CN: depression, suicide
I woke up this morning from that thick fog of nightmares, the sort you have to physically wade yourself free from without succumbing to the false awakenings. I pulled my groggy subconscious free from traumatic images and experiences and sat up in bed with a start.
As I sat there reorienting myself to being truly awake, I realized that I am not okay. It was split second realization as the terrible self-hating thoughts rushed to occupy my conscious almost like a swarm from a scary Disney movie.
I’m wracked with self-doubt, loathing, and worthlessness. I think about myself as fat, unlovable, unkind, awkward, gross, and worse. I tell myself repeatedly that this will pass, this is not real, this is a reaction to a tragic experience in the midst of a pandemic and social crisis.
But I don’t believe those words, the bad feelings are just too strong, too grounded in unresolved traumas from the past 49 years. Being smart about my disorder isn’t enough to pull me through these symptoms.
So I told Laura how I was feeling and asked if we could just spend this weekend together.
I shared these symptoms.
- I scroll through my phone photos to look at pet pics and realize I’m not taking any selfies which is unusual for me. I absolutely loathe my image right now.
- My food apathy kicks in and I’m not eating well.
- I feel terribly alone and without family, I feel the weight of being separated from my family very heavily. I mourn small things like my childhood bible and my treasured cassettes from high school.
- Everything feels terrible, I can’t genuinely remember feeling good.
One real problem is that there is nowhere to go, no distraction to seek out. We often go for breakfast or lunch to shake off a tough night. We might visit friends or sit in the backyard enjoying the summer evening.
But the combination of the pandemic and the cruddy weather constrains those options. We can’t outrun the thoughts without literally driving in circles in dangerous conditions. And I desperately want to outrun them.
Losing our dog Ana was quite sad and under somewhat traumatizing circumstances. But that experience just weeks after I began to recover from a protracted mental health crisis is worrisome.
I was unduly distraught when I learned that Chadwick Boseman died, when a news person predicted Trump will win again, and when I learned Allegheny County is loosening pandemic protections. I mean these things had me weeping and feeling heavy grief, the sort that wails “Why?” without any hope of consolation.
I’ve been so gripped by fear for months, fear across the spectrum of experiences. The fear that I’m going to be depressed again so soon after that last struggle is also cause for a cosmic wail of why.
Last night, I had to complete the second set of Social Security disability paperwork. Second set this year; I previously went thru an entire reauthorization process in th21ste spring. Tw1stice in one year is not even a little reasonable when it’s supposed to be every other year.
These forms are horrible, asking me to list how I fill my day and if I can make a sandwich and how many prompts I need to fold the laundry. They lack any pretense of dignity or strengths based approaches. It’s an intentional exercise in humiliation and shame. But there is zero opportunity to resist. I just answer the questions with fury and despair mingling with the ink.
I have support and several friends have made kind gestures about the loss of Ana. But other people have tried to draw me into complicated emotionally fraught conversations as if I’m just fine and that’s sad. Don’t do that. And don’t bring up not doing it.
Not that I want to be left alone. I just don’t want to be drawn into more trauma. I want to do anything possible to ensure this does end and I do feel better soon, not have a relapse. It is a very narrow path to tread, I know. For that, I blame my childhood abusers.
If you ask me how to help, here are several options. Supporting projects with the $5 you might spend on coffee is truly helpful b/c it reminds me I have value through my ideas and service.
Donate to the Pittsburgh MasQUe ProjecT to help ease my mind about all of the downtime I’m taking.
Chip in the 2020 Feral Cat Food Drive. Ana basically thrived on canned cat food so it is fair way to pay tribute to her.
Check on your friends and family. I’m shocked more people aren’t talking about depression.
If you have friends or family who experience their own mental health crisis, ask them about their plan. There was an article online somewhere yesterday talking about calling someone’s doctor if they are in crisis. I laughed – I haven’t had a doctor or therapist I could access outside of their office hours for a decade or longer. My therapist whom I think is wonderful works PT so there are big gaps in being able to access her. They call the shots on these issues, not me. So know if there’s a plan and realize mental health care doesn’t have a doctor or therapist on call all of the time. It is a very big gap when working with private providers.
In the meantime, I am accepting drive-by #PSL drinks and amusing stories along with some helpings of wry observations. I can’t go down this path again, I have nothing left to spare.
This will get better. For some of us.
That’s perhaps the greatest horror of all.
Join the Steel City Snowflakes with a one time or recurring investment in our projects. Click the image to see our current snowflakes.
Follow us on Twitter @Pghlesbian24