Archives for category: Sleepless Nights

Seriously. Feeling overwhelmed? Weighed down? A little “lost”? Take some time. No kidding. Take some time to “listen to yourself think”, and also to really feel heard – by that person in the mirror who is feeling so many feelings. We seem to keep so little for ourselves of this one precious resource – our time.

I needed some time. I took some time. I hope I always make a point to do so when I need it.

The weekend was strangely energetic, considering the heat of summer. I managed, I hope, to also actually relax a bit, and get some of the restorative downtime weekends are expected to offer. I’m tired this morning, though. I arrived home much later than a typical Sunday, after a drive that was strangely lacking in any noteworthy characteristics at all, aside from getting started well after 5pm, and being very (very) congested – but not particularly unpleasant. I just got home late, and sort of buzzing from too much caffeine. Sleep did not come easily. The alarm clock went off too soon…

…This is looking like a busy week, ahead.

I slurp down the last of my coffee, ready myself for the work day, and wonder for just a moment… How is it already time to begin again?? ๐Ÿ˜‰

It’s morning. I’m tired. Of course, this is amplified in intensity because I definitely needed the sleep I definitely did not get. I sigh and choke down more coffee. It’s going to be a long damned day.

I take a deep breath, relax, and think back on my appointment yesterday. There’s a lot to unpack from that one, and I won’t be doing it (all) here (now). I smile back on one fairly cool win and good moment; I did not get lost getting home (last time I did). I was, um, fairly mistaken about where, in the context of the rest of the city, and, you know, maps, this location actually is, and so last time, when I chose to “just drive home”, I got turned around on a sequence of one way streets I’d forgotten about, and ended up quite lost. Not this time. I looked at a map. ๐Ÿ˜€ To be clear – I could have used my GPS, and considered doing so, but… rush hour. I don’t find it as uniformly helpful during rush hour. It knows the roads, it does not know people. So I GPSd the suggested route, looked it over carefully, and “just drove home”. It took precisely the amount longer that I’d expect for the greater distance. Win, indeed.

Therapy can be easy to the point of wondering why the hell I am there, or difficult to the point of wondering how the hell I’ve been accepted as an adult all these years. It’s a process. Like a lot of folks, there’s an additional emotional burden to bear in the midst of the cultural shitstorm that has become American politics and society. It’s particularly weighty for me as an individual; I already “have issues”. No lie. I have mental health concerns. I have been, even, fairly easily described as “mentally ill”. Am I now? Unknown. It’s not something that should have stigma, but it does. It’s a hard label to wear comfortably while also working full-time for a living doing something I’m respected for, living alone, managing my affairs on my own… all the adulting. I was able to take a break from therapy for about a year. No kidding, the current presidency on top of family “stuff” has pushed me back in. lol It’s okay. (I can laugh about that. Healthy.) There’s just more work to do; it’s just one more beginning.

I know, I know – asking for help when we’re ill (mentally, emotionally, cognitively, or physically) can be hard; it can feel like an admission of failure to adult properly. Don’t let that get in the way of getting help, though. Maybe you did fail to adult properly – but fucking wow is asking for help, particularly for our mental health needs, totally the absolute adult thing to do when help is what we need!! Go for it! You matter. Please. (And good luck)

I headed home with a plan, and a follow-up in three weeks.

I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Too much coffee? Too much therapy? No way to know, but definitely not enough sleep.

Another work day, then another, then a weekend… all filled with adulting. Fucking hell, I’m so tired…

…Well, back at it, I suppose. Can I get a new beginning over here, please? ๐Ÿ˜‰

I’m awake too early. It’s the fifth of July, and this means my sleep was of poor quality, started too late, and was regularly interrupted by American enthusiasts of wasteful use of ordnance for noisy colorful displays of thinly veiled celebratory somewhat aggressive nationalist posturing… Independence Day fireworks. For some folks, it just isn’t enough to go see a public display (from sundown until well past midnight I listened to the sounds of shit exploding). It is also necessary for them to indulge in a wasteful display of flexing at the world metaphorically, in a comic opera of artifice and pretty colors. I can’t bitch overly much about it, inasmuch as these were not attacks on my person or property, and were not ever intended to be such. Just a nuisance to deal with a couple nights a year. Still, it wrecks my sleep, and rather than deal with the resurrection of old nightmares, I spend much of that time in the studio, with headphones on, painting and listening to music.

To be clear, I’ve got nothing specific against fireworks shows. I’m just like anyone else, ooh-ing and ah-ing over the colors and forms, and the craftsmanship that surely must have gone into those beautiful bursts in the night sky. I dislike crowds, though, also, so I rarely go. Choices. ๐Ÿ™‚ At home, in the quiet of the night, I dislike being taken by surprise by the sound of what could be gunfire, or artillery. That just seems… normal. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I spent the solitary day on my own agenda. I even started with a list. It was fairly delightful to do so. No holiday meal to prepare. No complicated group planning for an outing. No timing for arrivals or departures. No guests. It was a lovely day in the studio, spent in part on “the business of art”, which is less fun for me, but managed to be quite satisfying. The afternoon and evening painting felt more than satisfying – needs were met. ๐Ÿ™‚

Late in the day a whiff of OPD reached me from far away. I made a firm point to let that shit go before it could ever get a foothold in my consciousness. It did manage to evoke some irritation, and a nearly audible eye-roll, before I got back to work on the painting that tedious drama-monster who is an ex has inspired; “Toxic”. (She’ll finally be able to say she inspired someone artistically. lol. I chuckle out loud every time I think about that.) A good thing to remember about artists; it is often something deeply unpleasant, unsettling, objectionable, contemptible, vile, or traumatizing, that inspires our most moving work. It is certainly the case, in this instance, that I’m working on this piece, in a sense, as a sort of exorcism. So done. lol So entirely completely over it.

“Independence Day” has become pretty personal for me, over the years. I celebrate – in an overtly positive, celebratory way – the end of my violent first marriage. I celebrate my independence from the terribly damaging entanglement with ex 3 of 3, too; it took weeks from when I moved into my own place (in May, 2015) to feel settled and comfortable, and to accept the uncertainty that existed, at the time, in my relationship with my Traveling Partner, and begin to find my own way. By the 4th of July that year, I was doing pretty well living solo, and learning to really deal with my issues more skillfully, generally, and getting a good bit of practice with that. lol My relationships were improving, too. Three years ago today was a pretty good day, generally. It’s delightful to read back and see how far I’ve come. ๐Ÿ™‚ Incremental change over time – still a really big deal, and something I can reliably count on. We become what we practice.

Are you ready to begin again? There’s a journey ahead. It’s yours. Choose your adventure. Start with one step.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

What a delightful weekend! I probably couldn’t say enough about it in the time I have available before a new work day begins. It was… awesome. Fun. Warm. Merry. Chill. Exciting… so exciting. It was also characterized by disrupted sleep (see “exciting”), and a lot of stimulation (an art show, a road trip, a weekend with my Traveling Partner…). I’m quite entirely made of human, and having the issues I do, a weekend – however delightful – full of exciting moments, color, light, music, and did I mention the excitement? A weekend such as this one just past often – too often – results in some sort of major freak out or melt down of some kind. No kidding. Yep. I have “mental health issues”. Definitely. It’s one little detail that is a reminder that I put so much time and attention into my self-care for reasons, not because it is a hot new trend.

Flowers need no excuse.

The drive back to the city started well, and traffic was well-behaved, although more than usually dense. Average speed was a comfortably ordinary 70 mph. Somewhere about 2 hours (a bit less, I think) from home, a bad snarl and some congestion developed rapidly ahead of me. Like… bad. Cars were spinning out, into the median, in one case, onto the left shoulder in another, and the third skittering across three lanes while other drivers used breaking maneuvers, and attentive skillful driving to both keep moving forward, and also, not hit anyone else. No collisions. I’m making a point of reminding myself of that. I “drive ahead of myself” a good way, and saw things going awry in real-time. The driver directly ahead of me began to lose control of his SUV. I let up on the gas after tapping my brakes gently (just enough to flash the brake lights) to alert the driver behind me, and slipped between the SUV as he slid sideways out of the lane, and the car to his right, which was crowding the fast lane out of panic as the driver ahead of him braked hard, very suddenly. Oooh… so close. As traffic finally slowed to a full stop, I looked in the rearview, and around; no collisions. I’m still very surprised by that. No indication of collisions further down the road, either. What the fuck? I began to seethe as it became more clear that this was likely the result of aggressive or frustrated ass-hattery, custom made by some clueless fuck knob. My fury began to build as the traffic crept along. At some point, I lost myself in my anger. Oh, “nothing bad happened” – by which I mean I did not attack anyone, hurt myself or anyone else physically, nor did I directly or indirectly confront any individual, or group of individuals…but oh wow. The invective. The yelling by myself in the car. It was… not okay. I’d fully lost my dignity, my resilience, my sense of self… I was… gone. Lost in it. Taken over by my metaphorical demons – who finished the drive more or less without me.

I got off the freeway at the first opportunity. It helped to do so; it slowed everything down just a bit, and reduced the feeling of “crowding”. Unfortunately, at that point I was also quite triggered, highly reactive, and the state I was in was less than ideal for driving, at all. I had no understanding I could have stopped driving. I wept much the remaining drive home. “I just want to go home!” I wailed, weeping. Purposeless, frustrated, impotent tears poured down my face, even completely blinding me briefly (I had to pull off the road to wipe the sweat-salt from my eyes). I got home shaking, angry, sad – so sad. Filled with drenching hopeless sorrow. My brain straight up attacking me from all sides with my deepest insecurities, disappointments in life, and leaning in hard on anything positive, and all my good feelings and recollections – a bit as if I’d come home and been confronted by a fucking dementor, honestly. It was pretty horrible.

I numbly started doing things that felt routine, feeling pressured by those experiences, and a little forced. Going through the motions. I made a point to let my Traveling Partner know I was emotionally unwell, and that I would be offline. (It does not do well to stay online in such circumstances, not for me; I use words. lol) I simultaneously gave a quick heads up to friends that I was having a tough time, but also that I did not require support; just in case shit went crazy wrong with me during the night and spilled over into the morning, I at least wanted people to wonder if I were okay – but I didn’t want to be fucked with right then (the terms in which my thinking colored all such thoughts in the moment). Then I got to work taking care of this all-too-human creature that lives my life.

A sunny summer day in the garden, tasks, routines, patterns of light – better moments.

I took a shower. I had a big class of water. I medicated (cannabis for the win, here*). I meditated. I watered the garden. I started some laundry. I began to redirect negative thoughts to their positive counterparts; ruminations about traffic were redirected to how pleasant the drive was in other respects, and what a pleasant day it was for driving, generally, and that there were no actual collisions, for example. I reminded myself, too, that once I was dealing with a storm of emotions, not only must the storm be permitted to pass, but then, as is often the case with the weather, there’s some clean up afterward needed. Our emotions have their basis in actual chemistry. Feelings of rage? Yeah, that’s like being on a fucking drug that causes that experience. It takes time for the drug to wear off, even though the moment is past. Sorrow, too. Each blue, emotionally disarrayedย moment got some support, some consideration, some care and attention. It did pass. All of it passed. I felt better before I’d been home for even 2 hours. The recovery period was shorter than the emotional event. (That’s real progress!) I went to bed a bit early; I hadn’t slept well over the weekend, and all by itself poor quality sleep is enough to put me at risk of losing my emotional balance and resilience, if allowed to go on.

During the night the phone rang. Connectivity was poor at the location my Traveling Partner and I spent the weekend together, and he’d only just gotten my message. He called, concerned, to check in with me and see how I was. I answered a ringing phone during the night (I rarely do), because I went to bed expecting he might call. Partnership is lovely. I heard the warmth and love in his voice, and he heard it in mine. I was definitely okay at that point. I woke this morning, feeling rested, content, loved, and comfortable in my own skin. It’s a new morning.

A picture from a lovely summer morning hike yesterday; where will today take me?

Hell, I considered not writing about this experience, that’s how good I feel this morning – but here’s the thing; this experience is not one I’m ashamed of. I didn’t “fail” here. I managed things pretty well, actually. Somewhere, out there, there is an alternate version of this experience playing out that may not end as well, or may feel “permanent”, lacking any hope or perspective. I put these words on paper, sharing this moment, not only as a later reminder for myself that all this progress isn’t “a cure” (I need these practices, this level of self-care and self-awareness, to maintain my quality of life day-to-day.) I also put these words on paper because someone else may need to hear that there is hope, and it is possible to do better, and it is possible to find some relief – it’s within reach. There are verbs involved, no lie, but the incremental change over time has been… huge. Wonderful. A vast improvement impossible to overstate. It could have been much worse. I’m okay right now. That’s a big deal. It’s worth sharing.ย  ๐Ÿ™‚

Oh, hey, look at the time! It’s time to begin again. ๐Ÿ™‚

*Note: It is unfortunate that cannabis is not yet fully legal, and that it is not more widely available, and easily, affordably available to more people. It is actually fairly stupid we make it so difficult for researchers to research it. Literally nothing offered to me by doctors, anywhere, has been as reliably helpful for my PTSD as cannabis has been, and for the most part side-effect free. Psychiatric pharmaceuticals were less effective for me, had horrific side effects (that included impairing me artistically, cognitively, sexually, emotionally, intellectually, and destroying my health), and didn’t actually result in an improved quality of life for me. I don’t write much about cannabis, itself, mostly because I’m not sure how to do so skillfully, and feel uncomfortable with the unsettled legal status it has in a broader sense. Having said that, I’ll be frank; when I talk about “medication” and “medicating”, if I am not more specific, I am most definitely referring to cannabis, and no, I don’t particularly care that it doesn’t come in a pill. ๐Ÿ™‚

Busy morning getting ready for a busy weekend. If I look ahead too far, I’m already tired. lol I guess I’m ready, though. Art selected for the show. Bag packed for the weekend, in case I decide to head south directly from the gallery… at 2:00 am… (It doesn’t sound like me, so… maybe not, but I’d be mad as hell with myself to be unprepared if I wanted to.)

IMG_20180624_120138_420

…There’s still time to water the garden…

My coffee is tasty. My chat windows are rather busy. The day has already begun; I see sunshine beginning to highlight the highest leaves of the trees beyond my window. Summer mornings start early.

I take a deep breath, and relax as I exhale.ย It’s already time to begin again.