Mental Health: Disoriented

Last night, following her reading, I saw a writer get interviewed about her process. She said that a challenge of her latest book is that she was living it while she was writing it (menopause). However, she felt that that created an energy in the writing the reader could sense.

When I graduate in May, my thesis will be about mental illness in my family as it pertains to me, my brothers, and our relationships. In regards to my experience with one of my brothers, Alex, I am living it in real time. This means I have little time to digest what’s happened before I’ve got to get it on paper, effective, meaningful, and perhaps resolved in some way. The process itself is dizzying and disorients me, but the idea of energy coming off the prose is something I hope readers can feel, at least. I gotta get somethin’ outta this gig! Lol.

I’ve still got to find the right balance between revelation, contemplation, and privacy, though, as I don’t ever want my writing itself to deter any progress, especially regarding Alex. I talked with him a few days ago, the first time in a month, and all of the poetic sadness I’d painted around him the last three and a half years evaporated in one conversation.

I don’t know what conclusion I imagined after all of this with Alex. Maybe death? Just enough time has passed that I’ve lost sight of who my brother is when not using heroin, but I got a taste a few days ago. Detox is supposed to be rapturous, epiphany-inducing! Instead he seems to have returned to the same flighty, obstinate person I’ve always known. What’s worse? Going through something horrific and coming out, unchanged? Or, just never changing while living a fairly event-less life? I’d argue the former since there is so much hope wrapped up and hidden inside of horrific circumstance.

I’m exhausted.

It’s as if everything I’ve written about Alex the past three years has lost all soul. What happens when there is no hope at the core, after all? That when the terrible things peel off and the center is revealed, there’s just nothing there? It’s like I’ve been carrying around an enormous owl pellet, disgusting and crawling with things I don’t want to think about, because I know there’s a ruby at the center of it that will reveal itself with time. Instead all there is inside is exactly what’s on the outside.

It seems I’ve been carrying around something repulsive and heavy for no reason at all.

Written on Thursday, October 24, 2019.

Wednesday posts cover something that’s top of mind for me that week and are written in a short period of time. This means that editing is not strong. While it’s not my best work, it is my best, unfiltered thought.

More on Bummed Out Baker:
The Aftermath of the Birthday Hullabaloo
The Uncertainty of Mental Illness
Mental Health: A Regular Ole Tuesday


Do you love Bummed Out Baker? Want to help keep it going? Support me here.

To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker by email, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website to find the form. Follow Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild, Facebook for mental health articles and discussion, and Twitter for sassy or informative tweets.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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Mental Health: Suicide Looming

TW: self harm, suicide

As I’ve said before, please know that before I get on Bummed Out Baker to write I always prioritize working with my family and psychiatrist to stabilize myself. I wouldn’t be on here if I hadn’t first confirmed my safety.


Last Wednesday I wrote an ode to a friend who recently died by suicide. While the following thoughts were further propelled by her devastating passing, I did not include these thoughts in last week’s piece because I wanted that to only be about her. She deserves that space, and so, so much more.

Something I do here on Bummed Out Baker is challenge mental health taboos. I crack open topics that are historically only talked about in hushed tones among one’s closest, if that. A lot of people don’t even like to acknowledge the same things I openly discuss, for one reason or another, but I’m trying to break a barrier to benefit us all. I want to remind readers of my purpose so my words aren’t confused with sensationalism or seeking attention.


I’m petrified suicide is going to sneak up on me and take me by surprise.

As I wrote about in Mourning the Living, in July I had the strongest ideation I’ve experienced since 2008. It led to paranoia-fueled psychosis and an emergency trip back home to New York. In August, my cousins’ cousin, who I knew in passing, died very young and unexpectedly. It completely wrecked my cousins, aunt, and uncle. The whole family was gutted. Then, in September I got news of my high school friend, K, a death by suicide.

I feel like, since this summer, suicide has been circling me, like something stalking its prey. First it was manufactured in my head. Then, death happened a few degrees away. Then, suicide happened closer to me. It’s coming closer and closer. Is a best friend next? Is a family member next? Am I next?


“I’m scared of suicide. I’m trying to understand the mentality of people who’ve passed, what exactly they were thinking that led them to their ultimate decisions. I want to know, because I want to be on guard for it,” I mused to my psychiatrist. My eyes darted across his book shelves while I tried to piece together my thoughts. “Because the only people who could identify that mentality would be, well, people who were successful in their attempt. Death is so final, you know?”

He nodded.

My psychiatrist’s brother died by suicide, the same way my friend K did. I’m empathic to a crippling degree, and was wary of triggering my own psychiatrist by working through my thoughts. He assured me that while of course sometimes it hurts, he actually thinks it helps him to muse on the subject, for us to spit out what feels like nonsensical feelings and then rearrange them into shapes of understanding.

I continued. “It’s not like we can ask the people who are gone. How do I know if I’m getting close to the edge? It’s not like there are built in alarm bells. I just can’t fathom a feeling worse than how I’ve felt, but apparently it exists. I just can’t fathom the mentality…”

“Imagine having your worst day, every day, for five years straight,” he offered.

I imagined living July 18, 2019 day after day for five years, and in that moment the great opacity of suicide began to quiver and dilute. In that moment, mercy and sadness bloomed bigger inside of me for those lost to suicide. The pain remains challenging to fathom, but the reasoning began to take shape.

I try to remain on high alert for myself and for my family, but, if we’re being honest here, sometimes that’s not enough.

In college I had an English professor who likened those who thought suicide was selfish to people who wanted someone else to walk miles every day in shoes that were tearing up their feet into a bloody, blistered mess, in order to make them feel better. The person labeling suicide as selfish is actually, perhaps, the selfish person. If someone you love is in pain that immense…

This is not provocation, but food for thought as we collectively work to understand something so horrific.

My thoughts have been fed, shuffled, and remolded as I continue to contemplate what taking your own life means. Trying to gird myself against self harm feels like choosing a random place to reinforce a protective fence when, actually, the threat is infiltrating from another area. The efforts can feel like a shot in the dark, and a feeling of hopelessness can manifest.

It’s shrouded in mystery, the whole thing.

I feel like most everyone has lost a loved one to suicide and, while this is a topic unfortunately many may relate to, it’s not one I can tie up in a bow on some idle internet post.


One of my favorite Bright Eyes songs is No Lies, Just Love, which recaps the beautiful arc of one person’s ideation, presumably that of Bright Eyes’ singer, Conor Oberst. If you prefer to listen, see video below. If you prefer to read the lyrics, which read like a prose poem, I’ve posted them below the video. If you prefer to do neither, that makes me laugh and I admire your candor. Just keep scrolling.

No Lies, Just Love

It was in the march of the winter I turned seventeen
That I bought those pills
I thought I would need
And I wrote a letter to my family
Said it’s not your fault
And you’ve been good to me
Just lately I’ve been feeling
Like I don’t belong
Like the ground’s not mine to walk upon
And I’ve heard that music

Echo through the house
Where my grandmother drank
By herself
And I sat watching a flower
As it was withering
I was embarrassed by its honesty
So I’d prefer to be remembered as a smiling face
Not this fucking wreck
That’s taken its place

So please forgive what I have done
No you can’t stay mad at the setting sun
‘Cause we all get tired, I mean eventually
There is nothing left to do but sleep

But spring came bearing sunlight
Those persuasive rays
So I gave myself a few more days
My salvation it came, quite suddenly
When Justin spoke very plainly
He said “Of course it’s your decision,

But just so you know,
If you decide to leave,
Soon I will follow
.”

I wrote this for a baby
Who has yet to be born
My brother’s first child
I hope that womb’s not too warm
‘Cause it’s cold out here
And it’ll be quite a shock
To breathe this air
To discover loss
So I’d like to make some changes
Before you arrive
So when your new eyes meet mine
They won’t see no lies
Just love.
Just love.

I will be pure
No, no, I know I will be pure
Like snow, like gold
Like snow, like gold
Like snow, like snow
Like gold, like gold, like gold

I listened to this song over and over in 2008, indeed before my brother’s first child was born, to comfort myself during one of my darkest times. Maybe it’ll bring comfort to someone else now.


I wish I had more helpful words to offer, a step-by-step way to find peace with the irreconcilable. If you share my headspace or love someone who does, rest in the knowledge that you’re / they’re not alone.

Big, giant, internet bear hugs to anyone needing one today. Hugs are always on offer in person, too.

Thanks for being there for me. I’m here for you, too.

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: Dealing with Suicide
Living in Lyrics
Mental Health: Mourning the Living


Writing through PTSD helps me name my feelings and heal, and I encourage you to share Bummed Out Baker with anyone you think may find it helpful or relatable. I work hard to create community and conversation around what are often painful topics.

Subscribe at the bottom of Bummed Out Baker to get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: The Stockpile of Gratitude

If living with mental illness is a struggle for you today, I have a piece of positivity to offer.

On my good days I find a stockpile of gratitude waiting for me because I know how dark things can get. I was just there, after all. While I wouldn’t wish having those dark thoughts on anyone, the payback of them is rich. When I come out of a dark headspace, it’s like the black and white to technicolor transition in the Wizard of Oz. When things are bad, and then they’re suddenly not, I find myself with a hyper-awareness of good.

While constantly considering my mortality is exhausting, it also manifests in all kinds of ways. I’m grateful for my physical mobility. I find myself with a wealth of mercy for people acting in any undesirable way, because life is short I have no idea what they’re going through. I feel fortunate to have such comforting, sweet-tempered golden retrievers, because dogs are an expensive luxury. I admire all the people who’ve shown me grace, supported me, taught me things, and have loved me when I wasn’t very lovable. I think about how grateful I am for a comfy bed and a safe, quiet place for me to sleep in peace.

When I’m mentally gridlocked, thinking of these things is like pushing on a button that doesn’t work. I’m numb. If that sounds like you, just know that when you emerge from the other side, and you will, you’ll have the stockpile.

It may not seem like much, but us mentally ill folk have got to stick together and take what we can get! And we get the stockpile.


Whenever I get a song stuck in my head I start to list the things I’m grateful for instead and it always does the trick to get the song out. With that being said…

Fun fact! Did you know that “Bug A Boo” by Destiny’s Child, a song in regards to an overbearing romantic interest, can also be applied to mental illness?

You make me wanna throw my pager out the window 
Tell MCI to cut the phone calls 
Break my lease so I can move 
Cause you a bug a boo, a bug a boo 
I wanna put your number on the call block 
Have AOL make my email stop 
Cause you a bug a boo 
You buggin’ what? You buggin’ who? You buggin’ me! 
And don’t you see it ain’t cool

“Bug A Boo” by Destiny’s Child

I would say “you’re welcome”, but the true accolades go to Kandi Burruss for her multi-faceted lyricism.

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: Communicating Mental Unrest
The Uncertainty of Mental Illness
Mental Health: Saying No in the Spirit of Self-Care


To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker and get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Twitter for sassy tweets and a sprinkle of nonsense.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: Communicating Mental Unrest

Whenever I’m not okay, I almost always look and sound like I am.

The confusion is likely furthered by the fact that when I’m at my best, I’m still wearing all black and moping around listening to The Cure, blaring Disintegration and praying for rain at a first promising clap of thunder. I suppose it’s all very misleading!

One of the worst things about mental illness is that it often falls into the “invisible illness” category. Since you don’t have on a cast, your inner torment is nonexistent, even farcical, to some.

Laughing about my afflictions is how I mask, cope, and survive. Even when I’m sparkling around others, my thoughts could very well be, and often are, in a sinister place. I’m not trying to venture into reportage, don’t worry, but in December 2018 CNN posted an article about “the sad clown” concept and comedians suffering clinical depression. A lot of the ideas presented resonate.

In lieu of a suicidal ideation blindside, my psychiatrist has instructed me to inform my loved ones by saying something to the effect of “My face and tone of voice seem okay, but I’m not okay.” That way, we can then work together to find an appropriate immediate action, a treatment plan to move forward, and a way to normalize communication via my mental health in future.

For me, and perhaps others, the humility involved in admitting mental weakness and the need for help is tremendous. My pride has, quite literally, almost killed me.

To actively normalize and destigmatize mental illness and conversations surrounding it, we must open ourselves to reinvented ways to communicate our mental states. The more we talk about it, the more people with mental illness will feel comfortable getting help when they need it, and people who don’t understand mental illness will begin to be better informed. Hopefully.

This whole process requires mercy and patience on everyone’s behalf, but these conversations are vital. In terms of helpful conversation, another way to support your loved one on with mental illness is to not assume well-being.

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: When It Comes to Someone’s Well-Being, Ask, Don’t Assume
Mental Health: Guilt and Golden Retrievers and Headaches
Mental Health: Dealing With Suicide


To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker and get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Twitter for sassy tweets and a sprinkle of nonsense.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Mental Health: When It Comes to Someone’s Well-Being, Ask, Don’t Assume

Or, “well-bean” if you like it when people pronounce “being” like “bean” as much as I do. Dealer’s choice.

Initially queued up for this morning was a loose annotation of Destiny’s Child’s hit song “Bug-A-Boo” and how it’s actually one giant allusion to mental illness and not, in fact, about a smothering romantic interest, but I went ahead and pushed that poetic brain-buster to another week because something else came up.

Last week was a wreck, a revisitation of terrible events and feelings for me and my family, for those who know us personally and, most surprising and inspiring of all, for people who don’t know us personally. The fact that the vibrations of Alex’s story are being felt far beyond the reaches of my family and touching a wider expanse of people further assures me that the book I’m writing is important. Necessary, even. Sometimes, I’m not sure. The people who know my family reading a book about well, my family, might find it to be a healing reconnaissance, especially for those who’ve so faithfully been along the ride with us all. But, it’s the folks who relate to Alex’s stories outside of his realm of contact that make this story a book opposed to a blog. Every single reader and sharer is critical and I thank you for your collective, perhaps unwitting, reassurance. You’re the best.

Now. When I had Le Meltdown 2k19, I became closed off due to how weak I was in every sense of the word. When I felt I was ready, I penned the account I posted last week. I left the house a couple of times and even spent some time with Rick’s friends when they came through to see him. It’s largely been a low pressure environment.

I don’t know why I’m dancing around what I want to say here.

Someone’s voice, body language, activity, routine, or expression seeming to change for the better does not mean that person is okay or “now okay.” It’s crucial to give agency to the person with mental illness to express how their feeling via answering a question, opposed to having to counter a surface-level assumption, however innocent, thrown their way. It kinda makes things worse, to be honest, to have made a joke and then people think “Oh, there she is! She’s healed!”

The below series (you can click through it with he faint arrow on the right without leaving this page) is a sweet, succinct way to understand what I mean.

Of course, because I’ve been conditioned as a woman to be apologetic about everything, I now feel the need to say that I don’t mean to be a sassafras about how I want people to ask me how I’m doing. Rather, I’m writing to inform those who want to best support their loved ones, and beyond, living with mental illness.

As always, thanks for reading and for your open mind.

Related on Bummed Out Baker:
Mental Health: No, You Don’t Have Anxiety
Mental Health: Compassion Fatigue and Hyper Empathy
Mental Health: Saying No in the Spirit of Self-Care


To subscribe to Bummed Out Baker and get my mental health musings and recipes emailed to you directly, scroll all the way down to the bottom of the website – Follow on Instagram for behind-the-scenes panic attacks and my begrudging, meat-eating husband captured in the wild – Follow on Facebook for mental health articles and discussion – Follow on Twitter for sassy tweets and a sprinkle of nonsense.

If you or someone you know needs help right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.