Family

This is a Really Real Extended Family post.

This is a post about being estranged from birth family.

This post contains politics, differing beliefs, pain of loss.

Today, my Facebook and photo memories were full of pictures with my niece and nephews.

Without planning it, my sister, the kids and I, tended to get together around this time every year.

I had 3 pictures in a row of me holding my first nephew. Each year around his birthday I was lucky enough to see him, and get a picture as he aged.

I had 2 pictures with my niece, a year younger than her brother.

One picture with the youngest, a year younger than his sister.

The last time I saw them was just over a year ago, before the pandemic was even a thing.

We would regularly talk over video chat. My sister lining all 3 kids up in high chairs at the table and sitting the phone where I could talk with them all.

My sister and I have very different beliefs. She is a conservative born again Christian, super into a her MLM essential oils and anti science including vaccinations, and I am super liberal and queer.

We managed to coexist. We avoided those topics. She didn’t seem to judge me for my life and the way I lived it.

As the election got closer, she began posting more and more about her beliefs.

She posted an article that someone connected queer folk to pedophiles. She posted articles against transwomen, and trans rights. She became more verbal with the beliefs that directly hurt me.

I distanced myself more and more, unfollowed her so that she would no longer show up in my feed. I’d occasionally check her page for pictures of the kids. I enjoyed watching them grow.

It’s been 6 months since a video chat. She had the kids call me shortly after my dad died, to give me something to smile about.

She posted and texted me around the time that Trump was getting banned from various social media outlets. Telling me that because of something she posted, they were shutting down her Facebook in 24 hours and I could contact her via text.

I didn’t respond, I knew that Facebook doesn’t give you warning, she was just feeding into the political bullshit.

A few weeks later she was back on Facebook, I knew because she was reacting to my posts again.

I realized I was censoring my posts, not wanting to start family drama, not wanting to alienate anyone, not wanting to call her out on her bullshit.

I added her to my restricted list, she can no longer see what I post. At the same time I did the same with my youngest sister, and made sure my mom was still on the list as well.

I’ve slowly gone no contact with the family I lived with for the first 17 years of my life.

I didn’t make some big announcement, I haven’t addressed any of it with them.

I last heard from my Mom on Christmas, we exchanged 2 or 3 mundane texts. Before that it was Birthday wishes from her.

She’s even further down that rabbit hole of QAnon. Her beliefs aren’t just against who I am as a person, they are downright scary. She jumps from one conspiracy theory to the next, I had to tell her point blank to stop sending me messages about them. It took her awhile to listen.

My youngest sister is doing well, as far as I know. She doesn’t advertise her beliefs so I have no idea where she stands, but she’s so involved with the other two that it just feels safer to distance myself there as well. Every few months she messages to see how I’m doing, but rarely responds to what I say.

It’s painful. The memories are painful. The fact that I have to sacrifice the relationship with my niece and nephews is hard, probably one of the hardest parts of this.

But, I have an amazing chosen family. I am surrounded by people who choose to love me for who I am.

And I’m thankful for that.

Work in Progress

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

This is a Really Real Health post.

TW: Mention of weight, exercise, and food choices, but in a body accepting way.

I haven’t written a long post in a couple of weeks.

Short posts detailing my current day to day stuff have been ongoing.

It’s a different way of communicating.

But less cathartic.

When I’m doing well I don’t feel the need to write the long, soul spilling posts that have become such a coping tool for me.

And I am doing well.

I’m slowly figuring out what is mood and mental health related, and what is habit learned by months and months of being depressed.

I’m working on not judging myself for either.

A couple of weeks ago I got on a scale to see if I was above the weight limit for something.

It’s frustrating that many things aren’t built for someone my size.

But, the truth is, I am bigger than many things allow for, and I’m accepting that it isn’t my fault.

I am allowed to exist as I am, and it’s sad that there are things that won’t accommodate me.

I’ve started speaking up. Letting professional offices, especially those in medical settings, know that they should consider having some seating without arms, seating that will accommodate all body types.

But anyway,

I got on the scale again recently, and realized that even with making conscious food choices, and moving intentionally, I haven’t lost any weight.

And honestly, I felt okay with that.

I’m moving around easier, I’m enjoying the things my body can do for me.

I’m working on stretching and strengthening the muscles and joints that help me get from place to place. I’m working on gaining more mobility,

more stamina.

Some days I’m still sleeping more than I would like.

My mood seems a bit better, and I’m more productive on the days that I sleep less,

but I can’t always get myself out of bed in the morning,

even when I go to sleep early.

And that’s okay.

I’m a constant work in progress.

Pushing myself gently to do a little more than I think I can.

But loving myself either way.

And when I can’t love myself as I am,

I accept myself as I am.

I remind myself of all of the things I have survived and overcome.

I remember that my body does amazing things for me.

Movement helps with that.

Especially yoga,

it helps me get in touch with my body and my mind.

It helps me push just a little bit further.

Also, the videos I’m following remind me that it’s okay to modify things in ways that fit my body and my ability that day.

They remind me that it’s okay to need props and items that help.

They remind me that every body is different,

every body has different abilities.

And that every body takes up space.

At the end,

in my Savasana pose,

they remind me to take up as much space as I want.

To open my body and feel comfortable, instead of shrinking myself.

It pertains to mental health as well.

So often we try to shrink our emotions and our symptoms.

We try to fit into a box created by the world.

Right now I’m feeling that I’m not disabled,

but that I’m differently abled.

Not everyone can open up and share their struggles the way I do.

Not everyone can see their vulnerability as a strength.

Not everyone can change lives by speaking their truth.

Well, that isn’t quite true.

Everyone will change lives if they speak their truth.

But speaking our truth is hard.

Accepting our truth is hard.

Accepting ourselves is hard.

Accepting myself is hard.

But I’m doing it.

And lately,

more than accepting me as I am

I’m loving me,

for who I am,

and for what I have to offer.

It may not be the type of productivity that this capitalistic world sees as valuable.

But I’m learning,

because of those around me,

that value isn’t just monetary.

It catches you off guard

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

I’ve been dreaming a lot since my dad died.

Part of it is trauma, but also, one of my medications has a side effect of vivid dreams.

I remember a lot of dreams now.

Last night I had one that I kept waking up from, and then falling back to sleep into the same dream.

Over and over again.

Kidlet was still little, probably 10 or so.

Parker was there.

We didn’t really fight, but something happened and we decided it was best if we broke up.

The emptiness consumed me.

It woke me up,

and it was still there as I lay awake.

And it was waiting for me when I dozed back off.

This was a hard one.

Normally, when I dream about my dad or Parker, even within the dream I’m able to recognize that they are dead, and this is unreasonable.

But this time I didn’t.

She was still there, but was so far away.

I craved her comfort, but it wasn’t available.

It wasn’t a violent breakup, it was understood from both sides.

At one point, we were laying in bed together, talking, and I just wanted her to hold me,

I’m not sure if I asked,

but she didn’t.

She was there, but too far away.

We were both sad that it didn’t work out.

I think that made it harder.

The more I write about this, the more I see it was a grief dream.

It’s still hard to have that kind of grief.

I feel like I’m betraying the life I have now.

The love I have now.

Mostly,

being a widow is just there.

It’s far easier now than it was 4.5 years ago when she died.

It’s just another piece of the story that makes up my life.

But sometimes it comes to the forefront.

I feel tears just under the surface.

I miss her unbelievably much.

I miss that life.

Even though I don’t want to go back.

Seeing her right there,

just out of reach.

The pain is so real, and raw.

It feels so new.

Like it was awoken from within me.

Today,

being a widow,

is hard.

Blessed.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I just looked up the definition of blessed.

Because, I feel blessed, but not in the religious sense.

Luckily, google agreed with me, blessed isn’t just a religious thing, it’s also “bringing pleasure or relief as a welcome contrast to what one has previously experienced.”

I’ve always had good friends, don’t get me wrong.

But the more I have lived as myself instead of hiding behind trauma and anxiety and everyone else’s expectations,

the more I found the people who appreciated me for what I had to bring to the table.

I am surrounded by amazing people.

The people who read what I write and appreciate my openness.

The people who reach out through comments and messages.

The people who are just,

there.

And everyone is there in their own ways.

In the past week I’ve had friends reach out with their experience to help me learn, I’ve had friends reach out to send me things that I never could have afforded myself, I’ve had friends reach out with encouragement, so much encouragement. I’ve had friends reach out with Starbucks. I’ve had friends reach out with financial help.

I

am

blessed.

I still have a traumatic life.

I mean, 6 months ago my world was once again rocked with something that most people don’t experience (thank goodness).

I seem to just be that person that shit hits.

“God only gives you what you can handle”

Fuck

that

shit.

I learned to handle it because I didn’t have a choice.

Often I didn’t handle it,

I just survived through it.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

No, the shit that happened to me didn’t make me stronger.

The way I reacted to it made me stronger.

The work I put into healing from it made me stronger.

It wasn’t just magically,

“oh, look, this horrendous thing happened and now you’re a better person for it”

Yeah, that’s not how it works.

But anyway, I got off the topic that I planned to write about.

I am surrounded by amazing people.

I am surrounded by people that constantly mirror back my worth, showing me that my existence is appreciated.

I am surrounded by love.

By acceptance.

By kindness.

I am blessed.

I appreciate every one of you.

Thank you.


Where do I begin?

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’m doing some of the things, but there are so many things that are going undone..

I’m going to the gym every night.

But I’m not running the errands I need to run before the sun goes down.

I’m making more intentional food choices.

But I’m eating all day.

I’m cooking.

But dishes often pile up, and my stove top is gross.

I’m getting up early.

But then I’m napping most of the day.

I feel

better

I guess.

But there’s so much I still haven’t done.

The increased dose of my meds are working.

But they aren’t working enough.

Or, maybe this isn’t the bipolar or the depression.

Maybe it’s me?

Where does my illness end,

and my lack of willpower begin.

When does it become lazy, instead of ill.

But, writing this has me thinking.

Maybe,

I’m being too hard on myself.

Maybe,

everything doesn’t have to change at once.

Maybe,

I’ve spent so long minimally functioning,

that I can’t expect to reverse those habits in a week.

Maybe,

it is both mental illness

and me.

And all I can do is make the next right decision.

Keep moving forward.

Picking myself up when I stumble.

Doing what I can and slowly adding more

and more.

Maybe I just need to take it one day at a time.

Maybe I need to be nicer to me.

Starting over, again.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

And a Really Real Health post.

One of those ones where it’s hard to tell where health ends and mental begins. As we know, they are definitely intertwined.

This is a long one.

TW: exercise and fitness. Quick mention of past suicidal thoughts.

4.5 years ago, Parker died.

Shortly after that I went in for a minor surgery to remove an ovary that had a large, painful, cyst.

They couldn’t control my airway on the table and aborted the surgery.

It scared the shit out of everyone.

I was incredibly suicidal after the failed surgery.

I was in so much pain, and I was still in the middle of that early grief period, and it just felt like the end of the world.

At that time, my best friend was going to the gym every night.

She wasn’t willing to leave me alone, but wasn’t willing to miss the gym.

So she took me with her.

And I went for a walk on the treadmill while she was doing what she was doing.

At the time I could barely walk around the block.

When I first got on the treadmill I had to hold on for dear life because I was so unstable I couldn’t keep my balance.

I can’t remember how long I walked that first time.

But we went back the next night and I did it again.

And again.

And again.

Eventually I worked up to the elliptical and the Arc bike.

We added strength training.

My best friend and I had a great routine and we kept each other going.

I was in the best shape that I can ever remember.

And then life happened.

I stopped going to the gym.

I would start going again, and lose momentum.

Covid brought months and months of sitting in the house, afraid to go anywhere.

I fell back into old habits.

Covid kept me away from the gym, but I also wasn’t making myself walk in the neighborhood.

The concrete sidewalk hurt my joints.

The hills hurt my lungs and left me gasping.

My therapist and I have talked a lot about it.

About my lack of motivation.

About how much I wanted things to change but hadn’t figured out how to change them.

Today she asked me what would make me feel safe at the gym.

I thought about it long after the session ended.

I remembered those nights in the gym years before, going at midnight,

or later.

It was empty.

We had the whole place to ourselves.

So tonight,

I dug through my gym clothes to find ones I could still squeeze into.

I charged my headphones.

I filled up my water bottle,

I put on my mask,

and,

I drove to the gym at 11pm.

I had grand plans. I was going to warm up on the treadmill and then get on the elliptical.

But,

I felt like I was dying after 5 minutes on the treadmill.

Even at a low speed with no incline I was holding on and pulling myself along.

I felt unstable. I was out of breath. My whole body was starting to sweat.

At 10 minutes I knew there was no way I was using any other machines.

I wasn’t even sure I’d last 30 minutes where I was.

But I knew I could make it 5 more minutes.

And then, I knew I could make it 5 more.

And 5 more.

I made it to 30 minutes, just passing the mile marker during that time.

My face was red.

Sweat was pouring off of me.

My heart was pounding so hard it was giving me a headache.

And even though I’m back where I started 4.5 years ago,

I felt accomplished.

I still don’t feel like the gym is safe.

Even with a mask on and many machines shut down for distancing.

Even in a gym that had less than 10 people in it.

But I can’t just spend the rest of my life sitting in this chair.

Waiting for time to pass.

Not actively trying to die,

but not actively living either.

I almost didn’t write this tonight.

I was afraid that I might write it, and then not go back tomorrow, or the next day.

That I would say “I’m going to do this,”

and then not.

But,

I went to the gym today.

And that was a better decision than staying at home.

I don’t need to look forward too far.

I just need to make the next

right

decision.







Things are going well

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Mention of Suicide, Gun Violence.

I can always tell when things are going well.

It’s been over 2 weeks since I’ve written this time.

Don’t get me wrong, things aren’t

perfect

but they are pretty damn good.

I’m sleeping a little less than I was before,

still too much,

but it’s better.

A combination of adding Ritalin back in, and increasing my antidepressant, seems to be helping.

Today we increased it a little bit more.

We recently got access to Discovery Plus.

I’ve spent years saying “I don’t watch TV” but seeing the different shows pop up on this streaming network made me realize,

I did like TV at one time.

I liked documentaries,

I liked stories about families different than mine.

I liked cooking shows.

I’ve gotten sucked back into a TV series and have it playing on my computer while I’m doing other things.

Yesterday I tried working with a new art medium.

I had to move Wonder Woman’s Valentine’s creations to clear space for me to work.

I put it up on a shelving unit we have in the corner.

I realized that the “Parker Shelf” was just above it.

I smiled.

While I do still have some random things around the house that belonged to Parker, most of my memory stuff of her is condensed onto one shelf in the living room.

The front of the shelf says “Love is the answer to all questions.”

I had some “I need to tell Parker this” moments while I was at my dad’s.

I was sharing memories with Wonder Woman and Kidlet.

Showing them a fishing rod my dad had made just for me, one I helped design, one that has my name on it.

Showing them a toy set from when I was growing up.

Showing them some pictures.

Some items my dad made while I worked along side him.

This trip was very healing.

I was able to focus more on the positive side of who he was as a person.

The positive impact he had in my world.

Don’t get me wrong, he was a horrible human being.

But the worst people still have good moments.

A few times in the last couple of months I’ve ended up going 2 weeks between therapy appointments.

Six months ago my dad died.

Things got so bad that I was doing therapy multiple times a week. Then I was in partial. Then I went inpatient for about a month between two different programs.

Now, it isn’t that big of a deal when I don’t go to therapy one week.

It isn’t that big of a deal when group therapy is cancelled.

I’m going weeks without writing because there just isn’t much to write about.

I’m feeling that euthymia that I always strive for.

Not manic.

Not depressed.

Just, existing.

I still have dreams about my dad.

Weird dreams that take place after he shot himself, but he’s still alive.

Sometimes he is shaved bald on that side of his head, an obvious wound by his temple.

Sometimes someone else mentions that he shot himself and points out how it’s changed my life.

A few nights ago I had some dream where I was taking him around with me to college or something like that.

Someone asked, “What’s _wrong_ with him, he’s acting so weird.”

I replied, “Of course he’s acting weird, he put a bullet into his skull a few months ago.”

The dreams are less vivid now.

Less jarring.

They seem less real and I wake up from them easily.

The occasional flashback is easily pushed away.

I know things will come and go.

I know I still have a long way to go, and that I could be better than I am now.

But,

things are pretty damn good right now.

Just because

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I just felt like writing today.

I don’t have any real reason, anything pressing on my mind,

but I felt the need to put fingers to keys.

Earbuds in my ears, gentle piano music piping through.

My writing music.

I woke up before 4 pm today.

I’m already on my second cup of coffee.

I talked to my pdoc, and we discussed options.

Different anti-depressants that may be activating.

We’re restarting my Ritalin, something that the trauma unit discontinued.

And that’s when I started having problems with sleeping too much.

We’re also raising my antidepressant.

Hopefully this fixes it.

It will be a week or two before I know, she doesn’t use electronic prescriptions and will have to mail me a paper script.

She’s the best psychiatrist I’ve ever had, but at her age even a fax machine seems advanced.

She works for herself, no staff, just a tiny little messy office in an apartment building.

Of course, now she’s working from home. All of our appointments done via phone call.

I’m not even sure that she owns a computer.

I’ve wondered what will happen if she dies. Who will inform me?

Will I just suddenly not get the call at our scheduled time, and eventually I’ll find a new prescriber?

Weird thoughts that run through my head.

I’m starting on the preparations for the Florida trip.

Laundry is gathered, list is started, plans to clean out the fridge more completely for trash night tonight.

Tomorrow we will dig out the car and run some errands.

It’s still snowing.

Yesterday it was tiny little flakes, today it’s big and fluffy.

It’s supposed to rain and get icy.

Ew.

Snow days used to be the only days I took a break.

Running around for appointments and interesting things.

Plans with friends, the gym, long walks.

Snow days are just another day now.

I’m such a homebody.

Finding the balance between safety and using it as an excuse is just hard.

I haven’t found that point yet.

This trip is taking me way outside of my covid comfort zone.

But it’s with good reason.

And it will break the monotony that has become my life.

A monotony that so many people feel right now.

Ew.

Today my pdoc called me a lady.

I got that gross feeling that I get when I’m misgendered.

I don’t think I’ve ever told her though.

And by the time I realized I should say something, the moment had passed and we were on to other topics.

It’s hard to know when to say something, and when to just let it pass.

We’re heading south.

I know I’ll get “ma’am”ed and “miss”ed on a regular basis.

I’ll get that gross feeling but just let it go.

It’s easier that way.

I don’t get the weird looks and the lack of understanding.

Down Down Down

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’m super fucking down on myself right now.

So many voices running around in my head telling me I’m fat and lazy.

And useless.

I feel like I’ve fallen back into the pit that was my life before Parker died.

I’m just existing until I die, I’m not really living.

I can’t really find my way out of the pit because I’m too tired to do anything.

I need a haircut.

I

need

a haircut.

I’ve rescheduled it 5 times in the last week.

This time it’s rescheduled for Sunday.

But it’s so hard to find the line between pushing and accepting.

There’s obviously something wrong.

I’m fighting to get out of bed.

I’m fighting to stay out of bed.

Every time I say that, I hear my dad’s voice in the back of my head . . .

“Don’t try to do it, just do it.”

And I wonder why I can’t

“just do it.”

I feel like I’m just not trying hard enough.

Like I’m just making excuses.

Like I’m just being fat and lazy.

I remember my dad regularly waking me up with squirt guns because he felt like I slept to much.

I remember the time he dumped a bucket of ice water over my head because I slept in.

Tired=lazy.

Lazy=useless.

Maybe this is just depression.

Maybe I just need to fight harder.

Beat myself up a little more.

None of it makes sense right now.



I had a harsh memory earlier.

I’ve always been really open with my struggles.

My mental health,

my physical health.

I remember being really open about my hidradenitis back when Parker was alive.

Talking about the sores and where they were.

And Parker said “Do you really have to be so open about that?”

It embarrassed her.

I talk about this stuff, mental and physical, to try and shine light into all the dark spaces.

To try and combat the shame that comes from keeping quiet.

The more I feel like I need to hide something,

the more important it is that I talk about it.

Right now I’m tired.

And I’m tired of being tired.

And I hope I get some answers soon.

It doesn’t matter when

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’m normally pretty good about brushing my teeth.

I may go days without brushing my hair,

showering is often a battle of wills with myself. (I eventually win.)

But normally, I would wake up in the morning and brush my teeth immediately.

But lately that’s been hard.

I’m sleeping so so much.

When I finally wake up I feel like I just have to jump into my day.

I barely stop to make coffee sometimes.

Feeling like I don’t quite deserve it because I slept so much.

Self care is just,

weird,

when you’re sleeping 12-16 hours a day.

But I just finished dinner, and my teeth felt,

gross,

and I went and brushed my teeth.

And it dawned on me.

I’ve always had this attitude of,

if I didn’t do something at the

specified time,

then it had to wait till the next

specified time.

If I don’t brush my teeth when I get up.

I’ll have to brush my teeth when I get up tomorrow.

(We won’t talk about night time brushing, just pretend that’s not a thing for now, okay?)

But the reality is.

If I don’t brush my teeth when I get up,

I can brush my teeth the next time I think about it.

And that’s okay.

And it feels really weird to have to tell myself that’s okay.

I mean, it feels completely socially unacceptable to admit that I don’t brush my teeth every morning and night.

But the fact is, I don’t.

And honestly, I’m willing to bet that quite a few of my friends who have chronic illnesses of any type, don’t either.

And probably a few of my friends without chronic illnesses.

And sometimes it feels gross, and that’s what reminds me I didn’t brush my teeth.

And then I’m like “fuck, I’ll have to remember tomorrow morning.”

But no, I’m remembering RIGHT NOW, so just do it.

Or don’t.

It’s okay.

I’ve started being more gentle with myself.

I wake up and can’t move to get out of bed, and based on a meme/article/post I saw, instead of yelling at myself for not getting up.

I ask why not?

And when?

And I remind myself that it’s okay to be exhausted.

It’s okay to listen to my body.

I’ve found that when I really really have to do something, I can.

But I pay for it eventually.

Early next month, my sister, Kidlet, Wonder Woman and I are all heading to my dad’s house to take one final look before the estate sale and selling the house.

It means 20ish hours of driving each way for Wonder Woman and I.

It means 3 days of being “on” while taking care of stuff, and working through some of my own trauma demons at the house.

It means I get to see my kid (it’s been almost 2 years) and my sister.

And I’m excited.

But I’m also nervous.

I’m so so tired.

And what if I can’t stay awake to do what needs to be done over those few days.

What if I can?

What does that mean about these times that I haven’t been able to stay awake?

It’s this balancing act between pushing myself but not shaming myself.

I feel like such a lazy loser for sleeping this much.

Where did I get that message?

Why am I beating myself up with it?

It’s okay if I brush my teeth in the middle of the day because I notice it.

It’s okay if I stay awake when I can and sleep when I can’t.

It’s okay to be me.

It’s okay.