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.

Warmest,
Bailey

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


The best way you can support me is to share my blog with friends! Another way to support is on my Patreon where you’ll find exclusive content. Your word of mouth and contribution mean 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: Excerpt from my Manuscript “Oh, Brother”

Vanilla

I wasn’t the only one suffering in silence in childhood. Duncan was, too, and like me he also didn’t register that something was actually wrong. Being the classic oldest child, he was impossibly hard on himself and spent the first 19 years of his life swimming against the current, assuming that must be how everyone lives. Being so close in age, he and Alex were best friends and shared a room for several years. When it was time for Duncan to set out on his own, my parents turned the dining room into a bedroom by installing doors on both of its open walls. One set of folding doors opened to the foyer, and the other into the back of the kitchen, far from the other three bedrooms and the rest of his family. Like with their looks, if my brothers had been swapped and Alex had been the one housed in the dining room, he’d still be making vitriolic jokes about it to this day: him being the rejected, neglected child. Mom’s fault. In true Duncan form, though, he now thinks his gastrointestinal maroon was hilarious. We still refer to his room as “steerage,” as if it’d been akin to the lowest fare ticket on the Titanic. Tough luck.

When he was in junior high, though, he hadn’t yet developed the sense of humor that would become so critical to his mental survival. He could hear the distant thud of me bonking my head on my pillow down the hall with my door cracked open as I tried to forget everything. Closer still was the dishwasher swishing just outside his door. Duncan would sneak into the kitchen and sit on the linoleum in the dark, knees to his chest. He’d peer through the 1980s built-in lattice work that separated the kitchen and living room to watch whatever our parents had on TV, likely something Plugged In didn’t approve of. Early on Saturday mornings I’d wander into Duncan’s room and crawl up onto his bed to watch cartoons with him. We all thought Duncan’s early mornings were just a part of him taking himself seriously, but he just wasn’t sleeping. He doesn’t remember a life without insomnia.

Duncan was a dweeb, but he didn’t know he was a dweeb. He was really into Dockers, braided belts that matched his penny loafers, honors classes, and his custom engraved bowling ball. He approached each bumper-free lane with a stoicism and precision typically reserved for people disarming bombs with one second to spare. His temper flared at the first sign of trouble, though, an inner rage that burned so brightly that none of us were ever ready for it. He hated himself for getting a B, and slammed down his remote control over and over if he lost a Nintendo game. Like, flee-the-room-out-of-fear remote-slamming. His childhood frame was feeble, though, and his flying fists were as threatening as wet spaghetti noodles. Holes didn’t begin appearing in the walls of our house until he was in his early 20s.

Alex would’ve called Duncan out on his weird mannerisms and dork tendencies if it weren’t for two things. One, he worshipped Duncan. Two, he really, really worshipped Duncan. When Alex decided in his preteens that he was unable to keep pace with Duncan academically or athletically, his cruelty disguised as humor began to form. When I skipped a grade, he was squashed between two siblings who seemed to effortlessly do what he couldn’t.

[continue reading on Patreon]

Warmest,
Bailey


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: The Social Toll of Invisible Illness
Mental Health: The Gold of One’s Spirit
Mental Health: The Best Cure for Anxiety


The best way you can support me is to share my blog with friends! Another way to support is on my Patreon where you’ll find exclusive content. Your word of mouth and contribution mean 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 Best Cure for Anxiety

Coldplay, but make it millennial pink
Photo by Tonik

Hello! How are you? I hope you’ll… tell me about it, stud(?). Just like Sandra Dee, if we change everything we are to impress a person posturing in a letterman jacket who’s likely going nowhere in life, you will 1) fly away in a car, and 2) resolve all self-doubt personally, professionally, romantically, mentally, and spiritually. That’s the extent of my message this week. Thank you, and good night.

Welp, this post has already gone off the rails.

Typically, my Wednesday posts go up at 9am sharp, so the time stamp on this here post should be a strong indicator of how my week’s goin’. I’ve committed to you and myself, though, to post on Wednesdays, and I wanna keep that commitment. Which leads me right into my point this week. I read somewhere, perhaps in So Sad Today by Melissa Broder, that the best cure for anxiety is thinking of others.

It’s an interesting concept, isn’t it, to take focus off yourself to pull yourself out of the mental meltdown taking place or threatening to take place inside of your head. It’s like when I get upset with someone, like a stranger who cuts you off in traffic or is snippy at the sinks in a public bathroom for no discernible reason (can you tell I had a v specific encounter at LaGuardia? LaGuardia is the place where souls go to die), I always try to remind myself that that person is or once was someone’s beloved baby. I also try to think about the fact that hurt people hurt people.*

ANYway, in that same vein of being on the receiving end of something negative and recalibrating my thoughts, it’s an interesting challenge to try to redirect my focus onto someone else: I wonder how my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Johnson is doing, ’cause she was so good to me when my anxiety was undiagnosed. Is my mom (a flight attendant) in the air right now? Is that UPS driver happy, and would they like one of the cold bottles of water Whole Foods keeps sending me that I didn’t ask for and I now suppose their secret plan all along has been to hydrate strangers? What might I get [person I like so much/maybe even person I don’t like so much] for their birthday? What would make them smile? So on and so forth.

While anxiety has very real physical manifestations, it either starts in your brain OR your brain perpetuates and escalates the situation into longer unrest. This is a trick worth trying, wondering about other people and possibly how you might help them or make them smile. Wouldn’t you want someone to help you or make you smile? One time I was sobbing by the East River, as New Yorkers are wont to do because, waiting for results from my neurologist, I’d convinced myself I had a brain tumor and that this was it, my nerves fried, my adrenaline dumped, and nothing left to give. My limbs had gone limp and I was melting into a park bench like a lumpy black-clothes-clad popsicle in the sun. A woman walking her dogs stopped to ask if I was okay, and I still think about her a bunch. How’s she doin’? Is she okay? I like your dogs! Thanks for checking on me! Sorry for lying to you about whether I was okay! Wish I could send you a Starbucks gift card!

Next time you’re wiggin’ and feel anxiety creeping in, try redirecting your thoughts outside of your body. It might be a crash and burn, or it could be lit, as the youths say. Won’t know til ya try it.

Warmest,
Bailey

*Sometimes I think I need a writing wrangler. Like, someone who’s watching the words and sentences build from my fingers on the keyboard in real time and then they’re like * skrrr! * (skidding tire sound when braking) “We’ve got a, uh, 9-oh-6 violation of severe digression, please resume to your point, ma’am.” Now that I think about it, that’s what an editor does.** But, sometimes digression is kinda funny. Or, at least it’s kinda fun…ny… for me.

**I’m a freelance editor and am actually v good at it. So, I guess I exorcise all of my pent up digressions here on ye olde blog.


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: The Social Toll of Invisible Illness
Mental Health: The Gold of One’s Spirit
Mental Health: Flip Over Some Emotional Rocks, See What’s Happenin’ Underneath! (Pandemic Activity Idea)


The best way you can support me is to share my blog with friends! Another way to support is on my Patreon where you’ll find exclusive content. Your word of mouth and contribution mean 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: Flip Over Some Emotional Rocks, See What’s Happenin’ Underneath! (Pandemic Activity Idea)

Hi! It’s been a few weeks since I hit you with a traditional Wednesday mental health post opposed to my and Rick’s goofy videos on mental illness and marriage. I was going to post a new installment of our grainy, terribly produced vlog, but at minute 17 of recording Rick turned to me on camera and said, “Can we do this video again? I don’t like what you said about [something about Rick]. I just don’t think that should be on YouTube. Also, you talked about dancing to ‘Mr. Roboto’ for seven minutes straight.”

Fair enough, Rick. Although I stand by the fact that Styx’s “Mr. Roboto” is the best/funniest song to dance to maybe ever. Wedding DJs consider it a dance floor killer, I consider it a dance floor thriller. Especially since the actual song “Thriller” gives me the creeps now that MJ’s true colors are shinin’ through. Unlike Cyndi, though, his true colors are why I don’t love him. Tough bum out.

Eighties music aside, it’s been one month and two days since my graduation, and I remain on the job hunt. When I was talking to a recruiter, she was rueful af about the fact that, six months ago, she’d had boat loads of jobs I’d be a stellar candidate for but now everyone is on a hiring freeze. Graduating during a global pandemic and civil rights crisis is a doozy! I’ve done the leg work. Even though I know I cannot do anything about the economic climate we’re living in, which includes the job market, it’s still hard to know I am not contributing to my family financially, especially with New York being s’dang expensive. Being in school is no longer an excuse.

To maintain my mental health I’ve been keeping pretty rigid morning and night routines, although rigid doesn’t seem to be the right adjective since that connotes a kind of non-breezy execution. My routines are what help me both start and wind down the day and I look forward to them. I’ve been jogging or doing yoga a couple times a week (sometimes even three if I’m feeling zealous!) and have been keeping busy with job applications, working on my manuscript, and the general minutiae of home life. Never have I had a cleaner shower. Or candied butternut squash.*

Anyway, I just want to say today that if you’re having an issue these days doing something that’d otherwise be no problem, or at least significantly easier, I get it. If you don’t get down, I won’t get down. I mean, I can’t promise, cause Sunday I was in a terrible, smile-less pit of despair, but I will do my best. I hope you’ll keep your chin up the best you can, too, and be extra gentle with yourself and others. Give your loved ones the benny of the doubt and more grace than usual. Rick challenged me to do that, and it actually uncovered a lot of turmoil and a need for support from my loved ones. Flip over some rocks and see what’s underneath.** Check in on a friend or family member who’s usually v strong, and who might be putting on a slight façade.

If all else fails, turn on “Mr. Roboto” for a giggle. Then, turn your freestyle choreo into a TikTok sensation, go viral, get picked up by a talent management agency, and the rest is history. Don’t forget ole bummed out Bailey when you’re famous.

Warmest,
Domo arigato,
Bailey

*P.S. I subscribed to Misfits Market (organic produce that sometimes looks weird but tastes the same) and lugged a 13 lb. box up to my third floor apartment, wondering what the heck I’d done. Thirteen pounds?! Well, we’ve smashed it in less than a week. Plants, ahoy. For real. I even got Rick to eat said squash. Secret: maple syrup and cinnamon. Anyway, highly recommend. Enormous box was $22, and lord knows organic produce at the store ain’t that cheap.

**This reminds me of a chapter title in So Sad Today (by Melissa Broder) that made me lol, something like “Under the Anxiety is Sadness but Who Would Go Under There”


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: How to Perk up When you Feel Like You’ve Been Percocet’d
Mental Health: The Social Toll of Invisible Illness
Mental Health: The Gold of One’s Spirit


The best way you can support me is to share my blog with friends! Another way to support is on my Patreon where you’ll find exclusive content. Your word of mouth and contribution mean 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: Bailey and Rick Talk at You: Episode 7

This week Rick and I discuss how I know a depressive episode is coming on, how I balance mental illness and big life events, and when mental illness was first introduced in our relationship. There’s also an unnecessarily expensive, carved mallard duck!

If for any reason the embed doesn’t work, you can watch the video here.

In the ep we talk about how you first present yourself and your mental illness or remarkable affliction, if applicable, in a new relationship. Something that has stayed with me for months is the third episode of Modern Love’s first season on Amazon Prime that stars Anne Hathaway. She does an incredibly moving job showing mental illness, and I cannot recommend enough that people watch that brief episode to have a better understanding or feel better understood. Both of those are invaluable.

Remember, if you have any questions you’d like us to address in Bailey and Rick Talk at You, feel free to reach out in the comments, on social media, or anonymously on the contact page.

Warmest,
Bailey

Featured Image Credit: Photo by DESIGNECOLOGIST 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: Bailey and Rick Talk at You: Episode 1
Mental Health: Bailey and Rick Talk at You: Episode 2
Mental Health: Bailey and Rick Talk at You: Episode 3


Do you love Bummed Out Bailey? Want to help keep it going? The best way you can support me is to share my blog with friends! Another way to support is on my Patreon where you’ll find exclusive content. Your word of mouth and contribution mean 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.