Just Another Evening

My mind and senses are rife with excitement for writing about my evening right now. And at the same time, I feel as if I could drift off to sleep early without a care in the world, other than needing to take out Samuel for his nightly potty break, thus interrupting my would-be slumber. However, it’s an hour before the normal time when I start getting ready for bed, so I’ll stay up and type! Type away!


There’s nothing special about my evening, other than that it is not punctuated by suicidality or any other extreme emotions. Thus, in a sense, the evening is actually extraordinary, and every evening like this should be just as amazing. My Mum bought me a book, “Alone Time,” by Stephanie Rosenbloom. It’s a book about four little weeklong vacations the author took in different cities around the world within a year’s time. I’ve finished the introduction and am deep into the first chapter. There’s something about having a physical copy of a book in your hand. Rather than the hype of the smell of the book, the feel, the texture, I’m thinking it’s clunky and annoying, at first, to have to hold a physical book in one’s hands. First of all it requires two hands, rather than one, unless you have extremely dexterous fingers and are adept at holding a book’s pages open with one hand. Second, it doesn’t elicit that stare-like quality you get from having blue light flashing before your eyeballs… Yes, that’s more of a negative quality of digital reading. But I’ve gotten so used to reading Kindle books on the app on my phone that holding a real book just seems clunky. Nevertheless, reading this book in the flesh, so-to-speak, has grown on me. It’s just a different experience than the digital one. Also, with the Kindle app on the phone, one can change the font size to any size desired, which means I don’t have to squint whilst reading.


I digress. Where was I? My evening. Yesterday the evening temperature outside was 99 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s about 38 degrees Celsius. Far too hot for taking a leisurely stroll for exercise. Tonight the temperature was slightly more tolerable but I am very lucky that my apartment seems to stay at a decent temperature no matter what. I have air conditioning units in the windows of both my living room and bedroom, but when turned on they are very loud and not so pleasant. I also have a space heater for the colder months, as the wall elements that are supposed to heat a room really just don’t work. I fed my dog, picked up his poop off the hardwood floor and searched around for possible wet spots where he could have peed. These days, with an old dog, this is a daily routine. Sometimes I get tired of this routine of picking up after him!


Some chilled rosé started off the evening and I barely had any: not even a buzz. Then cereal for dinner with vanilla yogurt and nibbles on carrots to make up for the lack of vegetables in that bland diet. All in all, not a bad start to the evening. I exchanged voice recordings with my friend in Nova Scotia, saying whatever I pleased and could think of off the cuff, including expletives, because we never hold anything back between us and any topic is fair game, even “I’m on the toilet whilst recording this message.”

It’s a good use of time for me. I get to have social interaction without it feeling too glaring or obligatory or awkward thanks to the miracle of modern technology. We exchange messages on an app called Signal which encrypts messages, unlike WhatsApp, which does not encrypt messages. It’s interesting: I don’t own a television and I don’t miss it. If I want to watch a movie I have the option of watching it inconveniently on my computer or conveniently on the screen of my phone. I’ve enjoyed several movies from my phone screen and it works just fine for me. I mean, just because I don’t own a TV doesn’t mean I never watch anything. I do. I like the occasional surreptitious form of pre-recorded entertainment.

My dryer is loud in the background because of the numerous zippers on clothing items that are banging against the walls of the inside of the dryer, saying “let me out!” “I will,” I reply, “when it’s time and you’re dry.” The only thing I have to hang-dry is my bra because it’s too delicate for the likes of an electric drying machine… unless I didn’t want that clothing item to last me a long time, then I could make it suffer the forced heated air. I always look at my piano, well, my family’s piano, that is, and think to myself, “I could be playing you.” Yet the desire just doesn’t compute into action.

It’s almost completely dark outside now. It’s smack in the middle of the eight o’clock hour. Do you know that in Germany 8:30 is actually “half nine”? This makes complete sense. It’s a half hour before nine, so we attribute the following hour, not the current hour. Maybe it doesn’t make sense to you but there are a lot of things that are sensible about the German language. The one thing I can never quite get right is “the: Der/Die/Das” There are three genders: masculine, feminine, and neutral. This makes me think that Germans pioneered the LGBTQ movement long before anyone else thought of it. Yes please, call me “They/Them” instead of “She/Her.” Neutralize my gender, thank you very much!

Well, enough of my musings. I am done for now. Suffice to say that the newest addition to my household, my kalimba, is sitting as quietly as my piano, patiently waiting for me to desire to play it. It’s a wonderful little instrument and very versatile. I could be lighting candles, burning incense, wafting lavender oil water via my electric diffuser, but that all sounds like too much work. I’d rather just listen to my dog snore and nod off to sleep myself without the hassle of having to remember to blow out a candle or press the “off” button of my diffuser. I got the diffuser for free on my Buy Nothing Facebook group. It’s a nice thing to have. Now I shall hit “send” and the “off” button of my computer. Goodnight!

A Discussion About Mental Illness

I suffer from mental illness. Also known as mental injuries. Those injuries are depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. It makes me different from other people. It sets me apart in that life seems just more difficult than it would otherwise without those illnesses. Every person is unique. We all have “mental health” but not everyone has a mental illness. It’s different. It’s unique. It’s not exactly desirable.
What do I think of this? I’m sure a lot of people have mental health “issues” but staying in bed for 48 hours straight on the weekend feels somewhat debilitating. That is just one way my illness manifests itself. I have a lot of respect for people who work in the mental health field, such as my therapist and my psychiatrist. It takes a lot of compassion to work with people who have mental injuries that are chronic.
Then there are the crying spells. I do have times where I just need to cry to release the sadness. It’s a release of negative energy which has built up over time. But then again, I’m not the only person who can cry after watching a sad movie, right? I recently watched the movie “I am Sam” and cried twice throughout the movie. There were some very sad parts, and the sadness spills into my personal life and my emotions that I have just about daily living.


Sometimes living is hard. Sometimes I would rather be dead. But I know there are a lot of people who know me who would rather see me live my life, preferably a productive (meaning, happy) life, and I try to live up to those expectations. It takes a lot of patience, which I don’t always have. When life is going well I dream a lot of things about my future, such as buying a condo one day or going back to school.
Living takes a lot of grit. No one ever said life would be easy, and it really isn’t! It’s hard. We get tired, overworked, exhausted emotionally and physically, and then we have to recover. But living with a mental illness takes just a little bit more effort than it would for the average person to get through each and every day.


Being suicidal takes an enormous amont of effort and energy. With suicidality comes a lot of anxiety, anxious feelings that are intrusive and interfere with whatever else is going on at the moment. When I am suicidal I can’t work, I just sit at my desk making plans for ending my life and finding comfort in the fact that my life could end soon, that the emotional pain would soon go away. Suicide is not selfish, it’s an act of desperation to end emotional pain. If you ever come across a suicidal person, just listen and be there. No special words are needed, except your presence and for them to feel like they are not alone. Luckily I haven’t been suicidal for a number of months now. I am just living my life day to day doing the best that I can.

Current State of Affairs

Re-invigorated by the overwhelming positive response from my last blog, I shall attempt to humour you with some fanciful details of my current life as it stands, which is not so unlike my blog from last week. I had a mostly soporific weekend punctuated by a lovely dinner with friends. (Yes I do have some friends here in this not-so-new area of the world… it will soon be almost a year since I moved here). I have a new four-legged trailer, literally, attached at my hip (okay, figuratively); this creature wants to make sure I’m not out of his sight at all. I’m surprised, as I would deem him to be slightly neglected due to my depressive sleeping activities, but he seems to want to beg to differ. It’s as if he’s just begging to be petted. And so, the petting shall commence shortly.


In the meantime, I realized that whilst one of the hundred or so residents of my complex is using the gym, I might best make use of my time by doing some much-needed laundry. I seem pretty level-headed as of late. That means that my emotional state-of-being is even-keeled and I even feel invigorated today, which is surprising, it being a Monday. I’m impressed with myself. In fact, I’m doing so well that I’m seeing my therapist in two weeks rather than weekly.


“You’re only going to harm yourself, and then pass out,” the employee of the county mental health ward said to me, as I had barricaded myself from intruders into the room, only to wrap a towel around my neck in defiance of the insidious beasts that ran the ward. Did this have to do with my post-traumatic stress disorder? Probably. It’s a memory that popped up from January in the aftermath of my suicide attempt. Evidently I am still processing this memory. Healing from PTSD is not linear. No one can claim it to be so. Trauma memories pop up time and time again as intrusively as salty anchovies on a pizza… Can you tell I’m about to eat a pizza? 

I don’t know why that memory popped up but I’m not opposed to it either. It brings no significant feelings of remorse, more of disdain for the staff at county mental health. 

Before dinner on Saturday we stopped by FLAX art and design, a fabulous art supply warehouse where I dared to purchase a whatchamacallit… one of those things that you mix paint on to then apply haphazardly, in my case, to a canvas. I also spent $95 on stickers, gorgeous fake tattoos, a fancy set of colouring pens, and a mindfulness colouring book, among other things, which are intended to be gifts to a certain someone down the road (for her birthday). Hint: she’ll be 9 years old in a few months, must be a pretty special someone! I’m just delighted that I even have a gift for her this year. I’m pretty adept at getting birthday cards for special people but not so practised at buying gifts.

A little whiny creature is reminding me that dinner is sitting on the counter and has yet to be eaten. It’s cooling down from the oven. I am also reminded of how fortunate I am to have my very own apartment… that I don’t have to share it with anyone else. My dog can whine and I can talk out loud on the speaker phone without having to apologize to anyone.

The pizza was delicious and the scraps went to a certain someone who was begging for them. What would we do without our furry or feathered beings? I am reminded that I have to do better by him in the form of more frequent baths and medications to be dispensed daily instead of merely when I remember. He is truly a pleasure to come home to, lest the turds I find because he couldn’t wait to go outside.

All in all, things are well. Isn’t that great to hear? I couldn’t have imagined this being the case five months ago. Thanks for being a part of my journey and I look forward to checking in with you again soon. Peace.

Just Another Day

I’m sitting upright on my bed with my back supported by a pillow as I type this. Piano music is playing from my phone. Ah, the wonders of modern technology where things like surreptitious music are but a finger swipe away. Some kind of Nocturne is playing and I’m wondering if it’s Chopin. It’s a familiar melody as I’ve listened to this Pandora Radio station many-a-time. My bedroom isn’t my only sanctuary. My home and private space extends into the kitchen which looks out onto the dining nook, filled by an upright piano, and the spacious living room of which a $3,500 couch takes up a copious amount of space because it boasts a queen pull-out bed. Behind the light moss green couch, a colour which I specifically selected, are a couple of dark bookshelves packed with books and my cast iron teapot set which I use once a year for fun. I would never again spend such money on a couch, of all things, but at the time, I was not worried about money. These days, worries of money pass in and out of my consciousness like an ever-present cloud of rain.


This is the life I have made for myself, chosen for myself, won for myself. This is not the life I had on the other side of the state, where I was far from family in a place I had forced myself to call home for over fifteen years, working several underpaid jobs, stressed out by the workload, underappreciated and torn by the remnants of post-traumatic stress disorder and severe clinical depression. I would say that I still suffer at times, but much less so. Torments of the past and extreme states of emotional distress have left my life almost completely. My depression takes the form of entire weekends spent in bed, whilst still managing to feed and walk my dog, a necessity of the life of being a dog mom. When I adopted him five years ago I committed myself to the responsibility of taking care of him. Though he is aging, he is still a spry 11-year-old chihuahua mix and at 10 pounds if he doesn’t listen to me, which is often the case due to poor training and a diminished sense of hearing, I can pick him up and bring him to me. Last night he had his monthly bath. He hates baths but oh, I am such a proud dog mom to say the least, as he is finally clean again! What a wondrous sight and smell. He was beginning to smell a bit like wet dog smells when he wasn’t even wet. I can’t manage to bring myself to bathe him more than once a month due to my depression. If I were a good dog mom I would bathe him at least twice a month due to his consistent allergies. Now he has arthritis to add to the mix, for which he will have to take special medication, hidden in between a “pill pop” flavoured like chicken that I got at the vet’s office today. Dogs are expensive and any pet owner can relate. Vet visits add up quickly. He’ll have to have a chest x-ray due to his heart murmur before we can decide whether his little body could tolerate the anesthesia required to get his teeth cleaned, for he has also been diagnosed with mild periodontal disease. 


Friends of a distant past have moved from my former home to Bali, Indonesia, where the wife of my photographer friend awaits giving birth to their first child. This friend sent me a photo and a video of her engorged, naked breasts. They were very tastefully and artfully depicted in the images. While this may not be a “normal” sort of thing for friends to exchange, I once posed nude for this photographer. We created a collage of artful and very explicit nudes of my then 115 pounds of flesh. I weigh much more than that now and would never get in front of a camera like that again. But in those days I was not afraid of nudity, nor was I a stranger to sexual escapades while I was being taunted by a narcissist who sexually exploited me to a degree which to some, would be unfathomable. I am happy for this couple, my friends of a still-distant past. It’s strange that I’ve remained in touch with them in spite of leaving everything else from that time period behind.


I’ve often dreamed of a different life for myself. Not the life of the 25-year-old new bride who dreamed of being a mom with two children behind a white picket fence. But a life which includes the trauma, now healed, and of being of service to others. I tried one semester of graduate school only to discover to my dismay that it was not good timing. When will it ever be the right time to go to school to become a psychotherapist? Perhaps never, perhaps, one day, when I am fully healed and suicide attempts are a thing of my distant past.


My last suicide attempt was in January of this year. I was so sure, absolutely certain, that killing myself was the right idea. I had come up with a brilliant strategy to complete my impending death sentence, one that I had never thought of before, only to chicken out at the very last millisecond. I ended up hospitalized for the requisite 72 hours, which were torturous because of the way hospital staff treated me, or should I say, county mental health staff. County mental health is notorious for being bad. After I got out my brother took care of me for two days and those days were lovely. It felt nice to be cared for, before I had to submit myself back to the daily grind, sometimes excruciating grind, of being at work five days a week and “pretending” to be okay.


The piano music is still playing and my dryer from a load of laundry is humming in the background. My hair is so long and voluptuous that after a shower, the weight of my wet hair is not well-held-up by one single hair band. I am wearing a baseball hat, so-to-speak, to keep my hair up and off of my back. My hair stretches all the way down to my waist and I normally wear it in a braid to my side, with my hair parted in the middle. That is my “look” every day of the week at work. They rarely see my hair flowing freely at the office.


I had my obligatory weekly shower. I don’t know why, but showering for me is difficult. Survivors of sexual assault and chronic sexual abuse often find showering difficult and unpleasant. Once I’m in the shower, I’m fine, but it’s the “idea” of the shower which assaults my placid mind which makes me want to vomit. Something about being naked, in the nude, in the buff, whatever you want to call it, something about that gets to me and it’s not something I can take for granted as many people do.


Well, this is a window to my world. My therapist, who has stuck by me for over a decade of weekly sessions, five years of which were pro bono and unpaid, has been on vacation for a week. I will finally get to see him again this weekend. I’ve been doing so well that we will often skip weeks at a time, or at least see each other every other week instead of weekly. There was a time in my life back in 2012 whence I was so incredibly suicidal and unable to work, that I would see him three times a week just to keep myself alive and from killing myself. Because inevitably, as all my attempts at my life have been, another attempt would be unsuccessful and land me in the hospital for a number of weeks. I had so many hospital visits and bills that I filed for bankruptcy in 2015. Seven years have almost passed by since then and the bankruptcy will finally exit its doleful place on my credit score report. Maybe one day I’ll actually be able to buy a home: a nice little two-bedroom condominium where my mom can stay in her elderly years. That’s my dream. She took care of me for most of my life, still does to a degree, and I owe it to her to give back to her what she gave to me: self-sacrifice.


It’s almost bedtime now. I walked on the treadmill for an hour this evening. I manage to do that once every few weeks at best, given that one out of the hundred residents of my complex could be using the gym at any given moment as well, and often the treadmill is taken. Because of Covid, only one person at a time is allowed to use the tiny gym anyway. So it’s time to say goodbye. The effects of the red wine are wearing off and I occupied my mind whilst cooking dinner tonight by listening to Michelle Obama’s “Becoming.” It’s a book which causes me to reflect on my life as it stands today, and on my past. I am really enjoying the listening. I finally got a library card because buying audio books and Kindle books was becoming an expensive habit.


I am in rare form tonight. I actually have energy. Not the sort of boundless energy one could attribute to a 20-something-year-old, but energy enough to sustain me, rather than having to feel the need to go to bed hours before my necessary bedtime. My brother inadvertently mocked me for going to bed at 7 PM one night, asking if I was a baby. I quickly changed the subject but I was hurt and I know he will be able to hear my complaint one of these days, to repair that minor damage to our relationship. Does he not know that I spend entire weekends in bed doing nothing but sleeping?


I just got up to use the restroom as my bladder wasn’t having this typing anymore, and I was delighted to use my bidet. This is a bidet installation to a regular toilet that my brother so lovingly and painstakingly installed when I moved into this apartment almost a year ago. If and when I ever move, I’ll have to get him to uninstall the bidet, as I am not adept at such very specific manual tasks which require a lego-like minded assembly motif to the instructions that come with the gadget. Mind you, my Mum did buy me pink legos when I was young, and I enjoyed assembling those buildings, as per the instructions. But those days are long since over and my patience wanes.


“Pure Imagination,” which played in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, is playing right now in the form of a piano composition. The melody is familiar although I haven’t watched that movie since childhood. I’ll get my obligatory eight hours of sleep tonight, though sometimes it wickles down to seven hours, in order to be able to function tomorrow. I can’t imagine functioning on less than seven hours of sleep though some people do it regularly. I don’t know how. Tomorrow I’ll send emails to clients, and be the detail-oriented me I know how to be. I’ll service the clients of our financial firm that were assigned to me, and I’ll prepare for upcoming meetings. I won’t call in sick, though I think about it almost every morning when faced with the prospect of having to go to work, particularly on Mondays. I’ll do my once-a-week grocery shopping trip to Trader Joes, get frozen meals for lunch at work and try to buy some fruit and vegetables since those are supposedly good for the constitution. And then I’ll have another mostly peaceful evening, perhaps punctuated by another glass of red wine, although I’ve been trying to curb my drinking habit as of late. But a bottle of red is open, so why not finish it off? And so the cycle continues. And so life continues, my life, specifically. I’m not dead yet and I am aware that death inevitably comes to us all one day. But for now, I am alive, and I’ll keep living until there is no more life to be lived.