Mental Health: Becoming You (This is Not a Maxi Pad Commercial)

It was really hard to become who I am. I haven’t become this quirky, socially nuanced person by accident, but by egregious trial and error, painful experience after painful experience that either taught me something about myself or others. Usually both.

I’ve been left out, talked about, forgotten, isolated, ignored, belittled, offended, laughed at, and called both “weird” and “crazy” (not in the fun way). Despite knowing these things hurt so badly, I’m guilty of having done the same things in return at times. Now, if any of these inconsiderations or meannesses happen to me, I understand that the agitator probably has something else going on, past or present, informing their behavior. It doesn’t have anything to do with me. When I’ve been the mean one, it doesn’t have anything to do with them. I read The Four Agreements, a gift from my dear friend Brennan, when I was 21 and it changed my life. Not taking things personally is one of the key tenets in the book. This concept is hard to grasp in junior high, in a sorority house, or at 31. Sometimes even in your 60s, according to my mom.* I believe emotional sophistication is being able to read a room, be kind, and sincerely apologize.

When someone excludes you or makes you feel like crap, allow it to sting. Allow it to singe your mind so that you remember to never treat someone else that way. I recognize that this takes fortitude, and not everyone has the emotional bandwidth to allow such grace. Some days you might have it in you, other days you may not, and that’s okay. That’s what being human means.

Something that happened a lot in past and surprisingly still happens well into adulthood is me walking up to people having an informal conversation, and no one welcoming me into the fold conversationally or in terms of body language. It makes me feel awkward and dispensable, and I don’t ever want to make someone else feel that way.

I went to two weddings last summer a couple weeks apart and this one woman was at both. At both events, she approached the group I was talking with and immediately interrupted and started a new conversation with everyone else without ever introducing herself, including me, or even looking at me. The first time she did it I thought it was an accident. The second time she did it I reached my hand out to introduce myself, and afterward she still continued as if I wasn’t there. One time, during a cocktail hour, she literally boxed me out of the group. It was so bizarre it was almost funny. And I don’t believe it had anything to do with me.

So, whenever I’m in the throes of unpacking the latest season of Succession, or whatever, with someone and another person walks up, I turn my body to welcome the person into the group and catch them up on what we’re discussing. If they don’t watch Succession, I ask if they have another well-produced soap they like to get lost in. There’s always a way to fold someone else into the conversation. When you’re having a casual conversation, there’s no reason why another can’t join. If you need or want to have a more private conversation, then… do it in private. :)

This just got very Debrett’s. Allow me to recalibrate.

I find that I invest so much of myself in the feelings of others that it then begins to deteriorate my mental health and quality of life. PLOT TWIST: I’m not a martyr but actually a narcissist, meaning I’m so concerned with the feelings of others and how it reflects on me that I then ultimately make the original situation in question about me, which helps no one. I’m working on it.

I’m not saying allow yourself to get trampled. In an appropriate moment, pull a person aside and let them know that XY hurt your feelings because XY. How they respond will speak volumes. Remember, you can always “unfollow” people IRL.

There is a balance, and you can’t prioritize others over yourself constantly. Sometimes you just need to be you and not feel like you have to apologize for it. I’ve gotten better at this with age and its slowly shaped my personality. Also, as I’ve gotten older I’ve been better able to curate those I surround myself with as dear, trusted friends. I identify particular boundaries in others because I’ve broken them in past, hurting them, hurting me, my pride.

It can take a lifetime to get these things right. Sometimes, even a lifetime isn’t enough!

It took me years to assert the things I need to be comfortable and high-functioning because I was afraid I was going to upset someone else or I’d be talked about behind my back. For instance, for my mental health I need a wealth of time alone and good sleep, which means I need my own bed, ideally in my own room. (I’m thinking of trips with family and friends, here.) Instead of pretending I don’t need those things to appease others or manage others’ perception of me, I say what I need and, again, how others respond speaks volumes about them and doesn’t actually have anything to do with me. We all have our “stuff,” our particularities. By asserting what I need I’ve let down a wall to let others feel safe doing the same.

What’s your learning curve look like? Any horror stories or big victories?

TL;DR I’m who I am because I embarrassed myself and learned and got my feelings hurt a lot and learned. How about you?

*Not that my mom is in her 60s. That was just her making an educated guess…

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: Compassion Fatigue and Hyper Empathy
Mental Health: When it Comes to Someone’s Well-Being Ask, Don’t Assume
Mental Health: Finding the Glow

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.


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

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Mental Health: Productivity

When I’m feeling the way I described last week, essentially disheartened because I’m perpetually at the mercy of the whims of my brain, it’s hard to remember good days.

On Sunday, I absolutely smashed it. I went through all my emails and took care of items in both my digital and physical “action required” folders. I paid several bills online, completed and mailed the required jury duty info update, updated insurance on file in various medical offices, filed or shredded things that needed to be, did yoga, followed up on healthcare claims, made plans w both family and a friend for later in the week (big for me), began preparing for a writer’s conference I’m attending in early December, reconciled something fraudulent with the bank, cooked, cleaned, wrote, and read. Then, on Monday, my writing was workshopped at school and a clear image of how my book is going to take shape began in my mind and on the page. For a long time everything I’ve wanted to put in this book has been floating around in my head like space debris, disconnected, disorganized, and banging into each other without making sense.

These two days were huge. Yuuuge.

Some days, when I can’t get out of bed or my head, when depression is lying to me, productive days are hard to remember. I am so Type A that the stagnation inherent to blue days make me feel helpless, even useless. I’m writing this post because the often erratic appearance of productivity is a part of mental illness. I don’t like being wagged around by my brain, but I’ll take a W where I can, and the past two days were, in general, Ws.

I encourage those living w mental illness to scribble down a good day, experience, or interaction in a small notebook or in the notes on your phone so you can reflect on it later. I try to do the same thing when people write kind things to me – keep it all in one place so I can remind myself that I’m not a human trash can even though I feel like one sometimes. Make that investment in your future self, and pack that extra lifejacket when you’re feeling well. If you know your mind, you know you’re gonna need those words down the road. Mental illness or not, it never hurts to remind yourself that you’re not so bad, after all.

Written on Tuesday, November 5, 2019.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: Disoriented
Mental Health: In Motion
Mental Health: Finding the Glow


Do you love Bummed Out Baker as much as I love creating it? Want to help keep it going? Support here. Your contribution means more 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, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: The Stockpile of Gratitude

If living with mental illness is a struggle for you today, I have a piece of positivity to offer.

On my good days I find a stockpile of gratitude waiting for me because I know how dark things can get. I was just there, after all. While I wouldn’t wish having those dark thoughts on anyone, the payback of them is rich. When I come out of a dark headspace, it’s like the black and white to technicolor transition in the Wizard of Oz. When things are bad, and then they’re suddenly not, I find myself with a hyper-awareness of good.

While constantly considering my mortality is exhausting, it also manifests in all kinds of ways. I’m grateful for my physical mobility. I find myself with a wealth of mercy for people acting in any undesirable way, because life is short I have no idea what they’re going through. I feel fortunate to have such comforting, sweet-tempered golden retrievers, because dogs are an expensive luxury. I admire all the people who’ve shown me grace, supported me, taught me things, and have loved me when I wasn’t very lovable. I think about how grateful I am for a comfy bed and a safe, quiet place for me to sleep in peace.

When I’m mentally gridlocked, thinking of these things is like pushing on a button that doesn’t work. I’m numb. If that sounds like you, just know that when you emerge from the other side, and you will, you’ll have the stockpile.

It may not seem like much, but us mentally ill folk have got to stick together and take what we can get! And we get the stockpile.


Whenever I get a song stuck in my head I start to list the things I’m grateful for instead and it always does the trick to get the song out. With that being said…

Fun fact! Did you know that “Bug A Boo” by Destiny’s Child, a song in regards to an overbearing romantic interest, can also be applied to mental illness?

You make me wanna throw my pager out the window 
Tell MCI to cut the phone calls 
Break my lease so I can move 
Cause you a bug a boo, a bug a boo 
I wanna put your number on the call block 
Have AOL make my email stop 
Cause you a bug a boo 
You buggin’ what? You buggin’ who? You buggin’ me! 
And don’t you see it ain’t cool

“Bug A Boo” by Destiny’s Child

I would say “you’re welcome”, but the true accolades go to Kandi Burruss for her multi-faceted lyricism.

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: Communicating Mental Unrest
The Uncertainty of Mental Illness
Mental Health: Saying No in the Spirit of Self-Care


To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker and get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Twitter for sassy tweets and a sprinkle of nonsense.

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

Mental Health: Communicating Mental Unrest

Whenever I’m not okay, I almost always look and sound like I am.

The confusion is likely furthered by the fact that when I’m at my best, I’m still wearing all black and moping around listening to The Cure, blaring Disintegration and praying for rain at a first promising clap of thunder. I suppose it’s all very misleading!

One of the worst things about mental illness is that it often falls into the “invisible illness” category. Since you don’t have on a cast, your inner torment is nonexistent, even farcical, to some.

Laughing about my afflictions is how I mask, cope, and survive. Even when I’m sparkling around others, my thoughts could very well be, and often are, in a sinister place. I’m not trying to venture into reportage, don’t worry, but in December 2018 CNN posted an article about “the sad clown” concept and comedians suffering clinical depression. A lot of the ideas presented resonate.

In lieu of a suicidal ideation blindside, my psychiatrist has instructed me to inform my loved ones by saying something to the effect of “My face and tone of voice seem okay, but I’m not okay.” That way, we can then work together to find an appropriate immediate action, a treatment plan to move forward, and a way to normalize communication via my mental health in future.

For me, and perhaps others, the humility involved in admitting mental weakness and the need for help is tremendous. My pride has, quite literally, almost killed me.

To actively normalize and destigmatize mental illness and conversations surrounding it, we must open ourselves to reinvented ways to communicate our mental states. The more we talk about it, the more people with mental illness will feel comfortable getting help when they need it, and people who don’t understand mental illness will begin to be better informed. Hopefully.

This whole process requires mercy and patience on everyone’s behalf, but these conversations are vital. In terms of helpful conversation, another way to support your loved one on with mental illness is to not assume well-being.

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: When It Comes to Someone’s Well-Being, Ask, Don’t Assume
Mental Health: Guilt and Golden Retrievers and Headaches
Mental Health: Dealing With Suicide


To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker and get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Twitter for sassy tweets and a sprinkle of nonsense.

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

Mental Health: When It Comes to Someone’s Well-Being, Ask, Don’t Assume

Or, “well-bean” if you like it when people pronounce “being” like “bean” as much as I do. Dealer’s choice.

Initially queued up for this morning was a loose annotation of Destiny’s Child’s hit song “Bug-A-Boo” and how it’s actually one giant allusion to mental illness and not, in fact, about a smothering romantic interest, but I went ahead and pushed that poetic brain-buster to another week because something else came up.

Last week was a wreck, a revisitation of terrible events and feelings for me and my family, for those who know us personally and, most surprising and inspiring of all, for people who don’t know us personally. The fact that the vibrations of Alex’s story are being felt far beyond the reaches of my family and touching a wider expanse of people further assures me that the book I’m writing is important. Necessary, even. Sometimes, I’m not sure. The people who know my family reading a book about well, my family, might find it to be a healing reconnaissance, especially for those who’ve so faithfully been along the ride with us all. But, it’s the folks who relate to Alex’s stories outside of his realm of contact that make this story a book opposed to a blog. Every single reader and sharer is critical and I thank you for your collective, perhaps unwitting, reassurance. You’re the best.

Now. When I had Le Meltdown 2k19, I became closed off due to how weak I was in every sense of the word. When I felt I was ready, I penned the account I posted last week. I left the house a couple of times and even spent some time with Rick’s friends when they came through to see him. It’s largely been a low pressure environment.

I don’t know why I’m dancing around what I want to say here.

Someone’s voice, body language, activity, routine, or expression seeming to change for the better does not mean that person is okay or “now okay.” It’s crucial to give agency to the person with mental illness to express how their feeling via answering a question, opposed to having to counter a surface-level assumption, however innocent, thrown their way. It kinda makes things worse, to be honest, to have made a joke and then people think “Oh, there she is! She’s healed!”

The below series (you can click through it with he faint arrow on the right without leaving this page) is a sweet, succinct way to understand what I mean.

Of course, because I’ve been conditioned as a woman to be apologetic about everything, I now feel the need to say that I don’t mean to be a sassafras about how I want people to ask me how I’m doing. Rather, I’m writing to inform those who want to best support their loved ones, and beyond, living with mental illness.

As always, thanks for reading and for your open mind.

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: No, You Don’t Have Anxiety
Mental Health: Compassion Fatigue and Hyper Empathy
Mental Health: Saying No in the Spirit of Self-Care


To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker and get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Twitter for sassy tweets and a sprinkle of nonsense.

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