Welcome to my head space

This month, I have felt really inspired to create.

It’s felt like a nice change.

With the weather getting increasingly gray and depression-y yuck, it has helped to be able to create and channel my energies into blogging while still hibernating from the outside world (it’s a win-win).  Each day I think about (okay, obsess over) what I might blog about, and I am constantly drafting pieces of posts in my head.

Inspiration isn’t the issue.

It’s not having the flexibility to write when I get these urges to write that is the problem…because I’ll think of something awesome as I am falling asleep, or in the shower, or while changing the dirtiest poopy diaper blowout (think, like, day old Indian food.  with undigested corn.  you’re wellllllcome) and then the carefully crafted sentences just sliiiiiip away, usually gone forever.

This month, my husband knows, when I am typing furiously and I barely answer him when he asks how he looks in his new knee-high gym socks, to NOT BOTHER ME.  I AM IN THE ZONE!!!  MUST.  BLOG.  NAO.

(Like, just now, he left to go up to bed……or was that an hour ago?)

So, not being able to write when I want to is frustrating, but such is my life for the past year.  I can’t do anything when I actually want to anymore.  I can’t sleep, eat, pee with the door closed, or dance naked unless Dylan is also sleeping, eating, etc. respectively.  (We observe such time-honored family traditions as the “pants-off dance-off.”  It’s epic, you should try it).

So, that’s the bad side.  The good side is that I’ve been reading people’s GREAT STUFF and I have been taking some stock of my own stuff and I just got to meet THE BLOGGESS and I’m all like YAASSSSSS!!!  IF THEY CAN WRITE ALL THE FUNNY THINGS, SO CAN I.  And write I will.

And I’ve started to think about what stories I want to tell (mostly because I am running out of ideas, and partially because I want to push myself and maybe write about some new things).  For some reason, I feel an urge to write about traumatic things that have happened to me in a short story format.  Does that sound interesting to people?  I supposed I could just try it, and if it falls flat, then lesson learned.

Any other words of advice for someone like me who wants a challenge, who feels inspired in a general sense, but just needs a push in some direction?

Sorry about the rambling post today, but it certainly does capture the head space I am in right now.

Welcome to my head space.


Overdose of Fog

I wrote the following poem in March of 1999 for my sophomore honors English class in high school.  For the topic of our poems, we were to pick a character from one of the books, short stories, or plays we had read during that semester.  I chose Mary from the play Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill.

Spoiler alert for a play published in 1956 (to give some setup for Mary’s character)- the play takes place over the course of one day with a particularly dysfunctional family.  Mary, the matriarch, is struggling with insomnia and morphine addiction and relapses.  She rambles on about how much she loves fog and hates the foghorn that they can see and hear from their seaside home.  Mary expresses regrets in her life, worries about her son’s health, waxes poetic about past happier times, and fantasizes about accidentally overdosing.  At midnight during the last act, Mary wanders the house high on morphine, carrying her old wedding gown.

Our class was to follow a formula for writing this particular poem.  I wish I still had it, but as you can guess, some lines had to be three -ing verbs.  One line had to compare her to a color, another line was used to compare her to a food.  Another line for her scent (where I referenced her wedding dress).  The second stanza included how she treats others, how others view her, and how I see her.  And so it goes.

I remember spending freshman and sophomore years of high school having a lot of fun learning about symbolism in literature and then struggling to write about it.  For Mary’s character, the way she talked about fog as synonymous with being high and numbing out (and hating the foghorn, because it was reality jarring her back), the symbolism for this poem practically wrote itself.


Overdose of Fog


a kind but nervous woman,

lost in the soupy fog of a harbor on the bay.

drifting, floating, dreaming,

fooling, hiding, addicting.

a gray curtain of depression envelopes her.

she clings to the past like ivy to a wall,

scared to ever let go.

She longs for the pale blue twilight to turn to midnight purple.

she plays host to the darkness and the visiting damp, heavy screen of haze as it rolls in,

one comforting layer after another.

She treats others with worried love.

others react with sympathy, growing impatience, anger, and frustration.

They Want The Real Mary,

not the timid mouse she has become,

the one with fake glossy marbles for eyes,

scurrying through the shadows to avoid all possible reality.

I pity that mouse.


an empty Shell of a Body.

the scent of damp cement and dank clothing trails behind her.

Her flavor is that of moldy bread:

musty and rotting with old memories and regrets.

When will she take her next dose?

What else has she to live for?

An overdose of fog is all she needs…

…but damn that foghorn.

At the time I wrote this, I was very proud of it, and I am happy to report that I still am, all these years later.  Part of the reason why this poem stands out for me is because it was blindly voted the best in my class by my peers and earned a perfect grade as a result.

It was around this time that I first fancied myself as a writer with any kind of real potential, so sharing this early piece of writing more publicly is a gesture that I consider to be…vulnerable, but I also share it with excitement and pride in a show-and-tell kinda way.  You know what I mean.

Sidenote: Ever a rule-follower, I remember feeling quite nervous that I included a –gasp!– swear word in the last line of a school assignment.  But the play was filled with swear words as I recall, and so it fit Mary’s character.  Plus, my teacher for that class swore (…didn’t he?).  At any rate, nobody cared, and when my teacher read it aloud to the class, he actually put emphasis on the word, exactly as I thought it should be read: “…but damn that foghorn.”  If only my swear-phobic 16-year-old self could see my blogger-motherfucking self now.


Mommy “Blogger”

So, all you Mommy Bloggers out there – tell me how you do it.

Cuz I have no idea how to fit all the things to do into my day, plus blogging.

It’s quite ridiculous, really.  All the things we’re told we should be doing as mothers.

I’m supposed to feed the squid every 2-3 hours.  But first I have to change his diaper to help wake him up and/or calm him down before feeding.  On a good day, this takes 5 minutes.  On a bad one, he pees all over himself and then projectile poos all over the clean diaper I had waiting for him.  So, sometimes “changing a diaper” can take 20 minutes.  Then we breastfeed (The fact that we’re actually breastfeeding now is a whole other story.  It used to be 20 minutes of let’s-scream-at-mommy’s-boobs-and-kick-and-squirm-fun-time.  Not fun.) maybe 10-20 minutes each boob.  And then, since I don’t make much milk (sad face), we supplement with formula, which takes another 10-20 minutes.  And then he’s probably got himself a wet diaper (or worse) that needs attention.  And THEN I try to pump, if he doesn’t scream when I set him down to do so.

By the time I am done pumping, he’s maybe asleep.  Maybe.  If he’s not, I start over to figure out what his boggle is.  If he is, then I have a decision to make – do I try and sleep?  (note the word “try.”) Or do I fold laundry?  Or wash the bottles?  Or cry in the bathroom?  So many choices…

And then, it’s time to do it all over again.

There’s no time for it all.  Do midwives and nurses and doctors hear themselves when they’re telling you to do all these things?  Because I haven’t even mentioned the walks I’m supposed to be taking or the sitz baths or pooping or eating lunch or training for American Ninja Warrior.

And then there’s blogging.

So hang in there with me, Psychos, because I don’t plan on going anywhere.  I just may have to start blogging during my scheduled crying-in-the-bathroom time instead.


I wrote the following post several weeks ago, shortly after moving to the Portland area.  I hesitated in posting it, mainly because of the reaction I was afraid it might get.  But after reading Charlotte’s brave post on her blog Momaste about her own depression, I figured I should go ahead and post, too, regardless of what others thought.


It’s time to get up, Melissa.


You need to get up now.

Not yet.  I don’t think I can.

Take off the covers, swing your legs over the side of the bed and sit up.


Now take some deep breaths.  One thing at a time.

I am doing my best to listen to the voice inside my head.  The good voice.  That voice who can see the other side.  That therapist voice who always knows that things are going to be ok, even when I seriously doubt it.

It’s so hard to take my own advice.  I can’t count how many times I have told clients to try and provide themselves with reminders about how it feels to climb out of a depression, or how it feels after you’ve just left an abusive partner, how it feels when you’re loving life and you actually have hope.

We need those reminders of what hope feels like, and now I am needing them, because depression lies to us.

Let me say that again: depression lies.

Some of my clients remind themselves by journaling.  When they feel themselves slipping, I’ll remind them to go back and read the entries they made when they felt good about themselves.

Some of my clients use artwork they’ve made as reminders.  Others use music.  Or dancing.  It’s about whatever works.

Step one is to get yourself to actually make the reminder.  Step two, which is the harder one, is to get yourself to pull out the reminder when you need it most.

I actually got this idea from one of my very first clients who used this technique naturally.  She recognized that the abuse in her relationship ran in cycles, that her manipulative ex changed his tactics from time to time, and that she needed a reminder as to why she left him, especially when he was beginning to turn the charm back on, or when things got particularly hard on her own.

She knew just how strong her denial could be, and so she knew that she needed a real, tangible reminder.  Something she couldn’t ignore or explain away.  So she cleared out a drawer in her house, and she filled it with things her ex had broken.  Picture frames, phones, even pieces of a dining room chair.  Every time she needed reminding, she would open that drawer and touch all the broken pieces of a life she had left behind.

I used her amazing example with many clients, and right now I’m needing to use it for myself.

Because sometimes I feel like my hope has leaked out of my drawer.

Now I need you to brush your teeth.

I don’t feel like it.

You’ll feel better afterwards.

…will I feel better, ever?


How do you know?

Because you’re still listening to me.


Tell me, what do you use as a reminder of hope?

Two poems, one story

Every once in a while I try my hand at some fancyass prose just to see what happens.

Occasionally I come up with something with which I am fairly satisfied, and two of those recent examples are here and here.

For the first poem, Bending Slightly in the Breeze, I didn’t set out to write a poem initially.  I drive past several sunflower fields on the way to work each day, and I think, when they are in full bloom, they are one of the most beautiful sights on earth.  After several trips back and forth, I realized that almost every single flower faced east.  I still don’t know why that’s the case (anyone know?), and I found it very interesting.  Also, the entire field on a small hillside just makes it look like the country is on fire with joy, especially as the sun dips low in the sky at the end of the day.

I tried taking a picture of the fields with my phone as I drove by (not the safest thing, I know), and the pictures just didn’t do them justice.  Not even close.  It was then that I grabbed my phone one morning and recorded a voice memo of what it was like to drive past the flowers, and that eventually morphed into the poem.

I wondered what it would be like to be one of those flowers.  They looked like they were all patiently waiting for something…but what?  Anyone see the movie City of Angels?  It reminded me of when the angels would gather on the beach every single morning to watch the sun rise and hear the glorious music that came with it.  Perhaps these sunflowers were echos of those angels.  What would it be like to be among them?  I wanted to see what they saw.

Links to source

For the second poem, This Was Where She Belonged, I again thought of the sunflowers since they remind me of the hills being on fire, but it was also inspired by some real, scary flames.  Recently, my partner’s place of business was threatened by a grass fire.  It’s a remote area with only one road as an entrance/exit and he and his coworkers were not allowed to evacuate for fear they’d clog the route for emergency vehicles needing to get in.  After a very tense hour or so, the fire was put out about 100 feet from his building, after his office had begun to fill up with smoke.  Needless to say, I was very happy to see him after work that day.

Back to the poem, I imagined my human/sunflower (notice her feet were still rooted in the soil) from the first poem threatened by a fast-moving, evil, destructive grass fire.  The last part of the poem was about…acceptance, I suppose.  She couldn’t outrun the fire (indeed, I was trained in such matters as a summer camp counselor), and so she accepted…her fate, whatever that may be.

Maybe the fire would spare her.  Maybe she’d get burned and rise from the ashes.  And maybe the fire would get put out in the nick of time, just 100 feet away.

This was where she belonged

The hillsides came alive as flaming horses streaked across the horizon.

Galloping, galloping with an urgent passion.

The frantic roar grew, amplified by an unseen power.

Instinctively, she knew she could not outrun them, even though the voices in her mind were screaming to be heard over the din.

Instead, she was rooted in place, captivated and unable to escape.

With wide eyes, she allowed her body to lie down and sink into the soil.

The glow illuminated her face and played with the stinging hot tears mixing with the earth.

Her hands dug into the soil, trapping dirt beneath her fingernails.

She waited.

This was where she belonged.

Transitional periods are hard

Hello there, Psychos.

I’ve missed you.  Well, I have and I haven’t.  It [my honeymoon] was actually a very nice break from blogging, from wedding crap, from my job, from the world.

I was able [read: forced] to completely unplug whilst on a giant ass boat in the middle of the Mediterranean, and it felt good.  Wireless was crazy expensive on the boat, and the only things I used my phone for was as an alarm clock and to stitch together amazing panoramas of European villages I want to retire to (in like 5 years).

But it’s interesting, because now that I am back, I want to write, I feel the need to write, but I don’t know what to write about.  I also want to put a post between me and my last one…so here you go.  I just started typing to see what comes out.

So I started this post several days ago, and just last night I got a surprising email – my Post Wedding Blues post is going to be Freshly Pressed, and my first reaction was not excitement.  I think my first worry was that I’ll get all this unsolicited advice about how I need to look on the bright side and how I shouldn’t dwell on the wedding, it’s the marriage that’s important.  (A side note about advice like this – I find it very interesting that many people in our Western culture have a hard time tolerating sadness, whether it’s their own or someone else’s.  We’re taught very early to act like everything’s fine or to cheer people up rather than just accept and deal with what is.  Perhaps this is a post for another day…) I’m wondering if dealing with all the FP-ness is going to hinder or help my fragile mood as of late.  Being FPed is an honor and a part of me is excited – maybe it’ll give me that push to start really writing again – but it’s also a vulnerable place to be.  I’ll get a lot of exposure from all different kinds of people and that can be awesome but it brings about just that – the feeling of being exposed.

My depressed mood hasn’t all been about wedding stuff.  I had a lot of fun on my honeymoon, and I was able to just be in the present for the vast majority of it, but we came home to a hurricane of an apartment and it’s driving me crazy.  We registered for crap for a house we don’t yet have, and that crap is now piled and shoved into our tiny two bedroom apartment.  Right now I feel like I am drowning in stuff – the walls are closing in.  More importantly, B and I both came home to jobs from which we’ve learned all we can, and we both feel that it’s time to move on – professionally and personally.  At this point, before we’re able to actually make these major changes, I am not sure how I am supposed to keep this feeling of unrest from eating me alive.

The only answer so far has been for me to clean, organize, pile, and give shit away like a maniac on speed.  I obsess over what I can give away next, or how I can maximize my closet space beyond what I’ve already done.  In my calmer moments, I am also able to reassure myself that this period of my life is transitional, it’s temporary, and I will get through it.  Plus, now I have an amazing husband to get through shit with, and that’s the best part.

Post wedding blues

I’m really sad about the way my wedding went.

It wasn’t what I wanted.  It wasn’t what we had planned for over a year, and what I have anticipated for years, and I desperately want a do-over.

So many things went wrong that I don’t really know where to start.  But I do know that I’m having to grieve the loss of the biggest, most important party of my life, and that I’m having to grieve the violation of my expectations, which has always been a tough one for me.

We had issues with a lot of vendors.  The bartender showed up late, our ceremony started late, the on site coordinator was shit and was often nowhere to be found.  The DJ introduced us with the wrong fucking name.  Staff started cleaning the wedding up before it was even over, and someone moved my evening bag from the sweetheart table, delaying our planned exit.  The town car was late picking us up at the end of the night, and then they even drove us to the wrong hotel.  The worst part, though, was that I suffered late stage heat exhaustion and eventually went to the ER in the wee hours of the morning after the wedding.

I’m pretty devastated.  I feel like I have postpartum, but for weddings.

A lot of things went right, and I did manage to have a good time, and I am so thankful that I was physically able to finish the wedding.  The ceremony was absolutely beautiful and went better than both Brian and I anticipated.  We wrote our own vows and they were absolutely perfect.  We made each other laugh and cry…. I got to marry my best friend in the whole world.

After the gorgeous ceremony and before I fell ill

After the gorgeous ceremony and before I fell ill

But there was so much I didn’t get to do that I really wanted to.  Brian and I didn’t get to do our planned first dance.  We didn’t get to do the father/daughter and mother/son dances.  I wasn’t able to wear my gorgeous dress for the whole night.  I barely tasted the food and I didn’t even get to try the ice cream sundae bar that I was just so, so excited about.  We didn’t get to go up on the hilltop and have the sunset pictures taken of us under the oak tree.  I was really looking forward to that.

So, as you can tell, I have a lot of mixed feelings.  They come and go depending on my mood and energy level.

I felt like I needed to write about this….but even as I read back what I just wrote, there’s just nothing I can put down that will accurately capture the sorrow and disappointment I feel.

I’m really working on honoring my feelings and allowing myself to feel sad about the bad parts, and happy about the good parts.  And I know it’s going to take a while before the happy outweighs the sad.

It makes me sadder still when I realized I was dreading being asked by friends and coworkers (and fellow bloggers) about how the wedding went.  It’s really hard to talk about when 1) the person asking is expecting a glowing report, and 2) I don’t feel like bursting into tears at work or in public or to someone I don’t know very well.

One thing that helps is when others don’t try to cheer me up, and instead allow me to feel sad about it.  Yes, I did get married, and yes, I have much to be thankful for.  But had Brian and I just wanted to be married, we would have gone to the courthouse a long time ago.  We wanted a celebration.  We wanted a wedding just like most others, and I feel robbed of that experience.  Of course I didn’t expect things to go perfectly, but I didn’t expect such a chaotic let down.

We leave for our honeymoon on Wednesday and my fear is that our sadness will get in the way of us having fun.  At times it probably will, and we’re anticipating needing to take some time to grieve together.  We also plan to have fun, and we know that having fun will be unavoidable because we’ll be on a boat in the Mediterranean and I’ll be stuffing my face with gelato and pizza.  And we’ll be with each other, because in the end, that’s all that matters.

This has been really hard to write, so thanks for reading this far.

Personal meets Professional meets the Internet

If y’all enjoyed reading my guest post on Black Box Warnings on what it’s like to be a therapist, then I can also recommend a fabulous piece by Ally at Dream Electric!

Ally is a mental health professional in the UK, and she interviewed me and another psych blogger on how we manage and present our professional and personal selves in the online world.

Check out the post here!

Bending slightly in the breeze

A woman found herself passing by an entire field of sunflowers.

Equally spaced, their columns and rows stretched out for acres, all lined up as if they were trained and ready.

Their dark faces, framed by flaming licks of yellows and oranges, all faced east.

They stood at attention, silent and patient, bending only slightly in the breeze.

The woman entered the field and nudged carefully, slowly between the bright-faced soldiers, quickly disappearing into the tall shadows.

Down the columns and across the rows.

She paused.

She turned east to follow their gaze and wiggled her feet into the soil, rooting them in place.

She took a deep breath; her chest rose and fell.

She stood at attention, silent and patient, bending only slightly in the breeze.