progress.

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my grad school interview is tomorrow.

im a little hesitant to write this because im in a generally positive frame of mind about it at the moment and dont want to make myself all nervous over analyzing shit.  so thats mostly all im going to say about that.  I didnt get the CIHR scholarship I applied for, which sucked, but honestly i was in a pretty bad state when i wrote that so i guess its not horribly surprising.  I did just find out I received a different scholarship for $10,000 (renewable) though, and given canadian tuition prices, that is quite a lot. so thats encouraging. im not sure if they give entrance/school specific scholarships out with acceptance or not. i also dont know if ive been accepted or not. hence the interview. ack.

in other news, i have officially decided to go visit joe on friday. happy, positive, non bipolar vibes please.

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so.

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ok.

so.

i havent been writing because ive havent been feeling or doing literally anything. so there was nothing to say. i also stopped communicating with all but a handful of people.

but.

now.

ive been avoiding writing this for awhile. i dont know what to say. but we are at the point in the spiral where the talking needs to start happening, and because im no longer in therapy because i am broke as fuck, i guess this is now when the writing needs to start happening.

so.

for several months my mood has been shifting from ‘wow, this is what its like to have normal level emotions?’ to ‘uh. im not sure i like normal level emotions…’ to ‘…wait, do i even have emotions now?’ to ‘no…nope i dont’.

I saw my psychiatrist three or four times during this decline. To recap, in the fall he had upped my mood stabilizers and taken down my wellbutrin (anti anxiety/depression meds), and then sometime in like december? i cut my clonazapram (anxiety)  in half because i wasnt feeling really anything, so i wasnt really feeling anxious and im trying not to build up my tolerance.

so. first visit:

me: im having trouble adjusting to not feeling things like i normally do. like it feels like my world is small and i dont know what to do. its making me feel like i am missing out on my proper existence. i know this doesnt make sense.

him: this is unfortunate but mostly normal. try seeing your therapist. we will keep an eye on it. (only nice).

second visit:

me: i always thought once i stopped being actively suicidal that would mean i gained some sort of will to live? but i dont have one. at all. i cant find a reason to get out of bed. i have no drive or motivation to do anything. im exhausted all the time. i dont feel sad, or chaotic, or out of control though, and im not suicidal, so this isnt anything like what i would call depression.

him: so, sounds like youre depressed, but your mood stabilizers are working. have more wellbutrin.

third visit:

me: nothing changed. im getting less and less interested in being alive and im completely apathetic to everything around me. still dont feel sad, or chaotic or suicidal, so it still doesnt feel like depression like i know depression.

him: ok, youre definitely depressed. its weird that the wellbutrin increase had no effect. lack of drive and motivation are side effects of your mood stabilizers. lets cut 75 mg off your total of those and see if that makes the wellbutrin work.

me now:

I FEEL ALL THE THINGS AND THEY ARE ALL BAD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD EVERYTHING IS AWFUL I CANNOT BREATHE HOLY FUCK HOLY FUCK HOLY FUCK OUTSIDE IS HORRIFYING I CANT TALK TO PEOPLE HOLY FUCK HOLY FUCK HOLY FUCK IM LITERALLY SO ANXIOUS I CANNOT FUNCTION HOLY FUCK HOLY FUCK HOLY FUCK IM REALLY REALLY REALLY UPSET FOR NO REASON HOLY FUCK HOLY FUCK HOLY FUCK

i cant give many concrete examples, because i have legitimately stopped leaving my house unless it is in a car with a family member, and usually only to my parents house or like, grocery shopping (which is its own little form of hell right now). this is the first of three major signs of when my anxiety crashes into my bipolar and i stop being a functioning human. step 1: agoraphobia step 2: intense fear of germs (see: scrubbing down showers for hours with tooth brushes, for example) step 3: extreme anxiety about animal life. things living underground start freaking me the fuck out. nature becomes extremely unsettling. how the universe is constructed becomes extremely unsettling. step 4: some sort of bipolar break down.

on saturday i had people come to my house.  i was supposed to go to brandons house twice during the week but i had to cancel both times because i couldnt leave my house and was super panicky (side note: it really bothers me that there is a ‘k’ in panicky), so i avoided the situation because i could. brandon kinda knows whats up, but not really. so. saturday. third time trying to make plans with brandon. he and sav have this thing where they watch rupauls dragrace together and the new season was starting and he wanted me to join. obviously, we learned leaving the house probably wasnt going to happen so they were going to come here. ok. then robb was going to come too. ok. day of: sleep schedule massively fucked up. already panicking about having people in my house. brandon invites kale too. i like all of these people. these are literally my best friends. i have a hyperventilating panic attack. i call my parents, stay on the phone for like an hour just basically being unable to talk and crying. brandon says they can go to savs if i cant do it. i eventually resolve to do it, 1 mg of clonazparam and 4 mg of ativan later. they come over. i have basically cleaned my whole apartment but i keep apologizing for how dirty it is because literally all i can see is the dirt of things that arent really that dirty (like the dust i missed while sweeping, and shit). it is mostly fine, and mostly a good night. first time watching dragrace, more enjoyable than expected. people leave around midnight, so basically 5 hours of company. they leave and i then start panicking and overanalyzing everything i said all night and whether or not kale hates me now (we have a convo about the trans guy on survivor and i think what i was trying to say came out wrong). fixate on this for several hours. dont sleep.

parents know i cant take the bus to their house for sunday dinner so they come get me. feeling mostly better and able to function around people, which is good because jeffs kids are there. exhausted, pass out at midnight and wake up at 10am. have moments of talking about my bipolar with my mom, which we dont really do. mostly stuff about being really uncertain what symptoms are coming and how everything is factoring in with possibly going to visit joe, and how joe, while family, having no experience with me as a mentally ill person, and how i dont know if thats something im going to do. manage to go to the grocery store on the way home today. mom had to do most of the work, but i was physically present so that is something.

i came home and cooked an actual meal – roasted a chicken and vegetables. ate that. watched an episode of girls.

so here we are.

i need to call my psychiatrist tomorrow and see if he will change my meds, or do something, because things are bad, and they seem like they are about to get a lot worse. im not scheduled to see him for four more weeks. i dont think anyone anticipated this med change throwing this sort of wrench into life. they weird part is, i dont think it actually changed anything, i think it just kind of ripped the plastic wrap off. like the complete numbness that was on the surface went away and all the horrible stuff underneath is now being felt again.

i guess the kind of fucked up part is i find that a bit of a relief.

now the overarching thing im worrying about -besides breathing, sleeping, the outside, people, public transportation, people touching me, the bipolar shitstorm that is coming, my complete lack of financial stability, etc –  is whether or not i should go to joes with my parents in april. its stressing me out a lot.

also, i got an email notification that theyd made a decision on my giant scholarship application but that i cant access the results of that decision until april 1. so thats unsettling. also im supposed to find out if i got in to grad school in a couple weeks. probably while id be in philly. im…. assuming i didnt get in and also very worried about how im going to handle that. i still dont know if ill go if i do get in. but i feel like having something lined up might help? i dont know.

ok. thats all. im starting to panic again.

Good Lord.

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I know I said I’d write more but my life is legitimately boring. I babysit the kids sometimes, i cook dinner for my family once a week. my anti depressants got raised slightly. my sleep is back on track. like, legit theres nothing personal to talk about really, other than the fact that brandon has somehow convinced me to play dungeons and dragons despite my staunch hate of all things fantasy or dragon related. in related news, i made the most amazing gnome  character possible. he used to be ceramic and he dresses like a hipster. only with armour.

anyway.

the obvious shit to talk about is political, and honestly, for some reason i dont usually do that here. im very political in real life. im a member of a federal and a provincial political party. i worked as a political lobbyist. i subscribe to the Washington posts weekly political recaps incase i missed things. i read actual newspapers (online). i read political subreddits to see what other people think. and i laugh at political memes on twitter, like everyone else. Also, like the VAST majority of Canadians (as can be demonstrated through the current leadership race for the federal conservative party), I fucking hate Trump.

So, really, I have lots of commentary (the globe gag rule being reinstated? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING?). but honestly, Im so tired of reading about everyone bitching about trump all the time. like, he deserves it, and i read a lot of it, but i dont really want to come to wordpress to read uninformed opinions about a political leader. especially not from (albeit, a better informed than ordinary) canadian citizen who lives in canada.

but, legitimately, politics are a large part of my day right now. so my very canadian commentary is:

  1. Trudeau’s vacation. Can we please stop fucking talking about it? literally the only people that care that Trudeau took a private plane to the Aga Khan’s private island on his vacation are the media. NO ONE CARES. His family paid their own way, it was not Canadian tax dollars, the guy legitimate deserves a vacation, he has known the Aga Khan his entire life. NO ONE CARES.
  2. Kevin O’Leary joined the race for the Conservative Party. He doesnt even speak fucking french. I mean, I dont either, but Im not trying to be the leader of a bilingual country.  This is what happens when americans elect a reality tv star: suddenly they all think they can do it. And he’s right up there with Leitch for worst possible choice to lead a political party. I’d say I hope they pick one of them cuz theyd stay out of office but then Americans let Trump happen so lets not test it.
  3. Women’s march. very uplifting. interested to see if we can make an actual movement out of this from here. also some really interesting intersectional feminist reads out there right now which have been broadening my admittedly white centric feminist views (which, honestly, i knew were white centric but i didnt realize HOW white centric). i appreciate that learning experience.
  4. Richard Spencer got punched in the face at an anti facist rally. honestly, it is partly his own fault for being the most known facist and showing up at an anti facist rally, even if it was unintentional. but, seriously guys, i know they guy is a nazi but punching him in the face and running away is not helping anyones cause here. and then the washington post comes out with “is it ok to punch a nazi?” articles. which seems… absurd. this is the new normal, i guess? like is that a question we need to seriously debate for future reference? is this coming?
  5. Trump pulled out of the TPP and that may actually be a good thing. this is causing cognitive dissonance.

And in conclusion: thank fucking god I’m Canadian. im going to play games on my phone and attempt to forget the US exists.

on the scale of happy

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well, its a new year.  and everyone else is either retrospectively talking about 2016 or clamouring about the the new bullshit things theyre going to do in 2017. im uhhh.. gonna skip that. because a) i do not believe in new years resolutions. something about have a disease that causes you to have to rebuild your entire existence every so often makes these time based things seem futile. b) i dont find those posts particularly interesting (especially not the daily update posts about how you are still doing them! yay! you made it a whole 5 days!) and c) i have nothing to say about the events that happened to me in 2016 that hasnt already been said here, so thats all pretty redundant, no?

so its 2017.

i woke up at 530pm today. thats not a great sign. the kids came down at 630 and i was in pjs without a bra on and hadnt eaten yet and was honestly kind of still asleep? so that was good, because it means i didnt spend literally the entire day in bed. just most of it. yes, i am currently in bed.

so this fucked up sleeping pattern has a few causes which are: 1. i am me. if you havent noticed, this happens at least one a month. 2. i did accidentally go to bed at 8 am. 3. when i know i have literally nothing to do in a day i try to sleep through it, because for some reason being up all night doing nothing feels less depressing than being up all day doing nothing, which really isnt true to begin with, but also kind of perpetuates the doing nothing because im like ‘is 4 am, i cant do laundry’ or ‘4 am is no time to start a painting’ so i just eat and watch tv until its 8 am again. 4. i think im subconsciously willing myself into hypomania.

being stable is so. fucking. weird. and hard. and boring. SO BORING. like i just cant handle it to a certain degree. my world feels like it shrank in dimensions and like, for the most part YAY but also like, the fuck? what do you people do here all the time? i feel moderately pleased or moderately unhappy and i truck along in a very one note life and i am both pleased about this, because i havent wanted to die in awhile and this is a pleasant thing, but also displeased because i feel like i cut off my right arm, or something. like this is a tiny fraction of life ive decided to live in and its just.. mundane. i realize this is literally how most people live and the extent of their emotional experience and thats good and great and you know, im not saying i want to be at either extreme, or whatever, but it makes me uncomfortable to not being moving from center. CENTER IS SO BORING. AND FAKE. AND JUST… CUT OFF FROM ACTUAL EXISTENCE.

i know. that paragraph made no sense. but i feel it. i feel it so entirely. i feel like half of myself is missing, and for the first time ever ive begun to understand why people go cold turkey off their meds.

to be honest, ive always thought it was because those people were sick in the delusional way where they thought they were better and thus didnt need them. which is moronic, because they are making you better, you numbskull. but its not that. meds: you get full credit. and then theres all those people talking about meds like greying them out or zombifying them, and i also thought of that like the side effects that i had on abilify. or like, being foggy brained or drooling in a chair or something.

i am none of those things.

i just. i feel completely myself, but also like if myself were a line, i cut myself into thirds and only kept the middle chunk and now im just wondering around as a third of a person.

i dont particularly MISS being actively bipolar (as i would describe myself as being passively bipolar now. i dont if other people think about it that way?) but like… it still feels like part of me? like i got rid of part of myself? and i know that those are like, not the best parts, because they make me want to die, or other bad things, but theyve always been there? they make me feel…whole?

people always talk about missing mania. maybe i miss hypomania (no one misses actual mania. no one.). i mean, i do miss hypomania because it is literally the best. but like, seperate from my actual mood (if you can think like that when talking about a mood disorder), its like my whole life has been built around going up and down, and learning how to function with and around that. which was challenging, but its my life. i dont really think about it as a…. coping mechanism, i guess. i have always worked in batches: crazy hard for three months, down for few months. it balances out to at least an average person workload, but like, honestly an above average workload because i have perfectionist issues. but like, thats how i work. thats how ive always worked. and now im just….waiting to go back up, and be super productive and get into my working groove for a few months. which i know will end in hell, but its a predictable form of unpredictable hell. and for a few months, before the hell, i feel like i am the best version of me, in my still super fucked up perfectionist full throttle personality thought patterns.

the meds. the meds have stripped that out of my life. theres no super productive (or super non productive) phase now.

and thats… probably good? i mean, i guess? from like a functional life of an average person perspective? but i… i dont know how to function like this? with a mediocre level of energy and motivation? how does anyone get anything done? and more to the point, do people who live in this tiny 1/3rd of life like.. do they think this is it? this is all their emotions? like… this is not very happy, the happiest i feel now. on the scale of feelings i know to be happy. the problem is like 50% of the things i know to be happy i also know to be bad. or like, leading to bad.  but i also just feel so alarmed for people who think this is all life’s feelings have to offer? on the one hand like, hallelujah if this mediocre level of sad is the saddest you ever feel, even if to you this mediocre level of sad is like THE SADDEST SAD THAT EVER SADDED because like, your emotional dimensions end here. and in that way, i guess, that point is kind of moot because if thats the saddest youre capable of feeling, relatively speaking, it probably seems equally as shitty. but like. THE HAPPY.  you are missing 33% of the bad stuff but also 33% of the mostly good stuff. though even though im talking about this all like mood is linear, it, at its most simplistic, is AT BEST a circle (we all know its actually a sphere) because the shit 33% and the good 33% that i no longer experience are very much connected. but basically, i am just ASTOUNDED that this could be someones entire emotional experience.

and also extremely FRIGHTENED THAT IT MAY NOW ALSO BE MINE. FOREVER.

that is so disturbing. so disturbing. do not want.

also do not want hellish suicidal tendencies back, though, so. like. i guess these are my options now? 1/3rd of life or all of life where i spend at least 1/3rd of the time trying not to jump off a bridge plus sometime where colors are REALLY BRIGHT and thoughts move TOO FAST TO CATCH THEM.

im finding it extremely problematic that i am gravitating more and more toward the second option the longer i am without it. because when i was in it, i would have literally died for this feeling. but i feel so lost. and deadened. PART OF ME HAS GONE SOMEWHERE. and it makes me a more functional human, but also less of myself. which is supposed to be a good thing, medically.

thats a little weird. being less of myself is perceived as a good thing.

i dont know. i have lots of thoughts on this but i just want to FEEL. SOMETHING. like really feel it. feel it in my bones. not this passing, forgettable “feeling”.

life stuff.

ugh.

the new years party was good. my dress fit, thank god, i drank the right amount of gin (was drunk, but not black out drunk). jon and dima came so i spent most of the night with them as it was one of their last days here. went out with jon one more time before he left. god my life was so much better when he lived here.

tomorrow there is a surprise party for sam’s birthday, which should be good. though most of her good friends are now people i dont know well (im the only one from my circle that has met them, except jenn, and no one but me and sam likes jenn…) and im not sure if theyd get along with sam and my mutual friends so its going to be weird to see them all jumbled together.

over christmas my sister and i watched gilmore girls: a year in the life. i had been saving this originally to watch with sam, because my sister doesnt live here and i didnt think id be able to hold out this long, but plans with sam never worked out, and honestly its probably better this way.

my sister and i used to rent box sets of the gilmore girls seasons at blockbuster, back when that was a thing, and binge watch them together. we were the trendsetters of the binge watching netflix generation, obvs. so it was kind of full circle to watch the reboot together.

i have to say, i was not happy with how it ended. those famous last words the original creators had for the series, that they finally got to use in this reboot (as they didnt write the final season of the show), were not ideal, to me.  but i still really enjoyed the show. it was like visiting old friends, once you got into it. i would watch gilmore girls forever, if it were still on (similar to the west wing. and how i will always listen to hanson.)

also i watched the end of please like me before christmas. it was episode six so i thought i was midseason. BUT NO. IT WAS THE LAST EPISODE. which would be distressing on its own because please like me is so great. but it is extra distressing because they might not make a season five! and i am not ok with it! i like it to the point i actually follow all the actors on twitter and read interviews with josh thomas for fun (in fairness, he is a comedian). i dont even do that for gilmore girls, the west wing OR hanson. my little tv heart is breaking.

in sum: i desperately want to be hypomanic, jon left and my life got worse, the gilmore girls reboot is worth watching, and you should absolutely watch the little known australian tv show called please like me (i guess im supposed to mention that its “gay”, because people like representation, and all, but i never really think about the gayness. its just really good). also i will be drunk tomorrow so that may or may not result in another rambling poorly planned out blog post.

the end.

 

prattle & self loathing

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SO.

that last post was fucking depressing and weird, amiright?

i wrote it and it was genuine and i wrote it and i felt more like myself, somehow.  i think that ‘somehow’ was because it was guilt ridden and full of mostly unreasonable self loathing, which are two of my defining features (heh). but then it sat there for a day and it just started making me feel weird and uncomfortable. though when i actually read it i feel like theres a lot of good in the post, the drive behind writing it was basically that i felt guilty for not being sick, or not properly representing being sick. or some weird fucked up version of that. and i dont feel good about that.

so to be clear: i dont ALWAYS feel bad about doing well. it was a weird combination of holidays, and bad bad bad holiday blog posts by other people talking about how awful happy people are, and my new bambi-learning-to-walk like relationship with a steady emotional life. but i wrote it and part of me meant it, so there it stays.

MOVING ON.

i went to trivia tuesday night with jon and his girlfriend and a friend of hers, as is our tradition. we went weekly when he lived here so we try to go every time hes home, but its not really the same since all of the other team members also moved away.

we did not win, at all, but we did respectably well for four people. also i knew like every song played and  bunch of misc shit so thats always satisfying. then we went to a dessert bar and had an awkward conversation about dating where i learned jons girlfriend has only ever slept with him and no one else and i said nothing but was mentally like WELL YOU NEED TO FIX THAT BEFORE YOU MAKE A LIFELONG COMMITMENT OR IT WILL END BADLY. which is like, a completely unreasonable response to that information. probably. i still definitely think that though.

im going to the mall with brandon tomorrow. ive got to get up at like 930 to meet him at 11. which is like, ungodly early for me. thats basically like telling a normal person they need to get up at 230am and be a functional human. and then ive got to go back out to my parents for the day because my sister is back from visiting people in the valley and its probably? the last night i will see her before she leaves, because im going to a drunken nye party and she is going to play board games with elli.

im slightly stressed because its fancy nye party, where youre supposed to dress up and look nice, because im way too broke to buy a dress and im not sure i actually own a fancy dress that fits me since i gained weight. or more like, failed to lose weight. my old meds made me gain a bunch of weight that i just… never got rid of, so now my entire wardrobe is like a size or so too small, and has been for like a year, but i cant afford new clothes so im just like.. wearing old shit from when i was this size like 5 years ago and things that are stretchy. im like.. not super happy about this situation, but im also not doing anything about it? so i guess im not that unhappy with it?  or at least, not unhappy in any sort of productive fashion.

i never actually mentioned this on here because i wasnt blogging at the time, but i went to florida last february with my family on this disney vacation (wealthy brother paid for it). i came back from that SUPER self conscious and hating my body and i cried every time i had to get on a plane (which was like 6 times in total) because i felt too big for everything. like i spent the first night of the vacation sobbing in my bed, which also broke (not my fault at all but daaaamn did it feel like it), because being on the airplane made me so uncomfortable and awful in a way i couldnt push to the side or ignore. the airplane seats were crammed and awful. the whole vacation was amazing, but was also plagued by my overarching fear of being too fat. i was too afraid to try half the rides because i was afraid i couldnt fit. and it was just like… very very very stressful and awful feeling. which i know no one has any sympathy for because im fat, and thats my fault, and whatever. but it was really awful.

i went on a pretty hardcore calorie counting binge for like 3 or so months after that but i was barely eating (1200 calorie deficit. weighed everything i ate, tracked it in MFP, my dietician sister in law made me meal plans like… it was legit) and i lost like 7 pounds or something, in three months. which seems impossible, but losing weight on my med regime is apparently an extremely uphill battle. plus the pcos. even my sister in law was baffled.

and then i started throwing up all the time. like id just get super nauseated and then start gagging and then throw up… kind of like my now preggo sister in law, only i wasnt pregnant. though it did make me worry i was. but anyway i was barely eating and also throwing up everything i was eating and it became a detriment to my health more than improving it because, as my therapist always says, its amazing someone with my particular personality traits hasnt developed an eating disorder. and then after that i tried going back on a very extreme elimination diet that i was on when they were diagnosing my food problems, and i did that for a little over a month, but that just made me throw up even more, inexplicably, and i was super depressed at the time.. so that ended in october. and since then ive just been “not thinking” about it. and honestly that would be a little liberating if i didnt feel like a substandard human because of my weight. and also if i didnt feel like i had to choose between actually having a real relationship and being fat (not that i want to chose being fat, but i seem to be choosing it anyway, now dont i?).

but, uh, anyway, that was a very tangental way of saying i dont have anything to wear for new years and its spiking my self loathing.

god dammit.

i had this plan to write something banally happy today. like i half wrote a blog post in my head about cooking while i was making quinoa cakes earlier. if nothing else i could have just causally mentioned that i had vertigo for 24 hours, inexplicably, and told the story of me falling sideways into my bathtub (hilarious in retrospect, painful and confusing in the moment. also, wet.).

tomorrow.

tomorrow i will say something fun.

but right now i already wrote this and im sleepy and apparently need to wake up at the equivalent of 230 because “friendship” or something.

things are still good! despite evidence to the contrary.

mental illness, society, guilt & holidays

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so i have a strange feeling. its going to take awhile to get to, but hear me out.

i am a mentally ill person. i read a lot of mental illness blogs. i have a lot of mentally ill friends. i have even more mentally ill advocate “friends” on facebook.

and i recognize that this is a shitty shitty time of year for the vast majority of them. i wish there was something to be done about that, but for the most part there isnt. i cant replace family, or be the accepting parent, or give them a day off from the blinding depression so they dont feel guilty about not feeling happy, or whatever, that is the cause of the shitty shitty feelings. society has built this time of year into something it isnt: joyous, perfect, shiny and bright, filled with only happiness and love. and thats shitty, for everyone. because you always feel like you arent living up to a standard that doesnt exist. and it makes your strained relationships with people feel soul crushing and awkward, it makes your depression stand out that much more by comparison, it causes you to evaluate your situation not just against everyones perfect instagramed selves but also against like every possible media posting, church preaching and news outlet depiction. and theres no life, no matter how seemingly perfect, that lives up to that standard. and the more you feel like you have to, the further away from it you get. its fucked up and it fucks things up.

for years growing up i kind of hated christmas. i mean, i was still a kid who got gifts, because i come from a privileged background of sorts, so i cant say it was entirely bad or that i hated every part of it. but my memories are EXTREME STRESS FOR AN ENTIRE MONTH. i remember bawling, multiple times a day, every christmas, for multiple reasons: for years before some very intensive therapy i really resented my family and a lot of my childhood and especially my brother, and my parents for not saving me. i felt robbed of something, like there was a harsh disconnect between me and them despite all this togetherness and seemingly tv family activity. and i felt guilty. when i was little i felt left out by my family and siblings because they were all older and never wanted me around while they did teenage to adult age things so i was alone when i felt like i was supposed to be taking part. and i felt lonely and like i was doing something wrong. there were crowds and crowds of people that i didnt really know and or there were so many people i couldnt breathe, or move, and id have huge panic attacks locked in a washroom somewhere. my family also has a very strange insular dynamic where for the entire week between christmas and new years, and even a few days before christmas, we were expected to be with family, and only family, and not have outside lives so it was this constant constricting force (this is still true when any family member visits). then there were other factors, like my father having an extremely high stress level and very short fuse when he was working at his high level job, that made him angry and awful a lot and christmas added to that stress level to the point where hed be flipping out all the time and he just hated it. he hated it a lot and you could tell; and he made you hate it a little too, because you felt like the cause of his anger. and then my brother didnt live in the country anymore, so it simultaneously became an even more hyped up occasion if he was coming home and also this awkward, disappointing, land of confusion and abandonment the years he didnt. and then we were all awkward ages and three of us kids were dealing with mental health issues of varying severity, and my mother’s severe social anxiety would go into overdrive and her bordering on eating disorder tendencies would come out, and my dad and whatever shit he was going through that never came up. and then there were those years were my brother had a severe eating disorder no one talked about, which made christmas especially difficult for him, and by extension, my sister and i, as we would look at my parents to fix it, to do something, and they didnt. and we didnt.

and theres a lot of things i could say or delve into that would better explain how christmas can be sort of horrible, and how it was sort of horrible. and i think that almost everyone has those stories, for whatever reason.

but this year, i dont have those feelings. and i feel really, really guilty about it, somehow, when i read all these blogs and facebook posts and talk to my friends who i know are in the middle of all this shit.

because christmas is shit. if we are honest, the average experience of christmas is stress, obligation, dread and anxiety. and i feel like im now somehow perpetuating the joyful stereotype of the day, because my life this year has been very… on point for societal views of the season. and i feel like im betraying my people.

i feel like that a lot when i talk about good things as wholly good. and thats really kind of a strange fucked up thing. like i feel guilty when my mental illness isnt at the forefront ruining everything for me because i know it is for so many people and i dont want to be that thing. and everyone with a mental illness knows what that thing is. the thing people without a mental illness (or sometimes we as people with mental illnesses) point to, sometimes meaning it in a positive ‘you can do it too!’ manner, sometimes meaning it as a ‘she can do it, you fucking loser’ manner, as a person who has suffered through your thing and is not “ruining” or causing “discomfort” or being “abnormal” or otherwise breaking social norms by being themfuckingselves. because we, as mentally ill people, cause discomfort. it is somehow our job to reduce ourselves, to placate other people, with our pretending. with our moulding to societal expectations. being unabashedly mentally ill is a political act. and thats fucking so hard to explain. that being mentally ill is a thing, its ok, to be yourself. to feel your feelings, to have your symptoms. to not be okay. and we dont need all these things glowing and pointing all around us to remind us that we arent being enough by being ourselves. be yourself. your whole fucking messy, uncomfortable, societal ideal failing self.

so i dont know what to do. and maybe this is part of why ive never written much when ive been doing well. i feel guilty for being that thing, sometimes.

part of it comes from all the public speaking i used to do. being mentally ill in a spotlight is very strange, because you’re only really in the spotlight for that stuff when youre doing well. so then no matter what you are saying, youre sort of normalizing mental illness as something removed from the symptoms. because people arent seeing symptoms, they are hearing that they happened and then starring at this person they dont equate with those things, because they are functional seemingly normal people, and thinking “wow, shes come a long way” or “im so glad thats over for her” (both of those things have been said directly to me after more generalized mental illness speeches) and they treat you like youve magically become better. like you have a secret and like other mentally ill people could find it if they too tried as hard as you did.

this is partially because some people go through one serious bout of depression, usually brought on by a very specific set of circumstances, from which they are able, through the help of temporary medication and some serious help, to get out of, and they do overcome that depression and they dont fall back into it. and then these people talking about being mentally ill. and maybe this is a jackass thing to say, but they arent. they are people who have suffered from depression, but they are not chronically mentally ill. and somehow, people think this is the norm for mental illness. it is not.

so. im sorry if you are going through shit. i am sorry if i am presenting a view of life right now like its gotten better! ta da! im sorry if this has been a thing for you to compare things to, that makes you feel worse. and im sorry that i feel sorry for not being sick enough. that is a weird, unhelpful feeling to put out into the mentally ill universe.

so let me say this, to ease my conscious, to normalize, to give perspective, or context, or whatever it is, to my last few posts.

-ive have had an extremely relaxed, low key, family oriented christmas. i am happy. it has been joyous and full of love and happy things. i didnt feel stressed, or cry, or feel crushed by the weight of something that wasnt there. i do miss my grandma, but it is ok. i feel ok. there was a noticeable lack of stress. it has been exceptional. i am very lucky. this is true.

-my family, every single member except my oldest brother, have gone through therapy. my sister and i have gone through a lot of therapy, myself going on 8 years with the same psychologist, and several misc attempts before that. we did family therapy. my brother did ocd specific therapy. we have recognized that there is a problem (or many, layered interacting problems) and worked on ourselves and also our family dynamic, from many different angles, for a decade and a half. we are a family that puts family above everything else, for whatever reason, and we have worked through some pretty serious trauma and family shit to get to where we are at. many people have said i have a “tv family” in recent years, and there is some truth to that, now, but i cant underscore enough that this was not always the case.

-i am still very conscious of my mental illness. it is a fibre of my being. it dictates many of my life choices, even when im well. i  plan around it like it is a child that i must take care of. when im sick its an infant and when im well its a grown up that you never stopped worrying about. it is always present to some degree. it will come back full force, sometime. i am not fixed.

-my family does not completely do stereotypical christmas. particularly around gift giving. my father strongly believes that we should help each other when we need help, year round, not on a misc day of the year where we buy each other shit because we are obligated to do so. he also hates shopping, malls, and generally the public in the month of december. so he has opted out. my parents dont exchange gifts. my siblings and i dont exchange gifts. occasionally my brother will send something up if he finds something he thinks one of us would really enjoy, because we dont see each other, and he is very wealthy. my sister loves the idea of giving people things at christmas, so sometimes she will give things, usually to me or my parents, and usually not expensive but very thoughtful (see: the christmas miracle tape). she also makes food based christmas stockings for everyone with my parents money. i usually help her. if we all happen to have spare cash and my parents actually need something, we will buy it for them, because they do a lot for us and are not at a point in their lives where they need much from us during the year (this year my brothers were the only ones with money, and they bought my parents a set of glasses because they needed them. in previous years we all had a lot of money and bought them a washing machine when theres broke a week before christmas. most years they get nothing.). my mom usually buys my sister and i a few items because she knows we are struggling financially and she wants us to have something to enjoy. but basically there is absolutely no pressure to get anyone anything, to spend money we dont have, or to brave overcrowded shopping malls. we feel zero guilt about this. moreover, the members of my family with children can afford gifts for their children. this combination is a luxury few people have.

at the end of the day, my point is writing about feeling normal is hard for me, for strange reasons. and i feel guilty sometimes when things work out for me, and i dont know why. its almost the same feeling i had when i was very depressed and someone i knew got cancer, and all i could think was ‘why couldnt i take the burden instead?’. i just. i feel like an outsider sometimes. like im looking in on the lives of people and i know what they are going through and i feel helpless. probably like my parents feel about me.

why am i the one that gets the good period?

fucked up question right?

maybe only other seriously suicidal people will understand. maybe no one will. maybe this is all crazy gibberish. i know it will come back, but it feels unfair that i get to be this ok, for this long, and so many people dont.

im sorry.

 

it’s a reindeer round up, at the north pole corral

Standard

i had this tape when i was little called like “christmas is for children” or something. it was white with blue lettering that i can picture perfectly but im unsure i was ever actually able to read before the writing got all half worn off, so i cant be 100% sure thats actually what it was called. this tape included such classics as “reindeer round up” (its a reindeer round up, and the north pole corral, theyll be hitchin up that sleigh any day now dun dun dun dun) and something i thought was called “i think that i like christmas” (in which an angry old man is taught to love christmas by a group of carolling kids). that is basically the entirety of my memory of this tape, but i LOVED it. thoughts of it make my insides smile.

my sister and i had all kinds of christmas traditions; she is very big on traditions and has been since we were little, so these traditions lasted well past when they should have (see: us reading each other old childrens christmas books [barbapoppas christmas!] on christmas eve when i was a teenager. see also: going to mcdonalds every christmas eve for the first 20+ years of my life because when my siblings were little and lived in the boonies they would stop at mcdonalds on the drive in to see my grandparents), and we used to listen to this tape all through december. im sure it was a welcome break, at first, from the fred penner i blared at full volume to sleep when i was 2 and/or the backstreet boys first album (which, in case you were wondering, came out a few years earlier and is a completely different album than the first one released in the states. im sure you were wondering.) i blared to go to sleep by the time i was 8 or so. and then there was that hanson obsession… basically ive been blaring music to go to sleep since before headphones were really a thing. but i digress. we listened to it every christmas until way past when it was acceptable to own a tape player, until somehow the tape just disappeared and no one really noticed because we dont have any way to play them anyway. so now amy and i just sing random lines of a country themed christmas song at each other while sounding slightly deranged.

this tape, for obvious reasons, is not located on itunes or google play music. because it is literally the weirdest thing and i cant imagine it was ever popular. and, as amy found out, because it was a give away tape produced by the ontario lotto commission in 1984, and was all songs by local ontario singers with zero budget, hence why there were literally no actual christmas carols on the tape. (how a tape from the ontario lotto commission, produced two years before my birth, made it into my tiny little nova scotian hands remains a mystery).

but my sister. my sister is really good at interneting. the best, really. id wager money on it. so she found a site that used to have the tape on it, run by a guy who would go to thrift stores and digitize/upload random vintage tapes. the site was no longer functional because the government doesnt want us to have nice things  copyright infringement. so she found the guy who ran it on facebook, and he gave her some log in to the site to download the tape, only the files didnt work, so she harassed him again, and her re did the files for her.

so when we were doing adult christmas this year (normally just stockings, but this year my parents bought both amy and i gifts because we arent working), my sister brings out her ipad and the grumpy old man starts huffing at the carolling children.

and that my friends, is a little christmas miracle.

christmas was good this year. super relaxed. we did adult christmas (mom, dad, amy, sean, sean’s mom, and me), which was extra fun this year because we got gifts! i sound like im 5, but like, we dont normally really do gifts to begin with, and i am extremely poor, so it was extra exciting. my parents gave me three pairs of pj pants that i desperately needed (a) the ones i wear all the time now have like 4 holes in them and b) i end up wearing pj pants a lot because my niece and nephew come down all the time so when i would previously just wander around pantless, i now wear pj pants), a nice night cream and day time moisturizer, some lip balm, foot cream, a pair of leggings because the ones i own are wearing out, some canvases and a few paint brushes since ive been painting more/selling some art lately, some grocery money, and a board game ive really wanted called “pandemic legacy” (something completely frivolous so i really wasnt expecting it). my sister gave me some planted herbs too, which was really nice an unexpected.

seans mom was much better today, had normal conversations and somewhat participated in activities! so that was a nice change. she is still a little… odd to be around. she is extremely smart but also very… slow? somehow? its a very weird combination. but she is nice and has been making an effort to talk about things at least somewhat related to the persons interest and allowing people to respond.  i think shes really lonely normally, because she lives alone an hour out of the city, and she has a strained relationship with her kids and very low mobility so i doubt she gets out much. so im glad she was here and not alone for christmas. i think thats why she talks so much, shes never got anyone to talk to except when shes here. all the things shes been thinking for the past month just spew out sometimes.

to cover the basics, we had dinner super early (2pm?) to accommodate jeff and brandy’s schedule. kids came over and opened their gifts and were typical little kids and just tore everything open. unless they could tell it was clothing, at which point they angrily threw it without opening it. darling children. dad made a delicious turkey dinner, as par usual, jeff and i did the dishes. jeff and all left, i accidentally took nighttime sinus medicine and took almost a 2 hour nap. played cards and the african strategy game seans mom got them (its fun! i cant for the life of me remember what its called! very simple to learn, but lots of strategy involved.) ate a bunch of chocolate. now its 230 in the morning and im writing a blog, because me.

that was basically the day!

im happy. its so nice to be happy and not stressed and not really… any negative thing at the holidays. i know thats rare for most people, and its been rare for me even though i clearly have a great and close family, so i appreciate it more. my heart still goes out to all the people hating everything right now though, because this time of year can definitely be a double edged sword, even for those without fucked up pasts and mental disorders.

hope you all coped well, talked to someone you loved, and had something delicious to eat (even if it was chinese food and movie theatre popcorn, eddie :P)

merry christmas/happy chanukah!