Buzz like a bee

I signed up for a writing course that starts in September and already I’m feeling pressured and nervous with anticipation. It’s like my body is buzzing just underneath my skin, making me want to run and move continuously to the music in my head. It gives me a ton of extra energy, but if I run on that energy I will collapse into a heap and have to lie in bed for a week, I never know how long I can go before my battery runs out. It’s like I’m running at 100% and then suddenly I’m on empty.

“I can’t help it!” I want to yell.

I used to just go with it. I’d read a couple dozen books, run a few dozen miles, bake dozens of cookies and muffins, clean the house a dozen times, and pretend like I was just fine, thank you very much. Then I’d crash and hate myself for being so stupid, again.

You always do this.

Didn’t you see it coming?

You should have just sloooooowed down.

Can you tell a bee to slow down and enjoy the flowers? I tried today and the bee ignored me. My brain ignores me when I tell it to slow down too.

And so I sit here writing, trying to find about 70%. I’m trying to meditate when I start buzzing. But it’s really hard; I really want to ride the wave. I really want to get a ton of stuff done and feel useful. But that’s the trick of it all – getting stuff done does not increase my worth. If I continuously remind myself of that when I am buzzing with energy, then I can take a moment and smell the flowers.

The meaning of cleaning

The meaning of cleaning

I’m currently sitting outside eating red Jell-O and listening to the birds chirp in the neighbour’s tree. I watered the strawberries a few minutes ago and the garden is full of little weeds. The patio is covered in dirt from yesterday’s attempt to clean out the garbage bin. The kitchen is a bit wild – there is wrapping paper on the countertop along with stale bread that needs, well, something done with it, and an empty container of raspberries that is going to attract ants, and I need to take out the recycling. But those things are going to wait until my bum gets numb from sitting here or I get too hot in the sun. This morning it wasn’t so easy to let things go. I woke up with stress over losing my favourite jacket in my dream (at a Garth Brooks concert – how awesome). I went into the bathroom and wanted to clean it. Then I went into the kitchen and wanted to clean it. But instead I did some yoga and went for a run. For the next 40 minutes, this dance played out in my head while I ran:

When you get home, you need to clean the house

No, I’m going to have a snack and a shower

In a dirty bathroom? No. First, clean the bathroom.

If I clean the bathroom, I’m giving in to my anxiety and the need to reduce it through cleaning.

Are you though? Don’t you think it just needs to be cleaned?

Maybe. Shoot. Does it? How can I tell what’s reasonable?

Just clean it, then you can get on with your day.

You’re telling me it’s anxiety that’s making me want to clean it.

So clean the kitchen instead. Surely that’s reasonable. You don’t want ants, or mice. You’re going to get mice.

I don’t think I’ll get mice if I leave dirty dishes for a few hours.

Still, you know you’ll feel better if the house is clean

I will, and that’s exactly why I won’t be doing it. Suck it.

It got easier over the course of the day, although I did go out in order to not have to look at the mess. Even putting a few things away gave me a rush so I stopped. I left my bed unmade too but that’s not nearly as hard as it was a month ago. So I keep truckin’ 🙂

Is Suicide Selfish?

I read a short article today that said Franz Stahl had called Chris Cornell’s suicide “selfish” (you can read it here: https://www.relix.com/news/detail/ex_foo_fighters_guitarist_says_chris_cornell_selfish_for_committing_suicide). When I first read it, I was furious that anyone would call someone selfish for dying by suicide. But then I realized that a person outside of the throes of depression may see it that way because they don’t know the lies depression tells. They don’t know the mask that many of us put on thinking that it’s better for people close to us to not know how we’re feeling.

Depression tells many lies: I’m not good enough, I’m not worthy, I’m awful, etc. But it also uses what I love most against me: my family and friends. Severe depression tells me that I am torturing the people I love most by being with them. It tells me they would be better off without me. It tells me that they’re done looking after me. Depression tells me that the most loving thing I can do is to not be alive anymore.

I believe that those who die from suicide are not doing it because they don’t want to fight anymore or because they don’t want to deal with the pain anymore. I believe they are doing it because they are too unwell to realize that their depression is lying to them, and that no friend or family member is ever better off without them. They are most definitely not selfish, and most definitely not weak. They were ill.

Being Broken

Being Broken

I’m broken. I’ve been broken for a long time but right now I’m more broken than before. I could blame my parents, but despite their abuse they didn’t break me. I just broke. In the season finale of Workin’ Moms, Frankie says that it’s not that there is something wrong, it’s that there is something broken inside of her. I like how she puts it – broken, not wrong. I’ve seen several people on Twitter and in blogs talk about how they’re “not broken,” and their abuser “didn’t break” them. I don’t think that broken is a swear word and I’m not ashamed that I’m broken. Is a vase ashamed that it fell off the shelf? I think it’s okay to be lying on the floor in a hundred pieces if that’s where I am today. Someday I’ll be back on the shelf covered in glue and tape, but able to see the sun again.

P.S. All episodes of Workin’ Moms are available on CBC.ca. They do an incredible job of showing a woman with mental illness dealing with day-to-day life.

Just an unmade bed

Just an unmade bed

Today is the fourth day that I have left my bed unmade. Yesterday I even messed it up a little extra and put dirty clothes on top of it. It is getting easier but the first two days gave me so much anxiety that I ran around baking and cleaning for about ten hours before crashing. I’m still not sleeping but at least now I’m not festering about trying everything I can to compensate for leaving the bed unmade. I’m also fighting feelings of stupidity and worthlessness: who freaks out over leaving their bed unmade? I do, that’s who. But having OCD is nothing to be ashamed of and hey, I’m working on it. That’s my rational brain saying that but the feelings are still there, nattering at me that I’m a stupid worthless fool that is losing sleep over an unmade bed. It doesn’t feel like just an unmade bed though, it feels like failure. It feels like coming in last in swim meets. It feels like going to grad alone. It feels like sitting at the dinner table holding back tears after being told I’m stupid. And it feels like being told that I’m smart and funny but not believing it because it can’t possibly be true and obviously you’re stupid for saying it. It feels like so much more than an unmade bed.

Brain Split

Brain Split

My body is sitting in a coffee shop in Banff looking out the window at the snowy sidewalk and people passing by wearing snowsuits, helmets, and goggles preparing for a day skiing. My hand is gripping a tall ceramic mug and my tongue is trying to taste the tea inside. But my brain is at home, sitting on the floor with my head in my hands, crying. I have no tasks to perform here to keep myself in this chair and I battle the constant force of pressure behind my eyes trying to push out tears. Pain grips my middle and I wonder what my day will look like, trying desperately to turn it around. My grip is weak and the mug drops down to the table, causing the couple beside me to look over in alarm with their mouths full of muffin and coffee. I shudder as the weak feeling creeps up past my elbows. My lips feel cool as if recovering from frostbite and I try again to soothe them with warm tea, this time holding the mug with both hands and craning my neck to meet it halfway. I don’t want company. The thought of carrying on a conversation brings a wave of nausea and I am grateful to be here alone. Now my brain is trying to be on the floor at home and here, bouncing back and forth like a racquetball and I put my head down on the table to stop the spinning. Time is moving but I don’t feel it. Looking around I’m sure everyone here is different than before. What day is it? How long have I been here? As I begin to come back I feel exhausted and exposed, unsure if I can walk the mile back to the hotel. Panic begins to close my throat and I struggle to swallow the last sips of my tea. I want relief that no amount of rest can provide. For the first time I notice music in the background, coming through the chill in my forehead. I will set out in the cold mountain air with the hope that the chill will bring me back and allow me to exist for another day.

Baking

Baking

I woke up with a racing brain this morning. I tried to lie in bed and calm it down but the thoughts are bouncing around like a dozen Energizer bunnies. I admitted defeat and went to the kitchen. I found nothing nothing but cereal to eat so I pulled out my favourite Anna Olson cookbook and decided to make pastry for danishes. They won’t be ready until late tomorrow morning but making the pastry helped to cool my mind down. I used to rush through the steps looking ahead to the finished product but now I only allow myself to do one little step at a time, constantly checking the recipe and gathering ingredients and putting them away as I go. I pretend each time that it’s my first time baking. When my OCD habit of rearranging words pops into my head, I focus on the next step. If I dissociate and feel like I’m sitting far away at a window sill, I again focus on the next step. Each step individually is simple, even if the recipe overall is complicated, so it’s a good time to practice returning myself to the present moment. I love kneading dough by hand and feeling it change texture under my palms. And I love playing with raw eggs and feeling the egg white drip through my fingers. In a few hours I’ll roll out the dough again, and I’ll watch the chunks of butter change shape with each rolling. Tomorrow I’ll get to eat them, but for today I’ll enjoy my brain being a touch quieter than it was when I got up.