Category Archives: Read Along

Speedy Day

Ive been busy this morning–had to have my youngest at the church for an event for her youth group and went to therapy then to lunch with MJ.  We had a good time talking, but now I have to go to the dentist and get my permanent crown in.  So it’s not much of a post but just long enough to say and hi and thanks to all who are still reading me after all these years together.

Hope everyone is having a happy first of the week and that things continue to go well this week.  Hope to talk longer tomorrow!

 

 

Been A Long Time Gone

Well, I got through it—the second anniversary of my husband’s death. I don’t know why, but it feels in some ways like I’ve lived the longer part of my life since he’s been gone. So much has happened, so many things to learn about myself and my place in this world. I’m still working on that one; I’m still not sure where I belong in life, but I think that’s par for the course for someone who’s only been widowed for a couple of years. I’m not too worried about it though, because I think this exactly is where I’m supposed to be at this stage.

Naturally, I’ve been thinking about Will a lot. I was listening to the classic country station on cable one night when our wedding song came on; but instead of crying, I felt a sweet sensation wash over me, and I could almost sense his presence in the room. I imagined myself caressing his handsome face and running my fingers through his thick hair. I remembered his smell, a slightly musky scent with a generous splash of Old Spice. I saw once again his big hands with their work-roughened palms and gnarled veins that I used to joke about trying to get an IV in. I thought of us, newlyweds at ages 29 and 21, and how we had NO idea of what life was going to be like as a married couple. We didn’t know that one day we’d have children and jobs and money troubles. We couldn’t foresee that I would go on to develop the mental illness that cost us so much in the long run. And we never imagined that three and a half decades later we’d have to say good-bye, long before either of us was ready.

All of which served to remind me of how much I’ve lost and how much I miss him. The night of July 12th was the worst; it was the night he suffered so terribly and it took what seemed like an eternity to get him the pain relief he needed so desperately. I will never forget his screams or the question which had no answer: “Why do I have to suffer like this?” As a medical professional, I have the technical knowledge to understand that one or more of his tumors probably exploded that night, causing massive internal bleeding and the agony that turned him inside out, but as a loving wife it doesn’t comfort me much. I still wonder sometimes if there was something more we could have done for him at home…but in my heart of hearts, I know that battle was over before it began.

In a few ways, reliving it makes it seem like it happened only last week. But I’ve gotten used to Will not being here, and it feels—shall I say it?—normal. I’m used to making my own coffee in the morning, although my son Ethan made it for me on a couple of recent occasions. I’m used to looking over at Will’s chair and not seeing him there in his bright orange T-shirt and blue plaid pajama pants (usually with a puppy or two). His voice, alas, is fading from my memory, although I can still recall his cackling when something really funny happened. I haven’t even watched Pawn Stars since he passed, and we used to watch it almost every day. I wonder if he’s run into The Old Man yet.

So I got through the 12th and the 13th, feeling anxious and tearful but not depressed, and now I’m OK again. Those days will always be difficult, but I’ve accepted that. I went out and had a great weekend celebrating Ethan’s 27th birthday, and today everything is business as usual. I’ve been sleeping well (more on that in the next post), I’m smiling and laughing, and life is being kind for the most part.

I think this is what healing looks like.

 

 

 

The Problem With Knowing

A common thing I hear non-depressed people say to depressed people is “you never know what life will bring”. But that couldn’t be further from the truth for a person with mental illness. I fully understand that I will eventually have another crippling bout of depression. I know with amazing clarity that I will have […]

Summertime sadness

Kiss me hard before you go
(In which I argue July mood disturbances right after summer solstice are a real thing)

Trigger warning: just stop reading this stupid post.

The summer solstice was June 21st this year.   Every year roughly two weeks afterward my mood becomes very unstable.  This year is no different.  I think it's all tied to circadian rhythms as to whether it's the most or least sunlight of the year.  I typically have extreme depression in January after the winter solstice.  July is different.  It's close to a mixed state.  It's a dangerous time.  Bouncing up and down. 
In addition to it being a extremely annoying thing to see coming, there's also the annoyance of no one seeming to believe it's a real thing.  It's real people.  It's real.  It's fucking real.  So to my counselors and pdoc... please kindly go to hell with your quizzical looks.  And what can only be a smug skepticism behind that look.  It's real to my mom, her sister, and her brother.  They themselves barely believe it no matter how many times I insist it's not about their birthdays and getting older (they were all born in July).

What I don't get is that my pdoc says it's a good idea to keep using my light box.  Like, there's too much sunlight out there.  That's the problem.  Why should I expose myself to more light.  But I'm doing it anyways.

I'm often suicidal during this time, make medication changes, and self-medicate during this time.  July of 2004 I was smoking weed regularly and stopped taking Paxil without telling anyone.  I ended up alone in a park, under a tree canopy, sobbing in the rain.  With a knife.  Luckily a knife not worth shit.  But I can still see the scars where I cut myself... barely drawing blood. 

Last July I asked my pdoc for a medication at a dose I knew was too high.  Sent me into dangerous hypomania.  Not sleeping.  Weird thoughts.  Journaling weird shit.  Akathisia.

This July?  Giving up the sobriety efforts more or less.  Risky impulsive behavior.  Lottery tickets and scratch-offs.  Waking up at weird times.  More social media involvement.  No patience.  Withdrawal from my family.  Coldness followed by sudden closeness.  Keep bouncing.

Image credit

The Sandwich Saved Me

What do you do when depression is flogging you and your efforts to fight back take more out of you than give back?

For me, I retreat into binge watching TV shows. This weekend, it’s been both seasons of Jessica Jones, based on a Marvel comic. For the last few years, I’ve been absorbed with the DC comics series like The Flash and Arrow. It never occurred to me Marvel series might have something quirky to offer until I watched this year’s Cloak and Dagger. Now I have two Marvel universes to get lost in when the sandwich isn’t saving me.

Come on, that is hilarious! And kudos to them for season one with David Tenant as the evil villain. Oh I love that man, he brings snark to every character though some of his work has been pretty…shall we say bleak? Or is that just British not-Dr.Who-programming? Nah, I watched the US show Gracepoint with Tenant, he’s a very versatile actor. Easy on the eyes too but it’s always the accent and the snark for me.

I guess I am posting because…I woke again, this morning, and was disappointed that I was awake. Which I guess means disappointed to be alive because dead people can’t wake up, only the living can, so if every single day you are filled with disappointment and dread upon waking…stands to reason something is wrong with your life or your mind. My life is plenty 50 shades of fucked up but currently, I think the depression is just winning 6 out of 7 days of the week. Which I predicted would happen when the doctor refused to up my meds and leave me hanging for three months, but hey, what do I know, I’m just the fucking patient who has to wither in this mental space and watch my life slip away from me.

And it pisses me off and fills me with shame. So many others have it far worse, their lives are far more meaningful than mine, and here I am, feeling like I lost all my limbs when I am abled bodied yet my mind won’t cooperate for shit and honestly, I am about self-bullied out. I am pep talked out. I am shamed out. I WANT THE SANDWICH TO COME SAVE ME NOW.

My kid returned from her zoo outing and ya know what? I’m kind of glad I didn’t take her. All she did was gripe that they couldn’t buy her this and they had to eat hotdogs cos it was the only semi affordable thing then she was griping in the car on the way back so much they actually stopped to buy her a coloring book and crayons to shut her up…And she had the nerve to tell them she thought it was boring at the zoo at one point and damn near made my nephew’s girlfriend cry. Welcome to Spook experience, people, all the work, zero gratitude, and incessant complaints all in hopes maybe once a week you hear the word ‘thank you’ and get a hug. Pfft…If I want to be dissed and hear complaints, it’s called every day of the week. So even a $150 trip to the zoo didn’t please her. Maybe she’s just one of those kids nothing will ever satisfy.

She just found out her little friend next door is going to be moving and she is pretty bummed. They’re gonna stay in Armpit but I guess living with the mother in law and grandma is too much for them, they want their own place and good for them. If I’d had to live with any of my family once I had Spook, blood would have been spilled. Lots, and lots, and lots of blood. I am trying to be supportive and sympathetic for her sake, but she’s having none of it, she wants to embrace her misery in a chokehold. Sigh. I want my misery to fuck off and die in a fire.

I did have a little ‘cool but in a sad way’ moment earlier when she said she was soooo exicted for tomorrow. I asked why and she said because we have the standing pizza date in town. She’s looking forward to taking lunch across the road to the park and eating with her mom….Yeah, right. She’ll take two bites then find another kid or some playground equipment to ditch me for. But she’s looking forward to it and I am too. Thanks to our very good friend Mr. M preordering and buying it for us, I will be getting one wish granted this week-for Marco’s pizza. And it’s so very good and they don’t do a lot of business so I feel like I have to eat there every chance I get before they too are run out of rural hell….Anyway, we love you, Mr. M.

Now back to the final two episodes of season 2 of Jessica Jones. No sandwiches have saved lives this season, but they did have an episode called “Shark in the Bathtub, Monster In The Bed.” Oooh, sharks and monsters and sandwiches, oh my. One of them please save me. God knows my psychiatric care center isn’t doing a damn thing to even try.

And people wonder why I watch so much TV and prefer fiction to reality. Yeah, total mystery. NOT. Bloody hell.

Good Morning!

Good morning!  I’m back from my trip and glad to be done with dance for a while.  My youngest enjoyed herself and learned a lot so that is good.  That’s why we go.  The competition was okay–our girls didn’t get the highest ratings but also did not get the lowest either, so that was nice.  They got  a lot of applause whenever they performed so that was nice as well–they were crowd pleasers.

I forgot to pack one of my meds and it started to show Sunday–I was very jumpy and anxious.  But I’m back on it today and am managing well so far.  I just miscounted my pill bottles and forgot to recheck them.

Long day ahead–I’ve got to  go to the grocery store and get food and what not and then I’m not sure what I’m going to do.  I am still so tired–I had a lot of trouble with reflux last night and did not sleep well until late at night.  I didnt’ cough any, just felt the heartburn coming on.

Hope everyone has a great start to their week!

Talking to Ourselves

people woman relaxation girl

Photo by Public Domain Pictures on Pexels.com

Recently on Facebook I asked how many of my friends knew the meaning of the semicolon – other than as a mark of punctuation. About two-thirds of those who responded did. The rest either didn’t or had some vague idea but no real knowledge. But I’m pretty vocal about mental health issues and a fair number of my friends have similar problems and difficulties, so that two-thirds figure is likely not representative of the population at large.

Yet I see increasing numbers of t-shirts, bracelets, and other paraphernalia adorned with semicolons and sometimes colorful butterflies or the word “warriors.” But nowhere does it say what the semicolon stands for. For those of you who don’t know, the semicolon marks that place in a sentence where a writer could have stopped, but chose to go on. As such, it has become a symbol for suicide prevention and mental health awareness.

I have a semicolon tattoo myself. I don’t regret getting it. It reminds me, as the saying goes, that my story isn’t over. But when I got it, I also hoped it would be a tool for education – that I could explain to those who saw it and asked what the symbol meant.

Unfortunately, no one has asked.

I’d hate to think that the semicolon has become like a secret handshake that identifies members of our tribe to one another, but leaves out the rest of the world. As stigma-fighting symbols go, it doesn’t seem terribly effective.

The political conversation has become so fraught that no one talks to anyone who doesn’t believe in the same things. And I’m afraid that, like them, we’re largely talking to ourselves.

Self-talk is important – definitely something we should pay attention to and work on improving. But if we really want to fight stigma, we need to talk to other people about it.

I see a fair number of stigma-fighting memes and discussions, but unfortunately, most of them take place in mental health support groups, where the message is not as much needed as in the larger world outside our band of the mentally ill.

Of course, there are organizations such as NAMI, Bipolar Awareness – Stop the Stigma, and Stigma Fighters that dedicate effort to reducing stigma. And they are doing a good, necessary thing.

But what about the rest of us? What can we do to break out of our shells and involve the rest of the world in our cause?

One thing is to question other people’s assumptions when we see or hear them. When you read a post that calls the weather bipolar, answer it. Explain why that’s not a good comparison – that it trivializes a very real problem that millions of people face every day. And when someone assumes that a mass shooter or other terrorist must be mentally ill (or “off his meds”), remind them that those with mental illness are more often the victims of violence that they are the perpetrators of it.

Will people get the message, or will they just dismiss you as “politically correct” or a “social justice warrior”? Personally, I can think of worse names to be called, and many of us have been called them. But just as “retarded” and “gay” are no longer acceptable as synonyms for “weird” or “stupid,” we should try our best to make “crazy” and “mental” and “psycho” and that annoying little twirl of the finger by the temple no longer acceptable as shorthand for behavior that one doesn’t understand. (I still haven’t figured out how “dumb” and “lame,” both ableist language, have managed to skate by.)

What I’m saying is that to fight stigma we need to engage with the world outside. We need to explain why certain uses of language are hurtful and what the truth is about the many people who are affected by mental illness.

I’ve had to smack a few friends on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper when they get it wrong and I try to put my two cents into other discussions that are portraying the mentally ill insensitively. I think about what I’m going to say and even practice it before I speak or press send. (Sounding well-informed and reasonable is the way I want to express my message.) I post my blog entries to “public” as well as to friends and support groups. Sometimes I even talk to my family about stigma.

As a group, we need to do a whole lot better at not hiding from stigma but confronting it wherever we see it. We can live with stigma or we can fight it.

I have a Mental Illness, but I am not a Mistake

mr rogersI watched “Won’t you be my Neighbor” about Mr. Rogers last night.  One message he put across to kids via a puppet is that they are not a mistake.  Although, he did not bring up mental illness, I see how that could be relevant.

I AM NOT A MISTAKE! Please remember that if you are struggling with depression or another mental illness. God made you the way he did for a reason. You will be happier when you figure out why and deal with the positives of your life.  You can also use your illness to help others by reaching out to those you know who are struggling, telling them that you can relate, being honest about your own illness, and could prevent a suicide if you think of it.

Suicide hotline: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

International hotline: http://ibpf.org/resource/list-international-suicide-hotlines

This is what I wish people who identify as ‘truscum’ would try to understand.

When you create a definition of transgender that relies on gatekeeping, the door is wide open for friendly fire.

It All Just Sucks

Honestly this is not some boo hoo woe-is-me post, I just couldn’t come up with a better title at the moment. I was too lazy to eat when I woke up so I thought, I’ll do the mood stabilizers later after I do eat but what can it hurt to take the Cymbalta now while I am thinking about it…Well, the hurt is in my gut which is now burning like a mofo, something that was never a side effect when I took the same in the past but now suddenly it is a random thing. As if my burning stress stomach aches and lowering myself to take Pepcid isn’t enough, then playing the “will the pills make me puke or not today’ lottery…Just what I bloody needed. GRRR.

You can spew all your sunshine and wave your pompoms in my face and tell me what works well for you and it’s all about a positive attitude but you know what? It doesn’t change the fact that MEDICATION SIDE EFFECTS EVERY DAY OF YOUR LIFE JUST PLAIN SUCKS.

In a surprise twist the other day after being assaulted by some well meaning but ’caused traumatic flashbacks’ pompom waving…I felt like a loser for a couple of hours and then I realized no one has my permission to make me feel inferior no matter my failings and hey, that includes ME. I was busy beating up on myself because I’ve not found my magic cocktail of unicorn farts, medication, and meditating on clouds made of cotton candy I forgot the most important things of all: we are all different. And I really need to get the stick out of my ass because I suck at being given advice, I take it way too personally and in doing so, I close my mind to some positives I could take away from it. I totes want my uicorn fart magical cocktail but until that happens…I’m gonna keep doing me.

And I surprised me because after the loserpalooza mental state kicked my ass long enough, I started moving around the house. Not because I wanted to but because I was pissed off, because I was sick of beating myself up, because damn it, I am fighting as hard as I can and the pegacorns aren’t barfing rainbows on me so I may as well do something. I folded 7 baskets of laundry and attempted to find a place for it all thus making the middle room look less biohazard-y. (It is very challenging to store things when YOUR IDIOTIC HOUSE HAS NO CLOSETS,FFS, whoever designed this place was a fucking moron.) I cleaned cat boxes, tried to clean floors (epic fail without a working vacuum and fans blowing dust everywhere you just swept or dusted, grrrrr.) The humidity that day was so high I had sweat running down my back, indoors, with the AC. 93 outside, 89 inside, what a joyous life. But I got shit done and it felt good. Hypomania always does, though I sure do miss my full blown mania and oh those delicious but lethal diet pills that kept me looking pretty and so energized I could run 56 hours straight but that’s a story for another (never) time.

I zonked around midnight, only to be wakened three times by the rioting cats who don’t do diurnal…I had a nightmare I jolted from at 4a.m. and could not get back to sleep. So I tried boring myself to it by watching, oh dear god, Martha Stewart glazing a ham. (The horror!) Fail. By 6 a.m. I was doing dishes, counting time til I had to take my kid to my mom’s for her sleepover and outing. Which meant by the time I got my ‘me day’ I spent most of it sleeping because I hit the hypomania wall and when I did wake up, I was up til after 2 a.m. and too tired to do anything I had planned because when planning it, I had assumed I’d be well rested instead of my cycles all fucked up.

Today I am edgy and grumpy. My kid is off to St. Louis with her cousin and his girlfriend for her first ever trip to the zoo. And selfishly, I feel pissed off about it. I want her to be happy, but I feel pissed off that my nephew doesn’t work, doesn’t pay a single bill, his girlfriend just had to resign from her job before they fired her, and still they have all this money to drive so far away and go to the zoo and feed my kid (after they took her out of town shopping last night!) and it’s just not fucking fair that I do all the sacrifice and hard work and I can’t even be included in the fun stuff she gets to do. Me, me, me, I know, but is it so wrong for a parent to want to be with their kid doing the fun stuff? It should be a memory for mom and daughter but no, I’ve got every cent tied up keeping a roof overhead so…

So I am feeling left out and petty and at this point…I’d just be happy if I could afford a damn pizza from Marco’s. Everyone takes Spook out to eat, to swim, to shop, and I am always stuck home, can’t even spring for a damn McDouble. Boo hoo, right? Well, newsflash:parents are people,too, and while we are willing to sacrifice whatever is necessary for our kids to be happy…

Some of us selfish bastards would still like $13 to get a damn delicious pizza.

But knowing my mental state and how the meds are wrecking my body daily..I am glad she has others who financially able to give her what I can’t. Honestly, some of my fondest memories of childhood aren’t of amusement parks or zoos, they’re just the mundane daily things, like playing with a dog, or running through a sprinkler and having ice cream after. Of course, I’m not vapid and my kid kind of is, so her memories will involve everyone but me cos they all have money to do the fun stuff. I won’t begrudge her that. I’d probably have a mental breakdown if I was even sitting in a car in St. Louis traffic (sure would love to see the snakes though, such beautiful creatures.) I still think it’s bullshit that my cousin and his girlfriend don’t have to pay for food or a single expense by living off my mom and my sister. But then isn’t that how everyone views me, living off disability…Difference being, my money isn’t going toward happy fun ball stuff. I prioritize and my kid comes first so if her having food means no trip to the zoo and I’m a downer…so be it.

Really makes me think of everything my parents sacrificed for me and my sister when we were kids. How little they got out of life other than working to pay bills and keep us clothed and fed. Not to mention they hated each other and stayed together for our sake (not a favor) so that had to suck a lot, too. At least I am not stuck with an albatross in my home thus ours is a happier home than what I grew up in.

I still want my Marco’s pizza, though. If I can’t have pegacorn barf and unicorn farts…I just want a damned pizza. I’m shallow and demanding like that.