Friday, June 8, 2018

Celebricide

Not too long ago, I was living in the darkness, not saddness. There was crying, sobbing, wailing, and blurting about being done. I didn't know what done meant, exactly, but I wanted it. I had gotten into bed in an attempt to bury myself in the dark.

Shawn was having none of it. He talked of committing me (so far in this life, that has not happened). He raised his voice and cried. He told me if I chose to kill myself he would hate me forever and never forgive me. And then, somehow, he talked me down.

This is Shawn's life. His life is not #AnthonyBourdain, #KateSpade, #ChrisCornell, #PhillipSeymourHoffman, #RobinWilliams, and #AnyOtherCelebrityWhoBringsSuicideToTheNewsCycle. The celebrities bring about people sharing suicide hotline numbers and offers of being that ear that will pull you out of the darkness. People call these suicides a wake-up call...which, after a brief time of social media posts, sleep returns. Shawn lives the wake-up call without the chance to go back to sleep. Many people live wide awake everyday.

The things people want to do in the light that shines upon suicide prevention and mental healthcare when a tragedy like celebrity suicide happens are great. Lobby for better mental healthcare coverage. Post phone numbers to hotlines. Check in on friends and family who seem off. Commit someone if that seems appropriate. Come up with a code word for your person to text you when things are getting bad. Do all of the things. And, continue to do them, even when the news cycle moves onto something else.

BUT. A really big BUT. The BUT-that-is-probably-going-to-piss-off-many-people kind of BUT.

Prepare yourself. You need to know that all of those things may not work. Why won't they? Because it takes two and only one of the two is rational. I HAVE to answer my phone. I HAVE to text the code word. I HAVE to let you in.

I'm not saying don't try. Always try. I'm saying that if, despite your trying, it happens anyway, you have no guilt to carry. The guilt belongs to the irrationality that is the mental illnesses some of us have to carry.



Wednesday, May 30, 2018

"I can handle things! I'm smart! Not like everybody says... like dumb... I'm smart and I want respect!"

I'm smart.

I'm not Doogie-Howser-MD-at-14 smart.

I'm not summa-cum-laude-from-Harvard-followed-by-an-Oxford-Fellowship smart.

I am smart. I have a piece of paper, a very expensive piece of paper, from a respected Ohio institution saying I have a Bachelor of Arts (given my actual academic skills, a BS* {ba dum tss} probably would have been more accurate). An institution founded in 1871 that was the first women's college in Ohio and among the first in the country. Despite my best worst study habits, I had  grades that meant, when I crossed the stage for the expensive piece of paper, I got a little gold addition to the diploma saying that I was smart. I was finishing up magna cum laude.

*I am smart enough to know that I was making a joke about BS meaning Bullshit instead of Bachelor of Science.

So, why does it matter that I'm smart? Social media. Social media is why it matters. I took a break from Facebook because I felt like I was being made to feel stupid. I'm sorry, Madame First Lady Roosevelt, I guess I'm giving all kinds of consent to many on Facebook to make me feel inferior.

I used to think rhetorical questions were a kind of literary device that could be used to provoke thought. I thought I was being clever and smart. But, when I've used them on social media, I end up being schooled in all different ways about the topic of the rhetorical question. Comment after comment of articles to educate me. If I wasn't being rhetorical, I would share articles and shit. I KNOW HOW TO GOOGLE. I'm smart.

When I decide to share something, I try to make sure it's not bullshit. Sometimes I'm not as thorough as I should be, but I really do try. I KNOW HOW TO GOOGLE. I KNOW HOW TO USE SNOPES.COM. I'm smart.

Sometimes a meme is just a meme. I shared a funny meme. It didn't say anything about any political party, and any particular presidential administration. It was not challenging any data...or at least, I didn't think it was. Perhaps the meme could have applied to a few years ago, that didn't make it any less valid today. It was funny. I found it to be clever. I'm smart.

I made a post venting about a situation. I was venting that the situation wasn't trending. It just seemed like something that some of the people I know on Facebook would typically talk about. I merely said what the situation was. I made no comment regarding either political party, or the current vs. previous administration. I'm horrified by the current administration, don't get me wrong, but I also don't have rose colored glasses when it comes to my guy from the last administration. The post was strictly bringing up an issue that was in the news, but not my trending list. Again, it wasn't a post needing to have articles posted, such as the one that pointed out that it wasn't something that started with 45. I wasn't asking what the story was, I was pointing out that the story wasn't trending. I KNOW HOW TO GOOGLE. I'm smart.

I made another post. It was a very specific point involving Constitutional rights. Again, a very specific situation. A comment was made that seemed like an attempt to school me and friends who were reading the post. It felt like it was being made to point something out to me that was nothing I ever made any kind of comment on. Like, I'm known to be liberal and couldn't possible see the parallels. I mean, obviously I'd be a hypocrite and therefore ignorant as to how the cases were the same issue. I understand things. I'm smart.

I'm smart.

I'm not degrees-from-all-the-Ivy-League-schools-at-10-years-old smart.

But, I am smart.
 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Drugs and treatments and doctors, oh my!

Things have been rough. Things have been rough for a few months. More than the usual roughness that has been my life for too many years. 

Earlier this year, my primary care physician did my annual thyroid check. He keeps tabs on my hypothyroidism and prescribes the Synthroid as he sees fit. He has always been my thyroid guy. 

My PCP knows my PsychNP. He recommended her to me when my previous psychiatrist was retiring. His reason for liking her is that she doesn't over-prescribe. She focuses on using the least amount of meds to get the job done. I honestly can't remember how long it has been since I started seeing her. But, when I did, she changed my diagnosis to Bipolar Depression. I'm not sure if she kept the anxiety in there, but since I'm still taking Ativan, I'm thinking she did. 

So, a pretty significant med cocktail rehaul took place. Then, Electroconvulsive Therapy was added to the list of shit-to-try-to-fix-me. That was 9 months of being put under and having electrical stimulation of the brain. The hope was a reboot of my brain to make me more responsive to medications. Uh, not so much. The average course of treatment with ECT is 6-12 sessions. I was going 3 times a week in the beginning, so those average numbers were blown away and I still went 2 days a week, eventually working down to about 1 a week, and, I think it may have been an every other week thing in the end. Given I don't remember pretty much the entire year of 2016 (ECT can wipe your memory from periods before treatment, during treatment, and kind of fuck up after, too) I'm not sure how the tapering worked. Shawn was pretty much the one to put the stop to the treatment. He didn't see that I was benefiting, so my last treatment, against the Psychiatrist's recommendations, was December 23rd, 2016. 

The ECT Psychiatrist also knew my PsychNP. He would be in regular contact with her throughout my treatment. I didn't entirely agree with her about my diagnosis and some of the meds I was one. Um, okay, what should I do? He doesn't do psych work other than ECT. So, it wasn't like I could start seeing him. 

I've stayed with my PsychNP. It's been a few years at this point. She doesn't take our insurance anymore, so I see her less often. She is quite frustrating, but finding another mental health provider is a very stressful process. There's the "FUCK! I have to start at the very beginning!" then there is the "Are you kidding me? I've been being treated for something and you don't agree?" and the starting over on a different course of meds. The meds part is the worst. Breaking in a new medication means trial and error; may it doesn't work; maybe it works but needs a higher dose; and, of course, new side effects.

As often as he can, I have Shawn come to my appointments. He can provide insight as to my special kind of crazy. This last appointment, he came. It was probably be good because I was extremely frustrated. There's her excessive lateness, for one thing. The last few months she has screwed up my Ativan prescriptions with the pharmacy. She is SUPER married to my drug cocktail even when I tell her things are off. This time, she looks at my thyroid report and the dose of Synthroid and decides she's taking it over. She explained that the thyroid issues and the bipolar issues can sometimes cause problems when trying to dose the Synthroid. She said my PCP is very good, but not experienced enough with treating both things. WTF???? I've been on thyroid meds since you started seeing me. Why wouldn't you just take them over from the beginning. Then she brings up that the problem with two of my meds could be the generic versions I'm taking. She said it could be that we need to specify that I get them from the generic company I had gotten from before the switch a few months ago. I know generics are hard to deal with, especially when coming off the name brand, so I agree that this could be the reason for my issues these last few months. So, we're changing from one generic to another for a couple of drugs. We are changing the Synthroid dose, which is so frustrating because I have months worth of dose I was put on earlier this year. But, then there is the one med that she hates that I'm on the generic version. She brings it and mentions Canada. We've been through this, Canada wasn't any cheaper. I'm not paying hundreds of dollars a month for a name brand med. She doesn't like that I make money an issue. She says she's not concerned about money, she's concerned about my health. I tell her my anxiety isn't going to be addressed by excessive amounts of money being spent that we can't afford. She then looks at Shawn and asks if money's really that much of an issue. Now that was some bullshit there. We do not have hundreds of dollars a month to spend on name brand because she swears by it....must have a deal with the company.  I was pissed during and after.

Here I am. A few months of major mood issues. I've been breaking down in the same conversation I had just been goofing around during. I simply cry. Just cry. I drive and cry. I work and cry. I sit in an office working on files at work and cry while Abby, my office mate cat, just chills out with no empathy whatsoever (Did I mention she's a cat? Who would expect empathy?). There's also some rage mixed in followed by exhaustion. The exhaustion also comes from putting on a show, doing some of my best acting in social situations without bawling my eyes out. Hopefully all of the drug changes will change things. Hopefully I'll figure out a new shrink. Hopefully I simply will.  

Then there is Shawn, through all of this...

...and I'm not sure I will ever understand why.





Friday, May 4, 2018

When it's someone you know on the other side of #MeToo

Earlier this week, someone we know was revealed to have been accused of sexual harassment. This is guy I know through Shawn. He falls in the nameless in between of acquaintance and friend. He's a big personality, you know he is in the room. He's an affectionate guy. When I first met him, he asked if he could give me a hug. There was an understanding of consent, it seemed. I'm not so much a hugger (outside of a very short list of people in my life), but Shawn was there and I figured no biggie. Hell, it avoided me going for the handshake "goodbye" and him going in for the hug. That's an awkward turn of events.

So, this has weighed heavily on my mind. His side of the story includes the "it was a misunderstanding" approach. This may very well be the case for him. Him thinking he misread things doesn't minimize what the victims' sides of their stories are. His misreading them, doesn't mean they misread him and his desire for something from them that they didn't want to give. So, he may feel some contrition about the situation. That, however, doesn't mean victims are now negated.

I've struggled the last two days with how I feel about all of this. Should I feel differently because the accused is part of my societal bubble? Should I charge to his defense? How does this play into #MeToo? Was it easier to shake my fist at celebrities accused of similar things and far worse? Doesn't it carry more weight when there are multiple accusers? They can't all be full of shit or all giving off misunderstood vibes, right? So, so many questions.

What I have decided to do, for now, is unfriend him. Part of this comes from reading his page on one of the social media outlets. There were people firmly standing by him and claiming him as their friend in a stance of solidarity. It bothered me, in a way, because of the comments threads that ensued. I understand wanting to support your friend and give him the opportunity for change, or even redemption. He even wrote about changes he has been working toward throughout the years and those he'll add. But, when the comments took a turn from "you are still my friend" to a super rah-rah-rah and "it's a fucking witch hunt" and "the writer is a fucker" and the "victims" "want to destroy a man's livelihood for their own sadistic desires"...that set a different tone which made me uncomfortable. It made me think, why would I come forward?





Thursday, April 26, 2018

A tale of two wars

Well, it's the two year mark for the start of ECT. I'm "celebrating" anniversaries of things I don't remember.

As the opening of "Avengers: Infinity War" is full throttle, the second anniversary of the opening of "Captain America: Civil War". Yes, I'm entering into a geek timeline that would most likely not even be a thing for me if it was not for meeting Shawn. Anyway, I'm very excited for "Infinity War", I mean, Groot and the Hulk together, who wouldn't be? But what does any of this have to do with anything, including ECT?

Well, I'll tell you. When "Civil War" opened, we of course saw it right away. We saw it while I was going for ECT three times a week. That's three days of me going under anesthesia and being more useless than my usual state. Then, the other four days may have seemed like I was totally with it, but I actually was existing in, while not really experiencing reality.

We saw "Civil War" a second time in the theater with Shawn's parents. It was a brand new movie for me. So, I once again existed in the movie theater, but experienced nothing.

Then "Civil War" came out on DVD. My third viewing. The story was not familiar. I knew the characters, of course, because they had been in so many movies already. Well, not T'Challa aka The Black Panther.

In my case, the fourth time turned out to be the charm. I was able to make connections. I could recall things. Not as much of the movie was new. Apparently, I returned to my original side of the war. Shawn had told me that in the course of multiple viewings, I actually changed sides. At one point I was pro-Iron Man and another had me rooting for Cap all the way. I'm not going to reveal my stance because I don't want to start a war...a comments' war.

Maybe this post means nothing. Maybe it's my own, weird word vomit. But, for me, "Captain America: Civil War" has been one of the most significant examples of the power ECT has on the brain. And ECT, and meds, and therapy are all part of the war I fight everyday.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Another one of those posts

Sometimes I get to a point where I think I'm doing pretty well with some kind of acceptance of the infertility situation. Then, things like my birthday come up. From now until forever, my birthday will ever be tied to the failure of the implanting of my 3 weak embryos. This year was 5 years. And, because of when my birthday falls, Christmas is forever tied to the due date that never was. This Christmas, we'd have a 5 year old or 5 years olds if all had worked out.

I also have moments when I try to accept it by looking at the reality of who I am and who I would have been. What I mean is that I look at how things are for the best because I would have sucked at parenting.

Like, when Jarvis loses his shit because a car door shut or someone had the nerve to come to the front door. I have yet to figure out the dog mom way of fixing that behavior. Then, there are the times we're on a walk and he goes all in with his sniffing. He bears down with all his weight pushed into his legs which push into the ground and this bearing down also turns off his hearing of me calling him. I have to give quite the yank of the leash. Dog mom WINNING!

Here's the place I list all my step-parenting fails.

Okay, I'm not actually going to go into all of that because that would really bring this post down...

...more than it actually has gone.

The other day I was thinking about the parenting win that ECT would have been. Who knows how things would have played out if I did successfully get pregnant and give birth and have the responsibility of a little human or humans? Maybe ECT wouldn't have been on the table because some kind of hormonal shift that helped my brain. Anyway, if we had a kid or kids while I went through ECT, that would mean that, not only would I have lost a year of my own life, I would have lost a year in the life of my child or children. That's pretty shitty.

There's no real way to wrap this up. My mind is a kind of chaos. I'm feeling everything and nothing all at once.

Oh, and before all the "You would have been a great mom" or "You are too hard on yourself", those don't help. I know you might think they'll help me get out of this pity party, it has the opposite effect. Let me put it this way. If you wanted to be a surgeon for years and you put so much time into going to school and you worked so hard and then, BAM! you are blinded. Everything you envisioned for yourself is gone. Would you really want someone telling you what a great surgeon you would have been?

Thursday, March 1, 2018

#SheToo

If you are a regular reader, you know that #MeToo has been a thing for me. So, I got to thinking about things that happened years and years ago. It made me wonder just how far we've come with handling sexual assault.

When my mom was born, her older siblings were 14, 13, and 12 years older. She was like an only child. She doesn't really remember her siblings living at home. Her relationship with my grandmother was strained. I'm not sure what my uncles' and aunt's relationships were like, but given how close they were in age, I can't help but think things were different with them. I think my mom being like an only child led to less distraction for my grandma. She had time to look out the window when my mom was coming home from dates. She could scold my mom on how terrible it was to spend time with a boy in a car and what it would look like to the neighbors.

My grandma was one of the oldest and the only girl of a large brood of boys. They were a Catholic family on the outskirts of a little town in Canada. My mom can remember taking trips up to visit her grandparents and uncles. She says that she remembers her youngest uncle as seeming to be different. The way she explains it, it seems that he didn't really fit quite right with the family. She remembers hearing something about him being taken in by her grandparents. She also remembers that my grandmother seemed to do anything possible to avoid interacting with him. She thought it was so odd. My mom also found something else to be odd about my grandma and her family.

My grandmother was born in 1905. She moved to Cleveland in 1921, when she was 16. She came to work for an aunt (I think it was an aunt. It was for certain a family member). My mom was always curious about why this came about.

In 1995, just after her 90th birthday, my grandma died. Then, several years later, my mom got answers to some of her questions. We found out a secret that was hidden by the family. It helped make pieces come together.

The reason for my grandmother's move to Cleveland when she was 16 was that she had gotten pregnant. This is around 1921, so yeah, a teenage pregnancy was scandalous. What made the whole thing more complicated were the circumstances around the pregnancy. She had all those brothers and those brothers, of course, had friends. One of those friends raped my grandma. The rape resulted in pregnancy. The baby my grandmother had was a boy, that boy was my mom's youngest "uncle". My great-grandparents took the baby and raised him. All of this explains why my mom felt things weren't quite right with her "uncle" and why my grandmother was so strange toward him. It can also explain some things about my grandma's strictness and some of her personality traits.

This has been a family secret for decades. It's still being kept from my one uncle (the oldest of the children my grandma had with my grandpa), as far as I know. He's in his late 80s. I don't really understand why he shouldn't find out. I'm certain he doesn't read this blog, but if others do and decide to tell him, that's on them.

It's close to 100 years since my grandmother was raped and got pregnant and gave the baby to her parents to raise and then moved away. Through those years, #SheToo was made to feel shame and to keep secret the cause of that shame. How is it we haven't come very far in all that time?