Adding to the Sea

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m going to add to the sea of posts about it.

I process through writing and if I’m thinking about it this way, someone else is too, and if someone else is too, they need to know they’re not alone.

I’m trying so hard not to get swept up in the panic. I’m trying to find that fine line between reacting out of fear and doing my part.

And I feel that panic under the surface. Partly because I’m surrounded by posts about it, constant conversation about it, constant warnings about it, constant talk about statistics, flattening the curve, do this, don’t do that.

Toilet Paper.

I’ve started to panic a few times. I even got stuck in bed over it. Completely consumed by emotions that overwhelmed me. I reached out and got some advice from logic minded, calm, people in my life.

I decided instead of panicking, I’d be prepared if I get this. I got some cough meds and refilled my inhaler. I made sure we had some soup. I’m looking into getting some extra refills of my regular meds.

And, now I’m questioning every activity I have in my life. Do I keep going to therapy,  group therapy? What about support groups? How about Physical Therapy?

In what ways can I minimize my contact with the outside world, while still doing self care.

Therapy is a hard, hard choice. It’s a necessary part of my week. But my therapist spends all day in a hospital setting with a large group of people.

Group therapy is a another hard call. It’s a helpful part of my week. The therapists in the program are amazing.  The group I meet with is amazing. But group settings are not ideal right now, and those same therapists are involved. They are in a large hospital group, all day, every day.

Support groups, I think are an easy call. I can avoid them. I even hope they put the groups on hold for a few weeks (NAMI has), but that’s not my call to make.

And my knee hurts like a bitch. But it’s hurt for months, and there are lots of older people at PT who are recovering from surgeries and have to be there. I can minimize my contact with them by holding off for a month or two. Maybe, if I get it, I’ll keep from spreading it. Maybe I’ll avoid exposure.

I feel like most of us are going to get this as some point. But as everyone says, flattening the curve.

Flattening the curve gives medical personnel a better chance at keeping up.

Because I have friends who stand to get really, really sick. I have friends who will likely end up hospitalized.

I have friends who might break the number one rule. (#1. Don’t die.)

Flattening the curve gives them a fighting chance.

And if I can minimize their risk, I feel like it’s my job to do so.

How Far I’ve Really Come

This starts as a Really Real Mental Health Post.

And ends as a Really Real Widow Post.

I can’t really believe how far I’ve come.

Each day that I work, I can’t believe I’m really doing this. I can’t believe I actually earned this money. I can’t believe how much earning this money really means. I can’t explain how good it feels.

Each problem I solve, each new task I conquer, and each fear I overcome, I’m amazed that this is who I am now. That this is what I am accomplishing.

I remember when I realized I couldn’t work anymore.  I remember the shit storm that lead up to that moment. I remember the heartbreak that came along with applying for disability.

I remember.

At the worst of this, I couldn’t leave my house. I couldn’t be left alone.

I remember.

And the truth is, I will probably end up back in the hospital some day. I will probably do another round or three of the partial hospital program. I will have countless more hours of therapy.

But I’ve come so so far.

So far.

I can see myself going further. I can see myself working full time. I can see myself becoming more comfortable in my own skin. I can see myself getting better at ignoring the constant anxiety running through my head.

It’s a big deal that I can see a future with further recovery.

It’s a big deal that I’m seeing a future without disability.

Without being disabled.

And there’s another side to this.

I remember watching Parker push through her own struggles to go to work and support the three of us while she was barely making it emotionally and physically.

I remember.

I love my life and I know everything that has happened has brought me to where I am now.

But still, I wonder.

If I could have worked before. If I could have shared some of the load. If I could have helped more. If I could have taken some of the weight off of her shoulders.

Would she still be alive?

If we had the money to pay the bills. If we had the money to keep the lights on. If we had the money to avoid the eviction notices. If we had the money to keep food in the fridge.

Would she still be alive?

I’ve come so far, and I’m doing so well. And I know her death is a big part of what pushed me towards my recovery. I know that I wouldn’t be where I am if things hadn’t happened exactly as they have.

Every success, every bit of growth, with every push towards recovery, is served with a small side dish of sadness.

But I can’t really believe how far I’ve come.

And I can’t wait to see how far I go.

A month

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

This is the longest I’ve gone without writing since I started writing regularly.  It’s been almost a month.

The whole time I was on my trip I kept saying “I should write.” “I should write.” And then the constant movement of 2 weeks out of town would carry me away again. I also wasn’t sure how to compartmentalize my feelings into the type of things I normally write.

I’m still not sure how to.

This trip was hard for so many reasons.

I’m glad to be home.

This week I start with a new therapist, and leave behind a therapist I’ve had for 5+ years. I’m sad, but also feel like it’ll be a good move for me. I’m not sure how to handle telling her I won’t be coming back after my appointment this Friday.

I hate confrontation, and while this isn’t really confrontation, it kind of is. I’m firing her, after years of a great working relationship.

But she’s no longer helping me grow, and a few times a year she falls asleep during our sessions, so, it’s time for someone new.

I’m sad.

My old therapist has been there with me through a lot. She knows me better than I know myself in a lot of cases. She really has helped me get to where I am now.

But I’m really hopeful about this new therapist.

I worked with her in the partial program I was in.

Another benefit is weekly group therapy.

Group group is what we called it in PHP, and that name has stuck. Having weekly group group will be an incredible addition to weekly individual therapy, especially since we’re starting with a group of people I already know from my time in partial.

I’m excited to begin this new therapeutic journey.  It’s time to learn and grow with someone new.

But that means I have to let the old therapist know I’m leaving, and my stomach drops just thinking about it.  I’ve even considered just cancelling my appointment and never showing up again, but that doesn’t seem fair to her, and it seems like a missed opportunity to work on something that’s hard for me.

Why can’t all things be easy.

This year, this decade.

This is a Really Real “Life in Review” Post.

It’s the end of a year.

I figured, just like so many people do, I’d reflect on the past year of my life.  Think about my accomplishments and what I’d like to take with me into next year.

This year I started giving myself permission to take up space.  Physically, verbally, emotionally. I realized that I was allowed the space that I need. Some of the time I was able to hold the mindset that everyone who thinks otherwise can fuck off. I want to get better at that mindset next year and stop trying to shrink myself to suit others.

This year I survived one of my more intense series of suicidal thoughts. I got myself help. I saw that I have a huge community of people who support me, both virtually and locally. I want to be better connected with that community.

I learned that even though I feel like I’m outside of a group, it doesn’t mean I actually am.

I found joy in sending snail mail. Making well over 100 cards in the past 3 months has been so wonderful, and even better was knowing that it put a smile on someone’s face. I want to keep going, and maybe start selling my work.

I think one of the biggest things I learned this year is that it’s okay for things to be stable. It’s not the calm before the storm, it’s just the calm, and life can really be this way without worrying about what comes next. I want to carry comfort with stability going forward.

I learned to live in the moment. That fully accepting what is happening is the first step to finding solutions. Fighting against a problem only takes energy away from solving it. I learned that not being okay, is perfectly okay. That as long as you don’t make a problem worse, you’re doing the right things – you can always build from there.  I learned that it’s okay to ask for what I need, that it doesn’t always mean fighting.

It’s the end of a year.  One of the better years of my life.

It’s the end of a decade.

It’s hard to wrap up the past decade because there’s a giant split down the middle.  The before and the after.

In the before, there was a lot of love, and a lot of trauma, and a lot of resilience, and a lot of struggle.

In the after there’s a lot of growth, a lot of falling (metaphorically and physically), a lot of healing, and a lot of pain.

It’s the end of a decade. The hardest in my life.

I wrote a big long thing trying to list out the good and the bad of the last decade, but honestly, that’s not all that helpful.  The past decade (and the ones before that) got me to where I am now, and now is what matters.

Now is where I want to spend my time.

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.)

 

I feel like writing.

This is a Really Real, well, I’m not sure what it’ll turn out to be.

I just feel like writing tonight, but I haven’t quite decided what to write about.

This last week has been pretty incredible. Really, the last two weeks have, minus being bored at PHP for the last few days I was there. Boredom never killed anyone (or so I’ve been told), but PHP has yet again saved my life.

Or at least I feel like it has.

And it’s nice to be done with it, until the next time I need it. That’s not an if, that’s a when. I know this is part of my normal.

And I’m okay with that.

For now.

In the past two weeks I’ve had a date that went wonderfully (second date coming soon), I got invited to a Level 2 DBT group that started tonight, and I spent 5 days with some of my favorite people.

And I’ve been stable through all of it.

It’s strange how the simplest thing can overwhelm me and make me want to shut down. Tonight it was as simple as planning when we’re going to Renn Fest. Somehow the whole season went by and now it’s the last two weekends.

And I don’t want to miss it.

But the idea of scheduling a full day activity when it seems like we have something going on every day, was overwhelming.  What happens if I go the last weekend and it’s too crowded, what happens if we go this weekend and I’m too overwhelmed to handle the rest of the things we have planned that day.

What happens if I miss it, how upset will I actually be?

What will be the next trigger that spirals me down into the abyss.

I think that’s why I’m so afraid of making plans and making decisions. It feels like the wrong decision, the wrong plan creating too much of a day, the wrong emotion, will be ‘the thing.’

I’m stable but I can tell there’s still a lot of stress that I’m holding onto. I’ve been clicking my teeth nearly all of the time. Rocking my jaw back and forth and tapping my top teeth against my bottom.

My jaw has been sore for weeks.

It may be the Abilify but my psych thinks it’s just a habit when I’m anxious.

::shrug::

Either way, it fucking sucks.  And hurts.

I’ve written 400 words (404 now) and haven’t really said much of anything

and sometimes this is what stability looks like.

I guess this was a Really Real Mental Health post.

 

Calm before the storm.

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Things feel calm.

Like, I’m slightly hypomanic, but nothing major. I’m right where I like to be.

It’s been like this for a while, it’s hard to say exactly how long, minus a rough few hours here or there. And I pull back out of those rough hours before they become rough days and weeks.

But I’m scared.

Will this last or am I just experiencing the calm before the storm?

Will the other shoe drop?

When?

I don’t fool myself, my mental illnesses aren’t something that will ever go away. I’m going to have rough days and weeks no matter how well I use my coping skills. I’m going to be on medication forever and I’m fine with that.

But these nice calm periods, when it lasts long enough that I’m ready to call it stability, leave me fearful, wondering, waiting.

Is it the calm before the storm?

Will the other shoe drop?

When?

But, I have a lot of coping skills and mostly, I’m good at them. As long as I don’t hit full blown crisis before I can put those skills to use, I have ways to ground myself and even myself back out.

I know what to do.

I know how to do it.

Wednesday is my last day of PHP, I’m so ready for that day to come. I love the program I’m in, it’s my goto when I need care like this, but being there when I feel stable is boring, tedious, and I stop getting much out of the program.

I don’t know what to talk about in group therapy because I can’t pull up the feelings that existed when I was in crisis.

They don’t want to be thought about.

They don’t want to be felt again.

But I was afraid to leave.

What if this is the calm before the storm?

Will the other shoe drop?

When?