Oct 26

One of the funniest and most helpful TEDx talks I’ve ever seen.

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May 24

While my issues manifest themselves in various ways, there is one particular variation which, for some time now, has been more pressing than others. That is, adjusting to this world in which I find myself struggling to tread water.

Having become a Marine before I was even a legal adult, I spent those four years certainly learning and growing quite a bit. However, as much as I grew, it was in such a way that I was still, in many regards, a kid when I rejoined the civilian world. In the past three years many of those traits have been brought up to par, and yet I still seem to have trouble getting into the right mindset that would enable me to succeed to the extent that I should be able to.

What to do about this issue? I’m still working on figuring that out. I’ll keep you informed about any enlightenment that may happen to strike me.

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Slinking in from the dark

May 22

So. Here goes public. I am Susie, third (temporarily lost but now found) member of the Collective, and I am currently confirming my diagnosis of PTSD by 1) struggling to make myself attend sessions with psychologist and meetings with social worker and wait for distant June appointment with psychiatrist (for the stamp of authenticity); and 2) living in my car with my dog in a WalMart parking lot. It’s a small car, and there is a lot of stuff in there. Canned goods. Peanut butter. Juice boxes. Books. Office supplies. Incense and Rescue Remedy. Some clothes. A sleeping bag which officially belonged to the dog when I had a bed. She is sweet. She shares.

I kept telling people when this was all coming down, “I do not have the skills for this!” Who does? I had heard and read things that had me convinced I would be dead before a week was out, and those first few nights in the dark in the sub-freezing weather were so bad that I can only remember little bites of time. But it has been weeks now, almost two months, and I am still here. Turns out, I am a better car camper than I would have suspected, and the fear does what it does. I am still terrified of everything sometimes, and I do mean terror, not just nerves or that creepy feeling up the back of your neck or a queasy stomach or “having a bad day”. That’s afraid. I mean paralyzed, numb, out here in the tall weeds and cannot even see the path to get back to functioning in any way. I sit and stare for hours at a time, thinking (sort of). I make a list of important tasks: 1) find a shelter which will accept me and isn’t in a location that is dangerous to even drive through; 2) convince myself that it won’t be a snake pit; 3) tackle the rest of the counseling task list and do a stack of social worker generated SSI paperwork so that I might possibly, sometime a few months from now, have “help” which I am assured will assist with my road back to Normal. (Wasn’t that a TZ episode?); and (4) get up the nerve to go (again) and ask my kind friends (again) if I may take a shower and wash my hair because it has been ten days now and I stink. Yes. That is PTSD for me: paralysis and bathing with baby wipes in the wide girl stall at WalMart.

When I am not terrified, I am focused on one of the three or four things I can do that make me feel calm. I read novels, play helicopter parent to Bodhi (aforementioned dog) with walks and talks and doggie massage sessions, sneak overlong sessions in the library playing anything that resembles Bejeweled, or focus (read: screen out all other input) on birds and flowers and sunsets and blue skies and generally pretend that I am somewhere else, doing something else, as no one at all. When I am way out there, I talk to myself. By myself. In my car. As if I were conversing with a friend. I look back on all the times I passed a homeless person on the sidewalks of DC, someone muttering and complaining aloud and alone and try to feel alarmed, embarrassed, even ashamed. But what I really feel, is nothing.

Just checking in from your average urban warzone.

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Slow Pain

May 12

I’ve been slow this week. Not mentally: I’ve been as mentally sharp and alert this week as I could wish. Analytical, focused, capable of sustained work every day. But physically, emotionally, socially: slow. Moving through fog.

The aforementioned ability to focus mentally confused me. I would have said I was depressed this week, except I didn’t exhibit any of my tell-tale signs of bona fide depression. No muddled thinking, no lying paralyzed in bed upon waking, no descent into messiness and disorder. Granted, I skipped make-up for a couple of days and dressed in sweats, but that’s the worst it got. I was slow, but not lethargic. What’s the difference? I don’t know, exactly; lethargy involves apathy, a lack of feeling and motivation. This week’s slowness was something else.

Still, friends were worried. The ones I succeeded in talking to commented on how I didn’t sound too good. My Mom took to monitoring me daily: “How are you doing today? Everything okay?” The friends I corresponded with by email or text got increasingly concerned. A couple people told me to “be happy!” Because they love me. They want me to be happy.

I cried a lot. Which is unusual for me. Not usually a crier. I never quite knew what I was crying about; or rather, there were so many things to cry about, I wasn’t sure which trigger was being activated at any given moment. I didn’t have the dull despair of depression; not that I was bubbling with enthusiasm, it’s just that I needed my energy elsewhere.

Friday evening I walked outside, slowly, and sat on a slope in the long grass. Late evening sun, golden bright. New clover and trees freshly clothed with leaves. Sweat bees and crickets. I sat and let the sadness flow, and it felt… not pleasant, but right. Real. I cried a little, not caring why; I was sad, that was why, and it felt right to be sad. I thought of my acupuncturist reminding me to breathe through my feet, and I tried to breathe through my feet, and I felt the downward flow of grief. So much energy that’s been locked up in my body for years and years. Dislodging, melting, flowing downward. And I felt, not a perky happiness that all is well with the world, but a satisfied happiness that I’m able to sit with the world as it is. With myself as I am.

Today I got an email from the very perky Kate Northrup called Permission to be where you are, even if where you are sucks. I breathed deeply, and smelled the first wisps of pleasant-happiness that I’ve detected in a few days.

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Building MC

May 09

Pardon the dust while we build our new online home. The Collective is under construction; both design and content are being hammered out behind the scenes. We should be looking a little more presentable by mid-summer.

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Welcome Indeed

Apr 27

Well, here we are. For those of you who visit us here at Mudhead Collective with some issues of your own, welcome to the club. It’s a bigger club than many people think. We each have a laundry list of things we deal with, from different origins, and that take different forms. And yet I find that, if we allow ourselves to, we can find a sense of comfort in the simple fact that we are not alone. Perhaps this sounds like a rather cliche thing to say, however it rings true nonetheless.

Salutations aside, I sincerely hope that through my own writings regarding my experiences, struggles, and progress (I am still working on that part), that in some small way it may help you. I am also eager to see how the discussions that will hopefully arise will help me in turn.

That being said, I look forward to working on this progressive, collaborative, and (Flying Spaghetti Monster willing) inspirational project.


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