Tag Archives: UK vs US

Depression Sabotage

Right now, I am taking driving lessons so I can actually operate a manual transmission; this is required to get a full British licence. I’m not doing bad at all, and my clutchwork is coming along nicely; on my instructor’s instruction, I’ve booked my test for the end of next month. And yet, every time I have a lesson? My brain freaks out, tells me to cancel it, and to find a corner to curl up and cry. Thanks brain, really… this is only us getting to a point where we will have freedom restored to on par before we moved here. I know, I know, I could take public transportation… but as I have an overwhelming need to be able to come and go at the exact time that I desire to, this isn’t viable. Add in my high levels of paranoia pertaining to having to wait, and yeah… no. Driving needs to happen. Driving will happen. Roundabouts will continue to lose their confusion and terror.

Past that, I’m trying to determine whether or not I’m heading into a depressive phase, or what. I feel I’m wallowing a bit, but not full-on either. I’m still crafting and thinking about writing (I swear, writing will occur again, ha ha. I very much want to finish my novel). I still wonder how I’ll ever be stabilized, or even what passes for stabilized. I’m lucky to finally be paired up with a doctor who fully appreciates that I am a cheerful and pleasant person, but I’m still worried it’ll hit a point where I’m still not hanging on, but that I will once again be a victim of my own self-control. It’s wearying, yanno? And I know right now, on the edge of my mind, is the ‘what is the point of this all’ lurks, waiting for a chance to make a significant strike.

For now, I can be happy I had a good driving lesson. I can be happy that I have a wonderful family both here, and abroad (my relationship with my mother is so much better these days). I can be happy that we are well off enough to afford the occasional nice thing if we so desire. I can be happy for the beautiful frozen spectacle Mother Nature has been making of the English countryside. And if this fekakkin’ cold ever lifts, I can be happy of my general good health.

Anyways, off to get some moisture-based Vitamin C in me, since both of these things will make me feel better physically.


Hypo, Maybe?

Hi folks!

I’m still alive and kicking, but I’ve been keeping rather busy. I might have mentioned it in the past, but my American driver’s license is no good over here; I’ve lived here too long. So I’m having to apply and test for a British one, and let me tell you — there’s a lot to digest. I’ve applied to take the theory part of the test week after next, so here’s hoping that goes well. I think I’ve got the relevant data crammed into my head, but there was a lot of translation between Englishes and thinking and all of that jazz.

Atop that, I have obviously gone out of my mind because I’ve decided to try to do NaNoWriMo this year. At the suggestion of one of my best friends, I’m putting the snowflake method into play. I’ve managed to make some progress in that regard and get some things scribbled down, but my brain has definitely hit some fatigue tonight. I’m not too worried about it, if only for the fact the fatigue is writing out things that I don’t think are really important and telling myself it’s okay to not do them. But I’ve also done a lot the last couple of days (I’m in step five), so now comes the balancing act of deciding if what I have is enough to go into a bit more outlining and framework. I think I want to think about what should go in chapters. Also, holy crap, chapters; I sure am getting fancy! I’ve got one story that has more than one chapter thus far, and part of the third is in the back of my head somewhere. So yanno, having material for one than two is sort of a big deal. Here’s hoping that I don’t fatigue because my fingers cannot get it out of my brain fast enough. I type really fast, anyone who has seen me would agree, but it’s still too slow for my brain!

You can also thank NaNo for me writing this too, because my brain is so fragged at trying to make things happen that writing other things seemed a good idea. *grins*

On the mental health front… well. I don’t think I’ve checked in specifically since my last appointment. We decided to up my Seroquel from 200mg to 300mg, which has been interesting. I’ve caught myself rage-angry a few times out of the blue, which I can guess is probably me not knowing where the safe zone was anymore. There’s patches of anxiety sticking out still, but I think that’s going to exist as long as there are more than one thing in the world. I was seeing a different doctor this time by luck of the draw or whatever, and he was agreeable to my suggesting it could be ADHD. They can’t diagnose it where I live anymore due to cutting back of services, so to get that checked, I’ll have to go into London (groan). I will though if I’m able to, ’cause I agree with him — if it’s anxiety, it would be treated one way. If it’s ADD or ADHD, that’s treated another way, and we don’t want to aggravate things. He was also amused at me and my ‘assertive’, because my version was wholly polite and pleasant instead of being nasty and demanding.

The docs did suggest it might be a good idea to postpone the trying for the next childling until I’m stabilized, and I’m inclined to agree with them. If I had known it was going to take this long this time, I sure as heck would not have resigned myself to my shitty whiny summer. So of course, my body is doing weird mid-month crampy spotty things… sigh.

Anyhoos, I am yawning, so I am going to go stare at my notebook for a few more minutes, and then consider crawling into bed with a book. Be well, all!



Several of my friends on Livejournal have been trying to post daily a small list of things they are grateful for on that day. I like the idea, though I’ve not given it a whirl yet. It’s hard to think great thoughts when depressed, but:

  1. Air Conditioning: This country is stupid humid; I don’t get along with humidity at all. So on days like this where it is both hot and humid, I am grateful that we have an A/C unit in our living room. For 2 or 3 pounds a day, it is worth it to not be completely miserable in one’s skin.
  2. The Husband Fellow: This one kind of goes without saying, but it should still be said often. He’s awesome and carries the weight of the world on his shoulders to make sure our family gets by. He does this without complaint or falter, and I am continuously amazed that he doesn’t resent my janky ass. He inspires me to try to do things, but not try so hard as to make myself worse off.
  3. The Kidlette: I hate babies. I hated the baby stage of my daughter’s existence, and I don’t look forward to doing it again. But man, I love human-shaped tiny people and their wonder and amazement and absurdity. I love watching her develop and really, she’s a fun little person.
  4. The Physical: I am pleased that my body mainly functions as it should. Oh sure, there’s creaks and groans and I couldn’t do a y-scale if my life depended no it, but my body does the things I need it to do. With my mind usually malfunctioning, I do not take this for granted, especially after years of poor health before having my child likely tied to endometriosis.
  5. Being in a Healthy Place: I love being in a country that suits me. I love that there is health care for all, and that it was possible with a little pushing to get help with finding out what’s up in my head. I admit this is complicated by the fact that I have no idea how to be a patient; we didn’t have money for health care growing up in the States.

So yeah, those are definitely of the every single day variety, but yanno… got to start somewhere.


Sports and Hobbits

We are watching some Olympic matches today; it feels like we’ve not watched enough considering the fantastic coverage the BBC is providing. It’s nice to enjoy some sport, and to watch as the UK moves to what looks like a firm third in the medals table. Mainly, I’ve been perversely pleased that the abysmal NBC coverage is making many people I know back in the States question why they’re getting such a raw deal; I feel this might aid in more Americans thinking to question and quest past their borders, and realize how the concept of American Exceptionalism is used to get Americans to at sub-par as ‘best in the world’.

Beyond that, I’m wandering about Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings Online. My main character is a Hobbit (though the subject line refers to a picture on Engrish.com), as I find it an agreeable species to wander about with. I like the freemium model because pay-to-play doesn’t get along with my addictive personality; it didn’t matter so much when I was rotting alone in San Antonio, but now that I have a life, I don’t want to squander it on trying to get my money’s worth out of something. And as I’m frugal, there’s a lot of squeezing there indeed.

So yeah, a whole lot of nothing much, but if it keeps me sane? I’m not gonna complain.


Other Brain Games

I’ve got an appointment booked in with my GP for this afternoon to bring up a newish brain problem, this one a physical one. I keep having random sparkly ‘plosions across my brain lobes, which I don’t know what to make of. The trigger for me to finally go talk about it was something that happened last week; I had two episodes in the same day which felt like someone had dropped an Alka-Seltzer™ or some other fizzy product on the back of my brain. My brain felt like it was fizzing, and that’s just… no. And then it happened again a few hours later, and I seriously have no idea what to make of it.

Mind you, I’m hoping it’s nothing serious. For all I know, it could be related to being medicated, since most of the incidents have occurred since I’ve been getting treated (if not all). I did bring it up the last time I saw my psychiatrist person at the hospital, and he seemed to concur that it would be a thing to take up with the GP. I am just aware that it could be something, and that it’s better to ask than not in this sort of thing. I’m hyper-aware of physical brain issues, as one of my best friends had a tumor, and another has seizures. I almost feel like I’m ripping them off by having this sort of stuff happen, but that’s stupid — why would I try to psychosomatically force myself into having seizures or tumors or anything related? I wouldn’t… nobody would. It’s just a weird coincidence.

It’s silly, but that’s sort of how I feel about all my various health issues as they spring up — as if I am an imposition for trying to get any help or advice. This is likely a product of having no significant health care growing up; I can count on one hand the number of times I saw a doctor growing up, and most of those were for inoculations. Military healthcare is pretty much tick tick the boxes, moving on (though it was surprisingly easy to get to the chiropractor, in their favour). And because if you have any significant health issues while in the military you risk getting kicked out via medical board, it discourages some folks from getting any real help for fear of losing their job and time towards retirement. So I was in my late 20s before I even had a chance to learn out to be a patient, and it’s coming slowly. It’s somewhat easier now because I’m not in a constant fog of pain and nausea like I was before I got pregnant with my daughter, so I’m not as easily talked over. But I still feel like some sort of hypochondriac pain in the ass. Bad brain, bad — let’s get over that!

So anyways, here’s hoping that I actually stand up for myself and express myself clearly, instead of mumbling diffidently like it’s not a big deal. It might not be a big deal in the scheme of things, but I won’t know unless I stand up and get it checked out. :D



Not Rain, But Another Kind of Storm

Or, at least, very little and absolutely no thunderstorms here. I’d be grumpier, but it’s almost chilly today by comparison (and I get to go blow a load on yarn and other craft materials, so that always is happy-making!).

I’m also amused by the decision out  of the United States yesterday on the subject of healthcare — welcome to the rest of the industrialized world! I love seeing the right-wingers insisting they’re going to move to Canada in protest; it shows just oblivious many Americans are to the workings of the rest of the world. I admit that I need to do more reading about the minutae of the ruling and the actual bill itself — what is included and covered by the new insuragnce/tax? As I commented to a friend yesterday about life and care in the United Kingdom:

‘I pay a small national insurance tax here. In turn, I get healthcare, cheap prescriptions, and reasonably priced dentistry. Is it a good deal? Hells yeah. I know what’s ‘wrong’ with my brain and have treatment (couldn’t afford it stateside), I can breathe, and I gave birth to a healthy child without going broke (at home like I wanted, with two midwives in attendance). I can see my doctor pretty much as soon as I need to about anything. Gyno? Covered, no problems and with plenty of reminders to be timely about that shizz.’

I would love to hear from my friends back in the States with mental health issues on how this is going to specifically effect them. I would like to think more people are going to be able to get diagnosis and care so that they can have a better quality of life. Most of you reading here probably know what a difference medicines and therapies can make between getting by and living, so knowing that more people could be helped to live and do and not be demonized would be nice to hear.

I’m also bemusedly wondering if this wonderful step towards modernization of American society will somehow trigger a second Civil War. That was apparently bandied around t’Internets yesterday, and I admit — some of the right wing response is frightening. Going militia because society is actually chipping in to take care of each other? How very ‘Christian’, but then, most people I’ve seen who beat their chests and Bibles don’t know a thing about Christianity (other than thinking their loud professions will be enough to add stars to their crowns, and turning off those who might consider coming to the flock). That’s not a jab on Christians entirely — you see it with any sort of zealot irregardless of their flavour of ‘right’.  It just happens that a lot of American right-wingers profess to being Christian, else it would not even merit mentioning! And I won’t even blame them for their narrow-mindedness specifically — many were raised to listen and believe in things unquestioningly, so it is not a surprise that many soak up bigotry and hatred and greed when they are fed it as the correct and ‘patriotic’ way to be.

So I guess we shall see, and hope for the best. And in the meantime, if any of my friends Stateside can tell me more about how this will benefit themselves, I would love to hear about it. :)



On Being British

Last summer, I obtained my British citizenship. While I was relieved to have it finally done and over with, I wasn’t terribly excited by it. I wasn’t getting to put it to use; there haven’t been any elections since then, for example. But this weekend? This weekend is my first chance to properly celebrate being a Brit, and I am quite pleased to.

You see, this is the Diamond Jubilee bank holiday weekend. This weekend, we celebrate sixty years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign over the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Being an American by birth (a citizenship I still retain), I have been enamoured of the monarchy since I was a wee little child. I think most American children do – it’s sort of a romantic notion, being a part of a royal family. And while the role is mainly ceremonial to the running of the country, I still think that the Queen is good value for money. She’s just… the royal personage does a good job of demonstrating what noblesse oblige should be, of being a noble symbol for a proud country with a long history and worthy heritage. But as said, my opinions were formed in childhood (to include the bog standard demonization of Prince Charles as unworthy), and I’ve not felt the need to question them in adulthood. Me likey monarchy, bring on the coronation chicken, etc.

It will also be nice to finally be doing something that reminds me that I am legit British now. It was something I never imagined in my life, not even when I was enjoying the crap out of British comedy shows on public access. I thought that I might try for French citizenship upon my successful attainment of the language in high school (since fallen to nearly nothing via disuse), but that was before I realized the existence of the Eurozone for living and working, and really – I didn’t take that dream seriously. It seemed unlikely at best (knowing what hoops one has to jump through to attain citizenship in another country), and completely improbable at worst. The marriage route is definitely the fastest non-heritage route to citizenship, but I’m not one to exploit a system. I would have never thought to try to marry someone just to move to another place. Bad juju, yanno?

So then, what DOES it mean to me to be British? It means being part of a culture that is less afraid about questioning and mocking itself than the American culture. I know how different this gulf is based on ‘friends’ in America calling me a traitor or threatening to be the ever-loving shit out of me for applying the same approach towards improving America (which I always have done, but because I shut my mouth on my opinions during my military time, people thought I didn’t have opinions!). It means having a much better understanding of sarcasm, and being able to take a bit more on the chin. It means quizcoms and BBC Parliament and cackling along at the witty riposte that both contain. It means having health care that actually works; it’s not perfect, but my life is massively enhanced by the NHS. It’s a far from perfect place, mind – there’s a redonk number of security cameras, this country coined the phrase ‘nanny state’, and there is an unhealthy obsession with celebrity bordering on the insane. There’s casual racism (which is hit or miss; I think it’s generally less offensive than being overly PC), there’s a frightening amount of entitlement, and the government seems to love chasing the worst policies coming out of the United States. But that’s okay, insomuch that I can say that without getting threatened with death or assault for having an opinion (which, I suspect, is often meant as ‘sarcasm’ coming from Americans, but as they absolutely do.not.get sarcasm…).

So long and short – I am happy to be here. I am happy to be a citizen. This isn’t a knock on America, which has its awesome points as well (which will be taught to my child(ren) along with the good and bad of British as they grow up). All in all, I am glad to be of both, but will definitely enjoy celebrating the newest this weekend.



Today, I am reflecting on the miracle that is calm stability. Of being able to look at confusing things without having a complete meltdown on the spot, of being able to push past boundaries that were once like brick walls. Today’s victory is over trying to understand tax code. One of my fellow ex-pat friends mentioned the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (wiki//IRS), and I’ve managed to look at tax stuff both late night and today without ending up a puddle of jelly. You see, as an American citizen, I’m supposed to file taxes every year. I have been lax because:

A.  I do not make enough money to owe the US, and
B.  I couldn’t figure out what category I needed to file as without bursting into tears

Now, I’m not a stupid girl, but American tax code is needlessly complicated as compared to UK tax code (where everybody files individually!). When Googling last night to find the right category, I found a lot of hits because nobody knew how to file correctly (for those of us living abroad married to non-American citizens, it’s ‘Married filing singly’, NRA). Add in the fact I’ve not seen a useful e-file for filing from abroad until this year, and is it any wonder my poor head was caving in? And to prove that I don’t make enough to owe two countries taxes (!!!) requires extra forms and… well. Yes, explosions in the mental sky. How dumb is it that one has to file taxes on non-American income to prove America that they don’t deserve a slice? Pretty dumb, but this is also a country that (per wiki) is willing to spend upwards of 10 billion to get 800 million in taxes. And people wonder why the government never seems to have money to take care of its citizenry…

So yeah, I’ve got some back tax stuff to figure out, because I do believe in doing my duty as an American (and y’know, wanting to hold on to both of my citizenships). But I can celebrate that I am stable enough, calm enough that this isn’t rendering me catatonic. Once again, I’m not stupid, but when my default state was fight or flight, it doesn’t really leave a lot of room for taking a deep breath. The fact I CAN take that deep breath and make myself slooowly read through things is such an amazing thing to me, and that’s why I take this moment to celebrate and revere that faculty while it is available. Oh sure, I won’t be able to hack through this without my amazing husband and calling the American Embassy for advice, but I wouldn’t be able to do either of these things if I weren’t feeling stable and calm. I won’t berate ‘normal’ people for taking this ability for granted, but I can hope that (if they read this), they can take a moment to reflect on the wonder of such a little thing, and how it makes their life that much better and happier. :)

Back to the grind!


Staring at the Ceiling:Random Thoughts About Normalcy

There’s not a lot of anything going on here today, and not much going on in my mind. I was amused by a discussion last night, though. I was talking about how I blog daily about bipolar to the gal who runs our Stitch ‘n Bitch, and how it’s so much easier to be openly Bipolar here. Oh sure, there’s still misunderstandings about what it means to be mentally unwell, but when we have the likes of Stephen Fry openly talking about his life with bipolar, it makes it easier for the average Brit to appreciate that we’re just as human as anyone else. That’s a nice thing, to feel free to be oneself even with the scruffy baggage that is a mental illness!

It also reminds me that I’m not going to have a fun time trying to share my diagnosis with my family state-side. I’m already the odd duck enough (I’m from my mother’s first marriage, and my (step)father’s sister’s children had no qualms rubbing that in my face all our lives), so adding that atop my so-called Satanism and lesbianism (’cause y’know, that’s what they decided I was) is going to be fuuuuuuun. There’s the off chance that it will be treated decently because my father’s mother’s new husband also has Bipolar… but I suspect that I would just invite more harassment and verbal/emotional assault.  I’m not even sure all my siblings know of my diagnosis, and I’m almost completely sure they are unaware of my suicide attempt a few months back because I don’t think any of them actually come around these parts. Which is… sort of a relief, I guess. I would like for them to know, but as the default modus operandi in our growing up home is that I’m not permitted to have feelings or emotions (or that any I have are wrong and need to be shoved away), it’s much healthier for me to operate outside of that frame of reference.


Otherwise, I’m just thinking about handedness. I’m left-handed, and defy all the stereotypes – I have lovely handwriting, no stutter, and can speak several languages to varying degrees of fluency. It amazed me to realize that left-handed people were ‘supposed’ to have such problems; after years in art school and years amongst linguists in the military, I found that the percentage of lefties was closer to 30% on those fields. I’ve never felt discriminated against because of my handedness, and find the concept rather unimaginable. I still laugh at the unusabI left-handed scissors, and the ‘fact’ that I should be completely unable to use normal scissors (Which I can. Left handed.), and roll my eyes at claims that we’re all doomed to being lost and confused because it’s a right-handed world.

And though it’s early days yet, it seems like my daughter is likely to follow in my footsteps, and those of her paternal grandfather. I do my best to encourage her to play with both hands (to include me attempting to play and doodle right-handed!), but she of her own accord has continued to express a left preference. She’s of an age where that might be her real preference, and that would excite me. I have hopes she’ll express an interest in the yarnly crafts, and well… no idea if I could teach crochet right-handed. I can barely chain two together because it is very awkward and straining on my hand to hold the yarn to tension. Though if she were right-handed, her grandmother and father could teach her the rudiments. Really, we don’t care which way it goes as long as she feels confident in her abilities to do things, ’cause that IS the main important thing.