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: Location, Location, Location

A lot of people probably think I live some sort of fabulous life in New York City.

While I’m very privileged to live in this gazillion dollar city and grateful to live rent-free in my in-laws’ house, my and Rick’s makeshift living situation isn’t a sexy get-up. ;) Of course, we chose this life, me not working so I could fully focus on school.

More important to note than a shared living space as newlyweds, though, is that inspiring geography doesn’t alleviate the same bouts of depression that would strike in the suburbs or rural areas. It’s easy to romanticize New York, and imagine my days filled with strolls through Central Park, coffee in hand, before stopping off for a chic lunch at the Met followed by 5pm cocktails at the Carlyle. But, let me tell you, that’s not how most New Yorkers’ lives go down. It’s an exhausting city of grit that requires peak professional performance and constant reinvention and innovation to survive in every sense. New York City is like the ole duck simile, calm on top of the water and, out of sight, furiously paddling below the surface.

I think a lot of New Yorkers have to regularly sell the city to themselves – why do I live here, again? Subway smells, $80 takeout dinners from an average place, traffic, the general filth. In the burbs I’d have beautifully done hair and makeup, get into the car, and arrive to my destination still coiffed. Here, I have to tie back my hair lest I arrive with knots and sweat at my neck and consider footwear to accommodate the weather. This ain’t no Carrie Bradshaw game, and there’s a reason why heels are referred to as “cab-to-curb.” They’re only feasible if you’re getting picked up in a cab, dropped off at the front door of your destination, and the same on the way back home. It’s impractical and most certainly not a frequent occurrence for the average New Yorker. When Rick and I get wagged along to a black tie event with my father in-law, we of course take pictures because it’s a rare, effortful occasion. I never want to sell a farce.

I’m proud of having lived in New York City for eight years as of next month (yes, I count the 18 months I lived in D.C. as part of my time in NYC because I was remotely planning a wedding and up here constantly), but not for the reasons you may think. I can officially call myself a New Yorker after ten years, and I can’t believe it’s coming in hot. But, I’m not proud of living here in an “I’m fabulous” type of way. I’m proud of having made it this long because it’s been a lesson in survival. I moved here at 23 and would go home to Texas as often as I could. In those first couple years I’d cry on the plane every time on the way back to New York. While the city excited and inspired me, I was in survival mode in terms of finances, profession, finding a good friend group, and safety.

My apartment in Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn had a MC across the street and one night I woke up to gunshots right outside. I had to stay below the windows in case a stray bullet flew into my apartment. I’d be aggressively cat-called on the street and even followed. My apartment was bare- a used, frameless bed resting on old linoleum and thrifted sheets covering my windows. One time, when I was still days away from getting paid, I ate cornbread for three days because that’s all I had in my cupboard. I know my parents would’ve wired me $20 if I’d asked, but this was on me. NYC was my game.

One night it’d gotten too late for me to safely take the train out to my apartment, so I had to splurge on a cab. Just months after my brother Alex’s latest foray into booze-fueled tragedy, the cab driver stared at me in the rearview.

“Do you like to party?” He asked, leering at me, a smile playing on his face.

“Uh, I guess… do you?” My eyes shifted out the window. The area we were driving through was rough.

“Yeah. Do you like to drink? I’m drunk right now.” He laughed.

I noticed his eyes were bloodshot. “Are you serious?” I re-surveyed my surroundings and considered which option was better- getting out of the cab in a strange, scary neighborhood and find my way home, or hoping this drunk cab driver would get me home safely. I could call 311 to report this guy, but it wouldn’t change my current situation. Although I kinda didn’t want him to know where I lived, I decided to stay in the cab. The speed limit was 20, or something, so I hedged my bets. “That’s not cool.”

Finally, we turned onto my street.

“My friend’s house is right up there, first building on the right,” I lied.

“You should stay with me and party,” he smiled, still leering, this time over his shoulder at me.

“Yeah, no thanks. You shouldn’t be driving people around drunk. Seriously, it’s not cool.”

I opened the cab door as I paid so he didn’t get any ideas about driving off with me hostage in his car. I raced up my building stairs and bolted through the exterior door, interior door, and then my apartment door as quickly as I could. I closed my door and triple locked it, then began my usual inspection of every potential hiding place for a person in my apartment. I finally considered myself safe, but my shoulders never fully relaxed. They’ve been tense since the day I moved here, to be honest.

“We’re just not gonna tell your dad about this,” my mom said when she visited.

“This is where you live?” My friend Betsy asked once, mouth hanging open, eyes darting between my “curtains” secured by pushpins.

After “Frankie” got shot (I know his name because it was being screamed over and over), I received the following note from my landlord:

Bailey,
You’ve been a great tenant and I know you’re a woman who lives alone. I understand if you need to break your lease to move to a safer place, given the recent events.

“You live in that building? I wouldn’t feel comfortable if my daughter lived there, either. Let’s get you out of there,” said the man who leased my next apartment to me. Relief.

My New York City living situations have been precarious and thread-bare, barely scraping by, filled with strokes of luck and kindness: a friend letting me sleep on their couch my first ten days, bosses moving me for free, landlords who seemed to truly care (unicorns in this money-hungry, ruthless city). So, while my living situation isn’t ideal, I’m at least safe in my latest blue-blooded cocoon.

me and my friend Marlon, the friend who let me sleep on his couch when I’d first moved to NYC six months prior, at my 24th birthday brunch

It doesn’t matter where I am, though, when it comes to being at the mercy of the storm swirling around inside of my head. A suburban Wal Mart is the same thing as Bergdorf Goodman. When you have mental illness, public school is boarding school. Bed-Stuy is the Upper East Side. Depression is depression, an equal opportunity head occupant.


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: New Year Goal Mapping
Mental Health: The Sad Clown: Part 1
Mental Health: Spiral


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.

Mental Health: 31 Birthdays

This post has been removed in order to submit to publications. Stay tuned!


Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: A Birthday Wish
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.