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This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Mention of weight being a problem for me, but no mention of dieting.

First of all, I realize I’ve slowed way down on my writing. I’m writing some short stuff for the Facebook page/group I’m a part of, but mostly, my writing has just stopped. (Link to page and group in the comments.)

Second, everything I have written, for awhile now, seems to deal with either my weight, or work, and how hard both of those things are for me right now.

And I really did plan to make this post different, maybe come up with some more interesting topic, or something new. Except my weight, and work are the two things that are most difficult in my life. Everything else is just . . . there . . . it doesn’t really bother me.

I mean, the dishes keep piling up in the sink, and I can’t find the will to cook. Showering, and even brushing my teeth are chores that are difficult to force myself through. I’m sleeping for 12-ish hours a night.

If it sounds like depression and looks like depression it must be nothing. This is fine, everything is fine.

Cartoon of dog surrounded by fire. Second panel has them saying “This is fine.”

Well, I guess the other things are bothering me, they just don’t feel as pressing, or has as much of a sense of urgency about them. They are just part of my current normal.

I feel like I have no will power to just muscle through this stuff. Weight and work included. I haven’t been able to make the changes I need to make. I haven’t been able to stick to a schedule. I haven’t been able to just “do the things.”

But also, I know this will pass. I will get back into a routine. I will slowly change these new, unhealthy, habits, back into the healthier habits I had before. I will go back to thriving with a routine, and find satisfaction in a job well done. Dishes and menu planning and straightening up around the house will go back to being just things that I do.

My current meds, probably the higher dose of Abilify, are muting my emotions. In an effort to keep me from rapid cycling and ending up in a mixed mood episode, we’ve made life kind of flat for me. Yeah, I don’t get hypomanic, and the suicidal thoughts are mostly controlled, but the world is kind of grey and 2 dimensional. I don’t feel difficult things as strongly, but I’m also missing out on the bright colors of emotions I’m used to seeing.

This is fueling my depression, I’m sure. When the world seems flat and made up mostly of various shades of grey, it’s harder to see the positives and feel hopeful. It’s hard to be excited about life.

When there’s no sense of accomplishment when I complete a task, it’s hard to keep repeating that task over and over again.

But, mental illness is hard. It’s an everyday battle. The constant fight is draining. Even just riding the waves without fighting against them is draining.

This too shall pass. Hopefully some slow med changes will help. Hopefully the warmer months and more sun will help (If I can get myself out of the house.) Hopefully continuing to adjust to this new normal will help.

Hopefully.

If I can hold onto that hope, I’m winning the battle.

Work, Work, Work, Work, Work

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

My brain is doing much better.  I’ve walked and gotten out of the house and set up a plan to get my eating under control. Taking some control back has helped a lot. I felt like I was just stuck in the same loop and couldn’t get off that path.

But work is still a struggle. I haven’t done any real work since Monday. I’ve done the bare minimum, keeping fires from starting.  I did talk to my boss, which was a huge thing for me, and he reminded me that nothing is an emergency, I can take the time I need and get my brain back together.

But my brain is mostly back together, and I still haven’t been able to pull out the stacks of paper that need entering. I haven’t been able to scan the papers that need scanning. I haven’t been able to file the papers that need filing.

I definitely haven’t had the creative brain to create new ads and write new copy.

But this is a start.

Getting my feelings and my struggles out of my brain and onto the screen helps me gather the focus I need to succeed.  Work is super important to me.  After years of being unable to be productive in that way, it makes me feel like a functional adult.

It’s a bit of normality among my disabilities.

It’s a huge accomplishment.

Taking off most of this week means I have to go back to leaning on people for financial help. That’s hard, even though I know I’m so very lucky to have people to lean on. There has already been a reduction in hours due to the state of the world and it feels unfair that I slacked off this week.

But I’m not sure that I had a choice. Without taking a break I would have sunk further and further and honestly, I’d like to avoid the danger zone.

Now it’s time to pick up where I left off, to get back into the swing of things, and to do what I know I’m capable of.

I appreciate everyone that lets me be heard. I appreciate everyone that comments.  I appreciate the fact that getting my words on the screen not only helps me, but helps others as well.

I’m very grateful for my life as it is now, even with the ups and downs and struggles.

I’m grateful to be alive.

Now it’s time to get some work done.

How Really Real Am I?

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Therapy was hard today.

I mean, you all may not believe it, but I work my ASS off in therapy.

I wish there was a sarcasm font, of course I work my ass off in therapy. Therapy is a really really big part of my recovery. And today we covered some really really hard stuff and we landed on a really really big thing.

I don’t let people see who I am. Even the people who are closest to me don’t see the real me. And it’s not fair to them, or me.

I censor myself.

I squash myself.

I quiet myself.

I write a blog called Really Real, for fuck’s sake, and I am very far from my really real self. Even in my own home. I’m an abridged version of me. I’m a well thought out representation.

I’m afraid to take up too much space.

I’m afraid to take up too much time.

I’m afraid to take up too much energy.

I’m afraid to be too much.

Too much.

Too much.

Too much.

Such a big theme in my life, that feeling of being too much.

As much as I share, as open as I am, as much of my story as I tell, I’m still not living an authentic life.

It’s not fair to the people around me. It’s not fair to the people closest to me. It’s not fair to the people who love me.

Because they deserve to know the full version of me.

Hell, they deserve to decide if that version of me is still someone they love.

Which I guess is where the fear comes from. Am I still lovable if I take up space. Am I still lovable if I say what’s on my mind. Am I still lovable if I don’t censor myself.

Am I still lovable if I start fully being me, for me, instead of trying to be the smallest version of my self?

If I stop monitoring the mood of the room and making sure I don’t disrupt it?

If I stop making sure I don’t make waves? If I stop tiptoeing around?

Is the real, authentic, me, lovable?

I don’t even know who I am under all of this censoring and squashing and quieting. I’ve done it my whole life. I have been too much since I was small, so I learned to bottle it up, hide it away, only let parts of myself out at a time.

Never be too much.

I think and overthink before I talk. Before I write. Before I move.

I think and overthink.

It’s exhausting.

What if I just say what I’m thinking? What if I just write what I feel? What if I just move how I want?

What if I stop overthinking so much?

What if I stop worrying about being too much?

What if I start being really real?

What if?

First Paycheck!

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I got my first paycheck.

My first paycheck since I went on disability.

This is a really big deal.

A really big deal.

I feel like a contributing member of society again, even though others (my therapist, Wonder Woman) point out that I was a contributing member of society even when I wasn’t working. Just in different ways.

It didn’t feel like it.

I’ve written before about that question everyone asks when you first meet them,

“What do you do?”

I have an answer for that now. I have a thing that I do. It gives me an identity other than disabled. Even “student” didn’t make me feel that great because after 20 years and countless dropped classes, countless failed classes, countless incomplete classes, countless changes of my major, I’m still working on my two year degree.

But now I’m doing the thing.

I’m finally a real person.

Which implies I wasn’t a real person before. And that was how I felt. I wasn’t really an adult. I wasn’t a kid anymore either.  Which left me in some void.

Not really anything.

Not real.

And I spent the day in therapy yesterday trying to break apart where that message came from, and how it came to be so much a part of my identity. It isn’t the first time I’ve asked those questions, but new therapist, new perspective, revisiting old topics.

But now I have a new identity. I have a thing that I do.

I’m a contributing member of society.

I get a paycheck.

And I’m afraid of fucking it up.

Working isn’t easy for me, there’s a reason I’ve spent the last bunch of years on disability. I want, so very much, to work each day. But finding the focus to start is hard, getting past myself and my anxiety is hard, getting out of bed in the morning when depression wants to hold me there, is hard.

I’m doing the thing, but I’m afraid of letting everyone down. I’m afraid of proving everyone right or proving everyone wrong, depending on their faith in me.

And I’m trying not to let that fear cause its own problems. I’m trying to let myself be afraid and keep pushing forward. I’m trying to prove to myself that I can do this, and also that it’s okay if I find out that I can’t, that trying is the most important part of all of this.

Trying is more than I would have done a year ago.

Six months ago.

And now look at me.

I got my first paycheck.

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.

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.

I feel good!

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I feel good.

I. Feel. Good.

I’m euthymic.  I’m not manic, not depressed, not suicidal. Even the passing ideations are leaving me alone.

It’s been over a month since I’ve had a mood episode.  I almost never get a whole month free from this shit.

It’s nice to see who I am when I’m stable. When I can separate my personality from my diagnoses.

I keep questioning, am I actually hypomanic and just not seeing it? But I’m still sleeping, I’m not spending every last cent, I’m not cleaning my entire house in a frenzy.

Yeah, this is the middle ground that I spend my life looking for.

The medication comes with side effects, but I’m learning they’re worth it for the benefits.  I actually had a pdoc appointment where we didn’t change anything.

This is one of a handful of times that’s happened in the last 7 years.

Life is good.

Life. Is. Good.

It’s nice to see that. I can see both the positive and negative aspects of my life right now, and I’m fine with them. I’m working to change the negative where I can.

I’m not sure there’s a huge point to this post. Maybe it’s just that I share all of the negative with everyone and I’m making sure to share all sides of the story.