Sunday, November 19, 2017


I haven't been writing.... There are several reason for this. But they're hard to articulate exactly. The biggest one is that there was a point where being this vulnerable and exposed left me feeling somewhat violated. First of all, I got such amazing feedback and that helped me in so many ways: I felt connected to others who understood me and had been where I was and so many people who were in the middle of their own struggles. I felt validated and connected and that's an amazing feeling. But then something else happened, there were people who were using the things I had been writing to justify (what I perceived to be) mean and unjust and, hopefully, untrue opinions and thoughts of me. My boundaries were being violated in new and unexpected ways and so I felt violated. These aren't secret writings. Anyone can read this stuff and I put myself out there and should expect and be prepared for this kind of thing. But I wasn't. And then spaces that I had considered private and safe began to be violated by these same things and people. It may have been all perception. Depression changes how you see the world - more things become threatening. Even things that were once safe and trusted are now tinted by fear and distrust. It sucks so much. And it's so hard to talk myself out that fear and distrust. I don't trust that my family or friends really like me. I don't trust that they enjoy my company or value what I have to say. I don't believe that they trust me. I don't believe that my thoughts and opinions are valid. And I don't trust myself either.

I don't have these thoughts and feelings all the time though. That is how I gage my progress. These destructive thoughts used to be a nearly constant companion. I would have moments where I forgot them and just enjoyed my life and beauty and people. The moments were few and far between, but I kept telling myself - with constant reminders from my therapist and amazing family and friends - that those thoughts weren't true and that things would get better. It was hard to believe though because inside those thoughts is such a scary place. It's hard to see any light when you're so deep in those thoughts.

But those thoughts are now few and far between. I am able to go days without their destruction. Things have gotten better. They have gotten so much better.

But the last three nights have been rough - like sobbing in your bathtub rough while someone you trust helps you to see your value, and also where you can improve, because you actually can trust your friends to tell you truth. Or sobbing on your best friends' kitchen floor rough, but at least people you love and trust were there to sit on the kitchen floor with you and hold your hand and reassure you things have been better and you are making progress. Or like sobbing alone in your car rough because despite all the amazing people you have around you, you still miss the people you have lost in your life so damn much.

But it gets better. I am better. There may be moments and days where I don't like me very much. But that doesn't mean that I'm unlikeable. It is getting better. I am getting better.

I am getting better.

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Darkness Creeps

The darkness is creeping in again. I had a couple of really great days last week. Like I felt almost happy. It was weird. I mean I've been doing all the work. I go to therapy religiously. I meditate. I journal. I spend time with people who love and support me. I've been limiting my social media intake, that seems to help a lot. In other words, I'm doing all the self-care stuff, but I can feel the darkness creeping in again. Israel is sick again and that is probably contributing to my depression and anxiety. My kids being sick is definitely a trigger. I laid in bed for hours last night trying to do anything I could to fall asleep, but thoughts of all the things that could be wrong with Israel kept going through my head. A google search did help this time though, 7-10 days for virus is common. Tomorrow is day 10. After tomorrow, I'll really worry.

For now, I'm trying not to worry, but school and kids and homework and money and dinner and the darkness outside are all conspiring to call the darkness inside. So I write to get it outside of me again: word vomit the darkness out into the ether and hope that it helps. I'm just so tired of this. I just want to be happy and satisfied. For most of my life I've been able to choose happiness. It's scary that I can't control that anymore. Really, really scary. 

In other news, the #metoo movement has brought some other traumas around again and I've remembered things that I long forgot about the way that people have interacted me through the years. So many of our stories involve men acting in a way that presumes he has some sort of right to a woman's body. But at least half of my experiences have been women who have acted in inappropriate or abusive ways. And I haven't shared any details about my experiences for various reasons, but I want to shout about it. I want to yell and scream and make people see that the way we teach consent and sex and safety is leading to a culture that doesn't respect autonomy of the body. It angers and saddens me and I wish I had the magic answer to fix. I don't. But I wrote this one night while driving and having a anxiety attack and crying all over myself.

I wish I could write poetry
because then I could use silky words
and vague metaphors
to shout from the rooftops
all the things I cannot bear to say.

The message would be universal
so that women would 
stomp their feet
and pump their fists
and yell, "Fuck yes!"

We would stand
arm in arm
and feel each other's power
and know that we are not alone.

I wish I could write poetry.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The Price of Steel

One day in church, my mom turned to my dad and completely out of the blue asked, "What's the price of steel at right now?" 

She had a random stream of consciousness that had started with something that the speaker had said at church and had ended with the current price of steel. 

This is my "price of steel" tonight. 

I just realized that shivering or being too cold is a trigger. Which usually isn't a problem in Arizona. But the problem is, I can't sleep unless my face is cool. It's a hard balance to have just your face cool enough to be able to sleep, but your body warm enough to be comfortable. Plus, if anything touches my neck, I feel like I'm being choked, but if my shoulders or arms get too cold, they start to hurt. It's a very delicate balance. It's also about a 2 degree window for me and changes as the A/C switches off and on. It makes for sleepless nights of me tossing and turning and pulling blankets on and off for hours. 

Which makes me think it's probably a good thing I'm single. No bedmate would enjoy this level of craziness. 

But what if a partner to hold me and comfort me - someone who is there, that I love and trust, unquestionably - is the exact thing that would render that trigger powerless?

Then I wonder why I need someone? Or why I think I do? Why does that adolescent fantasy of a soulmate still hold so much weight? And look where it got me back then.

I talked to a friend tonight about running away. About the dream of driving and not stopping until you reach a place where no one knows who are and no one from your past can ever find you. Those fantasies are so real. And they feel so possible sometimes. 

I had forgotten about that fantasy. I used to have that fantasy a lot when I was married. I had a plan even. I had a friend that no one knew I was in contact with. No one would have any idea about her or how to get a hold of her or anything. I was fairly certain she would help me. This was before the days of Facebook and other social media. 

I haven't had that fantasy in many, many years. And when I realized that, I was proud. And I was really fucking proud of that woman who survived. She survived everyday that she had that fantasy. Every single time she thought about that possibility, she found something to keep her around. And she was eventually happy. She was so much stronger than she thought she was. 

And her life isn't so bad now. She's got rad kids. She just made it through her first week of stats and got a perfect score on the quiz (something that was so beyond possible, it never even occurred to the younger woman as something to consider). And she's got really amazing family and friends. Like, she knows (and is related to) some of the most phenomenal people. 

It does get better. I forget that this is true even for me. I forget that I've seen things get better for me. But luckily, I surround myself with really smart people who remind me. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

On Fevers and Being Sick

I haven't felt the need to write very much lately. I take that as I sign that I'm progressing - getting better and all that. But today has been a bad day. 

It started last night with an anonymous message - a nice one, but anonymous - that I started wondering about. I began reading between the lines and wondering about the sender and the possible meanings behind the message. I should have just put it out of my mind, but you can't always do that. But some texts with my sister and my closest friends helped to stave off that panic attack.

Then, this morning at 5:30am, my nine-year-old woke up with a fever. I am pretty sure that sick kids in early hours of the morning will forever be a trigger for me. So after I got Elijah settled with some water and some medicine, I laid in bed and began to feel the room close in on me. 

"Is he still breathing?" 

"Is the fever coming down?"

"I wonder if I should have checked his temperature to know for sure before I gave him the ibuprofen."

"Wait, aren't you supposed to take ibuprofen with food? Maybe I should go wake him up and make him eat something."

And on and on and on. 

I got another message recently from a friend who practiced a little bit of Radical Honesty with me. "You've been single for a half a second. Get over it," was a long the lines of what was said. And they're right and I love them for their honesty. And I should get over it. I'm trying to get over it every day. Every. Single. Day. I am trying to get over it. But this morning was another reminder of my loneliness. I don't have a partner, which sucks, but I can handle that most of the time. I take my kids on vacations and do fun things and take care of a house and try and provide for them mostly on my own (with a lot of invaluable help from my family and friends), but being a single parent is a whole different story. There is no one else in the world that cares for my children as much as I do. There is no one else in the world to worry about them at 5:30am on a Saturday. There is no one else in the world that takes as much joy in their joy and as much pain in their pain. The weight of that is sometimes unbearable. And when there is no one in the world to hold me when the weight becomes unbearable, I reminded again of my utter aloneness. And it sucks.

And then, when I develop a sore throat late in the afternoon, all that is left to do is to take a long hot shower to hide your sobs amidst the running water and then get out and get back to work and laugh at the ridiculousness of being a human.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

The Final

When Randal shot himself I was studying for a math final. It was 12:30 in the morning and it was the last thing I needed to do for that first half of that semester. Needless to say, I never took that final. I ended up failing that class and dropping out of the second half of that semester. Those decisions necessitated a year long break from school. It sucked. I had put off any serious attempts at my education for a decade because of Randal and here I was in the final stretch of my undergraduate degree and needing to put it off again because of his selfish ass. Plus, I would have to take that class over again.

Monday I started studying. I also got a call Monday that one of my coworkers was in the hospital in a medically induced coma. I also got a message that a friend was experiencing some major health issues. I spent all day Monday fighting off the anxiety and impending panic attack induced by too many triggers.

Yesterday I took the practice final and only cried twice.

This morning I studied and tried to memorize the last few things. Twenty minutes ago I finished that final. All I needed was a C on the final and I was golden. The final would be done and the class would be done and I wouldn't ever have to take it again. I did way better than I expected on the final and in the class. And it's done. Did I mention that already? The class is over and I feel the kind of relief that comes with seeing the mountain range and blizzard behind me in the rearview mirror. I failed once, but I did it again, and I did it better this time. 

I'm a badass.

Now, onto the next mountain. 

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

The one in which I drop the F-bomb. A lot. You've been warned.

Last week I had a moment of happiness. I was driving down the street and the window was down and the sun was shining and it was the perfect temperature. I didn't have any reason to be happy, but there it was. It was pretty great.

Yesterday I was driving down the street under similar conditions, but I didn't feel it. Instead I felt sadness for no reason. I was on my way to meet one of my favorite people for coffee, but I was sad. And then I told myself that I shouldn't be sad, to which my therapist would probably say, "Don't 'should' on yourself." So then I wondered why I needed to be anything other than exactly as I was in that moment. When my friends come to me with their thoughts and feelings - whatever they are - I love and accept them exactly as they come to me, with whatever thoughts and feelings and moods they have that day. We sit together and I listen to them and sometimes cry with them but mostly I want them to know that I love them exactly as they are. 

Why don't I give that to myself? Why don't I love myself exactly as I am in the moment that I am? So then I started crying because of that realization. It was a whole thing that kept going around and around in my head. It was the demon that is always there in the back of my mind telling me I'm not enough. I was a teenager/young adult/new wife/young mother/me six months ago again and being told all the reasons why people didn't want me or like me. It's some variation of not enough or too much: I'm too passionate. I'm too confident. I'm too fat. I'm too depressed. I'm not smart enough. I'm not a good enough homemaker. I'm too independent. I care too much. I don't care enough. I'm not a strict enough mother. 

I'm special, just not special enough.

Well fuck that demon. Fuck that voice that tells me I'm being me incorrectly. 

And that, folks, that fuck right there is my last fuck to give. 

The demon will be back. It always comes back. At some point, I'll make friends with it. Or I'll learn to effectively ignore it. But right now that demon sits on my shoulder and I feel sad... until I start to feel angry. Mostly, I hang out between those two emotions - sad and angry. My poor friends and family. Luckily, I have pretty rad friends and family. Plus, sometimes they benefit from the righteous indignation. Sometimes they are at the receiving end of it. And there is a certain amount of freedom that you get from truly having no more fucks to give. Silver linings, I guess. 

For tonight though, I held my cool through a meltdown from one of the kids, I took the dog for a walk, and I got some adulting done. 

Small victories. Silver linings. And no fucks. That's not such a bad place to plant my flag.

Monday, September 25, 2017


At 6 am on the morning of June 23rd I called my mom and dad and asked them to come over so that one of them could stay with my boys and the other could take me to the hospital. I had just spent the last 8 hours on the verge of, or in the middle of a panic attack. For the first time in life I could not control my thoughts or my feelings. I had not made a plan to hurt myself, but I was afraid that I was heading in that direction. This is the story of what lead up to that.

Disclaimer: There are three sides to every story: my version, your version, and the truth. As I've spoken to Adrian and others, I've realized that there are some things in my story that are not accurate. I know that, but my perception of how it happened and what was said is important to my journey and my healing. There is one thing in particular that I will asterisk when I get there, but if you want a bigger picture, please ask Adrian for his version and realize that the truth probably lies somewhere in between.

About a week and a half before I went to hospital I told Adrian that I wanted him back. I wanted to give us the effort and time that I didn't before. I wasn't ready to just throw out our four years and I still loved him. He didn't give me an answer then. He told me he needed to think about it.

On June 15, Randal's best friend, and one of closest friends and most favorite neighbor, Erin, took her 6 year old daughter to the hospital. What had looked like a cold or a mild flu earlier in the week had gotten worse. They were afraid she had meningitis. I went over there that night to take Erin some things and the check in on her and Taylor. The next day about 11am, Erin's friend came to my house and told me things were bad. He and I rushed to the hospital where we learned they had taken Taylor in for emergency surgery to try and relieve the swelling in her brain - which wasn't from meningitis. The doctors had no clue what was causing Taylor's illness. They were clueless and doubtful that the surgery would be enough. I stayed at the hospital the rest of the day with Erin and her closest friends and family. My dad picked up the boys from home so I could stay with Erin. Adrian came to hospital to bring me a blanket and some other supplies. It was while he was there that Erin got the news that Taylor was brain dead. Sometime that evening I went to my parent's house to fill the boys in on what was happening to Taylor and then I went home to get my camera so I could do something to hopefully help Taylor's family heal - to capture the last few hours of her life. I slept for a few hours at my parent's house that night and was back at the hospital the next morning. 

June 17 is sacred. That is the best way to describe it. It was so incredibly painful to watch my dear friend lose her only child - just a year after losing her best friend - to have to make the decision to remove life support. That day I was inducted into Erin's tribe. She knows some of the most amazing women I have ever met. Amidst the unbearable pain of losing a child I saw powerful women love and support Erin and each other. Most of them I had only just met, but I was immediately a part of their family - something powerful and sacred. I spent some of the day taking pictures of Taylor with all of the people who love her most in the whole world. To say it was emotional is an understatement. And I wouldn't trade that experience for anything. It absolutely was sacred.

On Monday, June 19, Israel woke up with a fever. I freaked out. I took him to the pediatrician and explained everything - how I had spent two days at the hospital where my sweet little friend had died and they still didn't know why, but that it started out looking like this - a mild fever and feeling yucky. My pediatrician was amazing and talked me through my anxiety and assured me that the chances of Israel having what Taylor had were so slim. So I took him home and they called and checked up on us for the next two days. Until Wednesday, Israel was still sick and now Elijah had woken up with a fever too. I didn't know what to do. I had just watched the impossible happen - a mother had lost a child and no one had any answers and my kids were sick now also.

And during all this, Adrian still hadn't given me an answer about us. I wanted - needed - someone to hold me and reassure me that everything was going to be ok. That my kids were going to be ok. That my being at the hospital to support my friend wasn't going to cost me the lives of my children. I needed Adrian. So at ten o'clock at night on Thursday, June 22nd, I started to lose my mind. My kids were asleep, but I could not fall asleep. My heart raced and my mind went to all the most terrible places it could go and I just wanted Adrian to come and hold me and tell me it was going to be ok. Around midnight, I finally called him. I'm sure I was hysterical. I needed him and I needed him to give me an answer, was there any hope for us at all? He still wasn't giving me an answer so I begged him to just tell me - if he needed to be cruel, then so be it, but tell me! The hope was killing me. I actually felt like I might lose it all. And that's when I heard him say, "There is no hope for us. I love her more than I ever loved you."* And my whole world shattered. 

On one hand, it all made sense. Of course he didn't love me like I loved him. That's why it was so easy for him to move on so quickly. That's why the last several months of our relationship were so hard. Of course.... I wasn't lovable. It made sense and it still broke me. I thought Adrian was the one the person who was going to love me for the rest of my life. I thought he loved me more than anyone else. And now all I could think - all I could see - was that it had all been a lie. I figured it out - I don't actually know what real love is like. I'm an idiot. Obviously my marriage wasn't real love, I still hadn't learned, I guess. All of this happened in just a few moments. I begged Adrian to block me in all the ways he could - on his phone, on Facebook, everything. I wasn't making good decisions lately and it was causing me some serious harm, so could he just do me this one last thing and take away my ability to see him and his new love and happiness? And could he ask the new girl to do that too? And then I hung up and went to bed. And for the next several hours I laid awake dealing with a very, very long panic attack. Finally, at 6am, I called my parents. 

The following is what I wrote on Facebook later that day:
I have always been a big proponent of normalizing mental health issues. Talking about them is so important to help others feel safe to seek the help they need. I've just never been in the place where I've had to admit my mental health was no longer in my control. I've had some amazing examples of that kind of openness and honesty throughout my whole life though.
Last night was really bad. I felt completely out of control of my emotions. I have never felt that kind of fear and despair. Even with all the things that have happened, last night was worse than anything. I called my parents around 6am and asked if they would come over so one could hang out with the boys and one could take me to the hospital. I hadn't made any plans to hurt myself but I was afraid that it was the next step. The staff at Tempe St. Luke's was amazing. I told them I was having chest pains and stomach pain and some major anxiety and that for at least the last eight hours I was on the verge of or smack in the middle of a panic attack. The doctors and nurses and technicians checked me all out, and of course had me talk to a social worker. Everyone was amazing when I told them all of the things that led up to last night (which is quite the shit storm). They gave me some Xanax and the crisis response social worker, my dad, and I made a plan for at home care. They made appointments with my PCP (which happens to be right across the parking lot) for that day and a therapist next week. I was then released to the care of my parents.
When I went and saw my primary doc, he was amazing and understanding and listened to me while I cried my story to him. He gave me a 30 day scrip for Xanax.
Swallowing my fear and talking to my parents, then to the doctors and social workers saved me this morning. It was also incredibly scary to do. I'm not sure if I was at the point where my life was in jeopardy, but that was certainly the direction I felt I was headed.
Since that night, I have been working so hard to try and get myself better. I remember a time when my thoughts and feelings didn't betray me. I remember being a generally happy and optimistic person. Even through an abusive marriage and the stresses of parenthood post-divorce, and post-suicide, being a full-time student, trying to work and provide for us, and more, I would have always said I was happy. Life was good in so many small and beautiful ways. But since June 23rd, something in my brain has snapped and it scares me. I have depression and anxiety and I can't control it. I go to therapy, I read books, I meditate, I exercise, I spend time with people who love me, and yet I can't say that I am happy. I told my therapist a couple of sessions ago that I was so afraid that the damage was permanent. He assured it wasn't, but I'm not sure I believe him. He's amazing and I love him, but I'm scared. I'm scared of everything.

When I made that post on Facebook, one of my friends commented and said that depression and anxiety are like being stranded on a alien planet full of giant spiders - a cry for help is like begging for a stick to fight them off. It was the perfect analogy. Someone just give me a stick! I'm dubious that it will be enough, but at least it's something. Maybe someday I'll make friends with my spiders. Maybe someday they'll shrivel up and die on their own. I don't know. Right now though, those spiders are a threat and I'm barely surviving. But I am surviving. And for that, right this second, I feel like a badass.

*Adrian has told me that this is not what he said, and I believe him, absolutely. It's important that that's what I heard though and adds understanding to my mental illness. But again, please ask him for his story, don't take my word for it. It's only a small part of a much bigger picture.