Monthly Archives: November 2014

Holding Pattern

Things are marginally better, I think.

I actually had a nice Thanksgiving.  The outpatient program I used to be part of does a Thanksgiving thing every year, and I went to that with my landlady and her partner.  (My landlady works there.)  I almost didn’t go because I was afraid I’d start crying in the middle of it, but I went and didn’t cry.  Didn’t even want to.  Good food, and some of the leftovers are now in my fridge.  (Thank god, because my food stamps money is out, and the new money won’t come through until December 8.)

I’m looking forward to Christmas with my mom in Florida, so that’s useful.  She mentioned that my Christmas stocking that my grandmother knitted when I was born got lost when she moved, and she doesn’t have a stocking for herself or my stepfather either…so I’m knitting Christmas stockings.  She’s also having trouble finding most of her Christmas ornaments (may have also gotten lost in the move), so if I have time, I’m going to knit her some ornaments, too.  But she’s upset because a lot of the ornaments she’s missing are ones my sisters and I made as kids, and those can’t be replaced.

I’m still massively depressed.  I’m spending most of my time in bed, and a lot of it sleeping.  My sleep cycle is completely fucked up–I sleep for most of the day, get up between 4:00 and 8:00 PM, stay up until 2:00 or 3:00 AM, sleep some more, get up between noon and 3:00 PM…it’s screwed up.  I could probably get back into a semi-normal sleep pattern if I tried, especially if I used my light box, but honestly I just don’t care enough.  Every time I sleep, I have bad dreams and nightmares, but I don’t even really care.  I wake up in a tangle of sweaty sheets with my heart racing, but it’s still easier to be asleep than awake.

I’m not as intensely, imminently suicidal as I have been the last several weeks, but I still just don’t know how long I can keep going like this.  It’s no way to live.  I’ll do okay for food in December because my mother will pay for food for the two weeks I’m there, but I’ll come back to the same financial situation.  And the depression and anhedonia and utter purposelessness…that’ll all still be with me too.  I keep thinking I should ask my psychiatrist for antidepressants or some other drug something to make me okay, but then I remember there is no miracle drug.  I’ve already been on nearly every psych med in the book, and they don’t help.  But it feels like the only option available to me, since support and therapy are basically inaccessible to me.  There’s some part of me that still wants to believe that there’s some solution, even though I know there’s not.

I can keep going for a while, but a life like this is not sustainable.  No one was meant to live like this.

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I Do Not Have to Be Good

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

–Mary Oliver

I do not have to be good.  I do not have to be nice.  I do not have to  assume your intentions are good when your words are not.  I don’t have to be grateful to you for suggestions I didn’t ask for.  I do not have to be grateful to you for anything, in fact.  I do not have to protect your ego.  I do not have to pretend I’m not hurt and offended when I am.  I do not have to try anything just because it helped you, and I do not have to defend my choice not to.  I don’t have to defend any of my choices to you.  I do not owe you any explanations.  I do not have to agree with anything you say about me that doesn’t resonate with me, especially when it’s about me.  I do not have to defend who I was or who I am now to you.I am doing the best that I can, and I’m struggling severely.  I do not have the energy to take care of other people’s feelings.  I’m generally a pretty nice person–I want to connect with people, and I don’t wake up in the morning scheming about how to hurt their feelings.  I used to do everything I could to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings, to avoid making anyone feel badly, because I thought I’d done enough damage in the world already.Eventually I realized I was taking care of everyone else at my own expense.  I was letting people hurt me over and over to avoid the risk that saying no would hurt them.  It was letting everyone I interacted take away a little piece of me, and if I’d kept it up, eventually there wouldn’t have been anything left of me.  I’m not going to do that anymore.  I can’t.  I’ve come to understand that it’s in neither my nature nor my best interest to keep quiet when someone says something that hurts me.  I’m sure most of us don’t want to hurt each other, but how can we know we’ve hurt someone unless they say so?  Sometimes you step on someone’s toes or jab them with an elbow without even realizing.  When someone points out that we’ve hurt them, we feel terrible.  Some of us apologize, but some of us compensate by lashing out, accusing, even bullying.  Luckily, I’ve reached a place in my own healing where I can see that the lashing out isn’t about me.  I can’t say that it doesn’t hurt me or make me angry, and I can’t say that it doesn’t still make my heart rate jump up to 120 and make me feel hot and lightheaded.  But it no longer makes me feel like I have to kill myself, and it no longer stays with me for days or weeks.  I can set it aside because, once I’ve calmed down, I know it’s not really about me.But I can’t let it go without saying something because silence is not something I do anymore.  Silence is what lets people keep trampling over my boundaries and stepping on my toes and jabbing elbows into my ribcage like I don’t even really exist.  I do exist, and I do have a voice.My blog is not everyone’s cup of tea, which is fine.  If you don’t like it, if you don’t like me, feel free to click the little red X in the corner of your screen.  No one’s stopping you.  It’s okay if you want to unfollow me or never follow me in the first place.  You can call me a bitch or an asshole, but don’t be upset when that doesn’t bother me–I say far worse things to myself every day, so your insults will need a lot of work if you want to hurt me with them.  Just don’t assume that I’m going to pretend what you say helps when it doesn’t.  Don’t assume that I will be silent in response to words that hurt.

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Drowning in Triggers

It feels like they’re everywhere right now.

My mother wants to talk about Ferguson and how people just need to take personal responsibility because clearly that would solve all the problems.  My sister the cop posts an “I support Darren Wilson” badge on Facebook.  She wants her department to have more riot gear to crush the race riots she thinks are inevitable.

These are two people who know–know–what cops can and will do to people who can’t defend themselves.  They’ve seen it; they’ve lived it.  Just like I have.

My father, my mother’s first husband, was a cop.  He sexually abused and raped me for sixteen years.  He hit me.  He nearly drowned me in a bathtub when I was three years old.  He regularly suffocated me, though I don’t know whether it was to keep me quiet during the abuse or to make me think he would kill me or both.  He put his gun to my head more than once.  He made me watch him kill my dog.  He forced me to choose whether he’d rape me or my sister.  He let his criminal justice students rape us too.  And he taught me that no one would ever believe me if I told because he was a cop and I was nothing.

My mother doesn’t know the details, but my sister the cop does–she lived it too.  I sheltered her from as much of it as I could, but she still got hurt badly.  She was the one who told, originally.  I would’ve gone on denying it forever because I needed to have one parent who didn’t hurt me, but once she disclosed, I had to support her.  She’s my sister.

We tried to have him investigated–well, my mother did, really.  I don’t recall her ever asking me or my sister if that’s what we wanted.  It was a complete joke.  No jurisdiction wanted it.  The abuse occurred across three states and several cities, so no one wanted it.  Everyone said it was someone else’s jurisdiction because who wants to investigate the cop-turned-criminal-justice-professor?  Finally, the Iowa State Police took the case.  They wouldn’t talk to me at all because I’m crazy.  They interrogated my sister, who would’ve been 16 or 17 at that point, until she threw up in a trash can.  They polygraphed my father, got an inconclusive result (OMG, a cop might know how to fake the notoriously unreliable polygraph?  Inconceivable!), and dropped the whole case.  Welcome to the Blue Wall of Silence, where victims don’t matter because cops have all the power.

Do they really not see the connection?  Do they really not think that giving people nearly unlimited power over people’s lives, freedom, and even bodily integrity with almost no oversight is dangerous?  Do they really not understand that the system that let Darren Wilson shoot Michael Brown and abuse protesters and journalists is the same system that let our father get away with raping us for 16 years?  How can they not see that?

I feel so, so alone in all of this.

And then there’s Bill Cosby.  Another upstanding citizen who gets away with sexually assaulting women for years because he’s such a nice guy and has influence and power.  It’s all the same: the victims don’t matter because the rapists are such nice guys, you know, aside from all the rape.

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I’m Still Here

For now, at least.  I’m just tired of talking.  It doesn’t seem to get me anywhere; it just leaves me feeling more alone and hopeless.

Everyone wants to tell me I should live, and honestly, I just can’t take hearing it anymore.  That probably makes me an asshole, but I guess that doesn’t really matter anymore.  Maybe you’re seeing who I really am now, when I can’t keep up appearances anymore.  Maybe you’ll hate me.  Maybe it’ll make you understand why I can’t live.

I’m tired of people trying to fix me and solve my problems.  I’m pretty damn smart, okay?  And I’m pretty damn resourceful.  If there were resources to be found, solutions to be invented, I would’ve figured them out already.  I’m tired of being polite when people suggest the same things over and over.  Yes, I’m on disability and food stamps and Medicare and Medicaid, I’ve applied for energy assistance, I’m on the waiting list for housing, I’ve been to the food banks, I’ve tried the buses, I can’t afford paratransit.  I’ve tried forums and self-help books and support groups and CBT and DBT and EMDR and psychoanalysis and ECT and the Department of Mental Health and Community-Based Flexible Support.  I’ve been to respite, the ER, more psych units than I can count, two trauma units.  I’ve gone to church and prayed and mediated and done yoga and changed my diet.  I’ve been on antidepressants, anxiolytics, mood stabilizers, stimulants, and anti-psychotics.  I’ve taken 5-ASA’s and steroids and chemo and immunosuppressants and biologics.  I’ve consulted psychiatrists and chiropractors and reiki masters and neurosurgeons and physical therapists and acupuncturists and gastroenterologists.

Nothing helps enough to make my life survivable.

You can’t fix me because I’m too many problems to solve.  It’s depression and complex PTSD and DID.  It’s ulcerative colitis and hearing loss and brain surgery and mobility impairment.  It’s disability and isolation and poverty.

And you can’t solve just one because they’re just a big knotted mess.  You can’t untangle one thread from another; they’re all felted together now, and there’s no extricating them.  And nobody can fix the whole big mess.  Not even me.  I did everything I was supposed to do.  I tried so hard for so long, and things just get worse.  Now, I just can’t try anymore.

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Surrealism and Detachment

I talk to my mother on the phone.

Even that’s surreal, after several years of no contact.  She’s changed.  All my life, she expected me and my sisters to meet all her emotional needs.  Now she’s married, and she has someone age-appropriate to meet her needs.  She’s not as crazy anymore, not in the harmful ways she used to be, and I can talk to her without getting sucked into the crazy demands.  I still don’t trust her.  I know she’ll never acknowledge the harm she did to me for most of my life, but I also like feeling like I finally have a mother.  She hasn’t said anything cruel or manipulative in the year or so since we started talking again.  But it’s like she’s both my mother and not my mother simultaneously, on a number of levels, and that’s surreal.

She tells me my uncle, her brother, just sold his computer security company to Raytheon for $420 million.  I literally had to write that down because my brain couldn’t translate how many zeroes that was.  I can’t relate to that amount on money.  Right now, I have $7 to last me the rest of the month.  I only bought four rolls of toilet paper because I couldn’t afford any more than that.  I don’t think I’ll have enough money to pay December’s rent, and my power and heat bills are overdue.

But my uncle just sold his company for $420 million.  That’s $420,000,000, in case any of you also can’t conceptualize that many zeroes without seeing it.

He worked hard, and I don’t begrudge him his success.  But certainly the law of diminishing returns kicks in at some point, right?  I can’t even comprehend what you would do with that much money.  To put it in perspective, that’s more than three times the annual budget for the National Endowment for the Arts.  It’s surreal.  I don’t even really know him anymore, but even if I did, I don’t think I could ask him for it.  But it’s bizarre, realizing that a man with whom I share 21.9% of my DNA (yes, that’s an exact and oddly specific figure) has $420,000,000 and I don’t know how I’m going to pay $400 in rent.  How can that even be real?

My mother keeps saying how much she’s looking forward to seeing me for Christmas.  I tell her I’m excited about the trip too, but I’m detached.  I really don’t believe I’m going to live that long.  Three weeks, but I don’t think I can make it.  I think I will probably kill myself when I can’t pay my rent.  But I tell her I’m looking forward to it because I can’t exactly tell my mother I’m probably going to be dead before then.

Everything feels surreal, and I feel like I have no attachment to anyone or anything, like a helium balloon floating away.

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Sick (of It)

I saw my gastroenterologist today.  I seriously love this guy–he’s the best doctor I’ve ever had.  He listens, he actually cares, and he works hard to find solutions.  I wish I could clone him for various specialties and just see clones of him with different specific knowledge sets.

(Admittedly, I also like him because he rants, so we’re kinda kindred souls there.  Today he ranted, without my even saying anything, about how poorly they treated me in the ER when I was there most recently, the debacle with the antibiotics that left me literally full of shit to the point of severe pain.)

He’s really concerned about the fatigue and weakness too.  I was afraid he was just going to blow me off since my labs all came back normal–god knows I’ve had plenty of doctors do that to me.  But he didn’t!  I cannot even describe the sense of relief there.  He didn’t just think I was a depressed hypochondriac!  I mean, that’s how all doctors should treat their patients, but sadly it’s very, very rare, especially if you have a history of mental illness.

In true House, M.D. fashion, he ruled out lupus and similar autoimmune diseases.  I made the joke, “Come on, Dr. House, it’s never lupus,” and he got it, so more gold stars in my book.  My sed rate and CRP (markers of inflammation) aren’t elevated, so it’s not likely to be another autoimmune disease, although he did say that it’s still possible we’re getting a false negative because I’m on immunosuppressants and steroids.

There are several possibilities he mentioned.  He seems to think there’s a strong chance that the 6-MP is causing this, but he’s not sure.  We lowered my dose the last time I saw him, 6 weeks ago, but I didn’t get any significant improvement.  But he mentioned possibly taking me off it altogether, which makes me nervous.  The combination of Humira and 6-MP is the only thing that’s gotten my UC under any sort of control, and I’m afraid I’ll get really sick again if I have to go off it.  To his credit, though, he totally understands that and is concerned about the same thing.

He also thinks it might be somehow related to my MTHFR polymorphism (aka the motherfucker gene).  For those of you who aren’t familiar with that, I have a genetic mutation that makes my body incapable of breaking down folic acid, which can cause problems from heart defects to depression.  My gastroenterologist was actually familiar with it because it also increases the risk of colon cancer, which is just awesome for me.  He said he’d need to do more research on that.  It’s still relatively unknown, and there’s not a lot out there from valid medical sources.

There’s also a small chance that this is somehow a result of my brain surgery, although that’s highly unlikely.  I was diagnosed with an arteriovenous malformation in the left frontal lobe of my brain when I was 17, after over a year of worsening neurological symptoms that got blown off because I was mentally ill and therefore assumed to be attention-seeking.  (See why I’m excited when doctors don’t blow me off?)  This is unlikely to be the problem since it was surgically corrected when I was 18, and my three-year angiogram (the definitive test for AVM’s) was clear.  There’s a very slim chance that the surgery could’ve left scarring or something, but the frontal lobes are mostly associated with executive function and language skills, not motor skills.  And since they only operated on the left side, any weakness would be on the opposite side of the body; i.e., my right side.  My weakness is bilateral.

The other possibility is something neurological, and since it’s not his area of expertise, my gastroenterologist couldn’t really speculate as to what.  So he’s sending me to a neurologist.  He’s going to talk to my primary care doc and see if they can find someone good for me.

GI Doc: “I want to find a neurologist for you who’s genuinely interested.”
Me: “By that, do you mean not an asshole?”
GI Doc: “Exactly.”

I know I should see this as a chance to maybe get some answers about what’s going on with my body, and maybe even treatment that’ll help.  But mostly I just don’t want to go.  All the tests, the pain the fear…and I’ll probably just find out I have something else incurable.  I just can’t deal with having anything else wrong with me.  I feel way too broken already.

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No More Election=A Lot More Knitting

This is what I do with my time when I don’t have a campaign to work on.

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Baby sweater for a friend’s son; still needs ends sewn in and buttons added, but I think it’s pretty damn cute.  Fingering weight scrap yarn–I believe the darkest and lightest blues are two different colorways of Araucania Ranco, and I have no idea what the medium blue yarn is.

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This sock more or less speaks for itself.  The blue is tosh merino light; white is Valley Yarns Huntington (I think).

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Groovy sock.  Some self-striping yarn that has long since lost its label.  I think it might be Lion Brand Sock Ease, but don’t quote me on that.

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Current WIP: a modified Clapotis.  The pattern’s written for worsted-weight yarn, but I’m using a lace-weight that often behaves more like a fingering-weight, breaks WAY too often, and is a pain in the butt to unravel dropped stitches.  (Seriously, I have to ladder each stitch down row by row with a needle.  Huge pain in the ass, but there’s something oddly satisfying about unraveling something on purpose.  Something there is that doesn’t love a wall.)  The dropped stitches will look a lot less messy once it’s finished and blocked.  Yarn is Noro Taiyo Lace.

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I feel like the only way to make anyone in power notice how desperate I am and how much I need help is to die.

It won’t help me, of course; I’ll be dead.  But I keep thinking maybe it would be the tipping point so that The Powers That Be would have to notice what their lack of compassion and refusal to help is doing to poor people, disabled people, mentally ill people.  Maybe by dying, I’d finally make them notice and listen to me.  I obviously can’t accomplish anything while I’m alive, so maybe I can finally do something good by dying.  Maybe it’ll make someone listen.

But who am I kidding?  I’m not important enough for anyone in power to notice, let alone listen to.  When I die, I won’t even be a statistic.  I don’t even matter enough for that.

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On Anger and Helplessness

When I talk about my anger, I feel like people see me as someone who goes off on people, physically or verbally.  I don’t do that–mine is all directed internally.  I want to scream at people and pick fights, but I don’t.  It all just turns in on myself and makes me feel worthless and hopeless and suicidal.  If I had a foolproof way of ending it, I would.  But I don’t want to risk screwing it up and being “saved,” only to be abandoned again as soon as they decide I’m “okay.”

I don’t want to get rid of all the anger, either.  It’s the only thing that’s kept me alive this long–it’s a way of marking that a lot of terrible things happened to me, but the fact that they happened doesn’t mean they’re okay or I deserved it.  For a long, long time, I thought I never felt anger.  Nothing beyond mild frustration on occasion.  But I was slowly killing myself with my self-harm and eating disorder, and if that’s not the personification of rage turned inward, I don’t know what is.  I really believe that finally being able to get angry at the people and events that had driven me to believe I needed to annihilate myself was what saved me.  I could finally see that what they’d done to me wasn’t okay, and I could turn around and say, “No, it’s you I’m angry at, not myself.”  I could choose to stop destroying myself because I finally understood.

But now it’s different.  Now it’s not me destroying myself, and I can’t choose to change what’s happening to me.  The decisions and circumstances are, for the most part, out of my hands.  So I can recognize that it’s unfair and wrong, I can see that I don’t deserve to have my needs go unmet…but I can’t change it.  So all I’m left with is rage and the familiar desire to destroy myself.  Only this time I don’t want to do it piecemeal; I just want to get it over with and be done.  I just can’t live like this.  No one can really live like this.

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Angry All the Time

Lately, I’m noticing that I’m angry all the time.  I don’t like it.

I feel like I’m trapped in a life I don’t want and have little control over, no matter how hard I try.  I feel hopeless.  I feel abandoned because I’m not getting the kind of support I need.  I keep trying so hard to make my life work, but it feels like almost everything is beyond my control.

So I’m angry all the time.  I want to lash out at all the people who could be helping me but aren’t.  I want to make other people feel as hurt, powerless, and hopeless as I do.

I feel like a monster.

But the truth is I don’t really want to hurt people.  I want to be helped.  I want to connect.  But I don’t know how anymore because all my efforts have failed, so I end up angry and bitter, wanting to lash out and pick fights and hurt people.

I feel so stuck, and the world around me is just getting darker and darker.  Is there any help for me?

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