It’s been too long.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

It’s been about two weeks since I’ve put fingers to keys.

Tonight I told myself I would write but it took a lot of pushing myself to follow through. As soon as I put in my headphones and started my writing music, I realized how much I missed it.

I’m still fighting this never-ending, low-key depression. I feel better, but I also have to constantly remind myself to do things like, plan dinner, feed the animals, take a shower.

I’m just kind of existing, but at least I’ve been leaving the house again, which feels nice.

It was scary being stuck in the house. I don’t want to go back to that time in my life.

Athena (the new kitten) has helped a lot. She keeps me on my toes whenever we let her roam free. “Nope, don’t do that . . . wait, get back over here . . . don’t climb the wires . . . where did you go, now?”

It’s loads of fun!

But, she’s so sweet and cuddly and falls asleep on my chest when I hold her and pet her at night.

It’s nice that Wonder Woman and I are raising a pet together, instead of just having the ones we came into the relationship with.

Athena is ours.

I finished my holiday cards and they got mailed out today.  Over 50 handmade cards.  It kept me going through my depression and now I’m looking for the next activity to immerse myself in. I’m sure I’ll have another project dreamed up sometime soon.

Crafting is a lifeline during the dark times. It works as a distraction that I can one-mindfully involve myself in. It feels more productive than my time spent playing video games, although I do that, too.

I still don’t have a whole lot to write about.

Things just . . . are, and that’s the hardest time for me to write.

It’s easy to write about the extremes.

But it’s been too long.

I’m glad I put fingers to keys again.

 

It really is this good.

This is a Really Real Relationship post.

I’m all about radical vulnerability. Being wide open, and raw, and honest.

And I realized that while I’m showing all of the sides of mental illness and widowhood, it feels like I’m offering a Facebook version of my relationship.

And that’s not who I am.

It’s not what I’ve ever meant to do.

And honestly, I want people to know that things CAN be good, even with shitty mental health and a shitty traumatic past, and even with a relationship that’s just, almost, perfect.  I deserve good things, and things don’t have to be perfect to be good.

Wonder Woman and I have a really great relationship.

Over two years in and we haven’t had a single fight. We haven’t raised our voices at each other or said harsh words to each other even once. We apologize almost immediately if anything has even seemed passive aggressive. We even apologize if we’re grumpy or in a bad mood.

We really are sickeningly sweet.

But.

We have hard talks about hard things. We have some areas of our lives and our relationship that are really hard to work through. We are polar opposites in a few areas.

We are gentle with each other about those areas. We are respectful. We are understanding.

And, we get help with navigating those areas from a couples therapist, because the view from the outside is much clearer than the view from within.

It helps, and we always come out of our sessions with ideas about how to move forward, together.

I think there’s this view that couples therapy is for couples that are falling apart.

That it’s a last resort.

It was one of the first things we went for when we realized we were hitting road blocks in some areas of communication.

Don’t get me wrong. We have GREAT communication. But some areas are just HARD when we are so different. Different histories, different traumas, different preferences.

Different ways of communicating.

So I’m writing this post for two reasons.  One, is because I realized I was offering this “facebook reality” of my relationship, and I just don’t like that. And two, is to help with normalizing couples therapy, because really, what’s wrong with getting an unbiased outside perspective?

Vacation

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

But also a bit of Mental Health thrown in there.

We never took vacations.

It’s one of my big regrets from Parker and I, but also from Kidlet’s childhood.

There was the year we traveled from Maryland to Florida to see our families.  That was our only family vacation in the 8 years we were together.

I think once we came from Florida, to Maryland, tagging along with my mom.  I guess that was a vacation. During that trip we managed to go over to DC for part of a day. Parker had never been to D.C. and she absolutely loved it.

A few years later when we were living in the homeless shelter up here, we met her family in D.C. for the day while they were on their vacation.

But vacations weren’t really on our radar.

Keeping the lights on, paying off the rent before the eviction notice expired, stretching the food stamps by making it to the food pantries on time. Making it to countless doctors appointments.

Those were the things we worried about.

But not vacations.

Wonder Woman and I leave for vacation tonight. I can’t count the number of overnight trips and vacations we’ve had in the 2 years we’ve been together. This is a belated anniversary trip, something we wanted to do, but couldn’t quite afford to do in September, so we were able to put aside some money and make it happen a bit late.

We’re going to a cabin in the mountains. The mountains are Wonder Woman’s place, she loves the cold. Mine is the beach and the warmth.

We’ve done lots of beach trips, it’s time to hit the mountains. I guess I can bundle up for a few days.

We have a fireplace in our cabin, and there are fire pits in the resort.

I guess I can handle that.

I still have great memories of going to the beach over Christmas on our first vacation. Hanging out in front of the fire together.

I look forward to repeating that.

I still feel weird taking vacations. I still have to remind myself that I deserve nice things. That I deserve happiness. That I deserve to travel and have these experiences.

That I deserve stability.

I’m so used to struggle that it’s hard to settle into stability.

It’s hard to feel comfortable with packing for a trip. It’s hard to avoid overthinking it.

It’s hard to find the balance between “bring absolutely everything you might need” and “if you forget something you can just buy it.”

It’s hard to find the balance between over planning/letting anxiety win and waiting for the last minute/letting anxiety win.

It’s hard to find the balance between being thankful for what I have now, and grieving what I didn’t have then.

We never took vacations.

I deserve this life.

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.

That was scary.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Friday night and Saturday morning were hard.

I came home from therapy and just crashed emotionally. I was grumpy and I was exhausted.  I tried taking a nap. I woke up and couldn’t drag myself out of bed.  I had a concert to go to that night and I stayed home instead.

I’m really upset that I missed that concert.

I ended up spending 15 hours in bed while my brain was silently screaming.

“No, no, no, no, no! I don’t want this to be back again!”

I woke up Saturday and wanted to cancel the gym, wanted to cancel my date that night. I wanted to cancel life.

Suicidal thoughts quietly passed through, barely noticed.

“No, no, no, no, no! I don’t want this to be back again!”

I could feel the depression wrapping its arms around me.

Luckily, I’m surrounded by amazing people. Lots of people. Wonder Woman, who lays with me in my sadness. Mickey who gently tells me we’re still going to the gym. My girlfriend who tells me we can stay in instead of going out. People who give me space, surround me with love, and offer encouragement.

I went to the gym even though I didn’t want to. I went to my DBSA (Depression Bipolar Support Alliance) group. I felt the weight lifting off of my shoulders. I started to feel like maybe it would be okay.

I still went out dancing that night. I allowed myself to have fun, even though my brain still isn’t completely back where I’d like it to be.

I kept moving forward.

And now, things seem a bit brighter again. I see the good in life.

I’m glad this passed quickly, and I didn’t get stuck. I’m thankful to be surrounded by such amazing people.

I deserve love.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I’m surrounded by love and I deserve to be. That’s a profound statement coming from me, especially the second part.

I. Deserve. Love.

Sometimes I can’t remember that.

Sometimes, especially now that I’m “living my best life” I wonder how I deserve any of this.

“You deserve happiness, we both do.” Wonder Woman and I mention that (or some variation of it) to each other on at least a weekly basis. I need the reminder when things in my head are dark.

I look for the other shoe to drop whenever things are good. Things can’t be this good, not without something going wrong.

And the thing is, when I’m doing well things still go wrong. Deciding not to have surgery threw me for a loop. I sobbed in Wonder Woman’s arms, I sobbed in the shower, I sobbed while writing the post about it.

But I kept moving forward.

And now it doesn’t seem that bad. It was a blip on the radar in an otherwise great life.

I’m surrounded by love, and kindness, and caring,

and I deserve it.

I have an amazing fiancee. We communicate better than I could ever imagine. Our relationship is so gentle and calm. I love her and feel loved in return. I still look for things to fall apart. I still wonder what thing I’m going to do that will drive her away.

I’m surrounded by love, and kindness, and caring,

and I deserve it.

I have a derby spouse . (It’s a derby thing.)  They are one of my closest friends. We check on each other on a regular basis, sometimes daily, sometimes weekly. We encourage each other constantly. They are exceptionally kind to me and I am kind to them. I still wonder what I’m missing. Are they just pretending to be my friend. Am I really worthy of a friendship like this?

I’m surrounded by love, and kindness, and caring,

and I deserve it.

I’m in a new relationship. It has flowed together so smoothly. We are spending lots of time learning about each other and our lives. I care for her and feel cared for. And I still look for the other shoe. I’m waiting for someone to get upset with this polyamorus situation and call and end to it. I’m waiting for her to to decide that I’m not right for her.

I’m surrounded by love, and kindness, and caring,

and I deserve it.

There are other important friendships, people I have known for years, people that supported me through Parker’s death, best friends, close friends, those friendships that can’t be defined.

I am surrounded by love, and kindness, and caring,

and I deserve it.

There’s my family that loves and supports me, sometimes by telling me hard truths that I need to hear, sometimes financially, sometimes by loving me in the best way they know how.

I am surrounded by love.

And I deserve it.

You deserve it too.

Rolling with it

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

(Trigger warning: Talk of suicidal thoughts)

Today was a no good, horrible, very bad day.

When the proverbial first punch caught me off guard, I reeled.  It took my mood down a few notches while I stood there almost helplessly.

I wanted to lash out. I wanted to overreact. I wanted to throw a temper tantrum.

But I wasn’t helpless. I vented, I spent some time cuddling with Wonder Woman, I reminded myself that there were other options. I started taking proactive steps towards a better solution.

I was proud of myself because I didn’t get sucked under.

And I was still wobbly when the second punch caught me.

It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t my fault. No one would listen.

I still have to pay for it.

It sent me sprawling across my bed.

The thoughts crept in, slowly at first, with very little power.

A plan formed.

I clung to my bed while letting the thoughts wind their way through my brain.

I kept reminding myself, “life is still good.” While my brain screamed back “it always comes back to this.”

I told myself “this will pass.” Meanwhile I heard the telltale gunshots going off in the back of my head.

I drifted to sleep while at war.

I woke up and it was still so dark, but I saw a patch of light somewhere off in the distance. I crawled my way out of bed. Tried to find the good. Kept looking for something to make that patch a bit bigger. I wanted to rip the darkness wide open.

I distracted myself.

I fed myself.

I let the thoughts pass through quietly.

I took their power away.

Silly thoughts, I’m just frustrated.

Silly thoughts, I’m just overwhelmed.

Silly thoughts.

Silly thoughts.

I’m glad I’m in a place where I have a fighting chance. It’s a war that will never go away. The thoughts will always be there, waiting to strike.

Silly thoughts.

Silly thoughts.

You won’t win today.