So Much Anxiety

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m full of anxiety, mostly about work.

The kind of anxiety that makes me feel like I can’t breathe.

The kind of anxiety I remember from when I was a little kid.

That

“I fucked up”

anxiety.

Except I don’t think I’ve actually fucked anything up. Either way, I’m doing the best I can given the circumstances.

But I can’t shake this overwhelming feeling that

I

Fucked

Up.

It’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Except I’m waiting for someone to told me I singlehandedly destroyed it all.

But I’m not that powerful.

I can’t save it, and I can’t destroy it.

I can just keep doing what I’m doing. Pushing papers, writing posts, trying to learn things that I’ve never done before. Trying to keep doing the next right thing.

It’s not my place to save the world.

I’m not that powerful.

But this overwhelming anxiety is locking me in place. I can’t catch my breath, even when I slow down my breathing. Even when I focus on just sitting with the feelings and letting them pass through. Even when I try to remain rooted in this moment. Even when.

My chest is heavy. The ativan isn’t working.

This is SO HARD.

I still can’t believe I took a mental health day today, but I can’t imagine being able to focus on work in this state.

All I can hope is that I can get it back under wraps by tonight, because I have to go back to working sometime, and I don’t feel like this anxiety is going to end anytime soon.

I feel like it’s a part of this new normal we’re living in.

Writing that brought tears to my eyes.

This overwhelming feeling of panic could be here to stay while the world figures out how to exist like this. This discomfort could be a part of me for the foreseeable future.

That is hard shit. But if I can’t run from it, I have to learn how to exist with it. How to make it less debilitating.

I need it to stop raining so I can go for a walk.

I need to stop drinking so much caffeine, that isn’t helping for sure.

I guess it’s time to take another ativan while I figure out how to weave this discomfort into my life. How to exist around it and through it.

If it isn’t going away for awhile, I guess it’s time to make friendly with the weight on my shoulders, the pressure in my chest, the never ending thoughts in my brain.

Maybe it’s time that we coexist.

Hi, old friend, lets chat.

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?

How Far I’ve Really Come

This starts as a Really Real Mental Health Post.

And ends as a Really Real Widow Post.

I can’t really believe how far I’ve come.

Each day that I work, I can’t believe I’m really doing this. I can’t believe I actually earned this money. I can’t believe how much earning this money really means. I can’t explain how good it feels.

Each problem I solve, each new task I conquer, and each fear I overcome, I’m amazed that this is who I am now. That this is what I am accomplishing.

I remember when I realized I couldn’t work anymore.  I remember the shit storm that lead up to that moment. I remember the heartbreak that came along with applying for disability.

I remember.

At the worst of this, I couldn’t leave my house. I couldn’t be left alone.

I remember.

And the truth is, I will probably end up back in the hospital some day. I will probably do another round or three of the partial hospital program. I will have countless more hours of therapy.

But I’ve come so so far.

So far.

I can see myself going further. I can see myself working full time. I can see myself becoming more comfortable in my own skin. I can see myself getting better at ignoring the constant anxiety running through my head.

It’s a big deal that I can see a future with further recovery.

It’s a big deal that I’m seeing a future without disability.

Without being disabled.

And there’s another side to this.

I remember watching Parker push through her own struggles to go to work and support the three of us while she was barely making it emotionally and physically.

I remember.

I love my life and I know everything that has happened has brought me to where I am now.

But still, I wonder.

If I could have worked before. If I could have shared some of the load. If I could have helped more. If I could have taken some of the weight off of her shoulders.

Would she still be alive?

If we had the money to pay the bills. If we had the money to keep the lights on. If we had the money to avoid the eviction notices. If we had the money to keep food in the fridge.

Would she still be alive?

I’ve come so far, and I’m doing so well. And I know her death is a big part of what pushed me towards my recovery. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am if things hadn’t happened exactly as they have.

Every success, every bit of growth, with every push towards recovery, is served with a small side dish of sadness.

But I can’t really believe how far I’ve come.

And I can’t wait to see how far I go.

In My Dreams

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

I don’t dream about her that often anymore. To be honest, I never did have all that many dreams about her.

This one was about missing her. This one was about how long it’s been since I’ve talked to her. This one was about how impossible it is to get to her.

The details don’t really matter all that much, I guess. But I remember the moment in the dream where I realized “It’s been too long since I’ve sent her a message. It’s been too long since I’ve called her.”

It’s been too long.

I was afraid she’d be hurt by my distance. I was afraid she’d move on. I was afraid she’d forget me.

I’m afraid I’ll forget her.

I remember, in my dream, wanting to send her something in a video game we played.

In a video game where I left her a hidden message the night she died. A message that’s still there waiting for her to find it.

In a video game that played a part in her Eulogy.

I remember wanting to send her something.

Something that should have been instant. But instead the game said it would take days.

It would take days because it was hard to get to where she was.

It was hard to reach her.

I woke up and my chest hurt. I truly physically hurt. It was dark in the room and I could just barely make out Wonder Woman sleeping peacefully beside me. I wanted so badly to wake her, to ask her to hold me, to ask her to comfort me.

It’s still a very strange feeling to want my fiancee to comfort me over the memory of my dead wife.

I didn’t wake her then.

I laid there and contemplated getting up and starting my day. I was still thinking about it when I woke up a few hours later.

It was really hard to get moving this morning.

I told Wonder Woman about my dream. She held me for a moment before settling back in for more sleep.

It’s hours and hours later and I still feel that ache in my chest. The ache that was such a big part of the early days of widowhood. The ache that isn’t as constant and is never as intense. The ache that still catches me off guard sometimes.

It’s been too long since I’ve sent her a message.

It’s been too long since I’ve called her.

It’s been too long.

I miss her.

Wheeeeeee

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

TW: Suicidal thoughts, self harm, pretty intense stuff.

The other shoe dropped.

Last night I took too many anti-anxiety meds and benadryl and sleep meds. Not because I wanted to die, and not enough to kill me, but because I wanted to sleep through the part where I wanted to die.

I wanted to drift away into nothingness, for just a few hours, hoping the feelings would be gone when I woke up.

I tried to put my fist through a wall. Not because I was angry, but because the feelings inside me were too much to hold onto and I needed a way to let them out.  Fist into wall felt less harmful than knife into skin.

I had to fight that urge while hoping the meds would kick in quickly.

While wondering if I cared if they killed me.

While knowing they wouldn’t and being fine with that too.

The speed and intensity with which this overcame me was overwhelming. I didn’t want to fight it, but I knew I had to.

The easiest way to fight was to sleep.

I wanted to be held, I wanted to be comforted. I wanted to be told it would all be okay. I wanted to know I was safe. But this wasn’t a night for that. This was a night for self soothing, handling my own emotions, alone.

Alone.

Feeling forgotten.

Hopeless.

Alone.

This morning the sun seemed too bright and too harsh. I slept straight through for the first time in months. I didn’t want to open my eyes. I didn’t want to face the fact that the thoughts were still there.

And then it hit me.

I have to work.

I didn’t have the will to put one foot in front of the other and I have to sit at my desk and input numbers and make phone calls and churn out statements and create order from chaos.

I’m consumed by my own chaos.

My thoughts are swirling through mud. I can’t absorb half of what people are saying to me. I’m taking notes, not fast enough, my brain can’t keep up.

But I’m doing it. One foot in front of the other. Pushing key after key, turning invoices into statements. Crunching the numbers. Sending out emails.

My brain doesn’t want me to live for another second. My brain hears the familiar gunshots in the back of my head. My brain wants me to lay down and give up.

It wonders what’s the point in all of this.

But today my brain didn’t win. I did.

I may not have been at 100%, I may have done less than my normal.

But I showed up.

Today I won.

I can do this.

First Paycheck!

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I got my first paycheck.

My first paycheck since I went on disability.

This is a really big deal.

A really big deal.

I feel like a contributing member of society again, even though others (my therapist, Wonder Woman) point out that I was a contributing member of society even when I wasn’t working. Just in different ways.

It didn’t feel like it.

I’ve written before about that question everyone asks when you first meet them,

“What do you do?”

I have an answer for that now. I have a thing that I do. It gives me an identity other than disabled. Even “student” didn’t make me feel that great because after 20 years and countless dropped classes, countless failed classes, countless incomplete classes, countless changes of my major, I’m still working on my two year degree.

But now I’m doing the thing.

I’m finally a real person.

Which implies I wasn’t a real person before. And that was how I felt. I wasn’t really an adult. I wasn’t a kid anymore either.  Which left me in some void.

Not really anything.

Not real.

And I spent the day in therapy yesterday trying to break apart where that message came from, and how it came to be so much a part of my identity. It isn’t the first time I’ve asked those questions, but new therapist, new perspective, revisiting old topics.

But now I have a new identity. I have a thing that I do.

I’m a contributing member of society.

I get a paycheck.

And I’m afraid of fucking it up.

Working isn’t easy for me, there’s a reason I’ve spent the last bunch of years on disability. I want, so very much, to work each day. But finding the focus to start is hard, getting past myself and my anxiety is hard, getting out of bed in the morning when depression wants to hold me there, is hard.

I’m doing the thing, but I’m afraid of letting everyone down. I’m afraid of proving everyone right or proving everyone wrong, depending on their faith in me.

And I’m trying not to let that fear cause its own problems. I’m trying to let myself be afraid and keep pushing forward. I’m trying to prove to myself that I can do this, and also that it’s okay if I find out that I can’t, that trying is the most important part of all of this.

Trying is more than I would have done a year ago.

Six months ago.

And now look at me.

I got my first paycheck.

But it is

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

I’ve been watching the clock all day.

“It isn’t really bothering me this year.”

Watching as the hours tick closer to my wedding anniversary with my late wife.

“I barely even remembered.”

My stomach is in knots.

“Grief really is getting easier, these dates aren’t a big deal at all.”

I keep glancing at the clock.

“I’m doing so much better than I did last year.”

I feel like “better” is supposed to be the goal.

I spend so much time telling people that you never get over something like this, but I still expect myself to get over it.

And it does consume less of my time. It consumes less of my thoughts. I have gotten better. I have moved forward.

But sometimes, like on the eve of my wedding anniversary, it’s still hard.

And I’m not even quite sure what’s hard about it. I’m happy. I’m not missing her any more than the normal amount (which is always a lot). I’m “living my best life.” I’m oh so happily engaged. In the grand scheme of things, this is just another day.

Just another day that she’s not here.

Just like yesterday.

Just like tomorrow.

I don’t know why these kind of days hit me so hard, at a gut level, even when I don’t feel sad about them.  It just grabs me, from somewhere deep inside.

It’s that reminder, that no matter what other titles I take on, I will always carry the title of widow.