Sunday, November 30, 2014

Engine Trouble.

Guess what...   10 hour train rides are not super fun.  We did it--The twins and I. It was just the three of us, and it wasn't so very bad, but it was kind of crazy. We happened to be on an Amtrak train that was having engine difficulties, leading to two unscheduled  stops at locations not on the normal route to switch engines... The first engine switch really messed with Stella.  She didn't understand how we could be going in one direction than just apparently be going in the opposite direction and still be progressing towards our planned destination.  It didn't help that the next stop, after the engine switch, was Springfield, Massachusetts.  "We're going back to Springfield?!"

Yes, we were only a fraction of the way along our journey, and it felt like we had been on the train forever.  To travel backwards on a stinky, boring, uncomfortable train, knowing the trip has only become longer...  For God's sake, that's the stuff that makes a little person crazy.  Going backwards makes every kind of person crazy.

Yet, I have felt like I am moving in circles and isn't that almost like moving backwards?  I keep going back to the beginning, don't I, even though the beginning point isn't so clear. Is it so crazy to kind of want to go in a direction which tells us exactly where we will be not so far into the future?  Once, I was riding through a MD neighborhood and there were three at-home-psychics within one block.  What am I talking about?  I don't remember.

Right... The not knowing is scary.  Train tracks always know where the train is going... it guides the train, back and forth, back and forth...  And, jumping off the tracks to frolic in the fields of flowers, like Tootles the Train, is against the rules.  Gosh, that was Michael's favorite book for years...  "Don't go off the tracks!"  But isn't moving backwards is a whole different kind of destructive scary?

It is destructive.  No one should move backwards.  There's a reason time only goes in one direction.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Who me?

Sometimes I feel awfully conflicted in my understanding of the purpose of human existence...  Nah, it's just my own role in this living business that has me confounded.  What is the purpose of... me?  I wonder that sometimes...

Like...  What the Hell am I supposed to be doing?  No, not just doing...  What am I supposed to be?  What am I allowed to be?  What if I'm not "being" anything, really, right now because I'm worried that anything that I choose might disappoint people... and that's something I do...  Hey, if it's what I do, than why am I letting that little thing stop me?  I know...  I don't want to disappoint anyone.

I'm not the first insecure, stressed-out, dumb-ass, self-centered person to think:  "I am such a disappointment... I am disappointing everyone around me."  It's a truth to me, at this point.  I'm not living up to my potential.  I do know what I've got.  No one needs to tell me all that I can be, because I've been it.  I applied for teaching jobs the summer I graduated from college, and I was asked to interview for every one.  I only went to one interview and fell in love with the little school and accepted a job there immediately.  Looking back, I regret my decision to leave after two years.  The kids and the principal were definitely disappointed that I didn't stay.  I was getting married, you see, and Sam's job was in Springfield and it seemed like working closer to the town in which we were living made more sense.  The commute seemed so long, especially in the winter... I was offered the two jobs for which I interviewed. I chose one.  I did it well... and I kept moving along, making things happen and getting shit done.

But then I kind of stopped making things happen.  I got no shit done.  And that's what I'm all about these days.

Now I sometimes wonder if, I, in particular, am destined to disappoint people...  I mean, I feel like maybe that's what I am going to do forever: It's what I do!  I'm doing it ...And I don't see this all changing in the foreseeable future. I can't give everyone what they really want.  I can't tell everyone what they really want to hear.  I can't be exactly what everyone needs me to be.  I wish I could.  Wouldn't that be beautiful?

Maybe, far too often, I am the one disappointed in other people.  Maybe my expectations are too damn high.  Or maybe a whole lot of people have been disappointing in my recent life, and now I have a hard time seeing past that.  Maybe disappointing people are disappointed in others as a way of feeling better about themselves being such G.D. disappointments.  (I don't believe any of that.  None of what I just wrote is accurate).

Maybe I became disappointing and disappointed when I became careless...  Caring not.  I sometimes wonder if I'm too careless with my own life or with everything.  When I need to go to sleep, and I need to stop thinking, and stop feeling, and not remember, I will pop a couple of these things and some of those, and chug a little of that... Nothing illegal, of course.  Just NyQuil, Diphenhydramine, Klonopin, alcohol, or natural and non-habit forming Melatonin...*  Not that all that even works most of the time.  And they certainly don't work when I want to not think at all.  Ever.  That's just a careless notion anyway--apathy is disappointing.  But, not sleeping really sucks too.  And as I pound some NyQuil out of the bottle, I think, "Make me sleep, god damn you!  What else are you good for?"  Such a disappointment...

*I in no way endorse or encourage this type of behavior.  Using these products in certain combinations and amounts can be lethal.  I don't do that anymore.  I started writing this blog post in mid-September.  Gees, couldn't even get this crap done.  See?  Told ya...

Monday, September 8, 2014

One shade freed.

My psychiatrist used to describe the negative, depressed voice inside me telling me I’m a failure or should feel guilty as an 8 year old girl. He asked me how I would talk to an 8 year old child?  Would I speak to her that way?  What would I say to her?  I was always stumped by this because I didn't feel particularly like venturing into that territory--talking to another voice inside me--when I was already feeling loony-toon-crazy-depressed.

And let's be honest, my facial expressions speak volumes, and I know my face was saying, "Are you fucking with me right now?  Wait, are you really serious?  I feel a little uncomfortable... I'm smiling because I feel like this is a ridiculous question."

That was three years ago.  Since then Dr. A has figured me out.   It wasn't the kind of talk therapy this girl needed.  That shit wasn't going to work on me.  (Maybe for one session, when I was in PMDD Hell, it would be fun if he approached it like, "We're going to talk to your 8 year old self for an hour, so let's get our crazy on."  Also if he had wine available.

The last time I talked to him, he just told me how I should be treating myself and how I should be "speaking" to myself.  Boom!  None of this, I will lead her to her own answer... a deep truth inside of her... a revelation... an awakening... if you will.  He slapped that 8 year old girl across the face.

"Stop being so punitive in your judgments about yourself; guilt is useless; have fun; be flexible in how you think you should be and act and live; and if you aren't getting what you need to be happy--you need to find it.  You aren't crazy.  You can't hold your breath forever or at some point you'll..."

He didn't fire all that at me in rapid succession; his advice flowed carefully around my own thoughts and descriptions, (most of which were pointing towards me thinking I should feel terribly guilty or be hospitalized for the crazies).  I walked out of his office feeling freed from something I didn't realize was binding me.  I felt like I could breathe...

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Comme ci, comme ça.

This is a sad-type of blog most of the time, but I'm not generally a sad, or depressed person in real life... Honest.

I write when I feel alone.  Really, I just start writing a whole bunch of stuff that is quietly circulating--or violently crashing--around my brain that I don't know what else to do with it... It gives me a headache.  Checking myself.  Writing relieves some of the pressure up there.

And, honestly, I feel like doctors should be a solid, reasonable outlet for my symptoms, but they don't seem to be hearing me.  "Do you feel lightheaded and dizzy?"  "Yes."  That's that.
"Your depression is so severe it interferes with your life?  You see a psychiatrist for that, right?"
"What happened to your arm?"  "Oh, just construction demo."  Next question.

Without any new tests, the endocrinologist says my thyroid looks fine.  She even, literally, looked at it through a sonogram.  Looks good.  No sign of Hashimoto's.  That's very good.  I'm glad.  But it means I have no idea what is wrong with me, or why my well-being took a turn for the worse in 2011.  Maybe it's just what happens when "we" (in the most general sense of human existence), start falling apart.  It's the climax of the story in our early thirties, then we're just in "falling action."  I feel like I'm falling in action.  I'm so tired.  I'm tired.   I firmly believe moms should have infinite energy.  Moms of twins should be energizer bunnies.  Those things should be universal truths.

I'm not sure how to effectively express my desperation to feel okay--to doctors or to the people who love me.  I'm really good at seeming okay.  I'm good at doing "Okay."  "I'm always okay," I say to my family.  "I'm always okay.  Promise."

And I really am.  I'm okay.  I'm just not myself.  I'm not myself, and I'm beginning to forget that girl.

adjective: okay
satisfactory but not exceptionally or especially good.
synonyms: satisfactoryall rightacceptablecompetent
decent, good enough,not bad, middlingmoderateunremarkable

unexceptional;informalso-so,'comme ci, comme ça', 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Slap Five.

Do you believe in the "turn the other cheek" aphorism, or do you really want to just punch people in the face?

I'm a punch some people it the face kind of girl, I guess.  Deep down, I think certain people really have it coming.  The thing is, I don't...  I don't ever punch anyone in the face.  I don't even punch a pillow while imagining it's someone else's face.  I don't have any violent tendencies, or even urges to actually hurt another human being.  But, I think about it:  like I see myself being awesome and just knocking someone out after they've been a complete mofo to me or my family.  I guess that makes me a bad person who doesn't do bad things?  Or a good person who only sometimes thinks about doing bad things?  I wield a sharp tongue, and use it occasionally. Does that count?
Gosh, I feel a rush of appreciation when someone wants to fight for me.  They want to defend my honor, and teach that bastard a lesson.  I love it.  I love to imagine it all play out.  Let someone else do the dirty work?

...But then I think about it, and I don't want anyone to be hurt...  not for me or because of me.  Even in a hypothetical, absolutely never really happen dream, I don't even want to hurt the boy who raped me when I was 17.  Not because he hurt me.  I survived.

If a person threatened my life or my children, I would fight to the death.  I was the only one in my you-need-gym-credits-to-graduate-self-defense-college-course who enthusiastically responded to the instructor's question, "Would you maim or kill if your life was being threatened?", "Absolutely.  I would maim or kill that bastard."  Then I realized that maybe that was a rhetorical question, and that no one else had verbalized a positive response.  And I was smiling.  I think the other girls and one boy in that class were a little scared of me.  My roommate certainly raised her eyebrows and elbowed me.  Don't worry, Em, I had your back.

Aren't we really the most hard on ourselves?  Don't we cause ourselves harm, in ways we wouldn't consider inflicting on someone else?  I think we do.  I often think, I've given it a good go, and it's time to give everyone in my life a chance to have someone super-great and wonderful to fill in for me... I mean, in a way, I was the fill in, and they would finally get the real thing... Right?  Or, I think:  My kids deserve better than what I've got.  I don't want to ruin there lives with my health-related nonsense.  They shoot horses don't they?  

I would never let someone I love think that way, or talk that way.  I would do everything I could to convince them that they mattered.  I don't do that for myself.  Not very often; not anymore.  I sometimes think I've given it a really good shot, or God has given me a really good shot and I kind of blew it.  No one should be tired all the time.  I think someone else would do a whole lot better at being me.  I honestly think I'm a huge disappointment, that my stupid body has failed me, and I'll never feel okay again.  I don't want to be sick anymore.  I don't want to schedule that MRI, and go to a sleep clinic, and have more blood tests, and...  I was fine just a few years ago.  I was fine.  

Unfortunately, I don't think I can maim or kill this thing who has taken over my being, and made me less than what is needed for living...  I can't yell at it, or lecture it into submission.  I've tried.  I'm home alone a whole lot, so I can yell stuff whenever I want, and the kids won't worry that "mommy has gone off the deep end."  "Stop it!  Just leave me alone!  Let me wake up, you %^#!%$*&!"  Or, when I can barely lift my limbs, and breathing seems like an effort, I whisper, "Please, not today...  Let me be a good mother."  Because, you know, compared to who I was, my kids probably think I've already fallen off that cliff.  I hope it's not true. 

Sigh...  Maybe when I hit the bottom, I was sleeping, so I didn't feel a thing.  Maybe I'm still falling and haven't encountered that impact.  Maybe I'm floating to the bottom, in a dream, in slow motion--No adrenaline rush. 


Saturday, May 3, 2014

Truer Than Truth.

“A thing may happen and be a total lie; another thing may not happen and be truer than the truth.”
― Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried

          Tim O'Brien is a good friend of mine.  We've never actually met, but he has spoken to me so many times.  Each time his words dig deep into my brain, and enrich my thinking about a whole lot of things...  Not just about Vietnam...  Not just about being a foot soldier in Vietnam.  I don't know another author who has inspired my ideas about humanity, storytelling, memory, and truth more than O'Brien.   

Does truth matter?  If we are expressing the emotion, or tragedy, or the beauty of the story of our lives, does it matter if we speak only truth.  Do we want others to know what we experienced or feel what we experienced?  Tim O'Brien talks about the truth not mattering when one is telling his or her story, or getting at the emotions behind a memory.  A lie can be truer than the truth.  

“It wasn't a question of deceit. Just the opposite; he wanted to heat up the truth, to make it burn so hot that you would feel exactly what he felt.”
― Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried  

Is it acceptable--human-nature even--to protect people with lies, or half-truths, or omissions?  Why was the term, "white lie," conceived?  The very definition of "white lie" states that it is a minor or unimportant lie, especially one uttered in the interests of tact or politeness.  So... It's polite to lie?  
For Example:  Don't do this.  Hold back the truth.

I know whenever anyone asks me how I have been doing, or how I am,  they expect me to respond in a positive manner.  It's sort-of a rhetorical question.  It's one of the first things that comes to many people's minds when they see or talk to someone they haven't seen or talked to in a while.  How are you? It might be polite or tactful for us to say, "Fine, thank you, and how have you been?" even if we feel terrible, or life is beating the crap out of us.

You: "I'm great, thanks for asking.  How are you?"
Acquaintance:  "Good to hear, I'm great too.  In fact, yesterday I... Blah, be, de, blah, blah..."

I tested the "non-polite" approach today, and I don't totally recommend it.  I had a bi-annual dentist appointment, and honestly, I looked like shit when I went, so no surprise that I wasn't "great."  I took a shower this morning, put my hair in a messy ponytail, and clipped my bangs off my face with a barrette and put on sweatpants and a tanktop... Then I cleaned the house and worked on a pastel drawing.  The kids had to be picked up early, and I didn't realize what time it was until I suddenly was supposed to be in the car, right about that second, on my way to get them...  I started to cry (Luteal Phase Fun Times), pulled on jeans and a flannel shit over my tanktop, literally started gagging and threw up on our bedroom floor as I was pushing my arms through the sleeves, then drove on up to their school.

They wanted my attention.  I tried to be non-crying/puking mommy, which was successful.  Luckily my mom was able to watch them so I didn't have to drag them to the dentist with me.  While she was here, I made two huge pans of stuffed shells for our dinner still filling the pasta 5 minutes before I was supposed to be at the dentist's office.  I threw on my Kickstarter Veronica Mars T-Shirt, no makeup, brushed my teeth and went.

The Hygienist asked, "How are you doing?"  I said, "Pretty okay."  Hmmm...  She said, "Oh, well...  good."  I talked about the kids after that, which makes everyone feel happier.
When the doctor came in he also asked, "How have you been?"  I said, "Today?  Today has been crap."  (So, I can say his wife works at the high school where I was formally employed, so he knows a bit of my back story, but he obviously was not expecting that answer).  I explained my allergies and stuff, and then smiled and pretended I was "two-enthusiastic-thumbs-up-Great"...  Because that's the answer people want, yo.  Don't mess with rhetorical questions.  Just shut up.

Sometimes it cracked me up when I was out with my grandparents and people asked my grandfather that question because he would tell them the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help him God.  He would describe his ailments, my grandmother's health, and just about anything that might be worrisome, at the time, in our entire extended family.  He would always end this monologue with a request for prayers for "the family."  "Please, say some prayers for us, we'd really appreciate it."  And he had a right to ask:  Grampy and Nanny prayed for a whole lot of people, identifying them by name, every night.  It was really only a month ago that my 87 year-old grandmother told me she finally stopped listing all the names and started saying, "my family and friends," because she worried she was getting forgetful and would leave someone out.  And, she said she was tired.
“The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head. There is the illusion of aliveness.”
― Tim O'Brien, The Things They Carried

For me, I think I'm learning that I'm all for omissions.   I always believed lies were deal breakers, when it came to important relationships. But telling someone everything, that leaves us open to ridicule, judgement and ultimately, rejection.   Besides, my eyes show everything I am feeling.  I can't hide the truth of my feelings, or thoughts...  Not when someone can see me...  The truth, which makes so much sense in my own head, sounds pretty scary when it comes out of my mouth, or off my fingertips.  Yikes... Joanna needs a filter.  It is polite to lie sometimes.  Not saying all the truth that is that very moment I am experiencing would be tactful and spare other people's feelings.  Shut up, Joanna.  No seriously:  SHUT. UP.  

“My heart tells me to stop right here, to offer quiet benediction and call it the end. But the truth won't allow it. Because there is no end, happy or otherwise. Nothing is fixed, nothing solved. The facts, such as they are, finally spin off into the void of things missing, the inconclusiveness of us. Who are we? Where do we go? The ambiguity may be dissatisfying, even irritating, but this is a love story. There is no tidiness. Blame it on the human heart. One way or another, it seems, we all perform vanishing tricks, effacing history, locking up our lives and slipping day by day into the graying shadows. Our whereabouts are uncertain. All secrets lead to the dark, and beyond the dark there is only maybe.”
― Tim O'Brien

Do people, the ones who truly love us, see our truth, no matter if the words spilling from our mouths are perfectly true and accurate, or blatant lies?  Can't they see it in our eyes?  Filters don't work on them, right?  Right...

But... a person who cares about us, hears everything we don't say...  They must.  Don't they see our eyes shift as we speak, the slight lack of emotion in our voice, the fact that we are trying to focus attention away from ourselves? We don't want to lie to them, but we don't want to tell the truth either. We aren't even omitting real-life truth because we want to be dishonest, or we mean to be dishonest; we just don't want to talk about it.  We're too tired to talk about it.

And sometimes we've gotta just keep out mouths shut to make other people happy.  Questa è la vita.
“And in the end, of course, a true war story is never about war. It's about sunlight. It's about the special way that dawn spreads out on a river when you know you must cross the river and march into the mountains and do things you are afraid to do. It's about love and memory. It's about sorrow. It's about sisters who never write back and people who never listen.”

― Tim O'Brien

Thursday, April 17, 2014

That's some catch...

Have the super, best day ever!

I've learned something disturbing.  Now that I am aimlessly floating in the sea of "normal" healthcare, I understand that actually getting cared for is kind of a joke.  For example: Say, you're sobbing into your hands while sitting on the edge of the examination table, crying, "I can't live like this.  I don't know what to do..." The response will be:  "I can order some more tests.  Alrighty, make an appointment at the front desk as you leave, for four weeks from now.  Have a great day."  And, as you wipe your eyes and nose on the sleeve on your shirt, before pulling on your jacket to cover your wet sleeve, you tell the receptionist that you need an appointment in four weeks.  She clickity-clacks on the computer and says, "I don't have anything in four weeks, but I do have an opening on May blah, blah, blah."  That will be about six weeks from today, you figure in your head.  That's fun.  Super!  "Okay... um, okay."
She'll smile and say, "Alright, you're all scheduled, have a nice day!"

Now, I'm not sure about you're reaction, but in real life mine was to sort of throw up in my mouth, and think:  Shut up!  I will not have a nice day.   I don't like you.  (Or "F.U.C.K. YOU"... except I don't really swear a lot in real life).  I didn't smile.

See, my family's physician, (and when I say family, I mean entire extended family), retired this past summer.  He is a genius.  He knew our family health history like it was his job... It was his job.  (I am almost positive that is why he retired).  "Dr. Wally" took care of us.  He took care of me.  If I didn't feel well, I could make an appointment with him within the week, and if it were an emergency, that day.  He would stay late to see any of us.  We could email him if we had a question and he would respond.

Here's a thing.
I don't have a doctor now.  I'll surmise that there is a deficit of actual physicians in this area.  Most people
have a regular Physician's Assistant now, not a doctor.  There is no doctor to step on in when the old assistant doesn't know what the Hell he or she is doing.

My P.A. ordered a complete blood panel along with a full physical at my first appointment.  I received a letter stating my blood tests were great, with the exception of one thing: I have "small red blood cells," which can point to anemia, but requires further tests, if I have any questions I can call the office and..." I saw her again a month later.  She would order more blood tests.  When I told her that my thyroid had to be messing with my body, that it made sense that it was my thyroid, she told me I didn't have access to the information doctors had.  Some people don't like it when you figure stuff out yourself, I guess.  I said, "Actually I do.  I can access almost all the relevant medical studies and journal which are referenced in the public health publications." She said she would order tests to check my Thyroid functionality.

My Ferritin and Hematocrit levels were very low.  (Well, very low for a healthy adult woman; under the "normal range" on the lab scale which encompasses all of humanity.  Those are blood problems).  My Free T4 is at the very lowest end of normal.  The rest of the tests hadn't come back yet.  Now, I would not even know the results of these tests if I didn't happen to see Dr. A. the very day after I got my blood drawn, and if I hadn't told the lab tech to send him the results as well as my fun P.A. lady.  I don't see her until mid-May, so she probably won't send the letter telling me I'm going to die until early May, I would say.  Dr. A doesn't do the whole blood and thyroid thing.  He did want me to see an endocrinologist.  He did call a very big practice in a very big hospital.  They said they could see me in June if he sent along my entire medical history and all his notes, and all my blood tests, and a small biopsy sample of my liver...

No...  They didn't need a sample of my liver.

I was sobbing all over my shirt because I can barely hold my head up most days, I'm very depressed some days, and and I'm living in a foggy-headed malaise every day.  I guess that's pretty A-Okay in the current, "normal" health care system.  You have to feel really, really sick to get an appointment with a doctor.  If your sickness isn't an "emergency," you may eventually see a medical professional, but not get help until she orders some tests.  Get some tests, but you need to see a specialist.  You can see a specialist...  in June.

I mean, this super old man, with crooked knees and a crooked back, wearing a VFW hat, and leaning heavily on a cane, whom I did smile at sincerely as I left the health care center, got his toe cut off and sewed back on.  That's not A-Okay.  Is it?

He told me about his toe as I drove him home in the rain.  See, his foot was hurting something awful and he didn't think he could walk all that way.  He didn't ask me for a ride.  I just happened to smile at him, and he happened to tell me that as was reaching for my hood, ready to run through the April showers and icy puddles to my car.
Are you waiting for a ride? 
 I'm getting up the nerve to start walking.  
I can drive you home.  
Could you truly, young lady?  Thank you.  I would appreciate that quite a bit. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Climbing out: The cold never bothered me anyway.

It has been three years since I remember feeling this way for not just half of the time.
What I mean is, even when I felt like myself, I always knew that this freaky thing was going to crawl inside of me and make me feel bad. Bad is an understatement, if you have read past blog posts. I felt so awful, it was scary, sometimes.

I didn't know what was real, what wasn't; I didn't know how to feel better; I didn't know how to get out of the well; It wasn't possible, I don't think; not then.

 I had friends who made me laugh, and made me forget how bleak things seemed... at least for a little while. But somehow things got worse, some kinds of friends disappear, in the end--No more laughing or forgetting--and then I was only more aware of the darkness and walls. That was my fault. I should never have needed anyone else to make me feel "happy." When you need someone too much, it becomes too much.

Too much of anything is never good...  Right?  (Well... I don't think you can get too much fresh air. There can never be too much justice.  Too much love and kindness isn't really something anyone would say. Too much Veronica Mars?  Nah, not possible.  Oh, and I would take too much lovely flawless skin, and too much respect.  [And yes those two things can be used in the same sentence as if they have equal importance.  Yeah, I know, we have to know darkness to appreciate the light and all that.  And there's the thing about being human and humans have pores and wrinkles and...  yeah...]).

Here it is:  I feel happy.  Even when my hormones are betraying me with ridiculously unpleasant brain chaos, I'm here.  I'm not gone.  I feel me punching the darkness in the face, saying, "Go away, I'm happy.  I'm happy and you are making me feel like shit.  Leave me alone."  I used to check out, sit at the bottom of the well, and wait for it to go away.  I really couldn't do anything else.  I mean it.  I was so far down there, I couldn't reach any light.  It was too sad to look up anyway.  Who wants to know how deeply alone they are in their own depression?  Not this girl; I just wanted to close my eyes real tight, and hum loudly so I could't hear the silence.

And, it was funny when people said to "think positively, and you'll feel super great."  You can't think anything when your brain is the thing that's all messed up.  For about 12-14 days every month, I was sad.  I was sad, and there was nothing anyone could do about it... especially me.

Well, that's not entirely true.  I took 2 mg of Prozac during my luteal phase and calcium, magnesium, and B6 every day.  I exercised.  I tried to avoid alcohol and caffeine... I talked to my doctor fairly regularly...  and I learned everything I possibly could about my symptoms and PMDD.  Those are things I did.  I was still sad.

She saved my life...
Then this amazing thing happened.  The iron curtain of depression lifted like the Brezhnev Doctrine was a post-it note.  I watched "Frozen."  Elsa sang, "Let it go."  I let it go.  I just let it all go, and decided I was going to be free!

...  No, that's not what happened.  Wouldn't it be awesome if a Disney movie soundtrack was the cure for PMDD and depression?  It would be ridiculous and awesome.  Damn, it would be glorious-fireworks-booming-light-shining-from-heaven-fucking-amazing if I could just march up a mountain and stomp my foot and all tragedy, mistakes, and sadness--(everything that some majorly messed up parents who shamed, isolated, and alienated their little girl for being different, for that matter)--and hormone imbalances, and brain chemical deficiencies became beautiful, crystal, triumph!  Yes!  No.  It's not so easy.  Frozen is a good movie though.  Kristen Bell is a surprisingly lovely singer.

I don't really know what happened.  All on my own, after weeks worth of research and reading, and talking to doctors (including Dr. Daniel J Heller from PMS, things started to make a little bit more sense.  See, me and PMDD out of the blue made no sense, and it's a pretty hopeless diagnosis.  No matter what "helps relieve symptoms" I was certainly batshit crazy feeling at least a few days every month.  I felt bugs crawling all over my body.  I saw the tendons ripping through the skin of my hands.  I saw a withered old woman when I looked in the mirror.  I wondered if I loved my husband.  Those are crazy things.  All of them.

What did make sense, as I pieced everything together, from every medical study I could access, and every article, and medical journal, and...  From all that I learned, I realized that what did make sense was I have Thyroid Disease.  I knew that.  I knew that for a long time.  But I didn't put it all together.  I didn't make sense of it.  I waited, with the doctors who didn't know much, for antibodies to show up in blood tests, to tell me that every symptom, and my entire family medical history, pointed to exactly what my Nanny Tops told me was making me feel so terrible.  It's the "Barry Curse."  Every woman in my entire extended family has Thyroid disease.  I would never escape it.  I stopped waiting for a stupid, unreliable blood test to tell me what the Hell was wrong with me.  I stomped my foot and screamed, "Help me!"  No more writing a blog to no one about  how I felt sad.  I wanted to know why and how and what to do about it.  Fuck the tyranny of the test.  (I'm pretty sure Elsa would have incorporated a big "Fuck you" to everyone in fictional Norway as she made fancy ice stuff and sang her song, if Disney wasn't holding her back...)

1) “Even when Thyroid Disease is suspected, it is frequently undiagnosed”
2) “When Thyroid Disease is diagnosed, it often goes untreated”
3) “When Thyroid Disease is treated, it is seldom treated optimally”

Even though I won't ever deny that I'm a little crazy, I'm very logical and intellectual in my thought process.  I want to learn everything possible.  I am thirsty for understanding.  I need things to make sense.  I want to know why.  I need to know why.  Hope comes when things make sense.  I understand when I teach myself.

I'm not all better, but I'm not all worse either.  I feel like crap, right now, to be honest with you.  Yet, I know I am happy, even when I feel like happiness is impossible.  In my darkest places this month, I could see light above me; I could hear laughter and knew what the warmth of that sunlight felt like on my face.  I wasn't hugging my legs with my face buried in my knees.  I was standing, no jumping, with my hands raised up.  I was calling, "Wait for me, I'm coming back."

And Sam was there.  And my babies were there.   Even my daddy and sister were there.  And I knew I didn't need anyone or anything else.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Guess I'll go eat worms.

Nobody likes me, everybody hates me,
Guess I'll go eat worms,
Long, thin, slimy ones; Short, fat, juicy ones,
Itsy, bitsy, fuzzy wuzzy worms.

Down goes the first one, down goes the second one,
Oh how they wiggle and sway.
Nobody knows how I survive
On worms three times a day.

People don't like me.

Okay, I feel like people don't like me.  

I realized I am surrounded by people who don't like me; where I work and where I live.  There are people who just don't like me.  I don't mean everyone hates me, because that's not true.  I don't think I've had a student that didn't like me.  I think I can be a friendly person.  I'm not walking around with a scowl on my face, every day like my blog inspiration, Ice Cube. I know the people I admire the
most, like me...  Most of the time.

But doesn't it seem like the people who are the biggest douche bags, the ones who really make a point of NOT liking you, can make you feel like nobody likes you at all?  They make you feel like a nobody.

I know that partly, I'm doing this to myself.  I focus on the people who don't count.  I am usually very good at not worrying about other people's opinions of me, but it seems like lately, the "We Hate Joanna" fanclub has made a concerted effort to affect my life in a negative way.  That's not in my head, unfortunately. My life is a mess.

So, lately, I have been evaluating my own role in all of this.  What did I do wrong?  What do I do wrong?

In many cases, I did nothing at all.  I mean that in a good way, and a bad way.  I did nothing to these people, that would give them a good reason to really, really not like me; but I also don't do anything to nurture or even start real friendships.  Do you know what I mean?  I have spent a whole lot of time, since college, putting in no effort to have friends.  I don't have friends. I spent most of my time, from the age of 13-22 with my sister Mikhaila, who is 10 years younger than me. If I wasn't with her, I was with a boyfriend, whoever that was at the time. Family came first, boys second, and what friends I did have didn't even earn a bronze medal. I put them far away from me, and I didn't do anything to keep them happy. Mikhaila meant the world to me. Somehow, even though we were at two different points in our lives, two very different maturity levels, she was always my best friend. Family, now including my husband, are my friends.  I don't want anyone else.  I didn't think I needed anyone else.

In college I had very good friends. They were the kind of friends I should have stayed in contact with, but until I entered the world of Facebook, we never talked at all.  My best childhood friend and I reconnected on Facebook, too.  She was the kind of friend who made my life very difficult sometimes.  People who know you best have the potential to hurt you the most.  The more you tell your friends, the better they know how to make you feel terrible.  She was like that.  Most of my "friends" were like that.  Guy friends, were sometimes the best to hang around with.  There is less drama with guy friends.  There is no secret jealousies, or gossiping with guy friends.  But, in my experience, guy friends also want to get with their "girl friends."  I didn't have a guy friend who didn't try to kiss me, grope me, or hook up with me, every single time they were drunk...  Or sober.

It wasn't until recently, that I realized how lonely I am.  During the times I have not been working, (in the summer, or during medical leaves of absence), I am alone and isolated most of the time.  I spend 35 hours a week, most weeks, only in contact with my 5 year old twins.  When my husband gets home from work, we spend at least 3 more hours per day with the twins, never alone.  And then we push it, and stay up too late, because it feels like we have had no time to ourselves, but we often watch TV or a movie for at least 2 of the 3 more hours we are awake. Then 7-9 hours of sleep, per night.  

I spend 105 hours a week, when I'm not teaching, isolated from human contact outside of my children.  I call my mom, hoping she will answer some days, when I can't stand how lonely I feel, but most of the time the phone rings and goes to voicemail.  If she does answer, I realize I sometimes am grasping at things to talk about that won't stress her out.  She has enough stress.  She doesn't get out of bed most days.  I can't tell her my problems, because that would just bring her down even more.

My dad and I like to talk, but he works day in and day out.  He is always working.  He doesn't have time to talk, especially when I have nothing much to say.
Jesus' Birthday Cake.  Christmas Eve at Nanny and Grampy's House.

I'm always aware my mom is depressed and my dad is busy.  That's the reality of my family.  I can't tell them, "I just want someone to come visit me.  I want someone to want to visit me."  I want someone to want to see my kids enough, that they can't stay away.  My grandmother is still like that.  She would see us every day if she could.  I'm the loser that doesn't get out of the house and down there to visit her.  It becomes disease-like, being alone.  I'm so used to it, I forget that I have some other options.  And it seems like I couldn't possibly make new friends, like the parents of M and S's friends. But God forbid they don't like me, or I'm too depressed to carry on interesting conversation that would make them want to be around me.

I put all my friend efforts into family, because that was what mattered most to me.  And that kind of backfired.  At this point in my life, the only person I can talk to, that I can fully let myself trust, is my husband.  I'm happy that my husband and I are in agreement that we think we are the best people ever and the best company to keep, but I'm also angry that I don't have my family, at this stage in my life, as confidants.

Grampy and Stella on Easter in 2009.

Neither of us have families, like I always imagined families should be.  Sam's family doesn't exist in our lives, for many good reasons.  I was spoiled, growing up in a super close extended family, with my grandparents at the heart of it...  Literally -- All of my cousins lived within walking distance of my grandparents' house.  That means my mother, and her two brothers and two sisters were all close, and all of the grandkids, 11 of us, who were close in age, were also great friends.  We were like siblings.  My mom tells me that was not normal.  Families aren't like that, usually.  And I say, "But that's what I want.  I want that!"  It's not fair.  It's not fair! 

 I feel so cheated that Mikhaila is gone. She left me the year the twins were born. 5 years without my best friend, and the worst part is she's holed up in a bedroom, in my parents' house, less than a mile from me. I feel cheated that Mikhaila is not in my life. It's not fair that I won't be her maid of honor, and I won't be an aunt to kids who could feel like my own.  I feel cheated that my brother went off and got married in Indiana without telling us, and that somehow he and his little family don't feel connected to us, really.  I feel cheated that my sister, Marguerite, who is a wonderful aunt to M and S, will never have children.  She and I will never, completely be friends, because she and I were never friends as children, if that makes sense.  She will always be close to Brent, (our biological father), which is creepy.  There's a reason my mom divorced him.
Easter Twins, at our favorite place in the world.

Gees. No wonder no one likes me! I'm so negative. I complain too much. Everything is about me.

My children will have one or two cousins, from my brother and his wife.  And they will see their cousins sometimes.  But it won't ever be what I wanted, and what they deserve.  Christmas Eve, will not be like I remember, as a child.  We would all sit in church together, buzzing with the excitement about Santa, when we knew we should be thinking about baby Jesus.  On that magical night, M and S will not be running around their grandparents' house, with 9 other kids, playing and eating and laughing and blowing out Jesus' birthday candles.  And they won't have big Thanksgiving dinners, and have to sit at the "kid table."  And they won't have epic Easter Egg hunts, with tons of cousins scrambling over each other.  And they won't ever know, what I know about family.  They won't ever know what it could have been like.  And so they won't miss it.  And they won't know to want it for their own children.

And they won't be lonely.

And that might be the saddest thing I could ever imagine.