Mental Health: Disjointed, Distracted, Discombobulated

I didn’t mean to disappear into the ether, I’ve just been wiggy about my precious, dying family golden retriever and trying to plan a trip back to Texas with an urgency fueled by ailing grandparents. The last time I went home to Texas I had a mental breakdown that emanated for months after like an emotional aftershock with an expensive psychiatry bill. It sucked, and I haven’t been on a plane since. I was supposed to go home in February for a dear friend’s wedding, but panicked and fell into a deep depression the day before I was meant to leave. Actively trying to stave off any kind of fresh meltdown, my head’s been elsewhere.

These are the facts.

  • Last time I was in Texas I had a full on meltdown and either needed to check into a facility or take an emergency flight back up to NYC where my psych is. I chose the latter.
  • Rick isn’t coming with me for work reasons, and a lot of times when I’m in my parents’ house thinking about past family trauma I become unmoored, which contributes to a sense of despair and helplessness. Rick’s presence helps me remember things aren’t the way they used to be- I live in New York, I’m married, I have agency, I’m no longer 19.
  • My birthday falls during this trip, and I will not get to spend it with my spouse. I will be spending it with the rest of my family, though, which is a huge W. It’s just a consideration.
  • When I return to NYC I must quarantine in my apartment for 14 days alone, getting food delivered to my door. In order to justify such a long ‘tine, I will be in Texas for 12 days. This means I will not see Rick for 26 days, the longest we’ve ever been apart.
  • No golden retrievers to be comforted by, and a beloved one will have just kicked the bucket here in New York right before I leave.

You may be wondering why the hell I’m doing this to myself aside from not having seen my family in over a year now, except my parents who visited for a few days in January, and never having even met my newest nephew. My grandparents, in their 90s, are having some issues. They’re historically quite healthy and independent, eating well, having daily Scrabble showdowns, and sexy Saturday night dinner dates (goals). I feel I’ve gotten not one but two chances to get it together and get down to Texas to see everyone when, first, my grandfather went to the ER and then my grandmother just days after. Fortunately neither were COVID related and they’re both okay, but I felt it was a not-so-subtle hint from the ol’ universe to get the hell down to Tejas. Hence, the urgency.

Fortunately this time my family is on the look out for any mental decline and I’ve been working out nearly every day to keep sadness at bay. I am not making any plans in Texas to avoid becoming overwhelmed, and will do my best to go to bed when everyone else does. I’ve got priors on staying up long after I should, sometimes with a cocktail, sometimes not, watching TV and sinking into a pit that the lonely sounds of a settling house and cycling AC don’t help. It’s kinda askin’ for a shadowy nightmare and I need to go park it in bed with a book and stay put til light. Oh, and not sleep in Alex’s old room like a creep. And read his old letters and files like an even bigger creep. I already wear all black, I mean, dang! Why do I have to also engage in creepy behavior? #creep

Like many people during the last five months I’ve been waffling between despair and inspiration. I’m mourning the old way of life and all the places and ways we used to connect with loved ones, but am also trying to reframe circumstance as opportunity. COVID has been a prime example of life coming at you fast Ferris Bueller style, and all you can do is recalibrate with new information and move forward the best you can. Something I’ve been thinking a lot about is repurposing newfound time or just general life set-up. I’m searching for the opportunity in the uncertain because I’m not just distancing physically. I’m also distancing creatively, emotionally, etc. What can I take from this? What can I make of this? I’m hoping that, during my 14 day ‘tine back here in NY, I will be able to maintain purpose and kick sadness to the curb. But, anyone with mental illness knows that sometimes we fall victim to our brains no matter how we prepare. The best laid plans…

I’m gonna stay alert and do the best I can. That’s all I can do, and it’s all you can do. Remember that. Beware of words, actions, and feelings and just do your best. Sometimes it looks like you making your bed and brushing your teeth. Sometimes it’s hyper-productivity. You need rest days to have performative days, after all.

Last, if you have a dog or beloved pet, hug and spoil them. So much time passes between pet deaths that you almost forget how horrific the pain is when you’re going through it. Almost. Isn’t that what mothers jokingly say about giving birth? Ha. Life and death, what a doozy.


p.s. Check out my travel album.

look at me go
Photo by Gary Lopater on Unsplash
I wish this were me
Photo by Shifaaz shamoon on Unsplash
here’s another shot of me
Photo by Gary Lopater on Unsplash

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: What About People with Depression?
Mental Health: The Social Toll of Invisible Illness
Mental Health: The Best Cure for Anxiety

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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: In Motion

There was a time in my life when I only felt peace in transit. Unless I was drunk or asleep, I was always desperate to leave everywhere. I relished in being alone in my car, driving to community college while ripping cigarettes and blaring The Smiths, as if Morrissey certified my sadness. But, as soon as I pulled into a parking space, I’d choke on the new stagnation. It was as if no longer being in physical motion meant all that was left was for me to sit and be. Intolerable.

Day after day I arrived at school and was unable to go into class. I’d sit outside on a bench and chain smoke. No lessons learned, no feelings felt, just 20 oz tumblers of coffee sipped and Cam’ron CDs from the library checked out. Killa.

I wanted to die.

“Hey, what’s up?” An acquaintance from class asked in passing, walking out at the end of class. He chuckled and shook his head, having seen me outside of class, never in, week after week. I gave him a close-lipped smile before blowing out a cloud of smoke, eyes averting. I was wondering who’d buy me 40s that night. Twenty-one couldn’t come soon enough.

When I wasn’t moving, drunk, or asleep, I’d lose myself in meticulous, meaningless systems. Long before Spotify, I arranged my music library (composed of CDs illegally burned from the school’s music library) from least played songs to most, prioritizing the play of, out of thousands, the songs I hadn’t heard yet. The songs burned longest ago that I still hadn’t heard yet played first. Top priority. I read Vogue, W, and Newsweek cover to cover, even the articles I didn’t want to read. Especially the articles I didn’t want to read. I didn’t care about an obscure bread shop in France opening an outpost in the Mission in San Francisco, but my eyes rolled over the words, anyway. Some kinda masochistic rite, I guess. The magazines made up a neat stack in the order in which they arrived in the mail, newest on top. The magazine on the bottom of the stack was the next batter up to replace its now water-ringed, crumpled predecessor. I’d toss the old one into the recycle bin. It felt good to throw things away.

There was no solace in these rituals, just something to do. Just, something.

Whenever nothing matters, your health doesn’t matter. Education doesn’t matter. Relationships don’t matter. Cigarette burns in my car upholstery didn’t matter. I didn’t matter.

I called my dad crying from school, cut off all my hair, dropped out, worked at a restaurant in a “school girl” outfit, threw up in the morning’s unforgiving light, drove through Taco Bell, wore t-shirts as dresses and house shoes as shoes, updated my MySpace page, double-pierced my ears, carelessly drove drunk next to cops, coveted dudes who didn’t shower, dressed up as Baz Luhrmann’s Juliet for Halloween, took a backpack everywhere I went, looking like someone on the move.

I went through motions, okay so long as I was in motion.

if you be not of the house of Montague, come and crush a cup of [Shiner Bock]

More on Bummed Out Baker:
Finding the Glow
Mental Illness and Motherhood
Mental Health: My Lowest Point in Eleven Years

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.

Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support here. I want to give a huge thank you to “L” ;) and René Harding, my new supporters on Patreon. 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.