Monthly Archives: February 2015

Fascination! And more …

Ok, let’s address some more of these writing prompts!

quixoticfaith asked me to expand upon several issues, and was “fascinated” regarding number four. (When my son disappeared when he was a child, and when he was AWOL from the Army). This was already addressed in a former blog post, Noise and Runaways.

Prompt #11 was: What is the difference between being treated for physical problems as a bipolar in the ER, when the bipolar diagnosis is known, versus when I withhold that information. Writing letters of complaint to the hospital, even though I am not one to complain.

There are two times that I can recall that really burned my britches in regard to medical treatment, and stigma against mental illness. The first is when I went to the ER with complaints of severe chest pain. This pain was not typical of any I had had before, and as a nurse I know that women’s heart disease is of great concern. I didn’t want to mess around with it. When I first got pulled into a room, and the nurse began to go over my health history, I “mentioned” that I had a history of bipolar disorder.

Suddenly I was whisked away to a separate section of the emergency room, “just in case you get anxious, dear. You won’t have to be around other people and be bothered. We’ll see you just as soon as we can.” Wham. The prison doors were shut. I was in a locked unit, and I spent the next I-don’t-know-how-long waiting to be seen. It seemed like hours. Guarded by a man in uniform, not monitored by EKG, nothing. The only concern they seemed to have was my mental health status, not my heart. I was not at that time experiencing any anxiety, other than what one would normally have with an episode of chest pain. I was not manic, or suicidal. Just, “by the way,” bipolar.

Finally, the doctor came in with a very serious expression. No eye contact. Very little in the way of a conversation, an exam, or diagnostic testing. After he was done, I was scuttled out the door with no discharge instructions, and no explanation for the symptoms I’d been experiencing. I almost felt like I’d been assaulted.

That incident resulted in letter #1 to the powers-that-be at the hospital. They had no right to treat me any differently than any other patient who comes in with cardiac type symptoms. They had no right to be concerned that I might “flip out,” just because I had a diagnosis of bipolar. And most of all, they had no right to not pursue and diagnose my cardiac symptoms. I came to one conclusion: The next time I had to come to the ER with a medical concern, I would not disclose my psychiatric diagnoses. They might discover it by other means, I suppose, but I would not volunteer the information. Sure enough, the next time I came to the ER with that in mind, I was treated with respect and concern that was just like that given to any other patient who presented to them.

Incident #2 was at another time, when I had been admitted to the psychiatric hospital for a manic episode. Shortly after my arrival, I began to have cardiac type symptoms, this time, much more severe. This psych hospital was affiliated with the same one that had put me in the back room of the emergency room. The psych hospital did take my blood pressure, and it was 200 something over 100. I was obviously very concerned. But it took me two hours to convince the physician’s assistant that I should be seen by a regular physician. My rights as a human being were being violated, and she would not even consult with anyone else to see what she should do, when I insisted. I believe that refusal had everything to do with the fact that I was having symptoms of my mental illness, and therefore was considered incompetent to make a decision regarding my care. Not cool at all.

Finally, the physician’s assistant agreed to consult with the doctor on call, and I was taken to the regular ER, accompanied by a psychiatric technician. She was a very nice woman, but a very meek one. She was not willing or able to ask for what I needed from the hospital staff. Eventually I was sent to radiation for x-rays and a cat scan, after which I was told that I had a pulmonary embolism, or blood clot in the lungs. This is a very serious medical condition which needs to be treated right away, or sudden death can occur. The doctors told me they would give me medication to dissolve the clot, and I was put in a darkened hallway to await treatment.

Here I was, in full blown mania and alone with the psych tech, waiting for them to save my life. I don’t mean to be so dramatic, but that was how I felt at the time. I had no monitor, and no emergency room staff available. Just a “wait here for a minute,” which became two hours. All I could think about was a man who had died while in my care when I was working as a nurse. He was a patient in the intensive care unit, and had turned blue and died within seconds. I was so shaken at the time by how it had occurred that I even attended his autopsy, to see if there had been anything that I could have done. I remember seeing those big maroon clots in the medical examiner’s glove, as he showed me what had caused the man’s death. And here I was in the hospital, awaiting what I thought might be the same fate. My symptoms of mania continued to escalate, along with the continued chest pain, but the psych tech would not intervene. To me, it was obvious that I needed some attention and care, but I felt like no one was listening.

Finally the resident came to me to tell me that they’d been mistaken, that there was no blood clot after all. Hence, letter #2 to the hospital after I was discharged from the psych hospital. First of all, I explained how the PA at the psych hospital should be disciplined and instructed for not acknowledging my right to be seen by a physician. Second of all, the regular hospital should have provided me protection and support, given my manic condition and severe anxiety. And whether I was manic or not, I should not have been tucked away in a hallway waiting for treatment, given the severity of the diagnosis they thought I had. It was total neglect all around, and certainly the results of that could have been tragic. This is to say nothing of the terror I was experiencing in a state of heightened awareness and emotions.

*************

Well, then! Stay tuned, because I am going to have a part II to address some more writing prompts! But it’s before noon, and I’ve had more than one cohesive thought; I think I have done pretty well this morning!

Noise and Runaways

Otay! in reference to my post “Pick a Number,” in which I listed a number of writing prompts, JAMI of Days of Evolution said: “1) and 4) both sound fascinating.” So I think I will address both of them here.

# 1 of the list said: “I really need the silence.”

Recently I have heard sensitivity to noise referred to as “Misophonia.” I was very surprised to find that there is a word for it! Most of my life I have needed to be in a very quiet environment. Noise just drives me nutty! In fact, I am very much at peace when I have “white noise,” like my fan, going all the time (Say ‘white noise, white noise, white noise, 3 times fast! Ok, but I digress..). I don’t know then if using the fan qualifies as “misophonia,” since white noise is noise.

I wonder if I developed this because of growing up in a large family and sometimes hearing sounds of arguing or conflict going on. As many of you know, if you put 2 children in a room together, there will usually be conflict! Especially if a toy is involved! Then put 2 adults in a room together and well, you don’t even need a toy!

And even without conflict, there is background noise, there is kid noise, there’s the TV going, there’s the “running a household” noise – I am pretty much sensitive to all of them. I would just as soon escape and only hear myself. And even then I have to shush myself. (I do so love the sound of myself typing, though. Lol).

Another reason I am sensitive to noises is the fact that I am an introvert. Or am I an introvert because I am sensitive to noise? Most people would tell you I’m not an introvert. I’m the one who before church goes around and shakes everyone’s hand, especially the new people. I’m the one who at our community dinners is running around making sure everyone has everything they need. I’m the one who will sit down and chat with the person who needs an ear. You would think I was in my element. Well, in a way, I am. It’s what I do. But when it’s over? I run to my little cocoon. And oh please do not get in my way when it’s time for me to go home! And I am so happy. The longer I don’t have to hear people and noises, the better. Ahhhh…  I need the air to be quiet. Don’t chew out loud, don’t scratch out loud, don’t even breathe out loud. Don’t call me, don’t talk to me; go away.

Has it always been this way?

I don’t think so. I mean, the introversion, yes, you bet. But the noise sensitivity? The older I get, the worse it gets.

So, like I said, I don’t know if this counts as misophonia, but I do know I am most happy living alone – and I really need the quiet!

***********

Okay! Jami also said she liked #4. Number four reads: “When my son disappeared when he was a child, and when he was AWOL from the Army.”

Talk about an emotional trigger. Just thinking about this circumstance and I am back there.

The first time was when DS (=dear son) was very young. I can’t say that I remember now how old he was, but way too young to be walking home from school alone, I know that now. It kills me that my memory is so bad that I can’t remember! I tell you this brain is so traumatized (mostly by itself!) that it just won’t work. But anyway, the situation was that I was waiting for DS to come home from school. It was well past the time that he was supposed to be home, and I began to become alarmed. I called a few people who might have known where he was, to no avail. I called his father (the last thing I wanted to do) and DEX (dear ex) came over. That was not my ideal sitch, trust me. I did everything I could to avoid that man, and this was even worse. Not only did I have to see him but I also had to present as a) weak and b) incompetent. Kind of hard to present that keep-your-distance brick wall when you are feeling that vulnerable.

Well, we called the cops, we called numerous friends, people were looking all over the neighborhood for DS. I live in a small-ish city, but large enough to have any number of unsavory persons, especially if my imagination is triggered, which it was. I left DEX at the apartment and started going door-to-door. The longer it was that we couldn’t find DS, the worse I felt. I was panicked and writing the script, each moment thinking of worse and worse things that were happening to our son. There weren’t even that many TV crime shows then, like there are now. But in my mind he had been kidnapped, raped, or horribly maimed and injured. At the very least, he was terrified. I was sure of it.

I held it together pretty well, considering. I was so focused on finding him that I couldn’t fall apart entirely. But the longer he was gone the worse I felt. The darker the sky became, naturally, the more I began to panic.

Finally we found DS. He had been walking, lackadaisically, la la la, along the railroad tracks, about 15 minutes away, for a small wandering boy. When I found out he was okay, all the potential things that could have happened to him ran through my mind. I felt the relief of knowing that he had not gone through all the things I had imagined, including the “run-over-by-a-big-gigantic-steam-engine” scenario.

When I finally got back to the apartment, I saw DS curled up on DEX’s lap, and I barely stopped to give my son a kiss. I walked through to the back end of the apartment, and I don’t think that I have ever cried that loud and hard in all my life. All the tears that I would have cried if something had truly happened to him, I cried in that moment. You would think that he had actually died, the way that I carried on.

Why had he run off? It came out later that he didn’t want to go to “that school” anymore. Back then, the focus seemed to be on telling him what he was doing wrong, versus what he was doing right. In a school that size, it did seem that their focus was more on getting the kids to behave, than to learn. At the time DS was being assessed to see what label they could stick on him, and it felt like I was being called to come get him every other day. So then he’d get to hear from Mom that he was misbehaving.

Shortly after that, DEX and I decided to go to therapy together to see if we could figure out how to help DS. We knew that there were other issues, besides school, that might be causing DS to have trouble. Being in therapy with DEX was the last thing on Earth that I wanted; we’d already tried that when we were married. But after what had happened, and seeing how unhappy DS was, we knew we would try just about anything.

Unfortunately, our focus soon because “us.” DEX started flirting outrageously with me in sessions, and even sent me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. I could only giggle in response. That poor therapist must have had muscle cramps trying not to roll her eyes. We soon became romantically involved with each other once more. I guess we thought that ultimately that was the thing that would help DS the most – an intact family; a Dad and Mom who loved each other. We got married again and lived hap… no. Nononon. Actually, what happened is that we proved to our DS that the first divorce had been warranted, and we were certifiably insane to have tried it again.

Fast forward: DS is in the Army. Goes AWOL. Talk about déjà vu (by the way, the title of an excellent movie). The way my body and my mind reacted to his going missing, you would think DS was in grade school again. I went absolutely nuts as I imagined all the possible outcomes of his being at large. All our efforts to contact him went unrewarded; he just was not going to answer. His friends all said they had no idea where he was. I wasn’t just worried about him being in danger (although, when a soldier goes AWOL it is a pretty serious thing). I was also worried about whether he was thinking of harming himself. He had access to a weapon and not the best genes in the world, his mom and dad both having a history of addiction and mental illness. I pretty much called out the National Guard and anyone who had any amount of political clout. I wanted my baby home safe and that was all I cared about! Long story short, he returned, physically and emotionally intact, but I was scarred, again, for life. I still don’t do well when he doesn’t return phone calls or answer texts, and that will probably continue until he is 90 years old.

Pick a number, any number

Do any of these topics pique your curiosity? Let me know in the comments, and I will write about them in order of arrival. Help yourself to a topic to write about, or use it as a springboard for one of yours, if you like

  1. I really need the silence
  2. Kindnesses rendered
  3. Write as if you have decided not to blog after this; your last blog
  4. When my son disappeared when he was a child, and when he was AWOL from the Army.
  5. Psalm 95:6-7 (discussion)
  6. The beauty of the ordinary in photos
  7. I have no patience to wait for things
  8. Why I hate speedy wake ups
  9. I have more depression since I started blogging – is it the reading or the writing?
  10. I love flowers
  11. The difference between treated for other problems as a bipolar in the ER – when it is known versus when I withhold that information. Writing letters of complaint to the hospital even though I am not one to complain.
  12. We all need help with something
  13. My struggle with jealousy/envy
  14. Not talking about people in my blog – frustrated because I want to! So and so drives me crazy, this one I love, this one done me wrong song, etc. But isn’t it healthier to keep the focus on myself, anyway?
  15. Saying yes to life
  16. being short – humor
  17. tithing and offerings, versus paying my bills
  18. “Do what you love the money will follow,” a book I read
  19. difference between a Christian counselor and lay counselor, I think I already wrote this one
  20. The book I was going to write (autobiography), Shedding shells, including using photography and onion skin paper, making a mock-up of it – the beauty of the book as work of art as much as a literary “masterpiece” (haha)
  21. How I felt it was important to tell on people when I was in early recovery (sobriety and mental health), wanting to go on Oprah, Dr. Phil, etc.
  22. Reading other people’s blogs
  23. Writing fiction – blogging a chapter at a time
  24. Singing/writing songs and poetry as a child – building self esteem and why it didn’t work
  25. sexual abuse memories and whether they are true or not
  26. Story about the woman in the car moving to the passenger side.
  27. Trying not to think/ work that hard (even because of vision issues) v. lack of concentration
  28. My mother worked on a Fisherman knit sweater for my stepfather – a gesture of love

don’t stomp the grapes

I had not heard of this acronym for depression, G R A P E S
Anyone here used it?
For more info see: http://www.coastalpsychiatric.com/feeling-depressed-two-key-ways-to-improve-your-mood/

facing off with the big d

grapes is an acronym for mental wellness. let’s review.

gentle with yourself

relaxation

accomplishment

pleasure

exercise

social

how many did your accomplish today?

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I Don’t Wanna, Talk About It, Part II

Part of the reason I don’t wanna talk about it is I have awful laryngitis.

But also I am doing the censoring thing; I am depressed and I don’t wanna talk about it.  I really don’t want to hear myself whiiiiine … oh my gosh! Enough!

I have been thinking the last few days what I wanted to blog about and there are plenty of ideas but I don’t have the energy to write anything.

Sorry I haven’t been replying to your posts very much!

QUESTION: Closure through a dream

Have you ever had a dream which has given you closure in your life?

I am planning on writing about this later today in regard to losing my father. After reading kelzbelzphotography‘s blog entry I was inspired.

But I am curious about your answers, too. Have you had closure through a dream that resolved or began a resolution regarding a pressing issue? Esplain, Lucy.

Be Not Afraid

One of the things I should have warned you about from the get-go (Ok, if you have read my “about” page, I did):

A lot of my posts, especially the ones with scripture, reflect something God has given ME to get through my day. I figure, if it helped me, why wouldn’t it help someone else?

Take it or leave it, this is one of those days, when I am walking with fear, discouragement, and confusion. And my depression is really kicking up. The funny thing about depression is that it’s a nice comfy pillow that somehow offers solace. A little bit and I am “unhappily” free falling into it. The more I have, the more I just surrender to it, and as any of you reading might guess, that is not a good thing.

But my spirit does not like that. Oh noes. My spirit craves freedom and peace. So after a while of that free falling feeling of doom and desire to “check out,” my spirit starts to grab for a hand hold, a foot hold.

And what it grabs at is God. Speaking of Satan, the Bible says in John 10:10: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal , and to kill, and to destroy:” But Jesus says, ” I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

That is a tall promise! And with bipolar, it’s real easy to disbelieve, because it does not seem that I have had anything near to an abundant life. Oh I can make a really long gratitude list, a valid one, but when I am in this place, I feel far from God and His love. And as I said in a recent post, I don’t want to invalidate my pain – it is real, and I am genuinely suffering. (Which makes it really hard to be around cheerful, spiritual people).

But as it often is with God – He will give me something to get through my day – not always in a wonderful big way but at least surviving for one more day, with the opportunity for things to get much better, to get back on higher ground.

Why did that happen today?

I think because I asked Him to, today. But sometimes I don’t even ask.

Next thing I know, after my prayer, somebody posts the following:

Joshua 1:9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

Well of course this verse grates across my very nerves. What do you mean be strong and have courage! Don’t you think I would, if I could?

And then the still small voice that returns me to a small degree of sanity reminds me of something I’ve come to know. And so my Facebook post went something like this:

Joshua 1:9 says, Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

I want to note that the expression, “God will not give you anything you can’t handle,” doesn’t mean you are supposed to go it alone. “I can do all things through Christ” means do the things He has given you, not what you think or what others think you are supposed to do. He also intends for you to handle it with Him, not alone. And, He has given you other people to help you – friends, family, medical people – He does not intend for you to go it alone! See verses below:

Deuteronomy 4:31
(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
Deuteronomy 31:6
Be strong and of a good courage , fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
Joshua 1:5
There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.
1 Kings 8:57
The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers: let him not leave us, nor forsake us:
1 Chronicles 28:20
And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage , and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed : for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.
Nehemiah 9:31
Nevertheless for thy great mercies’ sake thou didst not utterly consume them, nor forsake them; for thou art a gracious and merciful God.
Hebrews 13:5
Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have : for he hath said , I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
Isaiah 41:10
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed ; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

This all reminded me of a song that comforts me:

Now, as I said, I am posting something that God gave me, for my comfort and help. I don’t know if it will help you, but you are welcome to it. Why not take a leap of faith, and see if it will?

How can you mend a broken heart …

Never heard this by Al Green but he really nails it …

Other than that, I’m “fine.”

I can think of younger days when living for my life
Was everything a man could want to do
I could never see tomorrow, but I was never told about the sorrow

And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend a this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again

I can still feel the breeze that rustles through the trees
And misty memories of days gone by
We could never see tomorrow, no one said a word about the sorrow

And how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?
How can you mend this broken man?
How can a loser ever win?
Please help me mend my broken heart and let me live again

My Jesus Addiction

I just read a blog post written by someone who struggles with pain management. See: Do you recognize your addictions? By: All Things Chronic. After I read it, I responded in the comment box provided, and as I thought, I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. And … well, you get the gist.

Then I realized that my thoughts would be better expressed in a blog post of my own. Never mind that my comments took up half a page! So, in that endeavor, my post blossomed into the eloquent mess below. And it growed and growed!

Now I’m just kinda thinking out loud and with no animosity, as far as I know. In response to the question, “Do you recognize your addictions?” I would answer that my greatest addiction is to the computer. And editing blog posts. And food. Honestly, food feels like pain relief sometimes. But I will address that in another post. Maybe.

In regard to pain management, that’s another story. I say, hopefully without pride, that I only take Tylenol®, and occasionally Ibuprofen, for relief of pain in my neck. (See my previous blog entry on Spasmodic Torticollis and Botox® treatments). This also helps with the various aches and pains of middle agedness. The decision to avoid anything stronger is due to my history of alcoholism. I was told early in my recovery that if I began to use tranquilizers and narcotics, I would likely become addicted to them, in the same way that I had been addicted to alcohol. Whether I would truly have this propensity, I don’t know, but understandably I am very cautious. Recovery from alcoholism was hard enough.

There are exceptions to my rule. I do take Xanax pre-procedure when I get my Botox shots every 3 months. I do love the feeling of sedation, I admit, and I often think, ohhh, if I could only feel this way all the time. Relaxed; “normal,” even. Which only tells me further that I could easily rely on it too much.

I haven’t really felt the same attraction to narcotics, however, because most often they will trigger a hypomanic episode. Weird, huh? And so, I use Tylenol®, even post-op. Even after dental work. Even after my C-section. Hypomania, which almost inevitably leads to a dangerous manic episode,  is not worth any amount of pain relief I might experience.

ANNNyway. That is neither here nor there. I wanted to answer the question about addictions, but I’m digressing from the primary thing that I wanted to discuss.

From a paragraph in the original blog post, written by All Things Chronic:

Since we seem to be in a never-ending political cycle, perhaps we should put more scrutiny on the addictions of our politicians.  I mean, if someone running for governor goes to church every day, ignoring the demands of the other areas of his life so he can worship his god, I think that would be an example of someone who is addicted to religion.

I bristled, because I would be considered by many to be a religious person. Perhaps I am even “addicted” to my religion. Because of my relationship with Jesus, I essentially attend church daily. I have even experienced withdrawal symptoms, so to speak, when I have backed off from practicing my faith for short periods of time. By that I mean that I experience more difficulty in my life, emotionally and even physically, and definitely, spiritually. My hands can even shake more (I have a tremor). I experience more anxiety, and I “need” my “fix.”

I rely on Jesus for many things – including my tolerance of pain. He helps me to bear it, to function, and even to bless other people when I am suffering. Whether it’s physical, spiritual, or emotional pain, He is there for me. He’s also provided a Book, the Bible, that gives me peace, and even – pain relief. “When all else fails,” there’s prayer. Of course, that should be my first defense, but I’m stubborn. .

Do I practice my “religion” to the exclusion of other areas in my life? Well, I suppose that depends upon your perspective. Matthew 6:33  says, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” All these things, to me, means “the demands of the other areas of [my] life.” Without Jesus, I will have no victory in anything else I seek to accomplish.

And, far above sustenance, there is the knowledge that there will come a day when Jesus will take me out of all this. The pain, the suffering and anxiety, the discouragement, and those days of mania. The stigma, the lost relationships, the confusion. Ooh, how often I long for and pray for that day! My hope is in eternity, where I will live forever joyous and pain free (physically and emotionally) with Jesus!

Revelation 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away .

I am reminded of the conversation that used to go around AA: “People say that I am brainwashed. So if that is true – that I’m brain washed – I am all for it – my brain NEEDED washing!” That’s even more true since I have come to know Jesus. My thinking process and behaviors as an alcoholic, and as the “natural man,” do not serve me any longer. And there are far more areas of my life that need work.
So I need a different way of thinking. And AA helped me with some of that change. But it did not provide for my eternity, and it was a different kind of dependence. For me, it was basically a band-aid. AA did start out as a program based upon Jesus and the Cross, called The Oxford Group. However, Alcoholics Anonymous became more secular, more humanistic, so that people would find it more palatable. A member in one of Maine’s local AA groups used to say that he would pray to a doorknob he named “George,” so that he was technically praying to “something.” Talk about idolatry! Apparently this “power greater than himself, as espoused in the AA program, kept him sober. He was unable to pray to a “god,” so this “god of his understanding” served him. How, I don’t know.
I think it’s a shame that the help so many desperately needed was dumbed down to the point of removing the hope of eternal salvation. Does AA serve any purpose? Oh yes – I was not ready for churchyness, and it kept me sober for a long time. Maybe God knew that I couldn’t stay sober and alive by conventional means. However, I shudder to think that I almost missed out on the whole point – Jesus!
I am still a whiny old brat sometimes in regard to my “hard life,” and I say that because in comparison to His suffering and dying on the cross for me, my angst and my pain are nothing. Isaiah 53:5  says: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Who can say that they have suffered like Him? I am not saying that I don’t have pain and suffering; I’m just saying that there are times when I do need to buck up and live. When I can’t, I can’t, but I can seek Him, and eventually I can crawl out of my misery. Or He drags me. Always. Suicide is not an option!
I’m certainly not saying I’m perfect, just because I am “religious.”  I’m not even wonderful, yet (lol). But I am better than I was, thanks be to God, and not by anything I have done! Ephesians 2:8-9 says: “For by grace are ye saved through faith;and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” And Romans 6:23. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” It is a gift, not something I can earn.
I  have hope, even on my darkest days, even on those days when I push away all things “religion.” Thank God He never leaves me, even when I think I’m leaving Him!
And if that’s addiction, I’m all for it!

Does Kindness Matter? (My Grandmother’s Legacy of Love) – by Kristin Shaw

Wow! I see where she gets it!

Kindness Blog

Kindness matterMy grandmother kept two freezers full of food at all times; she was a product of the Great Depression, born in 1916. Every time she saw a neighbor, or the garbage man, or the mail carrier, she offered him something from her home. A cookie. A juice box. Perhaps something she made that morning.

My grandmother was very social, and she knew everyone in the neighborhood. People were constantly stopping by to see her, gifts in hand, and she always had something in return. She was known and remembered her for her generosity of spirit.

“It’s nice to be nice,” my grandmother used to say on a regular basis.

I heard her, but I thought it was just one of those silly things that grandmothers say. I didn’t know it was her mantra.

My mother learned how to be nice from her mother, and the lessons stuck. My mother is…

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Meet Up – Before

Hi guys!

Tomorrow night I am going to a Meet Up. What this means is I have connected through a website called “Meetup.com”

Yeah, you had already figured that out, I’m sure. Anyway Meetup.com is a website that is helpful for people who want to find activities and people with their own interests. Let’s say that you jog, or write, or you’re a cat person, or you speak a foreign language, or you want to travel, or learn how to manage your money, etc. You enter your information at the site and select your interests, and, voilà! (French for “see this,” or “see that”) They send you a list of activities in your area that you may want to attend.

Then, every now and then, you receive updates in your email that tell you of new activities that are coming up soon in your area. Today I received a notice that a Word Press talk would be taking place in my area tomorrow. I know, short notice, but I may well have ignored previous notices; always possible.

So, I read the list through. WordPress. Hmm, that sounds fami… HEY! I have a WordPress blog! And I still need to learn a few stuffs!

And so, with only a few moments’ hesitation, I invited myself.

It’s that easy; the hard part is to go.

One thing that I have learned, in my years of recovery from alcoholism and mental illness, is that it’s important to occupy my time with things that are of personal interest to me. When my illness is active, all I can think about is the symptoms, or, in the case of alcoholism, my next drink.I have not had that problem for a long time so basically it is depression, along with its lethargy and lack of motivation, that cause my paralysis. It is rare for something to pique my interest when I’m feeling like I do lately.

So, we’ll see how it goes. I’ll let you know  😀

Congrats to me, the Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

Thank you so much Stephieopolis and Elephant in the Room for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award!

As with awards, The “VERY INSPIRING BLOGGER AWARD” comes with rules:

  1. Display the award on your blog.
  2. Link back to the person who nominated you.
  3. State 7 things about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 bloggers, link to them, and notify them about their nominations.

It’s very encouraging to be nominated because I have only been blogging for a short time! I am not familiar with the fancy widgets and things but my main objective is being met – I want to inspire, first of all, but also to make people laugh and find something here that they haven’t elsewhere. So thank you so much for the nominations!

Seven things about myself:

1. I wanted to be a ballerina when I grew up.

2. I got sober in 1985, and identified myself as an alcoholic, after I had drank for only 10 years.

3. I should have taken a hint when I got my first my-very-own dog and named him Tequila.

4. I am the middle child of ten.

5. I used to ski at Sugarloaf almost every weekend and school vacation, and had a camp up there. We had a boat and two cars, and several kids at home, but I thought we were poor!

6. I was educated on what poor was when my son was born and my husband and I were on welfare and living in a condemned building!

7. But that is not poverty.

There are many more facts about myself but I hope to cover them in my blog posts another time!

I would like to nominate the following:

Chris Brake Show Podcast

Mamamaitri

Three by M.E./Rhymes of the Times

But I Smile Anyway …

KnightHearth

Tribalmystic

Depression Darling

kelzbelzphotography

Dances With Fat

Lazarus and Lithium

innerdragon

Life Lessons, Cats and Clothes

indigo stones

Not Your Role Model

The River Walk

Reblogging because the image was not showing up!

Walking After Midnight:

The Daily Post through WordPress has a weekly photo challenge. I’m not formally following them, but when I see one I like (thanks Julia) I like to try them.

The instructions:
For this challenge, share an image of symmetry. Don’t limit yourself to architecture — you can bend this theme in any way you’d like.

A portrait of your twins? A window grille? The yellow lines of a busy road? A row of sharp points along a metal fence? Let the world inspire you.

The image I selected is a photo of the building across from my living room windows. There is symmetry in the windows themselves, in the snow at the bottom of the windows, and in the fact that the photo was taken through my window screen.

Why not try posting one, and ping back to me?

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Symmetry.”

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The Daily Post through WordPress has a weekly photo challenge. I’m not formally following them, but when I see one I like (thanks Julia) I like to try them.

The instructions:
For this challenge, share an image of symmetry. Don’t limit yourself to architecture — you can bend this theme in any way you’d like.

A portrait of your twins? A window grille? The yellow lines of a busy road? A row of sharp points along a metal fence? Let the world inspire you.

The image I selected is a photo of the building across from my living room windows. There is symmetry in the windows themselves, in the snow at the bottom of the windows, and in the fact that the photo was taken through my window screen.

Why not try posting one, and ping back to me?

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Symmetry.”

What was your favorite age to be and why?

I just read another blog talking about ages 4-10 and I said that was a very lonely time for me; I felt very unloved. I would prefer being in my early 20’s. I was free from my parents, very competent as a nurse, and I was pretty popular with the boys! The mental illness and alcoholism had not really hit yet and I think (if I remember right) I was pretty happy.

I put up the picture of Stuart Little because one of the things I loved between ages 4-10 was being read to. LOVED Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web!

What about you? What age did you love the most and why?

Hap … Well, it’s (almost) Valentine’s Day. That’s all I have to say about that …

Well, not really. I can say more. Like …

I once had a boyfriend who told me, never get married on Valentine’s Day. He’d done it, and now he was a single parent for whom Valentine’s day would always be a bitter pill to swallow.

Now in hindsight, why would he tell someone he supposedly loved not to get married on Valentine’s Day, which leads one to believe he did not plan on being part of that marriage? Yeah, I’m not the smartest tulip on the turnip truck…

But also, he was right.

Valentine’s Day for me has always had some bitterness for me, because I ignored the now ex-boyfriend’s advice, and got married anyway. Twice. To the same person.

Now I can understand the first time. Dewey-eyed and romantic, in a hurry for life to begin, pregnant…

The second time, thinking that the major problems we had the first time – his active alcoholism – my active depression – were no longer a consideration.

Unfortunately the main problem was not fixed. We were still the same people.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

(Restrains self, barely)

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Transporter.”

Tell us about a sensation — a taste, a smell, a piece of music — that transports you back to childhood.

I’m sure there are many smells that I could come up with from my childhood: The smell of mom’s cigarette. The smell of urine soaked clothing after a walk home from school (the walk of shame). The smell of Mom’s cooking and baking, always served an hour later than I needed it.  Oh that long hour!

And there are the smells and sounds that evoke mixed feelings: those of a hot summer night that ended way too soon. It was still very very light out and the summer day was not spent, as far as I was concerned.  I was perhaps five years old. Mom had cruelly (in my eyes) insisted I go to bed. I was crushed! How could she make me go to bed already! I remember distinctly telling her no and throwing an uncharacteristic tantrum. But somehow she over-rode my logic and overpowered my resistance, and there I was in bed. I cried and cried, wiping my eyes on the hem of my light cotton PJ’s. The fact that they were relatively new did nothing for my sorrow.

And then the sound hit my ears: that soft meditative drone. Shortly after that, the smell of fresh cut grass and gasoline. My tears turned to sorrowful singing to accompany the sound. How devastated I was! And how put-upon! Had the song “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child” not been yet written, that is what I would have been heard singing. Eventually, all combined led me to lie down in reluctant peace, and dreams, forgetting about my “horribly cruel” mother.

Somehow in my later years the sound of the mower, the smell of the grass, continued to be associated with peace, and a little bit of  longing. Dad was somewhere out there, all was well.  I could let go of my sorrows, and sleep.

I challenge my readers to do a similar exercise; would love to read your thoughts.

Elephant in the Room?

No this blog is not what you would think, although it is a shame not to take advantage of all this white space. No, I am writing here to inquire as to whether anyone else follows Elephant In The Room. Every time there is a post I go to the page and get the “Oh Snap!” page that says I can’t get there from heah. Could you guys try? Does this mean I have been blocked from the page? I miss my elephant

😦

Social Anxiety Sunday

First off, let me explain: I love Jesus. I love my church. I love the people. But here it is Sunday, and I am having my usual anxiety about going to services this morning.

One of the reasons for this is that I have social anxiety. This is in addition to regular anxiety. And in addition to my generalized anxiety disorder.

What’s the difference?

Well, anxiety in and of itself is not pathology. Maybe I’m running late. Maybe I don’t know what to wear. Maybe I don’t know who I am picking up. Even extreme anxiety is not abnormal. It can occur when you haven’t started your Christmas shopping and it’s December 21st. And the in-laws are coming, and you haven’t even planned the menu. A “normal” person who celebrates Christmas would feel that way. It is not a disorder and in fact can motivate the person to get the work done.

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is another story altogether. Per The Anxiety and Depression Association of America, it is “characterized by persistent, excessive, and unrealistic worry about everyday things.” It’s when you are feeling as if you haven’t started your Christmas shopping and as if it’s December 21st, and as if there is a Mac truck bearing down on you at 100 miles an hour. Then again, this feeling would more likely invoke a panic attack. Symptoms can be “shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, vertigo, feelings of unreality, numbness of hands and feet, sweating, fainting, and trembling. Some people describe this experience as feeling as if they’re losing control or going to die.” (AADA)

Anxiety disorder can be of any varying degree in between; not necessarily extreme. But the point is that your body is acting as if there is a real danger. That feeling can exist whether you are merely showering, or working at a routine job, and there is no actual threat. You feel nervous x 1000, but there is no particular reason to feel that way. Anxiety provoking situations can exacerbate or trigger your anxiety disorder symptoms, but sometimes your body just doesn’t care if there is anything there.

Social anxiety is one aspect of generalized anxiety disorder, although I imagine sometimes it could be the only aspect. The ADAA says that social anxiety is “the extreme fear of being scrutinized and judged by others in social or performance situations:” It’s when it is nearly impossible for you to bear one more second at the Christmas party, or you can’t finish your shift at work. It’s not necessarily that Mrs. Snowflake is talking your ear off, or that the boss is giving you a hard time. It could just be a normal, everyday interaction, and suddenly you feel like the ground is going to swallow you up.

Some of us can’t even bear to leave the house to perform the activity. Or we sit in the car outside, talking ourselves down. I have even driven by my workplace, though I was dressed and ready to go in. I just could not do it, no matter how many times I had prayed or how well I had prepared. Social anxiety is one of the main reasons I am unable to work, although I have other mental health issues as well.

How does this translate in light of my faith? As I’ve said before, there is a verse that says “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). And doesn’t that apply to things that are within God’s will? After all, He’s not going to give me the strength to sin, obviously. So how could it be that I could be hampered from even attending church? That’s within His will, isn’t it?

Well, there are days! I get up for church, even get ready, and still I can’t get in the car. Or, I get in the car and I can’t drive off. I have even picked up people, dropped them off at church, and gone home. I just can’t do it, no matter how nonsensical it is that I can’t. And talk about being “scrutinized and judged by others in social or performance situations:” Who is in more of a position to judge and scrutinize than God? It makes me feel so ashamed.

Oh I suppose that I could take a chill pill and still be able to do it. Or call a friend and say “this is the situation, please walk me through it.” But I have addiction issues, so the chill pill is not an option. Call a friend? Supposedly that whole church is full of friends! And I still can’t sometimes.

I do have ways that I can adjust my situation. I am in the choir, so sometimes that is a major source of anxiety. But I can opt out if I must. I can just listen from my seat in the sanctuary. Sometimes that is a real treat! And stepping back from it is enough to help me bear the symptoms I’m experiencing, and still attend church.

If I’m unable to go to services at all, I can watch them on my computer. Or maybe I can only attend the evening service, which is not so populated and more than likely just my church family. I feel like I am copping out, but at least it’s something.

And sometimes prayer and preparation is enough.

But I tell you what, come Monday, I have what I call “my Saturday.” It’s a time to recover and recuperate, take deep breaths, and thank the Lord that once again I was able to do as He asks, and something that I actually do enjoy. It is just hard, sometimes.

Should I feel ashamed? or less than? I hate to say it, but I do. And I know I shouldn’t. It is just another thorn in my flesh, I guess. Unfortunately, too, this pricks my pride. After all, I “should” be better than this. I “should” be just like everyone else.

Oh, really? Boy I could write a few more blog posts based on that paragraph alone. One thing I have learned since becoming a Christian is that there is no place for shame when I belong to God. I am His child! How about pride? That would be worth two blog posts. What does pride mean in everyday terms? How can pride be a true sin against God? But as to having my mental health issues? It is the bane of my whole recovery that I don’t accept that I have them, and that I feel ashamed of them. If I could jump that hurdle and be at peace with it, I’d be golden.

And there are good things about having this disorder. For example, having it does make me more dependent on the Lord. And, there are ways to minister to others who have my condition. I do, when I’m able. And that’s a huge blessing!

Currently, I can get to church and stay through the services without major symptoms. Often it is a source of peace and comfort, and provides a place to worship Jesus, and be with His children. When it is difficult, I have DBT skills I can use, along with exercising my faith.

And isn’t that what Sundays are all about?

But it’s not just about Sundays. I can exercise my faith throughout the rest of the week, as well: To be where He wants me to be, to do as He wants me to do. And when it seems that it’s not working, I can remember that God says to “Be still, and know that I am God …” (Psalm 46:10). He is with me, He cares for me, even when it feels like that Mac truck is bearing down upon me. He is always with me, whether I feel Him or not. Whether I “succeed,” in my own eyes, or not.

Take Time to Rest

Do you have a hard time being quiet? Relaxing? I DO! Click this blog and listen to the youtube video, it is audio/visual of a clear running stream, and just enough birdsong to make your heart happy 🙂

Out of a Great Need

restWhen my children were babies…toddlers…even older…I didn’t rest when they rested.  I wish I had but I pushed through instead.

But I have learned from caregiving through mental illness…rest when you can…find peace where you can…slow down…enjoy that cup of coffee…knit several rows…take a 20 minute nap…meditate…pray…rest.  And sleep…a full eight hours each night if possible.  Do not underestimate the fortifying power of sleep and rest.

“You rest now. Rest for longer than you are used to resting. Make a stillness around you, a field of peace. Your best work, the best time of your life will grow out of this peace.” ~Peter Heller

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Portrait of a Son

This photo was taken in probably 1997 when my son was about 12, not sure. His dad and I had broken up from our 2nd marriage to each other and we needed something sweet. (Thinking back on the timeline: His dad and I were married in February of 97 and divorced in Nov. 97). My son and I often went on weekend trips, and this one was to Ogunquit Maine. Google it, it’s booful. We also went to other places; Story Land in New Hampshire, and once, a trip on the Scotia Prince from Portland ME to Nova Scotia in Canada. I really enjoyed our time away from things, where we could just remember how nice it was to just hang out together and explore. He took this photo and I like how his shadow is captured in it. There is a lesson in there. Take time to be with the ones you love, and, find joy in the midst of pain. I love this boy  🙂

Uplifting Photo of the Day Features ‘My Blind Cousin Finding out What a Horse Feels Like’

Hers or Hims?

My cars have always been “hers,” or should I say, for the sake of understanding, females.

She starts to sputter, I pat the dashboard and say “Goo’ girl, Bessie,” or “C’mon, girl.”

She gets me where I want to go and I say, “Atta girl, honey, I knew you could do it.”

Don’t ask what I say when she won’t cooperate. Oooh! What can get me to despair faster than car trouble? Zero to sixty in one second. Argh!

I don’t necessarily talk to my cars otherwise, but they are privvy to a lot: Talking-out-loud life’s problem solving, hot tears not expressed elsewhere, and cussing, although I try not to do it.

And then there are the conversations that I would not get to have outside of her. It’s like saying “Step into my office” as soon as I turn the key. Witness the captive audience conversations I get to have with my son, or the questions I can ask a person that they can’t get away from. Mwahhh hahhh hahhh …

But when I am with “her” I am still technically out in public. So I still have to behave. Those times when I rage inside, at traffic or at goings on in my life, those feelings basically stay hidden.

Unless of course I need to just emit a primal scream. Then, it’s pull over, look around for witnesses, grab the steering wheel, and let ‘er rip!

Then there are computers. My computers are “hims,” male. Never mind what the new movie says.

And that means he’s a witness to everything. Don’t you talk to yours? Grimace and wrinkle your nose at what you’re reading online, express your opinion? Of course he is privvy to every phone conversation. And the comments and faces I make after I hang up.

What if there was a webcam turned on every moment you’re online? What are you wearing? That white T-shirt that’s no longer white? Those worn out sweat pants held up with a pin? What are you saying? What are you picking at? He doesn’t care.

Or does he? Maybe that’s why, every now and then, he just goes into meltdown mode.

After all, there’s only so much that a man can take.

And second only to the despair I have over a car that won’t work, is the frustration I feel when my computer messes up. Oh, yeah!

Fortunately, he can’t hear the threats I make when he quits on me! If he did, he would probably never work again!

Spasmodic Torticollis and Botox® treatments

In December of 2010, I went to see a neurologist regarding pain and abnormal movement of my neck. My head had become more and more tilted to the right, and up, and tremors were noted by several people, including my psychiatrist. He had gone to a symposium on movement disorders, and thought that my problem might be in that category.

Sure enough, the neurologist concurred that I had spasmodic torticollis. Other names are

  • torticollis
  • spasmodic wryneck
  • focal dystoniaidiopathic cervical dystonia

It’s funny, I had known a man in AA for several years, beginning in 1986, who had a really bad case of it. Way back when, he and I had wondered if I might be at the beginning stages of it.

Web MD describes it as follows:

Cervical dystonia, also known as spasmodic torticollis, is a rare neurological disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions in the neck that cause abnormal movements and postures of the neck and head. In some cases, these abnormal contractions may be sustained or continuous; in others, they may be present as spasms that can resemble tremor. The severity of cervical dystonia can vary, but the disorder can cause significant pain and discomfort as well as difficulty due to the abnormal postures.

One unrelated aspect of my torticollis is tremor. I was diagnosed years ago with an essential, or familial, tremor, which basically means it has no cause, and tends to run in families. Mine, as well as my brother Jeff’s, started in the hands. My grandmother had it in her head/neck. I was given Inderal (a heart medication) with some effect. Inderal is also given to some performers as a way to deal with stage fright. Among other things, it slows the heart rate and thus some of the symptoms one might get with “a case of nerves.” In my case, this medication also helps to control the tremor in my head/neck that would aggravate the torticollis.

Another aspect is the contracture, which essentially means that a limb is in a locked, or preferred, position. Older folks who are bedridden can get a contracture when their limbs are not exercised and the muscle almost permanently contracts. You will sometimes see an older person’s hands or feet curled up and locked tight.

Unfortunately this can also cause pain, and when you have tremor on top of it, the pain can be intense. My neurologist described it as my neck muscles performing 100 sit-ups a minute. You can guess that they would become fatigued and cramped, and that’s exactly what happens to me. I do take tylenol and/or ibuprofen for this. The disorder is progressive so at some point I may be forced to take stronger medication for it, but with my history of alcoholism it’s not a great idea to mess with drugs that have addictive properties.

One of the treatments that I have for my torticollis is Botox® injections every three months. According to SpasmodicTorticollis.org:

,BOTOX® …  is a therapeutic muscle-relaxing agent that helps reduce the uncontrollable muscular contractions and associated pain that characterize cervical dystonia. It belongs to a class of drugs called neurotoxins. [It] inhibits the nerve impulses that trigger muscle hyperactivity. By relaxing hyperactive neck and shoulder muscles, BOTOX® injection can improve head position and reduce pain in patients with cervical dystonia.

Basically, this means that theoretically the medication causes my head to resume a normal position, and relieves pain. I do have to say that there is much improvement, but over time the Botox® has become less effective. Recently, the doctor increased the dosage, and it has gotten a little better.

The shots are far from pleasant. Let me be clear: I am seeking pity here, lol. The doctor hooks up some electrodes to see what activity is in which muscle, so that he will know where to place the medication. There are approximately 12 injections into muscles that are already painful. I do take a “happy pill” (Xanax) prior to the procedure, but too much of it affects the doctor’s ability to see where to place the injections. I have sat in that chair with my leg involuntarily kicking outward, and tears coming to my eyes. I find that if I ask the doctor to distract me in conversation I have much less discomfort. The procedure always lasts about five minutes more than I can stand. But I’m a tough girl, and it is definitely worth having done.

One other thing about ST that bothers me is that it has affected my appearance. I seem to be looking up at the ceiling and to the right much of the time, and if I am speaking to someone taller than I (I am 4’11” so…) I notice that the muscles get tighter and more painful. If I am anxious, or if my blood sugar is low, I can have more tremor, contracture, and pain. I am mortified when I watch videos and see photographs of myself sometimes. But it is not horrible 24/7. I am able to distract myself for periods of time and forget that I have pain, or this abnormal posturing. But then I see a picture of myself, or someone asks me how my neck is doing.

I am careful not to aggravate my torticollis by hyperextending my neck for long periods of time. For example, when I clean the bathrooms at church, bending and tilting my head for a period of time, it will aggravate the pain. When I am in a social situation where I am more anxious, plus perhaps looking up at tall folks, I have to rest for a day afterward. I have difficulty driving sometimes. As I have written, I have other problems that also prohibit my functioning, so I try to function as best I can. I am frustrated on many levels that I used to be able to work as an ICU nurse, and now I can’t even work as a cashier, partly because of my mental illness, but also due to the torticollis. I have to be careful not to aggravate it.

If you have questions about this post, feel free to ask me.  🙂

Drawing courtesy of http://www.spasmodictorticollis.org/index.cfm?pid=76&pageTitle=Understanding-Botox-

Ran-doom-ness

Trying to figure out what I am today. Bored? Depressed? Lazy?

The snow is falling UP!

So anyone would be depressed, and bored, and lazy.

Usually I am more than happy to avail myself of the excuse. Snowed in? Can’t go anywhere? no problem.

But today I am restless and I feel like I should be doing SOMEthing.

Like, writing a blog entry.

But I have nothing to say!

Yes I do. I have half a dozen ideas running around off the top of my head, and another dozen listed on an email to myself. Just pick one!

But I don’t want to! Or, they aren’t any good. Or, my head will not work today. Or or or.

OOH! A phone call!

I must be really desperate if I’m happy to get a phone call!

Especially since (ulp) it’s from my ex-husband.

Uh oh … could be bad news. OH maybe he’s returning my call from the other day (I needed an address for our son).

But, neither. He said that a family member was taking me up on the offer to call anytime if she needed help with anything.

Ulp. Am I up to it?

But, I did say that I would.

“Help me, God,” I say, as I dial the phone.

Get a voice mail, leave a message, hang up.

Well that is my mundacity for the day, and now I can say that I did something.

(struts, with thumbs hooked behind suspender straps)