I am now writing at http://tinyletter.com/amostunreliablenarrator/.
Most of my visitors these days come from RSS feeds or Google searches. Hits do spike when I post since I cross-post everywhere but traffic has been lacking for awhile. Back in internet youth, word of mouth and lack of content like mine gave me an edge but 20 years on, well, content is queen and competing is far too hard. My only “brand” is myself and there are so many people with much more trainwreck lives I am not so special anymore.
So, a few weeks ago I made the grand decision to start spilling my guts over at http://tinyletter.com/amostunreliablenarrator/. The decision was painful but I have to accept people aren’t reading blogs anymore — it’s all newsletters now — and I want to keep writing but I want — no I need — to get my voice out to as many people as possible. Newsletters it is.
The archives, with a banner stating where I’m at now, are now the landing page on exitpursuedbyabear.net. Any social media has been updated to reflect the new link.
So I hope you join me. I miss you and I hope you’ve been missing me too.
A complex story about SSDI, Medicaid, and being crazy in America. (And a poem.)
It shouldn’t any big surprise I’ve applied for Social Security Disability (SSDI) and I’m finally not in a spot of shame to admit this is happening. The first batch of paperwork, on functioning in society, has arrived and I spent the morning getting the packet completed. Eight legal paper sized pages with questions ranging from why I left my last place of work (they fired me for not doing my job) to if I’m getting dressed (I’m in my jim-jams unless I have to go out) and bathing (every other day and on days I go out) and to how well do I do interacting with others and can I handle authority. Can’t I just give them a link to my blog? (Probably not going to happen.)
A second packet has also arrived on my work history. That is getting filled out on another day.
I was to go visit a mosque today to show my solidarity but filling out the paperwork was stressful and I found my focus and concentration waning with each flip of the page. I forced myself to plow through and the payment for this is a head buzzing with racing thoughts and looking at an afternoon of nothingness. That’s not entirely true — I’ll find myself working on homework for my front end web dev class and doing more writing. However, I just cannot go out into the world right now.
I am trying to hard to articulate this feeling of being locked inside your head so much you cannot interact with society. It is stressful but a much needed conversation.
You cannot see the fits and starts of me writing this but it is happening.
I’m also finally accepting I’ll be on Medicaid for awhile. The locations of the services are in areas of town that haven’t seen love in decades. We have found here if you’re white, you don’t go past 9th St, which then becomes the west end. This is where all the “undesirables” (aka brown, black, and Trump supporters) live and it is so obvious the city gives no fucks as there are burnt out warehouses, increased homeless population, and it is the poorest zip code in the county. (Ours is the second poorest but the area is gentrifying so yay?)
I attach a lot of white privilege and shame when I go to the doctor’s offices. I drive a swish car, carry a swish bag, wear swish clothes, and live in a swish condo. The shame comes from I have so many gratitudes for TEH for taking me in and I am so, so, so lucky I’m not out on the street which many do not have these things. Why is she here?, I believe they think when they see me. I’m just another white girl taking advantage of the system when there are people much more deserving than I am. I believe they are right – I shouldn’t be here. I am very privileged and I acknowledge that privilege every day I wake up in a warm place, with food in my belly, and clothes on my back. I rejected the social services available to me when I first moved here because I believed I didn’t deserve it. I shouldn’t take it even though my brain is on fire and I can barely get up to dress and take care of myself.
Once TEH finally convinced I had paid into the system for over 20 years, this is why it’s here for occasions like this. One day at the beginning of a crisis mode, I called the local mental health line looking for help and they sent me to the community mental health center. This was better, I thought, than hospitalization because that cost money and being seen at the clinic did not. I arrived the following day at open to get someone to see me. At best, I had some hope of relief and worst — I didn’t want to think about it.
The homeless, drug addicts, mentally ill, some people all three, where there when the doors open for drugs, counseling, sometimes just a snack and warmth. Even in the midst of my crisis, I felt too functioning to be there. I was told on the phone they would take walk-ins so I registered as soon as I got to the reception desk, sat down after giving my information, and read all day waiting for someone to call my name. Never happened. I go and ask what is my status and they tell me they stopped talking walk-ins a half-an-hour before I asked. I went home, took my clothes off, put on my jimjams and crawled on the couch and waited for the crisis to past. Other than sleeping, occasionally eating, and using the bathroom, I remained nearly immobile for two days.
My pride is deteriorating my health so I now use those services I was once too ashamed to take. I am getting PT for my ankle of doom, chiropractic care for my back. I have a primary physician and an OB/GYN. I have a talking therapist and a medicating therapist who monitors my drugs.
I remain lucky I was saved out of the cracks before I fell much farther down.
So I’m covered and I’ll remain covered until it’s taken away from me if the republicans have their way. Being bipolar is a pre-existing condition and if Medicaid goes away, I am marrying TEH again to get health insurance. This has already been agreed upon.
If I sound contradictory, all over the place, and sounding like an asshole – I probably am. This is a complicated and complex issue. I have swallowed my pride and I use the services available to me because I need them and they are there for me. I am rejecting all the shame because that is exactly why they exist and what I’ve paid into for nearly 30 years. (I started working at 14 with my first job at an ice cream parlor. I’m now 44.)
(It goes without saying if you have voted for Trump, I hope you die in a rotting fiery death of hell with your genitals torn off and shoved down your throat.)
This is not where I planned to go today but the frustration of writing down my life in pen about the status of my mental health, wondering if I sound too functioning when there are times every week I can barely function, to get some help is maddening. The more I talk about it, the more people are willing to share their stories and the feeling of kinship gives me hope.
Finding out my status on SSDI could take as long up to three months. If rejected, I’ll just apply again, and keep applying until I get something to help financially. I have some unemployment money coming in and that pays my bills but TEH covers my living costs. I’m selling my car soon, which will help pay off my debt and lighten the financial load considerably. I’ve applied for roughly 50 or so jobs since I’ve been back here and nothing has or is panning out. I have no hope of working but I keep trying thinking one day soon I’ll snap back into old Lisa mode and can function into society but I know, realistically, recovery takes a long time, sometimes years. According to the officials, I am way better off than I was even six months ago, and I recognize that, but it’s frustrating. Frustrating has become my word of choice lately and it peppers everything I do.
I don’t want to leave this on a sour note so here is a bit of happy news: Last week I wrote on my writing blog I’m writing and submitting my work more than ever. In the last two weeks, six pieces have been submitted to various magazines and I’m hoping some good news will be coming my way soon-ish. I’ve got a few other pieces in progress and I’m taking an online writing course to tighten up what I have. I feel hopeful here. (Tho’ return on submission is slow — some are saying up to four to six months and no simultaneous submissions.)
Here is a 15 syllable fixed heiku poem that I submitted to tinywords: lips cherry red body sags hollow breath she is then released
What happens next when you have a nervous breakdown.
What you’re about to read was written damned near a year ago, never finished, and languished in my drafts box waiting to get some love. It seems appropriate, with my incessant working on self-care to update the mother-fucker and then post it in a more timely manner and by that I mean today, February 10th, 2017.
Let’s re-cap, shall we? I have a nervous breakdown in October 2015 (you can watch this in real time by reading anything from July 2014 until April – May 2016.) I am back in Louisville at that time with TheExHusband and he persuades me to start seeing a talking and medicating therapist, which I do, as I cannot afford, financially, to be hospitalized. My melt-downs are happening less but I’m still very fragile state of mind. I put together coursework, and started collecting inspirational quotes (pithy statements). (click here to jump down to the content after the quotes).
Here are 70 of them:
Sleep doesn’t help if it’s your soul that’s tired
Everything falls apart when you forget who you are and everything comes back together when you remember
Life isn’t about waiting for the storms to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain
Be good to people. Even the shitty ones. Let the assholes be assholes. You’ll sleep better
You’ll never have to force anything that is truly meant to be
Stay away from people who make you feel like you’re hard to love
Don’t believe the things you tell yourself when you’re sad and alone
Some trite inspirational quote about overcoming some things or some shit. I don’t know. Fuck off
Goddess of courage
Admire someone else’s beauty without questioning your own
Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful
You are never too old to to set another or dream a new dream – C.S. Lewis
Maybe life isn’t about avoiding the bruises. Maybe it’s about collecting the scars to prove we showed up for it
I am not normal. I don’t want to be. I don’t pretend to be. I am me
You are bad ass. You can do this
FEAR = Forgetting Everything is All Right
You are writing your own life
Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes that reason is you’re stupid and make bad choices
If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m about to do today? – Steve Jobs
You have to let people see what you wrote. It’ll never be perfect but perfect is overrated – Tina Fey
Half the failures in life arise from pulling in the horse as he is leaping – August William Hare / Julius Charles Hare
Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new – Albert Einstein
If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you – not much – Jim Rohn
Don’t let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can do – John Wooden
You are the author of your own life story. You can start a new chapter anytime you choose
Live your dreams – they are worth it
You are a steward of pleasure – Lisa Rabey
Do not forget your humanity – Lisa Rabey
You are not alone
Find the goddess inside yourself instead of looking for the god in someone else – Francesca Lia Block
Seduction is something that lies within us, it’s not an external appearance – Kitty Cavalier
You always have choices
You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection – Buddha
Body is a state of mind, not a state of body – Gala Darling
When we focus on other’s happiness, we forget our own
It’s not about others – it’s about you
I cannot change what has already happened
Fighting the past only bends me to my present
The present is the only moment I have control over
This moment is the result of a million other decisions
This moment is exactly as it should be, given what’s happened before it
The present moment is perfect, even if I don’t like what’s happening
We are not our thoughts
The best apology is changed behaviour
The greatest prison people live in is the fear of what other people think
Your story isn’t over yet
Don’t ever give up
Dream big. Dream bigger
Life is short – be happy
It’s one thing to be grateful, it’s another to let that dictate your choice
Never give up, never be lost
Love takes all and be’s all
Only you can take care of you
Love yourself and live the amazing life which is waiting for you – Gala Darling
We are all born naked, the rest is drag – Rupaul
My goal is to always come from a place of love … but sometimes you just have to break it down for a motherfucker – Rupaul
You are beautiful purely because you are hear, you exist, and you are doing the best you can – Gala Darling
Only you can save yourself
Believe in yourself. Have faith in your abilities. Without a humble but a reasonable confidence in your own powers, you cannot be successful or happy – Norman Vincent Peale
If you decide to not dream, you’re not only injuring yourself but taking away the amazing beauty from everyone else who would enjoy your dream more. It’s your responsibility to put these great things out there
Fall down seven times, stand up on eight
You are more capable than you think you are
There are no limits to dreams
Feelings are not facts – they are simply feelings and cannot harm you
Feeling stuck boils down to feeling fear – Gala Darling
Radical self-love is knowing when to get out of your own way – Gala Darling
Only you are responsible for your own happiness
Instead of asking yourself why this is happening to you, ask why this is happening for you. – Christine Hassler
Some of these quotes came from books, others were saved from the constant roll of inspirational quotes on my news feed on Facebook, and yet others I’ve randomly come across while I scour the internets for whatever.
You’ll notice some are nearly identical to the other. You’ll also notice most of them do not have citations. You’ll notice a lot of them presume everything is about a matter of choice. It doesn’t take into effect mental illnesses or issues where these mantras could do more harm then god. I was just thinking of someone who is suicidal reading a number of these as and taking their own life because these quotes seemed impossible to believe. Other times I get angry and I want to punch people in the throat because we never read discussions about the pain to get from a to z. “Only you can save yourself” sounds great in theory but in practice is too vague — too condesending — too much of a copout. To save myself is requiring lots of drug therapy and a talking therapist not a pithy statement found on a t-shirt or bumper sticker.
Some days, not so much as I did last year, I feel as if I’m one step away from hospitalization. My melt-downs are less but they still happen. The other night I woke up to pee and found myself in a state of panic so bad one hour of meditation didn’t work so I took a Klonopin and tried meditating again for another 30 or so minutes. When neither that or the Klonopin worked, I took a second pill. At some point, heart still racing, I fell asleep and slept for 10 or so hours. That following day was shot. I moved around like a zombie and the only work I could concentrate on was stuff that was not taxing to the brain. I didn’t shower but I cleaned up by putting on fresh underwear and tshirt. I washed my face. Later I brushed my teeth. Anything more than that would have been too exhausting.
I told TEH that presenting as “normal” exhausts me. Keeping it together to function outside of my safe space takes a lot of effort and control. I cannot do more than one thing a day outside of home. I had a chiro appointment and a hair appointment scheduled yesterday back to back and I called in and rescheduled both as even five hours worth of presenting was too much and it was, among other things, why I had the panic attack the night before because even the idea was too much.
TEH says, well, you’re not like this with me. Of course not. With you I can be my version of normal without the facade – there is no judgement just concern. I can sit around working on something (writing, knitting, watching a movie) without worrying of having to present myself to you as someone else. I noticed, he said, when we were out with $gameplaying couple (the woman I met at a Jane Austen society meeting), you seemed on edge and terse. Yes, I said. That’s exactly it. Finally, he understood. (They still wanted to see us after that so maybe I didn’t come off as terrible as I felt that I did.)
But sometimes you cannot articulate those feelings — I know I’ve been struggling to say here, this is what being “exhausting” means to me because on the outside, the invisible disability is just that, invisible and when you meet me, and knew nothing about this, you would think I was a charming fellow. A bit obnoxious, sure, but charming all the same and on the inside, I would be screaming.
I don’t want to be here — this place after what all has happened. Who does? My life is crippled and on hold and I bitterly laugh to myself that at 44, soon to be 45!, all the things I wanted to be and do by now seemed impossible. Not because I am not passionate enough for them but because emotionally, mentally, and yes, yes financially, they are out of reach. But, I console myself, this is all temporary. I know this is temporary. I can survive anything and by accepting this state is temporary gives me some breathing room and relief. I have no plans on killing myself, let us be clear on that, but I am in a much better state than I was a year ago and a year from now, I will be even better.
So we wonder, I wonder, what it’s like when your brain breaks and you’re picking up the pieces but we don’t talk about it. Friends don’t ask me because maybe — I don’t know, they just don’t. So, I think, it’s time for this disease to not control me, having me lying sobbing on the couch or bed, and it is time I can summon up the strength to control it.
Because fuck it, I’ve got this.
This is the picture we’ve forged: We have a fear (mostly irrational), which keeps us tied to not doing that thing and if we attempt to do it, we get trapped in that (seemingly) never ending cyclone of anxiety. I
(Originally written in 2016 and not published for god know’s what reason until 2017.)
I’ve been keeping up with everything I’ve laid out in coursework I laid out a few weeks ago. I know it’s not much, but it feels good to know I can set something to task and follow through with it, such as quitting smoking (29 days as today) and keeping a regular exercise program going (3-5 times a week since mid-November) are proof I can do it. But like any grand plan laid out, there is always adjustments.
In my daily todo, I’ve got a space marked out for keeping up with DBT/Radical Self-Love (first is scientific, the later pulls on those ideas and wraps them in a glittery pink bow) and I think I originally wanted to knock out a chapter a day? Not sure what my thinking process was but it’s pretty clear I’m not going to learn and retain anything if I knock out a chapter a day so I’m thinking knocking out a chapter every few weeks and using the daily stuff to work on what I learned.
(Some of the work will be stuff I need to do regularly every day while other stuff will be for retention only.)
And I also thought it would be a good idea to continue writing about it publicly to not only help me vocalize it to myself but to also help others who may be going through the same thing; to know they are not alone.
(Add on I need to keep my 44 Feedly readers entertained in the life of Lisa. You can say anything you want about me, but you can definitely say I’m not boring.)
I’ve started discussing the agony of taking a compliment and where parts of my self-loathing comes from, so today I’m going to open the can of worms that is fear.
Fear comes in all shapes and sizes and is often co-morbid with other issues. My fear of everyone hating me is tied into my deep self-loathing of myself. My fear of getting in shape and losing weight is tied into not only self-esteem issues, but that i use being fat as a way to protect myself from being sexually harassed. (How’s that working out for me?)
Other fears can also be completely irrational: My fear of heights which is irrational as I love flying. My (new found) fear of driving on highways which I reasoned is just like driving on surface streets, just faster. My fear of walking over grates (because I can crash through them).
Those are the top fears and like many, the fears can go on and on.
As most of you know, being fearful of something (driving on the highway) can activate another issue (anxiety).
This is the picture we’ve forged: We have a fear (mostly irrational), which keeps us tied to not doing that thing and if we attempt to do it, we get trapped in that (seemingly) never ending cyclone of anxiety. If we don’t get the courage to do that thing, we lay guilt on ourselves on useless as if we are like a spread of peanut butter on toast.
Who wants to live this way?
The general we doesn’t want to live this way, consciously we know how silly this fear is but subconsciously, the one that tends to rule our world, says other wise. So the plan, then, is to slay the subconscious and moving forward.
I don’t have a end all be all plan to how to slay mine, but after reading RSL and DBT this weekend, let me offer up a few pithy statements I’ve been using to help me get over the bullshit You cannot control the past
Sounds simple, right? It’s also pretty logical and unless a TARDIS is available, we cannot change what has already happened. Despite the obviousness, our mind thinks if we keep rehashing that thing over and over again in our brain, we can rewrite the past to our liking to help us move forward. C’mon. This is a bold face lie. No matter how much I want to rewrite a thing from last year, five years ago, or hell, from childhood, my present is and cannot change. (This lends to the other pithy statement, a million decisions brought you to this moment.) So now we’re stuck and nearly crippled in this hell of our own making. So how do we get out of it?
First, we accept what we cannot control the past. This is super hard and something I’ve started to practice. When my mind starts to wander of an event, no matter how minute, I catch it and start repeating, “I cannot change the past. I cannot change the past.” What’s the difference between a memory and attempting to control the past? For me it is if I am seeing
Senior State Department’s management team just resigned; Juggalos to march on Washington (for why exactly?); Enrique Peña Nieto, president of Mexico, says “fuck you” to trump and cancels summit; and the Doomsday clock goes ahead 30 seconds to name a few things
Today has been a fucking hell of a day. From 9AM to 4PM local time, the below has already happened. America is in desperate need of hope and we’re clinging to even the slightest hint of some reality (see Mexican president canceling King Cheeto’s summit). I am thinking it may not be a bad idea to start collating these tweets on a daily or so basis as some kind of record in what’s happening in the world as my site gets indexed by the Wayback Machine. Everything else seems to be irrelevant and pointless other than what’s killing Amerikkka.
(On a side note, I would recommend, if you haven’t already, to subscribe to Teen Vogue, Ms., and bitch.)
tl;dr: Senior State Department’s management team just resigned; Juggalos to march on Washington (for why exactly?); Enrique Peña Nieto, president of Mexico, says “fuck you” to trump and cancels summit; and the Doomsday clock goes ahead 30 seconds to name a few things that happened on January 26, 2017.
Holy fucking jesus aloysius christ on a pogo stick: State Department's entire senior management team just resigned https://t.co/IFO5qt9SDu
I am finding myself more reluctant to write about my experiences because of the shame that is so attached to those who are mentally ill. I could not bare, at the darkest time of my adult life, letting those wounds get picked on even by those who were doing it out of love. It is so exhausting these days just being.
If you’re an email subscriber, you may have received an email for learning to breathe / projection, which was written and to be published in April 2016 but it didn’t get posted for some reason so it got posted now. I cannot turn off publishing to email on a per post basis so if you sometimes get a deluge of emails from me, it means I’m going through and publishing old posts.
A couple of weeks ago I launched Excessively Diverting1, an all Jane Austen all the time (with the occasional Brontë) blog with the main reason as I am taking front end web development classes, I needed a project and durr, Jane Austen. There is so much news on our Jane, I am spoilt for blog posts and that is not including the long list of ideas I could write about. The blog is the little blog that could and if you’re a fan of our Jane, please do give the blog a read as it would be much appreciated.
It is a sunny Sunday afternoon and I’m finding myself at loose ends today. While I woke up late, I was able to finish the bulk of my chores shortly after noon and I’ve been looking for something to do since then which is hilarious, in its own way, as I’ve got plenty to do such as finish reading the chapters due this week for Mansfield Parkor working on homework for the aforementioned front end web dev classes. Yet, I do not find myself attracted to these things right now and it should be noted I’ve been getting tired of my laptop as of late. Everything I must do or have to do stems from working online and oh gods, why? I’ve been online 22 years and it never fails to amaze me how the internet works but I get so tired of it from the news, the gossip, and the work I just want to move to a tiny island and be surrounded books such as this:
(If you’re not familiar with this episode of The Twilight Zone, Burgess Meredith plays a nebbish bank teller who survives a nuclear fall out as he was reading in the vault of his bank when the bomb hits. Realising he is alone, he contemplates suicide before noticing the public library is now all his. Then he steps on his glasses. So I want this but sans the glasses breaking.)
So I take short breaks and do a lot of self-care and while sometimes it doesn’t seem to be enough, it does satiate my need for some offline time.
(And yet, YET!, I find myself here writing this post on, you guessed it, my laptop.)
We went home to Grand Rapids for the holidays and I had a lovely lady date day with several of my closest friends. As I love all of them equally, I cannot play favorites but this one is one of my favorites and she asked why wasn’t I writing a book on being mentally ill, specifically bipolar, since it would help so many people such as how it helped her to understand from the live in your face blog of a mentally ill person.
Truth be told, this is something I’ve been thinking about for some time but haven’t verbalized and it is something I’m still on the fence about. Since my nervous breakdown in October 2015, I am finding myself more reluctant to write about my experiences because of the shame so attached to those who are mentally ill (yet I have no problem banging on about it on Twitter, which is beyond public, so there is that). I could not bear, at the darkest time of my adult life, letting those wounds get picked on and over even by those who were doing it out of love. It is so exhausting these days just being that writing about it gives me a headache and a very desperate need to curl up with a good book, hot tea, and a pug by my side with TEH close by.
But oh! My dear, dear readers – I find myself in self-flagellated mode on this topic because wouldn’t now be the perfect time to write while emotions are high and the feelings are low and yet I look at this website on occasion with some disdain. Jesus, how time has changed in 20 years since this little website became a reality where then I would bare my breasts with nipples hard and prominent with a giving no fucks attitude and now I gave you a brief glimpse of my cleavage and demurely mention how lovely you look.
When TEH and I were buying Throbbing Manor in the winter of 2010, the seller was being a fuck twat and jerking us around. TEH and I were living in long stay hotel, our things in storage, and we were very desperate to move into the house. One day while at the hotel, something got in my eye and instead of a cool, “Oh, I must get this thing out of my eye” like some rational person, I went from “OH MY GOD, SOMETHING IS IN MY EYE” to “I AM DYING OF EYE CANCER” and no amount of consoling from TEH soothed my anxiety beast. It took a Klonopin to calm me down and lull me to sleep before I found myself the following day feeling fresh as a dewed daisy and not the least bit anxious.
We laugh about this episode now but it is used as the barometer of my feelings for that particular day. There’s been more times of late where I have scurried into the kitchen to grab my Klonopin because my anxiety was so high and no amount of meditation / breathing / yoga / self-care was bringing me down. I will yell “EYE CANCER!” in a high voice so TEH knows why I scuttling to the kitchen naked but for a towel wrap around my wet hair.
EYE CANCER used to happen every three or four months but now it’s moving to a near weekly basis. Frustration for a lack of money, job, possible loss of insurance (Thanks, Trump!), mental health in peril some days, and the lack of snow in Louisville (truly) is taking its toll. Feeling frustrated is normal for these are normal things to feel frustrated about but my fucking brain — fucking gods my brain! — takes it to a whole new level and there are days I am so frustrated with my brain rather than my situation I want to get ECT to make it all go away. TEH and my therapists are against this method, I am, ha ha ha, still too high functioning to even consider such a thing and, well, my meds are rather working at the moment, so, why the need?
Before we started dating (or whatever the fuck you want to call what we were doing), TheBassist was hospitalized for deep depression and is in year two or three of recovery yet he still often finds himself exhausted by daily life to such a degree he still needs naps in the afternoon. I thought this was ridiculous — if you can play gigs at bars on the weekends, you can get a damned job.
Ha. Ha. Ha. The jokes on me! I now find myself in the same position where if I do more than one thing a day, even seeing my therapist counts, I need to take a break from the world. Being mentally ill is not only expensive but it is exhausting.
You have a job and you work in the office. You have your morning rituals and commute times; you interact with your coworkers; you have meetings and lunches with other people; you come home and do your evening meal and delights; you go to bed and you start the process all over the next day. On the weekend you may sleep in and take some personal time. You get recharged and tackle the Monday just like you have every other Monday.
For me, and people like me, we can get up and do our morning rituals. But going out into the world and having to be “on” takes such a large amount of emotional and mental strength we simply do not have so we break down in some fashion. It may be we’re late to work. It may be we take a sick day. It may be we job hop looking for a job we can work without giving too much notice to our mental health. We may cancel evenings with friends or even self-plans like heading to the movies because it’s too much.
Everything is too much. It is overwhelming and there have been times in the last year I thought I was on the spectrum because even certain noises made me jittery (exhaust fans from the kitchen and bathroom). I cannot breathe when I’m overwhelmed in these situations so I need to check out so I can get breath back into my body.
This does not negate the normal exhaustion one feels when one is working 40+ hours a week, has a family, has a home, or whatever it is people my age have — because that is normal. Working takes the piss out of most humans as does daily life but what I want you to imagine is take that weekend feeling of exhaustion, jack it up by 100 and have it compound over the course of the week.
That is what the mentally ill often go through on a daily basis on top of their crazy.
I find myself nearing 2000 words on something I didn’t think I could sum up 500 so maybe this is the sign I need to start planning that book. From the varied research I have done over the last year, it is rare to find an adult fiction book of someone who is mentally ill and NOT depressive as it is to find a non-fiction book from someone in the first person of their own accounts of being bipolar.
Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
1. Careful readers will remember I ran an Etsy shop of the same name a few years back in which I shuttered (temporarily) when I was working full time. I do have plans of the store re-opening, I just don’t know exactlywhen.
Written were hundreds of words on my tales of woe for 2016. It sounded kludgy and hackneyed so instead, I am going to answer these questions from Gala Darling:
What were your top five moments of the year?
Going to rugby practice and not dying
Finding out the lump in my right breast was not cancerous
Spending time at the cabin with TEH
Finding a green sequined skirt for 1/2 price
Spending NYE with my brother, SIL, and TEH
The beautiful drive from east coast to the cabin in late August
Coming home again
366 days (2016 was a leap year) and I’m struggling to make a list. For 2017 I am going to write down each good thing that happens and throw it in a Mason jar and January 2018 I should have a nice fat list. What are you really glad is over?
The elections. The lead-up and the final day were torture but now that it’s over, I am getting better equipped to shape the future. How are you different today than you were 365 days ago?
I’m much more mentally stable. Thank deities for good drugs. Is there anything you achieved that you forgot to celebrate?
Probably but see question one — I barely come up with five things to celebrate for the year. What have you changed your perspective on this year?
I became more aware of my institutional oppression and I’m actively working to be more “woke.” My reading goal is to read non-white, male, American authors and read more non-fiction. Who are the people that really came through for you this year?
The usual suspects: TEH, Kate, Kristin, CMMRB, and many more. What is something you tolerated for a long time, but now you will not?
Ignoring my health. I’ve slid along thinking I was eating healthy and being more active. To some extent, this is true but not as much as I thought. I’m no longer going to accept “good enough” as a mantra. What old beliefs did you let go of?
I accepted wholeheartedly I do not believe in a Judeo-Christian god. What was the one thing that you found really challenging, but can now see supported your growth?
Continuing with meditation and doing yoga fairly regularly. If you could go back in time, what would you tell yourself this time last year?
You’re going to be okay. It’ll be slow going, but you’re going to be okay.
My goals for 2017: Expand my intellectual horizons
Read more non-fiction and works by non-white, American, male writers. My reading last year was pitiful. Only 30 books! I’m going to shoot for a book a week and dedicate 25 – 45 minutes a day to reading.
I’m also going to read news outlets outside of my typical bubble and subscribe to newsletters that make me feel enlightened and get off of lists that aren’t helping me with my goal. Expand happiness quotient / do more self-care
550 days of continuing meditation, WOOHOO. Body wise, I’m no longer going to accept “good enough” as a mantra. I turn 45 in 2017 and I want to be healthy and strong. Challenging myself with being active is going to be scary but worth it. Continue being diligent with self-care. I also need to remind myself that change is slow. The past is the past, start every day with a clean slate
Seeing mother during the holidays confirmed what I’ve been telling everyone, in regards to her, all along: no amount of whinging, begging, or wishing is going to change the past. She is who she is. Seeing her this holiday was painful but a solid reminder that I shouldn’t let the past shape my future for anything. Write more
I say this every year (honestly, every day), and I’ve always held myself back. Always, always, always. Less looking at how to write / obsessing about planning and execution and more on writing itself. See more of the world, even if my world is within a 25 mile radius
My mother-in-law asked me how I liked living in the city now that I’ve been here for more than six months. I lamented I wasn’t doing more to be active in the city but I was making, albeit small, changes to rectify that. I need to drag TEH out into the world with me. Make more time for adventures!
My talking therapist chides me on the amount of goals I always set for myself and never seem to accomplish. “Do one or two things!” she says. These goals aren’t “lose 50 pounds by my birthday” rather “eat better and exercise.” Nia Shanks wrote a great piece, and give practical tips, how to beat resolution failure. The main point she keeps driving in and on is to break whatever you want to do down into workable general actions (drop processed sugar from my diet) rather than specific steps (eat only X grams of sugar a day; drop all “white” food, etc).
So that’s me for 2017. All those naysayers on how resolutions don’t work, go fuck yourself you micromanaging assholes.
The last few months has been a study in the discovery of self as I’m having a lot of deep thoughts™ on a near daily basis as they run the track inside my brain. Nearly every single winner of that race always seems to steer me towards my relevancy and mark in the world. There is a toss up if I am thinking such things because it is winter and depressing as hell outside or that my 45th birthday is in six months.
Maybe it’s both.
The last few months has been a study in the discovery of self as I’m having a lot of deep thoughts™ on a near daily basis. Nearly every single winner of those races tend to steer me towards my (ir)relevancy and (lack of) mark in the world. There is a toss-up if I am thinking such things because it is winter and depressing as hell outside or that my 45th birthday is in six months.
Maybe it’s both.
It is depressing, as a feeling not as a state. I do not feel as if I’m going to harm myself, do some damage to others or any of that sort but I am feeling a bit helpless and confused, and questioning where I’m going. Even during and shortly after the case came to a conclusion, I felt as if I was on a very clear path. Now that path is muddled and I’m at a loss of what to do and where to go.
To be sure my physical self is fine: I have a place to live (living with TEH where the south meets the midwest), food in my belly, my bills are taken care of, for now, thanks to unemployment. I do not want for material things and I am extremely grateful for what I have. I’ve taken to donating time / money when I can, even if it’s only a few dollars. I want to pay forward all the help I was given and while these gestures may seem small, it’s something.
I have been able to procure a talking therapist last month and we’re meeting on a near weekly basis. I have not worked with a talking therapist in over six months and it is such a relief to word vomit everything from my head with no fear of judgment and repercussion. Like many, I have a wonderful support network of people who will listen but they are not a neutral party to this conversation.
My talking therapist keeps drilling, tho I have a hard time believing, the importance of self-care and self-soothing. It’s not that unusual, really, to have these thoughts and they are not owned by those with short-circuited brains like mine. They are just thoughts, we need to accept them and let them go. We don’t have to act on them or be fearful of them. The talking therapist posited what kind of society are we if taking time out for ourselves makes us selfish bitches? Being able to take care of one’s self does a world of wonder for our lives.
We do not have to do all the things.
We need to remember to put ourselves first– a concept I rationally understand but have a literal difficulty in implementing.
Yesterday I found myself in a state over something I couldn’t control but was desperately attempting to. I took to my meditation app and I could not concentrate for fuck all. It was a struggle to keep focused on my zen buddha nature as my mind kept wandering over to that particularly riddled state and other things that were not important enough to give as much currency as I was giving them. Too fast for my liking, the 15 minutes are over and Andy from the app is back soothing me with his subtle British accent.
I do not feel better. I am now frustrated because I could not complete the simple task of sitting still for 15 minutes and being present.
An example of a daily frustration: I worked in the state of New York when I was living on the east coast this summer and since I worked long enough to garner unemployment, this is who is feeding me each week. The conditions tho are bit long and can get tiresome of what I need to report every week in my job search. I have to, and I do, track everything from job searching and profesh website1 updates to interviews and rejections. I have to work on job searching three days a week. Many of you may remember when I was heavily job hunting for librarian gigs I was searching every fucking day.
My medicating therapist spoke on the influx number of jobs coming to the area. Sure, if you’re into light industrial and retail. Several websites put my earning power at $93K. I have never earned that much, and while I’m glad for their hopefulness, it gets a bit irritating that the jobs they send pay in the $15/hr range. If that. Most jobs are paying in the $8-10/hr range.
I’m going to be a pretentious, over privileged asshole. I worked hard for my degrees. I made $ButWillMoreThanLikelyNeverSeeInThisArea so I have settled for $ReasonableAmount – which is significantly less than $ButWillMoreThanLikelyNeverSeeInThisArea. I’m finding a lot of jobs that require at least a college degree paying $10K less than my $ReasonableAmount.
I would gladly settle for a retail job at my favorite stores but the pay there starts at $9/hr. I calculated working 40 hours a week, which would be impossible, the gross would be $30 less a week than what unemployment brings. If I work a day, I will not make close to what that day would bring me on unemployment. Retail jobs are out. Tutoring jobs, which pay between $18-22/hr, would be ideal but I would have to hustle to find work and those gigs are not guaranteed source of income. Tutoring jobs are out. I’ve been rejected from positions I’ve interviewed for, with a $10K a year less salary than my $ReasonableAmount, for being overly educated. My resume is in front of your face. What on earth would have changed from submission to the interview?
I have removed degrees, modified what I did at jobs, cut my resume from six pages (academic) to two (standard). I have resumes for different fields. I have placed a variety of my resumes on eight job boards, including a state and city sponsored ones. I call staffing agencies and specialty recruiters. I have emailed recruiters that I have worked with in the past. It is not as if I’m not looking for a gig, but I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable given my education, employment history, and skillset, asking for $ReasonableAmount is not, in fact, unreasonable.
And for the love of all that is holy, do not take this as an invention to email me your suggestions on how to find a job. My interview rate per number of job applications (1 in 5) is better than the norm (1 in 10), so obviously I have that down pat — it’s a matter of actually getting someone to hire me.
What was the point of that angrily worded section? To give you an idea of a daily frustration. Instead of stepping back, coloring or knitting or working on something else to self-soothe/self-care, I stew. Fuck the man and all that has and will potentially happen because I’m getting nowhere.
My talking therapist is an optimist. The right thing will happen at the right time, she says. She believes it too. She tells me I’ve got options. I’m starting an extensive front end web development program in January. If I get off my arse, I can start selling my writing. There are other things I can throw in the fire. I am not, by any means, out of ways to improve my standings but it just might take a bit longer. Take a bit of work.
I have to remember, as my talking therapist keeps telling me, things, no matter how much I want them to, will not change overnight. Every small fucking step I’ve done this year, even if it feels like I’m spinning my wheels, is an improvement over before. I need to think of 2016 as a year of growth rather than a year of nothing. Because I did do work. I did make some ground.
But the work hurts. It is painful and maddening and slow.
Talking therapist said that’s okay, it will hurt. By being here, acknowledging on being present, you’re slowly changing something. It’s new and unknown. That is okay.
That is okay.
1. I’m consolidating my librarian website (lisa.rabey.net) with my writing one (lisarabey.com). Choose your own adventure, motherfuckers.
Downloadable template to track things that make you happy / grateful / practice self-care.
Earlier this year, I worked on a project of documenting things I was grateful for and things that made me happy. I only got a few months in as I suddenly found myself with a job, I moved 1000 miles, and until October, my life was in job / location flux.
But even in that short amount of time, I came up with 99 things to be grateful for and 100 things that make me happy. Here is the list.
(I know numerous people found the list to be a great template to create their own lists so feel free to download!)
Since Tuesday’s upset, I’ve been working on loads of self-care to get me through this time and it’s been helping. I’m a big proponent and advocate of self-care and I think it’s one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. While we should always fight injustice, we’re not going to be any good unless we in the place to fight for ourselves.
Let me put it to you this another way:
If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” ― RuPaul
Here are more things to add to the lists: Self-care
Getting off the internet. Period.
Go for long walks
Play video games (I’m currently enthralled with Animal Crossing. Friend code:4613-7073-9492)
Working on my projects
Text with close friends
Snuggling with TEH
Cleaning house (don’t judge)
Drinking hot tea
Sleeping on freshly laundered sheets
Making lists and knocking things off those lists
Doing something kind for someone/things
Long near scalding showers
Long hot baths with epsom salts (TEH only has a large walk in shower but if I have access to a tub, damn straight I’m getting my bath on)
Read tarot cards
Online shop (but not spending anything!)
Watch Bridget Jones’ Diary, Pride and Prejudice (2005), Harry Potter series, or any other favorite movies
Writing letters / postcards
Wearing one of my perfume oils
There may be some cross-over from the original list to here but that’s okay. When I’m starting to feel anxious or stressed, I use one, or many, of the things listed above to calm me down.
What is your self-care?
TheExHusband is not one for being active in politics. Sure he votes but he votes for his conscious and his reasoning as such is pretty sound (to him) but we tend not to get into political fights even if we disagree. He did the much the same this time around, however, he aligned much of his vote with mine (#ImWithHer) as he believed she to be a better candidate than Tr*mp and he was supportive (mostly) with her ideologies.
After we voted at 6:15AM, we arrogantly believed Hillz would take the presidency because every major news outlet told us so. They was predicting the margin would be wide, 538’s gap was 80/20. Hillz triumph seemed like a sure thing. I started watching CNN after we came home and lasted about four hours as the predictions started to waver as exit polls and interviews of voters started to occur.
(When the returns started rolling in, we watched MSNBC while I kept tabs with BBC, New York Times, and CNN on my laptop.)
When the ballot counting began, and Tr*mp started pulling ahead, pundits tried soothing the nation with, “Losers always pull ahead with the smaller electoral votes and peter out around the 200 mark,” and, “Urban counting takes longer than rural counting due to population density, so calm the fuck down.” But the train wreck and horror as time wore on of our election slowly proved otherwise.
TEH was knocking back vodka/fruit punch (I believe he had four) while I was fetal position on the couch, one glass of wine barely finished in front of me. I have never seen him like this — this agitation and worry. It was clear he was worried, very worried, and if his own person was shaken by the obvious outcome, what did it mean for me? Him? Our future separately and together? And most of all, our country?
When time started ticking after the midnight hour, my breathing became short, I was panting, and a physical anxiety attack started to happen. TEH got me a Klonopin which blissfully hazed me for a few hours until around the 3AM hour when I heard the announcement the remaining states had fallen to Tr*mp and he was now our next president of the United States.
Then I started to cry.
TEH, slightly sloshed on vodka, and myself, hazed up on Klonopin, our mouths became agape, and the it was the end of the world but we were not feeling fine.
As I watched my timelines across the internet, many felt the same as we did: anger. Disbelief. Shock.
But there was also hope.
This just happened to me (cross-posting from Twitter)
Going back& forth w/ the organizers who escort people at abortion clinics (to volunteer) & they said, “you have to be prepared for filming.”
(It’s legal for the protestors to take pictures and film you.)
I told them I was fine w/ that & gave them the details on #teamharpy, b/c honestly, once you’ve been smeared on internet, anything is gravy. They said they knew from googling me when I emailed them to volunteer but ALSO because they were following the case while it was happening.
It’s weird, for me, people were watching outside of library world and I’ve also come across them irl who’ve offered up sympathy. And in some way the case is even more valid nearly two years on from the dismissal. Tr*mp and the allegations about him and how the media just swept that shit under the rug is PERFECT why women won’t come forward.
(I am so desperate to not name names and let loose a string of obscenities about them, but last time I did this, I named names and I got sued. So.)
The morning after, admittedly, I was a bit manic, I started taking on a zillion things: donating / volunteering / spreading support to overcome my anxiety. (I had another panic attack later yesterday afternoon so my actions from that morning were not completely bright.) But as the anxiety marched on, my mania started getting worse, and I felt pulled too thin.
I wanted to do all the things but my self-care started to show cracks and I knew I had to pull back.
First, I needed to grieve, which I didn’t do. Next, I need to assess my life and I was not realistic about how much involvement I could do. Third, I needed to figure out how to best spend my time rather than going crazy on all the things. (TEH is worried my overextension may be problematic to my mental health.)
After I stepped back from my crazy morning, I became more frightened of what this potential presidency will mean on a personal level. First, my mental illness and gender are going to be heavily questioned and possibly terrorized. First and a half, if ObamaCare is rolled back and Medicaid cut, I am seriously fucked. Second, my pathway into spirituality will have to be locked down to the closest of friends (and on my anonymous blog) since it doesn’t fall into the Judeo-Christian tradition.
It is also knowing once this post goes public, I’m opening myself up for attacks, criticism, and threats.
After calming down a bit, I decided to take action as much as I mentally could:
I signed petitions and passed on those websites on my timelines for others to sign and they to pass on
I donated small amounts of money when I could to the places really close to my heart
I contacted the local abortion clinic to volunteer as an escort and I will be starting training soon
I contacted my local suicide helpline to volunteer and that training will start soon as well
I searched Facebook for groups / organizations / events I could locally attend / join
It seems like a lot but it doesn’t feel like a lot as my natural instinct is to do all the things. But it’s what I can afford to mentally, physically, financially do and I take comfort that anything is better than nothing.
Through all of this, I’m keeping my white privilege in check. I’m acutely aware of what is made available to me mainly has to do with my skin color. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, and clothes on my back. I’m also acutely aware if Obamacare AND Medicaid get repealed, TEH and I are half-seriously considering getting married again so I can have health care (if I’m not working at a place that offers it).
It is my duty, no my responsibility, to help those that are not as fortunate as me and fight as hard and as much as I can.
Below you’ll find a list of phone numbers to call if you’re in crisis and a list of lists compiled by other outlets of how you can help. If you find this useful, feel free to share it on.