My life consists of D&D now

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I’m in a really odd place in my life right now. I’ve just started playing D&D, a lot. I would say on average I play 3-4 days a week in a mixture of Homebrew and Adventurers League. With my anxiety medication actually working it makes it easier to go out and be semi social, even if I am pretending to be someone else while I’m there.

This is great for me on many levels. A big one being I’m actually getting out of my house, and for those of you who don’t know me, that doesn’t happen often. It is also fuel for my imagination, which is always helpful considering my imagination is what keeps me going most days.

All is not great though. I have noticed, with my new schedule that I’m missing out on a lot of things. Sleep being a big one, but my writing is also suffering. I am still working on figuring out a way to fit it all in, but I’m getting there. I’m forcing myself to get up in the morning, which currently is hit or miss for me as mornings are not my favorite thing, but hey, at least I’m trying right!

I won’t be successfully completing Camp NaNo this month, but that’s okay. What this non-writing time has provided to me is a ton of ideas and an almost endless supply of even more ideas. That to me, is far more important. The words will come eventually, I don’t have to rush them. I don’t have any kind of deadlines anyway. Writing is just what I love, I don’t have to rush for anyone. I write for myself.

That is all for now. Maybe I’ll have something more thought provoking next week.

 

Another Post About Mental Illness

Hello again everyone! I’m back with another post on Mental Illness. Why? Because it is so important to me that people understand that there is no reason to hide or be ashamed to talk about their MI, but also because I was asked if there was any way I could write something about how to be a good friend or supporter for someone with MI when you yourself don’t have one. I think that it such a great idea that I have started trying to formulate ideas right away. I’ve even done research (sort of!), for those of you who haven’t realized it yet, research is not my favorite thing to do. I’m more of a write what comes to mind kind of person, but I wanted to have resources out there beyond just what I can write about. Every person is different and every one with MI is especially not the same. What might work for one is not always going to work for another, so keep that in mind as I tell you what helps me.
I have Bipolar II, what that means is I can often become severely depressed, even to the point of mania. I can also be so happy I’m almost euphoric, but those states don’t last as long. Yeah there is a whole lot more with B2 that I could mention, but this post isn’t about what I have, this is about how, as a friend or family member (biological or chosen) you can be there for me, and for others like me. The reason I tell you what I have is because it is important to know. It is important to educate yourself when you can. Don’t believe the misinformation that is out there, and there is a lot. Try to find resources that you know are going to be telling you the truth not trying to push some kind of stereotype.
If you are comfortable enough, ask your friend. Sometimes they won’t want to talk about it, or sometimes they won’t even know they have a MI. For the longest time I thought I was a fairly normal teenage girl. My angst and my mood swings, they were normal because if they weren’t that mean there was just one more thing about me that people could use against me. I didn’t accept what I had until my early 20s, which wasn’t soon enough, but it was better than not knowing I guess. I continued un-medicated most of my adult life thus far, as you can see in a previous post that is no longer the case, but that isn’t what this post is about.
So other than educating yourself what can you do? For someone like me it is as simple as letting me know you are there. Letting me know that you understand that sometimes I say things I don’t mean because I’m not exactly in the right frame of mind to think clearly. I’m a fairly solitary person so my Manic episodes are often unnoticed by those around me and that is fine I’ve spent a lot time dealing with it myself, but as my friend if I call or text you and tell you I need someone, just try to be there. You don’t have to respond to my 6 AM text message, but respond when you can. I just need to know that you are still there and you still care.
When I’m Depressed I often just need to hide away under the blankets, but I can’t because real life gets in the way, so I get up and I do what has to be done. I need extra attention in these periods and they usually last much longer than when I am Manic. I am mentally and often physically exhausted after only a few hours of trying to do anything. I can cry at any moment, and for any that know me, I’m not a crier generally but when I’m depressed it could come at any time.
Beyond my B2 have Anxiety. So that requires a bit more understanding. My anxiety manifests in a few different ways. The first and most common is making plans with friends and canceling last minute. It isn’t because I don’t want to hang out with you, I do, but after making the plans (which I was totally into at the time) I realized that I just can’t do whatever it was we had planned to do. There could be many reasons for this change, but most often it is that going out in public is something that can often be really difficult for me. At least when I feel like I have to be “turned on” in the process. Turned on is not a sexual phrase, I am using it to describe the feeling of having to be present and engaged with another human being, a process that comes easy for most, but not for me. It is exhausting and sometimes I just can’t do it. Now if you want to come over and sit quietly and read books and drink tea, I can tell you I am almost always down for that, but having to be engaging and in public, that takes a whole lot of energy and most days I just don’t have it.
I have just recently started to be able to go out and do things in public by myself. That is a huge step for me. I don’t generally do anything alone and often require the presence of another who fully understands that sometimes I just need you there with me, but I don’t want to have to be engaging. I have a few people that I can do that with, and it is wonderful, but I’ve been trying not to need them so much because I know, especially for my husband, it can put a damper on their plans sometimes. So I’ve been able to go out and do things, and that is great. The reason I bring it up is because I need my friends and family to understand that just because I can do something alone, does not mean I can do it in a group of people. I can sometimes do it one on one, but not always (see last paragraph).
My Anxiety also loves to tell me horrible things. It tells me I’m a burden, it tells me that my friends often don’t actually like me, it tells me people are talking about me, sometimes it tells me that my family doesn’t care. I try my best to remember when my brain is telling me the truth of when my Anxiety Brain has taken over, but sometimes it isn’t that easy and I will say or do something stupid because I fully believe what my Anxiety is telling me. This is a perfect time for you to set me straight. I don’t often like to be told when I’m wrong, but I need you to point out when my Anxiety Brain has taken over, but still be kind, just firm. Reassure me that yes, you are still my friend and that no I do not want to quit writing. Tell me that I need to stop and think about what I’m saying for a moment. It often helps.
I also have Anxiety Attacks, they are less common currently but I’ve just started new medication so that is normal. If you aren’t familiar with Anxiety Attacks let me describe it to you (keeping in mind this is my experience and may not be the experience of others): My heart races and I feel like everything around me is hopeless. I cry, I rock back and forth, my brain is telling me all these things and I’m believing it. Everything is horrible and I can’t handle much of anything and can often not form clear thought. I’m overwhelmed by everything around me and I just need to hide, or get away, or some how remove myself from whatever situation it is that I’m in. These aren’t super easy to deal with, but the one thing I can tell you, unless I request otherwise do not touch me. Many articles I’ve seen state to get behind someone having an anxiety attack and hug them and don’t let go no matter how much they struggle. I can tell you that I, and almost anyone I’ve ever talked to with anxiety do not want you to do this. For me, it will make things so much worse. Don’t do it, you are not helping if you do. If I ask you to hold me or hug me, that is different, but unless I clearly ask for it, touching me is off limits. Just talk to me, try to be as calm as you can, because I’m freaking out enough for the both of us. If it is in your power to remove me from whatever I’m doing, then that is appreciated. Otherwise just talk to me, be my friend.
Honestly for me all I need is a bit of understanding. You don’t have to know what I’m going through. I don’t need you to understand. I need for you to be my friend. Yeah sometimes I require a bit more effort than most, it is true, but I kind of think I’m worth it. That is really all I can say on how to deal with me and my MI. I’d love to see any others share how to help them, if they are comfortable doing so.

As promised, links: (Don’t take these as a rule, just a way to start to educate yourself)

Supporting Someone With A Mental Illness

15 Ways to Support a Loved One with Severe Mental Illness

For Friends and Family Members

How to Help A Loved One

 

A Doctor Listened to Me!!!

It happened! I got a doctor to listen to me! Yeah I know this isn’t about writing, but believe it or not my life consists of more than writing. That may be blasphemous to say, but it is true. One of the things that I have to deal with more than anything beyond writing is my Mental Health. I have suffered from various ‘diagnoses’ that were never official and never fully treated (normally because I’d get frustrated and stop treatment).
After my brother died in December I went to my Primary Care at the encouragement of my Therapist to seek medication for my anxiety and the deep depression I had sunk into. This depression was/is beyond anything I’ve experienced in my life, and I can tell you I’ve had some pretty bad times in my life with being depressed. So my Doctor gave me medication to treat anxiety and major depressive disorder. I was hopeful, as hopeful as I could be for someone who could hardly make it five minutes in public without breaking down in tears. I just wanted to start to feel better. I would even take my normal depression over what I was feeling.
Four months, that is how long I took those pills. Two visits with my Doctor. I told him every time that the pills just didn’t seem to be working. Sure they helped my anxiety, but my depression was worse. I could hardly pull myself out of bed. I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything. I just wanted to hide away and drift off into nowhere. I couldn’t even write. It was horrible. I stopped taking the pills, because my Doctor wouldn’t listen to me and instead of trying a new approach he wanted to give me another medication that would make me feel happier, but would give me anxiety. That didn’t seem helpful since the current pill was actually working for my anxiety, why would I want it back?! So yeah, I stopped taking them.
Fast forward to yesterday, about two months off the first pills from my primary care. I met with a Psychiatrist, which yes, I know I should have done in the first place, but they are SO HARD to get into here. I finally realized my insurance covers Doctors On Demand, an online visit that I can do from home on my lunch break at work. (YES PLEASE!)
The appointment was quick and mostly do the point. I told him what symptoms I have, I told him a little bit of my back story, and I told him what I’m looking for (medication to help me stabilize because not being medicated at this point is not helping me). He asked me a series of questions to gain a more clear understanding. And just like that he understood why the pills I had taken made me feel worse. I don’t have Major Depressive Disorder, no I have Bipolar type 2 (which I had brought up possible Bipolar to my Primary Care but he ignored it). I was not surprised as this theory. It isn’t the first time I’ve been told that is probably what I have. I just never had a diagnosis of it.
New medication. New diagnosis. Things might actually stabilize for me, and that almost makes me hopeful. I know medication can take time, and it can even take time to find the right medication, but having someone actually listen to me, and take what I said into consideration when trying to find a way to treat me, that is important. That is something I wish every person dealing with any condition has, and if you don’t, find a new Doctor. Do not let them treat you for something you don’t have, you could be doing so much more damage then good!
So that is my non writing post for the week, it is also probably my first post that is in addition to my scheduled Sunday posts. Enjoy the extra look into my life!!

A Letter to my Younger Self….

Tash-

I wish I could tell you all the things that I’ve learned in life so far. I want to save you so much heartache and pain. Alas, that isn’t something that can be done, but wouldn’t it be nice if it could? I know you’ll never get this letter, it just isn’t possible, at least in this life time, for that to happen. That doesn’t make the act of writing this less therapeutic for me. Maybe I need this, to say these things to a younger version of me so that maybe I can understand, now, or in the future, why I am where I am in my life and where the decisions that you’ve made lead us.
I’m not blaming you for anything. Given the chance I’m sure I’d repeat the same decisions, mistakes, and successes. I’m not sure my life could have ended up any other way that it has, no matter what I tried to do at your age, or what I try to do now at mine. It is my life, and I’m just along for the ride.
Before I really get into it, there are a few things I’d like to tell you:
1. You are amazing, intelligent and strong.
2. Don’t ever stop writing or reading
3. You deserve so much more than you give yourself credit for
4. One day you will wish you hadn’t left, but it was one of the best decisions you’ve ever made
5. It is all worth it, even when you are depressed or manic, you’ll find that one thing to hold on to that makes it all worth trying
So, for the true purpose of this letter to my younger self…
You’ll never have children. I wish I could have known sooner. I mean really known, and accepted it. Sure, the Doctor told you that it probably wasn’t going to happen, but you didn’t always believe him. You’ve gone through cycles of being okay, and even feeling like not having children was your choice, even though deep down you know it is just a way to cover up. You didn’t accept what they told you, and instead would often let yourself believe it was going to happen. I can tell you, at this point in our life, there is no wondering, no hopeful tries. It isn’t going to happen. It needs to be accepted, and I guess in a way that is what I’m trying to do here.
I don’t want this to all be a downer, there are things that can keep you going when times get rough. You have amazing nieces and a nephew who stole your heart at first glance. The moment you see them, you’ll know that having your own children isn’t the end of the world because you have these beautiful beings in your life and they are all you need. They will be everything you ever dreamed up for your own children and you will love them fiercely. They will make everything worth it.
There are, of course, the less dramatic reasons that not having children works for you:
1. You are basically an adult child yourself
2. Video Games
3. You hate to wake up in the morning, and hate being woken up even more
4. You have a dog that is your world, and see needs you
5. You can do many things that can’t be done if you have children (though still limited by above dog)
That is only a partial list, but you can see that the world isn’t ending. You are smarter than I am I’m sure and you will be just fine. One day you’ll look back at this letter and laugh that it even had to be written, but for me, right now, I needed this.

xoxo Tash

Routine

Well, vacation is over, I’m back home and going back to work shortly. Reality is setting in and I’m checking out mentally and emotionally. Why? I’m just at that vacation hangover stage. I spent so much energy while I was away that I honestly have nothing left. I haven’t had time to recharge before going back to work and back to all that is expected of me, but that is fine, that is what being an adult is right? Doing what needs to be done even when all you really want to do is stay in bed, with the possibility of blanket forts?
I’m okay being back to the grind as they might say. I do enjoy my job, I’m just tired. What I’m mostly ready to get back into is my routine, or at least trying to figure out what that routine is. There are many things that I feel need to be done in a day, or a week. I’m still working on figuring out how to get all of these things done as often as I’d like. I feel like this is something that I struggle with often and am the most verbal about. I’m not good at balancing my life, which is why when things start to get to be too much I just give up and break down. I just stop, and that is the point I’ve been at for the past few months. I haven’t made much effort to figure any of this out, even though I have wanted to do it. I just do things whenever the mood strikes me, and while that doesn’t really seem like a bad thing the honest truth is that the mood doesn’t strike me very often. More often than not I procrastinate until I have limited or no time left to do any of the things that I want and that makes me frustrated and want to not do it at all. So yeah, that is a nice cycle I have myself in.
I wasn’t really here to talk about any of that, but if you have read any of my past posts, you realize that I write about whatever happens to be on my mind that day. Which is another thing that I’ve been trying to change. I’d love to be able to schedule blog posts and then just write the ‘off the cuff’ ones as the need arises. That’d have me posting more than once a week and I’d really like that, however, that, like most other things in my life right now, requires me to get this damn routine or schedule figured out. One of these days I’ll know what I’m doing. I even have a tracker in my bullet journal that is supposed to be helping me stay on the right path. Really all it has done is show me how little I’m doing of the things that I want to do (that sentence was painful for me to write).
So what are my plans to figure it out now and why is it going to be different than it has been so far? Well, hell if I know. Right now I’m just in the planning stage of this idea. I’m trying to figure out what I’ve done wrong so I can figure out how to do it right this time. I am going to assume one of the first things that I need to do is get on the right sleep schedule so that I’m able to plan out the rest of my day accordingly. For example, today I got up a half hour earlier than I normally would. This allowed for me to get my coffee made, journal, and even write this, which normally I’d not have time to do this part. So, if I continue to get up 30 minutes early, that will allow me time to work on my blog every day, and that is something that I’d really love to be able to do. And today at lunch I will do my best to get my reading in, which is what I’ve been doing up to this point (minus vacation, of course). And after work, well that will be cooking, writing, working out time. And then once all that is done, I can try to fit in whatever other less important things I want to do with my day, before crashing hopefully by midnight. Then repeat tomorrow. I guess that sounds like I have some sort of idea on what I’m going to do. Which is more or less what I’ve tried to do in the past, but procrastinated my way through it.
I guess that means the key to this isn’t the schedule, but actually sticking to it. I will have to do my best to try and do that. What are you suggestions for keeping a routine? Any tips or tricks that might help me?

Obligatory Vacation Post

I’ve been on vacation since Saturday, which, if you haven’t already guessed is the reason why my normal Sunday post hasn’t happened yet. I might not even make it on time for this upcoming Sunday’s post. You’ll survive, I’m sure.
I had all these visions of what my vacation was going to be: a little visiting with family and friends, a little time out with the husband, and a lot of reading and writing. Well, I’ve done the visiting, I’ve done the time with family and friends, which seems never-ending at this point, and I’ve even been able to read a bit, but this is the first time I’ve written more than a journal entry. Yeah, I guess I have had the time to do it, if you count the times I’ve ended up falling asleep before I intended. I’m a bit bummed that I haven’t had much writing time, but to be honest, I’ve not given myself the opportunity to have much writing time. There has been so many gaps in things that I’ve been doing that I could have easily written, but I didn’t and now here I am complaining about it. Really, it is just my fault for not setting aside any time until it is two days left in my vacation and I’m worn out. Oh well, no use complaining about it now right?
Beyond the lack of writing my vacation has been going a bit better than planned. I’ve had some of the expected family drama, because isn’t that what happens when you go to visit family? You remember why you ended up moving several hours away in the first place? But, I’ve also been able to share some of the beauty here with my husband, who, even when we lived here for a year and a half, wasn’t really able to appreciate it any of the times before when we were here- mostly because many of those times everything was covered in many feet of snow. Spending time with my husband is one of my favorite past times, believe it or not after 11 years together we still actually like each other, most of the time. I’ve been able to do some things with my dog who took the trip with us too that she hadn’t been able to do before. I got to introduce her to my family, take her hiking, and even bring her to the river! She loved it.

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*View from the top of Rattlesnake Mountain in Holderness, NH. Photo credit: my mother*

I like to try to think about living here again, every time I come home the thoughts hit me, but I know- deep down- that this is a place that I can come and visit and be happy for awhile, but this isn’t where I want to be for the rest of my life. No, this is the home I knew, and it is still the place I call home, but only because I’ve yet to find where I really want to be. Which is something my husband and I have talked about during this trip quite a bit. We’ve got a few places in mind to check out and I’m excited about the possibilities there, but that is still far off yet I’m sure, so no need to get my hopes up at the moment.
I just wanted to take a moment to let everyone know that I am in fact alive and things are okay at the moment. I’m just not home or able to stick to a schedule much!

Friendship

introvert

 

I’ve been listening to Women of the Hour podcast lately. (I should be honest, I’ve listened to the first episode and am currently listening to the bonus episode as I write this, but I still wanted to use this as inspiration for this week’s post.) I have some great friends, especially for a person who is introverted, and has limited social skills. I’ve spent a good portion of my life trying to figure out how to be a good friend and have a good friend. I’m not great at the whole friendship thing to be honest. I never have been. And I’m not even going to try to discuss how to be a good friend or even really tell you about my friends at all. So why would I even think that this has anything to do with Friendship? Good question.
I’ve been thinking about friendship lately. Sometimes you have friends for years and they are always apart of your life and no matter how much the two of you grow into your own person and lead your own lives, but then you have friends that you thought would always be there, but as you grow and move into your own lives you begin to see that you aren’t even able to say on parallel paths. It is sad when this happens, it really is, but I’m not sure if it is sad because I can see a friendship floating away that has been a part of my life for many years, or is it because of all the work that was put into that friendship that when you see it ending you get frustrated that you wasted that much time. Then I think, was it a waste really? I mean even if you don’t keep the friendship forever it was still important while you had it. For whatever time that friendship existed it was important and it was meaningful and it had a purpose, now it doesn’t.
So what do you do when you see this friendship moving on or forward into a place where you know it isn’t going to last? I don’t know, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’ve survived many of these relationships ending, some in better ways than others. Some of them have dragged on years longer than they should. What can I say, friendship is something that still confuses the hell out of me and I often don’t know the right way to handle it. Other times I’m no sure I’m even in the right. I’ve mentioned, several times, I’m not great at friendship. I’m really bad at it often times, unless you want to have an online friendship, which takes minimal effort, then I usually do okay, but you have to be okay with me disappearing for several days or weeks at a time without a word. And as long as you are okay with that, then we can be online friends. I spend a lot of time alone and often don’t think about reaching out to the real world to let them know that I’m okay. Those are the kinds of friends that I need, ones that understand that I’m not a constant update kind of friend. I’m more of a weekly highlights kind of friend. Does that make me a bad friend? Maybe, but that is who I am and if you can’t accept that, or you want to change me into someone else, you will find out that our relationship will not last forever, no matter what either of us thinks.
So tell me about your friendships. Where do you struggle? What kind of friends are you looking for in your life? Do you need a friend that will talk to you once a month like me? Cause if so, maybe we could be friends.