Read the room dumbass

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Today I remembered what it was like to be in Middle School again.

Or Elementary School,

Or High School.

They all blur together.

Someone posted something,

I don’t know them very well,

but I thought they were hurting.

I misunderstood the post.

I’ve never been very good at reading a room.

I also don’t do small talk.

I don’t connect to people over “Hi” and “What do you do for a living?”

I connect to people over really real shit.

So, I thought they were hurting.

And I reached out, to say things that felt right to say in the situation.

From the little I knew.

From the bits and pieces I’d seen come across my page.

Nothing specific, but just generic, heart felt, ramblings.

It’s funny, it was about how we are all both the hero and the villain in a situation depending on who is telling the story, and how that is okay.




It turned out their post was actually about the cat that was pictured.

And not a vague book with a random cat photo attached.



And I quickly became the villain in their telling of the story.

And in their friends telling of the story.



And that is okay.

I know that I did what I always do.

I tried to be really real and open and honest and heartfelt and vulnerable.

And I got reminded why it’s dangerous to do that around people you don’t know well.

And how it can be unsolicited advice.

And how it can seem like I’m standing on a soap box.

And how it can appear that I’m being overly intimate.



When the situation was over, I told myself, and those around me, that I was fine.

I understood.

It was no big deal.

But I wasn’t fine

I had reached out.

I had been my big bright shiny self.

And I got my hand slapped.

And the second my hand was slapped I checked that persons facebook to see who our mutual friends were, who was I going to be embarrassed in front of.

And I fought back and forth between dirty deleting and leaving it there.

And I started questioning all of my good intentions and wondering why I wasn’t normal like everyone else?

Why I can’t just see a cat picture as a cat picture?

Why do I talk to strangers in grocery stores and have us hugging before we leave the line?

Why do I have deep conversations with Lyft drivers?

Why do I have no conversational boundaries?

And as the day went on I shrank further and further into myself.



It isn’t a big deal, most likely.

I was out of line, I didn’t know this person and it wasn’t my place to help even if they were hurting.

I was too wordy and had no idea what I was talking about.

I was butting my face where it didn’t belong.

I know better than to comment on posts, I don’t do it often, because I’m afraid of that embarrassment when I read the “room” wrong.

I often read the room wrong.

Its why I’m super quiet in a group,

but talk non stop one on one.

It’s harder to have that large scale embarrassment if only one person is there to witness your fuck up.

So, today I remembered why I’m both quiet and loud, depending on the situation.

Today I remembered why I try so hard not to be too much.

And I’d love to say that this doesn’t bother me and I can move on,

but that’s not the case.

I learned my lesson.

And, before someone reads this wrong, no one responding to that post did anything wrong.

I came out of left field with some big emotional response to something where it wasn’t warranted, and there was a reaction of “WTF” and, because they don’t really know me, “Who the fuck”

But, it was still a stark reminder that I am not like everyone else.

And sometimes that really really hurts.



Quiet

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

It’s quiet.

Even with the music playing there’s an underlying quiet to the night.

She’s already sleeping.

My brain is slowing wandering,

not racing,

just gently moving from one thought to the next.

Gentle,

but not kind.

I’m trying to counter each thought as they come.

I got up early this morning,

got out of the house.

I had plans after.

Errands that needed to be run.

Instead I slept.

After waking up early, I figured a nap was fine.

But that nap didn’t want to end.

Wonder Woman picked up the groceries,

and brought them in,

and put them away.

I barely registered that she was home.

Eventually she let me know that there was dinner.

I dragged myself out of bed.

I feel like there’s so much I’m not doing.

I’m blaming myself,

as if its some character flaw.

If only I tried harder,

pushed myself more,

I’d pull through this.

I had more I wanted to write.

Counterthoughts to these thoughts.

But I’m yawning.

My eyes are heavy.

Time to go back to bed.

The Days Before

This is a Really Real Widow post.

A few days ago, the last picture I ever took of her came across my TimeHop.

A couple of weeks before that was the video I took right before she went in for surgery.

The surgery that technically had nothing to do with her death.

But stress adds up.

For a long time, I wanted to blame it on the anesthesia.

It felt like she was off from the day of surgery,

but I also think desperation was setting in.

Who knows.

It won’t change the outcome anyway.

It’s only the 6th . . .

her actual death day isn’t until the 8th.

Or the 7th if you consider when she actually took the pills.

These final few days before the yearly anniversary of her passing are so so hard.

They drag out slowly.

Little memories popping up here and there.

Emotions running on high.

I know the actual day will feel like I finally let out the breath I’ve been holding for the past week.

It always does.

I talked to Kidlet about having a virtual get together with friends.

Friends that knew her.

Maybe even friends that wanted to get to know her through our stories.

When I brought it up to him it felt like the most important thing in the world.

For him, the day doesn’t hold as much weight, but he wanted to go along whatever was most healing for me.

I don’t know what I’ll end up doing that day.

Right now the gathering doesn’t seem as important.

Honestly, each year I feel like it’s not a big deal this year.

And then I find myself holding my breath anyway.

This year I keep trying to relax.

Trying to unclench my shoulders.

Trying to stay in the moment.

Trying to remember that these days are important where I am now.

That it’s far more important than wrapping myself up in the emotions of the past.

Today I stood quietly while the vet administered the medications that allowed Trillian, the grumpy old lady of the house, to peacefully drift off.

I don’t think I’ve ever been in the room for that process.

I wasn’t sure I’d be able to be there for this one either.

But I stood there beside Wonder Woman,

rubbing her arm and reminding her that I was beside her while she pet her sweet kitty through the whole process.

I wondered if Parker took her last breath that peacefully.

I wondered how different it would have been if we had been able to offer my dad the same humane way to end his not so gradual demise.

Death is inevitable.

It’s the only thing we know for certain will happen when we take our first breath.

It still comes as a shock on the day it arrives.


Ouch

This is a Really Real Chronic Pain post.

Most of the time, pain is just a part of who I am.

This slow current that runs just underneath my skin.

It spikes and sparks in different locations at different times.

But it’s just there.

I take my daily medications and go on with my life.

I try to do things that will help,

and I’m not always great at keeping up a routine.

Some days, the pain becomes unbearable.

The quiet hum beneath the surface becomes a constant roar that takes over everything.

I can’t get comfortable.

Everything just hurts.

Today is one of those days.

My body is screaming.

I use various meditations and coping mechanisms.

I spend time trying to just sit with it,

ride it out,

bringing my focus back to my breath or the project at hand every time I start to focus on the discomfort..

I take medications of varying types.

My narcotic that is only used for extreme situations.

I use my medical marijuana/cbd,

normally taken at microdose levels that just take the edge off.

Today I’ve increased the dose to intoxicating levels.

Even the calmness that comes with being high doesn’t keep the pain under the surface.

I use topical creams.

A heating pad.

I distract with various activities.

I constantly shift positions,

laying down,

sitting up,

walking around the house.

Its one of those nights where as much as I want to let it just be,

it feels unbearable.

I want to yell,

“Make it stop.

Please.”

I take an anxiety medication,

maybe if I can just calm my brain a bit.

Everything hurts.

Logically, I know this will pass.

I know this is just a period in time,

I know I’ve been through worse,

and I know, I’ll probably go through worse again.

But, in this moment it feels unfair.

I don’t deserve this.

I sit in the quiet house.

The white noise of fans all around me.

Right now,

this is what is.

And maybe,

writing this,

will make that a little easier to cope with.

Anger is Uncomfortable

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

Anger is uncomfortable.

I’m not good at it.

I’m good at rage.

So very good.

That feeling that bubbles up and explodes forth from my mouth.

Covering everyone around me.

And then,

it dissipates.

But anger is harder.

That anger when you have been wronged,

betrayed,

hurt.

The anger that needs time to work through.

Anger is uncomfortable.

And sometimes,

things can’t just be fixed.

Sometimes it takes time

Sometimes it takes a lot of processing.

And I never learned how to be okay with being angry.

It’s always been black or white.

I am angry and you will hear about it until it is fixed.

Or,

I am angry and I am done.

Now it’s,

I am angry,

but over time this will be okay.

I just haven’t learned what to do during that time.

How to be angry while still living a loving life.

Anger is just hard for me.

Anger is hard to sit with.

It’s hard to allow myself to be angry.

Anger just kind of sucks.

All of the things

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I started a new form of crafting last week.

A tiny little stamped cross stitch project just to see how I liked it.

After finishing that one, I went to Walmart and got a larger one, as well as a printed embroidery project, because honestly I didn’t notice they were different.

I can see myself doing both of these on a regular basis.

One more calming meditative skill to add into the rotation.

I love that this one is so portable.

I sat on the front porch in the sun the other day working on my current project,

I haven’t been able to do that since my chainmailling days.

I’m sure that particular craft will come back around at some point as well.

There’s still a bin of supplies in the basement.

The house feels foreign and strange.

While Wonder Woman hasn’t been deeply depressed for our entire relationship, there’s always been some level of it there.

And she’s never had energy or motivation.

That’s different now.

Even positive change is stressful.

Right now it’s entirely possible that she’s running a bit too high, medication induced hypomania,

but she’s been so low for so long that it’s honestly hard to tell what her new normal will look like.

She’s working closely with doctors, and it’s a process I understand very well from going through it on my own.

But the change in household energy and dynamic is hard.

I’m used to directing every little thing.

Or at least waiting until the last minute for it to be done.

I’ve always had this quiet anxiety in the back of my head about things that were her responsibility,

but that I could see her putting off till the last minute.

Sometimes they didn’t get done at all.

We spent this first 3 years of our relationship making sure that we didn’t overstep boundaries.

Those boundaries were drawn with red sharpie, keeping my problems and responsibilities separate from hers.

I didn’t realize how much I was emotionally dancing on her side,

while not saying anything.

Now, all of the things are being done.

Household tasks are handled without my input,

or at the very least, without any hesitation.

She’s working through her own paperwork and logistical stuff,

only asking for my input when it is needed.

And it’s strange for me.

In every relationship we have roles that we play,

and often those roles are comfortable, even if they are dysfunctional.

Our roles are changing.

Change is hard, even if it’s good.

We, as individuals,

and also as a couple,

are unfinished projects.

Over time things are going to change and become more clear.

There is no final picture.

We will keep adding to it,

going back and removing stitches that aren’t quite right,

incorporating new colors.

Each time there is anxiety as we wonder what the next version of the picture will look like.

We are not the same people we were during those first conversations on the internet.

That’s a really good thing.

But learning, and relearning each other is a process,

one that will hopefully be repeated many times over the years.

Change is hard and uncomfortable,

even when it’s positive.

Discomfort is part of growing.

It’s just a matter of learning to sit with it.

So Many Trains

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

My brain is full of thoughts running in so many different directions.

But it’s a calm chaos that I’m not used to.

I’m cleaning the house.

Deep cleaning that hasn’t happened since she moved in.

Deep cleaning that has been especially needed for the past year or more.

Staying home around the clock has been horrible for both of us.

It’s all been falling apart for awhile.

Should I have seen how bad things were?

Should I have seen the storm that was brewing?

I knew things were hard,

but I didn’t know how hard.

My life is spent talking openly about my struggles.

I shine light into all of the dark spaces.

I talk about the things that are hard to talk about.

But sometimes, people don’t know how to reach out.

How to put words to the struggle that is brewing within.

“I’m fine, this is fine,” has been a running joke in our house for as long as I can remember.

But it wasn’t a joke.

But, that is her story to tell, if and when she is ready.

My story in this, is that I was caught off guard.

I have craved stability for most of my life.

I keep finding it and losing it again,

crisis after crisis ripping the rug out from underneath me.

It’s hard to talk about that part.

But, supporting someone I love,

understanding how hard this all is,

being there as she finds her feet again,

doesn’t mean my difficulties with the situation aren’t valid.

Many people have supported me through my own struggles,

especially her,

and being on either side is hard.

But I can’t speak to her side of this.

My side is valid too.

I’m saying that to reassure me, not only to remind you.

Sometimes,

it feels like every time I find my own feet,

something pulls the rug.

This time I’m not falling down.

This time I’m creating my own stability in the middle of chaos.

I’m finding ways to control what I can.

Organizing my space, our space, to organize my mind.

Things will be okay on the other side.

Sometimes, you need a wakeup call to realize it isn’t working,

but that’s just an opportunity for change.

An opportunity for growth.

Sometimes, the rug being ripped out,

just shows you that you shouldn’t have the rug there in the first place.

Blessed.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

I just looked up the definition of blessed.

Because, I feel blessed, but not in the religious sense.

Luckily, google agreed with me, blessed isn’t just a religious thing, it’s also “bringing pleasure or relief as a welcome contrast to what one has previously experienced.”

I’ve always had good friends, don’t get me wrong.

But the more I have lived as myself instead of hiding behind trauma and anxiety and everyone else’s expectations,

the more I found the people who appreciated me for what I had to bring to the table.

I am surrounded by amazing people.

The people who read what I write and appreciate my openness.

The people who reach out through comments and messages.

The people who are just,

there.

And everyone is there in their own ways.

In the past week I’ve had friends reach out with their experience to help me learn, I’ve had friends reach out to send me things that I never could have afforded myself, I’ve had friends reach out with encouragement, so much encouragement. I’ve had friends reach out with Starbucks. I’ve had friends reach out with financial help.

I

am

blessed.

I still have a traumatic life.

I mean, 6 months ago my world was once again rocked with something that most people don’t experience (thank goodness).

I seem to just be that person that shit hits.

“God only gives you what you can handle”

Fuck

that

shit.

I learned to handle it because I didn’t have a choice.

Often I didn’t handle it,

I just survived through it.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

No, the shit that happened to me didn’t make me stronger.

The way I reacted to it made me stronger.

The work I put into healing from it made me stronger.

It wasn’t just magically,

“oh, look, this horrendous thing happened and now you’re a better person for it”

Yeah, that’s not how it works.

But anyway, I got off the topic that I planned to write about.

I am surrounded by amazing people.

I am surrounded by people that constantly mirror back my worth, showing me that my existence is appreciated.

I am surrounded by love.

By acceptance.

By kindness.

I am blessed.

I appreciate every one of you.

Thank you.


Starting over, again.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

And a Really Real Health post.

One of those ones where it’s hard to tell where health ends and mental begins. As we know, they are definitely intertwined.

This is a long one.

TW: exercise and fitness. Quick mention of past suicidal thoughts.

4.5 years ago, Parker died.

Shortly after that I went in for a minor surgery to remove an ovary that had a large, painful, cyst.

They couldn’t control my airway on the table and aborted the surgery.

It scared the shit out of everyone.

I was incredibly suicidal after the failed surgery.

I was in so much pain, and I was still in the middle of that early grief period, and it just felt like the end of the world.

At that time, my best friend was going to the gym every night.

She wasn’t willing to leave me alone, but wasn’t willing to miss the gym.

So she took me with her.

And I went for a walk on the treadmill while she was doing what she was doing.

At the time I could barely walk around the block.

When I first got on the treadmill I had to hold on for dear life because I was so unstable I couldn’t keep my balance.

I can’t remember how long I walked that first time.

But we went back the next night and I did it again.

And again.

And again.

Eventually I worked up to the elliptical and the Arc bike.

We added strength training.

My best friend and I had a great routine and we kept each other going.

I was in the best shape that I can ever remember.

And then life happened.

I stopped going to the gym.

I would start going again, and lose momentum.

Covid brought months and months of sitting in the house, afraid to go anywhere.

I fell back into old habits.

Covid kept me away from the gym, but I also wasn’t making myself walk in the neighborhood.

The concrete sidewalk hurt my joints.

The hills hurt my lungs and left me gasping.

My therapist and I have talked a lot about it.

About my lack of motivation.

About how much I wanted things to change but hadn’t figured out how to change them.

Today she asked me what would make me feel safe at the gym.

I thought about it long after the session ended.

I remembered those nights in the gym years before, going at midnight,

or later.

It was empty.

We had the whole place to ourselves.

So tonight,

I dug through my gym clothes to find ones I could still squeeze into.

I charged my headphones.

I filled up my water bottle,

I put on my mask,

and,

I drove to the gym at 11pm.

I had grand plans. I was going to warm up on the treadmill and then get on the elliptical.

But,

I felt like I was dying after 5 minutes on the treadmill.

Even at a low speed with no incline I was holding on and pulling myself along.

I felt unstable. I was out of breath. My whole body was starting to sweat.

At 10 minutes I knew there was no way I was using any other machines.

I wasn’t even sure I’d last 30 minutes where I was.

But I knew I could make it 5 more minutes.

And then, I knew I could make it 5 more.

And 5 more.

I made it to 30 minutes, just passing the mile marker during that time.

My face was red.

Sweat was pouring off of me.

My heart was pounding so hard it was giving me a headache.

And even though I’m back where I started 4.5 years ago,

I felt accomplished.

I still don’t feel like the gym is safe.

Even with a mask on and many machines shut down for distancing.

Even in a gym that had less than 10 people in it.

But I can’t just spend the rest of my life sitting in this chair.

Waiting for time to pass.

Not actively trying to die,

but not actively living either.

I almost didn’t write this tonight.

I was afraid that I might write it, and then not go back tomorrow, or the next day.

That I would say “I’m going to do this,”

and then not.

But,

I went to the gym today.

And that was a better decision than staying at home.

I don’t need to look forward too far.

I just need to make the next

right

decision.







Things are going well

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

TW: Mention of Suicide, Gun Violence.

I can always tell when things are going well.

It’s been over 2 weeks since I’ve written this time.

Don’t get me wrong, things aren’t

perfect

but they are pretty damn good.

I’m sleeping a little less than I was before,

still too much,

but it’s better.

A combination of adding Ritalin back in, and increasing my antidepressant, seems to be helping.

Today we increased it a little bit more.

We recently got access to Discovery Plus.

I’ve spent years saying “I don’t watch TV” but seeing the different shows pop up on this streaming network made me realize,

I did like TV at one time.

I liked documentaries,

I liked stories about families different than mine.

I liked cooking shows.

I’ve gotten sucked back into a TV series and have it playing on my computer while I’m doing other things.

Yesterday I tried working with a new art medium.

I had to move Wonder Woman’s Valentine’s creations to clear space for me to work.

I put it up on a shelving unit we have in the corner.

I realized that the “Parker Shelf” was just above it.

I smiled.

While I do still have some random things around the house that belonged to Parker, most of my memory stuff of her is condensed onto one shelf in the living room.

The front of the shelf says “Love is the answer to all questions.”

I had some “I need to tell Parker this” moments while I was at my dad’s.

I was sharing memories with Wonder Woman and Kidlet.

Showing them a fishing rod my dad had made just for me, one I helped design, one that has my name on it.

Showing them a toy set from when I was growing up.

Showing them some pictures.

Some items my dad made while I worked along side him.

This trip was very healing.

I was able to focus more on the positive side of who he was as a person.

The positive impact he had in my world.

Don’t get me wrong, he was a horrible human being.

But the worst people still have good moments.

A few times in the last couple of months I’ve ended up going 2 weeks between therapy appointments.

Six months ago my dad died.

Things got so bad that I was doing therapy multiple times a week. Then I was in partial. Then I went inpatient for about a month between two different programs.

Now, it isn’t that big of a deal when I don’t go to therapy one week.

It isn’t that big of a deal when group therapy is cancelled.

I’m going weeks without writing because there just isn’t much to write about.

I’m feeling that euthymia that I always strive for.

Not manic.

Not depressed.

Just, existing.

I still have dreams about my dad.

Weird dreams that take place after he shot himself, but he’s still alive.

Sometimes he is shaved bald on that side of his head, an obvious wound by his temple.

Sometimes someone else mentions that he shot himself and points out how it’s changed my life.

A few nights ago I had some dream where I was taking him around with me to college or something like that.

Someone asked, “What’s _wrong_ with him, he’s acting so weird.”

I replied, “Of course he’s acting weird, he put a bullet into his skull a few months ago.”

The dreams are less vivid now.

Less jarring.

They seem less real and I wake up from them easily.

The occasional flashback is easily pushed away.

I know things will come and go.

I know I still have a long way to go, and that I could be better than I am now.

But,

things are pretty damn good right now.