carose59: poetry (by Henry Gibson)
When you are lost, move slowly.
Stop at corners with no stop signs and look in all directions before you proceed
(with caution).
Read every word you see:
names on mailboxes,
license plates and unfamiliar, made-up sounding streets names,
signs: FOR SALE,

Pause to look at the weeds growing in yards of heat-killed grass,
at window boxes of stagnant flowers,
at fences conquered by varieties of ivy you will never see again.
Memorize the strange shade of the cement and its peculiar cracks.

Listen to the not-quite-tuneless music coming from inside houses that could almost be the houses in your own neighborhood.
Speak to yipping dogs tied to front porches you might have sat on, if your life had turned out differently.
Watch bedraggled children running in shrieking play, broken toys in their hands.
The sun slants down from a strange direction. This is not your world.
You are only moving through it, off-kilter; a detour, as you try to find your way home.

Being who I am

Monday, 20 February 2017 02:08 pm
carose59: the rose behind the fence (rose is a rose is a rose)
You Must Learn From The Mistakes Of Others. You Can't Possibly Live Long Enough To Make Them All Yourself.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I always got the message I was too emotional.

It was a mixed message because in my family crying was considered a legitimate hobby. My mother and I would listen to Puff, the Magic Dragon and cry. It was a thing you did.

But there were also times when I would be told if I didn't stop crying, I had to go to my room. The only way I could force myself to stop crying was to hold my breath—and sometimes that wasn't acceptable behavior either. Since these were times I was crying because my mother was angry at me, being sent to my room was even more upsetting; I just wanted her to like me again and her response was to send me away. (Did she know this? Did I tell her? I don't know.)

My father just withdrew when I cried because it made no sense to him. Our relationship didn't find firm footing until I was in my thirties and he yelled at me for something that was in no way my fault. It was where the cold air ducts are in my house. His father and brother built the house before I was even born. My response was to yell back that maybe he should have said something to them at the time, something I couldn't have done, what with not having been born yet! He was fine with being yelled at, whereas me crying panicked him. After that we yelled at each other.

Anyway, I got the message early from a lot of people that stoicism was the usually the best behavior. Never let anybody see how you really feel because if you do they will mock you, punish you, or withdraw from you. That's probably part of how I learned to be funny, because making people laugh is a pleasant distancing thing. Humor is one step removed.

I'm actually going somewhere with this. I want to write about The Andy Griffith Show, but so many people feel the need to tell me I'm too analytical, I wanted to explain first why I'm so analytical.

I think some of it is the kind of mind I have. Also, I like winning arguments, and if you stay reasonable, you have a better shot at it. And then there's the too-emotional thing. Fixing a problem requires understanding it, so I started early trying to understand why certain things upset me. And a lot of things upset me. I watched a lot of TV as a kid, and a lot of TV upset me. The Andy Griffith Show upset me. Eventually, I figured out why.

My constant analysis of things annoyed Pat—it seems to annoy everyone—but I think one of our deepest connections was that, while it annoyed her, she still agreed with my analyses of things. We had very much the same outlook on how people should treat their loved ones, for example, and while she instinctively knew that she hated All in the Family for the way Archie treated his family, I could put it into words, and she did like that, and the fact that we felt the same way about it mattered.

People tell me, "It's just a TV show, it's not important, why are you wasting your time?"

Well, first off, it is important. TV shapes how we think and that is not unimportant.

Second, I'm trying less to understand the show than to understand myself, and that is definitely not unimportant.

And third, I enjoy it. Yes, I get annoyed, but it's like working a puzzle. Anyone who has ever worked any kind of puzzle for pleasure has, at one time, been annoyed by it: a crossword clue they can't figure out, a piece that just doesn't fit anywhere—anything. Annoyance can be fun. When I express this to people, the usual response is to try and "fix" the "problem." Except there is no problem. (And I've only just realized this as I was writing this, which is one reason I write.)

Another thing about annoyance is, it's good for depressives. Depression seems to make me, at least, feel antagonistic towards the world. If I'm down and you tell me a joke, I might laugh politely but there will be a part of me resisting your attempt to "cheer me up." It won't lift my mood.

But annoyance, like anger, can raise my energy level, and when you're depressed, anything that does that is good.

Anyway, be prepared. Tomorrow, and possibly the next day, I'll be writing about The Andy Griffith Show.

*Sam Levenson
carose59: dreams (whose mind watches itself)
"OK, Let's Say Hypothetically That It's Not Hypothetical."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

The other night I dreamed all night long, involved, plot-driven dreams that exhausted me.

The worst one was about a man who murdered his young daughter. He drowned her and made it look like an accident. He dressed a wooden doll in her clothes—or dressed her in the doll's clothes, it changed—and put one or the other of them in the swimming pool, so it looked like the doll was just floating there, which sometimes it was. The body just floated there while everyone thought the little girl was missing and hunted for her. When it was discovered that the doll was really the little girl, the man stood by the side of the pool and pretended to cry.

I have zero idea where any of this came from.

Then I dreamed that I was going on vacation by spending a week at my friend Pam's house. (Pam lives walking distance from work, so there wasn't much travel involved. In fact, I think I walked over.) When I got there, we immediately did what you always do when you're spending your vacation in the same city you live in, with someone you work with: we changed into gorilla suits and put on ballerina outfits over them. Not tutus, the longer net skirts. I kept calling them bridesmaids' dresses. And then we spend the evening jumping up and down on the bed.

I really know how to live it up.

And I have zero idea where that came from, either.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I'm going through my usual spring-is-killing me instability. I know, you don't think it's spring. But under the ground, the plants are starting to do things, and inside me the same thing is happening and I can feel it and it's unsettling. I have lots of weird little aches and pains, I feel like crying, and I'm very, very cranky.

I saw Diane on Saturday and she's very pleased with how I'm handling this. It's not making me as nuts as it used to.

It's good to be told that because honestly, I don't remember. It feels the same inside.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

The other evening I watched a German adaptation of The Colour Out of Space by H. P. Lovecraft. It seems to me that the colour out of space is always purple. The movie was in black & white, but the colour was still purple.

It wasn't scary; it was sad. I'm in that kind of mood, where horror is tragedy.

*Adrian Monk
carose59: common unhappiness (empty and aching and i don't know why)
"Well, If He Actually Went Mad—Or Thinks He Did . . . ."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

So, I woke up this morning feeling terrible in a vague, existential, maybe my body is on wrong kind of way. I spent a long time in the bathroom working crossword puzzles because that soothes me and will sometimes make all the bad stuff go away.

It didn't.

I got ready for work, even managed to hit the post office to drop off the latest Netflix DVD without screaming, or crying very much. Got to work.

I took my blood pressure before I left the house and I don't remember what it was.

I took it again here and it was OK, but my pulse was 115, which probably explained my headache. "I am having a terrible, no good, very bad day," I said to nobody.

Actually, what I said was, "I'm having a fucking panic attack." And I took my blood pressure eight more times and kept getting error messages, which my brain insisted on interpreting as the little machine looking at my real numbers and saying, "Oh, my fucking God, this cannot be right!"

Though it probably wasn't.

I considered the logistics of the emergency room. Methodist is close, but I don't know where to park. Community is a little farther but the parking is easy.

Leaving would be considered an incident and would go on my permanent record.

I told myself I wasn't ready to die just yet, then I started crying and took my blood pressure again. The numbers were normalish. My pulse was down to sixty-seven.

This crap has been going on for days now, and why not? My mother died and I'm exhausted and the people in charge where I work hate us all the way Donald Trump hates us. And the new slacks I bought are weird and I was late for my appointment with Diane the other day and just can't seem to get anything right.

And I'm disturbingly aware of the back of the left side of my head. It doesn't hurt, and I know what it is—it's a muscle thing coming up from my left shoulder, but when I'm scared it becomes an aneurysm waiting to explode in my head.

It's not an aneurysm.

As I was sobbing just a moment ago, head down on my desk, I was thinking that this was what I was supposed to be doing when I see Diane. Only what good is that, having somebody watch me cry? It's like having somebody watch you vomit when you have food poisoning, it's a symptom—a good symptom, you want to get the poison out. The crying is what brought down my pulse rate. I need Diane for other things.

I don't know why, but I always think of Kimberly in moments like this. I miss her.

*Randolph Carter
carose59: health matters (an intuition of mortality)
"Oh, Great, I Have To Work. I'm Always Working When The World Ends."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

This isn't a menopause thing, it's a Cymbalta-withdrawal thing, and you have no idea how happy this makes me. I thought I was either dying or losing my mind—those are my default assumptions about anything that happens to me. An unpleasant chemical reaction to the lack of a drug in my system is like a picnic in the park compared to either of those.

I'm crying a lot lately, too. That could also be a withdrawal thing, or it could be just me going back to being me, and I can deal with it. Maybe this is also why I've been feeling sort of dizzyish lately. Cymbalta. Actually, lack of Cymbalta. Not panic attacks, not anxiety, an actual real not-dying thing happening to me.

You know what that means? It means I get to be nice to myself. It means I don't have to be stern and unforgiving when I can't do perfectly ordinary things like drive to the north side of town where I've driven many, many times before. I can stop feeling like a failure because my stupid behavior is being caused by an actual thing instead of just my mind suddenly forgetting that driving over a bridge is perfectly safe.

I cannot tell you how wonderful this is.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

In other news, I'm reading this book called, What Alice Forgot, and it's one of the things that's had me on the edge of tears. It's about a woman who gets amnesia and loses ten years of her memory—ten years in which she had three children, her best friend died, her beloved sister drifted out of her life, and she and her husband are getting a divorce. And she can't understand why her sister and husband seem to hate her because the last thing she remembers is being happily married and close to her sister. I feel so sorry for her, though it looks like things might work out.

It's a relief to actually cry about this, instead of just absorbing it and having the sadness be a part of me. Crying drains off the poisoned groundwater, of which I have oceans. Really, it's amazing I don't cry more.

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I dreamed about my mother the other night. She was alive again—that is, had been dead and now wasn't. My mind is very stubborn on this subject. And I was so annoyed because she had all of these chores she wanted me to do, and then she tells me brightly, "And on Saturday you don't have to do any chores because we're going to spend the whole day cooking and baking," as though she was taking me on that picnic in the park instead of expecting me to spend a whole day in the kitchen. And all I could think was, "I don't fucking want to spend my day cooking! How is that not a chore?!"

And I was wondering when she was going to die again.

I hope I'm not supposed to feel bad about this, because I don't. I find it funny. I loved my mother, but we didn't have the perfect relationship and I spend a lot of energy not being angry—and not showing I was angry when I couldn't avoid feeling it—and I'm relieved not to have to do that anymore. I'm relieved to be able to feel the unacceptable emotions that have always been there.

*Dr. John Carter
carose59: food (a life spent making mistakes)
"That's Going To Be My New Motto: Wham!"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I believe I've come up with a system that will help me with my buying-food-then-not-cooking issue.

I've been in the kitchen, washing dishes. I needed to do that because I need to cook because I have food that will go bad if I don't cook it and I have enough to feel guilty about. Today's a good day (so far) because I got everything I needed clean, clean. Now I can cook.

And I'm still thinking, "But when I go out, I could just pick up Boston Market." Because instant gratification. Because depression. Because I'd rather pretend I'm going to start writing any minute than chop vegetables.

I'm not going to. And if I do, I won't tell you.

Anyway, my system. I'm no longer allowed to buy food to cook if the proper dishes aren't clean. And I'm no longer allowed to buy take-away unless I then wash some dishes. If I go out for Chinese, after I eat, I have to wash dishes. If I can stick to this, I won't buy food if I'm going to have to delay cooking it until I feel good enough to wash dishes to cook it in. (I get a little high when I shop and in the moment I'm sure I'll dash right home and wash dishes. This is never the case.)

And this is the important thing, the important thing about all systems: it won't always work. I won't always be able to stick to it. I've come up with a lot of systems in my life. Some of them didn't work at all. Some of them worked for a short time before things changed in my brain. Some of them work periodically.

But every step forward is a step forward. Not coming up with system is no solution. I have to learn to be optimistic in the right places: no in the grocery but yes with systems. Even if this only works once, it's still a time I got it right. This is what happened with my last system. It didn't dig me out of the housework hole depression pushes me into, but it made the hole shallower. That might be all I can do and it might not be enough, but I can forgive myself for the rest.

Also, I made eggs for breakfast!



Sunday, 18 September 2016 12:02 pm
carose59: politics (one of the f's)
"It's An Organization Of True Americans Devoted To A Healthy And American America."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

And it suddenly makes sense.

The country is depressed; that is, the people of the US of A are sad and gloomy; dejected; downcast; pressed down, or situated lower than the general surface; undergoing economic hardship, especially poverty and unemployment; being or measured below the standard or norm and; suffering from depression.

The reasons for this state of affairs are many and varied and in some cases unreasonable, but there's no point telling people their feelings are unreasonable. This is where we are.

Some of us are trying to climb out of the depression, and trying to pull as many people as possible out with us. We're voting for Hillary.

And some people are finding the great relief anger can bring you when you're depressed. I don't know what the precise link between anger and depression is, but I know this: some days the best you feel is when you're yelling at the AT&T CSR about your screwed up bill. You feel so much better, it would have been a disappointment if things had gone well and they'd just been friendly and competent and fixed things quickly without you having to shift into bitch mode.

That feeling doesn't last. I crash pretty hard when I hang up the phone, even if everything has been resolved to my satisfaction. I'd like to be angry again.

Some people have found a way of doing that, and it's called being a Teabagger.

They're chronically angry over things they don't bother to research, so most of the time the things they're upset about either aren't true or are actually being caused by those they support. And it doesn't matter, because the point is the anger that give them some energy and make them feel better than the depression.

For example, the war on Christmas.

The people who rant about salespeople wishing them Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas tend to be the same ones who believe in unchecked capitalism. But Happy Holidays is capitalistic.

Because when your major concern is how much money you make, you want to sell whatever you can to whoever you can. Your religion (if you have one) doesn't come first. You want to appeal to everyone. So you're going to use the most inclusive message you can.

Which is a problem when you run into those angry about this. They're the ones who for some reason feel that others' being included means they're being excluded (see: gay marriage). So what do you to? Tell the truth and say you want Jews, Muslims, Wiccans and atheists buying your stuff? Of course not. You blame the liberals for their political correctness. You make yourself the victim. Since the anger junkies feel like victims themselves, they identify and feel sorry for you. The evil liberals are persecuting a poor, innocent business again because they hate America.

And so it goes, on and on. Blame the liberal media (even though it isn't liberal). Blame those who have life-threatening problems, and those who are working for them, because they must be taking something away from them. Everybody is taking something away from them.

Someone is. The problem is, it's the politicians they keep voting for, and we don't know how to get them to see that because the politicians they should be voting for aren't giving them their anger hit. And that makes them angry.

Donald Trump is, of course, one big anger hit. Hillary Clinton is not.

*Joe Davis

Trying to fix my life

Sunday, 22 May 2016 10:25 pm
carose59: road trips (see the usa in your chevrolet)
"But Like My Mother Has Said On Numerous Occasions, The Least You Can Do Is Try To Act Normal."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Last year, I went to the movies and had some kind of dizzy spell on an escalator, followed by a panic attack while driving home—brought on by driving on hilly streets.

Later that week, I tried to go back to that theatre, but couldn't do it. Overwhelming anxiety left me crying in a parking lot.

There have been a few other incidents involving driving over bridges or overpasses.

Then, a couple of months ago, I was riding with a friend on the interstate and having the same problem—dizziness and anxiety. Up until then I had been vacillating between thinking it was my eyes causing the problem and thinking I was just being overwhelmed by anxiety and it was leaking out in yet another way. After that I was pretty sure it was my eyes doing something that was scaring me, leading to me being anxious and afraid it would happen again.

I'd been able to drive out to Washington Square mall, which is the closest mall to my house. It's a straight shoot east, about fifteen miles away. I live on 16th Street, which is one of the more direct routes—but it also has a hill. Last year, the last time I tried to drive that hill, I ended up taking a lot of little side streets to detour around it.

I'd been thinking about getting up early one Sunday morning and driving over that hill really, really slowly—early Sunday because that way there wouldn't be much traffic.

This morning when I decided to go to the movies, I further decided to take the hill. As I drove toward it, I asked myself just what I thought was going to happen.

The answer was two things. The first was the big, serious thing: that I would cause an accident by driving badly. Since I have no history of doing this, and since I don't see a psychotic break looming in my future, this seems really unlikely.

The second thing was, I was afraid of being an asshole. Driving fifteen-twenty miles an hour in a forty mile an hour zone is pretty assholish.

As I was driving through the last intersection before the hill, I asked myself just how long it takes to drive over it. The answer is probably a minute or two, even going really slow.

I spend a lot of time and energy trying to be a good person, but this was something I really needed to do, and if it meant being an asshole for a couple of minutes, I could handle that.

I drove over the hill.

By the time I got to the top of it, I was going about thirty-seven. I wasn't dizzy, I wasn't scared. I felt good.

I went to the movie (Money Monster, a good popcorn movie), got some Chinese food to go, and came home—again by way of 16th Street and the hill.

It was just fine.

I cannot tell you how much better I feel about my whole life.

Maybe next weekend I can drive out to Castleton Square.

*Arthur Carlson
carose59: health matters (an intuition of mortality)
Maybe I'd Go To A Hospital Once I Had Things Figured Out A Little Better—I Didn't Want To Confuse People.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I think my "schistosomiasis" is acting up. Or else I'm dying.

In case you haven't read my post about my "schistosomiasis," and before you google it, here's what I'm talking about. There's an episode of WKRP in Cincinnati where Johnny's getting the flu. Only Les convinces him he has "schistosomiasis" and should see a neurologist. I don't need Les playing mind games with me; my own mind is more than happy to fuck with me. Anyway, when I suspect that's what's going on, I call it my "schistosomiasis" acting up.

I went to the doctor the other day and saw the physician's assistant, who I like more than my doctor. She lets me talk to her, and she likes that I'm an informed patient. I told her my hands feel funny, which we think has to do with the work I've been doing. The PA thinks it's a pinched nerve.

Also, my left side, which—it's always my left side. I don't know why. My left side has always been more troublesome than my right, and now I'm having these spells of feeling more aware of it that I am of my right side. It's a peculiar and disturbing sensation that sounds like it should be the harbinger of something horrible, like a massive stroke or the apocalypse.

I didn't mention that at the doctor's. Honestly, who do you know who you could say something like that to? There's no pain, there's just a peculiar insistence.

And I don't feel good.

And I'm under so much stress, I feel like I should be dead. The last time I felt like this, Pat died. Could there possibly be a connection to the fact that it's spring again?

This is not the first time I've suffered from peculiar, medically-ineffable maladies. This time I don't have to worry about it being my heart, since if my heart begins misbehaving, I'll get a phone call the next day from the pacemaker people. I assume they'll leave a message on my voicemail if I've died during the night.

Since I started this post, I've gone out to lunch with friends and now I feel much better. I don't know if it was the food, the copious amount of water I drank, or just being with nice people and laughing, but it pretty much tells me that it is indeed "schistosomiasis" because anything real wouldn't clear up like this.

*Mark Vonnegut
carose59: dealing with people (the same as people who aren't different)
"Workers In One Office Were Asked To Determine Whether A Banana On A Desk Was An 'Active Banana'—Which Would Be Eaten Immediately—Or An 'Inactive Banana'—Which Is One That Should Be Put Away In A Drawer."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

If I'm required to answer factual questions with multiple choice answers, I expect those questions to make sense. If they're multiple choice questions, I expect those choices to be relevant to the question, and one of them to at least come close to being accurate.

This is a question I have to answer to get a health screening to get a lower rate on my health insurance (that lived in the house that Jack built!):

Have you ever had any other condition?

In the past
Have Currently / Not Being Treated
Have Currently / Taking Medication
Have Currently / Under Doctor's Care

Have I ever had any other condition? What?

How could the answer to this question possibly be of use to anyone ever? It tells them nothing about me, and if you got a bunch of them in a group, it wouldn't tell them anything about their customers in general. "Why, yes, I had another condition, for which I'm under a doctor's care. But I won't be telling you what it is, ha ha ha ha ha!"

Or what if I've had more than one condition, with different answers? What the fuck is this nonsense? In my head, I keep hearing myself say, "No, I've never had any other condition," in a tone dripping with sarcasm, but that won't translate to the radio button response. I find myself unable to answer because the responses are all wrong because the question makes no sense! And I'm supposed to trust these people with my health care!

I find this insanely stressful. I even called to complain about it. The woman I spoke to admitted that the question seemed pointless. I feel like a Vulcan living on a planet ruled by Pakleds!**

I sort of hung up on her. We were reaching the "Is there anything else I can do for you/thank you for calling/if you have any other questions or concerns" part of the conversation, and I'm sick of the. So before she could start I said, "Thank you for calling me back. Goodbye!" I sound like my mother, only she only does that with family and I would only do it with strangers.

Medical questions are bad enough without being obscure and pointless. Just filling out a medical questionnaire can bring me to tears over all the bad decisions I can't quit making. Who are the people who write these things, and why are they making more money than me?

*Peter Sagal
**In case you don't know, Pakleds are a very, very stupid race who stole some kind of weapon on Star Trek: Next Generation. After they threatened to use this weapon, Picard tricked them out of it. Throughout the episode they kept bragging about how smart they were, but once they'd lost the weapon, they said, "We are not smart." Pat and I found this so hilarious, it became the thing we said when either of us made a mistake. "I've misplace the car keys. I am not smart."
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
"I Can Think Of One Logical Starting Place: Why Do You Think You're The Only One Who Hears Dogs?"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Monday, my mother called me to ask me if there was a tornado watch in effect because she was hearing a siren. There was no tornado watch. I was at work, so she called Patrick to come over and see what was making the noise.

When I got home, he was on the front porch and told me he'd talked to her, but had not heard a noise. When I went over to her house, my mother told me Patrick had heard the noise but couldn't find it, and now it had stopped. I don't know if he told her he heard it or not.

One thirty in the morning she calls me. The noise is back. "What do you want me to do?" I asked. Nothing. I told her I needed to get back to sleep. Oh, it doesn't matter what time she calls, she sleeps all day. "Well, I can't do that," I said and hung up.

Tuesday she called me again. The noise was back. I was at work and nothing I said seemed to get through. I told her I'd see her when I got home. She said she'd call Patrick.

I called Patrick and told him to tell her it was the dehumidifier in the basement. He did that. He also unplugged the dehumidifier. (Yes, he unplugged the real machine to make the imaginary noise stop.) She's still hearing the noise. Maybe it's going to set something on fire.

This isn't a hallucination, it's her bored brain. Deaf people hear things that aren't there because their brains get bored. She knows this. But she won't listen to me when I tell her. Today I tried again and she wanted to know why she should believe me. "Because I can hear and you can't," I said.

"How do we know that?" she asked.

I got up to leave.

I have more than enough problems with reality and figuring out what is and isn't. Every time she pulls this crap, I feel like I'm being pulled down the rabbit hole. It shakes me.

I've always been stupidly sensitive, annoyed by sounds that other people barely noticed. My mother always brushed it off, as though I was somehow deliberately being annoyed, looking for something to bother me. This is not the case. She was never sympathetic about it. But now I have to listen while she talks about sounds that aren't there and might set the house on fire.

Life sucks.

*Tony Peterson

Oh, Happy Easter

Sunday, 27 March 2016 12:51 pm
carose59: the rose behind the fence (rose is a rose is a rose)
The Worst Thing Of All Is Not Knowing What You Look Like.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

So I was sitting here, crying and beating myself up over my (possibly imagined) sins and it seemed like a good idea to put them in black and white pixels.

It's my own fault I'm fat and will probably die younger than I "should."

I have wasted my life being unhappy.

I'm responsible for Pat's death, and I have now lived to be older than she was when she died.

I'm responsible for the deaths of several of the cats who loved me, particularly Mimi.

I was unkind to Shere Khan (who was mostly Pat's cat) because she had issues that annoyed me.

I honestly do wish my mother would die.

I was a terrible daughter to my father.

For several years I had a mad infatuation with a dead guy who I believed was talking to me in my head, and I did not keep this a secret.

This is not what I was planning on writing today, but I've stopped crying.

We are all each others' mirrors.

*Aaron Raz Link
carose59: mental health care (and the pelican says)
[Originally posted elsewhere January 9, 2010]

When I talk about myself as emotionally unstable, I'm being literal. I'm taking both Cymbalta and Clonazepam. Both of my grandfathers were alcoholics, and one of them had a grandmother who was manic-depressive. There's agoraphobia and panic attacks slithering around on one grandmother's side.

And the second grandmother? That's where you hit mental instability pay-dirt. All but one of my father's uncles died in the mental hospital. That one was the over-achiever of the family; he died in prison.

My father was manic-depressive, heavy on the manic, hospitalized many times, on Lithium when he died.

My mother has panic attacks and has had serious agoraphobia. She (and I) have the symptoms of one of the milder forms of manic-depression, heavy on the anxiety (and with me depression), light on the mania.

Like my father, I'm high-functioning. (The man would come out of the mental hospital and go right back to work. His only addiction was to cigarettes, and he took his medication religiously.) I don't drink, smoke, gamble, or have random sexual encounters. I was in a committed relationship that lasted twenty-five years and ended only because she died five years ago. I've held the same job for thirty years. After some moving around, Pat and I settled in a house next door to my parents, and have been here since 1986. I'm not in debt. I've never been arrested. I am overweight and my house is a mess. The only one who's diagnosed me is me, and my mother concurs. When I told all this to my last psychiatrist, I told him I was mildly manic-depressive, but not very good at it.

I describe myself as emotionally unstable because my emotions are where the instability shows. I cry easily, I have periods where I feel (metaphorically) as though I'm standing on a wobbly stool with my hands tied behind my back. I have periods where I feel as though my shadow is simply too heavy, and periods where the weight of other people's thoughts keep me immobilized. (I tell my therapist these things and she writes them down because they're both poetic and accurate. There are some things you can only be accurate about by being poetical.)

Besides all that, I'm terribly nearsighted and have an over-active imagination. Life comes at me in puzzling images that my imagination interprets before the rational part of my mind gets a chance. Those interpretations could be scary when I was a little girl, but now they're usually amusing.

I honestly don't understand most other people, which makes them potentially dangerous. I'm always saying things that seem perfectly reasonable to me, but upset other people, and they almost never tell me what they're upset about. (I do have a very silly sense of humor and a very serious way of expressing myself, which confuses people.)

I don't feel compelled to write this—I write about this stuff all the time in my private journal. I'm writing it because I want to, because if people are angry or upset with me because of nothing more than misunderstandings, this seems the easiest way to clear them up.


Thursday, 25 February 2016 07:08 pm
carose59: MKK (richer than i you can never be)
"The Only Reason They Don't Give This Job To The Service Robots Is They've Got A Better Union Than Us."*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I have to take my mother to the doctor. Several doctors, actually—well, two doctors and Coumadin clinic. They're all separate appointments, each one a trip unto itself.

And I hate it.

I hate her going out of the house. I hate watching her walk down the front steps and down to the car. I can't watch her, it makes me sick to my stomach with anxiety. I see her falling, I see Pat falling, and there's nothing I can do. She won't let me help her.

I cannot deal with it.

I have no choice.

And we get there, and I get her out of the car, into a wheelchair which I park in the lobby, the car sitting blocking traffic; I run back to the car, park, hurry back, wheel her wherever she needs to go. Talk to the receptionist, relay information, park my mother, take a seat. Wait.


Wheel her back, make polite conversation, wish I was dead. It's like I'm not really there. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if I wasn't.

Then everything in reverse until finally I can go home and sit and cry.

I wish I knew what was going on in her head. She doesn't seem to like me anymore. She doesn't seem to care if she sees me or not. I tell myself it's just how she is now, but maybe it's my fault because I'm acting different. I don't know how not to act different. I can't talk to her anymore. I mean that literally—there's no point to it, she can't hear what I say and she's not interested anyway.

I feel like I've spent half my life trying to hold back the tide with my bare hands. Sometimes Meg is the only one I love, because Meg is uncomplicated. Meg just loves me, and even when I don't give him what he wants, I'm not a disappointment.

I'm a disappointment to me.

The one thing I know isn't my fault is the voices my mother hears. I'm not talking about hallucinations; she hears voices because of how deaf she is. Apparently when you go deaf, you brain gets bored and gives you things to hear. She's been hearing me talking and singing for years now—when I'm not there. Of course, when I am there, she can't hear me. Of course.

But lately it's become my responsibility, the things I say when I'm not there. It's like her telling me how when she dreams about Daddy, he's always just the same. It's like it's not coming out of her mind, it's how things really are. I've tried pointing this out, but she's not interested.

*Dave Lister
carose59: (tattoo was the mother of pinkle purr)
"Do You Have A Map Of The Cat?"*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Friday night, Meg got in a fight with another cat. At least, I'm pretty sure he did. I heard caterwauling, then Meg high-tailed it into the house with tufts of fur coming out and blood on his face from a cut. He leapt onto my lap and growled, then ran over to look out the window. I closed the front door.

I cleaned off the blood. I felt him as best I could—he has such a strong sense of autonomy, he won't let me just do things like pick him up or cut his nails or whatever. He seemed all right, just shaken up. We went to bed. He got under the covers immediately, but didn't stay, probably because it was too warm.

Saturday morning, he slept late. I was dressed and ready to go out and I went in to pet him and see how he was doing. He seemed unhappy, but otherwise fine. I gave him some treats, which pleased him. His nose was warm, but he'd been sleeping with it under his tail.

So I debated whether or not to take him to the vet. The upside was, I'd be sure he was OK. The downsides were, it would be expensive, he would hate it, and if I took him, there wouldn't be anything wrong.

I dithered around for a while, thinking about this. It finally hit me what I was thinking, the magical thinking I was doing: if I took him in, there wouldn't be anything wrong. The only thing taking him in would accomplish would be easing my mind.

Meg was still unhappy and unsettled. We played a bit—that was exciting. But he wanted to go outside. So, I let him.

He checked out the front porch very carefully. He sat in his basket a little. He went down the ramp sniffed the car all over. I sat on Patrick's front steps and tried to coax him over, but he wouldn't come. Instead, he slunk about in the forsythias.

I went over to him and he growled and hissed at me. Apparently it was my fault what had happened last night, it was my fault other cats invade his territory. He's probably right; I shouldn't have put out the bed for Tommy.

I was shaken by this. I told him I thought he should go back in the house. Honestly, I was afraid if I left him out when I went away, he'd leave me, just disappear. But he seemed to agree that going in was a good idea, and we walked back to the house together, and he ran in when I opened the door.

I spent the day out, reading and shopping and crying. I became convinced Meg no longer loves me, which was bad, and that he'd be dead when I got home, which was worse. Understand, the only issues were a little blood from a small cut on his face the night before, and some hostility and disturbance that morning. And I cried about it all day.

When I got home, Meg was still alive. He went out to sit in his basket. I came inside to cry some more. He slept with me most of last night, mostly under the covers, even letting me hold his tummy. Today he seems just fine, but I'm still crying.

I wasn't sure I was going to write this because I'm ashamed. I'm ashamed of not over-reacting, I'm ashamed of letting my cat go outside even though I think it's the right thing to do, I'm ashamed of not being over-protective.

*Richard Feynman
carose59: it's all in my head (the wind of the wing)
[Originally posted elsewhere, February 12, 2006]

It's nearly three thirty a.m. and I'm sitting on my sofa, eating chicken and ramen noodles, drinking ginger ale, watching Boston Legal for the third time huddled under my soft, new, plum-colored chenille blanket, and crying.

There's nothing wrong, really. I have a slight headache, and I'm a little chilly, but nothing really hurts. And I'm awake because I slept from five thirty p.m. 'til a little after one a.m., so it's really quite reasonable that I'm awake now. I've just been obsessing about the normal aches and pains that I have in my life and wondering if I'm dying and if so, is it my fault I'm dying?

I called my mother before I lay down and we talked about it, about the way fear and anxiety come out one way or the other, and in my case, if I can't just let it out, I get sick, which is what's happening now. I'm coming down with something, and the precursor to actual illness is dread, anxiety, and guilt.

So I take my tranquiliziers, and I sleep as much as I can, and I eat comfort food, and I cry.

Another good day

Sunday, 7 February 2016 08:21 pm
carose59: holidays (i got a rock)
If You Want To Survive You Must Find Out How To Love What You Are.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

Well, it's starting again. I'm cleaning. I mean, today is my birthday and I took the recycling to the park and cleaned two of the shelves in the bookcase in the hall. This is not how I usually celebrate my birthday. There was leftover pizza and chocolate cake, so that was nice. But the cleaning was a thing I wanted to do.

My mother called. Yesterday she told me to have breakfast at Texas Roadhouse which, I don't understand. They're not open for breakfast. Today she called to see how my breakfast was. I told her they don't even open until eleven, and she claimed I used to tell her all the time how I'd gone there for breakfast.

And it stopped being about a present for me and became a story I was supposed to act out because she wanted to see it. So I didn't go at all. Honestly, she's acting like my father when he was having a breakdown: we were supposed to have "fun" and be the "happy family" because he was telling us to. I don't respond well to that.

I did watch a few movies I'd been wanting to see again. First was Applause, which was on TV in 1973. I had loved it then—and I still love Lauren Bacall. But now I've seen All About Eve, and much as I love Lauren Bacall, she's not Bette Davis. She doesn't have the edge. And the rest of the cast really isn't that impressive. Nor is the music. But I'm still glad I got to see it again.

The next one is a comedy with Mary Tyler Moore and George Peppard called What's So Bad About Feeling Good? and it was as good as I remember it. It's a sixties comedy about a virus that makes people happy. Of course the government is against it because happy people aren't dependent on alcohol, tobacco, or anti-depressants, and they don't vote. It's a silly movie, and I enjoyed it very much. It was also Thelma Ritter's last movie, so there's that.

And finally there's Penelope with Natalie Wood. Another sixties comedy, this one about a bank president's wife who robs his bank to get his attention. The best part of the movie is when Peter Falk, the cop, is suspicious of her and they walk around town talking. I with she'd ended up with him, but it was still a fun movie.

Fun is the name of the game. I'm trying to be happy. And I am better. I know this because I watched a horror movie a while ago. Last month I couldn't have, I was feeling too fragile. Between that, and cleaning, and having ideas, I'm definitely better.

*Aaron Raz Link
carose59: it's all in my head (the wind of the wing)
In My More Lucid Moments I Realized That Insanity Was A Fairly Reasonable Explanation For What Was Happening To Me. The Problem Was That It Wasn’t Useful Information. Realizing I Was Crazy Didn’t Make The Crazy Stuff Stop Happening. Nor Did It Give Me Any Clues About What I Should Do Next.*

-:- -:- -:- -:-

I've been through this before, when Pat died. I had dizzy spells, and my anxiety levels went through the roof, and I had trouble doing things, particularly driving. Intersections with stop lights terrified me; I was sure I was going to be T-boned at every one I drove through. I started screaming as I drove through them. Maybe it helped. I got better, anyway.

I'm there again. I know it's the anxiety over my mother, it's making me crazy. I didn't go to work today because there's some snow. I don't know how much. I was screaming yesterday, when the streets were clear. Today I would have been driving five miles an hour and deliberately stopping at green lights. So I stayed home.

I'm trying not to worry about this, trying not to see it as the shape of things to come, a harbinger of being self-trapped in my own house. I don't think it is. It's a symptom of a problem I'm having right now, and I'll either acclimate to the situation or the problem will resolve itself. (That's a euphemism for my mother dying.) I'm pushing myself when it's necessary, but the rest of the time I'm trying to be kind to myself.

Whenever I have to stay home, I require myself to be productive. So far today I've done some cleaning in the kitchen, and I'm hoping to cook. Being productive assuages my guilt. To quote Carrie Fisher, "I feel I'm very sane about how crazy I am." Since I can't eliminate it, I try to make my crazy work for me.

In related matters, Meg has gotten hinky about going out. He seldom just runs out the door anymore, even when the weather's perfectly lovely. Because I'm responsible for everything, I worry that he's picked up this new trepidatious behavior from me, that I'm making my cat agoraphobic. (This isn't totally unreasonable; I knew a woman whose dog was on tranquilizers because her stress levels were stressing him out so bad.) And on the other hand, I worry when I urge him to go out, that there's a predator he's aware of and I'm sending him into danger.

Of course, there are indoor cats who never leave their houses. I can't be one of them, but Meg can, if he wants to. And once spring comes and I have the door propped open, I'm sure he'll run in and out again. Maybe I will, too.

*High Anxiety, Mel Brooks
**Mark Vonnegut
carose59: music (give me excess of it)
Having Music And Art Speak To You And Move You To Your Core Is A Beautiful, Beautiful Thing, But Whenever It Happens I Can't Help Worrying That The Voices And Too Much Meaning Are Lurking Around This Bend Or The Next Or The Next.**

-:- -:- -:- -:-

My CPAP is making a high-pitched whine that wakes me up. I've been wearing earplugs, but then there's the noise of my own breathing with the mask on, which sounds like Darth Vader. It's a stupid problem, a princess-and-the-pea problem—I'm overly sensitive in so many ways.

So I considered playing music, but music is problematic.

Music is supposed to be soothing, but it isn't. It can be relaxing, it can be cathartic, it can be exhilarating, joyous, distracting, mournful, celebratory—it can be all those things, but for me it is never soothing. Music speaks to me, it shakes me up, it agitates me in good ways and bad. I have to be careful with music. When I'm driving, if things are bad, the music goes off. The worse I feel, the less I want music pulling threads and stirring up dust.

I've tried this before. I make a disc of songs, tell it to shuffle and repeat, lie down, and listen. And things happen in my head. Good things, bad things, lots of things. Nothing settles down, I wonder when the soothing will start, but it doesn't start. I think about the songs; I tear apart the grammar, I ponder the trivia, I relive the times and places I heard them before. My mind becomes chaotic and I'm overwhelmed.

Sometimes I manage to sleep. Sometimes I have to get up and shut it off.

Shutting it off doesn't return me to status quo. It leaves an echo of the music that isn't playing anymore and my head feels empty and lonely and strange; the dark seems darker. I sleep weird.

So music is out. I've also done thunderstorms and rain and surf. I have a little machine that creates these sounds, but they sound synthetic. (And why not, they are synthetic. And, yes, I can tell the difference. Do you know why the music has to shuffle? Because if the playlist plays in the same order, I wait for the next song that I know is coming. I do this in my sleep. It's not restful.)

But I got a CD with a real thunderstorm on it, and I finally remembered to bring in my CD player (which was in the car for reasons irrelevant here). I plugged it in, got it going, then stuck it under a box. This is necessary because the display is a big blue light, and—I'm sure this will surprise you—I can't sleep with lights in the room. It was nice, listening to the thunder and pretending there was lightning. It was soothing.

*Raining in My Heart, Buddy Holly
**Mark Vonnegut
carose59: it's all in my head (the wind of the wing)
And If You Must Go Insane, It's Best To Have A Reason.*

-:- -:- -:-

Things got worse during my morning on-my-way-to-work panic attack this morning. I wasn't wearing my watch-that-I-can-check-my-heart-rate with, so I don't know how fast it was going, but it was definitely worse. And it really scared me. So I got out of the left turn lane and into the right turn lane, intending on going to the ER where they would hunt for a vein while my heart beat normally because in the hospital I am fine.

But as I approached Kroger, I wondered if maybe all I needed was food, because blood sugar and racing heart (I'm not bothering with full sentences right now. I trust you can fill in the blanks). So I pulled into the parking lot, got out of the car, and was fine.

I was fine while I shopped. I was fine just about until I got to the point where I'd turned right instead of left, which I realize now is left instead of right. It's amazing I ever get to work at all. But the panic started up again, and I'd eaten some yoghurt, so it probably wasn't my blood sugar, not to mention the sudden fineness at the grocery. Just buying food shouldn't affect my blood sugar, right?

Anyway. I got to work without dying. I'm teary and feel lousy. Probably my mother isn't dead, though I haven't checked in a couple of days. And nothing is chasing Meg into the street, or cornering him and eating him. I'm sure he's fine. And no more of my friends I never hear from have died far away without me knowing about it. Probably.

Maybe it's benzodiazepine withdrawal. I'm cutting back on my klonopin, in the hopes of getting off it because my doctor doesn't want to prescribe it. I didn't take it this morning; I'm taking it this evening instead. That shouldn't be enough to make me crazy, although thinking about it is easily enough to make me crazy. And MediaWest's coming, though I'm not going, and it won't be long after that before Pat dies and I'm alone for the rest of my life.

There's nothing wrong, nothing anybody could fix except me, and all it is is, I just can't find happy.

*Care of Wooden Floors, Will Wiles

July 2017

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