“But you Look Fine”

"But you look Fine" meme

Boy does this meme relate to a lot of people. I am sharing it because it relates to me too. For a long-time I thought I was presenting a normal human and going through all of my texts, emails and loads of papers over the last 3-4 years I see the progressively declining health, both mental and physical. It is a lot to process.

I have become more of an introvert and have been ghosting people who mean a lot to me because I am not always sure how I will be and for how long. I will admit I am struggling and after seeing how bad it has been I am trying to not only process all of that, I am also trying to work on my physical and mental health. When I make a mistake and am an emotional hot mess, I see this now and am deeply embarrassed. I cannot bear to hurt people and it reinforces my desire to be alone.

It took about 6-weeks of doxycycline and hydroxychloroquine to see the first lifting of symptoms. When you improve, you have hope and being bullheaded, I try harder and more. The problem is that it makes me worse. There is no pattern and for someone obsessed with pattern and pushing myself mentally and physically this has been absolutely brutal. Add trauma responses to what Q-fever did with the added bonus of the fall in October I am surprised I am functional at all).

While I can be articulate, back of the house I have to reread what I wrote and take notes on verbal communications. To use a food safety saying, “If it isn’t written down, it did not happen.” I can go for a 2-3km hike and comment on plants and wildlife, but I take a lot of photos to remember what we saw and sometimes it takes 1-2 hours for me to have blurred vision, cannot stand when my eyes are closed, tinnitus, and overwhelming fatigue for a 20-minutes to 2-days. This varies and I can be fine or there is another mix of symptoms. I cannot predict anything.

I have had improvements monthly. Physical therapist called them benchmarks. I can turn the light off in my bedroom at night and not immediately lose my ability to stand. I can do my vestibular exercises and when I close my eyes, not fall over. I may just have blurred vision, but I am not a shaking mess when I leave.

The things that have helped are the medicines I am on and walking on hiking trails and logging roads alone doing my exercises. It is quiet, kind of dark because tree canopy, I can focus on bird sounds when my mind races and it calms me. The sound of the water (especially when rocky shore or a steam/brook going over stones) helps me focus on something other than my body or the racing thoughts.

I am starting to reach out to people. I am not doing it well, but I am learning and trying to be better about communicating where I am. I am also triggered a lot because I am physically overreacting to things – comments, a photo I just saw, making a mistake because of a physical or brain misfunction, an intense conversation, someone asking me to hold their emotions during a hard thing like I used to gladly, a demand for something out of my control, or grief.

One step at a time. I will get there.

Inside Voice

We all have a name for that internal dialog that either encourages us or says all of those negative things that we think about ourselves. It is more than the good or bad angel, more the internal editor or critic. I call mine my “Inside Voice.” I see this voice as pushy and sometimes mean. They are like that person that overtalks all of the time and thinks they are all knowing. It was me using a take on what we say to children when they are loud and chaotic, “Use your inside voice please.” Only, it is not polite, gentle or considerate at all.

I reread the blog last night when I could not sleep. I saw so many edits that did not come through before I posted them. Inside Voice was right on cue, “see, you are not a writer.” I ignored them and made mental notes to go back and edit in the morning.

“This looks like a kid wrote it.” I counter with an idea to include a crayon drawing then? Maybe a pretty drawing of a horse like the little kid in me that all of these self-help books talk about? Maybe it is pencil, trauma really started in my early teens and that is what I used then.

“You are a loser, aren’t you?” I start to sing quietly “you’re a loser baby, so why don’t you kill me.” It was just using a lyric to a song to deflect that blow.

“Seriously, you are too old to try something like this. Your brain is broken, you can’t do this.” Maybe you’re right bud, but the rule was that I was going to roll with the imperfections. I was getting annoyed at this self-criticism.

I then remember a moment I spent with a friend this weekend where I talked about trying to find actionable tasks I can do to counter some of these triggers, this anxiety and negative thoughts. I am supposed to say this to Inside Voice when it gets like this, what was it? Ah, right, “Can I shut the fuck up please?”

My humor and what I laugh at is not the same as other people, but it struck me where it needed to. It did not have the same effect when I said it. In the moment it made me smile when he came up with it. I had him record it in his eastern MA accent the next day and last night I played it back. I did it a few times. He does food regulatory stuff and has a more commanding tone. I smiled again. Inside Voice stopped criticizing me.

It was not my friend that was a savior. I entertained the idea of wanting a savior since I asked my now ex-husband to leave. It has taken the better part of 10-years and one hell of a shock to the system recently to realize it is a happy memory and a smile (or belly laugh) that stops that Inside Voice. It is not another person.

Fine, I did fix some of the glaring mistakes first thing this morning. I had to before I could even do my daily PT. Inside Voice was not critical though and I was able to move on from that.

Small steps.

Creative Prompt: Fiction (first try)

I am going to share something that is probably more narrative non-fiction , but here is my first attempt at writing a kinda chapter…

Maura was about to turn 40-years old. She was wearing jeans, sneakers, a t-shirt, hoodie and a sweater. You wear layers at this time of year she reminded herself. She was tired, working 7-days a week does that to you. She was walking up to the house with a basket of eggs in one hand and a pail of goat milk to prepare for tonight’s feeding in the other. She placed them on the counter and started to prep lunch, putting it in a red casserole dish her mother-in law bought for her. Setting it in the oven, she quickly cleaned up and headed back out to the barn to finish feeding calves.

She was always anxious walking into the barn. The hum of the vacuum pump meant he was still milking the last few cows. She was tall and had to duck to make it under the stainless-steel pipeline that was right inside the door. She remembered this time and didn’t smack her head on it. The calves look expectantly, and the baby goats were also at attention looking to see if there was going to be something for them too. She walked into the milkhouse. There was a slight sense of relief being alone in there. She grabbed the supplies and started to fill bottles and pails with the warm milk.

She walked back out to the barn with a few bottles and a pail to feed the first calves. That tight feeling started again. Calves are funny with their long rough tongues and the curve in their upper lip when they are expecting milk. It made her smile. As she tipped the milk into the first pail, that calf’s tail wiggles and it is another moment to smile. He is happy. She then pops the bottles into their holders as her husband walks by to bring the first machines into the milk house. If she waits a moment to adjust something, he will walk back out to the barn, she will not have to be in there alone with him.

She observes him leaving and watches to see what his mood could be today. She picks up the pail and the first two bottles and heads back into the milkhouse. It is hard to tell today. She braces knowing that while she is filling the last four bottles and cleaning the pail, they will meet in the milkhouse for the first time that morning. Chores are muscle memory at this point. You do the same thing in the same order so that you don’t forget something. He enters with the next set of machines. She breaks the awkward silence telling him the new calf drank well. He turns says “Good” and leaves.

She grabs the bottles and feeds the last of the calves. As he comes in with the last of the machines, she finally gets the courage to ask him if he needs help finishing his chores. He walks past her and she reluctantly walks into the milk house after him. Its small and when he yells the space seems even smaller. He is changing the system over to wash and she is cleaning the calf dishes. As she is done, he finally tells her he wants her to help turn the cows out and scrape the barn. He “doesn’t feel good” and wants to go into the house. She is defeated, he knows she needs to get the cheese order ready for the distributor at noon and it will not give her enough time.

She reminds him that the order needs to get out and says that she has about a half hour to help him finish but needs to get that order out. She braces. He always has something more important on delivery days. She tried to change them or meet the distributor at another farm so he didn’t know when, but he always found out. He tells her that she is selfish and does not appreciate him. He tells her firmly “No.” and walks to the house. The vacuum pump is still going as the pipeline is washing and she looks back at the barn.

Furious, she walks into the barn and decides to let the cows out and make sure that they are fed and watered but she was not going to clean the barn. She finished dairy dishes and walks back to the house. He is upstairs, so she goes in to take a shower and clean up. When she comes out of the shower, he is sitting at the chair in the kitchen looking like an 8-year-old boy pretending he is sick from school and wants you to call in so he can stay home. He tells her “I know you didn’t finish the chores.”

She walks past into the laundry room and changes into creamery cloths. “The cows are out, dairy dishes and done and the pipeline is clean. I told you I must get the order finished for the distributor at noon. We can finish them when I have this done.” She braces.

He explodes. “You know I wany my barn immaculate. I do not want someone to come in there and think I am a slob. You want to embarrass me don’t you?!” She ignores him and calmly waits for him to stop. She explains that the lunch is in the oven and she will come back to take it out and that their daughter has a half day today, so expect her to come in while he is taking a nap. He is clearly getting more upset that she is ignoring him. Before he could say any more, she turned and said, “I wrote a note and put it on the door explaining you were sick and to come back tomorrow. I think people will understand.”

As she walks to the creamery she can sense him looking at her with sheer anger. Saying “no” is getting harder but that is what she was told he would do. She could not wait to get to the farmers market to talk to the other vendors about this. She needed more advice. As she walked into the creamery and locked the door, a sense of relief washed over her. She turned on the radio and started to pack the cheese into the boxes, writing invoices as she went.

Lunch was ready to come out of the oven and she realized she was a bit hungry. She stepped out of the creamery and glanced towards the large picture window to see if he was up. She did not see him and walked towards the house. She was relieved when she opened the door that he was not on the first floor. She carefully closed the door to make little noise, took the casserole out of the oven and turned everything off. Opening cupboards risked him getting up so she decided she’d settle for cheese trimmings in the creamery and wondered if she had any crackers in the farmer’s market box. She was relieved when she slipped out and headed back to the creamery.

After about an hour, he walked back to the barn to finish his chores. She decided to get the cheeses ready for the farmers market while she had time. She started to clean up when their daughter got off the bus and ran into the house to change. After she was done cleaning, she started towards the house with a slice she knew he would like just in time to see their daughter run down to the chicken barn to find her favorite chicken Sylvia.

He ate a good portion of lunch, but she was able to grab enough to eat. She kept glancing at the clock to make sure that she didn’t loose track of time. The driver came as she was changing laundry over. D** was talking to him. He has this charm about him and an engaging laugh. She quickly walked to the creamery and grabbed the orders and brought them out to the truck. The conversation paused long enough for her to hand the drive the paperwork. She turned to D** and told him that she left a piece of his favorite cheese in the fridge. The driver left and afternoon logistics were discussed. Nothing different than any other couple or business partners. It always struck her the personality changes. The more sense she tried to put to them, the less they made sense.

Daily Reminder

I need reminders. I always have a check off list or do certain things a certain way every time so that I do not forget things. With Q-fever and the concussion, I did not realize how many work arounds I came up with to make sure that I remembered things. I’ll go into more detail later.

This “Daily Reminder” thing is basically scoffed off of Pinterest. In Food Safety plans we have this thing where we look for critical control points that we monitor and then have a corrective action that we recommend that you implement if it is outside the parameters we define so that you can be sure that nobody becomes ill. We use the same process thinking in conservation planning and in I like to use them when I look at existing businesses to see what they are doing and then outline various things that can be done to make it “better.”

What were some of my daily “bottlenecks” that prevented me from being able to function? This list in that picture hit on my Top-5. It also had suggestions to help me settle those feelings so that I can function. Awesome. To remind myself, I made a few of these “Daily Reminders” and put one on my small monitor. I put another one heading out of my bedroom. Sweet, I have an implementation plan that is short and simple!

What do I write? Just brain fart it. Write it out for 3-pages or 20-minutes. Then leave it and walk. We have a 0.8km neighborhood block that is a great quick way to move. Wave to people in that polite New England way that suggests you are welcoming but does not mean that you have to talk beyond that gesture.

Read for me also means audio books or podcasts because sometimes if I tip my physical/mental stress into vestibular places, I have a sensitivity to light and reading physically can give me a mad headache. I have learned to control that some by going into a dark room. I wish I learned how to control it this winter because driving with that dappling from winter trees super messed me up.

I was fascinated with “move, walk and exercise” as recommendations for so much regulation. When I was operations manager at a couple creameries, I found that my staff tended to focus better, and we seemed to get through a lot by walking while we talked. I did a lot of thinking when I dug out bedded packs or hoed my garden. Before the hip injection and PT, I was a mess because chores were done but not without an insane amount of pain. How do I “move, exercise, walk?” Now, I am carefully working on increasing strength and endurance. It is not without setbacks, but I keep trying.

Last week, I was getting triggered a lot. Things often build and build, and it gets to the point where I am in survival mode. I honestly cannot tell you what feelings or where I am, it is like hunkering down to walk during a central NY winter from the house to the barns where you would have a strong wind with all of the possible forms of precipitation hitting you and all you thought about was getting to that door. I frantically asked for more tools in my mental health toolkit. What do I do when I feel ALL THE FEELINGS? If someone said breathe exercises or meditate, I would have thrown something in their general direction (in disgust, not in harm).

I literally looked at art and drove listening to an audiobook to calm down. Walking to the Smith College Art Museum and then various galleries and the Guild Art supply shop were my go-to after divorce court take things down 16-notches move. I am trying to come up with a stay at home version of that.

I then started to break things down in a spreadsheet. I broke it down into:

  • Feelings
  • Physical Responses
  • My Impulse
  • Thoughts (I call them my “inside voice” meaning they are loudly screaming inside my head – a take on inside voices being quiet… Anyhow)
  • Helpful Action Items

My next therapy meeting, he gave me some worksheets and it felt good to realize we were both on same page re: tracking things and seeing how this all works for me. After that, I broke it down into physical and mental monitoring with some more variables from his sheets. I need to work through how to validate how these Action Items helped manage the rest and then start to think about positive things that will happen as I go along, but this is a start.

Chronic Q-Fever

The diagnosis came in March 2022. I almost didn’t go to the appointment. It was made a couple months before and like many things now, I forgot about it. I thought the vertigo, nausea, cognitive issues and all were post-concussive syndrome (with the torn labrum) from the fall in October. Insurance covered it and why not go?

I am very glad I did go. I am glad I saw the Dr in Infectious Disease that I did see.

While the fall did leave an impact on my brain health and my hip it was something, many somethings, that were really doing a number on me. I faintly remembered it from pathology and general animal science classes. It is on a list of zoonosis you can get drinking raw milk. Many doctors remember it from similar courses a long time ago and never had someone come to them *with* Q-fever. Veterinarians never suspected that is what my problems were with the cattle and goats after spending a fortune to find out what was going on.

Like PTSD, I could not go for normal straight up Q-fever (acute). That could have gone away on its own without showing symptoms. I may have thought I had a bad cold, flu or COVID. No, I had to have chronic Q-Fever. I am glad it did not do anything to my heart. Men tend to have it settle there, wreaking havoc. I wasn’t jaundiced. I do count those blessings.

The symptoms you get are very patient specific with ranges from mildly disrupted to cannot function at all. For me, this fun little bacterium (Coxiella brunettii) affected my vestibular and cognative functioning.

I did have periodic bouts of high fevers, mad headaches, muscle weakness, absolute fear of falling (it was winter, I was alone in a barn where it could be dark), exhaustion, vertigo, confusion, groggy slow brain, forgetful (often froze hose when watering), stomach discomfort, etc. I had a few of those symptoms or all of them on and off since at least 2019.

I got it from cattle and goats. Most likely came from a group of cattle from TN to a farm I was renting in VT or from the cattle in VT that my landlord kept bringing (illegally) from NY. The cattle I had this winter totally have it. I had been dealing with symptoms of this for years. I have paid thousands of dollars for vets here to misdiagnose. I miss the VT and NY vets they knew the head from the arse end of a goat unlike some here. Treatment for them is not super hopeful.

I am on Doxycyclin and Hydroxycloroquine for the next two years and maybe more. I went from a prefer no meds thank you, maybe a Tylenol for pain only to having a pill organizer. I went from working 5:45am to 11pm on the regular to if I do too much, I am physically a hot mess for a day to a week. Fun trying to find where that sweet spot when there is no pattern and by nature I physically bull through to get things done.

As I go through records, papers, texts and messages, emails, just everything I am in shock. These bacteria if left to go without treatment can kill. For me, it destroyed a lot of things greater than my physical and mental health. Q-fever was my brick wall.

Therapy yesterday struck me. I get frustrated easily when I cannot do things mentally or physically like I used to. Anxiety can go from 3-30 in seconds. It is a PTSD trigger for sure. The thing is that I never stopped to think about the idea that I am grieving for how I used to be able to think before. Healing from brain truama (physical) can be a long slow process, just like healing from mental trauma (past physical and emotional pain).

Even therapy for cPTSD is about giving space to grieve. I have never been good about death. I only recently started to parse out what feelings are again and put emotional and impulse responses to what those mean. I don’t think I fully understand how to process all of this (arms and hands waving about suggesting all the things!!).

Writing and art are my only outlets… and pushing it too much physically and mentally while I try to recover. I don’t have my old ways of processing trauma. My old daily rhythms are gone.

Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (cPTSD)

The first time I learned that I may have PTSD was while waiting to take an organic chemistry exam. A few of us were in the hallway and I recognized a girl from my Animal Welfare class. We are talking about why we are in this hallway waiting to get into this particular room. It was for an untimed test. Hers was because of a learning difficulty. She took longer to read. I described how I would have a strange panic when hear someone writing on their paper with pencil three rows back or want to physically stop someone riffling through their backpack or cracking their knuckles. I would not be able to focus and went blank. Often, I would read questions over and over and would not even remember what the questions were asking.

The previous exam takers were leaving and people from our exam were starting to file into the exam room. One of the last people left, a guy, hung back and said, “look, I don’t know what your story is, but I have PTSD too.” He wanted me to understand that he knew what I was saying. He was a veteran and we didn’t get to talk about this any more than that one brief encounter. I was dumbfounded but very grateful that he shared that. I thought PTSD was something warriors got. My dad had nightmares and drank too much to forget things from his time in Vietnam. I was not a veteran.

What is PTSD? Let us start with that the letters mean. They stand for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In 1980’s, people started to notice a cluster of symptoms that were similar for veterans that were returning from Vietnam. Most people are familiar with symptoms associated with PTSD such as flashbacks, unstable moods, avoiding a person, place or thing, arousal symptoms, survivor remorse and insomnia (not a complete list). People who have a traumatic event such as a car accident, natural disaster or assault can also have PTSD.

What is cPTSD? Good question. I had to learn that one as well. The “c” stands for “complex.” Ok, I can relate to that. My dad was pretty complex too and he went through Vietnam (4-tours). How is this different? “Complex PTSD comes in response to chronic traumatization over the course of months or more often years. For many it starts in childhood, but that is not always the case. Trauma can include emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuses, domestic violence, living in a war zone, being held captive, human trafficking, and more.” Another difference that resonated with me when I did some research was the idea that this comes from being in a situation where complete control is in the hands of another person or persons, and you do not see an end in sight. Symptoms are often more severe than with (basic or normal) PTSD. Basically, it breaks down your sense of self and messes you up on a deeper level.

Ok, now what do I do with this information? How can I fix this? What is the plan?

I will not say my therapy journey has been brilliant. I am sure that I was not an easy patient as we worked through some of my traumas. I am still working on it in therapy and on my own. I did learn three key things: Not all therapists are trauma informed; Not all therapies are helpful and, in some ways, can make things worse; To be able to work on the mental health bits, you need to also understand how to work on the physical bits.

I will slowly share some of my journey with time. Please be patient with me as I share what I am ok with at the moment. If you happened upon my blog while doing some research, here are three resources that are a helpful start while you start your journey.

Writing and Creative Prompts

For a very long time, I had a kind of writer’s block. I could write technical things like grants, business plans, strategic plans and the like – for clients or friends. The physical act of doing this for me and my business was stupid painful. I did it, but with my concussion/Q-fever, I wrote a grant last fall and completely forgot that I did it. Some of this knowledge about food systems is so ingrained in me. It really is part of my muscle memory. 

Creative writing was gone to me. Journal writing, a previous safe way to process things, was also gone. I would stare at the screen or blank page and freeze. I may write a few pages and give up a day or two later because my grammar was off or it was not well written.

I looked at creative prompts. My daughter and I would try these and one of us would quit them. We never finished them. I wondered what it was about the prompts that made us stop. I started to explore them on Instagram and Pinterest to see if there was an easy way to explain why we never finished them. There was always a prompt or two that would stump me. I am sure it did for my daughter too. Is that why we stopped? 

I found one. A 30-Day Mental Health Challenge that had simple activities that I could do. I found three I could not do, but get this… I crossed them out at the beginning (since it isn’t cheating if you do it in the beginning) and started there. I was supposed to fill 3-pages in a daily journal or write for 20′ whichever was longest. Ok. It could help with the therapy I was working on and yah, let’s do this!

The first month had 31-days. I did not add another day of challenges. I figured I needed a day to reflect, to consider another challenge, to maybe just not do it. In the end I did all but two of them. I was not there in my brain space. Did I panic and stop? No. I talked about why I just couldn’t in the journal. It became easier to write about things that were happening outside of the prompt.

The next month was going to be a declutter the mind and space challenge. The first day, organize computer files. Guess what? It stopped me from doing this challenge. For some it may have been a simple task, but for me that was a multi-day project. I never finished that challenge. The rest of the daily prompts were fine and the previous month, I could substitute a prompt if I didn’t think it fit… why not this? I knew it was a lot and I could have changed it.

What saved this daily creative activity? A co-Art challenge I was doing with my mom. A daily sketchbook thing. I used to draw ALL OF THE TIME. Why did I stop? Adulting? I was looking for things that could help my cognitive issues. I will talk about that experience later. One you-tube guy said that daily sketching and creating is a great way to grow brain cells. I wanted my brain back. It did not involve me doing or consuming woowoo stuff, so draw anything with a pen it is…

That month, I bounced back and forth and was a little more of a hot mess, but I did get back into a daily creativity thing. I just wrote in the journal and have not gone back to daily challenges. Writing was getting easier and if I didn’t have words, I did art. Get this…. I allowed myself to make a mistake and it was humbling at first, but ok. I reminded myself it did not have to be perfect, and it was not going to be displayed. Stop expecting perfect.

I cannot say I was gentle to myself or that I did not have anxiety over a daily commitment, I did. I do. My world was shaken up and I was trying to find a way to ground myself and find a new daily rhythm. What starts out as a halting uncomfortable brain fart became a very me brain fart and I was feeling silly, but ok with it. It didn’t have to be perfect. I also realized I was SO out of practice with my art and I really should not expect great things right away.

Yah, grammar and coloquial Shannonisms were there in my writing and Ahhh that is why we did those fundamentals for an entire quarter in Jr High art class. I was so out of practice and had to remind myself that if I looked at a little kid’s first drawings and essays, they are not brilliant either. Just do it.

 Is drawing or writing perfect for everyone? No. A friend does colouring books. I know a lot of people who quilt, scrap book, bullet journal, make amazing art with Procreate… I stumbled upon patterns and mandala drawing folks on Instagram and Pinterest (a great way to wind down before bed is watching them and watercolour artists online…). I downloaded some of them for inspiration if I was stuck. If I could not draw or was short of time, make a pattern. I will share some of that later too.

I found I was anxious when I started daily pattern drawing, but by about day 6-8, I found it was more relaxing. I was also more confident about handling a pen and was proud when I could make straight lines free-style again. I am working my way up to loose floral watercolours.

One of the creativity prompts (from Superbetter) was to write a letter to something I am grateful. This built on the prompt the day before that was trying to get you into a routine of trying to think about things you are grateful for. I wrote a letter to a hot cup of tea. It may sound silly, but I admit I was surprised what came out. It isn’t quite Robbie Burns Ode to Whisky, but it is mine. It clearly was something I *was* grateful for.

I will be honest; I did not keep that first month’s journal. I was afraid of revisiting it because I was basically in shock about a lot of things. I don’t plan to be Ainis Nin, but for this blog, I will share a lot about how I got to this point, what is helping or not helping me and then the journey. I also plan to include creative writing or art that I have done and there will be a tag or category that says “creative” at the beginning of this. 

I am still working out how I am going to do this blog (I will keep repeating this until I know what I am doing), I am going to be ok that it is not perfect and just roll with it. That is a current personal objective and is super hard for me. So yah, this is also a daily creative project that will evolve with time. I hope to explore a few things. I may settle into something specific. I may just doodle about or share a photo. I may edit and re-publish it again later. We will see how it goes!

Giving Myself Permission to Heal

Since March, I have been reassured that this was time for me to focus on my health and healing. It is such an uncomfortable thing to think about when every part of who I am is about taking care of others. The thing is that mentally and physically I did hit a brick wall. I didn’t know how broken I was or why.

As I work through a lot of this, I am told over and over again to write. I am told to focus on healing. I start doing creative things that I have not done in decades. I go to an awful lot of medical appointments. I write some more. I start to finger through the stored accumulation of a lifetime of hastily packed items from a farm, a creamery, a failed marriage, parenthood, education, a commercial building, my youth…

What do I do with all of this? 

I am sitting with everything and starting to process their meaning to me today and remembering a lot. When you are in survival mode for so long, you don’t sit with things. You don’t feel. You cannot answer super simple questions like “how are you?” You don’t grieve. You don’t do anything more than depend on the muscle memory of daily life and make sure everyone is ok to the best of your ability.

I want to use this space to document this journey. This will evolve as I move along. We will see what happens.