Almost a Year

I had a dream this morning, half awake and half asleep kind of dream.  I heard my mother call me from her room.  Not her normal morning call but more of a genial kind of invite.  My mom was in her room and my sister S. was asleep in her bed while C was asleep down the hall.  I walked into my Mom’s room and she was sitting on the far side of the bed while S slept.  She was a solid vision, no apparition, do diaphanous edges, but solidly real.  She came around to the end of the bed and I sat with her.  I could feel her arm, literally feel. her. arm.  I held on and hugged it.  I apologized to her about not taking care of her the way I wanted to take care of her.  I wanted to do better by her, but I just physically couldn’t and I couldn’t seem to rise above the fray in my mind which exhausted my body.  (you know depression).  I don’t remember if she accepted it or not, but it didn’t matter.  I was able to say it to her.  S. woke up and saw Mom but couldn’t hear her and C. came into the room and could hear her but not see her.  Mom was happy.  There wasn’t the roiling discontented aura she had in life, I think she was at peace.  We wanted to know if she had seen my brothers J. and D. but she hadn’t.  She didn’t want to face them.  We encouraged her to see them.  We didn’t believe they wouldn’t want to see her.  I think I fell out of the magical level of sleep and into a deeper sleep because my dream degraded into something more surreal than pseudo-reality.

So, it’s been almost a year.  10 December 2017 feels like five years ago and yet it hasn’t even been a full 365 days.  So much has happened this year, considering what I was dealing with there are days I am amazed I get out of bed at all.  There is still a part of me that is a recalcitrant depressive but it has always been there, I’m learning how to work around it and move forward.  The post Rectal-Cranial Inversion talked about how I “accidentally” hit June 6 as my start date for phlebotomy class.  Had I stuck with that date I would have taken my test about the same time I took my test and I probably would have gotten my externship the same time too.  Having the benefit of hindsight I realize the June 6th start date would have been a better time for me to go to school because my head, some days, is still solidly inverted but mostly not now.   I wouldn’t have needed Red Bull to keep me awake through class, but it tweaked my anxiety to the point I couldn’t trust myself.    For the externship I changed my buspar (anti-anxiety) and then dosed down my bupropion, my puppy-upper than can also tweak anxiety.  Once I did that I didn’t panic and my externship people saw a noticeable difference.   I’m planning on dosing down again in the new year to see if I can finally be free of some of these meds.

So, yes, I passed my test; 96/100.  Not bad at all.  I finished my externship with glowing reviews.  I’ve gotten my certification and card from NCCT and I’m going to work with someone today about my licensing.  I feel I am ready to go out on a job interview and nail it.  At least I have the chemicals straight in my head so I don’t blather on like an idiot through the interview.

On the darker side of life I am still dealing with some of the little, annoying aspects of the depression.  Like not taking care of myself.  I have food but I don’t want to cook it, I’d rather go without or take a couple of spoonfuls of peanut butter and be done with it.  I’m working as a Lyft driver so I’m having to have to be more social than I like and than still wipes me out.  I need to shower more, but who doesn’t.  To help with pushing out my bandwidth I have started courses that will put me back on the path to getting my bachelors degree.  I’m going for a basic interdisciplinary degree so I can include my history credits from 100 years ago but then I’ll be able to put on my resume I finished university.  I might even go further to get an MFA in writing.  Again, my dreams writing checks my body may not be able to cash.

I’m happy though.  I mean for the first time, in a long time, I’m happy.  I’d be happier with more money, but God has always provided when the world wouldn’t.   I don’t think I’m ever going to mourn for Mom, not the way some people do when they tear up when you mention their mother.  There are still parts that are angry with her but after the dream not so much.  It’s done and I’m moving forward…..one step at a time.

Facing Frailty with Faith

The post I created on November 17, 2015 was about how I finally crossed the line between void and light….though the dimness was about the same but my psyche started leaning more towards the light instead of the dark (and bed).  I started reducing my meds, and then I started putting requirement on me like getting my CNA and HHA so I could get a job with hospice.  The only thing I learned from that course is that being a CNA is not what I want to be.  The information and skill set I learned helped me with Mom, but again, I don’t want to do that again.  Maybe if I were a mother myself the wiping my mom’s nether region wouldn’t have been as traumatizing……I dunno.

I mentioned that I came down on my anti anxiety pills, which is good, and I haven’t gone back up other than as needed for extreme stress/anxiety inducing situations….like the day Mom died.  I think I took 2 Xanax throughout the day instead of just one.  However, I’ve held steady with my other meds for the last 2 years since I wrote that post.  Now I’m unemployed, I have until February 10 before insurance goes poof so I need to get back into the field of being an in home support person.  I just signed up for school, so that’s going to put a strain on me, and I can’t exactly go down on my meds at this point…..

I’m scared.

What if I can’t afford COBRA, or Covered California?

What if no one wants to hire me because of my age/weight/toothlessness? (Mom liked to hammer on that nail all the time and I can still hear her “You’d be so pretty if you just got your tooth fixed” in my head).  We’ll get to this kind of stuff some other time.

I am teaching myself to self-soothe that doesn’t include cookies or candy or shopping.  I remind myself constantly that Heavenly Father didn’t create me to fail.  If I fail it’s because I fail to try.  I have to put my foot out to step and trust the ground will be there.  And though all these sentiments are rather trite they are no less true.  I just don’t know how to quell the fear that I a going to overload my brain and then rush back to the safety of my bed.  Staying in bed is so safe, so peaceful and so not the way to get anything done, but the warmth convinces me not to care……

I guess I sort of went off point, or maybe not.  I’m not, for the lack of a better word, better.  I’m also not back in the void.  I can feel the attraction still, the safety of the known.  I am looking forward to taking the Light-Rail to school, studying in the coffee shop just down the street from the school and how I’m going to study.  (key words, looking forward to)  I have the mobility to go back to the void and look in and choose not to be subsumed, and it can be a big pull some days/hours, or I can walk back out to the shaded sun I’m in now.   Maybe it will break me, maybe I’m not ready but it’s not going to stop me from trying.  Papa always paraphrased Matthew 17:20 to me:

If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed

nothing shall be impossible unto you.

I should be able to muster up the faith of a tiny mustard seed.

Reverse Pride

Reverse pride isn’t humility.  Humility is humility.  Reverse pride is when you are prideful of the fact you aren’t better than anyone else.  We all know this idiom:

Pride goeth before the fall.

I didn’t think that really applied to me because I was on the floor, I would never be ‘worthy’ of the grace of God, to take part of the sacrifice Christ provided for me.  Which is why my thoughts when I do something less than Christ-like I hear, “It doesn’t matter, I’m going to hell anyway”  I wrote it off to self-esteem problems.  I’ve been reading a book called “The Miracle of Forgiveness” and in the beginning it talks about pride.  It talked about how pride is also telling God who/what/where/why anything that isn’t in your responsibility to change or judgement you can pass.  I realized in a moment of clarity I hadn’t just been telling myself I’m bad and unworthy but I’ve been telling Christ I’m bad and unworthy and the grace He secured with his blood isn’t going to save me.  EVERYONE will have a share of His grace, no matter what they’ve been in this life.  Life is eternal, growth is eternal, the Grace of Christ is eternal.  With this knowledge came the realization of there is absolutely nothing I can do about my future, well, other than be the best person I can be.  No matter how messed up I perceive myself to be.  I have no control, and I am not perfect and neither of those are within my grasp or prevue anyway so I’m trying to figure out how I can better utilize the time feeling like an eternal-bug-in-the-radiator kind of person.  I’m moving forward towards my future again, it’s nice.

This begs the question: Why do I feel this way?  I’m not a bad person (in comparison to like Hitler, Dahmer, and the ilk).  They’re going to receive grace.  I’m not ‘useless’ or a ‘waste of clay’.  Where do these thoughts come from?  Is it that sometimes when someone corrects you by calling you stupid, where every other time it just bounces off your psychic armor until one day the chink is displayed and you are mortally wounded?  I’ve called myself stupid most of the time when I do something wrong, from burning dinner and blowing a tire to stubbing my toe on something I’ve left on the floor.  I’m far from stupid.  I still compare myself to others and, yes, that’s wrong, but I’m finding out all the useless information I seem to gather has made me rather intelligent.  Not to be prideful, but my last IQ test (online) I hit in the high 120’s.  If I could do math it might be a little higher but I suck at math.  How can I be so easily fooled and so completely without guile that I would believe everything bad and evil that I am told both inside and outside my head?  The bigger question is, how to I seal up that chink so the darts of negativity aren’t hitting the pink flesh beneath?  I am correcting my thoughts when I become aware of them, I try to keep positive quotes handy on my phone, my notebook, my walls, but how can I paper the inside of my head with them?  Any suggestions?  Please share.

Crossing the Line

Sorry, I’ve been distant, silent even.  Mostly because I did something wonderful and it confused me.  Let me explain…..

I went on vacation with my family, it was a wedding onboard a cruise ship and we were invited to join the happy couple for the honeymoon.  We all had our own rooms of course.  I brought a long two books; one pleasure and one enlightening.  I chose the Enlightening book first.  Before the end of the first day at sea I grabbed my book and went up to the top deck, sunglass/reading glasses in hand and a hat and read.   Within the first ten pages I came across a statement (that I can’t quote because it’s not exactly what I read but what I needed to hear) to the effect of:

There comes a time when introspection becomes indulgent.

It struck me so perfectly at that moment and I realized, every aspect of me said it was time to move on and move forward.  There was nothing more I could do with the deep dives into who, what, and why that makes me who, what, and why I’ve become.  I needed to put myself out there and try to put into place what I have learned, to build on the foundation that I have laid and hopefully not have any dead bodies hidden in the cement.  At many points in life we need to stop and do the self evaluation/inventory/mind-tripping that helps us move to the next level, but I feel like I’m all caught up now….

Crossing that line, the invisible line between the two worlds instigated a miraculous change in my psyche: I’m happy, I’m hope-filled, I have more energy, I am making plans for my future and are anxiously waiting to put that plan into motion.  (Mom is still doing well, so things are still as they were).  Crossing that line also gave me the push I needed to start  whittling down my meds.  I’m off one of my anxiety pills completely, I’ve cut my Lexapro in half, I’m still taking all my puppy uppers (Welbutrin).

I don’t know if I’m ready to go down another 10mg on my Lexapro.  This last jump down brought up the realization that I don’t really have the skills that I thought I had when  I was fully medicated, and emotions are starting to break through the chemical barricades.  I’m getting caught in the angry loops, but I have more success of talking myself out of them before I spin out of control.  I get overwhelmed and stymied easily , but if I just plug away at it, it gets done.  I’ve had to put some exercises into place so I could deal with the mental stuff, one of those is writing every day.  Which brings me back to the confusion….

For the longest time I used this blog as an integral part of my self exploration.  Anything too private was taken care of in my journal, and I’m back to journaling now too, but if continual introspection is self indulgent, it’s not something I should be engaging in if I want to move forward in my life.  And I’ve made some major strides in my life from March to now, but I didn’t know if I should start a new blog post-depression to write all the plans and the executions with both successes and failures or if I should just continue here; or should I do it at all?  I miss it, so I need to keep doing it .  I found that blogging my personal truths out into the world is an act of courage and bravery that makes me feel more courageous and brave in the real world. I think it’s not self indulgent if it isn’t wallowing in the dark but instead sharing the joy and excitement of rediscovering my life now that I’m outside the void.

Any input from my readers would be helpful.  Please,

Entitled to Surrender

I’ve been looking for a definition that encompasses my meaning and feelings for the word entitled.  Microsoft wasn’t helpful, nor were the additional sites it sent me to.  Merriam Webster Dictionary  was accurate but didn’t quite go far enough.  I went to the Urban Dictionary and it was almost spot on but the language used on the site isn’t as refined as I would prefer it for my use here.  So, I’m going to give you my definition:

Entitled

The belief of when you are doing something that benefits the whole you should be compensated, taken care of and/or relieved from your efforts from time to time.

That said, I’ve been fighting with this concept all through the holidays.  It really hit home when my nephew gave his 18 month old nephew an iPad mini.  I’ve wanted one for like ever but I never have the money in hand at the best time to buy so I’ve just made due with my iPhone and my Kindle.  Honestly, this almost brought me to tears.  It shouldn’t but it did.  I feel like I’m completely forgotten by the outskirts of the family.  The Grandkids know what a handful their Grandmother is but as long as it doesn’t impact their schedule or cause them any hardship they deign to visit for an hour or so or call once every eclipse. [Don’t get offended, I’m not done yet.]  After I wiped the tears away about the give before anyone could see them, I started to get angry.  I’m doing all the heavy lifting both emotionally and a good portion of the time physically but the 18 month old is entitled to an iPad to help him learn his ABCs.   (I’ve got an opinion on that but it’s not suitable for this forum….I’ll have it on Psyche-Stew soon.  Then on top of all of this, my sisters have been pulling back and recognizing I need a break but only willing to dole it out in one to four hour increments.  I need a Freaking Vacation….one that doesn’t include Mom, or a massage, or even just a weekend away so I don’t have the constant static of the baby monitor hissing in my ear while I’m trying to sleep.  But mostly the recognize it but are too busy to do anything about it.

So, for kicks and giggles I sat down and figured out just what I feel I’m entitled to.  We have someone during the day to take care of Mom, which is very helpful for me. However, that leaves me with 18 hours a day M-F and 24 hours per day for the weekend when Mom is all mine.  I would want the three of us to rotate the weekends, for the sisters to come three to four times a week to spend time with Mom so she’s not completely glommed onto me all the time, help with cleaning the house and cooking [because, honestly, I suck at both]. send me to a spa on a regular basis and understanding when I reach out to them for help and/or support I don’t get a litany of the things they’re doing and a bright “Hang in there” before I hang up.

To sum it up, I want them to take over preferably all of the work and leave me with the praise and accolades I receive when people see me and I tell them what I do. Not much, really.  😉

NO ONE IS ENTITLED TO THAT.

The only thing I am entitled to is my life and my free agency.  Beyond that, if Iwant to be entitled to something Ihave to find it within myself to provide those accolades and care I crave.

That said…..

I surrender.

Merriam Webster got it right this time defining Surrender as:

Surrender

: to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting, etc., because you know that you will not win or succeed

: to give the control or use of (something) to someone else

: to allow something (such as a habit or desire) to influence or control you

I’m not talking about backing away from my commitment to my mother or to my family.  I’m not going to quit anything that I am already doing,  that is not an option unless I plan to surrender who I am entirely.  No, I mean I’m going to stop fighting with reality and waging a spiky-word warfare with unsuspecting siblings.  My life, for now, is to be here for Mom, and I can’t do that fully if I’m allowing unhelpful thoughts discourage me and distract me into thinking that I’m being taken advantage of by the whole family.  I surrender the  illusion of entitlement.  I realize everyone is doing the absolute most they feel they can do and I can’t ask, demand, or whine about them giving more.  I’m the one who volunteered for this, to be the caregiver, and I will continue to give until my service is complete  My choice.  My free agency.  And that is how it is for every persons life.  I know that kind of has an over tone of I’ll-show-them, but I’ll assure you it’s not.  I’m anxious to live my life, to get out and meet the oncoming trials head on and ready to wrestle them to the ground.  For the first time I think in ever I am going to put my needs (writing, meditation, mental health, etc.) before anyone else’s.  I will be my next caregiving opportunity, for that, I believe, I am entitled.

Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys.

Mom and I hit the rocks, then the reef, then the iceberg over the weekend.  One realization that came from it was startling, sorta dream-crushing and it needs to go through the journal process before I can share coherently.  Sorry.  The other realization is that I can’t make my mother have a happy end of life.  I can’t do it for her, I can’t ease her from her dystopian state into the station where she believes she belongs.  It’s not my job to make those choices for her.  It’s like trying to have a pet polar bear in Phoenix, just isn’t going to end well.  I will be there to help her with her choices, of course, but I’m no longer going to foist them on her.

The fight was bad, things were said, apology made but we’re still dancing around each other not sure when the other one is going to launch the next salvo of words to try and destroy the other.  Neither of us willing to admit we love the other, and there are moments when she talks to me and I wonder if I still do.  I guess I do, I haven’t called the Shady Pines to come and take her away.  She hasn’t called the police to report me for elder abuse, so I guess we are still on an even keel.

What I don’t really like about myself in this fight is the war in my head of how to behave.  I don’t want to be mean to her, yet I think bad things, and wish I had the wherewithal to do what I imagine.  I get too much pleasure out of calling her bluff and watch her try and squirm away from the consequences.  For example she believes I don’t love her because I won’t dust my room or clean the birds cage on a more regular basis because of her allergies.  So, I’m sending Sammy away to my sisters to live for a while.  My reasoning is two fold, I want the feathers that stay aloft in the air for hours, the one she breathes in, to settle down and to see how well she improves and to, mostly, call her bluff.  I won’t let her use my parrot as a wrench in her manipulation toolbox.

It’s those words, the mean words, that I want to get away from.  I know I’m angry right now and I’m working hard to keep my head from swimming in the anger and frustration.  When I start getting angry I start deep breathing and chanting in my head, but that’s ameliorating the symptoms, not ripping out the foundation of them so I can build anew.  I’m at a loss of how to do this though.  How do you plug the holes and snip off the pour spout of the venom in your brain in favor of peace, love, and …YIKES…I sound like a hippie!!  I don’t want to feel the bile bubble up or the desire for revenge or strut the I’ll-show-you posture any longer.  Part of me is hoping this declaration will be enough, that making the choice to do so will be all I need to do to become that loving, peaceful zen-like person…..I guess that is my circus and one of the many monkeys that are on my back.  Reality sucks, and it’s hard work.  Maybe I should rethink the hippie thing.

Honest Gratitude

I’m not alone, for the longest time I thought I was the only one in my peer group that was stuck inside the void.  Of course I had isolated myself to the point that I was the only one I saw mostly and honestly, I was ignoring me.  I shrunk away from all the love at church because I didn’t want them to know, but I knew they knew, and I was interpreting their love as pity.  I knew they knew because years ago for an essay in my genealogy class, Mom telling people to get sympathy for the heavy burden I am to her, and I’m pretty sure it’s written across my face most of the time.  But to face them, to accept their love, to say “I’m doing well” when they I was lying made me just want to stay home, so I did.

I’ve been going back to church, and I’m hoping to make it a life-long habit from here on out.  I’ve been listening to the topics of conversation, the messages between the topics and I’ve found that a lot of people that appear so happy, as if they have everything they want/need/desire are getting sucked in, stuck in the void that I’ve been in.  The insidious nature of the void is that it is a palpable darkness that your eyes are for all intensive purposes blind.  No one calls out encouragement while they’re in there because no one wants to be found or helped or comforted because we don’t deserve it.  Or, so’s my experience.  The darkness can be a blinding light to some, a red ethereal heat, or a frigid cold that burns to the touch but it is our own hell.  The trouble with having your own personal hell is that no one can help you decorate it because they can’t see it.  But they want to do something to “brighten” things up to help you.  People brighten up your hell just by being there, not by making you explain and explain and explain how things are working inside your head only for them to look at you and honestly say “I don’t get it.  Why can’t you just make up your mind to get over it?”  For me, when someone would say that, I’d want to scream and throw things at them…preferable food that stains or smells bad.

This time around, hopefully my last time around, I’ve been honest.  I’ve been truthful with people when a question is asked that I am capable to answer from my experience.  I can’t address their experiences directly because I don’t know them.  It’s like having someone explain how salt tastes to them without using the word salty.  It can be done, but it’s really hard to know the words you need to describe it.  By being honest about my depression, I’m hoping to rip the mask off the face of depression and stare at my own face and not be ashamed, to abolish the stigma from you, your family, your friends and those that just think you should get over it.  Knowing you aren’t alone, even though your experience is unique, the concept of depression is ubiquitous is a comfort to some, a sympathetic pain to other and a reality the world needs to accept, understand and get over their issues about it.

To be honest, I’m so grateful for this depression, this time around.  (yes, that’s probably the meds talking).  What I’m grateful for is the opportunity I’ve gotten to stitch the tear, rebuild the destroyed and fix the broken so I don’t end up here again.  I’m not sure that I won’t.  I’m still very easily sent of kilter if something happens or my plans are upset in any way, but I balance out faster, I gather my strength and I push forward.  Honesty and gratitude seem to be working hand-in-hand for me.  I think I need to stop using this site as a pity party on ePaper and start using it to be grateful, honest and helpful for others.  It’s just figuring out how to do that and making the time for it and not using it as a way to hide from the issues I’m dealing with

Stay tuned, boys and girls, it looks like things are going to change (for the good, I hope)…….

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