Rage…

In some ways my friend is pretty average. She has a house, three kids, a dog and a cat in small town America. Her children go to public school and are actively involved in sports. They camp, climb trees, swim, and love to get messy.

In other way’s she’s not. My friend is pansexual and non-binary, her oldest is gay, and her daughter is trans. Small town America doesn’t like them very much. And it shows. Her daughter has a diagnosis of gender dysphoria by a reputable paediatrician; she was told to follow her daughter’s lead and let her be herself. She’s bought enough clothing, from both sides of the children’s department, to open a clothing store and I’m reasonably sure she’s cleared out Target’s toy department as well. Their pantry is well stocked, the children attend school regularly, they’re clean and unbruised with that confident and slightly cocky attitude children have when they know they have a parent who is going to listen and support them. Meanwhile children’s protective services might as well have a revolving door installed on their front porch.

Children’s protective services removed her children for several months a year ago and allowed her daughter both to be beaten and have hot sauce and vinegar poured on her tongue for daring to say she was a girl. What’s a little pain now if it cures her? This preschool aged child spent months surrounded by so called professionals who berated her for saying she was a girl and insisted she had to go by her boy’s name. And now they’re back. This time claiming that if she really was a girl, she’d say so persistently and wouldn’t be scared to announce it. Once again this child, who’s biggest worry should be remembering if n comes after m, has to worry about her physical safety from the people who vowed to protect her.

My friend gets to comfort her sobbing child who wishes she could cut off her own penis and die. I don’t know what the worker gets out of it. Maybe the self satisfaction of not allowing the liberals to ruin her country.

I go on Facebook and see a veritable flood of articles about bathroom bills in various States. They all contain arguments from people who insist that there is nothing but male and female and that both are readily defined and recognizable. These people know they’re right, after all it’s obvious. There’s only been male and female forever. Won’t anyone think of the children?

Then they proceed to ignore the facts laid before them. All the various combinations of X and Y which make up people’s chromosomes. The prevalence of intersex people. All the various cultures who have and do recognize more than two genders. Studies that map how prenatal hormones shape the brain in regards to gender (most of which I’ve discussed here). They don’t need to read anyone else’s information because it’s their opinion, which they’re allowed to have, and no one can tell them otherwise.

It’s easy to shrug them off as unimportant, nothing more than wilfully ignorant trolls, except they’re not. They’re the caseworkers my friend has to deal with, the parents of her daughter’s classmates, and the coaches in their teams. They’re the people my adult friends hand their resumes to, who look at their ID then their face before filing the resume in the trash. They’re doctors and teachers and politicians. The people who won’t allow my friends to have ID that matches their gender. They’re people who have a gun and hatred and a burning need to show what they’ll do to protect the children.

They’re very eager to protect the children. Just not all the children. Not the little girl who’s being forced to hold hot sauce in her mouth until she recants and promises she’s really a boy… just please make it stop hurting. Not the six year olds with bladder infections from holding it in because they want to use the “wrong bathroom”. Not the children who get told by adults that they should kill themselves for being different. No one will miss you. They only want to protect children who were never in any danger in the first place, from a threat they made up to incite hatred.

My arms aren’t big enough to hug my friend who’s so very tired of reading articles and posts detailing society’s hatred of her… and my friend who’s positive there’s no one in the world who cares… and my friend who feels like no man will ever love her for herself… and my friends who are terrified for their children’s safety (children who are still young enough to be tucked in with a bedtime story and a kiss)… for my friend who’s growing increasingly tempted to cut off their own breasts because surgery is far too expensive in “the land of the free”… for the young artist who receives scores of hate mail every single day because she draws cartoons that depict her life.

And then some one else complains their free speech is being trampled because how dare some damn liberal disagree.

And my friend rocks her sobbing daughter to sleep.

Sand

~ Sand ~

I built my mind on a bed of sand
It shifts when the wind blows
Tumbling
Scattering grains across my cerebellum.

Was my thought always there?
Or had it been a few steps over?
I can’t remember
The sand gives no sign.

The mirrors bend in their frames
Warping my reflection
Tilting
Who’s on the other side?

Grains sift through cracks in the wall
Each piece a boulder
Depending on perspective
Who’s to say mine is more relevant than the ant’s?

I gather my thoughts
Organizing, smoothing, straightening
Gently rocking
And wait for the sand to settle.

moon and water4

Baby steps…

I had my breakfast on my balcony today, while Jeremy slept in. The sun streamed down on me while I read a book on my phone and sipped my hot chocolate.

balcony bliss

Yesterday I went for a walk with my friend J and her dog to the local dog park. I warned her that I looked like hell and was not very chatty. She didn’t mind and told me I could come in my pjs if I wanted. Which was actually tempting until I lifted my shirt to put on deodorant and took a good whiff.

She sent an old computer home for Jeremy too and zie went into raptures over it.

“Oh wow! Mom! This thing has a molex connector. I can’t believe it!! And the power box is dead but I can fix that. I’ll just have to set it externally because it’s a Dell.”

I got the Dell part, I already knew they can’t be modified or upgraded without certified Dell parts; although Jeremy apparently had a work around for that. But molex?

“It’s the connector that came right before the sata connector,” Jeremy explained patiently.

I still didn’t understand but I know when I’m out of my depth so I just smiled and nodded. Soon the computer was not only set up but online and connected to our network. Well, Jeremy’s network. Zie has it set up, modifies it regularly, and looks at a wave graph to make sure our connection is set up to a barely used frequency so it can go faster.

The only computer class this kid has ever taken was a basic keyboarding class. I fought the school board for years to allow zir to take computer classes but they insisted it would be too hard for zir. Meanwhile zie’s already planning that the next computer zie gets will run DOS “because that would be fun to learn”. I was a teen in the 80’s. Fun and DOS are not words I’d ever used in the same sentence before.

And then there was last night. Jeremy laughed and talked to zir new computer for several hours while setting it up. Zie laughed while I made dinner, giggled and ate dinner while watching The Young Turks, ran to the bathroom to vomit, and continued laughing.

Jeremy settled back down with TYT while I checked my dinner post on Facebook to see when I’d served zir (technology is wonderful sometimes). A half hour earlier. Was that long enough for zir to have absorbed the medication? I quickly called the pharmacy and headed to Google “how long does it take effexor to get into your system”. What popped up was more relevant to zir than me…

“How long does it take for Effexor to work? Sleep, energy, or appetite may show some improvement within the first 1-2 weeks. Improvement in these physical symptoms can be an important early signal that the medication is working. Depressed mood and lack of interest in activities may need up to 6-8 weeks to fully improve.”

This would have been so nice for the doctor to tell me. I’ve heard the two week line before but I’d gone into the hospital feeling between 0 and 1 on a scale of 0 to 10 and went up to 4 by my first appointment. I knew I was still having problems. I knew things weren’t right. I wish someone had told me it would take over a month to reach anything close to “normal”. I honestly thought I was losing my mind.

I sat on hold, singing along with the Everly Brothers. The pharmacist interrupted the second song to tell me zie’s fine. It’s absorbed within 20 minutes.

I’m trying to take things one day at a time and break everything into manageable pieces. Some days are easier than others. This month I don’t qualify for any sort of assistance so I’m sitting here grateful for my obsession with stockpiling food. I have a list of papers I need to obtain (along with some lovely phone anxiety). My application for disability is timed, which means I have to start filling that out on top of applying for Employment Insurance (which I qualify for).

*deep breath* it will get done.

I’m grateful for the friends who message me, visit, and call (even from California). I’m not the best conversationalist these days but I try. I’m grateful for my family who I’m seeing tomorrow. We’re going to the garden centre and I’m going to plant a fairy garden (complete with fountain). Last, but not least, I’m grateful for my kidlet Jeremy who can be annoying as hell some days and almost certainly has Pathological Demand Avoidance (a diagnosis I found when sent a link by accident). But zie also is funny, kind, and supportive… offering me hugs when needed and suggesting I go sit in the rocking chair and rock if I seem overwhelmed.

My next baby step is a walk to the lake with Jeremy where we’re going to try to get photos of the almost full moon rising over the water. It will be fabulous.

Life doesn’t get easier, just messier…

I walked out of my bedroom clutching a little bag of everything I thought I might need for the hospital. A bottle of water. Chapstick. My phone. Kleenex. My health card. I had to inch past the pile of Jeremy’s laundry in the hallway then around zir boxes of stuff outside the closet. I didn’t want to see the living room, even though Jeremy was thrilled about something.

“Look what I bought!” zie proudly proclaimed as I walked into the room.

A large shelving unit, complete with glass doors, sat in front of me. It blocked most of the entrance to the kitchen and a good chunk of the front hall. The rest of the hall was blocked by an old side table, the kind with a separate shelf for a corded phone.

“They’ll help me clean up,” Jeremy added.

I looked past zir to the bins of tangled wires, tumbles of computer parts on the couch, and piles of plant pots, loose screws, and other odd bits strewn across the kitchen table. I hadn’t been able to sweep the floor since Easter. At least I’d washed the dishes the day before so the counter was clean. I’d had to wash them, we had no clean dishes. Jeremy was supposed to wash them while I was at work but zie was sleeping through my whole shift and doing them after work interfered in zir computer time. Besides, it wasn’t fair in zir eyes that zie did the dishes while I sat. Work didn’t factor into zir equation because zie didn’t see me work so, in zir mind, it didn’t exist. It certainly existed in my mind. I came home almost too tired to eat. Dishes were beyond my ability.

I couldn’t help zir clean either because I “didn’t do it right”. And cleaning it for zir meant months of zir ranting that I’d messed everything up, put it all in the wrong place, and broke zir things by throwing them into the closet. This comment was usually followed by zir raging and throwing zir things into the closet. Zie’s never seen the irony in this. Plus, if zie couldn’t find something, it was guaranteed zie’d need to search for it long and loudly at 3am… knowing I needed to be up at four.

There wasn’t any time for me to clean at this point. Karen was waiting for me downstairs and I didn’t care much if I ever came back. From there I went to my parents’ house and Jeremy assured everyone that zie would clean up and adamantly refused my Mom’s help. My Mom was upset that I said to let Jeremy handle it. Meanwhile I didn’t want to put her in a situation where she’d driven her 70 year old self over to have Jeremy put a chain lock on the door and threaten to call the police on her. Jeremy has a great love for zir collection of assorted components and wires, apparently more so than for the flesh and blood people in zir life.

And zie did clean. Not completely but a decent amount. Meanwhile I collected all eight loads of zir laundry to wash, dry, and fold then came home briefly to wash a week’s worth of dishes from zir. And then, finally, I came home.

The next day Jeremy angrily informed me zie couldn’t see why zie should care about me being suicidal. After all when zie was suicidal and crying because zie didn’t want to wash the dishes since there were sharp knives and Jeremy was scared zie’d kill zirself with them. Apparently I told zir to suck it up and wash them anyways.

To be fair, I did tell zir exactly that except Jeremy never said zie was suicidal and wanting to self-harm. I knew zie was depressed, got zir help, and regularly touched base with zir… asking Jeremy to tell me if zie ever had a plan or specific thought on how to kill zirself. Jeremy never did.  I knew zie was scared of sharp knives, zie has been for years, but Jeremy also knows that zie doesn’t have to wash them. They aren’t even put in the sink.

My issue with the dishes was that zie wasn’t doing them. Every day brought a different excuse. Too tired… too hungry… too stressed from school… sad from school… why wasn’t it my turn… but zie’d washed a load two days ago. Then I’d spend my day off tackling Mount Dishes. So when zie’d complain (again) that zie was crying because zie was stressed while I was sitting on a crowded bus after an 8 hour shift, I wasn’t exactly sympathetic.

I watch Jeremy as zie cracks jokes, plays Minecraft with zir younger cousin, and cuddles with the cat and then I watch the other Jeremy who threatens to destroy my computer if I throw out any of zir broken stuff and wakes me up (while I have a stomach bug no less) to rant about Anita Sarkeesian’s speaking fees. I’d never heard of her but apparently she charges $20 thousand per engagement. Good for her.

And then I have to deal with the external judgments. I just never taught zir to clean. I must have done it all for zir… or never cleaned at all. I must cave in to zir all the time and never taught zir the word no. Zie’s been hearing “no” zir whole life. I know zie acts like it’s a newly discovered word each time but that doesn’t mean it’s new. Depression isn’t known as a time of positive thinking so every round of criticism occurs on top of the self-criticism I’m already heaping onto myself.

The hardest part is I know Jeremy’s depressed. I know zir medication isn’t working. I know zie needs help. I know zie’s having mood swings. Our family doctor is out of his depth and he knows it. He’s a general practitioner, not a psychiatrist, and he doesn’t feel comfortable prescribing anything further. Which is why he sent a referral to a psychiatrist. And then said referral got lost (on top of apparently having the wrong number). At this point I have no idea what’s going on with Jeremy’s referral.

If I was a better mother, I’d take my anxious, depressed ass and start phoning people and networking and get zir help. But I’m not. I have no idea where to start or who to call. I don’t have some magical insight into the mental health field, let alone a file of numbers to call. I know suicide hot lines but that’s it. And, ironically, I couldn’t even call a hotline for myself because that meant picking up a phone and dialing.

I have an appointment on Tuesday with someone who says she’ll be my case manager, whatever that is. Hopefully she’ll be able to help.

Audition

When do I smile?
Is that my mark on the floor?
The lights are too bright
I can’t see the expressions on the faces judging me.

My lines are jumbled
They don’t seem to fit the dialogue
Maybe my script was dropped?
There’s no numbers on the pages.

My voice is too soft
The director can’t hear me
Even the people in the front are complaining.

I’m failing at the audition for my life.

Falling down the rabbit hole…

CN: depression, description of suicidal thoughts

It was just a fluke, it meant nothing. I stood frozen in the shower, one hand reaching for the razor. I was going to shave my legs but all I could picture was me slashing my arm… the blood streaming down to my wrist and pooling in the water below. It was so vivid and seemed like the absolute right choice. Instead I backed into the corner, turned around and sobbed; my head against the tiles. At least Jeremy couldn’t hear me. He didn’t need to know that anything was wrong.

I couldn’t give up and I couldn’t slow down. Lenny and I were going to live together in England and I needed to be fully employable in order to move there. All that kept me going was the thought of having him beside me when I slept, so that when I woke with my heart pounding in my ears, I’d have him beside me. That was a comfort and I’d lost all other comforts. Every morning I’d put my uniform on and drag myself out to work. My store is fast paced, with two drive-throughs, and my manager is friendly but sarcastic. I struggle with sarcasm, struggle with knowing if someone’s being sarcastic or is mad at me. So I ended up feeling like everyone was mad at me all day. Plus almost everything in the store beeps and buzzes. Every oven… every order… multiple full pots… low ice cap mix. And most don’t stop beeping until the machine is filled or a button is pushed; which is done when people have time. The store is often busy, so people wouldn’t have time. Plus every order station has a conversation… and the people in the lines talk… and the drive through staff talk. I’d end up rocking because I was overwhelmed. I’m rocking now at the memory of it all, even though I’m sitting by myself in a quiet house.

I struggled to read novels and hoped to write but was usually too tired for both. I couldn’t even watch Doctor Who videos. They were too confusing… I’d lose the plot… and I’ve seen them all before. Bedtime dropped from nine to eight to seven and I was still exhausted. I’d promise myself I’d go downstairs for a swim then put my pjs on after work. Then I’d wake at 1… 2… 3… 5; my heart pounding too loudly to sleep. All that calmed me was the thought of someday lying in bed, listening to Lenny breathing beside me. I had nothing else.

I stood on my balcony to enjoy the view and look at the budding trees. Soon the view of the lake would be mostly covered by leaves. And it would be so simple and easy just to flip over the railing. There was even a garbage bin directly below so I wouldn’t inconvenience anyone. They could take me away with the rest of the trash; no fuss or bother. No one would miss me, my family would be fine without me. Jeremy needed me so zie had a place to live but I knew the family would step up. Zie wouldn’t end up on the street. I was just an internet friend to most people, they’d be sad but would move on with their lives. I was nobody, nothing. Life would go on just fine without me. But seven floors. People had lived from falls that far before. What if I ended up a quadriplegic? Chances are I’d be too disabled to try again and then I’d be stuck. I backed off the balcony, almost tripping on the ledge, and closed the door. Then I cried again. Why did I keep crying? The corners of my room looked like it had snowed because I kept overfilling the garbage cans. But I didn’t have the energy to change them.

I could feel Lenny pulling away. His usual answers dwindled to “okay” and when I leaned on him (through messenger), he complained he was too sore instead of writing he’d put his arm around me. But he swore he still loved me and wasn’t breaking up with me. I could trust him because he was Lenny and he promised. So I tried to write and even pulled out my novel and edited a few paragraphs… the first time I’d written in over a year. I went to make dinner but didn’t have the energy to cook or even to pick up the electric grilled cheese maker from its place on the floor. I made myself a sandwich with a slice of vegan cheese and went back to my room and found a message from Lenny, begging me to just be friends because he wasn’t ready to be in a relationship.

It took a few seconds to hit and then I couldn’t breath. Literally couldn’t breath. My lungs had stopped working entirely and all I could do was gasp weakly as tears streamed down my face. I wasn’t even sure my lungs were still there as my whole chest was empty. Luckily Lenny recognized my panicked, misspelled description as a panic attack and told me to get an Ativan. Soon my lungs came back and I could breath again but the tears kept falling. I cried almost non-stop for two days then I got up at 4am and went to work. My head was pounding, it hadn’t stopped hurting since the break up, and I was light headed and felt like I was going to throw up. I got sent home after an hour. I cried all the way home then texted Lenny once I got inside, telling him how I felt. I pondered posting on Facebook and the first thing I saw was a post by a friend about how much she hated when people posted about feeling suicidal when they obviously were just being narcissist. I shared the post with Lenny and he assured me people wouldn’t think that. I decided it would wait until after my nap. I was so exhausted. I’d been up for two hours.

Lenny said I should post so I did. The words poured out, raw and heartfelt. I pressed post without even proofreading. If I went back and re-read, I wouldn’t post and Lenny thought it was a good idea. It would show him, though, that no one really cared. It would be my last proof. I curled up, sobbing, in my chair. My head throbbed so hard I could barely think. I was worthless… useless… and I’d just shown everyone how pathetic I was. The phone rang. It was Karen calling from work. She’d seen my post. Could she do anything to help? I didn’t know. I couldn’t think. All I wanted to do was sleep but I kept waking up. She got off the phone and I cried some more. She called again. She’d talked to the crisis team at the hospital and I could go down there for an assessment. Did I want to go? It sounded okay but I didn’t have bus money. There was a pause. She was going to drive me.

We parked the car and she suggested maybe I play things up a bit so I could get help. I didn’t think I’d need to play things up, I just needed to tell the truth. Lenny hadn’t said so but I knew he’d want me to be honest. And that meant being honest with myself. The first stop was triage, where we waited in a little room with a variety of people and the most annoying speaker. It kept playing the same announcement over and over, in 20 second intervals. Please remove your coat and have your health card ready. Thank you. *ding* There was an EMT in the room. He kept smiling as Karen snuck me rice crackers.

“Only one more,” he joked as the lady he was with got called. Karen nodded and snuck me one more.

We were next. Blood pressure, temperature, health card. “Why was I here?” I told the truth.

“You’re going to stay with her right?” the nurse asked.

Karen affirmed then the lady gently gave me directions to the nurses station. From there I was directed to a room to wait for a doctor, who listened to me and directed me to a waiting room to wait for a psychiatric assessment. I got called in less than 10 minutes later.

I don’t remember much of what was said. I told the nurse about my plans and I remember her writing 7 on the clipboard and circling it. Apparently she felt 7 floors was enough of a concern. She handed me pamphlets, which I looked at with dismay. There could be all the help in the world on the other side of that number. The chances of me picking up the phone and accessing it are nil. She assured me that they would be calling me. That was okay. I can answer the phone.

We went back out into the waiting room and Karen bought me a sub and a drink. I didn’t think I was that hungry. I’d probably have to save half for later. I devoured it and the chips we’d bought to share. Karen had to leave and our Mom came over and held my hand until the psychiatrist was ready to see me. We went back to the same room as the first assessment. He couldn’t hear me either, although I was speaking as loud as I could. Then he came to the final question, the important one. “Why didn’t I jump?” He told me my answer was crucial so I told him the truth.

I could stay or I could go. The risk of suicide could be minimized in the hospital but I could still be creative and kill myself, or I could go home. I got it. I was a liability there. No one wanted a dead patient in the psych ward.

“I’d rather she stay until her medication is working properly,” my Mom told him.

He shrugged. “The medication will take two or three weeks to kick in and we can’t keep her that long.”

My Mom offered for me to come home with her and I agreed, which meant a quick trip home for pjs, and a promise from Jeremy that zie would clean the apartment and would prefer to do it by zirself. The last was very, and rudely, emphatic.

So here I am. The thing about depression is you often can’t see it. People think of depression as someone moping around and, sure, my family noticed changes. I’m more quiet, spend more time on Facebook rather than talking, but I’m still smiling and making jokes. Depression involves a lot of masks, not just for other people, but for myself. Quite frankly, I don’t want to take them all off. Taking them off means lots of crying and a huge headache. But stuff leaks through anyways.

And Lenny was right. Neither of us are ready for a relationship. People keep commiserating with me except I didn’t lose Lenny. He’s still here, still loves me, and we still talk almost constantly. I commented on Facebook yesterday that we’re each other’s soul dragons and that makes more sense than anything (although sadly there’s no relationship option on Facebook for that). I’m seeing him in October and am counting down the days. 161 if anyone’s interested. But the sad reality is I’m probably not going to be able to work more than part time and I really don’t know when I’ll be ready for that. The doctor wrote me a note for 15 days off, to be further determined at our first official appointment. I’m thinking 15 days is wildly optimistic.

I’m not up to immigration’s standards and neither is Lenny and killing myself to achieve those standards is pointless. People want to pin the blame of my depression on the relationship and the breakup but I was depressed before the relationship started and suicidal before the breakup. If anything, the relationship was what kept me from killing myself months ago and it’s still there, it’s just not aiming for marriage now. Blaming the breakup is like blaming the windows exploding out of a house as the cause of the fire. It might be what made other people notice the flames but it wasn’t the cause.

Lenny was right about the post too. My friends stood up and showed me that I’m cared about. I’m meeting one friend for coffee tonight and another (possibly) for lunch next week. Another friend is graduating and offered me a free hour long massage. I want, need, non-sexual contact so badly. And she’s going to take me for a walk and lend me her DSLR camera for nature shots. Yet another friend is driving eight hours from the States to spend the weekend with me. I didn’t think anyone cared. And I can’t cry again. I’ve cried so much already.

Karen’s husband gave me the biggest hug. He lost his only sister to suicide. I didn’t think that I mattered enough to anyone to make them worry. That hug expressed a lot of worry and relief. I was the one who made it.

I took my medication this morning, the new dose, and need to make a phone call and then, who knows? I need to take things pretty much one breath at a time for now until the medication takes effect. But it’s a beautiful day and I’ll likely take pictures.

Battling depression…

Today has been one of the hardest days of my life. I told the truth. It’s not that I’m a chronic liar, it’s just that I don’t tell people anything. Telling people things hurts, it makes me feel exposed, and I’d rather just curl up in a ball and hide. But depression doesn’t wander off, it hides right along beside me, whispering in my ears… telling me how worthless I am and how everyone would be better off without me.

Lenny convinced me to tell people and I sat at my computer this morning, still crying, and wrote a heartfelt message about how I felt. It was messy, ugly, and the truth. I figured people would think I was whining for attention. So many people have it worse. But people listened.

Karen listened. She called me from work and drove me to the hospital, where she sat beside me for hours, while I told the truth and explained over and over, how badly I’m eating and sleeping and exactly how I was planning to die. Then my Mom took over because I wasn’t supposed to be left alone and she held my hand while we waited more. I finally saw a psychiatrist, who’s taking me as an emergency patient, and I’m staying with my parents for a few days. I don’t fly. No one wants me near the balcony. I don’t want me near my balcony either, at least not until my meds increase.

Depression lies. I thought my family didn’t want me around. The truth is I get overwhelmed in crowds and scroll on Facebook or talk to Lenny to calm down. They saw me hiding in the corner on my phone and figured I didn’t want to be around them.

I’ve had a headache for several days and am not at my best. I’m fuzzy headed and forgetful and exhausted. But I’m here and I’m safe for a few days and hopefully I’ll get better. I’m so tired of grey.