Growth

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

My DBT classes are going really well.

It’s a mix between group therapy and skills class with a really really heavy focus on the skills class side of things.  We don’t really do any processing of emotions in the class, but we’re taught a lot of skills to help us work on things outside of class.  Then we discuss how we used those skills during the week when we review our homework.

It’s a very draining two hours for me each week.  There’s a lot of focus involved, a lot of hard work as well.  Even though I’m not directly processing emotions, I’m trying to figure out how I would integrate these new skills into my daily life.  I’m also in a group setting which is draining to me anyway.

But it’s completely worth it.

Yesterday, when I was looking at what my new schedule looks like, especially once I factor in transportation, and the gym, and cooking/household stuff, I got completely overwhelmed and shut down.  In the past I would have spiraled and threw my emotions all over the place.  Covering everyone I could reach in my frustrations.

Instead, I gave myself a time out.  I described to myself what was going on in my head.  I gave myself the space to feel all of my feels about it.  It’s okay that I’m overwhelmed, it’s okay that it seems like too much, but that doesn’t mean that it is.  What I feel is okay, but reacting to it and covering everyone, including myself, in a whirlwind of emotions over it isn’t productive.

So I sat with it for a little bit and calmed down.

And then I vented, calmly, to Wonder Woman.

And it didn’t fix any of the problems with transportation, or how long my week seems, or how I’m going to fit it all in, but that wasn’t the point.  This isn’t really a fixable problem.

I didn’t make things worse.  I didn’t build myself up for a crash that wasn’t necessary.

These skills are working.

Growth is amazing.

Go me.

Yay DBT.

First Day of School

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

“Mommy, it’s the first day of school, did you get me new clothes?”

A grown woman can wish, can’t she?

I haven’t sat in a classroom in 10 years, give or take, all of my classes since then have been online.  But this morning I set an alarm for 7 am, caught mobility to the school and sat down for English 102.

I’m 20 years older than 3/4 of the students in the class.

I’ve been ignoring the semester for as long as possible.  I waited until last week to look into my books.  Not my normal, plan as far in advance as possible and deal with all the anxiety that comes along with that.  This time I waited till the last few days.

And still, the anxiety didn’t really come.

Until last night.

It didn’t settle in my gut like it normally does.  Didn’t even rattle around my brain.

But I couldn’t sleep.

Normally I’m the first one out cold but last night I laid there and listened as Wonder Woman drifted off and made her cute sleepy noises that turned into quiet snoring.

And I laid there.

And laid there.

And contemplated getting up but I knew that when my alarm went off I’d hate myself if I didn’t at least try to sle….

And, it’s 7am.  Damn that alarm is annoying.

And still, I didn’t spend the morning too anxious as I picked out the perfect outfit.  One of my signature skirts and of course a pink shirt and my kick ass boots.  I love my style.

But will everyone else.

And do I actually care.

The thoughts go back and forth.

Sitting through class I’m lucky that I have a great professor.  It’s the first day of class and he’s already drawing us in with conversations about race and equality and privilege.  Oh yeah, I’m gonna have fun with this class.

But my brain wanders again.

My computer has a large decal “Self Saving Warrior Princess” in bright pink letters.

Oh God.

What is everyone thinking.

And do I actually care?

A battle to override one thought with the other.

Class dismissed, see you Thursday.  Hanging out in the library, waiting for my ride and I feel like every single thing I do is making so much noise.

The rustle of my bag, the jingle of my keys, the taping of my fingers across the keyboard.  A sneezing fit, not one or two but sneeze after sneeze after sneeze that won’t stop.

Is everyone staring?

And do I actually care?

Thank you, anxiety, for taking it easy on me today.  Thank you, skills, for coming to me as I need them.

As far as first days go, today was a good one.

TED Talks

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

I’ve been dealing with a near constant flare of my fibromyalgia.  Some days my hips are so sore that sitting up becomes too painful.  The anti-inflammatory I’m prescribed isn’t strong enough to handle the pain on days like that and it becomes a matter of finding comfortable ways to exist.  Sometimes that means getting out and moving, sometimes that’s too painful, as well, and sometimes that isn’t possible due to other reasons. and This past week I was fighting a cold so bad that exercise and even walking wasn’t really an option.

So I went to bed at 8 in the evening to lay down, and turned on the TV, a rarity for me.

I feel defeated on days like that.  Like I’m not strong enough to push through, when I can’t even sit upright any longer because I just hurt too much.  When it’s too hard to hide the pain.

Turning on the TV I flipped through Netflix and Amazon quickly, not seeing anything, because I don’t really watch TV.  So I headed to the TED talks channel.

Some people binge watch Netflix.  I binge TED talks.

For some reason this time when the familiar sound of the opening sequence started up I instantly remembered the days just after Parker passed away.

The intense emotions returned.

I felt that hole in the pit of my being.

After she died, for hours and days and weeks when I couldn’t sleep I laid there and watched TED talks on so many subjects.

Things that didn’t even matter to me, but just the sound of a voice in the background, not being alone in the room for the 20 minutes they were talking.  The continued drone of a monologue.

And then a pause, followed by the soothing sound of the opening sequence, and another one would start.

Science and business and mathematics and psychology.

Talks about grief and dying and living.

Hours upon hours of people talking about things they were passionate about.

Hours that the sound of their voices made me a little less alone.

Hours that I couldn’t retain a single thing I heard because my brain was too busy coming to terms with the fact that I was laying in the same bed Parker had died in days, weeks, a month before.

I’ve had times where I’ve watched TED talks since then and it hasn’t bothered me.  Maybe it was because I was already in pain, albeit physical, maybe because I felt defeated by it, maybe I just needed a trip down that particular memory lane.  For whatever reason, this particular viewing, I once again didn’t retain much of that first talk.

I was too busy remembering what it was like to have my world shatter.

Grief moments don’t happen as often anymore.  And when they do, mostly, I recover quickly and go about my day, but sometimes I can still be transported back in time.

I still miss her.

Picking Fights

This is A Really Real Widow Post
and
A Really Real Mental Health Post.

It’s one of those ones that blur the lines, where processing my widowhood and the questions about my relationship with my late wife, are helping me heal today.

Because without my past I wouldn’t be who I am today, but without healing my past, I’ll continue to make a lot of the same mistakes.

And I don’t want that.

I have to thank my friend Melissa, at The Evolving Wife (https://www.theevolvingwife.com/) for her post yesterday, because it inspired this post.  She gave me a lot to think about.

When I was reading what she wrote, one line jumped out and punched me in the gut.

“The only way I knew how to get attention . . . was to pick a fight.”

Holy shit.

Parker used to say that she couldn’t pour from an empty cup.  And the thing was, I wasn’t great at self soothing, I didn’t have many people outside of her (and didn’t know how to go to the people I had), we were both completely empty due to the situation we were in . . .

And I needed a lot of attention.

And it would typically start with me saying that I needed something from her.  Sometimes I’d even say out loud that I felt disconnected.  She’d get her feelings hurt and within days we’d be fighting non stop.

“The only way I knew how to get attention . . . was to pick a fight.”

And I’m not saying I’m the only one that picked fights.  It went both ways.  I wasn’t always able to give her the attention she needed either.

And unfortunately, we aren’t in a position where we can both heal from a relationship gone wrong.

Lots and lots of people used to see Parker and I as the fairy tale relationship.  And in a lot of ways we were.  We were really good for each other.  But we were also really really codependent, we didn’t know how to exist outside of each other.  People loved that you never saw one of us without the other, but, in hindsight, that was really a big problem.  We lost our own identities within each other, and as great as we were at communicating, it’s really hard to figure out how to meet each others needs when you are both completely drained from trying to survive.

But subconsciously, I knew one time that she’d be focused on me, not on video games, not on the TV, not on sleep.

“The only way I knew how to get attention . . . was to pick a fight.”

This wasn’t something I did on purpose “ooooh, I need more attention, let me go bitch at her for not helping out enough around here”  But, if I’m hurt because I’m not getting physical affection, and I’m hurt because she’s been staring at the TV or sleeping for 12 hours straight and ignoring every word I say, then I’m far more likely to notice that the dishes are piled up in the sink and I’ve washed them the last 5 times, and I’m far more likely to make sure she noticed too.

And I made my point loud and clear.

And then she focused on me for at least a little while.

Negative attention is still attention.

I’m learning better and I’m doing better but I do wish I could go back and just talk.  I’m not sure it would have made a difference.  We had too many years of dysfunctional patterns built up, and too much going against us.

My therapist keeps reminding me that I can’t actually figure out what was really going on back then, because one side of the story is dead.  She can’t give her point of view, or defend her position, or grow or change or add to the narrative in any way.

But I’m still trying to figure out all of the ways that I fucked up, mainly because I’m trying not to be the same person I was then.  I want to be better.

I don’t want to repeat the same mistakes.

Whoops

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I think this is the longest I’ve gone without writing in months and months.  The last post was on the 19th and it’s now the 23rd.

It’s that whole concept of, when things are going well, it’s harder to figure out what to talk about.

Right now my mental health is cooperating.  I feel like the fog has lifted some, and while I’m still playing a lot of video games and kind of hibernating for the winter, I’m also having a bit easier time making it to the gym and making it out to social events.

Of course, I’m also fighting one hell of a cold that might be settling in my lungs (bad news given my asthma).  So, my mental health is better, but now I’m taking the day off life because I can’t go five minutes without a sneezing or coughing fit.

Oh well.

Earlier this week I did two weeks worth of menu planning and did all of the grocery shopping that goes with it, plus bought some extra meats for the next round, and some easy to make stuff for the days that I just can’t cook.  With the depression loosening its grip I’m really feeling the whole homemaker role, even being sick I still had dinner ready last night and I felt a sense of pride in that.  I might be dying but damnit, we’re gonna be fed!

Okay, not really.

But that’s also the mom in me, and right now I do feel a sense of pride in my ability to still handle “all of the things” where old me would have been really upset that I still have to handle “all of the things.”  I’m not sure what changed.

Yeah I am, Parker died, and we fought about me doing “all of the things” right before she did.

So, it makes me feel good when I’m juggling all of the plates and things are falling into place, and food is on the “table” (we don’t have a table), and dishes are done, and I make it to my appointments and DBT, and do all of the adulting.

Especially when I do all of that plus deal with my some extra thing (being sick) on top of my normal things (chronic physical and mental health stuff).

I feel like I really can do this.

And then, of course, college starts next week, which will throw another plate into the spinning and juggling of things.

I got this!

Just Stop

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m on over a dozen different medications between mental and physical health.

That means, once a week I sit down and figure out which ones are AM and which ones are PM and which ones are both and sort them into my handy dandy med management system.

And right now I’m going through a phase of wondering why?

I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m the first person to fight for medications. I’m the first person to say how important they are and how much people should consider them for the chemical imbalances that cause mental illness, etc.

Medications are important.

But I need a break.

Maybe I can make it without them for a little while.

It gets to the point that you’re medicating side effects to medicate side effects and sometimes I just want to stop everything for awhile and start over from square one.

Chances are pretty slim that I will. I know better.

But I’m tired of spending 30 minutes or more every week, breaking pills in half and sorting and counting and hearing the plink plink plink of pills into containers.

I’m tired of having to remember to take them twice a day.

i’m tired of having to remember to eat 350 calories with my night meds, and adding those extra calories when I forget to take it with dinner.

I’m tired of medications.

But I know I go through phases like this. And I still go to therapy and go to my pdoc appointments and get my meds and take them.

The roller coaster will just get worse if I don’t.

Believe me, I know, I’ve tried. It isn’t pretty. And it takes awhile for the meds to calm things back down once I go back on them.

It isn’t even the typical reason, “I feel better so maybe I don’t need them anymore.” It’s more that, “I don’t feel completely better, so maybe I could feel just this good without them, without all of the hassle of dealing with them.” Maybe I could maintain this level of stability on my own.

So, I go to therapy, and I talk to my therapist, and she helps me reality check that idea, again and again, and again.

I’ll just keep taking them.

I guess it’s easier that way.

Body Image

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m fighting my own brain.

This is nothing new, but I’m fighting over a topic I’m not all that used to, or at least not used to it being this bad.

Normally, I feel beautiful somewhere underneath of all of my weight issues. I normally know that I’m cute, and even pretty, despite the weight. I normally love my crazy style and my pink hair. I make jokes and take pictures of my wild bedhead and mostly I try not to give a fuck about my complexion, the fact that I pick at my face, or that I grow a small beard due to hormonal stuff (thank goodness for wax strips and tweezers).

But last night I looked at Wonder Woman and asked her how she could stand coming home to me each night.

And I was kind of shocked after the words left my mouth.

I had just left the bathroom where I was staring in the mirror trying not to tear my face up even more, I realized my hair was standing on end, my old lady night gown was a frumpy mess, my chin needed to be waxed or plucked or both, and I just felt gross.

And she came home from work to me looking like this.

And of course, she had some amazingly sweet reply about how cute I was, which I rejected immediately in my head.

But I’m not used to it being quite this bad in my brain over this stuff. I may have a day here or a day there where I’m down on myself, but then I bounce back. Right now it just seems never ending.

I’m writing this to try and shine some light into this particular dark space to maybe make it go away. Because that’s how this works, I put it out there and it helps to clear it out. Well this needs to clear on out.

And it makes me sad that I’m not the only one. We’re so hard on ourselves and it doesn’t make sense.

It doesn’t make sense that I feel this way about myself but I can’t make it stop.