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July 4th: (transcribed from vlog) "…every once in a while, I just lose hope when it comes to my migraines…yesterday I had what I call a 'suicide migraine'…the pain gets so bad that you start thinking of killing yourself…

…I'm stuck, and I have nothing to show for 33 years on this planet…I'm gonna get left behind…I'm just gonna be The Girl Who Never Grew Up…

…I did self-harm once…sometimes it's the only thing that helps…the last resort…"

...

"Should I get dressed today?
I can't move my body.

Surely, I wasn't meant to live this long.
I'm past my expiration date like bad milk.


…Depression lies,
you'll remember later,
but you'll forget again."

July 7th: "I want you to remember
that life is by its very nature absurd.
It's good to laugh at it sometimes,
even when it hurts.

Especially when it hurts."

July 9th: (transcribed from vlog) "…as the fireworks actually started going off, Jayden sat *right* next to me…Isabella had to sit on my lap…

…it was [Jayden's] last birthday as a kid…at least I caught the last one before he turned into a teenager…

…I had a dream about my grandpa…it was just him giving me a really tight hug…I cried, and I said to him, "I'm really glad you visited me"…and he goes, "I'm really glad I visited you too.""

July 11th: "I finished season 2…of The Fall, and I'm seriously at that point of fangirling something where all you want to do is bounce up & down and flap your hands in the air like a hyper hummingbird whilst yelling random things about its greatness to anyone who will listen. Or pretend to listen -- that works too."

July 16th: "The inside of my mind feels like a hoarder's apartment right now…I just feel utterly overwhelmed & stressed in a mentally busy, yet emotionally paralyzing way, like I need to Do Something about everything in my life--leaning piles of to-do lists stacked to the ceiling, each made up of the same thousand items (at least half of which I can't even identify yet; I just know they're surely *there*)--and the due date has already passed, and I'm just wasting more & more time--always an excuse, always a set-back--while dread continues to pile up all around me. It's not one or two things -- it's everything. A sense of all-encompassing & free-floating existential panic. My life is *wrong* & out of order, and it's only going to get worse if I don't Figure Something Out Right Fucking Now…

The anxiety's like this big looming monster I want to fight off, but every time I take a swing at it, it shifts its position & attacks from a different angle. So I'm left sitting here with the lights off, everything quiet, trying to calm my mind--put all the buzzing bees to sleep--but I still want to curl up in a ball & cry out pointlessly for help while I beat my head with my fists.

…Sometimes I resent [my then-psychologist] & his…clearly practiced empathetic silence; his at times woefully inadequate advice; his "there's no right answer" vagueness; even the placating smile applied weekly with a pair of kid gloves, like an overly calm lion tamer. "All right, Mr. Lion, I understand that you're hungry & trapped in a cage. How do you feel about that?" I want to shake him & scream, "STOP SITTING THERE & FIX ME!""

July 28th: "The words themselves feel stuck, much as the rest of me does…it's just like, "What's the point? I don't have much left to say in response to any of this anymore, myself, so what are the odds that someone else will? My soul is dying -- how do you respond to that?" But it's such a burden to carry it alone.

…At first I felt myself improving on the Effexor, but I've had a lot of triggers since…somewhere along the line they all began to really get to me…my depression has re-gained a lot of ground…Enough to where I was making plans & looking up how to locate the jugular vein…feeling physically sick at the thought of it all, at the thought of who would be asked to identify my body & the graphic image in my mind of how my ending--the final chapter in my story--would look, but psychologically just cornered & resigned. It was just a matter of figuring out the least terrible time to do it…

…Izzie said today, "I want Auntie Rachael to come over, but she won't, because she never wants to see us anymore."

It's so unfair. I feel like I can't live without bringing people pain, and I can't die without doing it either.

All day I've felt overwhelmingly angry, like to the point where I feel like I could fly into a fucking rage. I'm practically choking on it. Like it's going to burst out of my chest & crack it wide open. It's actually painful. All I want to do is cut, but I promised my psychiatrist I would throw out my razors, and I have a thing about keeping my word…I know I'm doing all I can to improve my situation, but every step--every new thing I try--takes forever before I can know if it's working or not working, and I'm tired of waiting for someone to throw me a life preserver because I'm fucking DROWNING, CAN'T YOU SEE THAT? Moreover, I'd really prefer to get out of the water completely. Is that even an option anymore?

…my counselor got a new job…We have two more sessions, and then I'll be handed off to someone new again."

Aug. 1st: "I really, really wanted to watch a movie with the kids because I've been telling them I would for weeks…And I did make it through the movie, and I cuddled with Izzie…and--though Jay said he thought the movie was cheesy & boring--he still said he had fun. Nevertheless…I spent the entire next day feeling suicidal & depressed again because I had "failed." I couldn't be as fun & attentive as I'd wanted, and Jay didn't like the movie, and I couldn't stay & play afterward because I was feeling so bad…It's just hard, y'know? When you ask for so little & end up with even less.

…too few good days for too long a time. It just drags you down again & again, a little bit deeper with every bubble it bursts."

Aug. 2nd: "I'm sorry to be the one to tell you this,
but I'm dismantling the Great Wall of China,
and all my limbs keep breaking,
yet all you're bringing me
is a small set of chisels
and a glittery card with a sad dog on the front
that simply says,
"Get well soon."

Almost like an order.

What happens if I don't comply?"

Aug. 5th: "…I almost started crying about my migraines while on the bus…My sister had invited me over to watch another movie…(she was even willing to drive me both ways), and I had to pass because I was in too much pain. I'm just so sick of being sick…"

Aug. 9th: "Even blinded by the sun,
this woman still made him see stars.

Once upon a time,
he'd made wishes upon each one.

Three constellations of elephants later,
filling up the sky --
he could map out entire nebulas in her eyes."

Aug. 10th: "I remember I walked slowly to prepare
my defenses,
and I would stare down at the sidewalk
to measure each step & mind every crack.

I didn't want to be the one
to break my mother's back.

…Just like flicking a light-switch,
I trained myself
to turn my emotions on & off.

I thought it made me strong;
no one warned me that the dam would someday break.

No one asked if I was okay."

Aug. 12th: "I didn't understand.
No one would explain it to me.

They just kept repeating,
it's a disease.

It was up to me to identify the symptoms
and tell them,
and her, apart.

…I loved her,
and I wanted to forgive her,
but I couldn't forget.

…Simply put,
I was shell-shocked.
My whole life had been a war."

Aug. 14th: "Insidious cracks
spreading wide,
red flags frowning in the distance.

…If you look closely, you'll see
that the red flags fly at half-mast
for all those carried away by the tide.

There but for the grace of God...

Go I?"

Aug. 15th: "…since the universe seems determined to make me accept change that's unpredictable & out of my control, I guess I have to learn how to embrace it. I'd much rather smother it with a pillow, but what are ya gonna do."

Aug. 16th: "I feel like I'd be at home in a padded cell right now…

…I felt like I wanted to frantically claw at my skin; I felt like I was choking…Everything was out-of-proportion…too loud, too busy, too overwhelming…Meanwhile I've been uber sad & depressed, and it's making me yearn to throw myself down at someone's feet, like, "LOVE ME! HELP ME! DON'T LEAVE ME!" I vented a little of it out by crying, but then it just turned into me sitting here like a stunned statue in my dark, quiet living room, staring at nothing and unable to move. My chest hurts; my eyes hurt; my brain hurts. I think even my soul hurts."

Aug. 17th: "I'm not panicking today…what's taken over is a deep, sucking hole of depression. I feel like giving up. I feel dead already…I don't know how much further down on this rope I can hang. I'm just over this life. Fucking over it.

…I can't seem to kick the lingering effects of a nightmare I had last night…my mom had come back to life & died all over again, and her (dead) dad was the only one who attended her funeral, and I was crying so hard…Just wracked with silent, frozen sobs. And then I found a bunch of what seemed to be her private journals from when I hadn't been speaking with her, alongside old school papers & writing of mine that she'd saved, and I woke up & just felt the urge to apologize…"

Aug. 27th: (transcribed from vlog) "I actually had a nightmare about my step-dad the other day…I woke up and…burst into tears…obviously I'm more bothered by the situation with him than maybe I even realized."

Aug. 29th: "…visions of sugar plums dancing --
turning pitch black with smoke.

…Just another major tragedy
played to a minor key."

Aug. 30th: "My niece turned seven…I was able to make it to her party…and my head stopped hurting long enough for me to actually play games with her & Jayden…

…I made a joke to my grandma about how everything at the party was pink + babiesbabiesBABIES…while her cake was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (a "boys' cake", in other words -- perfectly fitting combination of worlds for her), and she was like, "She can't decide what she wants to be!" Oh, Nanny. Silly Rabbit. She can be both."



Aug. 31st: "…recently [my sister] admitted to me for the first time since our mom died three & a half years ago that she's actually sad about it, and not just angry…She's always expressed it as deep & all-consuming rage."

Sept. 2nd: "If I could erase myself like the mistake I clearly am,
I would.
But no matter how hard I push down with the eraser,
some mark would inevitably be left behind
like a stain on the Earth.

…Can I be done now, God?

Can I be done?"

Sept. 3rd: "…there's a conga line full of things that are bothering me…and they're all dancing around inside my brain looking for resolution…I don't know what to do with myself. It's a desperate feeling, and I hate it. I haven't even been able to eat…I just really wish sometimes that my brain & nervous system came with an off switch. I simply don't have the answers, and I'm not sure they even exist anymore to begin with, and that's killing me."

Sept. 4th: "Last night I threw up again…I burst into tears while talking to my sister…I could tell she was just flabbergasted…she couldn't understand what would've caused me to have such a breakdown when only a week ago it had seemed like I was getting better…"

Sept. 6th: "…guess who just spent yesterday hearing ice cream truck music again that wasn't actually there? That would be me! Lucky, lucky me…

…I'm still anxious. Even better, now I get to be anxious *about* the possibility of getting *too* anxious. Ugh. I totally get why the Greeks made their gods out to be such pranksters & assholes. Sometimes I feel like the universe is just messing with me for the hell of it."

Sept. 11th: "…this week has been hell. I've barely been able to sleep, barely been able to eat or drink, barely been able to pee…barely been able to cope with what feels like endless panic attacks (freaking out about freaking out, essentially), and the musical hallucinations still haven't faded completely (though they continue to lessen). My period is acting like it wants to start again too, which should still be weeks away. AND I had to go to the ER last night because of a killer two-days-long migraine, so overall September has been full of win so far.

…they both reassured me that I'm not "going crazy" or suddenly being revealed as bipolar or schizophrenic. They believe it's a PTSD stress-response, due to a complex mess of triggering factors…

…My niece & nephew both started school -- Isabella's in the first grade now, and Jayden's in seventh grade…



I CANNOT DEAL WITH HOW BIG THEY'RE GETTING."

Sept. 14th: "…the musical hallucinations have all but gone away, except they still pop up occasionally – mainly late at night now…My appetite is returning too, albeit slowly…



Jayden looks like such a little man here. When did that happen? (And yes, Isabella brings a baby-doll with her wherever she goes. She actually asked my sister, "Will they have changing tables there?" before they left the house.)"

...

"Thankfully, she'd saved him from himself
by leaning forward & kissing him into a thick fog,
one hand gripping the front of his belt
and the other sliding behind his neck,
holding him in place.

She'd always been his anchor."

Sept. 17th: "Five years ago tonight, I called a suicide hotline for the very first time. Yesterday I was asked what had improved since then, and I couldn't say anything except that I self-harm less often. That's it. I mean, I also discovered that I enjoy creative writing, and that other people enjoy my writing too, but besides that? Most things have only gotten worse. I tried to kill myself. I've been in the psych ward four times, the hospital in general countless times…I'm on disability & barely able to scrape by financially…I hallucinate from stress now. My mom is dead. I still don't get along consistently with my sister…I'm still trying to figure out which med cocktail will make me Not Depressed and Not Anxious. Livejournal is a ghost town. I've lost numerous friendships. More have simply drifted apart…I see the kids again now, but barely. I've missed a huge chunk of their childhoods because I wasn't well enough to be present. I don't know when I will be well again for any prolonged period of time. I'm covered in scars & the fattest I've ever been. My migraines are also the worst they've ever been. I'm almost 34 and a non-fucking fucking virgin. I haven't been on a single date in almost a decade.

…It's hard not to look back & wonder whether you made the right call…I certainly can't look at my life & be like, "thank God I stuck around, because things sure did turn around!" They didn't. Not in any major way, at least…It's a major challenge to hold onto any hope. I want to give up. I just don't let myself, but sometimes I wonder if I'm only delaying the inevitable.

…I agreed to start the Seroquel and taper the Klonopin/Trazadone down more…Still, I told [my psychiatrist] that I feel like I'm running out of options, and all she had to say was "no" but then went into a spiel about how every remaining option has serious side-effects…

After I left the appointment, I walked up to the front desk & couldn't stop crying, so they had me talk to someone for an hour…I cried the whole time. At one point, I thought the intern looked like SHE was about to cry…

…I talked about how afraid I am of "losing it"…It's just a horrible feeling, that you can't trust your own brain to be predictable anymore. Like what *else* does it have up its sleeve?

…On a positive note…[Isabella] threw a tantrum yesterday over wanting my sister to buy her actual formula for her baby dolls, because "babies don't drink real milk until they're 1!" Even in the midst of everything I'm going through, she makes me laugh so hard. I also saw both kids the other night & got some lovely hugs, so that was heartwarming."

Sept. 18th: "I don't seem in control of my own mind anymore, and I don't know how long that's going to last. I feel like I'm constantly letting you guys down, and if I just tried harder, I could get control of this. But I'm trying, and it's not doing much of anything.

…I feel dead.
…I can't snap out of it.

Everything is far away, moving slowly.

…I keep thinking of buying razors so I can slit my throat. All I can promise is that I won't do it tonight.

I've spent most of my day with my hood covering my head, wrapped in a blanket, curled up in the fetal position in my bed, sleeping or staring at nothing. Every time I do manage to move, I feel stuck in that position for a long time.

…I don't know how much of this is an autistic-type shutdown & how much is ptsd & how much is depression. Maybe it's all of the above.

…I've tried grounding techniques…because reality seems so removed…(like I'm watching things as an audience member, rather than participating as an actress)…and even those are hard…I went from not being able to stop moving to not being able to hardly move at all in the span of two weeks."

Sept. 19th: "I remember how, at your funeral,
one of your sisters looked directly at me
and told me that we had saved you, my sister and I,
& given you the happiest years of your life
just by being born.

I'd like to believe that was true.

When I think of everything you went through,
my heart sinks & aches for you,
hanging way down low into my abdomen
like the pendulum of a grandfather clock.

(Look how much time has passed. How have I survived without you?
How is the world still standing?)"

Sept. 21st: "I was starting to feel less heavy & depressed…then I find out my food benefits have been decreased by thirty dollars/month…"

Sept. 24th: "…when Jayden came home, he was in a bad mood & basically barked at my sister, "We're AT LEAST going to see Tía tonight, right? Because I need a hug." My heart basically seized up & died after hearing that.

…I learned through my sister that he has a crush on a girl, too. I totally brought it up when I guess I wasn't supposed to, because I'm oblivious like that, and Jayden was mortified. I told him, "I don't count! I'm just Tía! I won't tell anyone else, anyway…well, besides all my online friends." Hahahaha. His reaction was priceless, like he just sat there & hung his head, all ~I give up~.

…When I told Jayden how I'd had to get rid of my cable…he was all, "I'd rather go without food than cable." So my mini-me.

…I did listen to a recovery podcast…the topic was timely as it dealt with "Al-Anon dreams." I've been having lots of really intense dreams lately, frequently very angry in nature…

In one dream, my mom was back & was manic, and I literally started *choking her*, I was so enraged…

…I've been battling my anger in my waking hours as well. The smallest things set me off & leave me feeling like I'm a pot that's about to boil over, or like my head is going to float away from my body like a balloon…"

Sept. 25th: "I'm ashamed that I haven't been able to be tougher & do more things despite my bad mental & physical health. I feel despair when I think of all the moments I'm missing as an aunt…I feel defeated & outmatched by life…like everything is kicking the shit out of me, and I can't stand up against it."

Sept. 26th: "She paused a moment before continuing. "Have you given yourself permission yet?"

Bones furrowed her brow, puzzled. "Permission for what?"

"...To cry."

She laughed a little too brusquely. "I don't need permission for that."

Cam leaned her head to one side & sighed. "Don't you?…""

Sept. 27th: "Sometimes Jayden likes to say super random things in an effort to frazzle me…and he did that…asking me, "Do you know what goats have?" Of course I replied, "Um, horns?" And he was like, "BALLS! They have goat balls!" I didn't miss a beat, & responded by asking him if he knew what girl goats had, and he suddenly looked Very Awkward and muttered something about "y'know, what girls have", waving his hand in the air & trailing off helplessly, not looking me in the eyes. So I helped him by adding, "VAGINAS, JAY. THEY HAVE GOAT VAGINAS. Va-jay-jays, if you will." Hahaha. Check & MATE, child. Don't mess with me. It was super funny though, because he looked so freaking embarrassed, and I was like, "Did I just traumatize you with the correct anatomical name for lady-parts?" And he was like, "Yes!" So I said, "Good, someday in therapy you can tell them how there was this one time you were talking about goats with your aunt, and..."

Sept. 28th: "If she'd lived, my mom would be turning 59 this year. But she's not here…I spent several hours in bed this morning just crying & crying, unable to stop…

…I just wonder when days like this will get easier."

Oct. 1st: "Despite how shitty I felt physically…I still made it to see my psychologist…She wasn't able to wave a magic wand & free me from my unstable mood…but I do believe the session was helpful…especially when it came to the guilt…& conflicts I've been having with my sister.

-As for how she handled it, my sister told me the day of that she felt--and I quote--"crazy in the head." She also broke out in hives…

…Jayden got a B minus in math & is so pleased with himself; it's pretty cute. He keeps asking my sister if she's proud of him, then going "yay!" when she says yes…

…The newest X-Files trailer has essentially killed me. Just him kneading her shoulders, and the poster, and the pencils, and the "I'm here", and ~Don't give up~, and...I can't. My dashboard over at Tumblr basically exploded in one night, haha. Definitely the highlight of this week for me.

…my grandma now supports Trump…I'm choosing to blame Rich White People Syndrome and senility. I wish I didn't have to know this information."

Oct. 3rd: "I kept having this feeling of aimless dread all week…it just wouldn't stop nagging me. I remember early yesterday thinking to God…"I feel like something bad is going to happen. I feel like I'm falling apart."…I called my apartment manager, and she told me…if I renewed my lease, I would have to start paying $835/month…That's a rent increase of $190, people.

…I feel like I'm having an out-of-body experience…I'm trying to tell myself to have faith, but it feels like everything is collapsing, and I have no idea how I'm going to get through it.

…In desperation, I called Joe…I knew there was a chance he might be willing to help…I'm just gonna have to learn to deal with whatever anxiety having a relationship with him creates for me…Anyway, clearly the hallucinations aren't all about him, because I've been having them all week since my mom's birthday…they worsened on my brother's birthday…So, he may be a trigger for me, but it's not like he's the only one."

Oct. 4th: "…mentally I feel like I'm stuck in some sort of maze. Everything is overly complicated, and I don't know where I'm headed or what's around the corner.

…I know the answer…is, "take it one day/one step at a time," but I am simply not skilled at that. I guess this can be practice, but really, life?…

On a positive note, I didn't cut even once since this all started. If this had happened a year ago, I can guarantee that would not have been the case. I did spend most of yesterday in bed, but in terms of harm-reduction, it could've been a lot worse. And I did at least show some self-care by playing instrumental music the whole time I was lying there wide-eyed & paralyzed in my Chaos-Coma/shutdown."

Oct. 7th: "The musical hallucinations have all but gone away again…but my body is clearly still having a heightened stress reaction, because my stomach hasn't stopped cramping…

…I was worried [my psychologist would] try to discourage me from accepting [my stepdad's] help, but she was supportive & basically just said what I'd already been thinking -- that I'd just have to work on my triggers/trauma/boundaries more…& what it means in our case to forgive but not forget. It's still very emotionally confusing for me, but less so than it used to be.

…Isabella apparently has a boyfriend…with whom she walks around holding hands (*dies*), and Jay's been texting a girl from school…What's funny though is that Jay's social skills are not exactly the best, so Corinne has to help him reply to her texts sometimes, haha…she happened to look at his phone after this girl had asked him what he was doing, and of course Jay just gave her this closed response with like crickets chirping at the end, and Corinne had to remind him to ask her what SHE was doing. He was like, "I'm not good at this stuff, Mom!" Haha."

Oct. 11th: "Remember the "friend" Jayden was texting? Well…he now has a "girlfriend." She asked him how the conversation went down which gave him this idea, and he was like, "She told me she liked me, but that she didn't want it to get in the way of our friendship." So my sister asked him what he said in response to that, and he said, "I told her it wouldn't." And like THAT WAS IT. Haha. My sister had to explain to him why that simple exchange didn't make them boyfriend/girlfriend, and that he should actually, y'know, TELL the girl he likes her back. Then he got mad at her for killing his buzz, essentially. Heh. Oh, Jayden.

…Isabella is NOT GIVING UP on my sister having another baby, lack of uterus be damned. She continues to interrogate her as to WHY she can't just adopt, and WHY she can't just use me as her surrogate (like, do I get a say in this matter? Hee). She is seriously determined."

Oct. 16th: "I've still been sleeping ridiculous amounts…when I'm not sleeping, I don't feel like doing much beyond lying in bed…I *want* to want to do more…but the motivation, focus, & momentum just aren't there.

I can't stop feeling bad for feeling bad…And worrying that I'm not doing enough to fight it. Sometimes it's really hard to tell where self-care ends & apathy begins. Like when your mind is saying, "Everything is overwhelming today. Please go lie down, relax, and minimize external & internal stimulation until further notice," but then it's also like, "but don't forget to feel guilty for doing so, because you could totally be worsening your depression, you lazy asshole. Way to avoid life & make it even MORE certain that you'll die alone. YOU HAVE THINGS TO DO, Y'KNOW, SADFACE MCGEE. WHEN'S THE LAST TIME YOU EVEN TOOK A SHOWER?!"

That's the other thing -- I don't even know whether "sadface" does my current state of being justice. If I allow myself to really think about things, then yes, I am sad. Deeply so…But it's like I have to actually concentrate to reach down far enough inside to even skim the surface of that sadness & grab onto those thoughts. Piled above them is layer upon layer of thick nothingness in every direction. Everything, even paying attention to a TV show I'd normally be interested in, takes so much effort, and I usually don't have it in me. It all generally feels hopeless & meaningless. Just writing this feels like a huge chore, and I keep having to nudge myself to continue vs. returning to bed.

My psychiatrist changed my meds though…hopefully that helps. I'll be increasing the Seroquel while (finally) tapering off the Trazadone…

…I just don't want my brain to do that thing it sometimes does where the heavy numbness of my depression gets better, only so my anxiety can be like, "OH, WHAT'S THAT? IT'S MY TURN NOW? WOOHOO!" For the record, I way prefer this slow-death-of-the-soul type of detached depression to the jittery, dread-filled agitation of CAN'T STOP WON'T STOP anxiety…"

Oct. 17th: "The bottom line of all of this
is you are
worthy.

Don't ask why --
it's not up for debate.

If anyone demands an explanation,
just tell them,
"Because my auntie says so."

I will always say so, forever & ever,
even once I am gone.

I will whisper it in your ear
while you dream;
I will tap it in morse code through the pitter-patter
of raindrops on your windowpane."

Oct. 20th: "…my old, old counselor told me once that both my sick mom & my sane mom were my mom--that all of it was "the real her"--but my current therapist disagreed and said my best memories of when my mom was at her most helpful & most stable were the real her…it kind of helps when I'm struggling with memories of times when she would scream at me for not ever doing enough. If I can tell myself, "That wasn't really her. That was the disease of bipolar disorder & addiction," then it's easier to ignore that narrative -- the one where I'm lazy and everything that's wrong in my life is my fault, & I will never, ever be good enough unless I berate myself into action…Because when she wasn't manic, she would tell me the complete opposite, advising me to take everything step by step & day by day, and to be "gentle" with myself. I might as well have had multiple mothers in the same body, you know? So it's still confusing for me, especially when all this is playing itself out unconsciously.

I've been listening to more al-anon podcasts again…

…I felt a lot of pressure to make it to the pumpkin patch…especially because Jayden went on & on to his mom the night before about how it was "just more fun" with me there. Aw. Fortunately, despite a moderately-bad migraine…I was able to make it & have fun with them…

…I did get to play with Izzie for a bit before we left…As always, she was hilarious that entire day without even trying. Oh, you'd like examples? No problem:

1. She asked me if I'd "cycled" yet (she literally used those exact words), then asked me if I knew I could adopt or use a surrogate to have a baby. I can't even.

2. She wore her vampire costume all day, even to the pumpkin patch, and insisted on bringing two baby dolls with her as well. She got a lot of looks, haha.

3. We went to Roloff Farms…and apparently the slide there was "aggravating." Again, quoting verbatim.

4. At one point, she cuddled up to me…and I asked her, "What am I gonna do when you're too big to cuddle?" Her answer? "I guess you'll just have to deal with it." Hee! Tellin' it like it is.

-Also cute: I guess the whole way home after dropping me off, Jayden kept asking my sister over & over what she thought of the pumpkin patch. What would she rate it? Would she go again?…And like she'd answer, then five seconds later, he'd ask again. Hahaha. He so inherited my obsessive-compulsive side.



…As far as how I'm reacting so far to the change in my meds, I'm not sleeping as excessively anymore…which is both good but challenging…it means I have to face more of the day…"

Oct. 23rd: "Yesterday, [Isabella] kept holding her hand up to her mom & saying, "STOP. You are DIPPING MY BUCKET, Mom!" Apparently, in her class they have this thing about how you can either "fill someone's bucket" or "dip it," and my sister was totes dipping it. She also exclaimed that it had been THE WORST DAY OF [HER] LIFE!!! I love how dramatic she already is. LIFE IN FIRST GRADE IS HARD, OKAY?

…I've been spending hours in bed every day…I have to fight off the pain AND the total paralyzing emotional dullness I'm experiencing and all my distracting worries/anxiety + inability to focus very well, and it's just overwhelming. Maybe I could fight it better if it were only one of those things, but when you combine them, it's extremely hard…"

Oct. 24th: "I'm starting to worry about how depressed I've gotten…I feel like I can't get grounded, and like everything is in a confusing fog…My ability to experience pleasure is definitely diminished, and just the thought of sitting down to work on my fic makes my head feel crowded & chaotic…

…I need normalcy to go back to for a sense of stability, but all I have is uncertainty & change…

…I need SOMETHING to give my days meaning. Right now, I'm just treading water, and everything feels pointless & hollow."

Oct. 25th: "I knew worry & anxiety were bound to show up eventually--I never stay numb for good--but I didn't really know what to do *about* that other than, you guessed it, worry. Which is where I'm at now. Worrying about my worry & the fact that I can't make myself stop."

Oct. 27th: "I've got what I think of as an "anxiety hangover." My neck hurts, my back hurts, my head hurts, my jaw & ears hurt, my stomach hurts -- even my leg muscles hurt (from bouncing them & rocking back & forth so much)…

The worst part about it, too, was that I knew the worrying *wasn't helpful*, but I still couldn't stop it. I tried listening to music, tried reading, tried doing an alphabetical gratitude list, tried taking a shower…and tried picturing my worries as cars passing on the road…my inability to relax while using the technique just stresses me out even more & makes me doubly aware of how keyed-up I'm feeling…it was like a storm of nerves, and I could only cling to my bed while waiting for it to pass.

…Jayden's would-be girlfriend…told him she loves him. Corinne questioned him about whether he said it back & what he thinks it means to love someone, and he was all, "Well, there's lots of different types of love. I don't think she meant it like that." Oh, Jayden. I only wish I could be there in person (with popcorn) to hear him explain that to this girl, haha. "Um, yeahhhh. You know that time I said I loved you back? Well, here's the thing about love…""

Oct. 28th: "…my mind is still doing its obsessive cycling thing, like my brain has a hoard of puzzles it's constantly trying to solve in the background of every moment…

…even though I don't *want* to kill myself, I've still been having a disturbing number of thoughts lately about my death…I just have this general feeling like maybe I won't be around to see old age. Or, like, I'll see the kids, and in the back of my mind I'll be wondering if it's the last time they'll see me alive."

Oct. 30th: "…lately I've been getting really anxious by around 5 o'clock in the evening, because I'm like, "ISN'T TODAY OVER YET? HOW AM I GONNA MAKE IT?", especially since I've been waking up around 2-4 a.m. every morning…that's a long-ass day when you have nothing to do but wring your hands & stress the fuck out."

...

"When she was finished, Auntie Rachael blew her story a kiss
to be delivered promptly upon her niece's cheek, all the way across town,
and she hoped it would be enough
to let her niece know
once & for all
that she would always be her favorite girl,
that she would never not want to see her,
and that she loved her very,
very much."

Nov. 2nd: "I'm thinking of going back to working on the Al-Anon steps…

…I'm still listening to the podcasts…they've been comforting, especially while I've been bed-bound. One of the last ones I listened to said fear (of the excessive variety) stands for "false evidence appearing real," and I thought that was brill."

Nov. 4th: "[My psychologist and I] discussed how I feel like I have to always be able to intellectualize my emotions--to analyze them, understand them logically, and figure out a solution that's under my control--and she helped me see that, sometimes, things get better not because of something you do or don't do, but just because.

…As far as my daily panic fests…she advised me to basically let myself off the hook about going to bed early for now + spending time in bed during the day…it's just something I need to work on bit by bit, but NOT stress out over, because that will only make it worse.

…apparently Portland is now the 9th most expensive city in which to rent an apartment in the entire country…And we have a 97% occupancy rate (in other words, everyone & their mom has fucking moved here. I guess they all wanted to Put a Bird on It). So if y'all didn't fully comprehend before how frustrating my apartment search is, now you should."

Nov. 5th: "So much of the news is awful lately, so here's a fun one for you: there are so many damned potheads legally growing weed in their homes now that it's causing problems with the electrical grid in Oregon & Washington (apparently there have been like seven outages in Oregon just since July). I find this way more amusing than I probably should. IF THEY LOSE POWER, HOW WILL THEY KEEP THEIR SCOOBY SNACKS REFRIGERATED?"

Nov. 8th: "Izzie has lost one of her two front baby teeth, and another is dangling. ~Suspense~. She is not happy about this development AT ALL. She refuses to eat or drink, and she's attached herself to my sister's side like a baby monkey…

…I'm about halfway through season 2 of VEEP, and it is still cracking me up…

Despite my writer's block, I pushed through another section of my fic last night…My inner critic is such a fucking cylon -- it cannot be killed…"

Nov. 9th: "It was my sister's ex's birthday a few days ago, and neither Jayden nor Isabella wanted to even call him, let alone see him. Moreover, Izzie apparently wrote a story for school recently about how she often doesn't like her own dad. I'd feel bad for him, except I know he'll never accept any responsibility for his role in all this, and he continues to behave like a narcissistic tool."

...

"…He dutifully went through the motions, determined to carry on,
but inside he felt like a wind-up toy
marching back & forth upon a dusty shelf,
abandoned & obsolete.

…In their time apart, Scully had learned again
how to crawl, how to walk.
She'd regained her balance
and found her way back to the middle --
back to who she was at the root,
stable in the stillness
of an anchored soul
whether the wind tossed her to
or fro."

Nov. 12th: "I had a good visit with my psychologist…We talked about how I sometimes worry that the happier, more optimistic parts of me that used to be stronger in my youth have been killed by all the things I've been through…like my soul itself has been darkened & dragged down past the point of no return…she also said it makes sense I'd be struggling with so much sadness & depression & anger & trauma-related anxiety after my mom passed -- not only for the obvious reason of grief (and how our relationship was left in such an unresolved & negative place to begin with), but because now my brain knows it's "safe" to start unpacking all the experiences I had with her…But she was like, "it hurt going in, so it's going to hurt coming out."

…it's extremely hard for me to be optimistic anymore, but I'd like to try if I can. I don't know how to move forward otherwise."

Nov. 14th: "The wound from my feeding tube HAS FINALLY HEALED. After almost two years. There should be some freakin' trumpets sounding for that shit, as far as I'm concerned."

Nov. 15th: "[My dad and I] ended up talking for quite a while…I managed to walk the fine line necessary with him between letting him know in a very superficial way what's really going on with me…and not stepping on any of our many, many landmines…"

Nov. 16th: "I'm still getting random spikes in anxiety…I've been trying to figure out what's triggering it, too, and I'm still not 100% sure. I do have a theory though…I belong to a closed group on fb for people with mental illnesses & disabilities, and someone posted today about their PTSD & how numb & detached they feel, like they're talking about someone else--or even lying--when they relay some of the negative things that have happened to them…I sort of realized while reading it that I don't feel that way as much anymore…I absolutely used to, especially 4-5 years ago -- it's what precipitated me self-harming for the first time. I honestly wanted to see if it'd even hurt, because I felt more like a walking corpse than anything else back then…

…there's a deadening effect that seems like it's being lifted, bit by bit in layers, and while I still experience the numbness sometimes--particularly when depression is running the show--I've been noticing myself feeling more present lately, like consciously in my body & in the moment, and at times my reaction to that is either to panic or dissociate. Like things feel *too real* if that even makes sense…It reminds me of free-falling, or drowning, like suddenly you realize the ground beneath you is gone & you have nothing to hold onto.

…I do think my depression is very gradually lifting…my psychiatrist has warned me before that anxiety is sometimes the first thing you feel when depression improves…"

Nov. 17th: "I haven't felt as physically anxious today…but I do feel really mentally stressed out…There's just this overall sense of dread permeating everything…I also have that "is this day OVER YET?" feeling again, where I feel overstimulated just trying to watch TV. That by itself stresses me out, because again, I don't know where it's coming from. I keep reminding myself of the Al-Anon slogan "easy does it", but it's kind of like I'm in the center of a cyclone, and the wind just carries the meaning of those words away before they can even make a partial impact."

Nov. 19th: "Obviously the best part of the night was seeing my niece & nephew, which happens far too rarely these days for my liking. Isabella looks absurdly adorable with her two front teeth missing. Like it's so cute it makes me want to swear & stomp my feet. Haha. She's at that age now where she copies everything you say (Lord help me), and she's all about the knock-knock jokes. She also kept doing these little dance moves at the table & smushing my face between her hands like clay, sending herself into fits of giggles, hee. She's up to my chest already, but luckily she's a string bean, so I can still pick her up & hold her on my hip. I'm gonna be so sad when she's too big for me to carry around. That'll be like the official moment when I have to admit she's not a baby anymore.

Jay meanwhile was a complete darling to me all night, giving me hugs & calling them "Jayden traps". He specifically asked for a Tia Trap, too, which warmed my heart. I'm so glad he's not too old to enjoy me attacking him with inescapable hugs yet, heh.

I corrected his grammar at one point, and he gave me the same hilariously fake-annoyed, long-suffering face he always does in that situation, which makes me crack up every time…It's like a game between us at this point…

Apparently Jay thought I was only around 26 years old…He told me I looked 19, and I was like, "Aw, thank you, Jay," and he literally replied, "You're very welcome!" HE IS SUCH A SWEETHEART, I CANNOT DEAL.

…Trump somehow came up, and Jay said, "I thought he was supposed to be bad. Why do people like him?" So I kept it one hundred & replied, "Because he says the racist things these people secretly believe & wish they could say themselves."…I am so scared we're going to end up with him or Carson as our next president. A good portion of my fellow citizens absolutely disgust me right now, tbh."

Nov. 22nd: "Tragically,
hope has seemingly revealed itself
to be a laughable luxury for us,
one which your heart can no longer afford.

Your account has simply been overdrawn
too many times.

Still, you keep hope's remnants
tucked safely away beneath your mattress,
assuring yourself that
someday
you just might find the right needle & thread
to sew your soul back together again.

It's either that
or you'll fake it 'til you make it
if you have to.

And you always have to."

Nov. 23rd: "I did have the kids over to my place on Saturday for a special auntie-only movie night…we all snuggled up together on the couch (where Izzie kept giving me cheek & forehead kisses, aww)…Izzie also wanted to inform me that I needed an air-freshener for my bathroom, while Jayden was all ~surprised~ I had done the dishes. Then she turned to me & we had the following exchange, verbatim:

Izzie: I have a serious question for you.
Me: Oh, um...okay. What?
Izzie: Do you EVER vacuum?

Seriously. Everyone's a critic! Haha.

Izzie's favorite new word now, btw, is "literally,"…she said to me, "I can, like, LITERALLY lift a crate of bricks. I'm that strong. Yesterday I lifted *a* brick!" She also let me know that George Washington is "hot"…and she wanted to know whether the ghost girl in her house had ever told me she was hot. THE GHOST GIRL.

…in random Jayden news, his would-be girlfriend has now chosen his best friend to be her boyfriend, and he's walking around like Charlie Brown after Lucy stole his football. I guess last night my sister went in his room to see what he was doing, & he was all, "I'm alone, like I'll probably be for the rest of my life." SO DRAMATIC."

Nov. 28th: "…my anxiety spiraled out of control this week, resulting in some intense & long-lasting panic attacks…and me skipping Thanksgiving with my family."

Dec. 6th: "My disability benefits have been decreased $100/month as the government will no longer be paying my healthcare premium…

…I feel like I can't get my grip. Every time I try to stand back up, the ground beneath me disappears…

…My neurologist dumped me as a patient…

…I finally started looking up roommates on craigslist."

...

"One of you (you know who you are) just spontaneously donated a huge sum of generous money to me, and I feel like finally I have a piece of good news to hang onto."

Dec. 7th: "I don't know if racially-motivated murders have actually risen this year or if it's just that the news is finally reporting them more, but it feels like you can't even go a month these days without hearing of some person in authority using excessive, often deadly force against a black person for no justifiable reason. It's frankly out of control…

…We had more mass shootings in the United States this year than actual days on the calendar…when you can watch coverage of Kindergarten-aged children being shot dead in their classroom & STILL fight against any ol' random person's ability to stockpile military-grade, kevlar-piercing assault weapons, you have lost all sense of reason, decency, & empathy…When the second amendment was written, they were writing about well-regulated militias & muskets ffs. Not freaking AK-47s. Ugh."

Dec. 11th: "Christmas is two weeks away, and I'm kind of in denial…Every time I think about it, I just want my mom…

…after reading that my TV's reception was dying, one of my old high school friends (with whom I hardly ever talk) messaged me on Facebook to offer to bring me her brother's old 32-inch flatscreen…sometimes people don't suck.

I also got a card in the mail from my dad, which included a check for $150. He went years not sending me any money or presents, and some years not even sending a card or calling me back when I left him messages, so I guess our relationship is doing better now. For the time being, at least."

Dec. 13th: "When I brought up the fact that being bi is a hindrance to finding a roommate, [my grandma] said, "Well, if they're not that way, they won't want to live with someone who is!" and then blurted out, "I don't even want to hear anything about it!!!"…I mean, she's almost 87 years old, so I get it. But sheesh.

…She also randomly brought up some photo she has of me from my early twenties & asked if I knew how pretty I was when I was thin…Gee, thanks, Nanny.

…I got my hair cut today for the first time in a year & a half. Almost a foot of thick wavyness was chopped off & thinned out! It took two hours ffs."



Dec. 16th: "I have to sort through my hoard of crap & get packed up & move all before the end of December…

at least it distracts me from the holidays…That is a perk, because missing my mom makes Christmas hard, and it's never been exactly easy for me to begin with…Seeing Joe in family environments is still triggering as well."

Dec. 26th: "I never even put out my little artificial tree…I did get up early & head over to my step-dad's for present-opening & breakfast…I did and still do feel guilty for not at least hanging around longer to play with the kids, but I just felt like I had to get out of there. I was emotionally tapped-out.

…I called my dad, and he was in one of his brush-off moods, where he basically made the conversation as brief as possible."

Dec. 29th: "Hey, so you all remember me saying I had found a decent roommate and was going to move? Y'know, that time I thought the universe was doing me a solid, and that things were finally going to turn around & get better? A new start for the new year? WRONG."

Dec. 31st: "I've been reading Courage to Change…every story ends with, "And then I quit, and since then life has been GREAT! I'M SO HAPPY & AT PEACE ALL THE TIME NO MATTER WHAT! WOODLAND CREATURES HELP ME GET DRESSED IN THE MORNING; IT'S LIKE I'M LIVING IN A 24/7 DISNEY MUSICAL!" It actually leaves me bitter feeling, because I'm like, "Okay, do I need to develop a severe drinking habit and then quit so I can be happy too? Is that The Secret?" Seriously. I guess my recovery looks different because rather than having the disease of alcoholism/addiction, I have the *family disease* of addiction. There's no physical substance there you can just "quit." Of course I'm sure my chronic pain & mental illness don't help either--nor does the fact that I haven't been able to attend many meetings in person--but…I guess it's as they say: take what you like & leave the rest."

…And that's it! Adios, 2015. Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.

April 2017

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