pick apart the pieces you left

today’s inspiration

I have three notes on my phone that are ongoing blog posts that I am slowly but surely working on. None of them seem relevant. None of them really explain how I feel, although now that I think about it I’m not sure anything would really explain how I feel. I don’t even know if I can explain how I feel.

I go to therapy every Tuesday, which means Tuesdays are almost always my worst days. There’s a good chance I may have mentioned this before but my favorite coping mechanism is to just constantly ignore feelings and pretend I am 100% doing great when I’m really not. Tuesdays are now the days that I know I am going to have to face things. This week was when I finally admitted that I am angry (which is tied with Guilt for the top spot on my list of Least Favorite Stages of Grief).

I am angry. This is the angriest I’ve ever been. I feel like the grumpy old person who doesn’t want to see anyone having fun, the only difference is I don’t want to see myself having fun. Anger is my newest enemy and it loves to partner up with its BFF Guilt to come and ruin anything in my life that has a chance to offer me a temporary break from grief. And I need a damn break. Anyone who has ever experienced grief knows what I mean.

The worst part about this anger is that I am angry at the person who isn’t here. I am mad at Taylor. I am mad that I am left trying to figure out my new normal. I’m mad that I am left here to figure out finances and money and how I am supposed to navigate life without my partner. I’m so, so angry that I can’t sleep or start my day or drive down the road without having flashbacks of the night I found him. This is the absolute worst. I didn’t ask for this. No one would ask for this. But here I am, somehow making it through this nightmare I am dealing with now. The only thing that really helps are the times I find myself hanging out with people and temporarily forgetting about the bullshit I inevitably will go back to (and I truly cherish those moments, btw, if you are reading this and have spent any time with me where I can actually just be Happy Alaina). What makes me the most angry is that I am stuck here picking up the pieces of our life and he isn’t. And he is the only person I know who would know what to do, or at least know how to make me feel better, and he isn’t here. I am mad that I am left here to worry about it all and he isn’t. The worst part of acknowledging this anger? It is quickly followed by guilt. Because I am the one still here and it doesn’t seem fair to be angry at someone who isn’t.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I will say it again, but I’ll be okay. I just need to be angry.

-AK

all that i know is no way to fix it

Inspiration

You know the episode of The Office where Michael announces Mr. and Mrs. Bob Vance before they are actually married and then, upon realizing his mistake, he goes “uhhhhggshhhhhhhhhh” and awkwardly backs up to join the groomsmen standing at the altar? That’s me in every single aspect of my life right now. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯


I’ve been living in a constant state of uhhhhggshhhhhhhhhh (0/10 recommend, btw). But this is my only option, unfortunately. The other day I shared this article on Facebook that resonated with me, and hopefully other people who have experienced loss recently/at any point will find it helpful too.

Unless anyone passing by looked deeply into my bloodshot eyes or noticed the occasional break in my voice and thought enough to ask, it’s not like they’d have known what’s happening inside me or around me. They wouldn’t have had any idea of the gaping sinkhole that had just opened up and swallowed the normal life of the guy next to them in the produce section.

Losing T on Thanksgiving Day and then going through the holidays has given me a constant support group that reaches out to make sure I’m still hanging on (I am hanging on, btw) but the times where I feel most alone and isolated and lost are when I am grocery shopping or running errands. It is almost always when I am surrounded by people. The week before Christmas I went to Target and became so overwhelmed that I started crying in the middle of an aisle with a completely empty cart. There were so many people and they were all in a hurry and I felt like I couldn’t keep up. None of the people shopping at Target that day knew that my husband died. There wasn’t a way for them to know how hard I was trying to keep it together or that I didn’t want to get out of bed that morning. Even now, 33 days after Taylor died, I still struggle. I almost lost it at the grocery store yesterday because it felt like my brain couldn’t keep up. Everything was so overwhelming.

And while I didn’t want to physically wear my actual circumstances on my chest, it probably would have caused people around me to give me space or speak softer or move more carefully—and it might have made the impossible, almost bearable.

So strangers don’t know what I’m going through. And that is okay. They don’t need to. The best thing I can do is acknowledge that I am most likely not alone when I feel like crying over an empty shopping cart at the store. Just being aware that I’m not the only one struggling will make it easier for me on the days where things seem impossible and hopefully provide some comfort to the stranger who finds themselves in the same position.

It’s not all bad news, though. I’ve started settling in to what is my new life (at least I think I have?? Who knows. It isn’t exactly like I really had it all together when T was here if we are being honest). I’ve been spending time with friends, I started cooking again, I got a new tattoo (always a great pick me up, if you ask me), and next week I am going to start my slow, but much needed, return to work. I am allowing myself to have fun without quite as much of the guilt I would experience just a few short weeks ago. I know I still have many days of uhhhhggshhhhhhhhhh ahead of me but the fact that I can make through a day without crying seems to be a decent start.

-AK


Spotify users! I finally updated the playlist! Be sure to follow my obsessive-compulsive diaries playlist for some of my favorite groovy tunes. It is a delightfully random mix of new songs and old songs from a bunch of different genres. It’s a great playlist if you need a good dance party or if you need a cry. Or a crying dance party.

no need to cry, i already am

This blog has helped me a lot over the past year and I sure hope that continues because I need it. I need all of the help I can get. On November 28th my husband died. He died. And seeing/speaking/typing those words is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

IMG_5193
4/1/2016 (our wedding day)

I’ve lost close family members in my life but the physical and mental pain I am in now is absolutely nothing compared to how I felt during any previous loss. I don’t know what to feel. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know anything anymore. My best friend is gone. The one person who I knew would do anything and everything to keep me from feeling how I feel now is gone.

IMG_1020
Snapchat filter FTW

I’m now part of a group that is almost exclusively reserved for those who are decades older than me. I am a widow. At 29 years old. I hate the word widow. It wasn’t until today that I even said it it out loud.

IMG_3058

Monday was my first day of therapy since losing T. I’m seeing a new therapist, which I feel is for the best because OCD is the least of my worries right now. Am I still struggling with my OCD? Absolutely. In fact, I’d say it’s gotten worse since That Day. But I don’t care. I honestly could not care less. I’m sure this is probably the complete opposite of the advice that should be given but, at this point, if picking or checking or any of the obnoxious/annoying habits my OCD has so graciously given me helps me cope with the loss of my husband then why would I try to stop them? I’m not using the teensy, tiny amount of motivation that keeps me going everyday to stop doing the things that I don’t even realize I’m doing because they are some of the only things that comfort me right now.

IMG_2893
2015

The only piece of good news in this post? I still have that teensy, tiny bit of motivation. Everything I’ve done since the day Taylor died has seemed impossible. I preformed CPR while pleading with a 911 dispatcher to send someone to save my husband. I rode in the ambulance while they were trying to revive him. I cried in the ER after the doctor told me “it was not looking good”. I’ve cried for hours and hours and hours until I fell asleep. I worked with a funeral home to plan a ceremony and cremation. I’ve spent days just existing because losing Taylor still doesn’t feel real. I wouldn’t wish the last two weeks on anyone. It’s been truly awful. But there is still that small bit of motivation that keeps me going.

IMG_7362
Babies in 2012

Live like Taylor. Give 110% to anything and everything you are passionate about. See the best in everyone and be a friend to everyone.

IMG_2680
November 2019
IMG_3854
2018
ZTothPhoto_Taylor+Alaina_040116-1249
2016
IMG_2954
One of my favorite pictures we’ve ever taken, inspired by iconic ATLiens (2019)
IMG_3357
Comparison for reference 

-A

Given the overall depressing nature of this post, I felt it was important to share this information again. If you are struggling with your mental health and need someone to talk to please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or click here to start an online chat for free and confidential support. You can also contact the Crisis Text Line via SMS message at 741-741 for free crisis intervention. *please note that the numbers listed above are available resources to those in the United States*

it works if you work it

For my first blog post of 2019, I want to take a quick second to thank you all for your support. This project I started back in August to document my success and struggles with OCD morphed into a way for me to see how depression, which is something I wasn’t really even aware I was struggling with, had pulled me down. Way down. When I create a picture in my head of where I was October through December of last year it looks exactly like the deepest, darkest parts of the ocean where the pressure is so intense that not much can survive aside from blobfish and the weird fish with the dangly light coming from their head (just did a quick Google search and discovered those are called angler fish and they truly are nightmare fuel, so proceed with caution…).

I have been in treatment (and recovery!) for depression for 43 days. There are still days where I struggle or don’t feel like myself but when I think back to where I was just a few months ago I can feel a difference.

There are two big things I have learned over the past 43 days. The first is how many ways my depression was manifesting but I failed to see it as a warning sign. For example, I stopped cleaning the house, doing laundry, and caring about how I looked. I stopped finishing projects that I started, no matter how small they were. And I also kept telling myself that I was fine when I knew that I really wasn’t. I didn’t ask for help because I still kept telling myself I could get better on my own. This entire experience has really helped me. I urge anyone who might find themselves in a similar situation to take the first step (which I know is scary but if you already Googled an angler fish you can handle almost anything) and ask for help. The second thing, which may help anyone struggling with reaching out, is that there are free support groups for those who feel overwhelmed by their emotions and don’t know what to do.

For anyone interested, I highly recommend Emotions Anonymous. It is a 12-step program based on the steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. For more information check out this link. To find an EA meeting near you, click here. You can also contact me if you have any questions about my experience with EA or the overall calamity I have experienced for the past 4 months. At this point, I am pretty much an open book.

ea chip
I have completed step 1 🙂

Lastly, since this is technically a blog about OCD, I would like to report that I straightened my hair today for the first time in years. This is a pretty BFD (big forking deal) because the first thought that crept into my mind was that by straightening my hair instead of curling it something terrible was bound to happen. It could have been the lack of sleep that caused me not to care about the possibility of impending doom but I like to think it was because after 43 days I am finally feeling like myself.

-A

If you are struggling with your mental health and need someone to talk to please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or click here to start an online chat for free and confidential support. You can also contact the Crisis Text Line via SMS message at 741-741 for free crisis intervention. *please note that the numbers listed above are available resources to those in the United States*

 

 

 

choose not a life of imitation

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and part of that is because I have been busy, but mostly I wanted to be strategic about how I share what is going on. It’s no secret that I have anxiety and OCD. That is why I started this blog. I use my own humor and sarcasm to help cope with everything, which up until recently had worked. But another way I cope is by closing off and bottling up. The worse I feel, the quieter I stay (spoiler alert: this never ends well).

Me playing it totes cool when things are, in fact, not totes cool.

It’s no secret that 2018 has been a hard year. I’ve struggled with just about everything that’s been thrown my way. Last Thursday was when I finally reached the tipping point. I had a phone session with my therapist. She urged me to go get an assessment at a mental health institute. She knew I wasn’t suicidal but she held firm on her wish for me to be evaluated. My first thought was how to tell my family. I’ve been closed off, pretending I was fine when I really, really wasn’t, and now I had to explain to my parents and my husband (who was out of state for work) that I needed to be evaluated ASAP {as possible}. Not tomorrow or over the weekend. I needed it now/yesterday/a week ago. I knew they would be blindsided. Everyone likes to think, myself included, that if we had a family member or close friend in crisis that they would know that they could come to me with zero judgement. But when the crisis comes and you’ve spent so much time and energy pretending that things are ok it’s a completely different game. After work, my mom picked me up and took me to the facility. We got there at 8:45. We waited. My brother brought me something to eat and hung out with us in the waiting room.  After being evaluated and hearing the treatment plan that the doctor recommended it was almost 5:00 am. My mom was still there. My brother was still there. They came in and heard from the clinician what the doctor felt was best. Partial hospitalization. It didn’t (and still doesn’t, honestly) feel real. It seems like such an extreme measure for someone who is just going through a difficult time. The problem was that I had surpassed difficult time.  I wasn’t a danger to myself or others but I wasn’t in a good space. I was in a terrible space and no matter how hard I tried nothing seemed to pull me out of it.

I’m still totally new to what is going on (I started yesterday) and I’m not going to lie, there are multiple times a day that I still think I can do this on my own. The truth is that I can’t, though, and I am in a situation where I can take the much needed time to work on myself. I hope that anyone reading this who happens to find themselves in a similar situation (ideally that would be no one but the reality is that it is highly likely), please know that you aren’t in it alone. Trust me. I write a blog chronicling my struggle with anxiety and OCD (depression has been the added bonus!) but I still felt like I was alone. Keep in mind that at the very least you have the girl who fumbles through a blog (and life, tbh ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) who can relate. Don’t ever be ashamed of what you need to do in order to take care of your mental health.

I’m here to be your biggest fan…*looks around hoping someone appreciates my dad joke*

So what does this mean for my irregular blog posts? Well, hopefully, I can share what has helped me start feeling like I am back in control and healthy coping mechanisms to use when things start taking a turn for the negative (turns out humor/sarcasm isn’t exactly on that list). But don’t you worry one bit because this entire episode has been the accelerant that my OCD craved. Much to my dismay, it is thriving.  For example, today while driving home I was passed by two fire trucks when I was a mile or two away from my house. They were driving in the direction I go to get to my house (so not towards my house, there is a distinct difference) and I felt the panic start because surely my house was on fire and that is why those two fire trucks were driving in that direction.

I should know that the fire scenario highly unlikely because I unplugged almost everything before I left this morning (and was late, as usual) and made two additional trips to check that things were unplugged between my front door and my car. So yeah, blog content won’t be an issue.

For today I will leave you with this: since I am trying to have a more positive outlook on things, at the very least now I can say I’m the jolliest asshole this side of the nuthouse and it is a fact.

I know I used this in my last post but it was too good of an opportunity to use it again.

-A

If you are struggling with your mental health and need someone to talk to please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or click here to start an online chat for free and confidential support. You can also contact the Crisis Text Line via SMS message at 741-741 for free crisis intervention. *please note that the numbers listed above are available resources to those in the United States*

 

 

rainbows & a month of tomato soup

Monday marked one month since losing my grandmother. Am I sad? Yes, but I am doing better than I expected. Those baby steps I wrote about before are starting to make a noticeable difference. The day she was buried there was a small rainbow that formed as my family and I were getting ready to leave. I saw an almost identical rainbow after I went to visit her on Saturday.

IMG_3031
10/23/2018
IMG_4573
11/17/2018

As you might already know from my previous post, the guilt I felt about not making that damn tomato soup haunted me. So on Friday I visited my amazingly talented tattoo artist, Josh, and got a permanent reminder of the good memories I have with my grandmother (and tomato soup). *a special shout out & thank you to Josh for waiting on me because I live in Atlanta so traffic is an unpredictable nightmare*

IMG_4624
This was the day after I got it done if you couldn’t tell by the swelling and bruising.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving so I wanted to take a moment and say thank you to my family and friends, for their unconditional love and support, Taylor, for sticking with me during the lowest of lows I’ve hit, and last but certainly not least, you all for reading my blog and letting me know I’m not alone when it comes to my struggles. When I started this blog it was a way for me to share my experiences with OCD but it has evolved into me opening up about my anxiety and depression, which is not something I had ever really planned on doing. There have been many times in my life that I have felt like I was on an island when it came to mental health and starting this blog has shown me that even on my worst days I am not alone. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving. Thank you for lovin’ me, thank you for bein’ there! Everyone’s thankin’! The whole world’s thankin’ you! Thankin’ us, for thankin’ you! What’s your Thanksgiving song?

-A

 

Also, if you haven’t started following me on Instagramcooler

 

baby steps

I knew last week would be rough. I didn’t realize this week would give it a run for its money. Yesterday was the first day since October 18th that I didn’t cry. Don’t get me wrong, I found myself on the brink a few times but I am finally starting to feel like the massive blanket of depression that has been wrapped around my shoulders is starting to loosen. I can look at pictures of my grandmother without crying. I can remember the good times without (quite as much of) the guilt I felt for any of the free time I didn’t spend with her during her last weeks and days. Don’t get me wrong, I think we all need a good cry every now and then, but my eyes need a break. I’m starting to think I have entered a state of advanced dehydration due to the amount of crying (and occasional evening Bud Light Lime or four) I’ve done the past two weeks.

So, how did being thrown into the first week post-loss go for me? Less than stellar. The water to our entire complex was shut off Monday for emergency maintenance, so I sat on the couch like a potted plant instead of attempting to cross anything off of my to-do list (which started in July 2017 and has never been fully completed). I woke up Tuesday with a bit more pep in my step but it was quickly washed away once I got to work, where I was greeted with typical work things and promptly discovered the soup of the day was none other than tomato, which I’m pretty sure ya’ll already know didn’t go over well. I ended up using my lunch break to get cup of tomato soup and go to my car and cry. Because when life gives you lemons, what do you do? Go to your car and cry. Also, and this is small potatoes compared to the whole soup car crying thing, I have somehow managed grow an Olympus Mons (geography degree nerd humor, FTW!) sized zit on my face overnight Monday and it has truly flourished in the anxiety and stress ridden environment that is my life right now. Wednesday was definitely the highlight because, not only was it Halloween, it was my Super Awesome, Totally Rad Mom’s birthday!

IMG_2577
Here is a pic of us from earlier in October with my brother, Dan, who is also pretty awesome.
IMG_3280
Here is a comparison of my mom and me at the same age. Or maybe not. Could be the same baby.
IMG_0392
Since you already saw our 2017 ‘stumes, here is a picture of me and T dressed up for Halloween in 2013. (I tried really hard to make that NOT rhyme but no matter what it ended up sounding like something from a Kidz Bop cover of a rap song.) Shake and bake, baby!

Thursday was a long day that began with accidentally branding my arm with a clothes steamer and now it is Friday. Finally. Here’s to hoping I don’t end up crying in my car during my lunch break next week. But if I do, that’s okay too.

one of the most painful realizations that comes with grieving is that our lives go on—and that has to be okay.

If anyone is struggling with returning to life as usual after a loss, this article was a huge help to me.

IMG_3624
This is how I looked most of the week.

Now that you’re nice and sad, some exciting news: my blog surpassed 1,000 views! 

Thank you all for taking time out of your day to read about lil’ ol’ me, the human equivalent of a houseplant but with more complicated emotions. The calamity that is my life doesn’t seem to be slowing down so I’m happy to continue supplying the masses with relatable content/content that will, at the very least, make you feel better about your own situation. Let’s keep this good thing going!

-A

….Now that I’m thinking about it, I probably account for around 25% of those views but whatever. Still counts.