• We found a house! Donnie and I had been coming from different places in the search for years. I had a lower price I was aiming for (really wanting a 15-year loan) and he had locations he was aiming for where that price was hard to reach so we were struggling with the dilemma between a 30-year mortgage and his ideal location. But we found a house so outdated that it falls under my budget in his location! Of course, the inspection could thwart us significantly, but we’re bracing ourselves for some of it. We’d be a hop, skip, and a jump away from the trails we love in a 1-story rancher that is less than 1600 sq ft. EEK! Contract is signed, now we just have to deal with the inspections.
  • Nikki got in the magnet program she applied for. I might have updated that already but I haven’t really been sleeping and my brain is foggy so I want to make sure you all know! She’s in and we know a few others who will be in too so we’re super excited!
  • I posted a picture on instagram a few weeks ago of a gift with no card I received that I COULD NOT MAKE ANY SENSE OF. I blasted it on social media and NO ONE said ANYTHING. Until last night and y’all? This is not even a story I can do justice in written form. One of my oldest and dearest friends sent it to me but the text conversation we had last night as she was trying to discretely see if I had gotten it, and then alarmed I didn’t understand the gift because SHE HAD EMAILED ME ABOUT DINOSAURS AND I DID NOT EVEN REMEMBER REPLYING. And if that’s not even funny enough, that I answered an email about dinosaurs and have NO recollection of it, it turns out she was trying to gift me something of significance from a story I told here. She was trying to send me hints like the “title” of the gift in an email and I was SO DAMN CONFUSED STILL but we were both cracking up. AND THEN, when she tried to pull up the source blog post to send it to me to say, “NOW DO YOU GET IT?” she realized: OH. She got it wrong. The story was about SPIDER PLANTS not AIR PLANTS. SO WE BOTH ARE IDIOTS and it makes that little dinosaur SO MUCH more significant now. THE MYSTERY HAS BEEN SOLVED!
  • I’m back to running. Slowly but surely. I have a stage race in a few weeks and I’m definitely not going to be “prepared” for it in the typical sense – but I should survive. It’s good to be back running, it’s hard with the extra weight but I’m confident that will melt away slowly as long as I eat smart. Big race is labor day weekend. I just need to be down to race-day-weight by then!

Truth Time: I was going to just end this here but that feels weird. I’ve had a bit of a personal crisis this week. Too personal to talk about here but it involved a lot of sleepless introspection and that’s honestly never good. I’ve made bad decisions that I disguised-to-myself as good decisions (it’s easy to do if you compartmentalize like I do to cope with anxiety) and I’m having to face that and it’s hard not to be really angry with myself. I tend to always assume I’m the worst person in the room in any situation anyway – and facing honest errors in judgement just magnifies that. So I’m going to spend some quiet time coloring and reflecting and hopefully I’ll come out on the other side a little wiser and less prone to bad decision making. I’ll keep you posted.

Today’s Mantra: Be as kind to yourself as you are to your loved ones.

Unwelcome Voices

John Green (the author whose words I have tattooed on my arm) has been doing this great series with his best friend where they spend 100 days trying to really make some lifestyle changes. It’s an honest look at fitness and nutrition and he struggles a lot of the same things I struggle with, but to varying degrees. Donnie and I have actually enjoyed watching the videos together – it’s entertaining but also completely relatable. And the best part: John does NOT look like a natural athlete yet he’s kicking ass and it reminds me OH YEAH, WE CAN STILL KICK ASS even if we’re dorky and awkward.

However – I wanted to talk about his video reflecting on his mental health and how this projected has helped his anxiety and compulsions.

What fascinated me about the video was the way he talks about the “compulsion” element of his disorder and how it screws with his attempts at meditation. I’ve never considered the same tendencies in my own brain to be compulsive, I consider them a side effect of my anxiety. But the way he spoke of it I was like: Yep. That’s me. Because I deal with the “voices I didn’t invite” in my head often and then those thoughts do the same thing – rattle around destroying the place ESPECIALLY if I’m trying to meditate. I find “guided” meditations to be doable although I’m 100% sure I’m missing some of the benefits if I rely solely on those.

But it really has me thinking about the concept of those voices in my head that I didn’t really invite or approve of being there. The voices that sometimes consider jumping off that ledge (in the “suicidal ideation” sense, not in the “I’m going to end my life” sense)…the voices that are constantly giving me the reasons my husband is going to leave me one day, or that I’m going be homeless, or unloved…The voices that tell me I’m ugly and awkward and should not be hanging out around other people…The voices that tell me that some day every one who likes me is going to see a part of me and say: Oh, wow. So that’s the real Zoot, huh? Yeah. We totes don’t like her anymore.

Yes. I know those uninvited voices well. We converse regularly.

There’s a large part of my brain that understands those voices are not rooted in truth – but DAMN, they are SO LOUD. So if I don’t hear from someone for a few days – someone I usually contact regularly – that other voice assures me they are gone for good. “They’re on to you,” the voice says, “they are never coming back.”

Those unwelcome voices are constantly speaking my fears: Oh no, traffic is bad, do not attempt making that left turn because you will die and you did not tell everyone you loved them this morning. And many times I listen to them and never make an unprotected left turn in traffic again. And in those moments, am I letting them win? Am I giving them power?

It was just an interesting way to look at it, I like the idea that these voices are uninvited and unwelcome. Because then I can almost look at them as foreign and easier to disregard. The voices telling me I’m worthy and lovable and capable and strong…those are the voices I should listen to because I invited them. They are welcome.

Anyway…I’ve just been thinking of that a lot. These voices that I have to fight to ignore otherwise I’d stay home and in bed 24 hours a day.

And now I just realized I’ve been talking about the voices in my head for an entire blog post. Maybe there’s an entirely different diagnosis looming behind all of that. 🙂

Here it comes.

I think E was about a year old in this picture which means I was 20. He is currently 22 so he is 2 years older than me in this picture and that is TOTALLY freaky. I’ve been torturing myself lately with old pictures of him as he is just two months from graduating from college. He is getting a degree in Mass Communications and if you are located anywhere closer to me than Brooklyn and are hiring – PLEASE HIRE MY KID.

Because right now his plan is to head to Brooklyn where he has found a bedroom to sublet for the summer and he hopes to find enough opportunities to make money that he can find another apartment with other friends at the end of the summer. Either way – it looks like he’s heading towards New York, at least for a little while.

I think he’s way braver than that girl in the photo above who had a baby at 19.

He told me I’d have to come visit and I told him that only if he held my hand the whole way because I’m terrified of traveling and big cities and people, so a trip to NYC might actually kill me.

And I know he belongs some place bigger than Huntsville, AL. I think I was just hoping he’d settle on something like Nashville.

My heart is not ready. It’s a good thing I have so many friends with kids spread out around the country because I’m going to need some Mama Bird therapy after my Baby flies away.

Ended March With A Bang, and Ready For Spring

If you’ve been reading here at all since November you know I’ve been on the downswing of a very rough mental health cycle. It’s not unmanageable, although I’m looking to embrace a different program that I’ll report on when it’s more solid, but it’s been kinda shitty. I’ve been even more of a downer in person than I’ve been online so you guys should really feel for my family. And then, of course, I hate March for a million reasons relating to my Dad and then I lost my aunt and come Friday I was ready to bid farewell to the month from Hell.

Friday (the last day of March) evenging we went and saw a house that is great in a lot of ways and we were going to put an offer on it (there’s some “long shot” elements to it) so we were celebrating that step at dinner when we THEN found out (10 days early) that Nikki got into the magnet program she’s been targeting for over a year. So, yeah, we bid farewell to March in epic style.

I ran 3 hours/13 miles Saturday on a beautiful first day of April. I had great conversation with friends and then spent the day eating smart and being productive. Sunday I did a 6-mile hike on my favorite trails on the mountain and was even more productive and ate even more mindfully…skipping out on several opportunities to make bad decisions. I have my bag packed for the YMCA where I’m heading this morning to hit the treadmill for the first time in MONTHS.

Three days into April and it’s already looking good. I have a big race weekend in 4 weeks so I have to stay on track and hopefully start working my way back towards my race-day body which is currently over 20lbs away. I need to get there definitely by the BIGGEST OF ALL THE RACES Labor Day weekend, but any leaner than this is better as this body feel VERY clumsy running around and I’d like my running body back.

It was just a good weekend. The weather was PRIME which plays about 100% of a factor in my mood this time of year. I also had several opportunities for good conversation and felt very productive (I even worked on Saturday which I never do) so all-in-all it was a GREAT mental health weekend. There are several factors that can keep me in the Mental Health Green Zone – Friends, Productivity, Exercise and Mindful Eating are all ones that help but I’ve been failing at lately so this weekend was one of the best mental health stretches I’ve had in awhile.

I’m ready to shake of the funk of the crappy Winter and roll into a revival this Spring. Thank you for tolerating my funk and for reaching out so many times when I need it. The roller coaster of Mental Health is constant and it’s nice to know other people stuck on the same ride.

Here’s to a good day amidst the thunderstorms.

I’m running late to get to the Y and therefore haven’t proofed this entry and I feel it’s a bit scattered anyway but know things are good today. Thank you for rooting for me.

The Ebb and Flow of Grief

Grief is strange. It morphs so much with time. It doesn’t really fade, as much as it changes. Eight years ago today my Dad died and for awhile after his death, the grief was sharply painful. When it would hit, it would be like stubbing your toe, or getting hit in the nose with a ball – I would immediately cry without any moment of warning. The sadness would hit me that he was gone, and the tears would flow immediately. The triggers were varied – but they all brought with them tears.

But the tears were surface level. Just like when you stub your toe. They came immediately but they didn’t last long. Maybe it was because they came so often? But I rarely sat in a corner and just sobbed indefinitely that first year. It was like constant small moments of tears, but nothing grand and soul-wrenching.

I don’t cry as much any more. But holy shit, when I do? It’s convulsive and blubbery. The grief stays at a low level of dullness during most waves, just a sadness that permeates memories or moments. But when the wrong combination of mood and moment and memory merge…it’s the wailing of 1000 broken hearts over here.

Thank god it doesn’t happen often.

I feel like as my depression has been worse the last several months the grief has risen more to the surface. I really feel like Dad was a stabilizing force while he was here and no matter how many therapists or psychiatrists I see, none of them will every fill that space in my life. He was a unique fit for that job and so when I have bad ebbs of depression, they are always tainted with the pain of losing him to help me mediate all of that. In other words, when my depression surges, so does my grief because it reminds me how much my life is missing without him here.

I don’t always cry. It’s just like the grief rises with the waves of sadness, and I find myself aching in his absence more than before.

But holy crap, when the tears do come? They are loud and ugly and painful and VERY OFTEN HAPPENING OUT IN THE PUBLIC because my grief seems to like to also EMBARRASS THE SHIT OUT OF ME. The last big surge of tears came when I was a Target and I just grabbed some clothes off a rack and pretended I needed to try them on. I then spent the next 10 minutes loudly sobbing in a changing room, surely looking as though I was having an epic crisis of body image.

(Which – let’s be honest – we’ve all been there so that wouldn’t be too shocking.)

I guess when I’m depressed I just ache for his presence in my life more. As my depression rose post-election, my desire to talk to him did too and somedays it’s this strange manic desperation like I can feel my anxiety rising and all I can think is IF I COULD ONLY TALK TO DAD, which – as you know, just cycles back into the rising tension pushing it all higher on the scale until I’m sobbing in a room covered in mirrors.

(FYI: Don’t have a mental breakdown in a dressing room. No one should have the mental images of their heartbreak permanent etched into their memories.)

So that’s where I’m at now, 8 years later. I’m suffering from a post-election surge of depression which brought along with it several other triggers for my anxiety and the constant reminder that I don’t have my Dad through all of that magnifies everything to a DEFCON LEVEL 1 (it bothers me that the “worst” is 1, I feel like 5 should be the worst, don’t you?) and I find myself in the corner eating a box of donuts and drinking a caramel frapuccino for breakfast.

To celebrate this anniversary, I’m going to do something Dad never did. I’m going to make an appointment with my general practitioner. A doctor I’ve only ever met once when we first joined her clientele. I inherited my hatred of doctors from him, but I can see how much his life was diminished because of that. (Remind me someday to tell you about his stomach problems that went untreated.) I’m also going to my daughter’s Space Camp graduation, one of the many things he would have loved to have witnessed. He would have followed her around all afternoon letting her talk about all of the things she learned. He had much more patience than I have. I’ll probably tap out and grab some tater tots from the snack bar.