Saturday, July 25, 2015

My Affair With Apostraphes and Commas

Why do I write?

I write because I dream in vivid colors, swimming in the new, the odd, and the real. I write because I can feel and see things through my artist eyes that cannot be expressed in any other way than the power of feelings conveyed by words.

There is an essential part of me that longs for communication and understanding on a deep level. I want to be understood. I want to share my hopes, my visions of the beauty, the strange, and the twistedly weird.

Before my mental illness, I wrote for entertainment and for the experience of living in another world, time, and space for a few hours at a time. I wrote because I loved reading it over and over, caught up in stories and ideas that compelled and pulled at me, begging to be set down.

Now I write to purge the thoughts that plague me. The thoughts come in endless streams, disjointed yet related. I write in long run-on sentences, using too many commas because it's where I stop to breathe, but not where the thought ends. I write in incomplete sentences. Because impact.

I write because I enjoy finding connections and seeing where they lead, so the words 'and', 'but' and 'therefore' find their way into my typing more often than they should.

As I type there is a freedom, an escape from the cage that is now my head. Feelings escape and there is a lightness, a movement that I cannot find in the daily activities that I now have to force myself to do.

There is much lost in the translation from mind to fingers. My pinky is in love with that apostraphe and will possessify or contract anything that ends in S unless I enforce extreme discipline or go back and proof read. Not once, not twice, but sometimes ten times over. Its turns to it's whether I want it to or not. That finger demands to be used. That finger has a mind of it's own and I lack in catching all the errors.

But it is sometimes the errors that make writing what it is. Error is as much a part of me as is the blood flowing through my veins. It may not stain the page rust colored when 'there' comes out instead of 'their' or 'they're' - even though I *do* know the difference.  But the flaw is stil there, innate, beautiful in its own way. Annoying in its constancy.

Unfinished thoughts and words leak in as well. Words that have no meaning. The word Bear appears on the screen when I meant Table because the logic and intellect that once managed such things is damaged.

I write because imperfections must come out, whether in poetry or discourse. Thoughts rot and canker, spoiling everything around them when left to simmer in a rage unexpressed.

Words are cathartic, powerful emotions that I cannot deal with when bouncing inside my head from ear to ear, thought to thought, playing on the tides of my chemical imbalances like dolphins on the wake of a speedboat. Words keep me awake at night until I let them out.

I write because I want to be heard.

Thank you, Chuck Wendig, for this week's writing prompt. :)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Snow White and the tldr Huntsman

I love fairy tales, so I was excited about the possibilities of "Snow White and the Huntsman" when it came out. I paid full price to see it in a theater and bought the blue-ray/dvd pack for $5 on Black Friday back in 2012. Then didn't open it until this morning to re-watch it (three years later.)

The movie intrigued me. Not because I thought the movie was particularly well made, but because it had enough plot holes and missing bits that I was sure it *had* to be an adaptation from a book.

I spent hours online searching for a book about Snow White that would have inspired the movie. Now, either I don't have the right kind of google-fu, or the screenwriter and/or director left the plot holes and inconsistencies in the finished film on purpose thinking they were being clever.

*stares confusedly at Hollywood*

I did find some decent fan-fic while hunting. Most of it was better written than the script. And of course some of it read as if maybe that particular wannabe author really had written the screenplay. *cough*


I re-watched this movie last night, er, early this morning, thinking that I haaaaad to be remembering bits of the story incorrectly. Yup, I sure was, but my memory had sugar coated quite a few things.

At 5:30 a.m. I found myself wishing I'd made popcorn to throw at the screen when Snow began her "writhing iron" inspiration speech that made men in the movie cheer (because they were *paid* to cheer) and men watching the movie groan in pain. It inspired me to hit the mute button.

-- I think Writhing Iron will be the name of the my next band. --

tl;dr - the bits I question and snark about because they got the story ALL WRONG!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

A Child's Wish List

Some things in life hurt. It's especially hard for me when things that hurt me when I was young are amplified ten times or more for other children. This list makes my heart break.

A friend of mine posted this on facebook yesterday, a copy of a wish list from a foster child in Oklahoma.

I read this and was amazed that with a few exceptions, this list could have been mine from childhood. While inducing tears, it also made me extremely grateful for the good things I did have as a child.

* Love. My mother loved us unconditionally
* A Drug/Alcohol free home
* We had soap, and I remember having a toothbrush--sometimes?
* I don't recall ever getting head lice or having cockroaches. 

Everything else, well... yeah. Food and water -- I could tell you stories about my mother hauling 5-gallon buckets of water from neighbors houses to use for cooking/drinking when ours was shut off. Or the heat being shut off in the middle of a Wyoming Winter. 

I don't want to talk about my toys and our (my brothers and my) games being sold. Those memories kind of suck.

Nice shoes and nice clothes were a fantasy. Especially nice shoes. My brothers all needed shoes sooooo badly. I had better luck with the hand-me-downs because other girls' things tended to last longer than my girl things (because I wore my stuff out just as fast as my brothers.) Boys are harder on clothes, period, though, so even their hand-me-downs were already worn through. It's not like we were picky, though. We'd wear what we had, because it's what we had, even if the soles of our shoes flapped around like we were our own drum line.

By the time I was 12, I gave up on the idea of trying to be feminine. I didn't own any church shoes, so I became very vocal about refusing to be girlie or attempting to be feminine - you know, by NOT wearing things like nylons or pumps or whatever cute things the girls were wearing in the mid-80's. My grandmother had made some nice dresses, but I paired them with the first socks I could find (mated or not) and the pair of  shoes I owned - usually a pair of ugly black sneakers.  -- I mean UUUUUGGGLY.

It's an interesting thing, what we come up with as coping mechanisms to deal with the perceived judgments of others.
-- You're gonna look at me and sniff because of my shoes? yeah, well, I don't *want* to look like wimpy girly you and your sore feet and uncomfortable nylons. If I'm gonna sit here for three hours, I'm at least going to be comfortable. So there.--

I wasn't in the foster system. I know for a fact that I have not had a life as hard as most of theirs has been. But my childhood had it's own special brand of hellish that instilled empathy for anyone who writes a list like this.

Here I am, thirty years later, sitting in front of a nice computer in a clean home with sheets on the beds, paid utilitites, and a healthy mix of new and hand-me-down clothes in everyone's closet. 

I am extremely proud of my brothers and who they have grown up to be. One has a Ph.D. in Engineering, One owns his own business. One works hard at a good job that is an hour's drive from his home and family. They each grew up to be good and caring men. They each served honorable missions. They are each wonderful, fun, and just as imperfect as the rest of us. But they grew from where they came from. I wish everyone could see it. Not everyone does, nor does everyone give them credit for being who they are when things could have turned out so much worse.

I am somewhat biased when it comes to my brothers, yes. We survived. We more than survived, we grew from what we endured. And we all respect and love our mother for everything she sacrificed and endured for and with us. She went without food more than we did. She... was amazing.

I cannot say that I am as accomplished as my brothers. I do have my degree, and I maintained a 3.86 gpa (with kids and while pregnant with kids). I climbed my way up the corporate ladder and could be working in a much higher position in the hotel industry if I had chosen to stay in that field. I chose mommyhood instead.

All of that aside, I will only feel like I have truly accomplished something with my life when none of my children ever, ever, ever have to write a list like the one above.

Even better, if I can help another child remove something from that list.

I have limitations with service, yes. More now than ever before, but still there are things I *can* do:

* Love people. Truly. So they see it in my eyes when I smile at them.
* drop a surprise box of groceries on someone's porch. (This one is my favorite. My husband and I love this particular act of service)

I know this is a wandering kind of post with no real thesis or aim, just rambling thoughts. So I may as well end here.

I feel hopeful.

I feel sad for those poor children out there that I can't bring into my home because I am not mentally capable of handling them right now.

I want to be able to mother them all. I am so very proud and supportive of a friend of mine who is a foster parent.

I want to ask everyone to please share the love. Just feel it, share it, and don't overlook those poor kids out there who need someone to love them.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Vulnerability and Refusing to be Disabled

Another TMI post...

Have you seen Brenee Brown's Ted Talk on being Vulnerable? Well, this is me doing that.

 A family member suggested the other day that I look into Social Security Disability because of my mental illness and the instability that I experience.

So I did.

Turns out I don't qualify because I have been a stay at home mother for the past 14 years, regardless of how much I worked prior to that. Ok, fair enough.

 The SSD guy suggested I apply for SSI. After I did that I thought, Do I really want someone to pay me to stay home and sit on my butt all day? Because that can only lead to my depression getting worse. AND an excuse to *not* try to get better at social interactions. 

While yes, these are hard for me, I feel like I can make progress there if I try. Trust me, if it felt impossible, I wouldn't do this. 

So, I am trying an experiment. It may not work - let's be real here, I do have some very real limitations now. However, in spite of limitations, I applied for a part time job (hopefully *very* part time) at Ross. It's close enough that I can walk if I feel up to it. Also, I think I can handle stocking shelves, helping customers find things, and working the dressing room with a smile. At least, I hope so.

IF I get the job, I *reaaaallly* hope they don't make me a cashier though. That would be bad. My math skills have gone completely berzerk. I can report that I made it through their computer filter. the rest is just waiting for an interview with a real human.

 Rob wants to know what I'll do if a woman has a screaming baby in her cart. That's why I have xanex? I honestly don't know what I'll do, but hopefully I'll be able to come up with a workable coping strategy.

 It's been a few years since I've felt like I can try this. I don't know why now, but I'm following my feelings. If I get hired, I'll find out if responsibilities help me get out of bed on bad days, if I can love people enough to help them with a smile when I am feeling crazy grumpy, and - even more important - when they are crazy grumpy at me. --After 11 years in Customer Service, one of those being yelled at by upset Marriott customers who had issues bad enough to get to Mr. Marriott's office, and 5 of them being yelled at or worse by angry cable customers, I *should* be able to handle grumpy people when they happen. I guess we'll see. --- I honestly have NO idea how this is going to work out. But since I like experiments, here I go.

 Wish me luck?

 And, honestly, no matter how this turns out, at least I can say I tried, right? This in and of itself feels like a humongous step.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Where I'm At

Regression is hard. I know it's part of life, but it's a sucky part.

Let me start with the good things.

* I get to go play D&D with my guy friends on Saturdays. We laugh, we're silly, it's a good time. They don't care if I don't remember the rules. A couple understand my struggles completely. It's relaxing and recharging.

* Sunday evenings I go play games with another set of friends. We laugh, we're silly, and a good time is had by all.

* I have a lot of friends and family who are very supportive, whether I'm in a good place or a bad place.

* I have a great doctor who keeps tabs on me when I'm not doing great. He's supportive of my alternative supplements as well as being willing to tweak my meds as needed. He introduced me to, a great place to get coupons and less expensive prescriptions when you don't have insurance. "I don't get any kickbacks from this. Another patient of mine showed me this site, and I've been sharing it with patients ever since."  I love my psychiatrist.

* My husband is currently home all the time, and frankly that's a good thing currently. I'm not all that sure that I should be left alone right now.


And here are my stressors:

* My birthday happened. It was extremely extremely bad this year. I think mostly because I don't want another year like last year, but regardless, it sent me into this tailspin that I haven't been able to pull myself out of.

* My husband is out of work, and I'm a little worried about our ability to continue paying rent.

* Both of my favorite family reunions are at the exact same time this year. Not only that, but as much as I want to go, I don't think that I can handle being around all those people.  -- And my husband's immediate family reunion isn't nearly as many people as my extended family reunion. It makes me feel weak and stupid to dread the idea of going. Even though everyone is very loving, supportive, sweet, and caring. I just... don't feel like I can.  And this makes me extra sad because I LOVE Bear Lake.

* My doctor changed my meds last week. I'm now on 300mg of Effexor a day. I have had really great results with this medicine, but every change in the dosage makes me sick. If I don't eat when I take my meds, I feel like I have the flu. The rest of the time, I just feel icky, nauseated, or dizzy. Sometimes I'm okay, but mostly I feel sick. And being sick makes me grumpy.

* I am tired ALL the time. I get up around 11 a.m. after 9 hours of sleep and try to do something with my kids or be productive. After about an hour, I cannot keep my eyes open and end up falling asleep wherever I'm at and have to put myself to bed for another couple of hours.

* My motivation and energy levels are GONE. There is an entire list of things around the house that I want to do. Really want to do, honest. But I just can't drum up the energy or care enough to do them.
  - i.e. fold and put away my laundry. I'd kind of like to be able to vacuum that part of my room. Not only that, but when my room is clean, I feel like I can breathe better.
  - mop my upstairs floors. I just want my house to smell clean.
  - dust. Usually I love to dust, and it's not a hard thing for me to do. Now I look at my game chest, my piano and all the other shelves and think, "I want to dust that." And I can't summon the energy to go get a rag and do it.

* My right wrist and thumb are sprained. I was in a great creative space before I sprained them, and now I'm extremely discouraged that it hurts to move a pencil around. Well, it hurts to do quite a few things I'm used to doing with my right hand, but not being able to draw SUCKS.

* I went to the temple to go to my cousin's wedding a couple weeks ago and had a massive, I'm talking MASSIVE panic attack. I had to do breathing exercises, some kind of tapping/relaxation thing, and pop a xanex.  I had to leave the wedding breakfast early because the anxiety was still bad.  Going to the temple is supposed to be relaxing, recharging, and comforting. Instead, it made me want to go home. home home. Badly.


Here are the things that my doctor and other friends have suggested or 'prescribed' to help:

* exercise daily.
* Fish Oil and B vitamin supplements
* Iodine supplements
* Every day get up, get dressed, do my hair and make-up, and look like I'm ready to go out and face the world.

I would like to note that these things listed are not 'shoulds.'  These aren't things that are like another list of things to feel guilty about.  These are things that if I do them, I really do feel better. They are, my case, needs.

Except sometimes I can't make myself exercise. I have no energy. Or I'm too sick. And that just is how it  is. No guilt, just a thing on my list to do when I *can* do it.

The vitamins and other supplements are also things I take when I can keep them down.

The getting dressed and doing my hair is easier. With my new haircut, I *Have* to do it daily or it looks really crazy. Some eyeliner and some earrings, done. This one I can do just because I prefer to like what I see when I look in a mirror.

Sitting outside, whether in the front during a rainstorm or out back to cuddle with the dogs. I see all the yardwork I should be doing, but it is healthy for me to feel the sun on my skin, the grass between my toes, and the strength of the trees.


On a religious/spiritual front, I am doing:

* Church on Sundays. I can get through sacrament meeting now with no problems as long as I'm sitting in the back. Of course, with the revival of my anxiety it's not as easy as it was before June 18, but I can at least make it through the first two meetings without stress. The third meeting is harder.

* I play the scriptures out loud when I'm going to bed. For those of you who fall asleep immediately, that probably makes no sense. But when you're me and it takes an hour or so to fall asleep, I actually hear at least three or four chapters before I fade out.

* Prayer. A lot of it. I still feel weak. I know I'm not alone, but oh my goodness do I feel weak.


Truthfully, it is extremely to want to keep going right now. I feel like I'm slogging through mud.

It's wonderful when my son comes and jumps up on me and cuddles. I kiss his face and neck, he giggles, then runs off to build or play toys. He sings and keeps up constant conversation as he bounces from thing to thing around the house before jumping back up on me and getting more kisses and hugs.

Now, all this being said, I don't have a plan. So while part of me might want to jump off that cliff, I can't. I won't. It's just... hard right now. It's hard to want to keep fighting.

It's hard to wake up and face another day of no energy and sick and not be able to go visit friends or go for a decent walk around my neighborhood.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

You're the oldest

"Christine, you're the oldest grandchild, so you need to get good grades to set an example for your cousins."

"Christine, you're the oldest grandchild, so you need to go to church and read your scriptures to set an example for your cousins."

"Christine! You know better than that! You need to set a better example for your brothers."

"I'm stepping out for a bit, keep an eye on your brother's will you?"

"I expected more from you, you're the oldest."

Normally, these lines from my childhood don't bother me. In fact, I purposely didn't get excellent grades in high school because I *didn't* want to be valedictorian like my aunt.  Nor did I want to be the example for all of my cousins.  -- some of which are the same age as my daughters, and have no idea I'm their cousin and not their aunt, or even how we're related.

I have said the same thing to my oldest daughter. I did expect her to learn how to be nice to her younger siblings. And I tried to remember that younger siblings are GREAT at getting the big sister in trouble.

I still remember my younger brother getting picked up and patted on the back by my mother, while he gave me a smug grin over her shoulder and stuck his tongue out at me. I don't remember what happened, but I remember feeling frustrated that I was the one in trouble when he was the one responsible.

99% of the time, these things make me laugh. Because they're things parents and grandparents say to the oldest. Through personal experience, I have discovered that the oldest child is the one parents make most of their mistakes with.   ...  well.... I make *different* mistakes with my younger kids.

Today, however, was not one of my better days. I'm still really struggling with the depression, with the change in my meds and how sick it makes me, and with anger I can't explain. And with that negative tape that runs, came all of these lines from my childhood.

But the funny thing is, that instead of feeling like a failure to my cousins and brothers, I felt super proud of them for who they've all grown up to be. I have amazing brothers. I have amazing cousins. I am extremely grateful that I can say they're related to me. Maybe they learned from my poor choices? Maybe they learned from my experiences? Or maybe they're just innately smarter than me?

Or -- and more likely -- I had nothing to do with how they grew up, they just grew up and did their thing according to how they'd been taught and what they thought was right.

It doesn't mean I don't have guilt for putting that pressure on my oldest child. It doesn't mean I don't have guilt for the stupid things I did as a big sister or as the oldest cousin to the cousins who do remember me. Well... hmm. Not guilt, exactly. Those things are so long ago, and I've dealt with all of that, so it's not exactly guild. More... a type of regret? I don't know how to describe it.

It occupied my thought process for about an hour, though, so it meant something.

Maybe I'm hoping that as a mother I'm still trying to set a good example? Maybe because I will be a grandmother in a few months that I'm worried about putting that same pressure on a grandchild?  I hope not. When I was little I thought it ridiculous that I would have an influence on my cousins. I still think that's ridiculous today. I do have relationships with my cousins, but I feel it's one of respect and as peers, not oldest to youngest. I certainly don't know best, nor am I the boss of anyone.  I'm pretty sure I stopped bossing my brothers around when I got married and moved out. At least, I hope so?

Blah. I don't have enough processing power to analyze this further. It was there. It happened. I assume it happens to most oldest children. I don't think it's horrible or awful, nor do I think my parents or grandparents shouldn't have said it. I do think if I held onto it for years and resented them, that would be my problem, not theirs. And I think that in some ways it made me consider the realities of life. That there are consequences to things I choose that I can't see or that don't affect me directly.

People are always watching. That is the truth. Whether because they look up to you and you don't know it, or because they haven't decided yet whether they like you or not. Or they're just curious. I know, because I do it.

And oldest or not, I think that what I heard as a child helped me be aware of how others felt, how one thing affects others.

Not that I always remember that... ha! I sure wish I did. But overall, I think it helped make me a better person. Be a good example. I know I don't succeed at that a lot, but I think by keeping that in mind, it's made me a better person than I would be otherwise.