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.

Exhausted

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’ve been working for a week now.

It’s only part time.

It’s mostly work from home.

It doesn’t feel like it should be a big deal.

But I haven’t worked in around 8 years. The volunteering I did was a day or two a week, nowhere near this many hours.

The actual job isn’t all that hard. But it’s exhausting to juggle so many different things when I’m not used to it. It’s exhausting to be so anxious for so many hours in a row, worried that I’m messing something up. It’s exhausting to talk to clients when I have no idea what I’m talking about.

It’s exhausting.

And then when I’m not working I have to do all of the things I normally do. The things that I had a hard time doing before I started working, because of depression and transportation and a million other reasons that made it hard to do all of the things.

But now there are even less hours to do those things.

And I feel like, everyone else does this.

It’s only part time.

It’s mostly work from home.

It doesn’t feel like it should be a big deal.

I worked 4 hours today, and then I finally took the time to get my hair done, after months and months, and then since it was in the next parking lot over, I went grocery shopping (when you walk, you combine trips when possible).

The grocery store was crowded. Beyond crowded. I’ve never seen so many people in that little store.

I started melting down in the middle of the aisle because it became too much. And then I put my headphones in and kept going (gold star for me).

Lyft home, carry the bags up to the second floor, put everything away, make sure dinner is still going in the crockpot. Figure out what we’re having with it.

The kitchen is a disaster, dishes piled up from the last two days.

All of my everythings hurt. I have no idea why I’m flaring so badly, and it’s annoying.

And the dishes need to be done so that we have room for tonight’s dishes.

Shit, I need to do some laundry.

It’s only part time.

It’s mostly work from home.

It doesn’t feel like it should be a big deal.

Maybe I’m not giving myself enough credit.

Even when

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I know this is like, the third time I’ve written in 2 days, but writers block is finally gone so I need to get it all out.  Is this euthymia, or is this the beginning of hypomania . . that is the question.

Anyway.

Even when I’m doing poorly, I’m better than I was before.

I rode the bus today.

I didn’t really give it a second thought.  My therapist had an earlier cancellation, so I looked up the most direct route, and got on the bus.

I didn’t worry about how crowded it would be, even though it was close to rush hour.

I just rode the bus.

That wasn’t something I could do alone a few years ago. Something I had trouble doing even with other people.

And I’ve posted about this before, how amazing it is that I’ve come so far. But tonight I realized, even when I was at my most suicidal, in fact, the same night I ended up in the hospital, I rode the bus.

Even when I’m doing poorly, I’m better than I was before.

I’ve come so so far, and I’m still growing.

Six months ago when I flew to see my dad, I took so many anxiety meds to get through the 2 flights each way.  Probably too many. I still nearly shook on the plane and had a really hard time with my anxiety over flying while fat.

A few years before that, I wouldn’t have been able to make the trip alone at all.

And this past weekend, I realized on the last few minutes of the last flight, that I had gotten through the entire day without a single PRN anxiety medication.  I was more anxious about the actual act of flying than I was about people looking at me because of my size.  And even that anxiety wasn’t all that major.

I just, did the things.

“Be afraid, but do it anyway.”  That’s what I keep doing.

I start a part time job tomorrow.

I haven’t worked since 2011.

I seriously haven’t worked since 2011.

I had to go back and look at my SSA information to see if I was remembering that correctly.

I’ve volunteered on and off for the past 2 years but this will be my first, regular, paid employment in 9 years.

I’m afraid.

What if I fail. What if I can’t do this. What if it all falls apart.

What if I fall apart.

“Be afraid, but do it anyway.”

What if it goes well? What if it’s all okay?

 

Painsomnia

This is a Really Real Health Post.

Last night hurt.

It really hurt.

I’m not sure what was different, what I ate, what has changed, but my HS is flaring and I’m also dealing with serious skin, muscle, and joint pain.

That means my inflammation is sky high right now.

And last night I hurt.

I couldn’t sleep.

I had to be up early this morning for a day full of appointments and mobility rides.

I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned. I got up. I laid back down.

I disturbed Wonder Woman’s sleep without meaning to.

I fell asleep at 430 am, the alarm went off at 6.

I canceled my 8am, $2 mobility ride and instead called a $20 Lyft a few hours later.  I needed that extra sleep or I would have fallen apart today.  This is the kind of stuff that causes a mental health relapse.

I couldn’t afford that $20 ride.

I couldn’t afford to fall apart.

And I still hurt.

And I’m sitting in a Starbucks waiting for my next ride.  Nothing but time to kill.  Nothing to get involved in.  Sitting and scrolling Facebook endlessly because I’m not sure what else to do to occupy my time.  Two more hours to go.

And I hurt.

Pain like this is so so hard for me. I used to hurt like this all of the time, and while I’m glad I don’t anymore, I’m out of practice with the coping skills of the more intense pain.

That’s not to say I’m not in pain normally, I am, but my normal is a 2 or a 3.  It’s chill.  It’s just there, a constant hum in the background of my life. I work around it.

Today is twice that. It’s enough that it makes every step reverberate through my body. I feel every inch of my skin. My muscles are cramped and sore. My bones ache. My joints feel like they can’t support me.

This is a hot shower kinda day. Even though the water hitting my skin would feel like knives, the warmth would help me relax.

This is an all day curled up in bed kinda day. Even though my back would cramp, the comfort of my cloud wrapped around me would help me breathe through this.

This is a sleeping med kind of day. Even though I’d feel groggy and drugged when I woke up, sleeping through this would be welcome relief.

But in reality, today is a busy, appointment kind of day. I won’t be home until late. I’m spending the day sitting in hard chairs that make me ache even more.

And I’m still tired because of last night’s painsomnia, there weren’t enough hours left to take sleeping meds.

Today is an ouchy kind of day.

But this too shall pass.

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.

This year, this decade.

This is a Really Real “Life in Review” Post.

It’s the end of a year.

I figured, just like so many people do, I’d reflect on the past year of my life.  Think about my accomplishments and what I’d like to take with me into next year.

This year I started giving myself permission to take up space.  Physically, verbally, emotionally. I realized that I was allowed the space that I need. Some of the time I was able to hold the mindset that everyone who thinks otherwise can fuck off. I want to get better at that mindset next year and stop trying to shrink myself to suit others.

This year I survived one of my more intense series of suicidal thoughts. I got myself help. I saw that I have a huge community of people who support me, both virtually and locally. I want to be better connected with that community.

I learned that even though I feel like I’m outside of a group, it doesn’t mean I actually am.

I found joy in sending snail mail. Making well over 100 cards in the past 3 months has been so wonderful, and even better was knowing that it put a smile on someone’s face. I want to keep going, and maybe start selling my work.

I think one of the biggest things I learned this year is that it’s okay for things to be stable. It’s not the calm before the storm, it’s just the calm, and life can really be this way without worrying about what comes next. I want to carry comfort with stability going forward.

I learned to live in the moment. That fully accepting what is happening is the first step to finding solutions. Fighting against a problem only takes energy away from solving it. I learned that not being okay, is perfectly okay. That as long as you don’t make a problem worse, you’re doing the right things – you can always build from there.  I learned that it’s okay to ask for what I need, that it doesn’t always mean fighting.

It’s the end of a year.  One of the better years of my life.

It’s the end of a decade.

It’s hard to wrap up the past decade because there’s a giant split down the middle.  The before and the after.

In the before, there was a lot of love, and a lot of trauma, and a lot of resilience, and a lot of struggle.

In the after there’s a lot of growth, a lot of falling (metaphorically and physically), a lot of healing, and a lot of pain.

It’s the end of a decade. The hardest in my life.

I wrote a big long thing trying to list out the good and the bad of the last decade, but honestly, that’s not all that helpful.  The past decade (and the ones before that) got me to where I am now, and now is what matters.

Now is where I want to spend my time.

Wayback machine.

This is a Really Real Trauma Post.

Lots of things have been taking me back lately.

A friend who recently lost her husband. Someone else who is facing homelessness and looking at their options. Spotify giving me a list of music from the last 10 years. Even raising a kitten takes me back to a time in my life before.

My life is split into before and after in so many ways.  Not only did Parker die on that day in 2016, but the person I was died at the same time. It seems like my life has done a radical 180 since she died.  No more traumas, no major crisis (except the internal, mental health kind), no more catastrophes.

It seems unfair that she missed this. But I’m not sure this would have happened if she hadn’t died. And it’s not like I can change any of it anyway.

But things have been taking me back.

I’ve been reliving the emotions, with some distance put between me and the pain. I can view yesterdays tragedies with today’s knowledge. At times I feel like I’m stuck in my history again, except I know I’ll make it out alive.

I smell smoke and feel like I’m running out of a house on fire.

A sleeping pet or person doesn’t react to a sound and I feel like I’m going to face death again.

I pay a bill late and remember the stress of shut off notices month after month, struggling to stay one step ahead of a dark house.

Earlier this month I went to a Christmas Party thrown by Healthcare for the Homeless. It was held in the same building as the homeless shelter. Lots of the residents attended. It was the same shelter I spent months in, however they’re in a new building now (which made it a bit easier).

I remember being there. I remember being that person.

So many things that are reminding me of where I’ve been.

What I’ve survived.

What I’ve overcome.

But feeling that fear again, deep into my bones, is one of the harder things about trauma. I never get to fully escape it I never get to lock it up and put it away.

It’s as much a part of me as widowhood is.