This has been on my mind a lot lately as I burn myself out on working a lot.  I have a roommate now (my ex) but I’m still stubborn as fuck and prefer to work as much as possible so I’m not dependent on anyone else.  It’s fantastic to have some help, but I don’t want that to mean I slack off.

That said, this constant working has a toll.  I say this as I sit here on my weekend off (haven’t had one in about a month, which is better than the 2-3 month streak I had before).  I’ve been exhausted and tense lately.  Whenever I’m not at work I’m pretty constantly doing things at home.  I barely, if ever, sit once I get out of bed.  I cook dog food every 2-3 days (yeah, they eat better than me…I started doing this because of Claudia’s severe pancreatitis and it’s made a huge difference).  I hand wash a lot of dishes.  I take my girls for walks or hikes.  I do some other stuff around the house, though not enough.  My yard needs some serious work, and even parts of my home need work.  I’ve also bought a gym membership, something I’ve been considering for at least a year or two.  I’ve been wanting to be in better shape, and I’ve finally met someone I’m pretty sure is serious about going backpacking with me, and I want to be in better shape so I can handle that.  A recent sprint across the hospital to go to a code also showed me how ridiculously out of shape I am.  It was time to do something.

In all of these necessities and other activities I’m adding, I have less and less time for other things I also want to do, and probably should do.  Things that are, quite honestly, necessary for maintaining my mental health as much as some of these other things, if not moreso.  Things like playing guitar (which I’ve seriously been slipping with, hence delaying my next guitar lesson).  Meditating.  Meditation is a big part of what got me through my severe depression this past summer, along with the support of family and friends.  I definitely noticed a decline in my emotional state since I stopped doing this.  I’d like to read more.  I made it a goal of mine for this month to finish at least one book.  Not sure it’s going to happen, but dammit I’m working on it.  I’d really like to just sit with my dogs more, especially Claudia.  With her mental health starting to rapidly decline again (she has dementia) she paces pretty constantly.  She’s noticeably anxious.  Just about the only time she sits still is when I sit still.  If I’m up and about, she’s pacing a lot.  So…my usual way of doing things has added to decreased soundness of mind for her I believe.  This weekend has been pretty amazing because, even though I’ve gotten a lot done, I’ve also spent time actually sitting on the couch with her.  We’ve cuddled.  She’s rested.  She’s actually snoring next to me right now.  I love this.  I don’t feel like a shitty dog mom in moments like these.

I’d like to take up cross stitching and crocheting.  My bestie, Lexi, has really encouraged this.  She’s a worker like me, she likes to get things done and she has a great work ethic.  But she also seems to know what it’s time to sit.  I went to her place a few weeks back and on a whim decided to bring these three small little booklets I got with the latest issue of Flow Magazine.  They could be used for notes, doodling, drawing cool pictures, etc.  We randomly just sat and each found a page we liked (usually included a doodle from the person who made the booklets) and drew a picture.  It was simple.  It was cathartic.  It was creativity.  It was random.  Lexi is one of my closest friends who inspires me in every way, whether it’s growing stronger through crisis, or encouraging me to be creative.  The way she lives just inspires me, she’s more of the kind of person I want to be.

She’s also incredibly smartass-y.  She cross stitched something awesome for me as a Christmas gift last year and brought it to my divorce party.

fuck off

I would also like to cross stitch snarky, “ornate” things (as she calls them).  It’s artistic, and it makes people smile.  Why the hell not?

For quite some time, the people closest to me have told me I need to sit still more.  My ex husband said this.  My ex boyfriend said it.  Even other friends and coworkers who I talk to about stuff tell me that I need to make sure I take care of myself.  I know they’re right.  We’re often encouraged in this culture to be on the move…our value is measured by how “productive” we are.  And I’ll tell you what, I’m kind of tired of it.

I was raised as a catholic with the usual catholic guilt.  I was never good enough.  I was perfectionistic as fuck.  I think this is also because my parents (especially my mom) were like that.  I carried this into my schooling and work ethic.  I carried this into the activism I used to engage in and overanalyzed everything I did.  It’s good to think about the work we do (in any capacity) and figure out of we could be doing better.  But it got to a point of being maladaptive for me.  I was constantly knocking myself for not being effective enough.  I felt like I had to earn the right to exist.  This had the result of burning me out in activism, though there were other things about the community that also burnt me out.

This isn’t really a healthy way to live.  And it begs the question: what are we running from in our constant quest to be doing things?  Hand in hand with that question, why do we always need noise?

I want to throw a song in here.  Twenty One Pilots (a band Lexi got me into, of course) has a way of writing meaningful songs that are kind of humorous but also make some good points.  This is one of them:

I find these issues are common for me, and probably for a lot of us.  We try to escape our thoughts, our pain, etc., by constantly moving and constantly drowning out our thoughts by listening to something or someone else.  TV, radio shows, music, etc.  The list goes on.  I’m not saying any of these things are bad, but in excess they’re not healthy.

So, how does it help us to seek more silence and more stillness?  Personally, I know I feel less scattered and less tense when I try to “just be” more.  I feel more emotionally sound.  It allows me to be with my thoughts, come up with new ideas, hear more, see more, experience more.  It really is “more”, but instead of doing more and taking in more information, it’s experiencing more on another level.  It’s another form of personal growth.

What the hell, I’m not going to just spout my opinion.  May as well share some other stuff I’ve read (because reading is cool and having someone else’s perspective to supplement mine is even cooler).

In the article “Why Doing Nothing is Good For You” from issue 20 of Flow Magazine, the following is said:

Jan Derksen, psychotherapist and professor of clinical psychology at Radboud University in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium, also believes that sometimes doing nothing is crucial for your spiritual health and passivity is good for you.  “Nowadays the outside world is just so stimulating, always pulling at you and asking for attention.  It makes you lose the connection to your inner self – your emotions, thoughts, and wishes.  You end up being emotionally deregulated,” he says.


“Daydreaming increases the likelihood of your achieving what you want,” says sleep and dream researcher Victor Spoormaker of the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich, Germany.  “Daydreaming is also good for creativity, because it lets your imagination run free.  Einstein famously said that it brought him more than any study.”  Dutch trend watcher Hilde Roothart puts it this way: “Boredom is a good thing, because it gives you space for new ideas.  In that respect, loafing about is the driving engine for change and innovation.”

I love these quotes.  It’s not that I’m advocating being bored and lazy all the time.  But it’s emotionally and physically healthy to chillax on a regular basis.

Another book that’s recently inspired me to sit still more is Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  There’s generally so much wisdom in this book, but her writing on the importance of taking time for ourselves to inspire creativity really resonates with me.  In the story, “Clear Water: Nourishing the Creative Life”, she says this:

A woman must be careful to not allow overresponsibility (or overrespectability) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures.  She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she “should” be doing.  Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.


To lose focus  means to lose energy.  The absolutely wrong thing to attempt when we’ve lost focus is to rush about struggling to pack it all back together again.  Rushing is not the thing to do.  As we see in the tale, sitting and rocking is the thing to do.  Patience, peace, and rocking renew ideas.  Just holding the idea and the patience to rock it are what some women might call a luxury.  Wild Woman says it is a necessity.

I can really identify with this:

Whatever their idea is for respite, even though they’re speaking from abject tiredness and frustration, I say that is a good idea, it is time to rest.  To which they usually screech, “Rest!  How can I rest when the whole world is going to hell right before my very eyes?”

That was me in activism.  I thought anyone who suggested rest must be privileged as fuck.  But truthfully, how effective can we be for others when we don’t take care of ourselves?  Activism taught me this hard lesson, and working as a caregiver at my two mental health and one assisted living job have really driven this point home for me.  We *have* to take care of ourselves first.  It’s not an option, it’s a requirement.  It keeps us healthy and it sets a good example to those we’re advocates for.

And neither should we panic when we lose our momentum or focus.  But like her, we must calmly hold the idea and be with it a while.  Whether our focus is on self-development, world issues, or relationship doesn’t matter, the animus will wear down.  It is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when.  Completing long endeavors, such s finishing school, concluding a manuscript, fulfilling one’s opus, caregiving an ill person, all these have their times when the once-young energy turns old, falls down, and can go on no longer….

The assumption of eternal strength in the masculine is an error.  It is a cultural introject that must be routed from the psyche.  The misconception causes both the masculine energies in the inner landscape and the males in the culture to disappoint.  All just naturally need a break to restore their strength.  The modus operandi of the Life/Death/Life nature is cyclical and applies to everyone and all things.


This is what Wild Woman offers us: the ability to see what is before us through focusing, through stopping and looking and smelling and listening and feeling and tasting.  Focusing is the use of all of our senses, including intuition.  It is from this world that women come to claim their own voices, their own values, their imaginations, their clairvoyance, their stories, and the ancient memories of women.  And these are the work of focus and creation.  If you’ve lost focus, just sit down and be still.  Take the idea and rock it to and fro.  Keep some of it and throw some away, and it will renew itself.  You need do no more.

I’ve had so many goals related to personal growth since my marriage imploded.  Traveling more.  Really living more and experiencing more.  And just as importantly, getting back in touch with my creative self.  Twice since everything happened, I worked on reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron.  I got further in it the second time around but never finished.

It’s time to do something different.  Yes, travel.  Yes, take care of my home.  Exercise.  Do things outside.  But also meditate.  Sit still.  Read more.  Continue with musical art, take up new arts like cross stitching.  Less social media, less wasted time browsing and more “productive time” doing nothing but being still with myself and the world around me.  This is where growth happens.  Right here, right now, with myself.


What it means to heal

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on healing and what exactly that means. I shared (most of this quote) on facebook yesterday and wanted to share it here:

“Rage corrodes our trust that anything good can occur. Something has happened to hope. And behind the loss of hope is usually anger; behind anger, pain; behind pain, usually torture of one sort or another, sometimes recent, but often from long ago.” -Clarissa Pinkola Estes

And then I shared a little opinion on the importance of feeling what we need to when we experience it…feeling our feelings deeply, being present with our emotions, not trying to run from them, escape them however we see fit, self-medicate, etc.

There is so much truth in this quote. I remember recently reflecting on how my anger was a mask to avoid feeling the pain associated with grief.

My moods have been a bit sporadic lately. I was higher (or “normal”, I’m not sure what) after starting the Lexapro. Either way my psych has decided to treat it as type 2 bipolar, though he’s not completely convinced it’s that. I’m not impulsive, I’m not hallucinating or experiencing any delusions. But he wants to play it safe and not up the antidepressant. I’m on a mood stabilizer now. Pretty sure it’s too small a dose to do much, but I’ve been flat. Or at least more flat. It might be because I felt myself heading in a depressive direction and went in to get help. This was the answer.

I’d been exploring my recent past with a friend, talking about a lot of things. I already felt a bit like there was a deep pain inside, waiting to sneak up on me and take me down. It was there behind the smiles, the aliveness I finally felt, the excess energy. But talking about things that have happened put me in a rough space. I thought I was more “over it” than I apparently am.

So many times over the last couple of years I’ve said, “there’s so much pain, I don’t know where to start or what to do with it all”. And in a sense I still feel that way. My grief is different now, but it’s still there. And I go in and out of being “alright” and feeling like I’ve moved on, to wishing I could just hide. And wishing I could be beyond that. Most importantly, I wish I knew what it looked like to be “alright” again. 

I find that my hurts from the distant past and recent past all share something in common: I’m at fault for someone else’s unhappiness. Truthfully, I’m not. But I got blamed a lot. I still do. I’m tired of it. My relationship with my mom is constantly hit or miss. That really sucks. It hurts. My parents are getting older. I miss my ex husband, though they continue to be one of my best friends. And it feels so strange to say I miss what was but don’t want to be back together because I realize that it could never be that again. There’s a deep pain that still lives in me over that. There’s a lot of regret. I wish everything was different. I don’t know about the ex boyfriend. I miss him, but I just don’t know.

Sometimes an incredibly random thing will hit me deep and I’ll feel the pain I first felt two years ago all over again. I don’t know what to do with that. How do I process this so it’ll stop hurting like that? Will it ever stop? How will I know when I’m ready to move on? Am I ready now? 

Can I ever fully trust again when people in general are so fickle?

The hard work of trusting again is on me. But I hope whoever comes my way, if such a thing will happen, realizes it’s hard for me and it’ll take time. I don’t need to be healed by anyone else, I just need patience and understanding.

In all of this, I feel I have more questions than answers. I hope some day I understand.


A few months back, someone referred to me as a “healer”. Someone I loved deeply. I took it as a compliment at the time and was happy that I could help someone I loved so much to move forward. Maybe I truly did help him in some way, I’ll never know. What I do know is that I didn’t truly heal him. He wasn’t ready to face his demons, and I can’t really heal anyone but myself.

Sometimes we are referred to as “healers” at my jobs (particularly the crisis home). I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and what it means. 

I’m a big believer in supporting those we care for, whether on a personal or professional level. I believe that the work I do can help someone feel empowered to heal themselves, but I can’t be the one doing the healing. I believe that unconditional love, support, and sharing of my own experiences and input can help someone heal. Through my own pain, another’s love, honesty, support, and consistency can help me heal if that’s what I want to do. But at the end of the day, we heal ourselves.

I kinda cringe these days when I recall being called a healer. Probably because this particular individual projected his mistakes and unhappiness back on me. He’s not the first one that did this. And this is exactly the problem when you expect someone else to heal you…when you think love or counsel or whatever will be enough. It shifts the hard work, the necessary processing, the self-reflection… basically all accountability, onto someone else. This also makes it easier to shift the blame when things don’t go as we hope. This isn’t fair.

Maybe I’m getting a bit too caught up in semantics, but when I see these things in action it’s hard to believe that’s the case. We have to face ourselves. Nobody will do for us what we won’t do for ourselves. It’s not exactly fair to expect that, either. Face yourself, heal yourself, love yourself. As Trent Shelton says, “it all starts with you”.

I laid on the floor a little while ago and just held Claudia. My head was resting on her. She fell asleep like this (which I know because she started snoring, which is so comforting to me). This never would have happened years ago. She’s such a cuddle now. I love that dog so much. I think we both needed that. I know I did.

I’ve always known this about myself, but I feel it lately. I’m such a physical person. I like to hold and be held. That’s obviously missing lately, and I can’t help but notice how I feel a little lighter inside after holding my dog. When you have few hugs or physical touch, it affects you physically and emotionally. Especially if you’re a person that really craves these things. (Strangely I’ve also feared them because they involve vulnerability, which is something that’s gotten me burned.) But I’m getting there. I’ve always felt strange about “touch and go” hugs. I try to hold my friends a little closer and a little longer these days when I hug them. A resident at the assisted living place gave me a very genuine hug a few weeks ago after we’d really bonded and she’d been sharing her life story with me over the course of a couple weeks. That was special.

So yeah. There’s one random but well thought out realization. 

Another is about self care. I feel like I desperately need to take the next few days to just focus on doing something I enjoy, preferably not energy intensive. My energy is literally gone. It’s hard for someone like me who’s always doing shit, but here I am again. I thought about it on the drive home tonight…there’s a pattern to my feelings. What I’m experiencing now is very similar to what I experienced in April/May before my serious depression hit. I feel a bit better equipped since I’m on a med now and have a psych. But I’m scared. That was dark, and things are starting to go downhill. It was severe anxiety, and it still is, but my energy is waning. I feel like I’m dragging my feet more and can’t walk straight sometimes. I cried really hard after I got home from work tonight. I had no idea why. I still don’t. It just is. This is a part of me. But it’s not who I am.

I’m afraid this makes me unlovable. It makes me want to withdraw so I don’t burden anyone.

But here’s an interesting thought I had. My tendency to want to withdraw isn’t just to avoid burdening others. It’s because interaction takes so much energy. I feel horrible about this…it feels so selfish to feel like I need to withdraw. I spend my days giving my energy, insights, humor, smartass wit, etc to people at work. And sometimes physical assistance or intervention depending on the job. I want to also give these things in my personal life (well, hopefully no physical intervention :p) 

I want to, I can, and I will. I just need to find a way to balance it so I’m giving myself what I need, too. I think I already know how, too. I’ll schedule time that’s just for me. Kinda like people probably (hopefully) do for their spouses, families, etc. It’s not selfish. It’s necessary. Just because it doesn’t involve anyone besides me doesn’t make it wrong. As I’ve been telling others for years and hope to one day really take my own advice…take care of yourself first. Not in a selfish way, but in a self care way. If we’re not good for ourselves, we surely can’t be good for anyone else.

So that’s that. I did do one minor thing for myself this morning. I finally went clothes shopping at Goodwill, which I’ve been wanting to do since I got the new job in June. So, yay to that. I have some nice new clothes.

After a good cry, cuddling my dog, and thinking this through, I feel a bit more whole again and less like a shell of myself. That’s a great feeling, even if it won’t last. I can go to bed with it and be grateful to have it for now. It’s the little things. 


I’m writing this post for a few reasons. I’d like input, I’d like to share my ideas, and I’d like to give a small update about where I’m at with things.

I appreciate all of you who are still reading this. This blog is obviously just one random person’s perspective on mental health, recovery, relationship issues, social issues, and the like. But I’m curious if there’s anything in particular any of you would like to read more just for enjoyment, learning, or discussion?

With that in mind, I came up with two topic ideas a bit ago. One was survival instincts in relation to mental health, and how this connects us to the rest of the living world. As for the second topic idea…it was really cool, but I’m embarrassed and annoyed to say that in the time before my shower, the brainstorming that happened there, and getting out, I somehow lost it. It was really cool, and I think it had something to do with healing. Maybe if I think about it while attempting to sleep I’ll wake up remembering it. This is an incredibly frustrating thing I’ve noticed since starting the antidepressant: I’ve become more scattered, and my thoughts generally more disorganized. I remember conversations, words, feelings, but then I can’t remember if it actually happened or if it’s something I dreamt. I also forget important things a bit more. Or things like this. So, so frustrating for someone who’s used to being more sharp. I still am, but a bit less so.

That’s a nice transition to the last part of this post. Some other things are happening since I started the anti-depressant. I’m not ready to discuss it publicly yet, I’m still trying to understand it. With time, reflection, conversations with friends, and more appointments with my therapist and psych, I’m hoping to figure it out.

That said, I fear I might be heading in a downward direction. I hope not. Recovery is a process, as I’ve always said. I just feel a bit off. I hope I’m wrong. In spite of knowing such things are inevitable, I can’t help but feel like a failure even though it’s not my fault. And fearing rejection, and fearing that I’m a burden. I’ve been conditioned to feel that by people no longer in my life, and some still in it (and let’s be honest, depression also tells us we’re a burden…it’s awful). I’ve also had a few amazing friends stand by me in spite of my struggles with this and prove they meant what they said. I’m fortunate to have them. Vulnerability is so, so hard.

I spend every day trying to be a light for others and help them. It takes a huge amount of energy that I don’t have, but you wouldn’t know it if you saw me at work. I want to write more, and continue being that light for others outside of work. And I will for those closest to me as much as is reasonable and possible, but I may or may not write for a bit. I need to focus on self care because I’m burning out. We can’t give what we don’t have, and again I’m learning this lesson. I need to be “bored”, focus on my creativity, be with my dogs, and just sit in contemplation. 

Thank you for being here. Please share your ideas…I’ll be back with more encouragement and insights when I’m feeling stronger.

I think of you every day. Every damn day. I remember what was. I remember how you used to love me. I remember our connection. I remember when we could talk. I remember when you treated me better, and you wanted us, and you wanted more from life. I know you’re capable of so much more than the way things ended up. I know you’re better than all of that. I believe in you. I believe in what could have been. I believe in your ability to recover and be better and have amazing insight. I believe because I’ve seen it.

There are no words for how much I still love you, how much I miss you. There are no words for how much I’m still in love with you. We are the same. As you always said, we are equals. And I write in the hopes that maybe if I get these words out there, somehow you’ll feel them. Maybe you’ll know. Maybe you’ll understand, and maybe you’ll grow. Maybe our connection really is that strong. Or maybe I’m crazy and I need to move on. 

I believe in you. I love you.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” -Socrates

I know I have a tendency to sometimes overthink things, and what I’m about to bring up may or may not be one of those things, though I kinda doubt it.  I talked to my therapist about it today and we agreed it makes sense to ask questions about such things.

So, we all know that loss/grief/transitions come with a shit ton of different feelings.  And we all hear about the stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance…or some variation of the above).  I don’t like to go by that because grief doesn’t work in a straight line.  Also, when shit first fell apart between me and my ex-husband, and then my ex-boyfriend, I went through all the damn stages in one day, repeatedly.  It’s exhausting.  But I suppose grief sort of follows a path that somewhat resembles this.

Either way, it’s the anger I want to focus on right now.  Yeah, I’m still grieving my marriage, but I’m “over it” so to speak.  If that makes sense.  It sucks and I miss what was, but I know this is reality and I’m grateful my ex and I are still friends.  (For the record, I experienced an intense amount of anger when shit first fell apart, and I had good reason…that all took a while to process, and I’m still processing some of it.)

The ex-boyfriend is a different story (in terms of me being “over it”).  There are a variety of reasons for this, but I really believe that this loss is going to take me a while to get over.  I won’t explain further, I think my other posts could probably do that for me.  But over the last few days I found myself experiencing a lot of anger towards him for all of the things he did.  I’ve never hated him and I never will, I’m just deeply hurt.  My anger is valid.  But I couldn’t really understand where all of this anger came from, and so suddenly.  I decided to journal about it the other day and I think I figured it out.

It’s really simple.  Right before the serious anger I just felt a lot of pain and it wouldn’t stop.  I realized that my anger was a front to avoid feeling the pain.  It helped me “move forward” a bit.  It makes me feel justified in walking away (because I was).  It helps me remember why it ended and how he could hurt me emotionally or physically in the future.  But it also distracted me from all of the things I loved about him, which is a lot.  I stayed and I fought for this relationship for a lot of reasons.  He’s not a bad person.  I know he’s capable of so much more, but that’s not up to me.  I can’t heal someone who won’t heal themselves, and I can’t allow myself to be a target for them when they don’t want to be mature and accountable.

In short, anger protected me.  It kept me from feeling vulnerable.  It kept me guarded.  It kept me in “fight mode” instead of allowing me to crumble.  So yeah.  Once I realized this, while also acknowledging I had many good reasons to be angry, I allowed myself to remember him exactly as he was.  No villainizing (which I’m not much for anyway…even my therapist mentioned today that I’m more quick to wonder “what did I do wrong?” instead of pointing the finger elsewhere if someone starts treating me differently).  We talked about people and how she knows of others that believe they have to hate someone to move forward.  I can’t relate to that except in the most extreme circumstances.  It takes too much energy, and it’s often fueled by a skewed perspective of someone.

Anger is valid.  But sometimes it’s also making things too easy for us.  As individuals, we’re all complicated.  We’re capable of such goodness, but also such evil.  Some of us are very good overall but have some shitty things we’ve done (or “skeletons”, so to speak).  And we have to allow others that same grace.  It doesn’t mean we have to put up with shit they’re not willing to address, but it does mean that we should work to view each other as the complicated individuals we are.  It’s hard.  It hurts.

Once I really thought about this and allowed myself to feel other things towards him besides anger, it knocked me down all over again.  That among other things.  It’s been a rough couple of years.

Anyway, I realized my anger was a “break” for me.  And those breaks are okay once in a while.  It’s a process and we need to allow it to run its course in the most healthy way possible.  And this also includes taking a break from the anger, or “hate” if that’s your style, and allowing yourself to feel all of the other emotions that go along with a loss…especially ones that involve betrayal.

A note on betrayal: it doesn’t have to involve something extreme like cheating.  It can be any kind of betrayal: someone talking down to you repeatedly, belittling you, threatening to hurt you physically or actually following through…anything that betrays your trust.  What matters is how it made you feel.  The person who hurt you may try to convince you it wasn’t a betrayal of trust (as my ex-boyfriend did).  That’s not their place to decide.  They’re looking to protect their ego, not you.  I can’t say this enough: you don’t need the person who hurt you to validate your pain in order to make it valid.  It’s real, it happened, and you’re hurt.  That IS valid.

I can’t tell anyone how to grieve, even though it probably sounds like that’s exactly what I’m trying to do 😉  More than anything I’m trying to encourage you all to be well-rounded in your grief so you can grow stronger and wiser.  Every single emotion is valid.  Based on my own emotions and observations, I just wanted to caution that we allow space for all of our emotions, not just the ones that are easier to feel.