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.

I deserve love.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’m surrounded by love and I deserve to be. That’s a profound statement coming from me, especially the second part.

I. Deserve. Love.

Sometimes I can’t remember that.

Sometimes, especially now that I’m “living my best life” I wonder how I deserve any of this.

“You deserve happiness, we both do.” Wonder Woman and I mention that (or some variation of it) to each other on at least a weekly basis. I need the reminder when things in my head are dark.

I look for the other shoe to drop whenever things are good. Things can’t be this good, not without something going wrong.

And the thing is, when I’m doing well things still go wrong. Deciding not to have surgery threw me for a loop. I sobbed in Wonder Woman’s arms, I sobbed in the shower, I sobbed while writing the post about it.

But I kept moving forward.

And now it doesn’t seem that bad. It was a blip on the radar in an otherwise great life.

I’m surrounded by love, and kindness, and caring,

and I deserve it.

I have an amazing fiancee. We communicate better than I could ever imagine. Our relationship is so gentle and calm. I love her and feel loved in return. I still look for things to fall apart. I still wonder what thing I’m going to do that will drive her away.

I’m surrounded by love, and kindness, and caring,

and I deserve it.

I have a derby spouse . (It’s a derby thing.)  They are one of my closest friends. We check on each other on a regular basis, sometimes daily, sometimes weekly. We encourage each other constantly. They are exceptionally kind to me and I am kind to them. I still wonder what I’m missing. Are they just pretending to be my friend. Am I really worthy of a friendship like this?

I’m surrounded by love, and kindness, and caring,

and I deserve it.

I’m in a new relationship. It has flowed together so smoothly. We are spending lots of time learning about each other and our lives. I care for her and feel cared for. And I still look for the other shoe. I’m waiting for someone to get upset with this polyamorus situation and call and end to it. I’m waiting for her to to decide that I’m not right for her.

I’m surrounded by love, and kindness, and caring,

and I deserve it.

There are other important friendships, people I have known for years, people that supported me through Parker’s death, best friends, close friends, those friendships that can’t be defined.

I am surrounded by love, and kindness, and caring,

and I deserve it.

There’s my family that loves and supports me, sometimes by telling me hard truths that I need to hear, sometimes financially, sometimes by loving me in the best way they know how.

I am surrounded by love.

And I deserve it.

You deserve it too.

It’s Not Fair!

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

and a Really Real Health post.

I worked my ass off and got approved for bariatric surgery.

My final appointment is at 10am today and I will schedule surgery.

Except, I’m not going. I sent a note in last night cancelling my appointment and dropping out of the program.

My therapist never wanted to write my recommendation letter, even though she spent 5 months trying to.  She finally had a long detailed talk with me about it late last week. She didn’t think I was really thinking about this, she thought I was only looking at the outcome I wanted and not the actual challenges.

She thought as much as I’ve grown, as far as I’ve come in the last 3 years, this would be a huge setback to my mental health.

I wanted to ignore her, especially since I’d just spent $200 getting the recommendation letter from an online therapist. I called my older sister, the voice of logic in my life. I wanted her to cheer me on like she’s done in the past.

She pointed out everything my therapist did, and more.

I have worried that my therapist is just against the surgery in general, but I know my sister isn’t. She’s been a major support to me since the first day I talked about it 7 or 8 years ago.

I’ve come so far with my mental health. It’s fucking amazing the growth that has happened in the last 3 years. I sit here as an entirely different person.

But

I still can’t keep myself on a healthy eating routine.

I still can’t keep myself from binge eating.

I still can’t keep myself going to the gym.

I still can’t keep myself focused on school work.

I still can’t control my spending.

Basically,

I’m really good at starting stuff, I’m really good at that initial push. And I still have zero follow through.

Right now, falling off on healthy eating sucks.  I gain weight back and I feel like a failure.

After surgery it could put me in the hospital.  Surgery isn’t going to magically give me the follow through and the willpower to succeed.  Surgery isn’t a quick fix, it’s just a tool.

Also,

As much as I fight it, food is still a coping mechanism for me. I react to stress, to depression, to boredom, by turning to food. I fight it, but it happens, often.

What happens when I completely remove that avenue of coping because it’s physically impossible? What happens to my mental health? What do I replace it with?

What happens if I can’t replace it with something healthy?

What happens if I can’t cope without it?

I’m not typing this all out to convince anyone else, I already know I’m not getting the surgery. I’m typing it out because I need to see it in black and white. I need to type it and grieve it.

I’m sad.

I feel defeated.

It isn’t fair that, yet again, my mental illnesses are getting in the way.