Christmas

I have been laying off the personal posts for a bit but recognize that for a lot of people this is the toughest time of the year. Loss and grief often hit us when we finally relax and take a break.
For my people that struggle, remember that these feelings that come up are often temporary. Sadness and loss that take seemingly permanent space only feel that way because it is so fucking hard. Sit with your feelings and be patient with yourself. Drink lots of water, avoid booze, and find sunlight wherever you can.
For my anxious stressed out folks, remember that time is actually quite fluid too. It feels fucking hard in the moment and then the next moment comes right along. You don’t need to make time pass. It’ll do that all by itself and doesn’t need your help. Find quiet time or whatever eases your nerves and hold onto that feeling. Remember it when life feels tight and ill fitting.
If you need help, ask. If you need space, take that shit.
Feel free to call or text if you can’t deal. I will listen.
Oh, and just because it is a holiday doesn’t mean you need to be all flowers and candy and happiness. If you need to feel sad, do it. Your feelings are worth feeling. You don’t need anyone’s permission.

Thanks Doc!

Today was my last appointment with my current psych doc. Her parting words of wisdom?
“Don’t destroy our masterpiece.”
Nice that we can think of a functioning mind, humming with ideas and curiosity and joy and wonder and peace, as a thing of beauty.

Paris

There’s a lot on the news right now. It can be overwhelming to watch what we watch, do the work that we do, and still try and make sense of it all. Triggers are everywhere…
I want to encourage you to sit with your feelings. Drink water. Take deep breaths. Eat decent food (organizers, do what you can. I know that struggle.) Remember that we all require basics for survival. It can be hardest to remember in moments like these. Don’t forget yourself in the turmoil.
To all my friends who struggle, fight on but remember the love in what we do. It’s important.
Reach out if you need to. I’ll listen.

Defying the Darkness

A while back I wrote some thoughts about what people can do in a mental health crisis. I thought about what led up to my crisis and have been taking a few notes here and there about what led me to those moments. Again, this may not apply to you and I am not an expert, but here we go:

– When I first had negative thoughts that I knew were different than what I knew to be normal, my mind would go all kinds of strange places. I would second guess everything except the negative thought. Now I know that it comes from my own self-confidence. I have real moments that I struggle with knowing that I have what it takes to succeed. It is easier to deal with my doubts now that I know this about myself.
– When in my quiet moments, I now recognize that they are important to my mental health as water and time with my son. Those spaces between activity give me energy. I have never been energized by others. Classic introvert.
– I say ‘no’ more now than I ever have in my life. This is immensely useful and painful at the same time. I would rather take the pain now than suffer later.
– I am honest about how I feel now when people ask me how I am doing. It isn’t for them necessarily… It is so I hear it out loud and acknowledge it. It can make things weird but I really don’t give a damn anymore. Survival.
– When I am tired, I sleep, though now that I use a CPAP I am less so. If you are tired and don’t know why, get yourself checked out. It is worth it.
– I spend more time with family. I have learned that we are peculiar and that sometimes the best thing for you is someone that understands that.
– Organizing work is an addiction I now treat as such. Making it my last priority has kept me sane. Sorry… Not sorry.
– I am reminded by Anice that even in my darkest moments, I was there for Justice. There is something to that and I remind myself that he serves as an anchor all the time, helping me find my way back.

Which Side Are You On?

A few years ago, taxi drivers stopped traffic downtown and it was a nightmare for people working in DC. Traffic was crucial and people were so upset. Some friends at dinner asked me what the point was of pissing off so many people. My response was that sometimes the public isn’t the target. Sometimes it really isn’t about getting your support. It is a disappointing fact of life, but not everything is about you or your permission.

I have questions too about strategy, all the time. I confess that I’ve had conversations where people have asked me why something was happening with #blacklivesmatter and my response was that honestly I didn’t know why a decision was made. Some things I have even disagreed with… for a while. I really like Uncle Bernie for many reasons and definitely felt no small amount of defensiveness. Economic justice is a huge part of my life.
But I started to see the larger strategy as something bigger than me and my shitty little opinion of how things are being done. I wasn’t the target, at least not in that way. I also wasn’t the smartest person in the room and those that were wiser than me caught on to my desire to understand why and pointed this line of strategic thinking out to me. Thank you to those of you that are patient enough to teach… I will continue to let my ego calm down enough to learn.
What the recent actions have done is make me think about ways I could be more supportive and active. Admittedly, I’ve been afraid to let my emotional state rise above ‘slightly irritated’ for fear of some weird psychotic break or something, but that’s natural after a solid year of struggling to feel some semblance of sanity. Maybe that’s the point for ‘the rest of us.’ Maybe we’re supposed to see where we are standing and decide just how much we like the view from where we are. To see if we measure up to our own ideals and make a decision about who we stand with… and to sit with our discomfort while we make that decision.
To quote one of my favorite old songs, Which Side Are You On?
– for my sisters, Alicia, Opal and Patrisse

Life After the Quake

It was about this time last year that I began fully experiencing the bout of depression that ultimately sent me into the hospital for the first time. I know a lot more about that period now, in hindsight. I know that it was a contraction in response to what probably amounts to months, maybe even a year or so, of trying too hard. I tend to do that a lot… try too hard.
I think about the past few years and remember all the weird chances and strange decisions I made, often in the heat of the moment. I think about what it has taken to move past that kind of thinking and into what I now experience. I think about “normal” and how much I honestly hate that word. I think about the nasty, funky low and how little of it my brain mercifully has allowed into my long-term memory. I think about being a patient again instead of a grown man with a family.
Tomorrow is tomorrow and I’ll be just fine then too, in all likelihood. I’ll still try too hard, but it’ll feel like less of an earthquake when I occasionally fall on my face. It also means that most of the time, I’ll see myself doing it and course correct. I’m getting better at it all the time and even though it feels different, it doesn’t feel bad.

"How are you?"

I get that question, loaded with meaning and genuine concern, all the time now. Thanks for asking. Sane.
I made the kinda scary decision to hold off on organizing work until I finish my degree this year. After that, I may return to it or I may not. Whatever I do the balance will need to be better. I still look at postings for work, laughing when I see the line “long hours” knowing just how important that is to me now.
Thanks for all the well-wishes, notes of thanks, and love. I will continue to take it one day at a time, surfing the waves as they (gently, now) come along.

Day 8

Thinking that some therapeutic relationships need to end for now. I’m not thinking about working as much as I am about living, which might be a good thing. Also grappling with the question, “Besides my social justice identity, what defines me?”