You Spin Me

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I grew up with parents who never stopped for anything.

My mother broke her back and it took everything to get her to lay down long enough to heal.  She just kept going, there were things to be done.

My father routinely laughed when doctors would say take it easy for X days after this surgery.  “I know my body best” and he’d be back in the shop the next day working for 12 hours.

Self care wasn’t in their vocabulary.  I came to see down time as a weakness.  I question myself for every illness, am I really sick enough to need to rest or is this just me slacking off.  Maybe I’m just depressed and using this as an excuse.  Maybe I just need to push harder and get through it.

If I do decide to rest, the whole time I’m resting I’m berating myself.  Telling myself how weak I am, how useless I am.  How it’s just an excuse and I could be doing more and better.  Even if I don’t leave the house I end up pushing myself to do more around the house, cooking or cleaning.

I rarely just stop.

I’m fighting vertigo right now.  I’ve dealt with this in the past, it’s probably just that the cold is effecting my inner ear.  I’m waiting to hear back from my doctor to see if I should go in and in the mean time I’m taking OTC meds but they only give limited relief.  It’s just dizziness.  But I feel like I’m going to fall over and get sick at the same time and it makes me feel unsafe.  Every step is more than uncomfortable, moving in bed is like a roller coaster, and cars are pretty miserable.  The mobility bus was a new kind of hell because it moved so much.

My therapist asked me why I didn’t cancel appointments yesterday and stay home, I couldn’t give her a good answer.  It just didn’t feel like a good enough reason to stay home, even though I felt so bad.  There were things to be done.

Last night I beat myself up for not going to the gym.

Today I stayed home from everything and I’m still questioning if it’s the right decision.  I still cooked breakfast this morning, I still won’t ask for help around the house.

My world is spinning and I’m still having a really hard time letting everything stop so I can take care of myself.

Is this self care or am I just being lazy?  Am I just giving into the depression that wants me to stay home anyway?

These questions are hard and constant and I’m not sure there’s ever one final answer.

Back On Track

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m still having a hard time sticking with things.  Right now excuses are really easy, and writing is hard and the gym is hard and even leaving the house is hard.  I just want to hibernate.

I’m not really, depressed.  Like, I’m not sad.  I’m not suicidal.  I’m not the things that I’ve always identified with depression.

Maybe this is less mental health, and more common wintertime blah stuff.  Who knows.

Maybe it is seasonal depression stuff though.

Either way, I’m walking through sand.  Not a really wet sand that my feet completely sink into, but something just wet enough that I need a little extra effort.

I can’t really decide a topic to write on, and I’m tired of writing about the same old stuff.  I’m tired of playing the same games on the computer.  I’m tired of the same crafts, but also rushing to finish things up for Christmas.

I’m not really looking forward to the holiday.  I think I’ve started disliking Christmas now.  I love Thanksgiving because the focus is on the family and friends and food.  I hate Christmas because the focus is on stuff and I’m poor and every year I spend the entire month of December stressed over gifts and what to get or make for people and how they are going to feel about it.  I get frozen in the anxiety.

I actually had someone give me a gift back once.  I spent hours and hours making something, thinking they would love to have something I’d made, and they gave it back to me because they wouldn’t use it so they didn’t want it.

I’m not saying that’s the only reason I stress out over gift giving, but it doesn’t help.  I already feel like I’m not good enough, and then I feel like what I make or buy isn’t going to be good enough.  I worry about judgement connected to what I give.  I worry about all of it.

I really do hate Christmas.

This year Wonder Woman and I are planning a trip in a few months, instead of stuff, and honestly I think that’s the greatest idea ever.  I’m still worried about Christmas, but I’m not as anxious about buying a bunch of little stuff that may or may not be used or wanted.

I’d rather give things as I see them and know that someone might like them.  I’d rather show love to people that way all year long.

I’d rather focus on friends and food and love on the holiday and stop focusing on stuff.

Hard Questions

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Tonight I found myself in a position that I talk about often.

Someone I know posted something that had me worried.  I wondered if they were thinking about suicide.

I reached out, I talked to them, I offered my phone number.  But that nagging feeling was still there.

I was afraid to ask, because asking that question is HARD.  This was someone I knew well.  A loved one, a family member.  Someone who has seen my journey, someone who would understand why I was asking.

But it’s not an easy question to ask.

But you have to ask the hard questions.

So I did.

“Are you thinking about suicide?”

And the outcome of the question doesn’t matter.  That’s not the point of this.

The point is, I know how hard it is to walk the walk.  I know how hard it is to talk about suicide.  I know how hard it is to look at someone who is obviously depressed, and obviously sad, and obviously already hurting and ask them, outright “Are you suicidal?”  It’s hard to know how it will be received.  There’s that nagging feeling that I’ll give them the idea, even though I know, personally, that it isn’t the case.  I’m always afraid they will be angry, or it will hurt them.  There’s the fear that I’m overstepping boundaries.

But you have to ask the hard questions.

You can’t help someone, or get them help, if you don’t have all of the information, and it’s much easier to talk about it if someone gives you an opening.

Ask the hard questions.

Words, Words, Words

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

The smallest statement by someone else can screw me up for weeks or longer.

A project I’ve been working on, and proud of, can be thrown off because someone I care about, or a stranger on the internet, makes some side  comment about that craft.

I can spend days overthinking an entire conversation because of one phrase the other person said.

And some conversations have been stuck in my head, for what seems like my entire life, because of phrases that threw me for a loop.

But I’ve been thinking.  What are the phrases, things that I said in passing, that have stuck in others heads?  What things did I mean nothing by, that became major sticking points for them because of the way they took it.

We always talk about others opinions not mattering as much as our own, but how many times has my opinion messed up someones day, week, year?

What are the phrases I’ve said that have changed someone?  For better or for worse?

And as much as I get stuck on the phrases that really make me anxious, what about the other side of things..  Yes, there are things people say that make me doubt what I’m crafting, or doubt what I’m wearing, or doubt my abilities, or doubt my worthiness.  And I’m not talking about overtly hurtful statements, I’m talking about comments that are either opinions, or things I am taking the wrong way.

But there are also statements that people say that build me up and make me trust in myself, love myself, be proud of myself and my abilities.  Things that I take to heart when they may have meant it as a passing comment.

How many of those comments have I made that have helped people?  How often have I built people up?

We speak around 16,000-20,000 words in a day (based on some random factoids on the internet, so it must be true), I’m sure some of them are unkind, but mostly I’m surrounded by kind people who say kind things to me.

Why am I always finding the negative meaning?

Letting myself be derailed by the potentially hurtful comments that people, especially random people, but even loved ones, say isn’t helpful.

Maybe it would be better to focus on the positive in the world.

Fifteen

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post

I feel really unaccomplished in my life.  I still struggle with the questions of “What do you do?” and  “What have you done?” because I feel like the answers to those are, nothing worth noting.

And people will say, I survived.  But did I really have a choice?  People will say I am strong.  But did I really, have a choice?  People will say I raised my son.  But, did I really have a choice?

When I can quit, I do.  I give up.  I fail.

I get back up, I try again, and again, and again, and if nothing else I have persistence.  But I haven’t really finished or succeeded at much of anything.

I’m on a 20 year plan for a college degree.  I’m registered for classes, again, next semester, at the local community college this time, where I need 15 credits to graduate with an AA.  I only need 15 credits because of the number that didn’t transfer from one school to the next, to the next, to the next, to the next.  I’ve wasted so much money.

I don’t even know if this is the right plan.  I don’t even know if it’s worth putting energy towards a degree that I might not really need since I’ll probably never finish the Master’s that I need to do what I want.

But damnit, I want to finish something.  I want the fucking piece of paper.  I don’t even care about walking across the fucking stage.  I just want to actually succeed at something I put my mind to that I have the option to quit.  

I want to stop being a failure.

Lens

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I wonder how people see me.

And this isn’t a post asking for affirmations.

It is something I honestly wonder sometimes.  How do I look to the outside world, without the lens I see myself through. 

How do I look through Wonder Woman’s lens, not just physically, but emotionally, as a person, how does she see me.

What do I look like through the lens of my closest friends who have never actually seen me in person.  How do they picture me in their minds eye when they have only met me through words on a screen.  

What do my other friends see when they look at me?  What do they think when they see me?  Who am I through each persons personal lens.

What does my family see?  My parents?  My sisters?  The people I grew up with?

I wonder what I look like, physically through these other lenses.  Do they see the same flaws I do?  Am I the same size and shape, do my clothes fit the same way, does my style come across the same way as it does through my own lens?

Am I even making any sense?

What stands out and makes me beautiful?

I wonder what they envision when they see my spirit.  My soul.  The part of me that makes me tick.  The part of me that makes me, me.  I wonder what they think of when they think of me.  Who am I in everybody’s eyes?  

How many versions of me are there?

Which one is real?

I know who I try to be, what I try to get across.  I know that what I see in the mirror changes based on my mood and whose voice I hear in my head when I’m looking that day.

I know that my sense of self changes based on my mood too.  Some days I can feel my worth, other days I can’t.

I guess it doesn’t matter what I look like through the lens other people wear, but sometimes I get curious about how I come across.  I can share my words and my thoughts all day long but I still wonder if people actually know and understand who I really am.

I still feel really misunderstood a lot of the time.

I appreciate that people keep listening though.

And I still wonder, what do I look like?  

Shouldn’t Be

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

Tonight I’m having a widow moment.  My chest is heavy and the tears are just behind my eyes and for the first time in months and months I needed to find my cry playlist and just let it play as background noise while I sit at home alone.

You see, In two days I turn 38.

In two days I celebrate the birthday that Parker never got to celebrate and damn it, I’m not supposed to be older than her.

She’s supposed to be 2 years older then me.  We’re supposed to joke about how she’s a cradle robber for dating someone her sisters age.  She’s supposed to pick on me for how I wouldn’t understand because I’m so young.  All of it silly because we really were so close in age.

But I’m not supposed to be older than her.

And I know, somewhere in the back of my head, that this is a silly reason to be upset.  That none of this changes how dead she is, and that technically I’ve been older than her for months now.

But I had a hard time last year too.  Holidays and birthdays and special occasions are just hard, because she’s not here, and I didn’t just lose her in the moment she died, I lost every moment we planned to be together.  I lost growing old with her.

She’s frozen in time at 37 years old.

And I’m still moving forward and she’s not here to see it.  She’s not here to pick on me, she’s not here to love me, she’s not here.

And it shouldn’t be.

As much as I’ve grown this past year, as much as my grief has changed and morphed and become this part of me, there are still times when I want to fight against it with every fiber of my being because sometimes it just doesn’t seem possible that this is real.

I’m not supposed to be older than her.

And this is how I work, I grieve the hardest in the days before an important day, I get it out of the way.  On my actual birthday I’ll have some hard moments but mostly I’ll be able to enjoy it.  The lead up is harder than the actual day.

But tonight it hurts so very much.  Tonight I’m fighting against reality.  Tonight I’m going to let myself hurt and grieve and cry.

Because I’m not supposed to be older than her.

Meme

Really Real Mental Health Post

Sometimes I see a meme and it just resonates with me.

I used to share most of the memes that resonated with me, and even now I go through periods of time where I share a lot of them because the meme seems to say it better than I could.  There’s also the fact that if it spoke to me, maybe it can help someone else.  There’s this fine line between sharing something that speaks to me and jumping on the train that has me sharing a dozen memes in the same day.  I feel like the more I write and express myself this way, the less I need to express myself through sharing other people’s words.

However, some of them still make me think.

There are a lot of them floating around that deal with why people from abusive pasts deal with things the way they do.

The one that grabbed me today was about how being abused can cause difficulty with distinguishing between people who are “not obviously pleased” and people who are “obviously displeased” because of the quickly changing moods of their abusers, with no discernible reason.

Holy shit, that feels too real.

I need very clear cut indicators that everything is okay, or I think everything is not okay.  And if everything is even a little not okay, then everything must be REALLY not okay.

A good example of this is in text form.  It took me a good 6 months to feel confident that Wonder Woman sending a Kissy-Face emoji, instead of the words, was honestly her way of saying “I Love You” quickly, and not her being short with me because she was upset.  I still, a year later, have to remind myself sometimes.  It isn’t because of anything she’s done to make me think that, it’s because, in absence of proof that everything is 100% okay, I feel like things are definitely not okay.

My anxiety is my problem though, and I try not to ask for reassurance very often.  Part of this is also that I have seen over and over again that when there is a problem, Wonder Woman lets me know and we talk about it.  I try to surround myself with people who are also upfront and honest about problems so that we can talk them out.

On the flip side of that, I’ve started being more honest with myself and therefore, with people around me about problems because it’s way easier not to be that unpredictable angry person when I discuss things as soon as they are upsetting me.

All of these thoughts came from a ‘not so silly’ little meme on Facebook.  Some little text based thing that resonated with me.  Something that in the past I would have just shared.

Through It

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post

CW:  Mention of past suicidal thoughts.

I’m bipolar, which means I swing into periods of deep dark depression, and periods of hypomania, with some stability in between.  Medications and therapy and coping skills have lengthened the periods of stability, shortened the depressive episodes and made the hypomania almost non-existent right now.

Mixed in with the bipolar is also some seasonal depression that is longer lasting and milder.  Just a general depression, not so dark, not quite so debilitating, not a crisis, just something to live around.  It’s more like the depression that people with major depressive disorder (typical depression) live with.  That’s not to minimize it, it’s just a different sort of struggle.

My bipolar depression is a short, very intense race, it takes a lot of energy but doesn’t last very long.  My understanding is that major depressive disorder is a cross country race where energy has to be reserved for the long road.

This week the bipolar depression lifted.  I was able to convince myself to meal plan for the week, because I planned to be alive at the end of the week to make all of the meals (yes, at one point I wasn’t sure I would be, that’s how dark it got).  I was able to cook most days.  Really yummy food that reminded me how much I love caring for myself and my house that way.

And today I folded laundry.  I can’t tell you how long the laundry has been piled in the spare room.  It felt so good to finish and put the final piece away.

And I cooked breakfast, and cleaned up afterwards, and got dinner going in the crockpot for tonight (Lemon Chicken, a new recipe I’m trying).

But, depression is still there, just enough.  I don’t want to leave the house, and I’m fighting to get out of bed each morning.  I haven’t been to the gym in a few days (partially due to time restraints but it feels Oh So Good, to have the excuse).  I’ve skipped some days writing, or written too much on other days (I have drafts saved that may or may not ever be posted).

This marathon depression that just, is, is exhausting.  I’m glad it only lasts a few months of the year for me.

I’m also glad it doesn’t make me suicidal.

I’m sure I’ll get back to the gym (we have a plan for tomorrow), and I’m sure my writing will regulate (it’s why I sat down today to get something on the screen), I will get better at living around this.

And in the meantime, I’ll keep loving myself where I’m at.  It’s the one benefit to this depression over the bipolar depression.

I can love myself through it.

Eighth, a day late

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

Yesterday was 2 years and 6 months since Parker died.

It was also the first 8th of the month, in quite some time, that I didn’t commemorate by posting something about suicide awareness.

I’m only about an hour late though.  The day was super busy and it got away from me, and honestly, I was too busy living to sit down and write about death.

I’m not really sure what great advice to give about suicide awareness this month.

There’s not one grand theme I want to write on.  I guess there are a few little things.

It’s the holidays, and while a lot of people think the holidays are the hardest time of the year, they actually aren’t, typically, because people have access to more social interaction, activities, and distraction.  (Spring and Summer have the highest suicide rates.)  But even one suicide is too many.  The more of us that are trying to help reach out, the better.  At the risk of sounding like a cheesy commercial, you can make a difference.

Here’s a short list of things you can do.

1.) Check on your friends that are hurting.

Don’t count on someone else to check on them, and don’t just assume they’ll be okay because they’ve been okay before.  Just say hi, tell them you care and are there for them.

2.)Shut up and listen.  Don’t try to fix their problems, just be an ear.

3.) Don’t tell people that they have to stick around because of how much they’d hurt you if they died.  Don’t try to guilt them into living.  Instead, point out that they are loved and cared about and that you want them in this world.

“I love you and care about you and I want you in my life.” is worlds better than “How could you think about doing that to me, you would hurt me so much.”  Suicide isn’t about you.

4.) Ask how you can help.  Sometimes there are specific tasks that would be helpful, sometimes there aren’t.  Sometimes it’s as simple as “Don’t leave me alone right now.”

Ask, because sometimes reaching out for help is the hardest part.  When someone reaches into my darkness with an offer of help, it bridges the gap.

5.)Just be there.

You don’t have to do anything.  Just climb into their blanket fort with them and be present.  Show them they aren’t alone in this fight.