Quiet Reflection

9.24.2017

I didn’t disappear off the face of the earth, I’ve just been taking time to handle my real life. I spent some time with Stardust and other friends, and I’ve had a wonderful conversation with Sunshine at least once a week about work/life balance and the really important things.

It strikes me every so often that I haven’t disclosed my mental health problems to my friends, and I wonder if perhaps there isn’t more there worth exploring.

At the end of the day I know that I really, really enjoy writing–the physical act of putting pen to paper and making words appear as if by magic–so I intend to spend the next few weeks writing in that space. As long as I’m in this the-drugs-are-working-today-so-let’s-embrace-the-hedonism swing, I’ll ride it as far as I can go. ❀

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Group Therapy, Metaphor Monday

Medication Monday | Group Therapy

In every therapy group I have ever attended, there is inevitably a session that I refer to as “drug day”.

It’s typically not the first meeting, but the second or third. We’ve all met, spilled our guts about family history and personal traumas and which mental illnesses we have and what symptoms we’re suffering from. There’s always at least one cutter (me, if no one else), one person with GAD and a serious case of imposter syndrome (no worries, kids, you do just as well as anyone else in group), and one person who’s just too god damn sparkly and bubbly to have a serious case of the crazies… but they do. (This one is also me more often than not these days.)

But in every therapy group I’ve attended, there has consistently been a majority drug use. I’m struggling to remember a group where there wasn’t 100% medication in our history. There may or may not have been one, but my point is this—medication is stigmatized. In spite of the fact that we’re all in group therapy, and in spite of the fact that we’re all baring our traumas to one another from Day 1, no one seems to be comfortable talking about psychiatric medication.

I’ve written a bit about how people view medication as the thing that destroys you, rather than as the thing that heals you. There’s a widespread belief that psychiatric medication is a conspiracy by big pharma to pick our pockets and drug us into compliance. I won’t lie and say there aren’t days when I entertain this idea—particularly, on days when I have to spend money on refills at the pharmacy—but I know that this is a symptom of healthcare in the US being a for-profit industry, and not a symptom of some vast global conspiracy.

I know this because the medication works, even when the placebo effect does not…but that’s a post for another day.

In 2011, Time Magazine reported that 1 in 5 American adults was taking psychiatric medication, and that antidepressants were the most used kind of psychiatric medication. According to the 2010 census, the population of the US over the age of 18 was some 234.5 million—almost 50 million adults would have been taking medication at the time of the survey.

50 million adults…and we were scared to talk about it in a group of young adults who were clearly struggling with mental health problems. Inevitably someone would bring it up, and there would be a sigh of relief as everyone suddenly began spilling a laundry list of medication we’d tried—laughing about the absurdity of it, sympathizing over shared side effects, and occasionally sharing horror stories about drugs gone wrong. (One time I went off of lamotrigine cold turkey. 0/10, do not recommend. Seriously guys, DO NOT DO THIS.)

There was inevitably a shift after the drug day. Things would ease up, we’d be more comfortable with each other, share more personal stories. Everyone was calmer, more comfortable with themselves, with each other. I wonder what would happen if we could bring that honesty outside of group… ❀

Quiet Reflection

8.6.2017

I’ve been feeling sick the last few days. I knew it was a mix of chronic dehydration and skipping meals, but skipping meals leads to skipping doses. Turns out dizziness and nausea is a side effect of withdrawal from my medication.

I didn’t realize I was missing so many doses, in such close proximity (and I’ve similarly missed breaks a work), but apparently it’s been completely messing with my physical health. Go figure.

I’m still tired, still dizzy. Making a concerted effort to actually eat three meals a day, actually take my medication on time. Stay hydrated. Etc.

This is recovery. ❀

Metaphor Monday

Metaphor Monday | Memories

You know those makeup kits they sell around Halloween? Usually it’s a “pirate” kit, although sometimes the costume in question is a little more…questionable. The kits come with a plastic container of black substance that I imagine is the approximate consistency and flavor of Play-Doh, designed to go over selected teeth. The idea is to represent a lost tooth, a gap in the dental line. It’s not.

Traumatic memory loss is like this black tooth cap, for me. I can’t remember what I ate for lunch on the third Tuesday of last month. That lack of memory is a hole, an actual gap like a lost little baby tooth in a row of tiny chompers.

There are other memories. I don’t know details, whens or whats or wheres or hows. I don’t even bother asking myself the whys anymore. These memories are capped, glossed over in black, a solid substance pretending to be a gap.

One of the many shrinks I’ve seen over the years recommended to me, once, to not try and peel back the blackness. She said that repressed memories need to stay that way until they’re ready to be exposed.

I don’t like the waiting, don’t like the feeling that I’ll choke on a lost chunk of black Play-Doh on a perfectly normal day. Still… I sit on my hands, and resist the urge to peel. I don’t know when the darkness will lift, when I’ll have to look at all the decay and destruction underneath. I just pull what pieces I can feel together, and try to be prepared for when it does. ❀

Quiet Reflection

7.22.17

I had lunch with Sunshine yesterday. I meant to post something then, but I’d had a long week so I went to bed early.

I’ve read a lot about trauma over the last six and a half years. I’ve learned a lot about relationships, too, and how they relate to trauma. The short version is that trauma separates us from our relationships with other people, and the best way to overcome trauma is to re-forge those connections.

It amazes me how much a simple 25-minute lunch helped. I don’t think he evens knows the depths of this hell, let alone that I’ve been backsliding. It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t need to. Sunshine is steady, a grounding force no matter what kind of hurricane I feel. I am so grateful for his friendship.

❀ ✩ ✿ ✩ ❀

I’ve been thinking about the blog, and what I intended to do with it. It’s part journal, part essay collection (topic posts being marked by alliterative theme titles). The essay-ish things have been on the thin side, facilitated mostly by a pretty severe backslide that I’ve been fighting this year. I’m sorry. I’m still fighting.

The journal is sporadic at best, for which I also apologize. I haven’t quite grasped the concept of a publishing schedule yet. I’m still trying.

The important thing, I think, is to keep taking these tiny steps. And someday, I hope, I’ll be out of the woods.

Again. ❀

Warrior Wednesday

Warrior Wednesday | Mental Health Days

In true Warrior Wednesday fashion, I took a day off of work. I don’t do it often, because I don’t like to. I feel like I’m contributing to the stigma against people living with mental illnesses… but today I took a leap of faith. I thought I’d be in bed all day, struggling to function.

I still messed up a lot of stuff today, but I also managed to clean two parts of my home that haven’t been touched in—no exaggeration—over a year. I have more space, less crap, and surprisingly I find I feel less mental clutter.

I hope we all have days like these more often. ❀

Warrior Wednesday

Warrior Wednesday | Open Doors

For the first five years of my recovery, I slept with all of the doors closed.

The front door had to be closed and locked and opened and unlocked and closed and locked and opened and checked and closed and locked and checked.

The bathroom door had to be closed, the closet door had to be closed, the drawers and cabinets had to be closed.

I did not sleep in any space that had an opening, a doorway, a deep dark space that would grow in the night and swallow me whole. I don’t know, now, what I thought was hiding inside of my drawers, but whatever it was—it wasn’t getting me as I slept.

I know in hindsight that this is not an uncommon symptom. It’s a symptom that’s harder to explain, one that’s less known by the general public and therefore less accepted. It’s not typically viewed as a symptom so much as it’s viewed as a personality quirk, like not eating yellow food or only dating people whose names begin with the letter “R”.

But it is a symptom. I have an illness, and keeping the doors closed is a symptom.

❀ ✩ ✿ ✩ ❀

At Christmas, I was given a cat. She wanted to sleep with me, in the bedroom. She needed to have access to her box, in the bathroom. A less stubborn person, a person fewer years into recovery might have just moved the litter out of the bathroom at night. Me? I just cracked the door.

I didn’t sleep for three days.

It’s been a year and a half since I’ve slept with all the doors closed. I sleep with open cabinets and open drawers. The socks aren’t out to get me. I still go through the whole routine with the front door, more cautious now than paranoid. My cat has no idea what the difference is. I do.

❀ ✩ ✿ ✩ ❀

I made a bad choice last night. I made a bad choice this morning, watched it snowball into a series of bad choices. I’m pissed at myself for starting this whole thing, and I’m pissed at myself for acting in ways I feel like I can’t control. I knew it was a bad choice. I made it anyway, made excuses for how it was beyond my control. It wasn’t.

Bad choices snowball. Good choices snowball, too. And just because a door is less open today than it was yesterday doesn’t mean it has to be closed tomorrow.

I’m going to go crack the door. ❀

Quiet Reflection

7.16.2017

It’s been a rough day.

I got a lot done today—little things. Personal things. One big thing I’d been meaning to do for months of my life (maybe six, now?) and haven’t because of the depression. I wonder what I must sound like to people who don’t know what this is. Crazy, I’d imagine.

I’ve also been restricting, which is something I’m not proud of. It’s not on purpose, which I guess is some kind of relief. It’s just that I don’t want to eat, so I don’t eat, and intuitive eating only works if you’re not anhedonic because when you are…you wind up in this mess. Been taking my meds on time, though.

I’m in a lot of (emotional) pain, and I’ve been having a lot of epiphanies. I’ve been writing a little bit, and I think I need to start doing a lot more of that because for some reason, ink and blood are the only ways I can make my feelings real and I’ve sworn off the latter.

I have food ready to eat for breakfast tomorrow. I have food ready to eat for lunch tomorrow. I have enough water that I ought to be okay tomorrow. Everything seems to be ready.

There are things I want to write about on this blog, things I want to say but don’t have the courage to yet. I keep telling other people to be strong, that there is power in sharing stories. I don’t hold myself to the same standard that I hold other people to—in any aspect of my life—and so it seems I’m going to do the same here.

I wish I was braver. It’s something that I keep telling myself throughout my life. I also keep telling myself that being brave doesn’t mean you go looking for trouble. I also keep telling myself that being brave means trying things that you want to do, even if they scare you. Bravery is a practice, not a static trait. One can lose bravery. One can develop it.

As for tonight, I’m just trying to make it as easy as possible to be brave tomorrow. ❀

 

Quiet Reflection

7.15.17

My mother’s birthday is in a week. I’ll probably send her a card, because I still love her more than anything in the world and I know she’s having an incredibly difficult time with the estrangement–both mine and my brother’s–but I also know that I can’t even begin to heal from this monster if she and her husband a part of my life. I know that I need to carve out a space in the world where I can heal, and they can’t be a part of that.

Still hurts like hell, though.

It seems like I’ve been having a lot more bad days than good days recently. Somewhere deep down I know that it only feels that way because I’m doing the emotional work, that the emotional work fucking sucks and when this is all over with I’ll be grateful. But I’m also not entirely sure that I’ll ever reach a point where it’s all over with, and I also know deep down that if this is the case then I’m ready to fight for it. I’d rather have these days and live than let go for good.

My cat is in the bathtub, hiding from the sound of the storm building outside. It’s July in Phoenix, which means the days are sweltering and the late afternoons are filled with haboobs and the occasional spattering of rain. I used to think I hated the desert. I do hate the heat, but there’s something about watching a monsoon build outside your windows that creates an eerie sense of calm. It is during these moments that I feel the most whole, the most like myself.

It is also in these moments when I feel the strongest drive to create. I believe that everyone has this need inside of them, something that drives them, and if this need goes unfulfilled then our lives will suffer for it. It’s difficult to explain why I feel that I can’t create, why the words don’t come even as the need goes unmet. Everything anyone has told you about depression being the source of your art is absolutely full of shit. Creativity is just another thing the disease eats away.

I wonder sometimes if I will ever find peace. For now, if that’s the only way I can, I’ll take it in late afternoon hours. ❀