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.

Tacos

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

The two are so intertwined right now, which makes sense, my mental health weaves its way in and out of all areas of my life.

I just cooked Tacos at my dads house.

I think it’s the first time I’ve ever cooked in his house, I even avoided it when I lived with him as a teen. I don’t particularly love the food he cooks for me when I visit (well done boiled steak anyone?) but I’ve never cooked for myself during any of those visits.

I don’t cook because Dad may see the taco seasoning that sprinkled on the stove top and yell because I’m making a mess. Or he might smell the tacos cooking and yell because it’s too spicy. Or he might see which pan I chose to use, and yell because it’s not the one he would have chosen.

Every step in his presence was made with extreme caution.

The littlest things would cause the loudest yell.

But he doesn’t yell anymore. He’s a shell of the man he once was. Old and withering away to nothing. His thoughts jumbled and speech difficult. Standing on weak legs that no longer hold his weight.

And I just cooked tacos.

I also touched the thermostat, I’m sure, even without yelling, he’ll have something to say about that, when he comes home in 2 days.

When we start caring for him around the clock, in 2 days.

When I scold him for trying to stand up unassisted, in 2 days.

When he falls on the floor because he tries to walk alone, in 2 days.

I drove his truck today, moved it around so that a neighbor could build a ramp up to his front door. I had the thought that he’ll never drive again. Did he realize, the last time he drove, that he’d never be behind the wheel again?

I went to Walmart today, picked up some things I needed for myself, as well as things I needed to care for him. Did he realize, the last time he walked into a store, that he’d never be in a store again?

I cooked tacos tonight. Did he realize, the last time he cooked, that he’d never cook for himself again?

Did he realize when he took his last shower, that he’d never shower alone again?

Did he realize that the last time he slept it in his bed, that he would never sleep in that bed again?

Do we ever realize when something will be done for the last time?

He wants to be home so so badly.

I heard him cry tonight, for the first time since his Mother died. When I told him that Friday was 2 days away, and not tomorrow, he cried, and begged me to get him out of that hell hole.

But this is just a trial run.

This is just an attempt.

An attempt that we aren’t convinced will be successful.

He’s very strong willed, very independent, and I can only pick him up off of the floor so many times.

And then what?

And then I will get to tell him that he will never be in his house again.

That he will live out the rest of his life in a facility.

These 2 days, in his house without him here, I’m building up my courage. I’m comforting 5 year old me, who comes out whenever I’m around him, and letting her know that he isn’t in charge anymore. I’m letting her know that it’s safe to let me handle this, as the adult.

I’m reminding myself that it’s okay to stand up to him.

I’m rehearsing the different things I’ll need to say to him. I’m rehearsing strong solid boundaries. I’m rehearsing firm but loving reminders about him following the rules.

I’m rehearsing for that pivotal moment, when I tell him he has to go back.

Because even if it isn’t this week or next, he will eventually have to go back, if he lives that long.

This week I’ve made calls to arrange a hospital bed, and wheelchairs, and home health, and, and, and.

I’m setting things up so that my son and I can take turns living with him. So that we can fly away from our lives, for 2 weeks at a time, and let him live out as much of his life as possible, at home.

And,

I just cooked tacos at my dad’s house.

I just cooked tacos at my part time home.

Side Effects

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

And a Really Real Medical Health post.

TW: Talk of weight, mention of suicidal thoughts, talk of marijuana use, talk of narcotic pain medications. (Also, side note, sorry I haven’t been as good about TW, I will go back to using them more frequently.)

This is super long, way longer than most of my posts (twice the length it seems), but, writing helps, and I have a lot to say this time. I totally understand if it’s too long to get through, thanks for reading this far.

I need medications to stay stable.

Medications come with side effects.

Side effects make it difficult to continue taking the medications.

I need medications to stay stable.

The Abilify really really helped me. It kept the suicidal thoughts tame enough that I could handle them most of the time. An extra 50 lbs later (more than 50, who am I kidding), I couldn’t continue taking it anymore because my weight and the fact that I gained it all back, was making me suicidal. It seemed dumb to stay on a medication to control my suicidal thoughts when the side effects were making me suicidal.

Around the time we were taking me off of Abilify, I started using medical marijuana. A few different doctors and my therapist had mentioned that it might help with this and that, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try.

It helped a lot once I found the right strains, I found that keeping a very low buzz was just enough to make me able to focus on work, I got more done in that few weeks than I had in awhile. It was easier to do the things that needed to be done, but at the same time I was facing a lack of motivation. I felt less anxious. I was sleeping better. My pain was almost completely controlled.

And I was eating the house again, because, munchies are a real side effect of marijuana. What’s the point of stopping a med that makes me eat too much, just to replace it with a med that makes me eat too much.

So I stopped it.

But now the lack of focus is back, the anxiety is back, the difficulty sleeping is back. My pain is back, too.

I’m on a few different medications for pain. The one I take every day is an anti-inflammatory. It helps, but not enough.

Earlier this year my primary put me back on Oxycodone, not necessarily daily, but on an as needed basis. It helps, a lot, but also I’m hesitant to take it. I didn’t need it at all when I was using marijuana. But now that I’m not using that, I’m instead falling back on the Oxycodone. It scares me. I was on it daily (actually, multiple times a day) a few years ago. I absolutely feel like dependency on medication isn’t always a bad thing (I’m dependent on my psych meds), and I absolutely feel that withdraw is something that happens with a lot of meds (stop taking a psych med cold turkey and you’ll see what I mean . . .actually, don’t do that.) Dependency on narcotics feels like a whole different ballgame. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. I don’t really want to go there, so I use it super sparingly.

I’m falling back on my Ativan more often, because it controls the overwhelming anxiety. Ativan is another one I’m super careful with. A thirty day script will often last me 6 months or more. But right now, because of the whole 2020 thing, I need it more often, and I don’t like that.

Oh, and I should mention my antidepressant and those side effects. It causes nausea. It’s bad enough that some nights I actually get sick a few hours after taking it. We’d like to increase it because it could probably work a bit better. But increased doses cause more nausea. What is worse, living with low grade depression constantly, or being miserable after taking the medication to treat it.

I’m stuck in this trap. All of the medications have side effects. Figuring out which side effects are worse than the ailment they’re treating is a constant conversation within myself and with my doctors.

I’m frustrated. I want solutions that don’t cause more problems.

I need medications to stay stable.

Medications come with side effects.

Side effects make it difficult to continue taking the medications.

I need medications to stay stable.

Hulk Smash

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Anger.

Coursing through my blood.

Irritated.

Through every fiber of my being.

The whole day just snowballed against me. The littlest things setting me off.

Except, it was all internalized. Nothing was said other than a quick “I’m grumpy today.” But beyond that, the anger just stayed in my head.

Spinning round and round, like a tornado, finding more things to suck into the vortex. I just wanted to scream and lash out, but I also knew that wasn’t rational. I knew it wasn’t actually anything that was happening around me.

I was just angry.

The inside of my skull was so so loud. Scripting fights, scripting explosions, scripting a loss of control.

But I controlled it, kept it deep inside.

We got home and I climbed in bed.

I kept trying to think of DBT skills that would help, and I could feel them, just outside of my reach, just beyond my grasp.

I was afraid to get up and go for my book, because it felt like the anger would eat me alive. It felt like I would lose the battle to keep it all inside.

So I stayed in bed. Fuming at everything and nothing.

Finally I dosed off, powerful angry dreams haunting me in my sleep. I woke up a few hours later, Wonder Woman asking if I wanted to get up so that I could sleep that night.

I opted to get up long enough to take meds (mother fucker, they had to be put together again), take a few ativan and a meletonin, and go back to bed for the night.

I slept straight through.

Today I’m not so angry. Today I can look back from a place of calm and see what went wrong.

The Abilify is totally out of my system now, a few weeks after I stopped taking it. And for the first week or two, I was smoking medical marijuana. It did a great job at lowering my reactivity off of the medication, but then I realized it was making me eat the house. Which was the whole reason I went off of Abilify.

So I stopped that too.

And now I’m left wondering if this anger could become my new normal.

Anger makes people die.

Today I’m tired, melatonin and a higher than normal dose of ativan will do that.

I’m tired. But I’m not angry anymore.

Anger is the most likely to make me lash out. Anger pulls me apart. Anger feels like it’s going to split me at the seams.

Anger is wrong. Anger is the one emotion I wish I could stop feeling, forever.

Anger.

It’s that month

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

TW: There’s no direct mention of suicide, but there is mention of the questions surrounding it including questioning her thoughts leading up to it.

It’s that month again. Of course, it’s pride month, and apparently it’s PTSD awareness month, too. Both of those things are close to home for me.

But, Parker’s deathday is also this month. From the night of the 7th into the morning of the 8th there are a whirlwind of memories that hit me like a ton of bricks.

But even as far back as June 1st there are memories and with those memories come questions. So many questions.

What could I have done differently? Were there signs that I didn’t see? How could I have supported her better?

Would she still be alive?

This month is hard for me. So very difficult.

Four years ago I was posting on Facebook that I was overwhelmed, scatterbrained, unable to keep up. Four years ago I remember being so frustrated at how much things had changed because of her surgery. I didn’t know how to keep up around the house without her help.

I remember being so frustrated that she wouldn’t stay off the damn leg, that she kept accidentally standing up on the wrong one.

Four years ago.

Four years ago.

I wish I would have realized it was one of the last times I’d ever see her face.

I wish I would have known it was one of the last times I’d ever get frustrated with her in person.

I wish I would have known that when I get overwhelmed I yell, and that it isn’t necessary. That communication goes so much better when I stay calm.

The stress of our lives had gotten to us, it had broken us down. It was tearing us apart. We weren’t as kind and loving as we had once been. We were pushing at each other, trying to trade blame about where the stress was coming from.

It was around this time that I said to Parker and Kidlet, “We’re going to be okay, we can pay our bills.” I had no idea that paying my bills would be the least of my emotional worries in just a week.

Just a week.

I didn’t realize that in a week I’d have to start learning how to live without her.

I realize now that it wasn’t just her help that was missing, it was her emotional support. She had withdrawn. We had lost sight of the love that kept us going.

Of course, the love was still there, we had just forgotten to lean into it when times were tough.

Just a week.

I wonder, had she already decided ahead of time? Was it a momentary decision? Did she already know the end was near?

This month is so so hard.

I miss her.

I’m Tired

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

This time last year I was intensely suicidal. I was tired of fighting the thoughts that so often wanted to kill me. I was tired of being in pain.

I was tired.

This year, comparatively, I’m doing really well. I don’t really get all that suicidal all that often. My pain is somewhat controlled. I’m relatively stable.

But.

I am tired.

I’m tired of being inside. I’m tired of not going to the gym. I’m tired of missing my friends. I’m tired of hearing about people who aren’t even trying. I’m tired of working. I’m tired of avoiding the world.

I’m tired.

I’m tired.

I’m tired.

And this time I know I’m not alone. I know there are lots of us that are tired.

And it’s still not fair.

None of us deserve this right now. None of us were prepared for it. None of us should have to learn to live with it.

But most of us are learning to live with it. We are doing what we’re supposed to do.

Those that aren’t, piss me off. The more we leave our houses the longer this will take, and it’s going to take a long while as it is.

Stay the fuck home.

I’m tired.

I’m tired of living in this world even though I’m not tired of living.

I’m tired.

I’m tired of not being able to write because there’s no life to write about.

I’m tired.

I am tired.

So Much Anxiety

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m full of anxiety, mostly about work.

The kind of anxiety that makes me feel like I can’t breathe.

The kind of anxiety I remember from when I was a little kid.

That

“I fucked up”

anxiety.

Except I don’t think I’ve actually fucked anything up. Either way, I’m doing the best I can given the circumstances.

But I can’t shake this overwhelming feeling that

I

Fucked

Up.

It’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop. Except I’m waiting for someone to told me I singlehandedly destroyed it all.

But I’m not that powerful.

I can’t save it, and I can’t destroy it.

I can just keep doing what I’m doing. Pushing papers, writing posts, trying to learn things that I’ve never done before. Trying to keep doing the next right thing.

It’s not my place to save the world.

I’m not that powerful.

But this overwhelming anxiety is locking me in place. I can’t catch my breath, even when I slow down my breathing. Even when I focus on just sitting with the feelings and letting them pass through. Even when I try to remain rooted in this moment. Even when.

My chest is heavy. The ativan isn’t working.

This is SO HARD.

I still can’t believe I took a mental health day today, but I can’t imagine being able to focus on work in this state.

All I can hope is that I can get it back under wraps by tonight, because I have to go back to working sometime, and I don’t feel like this anxiety is going to end anytime soon.

I feel like it’s a part of this new normal we’re living in.

Writing that brought tears to my eyes.

This overwhelming feeling of panic could be here to stay while the world figures out how to exist like this. This discomfort could be a part of me for the foreseeable future.

That is hard shit. But if I can’t run from it, I have to learn how to exist with it. How to make it less debilitating.

I need it to stop raining so I can go for a walk.

I need to stop drinking so much caffeine, that isn’t helping for sure.

I guess it’s time to take another ativan while I figure out how to weave this discomfort into my life. How to exist around it and through it.

If it isn’t going away for awhile, I guess it’s time to make friendly with the weight on my shoulders, the pressure in my chest, the never ending thoughts in my brain.

Maybe it’s time that we coexist.

Hi, old friend, lets chat.

Steroids

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Last Monday I got a cortisone shot in my knee.

Steroids.

According to the posts I’ve written, last Tuesday night and Wednesday is when the anger, the suicidal, and the self harm thoughts started.

Steroids.

I wonder.

I had been super stable on these meds, work had been going great, and I was using healthy coping methods when I wobbled a little bit.

But I went off the deep end, and I wonder if it was the steroids.

Having a reason would make me feel so much better.  I see my pdoc in about an hour and I’d really rather not make med changes if there’s a reason for this hiccup. I’d rather not mess with the stability that has been in place for awhile. I’m going ot ask her if she thinks a localized steroid shot could have effected my entire system.

They said it would effect my blood sugars, so I’m almost positive it could.

That was one hell of a roller coaster.

But I’m feeling better today.

Wheeeeeee

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

TW: Suicidal thoughts, self harm, pretty intense stuff.

The other shoe dropped.

Last night I took too many anti-anxiety meds and benadryl and sleep meds. Not because I wanted to die, and not enough to kill me, but because I wanted to sleep through the part where I wanted to die.

I wanted to drift away into nothingness, for just a few hours, hoping the feelings would be gone when I woke up.

I tried to put my fist through a wall. Not because I was angry, but because the feelings inside me were too much to hold onto and I needed a way to let them out.  Fist into wall felt less harmful than knife into skin.

I had to fight that urge while hoping the meds would kick in quickly.

While wondering if I cared if they killed me.

While knowing they wouldn’t and being fine with that too.

The speed and intensity with which this overcame me was overwhelming. I didn’t want to fight it, but I knew I had to.

The easiest way to fight was to sleep.

I wanted to be held, I wanted to be comforted. I wanted to be told it would all be okay. I wanted to know I was safe. But this wasn’t a night for that. This was a night for self soothing, handling my own emotions, alone.

Alone.

Feeling forgotten.

Hopeless.

Alone.

This morning the sun seemed too bright and too harsh. I slept straight through for the first time in months. I didn’t want to open my eyes. I didn’t want to face the fact that the thoughts were still there.

And then it hit me.

I have to work.

I didn’t have the will to put one foot in front of the other and I have to sit at my desk and input numbers and make phone calls and churn out statements and create order from chaos.

I’m consumed by my own chaos.

My thoughts are swirling through mud. I can’t absorb half of what people are saying to me. I’m taking notes, not fast enough, my brain can’t keep up.

But I’m doing it. One foot in front of the other. Pushing key after key, turning invoices into statements. Crunching the numbers. Sending out emails.

My brain doesn’t want me to live for another second. My brain hears the familiar gunshots in the back of my head. My brain wants me to lay down and give up.

It wonders what’s the point in all of this.

But today my brain didn’t win. I did.

I may not have been at 100%, I may have done less than my normal.

But I showed up.

Today I won.

I can do this.

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.