Internet. I can’t relate to fighting it myself, ‘only’ depression and anxiety – but more than one of my besties, among others, have each struggled with their own thoughts of suicide. And it’s terrifying, not being able to help the people you love, who you know are hurting. I can only imagine that I have *more* friends who have entertained the idea of suicide, but whose brains tell them not to speak out or seek help, for varying reasons of helplessness, shame, fear, etc.
It’s incredibly easy to say “oh if you have these feelings reach out” or “call this number when you need help” (I am guilty of this myself) but I can confidently say that when you are in your darkest depths, that’s not always how it works. Brains are assholes. Fear is a liar.
One of the most liberating things I’ve found about being more open with my struggles with my mental health is that it encourages other friends and acquaintances to be more open with me. And that, in turn, strengthens our support network, because we know that we’re not alone.
Last week a friend texted me pre-panic attack. I couldn’t do anything but let her know that I was around if she needed me, or ask her “do you have meds? can you find a quiet place? did you remember to take deep breaths?” And that’s a special kind of helplessness. But we were in it TOGETHER. And even that tiny sliver of not-alone can help, in the darker times.
If I might recommend a source of hope, please take a moment to check out To Write Love On Her Arms. Founder Jamie Tworkowski wrote a book called If You Feel Too Much. I have purchased many copies, for my friends who need light in the darkness. And maybe it can be a light for you, too.
A fine farewell to you all, just in case the Catastrophe and I end up in Barovia.
“Actually, the problem is that I can’t lose my mind,” I said. “It’s inescapable.”
— Turtles All The Way Down
I… had a hard time with this book, but.. in a good way?
The protagonist in this story, Aza, battles anxiety and obsessive compulsive conditions. And her struggles are not exactly my own, but they ring so true that at times I had to stop and put the book down, because I could not continue reading. They ring so true that two days after I finished I was still thinking about this book, and I turned to my husband, and asked him — Would you read parts of this? For me? Because there are not always the right words to explain to him what goes on in my head. But this book… it might help us both.
“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.”
— Turtles All The Way Down
It’s hard to recognize that a year has passed when you’ve been taking everything day by day.
March 31st is the first anniversary of my father’s death. I could have sworn it happened just yesterday — but at the same time, I feel like it’s been an eternity since he passed, since I heard his voice, since I held his hand. And every day since then has been some sort of struggle.
Grief is a monster. When you think you’ve beaten it down, it sneaks up and tries to consume you. When you finally manage to get to a point where you’re no longer crying every single day, you might put on a few episodes of mindless television to pass the time. Oh, this is the episode where George’s father dies? Great, excuse me while I quietly sob in another room. Some days, for no apparent reason, just suck. I wake up with an ache in my chest and just trudge through the day. I’ve taken to calling them Sad Dad Days when my husband asks me what’s wrong. Because there’s nothing wrong, and there’s nothing to be done. I just have to survive until bedtime, when usually, hopefully, the ache subsides when sleep comes.
Sometimes I dream of happier endings. That my dad made different choices in his life, choices that meant my dad was still with us. Those mornings are the worst, the ones when I wake up and don’t remember he’s gone. Those are usually the days that are hardest for me to get out of bed.
And then there are days when I’m just angry. Angry that things aren’t different, angry that my dad didn’t take care of himself, angry that there was nothing any of us could do to make him take care of himself. Angry that my sisters and I had to make medical decisions for him. Angry that my dad won’t dance at my sisters’ weddings. Angry at myself, for not making sure that my wedding photographer captured photos of my dad with my sisters. Angry for assuming we’d have more time with him than we did.
There are days when it feels like the hurt is never going to go away. That there’s always going to be this raw, broken edge in my soul. There are days when I wish for a statute of limitations on grief, because it just feels endless. It’s been a year, shouldn’t this hurt less by now? When one of his favorite songs plays, or when I pull a tray of cookies out of the oven and some of them have extra-crispy edges, or when I miss his laugh. Days when all I want is a hug.
But there are days when I think of him and smile. Cooking dinner on the grill in the summer. Riding in the car with the windows down and the music up. Sitting in the dark and watching the lightning, waiting for the thunder. Finding a shiny penny on the ground as I walk the dog. Those are the moments that dull the ache. My dad would have loved this. I hold on to them like talismans to keep the grief at bay.
“Forget sugar and spice, based on the contents of our vacuum I am convinced you are made entirely out of glitter.”
— the Mister, after vacuuming out the car.
Over the years, I’ve had a weird relationship with coffee.
In college, I was practically addicted to caramel macchiatos — I’d drink one or two to help me get through chem work with my lab partners — until I quite cold-turkey for Lent one year. After that, I didn’t touch the stuff for ages, but just the smell of it was enough to make me happy. There’s a coffee shop in Market Square back home in Pittsburgh that I just love to walk into, because as soon as you open the front door you’re surrounded by the aroma of freshly-ground coffee beans. Heaven.
These days I mostly drink hot tea, but lately I’ve been occasionally drinking iced coffee to help me navigate particularly trying days at work, and on Thursdays I detour past Starbucks on my way to the game shop where my Dungeons and Dragons group meets. But I’m the first to admit that I have no interest in the stuff if it’s not sweet and creamy — I can’t drink it black.
Last weekend, the Mister and I were in Stamford, CT for ConnCon, a gathering of like-minded nerds who hung out and played tabletop games all weekend. We had a blast, but by Sunday evening the late nights and early mornings had caught up with me. (Sure, participating in a mass battle with eight other tables of adventurers is a great idea, but why does it have to start at 8am Sunday morning?!) On our way home we stopped for dinner at our favorite local phở restaurant, and on an impulse I ordered a Vietnamese coffee.
Imagine my delight when, instead of a plain ceramic mug, I was served a clear glass with a layer of cream topped by a layer of freshly brewed coffee. On top of the glass was a metal brewing chamber, and a metal teapot of hot water accompanied this setup.
I was pretty thoroughly entranced by the brewing process, and entertained myself fairly well by refilling the brewing filter with water, watching the coffee drip into the glass, and stirring the cream into the coffee until our meals came.
And from my first sips, I was in love. The coffee was strong and creamy and hot and sweet, and practically perfect. I enjoyed it so much that I even convinced the Mister, who usually loathes even the smell off coffee, to try it. He was, understandably, not a fan, but did admit that it was less awful than other coffee he’s tried. (A ringing endorsement, right?)
Now I’m torn between attempting how to make my own Vietnamese-style coffee at home (because when you can buy the metal filter on Amazon for $6, how can you not be tempted?) or saving it as a special treat on nights we go out. Either way, it has me thinking that maybe I need to broaden my coffee horizons and try something new a little more frequently.
This past weekend, the Mister and I decided to attend a “pet expo” at one of our local convention centers.
Well, that’s kind of a lie. I decided, because I have a serious case of Puppy Fever, and I thought that if we went to the expo, we could get leads on things like vets and trainers and maybe some coupons for pet food. Because if I can’t have a puppy, the next best thing I can do is prepare for a puppy.
Trust me, I am so prepared for a puppy.
Everything here is still a work in progress, so please do let me know if you come across something that’s broken.
Many things — some of them even interesting — to come!