Double-Deck Solitaire

My grandmother taught me. My hands were barely big enough to shuffle the two decks together.

Hours. I'd play for hours. Late at night when I couldn't sleep. When my brain wouldn't shut off. It never shut off.

My grandmother did crossword puzzles in cursive. Pencil. Never erasing her mistakes, but writing over them.

I did mine in ink. Now I have an app for that. For late at night for when my brain won't shut off.

Words, numbers, colors, lines. Order in things outside me. Waiting patiently for the order inside to return. There's an app for that.

Self Care

I spent the entire day wishing, willing, begging myself to stop being depressed.

Stop crying, I said.

I kept crying.

I dragged myself out of bed.

Myself crawled back under the covers.

I pulled myself into the bath.

This will make you feel better, I said.

I cried in the bath.

I pushed myself into the shower.

Try this, I said.

I tried.

I told myself I was clean and could go to the store now.

Myself crawled back under the covers and cried.

I texted a friend to make plans. The friend was busy.

See, said myself. Nobody notices. Nobody cares.

Seriously? I asked. They're busy. It doesn't mean they don't care.

Myself wouldn't listen. Depression plugged my ears.

Here, I'll turn on the Happy Light.

Fuck the Happy Light, I said.

You know what?

What?

I love you.

I know.

I'll email the doctor. Feeling like this is bullshit. Crawl back under the covers. It's gonna be okay. I promise.

Suicide Is Not Selfish: Listen To What I'm Saying

Wut?

Is dying from cancer selfish? Did my husband not try hard enough to get better from the disease that afflicted him? Did the doctors not try all of the treatments available to him to cure him? His death from cancer wasn't because he was selfish.

And someone who dies because of suicide is not selfish. Depression is a disease. It is not a choice. Treatment can be complicated. It is not a matter of willpower to just "get over it." (More than 90% of the people who die from suicide has risk factors related to depression or other mental disorder, or a substance-abuse disorder—often combined with a mental disorder.)¹

So, when I see remarks about suicide being a selfish act, I call bullshit. Loudly. 

Do the grieving have a right to be angry with the loss of their loved ones? Fuck yes! Depression, just like cancer, robs us of too many too soon

And unlike cancer, mental illness is still taboo to discuss. It's hard to find treatment. And the stigma of telling people you struggle with a mental illness will give you pause in the workplace, with friends, and with family members who don't understand that it IS a disease and not a choice, that you are not weak, that you would love nothing more than to "get over it."

When was the last time you were asked to donate to a mental health cause? How many colored ribbon magnets do you see on cars for depression or suicide? 

How many do you see for cancer? Which types? What colors? I bet you can name at least three colors and what cancers they represent, and another few ribbons for other causes, none of which relate to mental health.

Nowhere in the list of risk factors for suicide will you find selfishness. Shock. Awe. Or, just logical if you stop and think about it. 

 

If you are in a crisis and need help right away:

Call this toll-free number, available 24 hours a day, every day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You will reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a service available to anyone. You may call for yourself or for someone you care about. All calls are confidential.

Lying McLiarson: Depression

You're a puzzle piece without a puzzle, Depression tells you.

Again with the lies.

She sees only the part of you that's broken, telling you that's all you are for so long you almost believe her. You consider never showing your whole self again.

The lies.

The world teases with drips of orange and red, but she locks you in her pillowy claws until your bones ache for sun.

Whore of deceit.

You kick. You cry. You sleep her away. Her lies melt into the evergreen of winter.

You are free again.

Pumpkin Farts?

It's 1:30am. My bedroom smells like pumpkin farts and a cold I'm tired of having. Depression is wrapping its bony fingers around my shoulders as it often does when I can't do things—when I'm useless. It's the catch-22 of mood and mend. I don't feel well, can't do, therefore don't do, therefore feel badly about not doing, and the spiral of loathing begins.

Fortunately, I think and hope, I have some kind of clarity about it this time around. I also have people making sure I know it to be okay. So important. Also, writing. And pictures. And sunshine. Amen for sunny days and fresh air. Even a few rays sneaking in through sunlights and open windows make a huge difference. Eventually, the tunnel of suckitude will cease, and I will feel better.

Colds shouldn't knock me on my ass like this. The more I read about fibromyalgia, the more it makes sense that they do, but I hate to think that's the case. Big pile of crap.

I feel like a character from a Victorian novel. Truly pathetic. Fetch me a hot water bottle, and lock me away in a room on the third floor.

And why pumpkin farts? Is the ghost of Thanksgivings past ripping ass under my bed? Oh, NyQuil, what have you done?

Party For One: Pity

To say I've been cranky in the pantalones would be a smidgeon of an understatement. I mean, I've been downright weepy and girlie and shit and it's about to make me kick myself in my own damn taint if I don't get the fuck over it already. Well, that's what I thought, anyway.

Then, this really smart guy I live with (the hawt one) pointed out that an occasional party of the pity variety is actually a healthy thing to throw for oneself.

I questioned his wisdom, briefly, because I feel a bit like the girl with the most cake right now. Why should I host such a party for myself? Seems a misplaced shindig. Yet, the emotional, party-planning, Martha Stewart of my psyche is still all, "Send out the fucking invite already!"

And, Hawt Wise Man is all, "Put on your damn hat and let me hug you, woman!"

Kleenex boxes appear. Snot fills my head. Jumbled words and illogical thought-streams squirt from my mouth area.

I look so sexy that celebrities want to BE ME. Screw the smoky eye. The Pity Party Eye is the sheeaat.

I'm thinking one more bowl of Ciao Bella coconut gelato and this soirée is a wrap.

Many thanks to that Hawt Guy for showing me how to do this and reminding me it isn't truly a solo gig. Love you most.

Party For One: Pity

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The Pea Coat: Lose Your Voice Today!

I've been slowly making my way through Bob's half of the closets. I'm not parting with any of his things, just storing them for now. Still, it's a heart-wrenching task, touching each item. The memories are overwhelming.

Work shirts, motorcycle pants, the death t-shirt he loved to wear to chemo, and at the back of the closet, his pea coat. Well, it wasn't really his, I guess. It was inherited from a good friend when her father passed. Bob loved that coat, especially when he traveled to colder climates.

He had a great story about wearing it to his first Packers game, standing there with his arms crossed, beer in hand. Somebody told him he needed to move. "Oh, I'm sorry, am I in your way?" he asked. "No, dude, there's a snow drift forming on you."

It's a warm coat.

I pulled it out of the closet, and as I did with each of his coats, checked the pockets. In the outer pocket I found his ear muffs. Well, not real ear muffs. They're those tiny, individual ear covers. He liked those better.

As I checked the inner pockets, I found what felt like a postcard. I pulled it out. On the front was a black and white shot of Lambeaux field.

IMG_3166.JPG

I flipped it over.

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See, that was Bob's first NFL game ever. It was a playoff game. And it was at Lambeaux field with his friend John, a lifelong fan who had taken Bob there to see the game.

I quickly texted John a picture of the note. It was, as I suspected, from him to Bob.

After I finished a sob fest, wrapping myself in the coat, clutching the note, and texting with John, I thought about Bob at that game, and how happy his was to be there; how much he loved life; how much he lived for "losing his voice."

Wallowing was not part of his world, and any time I do it for too long, I feel him kick me in the ass. It's time to lose my voice!

 

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Shutting Down: Self-Preservation

It's been nearly eight months since Bob died, and I'm still learning how to cope. I'm still learning how my body forces me to cope whether I want to do it that way or not. I'm learning that if I surround myself with people who need too much from me, I end up depressed.

I didn't pick up on it at first. It wasn't obvious, because it doesn't happen right away, and it doesn't happen with people with whom I share a symbiotic relationship. It doesn't happen with my children, although we have more symbiotic relationships the older they get.

But, it can easily happen with other adults, and when it does, I find myself shutting down. My energy is drained. My affect becomes flat. I lose myself, because I'm still in a stage of grief where I can barely sustain myself, much less another person, for an extended period of time.

It also makes it difficult for me to communicate my feelings. I'm so much better with the written word than verbal interactions when I'm depressed. I can't speak with any clarity when my mind isn't on my side. I can't form the sentences I need in time to keep up with a conversation.

So, I write. I blog. And I hope that people read and understand that it's me, not them. I'm still broken. I need more time. I need more space to grieve.

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Battling Demons: Things That Go Bump In The Night

battling demonsI suck at sleeping. Have my whole life. I did a great sleep training program through Kaiser (my health insurance company) that worked wonders, but that was before Bob got sick and LIFE happened.

Now, my sleep is royally fucked up again. I haven’t had the energy to repeat the program, which is, ultimately, what I’m sure I’ll need to do. Until then, I’m relying on a last-resort medication and the luxury afforded to me by not having a job that requires me to work 9-5, kids who are also vampires when it comes to sleep, and a flexible homeschooling schedule.

HOWEVER, that’s not really helping my second issue, depression. When my sleep is fucked up, it feeds the depression. I don’t get enough time outside, I don’t get enough daylight hours, and the cycle turns into lather, rinse, repeat.

This ALSO works well to feed the chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia. You see where this is going? Yes. A giant pity party for which I refuse to send out invitations. UGH. I have no patience for this crap. I have no patience for myself.

My hair has been falling out at such an alarming rate, I told my doctor I’d be bald by Christmas if she didn’t help me figure this out. Fortunately, there was one big clue (in addition to the OMG has anything stressful happened in your life?), Vitamin D deficiency. It turns out that NOT spending countless hours outside and in the hot tub soaking up the sun’s rays has been a problem. Supplements have been started. Fingers have been crossed.

Now, pass me a tissue because I feel another crying jag coming on. For a woman without a uterus, I sure wish I could skip the chronic PMS. (Really questioning the wisdom of keeping those damn ovaries right about now.)

Oops. That was probably a bit more information than y’all were looking to find out about me. I’ll try to skip my pap smear and mammo results. I said I’ll try. No guarantees. It is my blog.

Psst…I’m going to post something fun over on my review blog pretty soon. Like, within the next 24 hours or I’ll turn into a pumpkin, and not one that’s been made into a pie, so don’t encourage me. Stay tuned. It might have to do with a game whose name rhymes with Must Pants Poo. And there might be a giveaway. Shhh…keep it down.

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Biopsies And Breakdowns

Blue Beanie MeTuesday we’ll be starting our day at Kaiser with a bone marrow biopsy for Bob, then heading off to Stanford for a number of classes, appointments, and tests.

He’ll be signing paperwork for medical trials. I’ll be taking a caregiver class along with my back-up caregiver, my most awesome sister-in-law, Theresa. Bob will be doing some more blood tests, I believe.

Monday he had blood tests and a pulmonary lung function test. Later in the week it’s another PET scan.

We still have the housing issue to resolve.

The kids are both exhibiting signs of stress, which means Bugs tics are off the hook here at home and Peanut is in full-blown angsty teen mode, convinced we’re ruining her life because she can’t have friends over if they’ve been sick or around people who’ve been sick. All of this is normal and expected. And all of it sucks. For them. For us.

It’s not fair.

It isn’t.

It’s not fair that their father has cancer.

Life is not fair.

It is a shitty thing to learn when you’re eleven and thirteen.

It’s a shitty thing to learn, period.

And as the transplant date comes closer, and the reality of what that means, the possibilities, the risks, the future, comes into view, I need the support of my magical unicorn friends and my real-life friends. Because I’m falling apart.

It’s time for those funny notes you guys send, emails, text messages…those little things that keep me going. Throw some prayers in if you’re so inclined, too.

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The Family Tard Cart

If I could afford it, this would be our family car.

cool_20short_20bus

Instead of shirking away from the word retarded, we embrace it. Steal it’s power back.

If this was our car, we’d paint “Family Tard Cart” on the side in gothic letters and cruise around town with pride.

Why? Because that’s who we are. We’re all special. And we rock. We have acronyms and long words after our names like ASD, TS, OCD, ADD, and Depression, and Migraine, and Fibromyalgia, and we’re crazy homeschoolers, too. Oh, Lord!

I think it’s high time the special needs population reclaimed the words used against them.

It wasn’t that long ago that “queer” was an insult. Now there’s a Queer Nation.

Not so many decades ago, my son would have been locked away, considered possessed in some cultures. My daughter would have been thought too nervous and fragile. I would have been kept on the upper floor, never seen, and seldom referred to. Now, thanks to modern medicine, and education, we roam free. Scary, huh?

There’s no reason our short bus has to be ugly. There’s no reason for us to hide in shame. There’s no reason for us to let words like “retard” belong to our enemies.

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Drywalled to Distraction

Detail from Labor mural in lunette from the Fa...

Image via Wikipedia

It is the way of my people. When stress rears it’s fugly-ass head, we demo walls. When stress head-butts us across the room, we break out the full-on remodeling guns.

Last Thursday, through sobs, I called my dad, asking for him to pack his tools and drive the four and half hours to our house. I had a floor going in on Monday morning, and could not see a path to making that happen on my own.

By Thursday afternoon, my mother was on-board with our plan, tools were packed, painting clothes readied, and they arrived Friday ready to rip the place apart to get it ready to drywall, tape, mud, texture, paint, trim, wire, etc.

I’m not sure what it is about my family, if it’s our German and Norwegian roots, or what, but when most people retreat to a sandy beach, drink themselves into a coma, or flee the scene…we bust out the manual labor, usually in the version of a remodeling project. Although, we occasionally supplement our downtime (you know, like while the paint’s drying) with grueling yard work.

In the case of my house, that’s an easy thing to do. My ADD, coupled with my genetic predisposition to tear down load-bearing walls first/ask question later, makes for a never-ending supply of large-scale unfinished projects, all of which drive my type-A family members INSANE.

Until the emotional roller-coaster of my life settles down, I will seek solace in assembling cabinetry, priming and painting, and taking intermittent breaks where I lay flat on my back in the middle of my new Marmoleum floor and just stare up at the ceiling, wishing things were further along. Things like life.

At the end of each day, I can stand in the shower, hot water washing off drywall mud, splotches of paint, blood from cuts and scrapes, and fight the urge to sit on the bottom of the tub and sob in a heap of humanness. I fight the urge to get down onto the shower floor because I fear it is my abyss, the one I cannot cross twice.

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I Pinky Promise

I promise, cross my heart, hope to come down with salmonella (really, I might stand a chance of fitting back into the clothes on the OTHER side of my closet), that I have not forgotten about you, my loyal readers reader.

Yes, you.

I know how you get when I take an extended time out. So, I’m here to reassure you that…well…I’m here, just not here, more like here.

Truth be told, I ran away from home needed a change of scenery, sold the kids to a band of gypsies took the kids to their grandparents, gave away the pets secured the pet/house sitter, and split town with some guy named Stan in a big rig flew down to San Diego with Hubs.

Hubs has a conference, I tagged along. Toughest decision I had to make all day was paint my toenails and raid the honor bar or go to the pool.

I’m also doing a little work while I’m here of the consulting variety. Some social media stuff. It’s so fun though, it hardly feels like work. It also involves only adults, which is a smidge different than most of my days.

I leave you with some pictures of our digs here at Hotel Solamar. We stayed here for M & A’s wedding, and I love this place. So glad Hubs’ company decided to put them up here for the week. 

Rooftop at Hotel Solamar

The ChessFather

Lamp Envy

All of this to let you know that I’m feeling much better, mentally AND physically. Looks like you’re stuck with me.

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Living With The Brakes On

It seems like the worst of my depression has lifted. I'm no longer curled up in the fetal position, and I haven't cried in days.

That hitting the wall part? I'm blaming it on my ovaries. While I chose to keep them, I learned that the removal of one's uterus can piss off one's ovaries. Sometimes they are temporarily pissed, other times they keep hold of their grudge permanently.

However, things still aren't right. Not by a long shot. This existential crisis has forced me to admit that things weren't good even before my hysterectomy. So, there's still work to be done.

I've been living life with the brakes on.


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The Living Dead

Death haunts even the beautiful: an early 20th...Image via WikipediaI died for the first time in May of 2004. Kelly died and left. I died and stayed.

I died again on October 10, 2007. The school quit my son, and I quit life.

I don't know how to come back to life. It's been such a long time since I've felt like part of the living.

I'm good at faking it for the rest of the world, but Hubs knows. He knows because he's the one who takes care of his dead wife.

It is unfair, and I don't know how to fix it.

It is unfair to him. It is unfair to our children. It is unfair to me, but it is me.

How do you resurrect yourself?

Mind you, I have no intention of actually dying, at least not ahead of schedule or anything. But, this corpse I am right now, it's got to go.

I've had glimpses of being alive. They come in spurts, but never seem to stick.

I want them to stick.

I need them to stick.

I need to figure out how to string them together into living--make a chain of wholeness, lightness, happiness.

Until then, I thank God I have people who love me.


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My Invisible Disabilities: Part 1

MigraineImage by makelessnoise via Flickr

I've talked a lot about my son's disabilities over the past 4+ years of blogging, but rarely mention my own. I think it's because I like to pretend they aren't disabling.

Ha!

Being a migraneur (one who suffers from migraine headaches) is an ongoing battle. Starting in middle school, I've been plagued with migraine headaches nearly every week of my life, some weeks even more. The only time I recall being migraine-free was the first 2 trimesters of my first pregnancy.

I found out about Imitrex when it first came on the market in the 90s. I'd had a migraine for 3 days, and ended up sitting at the doctor in a heap of tears and pain. He told me to hang tight, turned off the lights in the exam room, and stepped out into the hallway where he summoned a nurse, and told her to get an Imitrex injection immediately.

For the first time in my life, a medication got rid of my headache AND the other migraine side effects (nausea, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity, speech difficulties, motor impairment). It was amazing. It also felt like someone had place my heart in a vice grip for about 15 minutes.

Turns out you can't use Imitrex too often because of the side effects. I had one doctor tell me I'd end up having a heart attack if I used Imitrex as often as I needed it. So, I embarked on a journey to prevent the migraines.

After trying a whole host of pharmaceutical approaches to preventing migraines, I gave up. Nothing was working, the side effects were sometimes worse than the pain. I even tried acupuncture, which provided relief for a few months, then they were back.

So, I continue to get migraine headaches, usually a few times each week. If I catch them early, I can keep them at bay with ice packs and OTC meds. If not, I turn to the Imitrex or Frova. If they're really off-the-hook, I have to add pain meds to the mix.

But, no one can tell by looking at me that I suffer from this regularly disabling condition. I don't have a forehead tattoo alerting them, and I don't wear a t-shirt that says, "I have migraines, what's your excuse?" (Although, perhaps I should.)

Fortunately, I no longer work outside the home. Unfortunately, I do need to parent and homeschool my children. The great thing about homeschooling, for our family, has been the flexibility to accommodate our special needs without the usual battles of advocacy. I no longer have to explain to employers that I don't have the kind of headaches where you pop a couple of Advil, and go about your day.

Being a migraneur is one of the disabilities I live with. The other is Fibromyalgia. That one has been even harder for me to accept. I'll save it for another post.

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Pissy Posting: I Love Being A Girl

Schematic drawing of female reproductive organ...

Image via Wikipedia

I'm still here. Really. Just too pissy to post anything other than rants about the GOP, which are a dime a dozen right now, or talk about my uterus, which seems to have developed a penchant for bleeding more often than I can tolerate.

The GOP issues cause me to lay awake nights. The uterus crap makes me cranky and gloomy, mostly due to hormones, I'm guessing. I'd like to just blame the whole damn thing on Sarah Palin. Seems reasonable.

Hopefully, both issues will see resolution in the coming months--the GOP problem in November and my uterus in December.

If anyone out there  has had a Laparoscopic Supracervical Hysterectomy (LSH), leave me a comment with your feedback on the procedure. How was your recovery? Would you choose this approach if you had it to do over? What made you chose this route over Total Vaginal Hysterectomy (TVH)? I'm certainly leaning toward LSH, as I'd like to keep my cervix (it's healthy), am keeping my ovaries (they're healthy), and the shortened recovery time of LSH vs. TVH appeals to me.

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Glimpses into My Home

I had no trouble dissing my house in a fit of depression a couple weeks ago. My poor house. It's not its fault. It does a great job of shelter us and the like. It even has little spots that shine--spots that make me smile. I thought I'd share a few of those spots with you all.

Fruit

I love having bowls of fresh fruit. These white peaches, pluots, and nectarines are like heavenly nectar. They are so juicy you have to eat them over the sink and hose yourself off afterward. Plus, they're purdy.

Kitchen Kitsch

While I'm eating the aforementioned juicy fruit, this is the view to the right. When we remodeled the kitchen over 8 years ago, I knew I wanted these shelves, I just didn't know what I was going to put on them. Now I do. Two of the shelves hold vintage salt & pepper shakers from my mother's childhood collection. The top shelf shakers are a miniature mixer with the beaters serving as the S & P. Next to the mixer is a washer/dryer set. The lower shelf of shakers are a toaster with black and white slices of toast serving as the shakers, and next to the toaster are two tiny coffee pots on a miniature warming plate.

Face Off

This little face greets me any time I need a pen or scissors. Peanut made her in a clay class she took from an amazing woman. You can't look at that face and have a bad day. (Well, you can, but it takes some effort.) That's it for the happy kitchen pics, let's move on to the rest of the digs.

Insulators

My father is an electrician by trade and a collector by genetic make-up. These vintage insulators once graced the tops of electrical poles. Now, they line the ledge in my foyer. I love the colors and shapes.

The Family Jewels

I hate jewelry boxes. Why? Because I never open them to get the jewelry out. I need to see what I have in order to remember I might want to wear it. My mother gave me these pieces of silver that had belonged to my grandparents. They looked unused when I got them, but I've let them tarnish as they do duty holding my baubles.

Do you have little spots in your home that bring you joy?

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It's Lovely! I'll Take It!

It turns out that a slammin' case of PMS is not so good for the psyche. So, although I still think my house is killing me, it's assault has slowed. Plus, I found this fabulous blog that makes me feel so much better about my own  home, words cannot capture the beauty that is: It's Lovely! I'll Take It!

Check it out, and tell me if it doesn't make you feel like you're Martha Stewart.

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