All Grown Up

This is a Really Real Parenting Post.

This is my first Christmas since Kidlet moved across the country to start his own life as an adult.

He started walking on his first Christmas, at 9 months old, not even walking, but running across the living room at my mothers house, where we lived, to get to his presents.

And now he’s been across the country for 9 months.

A year later, I remember staying up half the night putting together a giant play kitchen for him, something he was probably too young for, but I had the money and it was something I knew would last him.  He got a tool bench that year too, and a talking doll, and so many other gifts because the money was there and I was so used to being broke.

There was the Christmas that we were so broke I handmade every one of his presents, and he received his favorite one, I think, to date.  A set of 3/4 inch pvc pipes cut to different lengths, along with connectors.  They became swords and guns and goals and places to hook blankets for forts.  We added to the set over the years and he played with them until he was much much older.

There were the Toys for Tots years, and the hand me down years, and the years that my family and friends made Santa happen.  There were years that I figured it out too, and made Christmas happen on my own, and damn, they felt good.

The year he learned that Santa was in all of us, the spirit of giving and helping and paying it forward to another family when you can.

I have memories of Christmases where we started different traditions.

My grandmothers ceramic tree in his room with small gifts wrapped underneath it, for him to open alone in his room, to let us sleep in, of course.

The years I’d let him open gifts from family members a few days early, spreading them out day by day, because I couldn’t wait to see the joy on his face.  I just couldn’t wait.

We’re used to being apart on holidays, he would spend months at a time at his father’s, states away, and I know this isn’t my first Christmas without him, but this one is so much different.  This one is the first of many with him living on his own, starting his own traditions with his own family.

I’m so proud of who he is and all he is capable of.  I’m so proud of him for spreading his wings and flying.

But I remember when he started walking that first Christmas, and tonight, I miss him.

Just.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

In the days and weeks leading up to this Jersey trip, especially as the depression set in more and more, I was looking forward to the trip less and less.  I mean, I was excited for her.  I was glad I’d be there while she got her tattoo, and I was glad I’d get to see her hometown, but as this weekend drew closer it became a case of “we’re just doing this”, in the most, almost resigned, I want to because it’s supporting her, but please just let me not leave the house ever again, kind of way. 

By the time Saturday got here I was almost in tears leaving the house because my brain was screaming not to go, that two days out of the house was too much for my depressed brain to handle.  Mix that with my anxiety over packing for a trip and it was kind of a wreck in my head.

Of course, I couldn’t and wouldn’t say any of it out loud before we left.  I knew this was important to her, and that it was my depression talking.  I knew I could say I wasn’t going and that it would be okay, but I also knew I would regret it.

The ride up there was the longest four hours ever.  I just wanted to be sitting on my computer, not in a car, and I was dealing with a dog who didn’t want to sit still. 

There were cute moments and I cracked a smile here and there, Wonder Woman has a way of doing that no matter how much my brain is being an asshole.

And at some point between last night and this morning, things changed.

I started really, really, enjoying myself.  I still had moments where getting out of the car was hard and I just didn’t feel like it, but other moments were full of connection to the world and connection to my girl, and just love.

Reminders of why I’m still here.

Seeing where she grew up, learning about her in a whole different way, hearing more stories and different parts of the timeline.

 I started to crawl out of the hole I’ve been in for too many weeks.

And standing on the water looking over at the NYC skyline tonight I felt fully alive for the first time in weeks.  

New York City Skyline taken from Liberty State Park.

I’m not saying I’m miraculously not depressed.  It’s still there, and I’m already trying to figure out how to get out of going to my appointment tomorrow and how to cancel Christmas (but I won’t do either), but it gave me a break for a little while, and I got to see the beauty in the world again.

I love travelling.  And this was so much more than just a little trip for a tattoo.

I try

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I try not to whine, I try not to complain about how I have it worse than anyone else because really, I don’t think I do.

But right now I feel like it’s just not fair.

I know, life isn’t fair and all that bullshit, but right now I feel like too much is piled on top of me and I can’t climb out and it’s overwhelming.

It’s vertigo, and people deal with this every single day and still function normally, but I already fight through so much to get out of the house every single day and this one more thing . . .

I haven’t figured out how to fit it into my version of normal and honestly, it’s knocking me on my ass.

And on my ass is the worst place for me to be.

My doctor is telling me to wait 7-10 days and see how I feel, which seems perfectly reasonable, but I haven’t figured out how to get myself out of the house regularly like this.  I’ve cancelled almost everything.

And I am feeling a little bit better, maybe because I’m doing less, maybe because I’m healing, but it’s being replaced with the depression that happens when I don’t leave the house for too long.  I sat still too long and now I don’t want to get up, now I don’t want to leave, now I don’t want to move.

I made myself go grocery shopping last night, I rode with Wonder Woman and I went in alone to prove to myself that I could and I ran into someone I know and I swore the whole time she was judging me for doing too much when I’m “supposedly sick” and cancelling the rest of our plans.

And the fact is, she either wasn’t judging me, or it doesn’t matter because I’m doing the best I can.  But it doesn’t matter in the moment because I’m too busy beating myself up because I’m sitting in this fucking desk chair that I spent far too many years sitting in.

And now I feel stuck here.  Now, even if I start feeling better I’m not going to want to move because now, the depression has wrapped its arms around me.  Self care means sitting still but sitting still means my brain tackles me.  It’s really nice not leaving the house during the winter months.

I have things I’m supposed to do all weekend, places I’m supposed to travel and I don’t want to do any of it.  I can’t tell if it’s honestly because I feel like shit, or if it’s depression telling me just to sit still in this warm pile of shit.  Either way, I want to clear my calendar but I know I’ll regret it if I do.

I try not to whine and I try not to complain but every day I already fight pain and mental health and all this other shit to get out of the house and piling one more thing on top just made things crumble.  I’m sure I’ll pull it back together, but it’s taking me a few days.

How many days is reasonable and how many days becomes an excuse?

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.