Daily Archives: December 20, 2015

Thumper’s Healing, Too

Thumper the labradoodle in NAMI Walks t-shirt with wound showing   
Sick in bed, eating blueberries, drinking tea with honey, sage & thyme, downing cinnamon, turmeric and oregano oil supplements, and spritzing throat with homeopathic zinc spray. Hubby just brought me Cup Noodles (could have sworn there was an ‘o in the brand name, perhaps Nissin brand doesn’t use the ‘o). Yes, I know that the ramen noodles are not particularly healthy, but it’s quick and hits the spot when you have a cold. Once I finish the blueberries, I have a couple of tangerines waiting. My neighbors’ tree fruits abundantly.

Dogs are barking. Thumper had a growth removed on Thursday. He mustn’t jump up and down for it pulls at his stitches. Hope that the laboratory results for the growth come back negative (benign). He and Coco were working on removing the tumor themselves, something they do not do with fatty growths or sebaceous cysts. The growth was bleeding and angry looking. Thumper would scratch it and Coco would lick it.

Now Thumper is wearing my NAMI Walks tee shirt to keep Coco from licking his sutures. Since Thumper has done some running about, the shirt now has blood stains. Need to keep my big boy (he’s a huge labradoodle) from running, jumping and playing with his smaller younger playmate Coco. Together they get worked up protecting our home from any and all possible trespassers, human and animal. They spend the day barking at the neighbor’s dogs, pacing back and forth, and jumping up and down at the fence line dividing our yards. Coco jumps so high that he gets 3/4 of his body above the 5′ fence to see his two canine antagonists on the other side.


Filed under: Health Tagged: dog, dogs, pet, pets, self care, veterinary care

The Insistence of Light

I see them regularly, snaking through the traffic, passing lorries on the driver’s blind side, gliding through the lights as they change to red: cyclists with no lights in the dim light of the early afternoon, of the pitch black 5pm. Silently, I fume, confronting them in my mind with visions of what they are risking. Death, or worse. The dribble of saliva, the tremor in the hand, the rich, golden hue of the colostomy bag. Darkness visible. There is no excuse. A set of lights costs as little as £10 – batteries included. There’s so much we can do to make us safer on the road. There’s so much kit: helmets, hi vis clothing, the aforementioned lights. Stay clear – always – of lorries and buses. Wave your arms about to let you everyone what you’re about to do before you actually do it. Like car drivers do with their indicator lights.

There is so much good advice out there. In fact, with so much of it readily available it’s a wonder anyone has mental health problems, really.

Let me count the ways: eat a healthy, balanced diet, avoid alcohol, get up at a regular time each morning, pay attention to personal hygene. Then there’s talk about your feelings, keep in touch with friends and family, ask for help, accept who you are, take regular excersice (preferrably outdoors), do something you are good at and care for others. And there are all those pictures of happy, smiling people on mental health websites.

 

10-ways-compIs this really true? Does it make a positive difference to do these things? Yes and no. Yes, they are habits of well – balanced people leading fulfilling lives, both physically and mentally. So, copy these habits and … what? It’s a cure? A return to The Land of the Living?

happy

 

Or, maybe, they are utterly counter – productive. How so? After all, this advice can be found everywhere, from leaflets in doctor’s surgeries and offices. in forests of self help books. Parts of the internet are practically groaning under the weight of this guidance. Here’s the thing. All these things do promote wellness. But they also serve to underline, in no uncertain terms, how useless we mentally ill folk are. Some of us can’t bear to answer calls from friends, walk the aisles in the supermarket, much less actually prepare a meal. Sandwiches, day in, day out. Glasses of milk and biscuits – so much tasteless sugar.

Self – acceptance, the most devious of all the elements of good mental health. In the mind of many of us, at our lowest, at our worst, this spells the dissolution of all hope in any kind of positive change. A useless waste of space is who I am. The world would be better of without me. Once we accept this, it’s a long, hard road back to a life worth living. The business of living takes so much effort. The equation just doesn’t seem worth it.

And yet they insist so that these are the things we must do to get better – to be more like them – all those psychiatrists, social workers, G.P.s, nurses, support workers, and, yes, peer workers like me. Is it just the envy that stops us, or is it the effort, the sheer amounts of energy it takes to rearrange our faces and press on into the light?

Days

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin (1922 – 1985)


The Insistence of Light

I see them regularly, snaking through the traffic, passing lorries on the driver’s blind side, gliding through the lights as they change to red: cyclists with no lights in the dim light of the early afternoon, of the pitch black 5pm. Silently, I fume, confronting them in my mind with visions of what they are risking. Death, or worse. The dribble of saliva, the tremor in the hand, the rich, golden hue of the colostomy bag. Darkness visible. There is no excuse. A set of lights costs as little as £10 – batteries included. There’s so much we can do to make us safer on the road. There’s so much kit: helmets, hi vis clothing, the aforementioned lights. Stay clear – always – of lorries and buses. Wave your arms about to let you everyone what you’re about to do before you actually do it. Like car drivers do with their indicator lights.

There is so much good advice out there. In fact, with so much of it readily available it’s a wonder anyone has mental health problems, really.

Let me count the ways: eat a healthy, balanced diet, avoid alcohol, get up at a regular time each morning, pay attention to personal hygene. Then there’s talk about your feelings, keep in touch with friends and family, ask for help, accept who you are, take regular excersice (preferrably outdoors), do something you are good at and care for others. And there are all those pictures of happy, smiling people on mental health websites.

 

10-ways-compIs this really true? Does it make a positive difference to do these things? Yes and no. Yes, they are habits of well – balanced people leading fulfilling lives, both physically and mentally. So, copy these habits and … what? It’s a cure? A return to The Land of the Living?

happy

 

Or, maybe, they are utterly counter – productive. How so? After all, this advice can be found everywhere, from leaflets in doctor’s surgeries and offices. in forests of self help books. Parts of the internet are practically groaning under the weight of this guidance. Here’s the thing. All these things do promote wellness. But they also serve to underline, in no uncertain terms, how useless we mentally ill folk are. Some of us can’t bear to answer calls from friends, walk the aisles in the supermarket, much less actually prepare a meal. Sandwiches, day in, day out. Glasses of milk and biscuits – so much tasteless sugar.

Self – acceptance, the most devious of all the elements of good mental health. In the mind of many of us, at our lowest, at our worst, this spells the dissolution of all hope in any kind of positive change. A useless waste of space is who I am. The world would be better of without me. Once we accept this, it’s a long, hard road back to a life worth living. The business of living takes so much effort. The equation just doesn’t seem worth it.

And yet they insist so that these are the things we must do to get better – to be more like them – all those psychiatrists, social workers, G.P.s, nurses, support workers, and, yes, peer workers like me. Is it just the envy that stops us, or is it the effort, the sheer amounts of energy it takes to rearrange our faces and press on into the light?

Days

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin (1922 – 1985)


The Insistence of Light

I see them regularly, snaking through the traffic, passing lorries on the driver’s blind side, gliding through the lights as they change to red: cyclists with no lights in the dim light of the early afternoon, of the pitch black 5pm. Silently, I fume, confronting them in my mind with visions of what they are risking. Death, or worse. The dribble of saliva, the tremor in the hand, the rich, golden hue of the colostomy bag. Darkness visible. There is no excuse. A set of lights costs as little as £10 – batteries included. There’s so much we can do to make us safer on the road. There’s so much kit: helmets, hi vis clothing, the aforementioned lights. Stay clear – always – of lorries and buses. Wave your arms about to let you everyone what you’re about to do before you actually do it. Like car drivers do with their indicator lights.

There is so much good advice out there. In fact, with so much of it readily available it’s a wonder anyone has mental health problems, really.

Let me count the ways: eat a healthy, balanced diet, avoid alcohol, get up at a regular time each morning, pay attention to personal hygene. Then there’s talk about your feelings, keep in touch with friends and family, ask for help, accept who you are, take regular excersice (preferrably outdoors), do something you are good at and care for others. And there are all those pictures of happy, smiling people on mental health websites.

 

10-ways-compIs this really true? Does it make a positive difference to do these things? Yes and no. Yes, they are habits of well – balanced people leading fulfilling lives, both physically and mentally. So, copy these habits and … what? It’s a cure? A return to The Land of the Living?

happy

 

Or, maybe, they are utterly counter – productive. How so? After all, this advice can be found everywhere, from leaflets in doctor’s surgeries and offices. in forests of self help books. Parts of the internet are practically groaning under the weight of this guidance. Here’s the thing. All these things do promote wellness. But they also serve to underline, in no uncertain terms, how useless we mentally ill folk are. Some of us can’t bear to answer calls from friends, walk the aisles in the supermarket, much less actually prepare a meal. Sandwiches, day in, day out. Glasses of milk and biscuits – so much tasteless sugar.

Self – acceptance, the most devious of all the elements of good mental health. In the mind of many of us, at our lowest, at our worst, this spells the dissolution of all hope in any kind of positive change. A useless waste of space is who I am. The world would be better of without me. Once we accept this, it’s a long, hard road back to a life worth living. The business of living takes so much effort. The equation just doesn’t seem worth it.

And yet they insist so that these are the things we must do to get better – to be more like them – all those psychiatrists, social workers, G.P.s, nurses, support workers, and, yes, peer workers like me. Is it just the envy that stops us, or is it the effort, the sheer amounts of energy it takes to rearrange our faces and press on into the light?

Days

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in:
Where can we live but days?

Ah, solving that question
Brings the priest and the doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

Philip Larkin (1922 – 1985)


The (Second) Elephant in the Room: Another Gender Q&A

elephantinroom

The elephant in the room!

About a year ago, I answered some questions that readers had about my gender.

It felt strange to do this, knowing that my identity was constantly in flux and that I was still figuring myself out. But I can never resist a good Q&A!

With 2015 coming to a close, I revisited that article for old time’s sake. And, of course, I was not surprised to find that not every answer held true for me in the present day.

So I figured, why not make this Q&A something of a yearly tradition? It might be interesting to see how my sense of self shifts over the years.

If you’re new to the site and wondering what in the hell my gender is, or if you’re a veteran reader who’s just curious to see what has changed this year, this Q&A will give you some insights into my gender identity and my transition.

It’s a new year and a new Q&A. Let’s do this!

 

What is your gender? What pronouns do you use?

I identify as genderqueer and non-binary.

I use he/him as my pronouns, though I’m also a fan of they/them, so I respond to both!

 

What do those words mean to you?

To me, genderqueer means that I don’t identify exclusively as masculine or feminine. It means I fuck around with gender and I’m content with the ambiguity. Non-binary is essentially the same in that I reject the gender binary.

 

How have your self-descriptors changed since last year?

I used to self-describe as transmasculine, meaning I identified more with masculinity than I did femininity. I realized that this felt safer for me. I thought that I had to reject femininity to be seen as a valid AFAB (assigned female at birth) transgender person.

However, in the last year, I’ve found that language to be really limiting. I’m reconnecting with my own femininity and I’m seeing how there are a lot of layers to my own gender.

So I’m back to using “genderqueer” as my primary descriptor.

 

Are your gender identity (your sense of self) and your gender expression (how you express it on the outside) the same? Different?

Last year, I had a pretty non-binary identity but a decidedly masculine expression, meaning that while I didn’t identify with any particular gender, the way I presented myself to the world was very masculine.

In part, that was motivated by that binarism that says AFAB trans people must transition to be masculine, and AMAB trans people must transition to be feminine (which is SO not true and such a limited understanding of transness).

Part of that was also just the trauma of being misgendered and feeling that I needed to be as masculine as possible in order to avoid being read as a woman.

I’ve slowly moved away from that and have started looking for ways to incorporate all kinds of gender expressions into my everyday life. That’s felt super liberating for me. It’s no longer about other people – it’s just about me now.

 

How did you know you were transgender?

There were so many little moments building up to this that it’s hard to say which one was my “aha” moment. My two biggest moments, I think, were when I saw an androgynous character on television for the first time and when I started wearing a chest binder.

I’d suggest reading this memoir piece (which is easily the best thing I wrote this year) and this article on internalized transphobia (another one of my best pieces) to get a full sense of what my journey has looked like so far.

 

When did you come out and what were the reactions you received?

I came out to close friends a few years ago, and was really lucky to get a mix of affirmations, support, and curiosity.

I came out to my family gradually – subtle conversations, tap dancing around it – but came out completely this last year. There was fear, hesitation, confusion… but underneath all of that, there was love. It’s the love that’s carrying us through right now. I have an incredible family.

 

Does your family know about your writing?

Every single year, I get asked this question a few times.

Yes! And they’ll read it from time to time. Hi, Mom, I love you.

Some of my extended family found my work online and they’ve been wonderfully supportive. Hey, cousins, what’s up?

 

How has your transition been so far?

Last year I used an equal number of negative and positive adjectives when answering this question, even using the word “painful.” It definitely speaks to where I was at the time with my transition.

This year I have almost exclusively positive adjectives: Beautiful. Affirming. Life-giving. Scary. Magical.

And like I said before, only with more conviction this time: Exactly what I needed.

 

Are you taking testosterone? Do you plan to?

Last year I said I wasn’t sure. It’s funny to me, because I couldn’t be more sure now.

Back in May, I had this realization – that I couldn’t keep living my life in this body and in this way. It’s the kind of epiphany that you feel at the core of your heart. I knew from that point on that it was something I needed to do.

On December 9th, 2015, I started testosterone (and every Wednesday, I write a weekly column at Ravishly, “Testosterone and Tea,” where I reflect on that week’s experiences – you should follow along if you haven’t been already!).

It was absolutely the right choice for me and I’m glad that I waited until I felt ready.

 

Have you always known that you were transgender?

It seems like every day, as I let go of the shame that I felt around being trans and I start to heal, I am able to really connect with my past and begin to see the ways in which I was struggling with my gender for a long time.

I haven’t always known and I definitely wasn’t born this way. I also think the trauma of having bipolar disorder meant that I had to focus, first and foremost, on my own survival.

But in all the reflecting I’ve done this last year, I can see that this was a long time coming.

 

If you aren’t a man or a woman, what is your sexual orientation?

Hahaha. I laugh because it’s like, I could care less about my sexual orientation. I am at that point in my life where it’s just irrelevant. I’m queer, and I’m polyamorous, and I’m happy; I date whoever I want.

I will say that I date mostly other trans people and/or folks with mental illness. It’s not on purpose. I think it’s because I just feel understood and validated and safe around folks who have struggled with similar shit. It allows me to build the kind of closeness that I need to be with someone.

 

What has been the hardest part of being trans?

I want to be more specific this year and say that it’s hard to be non-binary.

Because so few people understand or want to understand, so few people see you as you actually are, and you’re juggling a lot of different forms of oppression coming from cisgender and [binary] trans people alike.

This year I decided to stop playing it safe and calling myself “transgender” all the time when what I really mean is non-binary.

I realized that it was a revolutionary act to openly and urgently name myself as a non-binary writer and advocate. And I knew that my community needed me to be upfront about this, because we’re so invisible in so many spaces.

With that has been an avalanche of really important self-reflection. Reflections on how to claim my identity, how to stop apologizing for it, and how to navigate what it means to be a public figure who is also genderqueer.

It’s been a worthwhile process. Because while it is true that I am transgender, it is equally, if not more true that I am non-binary. And opting for neutral language just because it’s more accessible does not challenge people to learn about me or my community.

Sometimes we have to work a little harder to be seen and understood, even if it means taking a stance that isn’t neutral or palatable, because being seen is a fundamentally important part of our liberation.

Shout-out to my non-binary readers who encouraged me to start using this language, and continue to boost the signal on my work. You are the heart and soul of this blog.

 

What do you think is in store for you in 2016?

A lot of body hair (thanks, testosterone!). A lot of selfies (thanks, Instagram!).

And kind of unrelated, but I’m determined to launch a YouTube channel (which you can subscribe to early if you’d like, follow the link!) and to get a cat.

Because seriously. Why don’t I have a cat yet?


I want my Stab-0-Matic NOW

So, of course, my asshole father waited until 7 last night to call and guilt me into coming all the way over there to see my kid’s church program. Now, before you call me a selfish awful mom, keep in mind it’s a 24 mile round trip to their burg. I drive an 8 cylinder, which means about 3 gallons of gas will be used. I am also battling that sticky choke and the car dying in the cold. I love my kid, but damn, I have to think about these things. If I use the gas for this, my kid and I will be home bound the rest of the month. It’s not as cut and dry as he makes it. I won’t even attempt to bring my fear of crowds and lack of faith in organized religion into it. I mean, my kid didn’t ask me to come, so obviously this is a ploy on his part. He could have offered to put gas in the car. Nooo, that would be an act of not being a dickbag.

Damn it all to hell.

Last night I damn near gave myself an ulcer fretting about it, about my emotional state, about the fact all I’ve done in 36 hours of kid free zone is take a shower…Meanwhile biohazard five lurks and I’ve done zilch toward digging out the small tree to put up for my kid. It got to the point where cyclone brain had me doing the deer in the headlights thing so I took a melatonin and curled up in fort blankie before ten p.m.

I don’t think some understand how hard this sleep thing can be for me. My brain requires major sedation to slow down but I can’t stand being all dopey so I do the bare minimum to nod off. The tiniest thing, like a cat gnawing my toe, or a car driving by with thudding bass music, can disturb that delicate balance where I have calmed enough to nod off. I was going to be brave and daring, get plenty of rest, then rise this morning with every intent of going to my kid’s program cos sometimes the brain reboot of sleep can help times a thousand.

So imagine how my night unfolded when there was a knock on the door around ten thirty p.m. and I opened my door to find three state policeman wandering around my yard with flash lights asking if someone named Dennis was here. HOLY FUCKING WHAT THE HELL???? I said no, they thanked me, and went on searching the rest of the trailer park. I returned to bed, thoroughly shaken and wondering if some dangerous meth head was loose. Maybe he was living in my back bedroom which I never use…My windows don’t lock properly, he could come in and hack me up in my sleep for fun…

Yeah, asinine, and yet scumbag brain does it to me every time. I took a xanax, I took another melatonin. Every time I started to nod off, I jolted awake. I could only stand two minutes outside fort blankie because no matter how warm it is (the temp said 49) I always feel fucking cold except for the hot flashes where I all but strip to my bra in public. So I couldn’t even get up and piddle away the panic energy. Tossed, turned, nodded off, woke again and again.

By the time the alarm went off, I said, to hell with it, I’ll live with the guilt trips, not like I can ever do anything right in my father’s eyes anyway. I doubt my kid will even miss me. Besides, I think they’re psychotic and playing mind games. Supposedly all the “don’t tell mommy” stuff was they bought her a new dress for the program and were gonna surprise me with pictures of her at the program. So if that was the plan, inviting me is redundant, no? Or is it just the ass saving story they came up with to defuse their own wrong doing? I am confused, to be honest.

To top it all off, I spent half the night tied to tissues, coughing up phlegm hobgloblins cos my sinuses are all drainy and allergy triggered and I went into the dish last night for cat food thus setting it all off.

OH, WAIT THERE’S MORE!

Yeah, the oompa loompa ovary cramps are no longer visiting, they are now a constant presence so I have a day or two before I start praying for my spine to snap already cos the pain is just annoying. I’m not whining. I am RAGING. It pisses me off to be rendered so utterly useless by something other women just breeze through thus making those of us who have a rough shark week look like dramatic malingerers.

STAB-O-MATIC NOW.

So I am just gonna stay home, deal with the aftermath, and whatever. I could have a knife in my skull and my parents would still find a way to make it seem like me being an uncaring flake. Why bother getting stress when nothing I do changes a damned thing. (Yeah, doctors, until your therapy can fix my family and their lack of support but surplus of criticism, you’re kind of useless.)

I just keep telling myself it’s almost over, this holiday shit is almost over…Christmas Eve to survive, then on Christmas day Spook and I will stay home, in jammies, she will open gifts and play with them all day and I can spend the time applying salve to all my wounds inflicted by my loving family.

Same shit, different year.

Ho ho ho, merry fuckin’ Christmas.

Now gimme my Stab-0-Matic, Santa.


Does “Natural” Treatment Work for Depression?

Not for everyone. Not all of the time.

Angel Chang recently posted on LittleThings.com “The 10 best natural ways to treat depression.” (See http://www.aol.com/article/2015/11/06/the-10-best-natural-ways-to-treat-depression/21260290/?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00001357) While she does acknowledge that “clinical depression is triggered from within, and very often need[s] medical attention” and “it’s imperative to consult your physician if you notice an abrupt change in your mood, feelings, or sense of well-being,” her article is about “easy” ways to treat depression yourself.

Unfortunately, her tips are not very helpful for me and many others who suffer from clinical bipolar or unipolar depression. Here’s how I respond to them.

Meditate. This is both nearly impossible when you have racing thoughts and a way to sink even lower if you can’t clear your mind of negative thoughts, which is one of the hallmarks of depression. And if you’re manic, even sitting still in one place for any length of time can be a challenge. After you’re stabilized on medication – go for it.

Eat Foods With Vitamin B. It may be true that vitamin B has been linked to neurotransmitters that we need more of, but preparing them is not realistic when I’m in the Pit of Despair. I try to imagine myself preparing a meal of fish, Swiss cheese, spinach, and eggs, and I just can’t. Or shopping for them, for that matter. I might be able to scramble an egg in the microwave, but that’s about it. (I wrote about food and depression recently: http://wp.me/p4e9Hv-db.) I do take a multivitamin along with my bedtime psychotropics, so I guess I can follow this advice a bit.

Set goals. Chang recommends starting with “small, daily goals.” When in full-blown depression, mine are about as small as you can get. Get out of bed. Make it through the day without crying. Take my meds. Poof! Out of spoons! The expert Chang quotes gives an example of a goal to work up to as washing the dishes every other day. To me, that implies a series of goals: Gather up dishes. Find soap. Fill sink. Wash a dish. Put in drainer. Repeat. My tip: Wash the spoons first!

Sleep on a schedule. Going to bed at the same time every night may be do-able, but getting up at the same time isn’t possible for me, which is one of the reasons I can’t hold a regular job. An alarm clock awakening me before my body is ready leaves me groggy and unfit to work. And there’s no guarantee that I’ll actually sleep during those scheduled hours, even with Ambien. Chang advises not taking naps, but I seldom make it through the day without one, even if I have slept eight (or nine or ten) hours. In fact, I love naps and consider them therapeutic, for me at least. Naps are my friends.

Get out of your rut. Structure is the only thing that keeps some of us going. And if we could find joy in a painting class, a museum, or making a new friend, as Chang suggests, we probably wouldn’t be depressed in the first place. J. K. Rowling described the Dementors in the Harry Potter books: “Get too near a Dementor and every good feeling, every happy memory will be sucked out of you. … You will be left with nothing but the worst experiences of your life.” She has stated that they are metaphors for depression. With every good feeling sucked out of you, you can’t see anything but the rut. I am told that for some people, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) lessens the tendency to keep traveling in the rut. But “easy” and “natural”? I don’t know.

Talk. Chang is advocating talking with trusted loved ones, which is good as far as it goes. What it ignores is that friends and loved ones are not universally understanding of depression or supportive in dealing with it. She never suggests talking with a therapist or doctor. I don’t know why that’s less “natural” than talking with someone who has no training. Except you have to pay them (or your insurance does), but painting or language classes or art supplies aren’t free either.

Exercise. This is a classic antidote for depression, and I understand that it works for many people some of the time. But I would put this under the same heading as setting goals. I know it would be good for me, but motivation is hard to come by and immobilization thwarts me. But I wish I could take this advice. I looked into water aerobics, but there’s not a feasible program in my area.

Responsibilities. “Because you might feel down,” the article states, “you may also want to withdraw from your daily activities in life and your responsibilities at home or at work.” Yepper. “Try staying involved as much as possible in the causes you care deeply about, and take on new daily responsibilities. These can be as simple as volunteering at your local food pantry, or going back to work part-time.” Big nope. See getting out of your rut, above. For the clinically depressed, working even part-time is unimaginable, with responsibilities of the crushing sort.

Unwind and relax. If your depression comes with anxiety like mine, this idea is a non-starter. Unless you count drinking as relaxation, though it isn’t the best idea if you’re on meds.

Stay off caffeine. Okay, I can pretty much do this one, except for one cup of coffee or a caffeinated soda to get me started in the morning.

“Did you learn something new about how to naturally treat symptoms of depression?” the article ends. Not really. Well, except for the B vitamins. We’ve all heard these kinds of advice before. They’re good tips for situational or reactive depression, but largely not feasible for the chronically, clinically, biochemically depressed. In a way they add up to the much-hated “Just stop it. You must want to be depressed or else you’d be doing all these great things.”

But try them if you can, perhaps in addition to medical treatments. Maybe some of the ones that won’t work for me will for you. In the meantime, get help. See your therapist and/or psychiatrist. Keep taking those meds. Those may not be “easy, natural” ways to treat depression, but if they work, isn’t that the larger point?

P.S. Do NOT Google “CBT.” Spell out “Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.” Trust me on this one.


Filed under: Mental Health Tagged: anxiety, being overwhelmed, depression, mental illness, my experiences, psychotropic drugs, Spoon Theory, support systems

Promises

2015-12-20-07.30.57.jpg.jpegOver the years, in various phrasings and in a variety of ceremonies, words have been said with which we promise our unconditional love to our life-partners. “…for better or for worse, in sickness and in health….” How many of us have paused before we say “I will” to think of the responsibility of those two phrases? Do we even seriously think about what this promise entails? In the first blush of love, during the nervousness and excitement of the ceremony, when do we take the time to consider the possibility that the person we love will have a life changing illness?

During the first 50 years of my life, the people one would assume would demonstrate unconditional love were mostly non-existent. Then almost eight years ago I met an amazing man. No, he’s not perfect. He’s human. Showing unconditional love does not have to be an act of perfection, but it is an act of humanity. It comes from someone who is patient, kind, understanding, and willing to learn and change.

Unconditional love is arms tightly held around me, and the words “I’ve got you,” whispered in my ear. It’s not remembering the last time he “…saw my tattoos,” but not berating me for not being the wife I should be (the concept I was taught before I met him). It’s bringing home my comfort foods without being asked. It’s doing the dishes, cooking meals, cleaning, and doing the laundry without complaint. It’s watching his wife being torn to pieces by an invisible illness, being screamed at, thwarting suicide, drying seemingly unending tears, and then saying “I love you.”

Unconditional love is all of those things and so much more. To me, my husband is the epitome of unconditional love.

Tagged: bipolar disorder, marriage, mental illness, unconditional love

The Last Visit

Well, the long-dreaded parting with my psychiatrist has finally happened: thanks to my insurance, which will only pay for care received in my county of residence, yesterday was my last visit with Dr. Awesomesauce. And all I can say is I’m thankful I’m not in crisis at this point, because I’m not fond of the idea of getting my mental health care through the county clinic. Dr. A says he’s going to do everything he can to keep me on as a patient, but there’s not a lot he can do and frankly, it would take a miracle to persuade Medicaid to allow me to continue with him. That’s just the reality I have to deal with, and it sucks.

He didn’t just cast me adrift, however. He is willing to prescribe for me for as long as I need it (it may be awhile till I can get in to see someone) and gave me a list of resources in the local area, as well as some names of doctors NOT to see. I’ll probably have to find a therapist as well because most psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners aren’t like Dr. A, they only prescribe and don’t do therapy. I was lucky to have the luxury of “one-stop shopping”, as it were, and that’s probably not going to happen again.

What I fear is getting lost in a sea of other mentally ill poor folks in the clinic setting. Maybe I don’t deserve any better—I did let my bipolar get out of control and pretty much ruin my life, which is why I’m in this predicament—and I’m certainly nobody special in the great scheme of things. But with Dr. A, I’m an individual in whom he’s invested a lot of time and care; there, I’ll be just another psych patient. Which is something I’ll get used to, because I have no choice…I’ll have to be under somebody’s care for the rest of my life.

This is more than a little scary. I don’t want anyone messing with my meds—they are almost perfect just the way they are and even Dr. A is adamant that we don’t change anything. It took three years to get to this level of stability and I’m terrified a doctor or NP is going to think I’m on too much medication, or on the wrong kinds, and screw it all up for me. I know people who’ve had this happen to them and it took what seemed like forever to get back on track. And I’ve been really high-maintenance during most of the past four years…who will be there for me when the next bipolar shitstorm occurs?

But what grieves me the most is the loss of the relationship I’ve had with Dr. A. I’ve never known anyone quite like him, and I’m going to miss him sorely. How many doctors do you know who served in the Iraq War, have traveled the world, pray for their patients and do their own home canning?  Not only that, but he knows things about me that even my own family doesn’t know, things I’m not proud of and would never share with anyone else, and yet he’s never looked down on me. Unfailingly supportive, kind, funny, smart…that’s what he’s been, and I can’t imagine how anyone else will ever fill his shoes. In fact, I almost feel sorry for my next psychiatrist, because Dr. A is the standard by which all future mental health care providers will be judged.

So I’ll call the mental health clinic on Monday and do whatever I have to do to get on board with them. As sad and disappointed as I am, life must go on and I need to get on their radar so I have somewhere to go when the fecal material collides with the oscillatory ventilating system. Because it will, as Dr. A reminded me yesterday; after all, bipolar is the gift that keeps on giving, though it’s been pretty easy over the past eight months or so to forget that I even have it.

I’ve had the feeling this was coming for some time. I was even prepared for it, which is why I’m not panicking. But it’s still a blow, and I am most unhappy about it.

And so it goes.