vacant

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i used to love the blog https://fifty2letters.wordpress.com/.  i miss it sometimes, like a weird form of internet kinship of people who have never spoken but are the only ones speaking. only ive stopped speaking, too.  not for reasons like hers (she completed her project, for better or worse… maybe she has another blog somewhere now, who knows).  ive stopped because im not suffering horribly and i dont know how to talk about things when they are only kind of miserable to sometimes ok.  actually i sort of hate when people talk about being sort of miserable and talk about being ‘mildly depressed’. i dont know why, im kind of a shitty person i guess, but it just frustrates me.  so i silence myself.

im sitting on a panel representing students at a mental health conference next week.  i am dreading it, as per usual.  im not sure why i always agree to do these things.  i dont like doing them. and someone from the CFS will be there too, which is awkward since we seem to have this completely unneeded dislike of each other. lest the student movement work together. (oh left, always so divided…).

jon left and work feels like chaos though its really not much different i just hate the project im working on. and i shouldnt, its theoretically in my ballpark.

sam’s kidneys have failed and shes going into the hospital in a little over a week. she is probably the strongest person ive met, maybe too strong for her own good.  she never complains. she never feasters in her own depression, somehow. i worry about her a lot.

Sometimes i think about writing letters on here, like Mara did, but I dont have anyone to write them to.  no one has died. theres no one to fill in that i dont have the ability to fill in (though i tend not to bother). i think the construct might help me have things to say though. I dont know.

i feel like drinking.

im actually really unhappy they discontinued my favourite liquor. actually they didnt discontinue it, canada just decided to stop selling it. i have a giant bottle i bought in the states but its going to run out.

i feel like being drunk.

i feel like feeling nothing and loving everything and everyone and not caring about anything but everyone. i miss when that was a thing i didnt associate with being raped.

i feel like feeling safe.

i miss feeling safe. that doesnt come back.

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“Passively suicidal is your baseline”

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My therapy session on Monday ended with that sentence. “You sound passively suicidal, which if we are being honest is kind of your baseline. So it sucks, but it’s not crisis mode.”

I don’t know how one is supposed to take that, although its completely true. It just sort of feels like the problem in mental health care. “Ok, so you have cancer, but its only stage 3. So it sucks, but it’s not crisis mode.”  Somehow I don’t think people say that.

So. I’m sure everyone who pays attention to academic news, feminist issues, or hell, just watches the news really, has heard about the major scandal at the Dalhousie school of dentistry. My job places me somewhat in the periphery to middle of the whole debacle. A lot of press statements, media commentary, riding fine lines. For those of you who aren’t familiar, a group of 4th year dentistry men had a facebook group in which they made ‘jokes’ about chlorophorming female classmates so they could fuck them, had polls on who they would “hate fuck” and generally made a lot of rapey comments. Public outrage has ensued, particularly because the students worked in the public clinic – ie, with chloroform, on the public.  Public doesnt like how the school is handling it, everyone is commenting on it.  the canadian dentistry board has commented on it, for christ sake.

And this is my job. Politics, post secondary education, students. This is my job.  And it is unbelievably triggering. which feels like such a cop out.

I dont even know how to talk about it. ive been the victim of sexual assault and now talking about sexual assault makes me queasy?

—-

I’m fighting with my mother, of all people.  I havent been answering my phone. then my brother emailed me, and it happened that shortly after i chose to look at my phone. so i emailed him back, and then called her. and apparently im a terrible person because i couldnt even deign to tell her that i was ok, but id email my brother. and “obviously im fine” because im “hosting a party” tomorrow. My party, being having 4 people over, all of whom I would describe as my best friends, all of whom Ive gone to bawling because I thought I might kill myself. But you know, I can go “party” so im fine and just being ever so melodramatic.

I honestly want to punch her. I cant help it. I really do.

Speaking of which, my father was a dick over Christmas. Im not going to get into it, it was mostly butting heads but it was just.. I just cant. I need to not deal with them.

Brandon is gone for another 3 days.  Its sort of nice. Its probably sort of dangerous. I dont know. Passively is the word of the day, I suppose.

I bought mini quiches and egg rolls and crap for tomorrow. I dont know why. its 5 people.

forcing myself to deal with other people. food is some sort of buffer. here, eat this, be distracted. dont ask me things. lookit, red lipstick and coordinated outfit. im fine. so fine. not like that time i went psychotic and didnt brush my hair for two months. but you didnt know that because i didnt leave my house then, either. whoopsie, dont mind me, haahaha have a mini quiche.

—-

Jons leaving work.

Im probably going to have to quit.

did I mention Ive stopped sleeping?

I’ve watched 2 seasons of Gilmore Girls and 2.5 seasons of Ink master though, so Ive got that going for me.

Rocking this living life to the fullest thing. Rock-fucking-ing.

rage

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i have a friend who is also bipolar. he has much more “typical” bipolar symptoms, no one ever doubts him unless they think he is schizophrenic. he rages from time to time. yells at people and punches walls and buries himself in a dark place for days and days. while i have always done the latter, its been nearly a decade since i had done the former.

until last weekend.

I dont know whats up lately, honestly. most of the time i feel fine, but every so often something is just completely, crushingly, overwhelming. almost 2 weeks ago i was in Cape Breton with work. I knew I was anxious. I could feel it. I almost didn’t go on the trip because of it. Boss suddenly throws giving a large presentation into my lap on zero notice. had a complete and total meltdown. as in went outside, sat on the ground and bawled and shook. Took 5 mg of ativan. passed out.

My brother was up from the states visiting, along with one of my nieces. I missed the first 2 days of the visit being in Cape Breton, but I spent the next 3 out at my parents with them. Those days were good. Well, if you ignore the fact that the reason he came here was because my grandfather is dying.

This weekend was pride, or gay christmas as it is affectionately known around here. its a big holiday for us, brandon and i always host it. but everyone was away… and then brandon went to cape breton for his moms birthday… so it was just me but everyone had already been invited so i had to do it anyway. this is probably where i should have enacted that self care thing my therapist always talks about.

my work participated in the pride parade on saturday (at my behest, hello equity officer). it was long. they made us marshall at noon, and then stand there for 2 hours with no water or food in the blazing hot sun BEFORE the 2 hour parade. it was 30 something degrees. my medication comes with a giant sticker that says “avoid sunlight”

….

so that didn’t go so great.
Actually the parade was fine, I handed out condoms mostly to middle aged ladies and the occasion lesbian (sorry). But then I came home. and died. heat exhaustion is a terrible, terrible thing. so much vomit. so much cant move. so much tired.

my apartment was half clean when people arrived. i also wasnt dressed or ready at all and had just thrown up. again. jon and amanda basically set up the entire party and finished cleaning for me because i couldnt stand up.

party happened. i did ok-ish through it. I missed going to refs even though i had a bracelet. kind of happy about it though because im always worried about seeing the rapist. all my friends went to refs, and then crashed at my house. i continued being sick.

nicole flew in the next morning and amber and sav went to get her; they didnt wake me up. They decided they wanted to go swimming (in my pool) once nicole was there, and asked if i wanted to come. when i said no they said ‘ok i guess we will see you later then.’ …again. in MY pool. then they decide to go to lunch first. do not invite me. then they come and go swimming in my pool. in the interim, my parents try to park in their parking spot, but sav is parked in it. my dad starts to get them towed but they happen to come into the garage and tell my parents that their my friends, so my dad doesnt tow them. they dont. move. the. car. and my parents end up parking on the street. meanwhile, im at home, in my apartment, sick as hell, now not from heat stroke but from the fact that i vomited up all of my medication for the past 14 hours and have officially gone into withdrawal. i clean up my entire apartment from the party i ‘hosted’ but didnt attend, by myself. they left half eaten poutine and steak sandwiches all over my floor. the air mattress and blankets they used were strewn about my living room. bottles were everywhere. they didnt even do the bare minimum fold up you bedding post party cleaning.

they text me to come let them into my apartment from my pool.

annnnnnd i lost it. i could feel it surging. it felt like an out of body experience to be so engulfed in anger and rage that i was shaking but i was so anxious i had spent the morning having misc bawling spells and clawing my arms open because thats what happens with i throw up my meds.

i yellllled at them. and honestly, they kind of fucking deserved it. these arent casual acquaintances. they are supposed to be my best friends. it was awkward. they got weird. then nicole could see how badly i was shaking (from about 5 feet away) and hugged me. and theeeeeen i started bawling. and panicking. and ran into my room and collapsed on the floor and couldnt breathe. and bawling. for a solid 10 minutes. none of the 4 of them had ever seen any actual evidence of my actual mental illness before. it was awkward. nicole sat with me. eventually i stopped bawling so much but was still basically convulsing with shakes. i apologized for yelling. amber apologized for being a dick, sav and robb say nothing. sav and robb left. nicole amber and i spend the night watching movies in between my throwing up food. amber brought me gatorade.

next day i went to work for a staff meeting, that was fine. came home afterwards. laid in bed and starred at the wall for awhile. got up and went to all you can eat sushi with sav nicole and amber. didnt eat, obviously. went to board room cafe with a bunch of people. came home. weirdly numb. bad mental health day.

slept in today. wrote half of a paper. my parents showed up because they were taking my grandmother out and my mom knew i wasnt doing well and they really wanted me to come. i was supposed to be working. i went anyway, because, lets be honest, i wasnt exactly progressing anything. it was actually really nice, we drove up to the places my grandmother and parents used to live, where they got married, schools my brothers attended. got food. came home. and here we are. basically starring at the ceiling again.

i need to finish that paper tonight. its not going to happen.
but im not killing myself. and not killing myself is happening in place of the paper writing. so thats just going to have to be that.
i dont… know.

—-

i went to my psychiatrist the other week and he increased my mood stabilizers. it makes me tired tired tired. im operational in bouts of 4-5 hours, really. brandon is in cape breton, and im happy about it. i love him but the apartment is actually clean when he isnt here. and i know with absolute certainty that being in a dirty place with this level of anxious and depressed would extrapolate things to degrees i do not wish to think about. i am dreading his coming home.

so. thats all.
therapy in the morning.

paralyzed

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it’s 3 am. I’ve stopped bothering to try to be on a normal schedule.

I haven’t written anything in awhile; I feel like I have nothing to say. The weeks have been up and down and a little topsy turvy. I had trouble leaving the apartment for awhile, I went to my parents for awhile. I made it to Nocturne (the art festival) and to my friend Nicole’s birthday party. I started some class work. I stared blankly at my thesis. I had a panic attack. I cried. I’m strongly considering taking the fail just to avoid having to go through the pages of text that now only remind me of being in hysterical, psychotic disrepair, and being raped. Sadly, in this context, those are actually two separate and concretely different events.

I can’t look at it. I have to write maybe 5 pages. I have already written the other 150. I have already defended it in front of the department I already went to the national conference and won a national award. It is good research. No one has done it before. It is incredibly publishable and Angie has been pushing me to edit it down for publication submission since we were half way through the ethics debacle. I worked hard. I worked so, so, so hard on this thing. I got threatened with the criminal code. I wrote a 200 page rebuttal. I fought an ethics board and won. I did the work, I know the research. I did this. I did it. I did it better than everyone else and I cant write five damn pages because looking at it makes me panic so bad I sob in public.

It has nothing to do with my thesis. My thesis is good. My thesis is a master’s level thesis. Its the bull shit. its the association of being broken and unable to cope. Its the memory of staring at my computer screen for hours, fingers aching to make minor edits while having a mixed episode. It the sudden realization that the words I was typing didn’t make sense next to one another, it’s that moment where reality struck just long enough to call a crisis line. It’s the unabashed truth that that I went crazy in ways I’m not ready to deal with yet.

I’ve got 10 days to have this thesis finished or I fail it. I’ve gone through all the medical deferrals they can give me. This is it. How do you put that all aside and write? Why cant I put that all aside and write?

I shouldn’t be here yet. I’m not ready to be here yet.

Breathe.

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Today is better.
I don’t know if it will last, and I’m choosing not to stress about it.

I didn’t kill myself yesterday.
I was close. I was closer than I care to admit, closer than I ever remember being… including the days spent sitting in the ER.
Many people helped me not kill myself (my therapist, my mom, my brother, a random stranger who commented on this blog), but I did it. I stayed alive, in 60 second bursts, for the entire day. Through a fight. Through urges. Through fits and bursts. I did that.

I have coping skills. I have the doctors, the therapists, the support networks, the people to call, the order of things to do, the small goals. I have the things you are told to build when you end up in the ER. I have the things, and sometimes, the things are still not enough. Sometimes, there are just 60 second blocks, one after another, and you just try to get through each one. Little goals. Tick. Tock.
There is nothing to do but wait it out.

Today isnt like that.
I woke up bad, but not awful. I woke up (goal #1), I swallowed pills (goal #2). Stripped off the sweat drenched bulky sweaters and layers of clothing I had piled all over my body as protection from myself the night before.
I dont remember falling asleep. My body aches all over from the constant clenched tension I’d held in it all night.
I showered (goal #4). Didnt shave. Too much of a temptation (goal #5). Got dressed (goal #6)
I ate a peach: nutrients (goal #7).
I left the apartment (goal #8) and got a package from the post office. I came home and did skype therapy. Therapy makes me feel like I’m working on the problem, so therefore therapy makes me feel better, in and of itself. There no worse feeling that that of feeling like you are doing nothing to fix being horribly, crushingly, defeated.
I made tea. I hugged my roommate (goal #9). I ate vegetables (goal #7).
And then, something weird happened. I felt like maybe going outside would be ok.
I haven’t felt like maybe being outside would be ok in a long time. So I decided to act on it as fast as humanly possible. Ellie stopped by shortly there after so I dragged her to a nearby park with me. it was sunny but not hot. There was a water fountain: I love watching water fountains. They calm me. We stayed there for an hour and then everyone was going to trivia because its Tuesday. I love trivia. I was already outside. I was worried about the crowd because on Saturday I had to leave a party due to a massive panic attack turned suicidal downward spiral. Decided to go and sit at the table with Amber and Nicole because we need to show up like an hour early to save the table. Could leave when a crowd started to form if I needed. We got a good table and I got to sit by the wall… lots of space. Made it through trivia night. Last minute text to my boss and he came down to play, too. Sat in the dark park with my boss after 11pm. Talked about work. talked about life. talked about where things were at. He walked me home. (goals #10-72384238)
I’m going in to sign my contract tomorrow… start health benefits. In a week or two I’ll start working only the hours I feel up to being there, and not being there when I’m not. I’m extremely lucky to have such a supportive amazing workplace. I wish I could just give one to everyone who goes through any of this. I dont know how I’d have survived without it.

Todays a good day. Maybe tomorrow will be too. Maybe it wont. But I’m grateful for the pause; the reminder. The intake of air.

Crush

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Things have changed.

I know this should be the easy part. The part where I just simply recount the past couple weeks of soul crippling depression in bits and fragments… some sort of counter part to the ‘psychosis’ post from a few weeks ago. But it isnt. Its never easy for me to admit this half of the spectrum; the one I feel like I should be able to control. Its been here longer, and it takes up much more space inside me. It is a part of me in a much more tangible, recognizable way: the pitch, pitch black.

Last week, I was forcibly taken to the ER because I was suicidal and the people closest to me were gravely concerned for my well being. I’ve hinted and mentioned and touched on this fact, and the circumstances leading up to it in bits and pieces. It was (is?) a bleak period for me. there is something so inherently difficult to explain here… some coming to of an innate, constant reality that just broke me.

As a mental health advocate, its an incredibly taboo thing for me to say, but I’m going to say it: the realization that I was, in fact, bipolar, or at the very least not “just” anxious has been, at times, unbearable for me. It is not that I don’t value people with these heavy diagnoses. I do, I really, truly do. people that have these problems and cope. That make it through their lives and do what they want to do, who be who they want to be, who are good, amazing, wonderful people who better the world. The people who have such strength and fortitude to survive: they are my heroes, in every sense of the word. But lately, or maybe always, I have a deep seeded doubt that this is something I can ever personally accomplish. And that is crushing.

I cannot pretend my mental illness is not a burden: it is. it is painful. it is heavy. it is a boulder that sits on my chest and the only thing keeping it from crushing through my rib cage is the strength of my finger tips and sheer force of will. It is not easy. It is not pleasant. It is not without struggle.

I spend a lot of time fighting to not be defined by that struggle. A lot of time. So it is painful for me to admit that in the face of recognizing that that struggle was something serious, something permanent, something that wont necessarily improve with continuous hard work and diligent effort… it broke me. Looking at the state I was in, and knowing, unequivocally, that there was nothing I could do to stop it, to stop myself from being back here again, that I was already doing everything anyone could suggest… was devastating.

I work hard at being mentally healthy.
I go to therapy. I work on things that my psychologist tells me to work on. I have insight into why things are happening and what is causing what. I do my best to reason and talk through things. I use all my CBT training. I have a psychiatrist. A good one. I take the pills I’m told to take. I go to my appointments. I modify my diet. I do the stupid routines and sleep hygiene. I work. I try. There is literally nothing I could be doing right now to work any harder at this, aside from being better at doing nothing at all.

And this still happened.

This horrible, crushing, terrible thing still happened.

I cant work it away.
I have always been able to work it away.

As stupid, or misguided as it may be, having a diagnosis of depression and anxiety, as opposed to bipolar or schizoaffective, or whatever label it ends up being, made me feel like I had more control. It made me feel like I could work my way through it. It made me feel like if I just tried harder I could get somewhere, because I have always held that sliver of hope. That hope that so many people have lost.
But, for some reason, for whatever reason, the bipolar label makes me feel like I’ve lost that. And the switching of labels.. the oh your bipolar, oh nevermind you’ve got anxiety, oh i meant ptsd, oh no, “just” depression… it feels like I was robbed of time to adjust.

I know its just a word. A label meant to help those who help me; not one to define me or who I am. But it matters. I have very separate emotions attached to each. and they may be unreasonable and they may be the byproduct of stigma and internalization of bullshit, but they are mine and i have a right to work through them.

I have a right to be devastated by apparently old news. I am devastated by old news. My finger tips can only hold some much weigh before they give. The boulder is going to fall, some of the time. My ribs are going to have to learn how to take it.

I have a right to be tired. I have a right to let myself be crushed.

so. have i mentioned im not jewish?

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so i went on a date with a rabbi.
in fact i let him touch me. i havent let people touch me in quite a long time. sure, ive hugged my roommate on occasion, and my mom, and given a good friend a quick squeeze good bye… but i havent been able to do any form of sustained touch since i woke up and realized: rape. and he touched me. he made sure i was comfortable. he talked to me. he brushed my hair off my face, he looked in the eyes. he rubbed my neck, he kissed my forehead. he kissed my lips. things (but not THINGS) happened. and i was ok. i got anxious and froze and locked my whole body up.. and then hed just touch me and talk about things until he could feel me relax again.. over and over again.

when i left i started to panic. the drunk panic where you dont really make sense and you babble like a three year old while slightly losing touch with reality panic. i called chris. i rambled at him. he was a good sport.

i feel very conflicted, about the whole thing. on the one hand, theres this person who wants to help me in the ways that i need help right now. i need to relax around people. i need to relearn how to be touched. or maybe just learn, in the first place, because my family never really did that and my two modes of touching have always been: extremely uncomfortable or crazy sex. but on the other hand. hes, you know, a rabbi. and you know what im not? jewish. im definitely not jewish. im not even religious. im like, pretty much a respectful atheist up in here.

this can go nowhere. is that a problem? can i just be friends with this person and let him touch me and kiss me and whatever casual whateverness until it heals something inside me and have that be ok? i really feel like he could. and he feels like he could. but then i feel weird, about the religious lines, which is dumb because they arent mine. they arent my things. its his choice to handle that however he wants to handle that. and hes already been exceptionally clear it cant turn into anything, because im not jewish, and all. but i wonder how long it will be until he freaks out about it. till theres back track.

i dont know. maybe ill try it. unless hes all “holy shit, im a rabbi wtf am i doing? in a couple days. i think i could do this though. i think i could trust him. in whatever weird way.