Today is not my best

Today was not my best. I tried to wake up. My eyes hurt. My body ached. I wanted to crawl under the covers and stay in bed all day. But I had to get up. Take the kids to school. Work. Do the things I am supposed to do as an adult in this world. Got the kids in the car. On autopilot. I am a shitty mom. I work far away. I spend too much time away from home. Too much time at the gym. Too much time letting their dad do most of the parenting. Because I don’t know how to. Because I never really connected to my kids. Because I need to keep arms length. Because I am not so sure I will be sticking around.

I tried to run after I dropped them off. I need to run. It’s the only thing that quiets my mind. But I am tired. I am fat. I am disgusting. My excess skin hanging like sheets from my swollen belly and thighs and back. This body couldn’t run if it tried. But I did try. One foot in front of the other I said. I made it only about half a mile. And I was so very slow. I felt like I was dipped in concrete and drying more with every step I took.

I walked home. I feel nothing. I watch my body from outside. Wondering who is in command. I am tired and I am sore. But my legs know the way home. My brain is detached from my body. I sit down and try to work. It’s painful to think. My head is foggy and my eyes are heavy. I am stupid. I am no good. I can’t even do my job. I am gross and I am worthless.

I decide to cook. I used to be good at that. I like to make food for my family. It’s something that brings them joy. Something to pass the time. The food is tasteless. No good. Can’t even be passed off as edible.

I go back to work. Looking at letters on the screen but not registering in my brain. Detached. Still watching from outside but feeling nothing but the heaviness of my eyes and my soul. Who is the person I have become? I don’t recognize myself. This is not me. I am not real. I am just a ghost. I don’t remember when I died but I did. I died and my body is still here. Taking up a whole lot of space on this planet. I listen to voices. I hear them outside my head. A long narrative ranting on about all my transgressions. My past sins. My general uselessness. Sometimes I can easily tune them out, sometimes they are not there at all, but today they are loud.

I looked up a number for a suicide prevention hotline. Most days there are fleeting thoughts of not being here, being better off dead, of my family being better off without me. But today they are stronger. Today they are more real. They probably don’t have time to talk to me anyway.   They need to talk to the bad off people. I’m too much of a coward to really go through with it. I read somewhere once that longstanding suicidal ideation is protective against suicide. I guess a person can take comfort in the fact that there is always a way out and that keeps them from actually finding their way out. I think there might be some truth in that.

Today was a bad day. I can fake it and lie and say tomorrow will be better, but truth is it probably won’t be. And I’ve lived my life like this for 25 years, in and out of depression and psychosis and a little mania strewn in. And I really wish there was a rock bottom, but that’s just a myth. Rock bottom is just one long plateau to the end. Sprinkled with teases of happiness. Fleeting moments where I think it might be possible to find a little bit of joy that eventually all gets stolen from me. People with hope might say things will get better, things are always darkest before the dawn, but I lost my hope and my humanity long ago. And dark is the new light and everything is always grey.


leisurely miss

Don’t be a bad girl, just sit still and quiet

Don’t be a bad girl, just do as I like it

Smile real big and show them your teeth

Smile real big from right underneath

It’s only a flesh wound

It doesn’t really hurt

It’s only a flesh wound; there is a lot of flesh there

And sometimes it bleeds and sometimes it doesn’t

And sometimes you’re told you are the one who should be wasn’t

And you sit leisurely by, like a child who is lost

And there you are, the one who is forgotten

The signs are right there

Be the one who cares

It only hurts a little

It only hurts a lot

Your house is on fire

But it’s all that you’ve got

And your soul is empty

And once was fierce

And your mind is long gone

Decayed and despaired

I am a sister of the sun

And a brother of the moon

But today all I have

Is the empty sea

Laying on top of me

And it ebbs and it flows

And leaves me all wet

And promises me that one day I will forget

And promises me that one day that I will forget

Hot, hot, hot

I decided to try out hot yoga. I like to be hot. I like to sweat. I don’t particularly like yoga, but it seemed like it might be a relaxing activity to try on a Sunday morning. I signed up online and arrived with my yoga mat and giant towel and water bottle in hand.

I walked in and explained to the guy at the desk that I had never done this before. He told me where to put my things and told me where the yoga room was. I started down the hall to the locker room and was promptly yelled at for not removing my shoes at the front door. It seemed off that I’d have to take my shoes off to go into the locker room and not just the yoga room, but whatever. An older lady greeted me in the hall and I was barked at again, “no talking!”

Apparently there are a lot of rules here. I entered the yoga room. It was pitch black. I could barely make out random bodies on the floor. I laid my mat out and sat down. The warm air was comforting. It was cold outside and it felt nice to be hot in my leggings and tank top. A scantily clad lady came in and out her mat in front of mine. She started to stretch and roll and contort her body all around. Surely she must be teaching the class.

The lights came on with a jolt and a grey haired, middle aged hippy bolted to the front of the room. He quickly rattled off the rules. No leaving the room or drinking between “postures,” no talking, no disturbing your neighbors. Then suddenly the room started to breathe in unison. Throaty breaths that sounded like a mix between childbirth and suffocating while they jerked their head first forward and then toward the ceiling. The instructor was yelling commands too fast for me to keep up . I stared at the girl in front of me and tried to copy her movements. I made the sound she was making and pretended to breathe in tune but really I was just confused.

He lead us through a few more body movements. I was getting hotter. My ankles were sweating. Little pools of water welled up on my towel before they had the chance to sink in. I felt my heart start to race. I just wanted a drink but I couldn’t tell if I was between postures and I didn’t want to get yelled at again.

Christ, it is hot. Why the hell would anyone willingly do this to themselves? What is the point of sweating like this anyway? And the instructor yells that we are done with our warm up.

This must be what hell feels like. 26 minutes in and im sopping wet. My clothes are stuck to me. I think my eyeballs are sweating. I’m watching a sweat stain swell from the tiny shorts of the girl in front of me. From the little dark spot on her crotch to then covering her entire ass and I could see her pants were soaked, too. But she looked beautiful. Glistening and contorting her body gracefully. She looked like she was made for hot yoga.

I’m sweating like a teenage linebacker. I stink. Me trying to twist my legs around each other like two fat sausages exploding from their casings. The fat roll on my stomach impeding my forward bend. All the while the instructor shouting to get my forehead to my shin. I don’t think my forehead was meant for my shin. This isn’t for me.

I don’t know how I finished 90 minutes. By the end I was breathless, soaked, and felt like a hot, wet, drowning dog. Wonder if that’s a yoga pose, drowned dog? It probably is. And I probably can’t do it.

I left the class and all I wanted to do was change out of my wet suit. Feel something dry on my skin again. My towel was of no use. It was soaking wet. I come to the locker room and in my awe see two naked yoga women and an old naked yoga man in mixed company. The locker room was coed and had no door! No curtains! No modesty. I guess that makes no shoes seem like no big deal.

I left. Tried to get my shoes and socks on but my feet were too hot and sticky. I waved good bye to the yoga instructor. Thanks for that. “I’ll see you next week!” He shouted eagerly at me. No way buddy, no way.

Just for tonight

Take me to the other side

Even if it is for just one night

Listen to me, you know she won’t mind

Listen to me, you have the time

Get out of my head and into my bed

And let me make you forget about the

Things you don’t want to speak of

Let me make it hurt more than it already does

You know you’re a sinner and you must repent

And I can absolve the sins of the flesh

You just lay back and I’ll do the rest

And I can forgive what you atone

I am your penance and I am your priest

And I am the vice you need the least

But you can’t say no. And I am always a yes

And I am always a yes in my best Sunday dress

And I fall to my knees and I beg you please

Just take me to the other side

Even if it is for just one night

And I’ll bring you back when you ask nice

And I’ll make you feel just like you need

Leave it to me. The queen of the deed

Because I am a temptress and I am a snake

But what you can give me I’d rather not take.

I have the power but I’ll give it to you

If you’ll show me the other side

Just for tonight

Sparking joy

I’ve been reading a lot of social media posts about Marie Kondo and sparking joy. I watched the Netflix show a couple times. But the whole thing just saddened me for the most part. I could empty out my entire house. There is nothing here that sparks joy for me. Absolutely nothing. Well, maybe my Lululemon leggings give me a few butterflies but nothing I couldn’t do without. I guess that’s a good thing in a way. I’m not emotionally attached to many material things, but I’m not attached to anything really. Just devoid of emotion. Even relationships, my kids don’t even spark joy. What kind of cold-person can you be if children don’t make you happy?

I went to this class at work last week. I took this personality inventory of sorts. It told me my objectiveness made me come across as being cold and detached. I can see some truth in that. The whole story is that I am so full of empathy, I soak in others’ pain and stress and feelings to such an extent that i must be somewhat detached or I will cave in.

Ever since I found out I was pregnant with my daughter almost nine years ago I worried about being a good mom. I think that’s normal. Most parents probably worry about not doing a good job. I think I am so hyperafraid of failure, of doing the wrong thing, a bad job that I have kept my kids at arm’s length. If I don’t get too close I can’t mess them up too bad. And then when I lost my dad it got worse. Surely, I couldn’t let my kids grow too close. It hurts too bad to lose a parent and I need to protect them from that. That’s what a good mom does.

Being so critical of myself doesn’t help. I’m critical of all my flaws I see coming out in them and then not only am I not good enough, my kids, as a byproduct of me could also never be good enough. And then the mental illness piece. I’ve spent the last three years on an emotional rollercoaster. Hallucinating on a weekly basis. Battling the psychosis I thought I had beaten a decade ago, but it’s all back. Seeping through the seams. Bubbling below the surface. Everything I touch breaks. You better not come near me.

I’m looking at my life. Looking at my resolutions for the last five years. And consistently they have been to find joy. Find joy in the small and the big. Find the sparks that are enough to carry me through the day and spread a little feeling into my life and my family’s. But I can’t find it. Maybe I need a new job, a new place to live, a whole new life. But no matter what I change or where I move, joy doesn’t seem to come.

I’m not expecting to trip over a big pile of happiness just standing in the middle of my path, but it would be really nice to find just a small piece of it here and there.

My birthday was a couple days ago. Thirty seven years on this planet. Maybe there is a little joy in knowing that time is speeding by faster. That I probably have less time left on this Earth than I have already spent on it. Only I don’t want to spend the rest of my life waiting for my days to run out. I really, really want to find the joy.

I have been working, fighting even but it just doesn’t seem to get me anywhere. Maybe it’s depression, but I’ve done what I can for that, too. Eating right, working out, sleeping, counseling, medication, church, volunteering, alone time, social time, family time. And again and again I just feel like a passerby watching someone else’s life happen and feeling nothing. So what do you do to spark joy? What do you do to get out of the never ending rut? How can I find just a small piece of happy? How can I set a good example for my kids? How can I make a life with purpose and one that I actually want to live? I’m still looking for the answers. I just pray it doesn’t take another 37 years to find them.

The most wonderful time of the year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

The time that fills you with dread and with fear

What’s coming next and when the other shoe drops

You think maybe the pain will get less

The pain will get less when you confess all your sins

The pain will get less when you let them all win

The pain will get less with the passing of time

The pain will get less when it’s on your own dime

But the funny thing is that the pain never changes

The funny thing is just how it engages.

And this time do I let it in? And this time do I let it drown me? And this time do I let it win?

But this year, time has passed

And I’m supposed to be okay

I’m supposed to be over the hump and sledding downhill

The grief that I feel is only enough

To fill up the cup and not overflow

It should be enough to shove inside

To push away. To make me blind

This year I am allowed to feel

More love and happiness and all the good things

This year I can partake in what the season brings.

But what if I can’t and what if it doesn’t

And what if the sad is all that I have? And I think that’s what I’m left with and I don’t want to feel bad.

Should I shove it all in? Like stuffing in a turkey. Taking the pain and filling the hole taking the pain and gaining control.

I wish I could tell you I had it all figured out.

I wish I could tell you I was winning at life

I wish I could tell you I did it and I’m free

I wish I could tell you they stopped staring at me

I wish I could tell you I’m brave and I’m strong

But I am still here and I still don’t belong

I used to be your daughter. I used to be a wife. I used to be a mother. But now I’m just a life.

At least I think I’m alive that’s what they tell me

At least i think I’m alive that’s what I’ve heard

But when I look at myself in the mirror that dirty.

I just see a soul on the wrong side of thirty

That looks more like a hundred

And feels more like a thousand

And a sack of skin filled up with bones

And fat and wrinkles and a heart filled with stone

So here it comes…

The best time of the year

Here it comes and you best cheer

Be jolly! be kind!

Be mine for a while

Be happy! be alive!

That’s what’s required

The tale of two atypicals

In case you ever wondered what it was like. In case you have ever been on or tried to be on these medications. I thought I’d give you a run down. Two different atypical antipsychotics…both used for psychosis, schizophrenia, and to treat depression although I think rexulti is only approved as an adjunct to another drug for depression. These drugs were designed to have less side effects than the original antipsychotics but I think they are so much worse.

Seroquel…I take it. 20 minutes later my heart begins to race and it’s hard to catch my breath. My blood pressure sky rockets. My eyes feel like they are seeing double. 40 minutes later I’m so tired I can’t move. Drool slides down my chin. It’s impossible to make it from the couch to the bed. I am asleep like I am in a coma for eight hours straight. When I wake up my tongue is cemented to the roof of my mouth. It hurts to pry my tongue loose and I feel the delicate tissue on my mouth and tongue being ripped as I try to swallow. My mouth is so dry and my eyes are so dry it is hard to see. It is physically painful to wake up. It hurts to keep my eyes open. It hurts even more to get out bed. Seroquel makes every bone in my body scream and I am dizzy as I walk toward the bathroom to brush my teeth and my broken mouth. After a few days, I get a little more used to it. I don’t immediately pass out, but I am sluggish all the time. It is uncomfortable to be awake. My brain feels like it is stuck in concrete. It does help the psychosis but I don’t know who would take this for depression because I want to do nothing. I feel nothing. If I try to stop taking it now, it will be month before I am able to sleep a whole night again. That’s how they get you hooked.

I can’t take any more Seroquel. It makes me so numb it is painful. Or not painful. I try rexulti. The latest and greatest. My heart races. My Fitbit says my resting heart rate is up ten beats per minute since I started this. My whole body itches. I feel like there are bugs crawling all over me. I have a rash all over my belly and back. I can’t sit still. I can’t sleep. I feel okay but my legs are screaming to move. They must move. All I can do is walk and stay awake. Pace and not sleep. It makes me so hangry. Don’t get me wrong the Seroquel made me hungry too. I would eat a whole box of cookies and ice cream and not even remember it in the morning. But at least that was only in the hour between taking it and passing out. I take the rexulti in the morning and immediately I am starving. Starving all day. The funny thing is it simultaneously makes me nauseous. Sick and starving at the same time. Who would have thought? Tummy growling, no sleep, bugs everywhere, sick and hungry. That’s rexulti for you.

So there you have it. Two atypical antipsychotics supposedly so much better than their predecessors. But I’m still wondering what’s worse. The treatment or the disease?

Betting the House

Well I have sprung that joint now. I am so glad to be home and Im back to work.  It feels good to be going about my normal routine again.  This new medicine is really crappy.  I read about the side effects the first day I got it.  The first side effect was weight gain.  I knew that, all these new antipsychotics make you fat.  Oh well.  It totally sucks.  Worked so hard to lose all this weight and now I am gaining weight by the millisecond. I feel like I can tell my muscles are melting away into clouds of fat.  I am constantly hungry. I could eat my weight in mashed potatoes and ice cream. I am craving sugar.  It is a weird feeling to be simultaneously nauseous and sick to my stomach and starving.  I am so hungry its painful.  I have a deep ache in my rumbling belly even when I have just filled it up.

The second most common side effect was compulsive gambling.  Wow, cant say I ever heard that one before.  I haven’t felt any urges to bet the house or anything, so maybe I wont come up with that one.  Maybe I should just give up, keep me fat and happy.  Slumped over a slot machine somewhere one hand in a bucket of coins and one in a bucket of fried chicken and guzzling watered down screwdrivers.

I have a headache.  I am tired.  I tried taking this medicine in the morning but it made me foggy and was hard to drive and think.  I tried taking it at bedtime and it kept me up all night.  I tried taking it after lunch but it just made the rest of the day crap.  Anyway, still trying to figure out if the drug is worse than the disease.  I think Id rather be psychotic and depressed than feel like this.  Only trouble is no one else likes me that way.  They tell you it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  But it obviously does.  If it didn’t I could be fat and happy and gambling away with my muffin top spilling over my jeans.

Who knew that altering brain chemistry could be so physically painful? Oh well…another day here is another day here.

Through the looking glass

One night at the hospital I was trying to figure out how many patients were on the unit, I gave them all little nicknames and back stories. There is a little bit of truth to some of the characters, but not enough to identify them. These were my bunkmates last week….

Of course there was Spoon man, the one that choked on the spoon fragment. He always had a one to one sitter to keep him safe. One night he was screaming about mosquitoes in his room and being bitten to death by mosquitoes. No one was listening to him; even I just thought it was psychotic rambling. The nurse wasn’t paying any attention to him, until she saw the mosquitoes for herself. There really were mosquitoes in his room.

There was Red. She was a ginger with a pixie cut who looked like a professor. A nutty professor. She had glasses and was always demanding help in the hallway. It definitely looked like this wasn’t her first rodeo.

Next to Red, we have Texas. He was a substance abuser who had a lot of life happen to him. He told me a little of his jail stints and drug fueled crime sprees. He was waiting for the judge. He had been admitted involuntarily. There was something creepy about him. I don’t know how to explain it; he just made me feel unsafe.

And Roadrunner, he was an older gentleman who liked to walk. The only time I saw him sit down was to eat. Apparently he ran away from a nursing home/assisted living because they were stealing his check. He was nice to me and let me walk with him when I was bored.

Pigtails. She was an older lady. She brushed her hair in the dining room one day. She said it was the first time she brushed it in weeks. So much hair fell out of her head and onto her plate, and then she fixed into nice little pigtails.

Dirka. An Indian man who didn’t speak much. He liked to sit down and abruptly jolt up and run away. He kept asking me what I was in for.

The Panther. He was dark and mysterious. He could sneak up right behind you and you wouldn’t even know he was there.

Toothless. She liked to color. Her diabetes was so bad from being on antipsychotics for so long that her bladder stopped working and she had a catheter. She sat and colored for hours on end in her wheelchair.

Aretha looked like she stepped right off of soul train. Her lip smacking and drooling made me a little crazy.

Penny was in a wheelchair. She was young. She looked smart and was always reading. She reminded me of Penny on inspector gadget.

Mustang Sally had recently had a baby. She said her husband was the hottest man ever and told us all to stay away from her man. I’m pretty sure she had borderline personality disorder and lived in a halfway house. I don’t know if she had a husband or not.

Crash test jumped off a bridge. She laughed an awful lot. More than what was appropriate. She was my best friend there. Her dark sense of humor was just like mine. If you can’t laugh about a suicide attempt, what can you laugh at?

Sunshine was an old soul. She had a sadness about her but something inside just looked like joy would be bursting out at any minute. Just one of those people you could look at and feel warm and know that they were good.

Janet. I don’t know why I called her Janet. She just looked like that might be her name. She was young. Been in and out of hospitals. Was a professional. Also, a very brittle diabetic. Too bad her landlord stole her insulin pump.

Hogwarts was another young girl. Smart with glasses and always had her nose in a book. She reminded me of Harry Potter.

OJ. He looked just like OJ Simpson. He screamed and yelled and cursed and threatened. He made some valid points but he scared the crap out of me.

And then there was me. No cute little nickname. Sometimes my dad used to call me SL, for screw loose. But I didn’t even feel like SL today. I don’t know what I felt like. When I came into the hospital the nurse said, I am sorry you are not feeling like yourself. Trouble was I was feeling like myself. Whatever that was. Lost and confused and sad, I wish that wasn’t myself. While I was in the hospital I read East of Eden. Hubby read most of this book to me out loud while I was pregnant with the girl. We read it to her. Couldn’t help but relate to Cathy Ames or Kate Trask or whatever she was calling herself at the time. Warm and appealing on the outside, and a big ball of nasty on the inside. The girl who took joy in manipulating and destroying other people for pleasure. Okay, so I guess that’s not really me but somehow I related to her. And even her demise. The way she always had an out. Her love for Alice. Eat me…drink me…make me small. Maybe I might get so small I will disappear, too.

All of that aside, those were my bunk mates. Funny how much you can learn about a group of people in a short number of days. I wonder how they are all doing. And I hope they will be okay.

Day 3

Actually, it is still the second night.  I thought I was going to sleep, but I did not.  Im ready to take my medicine and go to bed.  The nurse is busy with a patient who bit off half of a plastic spoon and wont open his mouth back up.  Death by plastic.  Spoon asphyxiation.  This lack of control thing is driving me crazy.  The other girls are doing a puzzle in the dining room or whatever that place is called.  Im really lucky to have such an amazing family.

The staff here tonight are nicer.  They treat me like a human.  It is nice to feel human.  Even with gripper socks, and pants with drawstrings cut out and a sports bra, a sloganless t shirt, a fall risk and a name band slapped around my wrist that feels like a shackle, I still have a shred of humanity. Even if I am branded as part of  **insert generic name of mental hospital here**. A greeting in the hallway tonight went a really long way.

I still don’t know why it is so loud here. The girls are still working on their puzzles and talking about sex with hot virgins.  Someone should probably tell them that that’s inappropriate. I cant believe I have only been here a day and a half.  It feels like an eternity.  And what am I going to do about work?

Its finally labor day.  I slept like crap last night.  My blood pressure has been through the roof since I have been here.  People say they will come back and recheck it, but no one ever has.  No one does anything they say they will here. I did get my breakfast this morning.  A fruit cup and a yogurt. Apparently I could special order food this whole time,  no staff ever told me that, but a nice patient just did.  I found a schedule posted to the wall today.  It told of all the activities and groups that were supposedly going on this weekend and today.  Sad that none of them actually did.

I called the phone number for the human rights person posted on the wall.  They didn’t call back either.  No one answered.  Its almost comical how many things have gone wrong here and the complete and utter lack of follow up.  Just spending the day looking at the hall in the wall.  Speaking of that, someone came in this morning and asked me if I had any idea how the hole got there.

The cell phones are driving me mad.  The staff are supposed to be engaging patients, but they are all just tapping away on their phones.  Hubby and mom should be here soon.  I am so glad that they are coming.

Another long day, but this one turned out pretty well.  I complained a lot.  The social worker was very helpful in getting things together for me.  There are some new men here.  Some of the guys got roommates.  I am glad I am not a guy and so far it is just me in this room.

The doctor today was nice enough, another fill in.  He decided to start from scratch.  Throw away some of my medicine and start me on Thorazine.  LOL, thorazine its almost comical. The first psych med ever. Been around 60-70 years…and that’s what they came up with.  I feel like Im locked up in some sort of old time psych hospital where people never get out. Doped up on thorazine and drooling in the corner.  I agreed to take it.  Its funny how agreeable one can be in the right conditions. Of course I don’t want to take it.  But I agree to be sedated into oblivion.  Thorazine it is.  The pharmacy calls.  They tell my nurse there is some sort of interaction/reaction between thorazine and celiac.  I probably shouldn’t take it, but would I agree to take it anyway?  What other universe does the oldest medicine with the worst side effects be prescribed even with a contraindication?  It doesn’t matter.  The only thing that matters is getting out of here.  And the only way I can do that is to say yes.  Yes. Yes. Yes.