5.17.18 part 2

So, I went, drove into the parking lot, left, came back, sat in the car for 15 minutes, and then finally talked myself into actually going in, even though I was late.

My boss was amazing as usual and spent about 30 minutes just chatting with me, and pointed out to me how amazing it was that I kept in touch with her each day I was supposed to work, even while trying to keep myself out of the crisis unit (and at the time she had no idea it was that bad). I took the time I needed to get back on stable ground, and still came back once I was doing better.

That’s the part I wouldn’t have stuck with before. . .I never would have gone back.

And the thing is, when I decided I was ready for something like work earlier this year, I knew that I wanted to go with volunteer instead of paid work, first, because of the chance of something like this happening. And I knew that working in this field, and in the right office would be important because a supportive environment will make the difference for me. A paid job would most likely had to fire me at this point, but this was really good practice at how to handle a situation like this and next time (if there is a next time) I may be able to push through a little better, or come back a little sooner, and at least I know I can go back.

The same thing with school, I’ve been working towards my bachelors degree for 20 years now, and just now crossed the halfway mark. I never went back after I failed out of a semester of classes . . and i never managed to drop the classes if I was getting over my head (controlled crash and burn) . . and I keep going back, figuring out what I can change and trying again. I’m only moving inches at a time, but I keep trying. Eventually I’ll get there.

My boss just kept reminding me that I’ve come so far, and that I’m doing it one inch at a time but still making huge progress. I’m fighting against my brain every moment of every day.

Two years ago I couldn’t leave the apartment alone, and I couldn’t be left home alone for any significant period of time.

Two years ago I couldn’t walk around the block without stopping to catch my breath. I couldn’t walk up to my apartment without using the rails to drag me up.

Almost 2 years ago my world stopped turning, the bottom dropped out,

and I realized I could fly.

I used to post every time I walked a block, every time I went to the gym, every time I went to an appointment alone or got on a city bus. Now those are things I do without thinking twice.

And I know what I need to keep moving towards my goals. I knew what I needed when I took this volunteer job at United Way, and I know what I need to keep doing now. I’m getting there, one step at a time, even when some of those steps feel like they are backwards.

I just have to keep doing it.

5.17.18 part 1

I’m trying like hell to do the thing.

I put United Way on hold for a bit while i pulled my brain out of it’s own ass during dumb brain week.

Now I’m trying to get back in this week and dumb brain is telling me dumb things about how they don’t want me and I’m not going to be able to make it and I’m having a hard time getting out of my own way.

I logically know this is dumb brain, mental health stuff, but that’s just making it worse right now . . . stuck in a fucking loop.

All Paths . . .

Probably a long post ahead . . .suicide widow post, things I’ve learned, things I forgot, things that I remembered, how things changed . . blah blah . . .

One of the things about being a suicide widow . . maybe a widow in general but definitely my experience as a suicide widow is that my perception of my relationship with Parker constantly morphs and changes.

I loved her. I love her. Anyone who knew us couldn’t deny how much damn love there was and is and will always be.

And everyone knows how much I will stand up and scream from the rooftops about mental health and the wording used around suicide and stigma and all of the everything’s about speaking your story, etc etc.

But, the fact is, no matter what I know logically, emotionally there are so many layers of what has to be processed when both the victim and the person who caused the death are both within the same body.

That’s the long way of saying that one day I see hearts and roses and love, and the next day I see an abusive dynamic that was completely unhealthy, and the fact is, it was somewhere in the middle and at times it was both. We went through a lot of shit, and our way of coping was not always healthy.

That’s the long winded way of bringing me to a memory of the early part of our relationship, and just how much we worked together to meet in the middle of so many things. And how much trauma had changed that part of us.

This Mother’s Day at brunch we started talking about churches somehow and I remembered how when we first met, Parker mentioned how she went to church every weekend with her family.

I actually said out loud. Oh, that’s a deal breaker.

Before that we had talked on the phone around the clock for almost a week. Hanging up the house phones when batteries died to call back on cell phones. But on the mention of church I was ready to walk away because I believed in a lot of things, and that all paths were equally valid . . .but Christianity was one thing I was NOT going anywhere near cause I did not need to be tolerated, been there, done that. I wanted more than that.

Fuck That.

And then we talked more about beliefs and over the next few hours I realized that we had similar beliefs actually. And the first time I went out to Gainesville I went with her to her family’s church. And I felt tolerated.

I told her, I’ll go to church with you, but only when we find one where we are accepted, not just tolerated. And so when we moved to Gainesville I got on the internet and found the website gaychurch.org and we went to a few different churches and eventually I found one that we fell in love with. We were completely accepted there. Kidlet loved it, I got involved, we even helped with the summer program and volunteered on Sundays and were involved with the young adult groups.

When we moved back to Palm Coast I did the same thing and we visited at least a dozen different churches together until we found one that we were both comfortable at. We ended up driving over an hour each way to go to FirstCoast MCC in St. Augustine. We got involved.

Church was important to her. I found a way to make it work for me and she understood my need to find the ‘right church’ even though that meant I researched and we visited a dozen different ones to find the right one. I found the one where we fit, the one that wanted us as part of their family as much as we wanted to be there. Church became important to me. I enjoyed the family and also the insights I gained from the sermons.

When she first said church, I could have just stuck with “That’s a deal breaker.” But instead I looked for the common ground.

I’m glad I didn’t, but I’m sorry that she’d spent so long being tolerated before finding places that accepted her.

This post has nothing to do with church or religion. I don’t want responses to this about how I need to find God again, or how happy people are that she brought me to the church, this isn’t about that. I’m still the same, “All paths are equally valid” person that I was when I met her.

The Mighty – Why We Must Discuss Suicide Openly

This article from The Mighty, along with a bit of my own insight below, is your 8th of the month post.

Why We Must Discuss Suicide Openly

“It’s unfortunate that when an individual tries to express their suicidal thoughts, they are quickly labeled as crazy, psychotic or attention-seeking. Yet once the individual actually takes their own life, they are labeled again as selfish. “They could have sought help” is often heard. What could be worse than saying someone is selfish because they died by suicide, having never known what they were feeling?”

 I have this bridge as both a suicide survivor and someone who has survived my own attempts and fights my own thoughts.

So many of the things talked about in this article are true. The way we talk about those who died vs the way we talk about and to those who are struggling . . .

And I hear and heard both because of who I am. And often the things that were said that are supposed to make me feel better about her losing her battle, make it harder to fight my own. And the things that are said to guilt me into fighting harder make her look like a horrible person because she couldn’t fight hard enough.

And the fact is, we just need to be allowed and encouraged to talk openly. I was able to go to derby this weekend because I knew I had a supportive group around me and if it got bad I could say I needed a break. I even had people asking if I was okay without trying to push me out of what I was doing.

I was able to email my boss and say I’m stepping down hours cause my mental health is slipping and she thanked me for my openness and asked how she could best support me.

This isn’t any different than diabetes or heart disease or cancer. It requires treatment and management and follow ups. And we need to be able to talk about it.

If someone dies from suicide, those left behind need meal trains, and support and comfort, not hushed whispers and “she shouldn’t be saying her wife died like that” ( true story).

I don’t post my struggles for pity. I post it each time it gets bad for 2 reasons. Because for one, it helps me to type it out and be heard.

And for two, I keep hearing how it helps others to see me be vocal. People who didn’t know it could look like this, people who are afraid to speak up. People who are afraid to ask for help.

Parker was the quiet one.

Parker is why we must discuss suicide openly.

Not what you think . . .

There’s a post I’ve shared a lot of times on Facebook, titled “I’m suicidal, and no, it’s not what you think.”  It’s about one of the grey areas of suicide, with constant suicidal ideations that never go away, even when there is no real plan.

I lived in that area for years.

Sometimes things would build up and it got so bad and so loud that I was afraid of myself and afraid to be alone. There had been attempts and there had been self injury. There were hospitalizations. Parker and Kidlet spent so many years walking on eggshells because I was sick.

And then she died and I very publicly pulled my ass out of the depths of hell and got better.

Except, I forgot the part where you don’t get better from this shit. You get stronger, you learn better coping methods, but you may never fully get better. This will always be part of who I am. I may always backslide, and there is always a chance that I may end up back in the hospital. It may even happen sooner rather than later.

Safe is better than dead, I guess.

I’m back in that space where every little thing knocks me back. It’s a constant roller coaster right now. And some days are very deep and very dark. I want them to change meds and FIX ME.

But it’s not a medication thing. It’s not an exercise it out thing. It’s a brain chemicals fucking suck thing and right now I just need to ride it out and try to keep moving forward at the same time.

I scream so loud on here about how much we need to remove the stigma and scream our stories out loud, but one of the hardest things in the world for me today was spending the entire day in bed, dishes piled up, my house in this crazy disorganized state where I left it mid project from this weekend . . . while Wonder Woman came in and out doing what she needed to do. I couldn’t stand that she was seeing me that depressed, that dark, that done. I wanted to tell her to get out and not come back till I was my normal level of crazy. She wasn’t supposed to see me this way. I wasn’t supposed to be this way any more.

I am petrified of this space I’m in. I’m petrified of backsliding to that person I was . . . I’ve said so many times “I want Parker back in this world, but I do not want the person I was back.” and right now, I feel like that person I was.

But at the same time, it’s also that whole “I’m suicidal and it’s not what you think.” Because I do still want a tomorrow. I don’t want to keep doing this, and I hate who I am when I’m like this, and I hate how I feel when I’m like this, but I don’t want to act on it either.

I still want a tomorrow, even if it means that there will be more tomorrows that feel like this.

Hopefully I can keep remembering that even in the middle of the fog that closes in during the worst of it.

But for now, the dishes are done again, and I ate for the first time today, and tomorrow will hopefully feel a little better.

Other Side

Here’s why ‘work’ felt amazing today.

When I was relying on food pantries and social service agencies and spending half the week finding whatever resource I could to pay bills and keep fed and still make it to doctors appointments …..

I’d show up at a food pantry and they wouldn’t be open during those hours anymore, or at all. Or, they’d hand me yet another box of cans to go with the 3 boxes of cans in the basement when what we really needed was some fresh food, meat, something that wasn’t loaded with salt and might make me feel human for a day or two. That meant I took time away from something else productive to get to something that wasn’t needed in that moment, or in the case of the closed pantry, that was completely useless.

Sometimes that meant spending money on transportation or using up a favor.

I said that we needed a wiki based program, something that could be updated by those of us using the services. Nothing is up to date by the time large agencies pass out lists or post them online and most of the small agencies don’t have the resources to man phone lines. And I started looking into what it would take to make it happen, at least locally. But it ended up slipping by the wayside.

United Way updates their database yearly on a rotating basis, I just started training to make the calls to the providers. She was emphasizing how important it is to get detailed information so the clients know up front what each provider is able to help with, to avoid wasting their time/energy. Fresh food vs canned, how much towards a bill, what are the income or paperwork requirements, etc.

And, they are working towards a searchable online system that would allow notes to be left by users. It’s a long way away but they know it’s needed because they can’t keep up either.

I don’t know if I’ll end up working here in a paid capacity, but it feels so good to be on the other side of this.

Anxiety

Between therapist and pdoc helping me figure out what was happening last week and this week, talk therapy, a lot of mental work while sitting around, clawing my way back up, a shit ton of ugly crying, and a med adjustment . . . . I’m seeing glimpses of the bad ass me that I know is in there. Mixed episodes and this kind of rapid cycling is far scarier and more destabilizing than I remember, and I’m really glad that I went so long without this.

My therapist asked me what my anxiety looks like, there is a piece of art hanging in her office, a random mashed together jumble of 3d mixed media stuff. I told her it’s this constant noise of thoughts and words that looks and sounds like the painting, all different colors and sounds and sharp edges and smooth, but 3d and even 4d isn’t enough to describe the amount of dimensions, it’s like a 20 sided die, but the size of the earth, and I’m an ant, or a grain of sand.

But it starts small, one thought, and if I ignore it, it echoes around and gets bigger, and bigger and bigger, so I voice it and it goes away. But at some point, the more I feed them the bigger they get and the more they multiply until I’m this tiny molecule surrounded by these swirling mixed media 20 sided die of thoughts and I can’t remember what I did yesterday, or even earlier today because I’m too busy trying to respond to every single thought and put it to rest so they stop getting bigger.

“Yes I’m good enough” “Nope, the house isn’t on fire” “No, that ambulance isn’t for my kid” “No, you aren’t going to screw it all up” “Yes, you paid that bill”

I keep trying to find answers for why I’m like this, or why I’m like that. I need a solution, I need to fix me so that it all goes away. But I’m not my labels, I’m not my anxiety or the adhd or the bipolar or the anxiety or the grief. Those things help me find ideas for solutions, it helps me look for coping mechanisms, but I can’t get too bogged down in trying to fix me because I’m not broken.

I’m still trying, and I’m learning how to put away what doesn’t work, and take a few steps back, and when the anxiety gets bigger than me, I need to learn how to go back and find the stuff that made me Self Saving Warrior Princess in the first place. I spent an entire year telling myself that I was enough, and then a few stumbles while I was learning some new skills completely knocked me down. I need to find what made me bigger than all of this in the first place, and figure out how to hold onto that, while still learning all of this new stuff.