Daily Archives: April 3, 2015

Great Tips for Reducing Anxiety from Healthline.com

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http://www.healthline.com/health/bipolar-disorder/guide-stress-anxiety

Since I posted about anxiety, here’s an article which tells you how to lower anxiety levels. Great tips to use when anxiety is troubling you. The link to the article is above and an excerpt from the article is below. I think my favorite is the first one, to invoke the relaxation response when your flight or flight is activated.

Here are some ways to help prevent stress and anxiety in your life:

Use ‘the Relaxation Response’

Dr. Jason Evan Mihalko, a certified psychologist working out of Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass., said that stress is one of the most manageable things of all.

“Many people know about the fight or flight response—a biological response to stress where our bodies become prepared to either run to safety or fight. What many people don’t know is that we have also designed an antidote to fight or flight: the relaxation response,” he said. “Through simple deep breathing exercises, visualizing a pleasant scene, or soothing ourselves through the five senses, we can induce this relaxation response.”

When we’re able to relax, many things happen, Dr. Mihalko said, including decreased metabolism, slower heartbeat, relaxed muscles, slowed breathing, lowered blood pressure, increased levels of nitiric oxide (an important chemical compound in protecting vital organs and Science’s Molecule of the Year in 1992), and our general sense of well-being and calm increases.

Prioritize

It’s human to feel overwhelmed when there are a million things to do at once—work, school, kids, marriage, friends, family, etc. can all lead to worry. Coupled with the unpredictable nature of bipolar disorder, anxiety can create havoc inside your mind.

The key to preventing stress and anxiety build up—with or without bipolar disorder—is determining which is the most important and what can be done first. We often lose focus of why we’re doing so many things, so concentrating on what’s most important can be an easy way to eliminate clutter in our lives.

It’s important that your therapy for bipolar disorder remains a main priority. You may think you don’t have time for it, but know that if you skip on treatment, you’re only making things worse for yourself.

Lists are a great way to keep track of what you should be doing and what’s the most important thing to do first. Lists are a great way of tackling some of the quick and easy things first, allowing you to cross tasks off your list and gaining a sense of accomplishment.

Here’s an example of what a list might look like:

1. Take medications
2. Email boss about vacation
3. Pick up dry cleaning
4. Meet Shirley for lunch
5. Buy groceries

Limit Yourself

Even super heroes can’t be everywhere at once. You can spend all day, every day attempting to do it all, but that won’t leave you with enough time or energy to stop and enjoy life. Plus, the stress generated by attempting to do it all could only aggravate your mood.

You may want to work full-time, prepare a good dinner every night, volunteer with a local charity, organize events, and do more, but there’s a good chance you’ll only stress yourself out, lose sleep, lose your temper, and create more problems for yourself.

Instead of trying to do everything, focus your energy and attention on doing a few things well. If you can afford it, hire some help around the house to do a little cleaning and the laundry. If you can’t afford it, ask everyone to help pitch in.

Think of your tasks as things you are buying with your time. You can try to buy a 120-bedroom house, but they’re all going to get dirty and broken down without regular maintenance. Besides, you don’t need all that space. You can afford (with your time) a nice two-bedroom house and make it the best one you’ve ever seen. In essence, don’t buy more than you can maintain.

Break Away

No matter your responsibilities, you need time for yourself. You need time to be able to collect your head, think things through, or even let your mind wander. This is especially important if you’re feeling manic and can’t concentrate.

The occasional weekend getaway can do wonders, but even being left alone for a few minutes when you get home can clear your mind. Let people know you need a moment to unwind and clear your head before getting down to business.

Some easy ways to sneak a moment to yourself is going for a walk, reading in a quiet place, going to the park, or just laying down in bed for a minute. No matter how you want to escape, make sure you can when things get to be too much.

Find Support

Friends and family can be the best listeners. They can be your greatest ally against welling stress and anxiety when coupled with bipolar disorder. They also provide a more objective insight into your problems and can help you spot stressful patterns. If all else fails, they can help you get a good laugh in when you need it most.

Therapists are trained listeners, and there’s no shame in seeing someone to help you talk through your problems. There are numerous types of therapy available, and the right one can help you express your emotions in a constructive way.

Take Care of Yourself

Mental health is directly related to physical health. Eating a balanced diet—void of sugary, deep fried, high fat, high sodium, and other harmful foods—can help your body get in shape to handle stress better. If your body is already under stress from harmful substances, it won’t be as ready to handle outside stress as well.

Be wary of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs as a way to relax. They may take the edge off for the time being, but they’ll only create more health problems down the road.

Learn which foods to eat (and avoid) to help your body deal with the stress of anxiety.

Sleep

Sleep is one of the first things to suffer under a busy, stressful schedule, but it should be the first thing that gets attention. We often skip sleep to tackle our to-do lists, but by doing that we’re robbing our body of rest, which leaves it more vulnerable to stress, anxiety, and illness.

Exercise

If your mind won’t rest when it’s time to get some sleep, you should incorporate some exercise into your day. Even if you’re snoring the second your head hits the pillow, exercise is a vital way to not only handle stress, but to keep your body in tune to accept any challenge.

Hitting the gym or going for a run after work is a great way to beat stress, as well as give you time to think. Start incorporating it into your routine and see how quickly you can become addicted to good habits.

Plan

There will always be unforeseen circumstances, but when you plan in advance, you’ll know what’s next and how to prepare for it. A day planner, smart phone, or email reminders are great ways to keep yourself accountable while giving your mind a second to concentrate on something other than what you’re supposed to be doing next.


7 Ways to Actively Support Suicide Attempt Survivors

Cross-posted from Everyday Feminism

When we talk about suicide, we tend to focus on prevention – or mourning those that we have lost to suicide.

And while these are worthy and important causes, they sometimes make invisible a very real and important group of people.

We forget, too often, that some of us are on the other side – that not everyone who attempts suicide will die.

When I attempted suicide as a young teenager, I found myself set adrift.

I couldn’t find support or resources because those resources focused exclusively on either family members who have lost a loved one or preventing suicide attempts – neither of which applied to me at that time.

Confused and alone, I was unable to find a single website or article that acknowledged that sometimes, suicide doesn’t go the way we planned – sometimes, we live to tell the tale.

I went to school the next day, resuming business as usual, because I didn’t know what else to do.

Six years later, more resources are being created, and amazing projects are unfolding. I’m grateful, as an attempt survivor, to know that other survivors will have more of a safety net than I did.

However, I still believe that there are things we all can do to support suicide attempt survivors – and to create a culture in which these survivors do not feel invisible.

As feminists, I believe that this work is especially important and relevant – the stigma around mental health and suicide is a hurdle for folks in every community, and is most often shouldered by folks who are already marginalized in significant ways.

Here’s a list of seven ways we can all do right by attempt survivors.

1. Include Attempt Survivors in Your Conversations About Suicide

In any conversation about suicide – whether it’s a formal panel, a public policy discussion, or a casual conversation – it should never be assumed that survivors don’t exist.

And many of us are not only surviving, but also thriving. Others survive and continue to struggle.

If you’re doing work in prevention, for example, it’s important to remember that folks who have attempted suicide before are at even greater risk to attempt again.

In fact, one-third of people who attempt suicide will try again within one year.

Regardless, attempt survivors are an important demographic when we’re talking about prevention.

When organizing panels or conferences around mental health and suicide, there should be a concentrated effort to include survivors not just as attendees, but as speakers and organizers.

If you already support a particular mental health organization, you can also inquire about what they are doing to support attempt survivors.

And in everyday conversation, remember that attempting suicide is not synonymous with dying.

Including attempt survivors in conversations that impact our lives is an important part of making survivors visible.

2. Stop Treating Suicide Like a Taboo Topic

I know that suicide sounds really scary. I know that it can be hard to have conversations about it.

However, when we treat suicide like a hush-hush topic, we’re not only hurting people who may be suicidal and need help, we’re also hurting people who have been through an attempt and need a safe space to talk about it.

When we don’t have healthy, compassionate conversations about suicide and survival, we ultimately discourage survivors from seeking out support.

After my attempt, there was no script on how to talk about what I’d been through. I just knew in my gut that it wasn’t something that people talked about.

If I had felt safer or more encouraged to open up, I might have been able to cope more effectively and get help sooner.

In fact, if it hadn’t been so taboo, I might have talked about my suicidal thoughts before I acted, and my attempt might have never happened.

We need to stop treating suicide and suicidal thoughts as taboo.

Instead, we need to foster conversations that can help survivors feel safe enough to disclose their experiences and seek help when it’s needed.

3. Stop Shaming Survivors

Part of my decision to keep what had happened to me a secret for so many years was because I had heard, over and over again, that suicide was a selfish decision.

I was afraid that if I opened up to someone, I would be met with shaming and criticism instead of compassion.

Put simply: We need to stop shaming people who have attempted suicide.

The decision to end our lives is not a decision we ever take lightly – and it’s not indicative of a character flaw, but rather of immense pain that we have carried for too long.

Attempt survivors face enormous amounts of discrimination – and it’s compounded because we not only face the stigma of being suicide attempt survivors, but often that which goes with struggling with our mental health.

We’re not only “selfish”, but we’re “crazy“, we’re “unstable”, we’re “unhinged”; in other words, we’re worthless.

A culture that either pretends we don’t exist or treats us as selfish and subhuman is a culture that ultimately perpetuates the cycle of suicide.

If we are encouraged to keep silent and told we are less than human, we are far more likely to attempt suicide again.

If we want to support attempt survivors, we need to stop shaming them into silence.

4. Don’t Assume That Suicide Attempts Are a Universal Experience

Some of us are traumatized by our experience. Some of us don’t have strong feelings about what happened. Some of us consider our attempts life-changing. Some of us view them as one terrible event in our lives. Some of us feel regret about our attempt. Some of us feel no regret at all.

Some of us feel all of these things at different times in our lives – sometimes even at different points in a single day.

There is no universal narrative that fits for every suicide attempt survivor.

All of our experiences are valid, all of our experiences are important, and all of our experiences are unique.

When we talk about suicide attempts, we need to be careful not to generalize about those experiences or about survivors.

By acknowledging the complexity and diversity of our experiences, we support all survivors, instead of just those who fit into our preconceived ideas of what a survivor should be.

If we want to be supportive, we need to be supportive of everyone, regardless of what their journey looks like.

5. Tune In When Survivors Are Sharing Their Stories

There are many survivors that are already sharing their stories, and you may someday encounter someone who trusts you with their story. The most important thing is to listen – and to let them take the lead.

I’ve found that when I share my story with folks, people have a lot of questions and don’t always know how to respectfully engage.

To this, I would suggest that people should actively listen when survivors are sharing their stories. Don’t interrupt, don’t interrogate, don’t ask invasive questions.

Let survivors decide how much to share, when to share, and how their stories will be told.

I know that suicide is a topic we don’t often hear about, and when someone is willing to open up, there’s a lot that we want to know.

However, a person’s attempt story is not about you – this is a story about them, by them, for them.

If there is an opportunity to ask questions, be sure to ask in a way that allows this person to opt out if they aren’t ready to answer.

Survivors deserve to disclose their stories in an environment that makes them feel safe, validated, and respected.

You can facilitate this by listening, first and foremost.

6. Realize That We Are Everywhere

It’s gut wrenching when an acquaintance, not knowing my history, says something terrible like, “Ugh! If I have to go to work on Saturday, I’ll kill myself.”

We, as a culture, need to recognize that attempt survivors are in every community – and then we need to behave accordingly.

We need to speak compassionately about suicide not only because it’s the right thing to do (duh, suicide jokes are never funny), but because triggering survivors is another way that we both invisibilize and marginalize them.

We assume that survivors aren’t around, and thus we say things that we wouldn’t otherwise say to someone who has been through it.

There are many microaggressions that survivors face, by virtue of the assumption that we do not exist or that we only exist in certain communities.

Suicide should always be discussed in a way that is sensitive, inclusive, and does not uphold discrimination or shame, so that survivors in every community can feel safe and respected.

7. Get Behind the Amazing Organizations, Resources, and Projects That Support Attempt Survivors

Suicide attempt survivors need resources, too. This is why supporting the organizations, resources, and projects that advocate and assist attempt survivors is absolutely vital.

Unlike six years ago when I had my attempt, Googling “suicide attempt survivor” lists a number of resources that now exist for survivors – some of which are quite fantastic.

One essential resource can be found over at Grief Speaks. The guide, found here, gives a comprehensive run-down of ways we can assist someone in the aftermath of a suicide attempt. If those close to me had had something like this, it would have made all the difference.

One of my favorite projects is called Live Through This, the amazing work of attempt survivor Dese’Rae L. Stage. She photographs and documents the stories of attempt survivors from all walks of life.

It’s the only known project of its kind, bringing a human face to a struggle that is too often anonymous.

When I first saw this project, I was struck by how whole it made me feel. To know that there were others like me, living through this and telling their stories, gave me the courage to keep telling my story, too.

Supporting the work of survivors and advocates like Stage is a way of both bringing visibility to survivors, as well as creating a greater safety net for future survivors who need to know that they are cared for, seen, and – most of all – not alone.

* * *

My suicide attempt was not the worst thing that had ever happened to me.

I think what was worse was the loneliness I felt when I realized I didn’t know how to talk about it, and I didn’t have a safe space to have that conversation.

As an adult, I know that I’m not alone in my experience. There are so many attempt survivors worldwide, and many feel unsupported, isolated, and shamed into silence.

However, there’s so much we can all do to make attempt survivors feel more supported.

This list is a place to start, and should be part of an ongoing conversation about how to make survivors feel safer, respected, and visible.

* * *

If you’re feeling suicidal, please reach out to someone. If you’re in the US you can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.8255. If you’re not in the US, click here for a link to crisis centers around the world.

Sam Dylan Finch a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. He is queer writer, activist, and educator based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to his work at Everyday Feminism, he is also the founder of Let’s Queer Things Up!, his hella queer and very awesome blog. You can learn more about him here and read his articles here. Follow him on Twitter @samdylanfinch.


Judgy Much

I have always taken so much pride in myself because I don’t judge people. Yet, I realize…I do. Just not on things such as looks, education, intelligence, etc.
My rule of thumb is generally not to get vindictive unless it’s done to me first. I slip sometimes.
I have a real issue with religion. Soccer moms. Scientology. (That’s a cult, not a religion..) Bullying. Discrimination. Bigotry. Stigma of mental illness. People who harm kids or animals. Parents who don’t support their kids.
I am just a big bucket of judgmental goodness.
The big difference, I guess, is that I’m not an all or nothing type. I don’t need to be agreed with on everything so I am judging less the person and more the behavior/belief that is at odd with my own.
Still feels shitty, though.
But hey, if someone can present a pro side to animal and child abuse, cults, bullying, deadbeat parents, discrimnation, bigotry, stigma…
There isn’t a good side to any of it. That makes it judgment worthy.

In other news…
I did the unthinkable this morning. I braved Wal-Mart. The super shitty superstore from hell. They have this wagon wheel stuff my kid adores and they are the only place that sells it. That place is a huge trigger for me so I don’t go there much. Today I forced myself to do it, for her.
Oddly, I’ve had a churning stomach ache the whole day and I think I am allergic to that place.
Paid some bills. Grabbed a few things for Easter. I really phoned it in this year because, let’s face it…I can’t compete with my mom and sister blowing $130 on my kid’s gifts. It’s insane. I got the pink bucket, some chalk, bubbles, and the candy to fill the eggs to hide. Beyond that…Meh. I hate the way mom and sis turn every holiday or birthday into some sort of “I spent more so I love her more” thing. Asinine.

I talked to R about getting the Focalin and how much it costs. Yeah, it just started him on a “joking” tirade about attention deficit simply being a lack of discipline for kids and excuse for adults. After months of calling me scatterbrained and asking what else I can fuck up this week…I finally get this ray of hope that things might improve…And it becomes his smartass soap box.
While I do think the system labels wayyy too many kids ADHD when they are simply high spirited, and um, yes, KIDS…I have also seen kids diagnosed and medicated. Then they miss a dose and become aggressive semi violent uncontrollably little trollfucks. Give them the pill, they’re sweet as cake again.
I’m not disputing that one, it speaks for itself.
But the overall attitude toward ADD/ADHD needs to go.

So I fetched the spawn and am done with the petri dish for the day. It’s a good thing because lunch disagreed with my already upset stomach and I am in pain. Spook hasn’t stopped talking, nor stalking the new kitten, for three hours now. The noise is giving me a headache. Then there are the dogs next door barking in unison while their owners yell and hoot and holler.
I am concerned about how to juggle in order to afford the Focalin.
And expressing as much got R on a tirade about how I need to go after The Donor for child support rather than whining about being broke.
I tried to do all the paperwork for that shit a couple of years ago. I messed it up, missed a deadline, and eventually said fuck it. Dealing with that creature alleged to be human is going to drive me into a looney bin and I am fine being broke until LEGALLY FORCED to interact with it.
Am I wrong to think this way? Yeah. But it’s the deer in the headlights thing. Sometimes until given a slap to the face in the form of reality…I’m frozen. And unlike Elsa, I can’t let it go.
Ha ha ha ha. I’ve never even watched Frozen and my kid has fed me enough secondhand to make references.
In all seriousness though…Terror can make you immobilized. It’s a job for future Niki. Who knows, if I can get all the meds straightened out, the focalin works, maybe I can get my other ducks in a row.One thing at a time.

It hit me…While my scattered ping pong thoughts are maddening and irksome to those around me…I also find it a little quirkily endearing. What if Focalin takes away my whimsical bent? I like being a little flaky and chaotic.
I am creating problems before they even can exist. I am good at that.

Anyone know of a job where inconsistency and flakiness and a propensity for self sabotage are considered pluses?
Oh, and the mood swings and panic attacks, those are my expert skills.

I want a brain transplant. Mine is as glitchy as a microsoft product.
Oh, wow, there I go being judgy because I’ve had some bad luck with a few Windows products.

Meh, fuck it.
I still use the evil overlord of operating systems. XP and 7 are flawless.
I will to my dying day hate ME and Vista and windows 8.
Just like I will hate my stupid scumbag brain.
Though I honestly have more hope for it than I do the next Windows operating system.


Writing with Distractions Without Screaming Like a Banshee

Name that banshee! It’s pretty quiet in these parts, and I’m overjoyed to tell you there are no rodent adventures to report.  I haven’t spotted any errant hamsters in the middle of the night, nor have rats taken up residence in … Continue reading

Mask (a fourteener)

I wish that I could see delight like you: glass full, sun rise, But too much I am shadow-struck

About Anxiety

Aral's closet Aral's closet

Something I realized about anxiety, it’s the god of small things. When we think about each little, minute detail, and of course in our anxious state, we invariably think every single thing is going to result in disaster, that is anxiety. It is fueled by an anxious mind, reinforced by our anxious, negative thoughts, and so goes the circle, round and round. What I have found gets you out of this anxious spiral is to look at the bigger picture, and then we realize these minute, little details don’t really matter. They are just what our mind is clinging to in our anxious state and it’s a snowball effect. In fact, in the big picture, everything is fine and will be fine. The big picture pulls us out of this anxiety ridden, panic stricken state. For example, my anxiety is ALL about my son. We’ve been through very difficult times with him, as we have generally because of my illness, and the resulting circumstances in my (nuclear) family. But we all made it, my little family is still intact. Of course my son has flown the coop now and I miss him terribly. That’s why I am in Buffalo every month :-) He is doing very well, knock on wood. Of course, as is sometimes the case, he is messy, and of course my anxious mind takes it to: He is dysfunctional, that means he is mentally ill (he is not) and all kinds of disasters are going to happen because of this. It doesn’t mean anything of the sort. It just means he is messy, and if that is the worst of it then it’s really nothing to worry about! That’s just one example, and now that I have written it down, I know why it is called catastrophizing!!! I do this with hundreds of things everyday. But if I look at the bigger picture, all’s well.

All’s well.


Holy Friday

For those who do not believe in the value of religious mythology, I do. Whether or not the stories actually happened, whether or not they are literally true, they offer messages which are true. The meaning – the message – is…

Mental Health and the Mommy Wars

Dear Daughter, Here’s Why I Don’t Work

Dear Daughter, Here’s Why I Work

Gah.


spoon_spiralWhen I was pregnant with my first child, I made a conscious decision to avoid parent-to-be boards. Being mentally ill and chronically low on spoons, I had seen the fringes of the Mommy Wars, and had no desire to waste time there. Also, as someone who copy edits for fun, I would not have been happy or comfortable in places that seem chronically plagued by chat speak and constant misspellings.I’m sure that there are those who would consider me a snob for that, but hey — you have your triggers, I have mine, and since my best processing of English is the written word, it’s incredibly stressful when said word is abused by native speakers who ‘don’t have to spell because they’re not in school anymore’. Browsers come with spell-checkers these days, so there is no excuse for constant mistakes.

Anyways, I already had friends who were also parents — why did I need ‘friends’ whose only thing in common was parenthood? Maybe it’s just me, but someone having gotten knocked up around the same time of me is not criteria enough to be my friend. Once again, that’s a me and my limited energy sort of thing; making new friends takes a lot of energy. As there was already a basis of love and respect between myself and my friends, that carried over well to talking about being parents. While approaches to parenting were not too dissimilar at the core between myself and my varied and different friends, that basis of preexisting sameness meant that we could respect where other parents had different approaches to things. We could respect that individuals have individual situations, and that what worked for one of us might not work for another. Even if I couldn’t understand that fully until after I had my first child, I was able to at least remember to respect my friends because they were my friends and that I knew they were intelligent people capable of making informed choices. Even if we shouldn’t, most of us have a bad tendency to dismiss that which we don’t know more easily than we should.

But any mother who has ever been online knows how it is. You’re not a real mom if you had a c-section, or had the baby in the hospital, or gave them formula, or dared to have a career, or any number of things. There are arguments over whether or not letting a child cry it out is tantamount to child abuse. Some would even go so far to suggest that ‘people like me’ shouldn’t be breeding because how dare we risk perpetuating our mental illnesses. In response, people get defensive about their choices — they have to formula feed because their child wouldn’t latch, they’re a one-income family, they’re… doing any number of things that shouldn’t have to be defended, because different people have different situations. Just because there often portrayed a single way to be ‘right’, that is very much a Holier Than Thou™®, Cool Kids Only sort of bullshit club. There’s nothing wrong with being proud of your choices, there’s nothing wrong with being well off enough to stay home and parent ‘correctly’, there is nothing with having to go out into the workforce, and, I emphasize this one above all — there is nothing wrong with taking care of yourself first if it means you can be a better parent to your children.

And then I realised what’s behind the Mommy Wars — it’s just people who are desperately insecure in a highly opinionated and polarized field trying to convince themselves and others that their way is right so they don’t feel bad about their choices. Which of course, leads to a whole section of the Mommy War that’s a total time-out to remind people that hey, you’re a good parent. I sort of chuckle and sigh ruefully, because even if don’t join in the self-flagellation that is this particular experience, I have engaged in it in other areas of my life. It’s almost as if the modern adult isn’t happy unless they’re suffering… roll on, everyone being a masochist? Nor am I suggesting that anyone is ‘bad’ or less for feeling insecure — it’s my opinion that our constant immersion in media and the lives of others in this day and age serves to convince us that we’ll only ever be happy and fulfilled if we buy the right thing, or have the right body shape is damaging and insulting. Remember that Cool Kids Club I mentioned earlier? It’s just another pointless us versus them designed to stroke insecure egos by claiming something makes someone better than someone else. Unless it’s ‘murdered someone’ and ‘didn’t murder someone’, most differences are yanno, pretty okay and equally valid.

Maybe this all comes easier to me because I’ve always been an outsider. It was instilled in me from an early age that I was never going to be enough. So in defiance, I’ve opted to continue to be genuinely me, and done a pretty good job with it. Well that, and out-and-out lying tends to make me have panic attacks, ha ha. But I just cannot see the point of camaraderie that comes at a cost of making someone else the enemy. Even without my mental illnesses as a consideration, it just often seemed… mean. Oh sure, I can understand wanting to belong. I love my fellow Bipolaratti, for example. But we’re not about to go to war with people who have borderline personality disorder for being different, yanno?

Anyways, I hope this brain jumble finds everyone well. I’m still waiting for my upped antidepressant dose to do a lick of good, and my big girl has chickenpox, but we’re all mainly doing okay. :)

<3

Chattanooga Trip

Well, we had an interesting trip to Chattanooga, TN.  We went to the Tennessee Aquariums, the children’s museum, Rock City, and Ruby Falls.  With stops at the Riverchase Galleria in Birmingham coming and going.   We met up in the local Kroger parking lot at 6:30 a.m.and left around seven a.m.  Rachel set with her friend Maya, and I sat with Maya’s chaperone, her older sister, Lindsay. The trip was long and of course they showed movies again to occupy the kids.  I really don’t like watching movies, so that was difficult because you could not get away from them–there were screens at almost every fourth seat.  Very annoying.  But it is what it is and I survived pretty well.

We got to Birmingham and stopped off to eat, then it was on to Tennessee.  We got there four p.m. their time and saw the aquariums, which were amazing.  Rachel’s favorite exhibits were the penguins and  the live butterflies.  We had a butterfly land on my jacket and not want to fly away.  So they got to observe him up close and personal.  Other exhibits included petting the  sturgeon, lakes from around the world, and  one whole floor of nothing  but jellyfish.  So the girls enjoyed that immensely.

Then we went and ate dinner at the children’s museum (pizza) and got the run of the place after hours; we were the only group there. Typical children’s museum fare–a floor dedicated to the arts, another dedicated to engineering, and a rooftop playground where they played with physics until it got too dark to see.  That made for a late night, and we got to the hotel around  10:30 p.m. and crashed :)

The next morning, we set an alarm for 6:L45 a.m. but slept in until  7:30.   Thenw e got breakfast, packed and loaded onto the buses for Rock City and Ruby Falls.

I had been to Rock City several times, the first when I was child around five ro six, and I always remembered the Fairytale Caverns.  The wife of the original owner loved European folklore, so her put in the caves of the rock carved dioramas of various fairytales and lit them with blacklights to make the colors more vivid.  And there’s a whole room under the rocks that illustrated about twenty nursery rhymes as well.  OF course, the original rock formations were amazing as well.  .

Then it was on to Ruby Falls. I had never been there, so that was a completely new experience.  We went down through bedrock in an elevator then walked a quarter mile through rock paths to see the falls.,  We aw some more amazing rock formations on the way to the falls, but nothing prepared us for the sheer grandeur of the falls themselves. They were illuminated with lights, and I stood there and sang “How Great Thou Art” to myself as I watched the 145-foot falls gush out of the wall into a small lake underground below 1160  feet of bedrock.    Leaving it was hard to do, but we went back up to daylight and to the buses.  A long trip back, and we came in at 11 p.m. our time.  All in all a very good trip with my little one.


How Societal Norms Feed and Breed Mental Illness

I was driving home, my mind doing its ping pong ball thing, and I had this gloomy thought of yesterday’s weigh in at the doctor’s office. I gained fifteen pounds since January! My God, I suck, I am a fat slothful gluttonous-
Then I stopped my brain and reminded, It’s all just a numbers game and if I pay attention to that, I will become more neurotic and miserable than I already am. I am fluffy, NOT fat, and my health has always been good, so…I choose to focus on being myself rather than aiming to be some “ideal” number some powers that be created without regard to mitigating factors.

Anorexia, bulimia, dysmorphic body disorder..THAT societal norm number is what breeds, and feeds, these illnesses. We are taught almost from birth what “normal” looks like from the toys we are given to play with. Hell, I was ten before I realized not all dolls were blue eyed and blonde. Because that is the norm society has for beauty. (Master race, anyone?) Don’t even get me started on Barbie. (Though I did have this Disco Darcy doll when I was five and she was very tall and stout. Which was probably why she was phased out quickly.)
The propaganda says it’s about “being healthy”.
LIES.
No one gives a damn if you’re heavy but healthy as a team of oxen.
You don’t LOOK pretty and fit into some cookie cutter mold, you must be a hideous lazy misfit.
I wonder back to caveman days when survival was the big issue if people stood around, pointing, fat shaming, judging…
When did society become so vile, so cruel, so…inhumane?
And it’s not just heavy people who face discrimination. There are some who are naturally thin even though they eat normal meals. They, too, are judged for not fitting the mold.

No one can focus on being healthy when it’s all about meeting some idea weight number and LOOKING good. I once saw a thread on Reddit where some troll said all fat people should be killed because we make everyone else look bad.
Well, hey, life is just like junior high, it’s all about looks.
WTF?
The kicker for me came when my daughter was four months old, still on formula, and the doctor said I should put her on a diet because her weight was increasing off the ideal chart. Yeah, I’m gonna put an infant on a diet.
Go fuck yourself. Got a different doctor for her.

I am in no way in denial that I am plumper than I should be. I am also tall and carry the weight better than say a five foot tall woman would. But I struggle so much with my mental health, I choose not to get hung up on numbers. I did that bit in my teens and twenties, popping hundreds of diet pills to kill my appetite and keep my energy up so the weight wouldn’t stick.
I STILL didn’t fit into societal norms because, contrary to what the powers that be claim, you CAN be big boned.
Example: My sister. She has lost a ton of weight even though was never bigger than a size large. A doctor told her she weighed too much. Not the right thing to say to a recovering bulimic. She became obsessed with drinking water, exercise.
And she dropped fifty pounds, she’s now five foot five and a size eight.
But if you go by the number on the scale, she is obese. Because she weighs around one seventy, even though she looks about one ten.
That pisses me off to no fucking end.
And that size 12 is considered “plus” size makes me want to form a one woman lynch mob with torches and burn down the living space of ignorant people who think that.

Even at my smallest, I was a size 12. From age 13. I’m way bigger now but I blame that on my love affair with Dr. Pepper more than anything.
I will NOT be defined by some unrealistic societal norm as far as my appearance goes.
And the fact this societal norm has helped breed adolescent and teenage girls into self loathing size obsessed kids with eating disorders is disgusting.
And “skinny” shaming is no better.

To add insult to injury for the mentally ill who are already on the fluffy side…They give us these meds that put weight on us whether we starve ourselves or not. Risperdal caused me to gain fifty pounds. My grocery budget for the MONTH was $90 so there is no way in hell I was overeating when everything had to be rationed.
The uber helpful doctor said, “Oh, it raised your appetite, but it’s not causing the weight gain. You just have to make better choices in what you eat.”
FUCK YOU.
Then another doctor will warn, “This could cause weight gain.”

Here’s a thought. YOU take the fucking things and see how it affects your weight.

I have an autistic cousin who was on anti psychotics, like three of them, cos he did get violent. He ballooned to nearly three hundred fifty pounds.
A year later, they changed the meds and he’s down to less than one fifty.
Yeah, if you weren’t depressed and psychotic to begin with, that combined with society’s attitude will make you that way.

This is why I haven’t owned a scale in 20 years. I don’t step on one unless the doctor’s office forces me to. I don’t need that extra weight on my already over taxed brain. No one needs it and no one fucking deserves it.

“Kill all the fat people.”
So says one of the ideal cookie cutters.
I say watch the movie Gattaca.
Because if they start doing away with anyone who doesn’t look “normal” it won’t be long before they start doing away with anyone, in utero, whose genetic testing shows even a propensity for illness.
Your great great great great grandmother’s cousin had heart disease?
ABORT.
People think I’m crazy to say this shit, but they’re also the morons who say the holocaust never happened.
I am so thankful idiocy isn’t contagious.

The point here is, be healthy, be happy, but most of all…Love and accept yourself without regard to societal norms. There’s not one person out there who couldn’t be improved in some way (especially internet trollfucks) but they’re content to be assholes.
So let me be content with my fluffiness. Don’t shove your ideals down my throat. It’s like declaring the world is only allowed one ice cream flavor for life.
ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL NOR SHOULD IT.
Be you. Love you. Make improvements because it’s what you want, not because some societal norm dictates it.

Now…I think I will have something very greasy and fattening to eat and wash it down with Dr. Pepper. Guilt free.
There is nothing that motivates me to do something more than being told it’s bad for me.
I shall follow it up with several cigarettes, maybe even a cookie or ten.
And the trolls can bite my fluffy ass.