Finding the Words

It’s been five weeks since … I still don’t have a label for it. It just is.

Well I guess I could say “my old wounds got torn open, setting me back a year or two in my recovery to how I felt and functioned about 18-24+ months ago.” (‘Recovery’ – to the degree to which I find that term relevant – isn’t a unidirectional, continuously-getting-better process. It’s complicated and messy and all over the place. So this can’t be a setback, just an unexpected and more-difficult-than-anticipated part of the journey. Perhaps a necessary part? It’s certainly reminded me of how vulnerable I am – but also how resilient I am.)

I’m inclined to say “that’s a bit melodramatic” but, well, it’s my truth. Coming back from that hasn’t been easy. For a while I took a break from activism, particularly the being-a-leader-in-a-grassroots-organization stuff. I’ve been getting back into it, almost to the point where I feel like I’m “pulling my weight” again – putting in effective work commensurate with the roles I have. But I’m also addicted to Terraria, my apartment is as messy as ever (what an understatement!), and my relationship with Fox … let’s just say both my therapists seem to agree it should be my primary focus. And one basically suggested he should quit his job so he’ll have energy to put into our relationship.

It’s been about 3.5 weeks since I visited Ron in the hospital and 2.5 weeks since ze was released. Ze lost zir job and couldn’t go back to zir parents’ house because their terms were unreasonable to the point of being unhealthy, so ze is currently homeless. People are doing what they can to help and ze says ze feels better. Ze seems better too – most of the time. Sometimes zir “speech seems pressured” but it’s usually connected to particular topics, and it’s possible to move the conversation elsewhere. Ze listens to me.

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Memorial Day

Content Note: In this post I express views that are strongly anti-war, anti-violence, and anti-militarism. I mean no disrespect to veterans, active duty military personnel, or military families.

Memorial Day is traditionally a day to honor those who have died during military service, particularly in war. It originated after the Civil War.

The parade in my town passes my street, just a couple doors down from my house. I’ve marched in it, as have my father and my dog. I don’t remember the last time I actively attended, but I hear the drums, bagpipes, and sirens every year. They bring back memories – this year, of what may have been the last time all three of us were at the parade together.

It hurts.

But this isn’t about me. It’s about the people who give their lives and sacrifice their mental health – for what? Gone are the days when we engaged in wars that were actually for something. Now we just have ongoing military conflict that could more accurately be described as terrorism, wasting millions or billions of dollars on the kinds of weapons we claim to be trying to prevent, devastating entire countries, ruining the lives of millions, creating refugees, and creating the very terrorists we claim to be fighting. For what? Corporate greed and US imperialism.

Our military personnel and veterans die of friendly fire and suicide, in service not to our country, but to the greed of the wealthiest people in the world. We shouldn’t just remember our soldiers, we shouldn’t even just mourn, we need to stand up for them. Demand an end to this wasteful violence.

And in the meantime, do whatever we can to protect and improve their mental health. (Also physical health, making sure they have access to healthy food, safe affordable housing, and a fair income whether they choose to work or not, etc.)

I feel like I “dropped the ball” on Mental Health Awareness Month, but there are still a couple days left in May. Today I’d like to share 2 links that seem particularly appropriate:

Veterans & Active Duty

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has information and links to resources for veterans and active duty personnel that may be helpful in protecting one’s career, accessing mental health services, assisting fellow soldiers, and transitioning to civilian life.

Family Members & Caregivers

Members of military families, or probably any family, may benefit from the information and resources offered by NAMI. Please note that “the information here” is linked to in a separate column on the left side of the page.

Solidarity.

It’s been 2 weeks. Ron is still in the hospital; ze hopes to be released on Tuesday.

We’ve spoken on the phone several times; I’ve generally done my best to be supportive and our conversations have been mostly good.

I also visited zir once during the week. It felt a lot like how things had been around May Day, before the … crisis. I was happy to see zir and ze seemed calm, reasonable. We walked part of the grounds and sat on a somewhat secluded bench. Ze asked me to play a song on guitar, so I did, carefully focusing on the music. Then ze handed me a composition book and put zir arm around me, leaning in as I reviewed its contents. It felt good to be close, but at the same time there were alarms going off in my head. This was not what Fox and I had agreed would be appropriate for our first rendezvous, and I was allowing Ron to overstep the boundaries I’d promised to myself.

We talked and ze stroked my arm and hair and kissed me and it was wonderful. But then ze had both arms around me, essentially, and was leaning in …

“We shouldn’t get too into this right now,” I said, gently but firmly.

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Compassion / Pay It Forward

TW: mention of suicidal ideation

Ron had two really bad days in a row, and didn’t sleep in between. Ze told me ze was suicidal. On the first day I took time from my visit with Banji to have an extended phone conversation with Ron, anything to keep zir connected. On the second day I drove for five hours, successfully chaired a 90-minute meeting, reconnected with Fox after 5 days apart, then welcomed Ron into our home at 10:30pm. We decided to hang out in the back yard.

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Entropy

Oh, this is bad. This is really bad.

I’m exhausted but I can’t bring myself to go to sleep. Like, I’m falling asleep, I’m having auditory hallucinations, I feel completely and utterly drained of all energy … but I … it’s not even that I don’t want to go to sleep, I do. And it’s not that I can’t go to sleep. I just … I don’t know, I’m finding whatever else I can do. The computer isn’t helping but I know how to shut it down. There’s something else going on.

And I’m like barely eating. When I eat, it’s smaller portions. I don’t know if it matters that I’ve been drinking a lot of ginger ale lately? Soda, sugar … I dunno. I do know I’m not drinking enough water.

I was outside for much of the day yesterday, walking around. It was pretty awesome. But I had two nights in a row of very little sleep. So I spent most of today exhausted, with sore muscles … not exactly the best motivation to go outside and move around, gorgeous as it was today.

I hate how cluttered this apartment is, especially my desk. I couldn’t tolerate sitting at it today. But I can’t quite bring myself to do anything about it – I kinda feel like what’s the point, it’s just gonna get cluttered again. Mom sent me “4 tips for decluttering your home;” I would’ve laughed if I’d had the energy. They’re like “put a bandaid on your broken arm” or something. (She meant well, it’s just not addressing the real issue.)

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New Theme

Since I’ve come back to blogging, I’ve felt like the “Dusk to Dawn” theme no longer feels right. It’s … well … too dark. I’m pleased to say that darkness no longer dominates my daily experience. I feel hopeful, connected, like I’m doing something meaningful with my life and my efforts are appreciated …

Most of the time.

Lately I’ve been feeling really down. It’s hard to focus on anything useful, so I’ve started playing The Sims 3 again, after several months of barely touching video games. Yesterday I went to an event intending to represent an organization I’m a leader in … but I feel like the only useful thing I did was provide some moral support to one of the speakers. I couldn’t sleep last night because I kept thinking about everything I did “wrong.”

I’m gonna blame it on my friend moving. It turns out I was right about why, except that it’s really only focused on one particular person, and they were both responsible for what happened. The last time I saw my friend in person – possibly ever – he asked me to give and say some things to her. It seemed innocuous, but when I found out the context, I was horrified; if I’d followed through with his request, I could’ve seriously hurt someone who’s already hurting, and possibly destroyed any chance I’d have of forming a friendship with her. (Right now I’d say we’re “friendly acquaintances.”)

I’m furious, and I feel betrayed – even violated. I trusted this person, confided in him, went out of my way to be supportive and comforting toward him, gave him the benefit of the doubt when others turned their backs on him. He tried to draw me into a conflict that is none of my business, and he tried to use me to lash out at someone – without my knowledge or consent. And I feel like all the pieces of the puzzle were there, scattered about through various conversations we had over the course of a month, usually after he’d had a few beers. But I didn’t see the connections until after he’d gone …

Codependency. People suck me into their problems, I take on their feelings and perspectives, and I’m always walking a fine line to remain myself through all of it. I … I fell off the line this time, but I managed to grab onto it.

I hate to say it, but I’m glad my “friend” moved. I need my space from him. I hope he heals from this. And if we ever meet again … well, hopefully he’ll be in a better place, less destructive to everything and everyone around him. And I’ll have my guard up emotionally.

I guess I always need to keep my guard up emotionally. How exhausting!

So now I have a new, lighter theme. It’s serene, neutral, a blank canvas. And I love the header image of the shoreline – that was one of the default options, actually. Emotions, moods, ebb and flow like the tide. Seemingly peaceful waves can have a powerful undertow. We may heal, we may grow, we may live fulfilling lives, but the depression is always there, under the surface. I’m learning to ride the waves.

Hoarding

I am a hoarder. There, I said it.

My apartment isn’t just “a mess,” it’s really, really bad. Like probably a health and safety hazard bad. And by probably I mean almost definitely. If nothing else, I keep getting sick – and I don’t think I can blame that entirely on protesting in the cold, while being precipitated upon…

But I digress.

There’s a path through the apartment: You can walk through the front door, down the hallway, into the kitchen, around the kitchen table, and out the back door.

From the hallway you can enter the bedroom and access the near side of the bed. Around the foot of the bed is a bit hazardous, and you can’t walk on the far side at all. I’ve stopped using the armoire on that side for practical clothing storage, instead I use the bed. (Fox sleeps on a futon in the living room, his choice.)

From the hallway you can enter the living room and access Fox’s futon, the TV, my desk, and my piano (if you’re brave). You can access all the important things in the kitchen, but you can’t sit at or really use the table. You can also enter the bathroom, which, umm … I don’t remember the last time I cleaned anything other than the toilet.

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