Category Archives: YouTube

(Easier than) waiting around to die

(Trigger warnings for discussions of suicidality, family drama, and other A+ parenting issues.  Also, as usual, language.  This is a sort of undecided, sort of open-ended piece because I need to tweak my meds again and am feeling more than a little blue, but I have already called my shrink & let my therapist know I feel lousy, in case you’re wondering.)

I read some author’s line someplace that we sometimes feel like can’t be who we really are until everyone who’s known us is dead.  Sometimes, it’s even true by circumstances of money or other constraints– you don’t have the freedom to tell other people and their expectations to go screw, and sometimes just heading out for the hills and reinventing yourself somewhere, somewhen else is not in the cards. Continue reading


Getting Lucky, a publishing signal boost

Support the arts! Feminism! Poetry! Awesome indie presses!

This is a shameless plug for an awesome indie press— they’re trying to raise money to put out a chapbook of poetry by a good friend of mine, and I’d really appreciate it if you took a look.

This is the fundraising link.

And this is the awesome video excerpt of one of the poems, because any book that subverts fashion magazines and notions of feminine beauty and puts it in sonnets (dear GOD, the formalism, I am horrid about discipline when it comes to sticking to forms, but I am a sucker for sonnets) is completely, totally, just— yeah.  It’s my jam.

I stand confused (you dropped a bomb on me)

Ayelet Waldman (who I really haven’t liked every time she’s written a column for the Times, just my gut, I have felt like she’s often written herself so she comes off as selfish and there’s a projective worry I’ll deal with later…) wrote recently about her initial diagnosis as bipolar II and her experience with topamax and her later discovery that she wasn’t bipolar at all– “just” premenstrual dysmorphic.  I’d missed the article, but my therapist brought it up at yesterday’s session as a way to work back to a frequent topic– her perception of my overreliance on my organic disease versus more situational causes for my depression and my consequent feelings of powerlessness over my future, and the fact that Topamax hasn’t been effective for me in the long run even as it seemed to really work at the start.

I can concede the last point, even as I argued with her (again) about how I know and understand that there’s an intersection between genetic predisposition and my situational triggers and how I cope/choose to respond– but that sometimes I do better than others.

What Waldman says in the article, though, about the intense feelings of relief that the bipolar diagnosis gave her because it explained some of her more intense behaviors– her rages, her hypomanias, all of those things– those are things I’ve had too, even as it’s been true that no mood stabilizer has worked for me for more than a bit and unpacking the question– am I medication refractive?– or is it just that coming off one med and onto another works an equilibrium/placebo effect in me for a while before I hit another major depression, and I’m “simply” subject to major anxiety and depression, as she suggests?

I don’t know what to think.  I’m going to be working with a new psychiatrist starting next month because the one I’ve worked with since I was first diagnosed is changing to a different type of practice and won’t be able to continue to see me– and I’m certainly beyond the efficacy plateau on the Topamax at the 2-ish year mark (suicidal ideation will kind of make you see that light), just like the rest of the mood stabilizers, just as I’m feeling better now that I’m on SSRIs and reducing the mood stabilizer in my system– but there are things left to explain.

It makes me sick to my stomach to think I have to start from scratch in trying to understand the whys of my crazy again.  Shellshocked, even.

Everybody feels the wind blow.

The Guardian of London has an occasional column, anonymised, called Diary of a Separation.  (They have lots of wonderful features columns, the way few American papers do, anymore.  It’s really a wonderful paper.)  This week‘s was particularly good, as she talked about her own fears of the future, her self-image, and then– this bit, right here:

“Are you really OK? You look a bit …” he trails off and raises an eyebrow.

There’s something about that question, from him, the real concern in it, that engulfs me in unmanageable emotion, a wash of sadness I had no idea I was feeling. Suddenly, I’m blinking back tears. There really isn’t anything terribly wrong: life just seems quite hard at the moment, and sometimes a little sympathy is a dangerous thing.

I attempt a casual shrug.

“Ah, I don’t know. I’m just feeling really, really old. And looking really old,” I add. I rub my eyes with feigned tiredness, to get rid of the tears, the heel of my hand grinding into the thin skin under my eyes. When I look back at him, I feel exposed, vulnerable.

I can’t say how many times I’ve walked that precipice of feeling like I’m a wide open window and everyone knows— and desperately wanting someone to ask, so I can say “No, I’m not okay,” just so I have someone to talk to, but needing the excuse of someone to ask– and feeling like I don’t want anyone to acknowledge what we’re all completely aware of, that I’m more than a bit of a wreck, clingy and prone to TMI blurts, because if someone’s kind to me at just the wrong moment, I’ll lose the tenuous grip on myself that I’ve managed to find and that– that’ll be it, maybe not just for that moment but for– well, forever, because some days are more desperate than others.

Some days, I say– “No, but thank you for asking.”  Some days, I blatantly lie.  I don’t expect that it’s anything except known for gospel truth that I’m telling a falsehood when I say I’ve got a bad headache or I’m just not feeling well because of my arthritis– I almost always have some physical hurt going on, but there are some pains you get used to.  Still, they are kind enough not to press.  Some of my closer friends (boy, are they saints) even let me get away with ignoring the question and pretending like I didn’t hear them/ changing the subject/ working on in sullen silenceI try to return the favor when they’re having bad days, though there are days/weeks/months when they/I/we will say– “Ok.  But if you change your mind…”

One day, though, when the blame, blame, blame and just the sheer volume of daily mundanities to be gotten through was too much, someone asked me if I was okay at work and for once, I said no, I was pretty depressed, but I was working on it, and thank you for asking.  I intended to leave it there because– well.  Burdening people with TMI, versus telling the truth?  It’s a hard balance.  Still, we ended up talking a bit when this person pressed the issue, shared an experience of their own.  It made me feel a lot better and also made me see the person who asked in a different light– not that I hadn’t liked them already, but– nevertheless.  And the world hasn’t imploded– yet– for admitting aloud that I’m human.

Maybe I’ve reason to believe/ We all will be received.

Friends you haven’t met yet

I’ve been on staycation this week– I have ridiculous amounts of vacation that on my cruddy retail salary I can never use up and go someplace useful, and I’ve been feeling more than a little bit burnt, that whole recent wicked bad depression thing to the side.

So– I stayed home, helped the electrician find the wires in our old (1901) house’s walls, did streaming Netflix (that Stan Lee, he may be on to something with that Marvel dare I say franchise?) as I glutted myself on the BBC Sherlock Series 1 and the pre-Avengers movies (superheroes and shit blowing up YAY, although Iron Man 1 was by far my favorite), start/read/finished a whole bunch of books (George Mann’s The Affinity Bridge and The Osiris Ritual (steampunk Victorian mystery series with a smattering of romance), W.S. Merwin’s The Shadow of Sirius (poetry, oh, I love Merwin so), Jaimy Gordon’s Lord of Misrule (amazing, a little hard to slog through until you get into it, but the voices and the world that she builds, it’s like McCarthy’s The Road in the challenge it presents to the reader but it’s so very rewarding), dipped some more into The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis (the perfect bedside book, really, because it’s big and yet the stories tend to be very short), and discovered a poet called William Matthews via The Writer’s Almanac, whose Selected Poems I downloaded onto my Nook (his poems are taking my breath away, daily.)  Then, I totally wallowed in Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series through #4, because you’ve got to have a little Napoleonic naval captain and his sentient, literate dragon fantasy-action-adventure to break up all that serious reading.

I also saw The Artist.  If you don’t see any other Oscar-nominated movie, see this one.  There’s a dog, who does all the silent movie dog things to utter perfection.  And James Cromwell.  (Worth the price of admission alone.)  And John Goodman.  (Also worth the price of the ticket.)  But oh.  Oh.  The main actors.  And the story.  The silent movie paean, while still being utterly modern.  It’s just– everything that they say and more.

Yesterday, I met up with Jen from Knitting Interrupted.  I’ve been meaning to meet up with Jen for, oh, I don’t know, I’d say … forever.  She lives about a three hour drive from my house and so it’s long enough to give serious pause– and she’s got two boys, so her making the haul up to my place is even more of an issue.  But.  She’s moving to Florida, so there, that was it.  The fire under my butt to drive the six hour round trip to see her.  Because the thing with this blog thing is– we’re all friends who just haven’t met yet, and I’ve known Jen practically since the start of my blogging, back when I used to do this more regularly and was funnier, cooked more, whined a lot less, and was better about minding blog etiquette, including visiting commenters’ blogs, commenting back, responding to comments– you know.  Blog 1.0 stuff, not to drive traffic, but just because it’s simple good manners.  I need to do more of that.

It was an awesome visit, not in the least because her precocious boys treated me like a visiting anthropologist and needed to show me Everything That They Do during their homeschooling day, at least until her oldest got bored with me until he wasn’t.  : )  I’ve yet to meet someone I’ve known through this blog (or, with a few I-knew-it-would-be-like-that-in-advance exceptions in my online dorky fandom adventures) who hasn’t been someone with whom I could just sit down and say– “Yeah.  This is cool.  You’re even more you than I already thought you would be.”

We talked of many things (though not ships, shoes, sealing wax, cabbages or kings), including the ups and downs of blogs, the proliferation of content delivery means (FB, G+, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, Livejournal) and how it can all just get overwhelming in terms of what to keep up with and the decision of how much information about yourself to put out there.  We talked about self-editing when we post, the desire to be fair, and the fact that the Internet Contains All Useful Things, so the pedagogy about memorization and rote knowledge is something that maybe educators should question– though I do love, love my books, not just my Nook (which is bright and shiny and awesome and lets me carry more books than I can ever read in a week in my bag), and there’s a secret part of me that believes in belts and suspenders and lives in fear of the Zombie apocalypse and eyes the Storey’s Country Skills and other books of that ilk at work with booklust bordering on weirdness.  (What?  I don’t eye the back corner of my Dad’s yard and think CHICKENS and then check the zoning laws.  I totally don’t.)  I mentioned how I’ve been mulling over this interesting NYT article in terms of my own FB feed and trying to decide how to use my G+ feed, since I don’t, really, and I don’t Tweet or Tumble at all and have no desire to, and the “ham sandwich” posts on FB?  IDK.  I need to condense stuff, figure out what I really want to say, and not Use All The Platforms just because they’re there.  I need to figure out who I want in my FB, whether to link my blog there, rethink my “anonymity” here, where I backlink this blog.  I need to prioritize my content.  God, that sounds fucking pretentious.  But isn’t winnowing one’s online accounts an extension of life, deciding what levels you want to engage your relationships on?  And then doing it, because that’s the hard part…

We talked about our various life changes, the universe, everything.  It was great, and far too short a visit, considering that I’d have to brave traffic on the way home– but also because I was starting to feel a little aaah these kids are really adorable but boy they want a lot of interaction Jen is a HERO gee I really love Jen a lot this is a great conversation I kind of really need to leave now and process all of this input before I explode.  I wish like hell I hadn’t put my visit off for so long.

On the ride home, in the rain, as I listened to Florence and the Machine’s Ceremonials, Foo Fighters’ Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace, then flipped radio channels and waited to see what the radio gods sent me (I do love it when they send Diana Ross)– I mulled over the theme I’ve been thinking about a lot recently– denial and self-denial, even when there’s no reason for it.  Those emotions/coping skills are separate from fear/anxiety and attendant procrastination, though I’ve also got those in spades.  But it brought up the question, one I wrote down on an index card and posted on a corkboard I have on my wall, along with other things I try to look at and inspire myself with (including a nifty, nifty Dalek washcloth Jen knitted for me). 

What are you waiting for?

I’ve been writing here about how I’ve felt lonely– that’s no one’s fault but my own.  I have lovely friends– all of you, and in real life, and I do socialize, do make appointments so I get the hell out of the house and out of my head.  I need to make more friends, however, single ones I don’t know from work or from my marriage, because in the end, I’ve got to re-learn how to put myself out there.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been on my own, without any buffer.  My edges are raw.  I have no pretensions that it won’t be anything but painful and awkward, and that sometimes I’ll have to shoot someone an email (or a blog post) after that says “It’s not you, it’s me.”  (Oh, HAI, Jen.)  I am someone who takes a long time to open up for all that I blah blah blah here– but these posts, too, are carefully crafted, and I do leave things unsaid.  (Yeah, hard to believe.)

I can be anxious and twitchy when meeting new people, even ones I’ve known online for years.  I get overwhelmed in large groups pretty easily, and whether that’s a cognitive thing or a function of shyness or my anxiety, well, I don’t know.  I just know I need buffers, sometimes.  When my brother-in-law used to hold his big Thanksgiving turkey fry-up, I’d go hide in the kitchen and carve up the turkeys because that gave me something on which I could focus– and I only then had to make small talk with the few people who could fit around the carving board, so– whittling down my options to something I could handle.  My husband is charming and funny, able to make small talk with just about anyone, and able to draw me into the conversation with what I always felt (and still feel) was overly effusive praise of my merits.  I’m not all that sterling, and his praise of me always made me feel squirmy because my self-esteem issues aside, I’m just not that awesome.  Still, though.  Going to events with him was far easier than going alone.

One of my favorite authors is Haven Kimmel– and she wrote a book called The Solace of Leaving Early, in which the main character, who’s had a breakdown, (crankily) falls in love with another misfit.  I don’t recall the exact passage and whether she’s trying to explain it to someone or just recollecting some time– but there’s this pitch-perfect bit about leaving while the getting is good and she, the shy person, is still feeling engaged, even though the evening/event isn’t nearly over.

I’m going to find that passage and write it on the Corkboard of Inspirational Stuff, because next week I’m going to my first support group meeting for divorced and separated people and I am terrified, even as I inwardly snark that it’s AA-Divorce.  I bookmarked social groups for single women looking to make friends, single and divorced loser ladies, my self esteem says, but.  Baby steps.  I will eventually try them out.  I will.  Really.

If the meeting gets overwhelming, I can leave early.  But at least I’ll have gone.  And who knows?  Maybe it won’t.  Either way, I can try.  I can leave early.  I can always go back.  But I won’t meet the friends that might be there if I don’t go.

What are you waiting for?

It’s time to find out.

Wonders. Or irony, blackest?

It never ceases to amaze me how:

1) you (meaning I, I use the distancing second person here) can call your shrink and finally admit “I am having strong suicidal ideation, I want to take all my pills, I have to take lots of my benzos in order to get through work, I am afraid to go home and be alone, the only thing that stops me right now is the thought that I will give my father a heart attack” and then have a detailed conversation about all the reasons (and non-reasons, because the fact is, yes, you’ve got a lot going on, but the fact, too, is, you’re also just crazy and it’s grey out and winter) you feel so hopeless and helpless with a fairly low threshold of sobbing and a reasonable level of ability to think about it more clearly once I’ve finally been able to say– yeah.  I really want to do it, but I’ve been very, very, carefully rationing myself to just the meds I am supposed to be taking.  And then they give you more pills, except this time, magically, you don’t have the urge to take all of them all at once.  And there’s a new pill.  (You pray.)

2) how long it can take to realize 1).

3) how much of a difference it makes to hear someone say “I would really miss you if you did that,” or “I really wish that you wouldn’t” or “you seem really blue, are you okay?” and the overwhelming, overflowing sadness and joy that provokes at the same time, and how afterward, you berate yourself for withdrawing inside your head and not telling someone or even asking someone to say– I feel really helpless and hopeless and heartbroken and lonely.  Would you please tell me I’m worth something?  But then you remind yourself not to berate yourself too much because, hey.  Sometimes, you’re crazy.  And if that’s not okay, well, it’s still okay, if you know what I mean.

4)   Oh the demons come, they can subside.  (Bon Iver is maybe not the best thing to listen to when you’re feeling nihilistic, except when he is.)