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.







Just because

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I just felt like writing today.

I don’t have any real reason, anything pressing on my mind,

but I felt the need to put fingers to keys.

Earbuds in my ears, gentle piano music piping through.

My writing music.

I woke up before 4 pm today.

I’m already on my second cup of coffee.

I talked to my pdoc, and we discussed options.

Different anti-depressants that may be activating.

We’re restarting my Ritalin, something that the trauma unit discontinued.

And that’s when I started having problems with sleeping too much.

We’re also raising my antidepressant.

Hopefully this fixes it.

It will be a week or two before I know, she doesn’t use electronic prescriptions and will have to mail me a paper script.

She’s the best psychiatrist I’ve ever had, but at her age even a fax machine seems advanced.

She works for herself, no staff, just a tiny little messy office in an apartment building.

Of course, now she’s working from home. All of our appointments done via phone call.

I’m not even sure that she owns a computer.

I’ve wondered what will happen if she dies. Who will inform me?

Will I just suddenly not get the call at our scheduled time, and eventually I’ll find a new prescriber?

Weird thoughts that run through my head.

I’m starting on the preparations for the Florida trip.

Laundry is gathered, list is started, plans to clean out the fridge more completely for trash night tonight.

Tomorrow we will dig out the car and run some errands.

It’s still snowing.

Yesterday it was tiny little flakes, today it’s big and fluffy.

It’s supposed to rain and get icy.

Ew.

Snow days used to be the only days I took a break.

Running around for appointments and interesting things.

Plans with friends, the gym, long walks.

Snow days are just another day now.

I’m such a homebody.

Finding the balance between safety and using it as an excuse is just hard.

I haven’t found that point yet.

This trip is taking me way outside of my covid comfort zone.

But it’s with good reason.

And it will break the monotony that has become my life.

A monotony that so many people feel right now.

Ew.

Today my pdoc called me a lady.

I got that gross feeling that I get when I’m misgendered.

I don’t think I’ve ever told her though.

And by the time I realized I should say something, the moment had passed and we were on to other topics.

It’s hard to know when to say something, and when to just let it pass.

We’re heading south.

I know I’ll get “ma’am”ed and “miss”ed on a regular basis.

I’ll get that gross feeling but just let it go.

It’s easier that way.

I don’t get the weird looks and the lack of understanding.

Weight for it

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Weight, weight loss.

I’m fighting an internal battle.

I’ve gained back every bit of the weight I lost since Parker died.

Actually, I’ve gained that plus 5 lbs.

It’s heart breaking.

But I’m stuck.

I’m stuck where I don’t have the drive to get up and walk.

I have every excuse.

And I can’t get back into the gym because it doesn’t feel safe.

I’m really trying to love my body as I am.

But my body hurts so much more at this weight.

It’s hard to go up the stairs to my apartment.

It’s hard to move in bed.

I get out of breath walking the shortest distances.

I feel gross.

It’s hard to love my body when it won’t do the things I want to do.

When I lost the weight after Parker died, it was almost effortless.

I enjoyed the journey.

I was also on a migraine medication that helped, a medication that stopped helping as my body got acclimated to it.

And there were cognitive side effects that were more than annoying.

I’ve been through this before.

The drastic weight loss.

Followed by inevitably gaining it back.

It doesn’t feel good to move right now.

It doesn’t feel good to walk.

It doesn’t feel good to move my body in any way that would help.

Because it hurts.

I’m embarrassed because I get out of breath so easily.

I feel like I’m eating better.

I feel like I’m making better choices.

I feel like I’m not eating quite so many sweets.

And yet the scale keeps rising.

I’ve had multiple people tell me lately that I’m glowing.

That my smile is amazing.

That I seem to be doing so well.

But I’m not taking pictures of myself.

Even though I feel that pictures are so, so important.

I see the extra roundness in my face.

I see the pictures from last year and the years before that and I’m so heartbroken.

I see the pictures from before Parker died.

The pictures that I looked at and said “I never want to look like that again.”

And I look like that again.

Maybe with a brighter glow this time.

Maybe with a bigger smile.

Life isn’t like it was back then.

But yet, the weight still came back.

I’m just not there yet.

I’m not ready to

do

anything about it.

But I need to.

I was afraid of starting before the holidays.

Afraid that it would be too much to keep up with and I’d fail.

I’m afraid of starting around new years.

New years resolutions never work and I don’t want this to be that.

I’m afraid of failing.

I’m afraid of beating myself up more.

Again.

I’m afraid.

I keep waiting until I feel like I can do it.

But what if that time never comes.

Why can’t I just push past this block?

Why can’t I just

do it?

What am I waiting for?

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 19

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Two steps forward.

One step back.

I cancelled almost everything today.

I showed up late to PHP, and was thankful when we ended both groups early.

I cancelled meeting up with a friend.

I cancelled my doctors appointment.

I barely made it out to the store to pick up a medication I had run out of.

Part of it is that I’m flaring right now.

Every joint hurts.

A burning pain that makes me want to cry.

But I don’t.

Honestly, I look just like I look any other day.

I just,

deal with it.

Silently.

But inside I’m screaming.

And, it was also depression.

I could feel it gripping at me, holding me back.

Holding me down in bed this morning.

Holding me back from leaving the house.

Some days it’s releasing its grip enough to let me function almost normally.

Whatever that is.

But today it held firm.

I pushed through some this afternoon.

Staring at my design software I stopped scrolling Facebook long enough to work on some cards.

I kept having to push every step of the way.

I would make a few edits and find myself mindlessly scrolling again.

I would cut a few pages and catch myself mindlessly reading post after post.

Eventually I’d get them put together.

I managed to make 12 cards today.

I was wading through the thickest mud though.

Even writing this,

I’m forcing myself to stay on track.

I keep getting distracted by everything.

Zoning off into the distance.

Two steps forward.

One step back.

I’ll move forward again tomorrow.

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 13

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I almost forgot to write today.

I spent the morning in PHP, followed by leaving the house for some errands, and then jumping right into crafting.

It feels good to be productive.

I had a phone appointment with my pdoc today, she said I’m still not my normal chatty stuff.

Partially it’s because life is boring right now.

I don’t leave the house often as it is, but now I’m even more worried about going out.

Numbers are spiking.

And there are still people who don’t believe in this virus, I have a hard time associating with them.

They are putting the lives of themselves and others at risk, and they don’t care.

I’m going to be alone for Thanksgiving, and I’m okay with that.

I’m not going to go searching out a friendsgiving, maybe I’ll meet up with some people via zoom, but I’m okay being in my own little bubble where I’m not taking a chance on making the numbers higher.

There are two people in my PHP who lost loved ones to Covid. Two people out of the 9 or 10 of us there.

One woman became a widow, another lost a child, younger than me.

Because of a “fake virus” that people aren’t taking seriously.

It breaks my heart. It scares me.

It scares me.

I’m more depressed being at home all of the time.

I miss derby.

I miss gatherings.

I miss going out without fear.

But that doesn’t mean I’m going to go out more.

I guess this post wasn’t all that much about mental health, but at the same time, this is affecting all of our mental health.

This is a slow sort of trauma for all of us.

Or at least those of us who are taking it seriously.

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.
.
.
.
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.

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.

Fair

This is a Really Real Trauma post.

It’s not fucking fair.

Prior to 2016 we were constantly looking for “baby sitters” for me because I couldn’t handle being alone if Parker went out of town for more than a day.

Hell, even when she worked for part of a day I’d have a hard time being alone.

Even when she was asleep in our bed in our house I’d have a hard time being awake without her. Unless I was interacting with someone online or on the phone.

I woke her up so many times just because I couldn’t handle being alone long enough for her to nap.

I fought and I fought HARD to get over that after she died. I fought with everything I had, sitting through discomfort and anxiety and fear.

I started to look forward to my mornings when I’d wake up and the house was quiet. My time to feed the animals and wash the dishes and play my own music without worrying about who it might bother.

When Wonder Woman and I started living together, I would be gone all day doing my appointments, and she would be gone all evening working.

I loved this setup, because as much as I missed her, I enjoyed the time in solitude.

And then covid happened, and I had to adjust my expectations. There was no time in the house alone but I still enjoyed my mornings when she was sleeping and enjoyed the evenings when she was holed away in her makeshift office.

I took a nap this afternoon, I knew it was safe because I could hear the TV playing in the living room, I knew she was right there. It was still early in the day which is easier for me.

Then, as I woke up, she was ready to lay down and nap before her night time appointments.

I pouted and then cuddled up against her. I wasn’t tired anymore but it had hit that time of night where the world suddenly seems scarier.

That time of night when the shot rang out.

That time of night where the light in the sky starts changing.

That time of the night leading to darkness.

She said she would get up with me, but that’s not fair to her. She needs her rest because I’m so much . . . more . . . right now. She needs a break too.

And eventually my sister texted me, a beautiful thing that needed to read. I told her I was stuck in bed, because I couldn’t bear to be alone in the house.

She asked why, and as I was typing the tears started flowing.

If I’m alone and a shot rings out there will be no one there to comfort me. If I’m alone and I’m blindsided again, I won’t have anyone to hold me. If I’m alone and the world is suddenly scary, there won’t be anyone right there to hug me.

I fought really hard to stand on my own two feet.

And now those feet are shaky. Those feet are afraid. My knees wobble and want to buckle.

Even when I play music I hear the silence underneath. I’m afraid to wear both headphones because I might miss something. Something might sneak up on me.

Something may catch me off guard.

It’s not fair that I did all of this work and with one gunshot he left me behind to work through it again. He got to leave his pain and he brought mine back with a frenzy.

And no, I’m not back at square one, I have a head start over last time.

I know that there’s work to be done but I’m bitter.

And I’m sad.

I don’t want to be a trauma queen again. I want to go to sleep and wake up as I was.

I want to have enough emotional energy to do the work I need to do on my self AND to work a job that I worked so hard to be healthy enough to do.

I know I’ve got this. I know I will make it through this. I know I’ll be back where I was.

But damnit. I worked

So

Fucking

Hard.

It feels like he took all of my hard work with him, with that one gunshot.

I’m sitting alone writing this, literally glancing over my shoulder every few lines. I can’t play music because I might miss something. I need to pee but the effort it will take to walk down that hall feels unbearbable. Something might catch me off guard from one of the rooms.

Another gun shot might ring out.

I worked so hard to not be afraid anymore.

So.

Fucking.

Hard.

It’s not fair.

It’s really not fair.