Thursday, December 8, 2016

Mary Christmas

Blanchie and I have always been close, even in some of the worst of the worst of times. We always were particularly close during the holidays. Today, I realized that it's been 11 years since I've had a Mary Christmas (intentional use of Mary since it's Blanchie's first name) because I've been living in Colorado.

I'm pretty sure that, aside from shopping for each other, we did all of our Christmas shopping together. We were on the same wavelength when it came to shopping. There wasn't really any roaming aimlessly hoping for a gift idea. We knew what we were looking for and we were on a mission to go get it and be done. Then the gift wrapping would take place on my parents' bed. She taught me to wrap and how to curl ribbon with the edge of a scissors.

Every year we, along with my Aunt Kathy, would go to a boutique at a local artists' home. It had the most amazing Christmas decorations from around the world. After a bit of shopping, the three of us would then go to lunch. It was tradition.

There were the afternoons of baking. She was the dough roller and cookie cutter. I was the decorator. Now, I love Shawn and Conner, but playing my Mom's role in baking is not my favorite thing. I don't have dough rolling skills up to par with her.

Then, there's Johnny Mathis. He performs the soundtrack for Christmas decorating at my parents' house. I have his Christmas albums along with several others on my iTunes. I confess that this year, I was grouchy about hearing Johnny Mathis, but usually he helps around here.

Now, my Dad taught me the fine art of greeting card shopping and sending. He and I are both Platinum Level Hallmark Gold Crown Members. But, the actual shopping for cards is where my Mom comes into play. We were the best at finding the funniest stuff...we both have probably peed a little at one point or another.

Finally, not really because there is so much more I could say about Blanchie, but for now, this is the end. My Mom was always involved in something charitable. She was part of the social justice committee and the St. Vincent de Paul Society at her Church. Gifts and food for the needy were a big focus. She and my Dad taught me generosity all year round, but Christmas had that added bit to it.

I love you, my Mary Christmas.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

The holly, jolly, holidays

Yesterday, as I lie on my gurney getting prepped and readied for my head zapping, the head nurse was over by the printer. She pulled off two blank sheets of paper. She jokingly asked who was printing blank paper. Well, I piped up and said that it was I and that it was my Christmas Letter. I said it sums up all that I remember about 2016. It just needed my signature.

That little ECT humor was a pretty big hit with everyone who was in the area....everyone who was fully conscious, that is.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

And now for something kind of different

Watch this space for new mental health shit that may possibly happen. 

I'm looking into another type of mental health treatment. My ECT psychiatrist brought it up at my last ECT session and then he talked to my Psych NP about it. So, at Monday's appointment with my Psych NP, she brought it up. 

It is called Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). I haven't done any real research on it. No matter what decision we (I include Shawn because every bit of this impacts him) make about DBT, we feel that ECT has run its course.j

As 2016 comes to an end (THANKFULLY) and we move into 2017, we'll see what plays out. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

I still manage to be phased

Here it is. Another post about my memory issues. This one is a hard one because it seems to be affecting longer term memory than just something from this year.

There is a card game that I have played for over ten years on a pretty regular basis. I played it with one of my best friends back home in CLE and then brought it to my CO life with Shawn and his parents. I have easily played it hundreds of times. It's a pretty simple card game called "Phase 10".

Thanksgiving Eve, Shawn, my in-laws, and I were playing games, as per usual. Shawn brought out "Phase 10". I looked at it and was a bit puzzled. The rest of them were puzzled by my puzzlement since we have such a long history with this game. Shawn ended up having to teach me the game. I picked it up pretty quick, but it was still troubling.

I never get used to discovering that there is something I don't remember.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Searching on and on

In the reality of my dreams, this blog was making me money and getting me book deals. Someone, somewhere, thought I was worth paying attention to and paying money to. So I wouldn't have to be dealing with the painful life's work of job searching.

Job searching sucks. I don't even know what I'm searching for. Also, I don't feel like my shit is under control. ECT seems like a failure. Meds are always being adjusted. I cry so easily. I simply can't keep emotions in check. How am I supposed to figure out this whole work thing?

Why can't I have some friends with some kind of employment connections? Why can't things be simple? Why can't the whys be answered?

Monday, November 14, 2016

2013 may still hold the record

This year has been pretty shitty. 2016 deserves a, "FUCK YOU!" without question. I, however, don't really know what I'm saying, "FUCK YOU" to thanks to ECT. I watched the season finale of "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" during which his final segment was a variety of people explaining why 2016 really sucked. Much of what was shared were things I had no recollection of. So for me, the shittines of 2016 is that I don't remember much of 2016. My lack of memory is really disconcerting. I wish I knew how to explain just how painful it is. Even with all of this, however, I still think 2013 was the suckiest...and, maybe even 2014.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Why standing with Her was so important to me

Facebook has an "On This Day" feature in which a series of posts from previous years are collected. On Wednesday, November 9th, I was looking through the posts as I was dealing with the sadness I was experiencing based on the official Donald Trump election results. Then I came upon a post from 4 years ago about heading to the hospital for surgery. A new wave of sadness poured over me.

I had been having some trouble getting pregnant and my OB/GYN had me taking Clomid in the hopes that it would prove that my troubles weren't severe. Then, I developed what we thought was an ovarian cyst, a rather large one, but one that she could remove with a standard procedure. The size was the diameter of a soda can. So, November 9, 2012, I had it removed.

The news from the procedure turned out to be the beginning of major infertility hell. It turns out it was not a simple ovarian cyst. It was an Endometrioma; a very large, blood filled mass. My OB/GYN was shocked to discover that I had Endometriosis. She couldn't believe the severity of it and that, at 37 years old, it was just being discovered. Also, with this discovery, she realized that I needed more help with my infertility than she was able to offer with my prescription of Clomid or anything else she could do. So, lists of recommendations for fertility clinics were given to me.  

In the end, the Endometriosis won out in the fertility battle and I had to have a hysterectomy.

This anniversary being shared with Trump's victory really upset me more than the anniversary by itself. It got me thinking of my womanhood. It got me thinking about woman's healthcare. When it comes to politics and woman's healthcare, so many focus on abortion like it is the only issue a woman might face. No, it's not! We face so many things. Planned Parenthood helps women face so many things. Trump and conservatives want to make it about abortion; they want it to be about destroying Planned Parenthood; they want it to be more expensive for birth control; they want to fuck us over, and not in the good way.

I stood with Her and oh, how I wish she would have won!  

Monday, October 24, 2016

F*ck the cheese and that other thing

I've been thinking about when I was first facing major depression a little over 13 years ago. It's been on my mind since over the last year my Psych NP has diagnosed me with Bipolar after almost 13 years of being treated for Uni-polar. Anyway, when I was first going through it all I was involved with a religious order. What has come to mind is a couple of things that reveal that some people have no business trying to handle the depths and seriousness of someone facing mental illness. Here are the two things that should not be done:
  1. Do not give him/her a copy of Who Moved My Cheese? as a means of working through everything that could possibly be the matter.
  2. Do not tell him/her to look to the crucifix because that is what real suffering is and that whatever he/she is going through pales in comparison and should be recognized as insignificant in light of the suffering of the cross.
Yep, those are real things (like modern day memes) that I was presented with when what I really needed was a mental health professional. Thankfully, my mom did recognize my struggle and swept in to get me and take me to a psychiatrist. Granted, the diagnosis wasn't quite on the mark with him and the other psychiatrists I saw for awhile, but mental health is a tricky thing that can have hits and misses. Right now, and I think Shawn may agree, we might be facing more hits than misses.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Missing the M&M Man

Well, not much has changed on the job front. It really stresses me out, A LOT. I keep feeling like I'm only cut out for retail. There's this part of me who feels like I have to know what I'm doing from the get go; like there is no training for a job. I'm so afraid of not being good at whatever it is from the minute I start.

While I was walking Jarvis today, I was thinking about the job I had in Cleveland before moving here. The last time I worked a Monday-Friday gig. Boy, do I miss that place. I set my hours at 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. I loved that because it gave me a couple of hours before the majority of the office came in for the day. It wasn't anything that required me to have a majority of my time interacting with people. Paid time off was awesome and we had certain paid holidays; nothing like it in retail. My cube had quirky decorations and a fun M&M man dispenser. There were Starbucks runs and some occasional lunch dates with officemates. I camped out in my cubicle except for meetings and chats with co-workers.

At one time, I thought I hated it. That was when I thought I was supposed to be doing some kind of world changing work. Did I know what? No. But, I also thought I was Catholic and trying hard to believe in God, so that kind of played into it.

When I realized that, nope, not Catholic and actually an atheist, I started to look at my job differently. I'm not saying that atheists can't do world changing work. When I was going through all of this self-realization, I had a talk with a friend of mine. She said something to me about how not everyone is cut out to do world saving work, some of us just need to do the nitty-gritty, day-to-day stuff that makes the world go round. That put my mind at ease and gave me a sense of peace about doing my everyday work. That everyday work did include opportunities to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and other stuff, so I did get to do good deeds.

So, here I am without a job. I just want some regular hours, non-retail work. Something like the editing work I did all those years ago when I still lived in Cleveland. The quality assurance kind of stuff. But, I just don't know how to begin to look and find it. This makes me sick to my stomach. The "want ads" are a vast sea of options and I'm not really a skilled sailor to get through it.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The heart of the matter

When sharing this Dan Savage column on Facebook, Shawn wrote the following post. I find it worthy of sharing beyond Facebook, so here it is:

This is important. Please read it. If you're someone close to me, please read this and understand that this isn't just some angry political post about how bad the other candidate is compared to my candidate. This is me trying to make you understand -- to really understand -- something important. Something that should be important to both of us.
In the wake of the now infamous video of Donald Trump and Billy Bush talking about kissing and groping women, many people -- including some people that I love and respect -- were quick to dismiss the whole thing as "guy talk" that happened "a long time ago". But it's much more than that. It's indicative of the way far too many men think about women and about sex. It's not harmless banter. It revealed something about Trump that should not be ignored.
After the video was released, a lot of those who condemned it explained that they did so because they had a loved one who also happened to be female: a daughter, a wife, a mother. We shouldn't have to have a woman in our lives to understand that women are people, and deserving of respect. But if we have to view this through that lens, then fine, let's do that.
I have a daughter, whom I couldn't possibly love any more than I do. And depending on who's reading this, you may love her too. If not, think of the woman who is most important to you. Imagine if she came to you and said that some man put his hand up her skirt without her permission. Would you believe her? Would you tell her that this is just how men behave? Would you ask her what she was wearing? If you confronted the man and he implied that he'd never do that because your loved one isn't attractive enough, would you accept that explanation?
Trump bragged about how he could do whatever he wanted to women, including grabbing them by "the pussy" because he's a star. He said that he can't stop himself from kissing attractive women. He's said that he likes to walk into dressing rooms at beauty pageants unannounced so he can see women (and girls) in various states of undress. And when those claims went public, multiple women came forward saying that they'd experienced that very behavior. There's no reason to doubt that a man would do the things he boasts about, and yet there are many who do, and that's the problem. We excuse men for being animals, and we ignore women whom these animals attack. Or worse, we blame them for their attackers' behavior.
I'm not writing this because I don't want you to vote for Trump. Obviously I don't, but what I really want you to understand is that that "locker room talk" is not harmless. It's not typical. It's not okay. It's part of an entire culture of objectification and abuse. Not all men think this way, but far too many do, and the rest of us must speak up and make it known that we don't support it.
Think of my daughter, or think of any woman in your life that you love, and ask yourself if you'd really be comfortable allowing her to be alone with someone like Trump. Ask yourself if you want her to live in a world of Trumps. This is a big deal. It's important. Please don't minimize Trump's words or actions. I know you're better than that.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

No longer Miss Daisy

For the first time since mid-April, I am cleared to drive. This is as long as my ECT treatments stay at a rate of every-other-week or longer apart. I am a little anxious about this. It's like being a teenager all over again. I have to ease into it. It requires me to have a licensed driver with me for a couple of weeks. I'm not supposed to be out at night and in high speed, high traffic areas. But, this is progress.

Progress in a life where I haven't felt much.

Monday, October 17, 2016

I hope my skills have improved

So, I've found some old stuff that I wrote years ago. I decided it wasn't right to keep these gems to myself. Here's a little something from sophomore year of high school. I scanned it in from the school's literary magazine, "Ventures".

Then I found this short, short story from my senior year in college. It is actually 20 years old this month. I keyed it in because the versions I had were a draft with mark-up and the published version. I did not like the editorial changes that were made to the published one. It's funny to look back, especially since this was before area codes were required. 

A Doral burns in the ashtray, releasing more smoke into the room than he ever takes into his lungs firsthand. He sits in "his" chair, a recliner that is worn to fit him perfectly, unlike his clothes. His once-white tee-shirt reveals his distorted belly button and all the t.v. dinners that were eaten but not tasted. As he watches one of many television shows that will fill his lonely evening, he decides it's about time to find that blasted piece of paper.
His hand reaches toward the table next to him, just past a can of warm, stale, Old Milwaukee. "There it is," he says, as though anyone is there to hear him or even help him look.
He adds the racing results to the rest of the thrown-away money piled on the floor. "Now it's time to think about this chance," he says to the crumpled paper he holds tightly in his potatochip greased fingers. He looks at the numbers, 8-6-2-7-3-5-1, and asks them, "You brought me luck once, can't you do it again?"
The question takes him back to the first time he saw those very numbers on a crinkled piece of paper. Actually, it was a cocktail napkin. That was thirty years, eighty pounds, and a full head of hair ago. He was new in town, looking for a neighborhood bar to make a place for himself among the regulars. As he took a seat on a stool at the bar, he watched to learn all he could about the customers at "The Eight Ball". The bartender gave him a napkin with his bottle of Budweiser. He thought the napkin looked strange but didn't give it too much thought. Then, he began to look for some of the typical bar top, chewy pretzels. When he looked down, he noticed that the napkin under his beer wasn't ordinary after all. He read what was scribbled on it, "Call me sometime, 862-7351, Barb." His first instinct was to pretend he didn't notice it because who knew how many others had the same note with their drinks? Then, he decided to look around. Maybe he could figure out who she was. After a few glances around the joint, he gave-up, put the napkin in his coat pocket, and walked out. Since Barb didn't approach him on his way out, he imagined how she looked and what her voice was like for the entire walk home.
His apartment was strange to him, and he felt lonely walking into the emptiness. The loneliness made him think about Barb even more. He decided to give it a shot. "Heck! I'm new here, and it couldn't hurt to meet someone." He went to bed, figuring he would give her a call sometime the next day.
He worked up the courage to call her and dialed 862-7351 from memory. The phone number had been on his mind so much, he couldn't help knowing it by heart. As he dialed, he thought about what to say. "You. Me. Tonight. 'The Eight Ball'" was an option. His rehearsal time was cut short when she picked up on the third ring.
"Hello?" she said into his ear.
He stalled for a minute. The voice on the other end was not the voice of the Barb that walked him home in is imagination. This wasn't good or bad -- it was just she.
"Um, Hi. I was given a not last night at "The Eight Ball." Was it from, you?" he forced himself to reply before she could have the chance to hang up on him.
"Yes, it was from me, but I don't want you to think I make a habit of doing that type of thing," she said in response to the question he asked her -- and the one on his mind.
That was how it had all begun. They had dated for a year and were engaged for another. Their wedding was exactly two years after the night Barb wrote the seven numbers on that napkin. The marriage had lasted twenty-one years. He couldn't help thinking about the day those years together came to an end -- when his good luck and his wife walked out the door one morning and never walked through it again.
The music from "The Big Seven" lottery drawing snapped him back to his pathetic present. He's back in "his" worn-out chair with cheap cigarettes, bad beer, and lost chances around him. Now that she's gone, he sits in another lonely apartment, looking at the 8-6-2-7-3-5-1 in his hand, and says to the woman no longer there, "Maybe lightning can strike the same place twice, and maybe your number will bring me luck again."

 The End

Well, that's enough memory lane for now. Maybe I'll get the mood again since I have come upon so many writings.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Campaign induced reflections

Unless you have avoided all media, chances are you know that Donald J. Trump was pretty sure that he could just go up to a woman and grab her by the pussy because he's famous. 

This guy is a scumbag. I have never doubted that. It's been years since my dislike for him developed. The released video just added to my disgust. 

I've been struggling these last few days with the idea that I may have some hypocrisy with all of this. You see, my knowledge of Trump's scumbaggery comes from years of being a "Howard Stern Show" listener. I was an avid listener. Yes, Stern has some segments of his show that were totally about objectifying women. But, many of the women were Playboy and Penthouse models and/or porn stars who made their livings being objectified. Does that make it different? I mean, I never heard anything that implied doing things without consent. So, what does this make me in all of this? As vulgar and offensive as Howard could be on his show, I don't remember anything that showed he was okay with actions without consent. Am I just trying to rationalize my Howard Stern fandom? I'm still not sure.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Mind the meme

So, this meme is going around:

Imagine, for a moment, if you will, that I decided to edit it. What if I changed it so that the top said, "This is insulin." and the bottom text was on a picture of needles and vials and pens? Or, what if I changed the top to say, "This is chemotherapy." with the bottom picture being needles and ports and IVs with the "this is shit." text? Can you imagine the shit storm of hate that would come my way?

I grew up a few minutes walk from Lake Erie and a few minutes drive from an amazing parks system of tree lined trails and fields. So, according to this meme, why did I eventually end-up on drugs for depression and anxiety?

And today, well the last 11 years actually, I live in Colorado. The mountains are in view from my neighborhood. It doesn't take long at all for me to get to a trail system. So, again, I ask, why am I going through various treatment options for bipolar depression and anxiety?

Fuck the fucking asshats who continue to make light of the seriousness of the MEDICAL nature of mental illnesses.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thank you, Mr. Cosby

I've been finding out about more and more things that I experienced and have no memory of thanks to ECT. It is not something I can really explain. Knowing that months of your life are blacked out, especially when you find out about the really good things, is heartbreaking.

This memory loss has gotten me thinking about victims of sex crimes who were drugged or drunk. I feel some weird sense of empathy toward those people. The brain is a complicated thing and part of the complexity is memory.

These thoughts bring me to the subject of an article I read today. It was about how, starting next year, California will no longer have a statute of limitations on sex crimes. This is all thanks to Mr. Bill Cosby and his predatory nature. If one good thing was to come out of his evil ways, states changing their statute of limitations on sex crimes is one of them.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A wee bit of a laugh

For a brief change of pace, I thought I'd take this moment to reveal the wee bit of humor I have toward my illness.

I have an alarm set on my iPhone for the two times of day when I take my pills. The song I chose for it is The Rolling Stone's "Mother's Little Helper". Now, I may not be a mother, but the pill popping theme is relatable, in a kind of humorous way.

I also found a pillbox that makes me chuckle. Some my find it offensive or sacrilegious, but it has made me smile. See the pills in Jesus' hands? Come on, it's funny.

Now back to my regularly scheduled anxiety induced nausea. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Taking a step back

A few nights ago, on Wednesday, I had to take a step back. The anxiety was so bad, I wasn't doing well at all. Shawn urged me to go back on the Ativan. That was one of the drugs I had been off of for a week and a half at that point. I was afraid to do it without calling the Doc, so I called and left a message, but took the pill anyway. She called me back shortly and told me to take one and actually, to double up on it. And, away I sleep.

Having the Ativan back is nice, but anxiety still manages to rear its ugly head, and it is really, really large and ugly.

Monday, September 12, 2016

And away we go

As my therapist said today, I need to give med changes a chance...and, O2 is really important so I should work on my breathing as much as I can. All of this was on a morning of great anxiety.

I woke up to Jarvis and let Shawn sleep. These last 6 months or so, Shawn has been letting me sleep. Since that is one, of many things, I feel guilty about with regard to Shawn's caregiving role, I just did it. Jarvis and I went for a walk and I did a stint on the treadmill before waking Shawn up.

After a shower, I sat down with all the anxiety inducing thoughts that were building up since getting out of bed.

These jeans don't fit right. I can't start shopping for a bigger size. I need to fit in the clothes I have. I really shouldn't have all this weight on me. I'm getting close to the heaviest I've ever been. I really should vacuum. How would Jarvis act if I use the carpet powder crap to freshen things up? Will he try to lick it up? UGH. All this different shit needs to be moved out of the way to vacuum. I don't feel like doing all of that. Laundry needs to be put away and laundry needs to be done. Who wants to do that shit? It's such a chore. OMG. Dinner needs to be made. If I get tonight's made, that doesn't help me with tomorrow. I hate being responsible for coming up with dinner. God, I have all this pressure in making a choice for someone else and hoping he is okay with it. What if it's a terrible? Sometimes, even after I've made the decision and I've cooked it, I don't want to eat what I make. How do I keep from making the same few things over and over? How do I come up with new things when I don't want to be responsible for this? Cooking at home needs to be a priority to save us money. It should also be helping our health. I should be doing more about both of our weight. What if something happens to Shawn? I can't even begin to think about what I would do. I'm so dependent on him. OMG. He needs to get healthier. That cough is lingering. He needs to go back to the doctor. What kind of work am I going to even try to get when the time comes? How do I get myself employable? We have to travel to CLE for the Comic Convention in March. We are both going to be so uncomfortable on the plane. Why did Jarvis jump at and scratch the neighbor kid? He's always let the kid pet him. How do I not have anxiety regarding Jarvis now? It was such an upsetting experience. I'm glad the kid's mom was so understanding and kind, but I still have an awkward feeling contributing to my anxiety. Donald Trump is actually a candidate for President. This makes me nauseous. I honestly don't know how to handle this. What if he actually wins? Seriously, how is this real life? How is this mess of anxiety going to begin to be addressed in a psych hour? When will I be through all of this shit? Are the med changes going to finally work? At what point do we actually consider a lobotomy? I wish I was kidding, but, since I am going through ECT, which I thought was far fetched, I'm not sure it's such a joke anymore. I've talked about wanting to do inpatient ECT, again, not kidding as much as I would like. Here's why I like ECT, a day of ECT is a day lost. I don't have time in my head.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

One week

I cannot say that there has been much of an improvement with me since the entry from a week ago. It's been a week dealing with the med changes. So, one week with only 3 medications. The two we removed are officially out of my system at this point I guess. As for the one we are increasing, the 50 mg increase has been a week now and will go for another week. Then, we bump it another 50 mg. I do not hold out hope. I've learned not to do that.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

I'm not the only one not working

The latest taper ended last night. It was my last night taking my cocktail of 5 different psych meds. Tonight, the new 3 medication cocktail begins. One of those three meds is starting at a gradual increase. I will take that med at one dose for 2 weeks and then bump it up by 50 mg after that.

Along with this, ECT is going to every 2 weeks. Shawn is all about this. I, on the other hand, feel like I should probably be a resident. Just like drugs, I see this as another failure. NOTHING WORKS.

I didn't even want to get out of bed today. My life is quite empty. I have no job. Aside from family, I have two people I would spend time with if I actually lived near them. Those two people have been friends of mine over half my life. Friends I made here are just Facebook contacts at this point. Coworkers that I was friends with have moved, or we just stopped hanging out together once we stopped working together.

Suggestions are made to me about going out to pursue hobbies and interests. "How about this, that, or the other thing?" "Hey, how about vomit, diarrhea, or hyperventilating?"

Monday, August 29, 2016

Here we go again

We just got back last night from a long 4 day weekend away with Shawn's family for his parents' 50th wedding anniversary. It was jam-packed with activity. That can be exhausting for anyone, but there is an extra level of exhaustion for people with anxiety and depression. I did my best to make it through.

Now that I'm back, another taper of meds is starting. Shawn was the one who came up with the plan to hold off the taper until we got back. That was wise, so not surprising that Shawn thought of it. Last night's med cocktail was the start of the taper.  We were in the car on our way home when my medication alarm went off. Since we were alone and on our way home, I figured it was okay to start.

I hate tapers and med changes. I hate things not working out to fix me. But, it's really something to go through with Shawn. He says, "We" when talking about my med schedule. When I was trying to remember my changes he says things like, "We're going down to [whatever dose]." He is so strong and supportive.

I love him.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Minding the gaps

I touched on my memory issues a few entries ago. The last few days it's really been causing me some headaches which, in turn, lead to heartache. Some of the fuzziness is from earlier in the year, before I even started ECT. Those aren't the ones that are really breaking my heart now.

The gap in my memory that is really causing me grief right now is from mid-late June. That was when Denver Comic Con was happening and that brought our BFFs to town. Shawn is half of the creative team of The Specialists Comic and he and his partner always get a booth at the convention. And, his partner is married to one of my best friends from high school. So, they both come to town for the convention and then a little vacation-ish visit.

I remember very little, actually next to nothing, about this year's visit. There are little things around the house that caused me to ask Shawn questions, but even when he answers, it doesn't help fill in the holes. The other day, I found a can of Bush's Baked Beans in our pantry. I never buy them because Shawn doesn't like baked beans and I'm not going to eat a whole can. He said it was leftover from some groceries our friend bought for some cooking she was going to be doing. Um, okay.

We all went away to some hot springs somewhere. I asked Shawn about that. Did we have bathing suits and was there a pool somewhere? Yep and yep. No images come to mind about any of this. My head is pounding with the stress of trying to form memories out of nothing.

The latest discovery in my memory holes has to do with supplies for the convention. I've been doing some inventory of some of the products the guys sell at the convention. While going through it, I came across a box that was different than any I recognized. I asked Shawn and he told me it was a new part of the booth display. He described it to me. Nada, zip, zilch in my memory.

It is probably silly to be moved to tears about these things. But, the strain it all puts on my head really gets to me

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Through the years

Yesterday I had an appointment with my psych nurse practitioner. Shawn goes with me to these appointments. It was that way in the beginning in order for Doc to get a broader perspective about me, but it never stopped. During yesterday's appointment, Shawn told Doc that she wouldn't get nearly the information about me as she gets now if he wasn't present. I had no argument with him about that.

A few days ago, I was going through some old stuff and came upon some psych personality summaries from years ago. There were two different summaries that were done when I thought the convent was my calling. As I was reading through them, they pretty much prove Shawn's point. So, at 41 years old, I'm not all that different from my late 20s. That's kind of sad, isn't it? Well, maybe this blog demonstrates some change.

One of the summaries had this to say about my interpersonal relationships:
"In interpersonal relations, she may be characterized as somewhat introverted, preferring privacy to interpersonal interaction. Noteworthy in this respect is her tendency to shyness. She does not easily talk about personal matters and may be hard to get to know except at a surface level. She is a trusting, accepting and accomodating [sic] person who has a great deal of concern and compassion for others. She may have difficulty expressing anger, assrting [sic] herself, or handling conflict. In terms of her current emotional state, she is relatively at ease with herself and will probably be able to tolerate some interpersonal stress."
My biggest disagreement with the above assessment is the last sentence. I honestly don't think I have ever been in anyway at ease with myself. Anxiety has always been more present than any ability to tolerate internal stress.

Holy crap, though, the rest of the above is so much the nail on the head. Over the last week, the topic of anger and conflict came up. Yes, all these years later, I still have a crap ton of difficulty handling my anger and any kind of conflict. These are traits I didn't learn well. As a kid, anger wasn't really something I found myself aloud to express. Conflicts were pushed aside and after enough time passed, life moved on. I tend to feel too much guilt and over apologize just to smooth things over, even if it isn't something for me to feel guilty about or for which I should say that I'm sorry.

The second assessment I found tends to agree with the previous one. I'm going to share highlighted portions. Pronoun usage goes back and forth from 2nd person to 3rd person, so just giving a heads up here.
"PERSONALITY...low on extraversion and low on independence -- shy and unassertive...need for personal privacy...hard to get to know, friendly without being particularly sociable...timid and self-effacing...think poorly of themselves because of their difficulty in speaking up for themselves...effective followers...prefer to take a back seat...compensate by being careful and diligent workers...stresses in their lives...anxious and blame themselves...Persons of this type tend to take on the needs of others and are often easily hurt...too sensitive for their own good."
Perhaps I should have asserted myself more in pursuing some help with this.
"PROBABILITY OF LONG-TERM DIFFICULTY...very low assertiveness and shyness will probably pose problems for her much of her life...lack of natural assertion will cause problems and possibly considerable stress...find it hard to speak up for herself in addition, so she needs to be careful not to take on too much."
Seriously, 14 years after this assessment, I'm still struggling. The next section is the best. Didn't the people requesting the evaluation find any of this worth addressing? Why did I have this summary buried away?
"SUGGESTIONS FOR COUNSELING...Ms. [Me] is likely to be a willing and affable advisee for a spiritual director or counselor, but she will find it very difficult to reveal personal matters. Disclosure does not seem natural for her, but it is important and both she and an advisor will have to work at it. Furthermore, she is introverted in general, not merely with regard to personal matters, almost to the extent of social maladjustment. She likes to belong and to have positive affiliative relationships with others, and she cares about others, but not with the ease that some people have.
"She won't be resistant to suggestions, and will be diligent in carrying out the suggestions that are made and agreed upon. She is thoughtful and perceptive, willing to pursue even troublesome topics, but she will find it difficult to persist with her own views when challenged or pushed. Sometimes people like this, not finding it easy to present their own views, may seem stubborn when holding fast to a point of view out of principle. This is because, lacking facility in assertion, they sometimes fall back into a tenacious stance rather than engage in further discussion."

WTF? I've been my own worst enemy all this time.

Friday, August 12, 2016

A day for ECT and the D-O-G

We are going to be away at the end of the month and Jarvis can't go with us. So, we had to make some arrangements for his care. This has been adding to my regular feelings of stress and anxiety. Today, he had a doggie playcare test run at a large kennel. I was anxious about him doing well there.

Also, this morning was an ECT treatment. We were taking Jarvis to the kennel and then going right to my appointment. Traffic was a tied up nightmare. I was starting to loose my cool as my anxiety about leaving Jarvis was being compounded by my anxiety that we would be late for my ECT appointment.

Traffic was out of our hands, as Shawn kept trying to remind me. He would put his hand on my knee and tell me that being late is something that happens and isn't always in our own control. We wouldn't be the first or the last people to run late. I tried to take that in and breathe out the stress. There was a little bit of getting choked up, but no full on meltdown with tears.

We got to the kennels, got Jarvis checked in, and were on our way. The route from the kennels to the hospital was clear of traffic tie-ups. I started to rest a little easier about running late and was just dealing with other anxiety of leaving Jarvis and my appointment, since it had been about a week and a half since the last one.

Some tears came at my appointment. One of my doctors asked me how I was feeling. That's when I got teary and explained how the morning went. I told him about leaving Jarvis and that it was stupid for me to get worked about that. I said that I was acting like he was my kid. He said of course it's like your kid. Then I added that I was worked up about traffic potentially causing us to be late. At this, he came to my side and said that all was fine because we made it.

So, ECT went as planned and a good chunk of the is a blur due to napping for a bit. But, later in the afternoon, Shawn woke me up for a prescription run followed by a Jarvis pick-up. Jarvis had a really good report card, so I rest easier about his longer stay while we're away.

My day ends with my med cocktail
complete with drugs from my prescription
Jarvis' day ends with being tuckered out
from doggie playcare.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Whistle while you work

This is a little less intense than yesterday's post. There are still tears, but less urge to vomit and less diarrhea.

Since starting ECT, I have stopped working. It was initially going to be a leave of absence, but ended up as a much needed, according to Shawn, resignation. The resignation was a hard pill to swallow, not because of love for my job, but because unemployment does not sit well with me.

Tonight, I was crying as I thought about how I need to get a job for a few different reasons; to make money; to fill my time; to be a grown-up; and, to have a sense of purpose and value. But, I can't get a job at this point in my mental health treatments. So the time on my hands makes me think about wanting a job to take up the time on my hands. Just like the wheels on the bus, these thoughts go round and round.

Something Shawn brought up to me tonight was that I was brought up with a very strong work ethic and that that was a good thing. Now, it's time to be okay with taking a break from working. It's time to recognize I'm not in a place where employment is an option.

So, I'm trying to accept the fact that it's been a few months since I've been whistling and I don't know when I'll whistle again. I do get to look back at a very long timeline of whistling as I worked.

There's helping my parents with volunteering and being a sidekick for my oldest brother on his paper route as far back as I can remember. Then, in 4th grade, I got my own paper route. I delivered the Plain Dealer from 4th grade into college. Babysitting was an added gig once I hit about junior high age. This still included volunteering.

Once high school hit, without giving up any of the previous gigs, I started to work for my city's parks and recreation department; winters at the ice arena and summers in concessions for the baseball diamonds or for the summer day camp.

In college, I eventually gave up the paper route and the parks and recreation gigs. I took a job working at Perkins, which I did along with the Plain Dealer delivery for a little while.

When I graduated from college, I stuck with Perkins while I looked for some kind of degree related job. After a few months, I got a full-time editing job with a legal publishing company. For a little while, I tried to keep my Perkins job on weekends while working my editing job full-time Monday through Friday. But, eventually I had to stop this because it was too exhausting.

My publishing job became my main source of income. I did really well with advancement at this company. It may have been my only paying job, but there was a lot of volunteering outside of work, too. After almost 8 years, I resigned from this job to move to Colorado.

The last 11 years I've been in Colorado. In this time I have whistled in retail, temping, volunteering, and retail again. Until now, as I deal with some pretty major bipolar depression, the whistling has come to a rest.  

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Wishing I Could Just Throw It All Up

As I sit here to write this, I'm dealing with anxiety that has caused me to be nauseous and, sorry for the TMI, to have diarrhea. I'm trying not to cry, yet again, today. This morning already had one ugly cry. And, I can say with all honesty, I do not remember the last tear free day I've had.

What happens is a spiral. It's a spiral of self-hate. I can't get out of my head. Today I even told Shawn that maybe it's time to consider in-patient. I wasn't 100% serious, but there is a tiny part of me that doesn't see things getting better.

My ECT doc and Shawn both talk about the progress they see in me. They are thrilled with me using the treadmill several days a week. Also, they see progress in me for my cooking dinner most nights. For me, the treadmill is just another opportunity for me to run a marathon full of self loathing in my head. As for cooking dinner, I used to be good at being able to time multiple dishes to be ready all at once. Well, now I've gotten good at fucking things up so that pots and pans boil over and other things go wrong.

In all of this, Shawn is my cheerleader. He hates my "I'm a loser" mantra among other things I say in my blubbering, messy moments. He wants me to understand that ECT and meds aren't going to cure it all. He wants me to do more to unlearn all the negative traits I've carried for my 41 years. He'll work side-by-side with me to get through things, even if it is some kind of cheesy therapy activity from my therapist.

There must be someway out of this whole mess. There must be a way for me to get back to some of the better times.

I cried again today.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Crazy Eights

This year we add to our triple 8s wedding anniversary another 8. It's been 8 years since our 08-08-08 wedding.

That day was so great! Shawn and I had a blast and pretty much regret nothing about how it went. Everyone got to experience what I love about Shawn, especially his humor. His vows may have had some laughs involved, but they did demonstrate his loving nature.

We didn't use traditional wedding vows at our ceremony, but those vows have certainly played a huge role in our marriage. Unfortunately, they have been lived out in a lopsided way. Shawn getting the short-end of the proverbial stick when it comes to sickness, for sure.

I love him and am ever so grateful for his love for me.

Friday, August 5, 2016


Obviously, I can't speak for every person who has struggled with infertility. I really get that. But, I can't help but think there is at least a little sting when getting news about someone's pregnancy.

The other evening I got a phone call. It wasn't an unexpected call. The way behaviors were playing out, a pregnancy was not a surprise. And, this is when the sting really sets in and eats away. Like I said, it wasn't all that surprising, but it certainly isn't planned/wanted. Two teenage lives are forever changed. I wanted to have my life changed forever. I was prepared to change my life; to have my life changed.

Hearing that someone got knocked-up is a harder pill to swallow when you are infertile.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

You can say that again. No, really, tell me.

Shawn and I were out and about. We came upon the free-standing strip of businesses in the parking lot of a much larger strip mall. We were on the backside which has a couple of vacant spots. I said something about how I thought the yogurt place was the end unit all the way from front to back. Shawn said no with a little chuckle. I asked him why he laughed. He told me that I had made the same comment not that long ago.

Later, I was looking at a shelf with our collection of POPs:
Me: Who is that next to Iron Man, not War Machine, the other side?
Shawn: Black Panther.
Me: Was he in a movie recently?
Shawn: Yeah, "Civil War".
Me: Did we see that twice?
Shawn: Yes.
Then, it bothered me that I didn't remember these things. I asked Shawn what we were doing when I had brought up the yogurt place the first time. He told me we had tried a new taco place that's in the same parking lot. I looked at him, dumbfounded. I had no recollection of going to a taco place. He told me, with humor, that it wasn't worth remembering.

There is a new series on HBO, "The Night Of". It's a weekly series that Shawn wants to watch. Once again, he puts his own stuff aside because of me. Because of my memory issues, a week between episodes of such a dense series just doesn't work for me. So, instead of just going on with the show for himself, he decided that we'll just wait for when we can watch the episodes back-to-back within a few days. That way, chances are high that I'll be able to remember and follow the show.

I continue to have to ask what day and date it is. The evening before an ECT treatment session, I have to check in with Shawn as to what meds I'm allowed to take. Sometimes, I have left the stove or oven on. A couple of weeks ago, I forgot to put the clothes in the washer when I ran it; the basket was right there!

Lesson learned here: ECT is no joke!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Surprise, surprise, surprise!

In my view, when it comes to medications, it is a good idea to not check the list of side effects. I think, previewing the list of side effects can lead to believing you have them. So, in my prescription drug life, I will look up side effects once something seems to be changing.

Well, my cocktail of 5 drugs for my mental health has been going through lots of adjustments lately. A new drug, not just new to me, but newly issued, had me losing my shit worse than what it was supposed to be fixing. This was after a week of being on it. I called my prescribing nurse practitioner; left a message explaining what was changing; and, she called me back to tell me to stop immediately.

So, a few days ago, Shawn and I had an appointment with my nurse practitioner to check in on how I am doing and make some medication adjustments again. Yesterday, I really started to notice some odd changes that weren't all about my mental health. For one, my vision was getting really blurry, but mostly up close. I thought maybe I was getting to that reading-glasses age. I tried some OTC reading glasses which seemed like they were going to help, but turned out to fail. Then, I talked to Shawn, and we decided it was probably time to get an eye exam.

I also started to have shaky hands the last couple days. Thinking about that plus blurred vision, I decided it was time to look into the side effects. HOLY SHIT STAINS! The crossover from drug to drug is major. To me, it seems that with me being on 5 drugs with very similar side effect lists increases my likelihood of having some of those side effects. And, GUESS WHAT? Blurred vision and shakiness are on a few of the lists. Now, I'm going to cancel my eye appointment and call my psych nurse practitioner to tell her about the blurred vision and shaky hands.

The side effect lists for drugs can be very long and I choose to avoid the power of suggestion that can come with that.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

And now for something completely different

Today's post is an attempt at lightening things up around here. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that it is written by someone else with a sense of humor. It's written by my husband, Shawn. He sometimes writes little stories about his excursions with our dog, Jarvis. Here's his latest piece:
Jarvis and I walk past a women [sic] walking her two tiny dogs. One of them is not at all happy to see Jarvis.
Through all of this, Jarvis doesn't say a word. He just looks straight ahead, pretending not to hear. The little dog keeps it up until we're out of sight.
Me: What was that about?
Jarvis: Hmm? Oh, heh, yeah... we, uh... we had a bit of a misunderstanding once.
Me: What kind of misunderstanding?
Jarvis: Well, I may have mis-read a few signals...
Me: You humped him?
Jarvis: Vigorously.
Me: But he's tiny!
Jarvis: And I have no balls. I can't really be choosy, now, can I?

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My heart will bleed on and on

I woke up a little less druggy this a.m. according to Shawn. There haven't been any tears as of yet. So, I'm not sure if that makes watching a Trump rally right now a wise or poor decision. Right now, I feel like vomiting. I'm not crying or in a rage.

There is no doubt that my heart is a bleeder. I agree with the phrase that I've seen on buttons and bumper stickers which states, "Better a bleeding heart than none at all." Does this make me a die hard Hillary Clinton supporter? Of course not. Does this make me a die hard Donald Trump non-supporter? Of course!

Watching a little bit, here and there, of both conventions, I cannot deny that I identify more with the DNC (#ThanksMichelleObama).

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


My psychiatric nurse practitioner has a reputation for trying her hardest to use the least amount of drugs as she can to treat her patients. I am on more meds than I was with the 3 psychiatrists I was a patient of prior to her. My appointment today didn't change the size of my cocktail. We did change dosages again; some up; some down; some almost reaching maxed therapeutic dose. Playing around with all of this is getting to be frustrating.

These drugs make me groggy at night which carries over to a sluggish, drunkenness the next morning. Add to the mix that I'm easy to tears and there is no way I am ready to be on my own. It is so hard for me to not have my own income and level of independence. I was in the 4th grade when I got my first job, it was a legit job. So, what's really difficult is not having an actual timeline for when I should be able to get a job. How do I not feel lazy while I also feel drugged? It is going to take time, I know this, as difficult as it is for me to accept. In the meantime, I'm a ball of emotions, moved to tears at the drop of a dime.  

Saturday, July 23, 2016

2nd surgeversary

Today marks 2 years since my hysterectomy. I wish my current experience with ECT would erase this entire part of my life from my memory instead of things like date or where the dog park can be found.

My awareness of our inability to be successful with IVF was a couple months prior. My gynecologist wanted me to be completely sure of my decision, as there is no going back. She brought up trying another round of IVF, using a donor egg to implant in me, or using a surrogate. My eggs for retrieval were pretty slim pickings in both quantity and quality so that was out. People were simply missing the boat that, perhaps I was being selfish, my desire was to have a baby with Shawn; to carry that baby made of my eggs and Shawn's sperm in my own uterus.

So, even though the knowledge of my failure to become a woman who could carry her own baby already existed; this date actually sealed that for me. This date marks the time when I lost almost everything. I was gutted; left only with a single ovary.

As this day comes and goes, I try to remember and offer support to those who have gone through the struggle and those who, like my cousin, are in the midst of it. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Trial and failure

As I've explained before, I'm on a pretty significant cocktail of medications plus ECT for my mental illness. This has caused me to be a bit of a guinea pig. So, over the last week, I was taking samples of a new to me and to all my doctors/therapists medication. My prescribing doctor is always good about giving samples to work through things before having to pay for the meds, especially if they are outside our insurance.

I've given this medication a week. The hope was that it would make me a little more clear headed and wake me up a bit. With this change, I would hopefully reduce the amount of another med I've been taking. After a week, I didn't think this was working. I was a huge cry baby, growing as the week went on. I was starting to feel like if I was given the Beck_Depression_Inventory to take, the number would shoot really high.

When changes like this happen, you have to wonder why. What was it that changed in that time? My assessment? This new medication. So, I called my psych nurse practitioner and let her know what was up. Her response, eliminate that medication from my cocktail and we'll go on to our already scheduled appointment next week.

And so, on to the next one.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Up in a puff of smoke

When I was a teenager, I was a social smoker. My BFF made this easy for me and made it easy for me to pass off the smell when my parents questioned me about it. I was always able to be casual about smoking and never purchased packs of my own. By the time I got to college, I was a little more active with my smoking. The increase in stress in college had me seeking out the calm that smoking always brought to me. But, I still never considered myself a smoker; I still wasn't buying cigarettes regularly.

Spring 2003 came along and so did my diagnosis of my first major depression. And, the purchasing of actual packs of cigarettes. I was pulling into gas stations to take advantage of the BOGO (the savings would make my dad proud...ha) on my favorite brand. I would step outside with coworkers for some of the most calming and anxiety reducing times of my life. I was also smoking in my car and out with friends. My psychiatrist said at one point that with all I was going through with my depression and anxiety, trying to quit smoking was probably too much more than I could handle. I milked that for quite some time. At different points, I was able to cut back, but I basically held onto that idea until 2009.

These days, I'm really struggling with being a non-smoker. I know that studies have revealed that cigarettes do not relieve stress and anxiety. However, in so many ways, on so many days, I felt the most calm when I was smoking. Shawn and I watched a show, "Stranger Things", on Netflex the last couple of days. Very many characters smoke on the show. Watching this show has increased my urge for taking a seat on the front steps with a cigarette.

Alas, it's not healthy for me, and, I'm unemployed, so I can't afford a pack.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Pokémon Go check yourself before you wreck yourself

This week I saw my psych nurse practitioner for meds, who made some changes to my scripts. I also saw my therapist for some typical talk time. Then, I capped it off with my psychiatrist who does my ECT. Not a single one of them recommended "Pokémon Go" as a solution for what ails me.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Don't let me go retail again

I'm pretty sure I would have had pretty shitty scores on the Beck Depression Inventory all the way back in the 3rd grade. Perhaps even earlier. Feelings of anxiety were already building stronger and stronger.

In high school, I doubt people really would have pegged me for suffering anxiety and/or depression. At least, those who did, didn't really do anything about trying to get me the help I needed.

When I got to college, holy crap, anxiety was strong and mighty. I was an English major who was working toward certification in secondary education with the Department of Education. The Beck would have set off all kinds of red flags for sure then. There was a lot of bullshit going on at home with my younger brother and his education at the same time I was doing field work at a local high school. I was in full "HOLY SHIT! WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING?" mode. So, I withdrew from the certification program just a course or two before I was to start student teaching. Went on to finish up college with a BA in English in 4 years.

I had that degree and worked at Perkins with no idea what to do with that degree since I didn't have the teaching element attached. A want ad crossed my way. I filled it out, tested, interviewed twice (painfully so), and got it. I did well with the job, but that Beck Depression Inventory would have been very high. Honestly, I feel the urge to vomit whenever I think of my interviews and some other speaking engagements required of me. Otherwise, I did pretty well.

When I met Shawn and things got serious enough that I needed to move cross country, I would have liked to keep my job somehow in a telecommuting position. That didn't work. Finding something similar, also didn't work. So, I moved with nothing lined up and hit the online want ad sites.

Finally, I caved to retail. I went to Barnes & Noble because I thought being a bookseller made some kind of sense. They quickly promoted me to a lead position in the bargain section. Next, I was made manager of the cafe. I hated being in management. I also didn't respect my managers. Retail made me truly unhappy. Things came to a head and I decided, with Shawn, that it was time to quit. Quitting without notice was nothing I ever expected I would do. The actions of the store manager with a cafe employee just made me too mad to report to her another day.

At this point, I went on to a temp agency to see what I could get and perhaps develop into a regular gig. My lack of confidence was strong and anxiety was heavy on me. Thankfully, in this time, Shawn and I got married. He still wanted to go through with it and still loved me. The best part of all I was going through.

After the wedding was over, I was having a harder time with the temp placements. My bleeding heart took over and my wish to change the world was weighing heavy on me. I ended up at an Obama campaign office. I was doing data entry and office management tasks. Calls and canvasing were not my strong suit because of my high anxiety. That ended up being okay. Obama won and my work was done.

So, I went back to retail. I applied at Old Navy and was hired. Their product really fills my closet, so I thought it was worth applying. Again, another horribly, anxiety filled interview actually lead to a job. My advancement through the company was quick. My stress, anxiety, depression related to the job moved quicker. I loved merchandising. That's all. I hated any of the management shit I had to do, I hated the back-to-school season and the holiday season black-outs for taking time off. If I could just build displays, that would have been okay with me. I became an assistant store manager and that killed my self-esteem, that made me hate my job and my self. One day, I decided to step-down. The store manager was kind enough to get me a transfer so that I wasn't out of a job completely. I was transferred to work shipment at another store.

I haven't managed to figure something else out for myself. This has put my Beck results through the roof, higher than ever. ECT and a huge medication cocktail have become my life right now. This has me freaking out. I worry that I will be back in retail or food service. My loved ones and mental health professionals tell me that I don't need to figure out a job right now. I wish it was as easy as they are trying to make it seem.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Survey Says...

Each Electroconvulsive Therapy procedure has Shawn and me arriving at the institute at the hospital. He sets himself up to either work on work, read, or just goof around on his phone. I start the process of checking in by filling out the Beck Depression Inventory (similar to this). Then, whichever nurse assigned to me comes with my three pre-ECT drugs. After that, I sit and wait to be called back when a bed came available.

Once I head to the back, I get my last chance to use the bathroom and my hospital gown. After leaving the bathroom, I head to my assigned bed. This is when my mini mental exam happens. Something so easy which can be so stressful. When I was learning about ECT, short-term memory loss was explained as a side effect. These mini mental exams are a way of accessing memory loss. The nurse kicks it off asking me for "the date; day of the week; season of the year?" Then, "what building; floor; city; state; country;?" Next the nurse says three words for me to repeat back. After that, I'm given a word to spell backwards. This causes me the most anxiety. I'm not a great speller forwards, so backwards is not fun. The spelling is done and then I'm asked to repeat those three words from before. Ugh! Lately, I manage to only remember two of them. That's a wrap on that little exam.

I've been able to pass the little memory exam except for a struggle with the last part with the three words. But, I can tell my memory is suffering. The other day, in the car, I asked Shawn where the park we take Jarvis to was located. Then, I had a picture on Facebook of me at Denver Comic Con in which I'm sitting in a replica of the throne from "Game of Thrones". I have absolutely no memory of doing this. Other memory things, too, like leaving the oven or stove burners on. So, the memory loss is no joke. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Where did he come from?

Back in April, I started my acute ECT. So, 3 days a week of Shawn driving me and taking care of me afterward. He loaded me up in the car and then got me home and to bed.

He has been working from home this entire time. I am so thankful for his company being so supportive. I still cannot drive. Also, I haven't been released to being on my own for long periods of time. He can leave me for a couple hours at a time. How does he do this? I haven't been the best girlfriend/fiancée/wife through the 13 years we've had together. Now, I am so entirely dependent upon him and he just steps in and handles it.

And now, tonight, he adds to his amazingly selflessness by helping out a friend (more of an acquaintance) move a couple of things. Since I can be by myself a couple of hours, he offered to do it. It isn't this guy's full moving day. He just needed a couple of people to help move a couple items. So, he takes a break from babysitting me to help an acquaintance move a couple of things.

Really? How does someone so giving exist? How did I get this person as a husband? Will I be fortunate enough to keep him?

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Please, something, work for me

I am on a pretty significant cocktail of medications for my mental health. In the prescription drug category, I have 5 drugs for mental health and 1 drug for thyroid. Then I take vitamins and fish oil as OTC supplements.

Then, ECT is added to all of this. Right now, we are working on once a week, down from 3 times. I just don't know what to do with all of this. I'm not sure the one time a week is really going over that well.

All of this is making me so dependent on Shawn. I mean more so than just being a married couple. I have no income and fees are being taken out of my checking account because of lack of usage. He is taking care of me on so many levels. I fear something happening to him and my having absolutely no clue what to do about anything. It all weighs heavily upon me and I don't know what to do.

Drugs aren't enough....I need them to do more for me...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Why, oh, why?

Well, it was back in April that I started ECT. Now, the ECT journey is only one day a week, typically. It's a Monday thing. With this change comes the change of medications. The hopes are that ECT will have rebooted my brain to accept medications better. I'm not feeling it.

Last week, I quit my job. I've been away from it during all of my ECT treatments since April. Shawn is all for me quitting. It wasn't a huge career for me. It didn't bring in loads of money.

Here is where the worst of what is wrong with me pours all around. I don't know what to do with myself; where am I supposed to go from here? Anxiety has taken hold and it isn't letting up its grasp. What kind of job am I really meant to find? Where do I go for a place to earn an income that will have flexibility? What will happen with Jarvis if I'm working full-time?

So many things I used to do are no longer on my list of things to do. I have coloring books and a coloring page-a-day calendar that I was really active with, but now, I hardly touch them. Walking Jarvis on a really long journey was also on my list of things to do. Now, taking him on walks backfires to too much time in my head. That time in my head is a real downer. I get really sad about not having any idea who I am, what I am meant to do.

Why should I continue to be?

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


Things are not going well. We've played around with bi-lateral and uni-lateral ECT. We've introduced Ketamine. I can't handle all of the magic-less bullets. Today, I had an appointment with my psychiatric nurse practitioner to review meds. We haven't been meeting during my acute ECT rounds because meds can interfere. Now, we are going to put meds back in and see how things go. I NEED things to improve.

I really need this to well enough that side effects don't make me feel worse somehow.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The writing on the stall

Years ago, when I was still living in Cleveland, I experienced a low point in my reputation as a bleeding heart. I was working for a publishing company at which a male coworker was transitioning. The "T" of "LGBTQ" was smack in front of me. I wish I would have handled myself better at that time in my life.

I honestly don't know why trans issues have been more difficult for me to express tolerance. Seriously, as I think about that time of my life and look at the hate bills in places like North Carolina, I feel a sense of shame. Why was it such a big deal around my office? Did it need to be? I think maybe things could have been handled differently to help everyone with the transitioning. The thing is, I don't know how. With legal rights and political correctness, maybe things just weren't set-up for a successful handling of such a situation.

Guilt plagues me to this day. Was I petty? Mean? Yes. Mean girls don't stop being mean once they are out of school. Do I wish I would have been a nicer person? Yes. But, I'm not going to pretend that I would like to have befriended her. I didn't like her. That is part of my problem with guilt. I need to realize that it was okay for me not to like her. The dislike wasn't because of her being trans, it was because we just weren't a match. I need to acknowledge that we weren't friends because it wasn't a fit, not because I was a bigot, anti-trans, bitch.

When it comes to public restrooms, it's entirely a matter of trust. I'm an in-and-out ASAP user. People are pigs and public restrooms are the their sties. All that matters to me is getting in, doing my thing, and getting out. This is my hope for how others view the experience, too. My same office where I worked with the trans woman, I experienced shit smears, used tampons, and other messes. THOSE are the things I don't want happening when I'm sharing a bathroom with people. I can tell you people in the office who did not wash their hands when finishing up in the bathroom. Those were the people who I didn't want to touch food they brought or I didn't want to hand off a visiting baby to because they were disgusting.

Michelle Duggar and other hyper-conservative-anal-retentive-sexually-stunted-types want to to turn the bathroom issue into being all about sexual perversions. It's NOT FUCKING SEXUAL. It's, hey, I just need to drop a deuce or take a piss. The other stuff, gay or straight, pedophilia or consenting adults, is not supposed to be happening in public restrooms at all. PERIOD. So, those laws/ordinances already exist. The ego of people who think that other people are obviously looking to have sex with them or their children and loved ones is mind boggling to me.

Guess what, Michelle? You have already been in restrooms with trans people. I'm willing to bet on it. Oh, and how'd those bathroom rules work at your house with your kids? Maybe it would be best for you and yours to get a gig with Depends to protect you from those scary public restrooms and get you some income since the T.V. series kind of fizzled.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Third Treatment Eve

I wish I was writing to say that this has been an amazing week of amazingness that has me filled with all kinds of joy and optimism. My first treatment left me feeling physically beaten up. I came out of anesthesia with some violent flailing of my arms and legs. There is just a brief snapshot of the faces of the staff trying to speak to me.

Each session starts with me filling out paperwork. Paperwork wanting to know just how shitty I feel about myself at that moment in time. So, pretty shitty is how that works. Then, I get asked some other questions. What's the date? Where am I? City? State? Country? What treatment am I receiving? I'm also given three words to remember and after other questions, I have to list back what the three things are. I couldn't tell you all six things from this week so far. I think a tree and a shoe and maybe a basket were involved.

Things are surreal. I'm in bitch mode today. Jarvis got yelled at because I didn't have patience for his wining at me as I sat on the couch. He didn't deserve that. My fear of actually just being a horrible person are building stronger.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

And there goes that

Our loan for my infertility treatments is now paid off. Yep, I have a similar thought about it as I had about paying off my student loans, "Well, that was a lot of money spent on a whole lotta nothin'."

In other news, ECT starts Monday. Not sure how I'll be while going through all of it, so I'll post updates here if anything remotely interesting happens.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Help me help you to stop not helping me

I am not sad. My experience is not some Facebook-sad-face-emoji post. This isn't a bad day or a bad few days that will blow over.

I also don't claim to be some kind of depression Lorax. I speak for me.

So, telling me about the importance of a positive outlook is not helpful. Posts with mountain vistas or sunsets or waterfalls that have inspirational messages about tomorrow being better are actually very close to being counterproductive for me. Why? Because I am not sad.

My iTunes has R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" that should help me to understand that I am not alone. I also have "Carry On" by FUN, which can really pump me up like some kind of anthem to inspire a positive attitude. Sometimes, I do listen to these songs and others and have a nice moment. But, again, this doesn't help. Why? Because I am not sad.

The things I've mentioned, again, speaking only for myself, can seem like wrapping "suck it up" or "get over it" with some warm fuzzies to make it seem helpful. I feel a tremendous amount of pressure when I hear these things. It's like everything is so simplified that I feel worse for being a failure who can't just read some meme and go, "YES! Why I haven't I thought of this? I just need to change my attitude!" It adds more "proof" to my stockpile of evidence to just how much I suck at life.

I am not sad. This is very important to understand.

I am not sad. Sadness can be rational. Depression cannot.

No sad-face emoji here.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Everything is wrong

Today is the worst in a long line of bad days. I have lost all control of emotions, rational thought, and even some bodily functions. I have a ping-pong match, pinball machine, and a handball game all taking place in my head with nothing to slow them down. This is not a joke.

There is nothing that is working for me today.

My ECT is to start the week of April 18th. Right now, I am completely honest in that my hopes for it to work are not high. Statistically, the odds are in my favor. However, someone has to fall into the fail rate in order for there to be those statistics. In this moment, I believe I will be one of those statistics.

If ECT does not work for me, I don't know what that will mean.

Friday, April 1, 2016

I love April 1st

This is one of my many loved pictures of my husband. I can't handle the cuteness. His little fists curled up like he's going to burst with excitement.

Today is Shawn's birthday. Yes, April Fools' Day. Because our relationship started with snark and sarcasm, I didn't believe him when he told me he was born on April 1st. But, he was and he is anything but a fool.

Well, unless you count his being a fool in love. BA DUM TSS!

Seriously, he is no fool. He is self-taught in computer programming and has made his career in software development with all that he's learned. As I've written before, he is an inspiration with his courage to follow his dreams.

I love him. Loving me has not been easy, I know. We've been together a little over 12 years. Those twelve years have been, not a roller coaster, maybe more of a tornado or hurricane. He is my constant when my winds of fury storm through our lives. When depression weighs heavily upon me, and therefore on him, he is able to keep grounded. Now, as we prepare for my ECT to begin, he is able to look for hope when I can't. When the idea was thrown out there for me to get this treatment, his reaction was, "Okay, if this is what can make things better than this is what we need to do." When I start to get anxious about how I will need an around the clock babysitter as part of this treatment, he is there to say that it will all work out; he will work from home if that's what it takes to get me better.

I'd like to think I would have the strength to be for him what he is for me. I hope I would.

I love you, Shawn. Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

My birthday buddy

Today would have been my Grandpa Kendel's 105th birthday. January 11th marked 30 years since he passed away. It's strange how time passes and suddenly catches us unaware.

My Grandpa Sawhill had died before I was born, so Grandpa Kendel was the only grandfather I had ever known; and that was for such a brief time. I turned 11 a couple of months after he died.

This picture is one of a handful in which we are celebrating our birthdays together. Mine being on March 24th and his on March 30th meant combined celebrations. That didn't get to happen in 1986.

I think of him often. More so now, I think, when I see my dad. My dad is "Grandpa Kendel" to my nieces and nephews. He has now lived to be older than his parents got to be. Again, the passage of time hits you hard.

Now I'm 41 and I've had many more years without my Grandpa than I did with him. It makes me sad sometimes when I try to remember him. It's like he has become a bit foggy in my mind. I try to think of his voice and I just can't get the sound right. I remember getting excited when he was going to be coming over. He was THE ONLY person I have ever known to smoke in our house. And, this meant getting out the ashtray to put by "his" chair in preparation of his arrival. Then, I would sit on his lap and he would let me "blow out" the flame on his lighter. To this day, when I smell Winston Lights, I think of him.

I learned about soft serve ice cream coming in a twist because of him. You would have thought he invented it with how fascinated I was by it. I ended up preferring chocolate on it's own when I grew up, but occasionally I can go for a twist in memory of him.

Thirty years is a long time to miss someone. I wonder what he would think of the world today. How would he feel about all that has changed in his beloved sport of baseball? What would he think of how we all turned out? What would he be like as a great-grandfather? Who would be sitting on his lap to "blow out" his lighter when he lit his cigarette? Heck, would that still be a thing he could get away with doing?

Lots of questions without answers. But, I have no doubt that I was loved and that I loved him.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Must love dogs

I'm all for raising awareness. Sometimes, I like to think that my posts about my struggles with depression, anxiety, and infertility do some of that. In this age of technology, so much information is made available. Some of it is good and some not so great.

It is not a surprise to me that people need all different forms of information. But, I have to say,  this video promoted by the World Health Organization really bums me out.

I get it. It's a simple cartoon that may draw someone in and possibly help him/her get an idea of what depression is like. It is clear to me that my over sensitive side may be creeping into this.

It really bothers me that something I take so much comfort from can be used as representation of depression. I love my dog and I know many people who love dogs....many depressed people who seek comfort from animals.

Then, the creator had to make it a black dog. Many people are aware that black cats are often ignored from rescue shelters. Well, black dogs of pretty much any breed tend to be ignored when people seek out dogs for adoption.

Basically, I just don't like a black dog becoming a synonym for depression.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Another year, another tear (who'm I kidding, a bunch of tears)

I'm in the midst of one of the worst weeks of the year for me (the other is around Christmas/my would-be due date). My birthday week brings with it the anniversary of failed fertility treatments. Some of you may be thinking, "Ugh, this again. Get over it." And, I get that; I have those thoughts sometimes myself. BUT, I can't get over it. For whatever reason, it sticks with me and it always will be a part of my reality.

This week marks 3 years; three years that the bleeding started that marked the failure of the embryos to successfully attach to my uterus. It marks the failure of all that we put into the entire process.

ECT won't take this away.

The other day, I saw something with a woman who had a baby talking to another woman who hadn't had a baby yet. She told her about how you think you are in love with your husband before you have kids. She then said that that feeling of love is nothing compared to how in love you will be with your husband once you have a baby together. This hit me really hard. I know, I'm a hot mess and a lot of things get to me, but that is how I am. It hit me because it got me thinking about my love with Shawn. We will never have a baby together. Does this mean our love is stuck at some base level? Am I unable to maximize my love for him because of this?

Yes, this woman's view of love and becoming parents and whatever shouldn't carry this kind of weight for me. It shouldn't, like a lot of shouldn'ts in my life, but it does.

Maybe ECT can help take this away.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

And I wonder....

Starting to wonder if I have it in me. I think about how I'm just tired, so tired and now we'll be adding a new level of exhaustion. With the ECT comes anesthesia. Three times a week of being put under. I have had 5 different experiences with being put under and I'm not the best at coming out of it. I mean, groggier than most and slower.

I also can't help but wonder how I will be after. Not the initial coming to, but the longer term. What if I don't know how to be different than I am now? What if it simply doesn't take? What if I'm stuck where I am?

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Memory block

So, one of the side effects of ECT is some memory loss. If I could select what would be permanently erased, it would be:
  • The Liam Neeson/Claire Danes version of "Les Miserables"
  • "Lost"
  • The series finale of "Dexter"
  • Stupid, embarrassing things I've said and done (I don't mean the ones with important lessons attached)
  • The George W. Bush administration
  • This election year, including the post-ECT parts
Seriously, though, what I really wish it could do is completely wipe out all of the fertility stuff.  All of it; every ultra sound; every injection; every internal exam, etc. And, most of all, the desire to have had a baby. The internal ache I feel about the emptiness. The conversations and questions and advice from people about all the other ways I can become a parent. The guilt those conversations make me feel because it feels like judgment cast upon me. Judging me as selfish for wanting to have a baby that was biologically mine with Shawn and carried by me and birthed by me. All of this is the memory loss I would choose. It's what I wish the electrodes could sense and erase.

The memory loss, though, is not the kind of eraser that I'd like. It's more of a short term loss. Like, I might forget how to get to the Safeway for a minute. Or, some of the longer term things could be somewhat fuzzy. It's rare for there to be significant loss, so, I'll still have to deal with all that baby shit...and not the kind in a diaper.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

My reality right now

Thursday, March 10th, was my consult with a psychiatrist who does ECT. Shawn was with me and I never could have made it without him. It was a long appointment, almost 2 hours of just talking. Talking about my history and more about my history and more about my history. Then, the talk of the actual ECT. The benefits, risks, and how it all works.

I came home with lots to read, tests I have to have done, swabs for my mouth to send off samples for genetic testing which may reveal some things about my fucked up brain chemistry. All of these things are still sitting on the kitchen table.

This psychiatrist isn't sure if bipolar depression is the right diagnosis, but he's not convinced major depression is it, either. It seems like, because of this, it may make me a better candidate for ECT. But there is so, so much for me to process about all of this.

This shit is real. It's no joke. I won't be able to work; I won't be able to do much of anything; I won't even be able to be left alone. This could mean more than 2 weeks without working (believe me, I don't love my job, but I don't get paid time off, so this will suck). The doc actually expects for someone like me to need more than 2 weeks of treatments. But, not only does this impact me and my work, I also have to have a babysitter. How is that all going to work? Especially if I end-up on the longer end of things, like 5-6 weeks.

On top of everything there is to consider and understand, there is simply me, my reality; my shame; my wanting to be okay with this; my wanting to raise awareness in others so stigma can be removed; my struggle; my desire to be "normal".

Here's some info from a reputable hospital:

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Edgy, Concerned, and Tense

Thursday morning is my appointment for an ECT consult. I realize it is just a consultation which has no obligation for treatment. It is still causing me a lot of anxiety.

I find myself wondering if maybe I'm making all my angst up and that I am just a lazy and miserable human being. Then I think that maybe this is too extreme and I just need to do more about my meds and therapy. I think about it not working and the side affects and on and on. The worst, though, is probably the odd fear of what if it does work...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Exiting Crazy Town

I have debated about writing this post, but I've not held back on my health, mental and physical, thus far. Stigma sucks, but it's real and needs to be addressed.

Yesterday was my monthly psych appointment. This is the medical, not the talk therapy shit. I've been bouncing around meds for years. Some help me for long stretches, some make me worse, and some just don't do anything. The last few months things have been bad, baaaaaaaad. At my appointment, I sat down and said, "I'm tired. Not just physically. I'm tired. I'm tired in every way possible. I'm sad and then I'm pissed. I wanted to run over some teenagers who were being punk ass teenagers. I flip people off. I'm angry at work. I get angry at Shawn. I get mad at Jarvis. I'm done. I'm tired." Doc looked at me for a minute.

Then, she brought up ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy). Asked me what I knew of it. Of course I go right to "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" even though I know it is not like that now. I've read about it before, but never talked about it with any of my doctors. She went on to explain things about it and to say that she never expected to bring it up in that appointment until I sat down. I sat there just kind of dazed. Thankfully, Shawn was there to actually pay attention to things and ask questions.

So, shit is getting real. I'm trying to process it all and decide where to go from here.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Hanging on

I was hoping for more relief by now, but that hasn't happened. Things haven't improved and may even be worse. The medications don't seem to be the right mix or dosage. I don't know. My next appointment is Wednesday. The struggle keeps getting realer.

Monday, January 25, 2016

I am still here

Things have been bad. I'm not going to sugar coat it. I've been dealing with some major SSRI withdrawals, at least that's what the doc thinks.

Basically, I feel like a pinball game of emotions, mostly rage. My fuse is short. Bruce Banner hulking out makes so much more sense to me now.

So, I've avoided blogging out of fear of venting things that I won't be able to take back...even if I were to go back and remove the post.

Someday I should be back to write again.

Friday, January 1, 2016

With locks and locks of love.

Back in the summer of 1999, I was at a wedding and had one of those moments in which I felt like a total ass-hat. One of my brother Mark's best friends was a groomsman along with my brother. Frankie was Frankie and on his motorcycle in his tuxedo with his goatee and crazy long hair. I'm not talking about his awesome hockey hair mullet of his youth. I can remember my eye-rolling thought of, "Really, Frankie? That hair?"

Later that evening, my sister told me that she had been talking to him. He told her that he was planning to donate some of those locks. In that instant, with that piece of information, I had that moment when "Don't judge a book by its cover" really hit home. It was an epiphany for me; a mirror being held up to show me myself and put me in my place.

And, that was when I decided to follow Frankie's lead. For almost 17 years now, I have gone through the cycles of growing and donating my hair 5 times.  As 2016 starts, I have decided I would make my 6th and final donation. With that, I decided to go big and not just chop off some hair. 

On June 2nd, 2006, Frankie Soltesz died in a horrifying and sudden way. For many people, the news story of his death was the only way they "knew" Frankie. Fortunately, I was witness to the real Frankie. He was truly the best friend a person could have and I'm grateful he was that for Mark.

Every donation I have ever made was done with Frankie on my mind and that lesson about not being so quick with judgment and criticism.