Day 6

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I did my dishes.

This morning when I went to cook brunch, I piled dirty dishes upon dirty dishes on the stove.

I hate cooking in a dirty kitchen.

But I cooked. And after I ate (kind of, most of it got thrown away because it did not turn out well) I put loud music on my headphones and I did the dishes.

I should have wiped down the counters and the stove, and I didn’t, and that’s okay.

I did the dishes.

A LOT of dishes.

Now I’m going to sit and play a video game until my tele-pdoc apointment at 2. And then I’m going to game some more until my therapy appointment at 430.

I’m tired.

I’m sleeping for around 12 hours at night (sometimes more) and still taking a nap in the evening.

Depression is exhausting.

When I woke up at 630 this morning I really tried to get up. Tried to find something that was worth getting out of bed for. Tried to drum up enough interest in my current video game, or maybe cooking a good breakfast, or maybe making some more cards.

Or even just coffee.

And instead I woke up again at noon.

But I got up, and I cooked, and I did the dishes.

Small baby steps to keep myself moving forward.

Yesterday I showered. A way overdue shower that I had been beating myself up for.

But I showered.

Today, I might even do my hair before I get on video chat with my therapist.

Maybe.

It’s finding that fine line between pushing enough to keep myself going, and pushing too much and shaming myself further into depression.

Such a fine line to walk.

And today,

I did my dishes.

Day 5

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’m not suicidal.

I’m ridiculously depressed.

But I’m not suicidal.

Normally they come together. And I’ve had the passing thoughts, but they are quiet and go away quickly.

My new tools help them pass along.

But I’m depressed.

I’ve been telling myself I have to take a shower for a few days now.

Really, just take a shower.

But the fog is getting deeper.

I walked yesterday. Sent her a message in the middle of the day saying “I’m dressed and I think I can make myself get out of the house if we go right now.”

So we walked.

This morning I woke up early after a weird dream about getting my father on antidepressants.

I went out for a bit and had breakfast with a friend.

I came home and went right back to bed. Hours later I still didn’t want to get up, but I couldn’t sleep anymore.

Now I’m just staring at facebook. Seeing the same posts over and over again because I’ve been looking for so long.

This will take time to lift. Changing medications is hard and they made so many changes while I was in there.

I’m hungry, and I can’t tell if I’m hungry because I’m actually hungry, or if I’m hungry because I’m depressed.

I still have hope that this will get better. It will. I’m not filled with dread over the thought of this continuing. It’s just a passing phase and it will get better.

I start PHP on monday and that’ll help.

I have therapy tomorrow and that’ll help.

But this isn’t a quick fix. Antidepressants take weeks to kick in.

I’m on so many pills right now. Between medical meds and mental health meds and vitamins.

So many pills.

But, they keep me alive.

And I’m glad to be alive.

Day 4

This is a Really Real Widow post.

I don’t feel like it’s a big deal this year.

I mean, her being gone is always a big deal. She left a hole in a lot of people’s hearts.

But this year her birthday isn’t ripping that hole bigger. Maybe it’s just because so much else is going on.

But today I went and bought cheesecake.

Tonight I’ll get on video chat with our son and talk about her life.

That’s a tradition I hope to continue each year. A few moments remembering the wonderful person she was.

So many memories are slipping away.

The sound of her voice rarely comes to me anymore.

I no longer remember her smell.

I have one shirt of hers left that I wear regularly, but it doesn’t hold the emotion that it once did.

I did intentionally take it with me to the trauma unit though. So I guess there’s so emotion left in it.

She spent her last birthday in the hospital, the psych unit, because of a change in medications that left her reacting violently to me.

She even raised her fist, which was the moment she decided to check in. She was there for almost 2 weeks.

I had balloons and decorations on the walls when she came home. A belated birthday celebration.

A belated celebration of her.

She was dead before her next birthday came around.

I can’t remember how old she would be now. I’m sure I could reach back in my memories to remember what year she was born and do the math, but that doesn’t seem important anymore.

Her mother still sends me the occasional Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe. It’s my favorite cake. She would bake it for my birthday every year.

We talk for a few moments about life and how we are doing.

A superficial conversation that still leaves much unsaid.

I’m sure today is hard for her. I can’t imagine what it’s like to celebrate the birthday of your child that is no longer with you.

I hope I never experience that loss.

I just sent her mother a message. Letting her know that she was in my thoughts. Another small connection between two people who were left with holes in our hearts when she died.

She is missed. She is loved.

I wish she had lived to see the better side of life. The life where the lights don’t get shut off and we aren’t in fear of an eviction notice.

The life where there’s enough food in our cabinets.

The life where there’s even an occasional vacation.

I still wonder if we ever would have seen this life together.

Or if we would have always struggled.

Today isn’t as hard as it used to be, but it’s still hard.

I still miss her.

Day 1

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Talk of weight loss.

I still haven’t decided if I’m going to do this every day this month or not.

But just in case I keep going, I figured I should write something today.

I’m not really sure what to write about though.

Today was a nice laid back day. Lunch at a new (to me) place, Starbucks, and a nice long nap that I apparently needed.

Such a good nap.

Now I’m about to go walking with my gym buddy and hopefully get back into this routine.

I’d like to make it back into the gym eventually.

But it doesn’t feel safe to me right now, so walking it is.
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Writing was interrupted by walking. The shortest walks leave me so winded now. I remember doing miles without thinking twice and now going the long way around the block leaves me panting and wheezing.

I’ll get back to where I was, it’s just going to take time.

And dedication.

And perseverance.

I’m afraid I’m going to repeat my old pattern again, and I’m trying to stop it. The last time I lost a significant amount of weight, I gained back almost twice what I lost.

I don’t honestly care about the numbers on the scale.

I care about being fit enough to walk up and down my stairs without needing my inhaler.

I care about the other numbers.

I care about becoming diabetic again.

I care about my blood pressure.

And I know I can be fat and active and keep those numbers under control.

But I have to start somewhere, and right now I’m starting back at the beginning.

Walks the long way around the block. Both for my body and for my mind.

Eventually I’ll be able to go the even longer way around the block. The way with the steep hill.

The way that’s intimidating for me now.

I’m tired of getting out of breath this easily.

I’m tired of letting myself fall back into old habits.

I’m tired of eating because I’m upset.

And then getting upset because I’m eating.

I’m just tired of this same old battle, that will probably never stop.

It’s just like my mental health. I’ll be battling that till the day I die.

A constant fight hoping to stay stable and keep myself alive.

A constant fight to keep myself active and fit.

It’s tiring.

I’m tired.

Home Sweet Home

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

It’s been far too long since I’ve put fingers to keys for one of my regular posts. I’ve been home for ~36 hours and it feels like days and days and days. So many things that I missed that are right at my fingertips again.

Typing was one of those things.

I wrote every day while I was inpatient, multiple times a day. Working out of 2 composition books. One for my regular journaling, and one for daily goals and assignments.

So many assignments.

I think I should continue the practice of setting daily goals. These weren’t meant to be “laundry list” items, or things that we were expected to do as part of our treatment, but it was more for goals of what to work on for healing. Practicing certain skills, or doing internal checks on safety, feelings and grounding.

Considering that I only ended up being there for 2 weeks, I got so much out of it. I can’t decide if I’m glad it was this short, or if I wished it would have been longer.

I am glad to be home though.

I spent most of today crafting. Cutting out so many pieces of cardstock for the holiday cards I’m making this year. I don’t have enough time to do individualized cards for each person, so I’m batch making 4 or so of each style. I have 8 pages of addresses, with more to come.

So many cards.

And I’m so thankful that I have all of these people in my life. So many people that I can spread joy to, through crafting.

And it keeps my hands and my mind busy.

Staying busy, distracted but grounded, is a big part of my healing. Letting myself think enough to process whatever is going on, but not so much that I ruminate and get into trouble.

At this point it’s been weeks without suicidal thoughts and while I don’t fool myself into thinking that they are gone forever, it’s a nice break, and I have more tools to handle them when they come up.

I didn’t really have a goal in mind when I started writing today, I just miss the routine of putting words on the screen.

I miss this sort of processing.

Don’t get me wrong, there are benefits to journaling with pen and paper, but it hurts my hands so much that I can’t fully focus on what I’m trying to get out. My entries end up being short and choppy, with horrible handwriting that is difficult to read.

Tomorrow starts NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where people try to write X number of words in the month of November. Basically finishing an entire book in one month. It’s quite the commitment and not something I’m interested in doing, but in the past I’ve spent the month of November writing one post a day, as my own modified challenge.

I’m trying to decide if I want to do that again this year.

Writing just for the sake of writing can go both ways. Sometimes I end up with incredible posts that let me do some deep introspection that I didn’t even know I needed. Other times I’m just putting words on the screen with no real direction, no real topic, no real beginning or end.

Kind of like this one.

We Missed Out

This is a Really Real . . . well, a lot of things, post.

TW: Suicidal Thoughts Mentioned. Death Mentioned.

I’m sitting at an antique kitchen table, the light overhead the only one illuminating the expansive and open area.

Wonder Woman is asleep in a recliner in the connected living room. The Mountain Goats are playing quietly on the portable speaker that she was thoughtful enough to bring with us.

I almost fell asleep on the couch, cuddled up under my favorite blanket that I brought from home. Unfortunately I can’t fall asleep without my CPAP. But time slipped away as I laid there with my eyes closed.

Now the music has ended and I hear Wonder Woman snoring ever so quietly. The tap tap tap of Siah’s nails against the old linoleum floor. I wish she would relax and lay down some place, the constant noise of her nails makes me anxious.

I’ve wanted to write all day, but couldn’t quite figure out what to write about. I didn’t want to interrupt our quiet time together anyway.

My brain has been quiet for over 24 hours. The dreams and nightmares I had last night just quietly passed by, without the anxious reaction that they normally cause.

I didn’t realize how loud my brain has been since I went to my dad’s house, nearly a month ago. First there was worry about caring for him, and then there was the trauma of his death.

I mentioned to Wonder Woman earlier that I felt more connected to her than I have in awhile. Not because anything was wrong with us, or because we’ve done anything differently, but because trauma takes up so much emotional space that it’s hard to find room to truly connect.

I would notice how loud it was and how much space it was taking up when it was distressing. The times when my Facebook posts were quick and terse and scary. The times when I wasn’t sure I’d make it through this. At those times the noise is apparent.

But during the times when it’s just there, when I feel like it’s quieted down and is just gently simmering in the background, I didn’t realize how much space it was still taking up.

I suspect that some day I’ll look back on this vacation and see that it’s still taking up a lot of space.

But right now it seems quiet. It’s quiet enough that I can lay still and awake on the sofa with my eyes closed. I don’t feel the need to fill every moment with, something, until I pass out full of medications at night.

But there’s still a quiet thought in the background. Something completely unrelated to my current trauma, but a reminder that past traumas are always with me.

I walked into a game and toy store that sells wooden toys and puzzles and games. It’s a store that we came to last time we were here and I was so glad to see that they were still open, they had just moved one street over. I was talking to the owner, a woman who talks about so many different things because she’s just happy to have company for a few minutes. I told her, “My son is nearly 21 now, but this is exactly the kind of place I would have brought him to when he was a kid.”

Back when Parker was alive.

I wish we could have come to a town like this. I wish we could have experienced the long drive through the mountains to get here. I wish we could have seen the sun set over the rolling hills in the distance. I wish we could have seen how different the colors are, just from the difference in elevation.

I wish.

And I feel guilty for thinking about Parker, and thinking about old times, and thinking about how things were . . . while I’m on this amazing vacation.

But those times make me appreciate what I have now.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re still pretty poor, and it takes family help for us to experience these sorts of things, especially when it’s been a month since I last worked.

But this is a different sort of poor. This is the kind of poor where I can afford to buy something I forgot when I was packing for the trip. The kind of poor where we can stop for something to eat on the road instead of packing a cooler.

I’m sad that Parker died without experiencing this kind of poor with me.

I’m sad that Kidlet grew up without experiencing this kind of poor with me.

My bottle squeaks as I open it and Wonder Woman jumps awake to make sure I’m okay. I feel bad that I woke her up from that peaceful evening nap.

But she’s already fast asleep again.

It’s so quiet here. The music has stopped playing, the dog is finally resting on the carpet, and I can hear the bugs outside. I hear the wind gently blowing through the long grass in the field just beyond the little cottage we’re staying in.

This is a kind of peaceful that I don’t get to experience often.

And my brain is quiet.

I wonder if Wonder Woman jerked awake because she was afraid that she’d left me alone too long.

But the suicidal thoughts are quiet.

We talk of future trips and visits overseas and she says “But you have to stay alive that long.”

We’ve eaten at a restaurant within a local resort and Wonder Woman mentioned that she could see us vacationing in a place like that when we’re old and want everything close by.

“But you have to stay alive that long.”

I feel guilty that she even has to say that. I feel guilty because I know those thoughts tear us both apart. They aren’t just scary for me, they are scary for everyone around me.

But they are quiet right now.

I shiver slightly as the cool night air blows through one of the still open windows. I don’t want to get up and close it because I don’t want to disturb her again.

We’re both experiencing a sort of peace here that we rarely get.

I know there’s always the possibility that the peace will be broken before we leave. I don’t get to decide when trauma will speak up and remind me that it still exists.

But right now I’m going to sit here and enjoy the sound of the bugs, and the feel of the cool breeze coming in the window. And I’m going to listen to Wonder Woman peacefully sleeping.

And I’ll deal with everything else, when it gets here.

Awoken with a bang

This is a Really Real Trauma post.

TW: Mention of Gun Shots. Mention of Completed Suicide. Mention of Suicidal Thoughts.

It really sucks when my brain awakens me from a deep sleep with a bang.

For a moment after waking I’m dazed, confused, scared. I know I just heard the gunshot, but I’m safe in my bed, we have no guns here. It was just a memory.

I’m too awake to sleep now, but I’m too afraid to leave my bed.

I cuddle in against Wonder Woman, holding her tightly, hoping the contact between us makes the sound go away.

She stirs to ask me if I’m okay and offers to turn some lights on in the house, to make it a bit easier to get out of bed.

I appreciate it, but also hate that my trauma woke her up as well.

We’re leaving for vacation today, a vacation I’m having a hard time being excited about. I feel like this is just going to follow me, and I don’t want it to ruin an area that was so peaceful for me last year.

I turn on music and start working on the dishes. I hear a sound, like a tiny pop, and I search for the origin.

The cat is playing in a bag, and crinkled it just enough to spook me.

I watch her play for awhile, frustrated that so many sounds remind me of that one fatal shot.

Last night we went out for modified Parking Lot Beers with some derby people. It’s tradition to stomp on the cans and rate them, seeing who can get the perfect smash.

I ask them to warn me before crushing cans. I hold my hands over my ears.

They stop crushing cans, waiting until I make a run to the bathroom to continue with their game.

Damn it, my trauma got in the way of someone else’s fun.

I spent most of yesterday in bed. Ready to give up this god awful fight.

I’m tired.

So so tired.

This is a marathon again, riding the waves and trying to keep up. Trying to heal from yet another blow.

Afraid that I’ll just get hit again.

Mad because there’s no rhyme or reason. I didn’t do anything to deserve this.

I almost wish I had done something wrong, because then there would be an answer to “Why me? Why again?”

Today feels better so far. Even though it started with a bang. I feel productive, I’m out of bed, I have coffee in hand.

Coffee=Life

When all else fails, give me a coffee and I can fight a little longer.

I forgot the sweetener in my coffee this morning, again. I’ve done it so many times that I almost like the bitter taste.

I remember when I had a bit of coffee with my sugar. Over time I’ve grown to like the taste of pure coffee though.

Over time I’ve gotten used to previous traumas and I’ll get used to this one as well.

Over time.

It’ll just take some time.

Creepy Dreams

This is a Really Real Trauma post.

TW: Mention of Completed Suicide. Mention of Suicidal Thoughts. Mention of a Gory Dream.

After a pretty good day or so, last night and this morning were rough.

Yesterday my therapist had to cancel on me. I totally understood why, her dog is sick and ended up in the pet ER. While I wasn’t mad at her, I was mad at the situation. The anger, which is becoming familiar, boiled up inside me. It’s likely that she won’t be able to see me until I get back from vacation, and it had already been almost 2 weeks since she had seen me.

This was just crappy timing.

I laid in bed for awhile, suicidal thoughts running in and out of my brain.

I felt ridiculous. There was no reason for this sort of reaction to such a minor thing. I have group therapy as part of the partial hospitalization program, almost daily. It doesn’t bother me that I’ll be missing THAT during vacation, why did it bother me so much to go an extra week without my individual therapy.

But anger is just part of my response to almost everything right now. And judging myself for the anger was part of what brought along the suicidal thoughts.

After calming down some I went for a walk with my friend. It was a short walk, after taking a few days off due to my stomach issues, I had no stamina again. But it helped.

Being active always helps.

I cooked Pho for dinner. We used boxed broth and pre-sliced meat which made it a super easy meal, but right now it’s one of my favorites.

I went to bed early, I was so tired and couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.

Even with the nightmare medication, the nightmare started almost immediately. It wasn’t about my dad this time. However, it was weird and twisting and reminded me of an episode of Dexter, a show that I never really watched but heard in the background for months as Parker worked her way through the seasons.

I woke up, and when I fell back to sleep I was in the middle of the same series of events.

People being killed and different ways to hide their bodies. Graphic visions of dismembering bodies and removing fingerprints. It was so gory and every time it felt like it would end, someone else would end up dead.

I woke myself up a few times, falling back into the same dream as soon as I closed my eyes.

I woke up at 2 am with a blinding headache. I got up and took some meds, staying awake until Wonder Woman was ready to go to bed, I couldn’t handle being alone with that nightmare anymore.

I think I got a couple of hours of decent sleep before the nightmare started again. I would toss and turn and fall back asleep right into the same dream, over and over and over again.

At least it wasn’t about my dad.

This morning when I woke up to use the restroom I was panicked. Alone felt horrifying, the bathroom was filled with the sound of gunshots.

I went back to bed, at least Wonder Woman was there and I wouldn’t be alone.

Every time I dozed I was back in the same nightmare, but laying awake was panicky and filled with anxiety. I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed to come to the living room. I felt again like I’d be blindsided from every angle.

It was rough.

Finally I woke Wonder Woman up and asked if she would get up with me, I couldn’t handle being alone anymore.

I felt so guilty for disturbing her sleep but the alternative was seemingly impossible.

We cuddled for awhile before getting up and leaving the house. Lunch at a new-to-me restaurant, outside on their patio. Stopping into a few stores looking for a longer leash for the dog on our vacation.

Of course we went for coffee.

Now we are back home. Going into the bedroom to get changed back into my around the house clothes was anxiety provoking. And the bathroom seems to be the perfect place for flashbacks.

I still have a headache, the same one from last night. It is just below the surface, peeking up occasionally to remind me that it’s there.

But it felt good to be out of the house for a bit. Writing has helped me get more of the anxiety out. Hopefully I can catch a nap today without the same dream coming back to haunt my sleep.

Some days are good, other days are hard, and I’m just here riding the waves.

Even the bad days aren’t quite as bad as they were.

And at this point I’m 2 sleeps from vacation. I’m looking forward to mountain views and animals that roam the property where we’ll be staying. I’m looking forward to walking back to the waterfall we saw last time we stayed in that area.

I’m looking forward to getting away.

Hopefully I can leave all of this behind for a few days as well.

Lost Stability

This is a Really Real Trauma Post.

And a Really Real Mental Health Post, because the two go together.

TW: Mention of Suicidal Thoughts. Mention of Completed Suicide.

These have been long lately, thanks for those who are reading along.

First for the good news.

I’m wearing headphones and not freaking out, for the first time since that shot rang out.

I also turned off the hallway light tonight after we got home, without waiting for something to jump out from behind the shadows.

Slowly, I’m healing.

I’m taking note of the little things because maybe they’ll help me stop focusing on all of the bigger things.

Today I talked to my psychiatrist, she started off talking about raising my antidepressant, which we had been talking about a month or two ago.

I told her that was no longer the concern. The minor depression I had still been feeling when I was stable before wasn’t anywhere near as important as the current desire to end my life.

Or the sleep deprivation and nightmares.

And I realized, that’s part of what’s pissing me off so fucking much. Not only did this traumatize me, bringing with it, the previous traumas in my life.

Not only did this make me wobble in a really big way.

It did it when I was in a place of pretty solid stability. Yes, I was still slightly depressed. Yes, I was having problems focusing on work or other projects. Yes, it wasn’t perfect, but I was stable.

My feet were planted on solid ground and we were just making minor adjustments.

Today after PHP I laid in bed, unable to nap, but unwilling to be up. When Wonder Woman started mentioning going for a walk I got so angry with her. A rage that made me want to scream and yell at her. A rage that made me snap at her via text because I couldn’t trust myself to talk to her in person.

I haven’t felt that sort of rage in a long long time. I hate that side of me. I hate that it even exists.

I remember when I was finally fighting through the trauma of Parker’s death I sat on the kitchen floor and kicked the side of a shelving unit in. Using all of my force to release the rage brewing inside of me. So deep and solid with nowhere else to go but out. I started by drawing lines on my skin and by the end I was digging the pen in with all of my force. I remember that day, and I remember it being the day I measured my successes against. At least I wasn’t that bad anymore.

Today when I was talking to my psychiatrist, I told her I needed to be back on Abilify. The same medication I fought so hard to get off of because it makes me eat the house.

But I’m back to needing to be fat and alive rather than skinny and dead.

And it fucking sucks. I was so proud of myself for being able to brush away any suicidal thoughts that I had, even without the help of that medication. I was so proud of myself for being able to ignore them, or distract myself from them.

And now they are back with a vengeance. That rage turned inward taking away my will to exist.

I just want to go to sleep and never wake up, unless waking up means this never happened.

I see myself with a gun to my head, I hear the gun shots that no longer sound like bangs in the back of my head but now sound like the pops that they truly are.

The sound of gunshots in the back of my head were always the first sign of a suicidal downswing. Hearing how those sounds have changed, and seeing that it truly would be a viable way out, if I had a gun. Now I not only relate a way out to pills, but also to guns. They are ways that I know will work, I’ve seen it first hand.

And I was stable.

I was stable.

Now the thoughts have a tight hold around my neck, squeezing tighter and tighter. The bed is my safe space. Holding the blanket tight around me means I can’t act on the urges.

The other day Wonder Woman, in reaction to a suicidal post, told me she knew that if I looked hard enough I could find what I needed around here. No matter how careful we are to keep things locked up, if I tried hard enough, anything in this house could be a tool for my death.

So when the thoughts are bad, I put myself in bed. As long as I don’t step foot out from under those covers I can’t do any harm.

And while I’m there the shots can ring out in the back of my head, and the urges can come all they want, but I can’t act on them.

But that same survival mechanism allows for the thoughts to twist and turn and get stronger and stronger and louder and louder.

Being in bed is both the best and the worst place for me.

I’ve started walking late at night with my old gym buddy. We are doing super short walks for now, but plan to build up our strength and stamina again. Maybe one day soon I’ll be back in the gym where you can’t tell the sweat from the tears. Maybe I’ll be back to working it out that way.

But for now we just walk our little circle around the neighborhood, sometimes talking, sometimes silently, becoming accountability buddies for each other.

Just like before.

Just like the last time I healed from finding someone dead.

This sucks, but sometimes I can see myself getting back to stability. Sometimes I can remember that I did this once, and I will do it again.

Sometimes.

The rest of the time I just have to fight to hold on. Live from one Starbucks trip to the next.

Just make it one more day.

One more hour.

One more minute.

One more second.

And to think, just a few short weeks ago, I was stable.

He took that from me with the same shot that took his life from him.

Suicide doesn’t end the pain, it just gives it to those who are left behind.

I guess there’s a reason for this rage that keep building up inside of me.

This isn’t fair.

But I’m okay.

Or at least, I will be okay.

Hospice

This is a Really Real Aging Parents post.

Dad slept mostly through the night, only waking me up once at 430.

Late last night he was accepted by home hospice, something I never realized I would be happy about.

A nurse will be here daily for the next few days, and then weekly after that. They are providing some equipment, taking over many of his medications and providing them, and will helpful in supporting us as his caretakers.