Daily Archives: April 30, 2015

Westward

Two geese across a northern sky, skim of clouds and long horizons...

Weekend (tanka)

Anticipating Long green miles from the city Escape was well planned We even left home early But alas: road construction.Filed under: haiku, NaPoWriMo 2015, poems Tagged: NaPoWriMo, Tanka, travel

All is well

TREES

Sitting in my dining room, looking out of the picture windows. Everything is emerald green. I feel like I am sitting inside of a tropical rainforest. The verdant green, somehow so soothing and relaxing. So fresh, so young, so restful for my eyes. Today is a good day, a relaxed day, a “normal me” day. I’m always writing about all my anxiety, and bad feelings, so I really wanted to share today, a blissfully normal, calm, peaceful day. How many more of these are in store? Don’t know. In fact, today, I don’t care. I’ll just take this day and enjoy it. I have done nothing monumental or earth shattering, I have just sat here and enjoyed the view from my window, I have done laundry (haha) I have made lunch for myself, keeping in ming all my food allergies, I have fed my kitty Fluffin and given her her medicine. I’ve played Scrabble online, It isn’t important what I’ve done. What is important is that I have done it feeling calm, peaceful, and normal. Is there a lesson in this? Yes! It doesn’t matter what you do, it matters how you do it, that is to say in what state of mind you do it! Oh I really do hope this mood stays around for a while. I am going to do all in my power to make it stay. I really like it when I can smile, for no reason, just smile :-) And feel strong, and in control of my moods. Did this happen because of the meds? Because of the season? Because of some amazing insight I had? Maybe al little of all of the above. The perfect concoction, prescription, potion of all the ingredients, with a pinch of exercise thrown in. Yaaay! Today is my favorite day in all the days that have recently passed. Now I am getting ready for a cocktail party, and later going to Salsa dancing with my friend Cata! Bye, gtg and get ready! Love and hugs for you all.


Acidic Anxiety

I’ve been a bundle of nerves all day. Mentally absent. I hear what goes on around me but I don’t…comprehend it. I can feel myself reaching that point where one thing, the tiniest little whisper of a breeze or a feather dropping on me…Might just push me over the edge. It is not illogical. It is hard learned experience. I can do so much and then…Crash, crash, burn.

Around two pm when I reached hour four of dish time, even though technically, I couldn’t bring myself to actually leave the shop. R wanted a lunch companion and that’s what he got. Except I refused to fetch lunch because it was an unfamiliar place crowded every day and today…I just couldn’t do it. I’d like to say I chose not to, but the bottom line is…I literally could not force myself to do something as simple as fetch a lunch from a restaurant.
It makes sense in one respect. I’ve got the school carnival thing tonight for my kid and already the stomach is in pretzels and churning with acid. The closest analogy I have to explain the anxiety induced stomach aches is…Ever watch someone pour coca cola on corroded car battery cables…And it foams and sizzles ad “eats” away at the corrosion…Well, that’s how my stomach feels 80% of the time. Antacids don’t do anything, not even the prescription ones. I drink milk. I picture stops signs. I breathe.
To no avail.
My anxiety has chosen to manifest itself physically and by all accounts, this is an inherent quality in the females on my maternal side. Breaking out in hives was the common thing with my mom and her mom. My sister gets stomach aches and throws up.
I just get slammed with a plethora of acidic panic responses. It’s awesome. NOT.

The closer it gets to time to go, the more trepidation I feel. I know it will be fine, no one is out to physically harm me, the world won’t end if I do freak out and projectile vomit on people…
Guess what?
Anxiety doesn’t give a rat’s ass about logic. It wouldn’t be a disorder if simple logic solved it.
And I know I am supposed to feel shitty because I see all the people around me and their lives are moving on and improving and some even had/have mental issues. So apparently if they can all shake it off, I am in the wrong. I don’t think positive enough. My distorted thoughts and nerve impulses are somehow a figment of my imagination or byproduct of pessimism.
It’s very difficult to keep relating to people like that because you know they’re buying into the “I’m cured” spiel and maybe it’s true for some. And those are the worst because the DO judge you for being negative and not rising above it as they did.
In some ways, “reformed” mentally ill people are worse than people simply ignorant of mental illness. Kind of like how former smokes become self righteous holier than thou types towards those who continue to smoke.
Supportiveness. That’s all I want, all I ask for. I don’t want to be enabled. Just…empathized with. Same as I can empathize with others.

I’ll get that right about the time they genetically engineer a pegasporkacorn.

For now I am tense (in spite of my daily full dose of Xanax) and the low mood has just kept tugging me under all day. I can tell I’m heading for crash crash burn land. Same as last week when I pushed myself so hard I ended up in panxietyland, too scared to even leave the house.
But bless her heart, my kid asked, “Mommy, do you really want to go tonight? Because we don’t have to…”
And the fact she could be so empathetic toward my discomfort makes me want to be ten feet tall and bulletproof and do normal things that make her happy. (Ask me later after she causes a public spectacle beside I told her “no” to something.)

I will TRY.
And that is a hell of a lot more than what I see a lot of people claiming disability do. I am making the effort. Just haven’t stuck the landing yet. And I’m not quite ready to give up on myself yet.
I am making progress on several fronts, even as I drown in the depressive ooze.
I’m down, but far from out.

I just don’t think I have the energy to shower and clean up for this shindig. I will slather on Skin So Soft, which wards off all stench, double dose the pits with antisweatypowderysmellystuff and…
I’m not good at bolstering my confidence.
But if it goes horribly awry…I will not hesitate to grab a Mangorita to bring me down off the ledge.
Fuck guilt.
I am TRYING.

Clown shoes.


From the Archives: Voices and Disappointment

Please note: This post is from the archives and does not necessarily reflect where my progress is today.

Well, I knew the ugly head of my illness would show up again, but I didn’t quite know it would be so fast.

I am having trouble with hearing voices again. This has gone on for a few days now. I finally gave up this morning and took a perphenazine which should help. I hate the perphenazine though…it makes my head feel full and sluggish.

I heard lots of noise outside my head last night. I am even getting some demons in there telling me I will go to HELL. The demons are just ridiculous. They sound like a parody of demons. It is even sort of hard to be frightened of them. I want to laugh and say “With you demons in my head, I feel like I am IN hell.” But I say nothing. I want to be polite.

Since I had the voices and took the perphenazine, I have a migraine. So I have more meds to take that away. My head is a mess. I feel high…but in a bad way.

I had so much planned today. I was going to give a presentation to some nursing students. I had my book club tonight. (I even read the book.) I had to cancel the presentation and boy did I ever feel guilty. Now the other guy who was going has to do it alone. He’s very articulate and I know he will do a good job, but I still feel bad. He is new…like I am…and it is tough to get out there alone. Not attending the book club is not such a big deal. There are about 12 people at it and one more or less doesn’t make a difference. But darn it, I read the book and liked it!

I checked my calendar tomorrow as I know I had better clear things for a couple of days. Yoga was tomorrow, but that doesn’t matter much. I have an appointment with my psychiatrist which I MUST go to. He’s got to hear about these voices and what they are telling me. I really don’t want to go into the hospital. I have a good friend I was going to go out with tomorrow night. I just called her and asked if she could come over to the house and have a little snack supper and chat. I can likely do that. Getting out is just the hard part. Saturday I have a friend coming in the morning to visit. She is bipolar also, so she doesn’t care how I look or feel. She will be there with me. And Saturday night I have my dreaded sister-in-law and her nice husband for dinner. I’ve got easy menu planned: grilled chicken, vegetables, potatoes from the slow cooker, rolls.

A lot of this is my fault. I was so happy at feeling better, that I overextended. But I just clutch at the straws of recovery because it is so nice. I’ve been down so long.

I’m wondering if I shouldn’t start making my calendar with every other day being a “free” day. Maybe Monday do stuff but Tuesday nothing. Build in some nothing time. The problem is these damned voices. You just never know when they are going to start up. I just CAN’T go on anything else for them. The perphenazine is just awful. I can’t drive on it and can barely think.

I know that recovery is two steps forward and one step back. Wait, let’s make that one step forward and two steps back. I don’t even know what to think any more. Will I ever get normal again for a period of time? Will it always be like this with the voices? I so desperately want to recover. I am doing all I know how to do. I feel sad and overwhelmed.

I have people I could reach out to, but I am ashamed. Afraid they will be disappointed in my voices again. And there is that fear that I will lose them as friends because they will have a fear of my craziness. Who wants to go to the movies with someone with voices? I haven’t even told my best friend about all this because I don’t want to burden her. I know she would listen, but she doesn’t need my troubles. The only people I totally can tell are the other mentally ill in my life. They get it. My husband doesn’t totally get it, but he is extremely supportive. He’s doing the best he can.

Is it wrong to wish that important people in your life could have voices and bipolar for one week? That they could walk in your shoes and know the fear and sadness? I want more than anything to be dependable and happy. I go back and back in my mind to the times I was happy. They are something to hold on to.

I’m not sure where I would be if it wasn’t for this blog. I love being able to talk in this anonymous world and let my feelings out. If you are reading this, know that you are helping me along. I feel your strength and weakness and know you are there.

Demons, be gone!

lily

Mental Ilness Is A Neverending Flu

(Title inspired by my beloved lord and master of squirrel wrath.)

It’s true. “I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, it was horrible.”
Hmm…”Makes you too sick to enjoy anything but not sick enough to want to die.”
(Latter part debatable at times.)

YESSSS, That is, in my infinite evil wisdom, what I want for every single person who doubts the validity of mental illness. 365 days of the flu with fluids spewing out both ends, entire body aching, head throbbing, fever, no appetite…

Mental illness is exactly that. Some days are the “chained to the toilet how can I have not expelled any internal organs yet” kind. Others are the tired achy kind. And the comes the “I think I am on the mend” where you’re still low on energy but compared to the worst of it…it’s all good.
Unlike the flu, mental illness never truly goes away. It’s just a daily infection of the mind that varies in severity.
And unlike flu shots, we can’t inoculate ourselves.

So yeah, yesterday. I think it was the first time in weeks I haven’t posted a single thing. Maybe because I puked up 3 or 4 posts Tuesday, maybe things are just too grim…In every way.
I’m muddling through. But the sadness of those around me grieving the loss of Bruce isn’t enough to kick depression’s ass. If anything, it’s one more point in my column of “life is fucking futile.”
None of us get out alive.
Yet when someone dies so tragically, simply doing a kind deed, it makes you realize that YOU are still alive and you should be fucking grateful and relish every moment because someone always has it worse and HOW DARE YOU BE SO SELFISH AS TO BE DEPRESSED WHEN SUCH AWFUL THINGS ARE GOING ON IN REALITY?

And zero fucks are given by depression.

I’m on this ledge. I am being a mom. I am being a friend to R. I am trying to keep my shit together even as my allergies and sinus issues have me tied to a tissue box horking up, sneezing, dripping (you’re welcome for that visual.)The pressure from the sinuses is like a cage screwed around my skull ala something from Saw. The housework has once again gotten out of control.
I haven’t bathed since..Um…Sunday. Or was it Monday?
I’m doing the depressive zombie shuffle. Going through the motions. Not entirely numb to everything yet…It’s all wrapped in this gauze and my emotions are coated in novacaine…It’s not as bad as the Lithium “apathy in a pill” was. But similar.

Me, me, me. I. I. I. I, me, I, me, I, me.
It’s all about me.
Hey, if I could live a mind that has nothing to do with me, I’d consider it winning the lottery. But as this is what I am stuck with…

I keep doing the therapy mind hoodoo tricks. “It’s sad someone died. You should feel sad. But you don’t need to let it worsen your depression.”
Depression flips this thought off with both fingers.
My depression’s worsened all on its own. This is just…tragedy reminding me that there’s no balance in the universe. Worthless people who contribute nothing live on and on and a nice guy tries to help a neighbor cut up some firewood and he dies in a freak accident…
Then comes the socially infused low self esteem: “You don’t work, you don’t contribute, so where do you get off saying that about anyone else?”
And on this one, IF I can shut out all the rude insensitive people who think mental illness is a scam, I remind myself…Okay, I am not stable enough for employment. BUT I am taking care of my child, keeping a roof over our head, making sure she gets fed and educated. I am contributing to her life by being a present parent. That’s more than some (including her sperm donor) do.

Fuck you, depression. I respect your almighty powers to distort and convince me that I should just go walk in front of a bus…But…yeah, fuckest thou.

(And yet that ball of depressive pus and misery remains, sticking his tongue out at me like a five year old on a playground.)

Why is it depression is viewed as some kind of ingratitude?
It’s not that I am ungrateful for what I do have. It’s not that I think my pain is any worse than others’.
I have an illness.
The flu, only in virulent mental form.

I am supposed to go hold R’s hand at the shop. Yet I need to bathe. My stomach is in a pretzel. I see all the nasty housework I need to do. And tonight is my kid’s spring carnival which has me petrified (not of having a panic attack, but of ya know, the bad panic attacks that result in me throwing up on people and things. Explain to me how I can
“think” my way out of vomiting? And it’s not even my own humiliation I care about, because geesh, once you’ve puked over the side of a boat on a first date…You’ve experienced the worst in humiliation.
I worry about making my kid a pariah amongst her school friends. Or worse, the narrow minded parents deciding their kid can’t play with mine because I am obviously a nutcase.
And no amount of cognitive positive bullshit spewage is going to make it better. It’s a valid fear. I’ve already got a couple of kids in the trailer park whose parents won’t let them play with my kid because they think since I had a female friend stay with me a few months, I am a lesbian thus unfit for their kids to be around.
The ignorance makes me not want them around my kid. Not to mention those are the devil girls and I don’t miss their destruction and demands at all. But seeing them run loose and my kid tries to talk to them and wants to play and they say, “Our parents won’t let us play here anymore…”
I get it. People are ignorant fucks. With that kind of mentality, I want to move a man and a woman in with me, and maybe a donkey. Let them talk about that. Cos it’s none of your fucking business.
But worse…taking it out on my five year old?
My misanthropy is based on hard evidence. It’s not pessimism or being anti social. It’s just a lifetime of encountering utterly shitty people.
And while you can be homophobic (stupid) if you want and make whatever assumptions about me you want but…when it comes down on my kid, I get stabby.
I’ve gotten off point.
Still…School carnival. Gym full of loud kids and preppy parents (Or worse, the “wrong side of town” brawlers who are training the next gen of bullies.) It’s not going to be easy for me. And frankly, every fiber of my being wants to say fuck it. BUT I have robbed my kid of so much childhood normality with my anxieties and depressions and even my sparse manic bouts…
I can fall apart afterwards. It’s ninety minutes out of the day. I will just need a LOT of Xanax.
But then guess what…
I get to turn around and do it again Tuesday, because she got this end of year party for her reading throughout the year.
And it’s all about me.
Fuck you, scumbag brain.
It knows I am unraveling and every single thing I have to force myself to do just pushes me one step closer to that edge…

I’m alive. I should be dancing a jig and sniffing flowers and using the ends of a rainbow to jump rope.

The eternal flu that is depression gives zero fucks.


Big Days Ahead

My middle daughter has some big days coming–today’s her  sixteenth birthday, and she goes to take her driver’s test this morning to get her license.  She found out yesterday that she made a 31 on her ACT, so she feels good about her collegiate future.

It’s our second time through all these milestones, but they feel new just the same. Our middle one is a little different than our oldest one.  Both were very confident in themselves, but the middle one is  a little more self-motivated than her sister.  She keeps her grades high because it’s a matter of pride for her.  She’s excited to have made a 31, but now wants to try again to see if she can make a 33.  With all these brains comes a candy-store problem of what to do with them.  She is unsure what she wants to major in.  Our oldest knew from the time she was in ninth grade what she wanted to do.  So they are different in that aspect as well.

But our middle one has always been her own person, so we’ve never had to worry about negative peer pressure–she’s a leader rather than a follower.  She’s very special to us as are the other two.  So Happy Birthday, Little Bit.  Hope it’s a wonderful one.


a-z challenge: z

a2z-badge-000-2015-life-is-goodI used a scrabble word finder to check out words starting with Z and I haven’t felt so uninspired since… a couple of days ago at X. It was late, Z was elusive and the little mofo continued the trend as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Sleep, the final frontier. To sleep, perchance to stay the fuck awake instead. Sleep, the show and tell edition, in which I spend the first half whingeing and the second half showing you some South African stuff.

Disclaimer: I wrote this post during a tragic 3am phase. None of the mistakes are my fault.

Lullablur slurabyes and lovesongs for sleep…

It’s all soothing till the last few songs – what a nasty bastard of a playlist.

“I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist. Or something like that. I think wanting that is very morbid, but I want it when I get like this. That’s why I’m trying not to think. I just want it all to stop spinning.” ― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

When the drugs don’t work…

This is on my schleepy playlist, but just in case you didn’t get that far, you’re so going to relate to it…

Usually the pill takes an hour or so to hit me veeery gently over the head with a phoenix down pillow, no shitty hangover from it either. Occasionally if my mind is too wired and/or tired, I neutralise the pill with subconscious ninjapolar skills. The skills have to be subconscious, or else I’d have sprayed the little mofos with a napalm DDT cocktail a long time go.

I love the smell of sleeplessness in the morning…

Fighting off sleep gave me those skills (habit) and by the time you’ve been at it for around 30 years, your ability to stay awake is phenomenal. Not you, me. Things got a lot better by the time I was 40 or so and eventually I developed the ninjability to sleep far too much. It pisses other people off hugely, but I love it. Then it became better balanced and only mania and stress can damage it now.

“Why can I never go back to bed? Who’s is the voice ringing in my head? Where is the sense in these desperate dreams? Why should I wake when I’m half past dead?” ― Emilie Autumn, 4 o’clock

Emilie Autumn is the sound of insomnia.

bushbabyI love sleep, but stress puts me into hypervigilant mode (the joy of c-ptsd) and so my subconscious pulls my eyes open like a bushbaby on acid and that’s that; my amygdala and I, sitting on the ramparts waiting for armageddon. Mania trips sleep up and gets me to party instead; mixed episodes send me up to the ramparts again, this time with an ak47 and rocket fuel rage. It’s easier to achieve calm before than after whatever is happening has happened. Sleeplessness leaves a dazed hangover in its wake (I love bad puns) and if my dear friends panic and anxiety have been around, it becomes what we call a bang babalas – the sort of hangover where you’re jumpy as hell and as shaky as the proverbial leaf.

“I wonder why I don’t go to bed and go to sleep. But then it would be tomorrow, so I decide that no matter how tired, no matter how incoherent I am, I can skip on hour more of sleep and live.” ― Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

The sleeplessness hangover works the same as alcoholic ones, usually minus the puking. I get loads of fluids into my system and solid food as soon as I can face it. Pills for the headache, if there is one. Dim lighting, avoid people, and I find myself hunching over more and more. And the day devoted to rehabbing my mind doesn’t guarantee sleep anyway. It can go on for days.

GenX, this one’s for you.

Sometimes it’s less melodramatic, sleep is minimal at night and eventually I give in to the urge to nap during the day. I don’t have power naps, I have oblivion. And so the self perpetuating cycle grinds along and life becomes steadily and inexorably shitty. I love those naps though, that druggy descent feels so damn good. According to my amygdala, it’s safer to sleep in daylight when the demons are out at work. My poor frontal lobe never really stood a chance. C-ptsd fucked sleep up both nostrils from the get go, and then bipolar joined in the fun. Sleep makes bipolar worse, bipolar makes sleep worse. I can handle the occasional sleepless night just fine, but when it becomes a pattern, I fall apart.

“I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” ― Ernest Hemingway

I love sleep, but the love is unrequited. I love sleep, but I’m conditioned to kick its ass when night falls. I love sleep, but embracing it passionately during daylight hours screws everything else up.  I love sleep, but the suppressed fear of it keeps me from it. I love sleep, but sleep stands me up, night after night. I love sleep, but sleep is a slut. I love sleep, but the lack of it makes me monkeyminded. I hate sleep, because I’m frightened of it.

“Sleep, those little slices of death — how I loathe them.” ― Edgar Allan Poe

Not everyone can stand me when I’m asleep or trying to be; I snore like a chainsaw, sometimes the mess and/or fear sweats drench my head and smell horribly sweet, sometimes there are night terrors. Initially, I will always fall asleep last, hypervigilance doing its thing. Secretly, I want to fall asleep first, in her arms. If/when we get that far, my issues vanish and then sleep is just sleep and I love tangling into it.

“Making love with a woman and sleeping with a woman are two separate passions, not merely different but opposite. Love does not make itself felt in the desire for copulation (a desire that extends to an infinite number of women) but in the desire for shared sleep (a desire limited to one woman).” ― Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Take it away, 2pac…

Home…

Here’s the finest lullaby in time and space and it’s from my own country. It’s a traditional Zulu song and if you ever speak to me about the Helmut Lotti version, I will excommunicate, eject and evict you. It is sad as well as exquisite, as you’ll see in the lyrics. You all speak Zulu, right?

(The video is fucked up – some fool had the idea of including a photo of George Bush holding a baby in it, but it’s the only one I could find.)

Thula Baba (Thula Thul)

Original Zulu

Thula thul, thula baba thula sana;
thul’ u bab’uzo fika eku seni;
thula seni
kukh’in kanyezi ziholel’ u baba,
zimkhan yisela indlel’e
ziyekhaya sobelekhaya.
Tula thula, thula baba
sikhona xa bonke beshoyo,
bethi buyela ubuye
ziyekhaya sobelekhaya.
Thula san.

English translation

Keep quiet my child
Keep quiet my baby
Be quiet, daddy will be home by dawn
There’s a star that will lead him home
The star will brighten his way home

The hills and stones are still the same my love
My life has changed, yes my life has changed

The children grow but you don’t know my love
The children grew but you don’t see them grow

The singer, Miriam Makeba , is a South African institution and we are incredibly honoured and fortunate that she came back after three decades in political exile. Rest in peace, Mama Africa (1932-2008).

In South Africa, even sleep is political.

Before he sings, Vusi Mahlasela tells a story about the dark days of apartheid that makes my eyes leak a bit. If you get through it untouched, I suspect you of being neither human nor humane.

The Thula Project, an album of South African lullabies.

No babbling about sleep would be complete without…

Frrrom the man people think is Morgan Freeman…

town

Dismal

The Department of Justice estimates that about 15 percent of state prisoners now “report symptoms that met the criteria for a psychotic disorder.”

http://www.vox.com/2015/4/29/8515489/clinton-mental-health-prisons

“Our prisons and our jails are now our mental health institutions,” Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton declared in a Wednesday speech on criminal justice reform.

Data on the incarceration of mentally ill Americans bears out Clinton’s point. In the past 50 years, there’s been a marked shift of mental health patients away from state-run institutions and to jails and prisons.

One recent report found that America’s jails and prisons now house 10 times as many mental health patients as state institutions.

This shift, as Clinton noted in her remarks, began with good intentions. In the 1960s and 1970s, mental health practitioners began to move patients out of long-stay psychiatric facilities — the type that came to be associated with abuse and neglect — and into more community-based treatment centers.

“You and I know that the promise of de-institutionalizing those in mental health facilities was supposed to be followed by the creation of community-based treatment centers,” Clinton said in her remarks. “Well, we got half of that equation — but not the other half.”

As the number of hospital beds at state psychiatric hospitals has shrunk, advocates have become concerned that patients lack access to adequate treatment, and that the prison and jail system has become a stand-in for the psychiatric hospitals that are disappearing.

“Looking back, it is possible to see the mistakes, and a primary problem was that mental health policy makers overlooked the difficulty of finding resources to meet the needs of a marginalized group of people living in scattered sites in the community,” Chris Koyanagi of the Bazelon Center for Mental Health concluded in his 2007 history of de-institutionalization.

The Department of Justice estimates that about 15 percent of state prisoners now “report symptoms that met the criteria for a psychotic disorder.” Inmates with mental health problems are more likely to be charged with violating the facility’s rules, with either physical fighting or verbal assaults. They are also more likely to have a history of substance abuse, be victims of physical or sexual abuse, and to have experienced homelessness in the year before their arrest.

Advocacy groups say prisons and jails are ill-equipped to provide mental health patients with the treatment they need. Inmates with serious mental health problems tend to have worse outcomes while incarcerated. Advocates cite previous studies showing that those with serious mental illness are disproportionately held in solitary confinement and frequently attempt suicide.