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[personal profile] rachg82
It's about that time again -- time to look back at 2015, say goodbye to all the memories, and attempt to gather from them some semblance of meaning. For my new friends, an explanation: this post will contain significant excerpts from entries I wrote or vlogged throughout the year, kinda like a wordy time capsule. LJ has put stricter limits on entry lengths though, so I had to split this one in two. Turns out I had a lot to say in 2015. (note: there'll be pictures as well)

Gathering these quotes together, I couldn't help but think to myself, "Goddamn, the last six years have been brutal. I'm still here though. How am I still here?" It's really kind of remarkable. I have to believe 2016 will be easier in SOME way. I have to believe it so I can keep putting one blind foot in front of the other in the meantime. I realize life is full of ups & downs, but seriously, I have had enough downs since 2010 to last a lifetime. Day after day after day. That being said, there were also some positive developments in 2015. Somewhere along the way, I decided to try to commit to living -- not just until a certain date, like I usually did in the past, but for good (until the universe decides to take me out, basically). That doesn't mean I don't still get suicidal, because I do, and sometimes it reaches dangerous levels, but I think it matters that I at least try to tell myself it's not an option anymore. As Dar Williams sings in "After All," "And when I chose to live, there was no joy -- it's just a line I crossed. I wasn't worth the pain my death would cost." So I try my best these days not to consciously let myself go down that road, thought-wise. The intrusive, compulsive thoughts & graphic mental images still come on their own, uninvited, of course, which sometimes makes me feel like I'm being stalked & attacked by my own brain (the black dog of depression, as Churchill once said. It bares its teeth & nips at my heels every chance it gets, waiting for vulnerable moments to drag me down with it to Hell), but I make a concerted effort to let those ugly thoughts & images simply pass by without me being taken along for the ride.

Similarly, I threw out everything in my home that was sharp this summer, and I've only self-harmed once since then. There was a time when I couldn't go two weeks without cutting. And while I became extremely isolated this year--in part because of not working or attending school, in part because of overwhelming changes in my mental health which I'm still struggling to find successful coping mechanisms for, & in part because my migraines worsened--I didn't get admitted to a psych ward even once (in comparison, I was admitted once in 2013 & *three times* in 2014), I survived a lot & did it while tapering down off a high dose of Klonopin (a highly-addictive anti-anxiety med for those of you not in the know). I did it while I was hallucinating from stress. I also went back to my roots & began to express myself creatively again, writing more fics & poems than during any previous year. I began listening to Al-Anon podcasts again, opening myself up more fully to what that program has to offer. I stopped missing so many psych appointments, enough to where even my counselor noticed it & remarked upon it. So there are some good things to be said here in retrospect.

On the other hand, this year was incredibly challenging. That's painfully clear, reading all this. After a while, I began to feel like life was trying its very hardest to chip away at me until there was nothing left. Every time I began to find my footing, the ground beneath me was swept away again. Today, I really don't know what to expect next. I keep thinking things can't get worse, and then they do. But I'm still here, and I'm just trying to focus on The Next Right Thing. Trying to let go & get out of my own way. Trying to act as if I have hope -- to act as if I can handle what's around the corner when I'm honestly not sure. I think at this point that's all I can ask of myself.

But enough of all that, and on with the path down memory lane!



---

Jan. 19th: "I've been hanging out a lot with Alexandra…

I also saw my new neurologist…he put me on another anti-epileptic…

…My counselor pawned me off on another therapist…I've been seeing her for three and a half years, and now all of a sudden -- poof! New therapist.

…Re: how my mental health is doing, it's better overall, but I still have hard days & REALLY hard days sometimes."

Jan. 25th: "Relationships. I'm afraid I'll never have one, and I'm afraid I will…Similarly, I'm afraid I'll never have kids, and I'm a little afraid I will."

Jan. 28th: "I had a good [birth]day…Went to my sister's…we had some pizza & chocolate cake…

I played with Izzie…with me playing the role of Shredder…I decided that Shredder HATED babies (Izzie loves babies), and also that he has some occasional daddy issues & bad self-esteem, heh. So she started forcing him to lie in a crib and listen to her sing "rock-a-bye baby", and then I was all, "AND THEN THE BOUGH BREAKS AND THE CRADLE WILL FALL, MUAHAHAHA!" Then she punched him & started singing (to the same tune, mind you) about killing him TO DEATH. Haha.

My dad didn't send me a card, but he did leave me a message. I guess that's something."

Jan. 29th: "I called my dad back…it was awkward as always…I was extremely relieved once it was over as I'd been anxious about it all day…"

Jan. 30th: "I thought Parenthood's series finale last night was perfection. I got literally everything I could've wanted and more."

Feb. 2nd: "I am having a rough day -- rough couple of days, to be honest. Some of it is a sudden reappearing of grief over my mom, where I just *ache* from missing her & wanting ONE more conversation, but it's mostly revolving around the problem I'm having with my multiple-per-month, heavy-ass periods…

…I feel like every time I'm making progress, something has to pop up & slide me backwards again."

Feb. 5th: "I had the botox done yesterday…I woke up with a ferocious migraine…

…The rest of my day was spent feeling like an anxious wreck…I kept worrying that it was just going to keep getting worse and that I'd have to visit the ER again…I need something to change. I need a sign that things can get better in a significant way."

Feb. 7th: "I did my "homework assignments" for therapy…writing a letter to my dad that I'm not going to send…I'm not sure whether there was a benefit…the letter just left me sad feeling, though maybe that's the point -- not to feel sad, but just to feel."

Feb. 15th: "I've been having bad migraines alllll week long...plus nightmares about my parents every single night."

Feb. 19th: "[Alexandra]'s leaving for a dual diagnosis rehab center…I won't see her for a month."

Feb. 24th: "I spent five hours in the E.R. again…for the never-ending migraine I've had…"

Feb. 26th: "I saw the kids for a brief time last night, and it made me feel so happy. I've really been missing them…

I had a really intense dream about my mom…she walked up to me, kissed me on the forehead, and said, "you're going to be okay." She told me some other things too, including the fact that I needed to let go of my guilt…"

Feb. 27th: "I've been watching episode after episode of Untold Stories of the ER…According to Jayden, Izzie also watches this show, ha. That, and she forces my sister to watch shows with her about women giving birth. Apparently she wants to be a "lady doctor" when she grows up, helping to deliver babies. Which is funny, because she also says that she's never going to get pregnant herself -- instead, she's going to adopt.

…she started telling me about her crush on this girl…jumping up & down in her excitement…telling me, "you should read my diary!" Hahaha. Even better, my sister has to help her write in her diary, so she gets to hear all my niece's crush-filled thoughts. It is basically the most adorable thing ever."

Mar. 4th: "…my non-stop periods seem to have, well, stopped."

Mar. 25th: "…my non-stop anxiety has lessened a lot…my depression seems to have worsened…It snuck up on me gradually…now I find myself sleeping 14-18 hours a day…I'm dragging around an extremely heavy suit of blank, numb listlessness everywhere I go. Except for rare moments, I don't cry -- the furthest I usually get is a heavy ache in my chest or a knot in my throat. My psychiatrist thinks it's a mix of PTSD symptoms…we're finally going to start tapering me off the klonopin…

…It's hard to explain to my sister, because a few months ago, I couldn't STAND to be alone. Now I can barely stand to be around people…I went over to my sister's yesterday & was only able to spend about two hours there before taking the bus home, and it made Izzie cry.

…doing anything right now, even getting myself to muster up the spirit to write this, is like freaking pole-vaulting with atrophied muscles."

Apr. 1st:

"Random funnyness: I asked Isabella how her day was, and she went, "None of your business! Why don't you go read my diary? But you can't, because I hide it! And I lost the key!" Hee! I asked her what I'd find in her diary, and--after telling me it was none of my business one more time--she said, "I don't know, probably something about kissing people on the mouth." I swear, she cracks me up so hard sometimes."

Apr. 11th: "We went to Seaside…It was nice…despite the…(obviously) heavy emotions we were trying to distract ourselves from…not to mention the triggering awkwardness…But I followed my counselor's advice & focused on the kids, mainly Jayden because he was glued to my side all day, and that helped a lot.

…Jayden has now realized that I can't tell when he's being sarcastic, and he thinks it's hilarious to trick me…He just delights in fucking with me now, basically. Hee. Case in point: he calls me "Little Woman," which is EXACTLY what I used to call my mom as a teasing term-of-endearment, but which made her SO MAD, haha. Karma, man…His favorite method is to ask me a ~giant-head~ type question…something I'll immediately start rambling about, all lost in the clouds of my giant-head world, and then he'll blurt out, "YEAH, I DON'T CARE." Then I usually shove him & tell him to shut up, haha.

…I had to dedicate pretty much an entire counseling session…to my conflicted feelings in regards to Joe."

Apr. 21st (transcribed from a vlog) "…my sister mentioned something about our grandpa, and my niece went, "Oh, I saw him the other day"…she said he introduced himself to her as Poppy…and asked her if she wanted to play ball.

…[Jayden] told my sister randomly…"I'm funny at school now, Mom…I'm really silly and people laugh. I'm funny now!…

…[Isabella] was like, "I'm not little! I'm *six years old* -- that's almost an adult!…I can balance! YOU DON'T KNOW!"

…It was just like a flick of a switch…The day after the anniversary of my mom's death, I stopped sleeping…my migraines have been really bad…I'm back to where I was last year where I'm bored, I can't focus on anything, and I don't know what to do with myself…it's really limiting me right now -- not just the pain, but the fear of the pain getting worse…my brain will not stop cycling…

…the whole thing really stresses me out…what medication to try next…

…when I was thinking about being suicidal, my sister called me & told me that a flashlight in Jayden's room had turned on by itself…when she went to turn it off, she smelled my mom…got a sudden urge to call me…knocking started on the walls…I've been feeling like my mom's with me all the time lately…

…it's like I said in my early-twenties: I don't want to be alive, but I don't want to be dead…I don't want to be a spirit…I just want to cease existing."

May 3rd: "I feel like life is…pummeling me from every direction…leaving me no escape…It's like I'm hanging off a cliff, and I'm trying to hold on, but my fingers are slipping, and I don't have a rope. My sister treats it like a clear-headed choice…but no one gets mad at someone for jumping out a window when the building's on fire, y'know? That building right now is my mind, and it's filled with smoke…

…most days lately are monumentally difficult to survive. Minute by minute, hour by hour, all tick-tocking by in painful slow-motion -- just waiting until I can justify going to bed again…Plus I suddenly can't sleep my days away anymore…and I wake up all night…it's like my depression kind of "woke up" just enough to allow energy for my anxiety to feed on…it follows me around everywhere like a shadow, asking me the same what-ifs? over & over & over…I can try to distract myself…but my migraines keep being like, "fuck you, no -- go lie down in the dark some more", or my anxious/depressed thoughts just make it too overwhelming to even TRY to focus on anything else. It's like trying to watch a show with someone jumping up & down in front of the TV yelling "YOU'RE DOOMED! AND HERE'S WHY!" every second. It's easier to go lie down & stare at nothing…just letting the swarm of worries take center stage so you can give up the exhausting juggling act for a while…

…within a week of raising the dose on the AED…my depression peaked even further…

…I had another dream where I felt like [my mom] was visiting me…she sang the chorus of "All You Need is Love" by The Beatles…then said "I love you," paused, and continued with, "you *are* going to be okay.""

May 9th: "Mother's Day weekend is upon me…

…I'm so sad I can't even *feel* my sadness. I can only feel my anger. I want my mom. I want to stop worrying about everything. I want to give up & disintegrate into the ground. God, I am so sick of this life.

…what I really want is to be sedated for the next 48 hours. That should be something people offer for times like this."

May 13th: "…my counselor advised me to make plans with someone so I wouldn't be alone [on Mother's Day]…I thought hunkering down would be enough. Surprise, surprise -- it wasn't…I honestly had no clue how to cope…I did try talking to Jen & my sister, I didn't cut, and I wrote a private entry in my journal, but mainly I ended up just taking a double dose of benadryl every 4-6 hours to deal, and I've pretty much been doing that every day since…

Everything is I'll do it later. Just walking across the parking lot & perhaps having to see another human being while doing my laundry makes me want to crawl under my covers.

It did help once I basically gave myself ~permission~ to grieve without a time-table, but the thing is, my mind is still searching for a time-table, just on the down-low. Like, in the background of every thought…

…even if I just put mental blinders on & try to ignore the worries, the anxiety's still there, vibrating beneath my skin & following me around in a cacophony of barely-suppressed chaos. Hence wanting to slam my head into things…

In positive news? I've written about 1,100 words and roughly one completed section of my X-Files fic…"

May 16th: "I'd felt like a failure because I hadn't been able to cope well with my anxiety using the tools we practiced…but he told me that just being *aware* that a worry is unproductive is progress…"

May 24th: "…since starting the lithium…I've resisted the urge to self-injure twice…which is good, but it does concern me that the urges are still coming so often -- especially since they're not itty-bitty urges, they're like, "I WANT TO SEE MY THIGHS DRIPPING WITH BLOOD"-urges…my depression is not only not better, but it may actually be worse…I can't find my way out…Even carrying on a normal conversation with someone is extremely draining. It takes such energy just to speak or move; it's like fighting your way from the ocean floor all the way to the surface repeatedly, or pushing a boulder uphill again & again when all you want is to do is lie down & die.

…I had ANOTHER fight with my sister last night, and this time it got vicious…

…I feel like I have to walk on constant egg shells…

…my mind just keeps circling around the same thought: it's never going to be okay again…I will forever be walking around this Earth with a piece of me missing, lugging around a bag of regrets…I can't accept a future in which [my mom] won't exist. It's the loneliest feeling of homesickness I've ever experienced."

Jun. 1st: "Remember the other day when I was questioning whether I was still strong? And how I'd been saying all throughout May that, if things didn't show signs of improving by the end of the month, I was done? Right, so I might as well have told the universe that I double-dog-dared it to test me on both ends, because it's thrown everything at me now but the kitchen sink…

…I had plans to go to Joe's house on Monday for a Memorial Day picnic, and I remember only getting about two hours sleep the night before…I've only been getting between 2-5 hours a night for a while now…It takes forever for me to drift off, and then, once I do, I wake back up like two hours later.

…there was a surprise clip…a freaking sex tape between my mom & step-dad. BECAUSE THAT'S JUST WHAT I WAS MISSING IN MY LIFE…

…my hand tremor worsened significantly…I couldn't pee & had blurred vision…I was also starting to have auditory hallucinations…I started my period (seriously, universe?) & came down with a cold/flu thing…I also had wicked nausea, and spent an entire night vomiting…

I had the same recurring, severe ("severe" as in enough to visit the ER twice in 48 hours & go almost completely without sleep) migraine for something like four days, I think, and it was TERRIBLE…

At one point, no one was available to talk, and I was completely freaking out, so I called my county's crisis line, and they were like, "this is a medical issue; we can't help you." I was sobbing on the phone with them, and they just could not have given less of a fuck.

…it might be silly, but I just can't ignore the fact that all this stopped on May 31st, the day I said I'd live until. I feel like God/the universe/whatever was…trying to show me that things not only could always be worse, but that I'm still stronger than I'd realized & therefore there IS hope."

Jun. 2nd: "He wants to light this world on fire
and watch it burn --
a long over-due funeral pyre
for all the stolen lives they could've led."

Jun. 5th: "I'd really hoped that the Lithium would finally be The Right Thing…I still feel like I'm sinking and like I'm living mostly for others, rather than myself. It almost makes me resent the people who love me, like why can't they just let me go? Like I want their permission to give up, though I know I'm not going to get it…

…things have hit a big, unexpected brick wall in regards to my friendship with Alexandra…"

Jun. 6th: "I saw the neurologist on Thursday & had Botox done for the second time + got a 'script for a calcium channel blocker…"

Jun. 12th: "I'm pretty much just hoping that there's hope right now…

I saw my psychiatrist…she agreed that moving me from Paxil back over to Effexor is the right next move…she's pretty adamant about the fact that she believes the Klonopin might be exacerbating some of my depressive symptoms…

…she thinks I have a form of "complex" PTSD…I wouldn't be surprised if most ACA members met the criteria, at least in part.

…I called my dad…It was nice-ish, albeit also brief & awkward…I was able to bring up that I'd been struggling with my mental health, and rather than saying something douchey about it…he actually said I'd "always been strong, and a fighter" and that I'd get through it.

…today I have something fun & different for you guys. Me rapping like the nerd-ass nerd I am. Because why not?…



Jun. 14th: "Sometimes it's really hard for me to understand what I'm feeling, let alone why, and that tends to only add to my eventual panic…yesterday was one of those times. I just knew I felt BAD. Not just ~bad~, as in a straight-forward, singular negative emotion that you can easily identify & explain (and maybe even figure out a solution for), but more like if you can picture someone engulfed in a chaotic *cloud* of badness--a tsunami wave of rising unease--encompassing countless different variations of negativity that confuse the mind & permeate each of the senses completely, then that might give you a better idea of what I mean. Like, if I were a cartoon, you'd just see a thousand versions of the word "BAD", both big & small & in many fonts & colors, physically floating around & crashing into me & everything else -- as if I were literally fighting off swarms of bees coming from the inside-out & outside-in.

…I walked to the store…then came home & cut on both thighs…

Once I eventually talked with my sister, I only told her I was recovering from a panic attack & left it at that…

…Since writing has been one of the only things interesting me lately…[Jen] suggested that I do poems about things/events in my life. I think that's a great idea…"

...

"Hello, allow me to introduce myself:

I am a member of the walking wounded.
We are the ghosts they left behind."

Jun. 15th: "My whole life with you appears before me
in panoramic vision,
thirty years laid out like dominoes,
and the ending is all wrong.

Yet every moment led up to this,
you say,
and you cannot fight the past.

Watch me.

I will lay myself down beside you
& shout into the dirt.

…I've stood on this ledge so many times.
I dream of free-falling
and reaching for your embrace,
and I watch the dark pools of red on my skin
from a perch high above.

"Shit or get off the pot,"
I can hear my mother say."

Jun. 16th: "I mean, honestly, why limit yourself to worrying only about silly things like money & health when you can worry about worry? It's the best! Totally the gift that keeps on giving!"

Jun. 17th: "…I've also been feeling extremely dependent on external validation lately…

…I am so isolated…

EVERYTHING is so uncertain & tumultuous…I don't know how I'm going to feel even two months from now, physically OR mentally…Don't know what I'm going to do about my budget or school, my health or my future. The kids are suddenly growing up at lightning speed, and I barely get to see them. Our bond is noticeably shifting. Mom is gone…I'm getting older & am more & more aware of that fact every day. My biological clock is starting to tick, which is completely & utterly impractical at this point. Jen is having another baby -- a great thing, but undoubtedly one more NEW thing that's bound to change our relationship in some way. My life is so, so different than it was just five or six years ago. So many of my oldest & closest online friends don't talk to me anymore…will the same happen with the few friends I have left now? Even my relationship with TV & fandom has changed. I feel like I need something sturdy & familiar to hold onto…But it's more like I'm just flailing & trying to grab onto air as I fall down the rabbit hole.

…It's just hard, battling your own brain, because what exactly do you have to use to battle it? THAT SAME BRAIN. Rock, meet hard place."

Jun. 18th: "My mind feels too fucking busy…It makes me want to curl up in a bunker with my eyes closed & my ears plugged."

Jun. 20th: "I went over to my sister's…took a walk alone to the duck pond with Isabella, and watched a movie with both her & Jay…

…[Izzie] randomly announced again that she was a man…she was like, "but look at my shirt!", which had ninja turtles on it…I told her that t-shirts had nothing to do with being a girl or a boy, and that people could wear whatever they wanted, and then she replied, "but I wish I were a boy." So I asked her why, and she answered, "So I can marry a girl!" She's been told before that girls CAN marry girls, but I had another talk with her about it, letting her know it's legal in our state & assuring her that I believe it'll be legal in the whole country by the time she's an adult, to which she replied, "Yeah, right." I…told her not to give up hope, because things had gotten much better since I was her age…reminding her again how her auntie also likes girls & boys…then said, "some people might tell you you're wrong for it, but just ignore them, because they're the ones who are wrong & don't know better." She nodded in the end & didn't argue with me about it anymore, but who knows how much it sank in. Poor thing."

Jun. 21st: "He always keeps his back to me,
his long shadow casting a pall
across my entire life.

…I know I should stop waiting
for him to face me
and the truth.

But hope can be its own drug,
and addiction
runs in my blood."

Jun. 23rd: "Everyone's been talking about California's drought & how they're going to be drinking poop-water soon, but up here in the Pacific NW, things have also landed squarely on the surface of the sun.

…This second round of Botox and the calcium channel blocker I'm taking don't seem to be making a noticeable difference…I'm really disappointed."

Jun. 26th: "(re: the legalization of same-sex marriage)…I honestly didn't think the ruling would go this way…my heart feels lighter. A small part of the bitterness, alienation, and pain I've been carrying around since childhood has been put to rest…I can believe again that things in this world CAN get better -- that it's still possible even now, when so many things are so fucked up."

Jun. 28th: "…things slowly seem to be getting better overall in small, but significant ways, and that gives me back *some* hesitant hope. I'll be seeing my psychiatrist this Thursday, and if all goes as planned, I believe we'll be officially taking me off the Paxil then and raising my dose of Effexor to 150 mg."

Jun. 29th: "…[Jayden's] response was, "Oh, well, we don't really see Tia anyway." The second I heard this, I dissolved into tears & couldn't stop crying for several minutes…My sister tried to assure me that our bond was still there, and that what really mattered was that they knew I loved them, but it didn't really make an impression. I saw something online recently about forgiving yourself for the years you lost due to mental illness, and that seems particularly relevant…In addition to forgiving myself for having chronic pain…"

...

"I didn't want to come out;
I wanted to come in.

…I wanted permission
to open the door
and start living,
instead of merely
existing & surviving.

What I needed
was to figure out how
to give that permission to myself,
but I was only a kid --
a bruised victim of the times."

(to be continued in Part Two)

April 2017

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