Stretch

Really Real Mental Health Post

I’ve been going to the gym for over 2 years now.  There have been some breaks during that time, but more often than not, the gym has been a major part of my life since Parker died.

The gym does far more than just keep me physically stronger and healthier, it’s a huge part of my mental health as well.

Yesterday Batwoman and I were stretching after working out and I realized, as we’re sprawled across mats, that we wouldn’t have been able to do that 2 years earlier.  Not physically, although, that too, but mentally.  We would have been too worried about standing out and being seen.  The two of us trying to be all flexi-bendy by ourselves on the side of the gym with other people working out around us.  We would worry that we were too inflexible or didn’t fit in or didn’t belong or didn’t. . . .something.   We’ve come a long way towards just doing what we want to do to get healthier and fuck what everyone else thinks.

I’ve come a long way.  The gym was a huge part of that for me.

The gym gave me a confidence I never had before.  Yeah, I’m still a big person, and I still take up space, but I know what my body can do that it could never do before.  I know that I’m capable, and I know that the people who look at me and only see my size have no idea that I’m more than this.  It sucks that often, we, as a society, don’t take into account what things someones brain is capable of when they have big bodies, but if I start talking about what I’ve physically done, suddenly my weight isn’t such a big deal to people who were fat shaming me moments before.

But the gym did give me the ability to say “Fuck the haters” because I knew I could do something, and stick with it, and I got the support of the people around me who cheered me on while I was doing it.  I learned to listen to my body and follow my own routine.  It’s made me both physically and mentally stronger.

I’m back to where I look forward to my time in the gym each day, and I’m looking for the next thing and the next thing to do while I’m there.  I’m wondering what new strengths I’m going to find and what new exercises I’m going to learn.

What am I going to learn about myself that has nothing to do with my body and everything to do with my mind?

Widow Brain

Really Real Widowed Mental Health Post

This is a post that blurs the lines.

See, there’s a thing called widow brain.  It’s the grief fog that happens during shock, where suddenly your memory turns to pudding.  It’s more than just memory though.  You feel like you’re existing in air that’s as thick as sludge.  Every thought and action takes 20 times longer because you have to overthink it to make it happen, but at the same time, in my case, I was in full blown mania mode just to exist so my brain was both sped up and slowed down in the same instant.

Widow brain.

Then, 8 months after Parker died I started on a new medication that has mental side effects.  It takes my words and slows my brain down and causes memory problems.

PTSD also causes memory problems and the years leading up to and ending in Parker’s death caused all kinds of PTSD symptoms.

So, my memory was so bad that I actually went to a memory specialist because I was worried.

But it turned out to just be a combination of all of the above, which is a lot.  I spent a lot of my day feeling like I was fighting through a fog.  That itself created a lot of anxiety because I felt like everyone could see how slowly I was thinking.

I still fight to remember a lot of words, almost every blog post requires at least one trip to Google to look up the definition of a word to make sure I’m recalling the right one.  Other times words are just not there, luckily I can get my point across.

Today though,  I was reading something a friend posted and I had a realization, at some point in the last few months, the fog lifted.

Widow brain is gone.  The slowness feels like it’s gone.  I still have some days where it comes back but for the most part my memory is better and the overall feeling that came with that, the sludge that I constantly fought my way through, feels like it’s cleared.

I’m not really sure when the change happened.  I’m not sure if it was gradual or immediate.  But probably gradual since I didn’t notice it.

I still have lots of times that I tell the same story twice, or where I feel like I already wrote this post (and maybe I have) and my long term memory is better than my short, but that’s just who I am.

Also, I leave the stove on WAY too often because I have ADHD and try to do too many things at once.  (I just cleaned a scorched pan from that a few days ago.)

But widow brain is gone.  It helps me realize how real it was when I look back at how much I had to fight to do simple things.

I will have a much better chance at school without that fog.

Excuses are easy

Really Real Life Post

Today is the first day in awhile I’ve struggled to come up with something to write about.  I didn’t wake up with a topic in mind, I didn’t have a draft already written and ready to go.

I had a few false starts, topics that wouldn’t start flowing after the first few sentences, so I either scrapped them, or left them sitting in drafts so I can play with them later,  I even wrote 3/4 of a post and my main point wouldn’t come together so I scrapped that.

I guess this is what it’s like to be a writer?  I’m really pushing myself to write each day, or at least most days, but leading up to NaNoWriMo, it’s even more important that I’m ready to write even when I’m not sure what I’m going to say, but I guess I should have some sort of point, and I’m getting there.

I’ve been going to the gym more days than not for the past month and at first it was a real struggle, and I’m sure again it will be a real struggle, but the more I pushed, the more I kept going, eventually it stopped being so difficult.  Now I even mostly enjoy it.

I know this is how this stuff works, a lot of the time, except mostly, when it gets hard I can’t push through it.  I give up, I don’t stick with it, I find excuses, I don’t make it a priority, and I fail.  It’s not that I can’t push through it, it’s that I don’t.

Excuses are easy.

That’s something I said a lot when I was doing the gym before, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

And if it sounds like I’m preaching, it’s not like that at all.

I’m having a really hard time pushing myself to go to my volunteer job at United Way.  I used to find purpose in the job, I used to feel like I was making a difference, but now I’m working under someone who doesn’t care about what I’m doing or what she’s doing and it’s sucked the life out of it for me.  I have a really hard time making myself go each week, and I keep finding reasons that I can’t make it happen.  I keep forgetting to schedule my rides, or having to schedule appointments on my day to go in, or otherwise not making it a priority.  I’m only making it there once a month or so instead of once a week.

But if I ever go back to work, I’m sure there will come a time that I have a shitty boss.  And I can’t use that as a reason to stop working.  Perseverance pays off.  If I stick with it, I’ll either find a way to find meaning in this job, or find a way to switch to something else, or (in the case of an actual, paying, job) at least I’d be paying my bills.

Excuses are easy.

It’s Coming

Really Real Widow Post

One thing I’ve learned about widowhood is that for me, the lead up to a date, is often harder than the actual date.  Parker’s birthday is in a week and it’s been on my mind for almost a month now, with each day getting a little bit heavier on my chest.

She would have been 40 this year.

We met the year of her 30th birthday.

She had the hardest time with turning 30, and a friend of ours said “30 isn’t the problem, 31 is, because then you’re OVER 30.”  So then she had a hard time turning 31 as well.

I try so hard to wait for the actual day, except, I don’t get to control all of grief.  Like, I can keep it from taking over my life, but the more I fight the feeling and the emotions, the more they are going to control me.  So I tend to just say, yep, this is a grief thing, and then just let it have it’s space while I do my own thing.

The problem is, in the middle of my own thing, I’m still getting sucked into memories of birthdays and days leading up to birthdays.

So I try to give those thoughts their space and then go back to what I was doing.

It’s a constant process and I don’t cry as often as I once did, but the closer I get to a major date, the more the grief is there, and the more time I spend playing this game.

Sometimes the memories suck me in.  Sometimes I go down the rabbit hole and it hurts and it’s hard to find my way back out.  I wonder who she would have been now.  And if it would have been as hard for her to turn 40 as it was for her to turn 30.

I know that these questions, and grief in general, are the reasons that I’m crying, every, single, morning, right now.

So I give the tears their minute or two of my day and then keep going.

Although sometimes those tears turn to sobs, and those sobs turn loud enough to wake a sleeping Wonder Woman in the other room.  And I’m lucky enough to have a Wonder Woman who just comes and holds me and checks on me, and totally gets this, and then just as quietly lets me go back to writing a few minutes later.

I feel like I’ve been holding in those sobs forever and like this huge weight just came off my shoulders.

It’s not fair that Parker will never get to hate that she’s turning 40.

It’s not fair that she’s gone.

I wish I had some upbeat final ending for this one, but today I just hurt for her.

It’s not fair that she doesn’t get to have a birthday week.

It’s just not fair.

I Love Me

Really Real Mental Health Post

Yesterday I posted a comparison shot of my Driver’s Licence ID photo compared to now.  I’ve lost a lot of weight, and my body composition has changed, but more than that, I’m a different person.

I think I’ve written about this before, but it’s bugging me, so you all get to sit through it again as I work through it again, this stuff isn’t just one and done.

I didn’t love myself at all.  I was suiciding slowly through food and video games and sitting on my ass.  That’s not saying any of those things are inherently bad, but when you never get up and never stop eating, they become a slow tool of death.  I was just waiting to die.

I didn’t love who I was, I kept waiting for someone to save me from myself, someone to fix it all, because I had no idea how to, but really, a lot of it came back to all of the self loathing.

The heavier I got, the more I hated myself.  The sicker I got, the more disgusted I was with myself.  The more help I needed, the more I gave up trying.

I didn’t love myself and even when I wasn’t actively trying to die by suicide, I was killing myself slowly.

It’s really hard for me to look at pictures of who I was and have love for that person.   It’s really hard for me to see myself there.  I don’t know if it’s only because of the weight, that’s part of it, but there’s so much potential inside her and she gave up.  I still blame her for Parker dying, even though I shouldn’t.

I still see her as separate from who i am now because it’s still so hard to love that person that I was.

I love me now.  Even in the worse of the depression, there’s a part of me that still loves me.  I feel like I deserve to love me, and that was a major turning point for me.

I’m fucking amazing.

And some days I say that, just because I need to hear it a million times so that I’ll believe it.  And other days, you best believe I KNOW it’s true.

But I’m the same person that was in that Driver’s Licence picture.  And it’s still so hard for me to love her.  It’s so hard for me not to blame her for Parker dying.

Today, I’ll go to the gym and run this shit out of my system on the elliptical, and I might even cry it out some while I’m on there, because this feels pretty damn heavy.  Another day I may figure out how to love that person.  Right now I just feel sorry for her.  I wish she didn’t hurt so much.  I wish I could have fixed it for her, but I wish she would have fixed it for her own damn self.  The power was there all along.

I mean, she is pretty fucking amazing.

Look at her now.

Alarms

Really Real Life Post, with some Widow stuff mixed in.

A lot of things changed  when I became a widow.  My sleep habits are one of them and I’m not sure if it’s because Parker died, or because I got older, or because I’m less depressed overall, but before she died, I was a night owl who slept through every alarm.

It used to make her angry because she had to wake up, to wake me up, if I had to be someplace.  And waking me up didn’t just mean saying “get up, your alarm is going off.”  Often it meant I’d cuss her out in my sleep because I was ANGRY when she woke me up and I didn’t always realize it.

When I needed surgery a few months after Parker died, a friend stayed the night to make sure I got out of bed because I was so petrified I’d sleep through my alarm.

Now I’m more of an early morning person, but it’s really hard for me to see myself that way.  By 11pm, and normally way earlier, I’m getting tired.  Some days it’s a struggle to stay awake till 11.  And I’m awake at 7 am or so.  I actually start waking up at 4 or 5 and convince myself to stay in bed till at least 6 or 7.  I almost never set alarms anymore, and when I do, they’re a backup, just in case.

I used to get up with barely enough time to get ready and rush out the door.  But honestly, I can’t stand that.  I need time to make my coffee, clean up the kitchen from the night before, take care of the dog, relax, maybe write, check mail and facebook, wake up slowly and get dressed.

I enjoy my time in the morning when it’s quiet and I’m alone.  It helps me center myself.  I don’t meditate exactly, but I can still quiet my mind and focus on my routine and then figure out the day ahead.

It’s still so strange for me to think of myself as a morning person.  I still have a hard time scheduling morning appointments because I’m afraid I’ll miss them.

Just another thing that’s changed in the last few years.  I’m afraid I’ll suddenly end up as a night owl again, and actually, I miss staying up late, but I enjoy getting up early.  Even if I wanted to, I’m not sure I could push my schedule back, my body just wants to get up super early now.

And as I write this, it’s not even 10 pm and I’m yawning every few minutes and I can barely keep my eyes open.

Maybe I’m just getting old.

Tactile Memories

Really Real Widow Post

Parker has been showing up in the strangest ways lately.

I was sitting at my computer desk last night and suddenly I could feel myself in the neurology wing at Franklin Square Hospital.  I knew exactly where I was, I could smell it, and feel it and hear it even though no one was there with me.

Parker and I spent a lot of time in that wing.

It was just for a split second and I teared up sitting here at my computer, with Wonder Woman only a few feet away, and when that happens I always feel so strange.  Like, I feel like I’m hiding something, or lying.

I don’t want to suddenly yell out “Hey, I’m hurting” because I don’t necessarily need help, although comforting might be nice cause damnit those insta-tears are jarring .  But also, when moments before I was talking about how much I love my life and how happy I am, and now I’m on the verge of tears,  I feel like the person a few feet away from me shouldn’t suddenly be blindsided if they turn their heads and I’m crying.

Although right now it would be hard to tell.  It’s that time of year again.  Are my eyes red and running because I’m crying, because my allergies are being a bitch, or because I just used a makeup remover wipe?

Anyway, last week I also had a “I can’t wait to show Parker this” moment.  And even harder, it had to do with Siah, the dog, who was Parker and my dog, and was then my dog, and is now very much Wonder Woman and my dog.

Even typing that feels like somehow I’m being a trader to Parker because her dog now loves someone else.

The conflicting emotions that happen because of all of this . . .

Seriously people, just, don’t die, it makes things far harder for those left behind. . . . . Damnit Parker.

Except, at the same time, I was sitting here last night talking to Wonder Woman about how content I am right now.  I’m striving for more, for bigger and better things for myself, but I’m also really happy with how my life is now.

I even feel like I have a better handle on my mental health, even the depressive episodes are manageable.   Now I’m going to duck and hide and wait for the other shoe to drop.

Nah, cause I do deserve nice things.

But it’s really hard to believe that I can be happy.  It was seriously less than a half hour after I had the conversation about how happy I was, that I was transported, in my brain, to that hospital wing.  My brain was trying to short circuit the happy.  It’s not used to having nice things.  And I still feel guilty for being happy when she’s dead, and when it took her being dead for me to have a chance to get out from under my own pile of shit.

That’s a heavy thing to carry.

But I don’t have to carry it (I say as the tears stream down my face).

This really honestly is my raw journal that you get access to.  I hadn’t put two and two together until I typed this out.  I hadn’t realized that talking about how happy I was, was why I started seeing the images of the hospital.  And putting that together helps me see what demons my brain still needs to work out, and how much work I still need to do in therapy.

Widowing isn’t easy.