That voice

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Today is the last day without my dad home. Here is what it was like in my head as I made lunch.

Grab the bag of salad out of the fridge. (I hear my dad’s voice, “Why did you put that on that shelf? I don’t put things there.”)

Grab a Tupperware container to mix the salad in (His voice again, “Why would you use a container that big, it’s not that much salad.”)

Pour the salad in the container. “You’re making a mess.”

Close the lid and shake the salad up. “It’s going to spill all over the place.”

Get a knife and fork to cut chicken off the bone. “Why are you using that knife? Get one of the sharp ones.”

Grabbing paper towels to put over the chicken so it doesn’t splatter. “You don’t need to use that many paper towels.”

Shut the microwave too hard. “Be careful! You don’t need to beat things up.”

Rinse the utensils in the sink “Don’t turn up the water so high, it’ll splash everywhere. And make sure you’re using hot water.”

You see, even when I’m home, I hear my dads voice with almost everything I do. It’s the sound of my critical voice, the voice that tells me I can’t do anything right.

But now I’m in his house, his space. The voice is so much louder here.
And with every sentence I heard him say, I was, in my head, offering up a rebuttal.

“Dad, it doesn’t really matter where things are on the shelves, it’s fine”

“Dad, I’m going to wash the container when I’m done with it, it’s fine.”

“Dad, I’ll clean up any mess I make, it’s fine.”

“Dad, that was an accident, it’s fine.””Dad, I can buy more paper towels, it’s fine.”

And finally. “Damnit, Dad. If I’m going to spend this much time here, I’m going to treat this like it’s my home too. Chill the fuck out or I won’t be able to do this.”And then I cringed, because I can’t imagine saying something like that to my dad. But also, I’m pretty sure I’ll have to say some version of that, within a day or two after I bring him home.

Years and years of being criticized loudly for everything I did, that voice is just there. And it doesn’t matter if he’s still that critical of me, it doesn’t matter if he says this stuff out loud.

That voice won’t stop, the one that makes me think that everyone is judging everything I do.

That voice, the one that used to ‘jokingly’ say “Dad is great, dad is good, lets thank dad for everything.”

Even after he dies, his voice will live on in my head.

I wonder how much of my mental health bullshit was caused by that voice?

I wonder why parents think its okay to raise children like that. Why they treat young people like they are somehow less than. That they aren’t worthy, that they need to be sternly micromanaged with everything they do.

I wonder why kids are held to a higher standard than most adults.

I hope, so very much, that I’m not this voice in my own sons head. I hope when he hears my voice, he hears love and approval.

I never heard that from my dad.

I just heard that voice.

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.

Six Months

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

So, I’ve been really torn about writing this. It seems silly to celebrate something that most people just, do. But it also feels like a really big deal, to me.

As of this week I’ve been working for 6 months.

I’m fighting the urge to minimize. Fighting the urge to say “I did it, but . . . “

But, the truth is, this wasn’t possible for a long long while. This wasn’t within the realm of my abilities. I could barely make it to doctors appointments, and then I could barely keep up with school work, and then I could barely keep up with volunteering. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to work again.

And now, I struggle, I take mental health days, I’m not always at my best, but I’m holding down a job.

I’m working like a real adult.

And still, in the back of my mind there is the not-so-quiet voice telling me, I’m only kind of doing it. I work from home, I work for family, it’s just part time.

It’s not a real job.

I haven’t done anything special.

But also, I have.

Working is scary. Working is hard. Working leaves room for failure and mistakes.

Sometimes, working sucks.

And yet, I am.

I’m doing the thing.

It’s taken me a long while to get here, but I’m doing the thing.

Where’s My Roller Coaster?

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve written. Now granted, time is going super fast, so it feels like less than that, but it really has been 2 weeks. I wrote daily for a long time, I wrote at least twice a week for a long time. Now I’m lucky if I write every couple of weeks.

Part of it is Covid. Nothing exciting is happening in my life. It’s the same shit, different day, different week, different month.

But a bigger part of it is that I’m just stuck in this low grade, constant, depression.

I miss my roller coaster. The monotony of day to day life with mental illness was broken up by constantly changing levels of mania and depression.

Good news: we stopped the rapid cycling.
Bad news: we stopped the rapid cycling.

Mental health was an obstacle course before. Making it through this episode just long enough for the next one to kick in. It was exhausting, but it was interesting.

Now my mental health is a long marathon. Just keep functioning at some constant level, reserving energy for the long haul.

The benefit to the obstacle course was that the adrenaline, kept me going, The hypomania and the influx of serotonin that it brought, kept me going.

That said, I read the posts I made in years past and I know that it wasn’t all that comfortable riding the roller coaster either. The suicidal thoughts were worse (and more dangerous) during mixed episodes. The hypomania brought along poor decision making. The lows were so dark, so so dark.

But, this version of stability is its own type of difficult.

I mean, I should be thankful that I’m stable. The suicidal thoughts are fleeting. I’ve held a job for close to 6 months. I’m not constantly in crisis.

But I’m also depressed enough that I’m often doing the bare minimum. Just enough to get me through to the next day. I can’t seem to find the will or the energy to do more.

I have enough work available to easily pull 20-30 hours a week. Yet, some weeks I’m lucky if I do half that.

And it isn’t that I don’t want to. I sit here stuck. I want to work, I know what I want to work on, but I just can’t find the energy to actually do it.

And it’s not just work, so it’s not just that I’m avoiding that.

I have a list of cards to make for friends. The list was made in April and May. It’s July. I’m still only part way through this list.

Side note for those that requested cards, they will make it to you eventually, I promise.

I sit here, aimlessly scrolling facebook. I want to craft, I want to game, I want to do SOMETHING, but I can’t find the will or the energy to start.

This is hard. A different kind of hard than constant crisis.

I miss my roller coaster.

Just hold on

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

TW: Talk of suicide, including plan. Talk of weight/weight loss/weight gain.

There’s so much in my brain and I don’t know where to start. This ended up being super super long, but I need to get it out. Words of encouragement and understanding would be greatly appreciated.

Last night was really, really hard.

It started with boredom. None of my usual activities were grabbing my attention. I tried pushing through and making myself start something anyway. Just start, just design one card, just complete one quest, just plan one dish.

Just start something.

But I wasn’t able to. So slowly I felt myself drifting towards bed. Once there I couldn’t even bring myself to turn on the TV.

Laying there my mind was wandering. Is this the medication change, it’s supposed to make me less flat and sometimes it just doesn’t seem to be doing that. It’s supposed to help me eat less, and I thought I was, but yesterday morning I had gotten on the scale, and I gained another 10 lbs.

Inching ever closer to my heaviest weight. A weight I swore I’d never reach again. I worked so so hard to lose so much. Even at 300 lbs I was proud of my body and what it could do. I felt accomplished at the gym. I was far more at peace with my body, even though I still had a lot to lose.

I spent months working towards bariatric surgery, for the 3rd time, and right as I cleared the last hurdle, they thought that emotionally it could be very dangerous for me to move forward. I walked away from the program on the day I was supposed to set a surgery date. I still don’t know if it was the right decision.

That was when this latest weight gain started. I had already stalled with losing, due to the medication increase, but then I started gaining. We increased the medication more, and I gained more. First I noticed 10 lbs, then a couple of months later there was another 10. Then in the first couple of months of quarantine it just kept going up and up and up.

And as much as the numbers suck, even worse is that I’ve lost my ability to walk as far as I used to. My pain is worse. I get out of breath just getting adjusted in bed. Walking up to my second floor apartment feels like running a marathon.

I don’t feel proud of what my body can do anymore. I spent almost 2 years celebrating accomplishment after accomplishment, and now I’m back to living in my desk chair barely able to hold myself up.

And last night it crashed down on me. Weight is such a huge trigger for my suicidal thoughts.

It started with a quiet whisper. “You failed again.”

Then a little louder. “You’re right back where you were, fat and useless, and no matter how hard you work, you’ll always end up back here.”

With a little more force, “You’ll never overcome this, it’s not worth trying anymore, it’s not worth living.”

In the back of my mind I started telling myself. Get up, get dressed, go for a walk. You don’t have to give in to this.

“See, you can’t even do that, can’t even bring yourself to work on this. You’re such a fat failure and you’re just taking up space. The world would be better off without you in it”

Then the quiet voice again. Please, just get up, put on shoes, and walk. You don’t even have to change out of your pajamas, just get out of bed and walk.

There was a back and forth battle between the voice that wanted me to die, and the quiet voice trying to stand up and help me live.

I came out to the living room and checked some pill bottles. I don’t have enough of this, this, or that . . of course we keep most of it locked up, but maybe, maybe if I take all three different ones.

I started hoping that Wonder Woman would go in the other room. Go into the bathroom, so that I had enough time to take what I had. I know she’d notice if I took the pills into my room, and she’d definitely notice if I took them right there. I just needed to take them and go to sleep. Hopefully I wouldn’t wake up.

It was a calm sort of suicidality . I wasn’t afraid, I wasn’t rushed, I was just waiting for the right moment.

Just waiting in bed and listening for the moment when she got up from the sofa.

Quietly waiting.

Instead I sent her a text. A that small voice fighting to live. “I’m calmly but intensely suicidal tonight.”

She asked how she could help. I didn’t have an answer.

Eventually, I heard her get up. I was waiting to hear the bathroom door. It would finally be my chance. But instead she turned off the lights and came to bed. We talked.

I told her my plan.

She locked up more meds, and I felt like a child in need of a babysitter.

And then I felt defeated. I felt, and still feel, like there’s no way out of this mess I’m in. This mess that is me.

We went to the store this morning. She reminded me that I had to stay alive to cook the food we were buying. I felt the voice slowly fading away. Slowly backing off.

I’m worried that these thoughts are because we’re lowing the medication. But staying on such a high dose is just going to exacerbate my weight problems. It’s nearly impossible to lose weight when the intense craving for food feels like a drug addiction. I can not adequately explain the drive to eat that has been occurring the last 6 months or more.

And you can’t just quit food cold turkey.

I don’t have any answers. I don’t have any uplifting ending to this post. I don’t have any feel good words.

I just have me, feeling like I don’t want to continue to fight.

I just have me sitting here, getting my words out on the screen so that they don’t eat me alive.

Asshole Brain

TW: Suicidal Thoughts

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

My brain is an asshole sometimes.

Last night was one of those times.

Stuck in bed at 9pm, unable to fight my way out without help. Brain beating me up for everything I might have done wrong in the past months. Brain beating me up for my weight, my lack of motivation. Beating me up for existing.

Not wanting to exist any longer.

The suicidal thoughts were fleeting, but they were there, quietly humming in the background under a very loud chorus of self loathing.

I hate my body. I hate my brain. Sometimes it feels like I hate life.

Even though life isn’t all that bad, really. I mean, the world is going up in flames, but my own little bubble isn’t all that horrible, considering what my past has looked like.

Isolation is getting to me.

We were supposed to get out of the house today, taking a break from these four walls to visit someplace that wasn’t a necessity. Getting some fresh air. I was hoping for it, looking forward to it. And instead it’s going to storm.

I guess we’re staying home again.

These four walls are exhausting.

It doesn’t help that I’m hurting. Whatever is going on in my chest is this constant dull roar seeping it’s way into all areas of my life. While the hospital ruled out the most dangerous things, I’m still worried.

I’m still scared.

I’m still anxious.

I’m still feeling lethargic, unable to do much of anything before I’m exhausted.

Which makes me climb in bed.

Which allows asshole brain to speak up again.

Hello my old friend.

It’s almost, in a strange way, comforting to hear the quiet hum. Comforting in the worst sort of way.

It’s what I know. It’s what I’m used to. The constant roar of my trains of thought, underlined by the hum of wanting to die.

It’s also scary.

My doctor called in a med that, in high enough doses, could kill me. It took everything in me to speak up and tell Wonder Woman that she needed to take the pills when I pick them up, handing it out small numbers at a time, so that I don’t have access to it.

Another pill bottle in the safe.

I wanted to hold onto this one. Comfort myself with the knowledge that a way out was right there.

But that just makes the hum louder. It makes it more real.

It’s dangerous.

I have to be protected from my own asshole brain.

I have to be protected.

I have to be.

Four Years Ago Today

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

TW: Talk of Suicide including method and post death graphic stuff.

Four years ago today.

Four years.

My new normal started 4 years ago today.

I still replay the movies in my head. I remember waking up earlier than her.

I remember going in to wake her up so that I could bring her something back for breakfast.

I remember the way her skin felt, that eerie cold that didn’t feel quite right. I knew the second I touched her that she was gone.

I remember the rigidness of her limbs.

I just knew.

I remembered hearing the rustling of her pills the night before. I thought she was just taking her night time meds. The bag that held her medications was empty. She took every last one of them.

I remember sending a message to my closest friend and neighbor, asking her to get Draven out of the house while I was on the phone with 911. I didn’t want him waking up to the chaos. I wanted him safe from the new reality.

I remember making phone calls that changed lives forever.

I remember sitting in my desk chair lost, numb, unsure of how to process the way my life was changing.

I remember my mother sitting here, strangely she was up from Florida, strangely she was going to take me to breakfast that morning, strangely she came into the house as the first wave of paramedics did.

I was so thankful she was here.

I remember taking a drive, to Burger King, to get us out of the house as the coroner took Parker’s body out.

I remember ordering food that went uneaten.

I remember being thankful that Draven already had therapy that day, and that I was able to get in for my own appointment.

I remember crying more tears then I ever thought possible. The feeling of my eyes being so raw from wiping them.

I remember.

Four years.

Four years ago today.

I Lived

This is a Really Real Widow post.

With some mental health thrown in, because they are completely entwined.

This time of year is incredibly hard.

Yesterday was the 7 year anniversary of a major accident that Kidlet and Parker were in. The pictures show up every year, reminding me of the horror of that day. Deep open wounds and the two people I loved most in the world strapped to stretchers. The screams I heard coming from my son in the ambulance that day are sounds I will never forget.

Sounds I never want to forget for the same reason I let the pictures show up in memories every year.

We survived that shit. Parker took a motorcycle to the head and Kidlet caught it, and they lived.

The reminders of Parker’s ankle surgery a few years back show up this time every year, too. It’s the beginning of the countdown to the day she died. That surgery and the restrictions after it were the final straw that broke her. Her death date is now less than 2 weeks away.

The last video I took just went through my memories the other day. The last photos will be any day now. The post where I tell everyone she died will be a few days after that.

I could delete them, block them from my Timehop memories. But I don’t.

We survived that shit. Kidlet and I lost one of the most important people in our worlds, and we lived.

I recently saw my first firefly of the year. The first was in Florida and I’ve seen one since coming home as well. It’s another reminder that it’s this time of year. A bittersweet thing as she was my firefly, it’s nice to have that reminder of her, but also, it means that day is coming.

Each year this time passes with a different set of feelings. The first year was a sense of urgency, a sense of needing to get to that one year anniversary so that it can just be over and done with. The lead up is always worse than the actual day.

Each year the pain has lessened. In earlier years I’ve felt the need to do something to remember her. A trip to the beach, normally. I’m not sure that’s so necessary anymore.

This year the reminders are there, but the feelings are different, yet again.

I’ve been trying to figure out what’s different, why does it feel so different.

And then it came to me. It feels less traumatizing this year. That’s the difference.

In the past it was a punch to the gut with each picture or facebook post, or even a just a general look at the calendar to see the date. This year it just is. It’s a calm, gentle reminder that it is part of my story. Part of my life.

Part of what got me to this point.

I’m super down on myself right now because I feel like I’ve undone years worth of work. Years of work that were so important as I tried to live in ways that Parker couldn’t anymore. I had to get better, I had to save myself, or losing her was in vain.

But this is part of my story as well. And that’s okay.

This is okay.

I’ll survive this shit. Life has thrown me curve ball after curve ball, and I lived.

I lived.

Blah

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.