Perfection

I would like to describe perfection
Not the perfection of a person or people, but of life
Tiny, irregular grains coming together
Forming a whole object, a whole world.
I would like to describe perfection
The gentle violence of night overtaking day
Of waves beating sand into submission
An otter cracking open a clam Seagulls laugh and gently rolling foam
Tall wispy trees against dry sandy heat
Bending without the aid of wind desperate to break free and breathe
The oceans speech, the stories she tells
Tales of life and death, a song of eternity
Always heard, listened to and understood
No quiet murmurs pass her lips
Only sorrowful wails and rejoicing screams
Light succumbs to the dark pinks, purples, oranges and blues
Worshiping the sun and bowing to the moon
Color shroud clouds falling into the deep gray blue
The foghorns howl demanding obedience
Crashing waves, continuous motion Perfection.

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Passenger

via Daily Prompt: Passenger

Just seeing the word “passenger” makes me think of Dexter, and his dark passenger. I’m no murder, but I do understand how he felt like something/someone foreign lived inside of his isolated mind. Those hidden social rules are tricky, and we do need to have our own moral code, because our passenger won’t always understand.

This is how most days work: I wake up just before the alarm, either on my own, or with my trusty companion bringing me shoes/leash telling me that I have to get up on my own, or that he’ll make me get up by threatening to shit on my bedroom floor–either way, sleeping wont be an option. I toss off the blankets, stumble to the bathroom and experience the wonderful side effects of medication before allowing the dog to walk me down the stairs where I swallow 11 pills before taking the dog out on a potty walk. I reminisce on the days that I can do this with ease, and joy of being outside. We come back inside and if I’m not doing well, I put on a podcast, here are a few of my favorites; My Favorite MurderThe Black Tapes,  Generation why and the Mental Illness Happy Hour.

No matter where I am or what I’m doing, my mental illness is always with me. On a good day, I can choke down a handful of pills all in one swallow, attach my service dog to the hands free leash, and set off to be productive. On those days, it feels like I’m the driver, and my illness is just extra baggage that I tossed in the trunk.

Most days, my diagnosis is right next to me, leaning against my shoulder, but forced to walk with its own feet, because my dog refuses to leave my side and force me to battle it alone. We’re connected, and it’s always an open tab in the back of my mind, but it’s stuck in the back seat where it can’t reach the steering wheel.

Thank God that I am able to hold a job– without somewhere I have to be, I can’t function. I work in the school district and have to take a summer job so that I don’t sink into a pit of depression and endless sleeping, or possibly worse, manic, irrational, risky behaviors that leave me sick and exhausted by the time I manage to re-emerge.

The bad days, my passenger is in the front seat, battling me for control of the wheel. It manifests itself in intrusive thoughts, nauseating anxiety, and bloody fingertips as I mindlessly pick off my own cuticles.  It lingers in the withdrawal symptoms on days that I forgot to take my medication, and holds dizzying side conversations when I try to focus.

My passenger will always make sure that I’m never alone; I can always call upon my crazy–it can sit in the quiet calm of my mind, but it can’t hide from me.

 

 

 

From 13 to 25 miles–I reached the beach

Once upon a manic day, I decided that I’d been at the gym long enough–I wanted to test myself on a fundraising bike ride. I told my mother, who has ridden with Cycle Oregon and done century rides. She was excited that I was getting into her sport, and went overboard with buying me supplies (including a new bike!) and going on training rides with me.

I was not overly enthusiastic about those training rides. I was no longer manic, I hadn’t ridden my bike since middle school and was a bit unpleasant company. I din’t take her constant advise well, and god help us if she decided to give some constructive criticism. I figured that I didn’t need to go on training rides, because come day of the ride, I wouldn’t have a choice. I’m a competitive, do or die kind of person. If I don’t have an escape route, or a rescue  you can bet your ass that I’ll jump hurdles and come up with plans b-z to make it happen. If I was on the route with no one to help me, I would survive. I would find the energy to keep going simply because I wouldn’t have a choice, and I’m a survivor.

The furthest I went on one of our training rides was from her house to mine. 13 miles slightly uphill. The months flew by and before I knew it it was time to ride 25 miles to the beach.  I found out that morning that my mother wasn’t doing the century ride like I thought, but joining me for the short ride. I wasn’t as appreciative as I could have been. My idea was survival while hers was company and enjoying the ride. Having a safety net took away some of the need to keep going; if I had problems she would have fixed them. I felt slightly cheated that she took some of the self reliance away from me, and that she wanted to distract me from my breathing and distracting myself by listening to podcasts. I feel a little bad about feeling that way; she was trying to support me, and was proud that I was joining her in one of her activities.

While I did some riding before hand, and my mother got me a new lighter bike and excellent bike shorts, I was not prepared for the fact that we were starting at the bottom of the mountain range. We were 1/2 done by the time we reached the sign proclaiming that we reached the summit. The ride down was a nice breather, and the last chunk of the ride was never ending flat road, with glimpses of sand on the road, so you knew you were close, but never quite there.

I did get some bonding time in with my mother, on the shoulder of a rode next to a stinky cow pasture, but I was tired and grumpy by the time we got to the beach. We ate, wandered around the swag tents, bought a commemorative tshirt and got back to the car to ride home.

I am glad that I did the bike ride. It was a fundraiser for lung diseases, and it showed that I can conquer things that I am not prepared for. I’m not sure if I’ll do it again next year (mostly due to the fundraising minimum) but I am glad that I did it and feel empowered knowing that I could do it again if I wanted to.

Finding Squidlette

Mike and I have talked about having children for almost 5 years now. Our first year of dating brought kid names into our lives. If we had a girl, we would name her Araeli (Rae) If we had a boy, it would be Alexander (Xander).  I went a “little” baby crazy and bought a whole children’s library from board books all the way up to beginner chapter books.

Mike got into the excited, we’re actually planning a baby spirit last summer (even though I’d been off birth control for almost 6 months before that) while we were in Niagara, Canada. He bought his first piece of baby gear- a reversible monkey hat at the Niagara Zoo.

Flash forward just over a year and I had missed two periods with a negative pregnancy test. I was convinced that the tests were wrong; I hadn’t bleed, was exhausted and dizzy and nauseous. By the third month of this, I was wondering if it was all in my head and made a Dr. appointment. I was diagnosed as diabetic, had borderline thyroid numbers and was sent to OBGYN. They made a guess that I wasn’t ovulating and sent me to get blood work done to look at hormone levels. My blood looked great, so I was given a referral to infertility services.

After sperm and yet more blood were tested, I will be going back in next month to receive medication to force a period, then what can almost be described as reverse birth control (forces a dip in estrogen that way you can produce a follicle into maturity and dropping).

Throughout this time Mike and I had a talk and decided that we were open to adopting (which costs more than IVF?!) and would like to try fostering to adopting an infant.

If you’re interested in seeing how the process goes, I’ve started another blog Finding Squidlette so that others can find an easier source of information for the actual process, as well as document our journey for our future child.

There’s an inside joke to the name. I LOVE the movies Finding Nemo, and Finding Dory (although I don’t know why the called it a comedy, I sobbed in the theaters all three times I watched it opening week). We thought we would call our child in utero a squid/squidlette since it’s so small and well behaved, and then when it got naughty it could be the Kraken. Baby belongs to mama when it’s a squidlette, and it’s all Daddy’s problem when the Kraken breaks through.

 

2nd grade memories

I spent the majority of this past school year with a Kindergarten classroom helping a SPED girl in her gen-ed class. She left for vacation the last 6 weeks of the school year, and I was moved to another school to help with a visually impaired student.

My service dog was finally ready to start working with me– he’d passed public access, CGC, CGC advanced, and CGC urban dog, and our task work was solid. We had to go to an accommodation meeting with HR and then wait for their lawyer to approve it.

Our first two days in the school together, we would show off tricks and tasks, letting the kids see what he actually does for me, then we moved on to giving rewards to the kids who ignored the dog, or told others what was going on with the dog in the school. The kids adapted beautifully.

One day, the kiddo I was paired with was having a melt down on the stairs. Pooper-dog just laid down and calmly waited it out. This was great for us, as we don’t have any practice working with kids, crying, melting down, or just being generally unpredictable. Eventually the kid calmed down, and did what I had told him from the beginning he could do– stuck out his hand said “touch” waited for the dog to nose his hand (so he knows where the dog is) and he was ready to get going to breakfast.

Another day, my heart melted. A girl in our classroom, who I never had direct conversations with, left a note all rolled up and tied with a piece of string on my desk. I unwrapped it, and tears filled my eyes. She drew a picture of the dog, and had little word bubbles coming up “I help people” “I’m a service dog” “I don’t go in my owners kitchen” and the bottom said the truest sentence I’ve ever seen from a second grader; “I am important to you”.  I had to ask who the student was, and man, I hope she understands some day what that note truly means to me.

Therapy isn’t what I thought it would be

I tried therapy a few times throughout early adulthood, but I was never in the right space to accept it.  I’m finally ready. I reached the point where I feel like I have tried everything that I can on my own, and am reasonably treated with medication, but I still feel like I need help.

The first attempt at therapy ended quickly- one session was more than enough to know that we didn’t mesh. The therapist wanted to dive deep into my past and connect all my traumas to childhood. Thanks, not into that. She was also big on breathing….bitch, I’m alive, I’ve obviously been breathing just fine.

Next time I tried a DBT class. It was interesting, and made sense, but it only works if you can catch yourself before you reach the point of no return. I tend to go from fine to crisis faster than I can grab my DBT notebook and compare symptoms with appropriate responses. It’s great for minor irritants/good days, but useless if you get to crisis.

Up next was a woman I found off of Groupon. She was fine, I didn’t really have an issue with her, or with what she said. I wasn’t in the space to accept help yet though. She gave me things to work on, and questioned the motives behind some of my future plans (and scared me because she was right, I was trying to “run away” with new plans to avoid actual manic, immerse myself in something completely new (I’ve previously moved to a new state on two days notice). I never went back to her after she made me think too deeply about why I was doing things.

Finally, we get to a mixed episode that had me freaking out at school. I couldn’t handle life, and was rotating between panic attacks and need for pain. My psychiatrist couldn’t get me in quickly, so I thankfully had two people who kinda knew what was going on and were on hand to help with self harm alternatives. I got in touch with mental health services and got an urgent appointment with counseling.

I’ve survived 2 sessions (that’s double my previous PR!) and am actually looking forward to going back. This therapist matches up pretty well with my interests; he’s a comic fan, likes animals, and previously worked with the foster system. While what I do in therapy I could do anywhere else with anyone, it is nice knowing that I don’t have to see him ever again, and honestly don’t care if he judges (which he hasn’t).

I have been enjoying being able to talk about anything/everything that pops up in my mind, but ultimately, I would like to get to the point where I don’t have to regularly shell out $20 for a half hour visit multiple times a month. Hopefully, just getting all of this out anonymously will help decrease the amount of crap I need to verbally diarrhea up for counseling.

 

Sometimes you just need to feel something

Look at the name of the picture; “Self Harm Alternatives”. Until this year, I didn’t think of what I was doing as self harm. I knew it was a coping mechanism, but I wasn’t cutting, or leaving scars, so I didn’t think it was self harming.

My depressed and anxious feelings lead me to pluck body hair. I crave the two day old bruise feeling. When the bruise starts to turn purple and you always sort of have it in the back of your mind, but sometimes you forget if it hurts or not and have to poke it to check that it still hurts, do you know that sensation? That’s what I look for. I want to be able to poke it whenever I want sensation, but to be able to forget it when I don’t need it. Plucking body hair gave me the sharp pain that I needed to offset the numbness.

Another tool I routinely use is hot/cold therapy. Squeezing something frozen until your hand hurts right before it goes numb, or sitting in a hot or cold bath while holding onto something the opposite temperature.

If I catch it early enough, I can chill out with my weighted blanket, or having my service dog do DPT and distract me from picking at my cuticles (He repeatedly nudges his nose under my hand, interrupting my motions).

What really helped was a pebble in my shoe, so I could roll it out of the way when I didn’t want it, and easily put it back. This method was also the most discreet while I was at work.