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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Lacking Drive

If you have read my blog before, you know at one time I posted my goals for each quarter and then let you know how I did at accomplishing them. I have lacked the drive for a while to set goals, let alone try to finish them. I am hoping that in this, the last quarter of the year, I can swing things around and get back on track.

Earlier this year I asked my doctor to change the medication that I was taking for my Bipolar Disorder. She at first thought to just increase my dosage which was a very bad decision. The nightmares alone made me reschedule my appointment for an earlier date to change the medication quickly. The next one was just as bad and made me very aggressive. No thank you, ma’am. I asked for a new prescription at the first signs of this behavior. We finally found one that seemed to help my depression, little did I realize that it was not to be prescribed to someone with Bipolar, but for Major Depressive Disorder.

I have talked about how I fear my manic side more than my depressed side before, but to let those who haven’t read my past posts, I will explain. When I am in a depressed phase, I sleep a lot, don’t want to do anything, even day to day routines. I pass my days in a fog. I am sedate. I am safe.

When mania enters my life, this phase is one where I take risks, I stop listening to my common sense. I stop thinking “if in doubt, don’t”. My finances become a jumbled mess because my racing brain tells me that I have money when in fact, I am digging myself deeper in debt. I start thinking I don’t need to take my medicine. My medication is holding me back from feeling good. My manic side thinks the world is mine to rule. The scarier part is when I start cycling between depression and mania. I can cycle up to four or five times per day easy. My train jumps the tracks and I spin out of control. A crash is coming that I am unable to see.

The new medication did not treat my mania. It caused it to take over. I knew it was happening this time but had no way of stopping the process. The problem with drugs you take for Mental Health conditions is that you have to give them time to get into your system for them to work correctly. The early period in taking the drugs is that the effects can be several weird reactions. The same goes for stopping these small pills of chemical cure. You can’t just stop taking them, you have to be weaned off of them at the same time you are being given a replacement. It leaves you not sure what drug is causing what effect. It is a vicious merry-go-round.

I decided that instead of expecting my primary care doctor to keep prescribing the wrong medicine, that it was time I got a referral to see a psychiatrist this time. The last time I went to one was over seven years ago so yeah, I think it is about time to re-evaluate my mental well-being. I am hoping that a fresh set of eyes on my case will help find the right medication. I so want to get off this merry-go-round. I want to try and go back to work but I want to be in a good frame of mind when doing so. I want to try to be normal for a change.

As I stated, in the beginning, I have been slacking on my goals so here are my fourth-quarter goals. This is my way of offering them to the universe to aid in my completing them.
1. Write every day.
2. Blog once a week.
3. Get finances under control.
4. Completely clean bedroom.
5. Go through storage items.
6. Finish “Wild Grows The Rose”.
7. Lose weight.
8. Eat healthier.
9. Get better organized.
10. Clean out closets.

Since we are nearing the end of October, I can say that I have increased my writing and blogging. I have been slowly cutting red meat out of my diet as well as pasta. Carbs are my downfall. I hate most vegetables, so a Keto diet is not feasible. As for the cleaning portion of my goals, fighting the urge to just sleep has been my downfall. I hate cycling between depression and mania. You have all of these fantastic ideas while manic but then just don’t feel like doing them while depressed.

I promise to let you know at the end of the quarter how well I did at accomplishing these goals. What are your goals for this end of the year quarter? Let me know in the comments. Remember to love fully and laugh often.

Monday, September 30, 2019

When I Grow Up...

Do you remember what you wanted to be when you grew up? I mean from the very start when your young brain began to figure out that one day you would be all grown up and would have to do something to live. My earliest memory of that choice was the first thing I think every little girl back in the “olden days of 1969-70” wanted to be. I wanted to be a mommy. Mostly, because that is what every little girl I knew wanted to be. It wasn’t long though before another aspiration made itself known in my tiny brain. I wanted to perform. To be an actress, singer, clown… the list went on for a bit.

Early on I began appearing on stage. Usually in Christmas and Easter pageants at church. My very first role was a starring role when I was just a few weeks old. I played the baby Jesus in the 1966 Christmas pageant with my Mom playing Virgin Mary. I stole the show because no one was expecting a live baby, they thought I was a doll until I awoke from my nap and began crying. So the acting bug bit me very early.

I began my career performing as angels, wise men, snowflakes, bunnies, you name it and I probably did it. I also helped make props, and stagehand work. I would do anything they asked me to do just for my moment to appear on stage and feel the energy that came from a live audience. If I could make them laugh or cry, I felt I did my job. I much preferred the laughter to the tears but at that age an emotion was all I sought. Oh, and the applause. Can’t forget the applause. That rocked.

It began in church but once I started school I was up for every show that the school offered to us. I remember my kindergarten Christmas show very well because once again I stole the show. I had very long hair that mom curled in long banana curls with half up in a ponytail and the rest left down. We were told to really feel the music as we sang and during the song “Up The Housetop” when we got to the h0-ho-ho’s I was swinging my head up and down and my ponytail had a mind of its own and cracked up the whole audience. I took my bow to a standing ovation. A star was born.

I soon made it a quest to try and steal every show I was in. Comedy was my trademark. People began expecting something different in each of my performances. I just played it by pure instinct. The only time I stayed serious was in church for the most part. Laughter and church did not go together. Or at least that is what I had been told.I think the saying make a joyful noise unto the Lord could be laughter as well as anything else. As long as there is joy in your heart I think God will approve.

After I started school, I even had small performances on our front porch. We had a big concrete porch on the front of our house with metal twirly columns that made for great stage curtain holders. I love to dress up in costume and give short one-person plays. I don’t really remember the content, I just remember the neighborhood kids watching and their reactions. Those were some of my happiest memories. Little did I know that life would soon steal away my joy.

In 1973, when I was just seven years old, my world changed drastically. My Dad had a complete mental break and was sent to the State Asylum for the Mentally Insane. Not even a month later, my mother had her own breakdown and was committed to the Mental ward of one of our local hospitals. She made the mistake of not paying attention to what she was signing and in that stack of papers, she in effect signed all three of us kids over to the state.  Ripped away from the arms of our family and friends and sent to live in a foster home.

Before this, I had only ever slept away from home in the homes of my family. I was told that if anything ever happened to Mom or Dad that we were to stay with either my Mom’s best friend or with family. We were at her best friends house when the police came to drag us kicking and screaming away from any love or companionship we had ever known. I was seven and my brothers were the ages of three and a few months old. Our small family was in shambles and at that point, we were told we might never go home again. I still have nightmares even after forty-some years, of being taken from my family. Talk about a strong case of separation anxiety.

The only constants that have always been in my life are my two brothers. I don’t think they will ever understand how much I love them and would do anything for them. It all stems from those lonely first days in an alien environment so different from anything we had ever known. That first night in our new home was one of the scariest nights of my life if I hadn’t had my brothers to worry about and take care of I don’t want to think about what I would have done. It is also my brothers who kept me from totally losing myself in the coming months. The months where I stopped wanting to be the center of attention; the months that made me want to just disappear forever.

It was during this time that I discovered not all attention you get from adults or even older children is good. This was the place where I discovered that some people in our world have illicit and sick thoughts about children and they act out their sick fantasies on poor innocent people who have no way to fight back or stand up to them. They use fear and manipulation to get what they want, not caring that inside it was breaking a little girl’s psyche. That it was turning a gregarious, happy child into a child afraid of everything. A child introduced to sex way too young to understand it, let alone participate in it.

 I learned that being an open friendly child garnered you more attention sometimes that you were ready for. I am not sure just how long we were in the foster home. Time seemed to stop during that time marked by rounds of abuse not only sexual, but physical, and emotional. When my Mom finally was able to get us back she almost lost my baby brother because the foster parents wanted to adopt him because they only had girls and wanted a baby boy. I know it took every favor owed our family to get him back. I don’t even think about what might have been done to him once I was returned to my Mother. I hate to think what kind of life he would have had lived with those people.

You would think once home again, life would resume for us as before but my Dad was still in the state hospital and during this time my mother did the unthinkable. She invited a friend of my uncle’s to stay with us and began an affair with him. What she didn’t realize or maybe she did is, he that he liked her daughter as well. He began his assaults shortly after moving in and as I was still in shock, he was able to terrorize me as well. I became a basket case. Nervous and jumpy. I started having issues at school. I suffered my first panic attack during this time. My dreams of being a performer went up in smoke. Just the thought of drawing attention to myself set me in full anxiety attacks. I was scared to draw any other predators in my life. In a way, I did become an excellent actress. I learned how to act normal in a world turned upside down.

Somewhere along the way, I blocked out everything but it was too late the damage was done. I became introverted and secretive. I became a manipulator and a liar. I did what I had to do to survive the nightmares haunting my dreams. I became over-protective of my brothers. Behind closed doors, I still dressed up and played out scenes in my head but only our pets were witness to my performances. Sometimes I wonder if I would have pursued my dream if this part of my life hadn’t happened. I traded being an actress to being a writer. In my stories, I can be whoever I want to be and I like to think that still makes me a performer.

I needed to get this out of my system, for some reason the past few nights I have traveled back to that dark time. I believe that writing is a therapy unto itself and I hope this places the old ghosts back in their box. If you want to comment on what your dreams were I would love to read all about them. Remember to love fully and laugh often.

Friday, August 30, 2019

Tears For My Mother

AddImage by <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=2906458">Sabine van Erp</a> from <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=2906458">Pixabay</a> caption
Image by Sabine van Erp from Pixabay 

I feel as if with the passing of Mother’s Day this year, that I can finally write this post. I may have mentioned in the past that my Mom passed away in November. We had a love/hate relationship at best. She said she loved me and I hated it. I am sure in her mind, she did love me but I have come to the conclusion that she just was uncertain what love meant. The love she showed us kids was tainted by her own experiences. It was shaded by how she was shown love by the people in her life. I have finally come to understand that as I study my own ways of showing love. I, in my heart of hearts, do not know what love is, or if it is even real.

I cried today for the first time since my Mom passed. It has taken me over six months to shed one tear for the woman who gave birth to me. The woman who when someone would hurt me at school would come charging down to the school full of wrath and demanding that her little girl be avenged. The woman who when I would lay fighting terrible pains in my legs at night sat beside me and offered up prayers for me to find relief, who when I was sick would rub my back to make me feel better. It has taken me this long to start remembering the woman was only human and she did try.

I can remember her singing these off the wall little nursery rhymes when I was little but when I asked her about them later she didn’t remember doing it. It was from one of those rhymes I got my first nickname. Reetie Peetie Pumpkin Eatee. Yeah like I said…off the wall. My brother still calls me Reetie Peetie sometimes and I don’t think he could tell you where he got the name from. I remember my mom sitting me down every Saturday night and combing my hair out from my bath and then rolling it up in those pink Styrofoam curlers that were so popular in the late sixties, early seventies. She always did my hair for school and church. Although as evidenced in a couple school pictures it was a wasted effort. She did the best she could as a mom in those ways.

I just wish she could have shown her love when it came to emotions a bit different, to show how to treat someone with love instead of pitting them against the other. To be faithful to the one you have spoken vows with. She always thought we were too young to remember those times, but I remember because those were some of the most traumatic times in my life. It was a time filled with events that would shape the rest of my life and still haunts my dreams at night. Times that made a young child grow up before her time.

This has caused me to feel conflicted about my feelings for my Mom all of my life. I loved her and appreciated the things she did for me but at the same time, I hated her for making choices that affected not only her but our whole family. I lost respect for her by the time I was a teenager and only showed her respect as one does to all people who are older than oneself. I think this conflict was partly why I found it so hard to mourn her passing. Why I couldn’t seem to lose one tear until months later.

Image by <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=3332113">Karen Smits</a> from <a href=";utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=3332113">Pixabay</a>
Image by Karen Smits from Pixabay 

Just the other day my brother and I were out for his birthday and we began reminiscing about our lives growing up. I love the place where we were eating because they always play the oldies… yes, I am referring to old seventies and eighties music as the oldies. Damn, when did I get old? Oops. Sorry got off-topic. Anyway, we began talking about life growing up with two people who suffered from mental illness. My brother, thank God still has no memory of the times when our Dad was going through some major psychosis brought on by his schizophrenia. He remembered the medicated father, not the one who suffered from delusions and paranoia. He did, however, remember our mother’s bouts with depression and paranoia. These were much more frequent in our lives probably because we spent more time in our mother’s presence.

I sometimes forget I am not the only one who survived living with our parents. My two brothers were also witnessing the two lives who should have been happier but because of ugly mental illness fought demons daily just to survive. I understand this more from learning to live with my own demons. I am happy that I was passed over when it came to the schizophrenia. It is bad enough how out of control I feel when my manic side rears its head to try and destroy my hard-earned peace. I speak this as I battle with this monster right now.

Depression makes you sedentary, mania makes you feel invincible and in charge. Of the two sides of being Bipolar, I fear the manic episodes more. They take longer to recover from both physically and financially. The longer the manic period, the longer it takes me to dig out from the hole I have dug myself into in regards to money. Don’t get me started on the apologies that have to be made to the people around me either. Mania means my filter on my mouth is shut off and I’m not afraid to say what is in my head no matter the cost to those I am speaking to.

Once again I went off-topic which is dealing with the loss of my mother. The bad thing right now is with Father’s day approaching I am missing my Dad more. It seems like with Mom gone, I feel his loss more. I saw a meme on Facebook the other day about if we could take one more walk with our Dad would we do it. My answer was a resounding yes. My Dad loved to take walks and if I could join him for one right now I would go no matter how bad my legs were hurting. Can I say the same thing about my Mom? As callous as it may sound the answer would be no. Does that make me a bad daughter?

I hope that somewhere down the road I will be able to move on from the animosity that I still harbor towards my mom. I am trying desperately to improve my outlook in regards to my mother. I believe each of us is a work in progress and all we can do is strive to be better than we were yesterday. With each new day, we are given opportunities to either succeed or fail. We choose which direction we want to take.  I think the fact that I finally was able to shed a tear or two for my Mom means I have grown in the right direction. Even at the tender age of fifty-two, I am always learning something new. I guess the old adage was wrong. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Until next time, love fully and laugh often.

Friday, July 26, 2019

The Fear Of Pain

Anyone who has read Dune knows this quote. From the moment I read it, it has always played on a loop in my brain when I am in pain. Somehow it helps me take control of it and overcome it.

I remember lying in bed at night crying in pain. I was around the age of six or seven, maybe younger. My legs would hurt so bad that I wouldn’t be able to get comfortable. My legs would scissor back and forth until I would wake up with friction burns. My mom would come in and rub my back to comfort me because when she offered to rub my legs it would hurt so bad I would scream. The only thing that I was given was baby aspirin which would, in turn, make me physically ill. Turns out I was allergic to it. Doctors when asked about it just said it was growing pains. 

It wasn’t growing pains. I wasn’t the right age for “growing pains” as they called it when a kid had a pain they didn’t want to look into further. Usually, if the kid was poor and the family couldn’t afford expensive medical treatments. I was a poor kid from a working-class family so I was just growing, there was nothing wrong with me. It would be years later before I would hear the words Juvenile Arthritis. All through my life, I have been told that I was too young to have arthritis, it was all in my head. No one would listen when I would say it wasn’t in my head it was in my legs.

What always kept the doctors from saying it was arthritis was because I had muscular pain as well. I fought muscles cramps at the same time as pain. I didn’t care what it was, I just wanted it to stop. I am in my fifties now and no one up to this day has ever given me any answers. So I still spend nights scissoring my legs back and forth trying to alleviate the pain that I still have no relief of. Now though I have the added diagnosis of neuropathy to add to the discomfort in my legs. How you can be numb and still be in pain simply amazes me. Don’t let anyone say it can’t happen because I am living proof that it does.

It has been almost six years since I received my neuropathy diagnosis and we are still searching for the cause. When people hear neuropathy in the feet their minds instantly go to Diabetes. I am not diabetic nor have I ever been diabetic. Because of my family history, I am tested quite often. My neuropathy is idiopathic, meaning there is no cause. At least the doctors can’t seem to find a cause, which means they can only treat my symptoms not what is causing them. The medicines they want me to take are ones that I am allergic to or have had bad reactions to. Where does that leave me? Living with the pain and discomfort. If you ever wonder why I am in a sour mood look no further than to the fact that I hurt and there isn’t anything to be done about it.

Living in constant pain has made me go from a contributing member of society to a reclusive, non-contributing member. I used to love to go out and do stuff, to be around people, to have a life. Now I spend my days living in a single room looking out the window at a world that I no longer feel like I belong in. My excursions from the house are to go to the doctor and to go to the grocery store occasionally. I have no life, no friends, nothing. All these aids in my depression taking a grasp on me and leading me down dark pathways. I fight to reach the sun, only to be dragged back time and time again into the depths of helplessness.

In the next few days, I have appointments with both my neurologist and a pulmonologist to continue my journey of seeking answers to the question of why I have neuropathy. I am beginning to feel as if we may never know the answer and I will be forced to continue treating symptoms instead of the cause. I am slowly coming to the realization that there may be no reason other than my drawing the short straw in the health category. 

I just went to the first of my appointments and as usual, my blood work shows nothing suspect. The only thing it ever shows is one, I am not a diabetic. Two, I am low on some vitamin or mineral, and three, that I still have kidney disease. Those are my holy trinity. This time the only other thing shown was that on the day of the draw, I was fighting some kind of inflammation, which could have been as innocent as a bruise or hangnail. Once more I left with a prescription for a new medicine to treat the symptoms but not the culprit. I hope that the appointment tomorrow will give me more answers than questions.

Well since the last time I worked on this post, I have discovered the I have Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This was found after I did not just one but two sleep studies. The first one was inconclusive because they gave me the wrong CPAP mask to wear. Hello, I told them that I only snore when on my back. So they gave me a mask that just covered the nostrils. I rolled on my back and mouth came open thereby flunking the test. For anyone who has had the test before you understand why I just loved going back to be glued and wired all over again. When you have fine, long hair it is even a bigger joy having half of it ripped out the next morning when they remove all the fun little electrodes.

The second test was a good one and now I get to strap myself in like an astronaut going into space every night before placing my head on my pillow. I do have to admit I have been sleeping better with it, except for those times when I roll over on my back and snore and get dry mouth and to take a drink I have to unstrap just to wet my whistle. They need to make a higher setting for the humidifier. I guess it is good that I am single, I figure it might kill the mood in the romance department. Fella rolls over in the mood to get frisky, “Hey baby, want to fool around?” All he hears in return is a mumbled answer and by the time you get the mask off, he has rolled back over and gone to sleep. Or so I imagine that is how it would go.

I hope this helps with my neuropathy some because I would like to try to go back to work part-time, but as it is now I’m not sure what I could do when I stumble around on numb feet and half the time my hands are numb and I have a nasty habit of dropping stuff. As I mentioned I have a habit of stumbling, so far I have been lucky and not fallen but the neurologist told me at my last appointment that it was time for this girl to start using a cane.

 I have been thinking about it for the last year but I have been talking myself out of getting one because I felt like I am too young for a cane. Well, the doctor vetoed that thought and wrote me a prescription for one. I also need to get a handicapped placard for those times when my legs are in spasm mode, but just to sign their name on a slip of paper these days, doctors charge you in the area of $30- and up. Who has that kind of extra moola lying around? If I had it, I would use it to buy food or some other necessity.

I guess in my mind the longer I fought trying to uphold the appearance that there is nothing wrong with me, then I can feel like my illness is just temporary instead of chronic. Sure the symptoms can be lessened by my eating right, getting exercise and taking medication but it will never be gone. All I have to look forward to is it becoming more debilitating over time. I have known most of my life that I will eventually be in a wheelchair and I am fighting that day off like a prizefighter. 

I think I have rambled on long enough about the new happenings in my life living with one of the invisible illnesses. I really hate that name. If someone really takes the time to look at someone battling one of the invisible illness’ they would see someone who moves just tad bit slower because they are in pain. If they take the time to speak to you, they would find that you have to fight sometimes for words or try to remember something that has slipped from your grasp. If they would just take the time to consider how much some of us have to pep ourselves up just to go out into the world when we worry about falling or having our body betray us in some way. But that isn’t the world we live in any longer. The world we live in is full of hate, self-importance, prejudice, insensitivity, and just careless regard for all humanity. The days of doing unto others have passed us by to be replaced with do unto oneself and nobody else.

I challenge you today to take a moment and study those we share this precious planet with. Even those of us battling our own illness’ can turn a blind eye. For just a few seconds of your time, put yourself in another’s shoes. When you do I hope you find some small bit of understanding for one another. I also hope that you love fully and laugh often. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Did You Miss Me?

I know it has been a while since I posted. Funny thing is I wrote several, I just couldn’t find the energy to put them out into the world. I think partly because they were about my parents. I wrote a post for both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day but when it came time to send them out into the world something held me back. Well, the time has come for them to see the light of day and I hope you don’t mind reading about things that happened a couple of months ago.

I also wrote about my recent health issues and so I will be adding it to the lineup. I hope you are ready for a whole lot of me in the next few days because I am going to roll on along with letting you see some small Glimpses of My World. I have been remiss in posting but I am slowly getting my groove back and hope to begin posting regularly again. Just have patience with me.

In other news, I had a scare at the end of June when my baby boy, Neko got out of the house and disappeared for over a week. Now to make this understood how upset I was, Neko had extreme dental surgery in December where he lost ten teeth. He had to have his food pureed so he could eat and when he disappeared I was afraid he wanted out to go find a place to die. I knew that he couldn’t eat solid food, so he would starve if he didn’t find his way home. He is also my therapy cat so my anxiety level was through the roof as I worried about him. I found myself crying in my sleep. Bo Jangles tried to fill Neko’s therapy shoes, and I have to admit he did a hell of a job.

The good news is that just when I was giving up on ever seeing my little house panther, I happened to glance out the back door and spied something black hiding in the tall uncut grass in our backyard. I don’t know why but something told me to check it out and as I walked toward the mass, I started saying Neko’s name. To my joy, he answered back in a low raspy meow. My baby had found his way home. I brought him inside and immediately took him to the kitchen to get him something to eat and drink. He was just a bag of bones. When I took him to the vet he had lost a pound but that is after he had been home a couple days and had been eating non-stop. I figured he lost probably two or three pounds during his sojourn out into the wilds of Central Texas.

The vet gave him a clean bill of health, saying just to keep an eye on him because he had some inflammation in one of his remaining teeth, and gave me some flea treatment to aid in ridding him of our Texas hell fleas. Believe me, the fleas down here eat up Advantage and other flea treatments like candy and just grow bigger. While I was away for a day of doctors appointments his Auntie Tam gave him a bath since he didn’t smell very good. She said that the water was filthy when she was done and now Neko is all soft and shiny again. Check out this pic of him taking a second bath to wash off the first bath. LOL

So now that my world is halfway back to normal. Well, as normal as my world ever seems to be. I have remembered my computer is for something besides games and e-mail. I hope the next few posts find you living well, loving fully, and laughing often.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Days Of Old

A wilting white rose next to an embroidered handkerchief

In this day and age, we have come to expect everything to be convenient, prepackaged, and disposable. I think there was much to be said about the way things were done in the past. I think we need to go back to some of the old ways, and slow down, and take a breath.

You may be wondering what prompted me on this subject. It was something as simple as a linen handkerchief. I know many of the younger generations will be scratching their heads trying to figure out what that is. Quite simply put, it is a cloth Kleenex, a hankie as we used to call it back in the horse and buggy days.

I, unfortunately, suffer from year-round allergies. I decided to try and save money and trees by using linen hankies. They are re-usable and feel better on a sore, chapped nose. As I was sitting here folding my fresh clean snot rags. Yes, that is another term for them that I learned from my Dad. It got me thinking about today’s subject.

It was, in fact, my Dad who introduced me to handkerchiefs. As a hard working garbage man, he didn’t have the time to carry around a tissue box, and he couldn’t carry them in his pocket because we all know what happens to a flimsy tissue in a pocket. My Dad kept the bandanna companies in the business. When other kids were buying their Dad’s ties, we were buying our Dad those red and white or blue and white squares of nose blowing freedom.

If you are unsure what a bandanna is. Here is a photo.
a photo of a red, white and blue linen handkerchief or bandanna
These days they come in all kinds of colors and designs.

They are quite versatile. You can use them to blow your nose, wear around your neck, and pull up to protect your nose and mouth, (or in the Wild West to rob a bank.) They are also good to tie around your forehead to keep the sweat out of your eyes. My Dad used them for all of these reasons, well except for the robbing banks part but who knows.

As usual, this post got off track of the subject. Don’t ask me how I ended up talking about my Dad. He must be on my mind today. Now back to the subject of slowing down and going back to the simpler things in life. This is something we all need to do. 

All the already prepared meals, the ability to stream TV and movies on your phone as well as access the Internet makes our lives easier but it has also taken away our sense of family, of togetherness. We have become a single-minded entity who has lost any individuality. We no longer talk to people, we text. It is pretty bad when on a holiday that brings friends and family together. Everyone sits staring down at their phone and instead of engaging one another, and talking, they will message one another.

What happened to human interaction? Has our world become so defensive against the hate of others that they would rather not have any human contact. We are alone eating our fast food while staring at the small computer in our hands, isolated. Maybe if we return to the family dinners and sitting around the living room watching TV or, God forbid playing a board game together there would be less hate in the world because we would remember that we are after all a social creature. We need interaction with our fellow humans to remain human. When we separate ourselves we become selfish and hateful. We destroy because there is no one there to inhibit us.

In this way, we stop caring about our fellow man, our wildlife, our planet. It becomes all about number one. If we are to save our world we need to remember what it means to be human. To show ourselves and all of our flaws to each other to better grow as a species. I think if just one night a week to begin with we choose to make dinner from scratch, don’t get me wrong, I think using a jar of spaghetti sauce with packaged noodles would suffice. Just add a nice garden salad, some garlic bread, maybe some green beans and call the family together. As they enter the kitchen or dining room have them turn off their cell phones and place out of reach. Spend some time getting to know the humans that you share a home with and branch out from there. Call your friends over for an afternoon or evening of sitting around playing cards and gossip. Simple things like this will reactivate our ability to care and listen to one another.

I think I need to buy some new hankies, maybe a bandanna or two in memory of Dad. Take some time to reconnect with those I love and turn off my cell phone, shut down my computer and just spend the day remembering what life was like in the old days. I might even dig out my recipe for homemade chocolate chip cookies and do some baking. Take the time to slow down and breathe. I hope you will give it a try also. Leave me a comment on how you can slow down and reconnect. I hope you continue to love fully and laugh often.

a baking sheet filled with raw cookie dough balls.
Image by Aline Ponce from

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Pulling The Trigger

I was in my late twenties when I first started hearing the word “Depression” from my doctor. They brought it up at almost every visit but didn’t prescribe anything for it until my early thirties. This was in the early ’90s, and yes, the stigma of having any mental illness made you cringe when you thought that such a diagnosis would find it’s way into your medical files. So I balked at the thought of my being depressed and just pushed it off as exhaustion. I was simply tired, too tired, for everything going on in my life. I convinced myself that it couldn’t be Depression because I didn’t want to kill myself. This was something my mother battled, not me. I was the strong one. I wasn’t depressed.

I have written before about how at the age of fifteen, I did want to kill myself and even tried a half-hearted attempt. I think what stopped me from succeeding was as someone born and raised in a strict religious household, I was scared of the consequences of suicide. In the bible, it says that someone who commits suicide cannot enter Heaven. I was a strong enough believer to not want to go to Hell for killing myself. That fear saved my life on more than one occasion. Even at that time in my life if you had asked me if I was depressed I most likely would have told you no. I lived in denial of so many aspects of my life, for so long, I believed my own lies.

I was finally prescribed medicine for my depression when I was thirty, maybe thirty-one. A lot happened in my early thirties so the timeline is a bit fuzzy. I became a member of The Prozac Nation. The doctor prescribed me the drug Prozac and it did help. I was still tired of life but I didn’t care anymore. Prozac wrapped me up into a nice fluffy cocoon and kept all the bad emotions away. My friends and relatives noticed my change in mood and they seemed to think it was for the better. This would not be the only depression medication that made me feel this way. What I didn’t realize at the time was that not feeling my emotions and dealing with them was causing something to grow within me.  Something that would rear it’s ugly head shortly after my Dad’s death.

One of the emotions that Prozac stifled in me was my anger. I have always had a slow burn temper, that when set off burned bright and then died away. While taking my miracle pill, I didn’t have any temper flares, I did, however, have mini breakdowns where life would seem too much to bear and I would feel like I was going to shatter into a million pieces. All a result of holding my anger in, burying it deep, thinking it was gone. It wasn’t. It was just waiting, percolating into something far uglier. Rage.

The first time I felt the rage rising to the surface, I pushed it back down. The deep-set anger scared me so much my old friend denial came out to play. IT was just a momentary thing, it wasn’t anything to worry about. Deep in my thoughts though I knew that it was only a matter of time before it resurfaced. I was scared of what I would do when it did. I began to live in fear of it being triggered. Being wrapped up in cotton didn’t seem like such a good idea anymore. I brought my concerns up to the doctors but at the time I was going to a clinic and never saw the same doctor twice. One of the unfortunate side effects of not having any medical insurance and not making enough money to buy any. I was just thankful that there was a free clinic in our town.

The first time I let some of my rage out was when my Dad died. Most would think that this was a normal part of the grieving process but it was more. I was truly devastated by my Dad’s passing. I felt betrayed, scared, and alone. I had never lost someone very close to me. I had lost my grandfather when I was four so I never really knew him. I also lost one of my favorite uncles when I was eighteen but once again we hadn’t been close. My Dad was a very important part of my life and now he was gone forever. My tears were of pain and rage that he had been taken instead of my Mom. I know. Why would I wish my Mom gone in place of my Dad? That was because I had always been closer to my Dad and my Mom had been sick all of my life. In my mind, she should have gone first, but fate had other plans.

One instance of my rage breaking free during this time was when I told my Mom how I felt. I still remember the stunned and hurt look on her face. I honestly to this day still feel no sorrow in causing it. If I really want to look deep inside my rage still burns at the loss of my Dad twenty years later. I was a thirty-two-year-old adult but at that time I felt like a small child left bereft without the most important person in my life.

After I shoved my rage back into the box so to speak, I went on with life. I left the state I was born in and traveled around a thousand miles away to a new home and job. I completely left my safe zone for the unknown. I did this without my Dad just a phone call away. It was the most scary thing I had ever done in my life. It was the right move to make though because it put distance between me and the city where every place I went reminded me of my grief. It removed me from the well-meaning people who had loved and respected my Dad, constantly stopping me to ask how I was holding up. How do you say day in and day out that you are fine when inside you feel like your life is over?

We had moved to take jobs to help out a friend. He was having trouble finding employees he could trust with some important clients and he had come to my husband and me with a request for help. It came at the right time and so we relocated a month after my Dad passed. I went from living in a small town of about twenty-two thousand people to a major city with millions of people. Talk about culture shock. The first month I was there I couldn’t drive because the expressways caused me to have panic attacks. I had never been in any place with so much traffic. I had never seen rush hour traffic. As I said it was a shock. Eventually, I braved the roads and the rest is history.

 We stayed down in Houston for six months almost to the day we left. My husband and I decided with both of our Grandmother’s in poor health that it was time to go home. It turned out to be a good decision because we lost both within a year of each other. The next phase of my life was beginning. I wish I had had some warning of how life would flip me upside down within such a short time.

It was during this time that my rage bubbled to the surface and almost cost me dearly. I was working in a sales position and anyone who has worked with the public knows that the old adage of “the customer is always right” isn’t always the case. On one particular afternoon, I had a customer arguing with me and he kept getting closer and pointing his finger in my face. The only thing protecting me was a counter between us. It was at this moment when my rage erupted and I started over the counter to attack the customer. Talk about a cold splash of water in your face. As quickly as it started it was gone when I realized what I was doing. The customer was shaken enough that he left the store without another word. It was that day I knew that I needed to do something or I would end up in jail or worse.

I made an appointment with the doctor that day and thus began my journey into the game of Russian Roulette that those of us with Mental Illness must play to find the right medicine to aid us in our everyday lives. I say it is like the game because finding the right medicines for your diagnosis is like pulling the trigger never knowing if you will survive the action. So far I have been on at least four different medications with varied strengths. I have learned to ask family members to watch me whenever a medication is changed or a different strength adjustment is made. I sometimes don’t notice a change until I have done something that wakes me up or scares me.

As with Prozac, I have taken medication that fuels my rage, while one didn’t affect me at all. It was like I wasn’t taken anything but a placebo. Which is a discussion for a different post? Doctors like to use people with mental issues as guinea pigs. You never know if what they are prescribing is the real deal or just a sugar pill in disguise. Well not until you slip into a dark depression wondering why you don’t just end all of your sufferings as well as relieving your family of the burden you feel you are to them.

I feel like it has reached the time again to have a discussion with my doctor. I voiced some concerns for my medication and how my anxiety was rearing its ugly head and she decided to double my prescription. I went to one of my specialists and they were surprised by the dosage that I am taking saying they had never seen it prescribed with that high a dosage. No surprise that I am living in an unfeeling cocoon again. I noticed something was off when it hit me that even with the feelings I felt towards my Mom I have not cried since before she died. I feel nothing. I can’t even cry during movies that always leave me a blubbering mess. It is definitely time for a medication adjustment.

The last medication adjustment before she raised my current medication was to add an anxiety pill. That didn’t go over well. It was one of those that causes the rage to explode out of me and in the process someone I love got hurt. I feel the pain so deep for causing them injury that I would love to cry about it but I can’t. Sometimes I consider just stopping all my depression and anxiety medication and see if I can live without them. I know that that will cause a new host of problems so I just keep trying to find the magic mixture that will let me live a normal life.

I know others who suffer from Depression and or other Mental illnesses deal with the same problem. If you are one who has been shaking your head yes to my rambling let me know about your battles and what you have done to conquer the old stigmas and live a normal, well normal for us, life. Leave me a comment below. As always if you are considering suicide or any form of self-harm, there are people out there willing to listen. All it takes is a phone call. (insert suicide hotline) I leave you with this final thought. Remember to love fully and laugh often, sometimes they are the best medicine.