We Missed Out

This is a Really Real . . . well, a lot of things, post.

TW: Suicidal Thoughts Mentioned. Death Mentioned.

I’m sitting at an antique kitchen table, the light overhead the only one illuminating the expansive and open area.

Wonder Woman is asleep in a recliner in the connected living room. The Mountain Goats are playing quietly on the portable speaker that she was thoughtful enough to bring with us.

I almost fell asleep on the couch, cuddled up under my favorite blanket that I brought from home. Unfortunately I can’t fall asleep without my CPAP. But time slipped away as I laid there with my eyes closed.

Now the music has ended and I hear Wonder Woman snoring ever so quietly. The tap tap tap of Siah’s nails against the old linoleum floor. I wish she would relax and lay down some place, the constant noise of her nails makes me anxious.

I’ve wanted to write all day, but couldn’t quite figure out what to write about. I didn’t want to interrupt our quiet time together anyway.

My brain has been quiet for over 24 hours. The dreams and nightmares I had last night just quietly passed by, without the anxious reaction that they normally cause.

I didn’t realize how loud my brain has been since I went to my dad’s house, nearly a month ago. First there was worry about caring for him, and then there was the trauma of his death.

I mentioned to Wonder Woman earlier that I felt more connected to her than I have in awhile. Not because anything was wrong with us, or because we’ve done anything differently, but because trauma takes up so much emotional space that it’s hard to find room to truly connect.

I would notice how loud it was and how much space it was taking up when it was distressing. The times when my Facebook posts were quick and terse and scary. The times when I wasn’t sure I’d make it through this. At those times the noise is apparent.

But during the times when it’s just there, when I feel like it’s quieted down and is just gently simmering in the background, I didn’t realize how much space it was still taking up.

I suspect that some day I’ll look back on this vacation and see that it’s still taking up a lot of space.

But right now it seems quiet. It’s quiet enough that I can lay still and awake on the sofa with my eyes closed. I don’t feel the need to fill every moment with, something, until I pass out full of medications at night.

But there’s still a quiet thought in the background. Something completely unrelated to my current trauma, but a reminder that past traumas are always with me.

I walked into a game and toy store that sells wooden toys and puzzles and games. It’s a store that we came to last time we were here and I was so glad to see that they were still open, they had just moved one street over. I was talking to the owner, a woman who talks about so many different things because she’s just happy to have company for a few minutes. I told her, “My son is nearly 21 now, but this is exactly the kind of place I would have brought him to when he was a kid.”

Back when Parker was alive.

I wish we could have come to a town like this. I wish we could have experienced the long drive through the mountains to get here. I wish we could have seen the sun set over the rolling hills in the distance. I wish we could have seen how different the colors are, just from the difference in elevation.

I wish.

And I feel guilty for thinking about Parker, and thinking about old times, and thinking about how things were . . . while I’m on this amazing vacation.

But those times make me appreciate what I have now.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re still pretty poor, and it takes family help for us to experience these sorts of things, especially when it’s been a month since I last worked.

But this is a different sort of poor. This is the kind of poor where I can afford to buy something I forgot when I was packing for the trip. The kind of poor where we can stop for something to eat on the road instead of packing a cooler.

I’m sad that Parker died without experiencing this kind of poor with me.

I’m sad that Kidlet grew up without experiencing this kind of poor with me.

My bottle squeaks as I open it and Wonder Woman jumps awake to make sure I’m okay. I feel bad that I woke her up from that peaceful evening nap.

But she’s already fast asleep again.

It’s so quiet here. The music has stopped playing, the dog is finally resting on the carpet, and I can hear the bugs outside. I hear the wind gently blowing through the long grass in the field just beyond the little cottage we’re staying in.

This is a kind of peaceful that I don’t get to experience often.

And my brain is quiet.

I wonder if Wonder Woman jerked awake because she was afraid that she’d left me alone too long.

But the suicidal thoughts are quiet.

We talk of future trips and visits overseas and she says “But you have to stay alive that long.”

We’ve eaten at a restaurant within a local resort and Wonder Woman mentioned that she could see us vacationing in a place like that when we’re old and want everything close by.

“But you have to stay alive that long.”

I feel guilty that she even has to say that. I feel guilty because I know those thoughts tear us both apart. They aren’t just scary for me, they are scary for everyone around me.

But they are quiet right now.

I shiver slightly as the cool night air blows through one of the still open windows. I don’t want to get up and close it because I don’t want to disturb her again.

We’re both experiencing a sort of peace here that we rarely get.

I know there’s always the possibility that the peace will be broken before we leave. I don’t get to decide when trauma will speak up and remind me that it still exists.

But right now I’m going to sit here and enjoy the sound of the bugs, and the feel of the cool breeze coming in the window. And I’m going to listen to Wonder Woman peacefully sleeping.

And I’ll deal with everything else, when it gets here.

Lost Stability

This is a Really Real Trauma Post.

And a Really Real Mental Health Post, because the two go together.

TW: Mention of Suicidal Thoughts. Mention of Completed Suicide.

These have been long lately, thanks for those who are reading along.

First for the good news.

I’m wearing headphones and not freaking out, for the first time since that shot rang out.

I also turned off the hallway light tonight after we got home, without waiting for something to jump out from behind the shadows.

Slowly, I’m healing.

I’m taking note of the little things because maybe they’ll help me stop focusing on all of the bigger things.

Today I talked to my psychiatrist, she started off talking about raising my antidepressant, which we had been talking about a month or two ago.

I told her that was no longer the concern. The minor depression I had still been feeling when I was stable before wasn’t anywhere near as important as the current desire to end my life.

Or the sleep deprivation and nightmares.

And I realized, that’s part of what’s pissing me off so fucking much. Not only did this traumatize me, bringing with it, the previous traumas in my life.

Not only did this make me wobble in a really big way.

It did it when I was in a place of pretty solid stability. Yes, I was still slightly depressed. Yes, I was having problems focusing on work or other projects. Yes, it wasn’t perfect, but I was stable.

My feet were planted on solid ground and we were just making minor adjustments.

Today after PHP I laid in bed, unable to nap, but unwilling to be up. When Wonder Woman started mentioning going for a walk I got so angry with her. A rage that made me want to scream and yell at her. A rage that made me snap at her via text because I couldn’t trust myself to talk to her in person.

I haven’t felt that sort of rage in a long long time. I hate that side of me. I hate that it even exists.

I remember when I was finally fighting through the trauma of Parker’s death I sat on the kitchen floor and kicked the side of a shelving unit in. Using all of my force to release the rage brewing inside of me. So deep and solid with nowhere else to go but out. I started by drawing lines on my skin and by the end I was digging the pen in with all of my force. I remember that day, and I remember it being the day I measured my successes against. At least I wasn’t that bad anymore.

Today when I was talking to my psychiatrist, I told her I needed to be back on Abilify. The same medication I fought so hard to get off of because it makes me eat the house.

But I’m back to needing to be fat and alive rather than skinny and dead.

And it fucking sucks. I was so proud of myself for being able to brush away any suicidal thoughts that I had, even without the help of that medication. I was so proud of myself for being able to ignore them, or distract myself from them.

And now they are back with a vengeance. That rage turned inward taking away my will to exist.

I just want to go to sleep and never wake up, unless waking up means this never happened.

I see myself with a gun to my head, I hear the gun shots that no longer sound like bangs in the back of my head but now sound like the pops that they truly are.

The sound of gunshots in the back of my head were always the first sign of a suicidal downswing. Hearing how those sounds have changed, and seeing that it truly would be a viable way out, if I had a gun. Now I not only relate a way out to pills, but also to guns. They are ways that I know will work, I’ve seen it first hand.

And I was stable.

I was stable.

Now the thoughts have a tight hold around my neck, squeezing tighter and tighter. The bed is my safe space. Holding the blanket tight around me means I can’t act on the urges.

The other day Wonder Woman, in reaction to a suicidal post, told me she knew that if I looked hard enough I could find what I needed around here. No matter how careful we are to keep things locked up, if I tried hard enough, anything in this house could be a tool for my death.

So when the thoughts are bad, I put myself in bed. As long as I don’t step foot out from under those covers I can’t do any harm.

And while I’m there the shots can ring out in the back of my head, and the urges can come all they want, but I can’t act on them.

But that same survival mechanism allows for the thoughts to twist and turn and get stronger and stronger and louder and louder.

Being in bed is both the best and the worst place for me.

I’ve started walking late at night with my old gym buddy. We are doing super short walks for now, but plan to build up our strength and stamina again. Maybe one day soon I’ll be back in the gym where you can’t tell the sweat from the tears. Maybe I’ll be back to working it out that way.

But for now we just walk our little circle around the neighborhood, sometimes talking, sometimes silently, becoming accountability buddies for each other.

Just like before.

Just like the last time I healed from finding someone dead.

This sucks, but sometimes I can see myself getting back to stability. Sometimes I can remember that I did this once, and I will do it again.

Sometimes.

The rest of the time I just have to fight to hold on. Live from one Starbucks trip to the next.

Just make it one more day.

One more hour.

One more minute.

One more second.

And to think, just a few short weeks ago, I was stable.

He took that from me with the same shot that took his life from him.

Suicide doesn’t end the pain, it just gives it to those who are left behind.

I guess there’s a reason for this rage that keep building up inside of me.

This isn’t fair.

But I’m okay.

Or at least, I will be okay.

Music

This is a Really Real Trauma post.

TW: Quick Mention of Completed Suicide by Gunshot.

I inherited 3 more alexa echo dots when Dad died. We had bought them to set up throughout his house so that I could drop in and hear him where ever he was hanging out.

I was listening in on the one in his kitchen when he shot himself, which was part of what made things echo back and forth so much. But, that’s beside the point.

We already had a couple of them here, but with the addition of the ones from dad’s house, we have one in every room except for the spare room that Wonder Woman sees clients virtually in. Even in the bathroom, which is pretty awesome for playing and switching music while showering. (Or making those notes to myself that I inevitably think of while covered in soap and water.)

I almost always have music playing when I’m cleaning, and especially when I’m alone. If I’m moving throughout the house it’s usually via wireless earbuds.

Right now I can’t handle being cut off from the world via headphones, and even one headphone makes me feel vulnerable from that side. (One of many little things that are driving me nuts about this trauma).

Today I realized I could play music across all of our echo devices. No matter where I walked in the house I could hear Lizzo (my music of choice this afternoon) as I scurried to clean the bathroom and the kitchen (which of course, due to ADHD meant 100 little side trips to other things). But I could play it low enough that I still heard the doorknob as Wonder Woman got home from a quick grocery run and getting us Starbucks.

I apparently said something in PHP the last time I was there, that has stuck with a good friend of mine. I had forgotten about it, but she often brings up how she uses that tip on a regular basis.

If you can’t find the way straight through your struggles, find a way to work with it, over it, or around it.

This particular trauma is going to take a new set of work arounds as I learn the different triggers. It will take some stops and starts and it won’t be as quick or as easy as I want it to be.

But when I can’t push straight through, I can work with it, over it, or around it.

Road Trip

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Completed Suicide including some description.

I picked my sister up from the airport late last night. She had a choice between flying in last night, way past her bedtime, or this today at noon.

“I just need a hug.”

“I’ll be there tonight.”

Yesterday while I was still at dad’s place, I asked if we could fly Wonder Woman in, so I didn’t have to do the drive home alone. Wonder Woman quickly realized it would be $700 and 3 layovers for her to get here yesterday or today.

That just seemed excessive.

While Aimee was on the plane, texting back and forth with me, she had the idea that she could drive with me back to Baltimore, and fly further north from there.

We were both giddy with excitement over this idea. We rarely see each other, I think it’s been 3 years this time, and we’ve only done one other short road trip together, 17 years ago.

On the ride back to the hotel she made a list of things that needed to be handled before we could leave this godforsaken state. Tying up a few odds and ends, paying the boarder who will train Willow and then find her a new home, thanking the neighbors who have gone above and beyond.

We realized we could be on the road this afternoon, making it at least a few hours north before getting a room for the night. Aimee isn’t a drive all night kind of person, and honestly, it would be a horrible idea for me to let myself get that worn down right now.

I need my strength for fighting through the restless anxious nights ahead.

Last night Aimee got herself a room with 2 beds, just in case I couldn’t be alone. I slept in my own room though, leaving a light on in the bathroom because the dark seemed too scary. Comedians playing through my phone, as a reminder of home.

I, thankfully, didn’t have any nightmares, but I tossed and turned a lot, and each time I woke up I’d start ruminating about what I’d heard and seen. I’ve pieced together the scene before he died. The movie replaying in my head of him shuffling his way to the dining room, fighting to open the drawer where yet another handgun was hidden, I even see him hold his the gun in his shaking hands and put it in his mouth.

Of course I didn’t actually see these things, and I don’t know exactly how it played out, but minds are good at trying to fill in the blanks.

More than once I knew I wouldn’t be able to fall back asleep, figuring that 3 hours was all I’d get. And then that 4 hours. And then that 5 hours.

I actually slept until 7 this morning after going to bed at midnight. I call that a success, given what yesterday looked like. I haven’t slept through the night in more than a week, at some point that would be nice.

We will drive to the funeral home so that Aimee can sign some papers and we can arranged for dad’s cremation. We’ve discussed chucking the whole urn off the side of a bridge.

He’s always liked the water.

I feel like I can go back into dad’s house. The police said that there was just some spots on the rug, any carpet cleaner would get them out. We’ll have that room cleaned, and the bedroom where he pissed all over the floor more than once.

And if I can’t go in, I’ll drive over to the next middle of nowhere town and hang out while I wait for her to clean out the fridge, arrange for the disposal of hundreds of guns, throw away the still wet sheets and clothes in a dryer that never finished spinning.

I wonder when my head will stop spinning with these images, both imagined and real.

I won’t shed any tears over his death, good, fucking, riddance. But I may shed tears over what I heard and what I saw.

His one last traumatic gift to me.

But I’ll be okay.

I am, okay.

Tired

This is a Really Real Aging Parents post.

We have good days and bad days, and today is an incredibly difficult day.

I’m over tired and grumpy.

Today this is overwhelming, today I’m wondering what the fuck we were thinking. And Dad is having one of those times where he can’t find words, and hes bored and restless and I don’t feel like I have the patience for this.

I’m tired.

Sleep Deprived

This is a Really Real Aging Parents post.

Last night we were awake every 10 mins to an hour (although he did sleep for 3-4 hours after his sleep meds kicked in). He finally wanted to eat something at 1am, which scared me because it meant half asleep transferring to wheelchair and cooking for him (we don’t have a good setup for him to eat in bed). We’re getting good at changing soiled clothes and transferring from bed to wheelchair and back. We’re learning to trust each other and work as a team.I spent an hour or more on the phone trying to arrange his home care, we’ve gotten different answers from each person we’ve talked to, but he finally has an assessment with hospice sometime today. At least, that’s what the last person told me.Right now he’s deleting 2 months worth of emails (mostly junk), 1 at a time, and responding to emails by typing with 1 finger on each hand. He’ll be occupied for awhile, with only the occasional help needed when he clicks in the wrong place.This is hard work, but it’s also rewarding in its own way.I’m exhausted and will thankfully be getting some respite care this evening so that I can nap.