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.







Sleep

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I feel so so much better.

Except I don’t.

I’m sleeping too much.

Way too much.

And I’m having a hard time getting myself into the shower.

But my dishes are done.

Meals are planned around food we already had in the freezer.

I’m cooking more often.

My kitchen still isn’t clean.

Clean pots and pans are stacked on a stove that is covered in crumbs and spills.

But the dishes are done regularly, and that’s a big deal.

The spices sit all unorganized on the counter instead of in the cabinet (where they no longer fit anyway).

The bottles are spilling over onto the stove.

The kitchen is kind of a disaster, honestly.

But I’m finding more joy in my activities.

I’m leaving the house regularly.

I’m brushing my teeth.

Things that I shouldn’t feel like I deserve an award for, but I do.

Because they are hard.

Hard, hard.

I feel like PHP is at the end of its usefulness.

But I also don’t feel,

healed.

But I’m not sure I’m going to continue healing in PHP.

I’m not sure I need that to keep moving forward anymore.

I’ve come a long way since the day the silence was broken by a gunshot.

I’ve healed so much.

And now it just feels like the

normal depression is still holding me back.

But I’m not sure what to fill my time with if I’m not doing PHP.

My boss isn’t ready to bring me back to work, he has his own stuff going on that needs to be straightened out before he can rehire me.

I don’t want to look for another job because I need the flexibility that came from working for family.

I need the level of understanding that came with that job.

The ability to take a day off here, and work extra hours there.

Or just take a day off without making the hours up.

I need the boss that checked in to make sure I was still doing okay.

That there wasn’t too much piling up

(even though there normally was).

I miss working, and I’m ready to go back.

But what do I do if I’m not working, and I’m not doing PHP.

I did that for years, and I can’t remember what it was like.

I feel like it’s existing without purpose.

It’s a big deal that I’m not ready to go back to nothingness.

It’s a big deal that I need something to occupy my time.

For years I was happy existing with no structure.

No ebb and flow to my days.

Nothing but doctors appointments that seemed to never end.

But now I’m afraid to leave the program behind without having something to take its place.

I have grown so much over the years.

And that day the silence was broken by a gunshot knocked me down a few steps.

But I feel like I’m finally climbing up to the top.

Old Houses

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’ve been dreaming about my dad a lot.

The dreams always take place at his old house, the one I helped him build, the one I spent every other weekend at for most of my childhood years.

We made a lot of memories in that home.

I was sad when he sold it.

I remember climbing on the roof putting shingles on.

I remember him throwing a priced pencil set across the room because I didn’t put it away.

I remember playing in the giant hole where the foundation was dug out.

I remember being called Butch when I got my hair cut short for the first time.

I remember laying bricks, learning how to put just the right amount of mortar on.

I remember realizing Dad was racist, when he was talking about his brick layer.

I remember playing on “Mt. Tina,” the giant pile of dirt where they dug the basement out.

That’s the house I envision when I envision my father.

I only visited him a handful of times at the Florida house.

So that’s not where he is in my dreams.

I dream about him every few nights.

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

A weird dichotomy where I know he’s dead, but I know he’s alive.

The dreams don’t really upset me, most of the time.

But, he tried to kill me in one of them and I screamed out,

scaring Wonder Woman who was sleeping beside me.

I’m pretty upset that I dream about him so often.

In the three months since he’s died, he’s shown up in my dreams more times than Parker ever has.

And she’s been dead for four and a half years.

This wasn’t what I planned to write about today.

I planned to write about pulling out an old hobby.

A friend gifted me a small diamond painting and it reminded me of how many hours I spent doing them a few years ago.

I didn’t realize I missed it until I started doing it again.

Relaxing in a meditative sort of way.

An activity that I get completely immersed in,

focusing on matching each symbol in turn as I work my way around the canvas.

It’s a silly activity.

One that will leave me with giant canvases full of plastic “diamonds.”

Art that I will never do anything with.

But it occupies my mind and my hands.

It gives me something to do on these long winter nights while Covid keeps me trapped inside.

I texted my cousin this week.

Told him I was ready to come back to work a few hours a week.

When he has something for me to do.

It feels like an achievement.

Like I’m healing.

Like I’m getting my life back.

It’s about time.

Day 21

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Mention of suicide, mention of gunshot, mention of gore.

I skipped a day again.

But missing 2 days this month isn’t really all that bad, and I don’t really have something to write about every day right now.

I slept till almost noon today.

Didn’t even do my wakeup at 7am to roll over and go back to sleep.

I just slept.

I feel bad for sleeping so much. I’m in bed by midnight at the latest, and sleeping at least 12 hours almost every night.

Partly it’s the sleeping meds.

Partly it’s depression.

Partly it’s still healing from trauma.

It feels like it’s taking so long.

I’m shaming myself for all the things I can’t do, and it’s hard to focus on what I am doing.

For all the things I can’t do, yet.

I keep trying to remind myself that it’s okay that I’m not back to where I was.

I’ll get there.

Apparently, it’s just going to take more time than I like.

My therapist said yesterday that this may not be as much depression, as it is shutting down from the trauma.

Still blocking emotions out.

I feel so flat.

Even things I normally enjoy are just,

flat.

I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning because there’s nothing to look forward to.

It’s nice not being suicidal, but I miss,

living.

I was living my best life, and now I’m just struggling to get out of bed each day.

And I’m trying to be gentle with myself, while also pushing enough that I keep progressing.

But honestly, it’s hard.

It’s hard not to feel like I’m failing.

It’s hard not to feel like I’m letting people down.

It’s hard not to feel like I’m letting myself down.

Healing is exhausting.

And I’m still angry.

Fuck him for taking my stability.

Truly, fuck him.

It’s quiet in the house right now.

I keep forgetting to turn on music but yet, the silence allows the intrusive memories to come.

Fuck him for making every memory of that week turn into a gunshot.

Into a gory image of him in a wheelchair with blood dripping from his face.

Into an image of blood caked on the front of the wheelchair.

Into an image of my sister scrubbing the remnants out of the carpet.

Fuck him.

I’m having bbq, bacon wrapped, shrimp for Thanksgiving.

Wonder Woman hates seafood, hates the smell of it, so I only really cook it when she’s out of town.

My dad used to have seafood for holiday dinners.

It was nice because I’d have a traditional holiday meal at my mom’s house,

and then I’d go to my dad’s and have a seafood feast.

He always made the bbq bacon wrapped shrimp.

I miss it.

It’s been years and years since we’ve had a meal like that.

Years and years since he said “Dad is great, dad is good, lets thank dad for this meal.”

Years and years since he screamed at me for not cleaning fast enough before my sister got there.

Years and years.

I don’t miss him.

I don’t miss the forced phone calls that I tried to make each week because he was an old lonely man who had no other contact with the outside world.

I don’t miss the overwhelming anxiety when I would go for a visit.

I don’t miss the sound of him screaming because I didn’t do things the way that he wanted.

I don’t miss him.

Fuck him.

Fuck him for setting me back so far.

Day 17

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Today has been productive.

It feels good.

I had PHP this morning.

I over slept.

I almost didn’t go at all.

But I did.

Afterwards I had coffee with a high school friend. Someone I probably haven’t seen since we graduated.

Or maybe in my Denny’s days right after high school.

Conversation flowed easily, and my ever present anxiety was quiet for a change.

We sat outside.

The cold wind threatening to blow our drinks over.

But it was nice to be around someone as worried about safety as I am.

We talked a lot about Covid.

About how our lives have changed.

And how it will never go back to the normal that was.

There will forever be a new normal.

It felt nice to socialize.

When I got home I was worn out.

The smallest things do that now.

But the coffee kept me going.

I spent this evening filling envelopes with already created cards.

I’ve made 64 so far.

I need to make another 33.

I’m having so much fun with them, so much love is going into these pieces of paper.

And I’m surrounded by so much love.

I remember being in school, horribly bullied, with no idea what was wrong with me.

Or what I was doing wrong.

Now, I’m surrounded by a support system bigger than most people have.

All of you that read my posts.

Some silently.

Some reacting.

Some commenting.

The people inviting me out for coffee and walks.

The people keeping me company over zoom or at bonfires.

It’s nice to be so loved.

It’s nice to be able to feel that love.

Instead of being surrounded by a fog that won’t let it in.

I’m feeling better every day.

I’m sure rough times will come again, but I’m also sure I can handle them.

For now, though, I’m going to enjoy the clear blue skies.

Day 16

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I skipped a day.

Nothing was really happening and I couldn’t figure out a topic to write about, so I kept waiting for inspiration.

And thought about it one last time as I was dozing off.

It gets boring for me to write “day in the life” posts day after day with no real content.

No real direction.

Especially when each day, looks like the day before, and the day before, and the day before.

Quarantine life is so damn boring.

I’ve taken two naps today, short naps, but still, laying down and dozing off.

I’m just not feeling 100%.

Partially its still depression, partially it’s that boredom of every day feeling like the last.

Today was a good day though.

I had PHP this morning, and group therapy was really productive.

I love when I end a group feeling like I have more insight than I did when it started.

After PHP I went for a walk with a derby friend. Someone who I haven’t seen since last season.

There hasn’t really been a season this year.

We walked slowly, stopping often for her dog to sniff around, and just talked.

We stayed distant from each other on the path, giving each other air hugs from 6 feet away before we left.

This new normal is odd, but finding safe ways to socialize is important.

I have coffee with another friend tomorrow, and then we’re repeating today’s walk on Thursday.

Sunday, Wonder Woman and I are having a friend over for another bonfire.

Quite a socially busy week for me, and it feels so good.

It feels good to have interest in this again.

It feels good to push myself not to cancel, because depression and anxiety want to get in the way.

But I’m not letting them.

I’m worth the fight.

I’m working on making socially distant plans with friends for next week.

I’ll be alone for a few days, and while I’m looking forward to the “me time,” I also don’t want to open myself up for the thoughts to creep back in.

Quiet is good, but getting myself stuck in the house isn’t.

I also have plans to turn up the music and get some serious cleaning done around here.

From months of staying at home, to long stretches of depression, my house is worse than it’s ever been.

I plan to get it back under control while she’s gone.

Organize my space to organize my mind.

I feel so much better though. I feel like the meds are working, I feel more like,

me.

Day 14

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’ve been working on cards all day.

Slept in and then jumped right in finishing cards I started yesterday.

I got tired of being in the house so I left for a drive alone out to a Starbucks (duh) that was further away than my normal one.

I just wanted to be out of the house.

That’s an improvement.

Now to get myself back to walking.

But it’s getting better.

Slowly.

Too slowly.

But I need to be patient.

I don’t really have much to write about today. But I’m 14 days in and I’d hate to miss a day now.

My machine is cutting a material that has to be cut at a low speed.

Normally it’s loud and almost jarring, but right now it’s a musical rhythm. Calming, soothing.

Makes me want to go to sleep. But it’s too late for a nap, too early for bed.

I’ve been tired all day.

But also restless.

And somewhat creative, but I’m getting bored of that.

Not really sure what to work on next that will interest me.

I’m still blah.

But it’s getting better.

Slowly.

Too slowly.

But I need to be patient.

I’ve been having more flashbacks about my dad.

Memories of the week he was home.

Getting frustrated with him for making my job harder.

For being so fucking stubborn.

Fucking asshole.

And every memory ends with the gunshot.

I keep packing them away in my virtual box.

Taping it closed and putting it on the shelf.

It helps for a little while, but inevitably it comes back.

Another memory from that week.

Another gunshot.

It will get better.

Slowly.

Too slowly.

But I need to be patient.

Healing takes time.

Day 11

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I forgot about my therapy appointment tonight.

She messaged me when I was 15 minutes late, but I didn’t see it until I was almost 30 minutes late.

She saw me anyway.

In the 6ish years I’ve been seeing this therapist, I think this is the first time I’ve forgotten and been late.

I’m thankful that she checked on me so that I didn’t miss it completely.

There wasn’t a lot to talk about. Life has been pretty uneventful.

I’m flip flopping back and forth between depressed, and functional. Things are getting better.

Slowly.

I’m crafting.

Slowly.

My sink is empty, but tonight we ordered out because I didn’t have the energy left over to cook.

My machine is cutting an intricate project that will take me hours to weed (removing the negative space).

I’m looking forward to the meditative process.

I’m enjoying writing every day, but I don’t have anything major to write about.

Just random ramblings about my day.

Random thoughts.

Random.

I’m tired today, but I’m avoiding a nap.

I want to sleep tonight.

I slept well last night, waking up this morning fully rested for a change.

But I still slept too much. I had told myself if I woke up early, I could get Starbucks before PHP.

I didn’t get Starbucks.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

Day 9

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Today is one of those days that I’m not really sure what to talk about. But also, it’s the 9th day in a row of me writing and I feel like I might actually make it to one post a day all month.

I woke up early this morning, to start PHP (partial hospitalization program). Well, early for me, I’ve been sleeping till noon (or later) and today I was up and ready to go before 10.

PHP was exhausting, it’s so mentally draining even though it’s only a few hours long. I wanted a nap afterwards but had drank too much coffee to sleep.

That’s probably a good thing, I need to stop napping so much during the day.

I’ve been working on a really neat holiday card. I’m enjoying this particular design. I spent the afternoon getting the pieces cut out, and assembling the first one.

Three more to go.

Group group (group therapy) was at 530, and even though I felt too emotionally drained to attend, I did.

I feel like the fog is lifting, at least a little. I was able to do dishes today without fighting myself over it. I’m not dreading the idea of cooking dinner.

But I’m still tired.

Drained.

It’s been a long day with too much coffee.

Too much talking.

Too much vulnerability.

I’ll spend the evening putting together the rest of the cards, and maybe starting another one.

It’s nice to get a little bit of feeling like myself.

Here’s hoping it lasts.