Thursday, January 26, 2017

It's like a needle in a basilic

I just got back from getting some routine blood work done. It's just another part of having a mental illness. Things like levels of some of my meds in my blood are monitored. Today, I won the HOLY FUCK, I HATE THIS award by having 6 vials drawn.

Being tattooed, I'm sure some of my other inked friends can relate, people don't understand how I have issues with blood work, blood donations, and IVs. Well, here's the story. When I get a tattoo, I don't even see the needle of the tattoo gun. Well, most of my pieces are on my back, but the pieces on my forearm I could watch. Anyway, we're not talking about a long, thin, metal, tube being shoved deep in my vein. I don't have to fear the way I move my arm or hand because an IV all up in there. Then there's the awesome experience of blood work and blood donations where my freaking blood is being sucked out of my body. I DON'T need to see that. NOPE!

So, not all needles are the same.

Monday, January 23, 2017

IMHO

I have been almost 100% free of most form news and social media from Friday through Sunday. Seriously, I don't think I spent more than 15 minutes total. My time was spent watching three different Marvel Netflix series and "Her Majesty, Mrs. Brown." All of it is too much.

Seeing as this is my blog, many things posted are in my humble opinion. Two things have weighed heavily on my mind; the use of "Hitler" and "Nazis"; and 10 year old Barron Trump.

The first thing, which I may have written about before, has bothered me for years, long before Trump entered the political realm. I wish that people would stop using "Hitler" and "Nazis" to describe someone or some group with whom they disagree. I try to catch myself. I'm talking things like "grammar nazi", "femi-nazi", or calling someone like Trump "Hitler".

These things insults victims, survivors, and those who fought in the Holocaust. Until one of these things selects a group of people and orders them to wear a symbol on their clothing and live in ghettos, orders death marches, loads trains to take people to concentration camps, sends people to gas chambers, starves people, shoots a group to fill mass graves, and any other of the horrors of the Holocaust that I may have forgotten, they are not a "Nazi" or "Hitler".

Don't get me wrong, however, there are some people in more recent history who I would not argue with being labeled "Hitler". First there is Idi Amin, President of Uganda in the 1970s. At first he chose the Acholi and Lango ethnic groups to be massacred. Then he moved on to almost every other type of group of people who may be against him in some way. Another example is Slobodan Milošević. He was brought to trial at The Hague for genocide; complicity in genocide; deportation; murder; persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds; inhumane acts/forcible transfer; extermination; imprisonment; torture; willful killing; unlawful confinement; wilfully causing great suffering; unlawful deportation or transfer; extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly; cruel treatment; plunder of public or private property; attacks on civilians; destruction or wilful damage done to historic monuments and institutions dedicated to education or religion; unlawful attacks on civilian objects. That list, I believe, makes him "Hitler" worthy.

The second issue I mentioned is 10 year old Barron Trump. I've heard that some insulting comments have been making their way around social media. The idea that someone would think that's okay boggles my mind. When Chelsea Clinton was the first minor child to inhabit the White House since the Carter administration, people were brutal toward her, mocking her appearance. Why do people think this is okay? A minor child, who in no way chose to be in the public eye, is off limits. I don't like Trump. I'm not okay with him being president. If you want to call him an asshat, douchebag, motherfucker, that is one thing, but leave his 10 year old son alone.
 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Like a good neighbor, Nana was there

Today is my second oldest brother's 45th birthday. It would also be the 110th birthday of our neighbor at our parent's house. I can't think of one without the other.

Mrs. Finnegan was known to us as "Nana". She was the epitome of great neighbor. It was the classic "borrow a cup of sugar" relationship. But actually more than just a neighbor. Nana really was like a grandma to us. For example, she filled in at "Grandparent's Day" at school.

When I was really young, probably kindergarten aged, she introduced me to the wonderful world of coffee cake. I would make regular visits to see her and get Brach's butterscotch hard candies. We had quite the times together.

By the time my younger brother came along, Nana had moved onto handing out gum. She also abetted him, unknowingly, when he was young and got into some trouble. He and a friend decided it would be a great idea to throw rocks at passing cars. Well, one car came back. His friend took off toward home and my brother ran into Nana's backyard. Nana was back there and my brother asked her not to tell where he was hiding. It turned out, Nana thought he was in the midst of a game of hide-n-seek. When she saw who was "seeking" him, she realized he was in some trouble.

On January 16th, 2006, Shawn and I happened to be in town for a visit. We went over, with some other members of my family, to see Nana for her 99th birthday. She made some comments that Shawn should move back with me from Colorado. My memory is a little fuzzy, but I'm willing to bet my Dad had the traditional Twinings Tea, I believe English Breakfast, and Queen Anne Cordial Cherries. Then, we took some pictures.

Shawn and I went back to Colorado right after seeing Nana on her birthday. In February, when I was back in CO, my mother called with terrible news. Nana had fallen and things weren't looking good. This woman who, at 99 and legally blind, was still living on her own. My mom and Nana's family were regularly checking on, but she did maintain independence. My parents were included with the family at the end.

I will always be grateful for having that last birthday visit with Nana Finnegan.  


Thursday, January 12, 2017

"What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?"

I find the show, "Sister Wives", fascinating. Now, I think the husband/father is kind of a dorky guy and makes me wonder how 4 women married him. But, seriously, the show is like being in a sociology class. The family is a polygamist fundamentalist Mormon sect. What really draws me into to viewing is how liberal they seem. They are so far from Warren Jeffs and his Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints with the women in "Little House on the Prairie" dresses and braided hair.

Anyway, the last two weeks have been about the coming out of one of the oldest children as a lesbian. She has always been one of the more religious of all 18 kids. She went to religious schools all the way through college. She was also one of the kids who at one point considered living polygamy. She talked about how she had thoughts and feelings that she tried to push away because of what the church she was a part of had to say about homosexuality. But, she came to a point now that just freed her to be herself and therefore come out to her family. Watching the reactions of the family to her news really touched me. People were supportive in a way that I wouldn't expect from their religious beliefs. Her biological mom had a tough time with it, but even in her struggle, she was far from showing anger. I cried while watching it, not that it takes much for me to do that, but because I found myself relating to it on a certain level.

So, here goes a post that I've gone back and forth about writing. It's a tough one and I've written a lot of really self revealing shit on this site. I'm not even going to say that this post "might" bother/anger/offend some people because that seems like a guarantee. Should I apologize in advance? I'm supposed to be sorry for my life, my reality because it doesn't match up with what others may expect? I just can't do that, so here's my story.

I come from a Roman Catholic family with 5 kids. I'm the fourth. Starting at a young age, I was pretty much the most conservative Catholic of the 5 of us.

When I was really little, I was the only one of the kids to go with my dad to weeknight mass. As I grew up, in junior high, one of the sisters told me she thought I'd make a good nun someday. Then, I went on to the expected Catholic high school. I got really involved with peer ministry, a group of kids at the high school who organized retreats and masses and other religious activities. And, as soon as I was old enough, I became an eucharistic minister so I could distribute communion. I started to go to weekday morning masses at my parish before heading to school. I would distribute communion at those masses. I was also involved with a retreat group at a neighboring parish where I would give "witnesses", which were talks about personal faith experiences.

Then, I went to college, the only college to which I applied. It was an all women's Catholic college. It's where I started to meet with one of the sisters of the community of sisters who were the sponsors of the college. They were the same sisters I had at grade school and high school. While in college, I went on a trip to visit a couple of the sisters at the Diocesan Mission in El Salvador.

After college, I went on to get a job at a legal publishing company. But, I continued to be active in the Church. I got involved with helping to run a youth group at my parish. I also became a member of a board for the Diocese that was focused on social justice. At one point, I made another trip to El Salvador for the commemoration of the 20th Anniversary of the rape and murder of 4 churchwoman. Then, the second half of the trip was spent with one of the sisters at her mission site. My conservatism did cause a little trouble between me and one of my brothers. He and his girlfriend got engaged and were not actively practicing Catholics, but wanted a Church wedding. This pissed me off and I stopped talking to my brother. The priest they were meeting with for pre-marital counseling was a friend of mine. He told me that I should not shut off my brother and that I should see this time as a possibility for my brother to return to actively being a part of the Church. So, after about a month of not speaking to my brother I went to his birthday party and renewed our relationship. Through all of this, I was continuing to pursue a life with the religious sisters. The day after my 28th birthday, March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation, when Mary said yes to being the mother of Jesus, I entered the convent...

In the first few days in the convent, I lost over 5 pounds. Things were tough and I was struggling, but I was doing what I was supposed to do. Then I stopped running after work. I'd go to my room, see my running shoes, see my bed, and opt for the bed. I kept trying. The sisters who were my head contacts were doing their thing to work with me. Someone gave me a copy of Who Moved My Cheese?, a self-help book about adaptability and facing fears. It asked, "What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?". The answer came easily, but it surprised me all the same. "Fall in love." Fall in love? With a man? Not a common aspiration for a nun. But yes, the desire was clear. I wanted to fall in love.

Of course, I ignored it as with many things. I really tried. Time went on. Things got more difficult. I was at my parents' house for a visit. We went to Sunday mass. At the beginning of the mass, the little kids are called forward to be lead out to hear the readings and the Gospel at a child's reading level. As the kids were walking out, I watched them and got this sadness about them being lambs' to the slaughter. I turned and walked out of the church and walked home to my parents' house. I was a mess and my mom drove me down to my spiritual director. It was an awkward meeting and I don't really remember the exact details. I ended up back at the convent.

I went on another week; trying and trying through each day. I was cussing out the crucifix in chapel. Then, I went to my parents' house. I got into my old bed, in my old room, with blinds and curtains closed. Then, my mom came in and told me she made an appointment for a psychiatrist. He was an old, Irish, Catholic, retired military, FOX News in the waiting room, psychiatrist. Sounds like just the guy I needed to see. That very first visit, he said that I needed to get out of the convent as soon as possible and got me started on some meds.

I let the sisters who were leading me know that I was leaving. My mom and I went and moved me out ASAP. The shrink got me going again. I was addressing my mental health issues. My Dad is quite silent when it comes to really emotional matters and I had to talk to him. With all that was going on, there was something with my dad that was also in the back of my mind. When I was in junior high, one of my cousins told me that my dad only wanted three kids, I'm the 4th. I said to him, "I am sorry if I am the biggest disappointment of your life" and he looked at me with so much shock. He said to me something like, "No, I can't believe you would think that. All I want, ever want for my kids is for them to be happy." I was free. I was an atheist.

After about a month, I went to see the sisters that were my leaders. It was just a kind of final meeting to end things. In that meeting, one of them pointed to the crucifix and said that that was real suffering and nothing I experienced could compare.

That sealed the deal. I was finally where I was supposed to be. I was at peace. I was an atheist.

As I continued through therapy and looked back upon my life, there were a few times when my faith doubts popped up and I just tried to quash them:
  • Making my First Communion, I remember being disappointed that something magical didn't happen after I received Communion and that disappointment would show itself at other times
  • Listening to all the retreat talks from the groups I was a part of in high school and wondering how these people had such deep experiences
  • Taking a Philosophy of Religion course in college that really rocked my faith to the point of taking one of my books to a priest with whom I was somewhat close. He gave it back to me with a message like, "Yeah, I don't know. I have nothing."
  • Other here and there twinges
  • The entire convent experience I wrote above
The shrink, once I was out of the convent and medicated for the depression and anxiety I had (of which, once I looked over my life, I also could find examples of), wanted me to try things I had never done. He thought I should try dating. So, thanks interwebs, I started to go on some dates. WOW, what an experience some of those evenings were. 

Then, October was creeping up and that meant my BFF's wedding. My psychiatrist was like, "Weddings are good places to meet people.". I was like, "Yeah, whatever."

Then October 10th, 2003 brought about the wedding rehearsal; a good place to meet people. All of the bridal party was gathered in the church. --- "What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?" --- There was Shawn. ---  "Fall in love."  




Sunday, January 8, 2017

I'm a real salt of the earth gal

My med cocktail is made up of 7 different meds and supplements. One med is for my thyroid. Then one OTC is for my vitamin D deficiency. I also take another OTC, Fish Oil, which is for a myriad of things, including psych problems. Every psychiatrist I have ever seen has prescribed it. The other four prescription meds are for my psych issues.

One of my meds is 900mg Lithium Carbonate Extended Release. This is a pretty traditional medication for Bipolar. I have never been on a drug like it. That's partly because I was misdiagnosed for far too many years. This is the medication in my cocktail from which I feel the most side effects.

With Lithium, I have to have blood work done because its levels need to be closely monitored. It requires A LOT of water drinking. I was a big ice water drinker before. Some of my former coworkers can attest to that. Now that I'm on lithium, I have to drink half my bodyweight in ounces. Yeah, I need to work on that bodyweight thing because holy crap, it's a lot of  water. It's also tons of peeing. Yep, I said, lots of pee.

The water thing is because I'm taking lithium salts. Yep, if you didn't know, lithium salts are in the medication. I have to keep hydrated because of that. The sodium levels in my blood are important to control. This part of being on the medication causes me to wake-up with salt crystallization from my drool. It's a very attractive look, but most of it forms on my cpap mask, which is another very attractive look.

Another issue I have is occasional hand tremors. This can be such a pain in the ass. Many times, I cannot take a one handed selfie. I know, it's heartbreaking. Also, using one of our tv remotes can give me trouble sometimes. The cursor feature which is used to work the tv menu has a wheel to click for making selections. There are times when I have to use both hands to steady myself for choosing an option. Other times, I get too frustrated and just give up all together. Lately, I've been thinking about painting my nails like I used to, but I'm just not sure I would be successful with it. Obviously these are not important life issues, but it still sucks.

Finally, I can tell when I didn't drink enough water in a day. A couple hours or so after taking my evening dose, I start to feel really weird. It's so hard to explain it. A strange inability to sit still with an odd lack of control of my body. Sometimes I have an odd feeling in my chest. There have been times when I have felt like I might need to crawl my way to bed. Once I'm able to lie down, it seems to help me feel better.

I'm not sure why I felt the need to write this. Part of me thinks I wanted people to know what we go through to help "fix" us.  


Sunday, January 1, 2017

2017

On November 30th, Shawn made a Facebook post about trying to bring more positivity to newsfeeds. It seemed like so much negativity was being spread, especially since the election, that he was just getting fed up. So, his idea was to do the opposite of 1984's "Two Minutes Hate" and make #TwoMinutesLove posts.

I decided I would do one of these posts every day of December. One of the posts I actually shared here, too. It was the one about my mother. This project was a challenge some days. Sometimes I didn't think I would manage to eke one out. My regular blog readers know how/who I am.

Perhaps I will do an occasional #TwoMinutesLove Facebook post if the mood strikes me. But, since I have this actual blog, I was thinking I should try to post here more often. It is a new year. I no longer am going for ECT. My memory should be improving. So, hopefully 2017 will bring posts about the good more often and less about the bad and the ugly.

We will all have to wait and see.