Thursday, July 31, 2008

Choosing between two jobs...Good news!

Well, wonders never cease folks! I thought for sure, when I went to another job interview the other day (although I do, technically, already have a job now), that it went disastrously poorly and there was no chance in hell that I would be hired there. I thought this for a few reasons:
1. I arrived late, because I went to, not one, but two other buildings before I arrived at the appropriate place.
2. I arrived soaking wet from a mixture of sweat and rainwater, as it was storming outside, and I have no air conditioning in my car, but I had to roll the windows up.
3. The woman who interviewed me looked at me with disdain (or so I thought), the entire time. "Like I was a dead rodent on the side of the road", I wrote, in an email to someone about it.
4. The woman who interviewed me said a lot of things that I took to mean she was not going to hire me, ever.
5. I generally do not seem to be very good at the act of being interviewed for any kind of job, no matter what it is, according to all available evidence from the past seven months of unemployment.

However, like I said, wonders never cease, so they called today and offered me this job! Now, my task is to decide which one of these two jobs I've taken is going to be the one I really take, and hopefully keep, for a while. The two jobs are very different. The first one is a job as a companion, which attracted me because I want to be a social worker, and that job would be a step towards the social work goal. I also like doing things that help people, and find jobs like that to be infinitely more rewarding than working in an office.

That said, I am, probably, very well-practiced at working in an office, and I have no real experience in taking care of people with disabilities, which is, actually, not something I'm even sure I could do. For one thing, I have some physical limitations from a chronic autoimmune illness that limits me, and from Fibromyalgia, which causes pain during any kind of physical exertion or even during sitting in the same position for too long. For another thing, I have a very weak stomach, and am not sure I could handle things like taking care of people's hygiene, which would, in all likelihood, be a part of the companion job, at least some of the time.

So I have to make up my mind. Right now I'm thinking the second job I was offered, which is at the college I attend in the enrollment department, answering phones, would be more up my ally for a few reasons than the other job. It also has a guaranteed number of hours every week, which the companion job does not offer. Therefore, it might be a more reliable source of income with which to pay my bills.

Other good news! My caseworker made some phone calls today and got my landlord - a mental health agency - to let me pay this month's rent late, so I don't have to worry too much about it for the moment, as I have no money to pay it right now. And that was like a 200,000 pound weight being lifted off my back. I cannot tell you how much the thought of becoming homeless again terrifies me, because I have actually been homeless more than once in my life, and every time it was a horrendous time and I have no desire to ever go through that kind of nightmare again, if there is anything I can do to possibly avoid it. So my caseworker was quite helpful, despite all my complaints of yesterday about the community mental health center. She also got me an appointment with my doctor today, and I was able to get some Klonopin, which was very helpful, because I had been going through withdrawals from that and it was not a pleasant experience.

In other news, I have had some issues with friends in the past couple of days. One of my best friends is in a rehab some hours away from where I live, and has been there for months. I am glad she is there as it seems to be helping her get better from drug addiction. Unfortunately, however some rather annoying, childlike adults we know from the mental health agency where we used to live in a group home together, have told her that I said some sort of negative things about her, which I probably never actually said. She doesn't want to say what exactly I supposedly said, so, I do not know if I said it or not. If I did say it, however, I never said it to either one of these childlike, incredibly pathetic individuals, who told her they heard something that I said from my friend, who I trusted. Apparently, I should not have been so trustworthy. So now, I am a bit angry with one friend, the other friend is most likely angry at me, and the two idiots who caused this situation are people I never see or speak to on purpose because they are annoying, one is a serious drug addict, the other one is his sister and they both act like infants even though they are adults about my age. So, like any rational, intelligent, adult person, I sent them hatemail, in response to this 6th grade nonsense. Well, it was late at night, and if you knew me you would know that I tend to say things during the middle of the night that I would not be writing during the light of day. It's an old habit, though, normally, it does not involve me sending hatemail, at least not to people I actually know. But they deserved it....or, at least, it seemed like they did at the time.

Back to my last post and Ken's comments:

In answer to your question about Spooky, she got her name from a cat I had named Spooky when I was three years old in Baltimore, Maryland, who ran away from home. That Spooky and this Spooky were both all black, so the named seemed appropriate. This Spooky, as she would like you to know, however, is infinitely more beautiful and princess-like than her namesake who was big and fat. This Spooky is also rather moody, much like her human mother, and recently destroyed the entire bathroom in a fit of rage because her litter box was dirty. She is also developing a habit of trying to run away from home, whenever I open the front door to the apartment, which I always tell her is very rude and hurts my feelings (she is not concerned about that). Spooky is beautiful, and like many beautiful women, she's well aware of her beauty and uses it to her advantage, always getting people to pet her whenever they come over.

Spooky loves my computer, by the way! I have some funny pictures from when she was a baby, and she used to sit on my lap every time I sat down at my desk, and hit the screen with her paw, because she liked to chase the cursor from my mouse. Kind of funny. This led to my habit of helping Spooky write emails - something we like to do from time to time, which either amuses or baffles my family, depending on what Spooky writes and who is reading it. My grandmother thought this was a sure sign my mental health was going downhill again, so I stopped sending Spooky's emails to her.

Spooky sometimes misses her deadbeat dad, who moved out in January and never paid a lick of child support (and also never paid any of her vet bills when he lived here). We have discussed her status as an official bastard, and she's learning to get used to it. She doesn't really miss him at night, because that's when she likes to play and he always ordered that her toys be taken away from her so he didn't have to hear the noise. Now she plays with anything she wants, at any time of day or night!

Ken, I like the names of your cats! They are cute names. My brother and sister-in-law have interestingly named pets, such as Tiglet, a little dog, and Ribbet, a little kitten. They used to have a rat named Father Time and something that was named Nostradamus, though I don't recall what it was right now. They have a lot of pets. I never remember all their names. My sister-in-law works for a veterinarian and she loves animals.

Well, I guess my mother will eventually get used to the death of her dog. She wants me to go to Disneyworld this weekend with her and my sister, to get her mind off the situation. I don't really want to go, truth be told, because trips like this with my mom generally end in disaster, of the variety that is both public and loud, and I generally like to avoid such scenes. But this time, I agreed to go, to appease her. Maybe it will work. Likely not for long. I'll enjoy what I can out of it. My sister will be returning to New York, where she normally lives now, in a few weeks, so I won't be seeing her again for a while.

Well, I think I have wrapped things up with this post, though I know I am forgetting something I wanted to write about. There's always room for more posts! Please give me your feedback if you have any thoughts on what job I should take. I really need advice on that! Thanks, in advance!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

An End-of-July Update

Well, the past few days have been rather difficult. I was writing here recently about problems dealing with my mother and her mental health issues, and related things of that nature. Last week I apologized for some rather nasty things I had said to my mother recently, and tried to patch things up between us. The next day, her dear companion (her dog), Toby, died. For years my mother has said, "When Toby dies, I am goin to kill myself", jokingly, but it's not totally a joke, because people who speak frequently of suicide and also have Bipolar Disorder are usually not just being funny. So, I always worried that, as her dog, Toby, got older, and the chances of his living much longer grew more slim, my mother was going to end up having some sort of nervous breakdown. Saturday, Toby died. It was sudden, though apparently he must have had a tumor growing for some time, according to the doctor at the emergency vet clinic. My sister, my brother, my sister-in-law, and I were all there to be supportive, and try to help, but my mother was definitely not prepared for this to happen, and has not taken it well. I created a little memorial webpage on a site for pet memorials, and she seems to like that; I don't know how much it will actually help. I think some losses take a person a long time to get over, and I know that I am still not over my break-up with my boyfriend that occured seven months ago, which I should have seen as inevitably coming for about a year before it happened. I think it will be a while before my mom gets over the loss of Toby. She doesn't deal well with humans, and she was very close to that dog; he went everywhere with her, for ten years.

Then, today, my sister had a major seizure (the Grand Mal kind), and I went to the emergency room where she was sent by her fellow employees at the hospital where she works. I ended up being there for about five hours before she was allowed to go home. My sister has Epilepsy, and I've been driving her home from work lately because her license was revoked by a doctor due to other seizures she has had in the past.

In the meantime, however, some good did occur. I finally got a job, which takes a huge burden off my back. It is a job that pays less than what I used to make, but is a job, nonetheless, so, it is a good thing. I will need to get back on a more normal type of schedule, which is something I've been working on for a while now, and being back on Anafranil helps me to actually get to sleep at night, so my schedule is getting better. Unfortunately, I somehow lost my Klonopin, and right now it's been four, almost five, days since I've had any of it. My doctor's office won't prescribe a new order of it, I guess because it is a controlled substance, even though I have been on it for a number of years and have never had any kind of problem with taking extra. I don't really understand this mentality, that because you're prescribed an addictive drug, you might just be a drug addict. I never asked to be put on Klonopin; it was a doctor's idea, and they have kept me on it at every new doctor I've gone to for years, because it helps me. Going off it cold turkey = not so helpful. I am shaking, literally as I type this because my body is going through withdrawals from the medication. I can't hold my hands still. Apparently, my doctor does not care about that, though, since there are people who are addicted to half a milligram of Klonopin on this planet, and there is a chance in the realm of human possibilities, that I might just be one of them, so we wouldn't want me to get an extra week's worth of medication. I might sell it in a back alley for ten dollars. We wouldn't want that! Better that I just risk having a seizure by going off it cold turkey, which is, according to all medical information, not a good idea.

Anyway, enough of these miscellaneous complaints! I did get a job, so I suppose I should be saying that all is right with the world, at this time. Here you go: All is right with the world. At this time.

Meanwhile, I've read a few more interesting books recently. I read The Last Time I Wore a Dress, by Daphne Scholinski, who I learned on the internet is now Dylan Scholinski (he's transgender), a fact that was not included in the book. The book involves her treatment in psychiatric hospitals as a teenager in the 1980's, where she was sent because she was gay, and, apparently, nobody realized that she was not at all mentally ill. Following that, I read Gone to the Crazies, by Alison Weaver, which is another interesting tale of a teenager who spent years confined in a psychiatric treatment program that was also a weird sort of boarding school. Then I started reading (but have not yet finished), Marya Hornbacher's excellent second memoir, called Madness, which is about her struggle with Bipolar Disorder. Marya wrote a very excellent memoir a few years ago about anorexia and bulimia, which is one of the few books on eating disorders I would ever recommend people read, as it is one of the few I consider reader-worthy. That book is called Wasted.

Speaking of mental illness... my antipsychotic, Seroquel, is working well, and I have not had any psychotic symptoms lately. I have, however, not gotten out of the pit of depression I've been in - at least not completely. I'm able to read, which is a good sign for me, because often when I am not doing well I cannot concentrate to read anything. I am also able to laugh and make jokes and write. However, I am living in a place that is an absolute shambles - my disgusting apartment, which I have not cleaned at all in months. I cannot bring myself to face the overwhelming, horrifying task of fixing this embarassing situation, and this situation has been going on for a while now...Even my cat, Spooky, is fed up with me. She wants to run away, and every time I open the door, she tries to do so. My car, similarly, is a disgusting pile of rubbish, which I need to clean for many hours. I will have to do this soon. And I have not been doing a few other things that I should be doing, like laundry. It all overwhelms me and I find it too complicated to handle. Instead of dealing with the things I so obviously need to be dealing with, I retreat into my mind, into a world where I have a close relationship with a person who, in reality, doesn't want to have that kind of relationship with me, but who is, in my mind, always acting like somebody else, and not his actual self.

I guess that is all for now....Oh, one more thing: I saw my ex-boyfriend for what might be the last time the other day. I am relieved about that. And I finally had him removed from my auto insurance policy so we no longer have any reason to communicate.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My endless pile of worries

I am feeling rather overwhelmed. During the past couple days, I have become extremely irritable, and feel quite angry about some things, particularly about things involving my mother, but usually, I do not get angry that often. The old suicidal thoughts have also returned. If I do not get hired for a job soon, I will not be able to pay my rent next month, and I will become homeless. This is a serious problem, and because I have been homeless more than once in the past, it is something that scares me a great deal, because I know what that kind of life is like, and I do not want to go through that again.

So the thought comes to my mind, wouldn't it be better to be dead than homeless? And I think, perhaps it would. I have had to live in motels, shelters, the back of my car, a rented room, an ALF, a group home, hospitals, hospitals, hospitals, and various tiny apartments, moving so often that I do not know most of the addresses of the places where I have lived, over the past ten years. I have been evicted while I was hospitalized, more than once, and lost most of my belongings in the process. And I have had periods where I attempted to live in my mother's house for a short time, which always resulted in her kicking me onto the street while I was psychotic, and had nowhere to go. On several occassions, I had to take degrading, horrible jobs in the adult entertainment industry just to get money to pay for a motel room or some other place to live in. Now, as I am overweight from my medication, I could not do that type of work, even if I needed to in order to survive. No one would hire me for that now.

Right now, I've been in my apartment for two years, and it's the longest I've ever lived in my own place. I do not wish to have to move again anytime soon. However, I can definitely not afford to stay here without a steady income from a job. This is looming over my head at all times, causing me to be in a constant state of panic, never able to really relax or feel comfortable.

I feel causes of my irritability piling up in my head, building a stack of things that I usually do not think about much, but which are bothering me right now, because I am in a very bothered state. Here are some of the issues causing me stress:

-My mother has, in the past two days, repeatedly broken into my email account, and changed the password so I could not access my main form of communication with other people. This brought up a lot of old feelings of anger towards my mother for other things that she has done and mistreatment she has bestowed upon me for the past 33 years of my life.

-The guy I used to think I would marry some day is not only not interested in me in that way at all, but does not seem to want to be my friend much more either, and just recently had his second child born with his girlfriend, who is a real part of his life - something I have never been and never will be.

-I have sent out dozens upon dozens of resumes and job applications, only to be completely ignored by most of the people I have sent them to. The people who have interviewed me all chose to hire a different candidate for the job.

-I feel completely overwhelmed by the mess in my apartment, and have given up, completely, on trying to clean it, so it is in a state that is humiliating, shameful, and extremely depressing to live in.

-I am overweight, and cannot seem to lose weight, which causes me to despise myself, not only because I have always thought I was overweight, but because other people keep mentioning to me how I should do this or that to lose weight, and how I've gained a lot of weight, and my ex-boyfriend told me repeatedly for two years that I had become fat and unattractive, even while he was sleeping in the same bed as me.

-I don't think I will ever get through college.

-Everyone in my family has addiction or psychiatric problems.

-I don't have enough close friends. I am not talented at making friends. I feel quite isolated and lonely.

I guess that's enough of a list for now. I apologize that this is a rather depressing post, which might sound like some type of whining, but sometimes we all need to vent. That was, actually, the original reason I started this blog a few years ago. It sometimes helps me to write out the things that are occuring in the recesses of my mind. Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mommy, Dearest

My mom is mentally ill. She has always been mentally ill, but there are times when it bothers me more than other times. Today was one of those times when it bothered me a lot.

My first memory is of an incident that occurred in my bedroom, in the apartment we lived in (my parents and I), when I was three years old. My mother was screaming at me, screaming about what a horrible child I was. I don't remember exactly what she said. She took my favorite record, which was a Sesame Street album, and she broke it in half and threw it across the room. I was scared of her, and upset that she would break something of mine for no apparent reason. I figured there must be something innately bad about me, since my mother seemed to hate me, and moms don't generally hate their kids.

I grew up with many incidents like this. Stuff being thrown at my head - a porcelain duck from the living room, a chair. Hiding in my closet from my mom, when she was trying to hit me. My mom pulling me by my hair up the steps of the house we lived in when I was 12. My mom pounding me on the head with her fists, and my dad, who had moved out by then, running in and putting his fist up to her face to make her stop hitting me. The social services worker who came after my dad reported my mom for abusing me, while my parents were separated. The lie I told, when my mom made me call my dad and say "she never hurt me", while she stood next to me to make sure I said the right words over the phone. The psychiatrist who said I should go into foster care and not live with my mom, when I was 15, but who, for some reason, never followed through with that plan after she stopped taking me to his office. My mom screaming at me because I wet the bed. My mom screaming at me because the house was a mess. My mom screaming at me that she hated me, and she wanted to kill me, that she was going to kill me. My mom screaming at me that I was a bitch, that she wished she had an abortion when she was pregnant with me, that I ruined her life.

I remember a morning when we were in the van headed for Christian school, and she called me a "fucking bitch". I was nine years old, and raised to be a born-again Christian, I had never even heard the "F word" before. I just new it meant something bad. Very bad. That I was bad. Very bad. Unlovable. Evil. Horrible. Hated by my mother.

How bad do you have to be for your mom to hate you? I used to wonder that a lot, when I was a kid. I used to pray, every day, that she would stop hating me, that she would stop screaming, that she would not hit me anymore. God seemed to be deaf to my prayers; he never listened. She continued to scream. She still continues to scream today. I am 33 years old now. My mom never changed much. She stopped hitting me, after I got big enough to fight back or threaten to call the police. She went on medication, but it was never the right kind. It still isn't the right kind. She needs to be on antipsychotics, because she's paranoid and delusional, but she won't take them because she thinks that if you take antipsychotics, like I do every day, then you're 'really crazy'. She's diagnosed as Bipolar. This is not an accurate diagnosis, but no doctors have ever had the misfortune of living with my mom like I did for years.

Today, I was at my mom's house, and I was listening to her rant and rave, like she always does, about how absolutely horrible her job is (where she has only worked for a couple weeks, because she doesn't tend to last more than a month at any jobs). It's just like every other job, out of the hundreds of jobs she's had, over the past 18 years or so that she's been a nurse. She hates all jobs, no matter how much they pay her or who she has to work with or where the job is located. She hates working, and she thinks that she is the only person on the planet who has ever had to work at a job she did not love. She is convinced the world revolves around her; she's always been this way. I'm used to it.

Sometimes, though, it bothers me more than other times. Today, as I sat listening to this, I was busy applying for jobs at places like drugstores, on the computer that I gave my mom, because I haven't been able to find a job anywhere else during the past seven months that I've been filling out applications. So I did not particularly feel like hearing about how much she hates her job that pays her over $50,000 a year. I did not really feel like hearing about that while I'm faced with upcoming homelessness because I do not have the money to pay my rent. So, I sat there, ignoring her as best as I could. She went on to make fun of me - something she enjoys doing at times and which she thinks is just a game, by which she amuses herself, making jokes about the mentally ill people at the group home where I used to live. I ignored this as well.

Then, as I sat typing a message to someone on a feminist message board, my mother came up behind me, reading what I was writing, and I did not realize she was standing there. When she spoke, I jumped, as it startled me. I am easily startled, like most people who got smacked around as kids. She started yelling at me that I coudl not be typing what I was writing in her house, and on her computer (nevermind that I gave her this computer). At this point, I snapped. Something in me simply snapped. I heard myself scream at her, calling her a bitch and telling her to "get the fuck away from me". I surprised myself. I felt myself jump out of the chair and grab my purse and run out the door, slamming it behind me. I heard myself scream a few more words at her on my way out. I got in my car. I drove away, and I screamed some more. Screamed at the air, at the God I don't believe in, at the ether, at nothing. Screamed like I used to scream when I lived with her and she tormented me every day. Screamed about how much I hate her, how I will not have anything to do with her anymore, how I am done with her. I meant it.

She called me a little while later, to let me know that after I left, she had broken into my email account and she had read my emails and emails that I had written. She was angry that one of them, to a friend of mine, mentioned her and the fact that she is crazy. So she changed the password on my email account, in order that I should not be able to use it. When I got home, I changed the password myself and then wrote her an email telling her I want her to get out of my life, permanently. I'm not sure if I meant that or not. It's hard to cut your mom off. I've tried it before, many times. Eventually, I usually end up going back to her like a woman who goes back to an abusive boyfriend. But you can get new boyfriends. You can't get a new mother. She is the only one I'll ever have. So, most likely, I will not stick to my words. But for a while I will. I need a break from her.

My mother is the most miserable, negative person I have ever met in my entire life. Considering how many mentally ill people I've met in my life, that is saying a lot. Not much ever comes out of her mouth that is not some sort of complaint about something. She pretty much constantly complains, about everything and anything, to whoever is within earshot, all the time, every day. She has never changed that aspect of herself no matter what medications she's taken or how many AA meetings she's gone to. She still remains committed to spreading misery wherever she goes, to whoever she happens to deal with. I do not need this negativity in my life. In fact, I decidedly need something quite the opposite of this. I need to be around people who are hopeful, optimistic, compassionate, caring, and not morosely ungrateful, miserable, and completely self-involved like my mom. I've never been very adept at meeting people, but I know that I need to work on this as it is vital that I get some different people into my life, so people like my mother will not be the only people I can call or go to a movie with or visit.

I will always love my mother. I will also always think that she needs antipsychotic medication, and I will always maintain that belief, even though she will probably never take such medication. And, I am done with being my mother's victim. I do not need verbal abuse, or even the kind of karma you get from being around a person who is perpetually malcontent, like she is. I do not need the negative energy constantly invading my life. I need a break from her.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Aliens, God, and Other Silly Things

Is anyone but me watching Larry King right now? Apparently aliens are invading Texas. I find this quite amusing. I am thinking of hopping a Greyhound bus out of Florida to meet these visitors from foreign universes in El Paso, or whatever town they're in, as, obviously if aliens are going to visit the Earth, it is fitting that they should head to Texas first. Perhaps they are coming to retrieve their specimen that escaped from the lab, otherwise known as George W. Bush. Beam him up, Scotty! Do the world a favor!

Well, I digress. I do try to laugh as much as possible, though. I think this is what has saved my life - having a sense of humor. Perhaps that is the purpose of having a sense of humor; it's God's little way of helping people along through whatever crap they might have to go through in their time on Earth. I have been spending the past few days working on a humorous website (well, it's humorous to me, at least), and this has been rather fun. I would post the link here, but my name is there and I prefer not to have my name on this blog.

Suffice it to say - it's a site about God being a woman, a feminist, and a lesbian. I'm not actually a lesbian myself, though I'm sure plenty of people will think I am whe they see this website. That's fine with me, since I don't really care if people think it. In fact, if I had not grown up in such a ridiculously right-wing, Republican, conservative, discriminatory family, perhaps I would have a different sexual orientation. I don't know...but this is interesting to think about. I was at the bookstore tonight, and I often frequent the women's studies/ feminism sections of the bookstores. Right next to that section is the gay/lesbian section, and I've hardly ever picked up a book from there.

I realized that I was actually afraid to be seen picking up a book about gay people, which is embarassing to admit, as I like to consider myself a pretty open-minded person, but I guess when you grow up all your life surrounded by homophobia, it is a bit ingrained inside you. Anyway, it was rather liberating when I did pick up some of those books and decided I did not care who looked at me doing it. It's interesting because I've spent many, many hours of my life in bookstores, and I've almost never seen anyone browsing the gay/lesbian section. When I have seen people there, they've always been looking over their shoulders and moved away when they thought someone was watching. I think this says a lot about our society, and how ridiculously homophobic our culture is.

Which is why, I decided to make my God a lesbian. Well, of course I didn't make Her that way; She made Herself and everybody else, including all universes and aliens currently visiting Bush in Texas. I personally felt that if God was a black, overweight, lesbian, she would be challenging all of the social constructs of gender, race, sexual orientation and physical state that we have in our society, particularly here in the United States. It also occured to me that this would bring on the wrath of the religious zealots of the world; but I'm not too worried about them. After all, I'm not doing anything that gets enough attention to warrant a suicide bomber hitting my apartment or an anti-gay, misogynistic assassin showing up at my door (hopefully).

I used to get a lot of threats from some people online when I ran a feminist message board on Delphi, which was, at the time, a place that got a lot of traffic and had a lot of forums. I stopped running it years ago, though I believe it still exists under the people I handed the reigns too. It's interesting when you put up a feminist forum on the internet how many little roaches come out from under their rocks and send you pictures of fetuses and letters about how much they want to rape young girls. I found it rather disconcerting, and for a time, put in a lot of energy to getting one particular cyber bully kicked off his ISP, but that never really panned out.

Anyway, this is not actually what I was planning on writing about here at all. I had another topic in mind, so forgive me if I switch topics here for a minute.

It has occured to me (and I know I've mentioned this before here), that I have really stopped living since my boyfriend and I broke up, back in January of this year. It sometimes hits me like a new revelation, then I kind of stop thinking about it, until one day I realize, I have no food in the house, and the reason I avoid going grocery shopping is because every time I do that, it reminds me of living with him. To be quite honest with you, I have not used my oven since the day he left. I have not cooked anything for myself except microwaved junk. And most of the time, the only food I keep in the apartment anymore is cereal (and the occasional frozen SouthBeach Diet meal).

I have been trying to find a job, and I was, previously, in college, but underneath everything I do everyday, I have had a sense of utter defeat and a feeling of being completely lost. It is not that he was the best boyfriend in the world; he frankly wasn't. It's not that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him; I really didn't. It's not that there were no problems in the relationship; there were many. It's the comraderie, and the routine of being in the relationship, and of always having a partner to go places with and do things with, that I miss. It's not even really about him as much as it is about the person I was trying to be when I was with him.

In effect, I was really trying for about two years to be a person that I'm not. I stopped writing when I was with him, as anybody who read this blog in the past would know. I never came here. I stopped working on issues that concern me much when I was with him. I spent a lot of time doing things like grocery shopping, cooking, calling his doctor's for him and making him appointments like he was an infant who couldn't do anything himself, paying all the bills, making his lunch, and working at my now-defunct crappy job at the nonprofit agency where I used to work. I spent a lot of time trying to be a "good girlfriend", and, as a feminist, I know that's really quite nauseating.

Sometimes now, I'll crack a joke to my sister about how pathetic I was when I lived with my boyfriend, and will both laugh in astonishment at how I acted like a complete doormat during that time. I can't really explain it. I guess it has a lot to do with low self-esteem and not feeling "worthy". It also has a lot to do with my mental illness and not feeling "normal", because, frankly, after you've been diagnosed with a form of Schizophrenia, you've pretty much been told you are not whatever "normal" is. And that bothered me. It bothered me to such an extent that I was willing to put on a big act 24/7, trying to fill a role that never quite suited me.

And then he left. And I completely stopped doing all of those things that I was doing. But unfortunately, I went to far in the stopping. I stopped cleaning, stopped cooking, quit my job, stopped doing many things that need to be done in order to have a decent, functional life. And that was my downfall. I still have not corrected that problem, but at least, I am aware of it. I go to therapy every week, but I don't think I've really dealt with this issue there enough to get past it. I think in many ways, I was kind of scarred by my experiences in hospitals and in the places I lived for a couple years, when my life totally revolved around my mental illness. And I tried to do a 180 degree turn-about from that, when I moved in with my boyfriend. But it never quite fit.

Today, I think I'm still trying to move past my relationship with him, and to feel comfortable in my own skin, and to feel like my life, whether I'm alone or not, really matters. I got this idea in my head that my life only mattered when he was in it. I know that is something I need to move beyond. Thanks for listening.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

A little bit about being little: eating disorders

I have not written much here about my history with food, and my former eating disorder. It's not a subject I talk about too often anymore, except with my therapist, who did not know me when I was going through anorexia, so she does not really understand my whole history with it. It is a long history, and one that shaped my life to a certain degree, leaving lasting impacts on me. The reason I am mentioning this now is because of a woman named Nancy Bratt.

A few weeks ago, I came across a video on youtube about Nancy Bratt's struggle with anorexia and bulimia, and the fact that she is now dying of complications from her lengthy eating disorder. I got interested and looked into her website and her myspace page, and decided to write to her. I told Nancy that I would do my best, for as long as I live, to tell her story and to tell people about the dangers of eating disorders. I started talking about these dangers to people in 1999, when I did a presentation for an American Pluralism class at the college I was taking on body image and eating disorders. I wrote a paper about my experience with anorexia, and one of my professors approached me to ask me if she could show that essay to her niece, who was developing anorexia and was 14 years old. I asked her if I could write to her niece instead, and this started a correspondence that went on for some months through mail and email. My professor said that I had a major impact on her niece and helped save her life. I said, really, she saved her own life, but I was glad I was able to help.

After that experience, I wrote a bit about body image and eating disorders for my women's issues website. I still keep that online today. However, I haven't written much about eating disorders in a while. So, I would like to discuss the topic a bit here. I know that it does not relate directly to Schizophrenia, which is the subject of this blog, but it was a major part of my life. And, for all I know, it might have been related to a brain issue which also caused my Schizophrenia.

The first time I went on a diet I was 12 years old. I told my mother I needed these special foods to lose weight, according to a secret diet plan that my friend had gotten from someone's mother who had supposedly paid a large amount of money for it from a weight loss program. I remember my mom bought me the cabbage, hot dogs, and other disgusting foods, which I ate for several days, trying to maintain this diet. I believe, at the time, I weighed about 100 pounds. I was not overweight.

Anorexia became, in my mind, a solution to my life's problems. I began to think about dieting and weight loss obsessively, and the more I thought about it, the more I needed to continue thinking about it. I believe that there are reasons why people do things, like developing eating disorders, and that in my case, the reason was I was a very unhappy, depressed young woman with low self-esteem, whose parents had just split up and who had an unpleasant home life. Suddenly, I no longer cared about these actual problems. They had been replaced by the symbol of "problem" - food. I saw my weight as the center-point of my existence. My weight was where all my problems lied, and if I could control my weight, I could be happy. This is the anorexic mindset.

By the time I was 17 years old, I was 5'3 and went down to 83 pounds. I ate very little, sometimes 500 calories a day. I exercised as much as I could, though my body quickly grew weak and tired from any physical exertion. I cooked for other people, and baked all kinds of cookies which I never ate, then gave them away. I read recipes in magazines, watched cooking TV shows and pretended that I could make myself feel full by imagining I was eating something. It was a battle of mind over body, and I was determined that my mind would win.

I ended up in an eating disorder treatment center that year. There, I was the only anorexic person. The other patients had different eating issues, and many were very overweight. I did not comply with the treatment regimine there, because I was absolutely terrified of gaining any weight. I dumped the milkshakes they gave me down the sink and I did jumping jacks in my room after I had been put on bedrest. In a few days, I was kicked out of this treatment center for noncompliance. My father was told to put me into a psychiatric hospital nearby, because, there, they could tube-feed me if necessary (I never got to the point of being tube-fed; I agreed to eat to avoid that).

I spent several weeks in the hospital, and, after that, several years recovering from anorexia, relapsing, then recovering again. It was a roller coaster that went on for years. At one point, my therapist refused to see me anymore, because she thought I was going to die since I did not seem to want to get better. I was absolutely miserable and unable to think or concentrate on anything but calories, fat grams, and my metabolism. When I was about 19 years old, while walking through my neighborhood, when I still lived with my mother, I frequently saw a severely emaciated woman who lived nearby walking by herself. She looked like a corpse, and people stopped to stare at her. I wanted so badly to tell her to get help, because I knew the hell that she was living through, but I did not think she would want to hear that from a stranger. So I never said anything to her. But seeing that woman frequently walking, though she was about 30 years older than I was, left an impact on me. I did not want to spend the rest of my life suffering from anorexia, with my life revolving around diet pills and laxatives. I decided that I wanted to get better, or I wanted to die. I did not want to live with an eating disorder anymore.

It would be simplistic to say that this was the end of my eating disorder. In reality, I continued to battle with it off and on for years. And today, though I am 33 years old, I still have great disgust at my body and am very embarrassed by my weight. In the past two years, for the first time in my life, because of the antipsychotic medications I take, I became overweight. To be truly overweight, after a life time of delusionally believing you are overweight when you are truly thin, is hard to deal with. People make comments to me about diets I should try or exercises that might help me, and I know they mean well, but when people say these things, frankly, it makes me wish I was dead. I have a hard time applying for jobs and going to job interviews, because of my weight. I've been unemployed now for seven months, and a large part of the reason for that fact is my weight and my humiliation about it. There are some jobs I will not apply for, because I feel I am too fat for the role. This may sound silly, but for someone who lived with anorexia for many years, it is not at all unusual.

Another thing that did not help matters was that, when I still lived with my former boyfriend, he would make comments over the past two years about my weight. He constantly reminded me that I was gaining weight, as if I was not already keenly aware of that fact. He said he was no longer physically attracted to me long before he actually broke up with me. This had a major impact on my self-esteem. I cannot date anyone now, because I feel I am too fat, so I do not try to meet people.

This past fall, I had a reminder of my anorexic past. I tripped in my apartment, hitting my foot on the coffee table in my living room, and suddenly felt excruciating pain. I had broken my ankle. I did not fall hard or do anything that would seem to cause that kind of injury, but I found out when I went to the doctor for my ankle that I had Osteoporosis, and that was why my ankle had snapped like a twig so easily. To this day, I have not followed through with the bone density test I was supposed to get, in order to find out how severe the Osteoporosis is. Partly, I have had too much depression and anxiety to deal with things like that, and partly, I do not really want to know. I feel very regretful that I starved myself for years, which probably shaved years off of my life, and caused irreparable damage. My starving myself may be related to why I developed an autoimmune disease and Fibromyalgia as well. I will never know for sure.

For a few months after I broke my ankle, I had to wear a large brace which made walking difficult. I was lucky that it did not require surgery, but it took a while to heal. But things could have been much worse for me. Compared to breaking an ankle, some women who suffer from eating disorders, like Nancy Bratt, are dealing with far more devastating aftereffects. Nancy was in recovery two years ago, when her organs began to fail. She has been very sick for the past two years, and is now given just a couple of months to live, according to her family's writing on her webpages. Her family continues to update her myspace page and her other website, in an effort to make people aware of the true dangers of eating disorders. Nancy Bratt's story is important, because she was fighting her eating disorder successfully, when she became gravely ill. Sometimes, by the time you get to the point of recovering, it is too late for your body.

In recent years, something that has disturbed me greatly, which did not exist when I was younger and battling anorexia, are the "pro-ana" websites, forums, chat rooms, online journals, blogs, and videos on the internet. These sites portray pictures of severely emaciated women, many of which I am sure are doctored/ photoshopped pictures and they call this "thinspiration". The people who create these sites, usually young women, claim that anorexia is a "lifestyle" and "not a disease". They list tips on how to starve yourself properly, how to hide your eating disorder from your family and friends, and how to motivate yourself to lose more weight. They are a virtual eating disorder factory, churning out starved young women, leaving them hating themselves even more than they already did.

These sites should really be banned from the internet, completely, but that has evidently not happened since they are still very easy to find. So when I wrote to Nancy Bratt, I told her that every time I came across a pro-ana person online I would tell them the truth about eating disorders, and I thanked her for doing the same. If these young women knew what laid in store for them when they were in the midst of a full-blown eating disorder, they would certainly not choose that fate for themselves. They seem to believe that an eating disorder is the same thing as dieting. But, just like drinking socially is not the same thing as being an alcoholic, a diet is not the same thing as an eating disorder.

I remember the lonely days I spent in my bedroom counting my ribs, and looking in the mirror, seeing if I could pinch an inch of flesh on my body. I remember pounding my fists into my legs as I walked as fast as I could to burn calories. I remember the boxes full of Dexatrim and laxatives I kept stashed away for years in secret places, and my mother's outrage when she found them, and my father's note when he found them once, which said, "please stop killing yourself". I remember all the food I could not eat, and all the food I did eat, for which I felt ashamed. I remember my weights at every period of my life probably more than I remember anything else about my life. I remember the physical and mental pain, and the feeling of being locked inside a concentration camp of the mind, unable to escape. I remember anorexia as hell on earth, and it is a fate I would not wish on anyone.

Now, I have not starved myself for years, but I will have Osteoporosis, and be at risk for breaking bones easily, for the rest of my life. It will progress, since it always does, and there is no cure for it. It is a painful, and sometimes debilitating, illness. It is an illness I would never have gotten if I had not been through years of anorexia.

These are the aftereffects of self-starvation which pro-ana sites do not discuss. These are the facts that are conveniently ommitted when people create webpages to encourage others to starve themselves. The truth about an eating disorder is that it's a very isolating, very lonely, very painful, very controlling, thing which takes over people's lives just like a drug or alcohol addiction, and affects every single aspect of life. Eventually, if it does not kill you, it will damage you permanently, and by the time you come to regret, "choosing this lifestyle", your fate will already be sealed.

If you know anyone who is at risk of developing an eating disorder, or if you are suffering from one yourself, please get help. There is an excellent website called Something Fishy, which has been online for at least ten years, and deals with all eating disorders, offering information, support, and recommended resources. If you would like to email me about these issues, feel free to do so. I can listen and offer you what advice I am able to offer. In the end, it is the person who has the eating disorder herself who must choose to overcome it. Unfortunately, many do not make that choice before it is too late for them.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

depression and various issues

Well, I have been continuing to have quite a bit of trouble with depression lately, so I asked my psychiatric nurse practioner to change my antidepressant, which she did. I went back on one that I have taken in the past, because I think it worked better for me. So hopefully that will help things. I've also been trying to get my wacky sleep schedule (or lack of sleep) back to a more normal routine, where I am not up all night long every night. So this has involved several days where I was up all night, then forced myself to stay awake all day as well, so that I could go to sleep at a more normal hour the next night. It hasn't worked completely, but it has helped a little.

I have a long history of trouble with depression, so it is nothing new to me. Unlike previous time periods in my life, I am not thinking about suicide at all, and I am not having any psychotic thoughts at this time whatsoever, so I am doing well on a couple of different fronts. That is progress, and some of that can be attributed to Seroquel, which seems to work quite well for me. Not thinking about suicide is something that I also attribute to my own personal efforts to change that habit I had for years, of thinking that suicide was the solution to all of my problems. I have made a conscious effort over the past few years to not think that way anymore, and I have noticed the thoughts are not there now, even when I am really depressed. I think that taking medication for hypothyroidism also helps me a bit because it seems to prevent my depression from getting as bad as it used to get - where I would be completely suicidal and not functioning. I guess I'll never know what exactly has made the change possible, but it is probably a combination of factors.

While I have been unemployed for a while now, it is just at this point that the issue is becoming a problem, since I am not going to be able to make it financially unless I find a job right away. So, for that reason I've been looking into some jobs that I do not really want, but which might allow me to make some money for the bills. These are telemarketing jobs, and while I absolutely despise doing that type of work, I have done it in the past, and I suppose I could do it again temporarily.

In the meantime, there has been a great amount of family drama going on. Most of this involves problems my siblings are having. One of them has a great deal of trouble with depression herself, and consistently talks about suicide, which always disturbs me a great deal. She is getting help, so hopefully she will work on her problems in therapy and medication will be of some assistance, but her problems have been ongoing for some time. Another one of my siblings is a teenager who has been getting into some trouble. Hopefully she will straighten herself out and have a good future.

All my grandparents are still alive, but one of the grandfathers has cancer now, and it is apparently pretty advanced. The other one has Alzheimer's and does not look very healthy at all, in pictures that I saw which were recently taken. I am glad that I went to the state that they live in, last March, and visited them. I know that they are not going to live forever, but I hope that they will be around for at least a little while longer.

Due to my trouble with depression, and a lack of motivation, I have let my apartment fall apart in recent months. I need to work on it a great deal. It is a bit of a problem because I have some trouble with all-or-nothing thinking, and I think that either I have to clean the entire place and make it look great, or there is no sense in cleaning this at all. This mode of thought leads to feeling overwhelmed and perpetual procrastination, while the place becomes messier and messier. This is an issue that I really need to work on in the future. I did not have this problem when I lived with my boyfriend, because, somehow, living with him motivated me to keep up with things much better than I do on my own. I wish his leaving did not have so many detrimental effects on my state of mind as it has.

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