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My Mental Health Crisis in Pictures

August 2, 2023


It was bad yesterday.


It’s no one thing. If it was, it would be caring for mom. That’s the thing right in front of me, the thing that periodically and lately constantly threatens to take me down.


I thought about how it might be time to go to the ER, but that’s the thing I never want to do again. Last year, I was in the ER for five days waiting for a psych bed. It was horrible beyond horrible. And the psych stay was only slightly better. But I recognize hospitalizations are a full stop, and sometimes that’s what is needed. I acknowledge that. I also know I’ll do what I have to do to stay safe. I’ve proven that.


I texted my brother that I was not doing well. I’ve been telling him that for a couple of months. He doesn’t hear me. He tunes me out. Because he doesn’t want to deal with mom. That’s on me. The single, childless daughter. He thinks I benefit from the arrangement. There is some benefit, of course, or I wouldn’t stay. But it’s relentlessly challenging. I was getting two days a week away when I was dating David, but that reprieve is gone since we broke up in May. It’s been more than two months of 24/7. Too much.


I was distraught yesterday. It got ahead of me. After I texted my brother, I texted my niece. She called.


“What motel do you want to stay at. I’ll get you a room,” she said.


“I can’t do that. It would be gas and food and I’m trying to conserve for the trip to Fort Worth,” I said.


“Look, I can help you do this, but I only have an hour. Pick a hotel and let me know and I’ll take care of it and you need to GO.”


So, I picked a hotel in Grand Mound, a few miles from mom’s and on the way to Olympia because I have an appointment at 11:45 this morning with the psychiatrist at the TMS clinic.


I checked into the hotel then walked to the restaurant across the parking lot and had lunch. I couldn’t stop my mind from racing, I was consumed with fear one night wasn’t enough, not enough to get me through and beyond this crisis.

I kept listening to podcasts. And that just fed the unrest in my mind. The podcasts occupy my mind, they take my mind off of me. But they also fill my head with noise when I need quiet. But the quiet has its own demons and I can’t deal with those demons right now.


I didn’t bother to pause the podcast as I walked back across the parking lot to the hotel. I lay down still listening. I was in bed for two hours, my mind racing, worried that I was wasting the time I had to myself sleeping when I could have just stayed at mom’s and slept. But always there’s one eye open and ears trained to what she’s doing in the other room. There is no rest at mom’s. I’m constantly exhausted. I can never catch up.


I got up and drove to a restaurant in Tumwater. I sat in the bar, earbuds still in, still listening. I was on my fourth podcast. I’d pause for a time and write. That was good. Writing is always good.


I got some stuff down about David, but I am so fucking sick of thinking about David and writing about David.


I forced myself to stay in the moment and choose the most self-honoring thing in each and every moment. I sat in the bar for a long while. I wonder what I looked like, sitting there, staring out the window, then writing furiously, then listening to the podcast again, staring out the window, the tears coming on and off.


I went back to the hotel and wrote some more.


I laid down to sleep but couldn’t. The pillows are terrible. It’s a $230 room and the pillows are shit. Listening to my fifth podcast, I composed a negative Google review in my mind, all about the shit pillows.


The podcast ran out and I didn’t queue up another. I slept for five hours.


I just got back from the complimentary breakfast. I’m smiling. In the twenty years I traveled for work, those breakfasts are exactly the same in every hotel in every city I’ve been. They’re shit. But there’s something to be said for a consistent complimentary breakfast experience when traveling. Just like you know Starbucks will always taste the same. And Applebee’s. And McDonald’s. For some reason, I find those truths quite soothing.


No podcasts this morning. Just an inedible cheese omelet, cold sausage, and cheerios. Oh, and coffee, with real cream. What a treat.


I’ve got a few hours to waste. My mind is quieter, not quiet, but it’s better. Maybe I can read a textbook. I was all gung-ho when my books arrived two weeks ago, but I haven’t been able to focus to read since. I want to, I know it will make me feel better, but I haven’t been able to. I’m not beating myself up about it too much, I’ve still got three weeks until class starts.


One night away isn’t enough, but it helped. A lot. And I’ve got the trip coming up. Orientation is the milestone, the gateway to my future in academics. Something to look forward to, something to focus on, a thing to work towards. Good goals drive positive forward momentum.


Maybe I’ll try to lie down, in the quiet, with the sun streaming through the window. I can focus on the warm yellow light. It’s hard not to worry I’ve only got yellow light for two more months, then the rain begins. Fall is a very difficult time for me. Winter is worse. But if I can just get over the shit pillows and focus on the yellow light while it’s here, shining through. Maybe I can do that.


I feel better this morning. But I worry it won’t last. But maybe if I can just feel better right this moment. Maybe. If I can.

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