Saturday, December 24, 2011

I Hate the Holidays

I hate the holidays.  I don't merely find them stressful or tedious.  I truly, madly, hate them.  I have hated them since I was about nine years old.  Several things happened when I was nine that changed my life forever -- and definitely NOT for the better.

Anyway, from the time I was nine until I was twenty-five, when my mother finally died late on Christmas Day, the holidays were an absolute horror for me.  I hated all the fuss, all the stress.  I hated having to interact with an extended family that made no secret of their disdain for me.  I didn't like them either, but I at least didn't talk badly about them.  Not then, anyway.  Nowadays, I have no problem expressing how much I disliked them.

After my mother died, things got a little better.  I felt no obligation to spend the holidays with those who would enjoy my absence more than my presence.  I still hated the holidays.  But now, I didn't have to pretend to enjoy them.  I could growl at the Christmas decorations in the stores.  I could not buy a single present for anyone other than myself.  I could spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone with a good book and a cup of mulled cider.  I was not happy.  But at least, I was alone and didn't have to hide my unhappiness.

Gradually, as the years passed, I began to be a little less stressed about the holidays.  I managed to make friends with a few people who actually liked me as I actually was.  They made it their purpose to create happy holiday memories for me.  I still didn't like the holidays, but they did succeed to such an extent that I no longer found myself growling at the Christmas decorations in the store.  Those few years between developing those friendships and meeting my husband were probably the least stressful holidays I ever experienced.  I wasn't alone, but nothing was really expected of me either.  I could just be myself and hang out with my friends.

Then I met my husband.  I love my husband.  If it weren't for him, I probably would have committed suicide years ago.  I even like most of his immediate family.  I love his sister like the sister I wish I had had growing up.  I adore his father.  I even like the man his sister is marrying this spring.  He and I are developing a very nice friendship.  His mother... well... you know what they say about mother-in-laws.  She doesn't like me.  I don't like her.  I try and be polite to her.  She finds ways to subtly and not-so-subtly insult me.  However, she could be much worse.  So I can't complain too much.

His extended family isn't that bad either.  I don't have much of anything in common with them, but they are friendly towards me, and I try to be as friendly to them as I can be.  I'm just not naturally a very sociable person.

However, because hubby does have a family -- a family that is as into celebrating Christmas as most American families -- I am expected to participate in the Christmas madness.  If I don't go to family Thanksgiving and Christmas parties, then hubby is pestered with questions of where I am and why aren't I there, which puts a lot of stress on him, and consequently on me.  (He doesn't "take it out on me" or anything like that.  It's just that when he's stressed -- especially when he's stressed because of me in some way -- it makes me feel bad.)  However, if I go to these parties, I have to pretend to enjoy them, which puts even more stress on me.  So, no matter what I do, I end up stressed.

And then there are the traditions of his immediate family.  His mother is very religious.  She demands that the immediate family go to a Christmas Eve church service -- despite the fact that no one but her really cares about it.  I was raised Christian, but now have very negative feelings about anything to do with organized religion.  I hate going to that church service.  I am being hypocritical. I do not believe.  I am putting on the appearance of belief in order to propitiate hubby's mother.  And no matter how much it disturbs his mother, I simply cannot take communion.  That would not just be hypocritical on my part, it would be a profanation of a symbol that the rest of those at the church truly believe in.  I simply can't do that.  I may not believe, but I do not want in any way to degrade the beliefs of others.

Finally, there is the Christmas morning giving of presents.  I actually like giving presents.  I like shopping and finding things that I think will make people happy.  I tend to buy lots of presents.  However, no matter how much I enjoy giving presents, mother-in-law generally finds some way to make the gift exchange stressful and unpleasant.  She subtly insults the giver's gift acumen.  She talks about how sister's fiance' isn't really part of the family.  She insults the way I dress.  She always finds some way to insinuate negativity into the situation.  The one part of Christmas that I might possibly be able to actually enjoy, she manages to make frustrating and tense. 

It is now officially Christmas Eve and I am dreading the upcoming 36 hours.   I wish I could just spend the time with my husband and with the people that I actually like.  I know hubby loves his mother.  Despite the fact that she frequently makes him miserable in various ways.  She's his mother, and despite her many faults, she does love him.  So he has to love her.

She has breast cancer.  She's had the surgery and she's undergoing chemo and things are going as well as they can be.  But the fact that she's sick is making my husband extremely stressed this year, and is bringing up all sorts of negative memories in me regarding my own mother's very long term illness.

You're not supposed to speak badly of someone who is bravely struggling against cancer or any other life-threatening illness.  Even if you don't like them, you're supposed to be all supportive and everything, and I just can't be.  I've never liked her.  I didn't like her before she got sick, and just because she is now ill does not make me like her.  It just makes her presence even more stressful for me.  I hate this.  I hate this.  I hate this.

I can't wait for the holidays to be over.

I hate the holidays.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

So much for all those years of therapy paying off.

Today something stressful happened to me, and I had a huge panic attack. For once, the thing that set me off would have even upset a normal person. I actually had a reason to feel distressed. Of course, I didn't just feel distressed. I had a huge fucking panic attack.

I totally freaked out. I couldn't breathe, my heart was trying to beat itself out of my chest, my blood pressure rocketed to the moon and my head felt like it would explode. And while I was going through all of this, I had to try and fix the problem that had caused this panic attack in the first place. Which meant dealing with people.

As you know, even when I'm at my best, I don't deal with people all that well. I really tried to not let my panic attack affect my communication with the people I needed to talk to to fix the problem, but I'm afraid I wasn't completely successful. I ended up yelling at someone over the phone and sent some emails that maybe weren't completely polite.

Fortunately, the situation was resolved very quickly. And I really appreciate how helpful and competent the people were who fixed things. Even though to me, every moment that I was waiting for things to be resolved felt like hours.

After the problem was corrected, and I had checked over the emails that I had sent and determined that although they were a bit abrupt, they weren't all that bad, I was still in really bad shape.

I went out back and spent time with my critters, which can usually calm me down. It helped, but nothing was going to stop my body from the physiological over-reaction it was engaged in.

For several hours after everything was resolved, my heart was still pounding, my blood pressure was still spiking, I was still having trouble breathing and I had the most intense stress headache. I was also crying uncontrollably. Not huge wracking sobs or anything like that, just tears dripping from my eyes and the occasional sad gasp.

And in case you've never understood why women love their cats so much. As I was laying on my bed crying, several of my cats came and rubbed up against me or curled up next to me. One even licked the tears from my face.

I know that though the thing that happened did deserve an emotional response, it did not deserve this extreme anxiety reaction. I knew that even as I was panicking. But did it help? No.

This is my life. Even when I know that my reactions are far beyond what they should be, that doesn't change what is going on. Knowing that you are over-reacting and not being able to stop it, just makes things even worse.

This is why I am a recluse. I am incapable of dealing with the everyday stresses that normal people encounter in their every day lives.

I thought that limiting my interaction with the outside world by creating an online identity or two that only dealt with the rest of the world through cyberspace would protect me from these kinds of stresses. It does limit them, but apparently, it cannot completely prevent them.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Allowing Myself To Feel Negative Emotions

I was working on my computer today when something happened to upset me. I immediately tried to quash my feelings of distress, telling myself that I had no real reason to be upset, and to just ignore what I was feeling and get back to work. Then, miraculously, I realized how unfair I was being to myself.

I was feeling what I was feeling. It didn't matter if the reason that I was upset was a good reason to be upset or not. I was upset. And I had every right to be. No matter what the cause for the distress was.

Instead of continuing to berate myself, I told myself that I was allowed to feel upset, and I gave myself the time to accept my emotions and work through them, instead of just trying to deny that they existed.

And the pride that I felt for actually noticing that nasty little psychological habit of dis-allowing negative emotions, and nipping it in the bud, helped counteract some of the distress that I was feeling.

I guess all those years of therapy are finally paying off.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Lie And A Dream

My husband lied to me on Wednesday. It was a lie of omission, but it was a very important omission and a nasty little lie. He did it to manipulate me into doing something that he knew I would not want to do if I knew the truth.

I feel so betrayed. 

He's lied to me before about little things. Mainly things to protect his own feelings. (He obviously doesn't feel the same way about lies that I do.) And I've let him get away with it. Because they were little things, and I could tell he was lying, and I thought he could tell that I knew he was lying. I guess maybe he couldn't. And so he thought that lying to me this time wouldn't be a big deal.

He was wrong.

I was FURIOUS. So furious that I could barely speak. My body was shaking and my throat was so tight, I could barely breath. My eyes burned and watered and didn't want to focus properly. My heart beat so hard that every pulse hurt. My mind might have been able to rationalize what he had done, but my body knew that I had been betrayed and responded with a massive panic attack. It took hours for my physical symptoms to calm down.

I'd trusted him. I'd trusted him more than I have ever trusted anyone else in my life. I thought that he would always look out for me, the way that I look out for him. I used to feel so safe and protected with him.

Not anymore.

Lately, I haven't been feeling safe and protected at all. In fact, I've been feeling sort of neglected. And I told him so several weeks ago. I told him that I felt that he had given up on me. That because my problems hadn't magically gone away simply because I was now in a loving relationship, that he had simply given up on even trying to help me when I was in one of my funks. He apologized and insisted that he hadn't given up, that he simply didn't know what to do to help me.

I don't expect him to “help” me. At least not in terms of healing me. But he used to give me lots of emotional support and attention when things were bad, and even though that didn't heal me, it did make me feel better. Now, I feel like he just says the words he thinks he should say, but he doesn't really mean them. He's just going through the motions. It doesn't feel real, and it leaves me feeling even more hopeless.

And now, he has betrayed me. 

This is only the second time that we've really fought in the eight years that we've been together.  My husband is generally a good man and usually there is no need to fight. If we disagree about something, we simply talk it out.  If it looks like it's going to be a real problem, I usually just give in.  I don't like fighting.  It triggers my anxiety attacks.   But this time, I was not going to just give in.  It wasn't a simple disagreement.  He used a lie of omission to MANIPULATE me. He KNOWS how I feel about manipulation.  And he did it anyway.  To get something that HE wanted, without any regard to my feelings.

I feel so alone.

Last night I had a dream that Foxfire, I and some older man were part of a military excursion in a middle eastern country. The man was in a big truck, Foxfire was driving a truck and horse trailer and I followed behind them on a little motor scooter. As we were leaving the place we'd spent the night before, I told them that I needed to fill up my scooter because I was on empty. But they didn't hear me, and they didn't stop.

I rolled my scooter over to a makeshift little booth that had a gas pump and started to fill it up. Then I realized that my purse with my id and money were all in the truck with Foxfire. I apologized to the woman running the booth, and told her that I didn't have any money, that my companions had taken everything I had and left me behind with nothing. She kindly allowed me to finish filling up my scooter, saying that surely they would come back for me, and I could pay her then.

I waited and waited, and they never came back for me. However, a group of Australian men and women showed up and they paid for my gas and hung around with me, waiting for my people to return. When night came and still no one had come back for me, they allowed me to bunk with them in the large crowded room that they and a number of middle easterners were sharing for the night. As I lay on the floor, one of the men in the group, curled up next to me and held me, comforting me. I had been feeling horribly alone and deserted by my husband, and this complete stranger made me feel safe and secure.

And then, of course, the middle eastern army attacked the building, looking for the Americans who had been there earlier. All the middle easterners that had been sharing the room with us ran out a window and were mostly killed. The Australians and I hid under the bunks. The man who was holding me protecting me with his body.

The next morning, we looked out the window and saw that the little booth where the woman had been so kind to me had been completely destroyed. Probably because she had helped the enemy American. I felt horribly guilty that her business had been ruined because of me.

And then I woke up.

Not exactly a subtle dream. My sense of self has been taken from me. I feel empty, abandoned and alone and must depend upon the kindness of strangers for my well-being. However, anyone who helps me is put in danger and/or destroyed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I am feeling very rejected today. Not dejected, rejected. A website that I visit daily and in whose forums I regularly participate, posted a request for articles to be published on its site. They said that they were “desperate” and that they would accept “anything”. Wanting to be helpful, and also wanting to get something that I'd written published on a “real” website. I edited and revised a couple of things that I'd posted on another blog that I had just started which dealt with issues relevant to their site, and sent them in.

I felt happy and confident, because for most of my life, I've been told that I'm a good writer. I'm not a very entertaining writer, but I can write clearly and efficiently. And the articles they wanted weren't just for entertainment, they wanted informative articles. Explaining things in written form is something that I thought I was good at. In my past, I've actually worked professionally as a technical writer and editor.  I thought that they would like my articles. I was looking forward to seeing them published.

And then I got the rejection notice.

Despite all their pleas about how they were “desperate” and would accept “anything”. They rejected me.

That really hurt.

They did give a very brief explanation of why they couldn't use my articles. But that didn't make it any easier. I know that I am overly sensitive to rejection. But it doesn't matter if I know that I shouldn't take it personally, it still hurts.

I hate feeling this way.

Damn you for rejecting me and making me feel worthless.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Midnight Panic Attack

I woke in the middle of the night last night having a panic attack so bad that I was literally shaking. I crawled out of bed and downed a valium as quickly as I could, then crawled back into bed and lay there hoping the valium would kick in soon.

I don't know why my anxiety attacks are so much worse lately. My mother-in-law was recently diagnosed with breast cancer, but it didn't seem to affect me that much. At least not consciously. I was more worried about providing emotional support for my husband than I was about my mother-in-law's illness. It sounds heartless to not be worried about someone with cancer. But I grew up knowing that both of my parents and my brother had terminal diseases. (Turns out my brother's wasn't terminal after all, he's still alive and kicking, but one of my cousins did die from the same thing.) I think my parents' long term illnesses and eventual deaths wore out all the circuits in my brain that are programmed to worry about parental illness. Or maybe somewhere deep deep inside I am worried, but it's just not making it to the surface of my thoughts. Who knows.

Or maybe the anxiety is simply about my husband. He is emotionally torn up about his mother's illness. He is also stressed about being emotionally torn up. I've tried to tell him that it's normal to be upset, but he keeps beating himself up about over-reacting. Personally, I think that he's handling it extremely well, but it's what he thinks that matters. I just try to be there for him. Which means I'm back to hiding how badly I feel so as not to put any more stress on him.

Someday I'd like to run around screaming at everybody, telling them in graphic detail exactly how miserable I am. I suppose this blog is my more subtle way of doing that. I may not be telling the people in my life, but I am telling someone. Even if they are complete strangers.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bad UMPA's, Broken Sleep and Suicidal Thoughts

My Usual Morning Panic Attacks have been worse than usual lately.  Instead of waking up with a somewhat elevated heart rate and a vague sense of dread.  I've been waking up with a pounding heart, shortness of breath and the absolute conviction that I would be much better off if I could just go back to sleep, preferably for the entire rest of the day.  I don't know what's caused my UMPA's to become worse.  There is nothing particularly stressful going on in my life right now.  I was under a lot of stress during the jousting tournament, but it's been almost a month since that event.  It's more likely that the bad UMPA's are related to me not sleeping well for the past several weeks.

I've always had sleep issues because of my non-24.  But ever since I gave up trying to keep to a regular 24 hour sleep schedule a couple of years ago, I've actually been sleeping pretty well.  I'm completely out of sync with the rest of the world, but I've been falling asleep when I go to bed and sleeping through the "night".  Lately however, even though I've still been falling asleep pretty quickly, I haven't been staying asleep.  I'll wake up after three or four hours and have problems getting back to sleep.  And even when I do manage to get back to sleep, I only sleep for another  three hours or so.  Even combining the two sleep sections doesn't get me up to my usual nine hours of sleep.  This has been going on for several weeks, and I'm getting really, really tired.

I just want to sleep.  A nice, solid, restful, nine or ten hours of deep peaceful sleep.

But lately, even when I get  eight or nine hours of broken sleep, I still don't feel rested.  I wake up tired as well as terrified.  It's exhausting.

And, of course, my depression is acting up as well.  It's not the worst it's ever been, but I have been having fairly regular thoughts of suicide.  I've been calmly trying to figure out what method of suicide would be the least traumatic to those left behind.  Debating who I should write letters to and what I should say in them.  Even thinking about what kind of memorial service would be nice.  That last one's new.  I've never really thought much about what would go on at my memorial service.  I've always made it clear that I would prefer to be cremated, but that I didn't really care what happened after that.  I'd be dead.  The memorial service is for the survivors, not for me.

But lately, I've been creating song lists in my head, and wondering if it would be completely inappropriate for me to leave a letter telling my husband and friends that I would really prefer it if they danced and ate good food and told funny stories and tried not to be all mournful and depressed.  There was enough depression in my life.  I'd like to think that in my death, I could finally escape it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

If I had...

If I had but a single bright seed of hope, then this dreary drudgery would not feel so futile.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Put On Your Happy Face

When I was in junior high and high school, as soon as I got home from school or from whatever after school activity I was engaged in, my mother would ask me about my day. If I said anything negative, anything about the kids at school picking on me or not getting the part I wanted in a play or that I had a headache or whatever, she would proceed to lecture me on how good my life was and how much worse other children had it and how I should be grateful for all the wonderful things I had. My mother taught rhetoric and oration, she was a very persuasive speaker. And since I wanted to be a good daughter, I would listen to everything she said. And her telling me that feeling any negative emotions was a form of selfishness and that allowing myself to feel bad made me a bad person would literally tear me up inside. Because I did feel negative emotions. The other kids did pick on me, rather viciously at times, and it hurt. And I naturally felt disappointed when I didn't get something that I had tried really hard to achieve. And I did get headaches, rather severe headaches. (I found out much later that they were migraines.) I know now that her lectures were a form of emotional abuse though I didn't realize it at the time, and even if someone had told me my mother was abusing me, I wouldn't have believed it, because I LOVED my mother and I KNEW that she loved me.

And maybe she did love me. She probably did. But it was a very conditional kind of love. If I did what she wanted me to do, she would give me her approval and some limited affection. But if I ever “disappointed” her, she would withdraw all approval and affection and lecture me about how I was being lazy and selfish and a generally bad person. I dreaded those lectures more than I have dreaded anything else in my life before or since. In her defense, when I was in grad school, she told me that her father was physically abusive to her mother. He was possibly abusive to her and her brothers as well (though I don't know for sure). So she didn't exactly have the greatest role models for parenting. But for whatever reason, she was extremely emotionally abusive and it left some very deep scars.

But as a child, and even as a young adult, I really, REALLY didn't want to disappoint my mother and receive one of her lectures, so I developed what I called my “happy face”. Every day, when I got home, before I went inside, I would stand outside for a few minutes burying any negative emotions deep inside myself and creating a contented persona for her to interact with. This persona had to be more than a thin mask. My mother was a smart, perceptive women, and in order to fool her, I basically had to turn my whole body into a puppet that could convincingly portray the good daughter that she wanted me to be. It was a lot like acting in a play. But in some ways, it was also like intentionally developing a split personality. A “happy face” personality that I could use to protect my real self from my mother's attempts to create the perfect daughter through emotional manipulation.

Admittedly, everyone has to pretend to emotions that they don't feel occasionally. Some people find it easier than others. And some people are better at it than others. However, despite my years of experience at pretending to be someone other than I was for my mother, I never found it easy. I hated it. I just wanted to be myself and be loved and accepted for what I really was rather than for what I pretended to be. However, because of those years of experience, I am very, very good at pretending to be happy and social. At least for short periods of time. It is exhausting. Ask any experienced actor. Pretending to be something you are not, convincingly pretending, is hard work.

Anyway, just recently, I had to put on my “happy face” again. A very good friend of mine produced a very large jousting tournament and asked me to help out with certain things during the days leading up to the event and the three days of the event. Now, I was happy to help him out. He is a good friend and I wanted to support the event. However, some of the things he asked me to do were things that I find particularly stressful. But because I was a visible part of the staff of the event, I could not be seen looking stressed out and miserable, so I buried myself deep inside that “happy face” persona during the times I was at the event. Once I left the event, I allowed myself to escape the prison of that persona and let my real emotions out. I would usually start crying as I was driving home, and once home, I would cry for hours at a time. My sleep disorder was also causing major problems, so in addition to being exhausted from the stress of wearing my “happy face” for hours on end, I was also exhausted from lack of sleep. I was eating Valium like candy, but it wasn't really helping.

Fortunately, my husband, FuzzyPony and DA gave me a great deal of emotional support. And even SH, though he didn't really know what was going on with me (I didn't want to add to the stress he was already under from both producing and performing in the tournament), gave me some emotional support as well. And somehow, I made it through the event and managed to do everything that I had committed to do and more. But it was not a fun experience. (Though the jousting tournament itself was wonderful, and I really did enjoy watching my sweetie compete.) Therefore, in the future, I will be much more careful about what I commit to do, no matter how much I want to avoid disappointing my friends. Though it stood me in good stead this past week, I do not ever want to have to put on my “happy face” again.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Negative Thoughts – Daymares

As I was laying on the couch waiting for my husband to finally get home from work, I began having negative thoughts. What I refer to as “negative thoughts” can vary a great deal, but in this instance, they took the form of what I call a depressive daydream (or if I'm feeling frivolous, a daymare). These daymares are like little plays that I see inside my head.

I started imagining things that could go wrong at the upcoming jousting tournament. I've been worrying about Foxfire getting hurt, but for some reason, this time I imagined myself getting hurt.

In this depressive daydream, I imagine that I am asked to run an errand for the event. I have to be driven in a little golf cart up the narrow, steep and winding driveway that leads to the secondary parking area by main road above the event site, because I'm not important enough to rate a parking space down at the site itself. As I am being driven uphill, some asshole comes barreling downhill in a pickup and runs the little golf cart that I am in off the road. The driver rolls down the hill with the golf cart and dies, but I am thrown out of the cart. I am pierced by branches and my body slams against the trunks of trees as I roll downhill. I am severely hurt, but still conscious. I slowly drag myself back up to the driveway and lay there on the edge of the incline, watching blood bubble out of my mouth with every breath while waiting for someone to find me.

The Asshole who drove us off the road doesn't bother telling anyone what happened, so I lay there in pain for a very long time. Finally someone driving down the road notices me and calls an ambulance and I am taken to the hospital. (I hate hospitals.) Foxfire, my husband, and DA, my closest friend, are there at the hospital with me.

The doctors come in with the x-rays, and show all the damage that was done in the crash. Broken ribs, a punctured lung, all sorts of other less life threatening injuries. Then they ask about all the previously broken bones that are apparent in the x-rays. I tell them about falling off my horse a year ago, but they say that these bones would have been broken many years ago, probably when I was a child.

I respond, not too coherently because I'm recovering from a punctured lung and am juiced up on pain killers, “Prob'ly... from one of the times my brother beat me up.... He came at me once with a baseball bat.... Got a few good licks in 'fore I managed to re-direct the force of the bat... so he hit himself in the head. ...that point he dropped the bat ... started strangling me.... Fortunately ... stopped 'fore he killed me.”

DA, appalled, asks, “Your brother used to beat you up that badly?”

I reply, “...told you he used to beat me ... up all the time. Tried to avoid him ... much as possible.”

DA,”But if you had broken ribs...”

Me,”...didn't know they were broken.”

DA, “Wouldn't your parents have noticed you were hurt?”

Me,”Mother always accused me of ... exaggerating 'bout being hurt ... to get attention. ...would punish me if I complained ... learned to hide pain.”

And so on...

These daymare scenarios will repeat over and over in my mind. Sometimes exactly the same each time, frequently with slight variations, each more disturbing than the last. It is usually very hard to make them stop.

That's part of what makes up my depression. I don't daydream about happy stuff. My imagination is filled with disturbing thoughts about what awful things might happen, occasionally, but not always, combined with disturbing things that have happened in my past. And, yes, the story about my brother beating me with a baseball bat is absolutely true. (Although I don't know if he ever actually broke any bones. He did leave several scars on my skin.) And there were many other not so pleasant things that happened to me as a child. From being emotionally terrorized by my own mother to being molested by an older cousin who lived next door.

But my childhood is over. My brother stopped beating me up by the time he finished high school. The cousin who molested me committed suicide while I was in college. And my mother finally died when I was 25. Since then, my life really hasn't been that bad. (Well, okay, I got pregnant and gave my child up for adoption and I was beaten and raped by a friend of a friend, but compared to my earlier life...) And in the past eight years my life has been even better than not bad. It's actually been pretty damn good. I met Foxfire and married him. I no longer have to suffer the humiliation of losing job after job because of my emotional disabilities since Foxfire is willing to support me financially. And I have several good friends that like me despite my problems. Actually, the most traumatic thing that has happened to me in several years is getting thrown from my horse and badly injured. (Okay, for someone who has always been very physically active, suddenly being unable to do much of anything, and becoming weak and overweight is fairly traumatic. But compared to the stuff I had to deal with as a child...) So even though my life is, for the most part, going extremely well, why is my depression/anxiety not getting any better? It actually seems like it's getting worse.

And I keep having these damned daymares.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Dreams – Packing Up to Go Home

A recurring theme in my dreams is that I'm packing up to go home, and I'm worried that I'm going to forget something and leave it behind. In my dream, I've been somewhere other than home for a while. Maybe a week, maybe a month, maybe a semester. Where I am varies a good bit, I may be vacationing alone or with others, it may be some sort of business trip, maybe I've been away to school. In the dream, I know exactly where I am, but that isn't really important, and I know I'm heading home, though “home” is never clearly defined. But it is very important that I not leave anything behind that I've taken with me or acquired on my trip. Sometimes in the dream, it's nearly time to go and I'm frantically searching for everything that belongs to me to get it packed. Other times, I just know that I need to leave soon and I'm worried about finding everything so that I don't leave anything important behind.

I have no idea what these dreams mean. I vaguely remember talking to my therapist about a "packing up" dream I had a while back, but I don't remember how she interpreted it. Anyone have any ideas?

Dreams -- Why No Blue?

This post was copied from an old blog that I no longer keep up. It was originally published on November 8, 2008.

Just a short weird little post.

I haven't worn blue since I can remember. I don't own a single blue piece of clothing. And I absolutely refuse to wear blue. My blue-phobia was recently brought to my attention while in the process of designing a t-shirt with someone that would be screen printed and sold to various people. She originally wanted to use blue ink for the design and I convinced her to use purple instead. I couldn't explain why I absolutely refused to create something that had blue on it. But I knew that if I did the shirt with blue ink that I would never wear it.

Last night I had a dream that I was wearing a blue shirt and I couldn't get it off. I was desperate to get out of it, but it wouldn't come off. I had to keep wearing it. I woke up very shaky and upset. Why would wearing a blue shirt make me so upset?

I think I finally figured it out. Blue = depressed. Duh! *slaps hand to head*
But even though I think I now understand my blue-phobia, I still refuse to wear blue.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Consider the Dandelion

Most people consider the dandelion a weed. They rip it out of their yard and throw it in the garbage. Why do so many people destroy these flowers when they will pay big bucks to buy flowers from a garden center? Because everyone says that the dandelion is a nasty, worthless flower. If you don't destroy it as soon as you see it. It will spread, and then there will be more nasty, worthless flowers you have to work to get rid of.

But it's a flower. A rather pretty little flower, if you stop and look at it. With lots of bright little yellow petals going every which way.

And when it goes to seed, it is even more beautiful. It forms this ethereal sphere of lace filaments that glow with inner beauty when seen in the right light. But it is a delicate beauty. It lasts only a brief while before the harsh elements destroy it. But even it's extreme fragility is part of its glorious design.

The dandelion's death is one of the most beautiful examples of the life cycle that I have ever seen. Who hasn't held a dandelion puff before their mouth and blown upon it in order to watch it's tiny seeds be lifted up and away upon one's breath. Spreading new life with the evanescent beauty of its death. Even without human intervention, the world's breath becomes the breath of life for the dandelion, carrying the potential within its seeds to form new life wherever the wind blows.

But this beautiful flower is destroyed over and over again, simply because someone, somewhere, sometime decided that since it didn't do exactly what they wanted it to, then it must be destroyed. Because the dandelion doesn't behave like “normal” flowers, it must be destroyed. Because it doesn't allow itself to be confined within the strict borders of a planned garden, it must be destroyed. Because it goes its own way and doesn't “follow the rules”, it must be destroyed. The dandelion is a rebel flower and rebellion cannot be tolerated, it must be destroyed.


Why must beauty be destroyed simply because it wasn't planned for?

Why must beauty be destroyed because it turns up someplace unexpected?

Why must anything that doesn't “follow the rules” be thoughtlessly destroyed?

Next time you encounter a dandelion, stop and think about what it means to be a dandelion in this world.
This post is dedicated to Mark Kanemura, Lady GaGa and all the other monsters out there. 

Thursday, March 31, 2011

When a Kid is Sick

When a kid is sick, most parents tend to pamper their kid. They'll bring them special treats and/or sit and read to them or just tuck them in securely and hold their hand. When it's time to eat, they'll cook foods that their kids like and if the kid is too sick to get out of bed, they will bring it to them and help them eat it in bed. Basically, they will try and make their kid feel better emotionally as well as physically. At least that's what I imagine.

When I would get sick, my mother wanted nothing to do with me. She would just leave me alone in my room. If she had actually taken me to the doctor and there was medicine that I was supposed to take, then she would bring that in and make sure I took it. But she wouldn't sit with me and tell me stories. She never brought me special treats. She never even brought me regular meals. If I wanted to eat, I had to get out of bed and come to the kitchen and eat whatever she had cooked. If I was too sick to come to the table or if I didn't want to eat what she had cooked (she cooked a lot of foods that I was allergic to), then I was out of luck.

I remember one time when I was in sixth or seventh grade, when I had some sort of fever, headache and body ache illness going on, that I went for three days without eating anything. My mother knew that I hadn't eaten anything. When I finally managed to come to the kitchen to eat, she commented on how many days it had been and that she had wondered how long it would take before I got over feeling sorry for myself and came out to eat something.

Waking Up Is Hard To Do

This post was copied from an old blog that I no longer keep up. It was originally published on November 5, 2008.

I woke up this morning with a nasty headache. I still have it. But at least I didn't have a panic attack when I woke up. Eight out of ten mornings(or thereabouts), as soon as I realize that I am actually awake, my heart starts pounding and my mind races, and I become terrified because I will actually have to get up and face another day. I'm not exaggerating. I'm really scared to wake up. I'd much rather just stay asleep(permanently). Some people are afraid to go to sleep because they have nightmares. Well, for most of my life, I suppose, my day to day existence was a nightmare. My life isn't that bad now. My external situation is actually pretty good. My husband loves me. My kitties love me. I have lots of books to read. But the wiring in my brain still thinks that being awake means being in emotional pain. So almost every time I wake up, I panic. It doesn't last long, a few minutes maybe, then I calm down. Unfortunately, this mornings headache isn't going away. I suppose I should take something for it...
Practicality... bleh...

Update 3/31/11: I still wake up with panic attacks. I now refer to them as my UMPA's (Usual Morning Panic Attack). Though I think the frequency may be down to seven out of ten mornings. It might not be much, but it's an improvement.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Physical Therapy

When I was 12, I had to learn how to give my mother physical therapy. I'm not sure why they chose me to do it instead of my older brother. Apparently, my father simply wasn't co-ordinated enough to manage it properly, but as far as I know, they never even tried to teach my older brother how to do it. Of course, he was the difficult child and I was the obedient one, so that was probably it. Or maybe it was because I was a girl and he was a boy. Everyone knows that girls are better at taking care of people than boys are, right? Even if they are two years younger and far more emotionally vulnerable.

Anyway, my mother had a very nasty lung disease. My family referred to it as terminal bronchiectasis. I don't know if that is the actual scientific name, but that was what we called it. Basically, my my mother's lungs were slowly, but surely filling up with infected phlegm. One of the ways to get this phlegm out was to put her on a tilted board with her head downwards and rhythmically beat on her back, sides and front with slightly cupped hands until she hacked up some of the phlegm. We would then look at it to check what shade of yellow, green or brown it was, and if it had any blood in it.

We did this physical therapy three times a day, morning, afternoon and evening. Each time, the whole procedure took a little over an hour. 10 minutes for her left back, 10 for her left side, 10 for her left front, then 10 for her right back, etc... She would usually cough up phlegm 2 or more times during each 10 minute section. I hated it. I hated the sound of her cough. I hated looking at the mucus covered tissues. I hated feeling her body struggle first to breath, then to expel the phlegm that was slowly killing her. It's not that I didn't want to help my mother. I did. It was just that being forced to be so intimate with her disease was extremely stressful for me. I was, after all, only twelve.

I had been told that by performing this physical therapy on my mother, I was helping her to live. But all I could feel as I was drumming on her body, was her dying beneath my hands.