock in the fact that Parker’s death wasn’t in vain because it had changed my life and I was getting healthier.  If she had to die at least I could take her death and use it for the greater good, I could use it to push me forward and do something better with my life.  Get mentally and physically stronger, get my degree, go back to work, lose the weight, get healthier, become all of the things that she never got to see me do.

All of the things that I wasn’t able to do while she was alive, all of the things that put so much stress on her because I wasn’t able to do them.

And for 2 years I was pushing towards all of those goals and I was doing so well.  I was working towards my degree, and every time I slid backwards I got back up and pushed forward again, and I was losing weight or at least maintaining, and my blood sugar was stabilizing and I was constantly doing new things and my mental health was stabilizing and I was doing all of these things because I wasn’t going to be that sick person that pulled her down.  I wasn’t going to be the person that killed her anymore.

And I know, logically, that it wasn’t my fault.  That’s so easy to tell myself though.

Emotionally it’s an entirely different story and once I started mentally backsliding it was hard enough to convince myself that I was still living in a way that wasn’t a burden, wasn’t going to drag others down, that would still make it so I was living a life that made her death okay, even though it will never be okay.

And then I realized how much physical progress I was losing because of depression.  And it was too much.

I don’t think I realized how much I still blamed myself for her death.  I make dark jokes, I shrug it off, I talk about how being a widow is part of the fabric of who I am, but there is still the burden of wondering how I could have changed the outcome.  What I could have done differently.  And now I’m afraid of her death doing nothing to change my life and if that’s what happens, then her death was for nothing, and that can’t happen.  Her death needs to have some purpose.

There will always be a part of me that wonders why it was her instead of me.  I was the sick one.  I was the one in and out of psych units.  I am supposed to get better now that I have a second chance and if I’m not using this second chance, then what is the point in living.

I know that’s not the truth, but sometimes it’s hard to see the truth through the fog.

Being on both sides of suicide is always hard, and sometimes it just gets even harder and I have to reach out for help.  I’m glad that I’m able to reach out for help and that I have people who answer those calls.

Quick and Scary

It causes a sort of emotional whiplash sometimes.

How fast I can go from “low grade depression” “functioning, but feeling off” to “oh shit, I’m in real danger.”

Even after this many years, it catches me off guard, every single time.  I just wrote a Facebook post, what was it?  Two days ago, maybe?  About how taking a down day being sick can slip into being more depressed.  I thought I was slipping a LITTLE further into depression.

I didn’t realize that less than 24 hours later I’d be questioning if I needed to be back in partial, or if my doctor would put me inpatient when I saw her, and honestly thinking she might be right to.

My thoughts slipped so quickly from “I don’t have any motivation to function” to “I don’t have any motivation to live” to “I have the motivation to end life.”  It happened too quickly for comfort.

And 24 hours after seeing my doctor, I still have flashes where I wonder if I can fight through this episode.  I still wonder if these meds are going to work quick enough, or if they are the right changes.  But I’m hopeful and I see a reason to keep trying now.  Yesterday I was done trying.

My assshole brain wants to kill me sometimes, and while it might sound like I’m a broken record and I keep ending up back in this space, the fact is, speaking out is the best thing I can do.  Yesterday I spent about 5 hours with a plan, including a time and a place.  It was the most fully formed plan I’ve had in a while, different than the rest where they were just ideas with approximations, and thank God I have the relationship I do with one of my friends because I was able to break out of my own head and shine light on what was happening.

In less than a week I went from planning trips to NY and Boston to seriously planning out my own death.

This isn’t some cry for attention, this is what mental illness can look like.

I’m safe now, I called out for help and my friends rallied around me.  I’ve set up plans for extra time with friends next week, and I’ve got an extra psychiatrist appointment scheduled to monitor meds.  Lots of people are checking in.

I’m safe, but I’m still scared.  As quick as it all came, it’s passing.

This shit sucks and it’s taking everything in me to fight through it.

Check on your strong friends.  They aren’t always as strong as they seem.


Right now I’m beating myself up.

I’m fighting the tail end of some stomach ick but also realizing that it’s hard to tell the point where physical illness ends and depression begins.

Excuses are easy and being sick makes a really good excuse to sleep away 24 hours.  Sleeping away 24 hours for the second day in a row looks a lot like depression.

I’ve gained back enough weight that I can feel it in my skin and I can feel it in my clothes and I can feel it in my joints, but I’m afraid to get on that scale because I don’t want to know the numbers.

I start physical therapy on Monday because my back and my knees hurt so bad that it’s making working out and even walking difficult again and I know it’s because spending the last 6 months fighting my mental health has let my physical health fall apart so badly that I’m falling back into old habits.

I’m stuck spinning wheels and I see it happening, entire days just lost and it’s great that I’m not suicidal but is it really better when I’m not fighting to live anymore?

Excuses come so easily right now.

And I’m beating myself up for it but I’m not really sure how to push past it.

I don’t want to go back to who I was and I’m starting to see her in the mirror again.  I’m starting to feel her in my bones again.   I may not be trying to kill myself but I’m slowly dying again and I can’t find the will to turn it around again.

I know where this leads.

What’s Real

My brain spends a lot of time telling me lies.

Anxiety is my brain telling me there is danger when there isn’t any.  It causes my entire system to react as if there truly were a danger.

Suicidal thoughts cause my brain to think I really want to die, and at times I’ve attempted to act on those thoughts because they seem so real.

I spend a lot of my time trying to work out which thoughts are real, and which aren’t.  I have to work out what is anxiety and what is intuition.   Sometimes it is easy to get too wrapped up in my own head.

When your brain spends most of its time telling you lies, it becomes very difficult to trust yourself.  Sometimes that goes too far.

Now that I’m trying to write this out, it’s hard to put it into words, so try to follow along.

Sometimes I start questioning not only how others feel about me, but how I feel about others, and if my brain is playing tricks on me.

If my brain is capable of perceiving danger that isn’t really there, if people really do care about me and my brain is lying to me and telling me they don’t, then maybe my brain is lying to me about my feelings about other things and people too.

Do I even know how to love people?  Is this really what love is?  And not even just romantic love, or friendship love.  I felt this way as Kidlet was growing up too.

Maybe I don’t really know how to care about people.  Maybe it’s me who doesn’t care enough or know how to love and maybe what I feel isn’t really love and maybe I don’t even know what love actually feels like because my brain has been lying to me all along.

I start over analyzing all of it.

How many times does someone have to lie to you before you start questioning everything they tell you?

What if the person that lied was your own brain and it lies about your own thoughts?

How would you begin to trust yourself again?

What if as soon as you started trusting yourself another round of bad anxiety or suicidal thoughts happened again and you had to convince yourself not to trust those thoughts?

It takes a lot of energy to untangle this overthinking, and a lot of that energy is spent just sitting with the thoughts and letting them run as background noise.

I’m thankful when they can stay relatively quiet.  I’m thankful when the people in my life understand.  I’m thankful when I don’t have to work so hard to untangle what is real and what isn’t because none of it matters as much.

I’m thankful when I can just be.


Talk it Out

One of the harder things since Wonder Woman moved in has been learning how to  communicate my needs and accept that she may not do things the way I would do them.

We are such different people.  For a long while, “Opposites Attract” by Paula Abdul was jokingly played when we would find, yet another, thing that was polar opposite about us.

She is the chaos to my order.

I love her because of her chaos.  She reminds me to relax and that it doesn’t have to be perfect.  She reminds me that my positive affirmations can always have a chaotic addendum.  She’s the one telling me that I don’t have to be strong all of the time and that I should feel all of my feelings, including the negative ones, and that I should cut myself some slack when those negative feelings keep me from doing all of the things.

Her chaos reminds me that I don’t have to do it all right now, and that sometimes, it doesn’t matter if I do it right now, or next week, it will still be there and it can still get done.

But sometimes my need for order, and her penchant for chaos, clash.

Navigating that conflict is hard.

Conflict is a type of trauma for me and I want to run from tension.  I’m learning that I can speak my feelings and have them validated as opposed to negated.

I’m finding my voice.

And when I get angry I am learning.

Tension doesn’t have to mean anger or fighting.  Tension can be okay.  It can just be a feeling that is there.  Something I don’t have to run from or act on.  Once I stop fighting against myself, I can see more clearly what’s happening in front of me.

It’s much easier to discuss a situation from a position of clarity instead of through anger and frustration.

And often, once I can see the situation clearly I realize there’s no reason to be angry at all.  Her chaos and my order complement each other very nicely.  We find a comfortable balance.

Until the next time we don’t, and then we’ll talk it out again.