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Home

The city below us
Cloudy sky above
The scent of your sweat
The night air
And your mum’s detergent
Surrounding us

A flash in the distance
Fireworks
City of magic
City of fire

Pushing the beds together
Not quite one bed
But close enough to spoon
To clasp hands across the chasm
‘You’re so far away’
I whisper
So you climb into my twin bed
And hold me tight
Hipbones sharp against my thighs
And finally I drift off

A toast to the couple
In our wedding finery
I sway in your arms and watch them dance
Countless new faces
My world gone bigger
Yet also smaller
I watch the palm trees outside
A gentle breeze, cooling after the press
Of the dance hall

A dusty attic, dusty books
The room of your youth, high in the hills
The stories I’ve heard come to life
In the sights and sounds of this city
A world of its own
Captured in your shining eyes
As you glance at me
And I see the boy you were once
Under the man you are now

I rest my head against your chest
Two thousand miles away from my house
Yet I am home


Sick

This post contains references to self-harm and suicide. I just wanted to warn readers who may be sensitive to these things.

Last week, an important anniversary passed by. I had a post in mind; I wanted to celebrate with you all. I’d had a huge accomplishment.

One year ago, last Wednesday, I found myself in my doctor’s office, crying so hard I couldn’t breathe, asking for help. I’d fought, and I couldn’t fight anymore, and I knew I couldn’t continue. It was ask for help, or stop fighting. I asked for help. And last Wednesday, October 19, marked one year of fighting this war against my own brain. When I realized my tools weren’t enough. When I asked for that stick, because damn it, I was tired and battle scarred and hurting and I couldn’t fucking do it.

“Fighting bare-handed is great. Until you can’t anymore. Then you ask for a weapon.”

And I’ve put my loved ones through hell. I know it. I still am not sure why they stuck with me. But I’m grateful. And my girls at work have been like another family… checking in and holding on and crying with me. And my partners have held me together. My husband, my boyfriend… these incredible people who’ve been my glue when my bottle has run empty. My kids, who’ve made me hand drawn cards and bought me candy bars with their own allowance on the days when life hurt too much for me to get off the couch. My friends,who’ve sent me mental health check-ins via text and twitter…

I’m sitting here crying while I write, thinking of this incredible amount of love and support. I don’t deserve it. I did nothing to earn it.

And here you all are, anyways. I can’t believe how fortunate I am. And I’m well enough to realize how sick I was, and that I will get sick like that again. 

So, I store up memories and experiences… I live like The Bloggess, Furiously Happy, and build a bank of the happy times so I can get through the sick times and know there will be happy times again.

Last Wednesday, I wanted to write to you all, a post of hope and light. “Look at me!” I wanted to shout, like an addict with a year of sobriety. “I’m winning! I’m fighting!”

But reality has a way of getting awfully real.

And, last Wednesday, I was busy. 

A friend of mine, someone I love dearly, someone who fights her own battle and has given me so much insight into my own, she nearly lost her battle. Her war with her own mind got the better of her and she fell into a black hole.

I learned she’d harmed herself, tried to kill herself. Wanted to die because the pain in her head was too much. She wanted the emptiness to swallow her. This beautiful funny flawed imperfectly perfect friend thought our world was better without her in it.

You know what? Fuck depression. Fuck that bitch with a rusty sawblade. I’m tired of it destroying people I love.

Last Wednesday, I nearly went into a tailspin of my own, because I saw how fragile this thing called sanity really is. And it terrified me to know that, no matter how hard I fight, that Bitch is still gonna be fighting me and trying to take it away.

People ask me what they can do, to help me when the times get dark. Here’s my answer: don’t let the darkness win. Take care of you. See you health care professionals, all of them. Take your medications. Practice self-care. And keep fighting. We all need you here.


Joy

Two years ago, things blew apart with Wash. Hurting, and lonely, and facing a quiet summer without him, I turned to the modern lonely hearts club, the Internet. And I found on Twitter a sweet and funny guy who was bored at work and wanted to chat about all sorts of things. And we became close friends, and pretty soon, my day didn’t feel right if I hadn’t heard from him in the morning. And I’d go on dates, and would leave them feeling unsatified, because the person I wanted to be dating wasn’t them. It was him. 

And I was deeply unhappy, not realizing that the Bitch had snuck through a crack in my defenses and ravaged me again, so stealthily this time, I didn’t even realize it happening, instead blaming my marriage and my breakups and my job for my deep sense of sadness and dread. I couldn’t sleep in my bed, so I resigned myself to uncomfortable nights in the couch, further eroding my closeness with my husband. I felt friendships begin to crack, and even though I had a new job that I loved and wanted very much, I felt like I was failing, drowning in the darkness.

The bullshit thing about mental illness is how your own brain lies to you. The Bitch will tell you that you are fine, that everything else is fucked up, and convince you that the problem belongs to everyone else and it’s their job to fix it. 

The Bitch whispers sweetly in your ear that you are alone, that you are doomed to fail, and that no one cares anyhow. She convinces you that fighting is pointless, so why bother.

Something in me was strong enough to realize that I needed to fight.

And I couldn’t do it for myself. It had to be for someone else.

There used to be a spot I drove past, every night on my way home from work. There was a break In the fence, there, and no guardrail, and every time I drove past it, I would think of how easy it would be to drive off the road, drop the many feet down to the freeway below. I could see myself doing it, see the crash scene, the emergency crews, everything. But then I would see my husband, widowed, and trying to explain to the kids what happened. I’d see my mom, losing another child to mental illness. I’d see my kids, my sensitive and gentle son and my daydreaming wisp of a girl child, and I’d keep driving. I’d spend another restless night caught in invasive thoughts of falling off cliffs and bridges, waking to a panic attack and wanting to vomit. 

Heavy stuff for a blog post titled “Joy”, but bear with me here.

I realized a few weeks ago, that I had always fought for other people. I needed to beat my illness for them, for my husband and my kids and my mother, because they counted on me. My mental illness, the depression and anxiety and ADD, was something I needed to overcome because they needed and deserved a healthy mother, wife, daughter, friend. 

I didn’t think I was worth fighting for, on my own. My language was never that I deserved to be a healthy person. 

Last year, that sweet and funny Twitter friend flew up here to visit me. We’d never met in person, and I was scared of what might happen. I was scared that the spark that was online wouldn’t exist in the real world; I was more scared of what would happen if it was. I was in a new job, a position I had coveted and worked hard for.

I was miserable.

Everything hurt, all the time. I barely slept. My marriage felt, to me, like it was falling apart. I felt like I was under-qualified for my new position, and I badly missed my children and my friends. The spark was there with my new partner, and the Bitch was right there with it, telling me he’d never come back, that the happiness I’d felt with him would be snatched away too. Finally, a romantic weekend I had planned with my husband had fizzled. I spent it sad and weeping. My depression snatching away another chance at happiness. 

That week, I went to my doctor. I started medical treatment.

And, I just realized recently, that was the very first time in my life that I made the decision to get well, to fight like hell, FOR MY SELF. 

I finally realized that I was a whole person who deserved to be healthy and well and happy. I realized that I was the best person to fight for. That I deserved a shot at joy.

This year, I had the strength to go to a con, with my partner, Ziggy.  We went to Furlandia, here in Portland, and It was amazing . We had a magical weekend together. My husband and his new parter took the kids to the coast that weekend, and we all got together for dinner that Sunday night to share stories and celebrate Ziggy’s birthday.

And I was awash in something I hadn’t felt except in brief glimpses through the worst years of my illness. 

I felt joy.

I see the pictures of myself from the con and I don’t recognize me. My body is relaxed, comfortable, not twisted and tense from pain. I’m laughing, hard. That weekend, I danced. The joy is there, in every line and freckle.

And in my falling dreams? I no longer wake sweating and shaking, bracing for the fall. in those dreams, a breeze catches me, and I grow wings, and I soar.


Sublime

“How are you two getting along?” Mr Awesome will ask of a new partner.

Usually, I will grin.

“We can laugh together… In bed.”

I did the math today, after a conversation about first experiences. I’ve been sexually active since I was 14. That was in 1994, 22 years ago. That was my first time with a man; my first time with a woman was a few years later. I met the man I would marry when I was 17, and so there you go.

And in 22 years of continued experiences, an even split of male and female partners, sex in private rooms, parents’ attics, hot tubs, pools, beds, cars, couches, floors, and once on a public walking trail, the lesson I’ve truly taken to heart is this: find someone with whom you can laugh in bed. Sex can go from the sublime to the ridiculous with one well-timed fart or badly placed elbow. You need someone to laugh it off with. The myriad of emotions that sex brings to the table (bed?) is amazing and leaves a person very vulnerable. Sometimes, it needs to be tender, loving and gentle. Sometimes, it needs to be rough, quick, and bruising. Sometimes it needs to be a bit of Colum A and a little of Colum B. But it always needs to be approached with humor.

Sometimes, the best foreplay is opening up, sharing vulnerabilities and fantasies. Sometimes, it’s teasing and touching and kissing until your body cries out to be fucked.

And sometimes, the best foreplay is a morning spent in bed, making vagina jokes with your lover and laughing until your face and sides hurt. 


bad brain

For clarity, my long distance boyfriend decided he liked the idea of me calling him Ziggy, here. I will update the cast of characters accordingly, when I get around to it. I hope.

Ziggy has ADD. This is helpful, as he is pretty understanding about what it’s like to deal with mental issues and the ins and outs of daily medication. He’s also gifted my life with a phrase that I really love.

Bad brain day. This is, for me, a day when things are off. When the meds aren’t quite cutting it. When the world is a little blue, and everything is a bit muddy and weird.

Today is a bad brain day, and I’m not really sure why.

I feel tired, foggy, grumpy, and a little blue. The tasks on my plate seem too big, too hard, too much.

And I’m ok. The best thing about bad brain days is that they simply are days. I can get through them. I’m at ronger and better than I was. I have tools at my disposal, and friends to help when the tools aren’t enough. Hell, even just writing all this down is helping a lot. 

Why am I sad? I don’t know. My cat died last week. David Bowie and Alan Rickman both died. And old friend of my husband’s is sick with cancer and in the hospital. Work yesterday was really tough. I’m in the middle of an extremely painful cycle this month. The yarn I ordered isn’t here yet. I had to take Ziggy to the airport this morning. I feel my son growing up and growing away from me. I spilled my hot cocoa while I was at new seasons this morning. 

All of these are valid reasons to feel sad, and I know what I really need to do is sit down and sort them. Process them, worth through them. I feel sad because my lap is empty when I sit down to knit. I am frustrated with my coworkers for not being more flexible with the scheduling, which causes long days and weird hours for myself. It was hard to drop Ziggy off at the airport today because he is going to a convention I want to go to, and I always miss him  when he is in a different state. I’m hurting for a old friend who was dealt a shitty hand and just, fuck cancer, all the way around. And I am more emotional because I am hurting physically and the physical pain is big and scary now that it is mostly gone. Because physical pain reminds me too much of the darkest times and I am terrified of those monsters coming back, now that life is finally getting so good.

So, today is a bad brain day. But I’m gonna make it. Because that’s what I do. And I’m gonna turn this around. Life is too precious and sweet to let one bad day ruin the rest. 


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