The Rest is Silence

I lost a member of my flock last week. Dotty was a budgerigar which is more commonly known as a parakeet. I adopted her from a foster mom back at the height of COVID in 2020 as a companion for my bird Blu. Blu had lost his mate, Fluffy, a few years before and as social birds I thought having a companion would be good for him. Blu, sadly passed away a year or so later at the beginning of 2021. Dotty lost her mate as well and came from a home where human/bird interaction wasn’t very high on the young families list. I’m a hands on kinda bird owner but I learned to respect her boundaries. She was never let out of her cage before and I’m a big believer in free flight in the house. She smacked into the sliding glass door a few times and resented me having to hunt her down behind furniture to put her back in her cage. Sammy, the macaw, kinda wanted to see how comfortably she could fit the little ones head in her beak so I never let them play together. She liked to be sung to. I used to sing “Hello Dotty” to Hello Dolly. The most remarkable thing about this little feather-ball was she was always trying to talk and master the sounds around her. She always sang, chattered, and made vocalizations which were solid attempts to talk. I should have spent more time with her to aid her speaking ability but shoulda/woulda/coulda seems to be the refrain which serenaded her life.

When I lifted the cage cover to check on her after she had been making odd noises I found her with her wing caught in one of the slats on the bottom of her cage. I extricated her and moved her over to my bed to observe her. She was breathless from the struggle with the bars, both wings drooped in exhaustion but she wasn’t fighting my hold on her, and when I uncurled my fingers from around her she didn’t try to fly away. In fact, she held fiercely onto one finger. She started having some sort of fit where she would try and bend her head all the way back to her tail and fly. The first time this happened she landed on the floor. I got her back on the bed and made a nest in the blankets for her but the fitting kept coming over her and she would get dislodged. I had never seen this kind of behavior before and I was terrified she was dying. Frantic, I found a site that connects people with questions with experts with answers and paid the $1 sign-up fee and was passed off to a vet who wanted to look over the techs notes before she continued. I never heard back from the vet. By this time I had Dotty blocked on the bed with my leg, she was still fighting the seizures but she was getting tired. I took a video of an episode and sent it to the vet. She was against my leg a little on her side when I saw her wing quiver; then she was still. I informed the vet she was gone and put my phone down and picked her up and gently held her to my chest and sobbed. I cried harder over that small bird than I did for my mother or my two brothers deaths. It’s taken me almost a full week to clean out her cage and move her out of my life. I miss her singing.

I wish I could say my mind allowed me to make this all about her. Recriminations rained down on me like a flight of arrows calling to mind every mistake I made, when I didn’t keep her cage clean, when I didn’t let her exercise, when I kept her in front of the window on a hot day, how I never took her to the vet, how I shouldn’t have let her suffer and I should have just rung her neck and put her out of her misery. Then a shield came up and deflected the arrows with comforting words (which has never happened before, at least not this consciously); You didn’t know her age, birds hide their illnesses, budgies don’t have a long life in a cage. You loved her, you took care of her and you were with her up until the very end. I don’t know which voice is true. I know which one I want to believe and for the first time in my life, it isn’t the negative telling me it’s all my fault. The self talk I’ve been practicing in my daily life, when it doesn’t seem important, has built up the muscles of support when I was to weak to block the old ingrained mantra of self loathing and disappointment.

The emotions of mourning have unsettled me, tho. I spoke to my sister about it briefly because I’ve not been able to talk to anyone about it without tearing up, and she speculated it might be an accumulation of all the changes, deaths if you will, I have experienced in the last five or six months. She might be right, I’ll have to talk to Ellen about it at our next session, but having these emotions so close to the surface is troubling for me, well, emotionally. Crying is so foreign to me, I feel like I’m forcing the emotions so I try to stop it and it comes back up to the surface in the most inopportune moments. I’m trying, on one side of my brain, to allow myself to cry when I’m alone and where I’m supposedly safe and the other side decided it wants to watch TV, write a journal entry or a blog, play with Sammy, crochet or do anything other than the needful. I guess I will cry when I cry. Maybe once the tears are all dry I will find the peace which comes with silence.

I Do Declare

Now that I’ve moved, still whole and fairly well settled I have started the process of looking for a job. At the end of my four hour slot each day of searching I just want to crawl back to my old job (but in a new city) and go back to what I know, after all the devil you know…. I try to research and apply for five jobs a day, which doesn’t sound like much but phlebotomy and EKG tech jobs aren’t as ubiquitous as one would think. One company is waiting to move over their hiring platform onto another and after thanking me for submitting my application they would prefer I do it again on the 19th. So, I’m waiting for the days to tick away.

At the end of these arduous application processes they have self declaration pages. Am I a veteran: No. Am I of any color: No. Am I binary or non: Binary. Do I have a disability…..Do I? I asked Dr. W once if I could go on disability for the major depression and anxiety disorder he diagnosed me with but he said he wouldn’t. Not because I didn’t qualify but because he felt it wouldn’t be good for me. I don’t feel like I’m depressed any longer, I feel like my problem is more trying to learn the basic human skills I should have gotten from a normal dysfunctional childhood to navigate the world around me. My mood still goes up and I come back down but, then again, everyone does. I’m still on medication but I’m on blood pressure medication as well to keep that on an even keel, not because of an acute problem. I don’t want to be disabled. I understand they have requirements to hire people who are challenged by life one way or another and there is a little voice in my head that wants to abuse every option to get a job, but I don’t want to be disabled. If the site doesn’t have specific things that qualify me as disabled, I check refuse to identify. If there is a list and depression and anxiety are on it I check yes, but I’m not specific. I feel my answers should be consistent but this is as consistent as I can get.

How am I supposed to handle this? Is there anyone out there that can give me advise or share how they handled this in the past? Or am I just sticking my head in the proverbial sand hoping I can convince the world I’m perfectly healthy, nothing to look at here and just keep moving along. Sigh.

UPDATE:

Now they’re getting crafty. They ask “Do you have a disability OR a history of a disability.”. Its like they read my mind…..or my blog…..and are requiring me to declare whether I want to or not. Grrrrr.

In The News

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’m ill informed when it comes to current events. My sister is my trusted source of news and we don’t talk every day. So, when I clicked on my weather app on my computer today and saw that Naomi Judd died and her husband was just now speaking out about it I clicked to read more. I knew she had Hep C, I knew she retired to recover. I wasn’t aware of her battle with depression and suicidal ideology. I’m not a country fan devotee, although the Judds were some of the songs my sisters listened to, so I’m aware. I watched part of the docudrama on network TV back when they had movies made for network TV so I’m not as clueless as I am about why Russia is invading Ukraine. My heart goes out to the whole family and close friends for losing a loved one so suddenly and tragically.

Why am I writing about this? Something in the article spoke to me and old ghosts from my darker days reappeared. Ashley spoke of the voice in your head telling you how you are alone, no one loves you, (and if they do tell you they love you, they’re lying), and you are not worthy of anything so why bother, why try, why live? I still hear that voice more often than I care to admit, but the voice has less and less sway over me most days. Between the medication, the therapy and the self-love I have been trying to institute it has been at bay. I call him the Evil Little Pixie*. My heart breaks when I think of how many people are at his mercy, how he is constantly eroding the foundation people stand on just to see them fall. He is the deliberate laughter in the back of the head when I stick my foot in my mouth, when I make a human sized mistake and happily replays the video every chance he gets. I know the Evil Little Pixie is different for everyone, and his motives and techniques are specialized and honed for every individual, and it’s voice might echo your parents sentiment, your friend or spouse but the Evil Little Pixie’s only existence is to make you feel as small and insignificant as he should be in our lives.

Again, why am I writing about this? Back in the earlier days of the new century the ‘un’ and ‘less’ feelings (unloved, unworthy, useless, worthless) crowd in on me and corned me at a time when I was at the bottom of the void, though I didn’t know it at the time. I didn’t feel depressed, I honestly didn’t feel much of anything at all other than rage, but it was a pivotal point in my life. A few years latter in a Family History class we were tasked to write about a time that changed our life, and though I had witnessed the death of my father, walked a marathon, served a mission, threw myself into charity work and had completed one novel this one event kept pushing the other ideas behind it so it was all I could see. It’s called I Broke. It is the story of how I finally realized I, well, broke and how I tried to fix it by ending the pain, the anger and the self loathing and the realization that came when I failed. I’m not sharing this because I want to, I’m sharing this because we all need to share our stories to pull others from the bleeding edge of this ultimate step. After class was over two women came up to me and told me they almost did too. Not the same situations, not the same emotional baggage but the same Evil Pixie trying to destroy each of us in turn. And, honestly, not just us but those who love us as well because we might not believe it, but our drop into the darkest pool will ripple through those you love like a tsunami. At first I was irked they told me they had almost done too, because that negated my belief of being alone. We might suffer in silence, but we are not alone.

If you find yourself looking into the eyes of a friend or loved one and see your pain reflected back, tell them your story, make them know they are not alone and help them get the help they need. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or visit suicidepreventionlifeline.org. You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

*I realize EVIL LITTLE PIXIE makes the voice seem more of a joke than something as serious a depression and suicidal ideology but giving something scary a stupid or funny name makes it more manageable to me. I am not making light of the disease, I’m just making it more bearable for myself. I’m sorry if I offend, that is not my intent.