Fat.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m fat.

And I don’t say that as a dig at myself. It’s just one of those matter of fact things. I take up a lot of space. More than the typical person. More than a lot of “plus size” people. More than they plan for at some doctors offices (chairs with arms, anyone?), at theaters, in restaurants (hey, lets fit between these two tables), and definitely,

definitely,

more than they plan for on planes.

For a long while I flew with two seats, because, well, if the armrest won’t go down, you have to buy a second seat. My hips don’t lie.  They also didn’t squish any smaller.

But, I’m super excited that I finally fit into one seat. It saves a lot of money (or in this case airline miles since my sister is nice enough to fly me down to see my dad). But even in one seat it’s not the most comfortable thing for me, or the person in the seat next to me.

Do they say anything directly? Of course not . . . but my anxiety gets the best of me. They cover their phone with their hand while they quickly type as I fumble with the seat belt while waiting for the seat belt extender.

I’m fat.

And I don’t say that as a dig at myself, the armrests do enough digging into my hips. The bruises remind me that I’m not losing weight fast enough. That I should be doing more.

Surgery can’t come fast enough.

I try to remind myself that I’m allowed to take up space. With the next breath I remind myself that I’m being a good fatty and working to lose the weight. Maybe if everyone knew was trying so hard they wouldn’t judge me so much. I know they’re judging me, they always do.

Right?

I try to tell myself they aren’t paying attention but I feel the looks.

The person next to me adjusts in her seat and I try to scoot over further. But I got stuck in a window seat and I won’t fit through the window. There’s no where else for me to go, I’ve given her all the room I can.

At least I can’t be anxious about flying if I’m anxious about existing.

I remember the time I was told, “You’re pull up two chairs kinda big.” Well, not anymore, I only need one chair now, but I’m sure the person next to me wishes I had a second seat.

I’m fat.

And I don’t say that as a dig at myself, her elbow does enough digging into my side as she leans against the armrest. I check to see if she’s sleeping and just slid down. But she’s awake, watching her movie, with her elbow dug firmly into my side. I wonder if it’s intentional, her way of taking up space she feels she deserves.

I’m just a fat girl, it’s not like I feel anything anyway.

Not Just The Food

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

But also a Really Real Poverty Post.

Last night I got a quick reminder that food insecurity doesn’t end just because there is food in the house.

I was food insecure for a really long time. Parker, Kidlet and I relied on food pantries and handouts from friends and family and there were a lot of times I didn’t know how I was making it through the month. There were times I didn’t know where the next meal was coming from. There were times I ate less or didn’t eat because I was making sure everyone else got enough. There were times I ate food I didn’t like because throwing it away meant one less meal later in the month.

It hasn’t been like that in a few years now. I have plenty of food and even have problems with my limited cabinet space. (How many jars of borscht does one person need, love?) If we run out of an ingredient, I can replace it. If I change my mind about what I want for dinner, I can normally go buy something else. By logistical standards, I am no longer food insecure.

Last night I tried a new noodle replacement. Edamame noodles. They weren’t bad on their own, but mixed in with spaghetti sauce it was a horrible failure.

It was bad.

Wonder Woman couldn’t even hide her hatred of it and I don’t blame her.

I easily made her more (regular) noodles to eat with the rest of the spaghetti sauce while I tried like hell to eat mine.

I tried, I really tried.

But eventually I threw it away.

And then my brain told me, “You can’t eat anything else because you just wasted perfectly good food and there may not be enough food this month.”

Now, I know that’s bullshit. That food was NOT perfectly good.

It was perfectly horrible.

And I’m looking around my kitchen at bags of food sitting on the floor that wouldn’t fit into cabinets. I know I have a freezer that will barely stay closed because I just went shopping. I know there is plenty of food. I know there is money for more food.

But food insecurity doesn’t end just because there is food. Food insecurity is a trauma that doesn’t really go away that quickly.

I went to bed hungry last night. Unable to push past the voice that told me I wasn’t allowed to eat because I’d wasted the food I’d been allotted.

And yeah, one night without dinner isn’t the end of the world. I’m sure there are even those who are saying “You could afford to miss a few meals” (Oh, is that just my internal voice? I’m sure I heard it somewhere first. Who the fuck gave me these messages.)

Anyway, my point isn’t that I missed eating dinner last night. It’s that this stuff has lasting effects that a lot of people don’t think about. The internalized messages, because of poverty, that are so hard to overcome even after things stabilize.

It’s not just about getting food in the houses of people who are living in poverty.

It isn’t just about the food.

We Look Like You

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’ve heard it a few times before.

“You don’t look like you’re crazy.”

But what exactly does mental illness look like?

I sat in my DBT group today and couldn’t stay focused. I spent some time looking around at our group of 10 people, 12 if you count the instructors (who, as Social Workers, most likely have diagnoses of their own, it’s pretty common) and we are all different shapes, sizes, ages, backgrounds and education levels. This class is taught in modules with a few of us switching out every month and with me on my 37th week, I’ve seen a lot of people come through here. We all look different, we all have different stories.

None of us “look crazy.”

Well, maybe a few of us, especially those of us with pink and purple hair, and bright pink unicorn covered skirts and sparkly rainbow Docs.

That’s me, maybe I look a little crazy.

The other day on mobility there was a huge mix up and I got stuck on the bus without a drop off scheduled. “It’s really important that I don’t miss my therapy appointment, is this fixable quickly?”

“What? Are you one of those bipolar people, turn into the she-hulk or something, start hitting people with trash cans?” I told him it wasn’t quite like that. He says, “I don’t know, you look like you’ve got a streak in ya.”

What exactly does that streak look like? And we won’t go into just how wrong that entire conversation was, fuck that nonsense.

But, mental illness doesn’t have a look, and I’m amazed that there are people who think it does. It’s part of the stigma that still attached. You’re crazy therefore you must be visibly ill, visibly disheveled, you must wear it like a scarlet letter.

What exactly does mental illness look like?

It looks just like me.

It looks just like my neighbor down the street.

It looks just like that law student.

It looks just like that therapist.

It looks just like that EMT.

It looks just like your doctor.

It looks just like you.

How far?

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’ve written about this before, but it’s been getting worse again and I feel like not enough people talk about this type of mental health. It seems too “strange” to put it into words, and also, everyone experiences it differently which makes it harder to find commonalities. The typical type of dissociation that everyone can relate to, is zoning out when driving and having no real memory of going from point A to point B, maybe even driving home when you meant to go to the store because you were so out of it and just automatically followed your normal route.

This is my experience of it.

It happens at least once a day right now, but sometimes twice, or even three times. Sometimes more, maybe, I didn’t always count. But, I’ve started keeping track on my DBT diary card.

How big are my hands? Definitely too big for my body.

How far away is my computer screen? Why is it across the room when I’m sitting right here?

Why are sounds echoing when the room hasn’t changed?

My face seems to flicker, it feels like trying to watch something on Pay Per View when you didn’t pay for it, back in the days when that was a thing.

A mouth feel like biting on Styrofoam, and a taste to go with it. I don’t actually know what Styrofoam tastes like, but this must be it.

Why is everything too small for my hands?

How far does my spoon have to travel from my bowl to my face? Feeding myself becomes a chore, no longer an automatic task.

Don’t forget to chew.

My thoughts are slowed, I feel as if my speech is too. Those around me say they can’t notice anything different.

Derealization.

Dissociation.

Having names for it helps. It is a known thing, just a shift in my perception of reality, nothing has actually changed. Knowing I don’t seem to act differently to anyone else helps too.

I’ve learned to just keep moving through it, not let it stop me from whatever I was doing. It seems to pass quicker that way.

Some people are able to identify triggers that bring these episodes on. I haven’t found any regular ones yet. I know that talking about it makes it try to happen, but I can often fight that. I’ve been holding it back the entire time I’ve been writing this. Sometimes it happens when I’m bored and lost in thought, other times when I’ve read too long at the computer, sometimes when I’m stressed, sometimes when I’m happy, sometimes none of those seem to apply.

For some people grounding helps bring them out of an episode. For me, ignoring it and moving forward helps better. Grounding or mindfulness exercises just makes me focus on it and gives it more power.

Is dissociation something you cope with? If you feel comfortable sharing, let me know what yours feels like and your coping methods.

Lets shine some light into all of those dark spaces and help end the stigma.

 

Be Still

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning.

But I did.

First I woke up Wonder Woman and asked her to hold me and remind me that it was just depression and that I really did need to get up and go to the gym.

(I realize how lucky I am to have a woman who doesn’t get mad at me when I wake her up for those sorts of reminders. She even threw a “You’ll feel better afterwards” in there.)

And then I packed my bag with clothes for DBT and I went to the gym with Bat Woman and I did the things.

(And Wonder Woman wasn’t wrong. I felt a bit better afterwards.)

And then I went to DBT and participated fully.

And then I sat reading chapters and articles for school while waiting for mobility.

But I still feel like I’m just going through the motions.

I still feel like I’m walking through a fog.

Now that I’m home I want to go take a nap, and I can’t tell if that would be great self care, or if it would be giving into depression. It really could go either way.

I guess it depends on if I get up when I wake up the first time, or if I lay there for 3 hours wallowing in self pity about how this depression

just

won’t

let

go.

I appreciate the fact that my moods have stabilized on my current medications, however, I kind of miss the hypomania breaking the monotony of the depression.

The other one is, I definitely don’t miss actual crises occurring in my life. I’m so glad I’ve had this past year or two where I haven’t spent most of my time in therapy putting out fires and have instead been able to spend time healing from all of the trauma. But, I miss the rush of crisis mode.

I miss the adrenaline and emotional response that was needed to survive that sort of thing.

Maybe that’s part of my depression. Maybe I was just so used to living in crisis mode for so long that now when I stop, when there isn’t something to fix, a fire to put out, something to be reacting to . . .

Maybe I’m still learning how to just

be still.

I’ll get there.

Oh No, All Alone.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Today is one of those days where the only thing on my calendar is my date with gym.

Side note: Gym sure is a lucky person, they get to see me almost every day but I’m not quite sure I enjoy our dates. I’ve considered breaking up with them because sometimes I feel like the relationship is causing me pain, but I guess there are benefits in the long run.

Anyway, as I was saying. Today the only thing I have going on is a trip to the gym in a few minutes (yay for best friends who are also gym buddies and the accountability that goes along with that).  After the gym I have a long day of nothing except school work.

Lots of sitting around the house.

Lots of quiet.

Lots of time for my brain to get wrapped up in this depression.

This is the prime time for a problem.

I hate that being still and alone becomes such a problem for my brain.

And it’ll be worse later this week.

Wonder Woman is going out of town for a long weekend and as much as I’d love to say I’m a strong independent woman, I’m also scared of where my brain is going to go during my time alone. I have a whole four day weekend with no real plans, no real desire to make plans, every desire to hibernate, and every bit of knowledge that sitting still will let my brain wander into dangerous territory.

It’s too easy to let suicidal thoughts take hold when I’m alone and still.

But I’m always reminded of the days that I needed a babysitter because Parker was leaving town. I hate feeling like I’m still like that. I hate feeling like nothing has changed.

Maybe this time will be different. Maybe I’ll be just fine. Maybe I’ll suddenly be interested in everything around the house and I won’t have a problem.

Not likely.

I’ve grown so much but yet sometimes I feel like nothing has changed.

I’m a strong, independent, scared-to-be-alone, woman.

Brains are dumb.

Is That You?

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

Dear Parker,

Just typing those words brought tears to my eyes.

I can’t believe it’s been three years since I last heard your voice.

I can’t believe it’s been three years since I last saw you breathing.

You’ve missed too much.

Kidlet’s grown up now. He moved out to Seattle and lives with his girlfriend. You would be SO Fucking proud of the man he has become. He’s doing so much better than we ever did and I can only see him going further.

I’ve been fighting harder than we ever did when you were alive. That’s the one thing you gave to me by leaving. The will to go on. I realized what was at stake and I gave it everything. I’ve gotten so much healthier mentally and physically. As my favorite niece on your side would put it, I’ve pulled so many damn weeds and I’ve grown a lot of flowers in their place.

Speaking of my favorite niece on your side, you should see her now. She’s doing so well, but I’m sure she writes you her own letters. She’s such an amazing writer and her voice  . . oh, her voice. I can’t wait to attend her first major concert. She’s done so much work on herself since you’ve been gone.

There’s a firefly that’s been hanging out on my porch pretty much around the clock for the past week. Is that you? I don’t even know if I believe it could be you but the thing seems to be there every morning and every night when I take Siah out and it just won’t leave me alone, so maybe, just maybe . . .

I’m sorry that our last words were so hurtful. I’m sorry I was so angry. I’m sorry we went through so much and didn’t have any outlet except for each other. I wish I could take it all back.

And I wish you could have seen that it would get better. I wish you could be here to see the other side. I wish you wouldn’t have lost your battle with this soul sucking bullshit.

But I get it, I really do.

Sometimes I’m not sure how I keep going either.

I miss you, and I love you.