Thursday, July 20, 2017

This may just be word vomit

As I start to write this post, the Facebook is blowing up with shares of articles about the suicide of Linkin Park's singer Chester Bennington, a friend of Chris Cornell, who's suicide I wrote about back in May. Today, apparently, is Cornell's birthday. Today's post was going to be about suicide before I even heard this news.

Over the last week, I watched the Netflix series, "13 Reasons Why". Wow. Stop now if you don't want spoilers. So, so many thoughts. Let's get some of the minor issues/pet peeves I had with it out of the way.
  • Hair and makeup was not good; the bruises and cuts left much to be desired to be believable; Hannah's haircut wig was also not believable.
  • Except for Bryce, these kids were sophomores in the flashbacks and then juniors in the current time. How were some of them so heavily tattooed. I'm guessing parental sign-off was no big deal or they had serious connections. 
  • The 25-year-old (I looked him up because I thought he was the least teenage looking cast member. To my surprise he was only 25. I was guessing 30.) omniscient, omnipresent, gay, Latino, with the classic Mustang Tony. 
  • Clay's mom being the defense attorney for the school. Total conflict of interest in my book.
This isn't my first suicide based post and, sadly, I'm almost certain it will not be my last. I will not stop writing; I will not stop sharing.

What brought me to watching the series was an article I read about two families suing the show for the deaths of two girls who killed themselves after watching the series. And, then, in the show the parents of the girl who killed herself are suing the school for causing their daughter's death. These lawsuits really got to me. I was riled up. 

One of the stages of grief is anger. In my opinion, did you catch that? In my opinion, that anger stage is greater in the case of violent deaths and suicides. That anger is being acted upon through these lawsuits. The stage of anger gets drawn out in the legal process. 

Here's the thing, shit happens, terrible shit happens in our lives. The person who commits suicide makes that choice. Perhaps there are cases where someone can get them help and they will grab that lifeline. But, no one should feel guilt or should be blamed. 

This brings me to you, Hannah. Your suicide wasn't a whim; it was thought out. The tapes show just how much you thought it out. I had moments of feeling unsympathetic toward you. I was annoyed when you pushed Clay away and said on the tape that you wanted him to turn around and come back. That is not fair. Don't put that on him. He did what you wanted. You said, "No" and he listened. That is what boys are taught to do. And, then, the Guidance Counselor, stop being vague with him and expecting him to know what you are seeking help for. And then expecting him to come after you. Yes, things were really shitty. You, in my opinion, misread things sometimes. Zach liked you and tried. You went off on him because of an awkward teenage boy moment where he said something that didn't come out in the best way. He brought up the whole "best ass" thing, but he was trying to say that he knew there was more to you than that. Not everyone is an eloquent speaker, especially high schoolers.  

So, here I am, in anger; anger for putting blame on others; anger toward expecting others to know what you want/need from them. In the end, suicide comes down to the decision of the person.

In the moments of my life when suicide was trying to make its way into my psyche, I don't recall blaming people. Most of my ideation was passive. I just wished I would stop existing, not wake up. Typically, I don't develop plans. It doesn't tend to get that far, mostly because I fear failure. Things like, the gun will jam or not hit me the right way; someone will come in the garage; the pills will make me vomit before killing me; the razor blade thing always freaked me out. 

One thought that I often had years ago was on I-271 in greater Cleveland. I was just visiting family and actually happened to be on that stretch of I-271 I'm talking about. This thought usually happened when I was in college, but whenever I drive it now, I have a moment of discomfort. Where I-271 North mergers with I-90 West, it's a pretty significant turn, not 90 degrees, but kind of sharp. I always would think about driving straight, not taking the turn. Again, though, I always figured I wouldn't succeed. 

So, here we are. Someone's suicide is their choice. As always, you NEVER, EVER, EVER know what is going on in someone else's life. 

And, in the words of Ellen, "Be kind to one another."   


Sunday, July 9, 2017

Spidey really did come home for me

Before I met Shawn, there were a lot of things I wasn't into that he brought to my life. I really wasn't into a comic book heroes and the movies about them.

All these years later, I'm all about superheroes and sci-fi. I've gone with him to midnight releases of many a movie. Now, we are a bit older and too tired to stay up that late, but we wouldn't miss the opening weekend for the world....unless it's one we're not that excited about (ahem...DC pics...ahem).

This weekend we saw "Spider-Man: Homecoming". I loved it. It's my favorite version of "Spider-Man" in movies and my favorite portrayal of him. It's now one of my top picks of any of the Marvel Cinematic Universe films. It was entertaining. That word really fits. There was humor and drama and action.

One of the things I loved the most about this movie is truly human aspect of this superhero. For me, this movie was about a teenage boy, Peter Parker. Yes, he is Spider-Man and, in this movie's depiction, the boy isn't separate from the hero. Tom Holland gives a perfect performance representing a teenage boy; a teenage boy who wants desperately to be a superhero like his hero, Tony Stark/Iron Man and the Avengers; who wants to be Spider-MAN! 

I've heard some reviews talking about the teenagers in the film being John Hughes-esque. I can see this. There's awkward crushes, school competitions, assholes, and a dance. All of these things, however, aren't how Peter Parker's adolescence really reveals itself.

I suppose "Spider-Teen" doesn't evoke much fear from his enemies. This teenage superhero has that teenage sense of immortality, the "it'll never happen to me" kind of worldview. Peter wants desperately to be independent. He wants to prove his worthiness to Tony Stark, his mentor, to join the Avengers, but he doesn't really want to follow "rules" to get there. We all know, to teens, rules doesn't apply because they knows it all. His recklessness gets him into trouble, as it does with most teens. Seriously, I'm not pulling out stereotypes, these are adolescent behaviors and that's what makes Peter Parker a great character. The 15 year old Park IS a 15 year old Spider-Man and that's right where he's meant to be right now. 


Saturday, June 10, 2017

One thing or another

Over the last month my therapist, my mom, Shawn, and my PsychNP have all told me at least once, if not more, that I seem to be doing really well. I guess four against one means they win. To me, what it means for them to say that is that I've gotten really good at the cover-up game once again and/or I've done well to distract myself. But, I guess I should assume they are right.

I'm going through med changes again, so that's always a treat. I've been taking Seroquel XR for quite some time now, but now the immediate release version is being added to my cocktail. A few days ago, I started taking the generic Seroquel XR. My PsychNP was not a fan of my going to generic. But Cigna decided to tell me, "Fuck You" for taking the name brand and charge me $350ish a month and Canadian pharmacies weren't much better, so I'm taking the $10 a month generic.

The jury is still out on how I'm adjusting to the generic. If you are thinking there is no difference, guess again. Think about it like when you buy the Safeway brand or Giant Eagle brand ketchup and then you have a taste of Heinz and you're like, "Whoa, Nelly, something's just not right with store brands". That's what it is like. Generic can't use the exact recipe of the name brand. Once the name brand's patent expires, generic versions make their way to the pharmacy. If you google generic vs. name brand medications, results will say their is no difference. Well I, my doctors, and my mom call bullshit on that one. The generic has to have the same active ingredients as name brand. Your dosage should be the same as name brand. BUT, the inactive ingredients, the stuff it is compounded with, isn't the same. That seems like it shouldn't matter, but it does. People react differently to generics than they did to the name brand, not all people, but some. My mom was on Paxil and changed to generic due to cost, like I am doing with Seroquel. She knew it was different, things just weren't right. She had been a long time Paxil user and was able to tell the difference in generic. If the differences are really noticeable, it could lead a person to give up on it. But, then the rub comes, do you come off that drug altogether and begin the horrible process of finding something else which could take months? Or, do you go back to the name brand and possibly have to sell your organs to pay for it?

So, yay healthcare, health insurance, medications, and crazy ass mental illness!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Did the right thing

In my Facebook memories for May 30th, 2008, this was one of my posts:
quit her job, doesn't know what she'll do, but at least she still has her morals.
So, I posted this today:
Nine years ago today, I walked out on a job with nothing lined up in its place in order to maintain my sense of morals regarding the treatment and unjust firing of one of my employees by my superiors. Sometimes I feel a pang of guilt for not doing more about the situation and for still shopping at Barnes & Noble.
Shortly after my post, I received a private message from the above mentioned employee:

I just saw your post about leaving Barnes and Noble 9 years ago. I don't think I ever told you, but your courage to resign following my termination absolutely changed the way I approach life. You taught me and inspired me to live life with courage and to stand up and fight for my morals and beliefs. You gave me the courage to have a voice. I used that voice to challenge my superiors while caring for many people in nursing homes and hospitals while I was a CNA, and also while I was the Human Resources director at my last job. I wanted you to know that you are and always will be one of the most influential people in my life. I owe you a lot of credit, so thank you, thank you, thank you.
I replied:
Oh my god, you just made my day. You are welcome. I'm glad a positive came out of such [a] horrible situation. When I came in the morning and Daniel told me you were fired, I went to the bathroom and got sick and left. I always lived my life the way my dad taught me, and that was to not burn your bridges because you may need those people again some day. Shawn told me I owed them nothing. I went with Shawn's thoughts. Those were people I knew I would not need again. I called the store and said I wasn't coming back. I wish I could have done more to fight back.
She responded:
You did so much more than so many people in that situation. That entire event changed my life path. I've learned a lot since all of that happened and I often look back and wonder if I could have done more to change the outcome. I have never regretted reporting to my superiors the concerns I had. I do believe that I was terminated to protect a certain employee in the organization, but I don't think I will ever know the whole story. It is suspicious to me that I was terminated within days of making a formal police report concerning the vandalism of my car in the Barnes and noble parking lot. All that being said, the situation motivated me as a Human Resources professional to protect my employees when they had legitimate concerns regardless of who the concerns were about. I was instrumental in exposing a high level executive (and the owner's son) in an embezzlement scheme at my last job and I had no reservations about confronting the problem head on. I protected the informant and went to bat for him time and time again. You taught me that, and you taught me that we all have a choice to do what is right so that we can look at ourselves in the mirror and see the person that we want to be.
I thanked her. The idea that I actually did bring about some kind of positive was, in a way, a sense of relief. After all of these years, after wondering if it really mattered, I received validation for the way I handled one of the hardest moments of my life. That means so very much.

Monday, May 29, 2017

A different look at the cost of war

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. For many it's the kick-off to summer and a time for picnics and barbecues. Those types of celebrations are fine, but the ability to have them should not be forgotten, hence the name "Memorial". This is not Veterans' Day. This day commemorates those who made the ultimate sacrifice while in active duty. The living, who made it home, are honored in November.

I've had a lot on my mind with the approach of this holiday. Most of my thoughts have centered around PTSD. It's a terrible enemy. Many vets who have come home have been suffering from it. Since they made it home, they are veterans to be celebrated later in the year.

But, I've started to think, that in some ways, the men and women with PTSD haven't made it home. They are continuing to fight a tremendous battle against a terribly strong enemy. The brain is a powerful thing; it may not be a muscle, but it damn sure fights like one. These men and women have allies in medications, psychiatrists, therapists, group therapy, and friends and family. Sometimes the allies are strong and sometimes they can't break through. Sadly, far too many men and women lose the fight against PTSD. And, in many ways, the powerful organ of the brain made it so they never returned from battle, they were still actively fighting on the battleground, and, in a sense, that is where they died.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The quieting of the Soundgarden

I received this text from my little brother (yes, I'm 42 and he's 38, but whatever):
Any thoughts on the Chris Cornell suicide? I listened to talk radio all day on SiriusXM. So many callers shared their stories with mental illness, depression and meds. Adavan [sic] never used that, did you?
I love you, sis!
And I responded:
I honestly haven't read about it much. Just wanted to stay away from ignorant comments. I heard a clip on the radio of him talking on Stern's show about Cobain, but I didn't understand why they were playing that clip. Then, later I found out about the suicide. I get tired of people judging someone who gets to that point. No one has any clue what someone is fighting in their head.

I'm on Ativan. The only time I was off of it was when we were trying to get pregnant because it is an absolute no for pregnancy. I was on Xanax then. These drugs all have wicked side effects and everyone responds differently. It's such a difficult process to find the right meds. I take a combination of 4 drugs and that's from a doc who has a reputation of putting people on the least amount of drugs to help them. It's no joke.❤️
He also asked if I knew if our two brothers and my mom were still on meds.

Celebrity suicides bring about different discussions. As much as I would like that the dialogue about mental illness didn't need a celebrity name to bring it about, I guess we have to take what we can get. The text from my brother was part of the discussions that are born of celebrity suicides. It's an expression of concern, but I feel like it's almost expressing fear.

Mental illness is scary when untreated or mistreated. Medications are scary when you are trying to find the right ones. Side effects affect each person differently. Chris Cornell is said to have been taking Ativan, which I'm guessing spurred my brother's question. His reaction to and the amount of Ativan he had taken shows how everyone is different. I take my prescribed dose, with the occasional extra on particularly rough days. I have been taking Ativan for years and I have been fortunate with side effects. In the puzzle of mental illness, everyone's piece is different.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Away she goes

In the early hours of the morning today, my stepdaughter drove off in a U-Haul with her boyfriend to start their new life together in Texas. I did my own driving off going on 12 years ago. So, I can relate to her and now, I can kind of relate to my own family watching me drive off all those years ago.

Conner's moving stirs so many emotions. We hope this new beginning is a good one. It's time for her to branch out. She needs to live her life and follow love where it takes her. I know Shawn has taught her so much about life, love, generosity, hope, and independence. She will make her mark on Texas. And, no matter what happens, we will welcome her with open arms if she needs them.

Good luck, Conner & Shaun, on this new phase in your life together.