More and more health problems are becoming traceable to the bugs in our intestinal tract, which starts in the mouth and ends, well, you know.
This research, which was crowd funded–a great way to circumvent the government grant process, which has become biased in the direction of pharmaceutical research, in my opinion, and takes forever–shows that nitrogen-compound-producing bacteria in the mouth may trigger headaches.
So just as our native mouth flora determine whether or not we are prone to cavities, it may be the case that our mouth flora could be the culprit in causing migraines!
Now we must anxiously await the research that tells us how to get rid of the little bastards.
Couldn’t really tell you why, but this year, the bottom has fallen out and I’ve landed straight in hell. This is not me. I am not this hopeless and terrified. I am not this anxious and panic stricken. I’ve lost 10 lbs in a week! This is bipolar. This is what this awful illness is doing to me. I’ve talked to my doctor and increased the lithium and the Seroquel. Now I need for these to kick in and take effect and for me to stop feeling so god awful, for me to start feeling better and more like myself. That day cannot come soon enough. I can’t wait to feel happy, calm, peaceful, not afraid for my beloved son.
This is what this horrible disease does to us. It makes us not ourselves. Always in crisis. Too many emotions, far too intense, so intense that it is literally painful. Don’t need it, don’t want it, go away bipolar, leave me alone!
There are many things i am painfully aware of, but have finally allowed to rest in the background. Until of course…a trigger. Its no secret I am an introvert. Masterful isolationist. Harbor secrets. Harbor despair. Have great difficulty opening up sooner rather than later. Sure, there are times I can’t fulfill my commitments. There are times that I don’t answer my phone. Long moments that crash into even longer moments where I lose my voice. Silent I sit and stare into nothingness, all the while the voice in my head is tearing me to shreds. No need to plead the fifth here. I am guilty of all the above.
i try so hard to forge friendships. I am thoughtful and kind. I’m attentive as much as I can be. I send texts just to say..thinking about you. If you had a bad day yesterday, most likely i will check to see how you are today. I try to make you laugh on any given day. I can be quite funny sometimes. I listen. I empathize. I encourage you to lean on me. So, what’s wrong with me that I have no friends? Seriously. Honestly. I have co-workers that I really like, and seem to like me inside the hours of 9-5. But, past that, I am alone. Before the point is made that my husband cares for me and is of invaluable support, i’ll just agree wholeheartedly. Without him, i wouldn’t still be here to write this.
So, today I am once again painfully aware. My husband leaves for his annual east coast trip to New York in just about 2 weeks. I gently stated to him his family causes me too much stress and I would prefer to stay home. I would be dishonest in this context not to admit that staying home alone for a week is also quite stressful for me. The obvious solution is to gather up my support network. Make plans to stay busy. Not completely isolate the entire week and either turn to booze, sleep the time away, or the worst case..swallow all my pills to just end all matters. You have to have friends to form a support network. If i understood what fatal flaw keeps me from bridging this gap, I would fix it. Are some people just meant for more of a lonely life?
My younger self had a consistent, yet small, circle of people I could call upon. I had a short stint in AA in my mid 30’s and had a sponsor and a few key characters that helped me stay sober. However, once I slipped into the land of bipolar and several subsequent hospitalizations, those people lost interest. Granted, my ability to be consistent in anyone’s life was diminished. Whatever the reason, I am no longer in touch with them. I was alone when I drank. Now I’m alone in sobriety with a cruel mental illness.
These are not new revelations. Its the truth of the situation. I care about people. I want connections. Even better if they could be meaningful. Here I sit writing anonymously to the cyber universe. Sharing what i have been unable to share thus far. Like I said, generally I can push it aside, its just that today I am painfully aware.
I stayed up until 11 pm last night, forcing myself to battle that nagging part of my depression that insists bad things will happen if I don’t lay down under the covers by 9:30 p.m.
So there I lay, fortified by my 3mg Xanax taken throughout the day, determined not to take any more or even pop a melatonin. I mean, my reserve was steely. This inability to sleep on my own was what made me come off all the sleepers the doctors gave me. I hated the dependence, and the morning hangovers. No more. Yet every time I get into a depressive insomniac lull…I break.
I made it FOUR hours last night before I broke. I almost dozed off but when I went to turn over, my bladder reminded me if I didn’t tend to its needs now, it’d wake me less than an hour and make me do it then. So I tended to that and went back to bed. By then…the swirling thoughts were back, all those counting and breathing exercises for an hour for naught. I was frustrated as hell.
So I tossed and turned. Put on my sleep mask as sometimes it’s a routine/comfort thing. I huddled under the covers, pet the purring cats…I counted more. I did breathing.
One a.m. Two a.m. Then as I nodded off…Bladder time again. (Don’t drink as much water as I have been, it’s a killer on the bladder.) So up again. Back to bed. Swirling thoughts. And while often my night time swirly thoughts are not all bad…Thinking about if I could just get some rest, I could get up and tackle some of the shit around the house that needs done.
Three a.m. Nothing.
Four a.m. Knowing I would be facing a day of shrieking kids….Not chance to nap or recharge.
And so I took a 3 mg melatonin.
It kicked in within an hour.
Then the bladder beckoned at 5 a.m. So I had to get up and it was cold so I was wide awake and the mind was spinning again.
Mercied myself with another melatonin.
Only to rudely be awakened at 7 a.m. by my kid’s friend pounding on our door. I thought by the third knock and no answer, she’d go away. Instead, she kept knocking and bellowing for my kid. We were both still in bed, ffs. I ignored her. I am at wits’ end with that child. She’s only 4 but her parents should damn well know you don’t send your kid for a playdate at 7 a.m.
After that I mostly lulled in bed til 9, awake but too leaden to rise.
Now it is noon, I have a yard full of kids, and so far, I’ve accomplished only putting away half my summer clothes and digging out some warm clothes. Focus eludes me even with Adderall. I want my Focalin back and if I could ever gather my thoughts, I’d write my insurance company a strongly worded letter telling them how their refusal to pay for the ONE med that actually helps is hindering my life.
To top it all off with the true act of humiliation…Shark week arrived with a vengeance and I ran out of lady products, have no cash to my name, and had to call my sister to see if she had some to spare. 43 years old and I can’t even afford basic hygiene products. Fucking pathetic.
Probably why I have dreams about this old game show called Supermarket Sweep. The goal was to run around with the cart getting the highest price items for a higher grand total than your opponent. In my dream…I forget the expensive meats and stuff and start piling in paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning products, all the basics that I never seem to have enough of. It’s a weird dream but a bit indicative of what it was like for me growing up. Sure, we had what was necessary for survival but so often we had so little…I guess it caused me to become a supply hoarder back when I had money. Now that I have no money to stock up…I live in fear of running out of things.
Why oh why can’t I have a normal dream about, I don’t know, being on an exotic island with a frilly umbrella drink and a hot cabana boy rubbing lotion on my skin?
Okay. End of Rant.
Now for a funny pic of my 7 year old revisiting her toddler years.
Oh, and the t-shirt I want for Christmas, which I think all of the tribe’s Volatile Femmes should have as well cos it’s true.
Recently I was reading an article online and came across a word I had never encountered before: sanism.
I don’t like it.
Oh, I realize that it’s meant to go along with all the other “isms” – words that point out how the world decides who is worthy of respect, then campaigns for the rights/recognition/understanding of the disrespected. There are lots of “isms,” some familiar by now, and others that just never quite made it.
lookism (This one didn’t catch on. It means that pretty people are advantaged.)
colorism (Not quite the same as racism, it refers to the idea that lighter shades of brown skin are preferable to dark ones.)
Not all of these terms are equally adequate. Sexism, for example, refers to the divide between male and female, and implies (though does not call out) heterosexism in particular. It ignores the experience of people with other kinds of gender expression – genderfluid, pansexual, and trans, for example. It probably should be “cis-sexism,” but then everyone would spend an hour explaining that when they tried to use it.
Ableism is another term that has problems. In its basic form, it contrasts the able-bodied against the disabled, or rather points out that the rights and even the humanity of the disabled are discounted. I bet some of you are wincing at the phrase “the disabled.” Times change and terms change. Right now the preferred term is “person with disabilities,” though we have been through other versions – “differently abled,” “physically challenged,” etc.
The general rule in these situations is to call people what they prefer to be called. But how do you know which term that is? Negro, Black, black, non-white, colored person, person of color, and probably a few I’m missing have had their day. And if you use Black, do you also have to use White? Many people do not understand the word Caucasian anymore, and certainly can’t explain why it means the same as white. Nothing you can say will satisfy everyone. Perhaps the best solution is simply to call everyone “Chuck,” or “Emily,” or “Mariko,” or whatever.
So. Back to sanism. My first problem is how to pronounce it. San-ism? Sane-ism? And if the latter, shouldn’t it be spelled saneism? Do we need a hyphen (sane-ism) to keep it from being mistaken for an unfamiliar religion?
But the real problem goes deeper than that. Sanism implies that there are two categories: sane and insane. If you’re not one, you’re the other (and discriminated against, but let’s put that aside for now).
Personally, I have a mental illness (bipolar 2), but I don’t think most people would classify me as insane. And there are many other people with OCD, PTSD, phobias, anxiety disorders, etc., who have difficulties because of them but are by no stretch of the imagination insane. Do we go back to the days when anyone with a neurosis was sane and anyone with a psychosis was insane? Does anyone still divide the world up that way, or has the DSM caught up with reality?
What, then, do we call ourselves? Non-sane? Not-sane? Mentally ill? Mentally challenged? Mentally unhealthy? Neurodivergent? Emotionally disordered? Nothing seems to encompass all of us. Nothing seems to work. But the “ism” suffix implies lining up two groups to make it easier to talk about the differences between them. It doesn’t always work perfectly – racism can be black/white, black/Asian, Hispanic/Anglo, etc. – and you sometimes have to define exactly what you mean.
Admittedly, the sane (able-minded? neurotypical?) have automatic, inherent advantages over whatever-we-decide-to-call-ourselves. Housing, jobs, even service in restaurants are weighted in favor of people with no psychiatric/psychological label or diagnosis.
But wait! We already have a word for that – stigmatized. Sanism sets up the contrast between those who consider themselves “normal” and those that the normal consider “abnormal.” In other words, stigmatized.
We already know that stigma exists surrounding mental illness. We don’t really need the word “sanism” to redefine it. Or to pit us against one another.
We have mental or emotional disorders. We are discriminated against – hated, feared, shunted aside, diminished, discounted, blamed, or avoided – because of that.
I’ve completed six days in the Lutheran Hospital outpatient program, and I can’t tell yet if it’s making me better or worse.
There are two designations—IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) 1 and 2. None of the literature explains the difference between the groups, but, basically IOP1 is for more functional, more acutely symptomatic folk. IOP2 is for more severely ill folk who maybe require other services (caseworkers, etc.).
The first two days I attended IOP1. The group was HUGE, 14-18 people with the usual one or two who dominated every conversation and folks talking over each other. I thought I would lose what little mind I had left.
I watched my intolerance and irritation skyrocket. My Libra penchant for fairness blew up into a neurotic need to silence the blabbermouths so that the silent suffers might get a second to squeak out a comment. But I also realized this was all my shit. If the facilitators felt no need to shut down the usurpers or redirect the tangential wanderers, then it wasn’t my place to step in. Instead I clutched my purse to my chest and took deep breaths.
After the second day (and no sleep that night), I knew I needed to talk to my designated handler. I told her through bitey, frantic, tear-and-snot laden spew that I couldn’t take another day of it. She listened with a beatific smile and commented in a don’t-spook-the-Tasmanian Devil gentle voice. Perhaps I should move to the other group. And feel free to find a quiet place to breathe whenever the desire to punch a talky-talker in the face arose.
My first day at “the other end of the hall” felt restful in comparison. There were only five of us in group, and I learned things about PTSD—one of my diagnoses, though something my therapist and I have never really explored. We usually have other immediate shinola to deal with, so we’ve only ever just touched on it. THIS was what I was hoping for—some new information, some new tools, a direction.
But, the next day the group expanded to 13, and the whole issue of blatherers and time sucks reappeared on a crazier level. I tried to be compassionate, but that well seems to be dry at the moment. I know folks talk out of nervousness, insecurity, etc., so I tried to reason with myself. I still ended up out in the hall with my earbuds firmly in place, listening to Billy Joel sing “Innocent Man.”
I blame the insurance industry and our butt-head Governor, Terry Branstad. Most insurance coverage only allows three days a week in outpatient care, so Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays end up with twice the group size as Tuesdays and Thursdays. It’s stressful to go from a small, intimate group where folks feel safe enough to open up, to a mob where everyone talks at the same time.
And because our Governor closed most of the mental health hospitals, took away funding for behavioral services, and basically told folks with mental illness to “get over it,” the programs that are left are bursting at the seams.
I watch the kind and knowledgable staff at Lutheran ruin around like headless chickens, trying to accommodate everyone’s needs, shore up folks enough to leave so that those who have been waiting a month for an opening in the program can take their place. The nurse practitioner who talked to me about medication laughed long and loud when I called it “a three-ring shit show.” This seems to be my new favorite phrase.
I came home every day more exhausted and people-avoidant than ever. I feel like an Introvert In Extremis, only able to function after hours of silent cat time, a couple episodes of Fringe and a frozen pizza from Costco (they have the best thin crust sausage pizzas…). Even then, “functional” may mean taking a four-hour nap or washing the dishes.
Yesterday I did my laundry at 3:00 in the morning, because I couldn’t stand the thought of going to the laundromat on the weekend when everyone else goes there. So, because I was already awake at 3:00, I did laundry for the first time in my apartment complex’s washer/dryer. Granted, one is not supposed to use the machines until 8:00 out of respect for the tenants who live next to the Common Room. But since I hate people right now, I didn’t care. And I tried to be quiet. No one came after me with a knife, and no one slashed my tires later, so I think I got away with it.
In between tippy-toeing, I sat at the nice dining table and worked on my journal. Along with my wheeled laundry hamper, I brought my traveling studio (everything should be on wheels) and a big mug of hot chai. I sat at my own little coffee shop with my earbuds in and the smell of clean wafting around me, and even through the itchy buzz of being up at 3:00 doing something illicit, I could feel my mind smooth out.
The same nurse practitioner who laughed so hard with me suggested a new strategy for next week. Bring my wheely cart and when group bugs me too much, take it to this out-of-the-way lounge I found and do art until I feel like coming back. I tried that on Friday, and I left the hospital less drained. I met my two meditation buddies for lunch and lasted about 30 minutes before I completely faded. My well is dry. That’s all there is to it.
I think the trick is to not panic. I feel myself considering the new drugs this kindly nurse practitioner suggests, even though I sat with my own NP before I started IOP and recounted my long list of Drugs Tried and why they didn’t work. She reminded me that there really is nothing new in psychotropics, just tweaks to the same old formulas. If they didn’t work then, they won’t now.
I’m grateful that the Lutheran staff is so willing to work with me. It’s ironic that the adaptability and flexibility I need from them is part of what makes me so irritable there. It’s a very loose, laissez-faire set-up for people who have different special needs. I must try to give my Libran craving for fairness, order and rules a rest. Maybe I can give her a Xanax.
Hypomania had its wicked fangs in me for 3 days. I ran, skipped and jumped into conversations, meetings and projects to which I did not belong. I laughed and carried on as I fumbled, stumbled and pretty much lost sight of the English language. Words and ideas flew around my mind so fast I could not utter them coherently. No big deal really, because they were simply brilliant. My husband begged me to slow down. I shook my head. My finger. Told him he was jealous. The truth was, I couldn’t. Around 4 hours of sleep per night even w heavy sleep medications I furiously agreed to take. Klonopin in my pocket. In my purse. At my desk. Didn’t do a thing to deconstruct the madness.
I twirled around the city streets. Swiped credit cards. Dazzled strangers. Chatted up acquaintances. Bought 20 candles, set them up in a circle. Lit each one as if I were a fire princess in the Amazon. I stepped into the circle and was transformed and gifted w unseen powers. The heat from the flames sizzled my skin and I felt ecstasy not pain. I conducted a personal ceremony pardoning myself of all my sins.
It was glorious and meaningful. I had arrived. Until that next morning when darkness was blacker than black. I had no words. No thoughts. I could barely move my body. Rolling over was a heroic feat. The noise of the neighborhood, of birds chirping was piercing my brain cells. Sunshine ushered itself through my blinds threatening my insides. The light stabbed my eyeballs and I remembered what pain was. But I couldn’t move. It felt like my mind had been shattered.
I had just gotten home from an overnight trip, and my house smelled disgusting. If I had an air freshener to describe the smell, I think it would have been called “the inside of a butt.” Or, alternatively, it may have been closer to “food someone put in a garbage disposal…five weeks ago.” Whatever it was called, it was bad.
This made me wonder – what if our house really smells that bad all the time, and we don’t notice it because we live there?! Are we known on our street as the stinky people? Do my clothes smell like that? This was completely unacceptable. My husband said it wasn’t that bad, but he also has no problem with the smell of pickled eggs or deer guts. He’s not a very good judge.
The next day, as soon as I got out of work, I went to the grocery store and bought all of the cleaning supplies. I bought a dishwasher cleaner, a garbage disposal cleaner, a refrigerator cleaner, new cat litter, new bedding for the rat (long story on the rat…), something to wash surfaces…cleaners I’d never heard of but that looked pretty clean…the person at the checkout must have thought I was nutty. I went home and went on a cleaning rampage. It was an all-out war: me versus the smell.
I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. I went through all of our food and threw out anything questionable. I cleaned out all of the pet areas. I threw the rat in a pot of water in order to clean her. I couldn’t catch the cat to clean her, but also I think she would have scratched my face off if I’d tried.
By the time my husband got home, I was a bit ragged. My hair was in a messy pony tail, and I was wearing stained sweatpants and a neon green crew neck sweatshirt. I thought my house was much cleaner (even if I was dirtier), and I couldn’t smell the smell anymore. Still, I wondered if maybe I’d just gotten used to it because I’d been wallowing in the stench for a few hours. My husband asked if I could run to the grocery store with him. PERFECT: the opportunity to exit the smell chamber and then come back.
At the grocery store, I discovered an aisle that I forgot to pillage previously: the air fresheners. How did I forget the air fresheners!? I squealed with glee and started pulling things off of the shelves. Did I want my house to smell “fun and flirty” or “crisp and clean”? “Sweet and sassy” or “floral and frisky”? How does something smell frisky? Is this the same base scent as flirty? I could also choose scents such as clean linens, midnight woods, Hawaiian flowers, or new car smell. So many choices, so few rooms in my house.
I started throwing things in the cart. There were wall plug-ins, order absorbing gels and beads (better buy both to see which works better), spray scents, wax melts… I wanted them all. My husband walked into my aisle and said, “What are you doing!? We do not need that many air fresheners!”
I got a wild look in my eye, waved my neon green arms around, and said (a little too loudly), “I WILL NOT LIVE IN THE INSIDE OF A BUTT! I WILL NOT!” Some other people in the aisle gave me a strange look and scuttled quickly away. My husband laughed, put his hands up in surrender, and said, “Whatever. You are strange.”
I asked him which sounded better: clean linens or fresh linens? Because you want linens to be clean, but also everyone likes the scent of fresh. How was I supposed to choose?! Here’s how: buy them all.
I ended up going with a linens theme and basically bought all of the linen scents. I put a plug-in in one room, some scented beads in another, gel in another, etc. I still don’t know what originally caused the bad odor, but I can confidently say that my house no longer smells like the inside of a butt. Instead, it smells like someone recently hung up fresh, clean linens. It smells just like that, assuming that the place they hung the fresh linens was in a chemical factory.
Here’s a thought I just had: what if the unfortunate smell was simply my husband farting right when we walked in the door from our trip, and I did all of this work for nothing?!
Alas. We shall never know. In other news, come on over – my house is clean, and it smells great.