Daily Archives: December 30, 2016

Feeling Better

than yesterday.  We went out and bought some necessities for my oldest and don’t plan to do much else today.  The younger ones don’t even want to change out of their pajamas so I think it’s going to be a slow day unless I can motivate them to do some work. At least leaving the house this morning I got a  Dr. Pepper and so don’t think I’ll go back to sleep like I did yesterday.  So that is improvement.

I need to write a bit on New Year’s Resolutions for my guest blog gig. I’ll probably work on that  later today. I’m just going to take the resolutions I made on my birthday and expand on them.

I do think I will start back at the health club and see if I can do water aerobics. I need something low-impact so I can lose the weight and not hurt my knees and foot further.  I’ll give them a call or go by and pick up a schedule.

I hate waiting for the new term to start.  THe W waits really really late to get going in January.  So I am chomping at the bit to get going.  And waiting for publications to get back to work and judge my submissions. It’s all going to be good, I can tell. One way or the other.

 


Reblog – Happy little elves have been playing again…

Originally posted on Sue Vincent's Daily Echo:
So… Between one post and the next, somebody, who shall, for the sake of discretion, remain nameless, has been playing again. Somebody has been twiddling with the settings on that nice little…

Blogmas 2016 – New Year’s Eve Part 1

Day 30 Well, down to the last two Blogmas posts! I have two different views on New Year’s Eve so I thought I would split them up. Tomorrow I will talk about the good side and today is the bad … Continue reading

Alice B. Toklas Rides Again…and again…and again…and….

Chocolate.  More chocolate!  Gluten free.  And….medicated!

Yes, I tried a piece hot out of the oven.  I need the medicine, and the chocolate doesn’t hurt. It’s medicinal, too, after all.

The wind is kicking up a ruckus outside with the kinds of cactus that blow around so they can stick in your dog’s feet the next day.  It contributes in a bad way to my current state of ultra-ultra-ultra rapid cycling, punctuated by a few episodes of the dreaded mixed state.

I used to take Seroquel for this.  I’m not sure it broke the cycle, but at least it knocked me out so I could get a break from it.  But I started getting very bad neurologic side effects from the Seroquel, and had to stop it.  Some of the nervous system damage has turned out to be permanent, so there’s no way I’m going to try any other drugs in that class (atypical antipsychotics).  So in a word, I’m fucked.

But there’s a Lone Ranger on the horizon…I hope.

I have been so remiss in writing here that I can’t remember what I’ve told you.  Here, I’ll recap:

Spine pain got bad, had lots of consults, results: spinal arthritis, many collapsed discs, moderate spinal stenosis, and…drumroll…five vertebrae are filled with a benign tumor.  It’s benign, because it doesn’t metastasize, but it’s locally destructive.  And I have it in my liver, and god knows where else.

There are other joints in this pity party.  None of them are smokeable.

Which brings us to The Point:

I began using medical cannabis over a year ago.  It takes my spine and joint pain from “all-encompassing, intrusive, consuming” all the way down to, “OK, I can definitely feel this, and I think I’ll do the laundry and walk the dog now.”

That’s the difference.  Of course, I use a special strain of cannabis (PennyWise) that is engineered to have analgesic, anti-inflammatory properties while not being overly psychoactive.  I can get things done, and I’m not constantly going, “Ouch!  Shit!  Fuck!  Damn!” and so on.  Like, right now my thorax is aching and so is my neck and shoulders, but I’m not paralyzed by it.  Nevertheless, I am going to stop writing all hunched up, and go light my Hanukkah menorah.  Sixth night.


Losing Carrie

As everyone but the proverbial three-toed sloth knows by now, actress and mental health advocate Carrie Fisher has died at the age of (only) 60. From the early reports from sources close to the dramatic events that occurred aboard her plane, I knew she was probably not going to make it; few people survive cardiac arrest outside the hospital. But of course I hoped she’d pull through, and for a couple of days I thought she might defy the odds. She was nothing if not resilient.

Alas, it was not to be. Now that she’s gone, she has left a gaping hole where a champion once stood. Carrie’s acting career was long and profitable, and her writings have been widely read. But what really made her shine was her support of the mental health community. “I am mentally ill,” she said once. “I can say that. I’m not ashamed of that. I’ve survived it, but bring it on. Better me than you.” She and Patty Duke talked about bipolar disorder long before most people were even ready to acknowledge there was such a thing. They truly were pioneers in that they faced down stigma and shame, and basically told the world to go to hell if it didn’t like what they had to say.

Carrie’s life wasn’t only about her bipolar, however. She battled alcohol and drug problems as well, giving hope to those of us who struggle with substance abuse issues. She had a wry sense of humor that kept her going through bad patches, showing people that living with serious mental illness didn’t ALWAYS have to be serious. She shared the most personal aspects of her life with us, even though being in the public eye couldn’t have been easy for her.

A few years back she had a manic episode while on vacation, and there was all kinds of speculation as to whether she had gone back to drugs and booze. I would have been mortified, but Carrie just went on with life, continuing to be a voice for the mentally ill, and especially the bipolar community.

She is a hero who will be greatly missed.

May the Force be with you, Carrie Fisher.


It’s 2016 – Why Am I Being Stuffed in a Pringle Can?

Last week I had an MRI to check on my brain tumor.  I’ve recently named my tumor “Bob the Brian Blob,” because we’ve been together for a few years now and I feel like the little dude deserves a name.  Plus, it’s easier to channel my anger when I’m mad about it.  Debilitating headache? “Damn it, Bob! Cut it out!”  More pills to take? “Let’s raise a glass to you, Bob.”  I really think Bob and I should break up because our relationship isn’t very healthy, but he’s one of those guys who’s very difficult to ghost.  We’re pretty deeply attached.

Anyway, the doctor wanted some pictures of Bob, so I went in for this MRI.  I hate MRIs.  “Wait,” I hear my mother saying. “Hate is such a strong word.”

You’re right, Mom.  *ahem* I HAAAAAAAAAAAAATE MRIs!! HATE HATE HATE HATE.”  For real.

What I would like to know is why, in the year 2016, we have not found an easier way to take pictures of my brain.  When I get an MRI, it feels like I’m being stuffed in a Pringle can.  My head is locked into a cage that feels like a strange football helmet, and then they slide me into this skinny slot in a machine that surrounds my body on all sides.  It makes me wonder if I would be able to escape if the building started burning down and the technicians ran away and forgot about me.  Probably yes, but you never really know.  Look at this thing:

mri

DO YOU SEE THE OBVIOUS RESEMBLANCE?  I’M A FREAKIN CHIP.

pringles

I feel like Apple really should have made an app for this by now.  There are apps for almost everything.  Don’t believe me?  There’s an app called “Carrr Matey” that helps you navigate to your lost car by giving you directions in a pirate voice.  There’s an app called “Run and Pee” that tells you all of the most boring parts in movies so that you know when to take a bathroom break.  Humanity has teams developing apps for those things, but none for pictures of brains?

Okay actually, forget apps.  There should be a snapchat filter for this.  No thanks on the dog tongue or the face swap – let’s use an x-ray filter that lets me see inside my body.  Smile, Bob!  Time for a selfie!

Basically, this is my official complaint to the technological masterminds of America.  I don’t care if I miss an exciting part in a movie – maybe I shouldn’t have ordered the large slushie.  I can find my own car. I don’t need to swap faces.  Please just find a way to take pictures of Bob without forcing people to pop me in a Pringle can for an hour.  I don’t like it.


20 Mental Health Resolutions for 2017 (Because We Sure As Hell Need Them)

This time last year I wrote out some of my mental health resolutions for 2016. And I enjoyed – so much – the process of thinking through my resolutions, reflecting on the kind of precedent I wanted to set for my sanity, and then all the conversations we had together about what kind of year we wanted 2016 to be (this is a good time to mention our online Facebook community is a stellar place for dialogue).

And then, you know, 2016 actually happened.

For those following along at home, I kicked off 2016 with a psychiatric hospitalization and wrapped up 2016 with a relapse and a field trip to rehab. As far as mental health goes, it’s not been my finest year.

This doesn’t even touch on the fact that we’ve lost numerous pop culture icons – most recently mental health and addiction advocate/badass Carrie Fisher – and we elected an orange Voldemort to the highest office of the land after a grueling and painful election season.

I’m sure we can objectively say that this is not what we had in mind for a mentally healthy year. I’m also not going to be foolish enough this time around to suggest that 2017 will be your year or my year – it’s probably no one’s year, frankly, if a nuclear arms race breaks out, although, weird, Russia seems pretty stoked.

Do I sound bitter? Maybe I’m a little bitter.

Listen, it’s been a rough year. And my resolutions from last year by no means prevented the apocalypse from happening. They did remind me to focus on what’s important (i.e. keeping it together).

I believe if we’re going to survive this next year (and, y’know, the next four… or the next – ugh, I can’t say it), renewing our commitment to our self-care and sanity is never a bad idea.

I’m a fan of going into any transition in life with a lot of intention and mindfulness, so I’m bringing some of that intention into the new year.

That’s why, despite the catastrophe that was 2016, I’m going to once again share twenty resolutions I have for 2017.

Your mental health is more important than ever, and if there were ever a time to be vigilant about keeping all your marbles in the jar, it’s when apocalyptic headlines and subsequent panic attacks are always in abundance.

If resolutions are your thing, I hope that these inspire you to come up with your own (or steal mine, it’s all good!).

Sam’s 20 Magical Resolutions For 2017 To Be A Little Less Shitty

1. I want to go to more support groups. I know that what I need right now is community support. I have a tendency to isolate myself in my apartment and watch a lot of Law & Order, and while decompressing this way can be good, it can’t be the only way I deal with my shit.

2. I’m going to try opening up to someone that I don’t usually. I’ve already started on this a little early. I tend to unload on the same three or four friends when I’m struggling. Meanwhile, there are other new friends in my life who keep telling me that I can always count on them – yet I never do. Maybe it’s time to give other people a chance to support me, too, even if being vulnerable with a new friend is scary.

3. I want to find a new hobby. Someone told me that boredom is the enemy of sobriety. I’d expand that to say it’s the enemy of mental wellness sometimes, too. I want to find a hobby that makes me happy.

4. I’ll reconnect with an old hobby, too. There are so many things that I used to do that gave me a sense of fulfillment that I’ve lost over the years. Like music. I recently bought myself a keyboard and sheet music to try relearning piano. I tend to play the same chords and sing the same songs repeatedly. I’m terrible at it but you know what? I like it anyway.

5. I want to sober up, for real. If you’re wondering about sobriety or if you might have a lousy relationship to substances, please read this thing I wrote. Alcohol and I have a rough relationship and I think it’s time to break things off. I don’t think it will be easy, but I’ll try my best.

6. I’ll try to start going new places by myself. My agoraphobia has made leaving my apartment extraordinarily difficult. But I also know that the only way I can live a functional life is if I don’t give up. I think many of us with mental illness can withdraw in unhealthy ways. It’s time to step out of our comfort zone, little by little.

7. I’m going to unplug from bad news as often as I need to. Being informed about the state of the world is valuable, but not if it comes as the expense of your sanity. I’m going to take a break when I need to. Delete the Facebook app, turn off the television, and go the fuck outside.

8. No more counterproductive arguments. Period. If I’m arguing online when I know it’s accomplishing nothing, I’m going to hand my phone to my partner and go take a shower. It’s one thing to educate, engage, or intervene as a marginalized person or ally. But I need to try harder to see the difference between a teachable moment and a troll.

9. I’m going to (consensually) hug, kiss, and cuddle my friends more. Lord knows we need more of that in the apocalypse.

10. I’m working on accepting my limitations in 2017. I recently had to step down from my full-time job for my recovery, and I’ll be returning in a smaller capacity more akin to what I can handle right now. 2017 is going to be the year where I’m realistic about what I can do, and I’m not going to beat myself up because it’s not where I would like to be.

11. I’ll demand better of my clinicians, always. If I don’t feel like I’m getting the care I deserve, I’ll say so. If I don’t like the solutions I’m being given, I’ll ask for better ones. If I don’t like my clinician, I’ll get a new clinician. Therapists, psychiatrists, case workers beware.

12. I’ll stop using my friends to avoid being proactive. Sometimes I rely on other people to catch me when I fall, instead of making sure I don’t fall in the first place. If they’re going to do their part as friends, I need to do my part and take care of myself. Am I using all the resources at my disposal? Keeping in touch with my clinicians? Taking all my medications? My friends are responsible to me, but they aren’t responsible for me.

13. I’ll go to the hospital or rehab when I need to – even if I don’t want to. Sometimes a crisis calls for a response I may not like or enjoy. No one likes hospitals and no one likes rehab. But it may also be exactly what I need to get better.

14. I’ll be more communicative when I’m struggling. I tend to only convey how bad things are when it’s already blown up in my face. I did this at my job, I do this with my loved ones. But so much could’ve been avoided if I had been honest about where I was at, and done so sooner. There’s nothing wrong with being honest.

15. I’m going to start dealing with my actual feelings, rather than how I think I “should” feel. My boss (who is brilliant) emphasizes this often. An example of this in my life was when I felt like I should be happy because I had everything I thought I wanted, without acknowledging that, even so, I was falling apart. Sometimes we miss the red flags with our mental health because we’re not giving ourselves permission to feel how we really feel. For me, this begins with understanding that you don’t need permission or justification to feel depression.

16. I’ll treat my relationship with myself as a priority. Do you ever go through a period of really low self-esteem, and you kind of let it fade to the background because it doesn’t seem important? I do that all the time. And yet in real life, if I had a rough patch with my partner or friend, fixing it would be my priority. If I don’t feel good about myself, I’ll commit to self-care and support until I can start to feel more positively about myself again. Because caring about myself IS urgent.

17. I’ll practice healthy boundaries. This means inviting my friends to support me rather than imposing my crisis on them. This means asking for what I need rather than expecting it. And above all, this means checking in and making sure my needs aren’t exceeding someone’s emotional capacity. Not because I’m a burden, but because we’re only human, and I would want someone to do the same for me!

18. I’m going to be proud each day that I survive. Being mentally ill is difficult as fuck. Any day that I manage to hang in there is a terrific accomplishment, and in 2017, I want to make sure I keep that in mind.

19. Self-care. More self-care. And even more self-care. Never apologizing for taking care of myself – lighting new candles, taking long showers, writing to my heart’s content, and getting cozy with a heating pad and a good book. These things will always be necessary, especially in the coming year.

20. I will stop basing my value off of what I do instead of who I am. So much of what I thought made me valuable had to do with my job at Everyday Feminism, the success of my blog, the lectures I’ve given, and what I had managed to accomplish. In 2017, I want to look in the mirror and say, “You are valuable because of your empathy, your humor, your tenderness, your strength, and your determination.” Who I am. Not what I do. And I think all of us could afford to take a minute or two to reflect on the difference.

These are my mental health resolutions for the year. A lot of hopes, a lot of feelings. But that’s what this holiday is for, right?

I sincerely hope that in taking some time to reflect on what’s important to you and what you need this coming year, you’ll be as ready as you can be to take on all the challenges ahead, even the ones you don’t expect – because if 2016 is any indication, 2017 will probably have a lot of those.