Day 21

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Mention of suicide, mention of gunshot, mention of gore.

I skipped a day again.

But missing 2 days this month isn’t really all that bad, and I don’t really have something to write about every day right now.

I slept till almost noon today.

Didn’t even do my wakeup at 7am to roll over and go back to sleep.

I just slept.

I feel bad for sleeping so much. I’m in bed by midnight at the latest, and sleeping at least 12 hours almost every night.

Partly it’s the sleeping meds.

Partly it’s depression.

Partly it’s still healing from trauma.

It feels like it’s taking so long.

I’m shaming myself for all the things I can’t do, and it’s hard to focus on what I am doing.

For all the things I can’t do, yet.

I keep trying to remind myself that it’s okay that I’m not back to where I was.

I’ll get there.

Apparently, it’s just going to take more time than I like.

My therapist said yesterday that this may not be as much depression, as it is shutting down from the trauma.

Still blocking emotions out.

I feel so flat.

Even things I normally enjoy are just,

flat.

I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning because there’s nothing to look forward to.

It’s nice not being suicidal, but I miss,

living.

I was living my best life, and now I’m just struggling to get out of bed each day.

And I’m trying to be gentle with myself, while also pushing enough that I keep progressing.

But honestly, it’s hard.

It’s hard not to feel like I’m failing.

It’s hard not to feel like I’m letting people down.

It’s hard not to feel like I’m letting myself down.

Healing is exhausting.

And I’m still angry.

Fuck him for taking my stability.

Truly, fuck him.

It’s quiet in the house right now.

I keep forgetting to turn on music but yet, the silence allows the intrusive memories to come.

Fuck him for making every memory of that week turn into a gunshot.

Into a gory image of him in a wheelchair with blood dripping from his face.

Into an image of blood caked on the front of the wheelchair.

Into an image of my sister scrubbing the remnants out of the carpet.

Fuck him.

I’m having bbq, bacon wrapped, shrimp for Thanksgiving.

Wonder Woman hates seafood, hates the smell of it, so I only really cook it when she’s out of town.

My dad used to have seafood for holiday dinners.

It was nice because I’d have a traditional holiday meal at my mom’s house,

and then I’d go to my dad’s and have a seafood feast.

He always made the bbq bacon wrapped shrimp.

I miss it.

It’s been years and years since we’ve had a meal like that.

Years and years since he said “Dad is great, dad is good, lets thank dad for this meal.”

Years and years since he screamed at me for not cleaning fast enough before my sister got there.

Years and years.

I don’t miss him.

I don’t miss the forced phone calls that I tried to make each week because he was an old lonely man who had no other contact with the outside world.

I don’t miss the overwhelming anxiety when I would go for a visit.

I don’t miss the sound of him screaming because I didn’t do things the way that he wanted.

I don’t miss him.

Fuck him.

Fuck him for setting me back so far.

Day 17

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Today has been productive.

It feels good.

I had PHP this morning.

I over slept.

I almost didn’t go at all.

But I did.

Afterwards I had coffee with a high school friend. Someone I probably haven’t seen since we graduated.

Or maybe in my Denny’s days right after high school.

Conversation flowed easily, and my ever present anxiety was quiet for a change.

We sat outside.

The cold wind threatening to blow our drinks over.

But it was nice to be around someone as worried about safety as I am.

We talked a lot about Covid.

About how our lives have changed.

And how it will never go back to the normal that was.

There will forever be a new normal.

It felt nice to socialize.

When I got home I was worn out.

The smallest things do that now.

But the coffee kept me going.

I spent this evening filling envelopes with already created cards.

I’ve made 64 so far.

I need to make another 33.

I’m having so much fun with them, so much love is going into these pieces of paper.

And I’m surrounded by so much love.

I remember being in school, horribly bullied, with no idea what was wrong with me.

Or what I was doing wrong.

Now, I’m surrounded by a support system bigger than most people have.

All of you that read my posts.

Some silently.

Some reacting.

Some commenting.

The people inviting me out for coffee and walks.

The people keeping me company over zoom or at bonfires.

It’s nice to be so loved.

It’s nice to be able to feel that love.

Instead of being surrounded by a fog that won’t let it in.

I’m feeling better every day.

I’m sure rough times will come again, but I’m also sure I can handle them.

For now, though, I’m going to enjoy the clear blue skies.

Day 16

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I skipped a day.

Nothing was really happening and I couldn’t figure out a topic to write about, so I kept waiting for inspiration.

And thought about it one last time as I was dozing off.

It gets boring for me to write “day in the life” posts day after day with no real content.

No real direction.

Especially when each day, looks like the day before, and the day before, and the day before.

Quarantine life is so damn boring.

I’ve taken two naps today, short naps, but still, laying down and dozing off.

I’m just not feeling 100%.

Partially its still depression, partially it’s that boredom of every day feeling like the last.

Today was a good day though.

I had PHP this morning, and group therapy was really productive.

I love when I end a group feeling like I have more insight than I did when it started.

After PHP I went for a walk with a derby friend. Someone who I haven’t seen since last season.

There hasn’t really been a season this year.

We walked slowly, stopping often for her dog to sniff around, and just talked.

We stayed distant from each other on the path, giving each other air hugs from 6 feet away before we left.

This new normal is odd, but finding safe ways to socialize is important.

I have coffee with another friend tomorrow, and then we’re repeating today’s walk on Thursday.

Sunday, Wonder Woman and I are having a friend over for another bonfire.

Quite a socially busy week for me, and it feels so good.

It feels good to have interest in this again.

It feels good to push myself not to cancel, because depression and anxiety want to get in the way.

But I’m not letting them.

I’m worth the fight.

I’m working on making socially distant plans with friends for next week.

I’ll be alone for a few days, and while I’m looking forward to the “me time,” I also don’t want to open myself up for the thoughts to creep back in.

Quiet is good, but getting myself stuck in the house isn’t.

I also have plans to turn up the music and get some serious cleaning done around here.

From months of staying at home, to long stretches of depression, my house is worse than it’s ever been.

I plan to get it back under control while she’s gone.

Organize my space to organize my mind.

I feel so much better though. I feel like the meds are working, I feel more like,

me.

Day 11

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I forgot about my therapy appointment tonight.

She messaged me when I was 15 minutes late, but I didn’t see it until I was almost 30 minutes late.

She saw me anyway.

In the 6ish years I’ve been seeing this therapist, I think this is the first time I’ve forgotten and been late.

I’m thankful that she checked on me so that I didn’t miss it completely.

There wasn’t a lot to talk about. Life has been pretty uneventful.

I’m flip flopping back and forth between depressed, and functional. Things are getting better.

Slowly.

I’m crafting.

Slowly.

My sink is empty, but tonight we ordered out because I didn’t have the energy left over to cook.

My machine is cutting an intricate project that will take me hours to weed (removing the negative space).

I’m looking forward to the meditative process.

I’m enjoying writing every day, but I don’t have anything major to write about.

Just random ramblings about my day.

Random thoughts.

Random.

I’m tired today, but I’m avoiding a nap.

I want to sleep tonight.

I slept well last night, waking up this morning fully rested for a change.

But I still slept too much. I had told myself if I woke up early, I could get Starbucks before PHP.

I didn’t get Starbucks.

I’ll try again tomorrow.

Day 9

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Today is one of those days that I’m not really sure what to talk about. But also, it’s the 9th day in a row of me writing and I feel like I might actually make it to one post a day all month.

I woke up early this morning, to start PHP (partial hospitalization program). Well, early for me, I’ve been sleeping till noon (or later) and today I was up and ready to go before 10.

PHP was exhausting, it’s so mentally draining even though it’s only a few hours long. I wanted a nap afterwards but had drank too much coffee to sleep.

That’s probably a good thing, I need to stop napping so much during the day.

I’ve been working on a really neat holiday card. I’m enjoying this particular design. I spent the afternoon getting the pieces cut out, and assembling the first one.

Three more to go.

Group group (group therapy) was at 530, and even though I felt too emotionally drained to attend, I did.

I feel like the fog is lifting, at least a little. I was able to do dishes today without fighting myself over it. I’m not dreading the idea of cooking dinner.

But I’m still tired.

Drained.

It’s been a long day with too much coffee.

Too much talking.

Too much vulnerability.

I’ll spend the evening putting together the rest of the cards, and maybe starting another one.

It’s nice to get a little bit of feeling like myself.

Here’s hoping it lasts.

Day 4

This is a Really Real Widow post.

I don’t feel like it’s a big deal this year.

I mean, her being gone is always a big deal. She left a hole in a lot of people’s hearts.

But this year her birthday isn’t ripping that hole bigger. Maybe it’s just because so much else is going on.

But today I went and bought cheesecake.

Tonight I’ll get on video chat with our son and talk about her life.

That’s a tradition I hope to continue each year. A few moments remembering the wonderful person she was.

So many memories are slipping away.

The sound of her voice rarely comes to me anymore.

I no longer remember her smell.

I have one shirt of hers left that I wear regularly, but it doesn’t hold the emotion that it once did.

I did intentionally take it with me to the trauma unit though. So I guess there’s so emotion left in it.

She spent her last birthday in the hospital, the psych unit, because of a change in medications that left her reacting violently to me.

She even raised her fist, which was the moment she decided to check in. She was there for almost 2 weeks.

I had balloons and decorations on the walls when she came home. A belated birthday celebration.

A belated celebration of her.

She was dead before her next birthday came around.

I can’t remember how old she would be now. I’m sure I could reach back in my memories to remember what year she was born and do the math, but that doesn’t seem important anymore.

Her mother still sends me the occasional Pineapple Upside Down Cake recipe. It’s my favorite cake. She would bake it for my birthday every year.

We talk for a few moments about life and how we are doing.

A superficial conversation that still leaves much unsaid.

I’m sure today is hard for her. I can’t imagine what it’s like to celebrate the birthday of your child that is no longer with you.

I hope I never experience that loss.

I just sent her mother a message. Letting her know that she was in my thoughts. Another small connection between two people who were left with holes in our hearts when she died.

She is missed. She is loved.

I wish she had lived to see the better side of life. The life where the lights don’t get shut off and we aren’t in fear of an eviction notice.

The life where there’s enough food in our cabinets.

The life where there’s even an occasional vacation.

I still wonder if we ever would have seen this life together.

Or if we would have always struggled.

Today isn’t as hard as it used to be, but it’s still hard.

I still miss her.

Home Sweet Home

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

It’s been far too long since I’ve put fingers to keys for one of my regular posts. I’ve been home for ~36 hours and it feels like days and days and days. So many things that I missed that are right at my fingertips again.

Typing was one of those things.

I wrote every day while I was inpatient, multiple times a day. Working out of 2 composition books. One for my regular journaling, and one for daily goals and assignments.

So many assignments.

I think I should continue the practice of setting daily goals. These weren’t meant to be “laundry list” items, or things that we were expected to do as part of our treatment, but it was more for goals of what to work on for healing. Practicing certain skills, or doing internal checks on safety, feelings and grounding.

Considering that I only ended up being there for 2 weeks, I got so much out of it. I can’t decide if I’m glad it was this short, or if I wished it would have been longer.

I am glad to be home though.

I spent most of today crafting. Cutting out so many pieces of cardstock for the holiday cards I’m making this year. I don’t have enough time to do individualized cards for each person, so I’m batch making 4 or so of each style. I have 8 pages of addresses, with more to come.

So many cards.

And I’m so thankful that I have all of these people in my life. So many people that I can spread joy to, through crafting.

And it keeps my hands and my mind busy.

Staying busy, distracted but grounded, is a big part of my healing. Letting myself think enough to process whatever is going on, but not so much that I ruminate and get into trouble.

At this point it’s been weeks without suicidal thoughts and while I don’t fool myself into thinking that they are gone forever, it’s a nice break, and I have more tools to handle them when they come up.

I didn’t really have a goal in mind when I started writing today, I just miss the routine of putting words on the screen.

I miss this sort of processing.

Don’t get me wrong, there are benefits to journaling with pen and paper, but it hurts my hands so much that I can’t fully focus on what I’m trying to get out. My entries end up being short and choppy, with horrible handwriting that is difficult to read.

Tomorrow starts NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), where people try to write X number of words in the month of November. Basically finishing an entire book in one month. It’s quite the commitment and not something I’m interested in doing, but in the past I’ve spent the month of November writing one post a day, as my own modified challenge.

I’m trying to decide if I want to do that again this year.

Writing just for the sake of writing can go both ways. Sometimes I end up with incredible posts that let me do some deep introspection that I didn’t even know I needed. Other times I’m just putting words on the screen with no real direction, no real topic, no real beginning or end.

Kind of like this one.

Creepy Dreams

This is a Really Real Trauma post.

TW: Mention of Completed Suicide. Mention of Suicidal Thoughts. Mention of a Gory Dream.

After a pretty good day or so, last night and this morning were rough.

Yesterday my therapist had to cancel on me. I totally understood why, her dog is sick and ended up in the pet ER. While I wasn’t mad at her, I was mad at the situation. The anger, which is becoming familiar, boiled up inside me. It’s likely that she won’t be able to see me until I get back from vacation, and it had already been almost 2 weeks since she had seen me.

This was just crappy timing.

I laid in bed for awhile, suicidal thoughts running in and out of my brain.

I felt ridiculous. There was no reason for this sort of reaction to such a minor thing. I have group therapy as part of the partial hospitalization program, almost daily. It doesn’t bother me that I’ll be missing THAT during vacation, why did it bother me so much to go an extra week without my individual therapy.

But anger is just part of my response to almost everything right now. And judging myself for the anger was part of what brought along the suicidal thoughts.

After calming down some I went for a walk with my friend. It was a short walk, after taking a few days off due to my stomach issues, I had no stamina again. But it helped.

Being active always helps.

I cooked Pho for dinner. We used boxed broth and pre-sliced meat which made it a super easy meal, but right now it’s one of my favorites.

I went to bed early, I was so tired and couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.

Even with the nightmare medication, the nightmare started almost immediately. It wasn’t about my dad this time. However, it was weird and twisting and reminded me of an episode of Dexter, a show that I never really watched but heard in the background for months as Parker worked her way through the seasons.

I woke up, and when I fell back to sleep I was in the middle of the same series of events.

People being killed and different ways to hide their bodies. Graphic visions of dismembering bodies and removing fingerprints. It was so gory and every time it felt like it would end, someone else would end up dead.

I woke myself up a few times, falling back into the same dream as soon as I closed my eyes.

I woke up at 2 am with a blinding headache. I got up and took some meds, staying awake until Wonder Woman was ready to go to bed, I couldn’t handle being alone with that nightmare anymore.

I think I got a couple of hours of decent sleep before the nightmare started again. I would toss and turn and fall back asleep right into the same dream, over and over and over again.

At least it wasn’t about my dad.

This morning when I woke up to use the restroom I was panicked. Alone felt horrifying, the bathroom was filled with the sound of gunshots.

I went back to bed, at least Wonder Woman was there and I wouldn’t be alone.

Every time I dozed I was back in the same nightmare, but laying awake was panicky and filled with anxiety. I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed to come to the living room. I felt again like I’d be blindsided from every angle.

It was rough.

Finally I woke Wonder Woman up and asked if she would get up with me, I couldn’t handle being alone anymore.

I felt so guilty for disturbing her sleep but the alternative was seemingly impossible.

We cuddled for awhile before getting up and leaving the house. Lunch at a new-to-me restaurant, outside on their patio. Stopping into a few stores looking for a longer leash for the dog on our vacation.

Of course we went for coffee.

Now we are back home. Going into the bedroom to get changed back into my around the house clothes was anxiety provoking. And the bathroom seems to be the perfect place for flashbacks.

I still have a headache, the same one from last night. It is just below the surface, peeking up occasionally to remind me that it’s there.

But it felt good to be out of the house for a bit. Writing has helped me get more of the anxiety out. Hopefully I can catch a nap today without the same dream coming back to haunt my sleep.

Some days are good, other days are hard, and I’m just here riding the waves.

Even the bad days aren’t quite as bad as they were.

And at this point I’m 2 sleeps from vacation. I’m looking forward to mountain views and animals that roam the property where we’ll be staying. I’m looking forward to walking back to the waterfall we saw last time we stayed in that area.

I’m looking forward to getting away.

Hopefully I can leave all of this behind for a few days as well.

Good Day, Loud Sound

This is a Really Real Trauma post.

TW: Mention of Suicidal Thoughts, Mention of Gun Shot, Mention of Completed Suicide, Some Gory Description.

Today was a really good day.

I got a few hours of halfway decent sleep before the tossing and turning began. Finally at 6 am I got up, instead of letting myself continue the cycle of dozing and tossing and dozing and turning.

Getting up early is good for me, when I can force myself out of bed before my alarm. It gives me the quiet early morning hours to do my morning routine, and on those mornings I even manage to do the dishes from the night before.

Generally, waking up that early just sets a good tone for the rest of the day.

But I can’t always do it.

This morning, however, I hopped up and got on with my day.

When I did morning check in for group, the leader mentioned how my mood seemed brighter. While we were going through the list and rating things, I realized that other than a quickly passing and easily brushed aside thought last night (while I was so angry), I hadn’t had any other suicidal thoughts in the past 24 hours.

Even last night’s anger didn’t last all that long, the edges softening before it fully took hold.

It’s been getting better. Both time passing, and the addition of Abilify has made me feel like my feet are on solid ground once again.

At least some of the time.

I’m able to be alone.

At least some of the time.

But the trauma is still there.

It’s always lurking just behind the shadows.

The quiet is the worst.

Today I was in the bathroom when the shot rang out in the back of my mind. I immediately smelled the gun powder.

This time, when I peeked around the corner I saw Wonder Woman sitting in the wheelchair.

I ran into our bedroom.

“I just need to see your face for a minute. It was you this time, it was you.”

She softly held eye contact with me and held my hand.

“It’s okay, we don’t have any guns in the house. It’s okay, I’m right here.”

I felt like I was on the verge of tears.

The gunshot was so loud, the smell of gun powder was so vivid. The gory image that followed looked so real.

As a whole, I don’t really see my father in the wheelchair when I have a flashback. There’s a fuzzy shadow where he was, I can’t quite recall what the blood looked like running from the front of his face.

Even though I know it was there.

I do remember his dog, pacing in front of him and looking scared.

The dog he was so happy to see when she came home 24 hours before.

The dog with the belly he was so happy he could reach from the wheelchair.

His selfish act traumatized her too.

Today has been a good day, with a bad moment.

It’s not a good day that turned bad, it was just a single moment.

I’m sure I will have other bad days. I’m sure I will have other suicidal thoughts. I’m sure there will be more days where I can barely stay out of bed. More days filled with a deep seated rage.

But I’ll focus on the days like today. The days where I craft and write and make tea.

The days where I plan to cook my current favorite meal for dinner.

Days like today give me hope again. Hope that I can get back to stability.

Hope that I am okay.

And I am, okay.

So Sleepy

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Mention of gun violence and gore. Mention of suicide.

Apparently my posts are just going to keep being long for awhile. Thanks for hanging in there. And thanks for all of the kind words and support.

Sleeping at night is hard. Even with the new nightmare medication they started me on, I’m still awake constantly, tossing and turning and barely dozing off before tossing and turning again.

At least with the medications I’m not dreaming and ruminating of shots going off and bloody faces.

When the sun starts to come up I settle into sleep, which is broken when my alarm goes off to get ready for PHP.

I yawn with heavy eyes all through the first group, trying to catch a quick nap during the thirty minute break, before yawning through the second group.

I drink coffee, made at home. And some days I run out for a treat at Starbucks, to celebrate another day that I have survived.

I still yawn.

And the afternoon I often nap. Planned one hour naps that turn into two or three hours. It’s so much easier to sleep when the sun is up to keep me safe.

Of course, I know this is just perpetuating the problem. Sleeping during the day makes it harder to sleep at night, which makes it easier to sleep during the day.

I’m so so sleepy. Even writing this I’m yawning with eyes watering, wanting to climb in back in bed again.

And it’s not just the fact that I’m not sleeping at night.

Living with fresh trauma is exhausting. Working through trauma is exhausting.

With the addition of the Abilify to my medication I’m much less reactive, which is nice, but I’m still exhausted.

And still irritable. The smallest thing making me grumpy and agitated.

But that irritation is no longer filled with rage.

I talk in group therapy and others who follow me often say “What I’m going through doesn’t compare at all to your situation but . . . “

And that bothers me.

This isn’t a competition, anyone who is struggling is struggling for their own reasons, their fight isn’t less important or less strenuous than mine.

We talk about the underlying emotions that connect all of us. Fear, Sadness, Anger, Guilt, Shame.

Those emotions are the ties that connect each of our stories.

Sometimes, when we’re telling the story of our situation, the therapist will have us focus on the emotion that’s underneath of it. While someone may not be able to relate to their father shooting himself while they were in the next room, they may be able to relate to the guilt I feel for leaving him alone. Or the sadness I feel because I’ve experienced yet another trauma.

Often they relate to the shame of feeling like I’m too much, like my emotions and my tragedies take up too much room.

That’s a common theme in my therapy. Being too much. The group therapist in PHP is the same on that runs my once a week group, and is also a therapist I saw individually for a short time.

She can pick up immediately when the theme of my emotions is that shame of being too much.

She doesn’t try to fix it, neither does anyone else in the group, but just pointing out that the thread underneath it all is that feeling. That core belief.

It’s enough to show me that it’s still there, still something for me to work on.

Today, I was told by someone that they hope I can put this behind me and get on with my life.

I wish it was that simple.

I spent a lot of time after Parker’s death talking about how I will always move forward, but I will never move on.

And I think that stands true for most trauma as well. I will keep moving forward, I will keep healing, but there will never be a finish line, a line where I say, this is behind me.

The trauma of my abuse growing up still shows up when I make myself smaller after hearing harsh words or a violent scene in a movie. The trauma of poverty shows up when I spend money incorrectly, and then panic at a low balance or overdrawn bank account. The trauma of hearing my son scream in the back of an ambulance shows up when I recoil at the sound of a siren. The trauma of the house fire shows up when I strongly react to an unplanned smell of smoke, or panic when a smoke alarm goes off.

The trauma of Parker’s death is there when I check that a loved one is still breathing.

And the trauma of my father’s death will live on in its own way.

My reaction will decrease, my tolerance will gain traction.

And I will forever be resilient.

But I will never get over all of these scars, and so many more.

It’s no wonder that I’m tired. This trauma just brings with it, the rest. Just like a new grief will bring up the old ones.

I wonder why these difficult things always find me. Always land at my feet.

I don’t think there’s some grand reason, but it’s hard not to think that I’ve done something wrong to deserve it.

People talk of my resilience as one of my biggest strengths. But my resilience was forged out of necessity. I have to stand up one more time than I get knocked down, no matter how often I get knocked down.

And each time it’s both a little harder, and a little easier to stand back up.

It’s harder because I’m exhausted from repeating this same pattern, through no fault of my own.

But it’s easier because I’m just using muscles that I’ve already used. I know how to stand back up, I know what help to reach for, I know which parts I have to do on my own.

I know that the sleepless nights and the napping all day will pass.

I know I’ll get back to work eventually.

And I know I’m strong enough to do this again.

And there may be an again after this.

And after that.

And I will never be ready for it when it comes, it will always catch me off guard as trauma often does.

But I will always stand back up.