So Sleepy

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Mention of gun violence and gore. Mention of suicide.

Apparently my posts are just going to keep being long for awhile. Thanks for hanging in there. And thanks for all of the kind words and support.

Sleeping at night is hard. Even with the new nightmare medication they started me on, I’m still awake constantly, tossing and turning and barely dozing off before tossing and turning again.

At least with the medications I’m not dreaming and ruminating of shots going off and bloody faces.

When the sun starts to come up I settle into sleep, which is broken when my alarm goes off to get ready for PHP.

I yawn with heavy eyes all through the first group, trying to catch a quick nap during the thirty minute break, before yawning through the second group.

I drink coffee, made at home. And some days I run out for a treat at Starbucks, to celebrate another day that I have survived.

I still yawn.

And the afternoon I often nap. Planned one hour naps that turn into two or three hours. It’s so much easier to sleep when the sun is up to keep me safe.

Of course, I know this is just perpetuating the problem. Sleeping during the day makes it harder to sleep at night, which makes it easier to sleep during the day.

I’m so so sleepy. Even writing this I’m yawning with eyes watering, wanting to climb in back in bed again.

And it’s not just the fact that I’m not sleeping at night.

Living with fresh trauma is exhausting. Working through trauma is exhausting.

With the addition of the Abilify to my medication I’m much less reactive, which is nice, but I’m still exhausted.

And still irritable. The smallest thing making me grumpy and agitated.

But that irritation is no longer filled with rage.

I talk in group therapy and others who follow me often say “What I’m going through doesn’t compare at all to your situation but . . . “

And that bothers me.

This isn’t a competition, anyone who is struggling is struggling for their own reasons, their fight isn’t less important or less strenuous than mine.

We talk about the underlying emotions that connect all of us. Fear, Sadness, Anger, Guilt, Shame.

Those emotions are the ties that connect each of our stories.

Sometimes, when we’re telling the story of our situation, the therapist will have us focus on the emotion that’s underneath of it. While someone may not be able to relate to their father shooting himself while they were in the next room, they may be able to relate to the guilt I feel for leaving him alone. Or the sadness I feel because I’ve experienced yet another trauma.

Often they relate to the shame of feeling like I’m too much, like my emotions and my tragedies take up too much room.

That’s a common theme in my therapy. Being too much. The group therapist in PHP is the same on that runs my once a week group, and is also a therapist I saw individually for a short time.

She can pick up immediately when the theme of my emotions is that shame of being too much.

She doesn’t try to fix it, neither does anyone else in the group, but just pointing out that the thread underneath it all is that feeling. That core belief.

It’s enough to show me that it’s still there, still something for me to work on.

Today, I was told by someone that they hope I can put this behind me and get on with my life.

I wish it was that simple.

I spent a lot of time after Parker’s death talking about how I will always move forward, but I will never move on.

And I think that stands true for most trauma as well. I will keep moving forward, I will keep healing, but there will never be a finish line, a line where I say, this is behind me.

The trauma of my abuse growing up still shows up when I make myself smaller after hearing harsh words or a violent scene in a movie. The trauma of poverty shows up when I spend money incorrectly, and then panic at a low balance or overdrawn bank account. The trauma of hearing my son scream in the back of an ambulance shows up when I recoil at the sound of a siren. The trauma of the house fire shows up when I strongly react to an unplanned smell of smoke, or panic when a smoke alarm goes off.

The trauma of Parker’s death is there when I check that a loved one is still breathing.

And the trauma of my father’s death will live on in its own way.

My reaction will decrease, my tolerance will gain traction.

And I will forever be resilient.

But I will never get over all of these scars, and so many more.

It’s no wonder that I’m tired. This trauma just brings with it, the rest. Just like a new grief will bring up the old ones.

I wonder why these difficult things always find me. Always land at my feet.

I don’t think there’s some grand reason, but it’s hard not to think that I’ve done something wrong to deserve it.

People talk of my resilience as one of my biggest strengths. But my resilience was forged out of necessity. I have to stand up one more time than I get knocked down, no matter how often I get knocked down.

And each time it’s both a little harder, and a little easier to stand back up.

It’s harder because I’m exhausted from repeating this same pattern, through no fault of my own.

But it’s easier because I’m just using muscles that I’ve already used. I know how to stand back up, I know what help to reach for, I know which parts I have to do on my own.

I know that the sleepless nights and the napping all day will pass.

I know I’ll get back to work eventually.

And I know I’m strong enough to do this again.

And there may be an again after this.

And after that.

And I will never be ready for it when it comes, it will always catch me off guard as trauma often does.

But I will always stand back up.

He comes home

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.
And a Really Real Aging Parents post.

My dad comes home today.

I’ve watched countless videos on how to get him off the floor. Different methods, different positions, different ability to help. I’ve spent hours wondering if I have the strength and stability to get him up.

I’ve watched videos on how to help him transfer. Hoping that he won’t stay stuck in bed, that I can let him have some shred of independence in a wheelchair.

I’ve rearranged tables and chairs, making the house more accessible so that he can retain some sense of normality.

I’ve moved his bed to the far corner, making room for the hospital bed that is being delivered as we speak.

I’ve spent days making phone calls and arranging intermittent home care and the therapy he will need.

I’ve spent hours looking for every possible item he may require, making sure it would arrive before he does. I’ve set up a raised toilet seat, a shower chair, a walker, and so many other things that I can’t even remember. There’s a pile of equipment in his room, items that I have barely ever seen, but will have to learn to use, quickly.

I’ve spent nights dreaming of how this might go, while also recognizing that I can’t plan for every occurrence.

I’ve been overcome by nerves and cried. The build up of the last week reaching a crescendo that overtook me. Frantically texting word walls to family, spoken words mixed with sobs while talking to loved ones.

I’ve been reassured by those same loved ones, as well as countless friends, many of whom I only know through this screen in front of me.

I’ve held onto hope. I’ve fought with the fear of failure. I’ve felt utterly convinced that this is both the right thing, and the wrong thing to do.

All in the same second.

I’m sure I’ll be writing a lot in the coming days.

If I can find stolen moments to type.

I don’t know what this will look like.

I don’t know how this will end.

I just know that even through the difficult relationship I have with him, even through the memories of abuse, even through the feelings of complete unworthiness he showered on me . . .

I love him.

He is my father and I firmly believe he was doing the best he knew how to do.

Even if it was horrible.

When I first planned to do this, honestly, it was because of what I’d receive in return. It was for the hidden benefits for me. The ability to see my son for a few hours as we traded off caring for him.

I told my sister how much I hated our father. How I loved him, but at the same time I hated the man he has always been.

And now I realize its not actually hate. It’s a longing for the father I deserved, its grief for the father I will never have.

I hope to give him the care that he never gave me. I hope to give him unconditional love, something I never felt I had. I hope to give him grace and understanding.

I hope to let him leave this world with his sense of dignity intact.

My dad comes home today.