Moving; Looking at Life in Hindsight

This Friday I thought I would start by leaving you with some good news; after a very lengthy application process and some big hiccups we’ve been approved for the apartment we wanted!

Living in Seattle has involved a lot of moving for me. Since moving here in 2006 I’ve moved 8 times, and the last three years at our current place is the longest stretch I’ve gone in one place since moving away from home at age 18.

When I got to the city I was moving around so much I didn’t accumulate much (in terms of stuff) but having been staying put the last 3 years has meant diving into a much more intense packing process. Beyond the usual stuff I’ve gleaned (boxes and boxes of fabric, more rik-rak ribbon than any one person rightfully needs) I have also accumulated an extraordinary amount of paper goods.

Part of the anxiety I have involves keeping pieces of paper that I deem “important”. Apparently… this means everything. Like, a doodle I did of a dog, or our light bill from the 8th month we lived here. Looking back while packing, I can see clear periods where I attempted to clean some of this up and then slumped back into depression, leaving behind piles representing particular periods of time scattered throughout the apartment.

Most of the papers I’ve gone through in the last week have been repetitive. SSDI paperwork. DSHS paperwork. Insurance (or lack-thereof) paperwork. Yes, important at the time, but now a year or more later… useless.

Every so often I strike gold and find something useful.

“Oh good, I’m glad I really DID put a forbearance on my student loans!”

Because… who knows at this point. I can’t remember a whole lot!

In one of the piles I hit the equivalent of a gold nugget; the workbook I filled out during my last hospitalization in 2011. 

I leafed through it knowing I had scribbled crap down in there right before being released because I had found out filling out the pages was required rather late in the game. One loose page fell out though, and this one looked genuine. It said:

Positive Momentum

1.) On the left side of the page, identify which one of these areas you are struggling with the most and write it out. (Think about why you came in the door).

(I didn’t have the left side of the page, but what I wrote seemed pretty self explanatory.)

“Wearing the mask – I don’t normally express my feelings in a daily setting.”

2.) Ask yourself how you might be able to think about or do things differently to get some kind of positive momentum going for yourself?

“I would like to see a talk therapist again and continue gradually letting my boyfriend in.”


A few days ago when I read that, bells and whistles went off in my head, particularly the response to question one. Frankly, even though my symptoms have gotten noticeably worse since then (overall) I feel eons better after dropping the act, “the mask”, and allowing myself to show real emotion (even if it is out of proportion at times) instead of trying to keep it contained internally or just in journals.

I was happy to see that the response to question two is one that I have followed through on. Not only do I have a therapist (which has helped me continue to express those feelings from question one) but I have talked a lot to Corey about the things I am dealing with and he is usually the first to help me brainstorm a workable solution (even if that solution is to do nothing).

Sometimes it can be hard for me to look back, I normally don’t allow myself to read my own journals because I find them triggering and my blog posts are structured much more differently than my everyday sort of casual, emotional writing. It can be hard to know if things have really gotten any better, but this one piece of paper (found in thousands) was a nice reminder that I have moved forward and by continuing to do the things I’ve set out to do, I am continuing to help myself.

In a stressful situation, it is amazing how finding a needle in a haystack has helped bolster my confidence about getting things done and moving on to something different. After all, this single page is a real reminder of how different can be great.

8 responses to “Moving; Looking at Life in Hindsight

  1. I’ve been cleaned out today for my move, and I understand what you mean about accumulating things. It is very cathartic to get rid of it, but very difficult.

    • I seem to put an emotional attachment on everything, even the most random, useless stuff (paper clips? Marbles? a button from a sweater I had ten years ago?) but I think I got lucky this time around having felt so emotionless when I started packing. It made it easy to throw things away that I’ve been holding onto for years and years, it is a skill I wish I had all the time!

  2. I’m glad you have seen improvement over the years. I wrote a book and had to go back over my past. I was a pretty sick bipolar dude. It just feels good that you are doing something right and positive.

    • The older I get, the more skewed I see the past has been. Even so, I think going back with a fine toothed comb (I also did this a couple years ago to write about it) can really be cathartic! Thanks for your comment!

  3. Very happy for you!!! You’ve not only doing a great job in moving forward; you’ve helped and inspired so many people with this blog!

  4. MY LIFE STORY (Part 14) ‘The difficult beers’

    I’m negotiating. I’m at the doorway to Addington ward. What I don’t know is that they can’t section me until I’m actually over the threshold. But, let’s put the record straight before your author shouts ‘martyr’; I have given my parents hell over the last couple of weeks. Ive been up all night jabbering to myself and keeping them awake and rushing around like a wildcat during the day. Wanting to get them downstairs to pray at 4am was the last straw.
    Mum and dad are at the doorway now pleading for me to go in “You’re not well darling” and “just go in, they only want to help’ seconds my Dad, or do I hear him think it?

    This next moment is vital; it’s probably a split decision but I remember them (the two simpering male psychiatric nurses at the door) making a grab for me, and I didn’t so much lash out as push them away. Either way they grabbed me, and as I fell to the floor they dragged me down the corridor into the psychiatric ward – a ward of a General Hospital: why yes ‘Blackadder’ Kettering General Hospital. Welcome to Hell!

    So I put up a bit of a struggle as they drag me, but then I think ‘Why fight’? Where can this corridor, that seems to be going on and on, actually lead to, there’s nothing to be afraid of. Is there? So I just go all limp and let them pull me along the floor. I get a glimpse of my parents at the doorway doing a static wave. Time is moving very slowly. I’m an art student taking some time out of a difficult third year. I’m a presumptuous young artist, we’ll probably laugh about this next month in the canteen, in Brighton. Wrong!

    The dragging slows down and I hear a key go into a lock, and unlock, then I hear the same again. Then a door opens, and immediately I smell fear and stale urine – no not my stale urine or fear: keep up – the smell, of hell, coming from the ROOM!

    Blimey, I’m not going in there, I think to myself so I make a bad decision, a life-alteringly bad decision. I decide to fight.

    I don’t really want to write about it, I’m certainly not proud of it. Let’s call it (Part 14b)

    Part 14b looks like it’s going to be a real stinker. Your brave (Ha) author fights four or maybe six male nurses as they try to drag him into what only can be described as a plastic room, about 12ft square with no windows. All the room edges were curved and the surface was a subdued blueish and yellow patterned colour. The stench was horrible.

    First round to them as they get me in there, fists twirling legs lashing out, and they rip my trousers down push me onto my stomach and inject me. What with? Haldol I think but I didn’t stop to ask them. I play dead, and then suddenly I fight again, and do you know I nearly made it out of the doorway (Which had one tiny 12 inch window) I dream sometimes that I close the door, with no handle on the inside, with the nurses trapped forever, and walk out of the ward and into a beautiful world.

    Oh foolish young man. They can only section you if you’re a danger to yourself or other people….Bugger!

    It took me most of the 1980’s to recover from what followed next, which I really don’t want to write about. Lot’s of repeat hospital invasions from 1983-89 But hey, I’m still here! Don’t be glum. What I think is interesting is:-

    a.) Am I a bad machine who’s made good? Or
    b.) Am I a good machine that went bad and is now good again?

    Part 15. is a corker. It’s got me laughing already! Lol

    • Sorry to hear that, I have also experienced abuse in a psychiatric hospital setting which really made it difficult for me to seek treatment for a long time. Thanks for sharing!

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