One year ago, I posted a blog for the first time. It was a little scary since the theme was my personal mental health. I was intimidated by the idea of publishing feelings. I did all the technical stuff – find blogsite, complete username/password business. I had to call the blog something. Errmmmmm… As an esthetician who loves her cats I came up with the Google name “skinkittin” years ago and the mental part came from something I call myself that I’d like to ‘own,’ as the kids say. The word comes up a lot for me.
In dramatic contrast to my dark, hopeless, suicidey wordpress blog posts, my Facebook posts are typically positive, sometimes political and mostly silliness. I post congratulations for achievements and pictures for my friends and of my friends for all to admire and comment on. I have over 500 Facebook friends and not ONE of them knows about this blog.
I like to keep my friends and acquaintances completely oblivious to my actual feeling while I bleed on the keyboard for complete strangers who are reading from other continents.
The point of the blog was to keep a record of moods, perceptions, goals, doctor fuckery and so forth in effort to organize this seemingly lifelong ailment. Also, I like to scare myself a little. For therapy, not thrills, I promise. I’m such a scaredy cat and little acts of boldness make me feel a bit accomplished.
Each post features a picture I’ve taken because I don’t know the rules of borrowing images and taking photos of my own seemed quicker than learning the rules or scrolling through stock images.
Each post is short and void of any real direction but heavy with depression cargo. A lot of them end abruptly with no conclusion at all.
(here i am on the internet with my bloody scabs, black eyes and raw knuckles for all the world to see)
(but, please, don’t look)
This is going to suck if someone I know reads this. For one-million years, I have been hiding my affliction. Or, rather, I have been hiding my affliction and other have been pretending they didn’t already know. Would that be an Emperor’s no clothes situation? I I have been pretending to have fresh threads and so have the people I know? I don’t think so.
Depression is dark, scary, confusing, loud…
Sometimes it comforts me tho. When I wonder why I am so different. I have something to blame.
I chose to write in free form because I hate editing. It’s boring and I’m not great at it anyway.
I also thought I could stay closer to honestly if i wasn’t going back on my thoughts to edit. Mental illness confessions are best served raw.
One year later, I feel like I achieved my original goals, if you can call them that. Everything I have laid out on these pages is the honest to God truth. Brownie promise three finger salute, pinky swear to God on MY LIFE.
I hope year two will see me letting someone I actually know read my psychotic ramblings. I’ll start slow. Parents. BFF. Boyfriend. Shrinks. Relatives. Then, maybe year ten or eleven I can tell friends and acquaintances.
Although I am glad that I have a record of this year’s mental health, I have not really been able to go back to actually read it. I have tweaked some photos and misspellings (or didn’t, my mood to edit varying from post to post) but I haven’t really been brave enough to read my own words. The idea of reading my crazy gives me the same feeling I get when I have to have a gynecological exam, ‘This is going to be icky and I’d rather avoid the whole thing.’ Until now.
So, here goes…
The above pull quote is the first paragraph of the first blog. It’s a confession: I’m a faker and I’ve been fakering around in real life. I’m not as cheerful as I pretend to be. I’m not as nice. I am not as pretty as I am in the pictures I post on Facebook and Instagram. Sometimes I don’t shower for DAYS. I once put on SEVENTY pounds from medication and the static lifestyle the fears IN MY HEAD put me in. I don’t have one drop of the confidence I pretend to have. I don’t really LOVE your new hair cut. It’s okay, but it’s really your brave spirit that I love.
I click the love button on posts because I am so glad my friends and family are living a LIFE. A silent encouragement. Keep it up! Go to that three day outdoor country concert, I love it. Look sexy in an amazing dress, I love it. Work that live coral fish tank hobby you picked up, I love it. Live in that gorgeous house you just bought, I love it. Make your kids stand in the front yard with a sign indicating their grade level, I LOVE IT!
Because if I love it, I don’t envy it. If I don’t envy it, I’m a good person even though I’m defective.
Over 50 posts, I have come to the sad conclusion that I care way too much about what other people think. I care WAY too much about pleasing people, not bothering people, getting approval from people and being admired.
For some reason, I really want people to think I’m cool and good and I force myself to fake around at the appearance of these things. Smile for the camera lest you appear too serious. Write clever things lest you appear ordinary. Write encouraging words lest you appear selfish. Tell people how much they deserve good things. People love to hear that shit.
In an early post titled, “Dad” (titles are hard) I wonder how my father can be proud of me when I have failed at being successful or even what I consider to be “normal.” (talk amongst yourselves about the definition of normal) I wondered how he could find pride in a daughter who is defective in terms of mental health and behavior?
I guess it’s natural to want to see pride in my parents’ eyes, particularly because they were parents who strived to see pride in my eyes. And there are worse things in life to strive for.
I wonder if it’s possible for me to respect my parents and follow my own path? That will be an interesting question to answer in a year, because I am going to explore a little bit of wing stretching. Baby bird wants to keep trying for something good.
In another post, I mark the death of a very old and very deep friendship with a high school friend. It turns out she had some opinions about my life that I couldn’t take and we were forced to consciously unfriend. My last words to her were, “Fuck you,” with hurt tears choking my words. I meant them, I still do, but I miss her and I wish she would call me so we could talk shit about her to make me feel better about when she hurt me. I can’t live this wretched life with a friend for who my faults are so blinding she can’t see my strengths. Sad if I think about it too long. Hurts if I remember her words that night on the phone that ended any friendly feelings left between us. Angry if I remember the pang of betrayal. Still.
I hope year two sees me actually giving less fucks like I courageously tried and so depressingly failed at in the beginning of this year. I sensed the bottom was falling out. I could feel the earth shakes and scrambled for a limb to hang onto. Positive thinking. Law of attraction. I really hope year two sees me going back to this practice, not that I’ve really let go of that little limb of hope. I suppose you could say I’m fortifying it with my therapies and mindful changes. And this time when the bottom falls out… I don’t know, but I’ll have a better grip.
Just thinking about unicorns really isn’t enough. Especially when I see dark, bucking mustangs with steaming nostrils challenging me to cross them to the light side where said unicorns play. Must. Move. Horses out of the way. Unicorns ahead!
One of the occasions that triggered the break down that inspired this blog was the death of my cousin, Lydia Ann. She was thirteen years older than I and one of just a few female cousins on the male dominated mother’s half of my very large extended family. I wasn’t born with any sisters and counted my female cousins as such.
She was amazing. Beautiful and fun, with long hair that she would shake back like Farrah Fawcett. Cousin Lydia had a cheeky, energizing way about her that was contagious and was admired by most who knew her. Especially this restless girl, I. She was confident and a proud rebel. A beautiful rebel with a warm smile and one-liners that could bring you to your knees in laughter. I spoke plainly to her when we were alone. Never fragranting my stinky disdain for this or that. She never made me feel weird for my melancholy or my lack of enthusiasm for the religion our mothers all cherished. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties when I realized this is because she could relate to it. I made her laugh her beautiful laugh. I can still hear her call me crazy. I can still hear her say my name.
In this cold, numb, pointy world, Lydia was light and strength and a source of pride for me and now she is gone forever and I will never get her back.
Lyd’s passing was not the sole reason for my break down, but it was the anvil that broke the camel’s back. I drank the entire week between her death to her burial. Beer. Light beer. From a can.
I shuffled through life as you do when you lose a loved one. I had lost people to death before, but this was different and I still can’t put my finger on why. There I was. Numb and reeling at the same time. Her children, young men who seemed to age into middle aged men during the course of her illness until her death were always on my mind, but I avoided them like the plague. Avoided their pain, which was sure to be ten times my own. Debilitating shame keeps me away. Annoyed that the world was going on with business as usual while it had so clearly had just ended.
I did this for about nine months and then Wendy died.
Another cousin. Dad’s side. Close friend. Sister-cousin. She related to my darkness so much, our congregating was likely considered ‘a bad idea’ for most who knew us. We drank a lot. Swore a lot. Boasted a lot. Partied. A lot.
We learned how to trust from one another. Both of us hid dark, dark thoughts behind big smiles and we grew close in letting each other have little peeks of it here and there. We supported each other through some really bad ideas regarding relationships or employment. We understood why the other did things no one could understand. We introduced the other with tremendous pride and always addressed each other as, ‘Cousin’ since addressing each other with our names would never adequately describe our fondness for one another.
We were ecstatic to know each other.
I highly recommend finding someone who is ectatic to know you. It feels really, really good. Until, that is, they die.
Still pretty numb from losing Lydia, Wendy’s death took a few months to hit me.
Ten months later, Wendy’s death is still hitting me.
I miss her.
That’s all I got on that right now.
Two days after Wendy died I wrote a rambling post about something so insignificant and boring I couldn’t bring myself to give it a very thorough reread.
I don’t even think I mention Wendy. I would have broken in two if I had to describe how much I had just lost.
Eight days later, in a post titled, Haunt me, Bitches I write another ramble.
Update: Currently at 25% indifferent, 50% heart-seizing emotional pain (more raw than ever as I’m not so prone to drowning my sorrows in canned beer these days) and 25% pissed-the-fuck-off.
I don’t know where I want to see myself in this next year regarding the death on my two cousins. Holidays and Lydia’s deathiversary have passed and the world didn’t implode. I’m told to go on. I do.
When they are not haunting me.
One of my own posts so disgusted me I didn’t title it. I won’t even link to it. It’s gross.
Last month, after my counselor suggested a bipolar diagnosis would be appropriate for me, I shamelessly shame spiraled.
Head Shrink tells me I put myself down too much. She doesn’t know that I am that part of society that thinks people who can’t control their own behavior are different. That I fret over the labels that make it impossible for us to accept each other. I can’t tell her that I am one of those people that validates the stigma we hate so much. It’s shameful.
I hope this next year, I can find ways to inspire self-improvement without hate for or disappointment in myself.
I don’t write about headlines in the blog although I am an avid newsreader and have been following politics since my parents had the Oliver North Trials blaring through our house 24 hours a day (we didn’t say 24/7 then).
Mental health in the news is a heavy loaded gun that is scary to play with, doing so may be a bit of therapy. Or, I will shoot myself in the foot.
Although I keep this blog low-key, there are some people who are kind enough to read it from time to time. Mostly other mental health bloggers like me. Their blogs seem a bit more purposeful than mine, however. They offer advice with their experiences rather than angsty complaining. I’ve flossed around mental health issues for thirty years and I don’t know that I could help anyone. They reach out and check-in and always offer love and help. These strangers, as I’ve called them, have watched me bleed from their monitors and offered first aid while changing the gauze on their own very deep wounds. It couldn’t be a sweeter feeling. Or more humanizing.
I titled my second ever post, I Can’t Believe I am Back Here. Hitting ‘Publish’ on my first blog post gave me a hit of adrenaline, but it’s not adrenaline I lack. It’s calm, peace, security that I crave. For someone who is perpetually waiting for the other shoe to drop, being publicly vulnerable is an uneasy feeling to say the very least. I really couldn’t believe I returned to do it again and a year later, I am still a little surprised.
Catharsis is vital in treating depression and anxiety (there, I have advice). Out with the old, in with the new and improved. Writing in this blog gives me a place to put these things that no longer serve me.
Another blogger once suggested to me that in recovery one may miss their illness. The illness being a part of the person now, is difficult to shed and still remain their authentic selves. With this blog, I don’t have to completely shed this part of myself as I heal. I can return to the scene of the crime, go Olivia Benson on it until I’m blue in the face and move on to the bigger and badder.
Not only do I keep coming back here, but I have been writing more. There is more to me than my illness or health and I want to see if writing improves those areas as well.
Thanks for reading.