Just hold on

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

TW: Talk of suicide, including plan. Talk of weight/weight loss/weight gain.

There’s so much in my brain and I don’t know where to start. This ended up being super super long, but I need to get it out. Words of encouragement and understanding would be greatly appreciated.

Last night was really, really hard.

It started with boredom. None of my usual activities were grabbing my attention. I tried pushing through and making myself start something anyway. Just start, just design one card, just complete one quest, just plan one dish.

Just start something.

But I wasn’t able to. So slowly I felt myself drifting towards bed. Once there I couldn’t even bring myself to turn on the TV.

Laying there my mind was wandering. Is this the medication change, it’s supposed to make me less flat and sometimes it just doesn’t seem to be doing that. It’s supposed to help me eat less, and I thought I was, but yesterday morning I had gotten on the scale, and I gained another 10 lbs.

Inching ever closer to my heaviest weight. A weight I swore I’d never reach again. I worked so so hard to lose so much. Even at 300 lbs I was proud of my body and what it could do. I felt accomplished at the gym. I was far more at peace with my body, even though I still had a lot to lose.

I spent months working towards bariatric surgery, for the 3rd time, and right as I cleared the last hurdle, they thought that emotionally it could be very dangerous for me to move forward. I walked away from the program on the day I was supposed to set a surgery date. I still don’t know if it was the right decision.

That was when this latest weight gain started. I had already stalled with losing, due to the medication increase, but then I started gaining. We increased the medication more, and I gained more. First I noticed 10 lbs, then a couple of months later there was another 10. Then in the first couple of months of quarantine it just kept going up and up and up.

And as much as the numbers suck, even worse is that I’ve lost my ability to walk as far as I used to. My pain is worse. I get out of breath just getting adjusted in bed. Walking up to my second floor apartment feels like running a marathon.

I don’t feel proud of what my body can do anymore. I spent almost 2 years celebrating accomplishment after accomplishment, and now I’m back to living in my desk chair barely able to hold myself up.

And last night it crashed down on me. Weight is such a huge trigger for my suicidal thoughts.

It started with a quiet whisper. “You failed again.”

Then a little louder. “You’re right back where you were, fat and useless, and no matter how hard you work, you’ll always end up back here.”

With a little more force, “You’ll never overcome this, it’s not worth trying anymore, it’s not worth living.”

In the back of my mind I started telling myself. Get up, get dressed, go for a walk. You don’t have to give in to this.

“See, you can’t even do that, can’t even bring yourself to work on this. You’re such a fat failure and you’re just taking up space. The world would be better off without you in it”

Then the quiet voice again. Please, just get up, put on shoes, and walk. You don’t even have to change out of your pajamas, just get out of bed and walk.

There was a back and forth battle between the voice that wanted me to die, and the quiet voice trying to stand up and help me live.

I came out to the living room and checked some pill bottles. I don’t have enough of this, this, or that . . of course we keep most of it locked up, but maybe, maybe if I take all three different ones.

I started hoping that Wonder Woman would go in the other room. Go into the bathroom, so that I had enough time to take what I had. I know she’d notice if I took the pills into my room, and she’d definitely notice if I took them right there. I just needed to take them and go to sleep. Hopefully I wouldn’t wake up.

It was a calm sort of suicidality . I wasn’t afraid, I wasn’t rushed, I was just waiting for the right moment.

Just waiting in bed and listening for the moment when she got up from the sofa.

Quietly waiting.

Instead I sent her a text. A that small voice fighting to live. “I’m calmly but intensely suicidal tonight.”

She asked how she could help. I didn’t have an answer.

Eventually, I heard her get up. I was waiting to hear the bathroom door. It would finally be my chance. But instead she turned off the lights and came to bed. We talked.

I told her my plan.

She locked up more meds, and I felt like a child in need of a babysitter.

And then I felt defeated. I felt, and still feel, like there’s no way out of this mess I’m in. This mess that is me.

We went to the store this morning. She reminded me that I had to stay alive to cook the food we were buying. I felt the voice slowly fading away. Slowly backing off.

I’m worried that these thoughts are because we’re lowing the medication. But staying on such a high dose is just going to exacerbate my weight problems. It’s nearly impossible to lose weight when the intense craving for food feels like a drug addiction. I can not adequately explain the drive to eat that has been occurring the last 6 months or more.

And you can’t just quit food cold turkey.

I don’t have any answers. I don’t have any uplifting ending to this post. I don’t have any feel good words.

I just have me, feeling like I don’t want to continue to fight.

I just have me sitting here, getting my words out on the screen so that they don’t eat me alive.

Blah

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Mention of weight being a problem for me, but no mention of dieting.

First of all, I realize I’ve slowed way down on my writing. I’m writing some short stuff for the Facebook page/group I’m a part of, but mostly, my writing has just stopped. (Link to page and group in the comments.)

Second, everything I have written, for awhile now, seems to deal with either my weight, or work, and how hard both of those things are for me right now.

And I really did plan to make this post different, maybe come up with some more interesting topic, or something new. Except my weight, and work are the two things that are most difficult in my life. Everything else is just . . . there . . . it doesn’t really bother me.

I mean, the dishes keep piling up in the sink, and I can’t find the will to cook. Showering, and even brushing my teeth are chores that are difficult to force myself through. I’m sleeping for 12-ish hours a night.

If it sounds like depression and looks like depression it must be nothing. This is fine, everything is fine.

Cartoon of dog surrounded by fire. Second panel has them saying “This is fine.”

Well, I guess the other things are bothering me, they just don’t feel as pressing, or has as much of a sense of urgency about them. They are just part of my current normal.

I feel like I have no will power to just muscle through this stuff. Weight and work included. I haven’t been able to make the changes I need to make. I haven’t been able to stick to a schedule. I haven’t been able to just “do the things.”

But also, I know this will pass. I will get back into a routine. I will slowly change these new, unhealthy, habits, back into the healthier habits I had before. I will go back to thriving with a routine, and find satisfaction in a job well done. Dishes and menu planning and straightening up around the house will go back to being just things that I do.

My current meds, probably the higher dose of Abilify, are muting my emotions. In an effort to keep me from rapid cycling and ending up in a mixed mood episode, we’ve made life kind of flat for me. Yeah, I don’t get hypomanic, and the suicidal thoughts are mostly controlled, but the world is kind of grey and 2 dimensional. I don’t feel difficult things as strongly, but I’m also missing out on the bright colors of emotions I’m used to seeing.

This is fueling my depression, I’m sure. When the world seems flat and made up mostly of various shades of grey, it’s harder to see the positives and feel hopeful. It’s hard to be excited about life.

When there’s no sense of accomplishment when I complete a task, it’s hard to keep repeating that task over and over again.

But, mental illness is hard. It’s an everyday battle. The constant fight is draining. Even just riding the waves without fighting against them is draining.

This too shall pass. Hopefully some slow med changes will help. Hopefully the warmer months and more sun will help (If I can get myself out of the house.) Hopefully continuing to adjust to this new normal will help.

Hopefully.

If I can hold onto that hope, I’m winning the battle.

Work, Work, Work, Work, Work

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

My brain is doing much better.  I’ve walked and gotten out of the house and set up a plan to get my eating under control. Taking some control back has helped a lot. I felt like I was just stuck in the same loop and couldn’t get off that path.

But work is still a struggle. I haven’t done any real work since Monday. I’ve done the bare minimum, keeping fires from starting.  I did talk to my boss, which was a huge thing for me, and he reminded me that nothing is an emergency, I can take the time I need and get my brain back together.

But my brain is mostly back together, and I still haven’t been able to pull out the stacks of paper that need entering. I haven’t been able to scan the papers that need scanning. I haven’t been able to file the papers that need filing.

I definitely haven’t had the creative brain to create new ads and write new copy.

But this is a start.

Getting my feelings and my struggles out of my brain and onto the screen helps me gather the focus I need to succeed.  Work is super important to me.  After years of being unable to be productive in that way, it makes me feel like a functional adult.

It’s a bit of normality among my disabilities.

It’s a huge accomplishment.

Taking off most of this week means I have to go back to leaning on people for financial help. That’s hard, even though I know I’m so very lucky to have people to lean on. There has already been a reduction in hours due to the state of the world and it feels unfair that I slacked off this week.

But I’m not sure that I had a choice. Without taking a break I would have sunk further and further and honestly, I’d like to avoid the danger zone.

Now it’s time to pick up where I left off, to get back into the swing of things, and to do what I know I’m capable of.

I appreciate everyone that lets me be heard. I appreciate everyone that comments.  I appreciate the fact that getting my words on the screen not only helps me, but helps others as well.

I’m very grateful for my life as it is now, even with the ups and downs and struggles.

I’m grateful to be alive.

Now it’s time to get some work done.

How Really Real Am I?

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Therapy was hard today.

I mean, you all may not believe it, but I work my ASS off in therapy.

I wish there was a sarcasm font, of course I work my ass off in therapy. Therapy is a really really big part of my recovery. And today we covered some really really hard stuff and we landed on a really really big thing.

I don’t let people see who I am. Even the people who are closest to me don’t see the real me. And it’s not fair to them, or me.

I censor myself.

I squash myself.

I quiet myself.

I write a blog called Really Real, for fuck’s sake, and I am very far from my really real self. Even in my own home. I’m an abridged version of me. I’m a well thought out representation.

I’m afraid to take up too much space.

I’m afraid to take up too much time.

I’m afraid to take up too much energy.

I’m afraid to be too much.

Too much.

Too much.

Too much.

Such a big theme in my life, that feeling of being too much.

As much as I share, as open as I am, as much of my story as I tell, I’m still not living an authentic life.

It’s not fair to the people around me. It’s not fair to the people closest to me. It’s not fair to the people who love me.

Because they deserve to know the full version of me.

Hell, they deserve to decide if that version of me is still someone they love.

Which I guess is where the fear comes from. Am I still lovable if I take up space. Am I still lovable if I say what’s on my mind. Am I still lovable if I don’t censor myself.

Am I still lovable if I start fully being me, for me, instead of trying to be the smallest version of my self?

If I stop monitoring the mood of the room and making sure I don’t disrupt it?

If I stop making sure I don’t make waves? If I stop tiptoeing around?

Is the real, authentic, me, lovable?

I don’t even know who I am under all of this censoring and squashing and quieting. I’ve done it my whole life. I have been too much since I was small, so I learned to bottle it up, hide it away, only let parts of myself out at a time.

Never be too much.

I think and overthink before I talk. Before I write. Before I move.

I think and overthink.

It’s exhausting.

What if I just say what I’m thinking? What if I just write what I feel? What if I just move how I want?

What if I stop overthinking so much?

What if I stop worrying about being too much?

What if I start being really real?

What if?

Not even waiting.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Things are going well.

Look at that. I said it. And, I’m not even waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Things are going well.

I’m enjoying this moment.

I mean, I could complain about little things, life isn’t perfect.  There isn’t enough time to work and write and craft and gym and make it to appointments and take of the house and and and.

But, things are going well.

I’ve walked away from derby. I started to dread every event, every practice. Even seeing the friends I have there wasn’t enough to overcome the blahs I felt about the entire thing.

So I decided to stop participating before I hate it.

Derby will always be there when I’m ready to go back.  If I’m ready to go back. But I doubt this is goodbye for good.

I’ll miss all of the friends I have there.

And, things are going well.

Like, there’s not a whole lot to write about, but I miss writing. It’s so much easier to write when I’m over the top hypomanic or when I’m so far under depression.

But, things are going well.

A month

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

This is the longest I’ve gone without writing since I started writing regularly.  It’s been almost a month.

The whole time I was on my trip I kept saying “I should write.” “I should write.” And then the constant movement of 2 weeks out of town would carry me away again. I also wasn’t sure how to compartmentalize my feelings into the type of things I normally write.

I’m still not sure how to.

This trip was hard for so many reasons.

I’m glad to be home.

This week I start with a new therapist, and leave behind a therapist I’ve had for 5+ years. I’m sad, but also feel like it’ll be a good move for me. I’m not sure how to handle telling her I won’t be coming back after my appointment this Friday.

I hate confrontation, and while this isn’t really confrontation, it kind of is. I’m firing her, after years of a great working relationship.

But she’s no longer helping me grow, and a few times a year she falls asleep during our sessions, so, it’s time for someone new.

I’m sad.

My old therapist has been there with me through a lot. She knows me better than I know myself in a lot of cases. She really has helped me get to where I am now.

But I’m really hopeful about this new therapist.

I worked with her in the partial program I was in.

Another benefit is weekly group therapy.

Group group is what we called it in PHP, and that name has stuck. Having weekly group group will be an incredible addition to weekly individual therapy, especially since we’re starting with a group of people I already know from my time in partial.

I’m excited to begin this new therapeutic journey.  It’s time to learn and grow with someone new.

But that means I have to let the old therapist know I’m leaving, and my stomach drops just thinking about it.  I’ve even considered just cancelling my appointment and never showing up again, but that doesn’t seem fair to her, and it seems like a missed opportunity to work on something that’s hard for me.

Why can’t all things be easy.

One case of blah, please.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’ve sat here staring at the blank screen for the last 3 minutes. I feel like I need to write, but the words don’t want to come out.

I stand in the kitchen staring at the dishes in the sink, pots soaking full of water on the stove, and general clutter all over the counters. I feel like I need to clean, but my body just doesn’t want to move.

I stare at the shower.

I nap instead.

I hate this time of year.  Cold and dreary and even on the warmer days I can’t find the will to leave the house. I’m trying to get out every day. I push myself some days and I make it.  I push myself other days, and I fail.

Walking through mud. Swimming through fog. Climbing uphill.

And the scary thing is, spring is notoriously my worst time of year, so it’s not like I even have that to look forward to. It is often worse, more suicidal, more extreme. Somehow it still remains my favorite time of year though, so there’s that.

This is just a case of the blahs.

I live in my pajamas. Putting them back on as soon as I walk through the door. I know that it’s supremely unhelpful to live in pajamas all of the time. But my clothes feel too suffocating. They make me want to crawl out of my skin.

This isn’t that bad, really. It could definitely be worse, really. But it’s still uncomfortable. It’s still sub par. It’s still worse than I’d like.

I just keep pushing. Making myself start projects that I have no interest in. Keeping myself from staring at Facebook for hours upon hours.

And the strange thing is, I have moments where I feel like I’m getting hypomanic. Doing all the things, feeling like I have enough energy to run a marathon, talking to all of the people online.

And I still don’t want to leave the house.

I miss true hypomania. I miss the euphoria. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that way. Which is probably a good thing.

But I feel like experiencing some “up” would help offset this blahs.

I seem to only swing in a downward direction now.

I guess that’s a good thing. It’s better than swinging wildly all of the time.

I’d like to return these items though. This case of the blahs can go back to sender.

 

Grief gets easier.

This is a Really Real Widow post.

One benefit to writing these and posting them on Facebook is that as the memories come up I can see how far I’ve come.  I can remember the past and see where I am compared to then.  I can see what lessons I didn’t learn in the moment.

I remember, when Parker first died, people told me it would get easier.  I couldn’t believe them. They told me I’d stop noticing the anniversaries and that eventually I’d even forget what day she died.

I couldn’t believe them.

I wasn’t ready.

It felt too raw.

It’s three and a half years later.  I no longer notice each 8th of the month, even though I haven’t forgotten what day she died.  I just had to count back to see how long it’s been, I’m no longer counting the months as they go by.

My birthday was a huge grief trigger, even last year.  I am getting older and she is not. I’m older then her and that wasn’t supposed to happen.

This year, I remembered Parker on my birthday (I remember her almost every day). I noted that I was, yet again, adding another year over her.  I had those pangs of grief.

But they were just there.  I was just the grief that’s woven into the fabric of me.

The pain didn’t define the day.

I didn’t spend part of the day in bed crying.

It is fully integrated into this new normal.

I just couldn’t believe it when people told me this early on.  I didn’t believe it would get easier.  She was so big in her life, and I expected that it would stay that way in her death.

But, most of the time, I’m comfortably widowed.  It is a part of who I am but it no longer defines my existence.

I have a friend who was very recently widowed. I would never begin to tell her what path her grief will take. Every journey is different. I will sit with her in her agony, as it is now.

I still remember those early days.

Through Facebook memories I still read about those early days.

I see my pain coming through my words.

The despair. The hope. The need to maintain connection. The realization that life as I knew it would be entirely different without her.

It does get easier.

I just read something that said grief doesn’t get smaller, we get bigger.

The Parker shaped hole in my heart is much easier to live around.  The edges have smoothed and I don’t trip over them so often. My heart is much larger, giving me room to avoid that hole.

Birthdays can be about me.

Birthdays can be about life.

Birthdays can be about the present.

About the moment I am living in.

The life I am living.

Grief gets easier.

But I will always miss her.

I’m not a girl.

This is a Really Real Gender Post.

I’ve been sitting on this one for awhile. Trying to decide if I wanted to really put myself out there with this.

But it’s my birthday, and I want to start my next year of life being authentically me. I can’t preach radical vulnerability, when I am refusing to be vulnerable because it’s uncomfortable.

This is a long one, I’ve read it about a dozen times trying to shorten it, and it’s just not happening.

I’m non-binary, and my gender is somewhere in the middle, in flux, strange (as in different), queer.

I prefer the term genderqueer.

I’ve let go of the notion that I have to be female, because society tells me I’m a female due to the body parts I was born with.  And the more I accept this, the more comfortable I’ve become. I feel like me, I feel like I’m free to be me.

I’m not fighting to overcome something that feels inherently false.

I’m able to just be, and let things settle where they will.

And it’s scary as fuck.

This has been hard for me to understand, so I know it’s probably hard for some of you.

How can I love dresses and skirts and bright flashy things, and not be a girl?  How can I have a vagina and these incredible boobs, and not be a girl?

Because those things don’t pertain to gender.  Gender is separate from all of that.

“Some genderqueer people continue to identify partially with one gender, others do not. What they share is a deep, persistent unease with being associated only with the binary gender assigned to them from infancy—apart from that, their expressions, experiences, and preferences vary greatly from individual to individual.” (Taken from an article on Slate)

So what does this mean?  What changes?

I spent a lot of time thinking about this. Now that I’ve realized my feelings all along were because I’m genderqueer what do I need to change to feel more at home in my skin?

Mostly it’s an internal thing.  I feel more at ease knowing I don’t have to be something I’m not. I can just be me.

I have decided to switch to they/them pronouns, however, she/her is still acceptable. She/her mainly bothers me because people are just assuming I’m a girl, because I look “like a girl.” It feels uncomfortable to have society at large assuming I’m female just because of the way my body looks.

My brain doesn’t feel the way my body presents itself.

I’ve realized that you can’t look at ANYONE and assume their gender . . .I mean, you can, because anyone can assume, but the fact is, just because I look female and wear a female body, doesn’t mean my brain is female.

It’s taken me a long time to realize that and accept it.

I don’t expect everyone to understand. I expect there are more than a few people that will refuse to use they/them pronouns, probably quite a few people who think I’m full of shit, and there’s even some people I’m blocking from this post because I’m just not ready to go there with them.

I’m not going to hide this from the general public, and have an internal fight with myself, constantly, just to avoid making some people uncomfortable.

I’m still Tina, I’m still quirky and open and lovable.

I’m not a girl.

And I don’t think I’ve ever been, I just wasn’t ready to be this open.  Not with myself and definitely not with anyone else.

I hope everyone will listen to this part of my story with the same respect and understanding as you’ve all listened to the rest of my story.

And if you can’t, kindly show yourself out.

Part of Self Care

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

It’s really easy to get wrapped up in crafting.  I get to sit in one place and let my creative mind flow, distracting me from whatever else is bothering me.

Distracting me from depression,

from housework,

from showering.

Distracting me from life outside of the safe space by the computer.

I just saw a post from this time last year, and I was in the same head space.  I am able to peek out for small bits of time and clean the house, or go spend some time with some friends, or do self care in other ways.

And because of that, it is hard to recognize how pervasive the depression has been.  I mean, I’m still functioning, so it can’t be THAT bad.

Except I dread leaving the house.  Not as bad as it was, but it’s certainly there.

I have to bribe myself into the shower, a part of depression that no one wants to speak out loud because it just seems incomprehensible to those without depression. It seems gross.

Even brushing my teeth takes focus and effort and willpower.

But I don’t FEEL that bad. I’m still smiling and laughing and finding things to be happy about.

My writing is almost non-existent.  I just can’t find anything to write about. I can’t find a reason to stop my other forms of creativity and put fingers to keys.

Except this is part of self care too. My writing is a big way that I process. A big way that I pull the blinders off and actually focus on what is happening.

My writing is my place to get really real with, not only everyone else, but also myself.

I’m still not sure how to break this cycle. Leaving the house is hard, going to the gym is harder, socializing feels like a chore.

I went for a walk the other night, and when Mickey was going to meet up with me to walk, we ended up driving to Starbucks instead.

It was just easier than the physical effort of being cold and miserable outside.

I remember a time when I couldn’t walk very far. I remember what it felt like when I started walking further and further distances. I remember what it felt like to have goals and aspirations around fitness.

I have no idea how to get that back.

I have no idea what to set as a goal.

I don’t even know if I care, to be honest.

But I am beating myself up about it. While still making excuses not to go.

I guess I care enough to give myself shit for not doing what I know will help.

This shit is hard, friends. Even when mental illness isn’t trying to kill me,

it’s keeping me from living.