Shining light on all my dark splotches

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I just left therapy where we talked a lot about body image and why I am no longer able to be body positive like I once was.

I am pissed off at the body I inhabit.  I hate the skin that I am in.

At one point I worked out and I felt stronger, I lost weight, I felt I had control and was able to change the shape of this body of mine.

Now I have no control.

Medications have taken that control from me.

The same medication that reduced my suicidal thoughts has increased my weight and changed the distribution of my weight so that my abdomen is larger.

I am pissed off at the body I inhabit.  I hate the skin I am in.

I have an auto-inflammatory condition called hidradenitis suppurativa.

It causes painful abscesses, wounds, and tracts to develop in hair follicles and sweat glands in my underarms, breasts and groin.  When they heal they leave behind scar tissue.

My body is attacking itself.

I am pissed off at the body I inhabit. I hate the skin I am in.

Parker once asked me if I had to tell people I had HS. She was affirming that it was something to be ashamed of, something to hide.

I am afraid of sex, afraid of being seen naked because I’m fat and covered in sores and scar tissue. I can’t imagine that anyone, even Wonder Woman, would want to look at me. I hide my body. I have to fight against my own brain whenever I undress in front of her.

I am pissed off at the body I inhabit. I hate the skin I am in.

Even clothed I hate looking at myself in the mirror, my clothes no longer fit correctly, I’ve had to buy larger shirts. All I can see is my rolls and my fat. I see the parts of me that don’t fit in seats correctly.

“You’re pull up two chairs kinda big” is what my father once said.

I am pissed off at the body I inhabit. I hate the skin I am in.

I miss the days when I felt strong. I miss feeling beautiful.

I want to love the body I inhabit. Why can’t I love the skin I am in?

Maybe shining light on all of these dark thoughts is the beginning to loving myself again.

 

Windows Wide Open

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I had a really hard time getting out of bed this morning.

Like, drag myself by the scruff of the neck kicking and screaming kind of difficult.

It was a school morning, followed by therapy and I
just.
didn’t.
wanna.

But I did.

And when I got to school my chosen sister was there with her infant daughter and that made everything a little better.  And class was quite interesting as usual and that made everything a little better.  And therapy gave me a lot to work on and think about and that made everything a little better.

And then I got home and it was hot and stuffy in the house and I decided today was going to be the first day.

Windows.

Wide.

Open.

It’s one of my favorite days of the year.  The first day that I get to air out the house after a long winter of everything closed up.  The first day with the blinds open and the air blowing through.

I made calls that needed to be made, and washed dishes, and wrote an essay, and did lots of adulting all while hearing papers blowing off table tops in the house and kids yelling outside.

It’s 6:30pm and it’s just starting to get that chill in the air but it’s not time to close up yet, the sun is starting to go down, the light through the front windows is perfect, shadows cast across the living room floor.

It’s the first day.  Maybe not the first day of spring yet, maybe not the last day of cold weather yet, but it’s that first day that lets me know that spring is coming and soon, soon I can pack away the coats and the winter clothes.

So, I had a really hard time waking up this morning, but I didn’t let it destroy the whole day.  I didn’t let depression take hold today.  I turned it around and made it a better day.

It’s the first day.

Windows.

Wide.

Open.

Good Morning

This is a Really Real Life Post.

Or maybe a Really Real Appreciation of Life Post.

I cleaned out the fridge yesterday.

That makes a whole lot of dishes, because we’re horrible about eating leftovers, and I’m horrible about cooking the right amount of food (but I’m getting better at it).

That meant after taking the trash and recycling out, I had a sink full of nasty Tupperware that needed to be addressed, and couldn’t be put off.

I was already ouchy just from the fridge and trash.  I mean, lets break this down some.  Opening and emptying each of the containers took a toll on the joints in my fingers.  When you live with chronic pain, each individual part of a job becomes very noticeable, it’s no longer cleaning out the fridge as a whole.  Even grasping the cold bottles of pickles to move them around and get to other items is painful.

But this is supposed to be a post about appreciating life, you say, well I’m getting there.

So last night I did up the dozen Tupperware containers and few cups, and our drainer was overflowing.  I later cooked dinner (Chicken Parmesan with frozen patties, nothing extravagant) and left those dishes for this morning.

We ate on paper plates to minimize the mess because I was kind of over it by then.

So this morning I’m staring at a stove top with soaking pots and pans from noodles and sauce, and a drainer full of Tupperware that needs to be dried off the rest of the way. . .

And I’m thankful.

Because I’m capable of doing this stuff now.

And a few years ago I would have thrown up my hands in complete overwhelm and needed to get someone else to handle it.

A few years ago I had a home health aid partially to help with the dishes that I couldn’t handle so that it didn’t only fall on my late wife and son.

A few years ago I couldn’t have stood long enough to do the trash and the fridge and the dishes without taking a long break.

So as frustrated as I was to stare at more dishes this morning, and to realize (again) that  this homemaker thing is a never ending set of tasks that I have a love/hate relationship with, I was thankful.

Even though it hurts I now have the ability to push through.

I’m thankful for this life I have now, because at one point, all I wanted was this.

In My Own Words

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post

A year ago today I made one of my longer posts detailing my suicidal ideations.

One of the posts that shined some light into the dark space that is my depression, a post that helped put a voice to my suicidal thoughts.

I’ve shown you the deep and the dark and the ugly.  I’ve shown you the up and the manic and the seemingly pretty that can quickly become uncontrollably unstable.  I’ve shown you the stability in the middle where it seems like everything might be okay, like I just might have a chance.

Until the next time.

Reading my own suicidal words from a place of relative stability, so black and white, so harshly laid out, seeing the dark black hole that I was in, is hard, hard stuff.

I want to go wrap my arms around year ago me, the me that knew, maybe, I’d make it out if I just held on.

The person that wrote those words seems like a foreigner to me, I don’t speak that language right now, it’s too dark, filled with too much pain and anguish, I’m not that person and I don’t live in that world.

And I know I will again, but I think the benefit to laying this out on the screen is that I see these memories and see that I will have both.  The dark doesn’t last forever, but neither does the light.  I am not either, I am everything in between.

I am all of the complexities that make up human emotions, even if mine sometimes go too far in one direction or the other due to chemical imbalances.  None of them are right or wrong, good or bad.

The more I learn to sit with the thoughts, feelings, and emotions, instead of identifying with, fighting against, and reacting to them, the easier it becomes to ride the waves.

Seeing where I was is a gift.  A hard gift to receive, but still a gift.  I can be far more grateful for the light when I recognize just how dark, dark can be.  I can better recognize my growth, when I see exactly where I came from.

That post, a year ago, was the first signs of a really long period of destabilization for me.  It was a mixed episode that lasted months and just didn’t want to let up.

I finished that post by writing:

“And if it all falls apart, that’s fine too, because I’ll still be alive to try again.”

It did all fall apart for awhile, and it really was fine, and here I am on the other side.

Trying, again.

 

Chains

Today was mostly a good day. I had a long list of things to do, a couple of appointments out of the house, the gym, grocery store, making dinner.

I overslept, woke up feeling kind of drugged, that sleep where you can’t tell if you didn’t sleep enough, or you slept too much, or even if you slept at all because you’ve just been out cold and don’t want to wake up now that you’ve opened your eyes.

I had my rides set up, my laptop on me, and got to spend most of the day hanging out in a few different coffee shops playing around online, looking at what part time online jobs are out there while also writing and people watching.

Therapy went well and the topics led right into my psych med appointment which also went well. Changes are being made to make it easier for me with school, hopefully.

But a few different times today I was caught off guard by thought chains, one thing leading to another, causing a series of emotions right along with them.

I’ve been wearing Parker’s winter coat as my own. It doesn’t make sense for it to waste away in a bin and it fits better than anything that’s been given to me. I still can’t afford a winter coat and it’s finally cold enough that a hoodie, even lined, isn’t cutting it anymore. Her old coat is thick and warm and I’ve been told it looks good on me, but it’s so different from anything I’d normally wear.

It’s definitely not pink.

Anyway.

Today while I was walking from my pdoc appointment to go kill more time in a coffee shop, I walked past a book store and I started thinking about all of the hours and hours Parker and I used to spend in libraries while we lived in the shelter. We had to leave at 8am and come back at 5 pm and spend the whole day figuring out how to occupy our time and not freeze. We had our backpacks with our laptops and we would spend time sitting in the various libraries around Baltimore playing games and watching movies.

I would spend hours researching how we were going to make it out of the situation we were in. What programs were available, what was the next thing I could call about or follow up on.

Or I would look into her or my medical conditions. What could I find that wasn’t being checked, what were they missing. What was going to make us better.

And that thought led me to how much better I’m doing now.

And how much better I’m handling what’s still there. I need to follow up with some new pain management options that I’ve been putting off.

How many hours did Parker and I spend walking the city with her in the same coat I’m wearing now. How many doctors appointments did she take it to?

By then I had gotten where I was going and my thoughts dissolved into other randomness. My memories were mostly happy, with a tinge of grief. We really did make the best of a horrible situation during those months, and we found ways to have a really good time while being fucking homeless.

Tonight I got caught up in another chain, one of the ones that hits me when I’m most overwhelmed.

I ran late getting home from the gym and planned to throw dinner on real quick.

Except I realized the kitchen wasn’t clean.

And it wasn’t clean because I overslept and I was going to clean it up in the morning.

And I couldn’t clean it last night because I was hurting so badly

And I was hurting so badly because I forgot my meds all day.

And now dinner was going to be even later because I fucked up so many things.

So I yelled out.

“I’m overwhelmed!”

And I let the thought chain keep playing and running amok in the back of my head while I got to work finding my way out of the situation I was in.

Eventually dinner was cooking in the Instant Pot, and while it was cooking I was able to do the rest of the dishes, and by the time we ate I had a clean kitchen and mostly yummy sausage and peppers and my bad mood and overwhelm had subsided because I let myself feel all of my feels but kept moving forward.

I’m glad today was a good day, even with the rough moments and thought chains.

I’m glad I had a good day to write about.


Old Me

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

A really great friend posted an Emily McDowell quote about the concept of  New Year/New You and how it’s great and all, but the old you got you through everything up till now, so don’t forget about celebrating her.

I try not to do New Years Resolutions because they have like, a 95% failure rate (that’s a figure I just pulled out of my ass, nothing scientific to back it up, but it seems about right.)  But, like a lot of other people, I tend to reflect on the previous year on New Years Eve.

This year was a lot about survival for me.  But a different sort of survival.  I’ve spent a lot of years trying to make sure we stayed alive with a roof over our head and food to eat and basic lowest level Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs stuff, but this was the first year I got really suicidal and didn’t run inpatient because I realized that the thoughts weren’t going to kill me, as scary as they are.   

This year was about surviving my own brain and a lot of what old me has gotten me through in the past has absolutely gotten me through this year.  And I’m not sure why my eyes just welled up with tears typing that sentence, but it’s true.

Growth is amazing, and I’m learning and growing so much.  I wouldn’t still be alive if I hadn’t started living and growing and moving, or at the very least it wouldn’t be much of a life.  But being able to sit in misery and not make it worse, is actually a skill.  And it’s one I had to get good at for a lot of years. 

Don’t dig myself in deeper while trying to survive the pit of shit I’m in now.   

As much as I keep growing, the core of who I am is still the same.  As good and as bad as that is.  I’m a survivor, and sometimes those old skills keep me stuck, but sometimes they are just what I need to get me through the day.

While I’m throwing out the old to make room for the new, I need to keep in mind that a lot of that old stuff kept me alive this long.  And yeah, it’s going to take new skills to truly thrive, but I can’t forget about celebrating the old me that stayed alive to get me to this point.

     

Lens

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I wonder how people see me.

And this isn’t a post asking for affirmations.

It is something I honestly wonder sometimes.  How do I look to the outside world, without the lens I see myself through. 

How do I look through Wonder Woman’s lens, not just physically, but emotionally, as a person, how does she see me.

What do I look like through the lens of my closest friends who have never actually seen me in person.  How do they picture me in their minds eye when they have only met me through words on a screen.  

What do my other friends see when they look at me?  What do they think when they see me?  Who am I through each persons personal lens.

What does my family see?  My parents?  My sisters?  The people I grew up with?

I wonder what I look like, physically through these other lenses.  Do they see the same flaws I do?  Am I the same size and shape, do my clothes fit the same way, does my style come across the same way as it does through my own lens?

Am I even making any sense?

What stands out and makes me beautiful?

I wonder what they envision when they see my spirit.  My soul.  The part of me that makes me tick.  The part of me that makes me, me.  I wonder what they think of when they think of me.  Who am I in everybody’s eyes?  

How many versions of me are there?

Which one is real?

I know who I try to be, what I try to get across.  I know that what I see in the mirror changes based on my mood and whose voice I hear in my head when I’m looking that day.

I know that my sense of self changes based on my mood too.  Some days I can feel my worth, other days I can’t.

I guess it doesn’t matter what I look like through the lens other people wear, but sometimes I get curious about how I come across.  I can share my words and my thoughts all day long but I still wonder if people actually know and understand who I really am.

I still feel really misunderstood a lot of the time.

I appreciate that people keep listening though.

And I still wonder, what do I look like?