Starting over, again.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

And a Really Real Health post.

One of those ones where it’s hard to tell where health ends and mental begins. As we know, they are definitely intertwined.

This is a long one.

TW: exercise and fitness. Quick mention of past suicidal thoughts.

4.5 years ago, Parker died.

Shortly after that I went in for a minor surgery to remove an ovary that had a large, painful, cyst.

They couldn’t control my airway on the table and aborted the surgery.

It scared the shit out of everyone.

I was incredibly suicidal after the failed surgery.

I was in so much pain, and I was still in the middle of that early grief period, and it just felt like the end of the world.

At that time, my best friend was going to the gym every night.

She wasn’t willing to leave me alone, but wasn’t willing to miss the gym.

So she took me with her.

And I went for a walk on the treadmill while she was doing what she was doing.

At the time I could barely walk around the block.

When I first got on the treadmill I had to hold on for dear life because I was so unstable I couldn’t keep my balance.

I can’t remember how long I walked that first time.

But we went back the next night and I did it again.

And again.

And again.

Eventually I worked up to the elliptical and the Arc bike.

We added strength training.

My best friend and I had a great routine and we kept each other going.

I was in the best shape that I can ever remember.

And then life happened.

I stopped going to the gym.

I would start going again, and lose momentum.

Covid brought months and months of sitting in the house, afraid to go anywhere.

I fell back into old habits.

Covid kept me away from the gym, but I also wasn’t making myself walk in the neighborhood.

The concrete sidewalk hurt my joints.

The hills hurt my lungs and left me gasping.

My therapist and I have talked a lot about it.

About my lack of motivation.

About how much I wanted things to change but hadn’t figured out how to change them.

Today she asked me what would make me feel safe at the gym.

I thought about it long after the session ended.

I remembered those nights in the gym years before, going at midnight,

or later.

It was empty.

We had the whole place to ourselves.

So tonight,

I dug through my gym clothes to find ones I could still squeeze into.

I charged my headphones.

I filled up my water bottle,

I put on my mask,

and,

I drove to the gym at 11pm.

I had grand plans. I was going to warm up on the treadmill and then get on the elliptical.

But,

I felt like I was dying after 5 minutes on the treadmill.

Even at a low speed with no incline I was holding on and pulling myself along.

I felt unstable. I was out of breath. My whole body was starting to sweat.

At 10 minutes I knew there was no way I was using any other machines.

I wasn’t even sure I’d last 30 minutes where I was.

But I knew I could make it 5 more minutes.

And then, I knew I could make it 5 more.

And 5 more.

I made it to 30 minutes, just passing the mile marker during that time.

My face was red.

Sweat was pouring off of me.

My heart was pounding so hard it was giving me a headache.

And even though I’m back where I started 4.5 years ago,

I felt accomplished.

I still don’t feel like the gym is safe.

Even with a mask on and many machines shut down for distancing.

Even in a gym that had less than 10 people in it.

But I can’t just spend the rest of my life sitting in this chair.

Waiting for time to pass.

Not actively trying to die,

but not actively living either.

I almost didn’t write this tonight.

I was afraid that I might write it, and then not go back tomorrow, or the next day.

That I would say “I’m going to do this,”

and then not.

But,

I went to the gym today.

And that was a better decision than staying at home.

I don’t need to look forward too far.

I just need to make the next

right

decision.







Just because

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I just felt like writing today.

I don’t have any real reason, anything pressing on my mind,

but I felt the need to put fingers to keys.

Earbuds in my ears, gentle piano music piping through.

My writing music.

I woke up before 4 pm today.

I’m already on my second cup of coffee.

I talked to my pdoc, and we discussed options.

Different anti-depressants that may be activating.

We’re restarting my Ritalin, something that the trauma unit discontinued.

And that’s when I started having problems with sleeping too much.

We’re also raising my antidepressant.

Hopefully this fixes it.

It will be a week or two before I know, she doesn’t use electronic prescriptions and will have to mail me a paper script.

She’s the best psychiatrist I’ve ever had, but at her age even a fax machine seems advanced.

She works for herself, no staff, just a tiny little messy office in an apartment building.

Of course, now she’s working from home. All of our appointments done via phone call.

I’m not even sure that she owns a computer.

I’ve wondered what will happen if she dies. Who will inform me?

Will I just suddenly not get the call at our scheduled time, and eventually I’ll find a new prescriber?

Weird thoughts that run through my head.

I’m starting on the preparations for the Florida trip.

Laundry is gathered, list is started, plans to clean out the fridge more completely for trash night tonight.

Tomorrow we will dig out the car and run some errands.

It’s still snowing.

Yesterday it was tiny little flakes, today it’s big and fluffy.

It’s supposed to rain and get icy.

Ew.

Snow days used to be the only days I took a break.

Running around for appointments and interesting things.

Plans with friends, the gym, long walks.

Snow days are just another day now.

I’m such a homebody.

Finding the balance between safety and using it as an excuse is just hard.

I haven’t found that point yet.

This trip is taking me way outside of my covid comfort zone.

But it’s with good reason.

And it will break the monotony that has become my life.

A monotony that so many people feel right now.

Ew.

Today my pdoc called me a lady.

I got that gross feeling that I get when I’m misgendered.

I don’t think I’ve ever told her though.

And by the time I realized I should say something, the moment had passed and we were on to other topics.

It’s hard to know when to say something, and when to just let it pass.

We’re heading south.

I know I’ll get “ma’am”ed and “miss”ed on a regular basis.

I’ll get that gross feeling but just let it go.

It’s easier that way.

I don’t get the weird looks and the lack of understanding.

Don’t try this at home.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I did something that I always tell others not to do.

You see, when I was in the trauma unit, they started titrating me off of a medication.

They said I shouldn’t be on it with the diagnoses that I had.

They said it was a bad idea.

They sent me home with instructions to continue titrating off of it with my pdoc.

So my first appointment I asked her if we could lower it.

And my second.

And my third.

And,

you get the picture.

She sees the drug reps from this particular medication, once a month.

I wonder if that has something to do with it.

So last week I stopped taking it.

I was already on a pretty low dose, and I was tired of asking her to follow the instructions that were given to me.

That were given to her in the paperwork that was sent over.

So I stopped.

Two days ago I cleaned up the landings outside of our apartment.

Gathered the empty boxes and rearranged what was left.

Put things back on shelves and in the basement where it belonged.

Things that we just didn’t feel like lugging down the stairs at the time.

It had gotten unmanageable.

The perilously balanced ecosystem tumbling down whenever we needed a roll of toilet paper.

It didn’t take me long.

Yesterday I cleaned the spare room.

The spare room that’s been used as a makeshift office since this all began.

It hadn’t been cleaned in all of that time.

Trash had built up on the floor.

Random bits and pieces of discarded

things

that had never been put back in their place.

It was a disaster.

I’ve been looking at it for months and saying I’d get to it,

one day.

And yesterday I cleaned it.

It didn’t take me long.

Today I folded my clothes.

Clothes that had been living in baskets since this all began.

I put them away.

I threw away things that were stained or otherwise unwearable.

There’s a semblance of organization, even though I can’t use my drawers and such in the spare room.

I can find things again.

I uncovered shirts that I’ve been looking for, for months.

It didn’t take me long.

Today I washed the mat that sits under my dish rack.

The one that was covered with grime and gross

things

that grow in standing water.

I scrubbed it and bleached it and left it to dry.

I organized the spices that had been spilling over onto the stove.

Random bottles of exciting things that no longer had a place.

Wonder Woman helped by putting up the spice racks I had bought.

The ones that had been sitting in the box since they were delivered,

months and months ago.

I could see my stove again.

The stove that was covered in grease and bits of random food that had fallen down into the burners.

The stove that I wouldn’t even touch with my sponge because it was too dirty.

Soapy paper towels,

more and more,

until it was white again.

A magic eraser took care of the baked on stuff that had been left, burned into the enamel.

It didn’t take me long.

I’ve felt this blanket of depression sitting on me for months and months.

No matter how good I felt I still felt

off.

The medication was supposed to be helping with my depression.

But the trauma unit didn’t feel that it was.

I’ve wondered for quite some time.

I feel much better.

Even though I’m still sleeping most of the day away.

I feel like I can accomplish things again.

I feel more like me.

It has taken too long.

Chicken Caprese

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I made Chicken Caprese tonight.

I’ve been cooking more often but it’s been quick oven meals, slow cooker meals, or dump and go instant pot stuff.

None of the really good food that I used to make.

But this week I menu planned, and added back some of the yummier stuff that we’ve always liked.

I’m still in this weird period of flux where I’m doing

so

much

better.

But at the same time,

I’m not.

I woke up at 830 this morning,

fought and fought to get myself out of bed.

Tried to bribe myself with activities or coffee.

Pushed and pushed and pushed.

And woke up at 930 when my alarm went off, signaling an upcoming appointment.

I snoozed.

I snoozed.

I snoozed.

And then I begrudgingly rolled out of bed.

After my appointment I wanted to climb back in,

but we had other things scheduled for today.

I can’t figure out why it’s so hard for me to wake up.

I’ve cut out most of my sleeping meds.

The only one I’m still taking is my nightmare med,

which shouldn’t make me that tired.

Because I’m not taking the sleeping meds, it’s taking me a really long time to fall asleep.

I typically get up after an hour, and try again an hour later.

But I’m still not going to bed all that late.

I just need

so

much

sleep.

But tonight I cooked Chicken Caprese.

I stood at the stove and mixed the fragrant ingredients, setting timer after timer to keep myself on track.

It was hot and miserable, but still fun and enjoyable.

I miss cooking like that.

I like that I’m getting my old self back.

The one that finds enjoyment in life.

But I wish it would happen quicker.

Give me my life back, damnit.

He showed up in my dreams again last night.

I can’t remember most of it.

But I remember him standing there, rigid and stern.

The look he got when he was about to lose his shit.

The look he got when I messed up,

again.

Today when I was cooking,

and really when I do much of anything,

I fear messing up.

I fear the disappointment,

or the wrath that might come.

But it’s not coming from anyone near me anymore.

I’m surrounded by love and light.

People who accept me for me.

People who love me as I am.

People who love me,

even when I mess up.

It’s hard to internalize that love though.

It’s hard to recognize that I don’t have to be perfect to be lovable.

That sometimes, people even love me because of the times I mess up.

Unconditional love is hard to understand,

when I grew up feeling like I was only loved when I was perfect.

When I met someone else’s standard of being.

But I’m learning to give myself grace.

To love myself even when I mess up.

To love myself.

Sleep

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I feel so so much better.

Except I don’t.

I’m sleeping too much.

Way too much.

And I’m having a hard time getting myself into the shower.

But my dishes are done.

Meals are planned around food we already had in the freezer.

I’m cooking more often.

My kitchen still isn’t clean.

Clean pots and pans are stacked on a stove that is covered in crumbs and spills.

But the dishes are done regularly, and that’s a big deal.

The spices sit all unorganized on the counter instead of in the cabinet (where they no longer fit anyway).

The bottles are spilling over onto the stove.

The kitchen is kind of a disaster, honestly.

But I’m finding more joy in my activities.

I’m leaving the house regularly.

I’m brushing my teeth.

Things that I shouldn’t feel like I deserve an award for, but I do.

Because they are hard.

Hard, hard.

I feel like PHP is at the end of its usefulness.

But I also don’t feel,

healed.

But I’m not sure I’m going to continue healing in PHP.

I’m not sure I need that to keep moving forward anymore.

I’ve come a long way since the day the silence was broken by a gunshot.

I’ve healed so much.

And now it just feels like the

normal depression is still holding me back.

But I’m not sure what to fill my time with if I’m not doing PHP.

My boss isn’t ready to bring me back to work, he has his own stuff going on that needs to be straightened out before he can rehire me.

I don’t want to look for another job because I need the flexibility that came from working for family.

I need the level of understanding that came with that job.

The ability to take a day off here, and work extra hours there.

Or just take a day off without making the hours up.

I need the boss that checked in to make sure I was still doing okay.

That there wasn’t too much piling up

(even though there normally was).

I miss working, and I’m ready to go back.

But what do I do if I’m not working, and I’m not doing PHP.

I did that for years, and I can’t remember what it was like.

I feel like it’s existing without purpose.

It’s a big deal that I’m not ready to go back to nothingness.

It’s a big deal that I need something to occupy my time.

For years I was happy existing with no structure.

No ebb and flow to my days.

Nothing but doctors appointments that seemed to never end.

But now I’m afraid to leave the program behind without having something to take its place.

I have grown so much over the years.

And that day the silence was broken by a gunshot knocked me down a few steps.

But I feel like I’m finally climbing up to the top.

Old Houses

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’ve been dreaming about my dad a lot.

The dreams always take place at his old house, the one I helped him build, the one I spent every other weekend at for most of my childhood years.

We made a lot of memories in that home.

I was sad when he sold it.

I remember climbing on the roof putting shingles on.

I remember him throwing a priced pencil set across the room because I didn’t put it away.

I remember playing in the giant hole where the foundation was dug out.

I remember being called Butch when I got my hair cut short for the first time.

I remember laying bricks, learning how to put just the right amount of mortar on.

I remember realizing Dad was racist, when he was talking about his brick layer.

I remember playing on “Mt. Tina,” the giant pile of dirt where they dug the basement out.

That’s the house I envision when I envision my father.

I only visited him a handful of times at the Florida house.

So that’s not where he is in my dreams.

I dream about him every few nights.

Dreams that take place after he shot himself, but he’s still alive.

A weird dichotomy where I know he’s dead, but I know he’s alive.

The dreams don’t really upset me, most of the time.

But, he tried to kill me in one of them and I screamed out,

scaring Wonder Woman who was sleeping beside me.

I’m pretty upset that I dream about him so often.

In the three months since he’s died, he’s shown up in my dreams more times than Parker ever has.

And she’s been dead for four and a half years.

This wasn’t what I planned to write about today.

I planned to write about pulling out an old hobby.

A friend gifted me a small diamond painting and it reminded me of how many hours I spent doing them a few years ago.

I didn’t realize I missed it until I started doing it again.

Relaxing in a meditative sort of way.

An activity that I get completely immersed in,

focusing on matching each symbol in turn as I work my way around the canvas.

It’s a silly activity.

One that will leave me with giant canvases full of plastic “diamonds.”

Art that I will never do anything with.

But it occupies my mind and my hands.

It gives me something to do on these long winter nights while Covid keeps me trapped inside.

I texted my cousin this week.

Told him I was ready to come back to work a few hours a week.

When he has something for me to do.

It feels like an achievement.

Like I’m healing.

Like I’m getting my life back.

It’s about time.

Day 21

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Mention of suicide, mention of gunshot, mention of gore.

I skipped a day again.

But missing 2 days this month isn’t really all that bad, and I don’t really have something to write about every day right now.

I slept till almost noon today.

Didn’t even do my wakeup at 7am to roll over and go back to sleep.

I just slept.

I feel bad for sleeping so much. I’m in bed by midnight at the latest, and sleeping at least 12 hours almost every night.

Partly it’s the sleeping meds.

Partly it’s depression.

Partly it’s still healing from trauma.

It feels like it’s taking so long.

I’m shaming myself for all the things I can’t do, and it’s hard to focus on what I am doing.

For all the things I can’t do, yet.

I keep trying to remind myself that it’s okay that I’m not back to where I was.

I’ll get there.

Apparently, it’s just going to take more time than I like.

My therapist said yesterday that this may not be as much depression, as it is shutting down from the trauma.

Still blocking emotions out.

I feel so flat.

Even things I normally enjoy are just,

flat.

I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning because there’s nothing to look forward to.

It’s nice not being suicidal, but I miss,

living.

I was living my best life, and now I’m just struggling to get out of bed each day.

And I’m trying to be gentle with myself, while also pushing enough that I keep progressing.

But honestly, it’s hard.

It’s hard not to feel like I’m failing.

It’s hard not to feel like I’m letting people down.

It’s hard not to feel like I’m letting myself down.

Healing is exhausting.

And I’m still angry.

Fuck him for taking my stability.

Truly, fuck him.

It’s quiet in the house right now.

I keep forgetting to turn on music but yet, the silence allows the intrusive memories to come.

Fuck him for making every memory of that week turn into a gunshot.

Into a gory image of him in a wheelchair with blood dripping from his face.

Into an image of blood caked on the front of the wheelchair.

Into an image of my sister scrubbing the remnants out of the carpet.

Fuck him.

I’m having bbq, bacon wrapped, shrimp for Thanksgiving.

Wonder Woman hates seafood, hates the smell of it, so I only really cook it when she’s out of town.

My dad used to have seafood for holiday dinners.

It was nice because I’d have a traditional holiday meal at my mom’s house,

and then I’d go to my dad’s and have a seafood feast.

He always made the bbq bacon wrapped shrimp.

I miss it.

It’s been years and years since we’ve had a meal like that.

Years and years since he said “Dad is great, dad is good, lets thank dad for this meal.”

Years and years since he screamed at me for not cleaning fast enough before my sister got there.

Years and years.

I don’t miss him.

I don’t miss the forced phone calls that I tried to make each week because he was an old lonely man who had no other contact with the outside world.

I don’t miss the overwhelming anxiety when I would go for a visit.

I don’t miss the sound of him screaming because I didn’t do things the way that he wanted.

I don’t miss him.

Fuck him.

Fuck him for setting me back so far.

Day 19

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Two steps forward.

One step back.

I cancelled almost everything today.

I showed up late to PHP, and was thankful when we ended both groups early.

I cancelled meeting up with a friend.

I cancelled my doctors appointment.

I barely made it out to the store to pick up a medication I had run out of.

Part of it is that I’m flaring right now.

Every joint hurts.

A burning pain that makes me want to cry.

But I don’t.

Honestly, I look just like I look any other day.

I just,

deal with it.

Silently.

But inside I’m screaming.

And, it was also depression.

I could feel it gripping at me, holding me back.

Holding me down in bed this morning.

Holding me back from leaving the house.

Some days it’s releasing its grip enough to let me function almost normally.

Whatever that is.

But today it held firm.

I pushed through some this afternoon.

Staring at my design software I stopped scrolling Facebook long enough to work on some cards.

I kept having to push every step of the way.

I would make a few edits and find myself mindlessly scrolling again.

I would cut a few pages and catch myself mindlessly reading post after post.

Eventually I’d get them put together.

I managed to make 12 cards today.

I was wading through the thickest mud though.

Even writing this,

I’m forcing myself to stay on track.

I keep getting distracted by everything.

Zoning off into the distance.

Two steps forward.

One step back.

I’ll move forward again tomorrow.

Day 17

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Today has been productive.

It feels good.

I had PHP this morning.

I over slept.

I almost didn’t go at all.

But I did.

Afterwards I had coffee with a high school friend. Someone I probably haven’t seen since we graduated.

Or maybe in my Denny’s days right after high school.

Conversation flowed easily, and my ever present anxiety was quiet for a change.

We sat outside.

The cold wind threatening to blow our drinks over.

But it was nice to be around someone as worried about safety as I am.

We talked a lot about Covid.

About how our lives have changed.

And how it will never go back to the normal that was.

There will forever be a new normal.

It felt nice to socialize.

When I got home I was worn out.

The smallest things do that now.

But the coffee kept me going.

I spent this evening filling envelopes with already created cards.

I’ve made 64 so far.

I need to make another 33.

I’m having so much fun with them, so much love is going into these pieces of paper.

And I’m surrounded by so much love.

I remember being in school, horribly bullied, with no idea what was wrong with me.

Or what I was doing wrong.

Now, I’m surrounded by a support system bigger than most people have.

All of you that read my posts.

Some silently.

Some reacting.

Some commenting.

The people inviting me out for coffee and walks.

The people keeping me company over zoom or at bonfires.

It’s nice to be so loved.

It’s nice to be able to feel that love.

Instead of being surrounded by a fog that won’t let it in.

I’m feeling better every day.

I’m sure rough times will come again, but I’m also sure I can handle them.

For now, though, I’m going to enjoy the clear blue skies.

Day 16

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I skipped a day.

Nothing was really happening and I couldn’t figure out a topic to write about, so I kept waiting for inspiration.

And thought about it one last time as I was dozing off.

It gets boring for me to write “day in the life” posts day after day with no real content.

No real direction.

Especially when each day, looks like the day before, and the day before, and the day before.

Quarantine life is so damn boring.

I’ve taken two naps today, short naps, but still, laying down and dozing off.

I’m just not feeling 100%.

Partially its still depression, partially it’s that boredom of every day feeling like the last.

Today was a good day though.

I had PHP this morning, and group therapy was really productive.

I love when I end a group feeling like I have more insight than I did when it started.

After PHP I went for a walk with a derby friend. Someone who I haven’t seen since last season.

There hasn’t really been a season this year.

We walked slowly, stopping often for her dog to sniff around, and just talked.

We stayed distant from each other on the path, giving each other air hugs from 6 feet away before we left.

This new normal is odd, but finding safe ways to socialize is important.

I have coffee with another friend tomorrow, and then we’re repeating today’s walk on Thursday.

Sunday, Wonder Woman and I are having a friend over for another bonfire.

Quite a socially busy week for me, and it feels so good.

It feels good to have interest in this again.

It feels good to push myself not to cancel, because depression and anxiety want to get in the way.

But I’m not letting them.

I’m worth the fight.

I’m working on making socially distant plans with friends for next week.

I’ll be alone for a few days, and while I’m looking forward to the “me time,” I also don’t want to open myself up for the thoughts to creep back in.

Quiet is good, but getting myself stuck in the house isn’t.

I also have plans to turn up the music and get some serious cleaning done around here.

From months of staying at home, to long stretches of depression, my house is worse than it’s ever been.

I plan to get it back under control while she’s gone.

Organize my space to organize my mind.

I feel so much better though. I feel like the meds are working, I feel more like,

me.