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Message from Leah

August 27th, 2010

To Leah’s readers, friends, family, from Leah and via Joe (her husband):

I won’t have a computer or my phone (so no twitter) at the inpatient facility I’m going into, but know that I’m getting help.

Thank you to all of you for all your kind comments, twitters, direct messages and texts.

I’ll have visiting hours with Leah in the late evenings and will be able to pass messages to and from her. Thank you all for your kind support. It really means a lot to Leah, and to me.

(crossposted to leahpeah)

3 Out of 4

August 2nd, 2010

Seeing the kids on two Saturdays in a row was great. I hadn’t seen them for 7 months. I missed them so much.

Tyler and Tony are stronger and beefier. Their necks are almost as big as their heads, which is what their father looked like when I met him and it brings back bittersweet memories. They will both be playing football this coming school year for the varsity team and are quite proud of it. I’m quite proud of it. Because they are, I guess.

Tyler, ever the fair one, makes sure we get every minute with them that we are allotted. Not one more or less. He is very equa. He loves both his mother and father equally and wants to make sure we know it.

Tony on the other hand, plays things by ear and would be swayed one way or the other by the wind or a sneeze. He wants to make everyone happy. He has so much love oozing from his pores and loathes to hurt anyone’s feelings. Tender hearted.

Tony looks for something for his girlfriend at the swap meet and knows what he wants to get her. He just needs Alex to help him with his final choice and he’s set and happy with what he got her.

Tyler isn’t sure what he wants to get and is afraid to even call the girl he’s sweet on a girlfriend. I try to help him from a female point of view, but I find myself lacking. I’m not in touch with today’s teenager. Surprised? But Alex saves the day again and helps him find the right bracelet to go with the ring he picked earlier.

And Alex? I don’t even know where to start. She’s OLDER. I don’t know how else to say it. She’s 19, almost 20. She has her first real boyfriend and starting her second year at college. She has some adult issues to contend with. And she seems so young sometimes. She tells me she feels both young and old and I believe her since I was 19 once. But I was having my second child. Her. I was pregnant with her at 19 and I also felt as young as a child. A child having a child. As a reflex, I make sure she has all the protection she wants and needs to prevent having kids right now. I know almost 20 and 2 kids. I don’t want her to know it, too. Alex is smart and beautiful. Naive and very sharp. She’s compassionate and loving. I frequently get glimpses of who she really is inside.

I didn’t get to see Devon. I miss him.


August 31st, 2009

If they came and kidnapped me right now and blindfolded me, gagged me
stuck me in the trunk
I would stay calm
because I know the roads.
I would know where they took me.
Quick left, quick right, quick left
to the freeway
or the other way.
The slow S shape
winding back and forth.
They won’t go 35 and 45.
They are in a hurry.
They will push it and speed.
And when the orange sign warns that going over 30 round this turn will lead to death and it will be your own fucking fault
they won’t listen.
They will go as fast as they want.
But the car won’t flip or crash because the guy driving the car is a professional.
I’ll use my nose to figure out where we are.
The smells go like this
City, people
Less city, people
Rich, rich soil
Soil and garden
Onion rings?
Cars, industrial stink
too much.
And Joe says
You Don’t Ruin Everything
Don’t say that anymore, Leah, it’s not true.
And I hear him from far away.
I’m not really in the trunk
but I am bound and gagged.
The buildings and the streets
they are neon pink and orange
It’s not true, I know.
But I still see it.
I’m not in the trunk.
I know I’m sitting next to Joe in the front because from my vantage point in the back seat
I see him holding my hand.
There are tears running down my cheeks
for no reason at all.
But my mouth is trying to smile and feels like nothing is wrong.
They aren’t connected to each other.
My mouth says
Gatorade powder
toilet paper
milk and I smile
and my eyes cry
for some unknown reason until I need a hankie or tissue.
In the isles I can’t stop staring.
The boxes, the floor, so sharp, so blurry
all so beautiful in neon.
The colors are almost overwhelming plus I know they aren’t there but, they are and I can’t stop staring.
Everything should cost a dollar.
Things are so expensive.
Joe gently guides me along
and when I say to no one except the cereal boxes that I like Honey Nut Cheerios
he says
Yes You Do. You Like Them.
And grabs my hand to look at canned beans.
There is a family with four kids.
Both parents are wrangling two.
Line the kids up and they make a stairway just like my kids did.
But my kids are old.
I don’t get to nurture them like that.
And I can’t even have a dog.
Would my pet dog be neon red, too?
And glow and look like fire?
The dad looks at me in surprise
and then pity.
I’m walking next to me
and I see what he sees.
I have the look of a crazy person.
My hair is unwashed, clumped and stuck in all kids of directions.
I’m wearing Joe’s Hawaiian shirt that has the same leaf colors as the bird’s poop and it hangs over my bra-less front.
My jeans are sagging, top button undone.
I’m shuffling
and my eyes are puffed, tearing and have red rings like clown makeup.
Next to myself I see this.
Back walking in myself I don’t know it or care.
And the floor is orange now.
The air smells so good on my face on the way home.
I love air.
I tell Joe I Will Be Better Tomorrow. Joe says I Know.
And Joe is helping me make nachos with cheese and black beans.
I eat them.
I vomited all morning.
My tummy feels humming but it doesn’t kick the nachos out.
And Joe gives me warm kisses on my cheeks and eyes and lips.
I feel them.
And I feel them.

Cross posted at Leahpeah

Going Forward

July 14th, 2009

Hello my dear friends. I have a few questions for you.

Do you look forward to reading RealMental?

Is it an important site to you?

Would you consider volunteering to support it by spending a few hours a week?

I’ve noticed that there isn’t much activity and I’m not sure if it’s worth it to keep it going by myself. It’s a job for a few people, not one. Is there anything that could be changed that would make it a better site and one you’d want to contribute to on a regular basis? Or is it time to let it go?


Sitting Still

April 23rd, 2009

Sitting still and feeling my feelings has become almost impossible. I have the urge to run, run, run and do, do, do and it doesn’t really matter what or where as long as I’m not there or maybe not me. But, of course, I’ll be there, wherever I go and I will always be me, as fucked up as that can be.

I think about when I was diagnosed with Bi-polar and wonder if that is me or not. Some of the symptoms fit some of the time and there are many bizarre things I’ve done over the years that could be slotted into that diagnosis, but I don’t know. The meds made me a zombie and I cried a lot. I was once diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, and I have lots of things that could slot in there, as well. But because I’m DID, I could be all those things or none of those things. I think I’m tired of diagnoses and searching for answers and trying new medications and the whole basket of things that come with being mentally ill. The labeling – I’m tired of the labeling.

So, I try and sit here, and feel. I try to identify what I’m feeling and to what extent. And that means I have to label everything going on inside me. It’s hard and not fun. It’s not the same kind of introspective afternoon where you get to think about your future and all the possibilities that are out there. No, it’s more like cleaning out the junk drawer and finding dimes and push-pins and keys you have no idea what they go to. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when I love cleaning and organizing. But this internal stuff is HARD and I have to do it so OFTEN. It’s the only way to short-circuit the harmful cycles that come with not paying attention. When I’m no longer making choices, and instead I wander and react purely on my environment.

If I don’t do the work? I end up 3 states away and wonder why I’m there. I forget I’m married to a wonderful man. I go out and buy $700 worth of stuff we don’t need. I drink too much. I don’t eat. I fantasize about self-harming and prepare to do it. I sleep for an entire week straight. I obsess on everything I’ve ever done, ever, that wasn’t ok. I plan and plan and plan for every disaster that could happen. Ever. Anywhere. I dissociate without meaning to and don’t pay attention when I’m ‘not out.’ That one in particular leads to paying the car payment twice in one month when we can’t afford it because of the really large sums of money we sent in the mail to the IRS. I keep a headache going for days and abuse my liver with high doses of acetaminophen for weeks on end. I compulsively begin to straighten everything into sections. I draw lines with my fingers all day, copying words people say or shapes I see or images I have stuck in my head from childhood. I can’t follow a conversation with someone I care about and hurt their feelings with what looks like disinterest. And I get depressed to a level where ways to kill myself pop into my head with no notice. Jumping and dancing around what I feel.

Sit, Leah. Sit.


April 22nd, 2009

My leg is touching the door and I can feel the vibrations of the music through my knee cap. I’m not thinking. I’m just feeling the bass line and mouthing the words. My mouth opens and closes with the words but no sound comes out. I don’t think I know this song. If I was the passenger in the car to the left, I would think I was singing. But if I was the passenger in the car to the left, I wouldn’t be me. I would be him. I think about this for awhile, forgetting to mouth along to the song, my jaw slightly slack.

What if I was him? That guy to the left? I wouldn’t be me. Or I would be both. I would have his feelings. Or they would be the same as the ones I have now, just his. Or they would be different. And I would look over and see me and wonder about the lady driving in the big black van and hope she had at least one other person in the car to make that beast worth while. And I would know that she wasn’t really singing because I didn’t really sing, either. Orange would be slightly different, but how, I couldn’t say. I would like the air slightly warmer in the cab of the car while driving, but my wife would want it cooler and I’d wear gloves to keep my hands warm, even in the summer. I’d hate the birds that shit on the car under the palm tree. I’d love orange suckers and I’d do ceramics on the weekend as a hobby to calm my nerves. Or are they my nerves. Or mine. I don’t know.

My shoe is near the speaker and I can feel the vibrations of the music climbing up my leg. I turn the bass up and look up to notice the sign that says the name of street I know, but isn’t on my route home. I’m confused for a moment and then I realize I passed my exit about twenty minutes back.

I wonder where I’m going.

I’m driving as if I don’t care that I’m not headed in the right direction. I just passed an exit where I could have turned around. And another one. And another. I’m not changing lanes to get to the right. I’m just going forward at a steady 73 miles per hour. Maybe I don’t care. But I don’t know where I’m going.

I’m out of water. My mouth is dry. I have a headache. I get off the freeway and get back on, heading west.

My hands are on the steering wheel and the vibrations are coursing through my fingers and into my wrists. The music is too loud and I turn it down. Then off. The car on my right is driving right in my blind spot. When I speed up, he speeds up. When I slow down, He slows down. I punch the gas and hit over 80, moving away from the irritation. The road is bumpy on this stretch and the van bobs up and down violently for a few seconds. The Santa Annas are blowing hard against the windshield and I can hear the whistle it makes as it leaks through the seams around the doors. It’s high pitched and screaming. All it would take is my not handling the wind very well. Just a tiny mistake going around the right bend of the hills. The tire would hit a pothole and explode. The van would flip over and over, jumping over the guardrail and into the middle of oncoming traffic. I could even take off my seat belt first. I look at myself in the rear view mirror. And then I look away. My foot comes off the gas pedal a little and I slow down to 68 and hit cruise control.

The wind whistling through the doors grows deeper and less insistent. It sounds more like a hum and less like a shriek. I take a few slow breaths and turn the music back on, but softly. I click forward through the songs until I find something mellow.

I’m close to home now. And I think I’m glad. The thoughts and feelings I’ve been avoiding come rushing at me. I’m a horrible person. I’m so unworthy of love. The world would be a better place without me. My kids deserve a better mom. Joe would have a better life without me. I imagine saying that out loud to Joe and I can hear his voice in my head. I would say, ‘I’m too broken. It’s never going to get better. How many times can I say I’m sorry before I get on your nerves? Once a day? Twice? I should just leave.’ and he would say, ‘Only say sorry if you commit a sin of commission or omission against me. You haven’t. You don’t need to be sorry. Your existence is not a sin. I love you. I hope you don’t leave. I want to spend the rest of my life with you.’ And then I’m crying but I don’t know if it’s happening now or yesterday when he said it for real.

The car is stopped and parked in front of the house. I’m home. Home. The thrumming I feel isn’t music. It’s my thoughts and I’m trying to get them under control before I walk in the house. I’m numbing out my mind, creating a buffer around my body and settling in the center where it’s calm and one tiny bit of what I hope is reality comforts me as I gather my things and head up the walkway.

Your existence is not a sin. I love you.

Originally published here.

Book Suggestions

April 15th, 2009

Hello RM community,

I’m looking for great mental illness/health memoirs. If you’ve read one and want to recommend it, please leave a comment on this post.

Thanks for all your nice comments and emails. I really appreciate the support.