I’ve Worked Really Hard to Get Here

In about four weeks I will be leaving to go to Italy and England. I was so incredibly angry yesterday. In fact, I know I’m not feeling good about it still because my handwriting is all messy and I’m not making any effort to make it bubby and pretty.

My dog is in my lap. He is so cute and cuddly. I’m going to miss him when I am gone. His face is right by my left hand on the flat arm of the couch, while I am holding up the leather-bound journal I am writing in.

I thought I was going to want to write all about the drama of yesterday, how I felt suicidal for two hours, how I had gotten triggered. But the truth is that it’s over now. I focused solely and entirely on being with and on petting my amazing therapy dog. I thought I was going to write all about the experience, so that others might relate to what I was going through: my thoughts, my feelings. I even had a title picked out for my blog entry. It was going to be “To Die or Not to Die.” Pretty catchy title, isn’t it?

My tea is no longer hot and I accidentally smeared the wet ink at the end of the last sentence. There is no way I am going to type all of this up later. I might try the Google Voice function for the first time. I’ve never used it to recite a text, just a sentence here or there. Then I can go back and correct the mistakes.

My dog is white, like a creamy white, with an orange left ear and a right ear which is mostly white with orange spots on it. He has orange patches around his eyes, so it looks like he is wearing a mask. It’s really cute.

Notice how I am distracting myself? I’m not wanting to focus on what happened yesterday. But I’ll tell you one thing which makes me angry. I bet not one person out of the 350 people, who work in that building of the company I work for, have to deal with suicidal thoughts like I do.

Yes, they might have a bad day, but do they think about ingesting over 1,000 mg of ibuprofen or drinking bleach or jumping off the big bridge in town? I didn’t think so.

I had to calm myself down just now, out of instinct. I exhaled loudly and put my left hand on my left cheek and leaned into it, propping up my head. And I closed my eyes. It’s a form of taking a break. It’s a pretty useful tool to have under my belt. On top of that, my lower back is hurting at a 5 out of 10 pain level. When I wake up in the mornings, the pain has lately been a 9 out of 10, 10 being the worst pain.

I just took this incredible half hour cuddle break with Samuel, my therapy dog, and I feel so much better. I feel rejuvenated and no longer tired like I was earlier. My tummy is still full of the plain, creamy yogurt, honey, and granola mix that I ate just a couple of hours ago. Its 11:00 and I have to be sitting at my desk in two hours, but for now, I am at home in a comfy sweatshirt, sweatpants and no bra. It’s brilliant!

I was originally going to take the whole day off of work today in order to attend to business classes. But I’m holding off on getting my non-profit organization started (or charity, as they call it in the U.K.) and I don’t need to know how to create a “30-second sizzler elevator pitch” for my business just yet.

I had another brilliant idea today. I took out my cast-iron teapot from the top of the bookshelf. It has been sitting there unused for over two years. And I made tea in it! And it feels special and great to be using it. Years ago, back in 2013, I used to enjoy making tea in it a lot. And then I just stopped using it.

I probably thought of this because tomorrow night my therapist and I are going to be doing what has become a tradition. He has a cast-iron teapot made for two and he is going to make tea for us. Then we will drink it together. That is how we celebrate my birthday and I love it. We started the tradition last year and our therapy session was actually on the day of my birthday. I brought cupcakes and two candles, one for me and one for my brother, and I blew them both out after making a wish. Only I ate the cupcakes, however!

 

Being Suicidal is Part of an Elite Club

This is going to be sort of a weird, fragmented letter because I just read a fragmented article written by the mother of her adult daughter who died by suicide by jumping off of the balcony of her 29th floor apartment. She was career-oriented but suffered from delusions.
It makes me wonder what it would feel like again to feel suicidal. Maybe suicide isn’t such a bad idea after all. I have been writing prolifically, particularly poetry, and my poetry could be my legacy that I leave behind.
When I feel suicidal, everything feels so right in the world because I know desperately what I need to do. I start planning my death, by means of an overdose or jumping off of a bridge usually, and I know it’s what I have to do. When I am suicidal I know where I belong.
When I’m not suicidal, sometimes I don’t know where I belong. I try, try so hard, to make space in this world for me by building a place that is safe and a place where I can express my innermost thoughts. My poetry might seem abstract to an outsider, but it is simply the story of my life infused with creative metaphors.
I guess that’s why I write. I didn’t realize this until now. I write in order to have purpose in my life and in order to have meaning. I’m sure there are other ways to find meaning in life, but it is what’s working for me right now.
But why have I been writing so much? I have been writing every day and looking back on the last two weeks, it has been intense. I know I just saw you yesterday. But I don’t like that I have to wait three more days to see you. It feels to long. In reading about the story of a young woman’s suicide I am suddenly feeling unsafe and unsure of myself. I don’t want to do this alone.
I can’t do this any longer. I can’t continue to write. I feel like I need to start composing dark, deep poems about death in order to get death out of my mind. Okay, so it’s probably not a good idea to let myself be exposed to articles about someone’s suicide. I just want to go to bed now. I don’t want to shower and I don’t want to put the mountain of laundry away, which is keeping me from being in bed because it’s towering over my unchanged bedsheets.
Even my dog has left me. My back has been in a lot of pain all weekend. I thought about maybe starting some kind of physical therapy, but then, that would help me to live better, and I wouldn’t want to do that, when I am thinking about wanting to go back to feeling suicidal just so I can have a space where I belong.

Depression? What’s That?!

Sunday evening and I’m settled in for the night. No, that’s not exactly true. I have been settled in all day. Instead of going to church for the second time this year, I slept in. I then hand wrote some already-composed poetry into my hardbound sketchbook where I keep the master copy of each poem I write. Then I composed a new poem, which took about an hour. By now it’s 1:30 pm in the story and food happened somewhere in there, but not enough. I went to take a nap and cuddled up with my dog in bed in a half-conscious state for an hour. Then it was time to photograph my poetry, so I can have more material to post on my social media pages. Somehow now it’s 5:00 pm and I am really hungry. Organic crunchy peanut butter and organic raspberry preserves sandwich with amazing and expensive bread. The sun is starting to set in this side of the globe and I finally start doing the laundry I’ve been putting off doing all weekend. It has been a couple of weeks since I last did it, and last changed my bedsheets. Now my bed is a messy mountain of creased, dry cotton items and my dog is having a heyday in the pile. I made sure to take out my underwear because that’s the only thing I don’t want his paws on. The hot cocoa milk I just consumed is but a memory. I have knowingly switched between past and present tense throughout this paragraph and it has become a long one. Time to move on. Better check to see what my dog is doing in the other room.

This day has been a mixture of mindful self-care and hard work. My back has been hurting a lot and crouching down on the hard floor in order to take photographs of decorated verses of my poetry for an hour didn’t help. I napped when I needed to and ate when I remembered. Even now, as I prepare for slumber time, I am working by practising the art of writing in spelling out my thoughts. It never ends and I never want it to.

My trip to Italy is coming up in about a month. I’m not doing the touristy thing. I’m just going to live there for a couple of weeks while staying with my friend. I plan to pop over to London from Bologna to see some old family friends. While I am away I hope to write every day. If I can manage to do it, my ideal vacation will be one thoughtful poem a day and one blog entry. I might have to take a day off here or there. Writing takes concentration. It’s kind of ironic that I cannot for the life of me sit down to read a book for more than 20 minutes before becoming distracted, which is why now I only listen to audio books. Then I can pay attention to the words being spoken when I want to, and when my focus of attention goes elsewhere, I can return to the story at any time. But when I am writing, now, that’s a different story.

When I write, I can write for an hour uninterrupted. I think it has to do with the art of creating something. The screen or page is white and blank, and then little characters of all shapes and sizes which comprise the English language appear, and fill the tabula rasa (blank slate). In between sentences I’ll find myself unconsciously rubbing my skin as in a nervous habit while trying to think of what to type next. The skin rubbing is more of an OCD thing, although I am not diagnosed with that disorder. It has a long history and is a long story, so I won’t go into it now. It has to do with trying to get the dirt off of me, because subconsciously I still feel dirty from all of the dirty things which were done to me in my past.

About 40 minutes have passed by since I started writing this journal entry. Amazing that I have spent that time doing something I like doing. I had gotten the pile of dirty dishes in the sink under control earlier today, thankfully, and now I have a couple more “adult” obligations I have to take care of before going to bed. That is, putting three loads of laundry away and showering. I still haven’t been to a pet store to buy Samuel’s soft carrier for the airplane trip next week, and if I don’t do it, then he will be staying behind with my roommate. Luckily she loves dogs and is great with Samuel. I hate it when people try to abbreviate or give him a nickname like “Sam” or “Sammy.” No, you fools, it’s Samuel. Get it right.

I still have to pack my suitcase later this week. I haven’t put it away since my last trip in December and that black box of a thing has been standing on its heels in my room the whole time. It’s not like it’s an eyesore though, as one quickly forgets its existence. Funny how you can live in a mess and get so used to it, that it becomes your normal. I’m not saying I live in a messy home, it’s just, stuff like that happens.

Depression? What’s that? I still take my medication diligently, day and night. The last time I had a suicidal episode (which for me entails an emergency happening in my mind) was several months ago. When it is happening, I see no alternative other than killing myself as the best idea. It usually lasts for a couple of intense days and then subsides. After the episode, I wish those wouldn’t happen to me. It happens less and less these days. My therapist had reminded me that for more days than not, I used to live in that emergency state of being all the time. Things have changed since then.

I think I am done. I have satisfied my craving to write, and although I could write some more, I find it best to wrap things up. Really, it was an indulgence, because I don’t often feel as if I have the time to write so often. Other times I don’t want to go into the depths of what is in my mind because it is too overwhelming, so best to stay away from the blank slate during those times. If I can just sit here, in the silence, as I have been doing, minus the sound of fingers tapping away on the keyboard, then I can gather myself and some courage to do those adult things I need to do next.

Self-Soothing and Learning to Say “No”

No, no, no, no, no. Today was not a therapy day. I give myself permission to say “no” again. No! It’s not that I didn’t go. But it’s that I chose to leave early, halfway through the session. What I’ve learned is that I am in charge of my own life and responsible for my own feelings. If something doesn’t feel right then I don’t have to be doing that thing. Twenty minutes into the session I abruptly said that I needed to use the restroom. Now, I actually did have to pee, but it’s a self-care tool that I have learned to use in therapy. When I need a break, to stand up and walk away for a few minutes, I can do just that. When I got back I told him that this has been an incredibly long session and that I didn’t think I’d make it to the end. My therapist was very supportive and allowed me to, and guided me along the path, of deciding to leave. We talked about it for five minutes before I finally exclaimed, “I don’t want to be here!” So I paid, and I left.

The instant I left his office I felt better. I had forgotten to have lunch, as my days on weekends are quite unstructured, and it was already mid-afternoon. In session, while we were talking about things that were tough for me, my hunger took the forefront and was distracting and causing me to feel irritated. I think that I would have been able to tolerate the other feelings had I not been hungry. The most important lesson here is of my independence and control in leading my own life. I have permission to leave. I give myself permission to leave when things get uncomfortable. Only, I wish I would remember this when in dating situations. I forget that I can say “no” and I forget that I have the ability to leave. It’s going to take some practise and today was a great way of practising that very skill. By the way, I didn’t spell “practice” incorrectly. I prefer using the British spelling.

Now I am at home. It’s wet and rainy outside and I am inside with the heat on. I did some photography for my ongoing poetry project today, and my back had already been hurting. Crouching down on the floor with my large Nikon D5000 and taking pictures of verses of my poetry which I had decorated with paint, was even harder on my back and I am recovering from that. Now I just have to go through the photos and figure out which one is the best shot, edit the saturation and contrast and brightness, and then put them in a folder to post later. I don’t have editing software such as Photoshop, so I have to get the photo perfect, because I won’t be editing it later. I then post my poetry on my social media sites that are there just for my poetry and my few loyal followers can then hit the “like” button. It brings me a smile knowing that other people are getting to enjoy my poetry.

I have ginger-flavoured kombucha and a dog in my lap. I would say that life is pretty good. My Mum bought me the audiobook of “Achtung, Baby,” an account of a woman raising small children in Germany. So for the last two and a half days I was immersed into dreaming of moving to Germany. Only, then I would have to leave my Samuel behind with another family, and my German isn’t fluent, that’s for sure. I understand about 70% of the language, I would say. That’s pretty good, given that I haven’t practised speaking it since I was 12 years old. So, in dreaming about the possibility of moving abroad, I also am realising how good I have it here in the USA, and in particular, the spot in which I reside. I have a great job and I can see working there for the next 20 years if I don’t change my career. It’s just that kind of company, where people stay there for decades. If I were to leave, even if only for a year, I would have to leave that job. I really don’t think I’m ever going to find a job to top the one I have now, it’s great. I have so much independence and flexibility there. It’s astounding. It’s amazing. It’s wonderful. But that’s exactly what my therapist explained to me, that sometimes when we dream about doing other things than what we are doing now, such as moving to a new home, moving to another city, changing jobs, then we realize sometimes how good we’ve got it now and our perspective changes. It’s all about perspective, baby.

I’ve got three drops of lavender oil on my sleeve end so that I can smell it whenever I want. All I have to do is lift my wrist to my nose and breathe in. It’s great. I have been using lavender a lot lately, to calm and soothe myself, even if I am doing fine. It doesn’t matter how I’m doing. The scent of lavender oil always makes me feel better, even if I was fine before smelling it. I used to wear the stuff All. The. Time. Literally. All the time. It was a self-soothing tool I used when I was very mentally ill and boy, did it help.

Now my dog is lightly snoring, just the slightest of sound. I find it to be so comforting. Every time I have to get up to pee, I apologize to him, because he is sooo comfy in my lap. I wouldn’t want me to get up either. And then I say to him out loud, “I have to go, I have to go,” and that motivates me to get up. Talking to yourself or to your pet can do wonders. It has been quite enjoyable lately and I’ve been doing more of it. Maybe I’m also practising for my future baby. Even though babies cannot intelligibly reply with language, the communication is very important. Babies communicate in other ways, and they are incredible learners.

Okay, I’m going to go now! It is decided. I am officially going to stop writing for the moment, to be resumed at another time, likely in an hour when I choose to work on my poetry. I have been writing a lot lately. I’ve been very prolific and the amount of production blows my mind when I look back on what I’ve written in the last two weeks. Luckily my pace has slowed down and I’m spending three or four days on one poem, instead of writing a poem a day. That’s an insane pace, because my poetry is always very intricate and thoughtfully written in order to be thought-provoking for the listener. My poetry was not made to be read. It was made to be listened to, read by me and me only. For only I can give each line the character that is needed for the impact to be communicated, emphasizing a word here and there. I’m signing out before I get distracted again by initiating a new topic. Until later! Think of it as a continuation, not an ending. That’s another concept I have learned recently in therapy.

Motherfucker

There are so many things I could be doing right now. I have an hour before I have to get ready for bed, so I thought I’d write. It has been a while. Well, not really. These last two weeks have been a prolific inspiration of intricately woven words into poems. I have been writing about a poem a day, which is a lot. Each poem is about four pages long, with shorter lines of course, not in paragraph format but in stanzas. I have finally slowed down. This is the second day I have been working on the same poem, and I’ll probably finish it during my lunch break tomorrow at work.

I finally realized that I don’t have to share my poetry with everyone right away. I have a handful of people I send my newly created masterpieces to (for each poem I love dearly and find meaning in its existence). I send them to my Mum, my therapist, my brother, a few friends, sometimes to my psychiatrist, my former massage therapist and a former professor. I’ll only send my poems to people I know will read and enjoy them. Otherwise, what’s the point? I know that my therapist reads every single word that I send him, even if it’s five emails in one day because I am not feeling good. It feels good to know he’s always with me, even when I’m not in session with him in his cozy office.

My dog is in my lap, snoring, and so, as usual, my computer is resting on the flat arm of my modern couch. It’s a lovely couch and I am emotionally attached to it because it’s the first piece of real furniture I bought for myself after I left my ex-abuser. This couch has seen me through a lot. I never thought I wouldn’t mind a dog walking all over it, but hey, I could care less now that I have Samuel in my life: all 12 lbs of his adorableness.

As you can tell, I’m in a pretty good mood right now. And, well, it just feels damn good. I mean damn good. Fuck yeah! I’m not that hepped up on the fact that I feel good, but I have to emphasize this fact to myself, because it’s good when I can focus on the good times and good feelings, instead of bad ones when I am angry or sad, or even lonely. Lonely doesn’t happen often, but earlier this week I was feeling lonely and texted my roommate to see when she was coming home. She’s often gone, and not around much. I’m pretty used to it but would much rather she be home more. I like having her company. I guess I’m pretty lucky to have someone like that as a roommate! I can’t believe it has been almost half a year since she moved in. Roommates in my life come and go, and sometimes I stay friends with them, sometimes not.

This last weekend was an emotional roller coaster for me. I felt wronged and shame and anger and indignation. I had been involved in an intense romance with a man who lives in a city a few hours away. This was for two weeks. We talked on the phone, Skyped, and text messaged each other during those two weeks. We talked about deep stuff. We spontaneously decided to get together on a Friday night for a breakfast date in the morning. We met halfway, each driving just over an hour. It was nice. I mean, I really enjoyed the date. But then later that night I spoke with a friend of mine who is Catholic. Or rather she spoke to me. She pointed out all of the “red flags” about this guy and made me cry. “What happened to you?” she cried. She believes in things like no sex until marriage and I don’t think that’s quite me but I value her opinion and she is close to me.

So the next night I told this man that I was not going to see him again. He was naturally surprised and asked why. I proceeded to explain to him that I don’t owe him an explanation, and that I didn’t want him to get defensive. So he agreed to not get defensive and I acquiesced to tell him the things he did wrong, in my opinion. And then, guess what? He got defensive. I felt like crap and I feel eternally grateful that I had already scheduled a therapy session with my psychotherapist the very next day. Thank God, seriously.

The things he did wrong. He kissed me on the first date. Not only did he kiss me on the first date, he kissed me within the first half hour of our date. We had never met before!! Wtf. And then, he proceeded to kiss me for the next hour and a half of our date at his leisure. Now, I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy the kisses. But I never initiated. Couldn’t he get a hint? Then he wanted to put the blame of the situation on me because he told me I should have said something in the moment, as if I am supposed to take responsibility for his actions. All of this my therapist explained to me. Otherwise I would not have a clear understanding as to what happened.

What else did he do? Well, he spanked me on the bum. That’s an even bigger wtf. He thought he was being playful and I felt violated but was so surprised I didn’t know what to do in the moment, so I did nothing. And then, he blatantly disregarded my “no” to some aspect of our conversation, and even contested me on my very clear “no.” Plus, I’ve discovered that a woman is allowed to say “no” even at the last minute. She is allowed to change her mind. She is even allowed to change her mind after the fact. That last one blows my mind as a revelation and I’m not sure I fully understand the impact of that statement. I can decide I didn’t like it after it has happened. Now, we were in public, so there was no sex involved, thank God once again, but we were in each other’s arms at the beach, just beyond the train tracks, and exchanging conversation.

I am feeling a little bit angry at him in writing about this. Those old feelings pop up again. But I have discovered and learned over the years that feelings come and go, and I remain. Feelings don’t last forever, even if it feels really, incredibly intense and real in the moment (such as feeling suicidal). They always pass. They always go away and equilibrium always finds its way back into my life eventually. I also know now that I don’t have to act on my feelings. That’s a bit harder to grasp. I understand it intellectually but not quite emotionally. My emotions or my brain doesn’t want to believe me and the impulse to act on an intense emotion is strong. The last time I slid a sharp object across my inner forearm was last Fall when I was feeling suicidal. I even took a picture of the scissors with the light red marks (I didn’t even come close to drawing blood) and posted it on my Twitter account. I was desperately reaching out for help and I have a Twitter community called #SickNotWeak which is very supportive, especially in times like this. It’s a really great thing.

I kind of need to go now and stop writing. I need to go do some self-care. I didn’t know that writing about what I wrote about was going to get me all worked up inside, but a very faint alarm bell is ringing in my mind and that means, I need to calm myself down. Stop the flying of my fingers and do something soothing for the next half hour before I shower and then get ready for bed. Okay, I can totally do this. I am a real expert on self-care these days. Lucky me. Well, it’s not luck. It has taken a lot of practice and hard work to get to where I am today. I just farted and my dog looked up from his napping. I guess he isn’t that hard of hearing after all!