Mental Health: The Gold of One’s Spirit

Hello lovely people, I hope all are hanging in and that your loved ones are safe and sound. For those of you who are going through it medically, emotionally, mentally, I’m sending you condolences. This sucks.

Last week, on Monday, May 4th to be exact, I turned in my thesis,* something I’ve labored over for two years, officially marking the end of my grad school experience and the receipt of my Master of Fine Art for Creative Writing with a focus on Nonfiction. This is a huge deal for a lot of reasons, of course, a true pivotal moment. It means celebration! It means agent queries! It means champagne! It means job hunting! It means debt! Lol!

As I polished up my final 119 pages, one of the last things I did as a review was read it out loud to myself and shuffle phrasing as needed. It took 6+ hours. Six plus hours of revisiting terrible memories of not knowing whether my brother Alex would live or die and reliving the genesis of my own anxiety, the silent, unnamed war happening inside my nine year-old head.

All in one sitting.

Yesterday I had one of those days where I did my best but began feeling hopeless, again. I’m in the same outfit day in, day out, leaving the apartment every few days for fresh air and necessities, like toilet paper… or a curbside margarita.

Seriously, I only leave the house when I need to, and sometimes that’s not for material goods. With mental illness, sometimes I just have to leave my apartment/box in the air to let my eyes focus on something far away and breathe deeply (no people in sight, of course). My eyes are atrophying. They’re different. And, today, I felt a nonexistent cockroach crawling all over me. I had to get out.

Imaginary cockroaches aside, it’s been a big week emotionally, with both the seemingly never ending quarantine and the submission of my thesis all while knowing that my family would not be coming up to NYC to see me walk.

Cheryl Strayed is doing a special podcast series for COVID times called Sugar Calling, and in the latest episode she called Alice Walker. Yes, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Alice Walker. It seems her latest work is a collection of poems, one of which she read aloud to Cheryl and listeners. It moved me, and I frantically wrote down an excerpt to share:

The Long Road Home

I am beginning to comprehend
the mystery
of the gift of suffering.
It is true as some
have said
that it is a crucible
in which the gold of one’s spirit
is rendered
and shines.

Alice Walker

So, whatever is tempering the gold of your spirit, whatever your crucible is, if you’re under fire right now, hold fast. According to Alice Walker, eventually you’ll shine.

Warmest,
Bailey

*Due to its length and subject matter, I will be sharing my thesis on Patreon.


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: A Poem to Read at Ho…me [ho-uhm]


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: Crunch Time

Hidey-ho internet neighborino, I wanted to drop a line today to say that my thesis is due on Monday, hence my lack of a vlog or regular post for today. My mind has been elsewhere, you know, on polishing my 120 page magnum opus! Just kidding. Not really.

Sometimes I get down on myself when I don’t turn out something at least mildly compelling for people to read on Wednesdays but, like I hope everyone else is doing, I’m trying to give myself some room to err (some air to err?) given the COVID nightmare and the fact that my Masters is coming to a close IN SIX DAYS!

Of course, I’m devastated to not be attending a ceremony in a cap and gown and then celebrating with loved ones while wearing something sparkly afterward, especially since I haven’t seen my siblings since July (meltdown 2k19, make some noise *club horn*). Alas, that is not my lot this May.

I’ve worked very hard the past two years on my memoir about me, my brothers, parents, and mental illness and the unbelievable baloney we’ve been through. I’ve labored, cried, given up, been inspired, recommitted, and a million other things, repeat. It’s exhausting and such a gift to sit down and crank out a story I believe is crucial to tell.

After thesis and graduation, next comes querying agents for representation- an arduous next step. But, I do hope to share a chunk of my thesis with those on Patreon. It’s not to be exclusive, but it’s a safer space for me since what I write about my family is sensitive and vulnerable, to say the least.

Anyway, stay tuned for some more hot goss in Bailey and Rick Talk at You: Episode 4 soon. We got some really great questions from a couple of you that I look forward to exploring.

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: How to Perk up When you Feel Like You’ve Been Percocet’d
Mental Health: The Social Toll of Invisible Illness
Mental Health: A Poem to Read at Ho…me [ho-uhm]


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.

Mental Health: A Poem to Read at Ho…me [ho-uhm]

The caption on the stock image below is “man holding ballpoint pen.” I like that a bunch.

Poem to Read at Ho…me [ho-uhm]

I cannot take this anymore
I’m having nightmares about beyond the door
It’s too scary too go out
But if I stay in I’ll get the gout

Just kidding but my imagination is running wild
Can’t even fathom those with a child
My eyesight’s gone bleary
The routine’s gotten weary
Something about this isn’t working, clearly!

There isn’t a snack that hasn’t graced my lips
Cinnamon sugar pita chips
M&Ms and Ruffles aplenty
Homemade chocolate chips? I’ll have twenty

Pots of tea and cocktails shook
I wish I was inspired to write my book 
I’m not getting anything done
Even Real Housewives has lost its fun

Typically I like to be alone
But even this much makes me groan
If I get one more Zoom request I’m gonna hurl
I’ve never been a talk-on-the-phone-type-of-girl

Rick won’t play monopoly with me
He’d much rather fantasize about a golf course tee
He watches Monk for hours on end
He doesn’t care about Vicki Gunvalson

Ordering groceries is a bummer
I heard we’ll be like this until the summer
Creative recipes to use up the cilantro
Why does Amazon Fresh give me so much, though?

My houseplants have never been so well looked after
Wish I could remember the sound of laughter
Just kidding again, I crack myself up
Is that vodka? Fill my cup

I lay face down on the bed
Good thing I have pills for my head
Everybody hang in there
Like Dr. Evil in his underground lair.


If the poem I penned for you to read at ho-uhm isn’t indicator enough, I’m not okay, and I don’t mean the hehe-I’m-bored-not-okay. I had a rough day, one where my dreams interfered with my reality and I had to walk outside because I hadn’t in a week. My eyes were starting to malfunction because they hadn’t had the opportunity to focus on faraway things in days and days. Social media and Zoom calls are a dreadful imperative. I didn’t ask to be apart of this narrative. I’m rhyming again and I don’t know why. I think it’s best I just say goodbye.

Until next week…

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: How to Perk up When you Feel Like You’ve Been Percocet’d
Mental Health: The Social Toll of Invisible Illness
Mental Health: Homebody v. Quarantine…Body?


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.

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: 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.