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:
Meg,

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]...you 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.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Joy and pain, side by side

It's Mother's Day. There's a certain sting to this day. I realize that this day has come to envelope a variety of women who have some kind of parental role outside of biology. But, the sting still exists.

The third anniversary of my hysterectomy is creeping up on the calendar. That day that sealed the deal that no biological baby would be coming from me. And now, I'm 42, older than I ever wanted to be to have a baby. You would think that would help things stop hurting. I still hurt. I'm not sure if the hurt has eased up at all. I'm not sure if it ever will.

But, I'm a step-mother, a doggie mom, and a daughter of a great mom, so I do appreciate this day.

Today, there is joy and there is pain. That is what makes up the story of life.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Breaking up is hard on whom?

There's that old cliché about breakups, "It's not you, it's me". I recently wrote about my convent life. That is coming up on 14 years ago. And, all those years ago, that cliché proved to be true.

I've been thinking about the breakup lately. That is what it was. I was in a relationship; I realized it didn't fit; and, I ended the relationship. Did I end it in the best way? No and I can admit that. When I look back on it, I wasn't in a single relationship. It was a complex dynamic.

There was the relationship with God or what I tried to believe to be God. That breakup wasn't too bad. I mean, once you admit to a lack of belief, then the rest just falls into place. So, this one doesn't really fit the cliché.  This is more of, "It's not me, it's the lack of you".

Then, there is the breaking up with the Catholic Church. Again, not quite so difficult, especially once the God breakup was done. But, for this one, I will admit that it wasn't the Church's fault. I just was no longer able to be faithful (see what I did there).

Here's the part I've been thinking about; this part is kind of messy. In the history of the Community of Sisters I was #998. While I was there, I once said to some friends that the song says, "One is the loneliest number", but for me, it was 998. Then I broke up with a Community, over 100 women. I walked out on them, literally. I packed up my shit and left.

Every so often feelings will come over me, pangs of, I'm not sure what word fits the best, perhaps guilt? In a group of that many women, I cannot say that I knew them all, but some I knew well...very well. Those are for whom I feel the pangs.

While I was visiting back in Cleveland last month, I was shopping and spotted one of the sisters with whom I had lived. I immediately became uncomfortable. She was busy with her cart and looking around. Then, we came close to bumping into one another. We made eye contact for a brief moment. But, I can honestly say there wasn't a glimmer of recognition in her eyes. I was glad to avoid actual contact because, well, awk-ward. But, that incident did bring up thoughts about the breakup.

The other day, I saw one of the sisters on Facebook because we have mutual Facebook friends. She was one of my teachers for all 4 years of high school. I was struck by how much she has aged. Then, I started to think about her. I wondered if she'd take my friend request if I tried. She is a kind and gentle person. Then, I thought about things being strained between us, perhaps, because of how things ended with me and the Community. I'm just not sure what I want to do.

Every once in awhile, my parents will see some of the sisters. They will tell me, "Hello" from them and how they asked about how I was. I always wonder, in these moments, what they thought of me when I left. Maybe the breakup was harder on me.

One of the messiest parts of the breakup was losing one of the sisters who had been such a presence in my life since I was 14 years old. I didn't order a class ring in high school. She ended up giving me hers. We were very close. We tried to hang on after I left. I would still talk to her when I moved to Colorado. Things changed, though. Life was different. I lost the connection to her that I once had. The change in our relationship made me feel that I should no longer have the school ring she gave me. I sent it back to her. That was not her, that was all on me.

Would I go back to those relationships? No, absolutely not. The reality of the reasons for leaving would still exist. Would I change the way I left the sisters? If I knew how to, then I probably would.