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.

Lost Stability

This is a Really Real Trauma Post.

And a Really Real Mental Health Post, because the two go together.

TW: Mention of Suicidal Thoughts. Mention of Completed Suicide.

These have been long lately, thanks for those who are reading along.

First for the good news.

I’m wearing headphones and not freaking out, for the first time since that shot rang out.

I also turned off the hallway light tonight after we got home, without waiting for something to jump out from behind the shadows.

Slowly, I’m healing.

I’m taking note of the little things because maybe they’ll help me stop focusing on all of the bigger things.

Today I talked to my psychiatrist, she started off talking about raising my antidepressant, which we had been talking about a month or two ago.

I told her that was no longer the concern. The minor depression I had still been feeling when I was stable before wasn’t anywhere near as important as the current desire to end my life.

Or the sleep deprivation and nightmares.

And I realized, that’s part of what’s pissing me off so fucking much. Not only did this traumatize me, bringing with it, the previous traumas in my life.

Not only did this make me wobble in a really big way.

It did it when I was in a place of pretty solid stability. Yes, I was still slightly depressed. Yes, I was having problems focusing on work or other projects. Yes, it wasn’t perfect, but I was stable.

My feet were planted on solid ground and we were just making minor adjustments.

Today after PHP I laid in bed, unable to nap, but unwilling to be up. When Wonder Woman started mentioning going for a walk I got so angry with her. A rage that made me want to scream and yell at her. A rage that made me snap at her via text because I couldn’t trust myself to talk to her in person.

I haven’t felt that sort of rage in a long long time. I hate that side of me. I hate that it even exists.

I remember when I was finally fighting through the trauma of Parker’s death I sat on the kitchen floor and kicked the side of a shelving unit in. Using all of my force to release the rage brewing inside of me. So deep and solid with nowhere else to go but out. I started by drawing lines on my skin and by the end I was digging the pen in with all of my force. I remember that day, and I remember it being the day I measured my successes against. At least I wasn’t that bad anymore.

Today when I was talking to my psychiatrist, I told her I needed to be back on Abilify. The same medication I fought so hard to get off of because it makes me eat the house.

But I’m back to needing to be fat and alive rather than skinny and dead.

And it fucking sucks. I was so proud of myself for being able to brush away any suicidal thoughts that I had, even without the help of that medication. I was so proud of myself for being able to ignore them, or distract myself from them.

And now they are back with a vengeance. That rage turned inward taking away my will to exist.

I just want to go to sleep and never wake up, unless waking up means this never happened.

I see myself with a gun to my head, I hear the gun shots that no longer sound like bangs in the back of my head but now sound like the pops that they truly are.

The sound of gunshots in the back of my head were always the first sign of a suicidal downswing. Hearing how those sounds have changed, and seeing that it truly would be a viable way out, if I had a gun. Now I not only relate a way out to pills, but also to guns. They are ways that I know will work, I’ve seen it first hand.

And I was stable.

I was stable.

Now the thoughts have a tight hold around my neck, squeezing tighter and tighter. The bed is my safe space. Holding the blanket tight around me means I can’t act on the urges.

The other day Wonder Woman, in reaction to a suicidal post, told me she knew that if I looked hard enough I could find what I needed around here. No matter how careful we are to keep things locked up, if I tried hard enough, anything in this house could be a tool for my death.

So when the thoughts are bad, I put myself in bed. As long as I don’t step foot out from under those covers I can’t do any harm.

And while I’m there the shots can ring out in the back of my head, and the urges can come all they want, but I can’t act on them.

But that same survival mechanism allows for the thoughts to twist and turn and get stronger and stronger and louder and louder.

Being in bed is both the best and the worst place for me.

I’ve started walking late at night with my old gym buddy. We are doing super short walks for now, but plan to build up our strength and stamina again. Maybe one day soon I’ll be back in the gym where you can’t tell the sweat from the tears. Maybe I’ll be back to working it out that way.

But for now we just walk our little circle around the neighborhood, sometimes talking, sometimes silently, becoming accountability buddies for each other.

Just like before.

Just like the last time I healed from finding someone dead.

This sucks, but sometimes I can see myself getting back to stability. Sometimes I can remember that I did this once, and I will do it again.

Sometimes.

The rest of the time I just have to fight to hold on. Live from one Starbucks trip to the next.

Just make it one more day.

One more hour.

One more minute.

One more second.

And to think, just a few short weeks ago, I was stable.

He took that from me with the same shot that took his life from him.

Suicide doesn’t end the pain, it just gives it to those who are left behind.

I guess there’s a reason for this rage that keep building up inside of me.

This isn’t fair.

But I’m okay.

Or at least, I will be okay.

Silence

This is a Really Real Trauma post.

TW: Mention of a gunshot and completed suicide.

This is another long winding one as I get my late night thoughts out.

Night time is hard. I feel like something is going to jump out from behind every corner. Daytime makes things seem a little more open, but in the dark there are shadows and I feel like I won’t see what’s coming.

It was daytime and I was sitting at my computer, in my dad’s house. I didn’t have any music on. I was listening to him in the kitchen through my ipad. The occasional shuffle of something on the table where he always had a stack of snacks.

Wheelchairs move absolutely silently, I didn’t hear him move from the table, around the counter, through the door separating the kitchen from the dining room.

I didn’t hear him open the drawer and retrieve the gun.

I was just at my computer, which was sitting on the end table that I had spun around to use as a desk off of the side of the bed.

I was responding to an email from Wonder Woman. We were discussing the best way to work our couple’s therapy schedule since the therapist wouldn’t see us while I was out of state. I was detailing what schedule had been worked out for Draven and I to switch off. Flipping between my email window and the calendar, typing up exact dates so that we could have 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off with the therapist.

I was proofreading the email, making sure I had the dates right, and checking for grammar.

It was silent.

And then it wasn’t.

The gunshot echoed repeatedly. It took a long while for it to become totally silent again. At about the same time the room filled with the smell of gun powder.

I knew I didn’t need to look, I knew exactly what had happened, but I just had to look, something made me check.

“I wish you didn’t look.” Aimee has said to me a few times now, in person and in text.

I’m not sure what made me look.

Tonight Wonder Woman has the TV playing in the background, we just ate dinner together. Behind me, or off to my left, depending on which way I’m facing, is the rest of our tiny apartment. A small hallway, a bathroom, 2 bedrooms. I can feel the darkness coming from those rooms. I could just leave the lights on, but then there would still be shadows and I’m not sure what’s worse, total darkness, or the hidden shadows.

I reach far out in front of me to hit the light switches as I move throughout the house. I don’t want to step into the dark.

But back to the TV playing. I still feel the silence underneath. The silence that could be broken at any second. I feel like I haven’t fully relaxed since that shot rang out.

I’m waiting, waiting, waiting.

My Partial Hospitalization Program is done through video chat. One of the people in our group participates from her car, probably because it’s the only place she can have privacy. Today she had to sit her phone down get out of the car for a minute. She didn’t turn off her video. I could see her steering wheel, a bit of her seat, and her drivers side window.

I kept waiting for the loud pop and her window to be splattered with blood. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her little square on my screen. I was frozen with panic for absolutely no logical reason. Nothing she had said would have lead me to worry about that. Eventually she came back and I could breathe again.

But I’m waiting to be blindsided. If I worry about every potential trauma, then I won’t be caught off guard next time.

Of course that isn’t how this works.

Kidlet asked me this afternoon, “Hey ma, can I ask you a potentially insensitive question?”

“Of course.”

“Have you made popcorn since you’ve been home?”

Popcorn is my all time favorite snack. I had just made some earlier today, before he asked his question. I commented out loud to Wonder Woman that each pop sounded like a tiny quiet gunshot.

She rattled off a few other things that sound like popcorn.

Popcorn doesn’t scare me. The sudden sound of the blender does, even when I’m the one turning it on.

This afternoon Wonder Woman opened a door slightly differently than normal. The towel rack that hangs from it popped back against it. It wasn’t all that loud, but it was sudden and it caught me off guard.

I was too frozen to yell out and ask if it was her.

A few moments later I heard her feet shuffle towards me and I released the breath I had been holding.

I’ve mentioned before all of this, how thankful I am that Wonder Woman goes out of her way not to startle me. She shuffles her feet whenever she walks throughout the apartment. And now, when something makes an odd sound she lets me know what it was.

I’m lucky to have someone who is so trauma aware and so thoughtful.

She just went to the bathroom and paused the TV. The silence is deafening.

I’m exhausted all of the time now. Being tense and on edge will do that.

After Parker died I found myself checking that people were breathing whenever they were still. Slowly, over time, that need faded. I trusted that someone could be still and alive. However, even now, 4 years later, I still have those odd moments where I stand absolutely still and watch a sleeping Wonder Woman, waking her up if I don’t see the rise and fall of her chest.

I wonder what this new anxiety will be like in 4 years. I’m sure it will slowly become part of my new normal. I’m sure I won’t need to turn on lights ahead of me, and I won’t hold my body tightly whenever it is quiet. I’m sure I’ll stop clenching my jaw.

But that time can’t come quick enough.

This trauma is new, exactly a week old today, I need to cut myself some slack, but I expect myself to heal immediately. I know, logically, this isn’t likely to happen again. Not this exact trauma in this exact way.

But I’m still holding my breath.

Still waiting for the next gunshot to break the silence.

Wait, Weight, Wait

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

And a Really Real Health post.

TW: Weight/dieting/exercise. Mention of suicidal thoughts with no intent or plan.

I hate my body.

It’s making me hate who I am.

And I’ve had a few realizations in the last couple of days.

First, I remembered that I’m on a high dose of Abilify.  It made me gain some weight at lower doses but the weight gain has gotten so much worse at this increased dose. I think it’s a big reason for my whirlwind eating, and my craving of sweets.  It’s the medicine that keeps the suicidal thoughts under control.  We had to increase the dose when I was in the hospital, and we increased it again as I finished up with partial.  I think it may be time to look into decreasing the dose, or changing to a different med.

Also, I realized I hate my body right now. I hate how I look.  I hate how I feel. I hate how hard it is for me to interact with my environment.

I spent the last, however many, years looking at old pictures of me and comparing my round puffy face to the slimmer version it had become.  I constantly said how much I never wanted to be that fat and gross.  How horrible it was that I ever got that way.

How horrible I was.

It’s really hard to take good care of a body I hate. It’s hard to stick with changes because I don’t really feel like I’m worth it.

I also feel like nothing will change, and like I’ll always go back to this weight.

That thought makes the suicidal thoughts start. The idea that I can’t change this, and this is the body I’ll live in until I die, is hard hard stuff for me.

Often, when I think too much about forever fighting to stay mentally stable, I think that death would be better than fighting for the rest of my life.

Now, when I think too much about forever fighting to keep my weight under control, I think that death would be better than fighting for the rest of my life.

I started to list the things I was doing and trying to do, but honestly, those won’t matter until I go back to loving myself where I’m at.

I hate that I could say “I deserve to take up space” when I was 50 lbs lighter, but now I feel like I don’t deserve the space I take.

I hate that I could see how beautiful I am at one weight, but I can’t see my beauty now.

I hate that I feel like I need external validation.

I hate that the same people who praised me for losing weight, will judge me for gaining it back.

I hate that some of them will feel they can speak that judgement out loud.

I hate feeling like this.

I hate being like this.

I hate me.

 

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.