Thursday, September 3, 2020

In a World

You know when you see a movie trailer and it starts with, "In a World" being said in a dramatic voice?  It's not usually they kind of thing said before a rom-com. So, the 2020 was to be a movie trailer, it would most certainly start with "In a World".

In a world where a president fails his country by not addressing the heads up on a virus, over 180,000 people have died.   

In a world where a president contradicts all the safety precautions to help lower the spread of the virus, 6 million cases have been reported.

In a world where a president "doesn't see" a report that Russia was paying bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops, American troops were killed.

In a world where a president says there were good people on both sides of an alt-right rally, the floodgates of racism burst open.

In a world where cops and racist civilians are killing POC, Black Lives Matter.

In a world of all these things, stress, anxiety, and depression can really take over. It seems hopeless.

But, in a world where a stepdaughter is pregnant, a baby boy will be born, and hope and love will rise.

Monday, August 10, 2020

TSK...The Black kids have the worst lunches

I've been watching interviews of Cori Bush lately. She's a nurse, single mother, ordained pastor and community activist. She just won the Democratic party's primary for US Congress in Missouri's 1st District. It's a huge win. 

Her interviews point out aspects of poverty. She talks about her own experiences with poverty. This is the topic of her platform. She talks about the cycle of poverty and how it is so difficult break from it. At one point she talked about food insecurity. As I listened, I thought of an experience from my college days.

One summer when I was in college, I worked for a summer day camp. No big deal, nothing fancy. It was part of the city's recreation department's summer programming. I like to think the director was ignorant, but I think she may actually have been racist. 

Some days we went next door to the city's pool. As the kids would get ready, I would help them with sunscreen. This included the African-American kids. In a snippy way, she asked me why I was doing that? I told her the kids still need protection from the sun. They can get sunburn, it may just take longer, but it can still happen.

Then, there was the time she made a snide comment about the differences in the lunches the African-American kids brought and the lunches the white kids brought. She thought it was terrible how unhealthy the African-American kids' lunches were. Therefore, the parenting wasn't as good. She needed to hear about how finances make a difference in groceries. The best options for healthy food cost more. Sugary "juice" drinks are cheaper than real juice. Produce is more expensive than chips. It's unfortunate, but is the reality some people live with. This food issue can lead to poor health, which is just another part of the cycle of poverty Cori Bush has as her campaign platform. 



Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Peanuts vs. Jelly Beans

In fall of 1980, I started kindergarten. I was a 5-year-old. It was an election year. The Republican Ronald Reagan was running against the incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter. Scholastic News had ballots for us to use to vote. They were pictures of each candidate. We had a booth to cast our vote. It was a "brick" cardboard play house. Each of us took a turn to go in and put the picture for our candidate in a box. I don't remember who won and I don't remember who I voted for, perhaps Jimmy Carter. I was 5, what did I know?

Around the time I was casting my vote, Jimmy Carter was signing the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980. The MHSA was to set up grants for community mental health centers. Their was a movement for rehabilitation of people with sever mental illnesses in the 1970s. The focus of the movement and the law were on the same page. So, community health systems worked to coordinate general health care, mental health care, and social support systems. I didn't know this when I voted in kindergarten because...well...remember I was 5-years-old.

Thirteen years later, I was just out of high school. I went on a service trip to the intercity of Cincinnati. It was about 10 days of living above a storefront with a bunch of teenagers and some adult leaders. It was incredibly eyeopening. We did various jobs. I was at a soup kitchen. It was like nothing I ever experienced. We had speakers who worked in different ways with the poor and homeless. We went to hear one person and that's how I learned about the floodgates of mentally ill persons being released from hospitals. A year after Jimmy Carter signed the MHSA into law in 1980, Reagan repealed most of the law. So, mental health care saw major cuts. 

This changed my view for the rest of my time in Cincinnati. There was a park in front of where we stayed. Lots of homeless were there. I talked to one man who was a Vietnam vet. It was obvious he really could have used help. He showed me the scar from his sternum diagonally down his left side around to his back. Much of what he talked about didn't make sense to me. If I knew about PTSD back then, I would guess that was one of his issues.

Many at the soup kitchen were surely suffering from some mental illness or other. One day, a woman came through the line. She was wearing a purple fishnet shirt. That was it for the top. No regular shirt. I didn't know what to do. I wasn't sure where to look. I mean, we talk to those who come through the line. It would be weird if I ignored her. She did the talking and moved on through.

In both kindergarten and the summer after graduating high school I wasn't aware of my mental illnesses. Now, I've been living with it, in good times and bad. So, it is a very important issue for me.

Looking at the two presidents and at an area that is very important to me, I'd like to think I went in that "voting booth" and voted in the interest of my future self. I'd like to think I voted for peanuts vs. jelly beans, that I voted for Jimmy Carter. 

Thursday, July 9, 2020

Can’t we all just wear a mask?

I was speaking with someone of the belief that masks don't really do anything and should not be forced upon anyone. The "you do what makes you comfortable and I'll do what makes me comfortable" point of view. There seemed to be the idea that mask wearers were mean toward those choosing not to wear them. They were being picked on by those in masks. I pointed out that it wasn't like the reverse wasn't the case. Right in front of her people were calling mask wearers "assholes" and "sheeple" and whatever else. 

I decided to point out what I see is the importance of wearing a mask. There was an attempt to explain that wearing a mask isn't for your own benefit but for the benefit of others. I said that I wear a mask because my 83-year-old dad who has diabetes and end stage liver failure would die if he was in contact with COVID-19. This wasn't a situation of he could, he would. The response was that she wouldn't be around my 83-year-old dad. I'm not around him, either. He's in Cleveland. This was meant to make a point and I guess I made too much of an assumption about that point being understood.

So, here's the deal. I wear a mask because I have many family and friends who fit into one or more of the risk areas for contracting COVID. They are people with COPD. Some with diabetes. I mentioned end stage liver failure already. There some who are obese (yes, myself included). Someone I know is pregnant and she is in a state that is way out of control with the number of cases and deaths. I know people with asthma. There are people in my life who have an autoimmune disease, such as Sjogren's Syndrome, for example. I know someone with Crohn's Disease who had a proctocolectomy and an ileostomy and now lives with on ostomy bag. I know someone who came through having COVID, but now her lung capacity is not what it was. She now has a difficult time doing the singing she had so enjoyed. 

I don't wear a mask literally for the people I've mentioned. They live all over the place. I'm not in close physical contact with all of them. I wear the mask because those people have health issues that are found in other people all around me. I'm sure the person I talked about in the beginning has people like these in her life. 

I wear a mask; Shawn wears a mask; other people we know wear masks. We all wear them to protect others from ourselves. Why is it so difficult to reciprocate?

Just wear the mask. Wear it without needing a government mandate. I wear mine for you. Can't you wear one for me?....or, if you don't like me, wear it for someone else who needs you to, someone you love.

Monday, June 22, 2020

There must be someway out of here

Anxiety has been an issue for me as far back as I can remember. There's the whole having a tummy ache every time we ate at a restaurant situation. Then taking a standardized test in 3rd grade and almost peeing my pants because I was afraid to ask to go to the bathroom. We were told there could be no disruptions. The list goes on all the way to this very moment.

I was thinking about all of this today while talking to my therapist. A lot of the situations when anxiety kicked in had to do with making an exit. I was looking for physical exits. But, also looking for how I would excuse myself; how to leave.

A couple weeks ago, when I was already in bad shape, there was an event at work. I wasn't going to go, but a friend was going to be in town and would be at the event. COVID issues were certainly on my mind, but that really wasn't the biggest cause of stress. I was anxious about being around a lot of people and most of them being strangers. I had my usual anxiety induced talking too much. I started to think it would be a good time for me to leave. Then, of course, a storm blows in. Major rain and win causing people to come inside. So, the crowd anxiety grew. I was parked in a field and trying to get to my car through the wind and rain didn't seem like a good idea.

There I am, my exit plan foiled. 

I ended up staying much longer than I intended. A little ceremony started and that sealed the deal that I was going to be staying. 

When that ended I tried to make my move. I knew it was about to get bad. And...I get stopped by a couple of coworkers. They wanted to get a group picture since my friend was in town. I was having a hard time getting out of this conversation. I kept feeling like they thought I was being a bitch because I wasn't wanting to stay. I could feel the anxiety welling up and exiting through tears. They know I'm pretty strict about masks and distancing, but that wasn't what this was about. One said that we could do one the next time my friend visited. I was on the edge of full on crying. I wanted her to understand that it wasn't a mask issue or a being too close issue. This really was, strictly about my general anxiety issues. 

I leave the building and there is someone I really needed to say goodbye. She was right there, otherwise I wouldn't have sought her out when I was such a wreck. But, she was there. Then I went to my car and was able to get relief. 

I made my exit, in one of the worst ways possible for me, but I got out.

Things need to get better as my last entry shows. Things need to improve. But, I can't force things to happen. My head doesn't work that way. Until everything is figured out, I'm stuck in this hell in which I'm pulling back, isolating, and avoiding.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

I'm bad, but not in the good "Bad" way

I'd say it's been a month of dealing with the mess of mental illness, probably longer. I've pulled back, retreated, isolated and not for COVID. The world is, in fact, too much and I can't tell you how this ride is going to go. This is going to be a trip in my head as it has been recently.

I'm afraid, like seriously afraid of 45 winning in November. I'm not thrilled at the idea of Biden, but I would say, "President Biden" with ease. I don't think I've actually ever referred to 45 as "President". I'm concerned the Bernie people will do a protest "vote" by not showing up and, therefore, voting in the incumbent. 

I'm surprisingly not as scared about COVID as people think or expect. I'm just frustrated that there are people who aren't taking it seriously. I'm also annoyed that wearing a mask is such an issue. Just wear it. Protect people, loved ones or not.

So, Shawn kind of put a suggested ban on me watching MSNBC. 

That stuff is so minor compared to how really bad things are.

I don't want to leave the house. Not because of COVID. I don't want to go out except when I walk Jarvis. I have to really work on convincing myself to do it. I put everything off. I need Shawn to be with me. I suck it up for work...that's because Shawn and Jarvis coming to work with me didn’t work out well. We thought Jarvis would love to have a yard to play in, but he knew I was in the building and that didn't work for him. Shawn takes me to the bank. He goes grocery shopping with me. The anxiety is so much. We shopped at Costco the other day and I cried in the Fish Oil section because none of the brands had the right potency. And, if I bought enough to make up the difference, the cost would be too much.

I get my shit kind of together to do work, respond to work emails, update our account on a pet search site. Otherwise, I don't communicate much with anyone but Shawn, Jarvis, my mom, and my BFF - Shawn and Jarvis being the most. I just can't right now with so many things.

My bedtimes vary. Super early some days and really late on others. I sleep late and stay in bed a lot.

The anxiety is terrible and the meds aren't working. A change to the meds is being worked on. As many who deal with mental illness know, med changes are tough. They can take a long time to start working. It can be a couple months. I'm not sure I have that in me right now. 

Shawn is amazing. He is super talented and I'm not going to deny that I'm jealous - or envious - whichever sounds less like an asshole. He just has so much going on in his life and that's not including taking care of me.

I used to be proud of myself, I think. Maybe I just used to be less hateful toward myself. I had a real, significant income that helped us out. I mean, I was making double payments on our fertility treatments to get them paid down as quickly as possible. Now, I can't imagine what I could possibly do. 

I cry. I cry about all the things. I can't tell you what it will be about. I mean, I cried in public about Fish Oil. I cry at TV shows and movies. I cry taking a bite of dinner. I cry in bed while using my coloring app on my phone. I cry when I fail at something, like spilling something. I cry at moments of pride about Conner, so that's kind of an okay thing to choke up over. I cry.

Lately, I've been thinking that ECT fucked me up. That it made me worse. My anxiety leads to vomiting and diarrhea (TMI?). I don't remember that before. But, I don't remember a lot of things from that time. 

My avoiding messages and not being active on social media is not you, it's me. It is really me. I can't handle myself right now and so I can't handle things and people outside of myself. I'm sorry if that is hurtful, but truly, I mean it, it's no you, it's me.

I don't know when I'll be back. There is so much more to everything in my head than what I've written here. Too much, really. I need to figure things out.

Monday, June 8, 2020

My independent study is in session and my white ass is in attendance

I know a lot. I did well in school. What do I know the most? That I don’t know a lot. 

With all that has been happening for countless years to People of Color is, for me, something I only know the tip of the iceberg about. For me to know, for me to understand, the onus is on me to learn. I need to read. I need to watch. I need to listen. 

POC have been teaching me for years. Not holding a class and teaching me as their student in a classroom. They have given me every opportunity to read, watch, and listen and it’s up to me to take note. It’s up to me to join their journey, not as a leader, but as a follower as I continue to learn and then side-by-side, perhaps. Moving always while watching and listening. 

Listening is an important word. I use it instead of hearing. Hearing is passive. I can hear things without having to pay attention. When you listen, you are active; you are parsing the words being said. That is important. I can hear “Black Lives Matter” and it’s just three words, three sounds. When I listen to “Black Lives Matter”, I start to think about what that means. And, when I move from listening to learning, I come to understand what is meant by the phrase. Also, I learn just how many don’t understand. 

I’ve also learned that being “color blind” is not what many POC want to be told. When someone says they are “color blind” or “don’t see color,” it can be an attempt at trying to say we are equal; you are just like me. Well, the way of the world right now shows we are not equal, that’s the problem. And, even if we were living under circumstances showing us to be equal, we are not the same. I want my white, freckled skin to be seen just as I want my black freckled friend’s skin to be seen. The array of colors we have all evolved into should be celebrated, not supposedly unseen.