L-I-G! (Life Is Good!)

This is a Really Real Life Post.

Being able to be myself is nothing short of amazing.

I mean, yeah, being wholeheartedly me means I deal with some really bad depression and suicidal ideation. It means I spend days inpatient and weeks in partial sometimes. It means there are some really shitty times.

But it also means I get to be open and out there and vulnerable. I get to wear my wild skirts and bright hair. I get to tell my story in a way that helps others (and helps me at the same time). I get to laugh and cry and let my dorky hang out.

I get to spend time with people who are just my kinda people, instead of struggling to fit in with the people who aren’t.

I’m learning how important all of this is.

I trip down the sidewalk, I fall face first down the stairs, I spill food down my shirt, all on a regular basis. But that’s just part of my charm, even the bruises, scars, and messed up shirts.

I am anxious and moody and sometimes my memory is all kinds of shit. But I keep moving forward no matter what life throws at me.

I’m falling in love with my authentic self.

My imperfect, beautiful, self.

I wish I could see things from this perspective all of the time. I wish depression didn’t creep in and pull me under. Make me nervous and afraid. Make me sad and apathetic. I wish life was all roses and bright smiles.

But even my mental illness is part of who I am. It’s part of what makes me, me. It’s part of what makes me beautiful.

Even though sometimes I’m a beautiful mess.

I’m learning to accept all of me.

And that’s pretty fucking amazing.

I can’t wait to see who I’m becoming.

The best is yet to come.

(Someone save this post and send it to me next time I’m falling apart, please.)

 

Share your story, Speak your truth.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Lately, I see a lot of people getting Really Real about mental health. Part of it is who I surround myself with, part of it is that people are pulling of the veil and deciding to be truthful about who they are.

Now, I know not everyone can, or wants to do this.

But I’m so happy when I see people who do.

Parker didn’t exactly hide her mental illness, but at the same time she was afraid to speak up when it mattered most. It had, and in some ways still has, this underlying notion that mental illness is a weakness.

I remember the first time I was told to pull myself up by my bootstraps. The first time, not, by far, the only time.

It’s nice to see friends who are talking more openly. Talking about their triumphs and struggles.

Some of my favorite posts are the “I’m having a rough day, please send me memes” posts. I occasionally reach out in the same way and it’s so nice to see everyone kind of come together to shower me with love and laughs. It’s what we need! Community and support make this road a lot easier to travel.

Even better are the posts that show us we aren’t alone in this struggle. We may not have the same diagnoses or life situations, but the underlying emotions are the same.

I’m super lucky that I have an amazing support system (spanning multiple countries) but I got that support system by speaking up. By being real. By speaking my story and sharing my truth.

By being vulnerable.

Vulnerability isn’t a weakness. Vulnerability is strength. It’s how you build community, it’s how you reach out for support.

I’m glad that I see more people being real and raw and open and I wanted to globally say how much I appreciate that.

Share your story. Speak your truth.

Be vulnerable!

 

It’s 3am

This is a Really Real Widow Post. With some Really Real Mental Health mixed in.

It’s 3am. Coffee too late and a touch of hypomania means I’m still awake.

I don’t want to be awake.

I have a full day tomorrow.

This morning (yesterday morning) there was a Michael’s ad in my email, and there was a pumpkin with Parker carved into it.

Parker isn’t the kind of name I normally see in random places.

I’ve been missing her today. I’m especially missing her at 3am.

I always miss her in small ways, but sometimes that comes to the forefront. Sometimes I can feel the old pain in my chest.

“I miss her tonight.” I send the text to our son.

I wish the ball in my chest would grow big enough to let me cry. Maybe then I could get some sleep.

Lack of sleep always brings a rough day. I wish I could rewind and undrink the coffee that seemed so appealing 8 hours ago. I wish I could rewind and take those pills out of her hand.

I wish I could rewind and change things so that I stop seeing that morning play out in slow motion.

I wish I could rewind so she could see my life now. I wish I could rewind so she could still be breathing.

I just wish I could rewind.

He texts back “Yeah, I do too.”

Then he asks if I’m safe. You know, because every kid has to worry that they might lose another mom that way.

It’s totally normal.

I joke because facing the reality of our fucked up life is made easier when I add some humor.

Life isn’t all that bad now. I have the space to be annoyed when I’m awake at 3 am. I have the spoons to type this out. I have a roof over my head that isn’t going anywhere.

I’m not suicidal right now. That makes life extra good.

I miss her tonight. That ball is still in the middle of my chest. Not quite large enough to let me cry this out. I want to be held and comforted, but it’s 3am, self soothing will have to do.

There’s no real point to this, no profound realization, no life lesson for me to pass on.

I can’t remember the sound of her voice anymore. Not all of the time. I was laying with Wonder Woman the other day and the thought hit me “Will I remember your voice after you die?” I’m engaged with full knowledge that I could become a widow again.

Life happens.

Death happens.

I’ve been watching her sleep more often lately. Making sure she’s still breathing. I even watch the cat and the dog now.

It must be on my mind how fragile life is.

Watching for the slow rise and fall of her chest. Panicked if I don’t see it right away. Relieved when she makes some small noise.

We listen to The Mountain Goats sometimes.

“I hope you die.” “I hope we both die.”

We add our own line “at the same time.”

I miss her tonight. Both of them. I miss the one who isn’t breathing anymore, and I miss the one who’s hopefully still breathing in the other room.

I need to go check again.

Maybe this time, I can fall asleep beside her.

What would it look like?

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

This one got long and I’m leaving it that way, because there’s some really good stuff in here.

It’s been almost a week since I wrote.  I can normally tell things are going well when I’m not writing every day.

It’s hard to write when things are just,

Okay.

I started asking for a word a week or two ago.  I asked my therapist, asked in group therapy, asked Wonder Woman. “What’s the word for baseline, midline, “normal”?  Not manic, not depressed, just, okay.”

I don’t like using the word normal. I don’t think there is a “normal.” Add to that, having a period when I’m not hypomanic and not depressed certainly isn’t normal for me.

It hasn’t really lasted any significant period, so I wouldn’t classify it as stability.

Euthymic.

According to an online medical dictionary, “Euthymia is a normal non-depressed, reasonably positive mood. It is distinguished from hyperthymia, which refers to an extremely happy mood, and dysthymia, which refers to a depressed mood. It is a term used frequently in mental status exams.”

I’m mostly euthymic right now.

My meds are working. Unfortunately I’m on some higher doses and I’m having some shitty side effects, but I’m finding ways to cope with them.

Meanwhile I’m working on some hard shit in partial. I’m digging into some core beliefs about myself that are supremely unhelpful. I’m trying to sort out the process of getting rid of them and replacing them with positive truths. I’m digging into how I’m supposed to do that.

It’s easy to say on the surface, especially when I’m doing well, “I’m not too much,” “I’m not less than,” “I’m good enough,” and ultimately “I’m allowed to be me and I’m wholly lovable as my true self.” But, when there’s an underlying belief that it’s all bullshit, that surface shine falls apart as soon as depression hits.

It becomes a spiral.

Depression makes me question my validity.

And my worthiness.

And my right to the space I take, both physically and emotionally.

And eventually my desire, and even my right to exist.

That’s so hard to look at from the outside.

How do I change it?

Telling myself “I am pretty, I am kind, I am important” is a great place to start. (Side note: I’ve never seen that movie) However, it only goes so far.

I was asked, “What does life look like without those beliefs?” “What does life look like without mental illness?”

Well, fuck.

This is all I’ve known.

Where does the illness end and I begin? What happens if you take me away from the trauma, away from the chaos, and away from the mental instability?

Who would I be if I were to achieve stability?

I keep saying, that right now it isn’t fair that my brain is being such an asshole. My life is the calmest it’s ever been. My bills are paid, I have lights and food and a stable roof over my head. My house isn’t filled with tension from the latest screaming match, or problems we are avoiding. I’m, in a lot of ways, living my best life right now.

And my brain is more unstable than it’s ever been.

Maybe it doesn’t know what stability should look like.

I mean, it’s not just one thing. It’s also that life is finally calm enough that I can process and heal from all of the trauma, and healing isn’t pretty.

But maybe it’s time to take a long, hard look at what my life would be if it weren’t the only thing I’ve ever known.

And that’s some hard shit.

I see you, I hear you.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m the public one.

The one who speaks up.

The one who screams my story for all to hear.

The one that everyone says is so brave.

I don’t think it’s bravery.

I’m the one getting all of the support.

I’m the one getting all of the help.

I know there are so many others in the world.

Those that suffer in silence.

Those that don’t want to tell anyone what’s going on.

Those that won’t say how bad it really is.

Those that read along and see themselves in my words.

Those that are on the edge but just can’t break down, afraid of what will happen if they do.

Those that have broken down, but no one knows.

Those that are holding themselves together with smiles and laughs

And makeup

And perfect hair.

I see you.

I know you’re out there.

I know you’re the brave ones.

Without anyone to talk to.

Still putting one foot in front of the other.

Holding on for dear life.

Begging yourself to make it one more day.

And as you kiss your babies to bed each night.

Silently hoping you’re there to see them in the morning.

I hear you,

Even when you don’t have words to say.

 

Where do I begin?

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

This post started out as a post about something completely different. But as I was writing, the topic morphed, and I realized that I needed to process through something.

Where do my illnesses end and I begin?

And not in a “I am not my illness” kind of way, but in a “I need to take responsibility for my actions and not let my illness take the blame for all of it”

I talk a lot about how I do or don’t do things because of my list of labels. The depression will keep me from cleaning the kitchen, executive dysfunction from ADHD will get in the way of doing the dishes, mania will have me spending all of the money, or anxiety will cause me to cancel plans with friends.

Any of them can send me running to my bed with covers over my head.

Maybe my kitchen is a wreck because I don’t feel like cleaning, maybe bipolar has nothing to do with it.

Maybe my sink is full of dishes right now because I’m just being lazy. Maybe it’s not executive dysfunction.

Maybe I want to spend money because I’m just bad with money. Maybe it’s my own fault and not the bipolar. Maybe I just need more self control.

Maybe I cancel plans with friends because I’ve become more introverted and I’m more comfortable being alone.

Maybe, sometimes, the illness is easy to blame, but maybe it’s just as much my personality as anything.

But, I wonder if it matters.

No matter why I’m not cleaning, I need to figure out a way to get the kitchen clean and the dishes done. It doesn’t matter if its because of my illness or because I’m a lazy lump that day, I need to find a way through it so the job gets done.

And I need to do it with kindness and compassion towards myself.

Same with the money, and finding ways to follow through on plans.

Blaming myself isn’t doing anyone any good.

I also wonder how much these things became part of my personality because of my illnesses.

Where do I end and the illnesses begin?

 

 

Will to live.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I used to have this feeling, when sitting in therapy, or the psychiatrists office, or at PHP, that they knew something that I don’t know. Like there’s some big secret they aren’t telling me, something happening in the conversations behind the scenes.

Like they know the outcome and just weren’t letting me in on it.

That feeling was so strong last year.

I haven’t thought about it in awhile.

But back then, last time I was here, I wanted to scream at them.

“Tell me, what does the ending of this story look like.”

“Does the main character live, or does she die?”

“What type of story is this?”

I hadn’t thought about that in a long time.

I’ve been feeling like I’ve taken 20 steps back.

Like I’m right where I started.

Like the past year has been useless.

But somehow, in the midst of this crisis.

Even while buying bottles of pills.

Even while checking into the hospital.

Even while sitting in the rooms at Partial.

Even though I don’t know what the ending of the story is.

I know the main character makes it out alive.

Of course, it’s kind of funny (and horrifying) that today they let me in on a little secret.

The last time I was sitting in the rooms at Partial, they weren’t sure what the ending of the story was going to be.

They had their own doubts.

Not that I was in immediate danger, they would have gotten me safe, but that overall, I hadn’t solidified my will to live.

I remember being that person. I remember the wish to die being so strong that I could feel death surround me. I remember that darkness. I remember feeling no connection with life.

I remember.

Suicidal thoughts are different now. Even at their worst. Even in absolute crisis. Even when I’m truly in danger.

It doesn’t make them any less dangerous.

They could still make me just as dead.

But there’s a will to live that wasn’t there before.

There’s a fight.

There’s a chance.

There’s a light.

There’s hope behind it.

Yeah, shit still sucks sometimes and I’m honestly not sure just how far I’ll be able to go with this fucked up brain of mine.

But at least we aren’t questioning my chance at survival anymore.

And I guess that’s some pretty significant growth.

In the grand scheme of things.