Monthly Archives: October 2015

Pass Gently Through the Veil this Night

Pale Simulacra

“Death doesn’t exist. It never did, it never will. But we’ve drawn so many pictures of it, so many years, trying to pin it down, comprehend it, we’ve got to thinking of it as an entity, strangely alive and greedy. All it is, however, is a stopped watch, a loss, an end, a darkness. Nothing.”
― Ray BradburySomething Wicked This Way Comes


Exhaustatwitchymerf

I’m alive, I swear. Sort of. Somewhere.

It was half-term this past week, and my eldest once again ended up sick for the entire duration of a holiday period. Earlier in the year, that meant two weeks of chickenpox (conveniently infecting the littler one as well) — this time it was one of the grossest mouth ulcers I’ve ever seen… and I’ve had looooooots of ulcers myself. So it was a week of wheedling and trying to not be too pushy to get her to take in sufficient nutrients and moisture. She hit this morning with realising that she could talk again, and has eaten something solid, so hooray for that much. It was probably less draining to deal with than her on full steam, but it was still exhausting.

It also doesn’t help that I’m suspecting the Depakote of giving me some not-that-great side effects. I’ve had midday headaches all week in a pretty brutal fashion. I don’t know if I can pin that on the Depakote squarely, but I feel that I can with the weird muscle twitches that I’m having. It’s mainly in my legs and it’s like… wahey, quit trying to jerk outwards kthnx. Honestly, I don’t know if it’s side effect enough to consider asking to switch off of it for something else, but I guess I will ask the doctor when I see her next. My weight has also gone up slightly, but as we’re talking five pounds max, I don’t think anyone is going to worry about that.

Mood-wise, I’m not really sure where I am. I was sitting here last weekend feeling cautiously optimistic about things levelling off when I got slammed by a random jag of depression. This was combined with me flailing to find things to do because I knew on some level that the depression was around, but that I wasn’t doing enough things to distract myself from it. Having sick kids and work and feeling physically crap do a lot to distract me from my brain, so I’m not sure where I am right now either.

Hah, so of course, I manage to find allll the things to distract me for an hour. As long as I’m getting by and mainly smiling, right?

<3

Halloweirdness FML

Ten months a year I wait for Halloween. Every year almost, by the time it gets here…I am in the downward spiral of seasonal depression. This year is no different and it is not just bumming me out but pissing me off.

I used to daydream of one day having a child and how fun it would be to take them trick or treating.

Now…It’s cold, gray, and raining and my kid is being a royal brat and my body aches from dish week and…I don’t give a fuck that it’s Halloween. I don’t want to take her Trick or Treating. I can barely be arsed to put on real clothes, let alone dress up. My joy has been stolen once again by that bastard depression and IT PISSES ME THE FUCK OFF.

She is pulling the Uzi rapid fire routine this morning. Ninety minutes awake, ninety minutes of constant chatter, her yelling at me, defying me, manipulating me…My dad has already called announcing their intention to visit. With it raining they will probably want to come inside and I cannot allow my biohazard four shame to be seen and judged. (Doesn’t bother me so much with R, he barely notices if my hair is on fire, let alone if my house is crawling with hybrid spidercats.) But my judgmental father and my stepmother who constantly bitches that my wax melt things aggravate her allergies so she doesn’t want to come inside…

Fuck off. Seriously. I don’t want my bubble invaded by their negativity and judgment. By anyone really. This is my sanctuary, scuzzy as it may be. No McMuggles!

So far, I’ve done fuck all but get out of bed, come to the living room rather than cryptify, and feed the cats. I can’t even be bothered to make fresh iced tea, I am choking down the stale stuff from yesterday. Most of me wishes I were still in bed with that uber comfy uber warm blankie I shall call Vanilla for it is white like vanilla ice cream. Vanilla and I are engaged. I may marry that damned blanket.  Never in my life have I owned anything so posh. Loooove at first snuggle.

Alas, I must be awake so the spawn doesn’t impale cats on forks or set the place on fire rubbing two sticks together.

I keep trying to pep talk myself into being “up”. What’s so bad about my life, really? What do I have to be depressed about? Which is the ultimate pisser of depression. It doesn’t matter if you just won the lottery, met the love of your life, or put an end of war. It just is. Dragging you down without reason. Blocking out all rays of light. Smothering you with its weight, making breathing seem exhausting. I want to shake it off. Desperately. Yet…it has embedded into my bone marrow once again. I see the shrink Monday and I am scared to even mention that I’m not all cured. Cripes, two anti depressants, a mood stabilizer, Focalin, Xanax, Restoril…I should be higher than a fucking kite. Yet that sad undertow remains, more prevalent on some days than others but I feel it just the same.

I guess I will just address the immense anxiety. I want to drop to the floor sobbing and beg for Valium. Never had it. Maybe it’s shit. But the restoril isn’t relaxing me enough at night to sleep solidly, I need something. Just not hypnotics, those are not for me. Fuck, I don’t know, I’m a bloody trainwreck. There is this part of me so sick of being “too solid” as far as the manic episodes go, I want to go off the Lamictal. Let the moods swing if it means I might reach an up patch. I know I can’t, it would be irresponsible as a parent because nothing good comes out of manic behavior…I still fantasize about even a few weeks of excess energy, social skills, and just not feeling….like this.

I think I woke every hour on the hour last night. Just like the night before. And weirdly, my kid stayed down both nights and in her own bed. So why, considering the xanax/restoril bedtime routine, can’t I sleep through? It’s been a year of this shit, and it’s exhausting. It’s not a mystery why I am tense, impatient, and grumpy. I never truly get to recharge. Hell, I’d settle for staying down four solid hours rather than spend ten hours in bed, only sleeping in seventy minute increments. And this terror/jolt thing every time I start to drift off…I haven’t had that problem since I was a child.

My brain has gone off the reservation. It’s throwing me curveballs, it’s pitching same old, same old, it’s firing rocket launchers at my nerve endings.

Robbing me of the mind frame to truly enjoy my one day of the year is the ultimate cruelty.

I am gonna go back to watching this show I just found called “Life”. Rarely does a show suck me in after one episode but this one did. Maybe if I just chill and stop putting so much pressure on myself, I will revive, reanimate, something positive. Unlikely with the Uzi fire still coming at me.

Sorry for the lack of humor in this post. I  usually try to balance out the gloom with some good snarks but…I just don’t have any right now. Depression has proven to be Snarkasma’s Kryptonite.


Caturday Smile

Bob the cat

Tagged: cat, caturday, fun, smile

Going Inpatient: One Year Later

I will never again be able to think about Halloween without remembering where I was on October 31st, 2014. I’d written a short post here saying that I’d hit bottom and was going to the hospital, then after my psych eval I sat in the “safe room” in the ER for six looooong hours waiting to be transported to the inpatient psychiatric unit in the next town. I remember riding through the tree-lined streets, watching all the happy trick-or-treaters from my cramped space in the back of a car that had doors that didn’t open from the inside, and missing my grandsons with whom I’d much have preferred to spend the evening.

I remember being greeted by the security guard who searched me and the admitting nurse who showed me around the unit. Both of them were very kind and non-threatening…and then, horror of horrors, I met a nurse I used to work with on the medical/surgical floor at another hospital. I didn’t recall her especially fondly—she was not the warm fuzzy type of nurse at all—but she was the one who put on my wristband and took my vital signs while we made what small talk I was capable of on that night.

I remember being quite dismayed that I could not have a fan in my room (it was HOT in there) and that there wasn’t even a clock by which I could tell the time. Oh yeah, duh—electrical cords were a big no-no because you could hang yourself with them, and of course there were no outlets anyway because some long-ago patient somewhere had probably managed to electrocute himself. Suicidal people can be tricky that way, and I was reminded of this fact when I tried to hang a sweatshirt and jeans on the hook in the bathroom only to have it bend down and dump everything on the floor. My room was searched for contraband at least once daily, usually in the early morning hours—the CNA smiled and called it a “safety check”. And when I tried to save a spoon for cocoa, I was nicely but firmly instructed to go get it and bring it to the nurse for counting. All of which served to remind me that in the inpatient setting, I was someone who couldn’t be trusted…and believe me, when you’ve spent a good part of your life holding others’ lives in your hands, that feels really, really weird.

I didn’t like being in this situation. I didn’t like being locked up. But in a rare moment of clarity early in my hospitalization, I realized that I was safe, and that if I didn’t take a breather from my life on the outside and let people help me for a change, being in there wouldn’t do me any good. So I went to groups and attended all the meetings and talked to my treatment team every day. I listened to other patients’ stories and didn’t feel as bad about my own predicament after hearing some of theirs. And as time went on, I began to feel like maybe there was hope after all and found myself taking pleasure in small things, like a shared laugh with my peers on the unit and a good cry during “The Fault In Our Stars”, a movie the nurses had rented for us.

Now, a year to the day after my admission, I know that I have come a long, long way. Even though nothing is perfect (and Dr. Awesomesauce STILL doesn’t agree that my bipolar is in full remission), life is one hell of a lot better than it was then. Much of it has to do with the fact that God and/or the Fates have evidently chosen to smile on me a little more often, but also that I’ve made peace with the illness as an ongoing part of life—it’s not something that will ever go away entirely, and I will have to be on guard against relapse forever. I’m fully cognizant that more hospital stays may be in my future, and that this whole thing will probably have to be fought out all over again.

But I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made over the past 365 days. After all, the road to recovery is long and hard…and sadly, some folks don’t get there.

 


Veg-cation

I have hit my limit on the dish of petri, of my kid’s babbling, of my own nerve endings cannibalizing themselves…At the risk of sounding dramatic and entitled…I am exhausted. By that I mean…the mental gauge is on E. I need a brain reboot involving solid sleep (I should be so lucky between spawn and scumbag brain).

So tonight I am gonna take veg-cation. It’s like a staycation only I am going to lay like broccoli under a posh warm blanket (BEST GIFT EVER) and watch a scary movie or something mindless. I wave the white flag.

***Not responsible for any heart attacks/fainting spells/jaws breaking when they hit the floor because omg, Morgueticia said something NICE. You’ve been warned.***

I love you all, Tribe. You’ve all brought so much support and empathy into my life that I frequently feel blessed to be a part of this wordpress family. You people rock the casbah.

Now exit the blanket fort, Morgue is going off line. Well, AFK, anyway. Off line no no no, must always be connected even if not using the computer/phone/etc.

Love, sporks, and bison leprechaun burgers for all. <3


Transphobia, Instagram, and Why I’m Done Hiding

Confession: While I am out and proud as a transgender person, I’ve been afraid of what it means to be truly visible.

As a transgender writer and activist, I’m not difficult to find on the web – I tweet my love for Taco Bell and LUSH (we got married once, I think), I post thought-provoking content on LQTU’s Facebook page and my own personal page.

Hell, I have this blog. I’m definitely not a private person.

But many readers have pointed out that unlike many public figures, I am not particularly prolific when it comes to posting photos of myself. While many of my social justice heroes are reveling in their selfies and building entire communities around their Instagram shenanigans, it’s rare that I share my face with my audience.

More than once, I’ve been asked that if I believe visibility for our community is so important, why am I so invisible when it comes to photo and video content? And why is my Instagram – which many of you were clever enough to find – private and restricted while every other platform is easily accessible?

Transphobia. That’s why.

#TransLooksLike me, in this body, in this moment.

#TransLooksLike me, in this body, in this moment.

Secretly I was hoping that, when I finally get on hormones, when I finally “look” and “sound” like a trans person, I could emerge like a butterfly from the cocoon and finally share my life in this way.

Because I was afraid that, as a trans person who is in the beginning stages of their medical transition, I would be rejected as “not trans enough” if I dared to be too visible.

It’s rich, isn’t it? Because I talk a lot about how I am trans enough, exactly as I am (I was published in a fucking fantastic book saying this EXACT THING). But I’m still terrified that I’ll be labeled a fraud if people could actually see me.

I turned down speaking engagements and podcasts for this reason. I postponed the launch of my YouTube series for this reason. I ignored requests for phone interviews because I grew tired of hearing people call and say, “Is this Sam Dylan Finch? …really?”

I apologized so many times for not looking the way that I “should,” sounding the way that I “should,” and reasoned that if I just waited until testosterone “fixed me,” I could finally live as visibly and joyfully as I wanted to.

I’ve already been subject to so much criticism (especially and almost exclusively from other trans people), saying that I don’t deserve to be visible because I’m not “actually trans.” There are entire conspiracy theories online that state that I’m doing this to “become famous” and that, in my real life, I don’t actually live as an out trans person (a hurtful and malicious lie).

They reason that I don’t post photos very often because I’m an imposter, a transtrender, a fake. They’ve actually contacted my readers before through social media and, while misgendering me, stated that this is all a publicity stunt that “she” is doing for attention.

I would be lying if I said this kind of harassment didn’t affect me.

The criticism convinced me that it was better to wait for the hormones, better to wait until I was valid in the eyes of a transphobic society, than to share myself with my readers and take up opportunities that could make a real difference in my community and in my own happiness.

This kind of bullshit keeps so many transgender people closeted, because they fear that no one will believe them. This kind of bullshit is violence against transgender people who, for whatever their personal reasons are, cannot or do not want to medically transition. And this kind of bullshit creates a hierarchy of trans people, suggesting that some of us are more valid, more beautiful, more acceptable than others.

This kind of bullshit has to stop.

Today, I created a public Instagram profile and ditched the private profile once and for all.

Because I’m not going to let transphobia dictate how I live my life. I’m not going to let transphobia keep me closeted. I’m not going to let transphobia keep me from being visible as the curvy, queer, non-binary badass that I am.

And most of all, I’m done hiding because all trans people are valid. Each and every one of us – regardless of circumstances, regardless of our choices, regardless of our bodies – are valid and real and authentic in every sense.

I don’t want to let transphobia rule my life. I don’t want to wait until the day when I’m finally deemed “acceptable.” My body does not determine whether or not I am transgender – I do.

#TransLooksLike me, with my awkward and unintentional bowl cut, my big glasses, my round goofy face, my big unapologetic smile.

#TransLooksLike you, no matter the skin you’re in, no matter the body you have, curves or no curves and every shape in-between.

#TransLooksLike all of us, in our diverse beauty, with the collective energy and power that we bring to our communities and our world.

I’m not going to hide to make other people more comfortable. This is what #TransLooksLike – yesterday, today, always.

I’m transgender because I say I am. Not because I look a certain way, not because I act a certain way, not because I follow some prescribed set of rules or expectations.

And I’m going to post so many damn selfies, y’all. Try and stop me.

I encourage you – especially if you know how it feels to be told you’re not valid, you’re not trans enough, you’re an imposter, you’re not binary enough, you’re not acceptable – to join me as we flood the internet with our gorgeous faces.

Tag me in your photos (/samdylanfinch on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and use the hashtag #TransLooksLike. Let’s revel in how fucking beautiful we are. Let’s show the world what transgender really looks like.


 Sam Dylan Finch is a transgender activist and feminist writer, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is the founder of Let’s Queer Things Up!, his blog and labor of love, as well as a writer at Everyday Feminism and Ravishly. With a passion for impacting change through personal narrative, Sam writes about his struggles and triumphs as genderqueer and bipolar with the hopes of teaching others about his identity and community.

Connect with SDF: Website ; Facebook ; Twitter ; Tumblr ; Instagram


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Grad School Accommodations

I've worked - as an instructional assistant, substitute teacher, and full-time teacher - in schools for a little over 7 years. In that time, I've come to see that different students have different needs. For students who receive special education services, they have a legal document in place called an IEP or an Individualized Education Program. It basically lays out the modifications and accommodations that the school and teacher must comply with in order to meet the student's needs.

But, IEP's only apply to K-12 education. There are no IEP's in college or graduate school. However, many colleges do have an Office of Disability. And colleges can't discriminate against students for any disability the student may have.

I don't know how I found out about accommodations at the higher education level, but this summer I sought out the Office of Disability at my grad school to find out about what I am entitled to. Yesterday I finally followed up with them.

I brought a letter from my psychiatrist stating that I have a mood disorder and am under her care. And I had a 30-minute intake meeting with a staff member to discuss my medical and school histories. She determined that the two accommodations that would suit my circumstances best are extended time on 1-2 assignments per class per semester and 1-2 excused absences per class per semester. I knew about extended time as it is one of the accommodations some of my students received. But I was unaware of the excused absences.

I'm grateful to have been approved for these two accommodations. But in all honesty, I'm hoping that I won't need to use them. When I'm stable I can produce work. It's when I'm in the midst of an episode that I would need the help.

I really needed the help the first time I went to graduate school (for my Master's in Education. I'm now in school for my Master's in Social Work). I was depressed and could barely get out of bed to make it to student teaching and my seminar class. I did no work for my seminar class at all that semester; in fact, I didn't finish that work from fall semester until the spring semester. But at this time I wasn't diagnosed yet. I was just acting erratically. I didn't know what the problem was. I just knew I wasn't myself and I couldn't focus long enough to get my work done.

I'm hoping to make it through this grad program without enduring an episode. My program is three years long, so here's hoping. I say that because I have been manic and hospitalized every spring for the past three years. Three hospital stays in three years is a lot.

Despite that history, I'm hoping to stay stable. Thereby not needing the accommodations. But if I need them, they are there. I can't tell you how much peace of mind this brings me.

Grad School Accommodations

I've worked - as an instructional assistant, substitute teacher, and full-time teacher - in schools for a little over 7 years. In that time, I've come to see that different students have different needs. For students who receive special education services, they have a legal document in place called an IEP or an Individualized Education Program. It basically lays out the modifications and accommodations that the school and teacher must comply with in order to meet the student's needs.

But, IEP's only apply to K-12 education. There are no IEP's in college or graduate school. However, many colleges do have an Office of Disability. And colleges can't discriminate against students for any disability the student may have.

I don't know how I found out about accommodations at the higher education level, but this summer I sought out the Office of Disability at my grad school to find out about what I am entitled to. Yesterday I finally followed up with them.

I brought a letter from my psychiatrist stating that I have a mood disorder and am under her care. And I had a 30-minute intake meeting with a staff member to discuss my medical and school histories. She determined that the two accommodations that would suit my circumstances best are extended time on 1-2 assignments per class per semester and 1-2 excused absences per class per semester. I knew about extended time as it is one of the accommodations some of my students received. But I was unaware of the excused absences.

I'm grateful to have been approved for these two accommodations. But in all honesty, I'm hoping that I won't need to use them. When I'm stable I can produce work. It's when I'm in the midst of an episode that I would need the help.

I really needed the help the first time I went to graduate school (for my Master's in Education. I'm now in school for my Master's in Social Work). I was depressed and could barely get out of bed to make it to student teaching and my seminar class. I did no work for my seminar class at all that semester; in fact, I didn't finish that work from fall semester until the spring semester. But at this time I wasn't diagnosed yet. I was just acting erratically. I didn't know what the problem was. I just knew I wasn't myself and I couldn't focus long enough to get my work done.

I'm hoping to make it through this grad program without enduring an episode. My program is three years long, so here's hoping. I say that because I have been manic and hospitalized every spring for the past three years. Three hospital stays in three years is a lot.

Despite that history, I'm hoping to stay stable. Thereby not needing the accommodations. But if I need them, they are there. I can't tell you how much peace of mind this brings me.

Just Because You Can’t See It . . .

Sometimes, you just need to go to The Great One . . . and read what she has to say . . .

http://thebloggess.com/2015/10/just-because-you-cant-see-doesnt-mean-its-not-real/


Filed under: Bipolar Depressed, Psychology Shmyshmology Tagged: Bipolar, Depression, Hope, Humor, Mental Illness, Psychology, Reader, The Bloggess