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?  

Happy

Really Real Life Post

Or maybe Really Real Mental Health Post

This is kinda both.

In my facebook memories today I saw a meme that ended with “I hope the universe rewards you with happiness.”

And I thought, the universe has rewarded me with my happiness.

Not that I wasn’t happy before.  That was one thing Parker and I managed to find.  In the middle of drama and trauma and survival, we would find our happy and our joy and our love.

But right now I have a calm and chaos free kind of happy.

I still have bipolar, and anxiety,and PTSD, and “oh look a squirrel” that like to complicate things and make my world seem like it’s on fire from time to time.  I still have miserably depressed days that make it really hard to keep moving forward.  I still occasionally struggle with anxiety and my brain telling me this is all going to end, but that happens less often now.

I trust that I have stability.  I trust that I have housing permanence.  I’m not always waiting for the next crisis.  I trust that the floor is going to be there when I step out of bed each morning and that it’s not suddenly going to drop out from under me.

My weekly therapy sessions have gotten boring for the most part, and my therapist says that’s a good thing.  Of course that just means we can work a little more on the other stuff that we couldn’t get to because we were constantly putting out fires.

I’m saying all of this just to say that I’m happy.  I’m deep down, gut level, happy.  I’m not “finding the joy in the middle of the chaos” kind of happy, I’m just happy.  I’m able to ride the roller coaster of normal emotions, plus my mental health stuff, and come out with an okay outlook on things.

I’m still fighting depression right now.  But I’m realizing the two can happen at the same time.  Happy and depressed seems counter-intuitive but it’s not, really.  I’m happy with where my life is, I’m happy with the people in my life, I’m happy with where my life is headed and that I’m developing goals.  I’m happy with the stability.

I’m happy that I’m happy.  Which is a really big deal.  I didn’t know how to exist in a state of happiness before.

I’m happy.

And it feels really really good.

Judge

I love getting feedback about how my honesty helps others.  I love hearing how my speaking up is helping others to find their voice.  I’ve been sharing my story and speaking my truth in some format for as long as I can remember, but it’s changed.  From screaming about how unfair life is to explaining how this life can happen to anyone.  Rants about inadequate mental and physical health care slowly changed into posts about my grief journey and how I was “working it out” at the gym.  Slowly that has morphed into what it is today and I’m sure it will continue changing as I keep writing.

One thing that will never change is that quietly, in the background, there are people who are judging me.

When I was talking about homelessness and house fires and poverty, people were blaming me for not working harder and raising my child in a better situation.  When I was ranting and raving about doctors who wouldn’t take me seriously because I was on government health insurance and doctors who just saw me as a fat lazy female, there were people who were judging me because I shouldn’t be complaining about the care I got for free, or I should just lose weight like the doctors said and stop fighting all of their advice.

When I was grieving through joy, people were judging me because I wasn’t crying enough, I wasn’t sad enough, I didn’t wear my black veil and spend enough time in silent mourning.  They were judging me for living life large, for finding the joy, for proclaiming that I was enough and celebrating all of my successes despite losing my wife.

Today people are judging me for speaking up about mental health, about grief, about widowhood.  My “really real” posts are too real.  I share too much pain, too much sorrow, but also I’m judged for managing to be so dark one day, and find so much joy the next.

I’m judged for Parker’s death, and that’s something that will never change.  There are people who see it as being directly my fault, because I pushed her to it.  There are those who see it as being indirectly my fault, because I should have seen the signs or done more to help her.

It wouldn’t matter what I wrote or didn’t write.  What I said, or didn’t say.  There will always be someone in the shadows judging me.  I will always be too much or too little for someone, somewhere, sometime.

Instead of focusing on those who are judging me I choose to focus on what helps me, what do I need, what helps me process my grief, my mental health, my situation.  What is the best form of self care, for me, today?  That isn’t always easy.  There’s always a voice in the back of my head asking what other people are going to think if I say this or write that.  Am I going to hurt this person, or is that person going to take it personally?  Will they laugh at me or think less of me for sharing this.

The truth is, at any given moment someone is judging me for something anyway, and that’s their problem.  I need to handle my life in a way that’s going to help me survive and even thrive.  For me, that means writing about the hard stuff.  That means speaking my story and sharing my truth.

What does that mean for you?

Two plus one

At one point yesterday I told Wonder Woman, “I’m ready to get this day over with so I can start looking forward to the next date.”  This major one is over and the next one is a happy one, the day I met Wonder Woman online.  I jump from date to date in my life, a whole list of them stacked up.  I _know_ that need to learn mindfulness and it’s something I’m working on, and in ways I’m succeeding, but also, going from one date to the next has been a survival mechanism for so long, that unfortunately old habits die hard.

When you are constantly fighting suicidal thoughts, as each major milestone passes, you are looking for the next one, and when traumas start happening, those dates, unfortunately, get added in there too.

But mindfulness is happening as well.  Driving to the beach yesterday I started thinking about and talking about some string of things that needed to happen and mid spiral I stopped and said that that would stress me out so I just didn’t go there.  That’s something that’s hard for me because I need to have my plans and my lists and my ways of knowing that I have everything taken care of to make it to that next major date without everything falling apart.

And why wouldn’t I need, or at least feel like I need, all of those things in order?  I mean, in reality we have very limited control, but the feeling of control is what keeps us moving forward.  If we had no control we would throw our hands up and give up when things get hard.

Self Saving Warrior Princess does all of the things, but learning how to do them and not try to over think and think ahead of every spin and twist and turn is a big difference.  Staying present right now but still keep on top of what has to be done, and let go of what I can’t handle . . .

That’s some serenity prayer shit right there.

And even twelve step programs count how long it’s been since you last relapsed, even they fluctuate between one moment at a time, and focusing on how far you’ve come.

Two years plus one day since I last saw her.  And maybe now I can focus on counting something else for awhile.

Maybe.

And if not, that’s okay too, I’m working towards accepting me where I am.  It’s so damn helpful that I have a lot of other people doing the same.

Personal Space

The person beside me on the bus seems thrilled that I take up my amount of space.

Guess what, I’m allowed to sit here and would prefer my own aisle too.

Yep I looked before sitting beside you. You can stop huffing looking up and down the aisles, I’ll happily move so you can get out and go sit somewhere else though.

I’m allowed my space.

I’m within my allotted seat area. I honestly looked for someone small to minimize the chances of touching cause I know that gets uncomfortable for everyone.

Although we are probably both just anxious as fuck cause sharing a seat with a stranger sucks no matter who it is.

I’m allowed my space though. I’m tired of apologizing for who I am and the space I take up.

The right kind of gay for this.

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At some point in the past two years, between Kidlet, Mickey and I, mostly around fashion. “ I’m the wrong kind of gay for that” started getting thrown around.

Mickey and I were shopping for makeup for her niece… “I am the wrong kind of gay for this shit”

I would ask Kidlet for fashion advice (seriously… when you are dressing to impress other people, you have no fucking clue what looks okay). “Mom… wrong kinda gay for this”

I’ve started settling in on my style. It started with pink everything and then I found more and more of what fit me exactly.. the kind of shirts and skirts I liked, etc. Now I’ve found a style of makeup that suits me….

It turns out I’m exactly the right kind of gay for this…

Except I prefer the term Queer, it fits better because it’s less restrictive.