Category Archives: mental health

stress fracture

This is looooong, but I think it’s what I have been building up to. It eventually turns to topics of forgiveness and self-worth. Two days later, I am still holding the line.

Lemme start by saying I do not, to my knowledge, have a stress fracture. It’s just a phrase that is attracting my curiosity today. Like breaking point. Buckling under pressure.

I was thinking about earthquakes and volcanos and how we keep our ears  to the ground, monitoring the shifts and spasms. How building codes in vulnerable areas act as bulwarks. (I  just looked up bulwark to check my usage… it lives in my brain as “something that defends, maybe related to water”. I was on point though I pictured it as something on shore but it’s the side of a ship. Either way, def a word that sounds like it means!)

Thinking about that moment when everything changes. The limits of prediction. The hurricane cuts its own line.

Thinking about hindsight (a wonderful concept and I was going to say wonderful word but now that I think about it, I imagine it’s related to behind and now I am thinking about craning my head to look at my butt and now I’m picturing butts with eyes so just no. Some digressions should not be followed.)

Thinking about butt eyes and how we don’t know the line between before and after until there’s been a lot of after. How much after? Like when I quit smoking (see what I did there? butts?)  I had tried to quit before. I could not know that 11/11/2001 would be the sticking day. I’m not sure when I knew the line would hold. I do know that if I had a cigarette today, there’s a high chance I’d slide back to it. Just one. Just one more.

So maybe I am thinking about befores and afters. With tragedies it’s horrifically clear. May 24, 2022. Uvalde, TX will never be the same.

I’m thinking about Big T trauma and little t trauma. The bones we break when falling out of a swing and the ones we didn’t know were at the breaking point until after the fact. Stress fractures. How the slightest jostle can sever whatever tenuous bonds were still holding the pieces together.

I’m thinking about the limits of analogies and wondering why I take refuge in them instead of speaking plainly.

Our brain follows different rules than bones. Our thoughts are not hurricanes even though our thoughts spin and shred up and down the Saffir-Simpson scale.

I am trying to resist digressing into a blah blah about how trite and ridiculous this all is. I want to minimize. This has all been lived and said before. Nothing new here. But I promised not to apologize for taking up a wee bit of online space for writing. It somehow helps me find my footing.

OK let’s say the brain is a house. Some houses are sturdy enough to hold up in almost any setting. Going back to bulwarks. Some are more site specific. And maybe some are just one busted pipe after another and you can’t even catch your breath long enough to decide if you need to rebuild somewhere else.

I want today to be a breaking point. To be a before and after. What I’m looking for is not as clear as stopping smoking and it’s sure as hell more difficult. I cannot simply quit being me. Wherever we go, there we are.

But I can’t keep on as things are. No, that’s a lie. I can keep on, as folks do. Which is why I am thinking about stress fractures.

Maybe in a year, or five or twenty I will be able to say, yes–something shifted on May 31, 2022. Because I do know what needs to change. I need to forgive myself for real and perceived failures so I can move forward. I need to stop looking for evidence everyday to prove that I continue to fail. And–the hardest of all patterns to break–I need to uncouple my sense of worth from my perceptions of competence. Just thinking about doing this makes me queasy, shortens my breath, releases the tears.

Am I able to say I have done the best I could, given the knowledge I had and my personal capacity? I am supposed to say yes. That’s what the professionals say. We cannot hate ourselves into change.

I do not know why I cling to self-recrimination.* It’s almost a form of grandiosity. Why would I hold myself to different standards than others? Knowing that we are fallible is Human Studies 101.

I might not be ready to say I’ve tried my best. Wasting hours playing Freecell (and now every iteration of Wordle I can find) is *not* trying my best. The list of all the things I could have done, should have done, wished I had done is long.

Maybe I can start by acknowledging that I have always approached each day with good intentions, with the desire to have a positive or at least not negative impact on those around and beyond me. I can even go farther out on the limb by recognizing that I do have a strong work ethic, even though it doesn’t always fire on demand. But I guess that’s a sneaky way of reconnecting worth and competence.

So, really, what I need to do is forgive myself and allow for the possibility that I have worth, just as I am, right now. I don’t know if I can do it. Maybe today won’t be the day it sticks. But claiming and voicing it as a goal, for real this time, is actually a big step.

*Re: where the core beliefs and self-recrimination come from. . . I grew up in a loving, supportive, awesome home with great parents who never made me feel like I was defined by my performance, used withering words or anything like that. I don’t think I had an inordinate amount of terrible experiences with peers, teachers, etc. Sure, definitely some ouch moments, but nothing horrible enough to account for my core beliefs. Maybe I just started off with some vulnerabilities that predisposed me to cognitive distortions and disproportionate reactions to the normal slings and arrows of being a human which then snowballed. And then I unintentionally made choices that deepened the rut.


Releasing the compost is an early spring ritual. We have two bins: we feed one while the other cures? molders? Ideally, when the active one reaches capacity, the resting one is ready to be emptied.

I’m always a bit wary of our home grown black gold. We don’t have enough green and brown garden waste to keep up with the food scraps. Most of the year, red wigglers expedite the process and smooth out imbalances between food and garden waste. Sort of a worm bin/ tumbler hybrid.

The magic slows in winter, especially when the worms die. (sometimes they make it through by huddling in a ball in the middle; the composting process generates heat.). The active bin fills before the resting one has finally digested…. and/or it’s too cold for me to want to deal with it. By February, we are back to putting eggs shells, coffee grounds, and veggie scraps in the landfill. This was less of an issue when we were a three bin family but that’s a story for another day.

speaking of other days I need to just post what I have and then zzzzzz. will come bcaj


woman lying on a radiator with a black dog standing with paws in her back both looking out a window
Best seat in the house during winter.

I am not starting off this whole countdown with much gusto. The torpor is strong. Almost to the point of defiance.

I do have some excuses explanations.

  • emotionally drained from some personal “stuff”
  • feeling uncomfortable in my body
  • inaction begeting inaction
  • it’s cold and dreary
  • perimenopause
  • dumpster fires on the world stage
  • I didn’t take my adhd rx today

I’ve been wondering if I should explore medication adjustments. Some tweaks (plus the IOP) last summer pulled me from the bottom of the barrel level of depression, but I’m kind of just limping along. More like limping in place.

I’ve always struggled with “task initiation” (ie getting off my ass to start a task). I now realize this doesn’t make me a horrible lazy person. I work my ass off once I get rolling. Plus, productivity does not determine worth anyway (such a hard mindset to maintain).

When I was diagnosed with ADHD a few years ago, a lot of my ways of moving through time and tasks started to make more sense. Adding a stimulant to my Rx mix sparked an immediate improvement in my ability to buckle in. It also helped with mood.

There’s a lot of imposter syndrome with ADHD especially lately.

OK so I started writing this midday and could barely keep my eyes open. Crashed after imposter syndrome and was totally under for 30 minutes until I heard an alarm from our neighbors upstairs that turned out to be inches from my head. I think I even drooled.

Back to adhd rx. (I’ll deal with imposter syndrome later.) Lately I’ve been wondering if I get much benefit from the medication so I decided to take a day off here and there to see if I notice anything. I forgot today was my first day off until I started writing about my inertia. Then I napped which I never do. And I was an emotional wreck this afternoon. I had fine reasons to be upset but I could have done without the jagged sobs as I biked home.

Now it’s only 1030 and all I want to do is sleep. I’ll be taking the adhd rx tomorrow for sure.

Fire Drill

My plans for the day, such as they were, were upended. Or rather jostled. My teen stayed home from school which really shouldn’t derail me seeing as I only have a very part time wisp of a job and they know how to feed themself. Unfortunately, right now it doesn’t take a lot to suck me back onto the couch. (I am becoming quite good at Quordle though.)

Lack of productivity is one of my deepest and roilingest wellsprings of shame. (OK now I’m trying to resist the distraction of wondering what a wellspring actually is and also whether it makes sense to put deep and roiling together given the whole still waters run deep thing but oceans are deep and get whipped up so… Ugh. Whatever. This is why I never finish any writing.)

But I don’t want to let writing frustration suck me into the whole shame self recrimination failure vortex.

Today I just want to focus on the importance of fire drills. My mental health was in a tailspin last year. In July I got connected to an amazing Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) through Advocate Christ Hospital. I was initially a little worried about the virtual format (I was so over teaching via Zoom) but it ended up being perfect for many reasons which I hope to write about later.

The providers frequently reminded us to practice skills and revisit insights even when we are not in crisis-hence the comparison to fire drills. Sounds obvious when I write it out but maybe I would not have needed the IOP if I had done a better job holding on to what I’ve learned through years of therapy, including a similar partial hospitalization program in 2018.

Today I was able to dodge the shame self recrimination failure vortex because I remember what I learned last summer.

( 3/4 update: and I gave myself permission to post this even though I wasn’t “done” because I ended up spending the evening wrangling with Verizon. I can always pick up this thread another day.)