12.29.2015

Goodbye 2015.




I seem to perpetually go through patternless cycles of destroying parts of myself, re-examining what's left, clinging onto some shards of what I believe or feel that I am, and the rest of the time, assuming I know the answers to things I don't know the answers to, and learning the hard way that I know nothing and should better prepare for the unknown.  And this year more fervently and with more reckless abandon than any other, I seemed to tear down those old parts and ended up building something that I no longer recognize as either good, bad, myself, or not myself.  I don't know what I am or who I am.

I don't believe I have the answers anymore.  Maybe I was myself from the start, and I'm just in a boat, drifting farther away from whatever that was with each passing year.


10.21.2015

My Father's Regret

I didn’t really intend to write this down or share it, but honestly it’s touched me so much that I feel compelled.  

Most of my readers know I come from an abusive home, and my dad in particular has shown more cruelty and unnerving violence than I’ve ever seen from anyone else.  Physical, emotional, mental, he had it all covered, and his favorite way to teach me lessons was either by inflicting massive amounts of pain and suffering on me, or on another person or creature that I cared about.  Most of my friends know this as well, though none of them really know the whole story, you can gather enough from the bits and pieces to see just what a viscous person he was, how badly he damaged me.  


I think most of us from abused homes have a touchy spot for loved ones calling our parents negative names.  It used to infuriate me when my friends called my dad a jerk, or mean, or made threats against him.  People never try to reason out what he’s done to me, they just abhor his actions and make that clearly known.  This does me, someone who has spent her entire life questioning her father’s motives, and his hatred both of life in general and of me particularly, absolutely no good.  I know he is bad. I can’t explain it, I just don’t want the pity.  I don’t want the negativity.  To most people in my life, my dad is a villain.  I deal with this the best I can.    

Years ago, I went to Tennessee and visited my lifelong neighbor, Phyllis.  Phyllis had two sons, both older than me, who both died--one in a car accident, one from drug usage.  She and I spent time catching up on her front porch in the humid Appalachian summer, and she asked me--had I tried talking to them?  (at the time, my mother was still alive.)  I could look through the treeline and see my old house, I knew my dad was standing outside listening to our conversation, but he’d made it clear that he didn’t want to see me.  I told her I had tried, to no avail.


10.19.2015

PTSD and Dissociation

I've been meaning to write about this for awhile; sometimes I just think this blog gets so heavy (if you think that's bad, imagine what it's like inside my head.)  But it's important for me to talk about these things for a few reasons: one, it removes the stigma and explains so much about those of us dealing with mental illness, and two, it's something that people really do need to know--I had no idea, for years, how my 'mental fog' wasn't just me being stupid.  It was my brain's response to years of trauma, both physical and emotional.  Keep in mind I'm not a professional here...I'm just trying to help make sense of this from my own point of view.  I love learning about why my brain does the things it does.



WHAT IS DISSOCIATION?
It's defined very simply--a "disconnection."  You hear all the time about people, specifically in sexual assault situations, saying something along the lines of "I felt like I wasn't even there.  I was a spectator/I was out of my body/I couldn't say no or fight back."  This is a pretty severe example, but it's nonetheless a good example of what it means to dissociate.  Maybe you've been drooling at the wall during a lecture and somebody says your name, and you snap out of it, realizing that all noises for the past five minutes were a dull roar?  You were dissociated.  And it happens to all of us, and it doesn't only happen in traumatic situations.  After a long hard day at work, you might hop in your car or on the train and then end up at your house without remembering the steps it took you to get there.  Again, you've experienced dissociation.  I like to use "detachment" to explain it--you can still operate or function in some way (you're still breathing, possibly seeing, etc) but whatever is happening around you, you are detached from.

10.11.2015

Autumn in Utah

I keep meaning to write about dissociation, and also finish my 28 Lessons list, but I can't help it, sharing pictures is easier to talk about and they're so gorgeous I just want to see them on my blog.  Can you blame me?




10.04.2015

Nine Year Anniversary

Conference weekend, (aka "Mormon superbowl weekend") has come and gone again, which means I have now been (mostly) in Utah for nine years.  It hasn't been extremely constant, I've come and gone, sometimes to very far places, but I always come back here.  It is my home, and I feel so proud and privileged when I get to say that word.  I don't have family here, I don't have the childhood experiences a lot of my friends have, but as an adult I still have this wonderful place to feel safe.

And when I feel safe, I get to go do things that are completely out of my comfort zone.  This weekend, that consisted of doing the thing I've wanted to do for years and actually put one pinky toe into the pinup world, and go to a car show.  I think everyone who knows me knows my affinity for the Atomic Age (let's not lie, that's Fallout's fault pretty exclusively) but I never had any idea where to go or how to get started.  Back in April one of my sergeants made a comment to me when I wore my hair in a bun with a flower, "You should do pin-up modeling.  You have the face and body for it."  I was shocked and thought it was a sweet and extremely inaccurate comment, until I talked to a few other coworkers and they all vehemently agreed.  So, with that kind of support, what else is there to do?


Then I somehow miraculously found Lacey Chiffon, who lives in my area, and she was right in the middle of making a brand-spanking-new pinup girls group, the Beehive Betties.  A few emails later and I was scheduled to go to my first event!  It was a blast, the girls were absolutely sweet and gorgeous, it was all-around wonderful.  Despite my horrific social skills and uncertainty in front of a camera and strangers (and strangers with cameras) I think everything went great and I learned a ton, plus I got to see all of the pinup culture I've been quietly involved with on my own for years.  My only question was, why didn't I do this sooner?

Before I show off photos, I have to again thank my amazing support system.  I wanted to take pictures of the two bouquets I received since I've been in a big lonely slump at work.  I know people say that flowers are redundant, but to me they are everything--they make a world of difference.  One was delivered to my work and I insisted on carrying it around like it was a baby.  Some girls really like flowers, okay? What do you want from me.  Anyway, look at these flowers.  Tell me they wouldn't brighten your life.


Derik: "This lighting makes you look like you're in a soap opera."
Me:  "...the lens is dirty."
Derik:  "...oh."

Then my cat had to wander into the picture to remind me that he makes me happiest.  But he knows I know this, he's just pompous.


I love you guys, you know who you are.  <3  And now, onto the show!!

 
BREAK FOR PUPPIESSS!!!!!!


 
This is not a sultry face.  This is my "why is my burger not out here yet?" face.  

 
Ghost Rider!!! My dad would be so proud of me right now.


This was when I broke character for a super authentic smile.  Makes me happy.

9.23.2015

East Canyon and Echo, Utah

This weekend I de-stressed by taking my BFF Chelsey to my favorite "thinking" drive: East Canyon, a winding path through the Wasatch mountains, and then to Echo, an old boom town from the days of the Transcontinental Railroad.  We did keep going west and ended up making a beer run in Evanston, Wyoming, but that's not featured here.  I just wanted to show some of the pretty pictures from the day.  This drive means a lot to me, and I even wrote about it the first time I drove through years ago.


I had seen this old dilapidated structure I assumed to be a barn every time I drove past, but never stopped; this visit I made the executive decision to get out and take a look.  I wandered up to it feeling very 'at home', since buildings like this are plentiful where I come from, and when I got close enough I realized, this wasn't a barn or a shed.  I saw the stove inside, I saw the chimney crumbling through the cracks.  It had been a house.


This made me really sad and I am not even sure why.  I guess I saw my own house in it somewhere (the house where I grew up, that is.)  I just got the overpowering feeling of home and I saw all of the neglect and age and wear, and I suppose a large part of me relates.  It sounds silly, but that's the emotion I got.

Anyway, then it was back to Echo, the creepy, sleepy little town with a cemetery full of children and a lot of old, unused buildings.  Echo is one of those places that makes you happy to return to the city and civilization.

9.14.2015

Stories From Home, Vol. 1

Something great happened today.  I was visiting Wheeler Farm here in Salt Lake City (an old farmstead/park complete with farm animals and a river through the middle) with some friends, and somehow the conversation turned to a short storytelling session where I shared a few of the more absurd memories from my youth, while the kids ran around and played in the creek.

 (I seriously love these guys!!)

I've always loved Wheeler Farm because it does remind me of home.  Working on the garden, being surrounded by forest, the isolation, the horses, the chickens...it's my little piece of Tennessee in Utah.  What's more, my friends know my past, so when I was explaining things like my Dad warning me to "not go fallin' around in a well somewhere" they weren't shocked, but they were laughing hysterically.  I ended one story with "Man, I should write a book," and they agreed.

The thing is, I've been told that many times when it comes to my adverse childhood experience, but never anything positive.  It struck me there sitting in the shade...maybe I should write about the good moments.  They're still very strange and fantastical stories, but for their strangeness, they're still heartwarming, or at least humorous.  With what I'm going through right now, I will take heartwarming and humorous.  So, I'll start today with re-telling two of the tales I told earlier this sunny afternoon.

The Bear Trap

I was not encouraged to ever be in my house as a child.  Ever.  And barring the fact that there were a few toys and snacks within it, I wasn't really happy to be in it much, so most of my "free time" was spent exploring the mountains.  I ran into some strange things out there, and I don't think my parents have any clue just how far I traveled...it was miles and miles each day.  Anyway, this afternoon I was doing my thing and surf-sliding down a very steep mountain.

My dad was always adamant that I watch what the hell I was doing, mostly for the unmarked underground wells that existed all over the Appalachians where we lived.  I had enough fear for them considering the neighbor boy, slightly younger than me, fell in one and drowned when I was four years old.  So as I slid down the slippery pine-needles and leaves, I watched the slope with an eagle eye, scouring the horizon for deadly wells.... when I saw an old bear trap directly in my path.

I recognized it as my dad's; it wasn't the "full size" bear traps, but slightly smaller.  I have no idea what he was trying to catch, but the point here is that the trap was open and I was careening toward it.  I immediately stood from my crouched slide, and when my feet hit the open trap it stayed opened.  It was rusted open.  Lucky me? But then I looked up, still sliding forward, and met eyes with a rotted rope, and hanging from the end of it, a gnarled chicken foot and leg.

My dad had used one of his roosters for bait, hanging above the trap, and over the months (year?) the carcass rotted, leaving the one leg and a bunch of matted feathers and meat to drip slowly down onto the trap.  My brain realized all this in the span of about .5 seconds before I screeched and the thing thwacked me right in the face, dead chicken just exploding everywhere and going in every single opening in my skull.  It was the most disgusting thing I've ever encountered with my face, and it encountered aaaaallllllll of my face.  The meat was soggy and just kind of made a plegh sound as it smacked me, like even it was disgusted at what just happened.  Later when I told my Mom about the incident she laughed so hard she doubled over and I just stood there unimpressed, but I have to admit, if I had been in her shoes I would have probably done the same thing.

tl;dr, I got hit in the face with a dead chicken, while trying to avoid a rusted trap.


 Midnight Surprise

I woke up one night, about six or seven years old, to my dad very excitedly telling me to get out of bed (the couch) and come outside.  My dad is never excited about anything, so I remember tripping over my nightgown and stumbling out into the moonlit night.  He was dressed in camouflage and his truck was parked in the front of the house, and several of his louder, more rowdy friends were with him.

My dad's friends were a strange bunch, all convicts or hunters/hillbillies, with hearts of gold toward me, whom they considered to be the prodigy of the forest.  They all smiled and called to me, standing at the tailgate of the truck, and I remembered thinking from everyone's giddy level of enchantment that they must have gotten me a present!  My child logic was not wise, considering I 1) never got presents and 2) a bunch of grown men waking up a six year old at midnight and calling her outside was a sinister beginning to a present.

So my dad told me to go and look in the back of the truck.  I traipsed up the hill, excited, as he went ahead of me and around the back.  He looked to be holding something in the bed, but I had no clue what it might be.  The men parted around me as I rounded the edge of the corner and A FUCKING BEAR LUNGED AT ME, ROARING.

I screamed and about three seconds later heard the uproarious laughter of the hunters; my dad had killed a black bear that night while I slept, and brought it home on the truck bed.  This thing's face was inches away from mine, his mouth open, blood dripping out.  I remember seeing the gleaming white fangs in the light of the moon, and the black fur. My dad had made the roaring sound and thrown the body towards me as a joke.  Ha, ha. Hilarious.

After my lip stopped quivering, I asked if I could pet the bear, and my dad let me.  I have to marvel at kid Alex, what a resilient little thing.  I was always sad to see a dead animal like that, but these animals were our survival.  That bear meant good meat for months ahead.  I knew that from a very young age, so I petted it and told it thank you, and then went back to bed.  Normal night for the Worleys.

tl;dr; my dad uses an actual bear to scare the shit out of me in the middle of the night

9.10.2015

World Suicide Prevention Day

I wanted to write something meaningful considering the date, but I feel exhausted writing about this topic in general.  I am a pretty doleful person as it goes and I know people get tired of that, but the subject does need talking about--the stigma, the misconceptions, the neglect, the survivor guilt--these are all things that we need dialogues on, and what better time than today? So let's get real for a minute.


How to Help


I know it's been said many times in many ways, but the most important thing to do when a person in your life is feeling suicidal is to take them seriously.  Don't let it go.  Don't ignore them. Listen.  It sounds simple, but it cannot be overstated.  When I talked to my friends about feeling suicidal they had no idea what the "right thing to say" was...I could tell they were worried.  In my experience it's not what you say, it's the being there that will make the difference.  Just keeping a dialogue open, asking questions.  You're not going to convince someone else to live or find their reason for living in a conversation or ten thousand conversations.  What you can do is be there to talk to them.


And they might not want to talk.  Again, there's no perfect way to handle this.  There is no guaranteed protocol.  Your best bet is simply awareness and persistence, and though that sounds a bit like going to a fight without any weapons, it can save a life.  It did save mine, twice.

Understanding Suicide


Don't worry about making the person feel better, or "curing" whatever they have.  There are mental scars we can get as humans that cause just as much suffering as any biological disease.  Suicide, as unglamorous as it is, is more of a will to be rid of that pain than anything dramatic.  I know for me at least, I felt that pain and I felt like I was a burden to people who cared because of it and how it affected my life.  So the idea of ending the struggle was very appealing.  I say this so that you can keep it all in mind when talking to someone about their mental state and suicidal thoughts.  This isn't something that a yoga class or a church session or a good book or the correct inspirational quote will fix.  So don't focus on that aspect of it.  Just acknowledge their pain the way you would any other loved one suffering any other kind of pain.

For Survivors


There are a lot of support networks out there for those who have suffered a loss from suicide; I can't speak too much about how to heal from that, but I might be able to offer insight as someone who has been there contemplating it.  It is definitely not anyone's fault--again, these are mental scars and it's a pain so severe it consumes you.  I figure many of those who choose suicide feel as I did, that they were a burden or that their loved ones either wouldn't care or would move on quickly.  It's something I believed wholly, and I can't say why.  So in trying to figure out your pain, I hope that at least makes some sense.  And if you haven't yet, please find a support group or therapist to help deal with your loss.


I have to interject here and thank the amazing people in my life for what they've done over the past few months.  I would not be alive without their support and the reason I continue to stumble around every day trying to find some kind of footing in life is because of them.   Things are not perfect with my mental health--far from it, but suicide has been removed from my mind as an option because of those loving hearts who want to keep me around. You can be that for someone.


The following photos were all taken after my experiences, which were so, so recent.  To think of never having these moments seems strange now.  I consider them trophies, successes.





9.08.2015

Before and After (Random Health Update)

I have a lot of stuff to talk about, from sharing old vacation photos to my outing this morning, and the second half of my 28 Lessons for 28 Years, but I felt a little compelled to write about health and weight loss today since it's something that I've been fixated on.  Once you make the lifestyle change, your health tends to take focus, at least that's how it's worked for me, but I never write about it, and especially not lately due to all the mental problems.

Those mental health issues have swallowed my life since about March/April, and all of my progress really slowed to a crawl.  I was still losing weight, but the stringent methods of counting calories and avoiding carbs were all but forgotten; I was barely able to survive, let alone think about macros and muh protein.  It's a sad thing, because even though you're not failing, you're not "on track", and when your brain is basically already saying "haha, you blow", it's just another hit that you take.  You feel like you're failing.

But, I was at the store a few days ago and one of the cashiers who has known me for years said, "You look like you've lost weight.  You can see it in your face."  Oh, BS, because as anyone who has lost weight knows, you NEVER look like you've lost weight, haha.  Then, later that night, I was reminiscing while scrolling through old Instagram pics and happened to find one from around my heaviest weight, when I became a garbage disposal for my own feelings about my mother's death.  That was 48 pounds ago, give or take. The recent photo is from some time in August.



I don't really have any secrets to success.  I think that weight loss is different for everyone, and I think we all have to find our own path to health and what it means for us.  With that said, I don't want to appear totally useless, so, here's the things that help me:

-In general I avoid carbs.
-I do not avoid fats, protein, or vegetables.
-Eggs.  Always eggs. #egglife
-I count my calories.  I use the My Fitness Pal app.
-I post and read on /r/loseit and /r/fitness; it's my support group.
-I had to admit that I was addicted to sugar before any of this worked.
-Weight loss is not about exercise.  That's literally like 5% of it.  It's all about food.
-calories in, calories out WORKS. It's science. You can't trick science.


Sorry those are all probably not very helpful as well as super generic!  There are no secrets, only hard work and your own path.  With THAT said, if anyone has any questions please let me know and I will try my best to answer them.  I am passionate about health and always willing to discuss it, even if it's to rant about how unfair it is that peanut butter has like a trillion calories per spoonful.

9.05.2015

Not for ourselves alone are we born.

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” 
 ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here I am talking about Mad Max yet again, well, I can't help it.  The movie is so action-packed and beautifully written that you can watch it four or five times and still see things you haven't seen before.  It just keeps giving back.  And while I do love re-watching for those explosions and that one car getting swept up in the dust tornado, I'm not going to write about that.  I found another touching bit of symbolism related to Max's condition in my most recent watch.

First, a bit of backstory on Mad Max lore: Max is rarely called by name and has a "title" in each movie, or sometimes two or three titles.  In Fury Road, he's abducted and used for human blood transfusions, earning him the glamorous title of "blood bag".  Later when he uncomfortably runs into Furiosa, she leaves unsatisfied when Max refuses to speak to her.



 After that awkward attempt at human contact, she takes to calling him "Fool."  And then they bond over time, and explosions happen and motorcycles flank tanker trucks and old ladies shoot at oxygen tanks and Furiosa ends up fatally wounded, with a tension pneumothorax, (a collapsed lung) and exsanguination (her wound is causing her to bleed out.)  She's laying in the back of the vehicle looking pretty grey and disgusting, when Max realizes what's happening and out of nowhere begins some pretty grisly and effective EMS interventions.  (I didn't know they taught cops that...I digress...)




The first few times I watched it I just nodded pretty satisfactorily, because there's nothing better than a well-done lifesaving scene.  Hollywood gets it wrong most of the time, so I can't be the only person with a medical background who gets excited at stuff like this, right guys?  Whatever, the point is, when I watched it recently, I noticed how Max, the PTSD-crippled "fool" who barely speaks the entire movie and jumps at shadows, was busy saving a life while the others stood by, terrified, watching and taking orders when he mutters them.


And it proudly reminded me of how my experience with trauma and emergencies sparred me to get my EMT certification; that unwanted gift of jumping in to help, of knowing how to channel adrenaline and somehow having the ability to move when the whole world freezes--that is a mentality that is invaluable in prehospital care, and it's an ability that my PTSD has honed far beyond the level of reasonable.  Eye contact? Nope.  Stabilizing a protruding femur? Sure.  Thanks, PTSD.

Anyway, what I hadn't noticed is how vocal he was at this point.  Max mostly grunts through the movie, but while he was working on his patient he was speaking almost normally.  He was reassuring, calm, polite.  I notice a change in myself when talking to patients; that is, my voice goes to a more nurturing and concerned tone.  I make more eye contact and I'm warmer.  I don't have as much contrast as Max, but the difference in communication is there, and I've heard and seen it in my coworkers as well.  It is comforting to know that while I am sure I come off completely crazy and bitchy all those times I awkwardly sidle out of a room or refuse to look in someone's eyes, I at least have a pretty good bedside manner.  Whatever instinct it is in us as humans that causes us to take care of others seems to know how to switch on 'nurture' mode when it's needed.  It's lovely, really.  

Back to the scene; he finished his butcher-y, post-apocalyptic unsanitary interventions, and Furiosa became unconscious.  Max's response to that was one that I thought was just simple and poignant at first, but I finally realized the full weight behind the words.  When she passed out, he leaned over her and said, "Max.  My name is Max."


I know, I know, he was FINALLY answering her question from forever ago when they first met, but that's not it.  Max had remembered himself while taking care of Furiosa.  The message is pretty clear; through service to others, we connect with ourselves.  We are actually caring for ourselves.  I don't know how that works, but I do know that it's true.  Not just in medical circumstances, but when I am helping a friend with a problem or even just doing volunteer work, I feel so much more grounded than when trying to flounder around in my own head and world of problems.

Max started the movie as a jumpy runaway who had uncontrollable trauma, and that's exactly how he ended the movie, only with the benefit of having a small break in between--a break where he almost died about 8 million times, made a few interesting acquaintances, recovered his jacket, but most importantly, he was able to find himself for a moment in there.  It happened because he cared for, and took care of, another person.

Right now I rely on those moments of finding myself to get me through.  To be honest I haven't had one in awhile and it's been extremely tough.  But I saw it in the movie and that was enough to remind me that it can happen. Which is more hope than I've had in months, to tell the truth.

8.29.2015

Something Inside You Needs Healing, Not Killing

To be perfectly frank I wasn't going to write any of this.  I like a certain degree of privacy despite owning a public blog (which I let sit vacant for months at a time for just that reason--I have nothing I want to share) and I'm not even sure why I am going to talk about it.  It's not because I enjoy it.  Maybe it's cathartic, and even though I do like privacy I also like being authentic, and writing authentically.  I will take the fact that I'm open to writing this as a good sign for my health, because I've been especially withdrawn lately.



Life with PTSD

I will start with a short recap.  I have always known I've had PTSD, but I've never done anything about it except cope on my own.  Coping on your own with severe PTSD is kind of like running away, your entire adult life, from a big terrifying monster.  If you just turn your back and ignore it, and pretend things are cool on the surface while inwardly panicking, you can run pretty far.  I ran all the way to Sweden for a year and found my way back.  Years before that, I ran all the way from Tennessee to Utah.  I ran from job to job and relationship to "relationship", sometimes cutting it way too close...that monster almost got to me.

And then you decide to actually do something about the monster, which to continue painting the picture, looks something like finding a salvaged weapon on the ground and turning around to finally face it.  Really, for me, choosing to get therapy and deal with this creature was like any other "hard" choice.  It didn't feel like a choice. I couldn't keep running.  I was tired.  It didn't seem like an option.  I credit this to finding a spot where I fit, at work, and not wanting to leave that place.  I had something I wanted to turn around and defend from the tornado-wreaking-havoc monster, so I turned around and defended.  It's not like therapy makes these things go away gently.  You still have to fight it, but now you're actually standing there with like, a moldy old baseball bat or some other level one tutorial bullshit weapon, and the creature knows you're ready for a fight, so it comes at you even more enthusiastically.



EMDR Therapy

For anyone wondering, the type of therapy I started is EMDR, which sounds like a lot of witchy woo-woo to me, but if it's nothing else it's effective.  Too effective, maybe, because after just three or four sessions I was literally a broken apart mess.  We're talking making blanket forts Vietnam level of hyper-vigilant.  I won't go into the bad spots I found myself in, but there were plenty of them, and shit, I can only take so much.  Cue suicide.

I won't go over specifics, or my thoughts and feelings on suicide in general--that's a whole other rant--but at least for me, it was kind of like that moment you know you're going to lose a boss fight so you just put down the controller or maybe ragequit the game.  I was tired of fighting and not only in that time, was I a shell of myself, but I could see very clearly just how damaged I was as a whole.  That may sound cynical but it's true. It's startling for someone with a literal fortress of walls around even themselves to see the truth about how fragile and vulnerable they are.  I couldn't stand it.

I also felt like I was a burden to my loved ones.  I felt that I couldn't do anything right.  I wasn't able to do my job, I wasn't able to even have a conversation half the time.  If I wasn't being angry and volatile then I was crying or dissociated to the point of being a vegetable.  Who needs something like that around?  There were two distinct attempts I made, and again I won't go into details but I can say that somewhere in the rush of adrenaline saying GO AHEAD DO IT THIS IS A GOOD CHOICE, when I had nothing rational left, Richard Parker came out.



All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive."

— Life of Pi, Yann Martell




Suicide

That 'madness' is not only a state of being I'm more comfortable with than any other, but it's pretty much the basis of what drives post-traumatic stress.  The literal animal brain is in charge far more than it should be.  Anyway, the point is, where I had no rationality or emotional empathy for myself, and definitely no will to live and no hope, I still had that animal with thousands of years of evolutionary priming, wanting to survive--not to hear a charming baby's laugh or see blooms on trees or whatever bullshit it is your big smart human brain later recalls--it just wanted to survive, nothing more.

And usually that "just surviving" is a crippling thorn in my side, but at that point, it did save my life.  I told people that I cared about what I had planned to do.  Both times.  Naturally they protested and intervened.  My reaction to this was strange; amid all the guilt and disappointment I felt for being such a burden and such a worry, I was angry.  I don't really know why, it's probably another 'inexplicable madness', but I think that I just didn't want to worry them more.

I had already figured out in my head that people would miss me, most of them briefly, and then move on.  In my mind, I had strong, amazing friends in my life and they would all be okay.  What startled me was the adamance with which they argued; no, they would not be okay.  I may be a screeching tiger sometimes, but I still have exceptional emotional intelligence and I take pride in spotting sincerity in others.  They were really not okay with what I had planned to do.  Not at all.

This prompted me to take a step back and hit pause on the 'world is better off without you' mixtape I'd been putting together.  I wrote this post about it, but to summarize the reaction it had, my loved ones have convinced me that they at the very least need me, and I do feel an obligation to them.  I would never want to hurt any of them, and they made it clear that my death would be extremely hurtful.  So, here I am, thanks to them, and that instinct I had, to speak up.

Forward

I have no idea what that means.  I talked to my therapist (after brushing her off for two weeks to run around and desperately try to off myself) and she believes (and I know) that the overpowering urge to die, all the dissociation, nightmares, heightened awareness, panic attacks, are not just the effects of bringing trauma to the surface, but that I actually have repressed memories.  Again, it's always something I've kind of known about myself, but I was running from that monster so long I never actually thought I would have to deal with them.  And I guess my scumbag brain would rather I jump off a building than deal with them.

I recently saw this note from a therapist to a suicidal person, and this part really, really spoke to me: 

Do not trust your suicidal thoughts.  
They are not rational.
They are a symptom, a sign, a cry from inside.
Something inside you needs healing.
Healing, not killing.

I don't know what healed means.  I don't know how to envision myself not like this--I can't even imagine a life where I'm not damaged or traumatized in so, so many ways.  I can limp around in life and make a pretty good go of it and that's all I've ever known.  So to me, 'healed' still looks like a nice safe limp and I don't have any strong feelings about that one way or the other.  Any time I've considered quitting therapy I immediately counter myself--it's too late to start over.  Some things you just don't turn around from, and this is one of them.  It's one of those things where you want to walk back home but you're too exhausted, so you just keep going ahead.  Again, not a choice, at least not one I feel in control of making.

I have guilt for worrying people, and I have guilt for not being better.  I wish I had some kind of groundbreaking advice for others who are contemplating suicide, or people whose loved ones have taken that route, but I don't.  All I can say is, I've been there and I wouldn't wish that place on anyone.  You don't go because you want to.  And it has nothing to do with other people--nobody contemplates that idea based on the people around them.  It's an internal thing, unfortunately, so not something that a loved one can fix or take away.

I guess that's all I can really say on the matter.

8.26.2015

Somewhere in the desert.

(Thank you to everyone who expressed concern at my last post.  Things have not been easy but I do have a great support system in my life.) 

From how long it's taken me to sift through vacation photos you'd think I was gone a month.  I wish I was gone a month.

We were staying in Moab, one of Utah's brightest shining gems, and we passed an abandoned gas station and cafe somewhere in the desert.  I demanded that we stop the car so I could take photos.  It was a hot July morning, with no one around and just these few remnants of the uranium boom remaining.

I absolutely adore the atomic age, this is no surprise, but I rarely get to step into frame with the buildings that have degraded so badly over time with no intervention.  It's beautiful.






8.15.2015

The Breaking Point.

All photos taken at Great Salt Lake Marina.



"There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors."
 -Tennessee Williams



"Even if all your life is fighting and struggle, it can still have meaning."


Here I am in this same old cycle again.  But I heard it described in a more hopeful way recently; it's not a circle, more of an outgoing spiral.  Slowly revolving around my past and inching away from it slowly, in a way that doesn't seem like I'm making any progress.

And to be perfectly frank, I still don't care.  I'm still tired, I still feel like it would be best if I weren't around.  Some very fantastic people have come forward to say that they disagree, and I believe them when they say that it would hurt them if I left.  So I'm still here, thanks to them, and I'm still here because of them.

“It is because I think so much of warm and sensitive hearts, that I would spare them from being wounded.” 
-Oliver Twist