Hello. I miss writing. I was going to start writing on a new blog but I realized that the things I want to say probably fit better here. So here’s a recent post from the blog I tried to start. I’ll be moving all of my recent posts to Big Mouth and then I’ll start blogging new stuff once I’m done.
Hi friends. I just finished cleaning my house and so now my brain is clear enough to write. Does anyone else find that you can’t do anything that requires thought when your house is a mess? I’m not the best cleaner, but I have to tidy in order to think creatively or otherwise. Sometimes I feel insecurity over my cleaning abilities because I feel I just do the bare minimum. I still have some of that punk rat mentality in my bones, though I’ve gotten better over the years. One time my brother came over to my house and told me my bathroom looked like it belonged to a drug addict. He wasn’t far off.
I guess that’s a decent segue into where my mind has been recently. I made some drastic changes in my life this summer and I’m not sure how happy I am with some of them. I’ve been clean (I hate that word) from weed for three months now and I’m considerably less happy than I was when I was smoking it. I love weed. I really do. But right now I can’t afford it and it doesn’t mesh well with my medication. As in, it makes me feel like I am on meth (which I have never used). If they ever change my meds and weed is legalized federally or locally, I will surely smoke it again. I have no shame about that. It was medicine for me, as it has proven to be for many folks who suffer from PTSD.
I’m not super impressed with the “care” I got from the Mayo Clinic over the summer. They’re the folks who made all these changes in my life and told me I needed to quit weed and CBD permanently. They didn’t put me on Latuda – another doctor did – but they certainly won’t let me get off of it. A few weeks ago, I decided I was going to stop taking it on my own and I got a stern lecture and a threat with inpatient. I didn’t appreciate that very much. As soon as you take their control and power away, it’s like these doctors have to resort to threats to maintain their hold on you. They especially did not like it when I told them I probably know more about mental health than anyone working in inpatient. Perhaps that sounds conceited but when you consider how young many of the employees in the system are, it’s kind of true. I’ve been in the system for 20 years, which is longer than most of them have been in school.
And I don’t just swallow my pills. I do my research. I know my body and my mind pretty fucking well. And sometimes the things they say don’t sit right with me. Sometimes the things they tell me to do feel wrong. I let these doctors take full control over my life this summer and then they dropped me and I’ve been suffering since. I don’t feel pleasure anymore. I feel flat and uninterested in life. I miss the ways I used to think. Sometimes I even miss my mania. I miss my antics. I miss the excitement.
That’s not to say that my life is bad – it’s not. I have a ton to be grateful for and I am. I am even grateful, some of the time, for the stability. Stability just scares me because it isn’t distracting. I’m forced to sit with and confront the pain that I’m able to avoid while manic or smoking weed or traveling across the world and sleeping with a bunch of randos. And again, I’m not saying any of these things are better for me, but sometimes I get bored when things are… boring.
I know I talked about that last week.. my unending boredom. It’s getting sort of better, I guess? Idk, I’m kind of your typical Aries in that I always need to be starting new projects that I rarely finish, like this blog or like becoming a seamstress, which is what I decided I was going to do a few months ago and which I now realize I hate. Why in god’s name did I ever think I would have the patience to sew full getups for myself? Am I crazy??
Earlier this fall, Forrest and I were determined to start a podcast called Grim River, thinking we could maybe find time between parenting, work, and maintaining our house to do something like that. Turns out we don’t really have that kind of time and we generally aren’t even that good at working together on that level. We’re better at maintaining separate passion projects because we have vastly different working styles. But anyway, that’s just another example of a project I put a ton of work into only for it to fizzle out and transform into something else (this blog.)
Parenting takes up most, if not all, of my time. I get two nap times a day where I can do what I need to do but you can’t cram it all into that time. Like just now I remembered that I’ve forgotten to meditate today. Well, how exactly am I supposed to find time for that when I’m also responsible for cleaning, cooking, and caring for a child? And when I have ideas for, say, a YouTube video or a blog post that I want to churn out in the small period of time while she’s asleep? Then the meditation doesn’t feel like medicine, it feels like slow torture, lol. It feels like me prying myself away from my life so that I can do something arbitrary and check off a little box on a list.
The thing is, no one knows what is best for me other than me. People like the Mayo Clinic doctors can make guesses, but I am ultimately in control over my life. I am not powerless and I refuse to believe that ever again. What a horrible thing to tell survivors of assault! No, we are not powerless. We are not destined to give our lives over to others so that they can dictate what we do and how we live. We are no longer children. We are no longer being bullied or abused. We are adults and we get to make choices over how we live. If I want to smoke weed, that’s within my rights. If I want to stop taking Latuda, that’s my right. Do I plan to? No. But for my own sanity, I need to know that I am the one in control over me and not some doctor who has only talked to me for ten minutes.
I am sick of feeling frail and week. When I got my bipolar diagnosis, I felt just that. I felt out of control and like I didn’t know myself anymore. I felt like I needed someone to tell me what to do and how to live because I thought I’d gotten it all wrong for all these years and that I was truly just batshit insane. But I am not insane. What we call insanity, a quote that I don’t fully remember says, is a sane reaction to an insane world. I am fundamentally incapable of pretending to see things in ways that don’t ring true to me. I was born to be fully honest about how I see the world and myself and if there’s anything I can give people, it’s that honesty.
And, friends, I honestly hate the mental health system. All of it. I hate it. I think it’s fully inadequate, misguided, and problematic. I hate feeling infantilized by people who frankly know less than I do (and less than most of the afflicted know). I hate feeling forced to give over my self-control. I hate feeling imprisoned. The main reason I wanted to be hospitalized earlier this year was because my perception of myself didn’t line up with the perception others apparently had of me and it was a terrifying feeling to experience when I’ve spent so much time trying to be fully honest with myself and others. It was like… how could I have missed this? Maybe I don’t know myself so well after all.
But I do and I did and there was no need for me to feel powerless. I have held my personal power all along. I am capable of being sober if I want to be sober and I’m capable of smoking weed if I want to smoke weed and I’m capable of being medicated if I want to take meds and I’m also capable of doing the opposite of all of those things. The most important part is knowing that I have a choice. For so long throughout my childhood, I didn’t have any choices. I was trapped, imprisoned. That is no longer the case. And the more I tell myself I am powerless, the more those memories of abuse and assault and imprisonment start to consume me. I am free. Hallefuckinglujah. And I will never allow anyone to take that from me.
I think of my “insane” siblings of the past and the things they went through in order for these changes to be made in the mental health system. Changes like having a choice over your care. Having a choice over the meds you take. Having a choice about whether or not you go to the hospital. So many people like me were taken (and still sometimes are) against their wills and imprisoned in asylums. They were beaten and betrayed by the very people who were supposed to help them. And these practices are hardly old and, in some ways, they have hardly changed. Asylums still exist, but not as publicly. Psych wards are more like prisons, too unlike the “real world” to be effective for anything other than keeping people from killing themselves for short periods of time. And if you’re not suicidal but you are feeling downdowndown, where do you go? There is nowhere for you, really. You just suffer through it, especially now during pandemic times. Most of our safe spaces are closed. We are left to fend for ourselves. Can we? How many will die by their own hands by the end of this?
I fear for winter.
My view is dark and depressing, sure, but I live this. I watch my loved ones live this. I watch people clench their teeth and suffer through life, experiencing so little pleasure because of their limitations and because of the limitations society has placed upon us. How much easier would life be if people made room for difference? I suppose we can’t know that.
My life is good, though, and I’m happier than I’ve been in months this week. I remind myself daily of the things I have to be grateful for – my daughter, my partner, my dogs, my home, my breath, my being. But being grateful doesn’t mean I can’t also be angry and dissatisfied. You can be both-and. You can feel the full spectrum of emotion at the same time – that doesn’t make you wrong.
I think I will always challenge the things I don’t agree with. I’m not a sheep – I can’t be herded. I won’t be silenced. I won’t be satisfied when I know we could do so much better. I’m not exactly sure what that looks like. I have ideas and they fizzle out. I think about things like starting a big Zoom meeting for survivors and people suffering through the pandemic and I make these plans and then I feel small and powerless and useless and like i want to give up and hide. I don’t know the answer. I just have a lot of questions.
This week, I’ve challenged myself to stop striving and start accepting. My goal is to stop setting so many goals. To just be – still and satisfied. My goal is to do nothing and to be okay with that. To rest, to move my body, to make nourishing meals, to spend time with my child. To not have to strive for something grandiose beyond that. To be okay in my skin, where I sit. I must do this so that I can come back wiser and with more fight in my bones. I’ve been fighting blindly in my pain and rage. It’s important to take time to reflect on where we want to direct that fight so that we aren’t wasting energy. So that I’m not wasting energy. I’ve been wasting my energy on these blind fights. I will sit and reflect so that I may someday find my way again.
Motherhood has left me with an identity crisis like I haven’t experienced since the start of my pregnancy. When I found out I was pregnant, I feared I would have to throw my life and dreams away. Now I just don’t know what or where my dreams are. I don’t know what I want. I barely know who I am. I am caught in this place between mother and artist, sometimes falling more to one side than the other and realizing my balance is off. Realizing that I need to make a change and show up more for one part, only to find then that the other is missing. I wonder if and when I will ever find that balance. I wonder if I will find my footing again.
Being real with myself, though, I know I’ve never found that footing. I have never had balance. I’ve always been wild. I find stability for a short period of time, get bored, and destroy it. This is the longest period of stability I’ve ever had in my adulthood and I know that’s part of why I am having this crisis… because so much of my identity has been plain and simple chaos. The chaos is gone and now who am I? Mother? I’m a MOTHER?? That’s a wild concept to a formerly wild child. But every day, I choose to embrace it. I choose stability. I choose my family. And that choice isn’t wrong but it comes with pain and uncertainty. And yet, I still choose it. I choose it despite my own discomfort because I know it’s a million times better than where I was.
Why do we crave our own sickness? As a child abuse survivor, it’s probably because that’s what I know. Sickness is what I grew up with. Sickness, chaos, insanity – it’s in my bones. I have to actively choose against it in order to be safe and okay. And I do. And I will continue to.
Perhaps I’ve drastically contradicted myself through this blog post. Forgive me if so. My brain is still recovering from the summer and my switch from massive mania into deep depression and then slightly back up to this… stability? And stability is more uncomfortable for me than either of the extremes. It is the most unknown – it’s foreign. And so I hate it, lol.
Maybe my inconsistency in this post will make more sense if I tell you that the first and second parts were written on two separate days. Can you feel, then, how jumbled and uncertain my state of mind is? I never know who I’ll be when I wake up. I never know what outlook I’ll have or what mood I’ll be in or how I’ll interact with the world around me. And that, fundamentally, is what makes me “crazy.” But it’s also what makes me an artist. It’s what makes me … me. And I think I’m okay with that so long as I still have my breath, my heart, my family, and my ability to communicate those wild feelings with words – here, for you.