Love, Derby

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This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

And a Really Real Community Post.

And a Really Real Support Post.

And a Really Real Roller Derby Post.

Yesterday I didn’t want to go to Derby.  You see, Derby was the last place I was before I went to the hospital, so I was nervous about returning.  I wasn’t sure how I’d feel being there again.  I didn’t really give anyone that reason.  I made other excuses.

No one pressured me.

And, I showed up, I was late, but I showed up.

I was shocked when the league started clapping and welcoming me back. I was also embarrassed and unsure of how to react so I kind of buried myself in the bench I was heading towards.

It was completely unexpected. Yeah, I know most of the people on our league and chat with them. But I’ve always considered myself to be on the outskirts. Not really fitting in. Not really a part of it. That background cast that doesn’t need an understudy because no one would notice if they were missing.

So I was shocked when after practice everyone asked for hugs and told me they were glad to have me back.

This isn’t the reaction someone gets after a mental health crisis. It’s swept under the rug, it’s hush hush, it’s “keep her safe and watch her but don’t mention why.”

This was “we want you here and we’re glad you’re alive, thank you for getting help.” Loud and clear and in the open.

And then at the end of practice they gave me a card, perfectly suited for me, and signed by so much of the league. And then a journal with notes inside from so many different people, telling me how loved and valued I am, telling me why they need me here, telling me what they love about me.

At first I felt like it was too much fuss over nothing, like, it’s just me, what’s the big deal. I’m fine.

But the thing is, I wasn’t fine and I’m still not fine. This was an emergency situation and I just spent nearly a week in the hospital over it. I’m still healing from it.

I needed and still need these tangible reminders that I matter.

I think we all do, I think we all deserve to have tangible reminders that we matter.

I’m thankful to be part of the roller derby community, and Charm City Roller Derby in particular.

I guess I’m not as much of an outsider as I thought I was.

I love you all, CCRD.

Thank you for making me smile.

Question of the Day: Wednesday Check-In

Today’s Question Is:

How are you doing so far this week?

This has been a pretty good week so far. Monday was therapy and pdoc and I handled that busy day pretty well. Today is my really full day which often leaves me feeling overwhelmed.

I went to the gym at 10 this morning and then my gym buddy and I grabbed a quick lunch. That’s followed by DBT from 1-3, which is exhausting by itself. Then I’ll take mobility to the library where I have a NAMI support group from 6-730 and then I rush to Roller Derby which doesn’t end till 10.

I have dinner in the crockpot which we won’t get to eat until after we get home from Derby.

I’m hoping I can use my coping mechanisms to get through the day without the emotional meltdown that is pretty typical for my Wednesdays.

But, we’re halfway through the week.

How are you doing so far this week?

I Guess You’re Just What I Needed

women on roller skates

Photo by 42 North on Pexels.com

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m feeling much much better.

I’m back to wanting to live and thrive and not hanging on just to survive.

I got an 84 on my final exam and that mixed with the perfect score on my main essay in the class means I think I pulled off an A. Now I get a month off before summer semester starts.

The real game changer was going to officiate roller derby last night.

Leading up to it I was thinking about backing out because my brain was just too foggy and too depressed. But Wonder Woman is head NSO and I really didn’t want to let her (and everyone else, but especially her) down, so I pushed through.

And I’m glad I did.

Everyone there is so supportive there.

Whether they read my posts or not, so many of them tell me they are happy to see me, they say hi, they make me feel included.

I may not put on skates but I feel like I’m an important part of something.

It’s nice to feel included.

I’m proud of myself for how well I got through this particular depressive/suicidal episode. I spent a lot of time in bed, but I also kept moving forward with things that had to be done. I kept cooking, I kept things from becoming too disastrous around the house, I didn’t cancel plans.

I kept doing things that made me feel productive.

Not that it would make me less of a person if I had let more slip, it is an illness after all, and I can only do the best I can do.

But this time I did my best, and my best was pretty damn good.

It was a really dark place, but I was able to see it for what it was, a blip on the radar instead of a permanent place I was stuck in forever. I was able to see my thoughts as thoughts, for the most part. As much as I didn’t want to, I was able to sit with it without fighting against it and making it worse.

That’s really it, I rode it out and didn’t make it worse. I even did things to make it better which is just icing on the cake.

I’m fighting some anxiety today about a party I’m supposed to go to this evening. It’s a skating party and after my last concussion I won’t put on skates again anytime soon. I am anxious that I’ll be the only one sitting out. But I want to go to support my friend who is graduating and to hang out with the friends I do know. It’s important to me to be there.

Plus, anxiety keeps getting in the way of me attending stuff like this and it doesn’t get to have that control today.

Yeah, I’m feeling much much better.

Masks

I took a few really great pictures this weekend of me smiling and having a great time.

They weren’t a lie, but they were taken during the moments where I was able to put on the mask that I wore for about half of the weekend. The other half of the weekend I spent hiding in the car, or in the hotel room, too tired to keep my eyes open. Falling asleep across the bed with my shoes still on because depression has set in so fully that, while I know there are reasons to live, I can’t always feel them.

Riding home, Wonder Woman points out an amazing city skyline, Philly I think, and normally my heart would want to explode with the beauty of it, right now, I appreciate that she pulled me out of my own head to tell me, but I can’t FEEL it the way I normally can and that makes me so so sad.

I can wear the mask and smile and fool lots of people but I can’t make myself feel the way my face appears to be feeling.

Apathy is a horrible emotion.

A beautiful sky still looks beautiful and I can appreciate the colors and the beauty that is the sunset. I’m glad I’m alive to see it, but I also would be just as happy if I wouldn’t wake up to see another one.

And that makes me sad. It also terrifies me.

But I put on the mask all weekend because it wasn’t about me. I knew enough to keep myself safe. I had lots of friends supporting me from afar..

One of them saw one of my selfies and was shocked when I told her how I was really feeling. Guess how many rejected selfies it took for me to capture one where the mask was adequately covering my real feelings.

The mask is exhausting for me, and the more I wear it, the harder it becomes to reach out. The harder it becomes to tell people I’m in danger.

I’m starting to understand how those who wear it all the time can’t reach up and find a hand to grab. Maybe it’s time to take the mask off for awhile. Maybe it’s becoming too comfortable. Pretending is exhausting but it’s almost easier than being vulnerable and telling someone just how nice it might be to drift away.

Alone

One of the things I have loved most about derby is how incredible the community is. I’ve spoken about it before, you walk into a rink with a few dozen women and feel like you’re home. Or at least, at home I feel that way. I have family there. I’m among my peers.

It took me a little while to get there. At first, the fact that I was surrounded by doctors and lawyers and people who were doing real things, felt really overwhelming to the part of my brain that still doesn’t know how to answer when people say “So, what do you do?”

“Well, I’ve spent 20 years trying to get a 4 year degree, and I’m disabled . . . Ummm, ummm . . .I’m trying to figure out what’s next.”

But eventually, they told me they wanted me around enough times that the doubting part of my brain started to actually believe it, and now, I walk into that skating rink and I know that I’m one of them, even on the days that my brain tells me I’m not.

And then I show up at something bigger like this and I’m reminded that I’m alone.

In the real world, my bright pink hair becomes a conversation starter. My outfits put people at ease when I nervously start talking to complete strangers for no apparent reason about completely off the wall topics that most people avoid. Those conversations help me connect to people in ways that most people don’t. I offer insight and information that most people don’t have. I end up with little connections everywhere. I’m awkward but it lets me own it.

This is derby. I blend here. But also, everyone runs in packs and I’m alone for a good part of the day while Wonder Woman is NSOing. It feels like every time I sit down to watch a game, someone is going to end up talking about that girl who was sitting alone acting awkward and eventually it will be figured out that I’m the only one here that’s alone among a thousand other people.

I’m also not all that into derby right now. I enjoy NSOing when my brain cooperates, but mostly, I don’t have the concentration to just sit and watch. I barely have the concentration to make it through a conversation.

I’m here because I wanted to do it back before I crashed. Back before I lost my concentration again.

I came anyway because it isn’t safe for me to be home alone all weekend. I needed a babysitter because I couldn’t be alone.

So instead, I’m in a car alone, listening to the rain, feeling alone in a group of people knowing that if my fucking brain would shut up, I could probably have a decent time like I did at BOTAS, but instead this feels like a punishment because I’m sick. And I know that it isn’t like that. I know I could have stayed home but I know that would have been a horrible idea for me. Right now I’m not sure if this was the right idea either.

I hate my dumb brain. I’m not suicidal, I’m not even horribly depressed or manic. I’m anxious as hell, I’m tired, I’m uncomfortable in my own skin. I’m exhausted.

I’m alone even though I know I’m surrounded by people in so many ways.

I’m alone even though I’m not.

Crying on the sidelines

The next 48 hours are officially cancelled.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve cried today and it’s not even the beginning of the trigger day.

I’m sitting off to the side at derby because the idea of focusing long enough to participate seems foreign.  I know I just need to get through 48 hours and then I’ll be okay, for at least a little while.

Today at PHP I felt like my parenting was called into question.  In hindsight it may have been in my head, it may have been nowhere near as bad as it seemed.  I may have overreacted and blown it out of proportion, or, years of being told that was what I was doing could mean that now I’m minimizing what happened today.  But either way, things today were hard and bad and as it ended I walked away from the building in angry, defeated tears.  And I don’t want to go back, but self care means going back because self care isn’t always bubble baths and pretty things.  It’s the hard fucking work that means healing and making it till tomorrow.  

I miss Parker so much right now.  Normally, I want her back in this world, while also realizing I’ve grown to a place where we would probably not be a good match, knowing we would not work the way we were.  I love her as part of my past which doesn’t conflict with where I am now.  But right now, it’s this feeling of wanting her so badly to be here with me now as part of all of this.  I don’t want to go back but I want to bring her here without losing what I have now including my current wonderful woman, my Wonder Woman.   How do I reconcile that in my own mind.  Not that I have a choice to make any of that happen.     

And then Kidlet and I talked, I feel my thoughts spinning, tattoo ideas, memorial ideas, how can I properly mark the fact that it’s been two years.  I know that it’s going to spin past and I will be fine but first I have to survive the next 48 hours.  I started crying on the phone with him for the first time since he left and my kid was telling me how he wished he was here so he could console me.  

I just want to live in the moment but that’s impossible when I’m worried about everything I did wrong yesterday and everything that could go wrong tomorrow.

Today, they had us do some worksheet and list 3 challenges we overcame.  I just wrote out, hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.  But when we were sharing, she asked me if I could list somethings that I’d overcome,  I asked where she wanted me to start.  I wonder when people start thinking I’m full of shit.  Too much trauma, None of it has really been overcome though, it all still haunts me.  I just survived the actual moment of it.  It could still kill me.

Then we did three things I’m good at, One of them is getting back up over and over and over again, because I’ve seen the alternative and it leaves so many tears behind.  

Parker didn’t end her pain.  She passed it on.  Today at PHP I stood up for Kate Spade when someone was upset about her leaving her daughter when she died by suicide.  She had no idea what she was doing to her daughter, her daughter either wasn’t on her mind or she thought she was doing the best she could for her.  Depression is a hell of a liar and creates a black hole that you can’t see out of.  Parker didn’t do this to our kid or me, it had nothing to do with us in that moment, she just wanted to end that blackness.

Unfortunately, what happened is that those of us that are still here are picking up the pieces of what she left behind.  That means the pain she left behind as well.

Now I have to figure out how to heal it and live with it or live in spite of it.

And it isn’t easy.  But I’m doing the best I can, and sometimes, that means crying on the sidelines at derby.

Impostor Syndrome

Some people have impostor syndrome when they are doing big positive things like presentations or working or, you know… adulting.

I have impostor syndrome when my mental illness flares.

“I can’t really be this person, I mean, it must just be for attention. I should snap out of it”

“Am I just trying to start drama and seeking attention like everyone says we are?”

Where are those boot straps I’m supposedly able to pull myself up by?

And then I stand outside at the corner of a building panting and texting Wonder Woman inside just to let her know I’m okay but can’t even walk across the rink. Feeling like a fucking asshole for leaving the way I did.

I did what I needed to do after I left. I walked. I texted Mickey. We walked together. We got ice cream. I stayed safe.

And the whole time I questioned myself. Maybe I’m making it all up. Maybe I’m faking it.

But who the fuck wants to feel like this? Who wants to talk themselves into this? Why would I think that’s happening?

The whole world keeps telling me to pull myself up by my bootstraps. And I will, but it’s not something I can do by will alone. It takes work, and not just running away from the emotions like I’ve spent the last two years doing (well duhhhh who didn’t see that coming, I did).

But this isn’t fake, and I can’t exercise it out (but it’ll help) and I can’t lose it through weight loss (healthy eating helps though) and I do have to push through some things but sometimes I’m going to walk into a situation that’s too much and I’m going to fucking bolt.

Thank god I don’t need anyone else to tell me that’s okay (external validation is helpful but yeah, I’m totally valid.)

But I’m letting you know that I feel this way because chances are, you do too. We just never talk about it.