Posted by: alphafemme | October 5, 2009

mental health day

If I’d posted last night at 10pm, which I almost did, here’s what I would have written:

This isn’t working. This isn’t fucking working. This isn’t FUCKING working. This isn’t FUCKING WORKING. THIS ISN’T FUCKING WORKING.

If I’d posted last night at midnight, here’s what I would have written:

Breathe in 1-2-3-4, hold 1-2-3-4-5-6-7, breathe out 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8. Breathe in 1-2-3-4, hold 1-2-3-4-5-6-7, breathe out 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8.

If I’d posted last night at 1:30am, I would have posted one of my favorite poems of all time, “The Telephone” by Robert Frost. I was reading it aloud to myself, keeping my voice steady and rocking myself with its words.

If I’d posted this morning at 10am, I would’ve written:

Taking the day off today. Need to clear my head. I need to make sure I’m okay. I need to keep in motion, because when I was learning about vicarious trauma as part of the rape crisis counseling training, I was taught that one of the best ways to move emotions in and out of us is to move our physical bodies. If I go to work, I’ll be sitting still all day. So I’m taking the day off.

And now it’s 3pm, and now I really am writing. I have been keeping moving — I got up and showered, I fixed myself a cup of tea and a grilled cheese and tomato sandwich and read while the morning sun streamed into my flat. I did the laundry I had as a goal for last week. I don’t use a dryer, so when it was done I went outside on our back balcony to hang it up and Fish, a neighbor’s cat, came by for a visit. He’s gotten in the habit of visiting every day for hours, and I love it. He’s standoffish a little bit, but also at times incredibly sweet. Today he was being sweet. I felt so peaceful, hanging up my laundry in the San Francisco Indian summer sun, with the cat curled up at my feet. Then I went out for a walk, and came back to bake another batch of vegan red velvet cupcakes. (I baked a batch on Thursday to bring to my training on Saturday, and had all these leftover ingredients so wanted to bake up another batch to send to my dad and brother and sister… and some to keep for myself and my roommate and mi’lady as well. They are DElicious, taste no different from ovo-lacto cupcakes, and maybe I’ll post the recipe…) And now I’m sitting here writing, dishes drying in the sun, Fish stretched out in a patch of sunlight, purring, cupcakes cooling on the counter, and I’m getting ready to go to yoga in an hour. I’m calm, and quiet. And the devastating emotion of the past days has, indeed, started to move. With every exhale I visualize it leaving me, dispersing into thin air.

Clearly, then, my experiment with discontinuing Prozac didn’t work. My period should start any day now, probably even today, and the past few days have been a nightmare. Wild and dramatic peaks and slumps, unbearable darkness and despair, hours of crying in a heap on my bed. I don’t know how to survive at times like those. It’s just not sustainable. It has to change.

It’s made worse, right now, by the recent knowledge that my parents are getting divorced. I found out from my sister about a month ago that she thought it was going to happen (to my complete shock), and then a little less than two weeks ago, my mom told me herself. Until then I hadn’t really believed it. And then, less than a week after that — last Saturday — my dad moved out. My parents, my mother whom I was born out of and my father who held me in his arms when I was moments old, mesmerized, my parents who are equal parts of me no longer live together. Are no longer family. What?

I haven’t really been able to process it yet. It just doesn’t compute. My parents have been married for 27 years. I’ve always known their marriage has had its bad moments, but doesn’t every marriage? And I’ve always known my dad is, well, abusive. He’s abusive. I’m coming to terms with that.  But 27 years of marriage and I know they’re best friends, despite my dad’s illness. That’s what it is, an illness. So why now? After 27 fucking years?

Well, I know. My little brother is finally out of the house, and my mother can finally, after 27 years, contemplate her own wishes, desires, hopes, and plans for the future. And I guess they don’t any longer involve my dad. It’s so, so hard to swallow. I love my father fiercely, although my relationship with him has been immensely complicated, fraught, and even damaging. And I love my mother too, differently from my dad but just as much. She’s been my mentor and my friend and a confidante, and it hurts me so much to see her hurting.

I haven’t been able to access any sort of emotion about this at all, unless I experience some sort of emotion from something else first. A gateway emotion, if you will. For example, Fish will do something hilariously cat-like, and then he’ll look at me like “what? I didn’t do anything” and I burst out laughing, and then somehow before I realize it I’m crying, sobbing even, crushed under the lack of comprehension of what’s happening to my family.

And here I am, typing away in the afternoon sunlight, and I think it’s time for motion again. I think I’ll go frost the cupcakes and then get ready for yoga.


  1. I’m really sorry about your parents, sweetheart.

    I hope that the rest of the day kept getting easier for you. You did the right thing in taking off and “moving”.

    Many, many hugs to you.

  2. So sorry to hear about your parents :( Sounds like the day off was just what you needed.


  3. Thanks greg and Jen for your comments.

    The day did keep getting easier. Yoga was such a good idea, it was like how I wrote that exhaling I could visualize the bad stuff leaving my body, well, when I was doing yoga, I could feel my body sweating out the bad stuff too. So good.

    I’ve never taken a mental health day before, but now I’m SUCH an advocate!!!

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