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This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopefully.

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

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.

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?

How Far I’ve Really Come

This starts as a Really Real Mental Health Post.

And ends as a Really Real Widow Post.

I can’t really believe how far I’ve come.

Each day that I work, I can’t believe I’m really doing this. I can’t believe I actually earned this money. I can’t believe how much earning this money really means. I can’t explain how good it feels.

Each problem I solve, each new task I conquer, and each fear I overcome, I’m amazed that this is who I am now. That this is what I am accomplishing.

I remember when I realized I couldn’t work anymore.  I remember the shit storm that lead up to that moment. I remember the heartbreak that came along with applying for disability.

I remember.

At the worst of this, I couldn’t leave my house. I couldn’t be left alone.

I remember.

And the truth is, I will probably end up back in the hospital some day. I will probably do another round or three of the partial hospital program. I will have countless more hours of therapy.

But I’ve come so so far.

So far.

I can see myself going further. I can see myself working full time. I can see myself becoming more comfortable in my own skin. I can see myself getting better at ignoring the constant anxiety running through my head.

It’s a big deal that I can see a future with further recovery.

It’s a big deal that I’m seeing a future without disability.

Without being disabled.

And there’s another side to this.

I remember watching Parker push through her own struggles to go to work and support the three of us while she was barely making it emotionally and physically.

I remember.

I love my life and I know everything that has happened has brought me to where I am now.

But still, I wonder.

If I could have worked before. If I could have shared some of the load. If I could have helped more. If I could have taken some of the weight off of her shoulders.

Would she still be alive?

If we had the money to pay the bills. If we had the money to keep the lights on. If we had the money to avoid the eviction notices. If we had the money to keep food in the fridge.

Would she still be alive?

I’ve come so far, and I’m doing so well. And I know her death is a big part of what pushed me towards my recovery. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am if things hadn’t happened exactly as they have.

Every success, every bit of growth, with every push towards recovery, is served with a small side dish of sadness.

But I can’t really believe how far I’ve come.

And I can’t wait to see how far I go.

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.

Not even waiting.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Things are going well.

Look at that. I said it. And, I’m not even waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Things are going well.

I’m enjoying this moment.

I mean, I could complain about little things, life isn’t perfect.  There isn’t enough time to work and write and craft and gym and make it to appointments and take of the house and and and.

But, things are going well.

I’ve walked away from derby. I started to dread every event, every practice. Even seeing the friends I have there wasn’t enough to overcome the blahs I felt about the entire thing.

So I decided to stop participating before I hate it.

Derby will always be there when I’m ready to go back.  If I’m ready to go back. But I doubt this is goodbye for good.

I’ll miss all of the friends I have there.

And, things are going well.

Like, there’s not a whole lot to write about, but I miss writing. It’s so much easier to write when I’m over the top hypomanic or when I’m so far under depression.

But, things are going well.

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.

Even when

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I know this is like, the third time I’ve written in 2 days, but writers block is finally gone so I need to get it all out.  Is this euthymia, or is this the beginning of hypomania . . that is the question.

Anyway.

Even when I’m doing poorly, I’m better than I was before.

I rode the bus today.

I didn’t really give it a second thought.  My therapist had an earlier cancellation, so I looked up the most direct route, and got on the bus.

I didn’t worry about how crowded it would be, even though it was close to rush hour.

I just rode the bus.

That wasn’t something I could do alone a few years ago. Something I had trouble doing even with other people.

And I’ve posted about this before, how amazing it is that I’ve come so far. But tonight I realized, even when I was at my most suicidal, in fact, the same night I ended up in the hospital, I rode the bus.

Even when I’m doing poorly, I’m better than I was before.

I’ve come so so far, and I’m still growing.

Six months ago when I flew to see my dad, I took so many anxiety meds to get through the 2 flights each way.  Probably too many. I still nearly shook on the plane and had a really hard time with my anxiety over flying while fat.

A few years before that, I wouldn’t have been able to make the trip alone at all.

And this past weekend, I realized on the last few minutes of the last flight, that I had gotten through the entire day without a single PRN anxiety medication.  I was more anxious about the actual act of flying than I was about people looking at me because of my size.  And even that anxiety wasn’t all that major.

I just, did the things.

“Be afraid, but do it anyway.”  That’s what I keep doing.

I start a part time job tomorrow.

I haven’t worked since 2011.

I seriously haven’t worked since 2011.

I had to go back and look at my SSA information to see if I was remembering that correctly.

I’ve volunteered on and off for the past 2 years but this will be my first, regular, paid employment in 9 years.

I’m afraid.

What if I fail. What if I can’t do this. What if it all falls apart.

What if I fall apart.

“Be afraid, but do it anyway.”

What if it goes well? What if it’s all okay?

 

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.

Love

This is a Really Real _____ Post.

Widowhood. Life. Relationship. Mental Health.

This is one is going to cover all of it.

Today I got messages from a few different people, telling me how amazing Wonder Woman is, and how amazing she is for me.

They weren’t telling me anything I didn’t already know.

I love the way she loves me.

I love the way she’s always there for me without ever trying to fix me.

I love how she makes me laugh whenever I take life too seriously.

I love the way she loves me.

And.

I love loving her.

No one ever said anything to me, but I knew. When I started dating Wonder Woman, people wondered if Parker was being replaced.

They didn’t want anyone trying to stand in Parker’s shoes.

And the thing is, no one can ever fill her shoes. I wouldn’t want anyone to.

Wonder Woman fills her own shoes.

There’s no comparing the two. Parker loved a completely different version of me.

Parker was great at loving the version of me that didn’t know how to stand on my own two feet. Parker was great at being the other half of me when I didn’t know I could be whole by myself. Parker was great at surviving utter chaos with me.

I loved the way she loved that version of me.

And I loved loving her.

But now I’m an entirely different person.

Widowhood does that.

Wonder Woman is great at loving this version of me.  I can’t imagine ever being anyone’s “other half” ever again. I’m too busy being my whole self. Wonder Woman is a great partner in life. She’s great at showing me I can stand on my own two feet when I forget how capable I am. She’s great at supporting me in being the best person I can be.

And the best person I can be is constantly changing. I’m regularly discovering bigger and better things I can accomplish.

I’m looking at job postings and not freaking out at the idea of applying. (I’m even working on my resume.)

I’m working on new and deeper DBT skills.

I’m getting better at riding the waves of bipolar.

I’m working through trauma and learning how to navigate the world without so many triggers. I’m also learning how to navigate the world of triggers when I need to.

I’m really enjoying my life as I push forward.

I love loving them.

I love loving my life.

I love.