Mental Health: Homebody v. Quarantine…body ?

Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Hello from the living room couch in my and Rick’s new place. I had a hard time getting here, to this text box. As a matter of fact, I’ve been having a hard time doing things I know I need to or should do in general. I made a deal to myself to post something related to mental health on Bummed Out Bailey every Wednesday, and last week I blew it. I think I’m the only one who noticed a post missing last week, though (lol), but to me that’s just as bad as a bunch of people noticing. Not doing what I say I’m gonna do is letting myself down.

I try to remember to practice what I preach, to exhibit grace in the face of human fallibility but, as so many people are, I am harder on myself than I am on anyone else. It’s challenging to find the line between reasonable grace and just straight up failing to fulfill my responsibilities. I just find myself wading through a littered pond, sorting through trash: what’s a reasonable excuse? What’s unreasonable? What’s just my mental illness in action, and I need to relax and give myself a break? What am I gonna do with this empty Pepsi bottle floating past me? Who drinks Pepsi? Etc, etc.

Anyway. During this bizarre COVID-19* time, when self-quarantine is being advised, at first I thought, Okay, Bailey. You’re a germaphobe homebody who’s been training for this your whole life. This is your time to rise up and SHINE. But after a couple days I started getting blue and wishing I was with the goldens (who’re on Long Island w my in-laws, where they belong for many reasons).

As a person who exists with a baseline of guilt coursing through my body at all times that I’m not doing or being enough in all senses, being shut in at home has given that guilt a steroid shot. It’s officially mandated I stay in and write my magnum opus and read my ass off. It’s ridiculous if I don’t, what wasted time, right? What is my mental illness in action? What’s me just avoiding responsibility? Am I depressed because I have Major Depressive Disorder, or am I depressed because I’m underperforming in general and my thesis is due in six weeks? It’s all muddled.

I enjoy being safe, comfortable, and clean at home. But being told to stay home, which should be my time to shine, has had an adverse effect. I need a quarantine from my quarantine. It’s messing with my self-worth and mental health.

With the right lens, writers and artists in general are being given a great opportunity during this social isolation. We are given the opportunity to produce, hone, tweak, invent, and expand, all interrupted. We are also being given the opportunity to rest. But, who deserves what? How do you know if you’re being a bum, or if you’re sleeping because of the exhaustion of carrying around a boulder of guilt on your shoulders all day, every day, and it’s just gotten heavier? Then, I think about all the folks who are having very real professional concerns right now, those who work in service and aren’t being patronized, those who are facing a lay-off, and those who have children to care for and may not make rent… and then I feel stupid for feeling the way I do and again for not taking proper advantage of the time I’ve been gifted. And then I feel even dumber for being a privileged white person writing such a navel-gaze of a post.

I’ve seen some posts about our fellow friends with mental illnesses and how this quarantine is extremely challenging for some. One, you may feel more isolated than usual while sitting at home (physically alone or not), and two, some people w mental illness require regular social interaction to keep healthy, and that’s no longer available. FaceTime just isn’t the same as a hug.

So, I suppose my points are these: I’ll continue chipping away at the guilt boulder that keeps gaining weight and following me around. And then nestling down into my neck and shoulders. I also want people who are struggling w their mental health during this weird time to know you’re not alone, and that my mood’s taken a dive, too. And it’s led me to post a bunch of weird stuff on Instagram stories. You’re welcome ?

If you need to talk, I’m here for you. As always, please feel free to comment below or message me privately. I’d love it if people with similar issues could find community in each other via Bummed Out Bailey. What a gift that could be!

Warmest,
Bailey

*Say it to the tune of “Come On Eileen,” and you’ll never be able to read it another way. I’m sorry for cursing you in this footnote.


Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.

More on Bummed Out Bailey:
Mental Health: Moving. Improving?
Mental Health: The Social Toll of Invisible Illness
Mental Health: The Things we Carry


Do you love Bummed Out Bailey? Want to help keep it going? Support me on my Patreon. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know!

To subscribe to Bummed Out Bailey by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website and enter your info into the form. I can also be found on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter!

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: Moving. Improving?

Please know before I get on Bummed Out Bailey to write I always prioritize working with my family and psychiatrist to stabilize myself. I wouldn’t be on here if I hadn’t first confirmed my safety.


TW: suicidal ideation

For the first time in two and a half years, Rick and I have our own place. We began moving today, and now officially reside in an ocean of boxes. We had to order a mattress (trying out Nectar cause they have a sweet ass 365 day trial) and it’s not yet arrived, so after bidding dramatic fare thee well to my in-laws, we came back out to their house on Long Island for the night. Ha. The goldens are here, the familiarity of my in-laws are here, and I know where the glasses are. I can’t say any of those things about the new place on the Upper West Side. After so anxiously awaiting this day and losing sleep over the excitement and stress of the move, we delighted in the new space for the day and then dipped out back to the comfort zone (and existence of a bed to sleep in). I feel like I’m gonna fall over, but in a good way. So, now I sip a well earned cocktail and write.

Of all days, I got a call from a potential new client and did a consult for Tidy B Organizing today, too. Phew. Once Rick and I are settled in, I will buckle down on my thesis w my eye on graduation in May.

This post is a little too pie in the sky for me, so let me bring it down a notch!

I’m gonna say something terrible (and triggering to some), and that is that, more times than not, I believe at some point in time I will lose my battle to mental illness. I’m not experiencing ideation, and I don’t have some kind of plan to employ, I just think it’s important to admit to it in case anyone else out there has a ping of “me too” from the dark recesses of their mind. I bring this up because, in therapy Monday night, I told both Rick and the therapist this truth about me. I’ve got dramatic dips and intoxicating highs, times when I actually think to myself I’m so glad I’m still here. I’m so glad I didn’t die in 2008 when I last wanted to most. I have important writings to offer. I have worthwhile things to say and kindness to spread and companionship to give to so many. And then, there’s the counterweight thoughts I’ve talked about many times before. This is my life. This is it, being at the mercy of this up and down, and I can’t take it anymore. I can’t do this forever. Maybe I can make it through this time, but I can’t do this forever. I think about my friend K who died by suicide in September every single day. I imagine her in some kind of business casual get up with ballet flats getting her running start, and I feel a companionship.

It’s so weird to feel a sisterhood in suicide. Joan Didion says that we as people are always looking “for the sermon in suicide” and I just don’t think it’s that deep. It’s an imbalance, a recurring, level ten pain, a self hatred that finally turns to numbness and then to action, because there’s nothing else left. This arc crystallizes in my mind, a piece of realism in the far distance, even when I’m experiencing good times like moving into a perfect tiny apartment w my husband half a block from Central Park. You can have all of the coziness and the comfort of being surrounded by your curated curiosities (golly that alliteration was HORRIFIC and obnoxious, sorry) you delight in, surrounding yourself with and books and books and books and still see the speck in the distance: a truth, a possibility, a place where my mind is able to go, firm and unmoving. Insoluble. The direction my life could take isn’t even scary to me anymore, cause it’s like that thing of touching a bruise to still see if it hurts. It’s still there, but you’re kinda used to it. It’s a blemish that won’t fade. Does it enrich my life somehow? I cant tell. I think Mozart said that the unexamined life is for dweebs. Maybe that was Hawking. Such poignancy should be properly credited.

I am exhausted, like fell asleep in the passenger seat of the car on the way home like a toddler exhausted, so hopefully my words aren’t alarming or weirding anyone out too much today. A little bit of weird is good though. It’s the essence of me.

Ever Yours in Cringe-Worthy Truths,

Bailey

p.s. I know my posts are always a bummer. It is my self-deprecating moniker, after all. But, I hope to start showing some joyful glimpses of the magical life I’m privileged to live on here soon. Rick is a hoot and a half to observe on the web, or so I hear. In the meantime, check out my Rick highlight on my gram, linked at bottom of this page, for more.

Written Tuesday, March 3, 2020.


Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.

More on Bummed Out Bailey:
Mental Health: Valentine’s Posts Are a No From Me Dog
Mental Health: The Social Toll of Invisible Illness
Mental Health: Tired of Me


Do you love Bummed Out Bailey? Want to help keep it going? Support me on my Patreon. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know!

To subscribe to Bummed Out Bailey by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website and enter your info into the form. I can also be found on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter!

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: Tired of Me

Sometimes, I feel bad for Rick. Because depression is nonsensical, I cannot put into words why I feel the way I do on blue days, and he’s just subject to whatever my brain serves up that day. He wants to help, and cannot, which makes him feel powerless. I want him to be able to help, but cannot connect solution to source. When there aren’t guaranteed steps to take to make my brain shift back to something at least tinged with joy, I feel like a racket. Then, I project my insecurity onto Rick, deciding for him that he’s tired of me and my wealth of issues. He brought a lot into our marriage, and sometimes I feel like I only brought bad stuff. I cannot understand why someone would want to stick around me for life. How exhausting. I don’t even want to stick around me for life. I’m exhausting. And exhausted.

At the tail end of a recent blue day I asked Rick, “Wait, is this why my parents say you’re the answer to their prayers? Cause you took me off their hands?” which cracked us both up. At that point I was starved for a smile.

I know I’m funny, or whatever, but then I think about the other things I am: controlling, bossy (in a bad way), uptight, orderly, sad, someone who sleeps for 12 hours regularly, picky. Basically anything that could be deemed exhausting, I am. My brother and I were talking the other day, and he was going through it that day, too. We agreed that there’s a tightrope we have to walk across every day. If we don’t have our meds, good sleep, quality food, alone time, and a work out we lose our balance and the whole dam breaks loose. Everything you’ve been keeping at bay floods in and you have to grab a life preserver. Sometimes that’s 13 straight hours of sleep. Sometimes it’s three stiff cocktails. Sometimes it’s eating a cheese board meant to share, even though your body doesn’t respond well to cheese… but enough about me. Sometimes it’s legal drugs, sometimes it’s illegal drugs. When you’re grasping to survive, unideal things bob up to the surface, something to grab for a moment to simply make it through. It’d be so, so easy to let that life preserver pass you by and accept your drowned fate. I think that’s what happens when people lose their battle with mental illness. They’re just too tired to grab onto that life preserver, if there even is one, because they know they’ll dip down, pop back up, and have to restart everything all over again.

Sometimes relationships get marred, and sometimes jobs are lost. Sometimes weight balloons, and sometimes loved ones are concerned because you don’t have it in you to answer a text or call. Lifting your head and squinting at a blinding phone screen taps your energy. The more you need to do something to move forward, the harder it becomes to do that one imperative thing. Whether it’s making that call you desperately need to make to a boss, friend, parent, sibling. Whether it’s getting on the yoga mat or elliptical because you know it’ll make you feel better. Whether it’s avoiding writing like the plague, or drafting posts for Bummed Out Bailey instead of piecing together and reworking my thesis and book proposal. The latter is the classic writer’s plight, I guess. But! It’s nonsense to want something so badly, for me it was to have these school years to write full time, and then when you’re gifted with this incredibly privileged opportunity you freeze. It’s infuriating. It’s exhausting.

Some days, I’m just tired of me.


Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.

More on Bummed Out Bailey:
Mental Health: Special
Mental Health: New Year Goal Mapping
Mental Health: Location, Location, Location


Do you love Bummed Out Bailey? Want to help keep it going? Support me on my Patreon. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know!

To subscribe to Bummed Out Bailey by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website and enter your info into the form. I can also be found on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter!

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: The Things we Carry

I’m not talkin’ bout Tim O’Brien soldiers during the Vietnam war. I’m talkin’ bout the invisible things we carry. Debt, addiction, unexpressed depression, divorce, miscarriage, estrangement, abuse, terminal or chronic illness, purposelessness, job loss, and so many more, one layering on top of one another, compacting each of our loads into an indeterminable, mashed down mess that seems impossible to untangle.

How much can one person take?

I think a lot about how people going through their particular brand of horrific when some other terrible circumstance piles on. And not that I would wish heartbreak on any type of person, but I feel like these pile ons happen most to the best, kindest, well-meaning people. When you feel like you can’t take it anymore, and then one more thing adds on, somehow you continue moving with your unique blend of terrible. The added burden newly shapes and stretches out your carrier until its walls become even thinner. Is it gonna rip? Tear? Break? Fall? Will you trip? Give up?

How do people carry on?

My roots are in the south, so most people in my family seek solace in religion, particularly Christianity, but I’m not particularly religious. Spiritual and humanist based on moral universalism, yes, organized worship and discriminatory tenets, no. While I’m genuinely thrilled for anyone who’s found peace in their particular practice, I don’t think any one religious ideology or practice is the answer to finding peace through turmoil. There are so many in the world that that’d be impossible. Only a percentage of the world gets a shot at true solace, comfort, and understanding? I cannot accept that.*

Something I have believed for a long time, though, is that the purpose of people going through horrific things is to then help others going through similar things. It’s suppose it’s a sensical way of dealing with the senseless, a chain of people helping the one behind them up. That help can look like conversations, writings, any art form (I’m thinking movies, music, and theater in particular), community, emotional support, and empathy. Any form of someone communicating “I get it,” basically.

Whenever I get blue about circumstance I try to remember that, unfortunately, there are people who have it much, much worse than me and/or my loved ones. I also try to remember that my experience and the way I process it through my writing can very well act as someone else’s stepping stone to healing. These ideas don’t deactivate pain in real time, though, it’s just something to cling to like a life preserver in the throes of a storm. Life is a squall of varying intensities, no?

A lot of folks have messaged me to say they finally feel understood when reading my posts. Those messages give just as much back to me as my writing originally gave to them, because during my darkest moments I remember others have been in that same headspace before and have survived it.

No one gets off scot-free in this one, weird life. It took me decades to realize that someone who seems ideal to me, someone who appears to “have it all together,” effortless in everything as trivial as fashion to as serious as family dynamics, has something. Everyone has something. When I’m in a dark space, I’m comforted by phantom warmth or lingering scent of someone else having been there before, like an echo of perfume, hope from someone having made it out. That idea comforts me as I wade through the thick.

If you’ve been to the catacombs in Paris, you know it’s drafty tunnels of human bones and skulls and bones and skulls and bones and skulls. Thousands of people found their final resting places there. Instead of being overwhelmed by the number, I crouched down by one skull that was a cog in a tall stack of hundreds. I wondered who that person was. They were there, and now, hundreds of years later, I was there. I’m looking at them, and mentally honoring the life they lived. They’re not forgotten and aren’t alone, like me. Like you.

*I’m aware that this paragraph is likely to stir the pot and upset some people. That’s not my intention, but it’s a side effect I’m willing to risk if that means I’m telling my truth. Remember, honesty is my policy, and this piece would have a gaping hole if I didn’t address religion as a common way to cope. However, this is not an invitation for didacticism or debate, and I thank you for respecting that.


Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: The Sad Clown: Part 1
Mental Health: New Year Goal Mapping
Mental Health: Ho Ho HELP


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going and also access exclusive content? Support me on my Patreon. I want to give a huge thank you to Amy Powell, Vicki Utley, and to my biggest fans, my parents, :) Keith and Staci Powell, all for going above and beyond in their support of me on Patreon. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know!

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: Special

On the 8th I went to a live podcast recording of a person who makes me laugh. I align with her views, and she keeps content light with pop culture commentary – something I desperately needed after this summer. I’d been listening to feminist and political podcasts exclusively, but I found I could no longer pile onto my festering patch of mental illness anymore. I needed a break, and I found something to make me smile when it was hard to.

Something she’s talked about on the pod a few times is that she kinda never wants to meet her celebrity heroes (for her it’s Taylor Swift), cause while she’s sure they’d be so lovely to interact with, as soon as the conversation is done she’d walk away knowing she’d probably never talk to them again and that they’d never be friends, no matter how close she felt to that person through their art.

I suppose that’s the essence of having a fanbase, isn’t it? People who connect with your work who you may not know individually, but are the collective reason you share what you make, or perhaps continue to make anything at all? I think this woman found her niche in her podcast and has grown it to thousands and thousands of loyal followers who converse in her private Facebook group and encourage her on social media. It’s a wonderful thing, seeing another woman succeed, especially when it’s in an unconventional, trailblazing way. This woman essentially patched together a career organically by pursuing what she wanted to do full throttle, using any possible contacts in her life but mostly just Google. For instance, she learned how to write a book proposal and query an editor at a publishing house by scouring the internet, which is not easy. There are so many unwritten rules and tedious details that need to be attended to to be taken seriously or even have your content read, and I didn’t learn this tedium until I was in grad school! Now she has a hilarious, touching parody bedtime book for a baby, but really it’s for adults.

I know consistency is key in anything you want to succeed in, a drive that can sputter every once in a while (we’re all human), but that ultimately continues to move forward. In all of my past jobs, there would be days I was going through the motions, counting down the hours, and days I was on fire, seeking out projects, double and triple checking, building relationships, pitching ideas, etc. Those waves might have a lot to do with my mental illness, but I feel like more people than just those w mental illness can relate to that up and down, even if it’s of a smaller variance than mine.

I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to leave my 9-5 (except 8-6 is the new norm… rip off) and focus exclusively on writing. I graduate with a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing (Nonfiction) in May, have maintained this blog with consistent content for nearly two years, and have gotten my LLC for my home organizing company, something I love doing and hope to build up to supplement the meager payouts of writing.

Okay, so, back to where the post originally started, and here begins my vulnerability: it feels like I’ve been waiting for my “ship to come in” for a long time. I’m embarrassed writing that, I suppose because I have imposter syndrome and have convinced myself I’m undeserving of success. It’s a competitive world out there, and it’s imperative to reinvent, find your strength, and push your talent as far as it can go in order to distinguish yourself. When I was at the live podcast show, I felt like a small face in the crowd to a woman who she herself felt like a small face in the crowd in other situations. Do we all feel this way at some time, unimportant? Is that a developmental rite? Whenever I fail or feel humiliated or a sense of self-loathing I remember that that’s a part of my story, something that will eventually contribute to my success and a piece I can use to inspire others, like one person getting pulled up by the person in front of them and then turning around to pull up the person behind them, repeat. As I get pulled up, I will turn around and pull someone else up.

…I cannot do pull ups. (Today.)

There’s always gonna be someone ahead, and there’s always gonna be someone behind. I suppose it’s all about how you look at your position, constantly thinking of how to improve whatever it is you’re hoping to succeed in, like looking for the next grip when rock climbing.* Is now the right time to mention I’m not a talented rock climber, either? #athlete

Sometimes I grow disheartened. I feel ineffective, like I don’t have something special to offer the world. To people who like my writing, this may sound ridiculous. But, just know, that whoever you feel is doing well probably feels inadequate or unsuccessful at some point in time. Humility is important, but sometimes it feels like a weighted blanket holding me down and it’s not that snuggly one that helps you sleep better.

Whenever you feel on top, pull up someone behind you needing encouragement. You may just be helping out someone stagnating and doubting themself, on the brink of giving up. Always encourage and share the momentum, like you’d hope someone would do for you. Champion women. Is it Galentine’s Day yet?

* Speaking of, I wrote about goal mapping here.


Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: The Sad Clown: Part 1
Mental Health: New Year Goal Mapping
Mental Health: Finding the Glow


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support me on my Patreon. Your contribution means more to me than you’ll ever know!

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.