Where’s My Roller Coaster?

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

It’s been 2 weeks since I’ve written. Now granted, time is going super fast, so it feels like less than that, but it really has been 2 weeks. I wrote daily for a long time, I wrote at least twice a week for a long time. Now I’m lucky if I write every couple of weeks.

Part of it is Covid. Nothing exciting is happening in my life. It’s the same shit, different day, different week, different month.

But a bigger part of it is that I’m just stuck in this low grade, constant, depression.

I miss my roller coaster. The monotony of day to day life with mental illness was broken up by constantly changing levels of mania and depression.

Good news: we stopped the rapid cycling.
Bad news: we stopped the rapid cycling.

Mental health was an obstacle course before. Making it through this episode just long enough for the next one to kick in. It was exhausting, but it was interesting.

Now my mental health is a long marathon. Just keep functioning at some constant level, reserving energy for the long haul.

The benefit to the obstacle course was that the adrenaline, kept me going, The hypomania and the influx of serotonin that it brought, kept me going.

That said, I read the posts I made in years past and I know that it wasn’t all that comfortable riding the roller coaster either. The suicidal thoughts were worse (and more dangerous) during mixed episodes. The hypomania brought along poor decision making. The lows were so dark, so so dark.

But, this version of stability is its own type of difficult.

I mean, I should be thankful that I’m stable. The suicidal thoughts are fleeting. I’ve held a job for close to 6 months. I’m not constantly in crisis.

But I’m also depressed enough that I’m often doing the bare minimum. Just enough to get me through to the next day. I can’t seem to find the will or the energy to do more.

I have enough work available to easily pull 20-30 hours a week. Yet, some weeks I’m lucky if I do half that.

And it isn’t that I don’t want to. I sit here stuck. I want to work, I know what I want to work on, but I just can’t find the energy to actually do it.

And it’s not just work, so it’s not just that I’m avoiding that.

I have a list of cards to make for friends. The list was made in April and May. It’s July. I’m still only part way through this list.

Side note for those that requested cards, they will make it to you eventually, I promise.

I sit here, aimlessly scrolling facebook. I want to craft, I want to game, I want to do SOMETHING, but I can’t find the will or the energy to start.

This is hard. A different kind of hard than constant crisis.

I miss my roller coaster.

Four Years Ago Today

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

TW: Talk of Suicide including method and post death graphic stuff.

Four years ago today.

Four years.

My new normal started 4 years ago today.

I still replay the movies in my head. I remember waking up earlier than her.

I remember going in to wake her up so that I could bring her something back for breakfast.

I remember the way her skin felt, that eerie cold that didn’t feel quite right. I knew the second I touched her that she was gone.

I remember the rigidness of her limbs.

I just knew.

I remembered hearing the rustling of her pills the night before. I thought she was just taking her night time meds. The bag that held her medications was empty. She took every last one of them.

I remember sending a message to my closest friend and neighbor, asking her to get Draven out of the house while I was on the phone with 911. I didn’t want him waking up to the chaos. I wanted him safe from the new reality.

I remember making phone calls that changed lives forever.

I remember sitting in my desk chair lost, numb, unsure of how to process the way my life was changing.

I remember my mother sitting here, strangely she was up from Florida, strangely she was going to take me to breakfast that morning, strangely she came into the house as the first wave of paramedics did.

I was so thankful she was here.

I remember taking a drive, to Burger King, to get us out of the house as the coroner took Parker’s body out.

I remember ordering food that went uneaten.

I remember being thankful that Draven already had therapy that day, and that I was able to get in for my own appointment.

I remember crying more tears then I ever thought possible. The feeling of my eyes being so raw from wiping them.

I remember.

Four years.

Four years ago today.

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 Really Real Am I?

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Therapy was hard today.

I mean, you all may not believe it, but I work my ASS off in therapy.

I wish there was a sarcasm font, of course I work my ass off in therapy. Therapy is a really really big part of my recovery. And today we covered some really really hard stuff and we landed on a really really big thing.

I don’t let people see who I am. Even the people who are closest to me don’t see the real me. And it’s not fair to them, or me.

I censor myself.

I squash myself.

I quiet myself.

I write a blog called Really Real, for fuck’s sake, and I am very far from my really real self. Even in my own home. I’m an abridged version of me. I’m a well thought out representation.

I’m afraid to take up too much space.

I’m afraid to take up too much time.

I’m afraid to take up too much energy.

I’m afraid to be too much.

Too much.

Too much.

Too much.

Such a big theme in my life, that feeling of being too much.

As much as I share, as open as I am, as much of my story as I tell, I’m still not living an authentic life.

It’s not fair to the people around me. It’s not fair to the people closest to me. It’s not fair to the people who love me.

Because they deserve to know the full version of me.

Hell, they deserve to decide if that version of me is still someone they love.

Which I guess is where the fear comes from. Am I still lovable if I take up space. Am I still lovable if I say what’s on my mind. Am I still lovable if I don’t censor myself.

Am I still lovable if I start fully being me, for me, instead of trying to be the smallest version of my self?

If I stop monitoring the mood of the room and making sure I don’t disrupt it?

If I stop making sure I don’t make waves? If I stop tiptoeing around?

Is the real, authentic, me, lovable?

I don’t even know who I am under all of this censoring and squashing and quieting. I’ve done it my whole life. I have been too much since I was small, so I learned to bottle it up, hide it away, only let parts of myself out at a time.

Never be too much.

I think and overthink before I talk. Before I write. Before I move.

I think and overthink.

It’s exhausting.

What if I just say what I’m thinking? What if I just write what I feel? What if I just move how I want?

What if I stop overthinking so much?

What if I stop worrying about being too much?

What if I start being really real?

What if?

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.

It really is this good.

This is a Really Real Relationship post.

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

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

And that’s not who I am.

It’s not what I’ve ever meant to do.

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

Wonder Woman and I have a really great relationship.

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

We really are sickeningly sweet.

But.

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

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

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

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

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

That it’s a last resort.

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

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

Different ways of communicating.

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

It’s Not Fair!

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

and a Really Real Health post.

I worked my ass off and got approved for bariatric surgery.

My final appointment is at 10am today and I will schedule surgery.

Except, I’m not going. I sent a note in last night cancelling my appointment and dropping out of the program.

My therapist never wanted to write my recommendation letter, even though she spent 5 months trying to.  She finally had a long detailed talk with me about it late last week. She didn’t think I was really thinking about this, she thought I was only looking at the outcome I wanted and not the actual challenges.

She thought as much as I’ve grown, as far as I’ve come in the last 3 years, this would be a huge setback to my mental health.

I wanted to ignore her, especially since I’d just spent $200 getting the recommendation letter from an online therapist. I called my older sister, the voice of logic in my life. I wanted her to cheer me on like she’s done in the past.

She pointed out everything my therapist did, and more.

I have worried that my therapist is just against the surgery in general, but I know my sister isn’t. She’s been a major support to me since the first day I talked about it 7 or 8 years ago.

I’ve come so far with my mental health. It’s fucking amazing the growth that has happened in the last 3 years. I sit here as an entirely different person.

But

I still can’t keep myself on a healthy eating routine.

I still can’t keep myself from binge eating.

I still can’t keep myself going to the gym.

I still can’t keep myself focused on school work.

I still can’t control my spending.

Basically,

I’m really good at starting stuff, I’m really good at that initial push. And I still have zero follow through.

Right now, falling off on healthy eating sucks.  I gain weight back and I feel like a failure.

After surgery it could put me in the hospital.  Surgery isn’t going to magically give me the follow through and the willpower to succeed.  Surgery isn’t a quick fix, it’s just a tool.

Also,

As much as I fight it, food is still a coping mechanism for me. I react to stress, to depression, to boredom, by turning to food. I fight it, but it happens, often.

What happens when I completely remove that avenue of coping because it’s physically impossible? What happens to my mental health? What do I replace it with?

What happens if I can’t replace it with something healthy?

What happens if I can’t cope without it?

I’m not typing this all out to convince anyone else, I already know I’m not getting the surgery. I’m typing it out because I need to see it in black and white. I need to type it and grieve it.

I’m sad.

I feel defeated.

It isn’t fair that, yet again, my mental illnesses are getting in the way.

 

 

 

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.

 

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.