Where are the stars?

picture 2First came Kate Spade. I knew about her vaguely¬† because she brought out a purse shaped piggy bank titled “Kate saved” and I’d debated on buying it for Kait for her birthday. My Mom pointed out it was a play on words with the designer’s name, which I’d never heard before. I didn’t hear about her again until I found out she’d strangled herself to death with her red scarf.

Then came Anthony Bourdain. I don’t even know anything about him, just that he was 61 years old and had been fighting depression and substance abuse.

And then came the Facebook posts saying that he didn’t die too soon. He’d struggled for years and had lived a lifetime. That he’d had 30 more years than someone who’d died at thirty-one and the poster would have given anything for those thirty extra years.

I’m a hell of a lot closer to 61 than I am 30 and I can tell you right now that it isn’t enough. I want the chance to see my grandchild grow up. I want to see him finish high school, to fall in love. He’d only be 13 if I died then.

And I sit here in the sunshine and wonder where’s the light. It’s supposedly darkest before the dawn but I’m staring into the east and there’s no sun rising there.

They say that in the darkness there’s stars but the depths are inky black and no pinpricks of light are shining back at me.

I told my psychiatrist that those two were rich, with all the amenities that affords. The best therapists. The best counselling. I’m, well, not rich. I worry about falling through the cracks to land seven stories below. I guess technically eight because there’s a slope under my apartment.

My psychiatrist is worried about me.

When is going to the hospital the best choice to make and when is it running away from my problems? I’m already avoiding both balconies. My mind spools like an old film projector, showing reel after reel of me jumping. But, at the same time, I need to get the letters from our office for Revenue Canada. I need to deliver my new prescription to the pharmacy. And my cats would miss me.

And I look to the sky and hope, in vain, to see the stars.

hardest thing

Advertisements

2016… the year that won’t die…

2016I started out thinking that 2016 was going to be my year. My best friend of five years had asked me to start dating him and, by February, we were already hammering out rough plans for a simple, yet simply perfect, wedding… complete with a hot air balloon ride and trip to the Doctor Who museum. I bought plane tickets to see him in October and had a countdown going on my phone for how many days I had left. He was counting down too.

At first the goal was for him to move in with me but then we switched to me moving there. I didn’t realize it at the time but a lot of the reason for my decision was deep depression. I simply didn’t feel like anyone other than Lenny wanted me so what point was there in staying in Canada?

I knew I was struggling. I had Ativan from my family doctor for panic attacks and a low dose of Effexor for depression and I still had to hold myself back with all my strength some days to keep from running, screaming, out the front door of work. I couldn’t do that. I needed to be employed. I needed to stay employable so that I could move. So I transferred stores to work at one a five minute walk from home. That cut out two hours of transit time a day but my anxiety and depression increased. I confessed to Lenny that I was suicidal and he broke up with me two days later. Then I wrote a long and rambling letter on Facebook which was worrying enough that my sister took me to the hospital.

Going to the hospital netted me with more medication and a psychiatrist but things weren’t perfect. There were gaps between the various forms of disability assistance and I had three months with no income (not sequentially). Lenny first backed out on having me stay over then he blocked me the morning after my first hospital stay. I’ve never heard from him again.

It wasn’t until the late fall that things started picking up but I was still suicidal and still struggling. And flipping the calendar to 2017 didn’t solve anything. I was back in the hospital in January and February. Then came income tax time and me, in my infinite wisdom, decided that maybe I wasn’t in the best mental condition to do my taxes, even though I do them every year. So I hired someone.

July rolled around and I got an unexpected windfall of $200 and change. It was nice but there had to be a reason why. And that reason was the person who did my taxes never included my rent so, when it came time to calculate the Trillium benefit, I got the bare minimum. So I worked with the Canadian Revenue Agency, sent in the information, and requested a lump sum payment in June 2018 instead of monthly payments.

Then Colin got audited for, you guessed it, 2016. They wanted proof of rent. We got a basic income tax statement showing out total rent and I wrote a letter on it saying he paid half while I paid the other half. Then his GST cheque arrived and I figured that was good enough. It wasn’t. He got another letter asking for proof that he’s on the lease AND proof he pays half the rent. Nothing’s ever that easy.

Trillium was supposed to be deposited yesterday. I checked at 7:30am when I woke up and nothing. But I’ve had deposits as late as 8am so I wasn’t too worried. At least until 8am arrived and my money didn’t. I had a group to attend so I called the CRA while I was walking to the bus, the whole bus ride, and walking to the group. Two wrong numbers and a number that lead to a message stating “All our operators are dealing with other clients and our queues are full. Please try again later.” Finally I got someone who wasn’t dealing with Trillium but used some of the same software. He discovered they didn’t have my letter so he transferred me to someone else who gave me a bunch of information that I wrote on a sheet of paper towel. I’d love to say that was it but I also had to sign up for their online site and that was another headache with another phone call.

So tomorrow I have to write a letter for our building’s office asking for a letter for both Colin and I and for him to be finally put on the lease. Then I need to hand deliver it first thing Monday morning and hope our letters are ready soon. Maybe then will 2016 finally be done and buried because I’m telling you, it is truly starting to stink!

 

Life in the land of Colin…

The phone rang while I was in the washroom. I swore as I got off the toilet and ran awkwardly to my room as I pulled up my pants. It stopped ringing as my hand touched the phone. It was Colin. No one else has that bad timing. I called him back.

“Mom? I’m done school now. Can you meet me at the voting place? I have my one piece of ID.”

I voted

Me voting and looking cute as hell doing so!

And I had his voter’s card. I agreed and went to get ready. I had one foot in the air about to put my shoe on when the phone rang again. Of course it was Colin, he was just getting on the bus. So I got my shoes on and headed out the door with my ID and both voter’s cards. It was a two for one deal. I was getting out to vote and getting in more steps for my fitbit (which is currently at almost 15k steps).

I met Colin by the traffic lights and headed into the school with him, where we both got directed to different stations. I agreed my name and address were the same, listened to the voting instructions and headed off to vote. Meanwhile Colin was busy chatting up the volunteers. I’d finished voting when he finally made it to the voter’s booth. This year we had an electronic counting program, sitting on a cardboard box instead of just a cardboard box with a hole cut out on the top. It beeped. Colin looked intrigued. And then we headed out.

“Do you know what I think would help voting?” Colin asked. He didn’t wait for an answer. “Basketball.”

I couldn’t wait to hear this one.

“In order to vote you’d have to shoot a hoop,” he continued. “There’d be lower ones for people in wheelchairs, otherwise it wouldn’t be fair.”

I must have missed something. “Umm… why would you need to shoot a hoop in order to vote?”

“For exercise!” he exclaimed, looking at me like I’d lost my mind. “We have an obesity epidemic. If everyone had to shoot hoops to vote, think about how much practicing they’d get done.”

I decided not to tell him that some people actually don’t vote and that would increase if shooting hoops became mandatory. There was no point in opening that can of worms.

“If you’re that worried about obesity, you could always go for walks with me,” I pointed out.

He looked affronted, “I walk every day to the bus with this huge red basket!”

The basket doesn’t even reach his knees.

“Besides, I’ve lost 30lbs, which is really hard to do considering I have to eat junk food because we’re broke.”

“I don’t eat junk food,” I pointed out. “And I’m just as poor as you.”

“Well what do you eat?” he scoffed. “Besides lentils.”

“I eat pasta-”

“Bzzzt!” he interrupted.

“-with tomato sauce and lots of vegetables.”

“That’s not healthy.”

“I eat frozen mixed vegetables with-”

“That’s so not healthy,” he interrupted, again. “That’s like 20 or 40 or half the amount of nutrients that are in regular veggies.”

“No, they have the same amount of nutrients as fresh veggies and sometimes even more,” I responded. He looked mulish and I sighed, “Just talk to Daisy, the nutritionist, if you don’t agree with me.”

He nodded then continued, “Do you know what’s really good and nutritious? Preservatives!”

I must admit I did not see that one coming.

“They have them in so many things, even bananas.”

“Bananas don’t have preservatives,” I replied. “They’re picked green and sprayed with a gas to ripen during transit.”

We walked into our building and checked our mailbox then Colin asked, “Do you know what we need?”

I was a bit scared to answer.

“Okay what,” I replied hesitantly.

“Radio free zones. They block out everything. Microwaves, wifi, everything. That way if there’s an alien trying to communicate with us, we’ll have a chance of hearing them.”

I was under the impression that radio free zones were simply camping areas that were more quiet than the rest of the park but I didn’t feel like arguing. I pushed the elevator button instead and held the door for someone else to get on.

“And they help with allergies too, like with people who think they’re allergic to wifi or radio waves. You know, the placebo effect.”

“I thought the placebo effect was for medicine,” I replied. By this time my head was starting to hurt.

“That’s one definition. You can also make someone feel more pain by saying a needle’s going to hurt.”

“Will I find these definitions in the dictionary or did you just make them up yourself?” I asked.

“It depends on the dictionary,” he said scornfully as he followed me into my room.

I opened up Facebook and found a blog post I wanted to read. Meanwhile Colin continued on about radio waves and how if aliens were trying to reach us, we were likely blocking their signal. I didn’t bother mentioning that if their message was reaching us now, they were likely long dead. Meanwhile my head was now pounding.

“Colin? I love you but my head’s pounding and I need some quiet,” I pleaded.

“But it’s really important. There could be aliens trying to contact us right now but our microwave isn’t letting them!”

“I’m serious. Quiet.”

“Fine,” he said scornfully and flounced out of the room. I’d like to say it ended there but that was when the cats started crying for attention. So I fed them and now finally have peace, well as much peace as I can while Colin talks to his computer.

If you’ve ever wondered what life with Colin’s like, this would be it. Kind of like a talk show host doing a stream of consciousness monologue while high. I love the kid dearly but he is very hard to follow sometimes.

And it’s his 21st birthday on Tuesday! We’re going to our local mall on Saturday and meeting up with his cousins to try out the new virtual reality location. Hopefully it’s amazing and fabulous. Just like him.

For my Ontario readers…

One more day. One more day until Ontario votes. Before you sit down to cast your vote, I want you to remember these things.

Doug Ford was the only member at city hall to vote against a homeless shelter for LGBTQ youths, the most marginalized and at risk people.

Doug Ford complained about a group home for autistic people, saying *they* should be out in the country somewhere instead of ruining property values. “Put them out on 43 acres so they can run around.” He does know they‘re people and not puppies, right?

Recently he was asked what he’d do for LGBTQ homeless youth and he responded that he’d lower their taxes. Because the homeless have such high taxes to begin with.

He *still* hasn’t decided if he’s going to march in the Toronto Pride parade. I’m betting he’ll decide on “no” as soon as the polls close.

He wants to get ride of rent controls. There used to be total rent controls. If I was paying $670 a month and moved out, the next person could only be charged $670, unless there were major upgrades. Mike Harris cut that and our rents have since skyrocketed. Ford now wants to cut the rent control that allows current tenants to only be charged a certain percentage of rent a year. For example, my rent increase was $38/m this year. If Ford has his way, you could be paying $1200/m and get a notice saying you’re now paying $1400/m. Ford claims that will *help* tenants. Help them right into shelters that is. Exactly how many people on disability and old age pension can he fit into homeless shelters? A fixed income doesn’t stretch just because the rent does.

He’s trying to buy votes with a $1 a beer campaign. Really? Is your vote really worth $1. Is your health care, your child’s education, really worth a $24 two-four?

He’s also running his personal business into the ground. How do you expect him to balance the budget if he can’t keep his own business up and running.

He went out in 2013 and bought votes from people in public housing for $20. Just went in with a wad of cash and started handing out money. He claimed it was a “gift”. Do you think he’s changed in the last 5 years. Do you think his ethics have improved?

We can’t afford Doug Ford. He’ll transform Ontario into a place that best serves his rich friends and will screw over everyone else.

Please vote wisely and make your voice heard. Thank you!

Foggy with a 100% chance of confusion…

I left home this morning with a big bag of cleaning supplies, a broom, a mop, and the sound of Colin yelling, “Fuck! I’m going to be late for school!”

I was heading to Kait’s new apartment to clean it before they moved in. I find that when you move into a high rise, you can pretty much expect a clean place. Anything smaller and you just have to hope. This was a hope situation.

I walked in the front door and immediately had a panic attack, made more annoying by my thoughts of, ‘You’re supposed to be cleaning! You don’t have time for this!’ Luckily panic attacks, like kidney stones, aren’t forever and I eventually started to clean.

It didn’t take me long to realize that this was either a midnight move or one done by the laziest people ever. I’m betting on the latter. The fridge was still full of food, most of which was expired. Their dishtowel was still waiting to dry the cup in their dish rack. And the shampoo and conditioner were still in the bathtub, partially hidden by the shower curtain they’d left behind.

I took out four big bags of garbage and scrubbed everything imaginable and then Kait called. Her internet provider was coming over now, three hours early, and needed an adult there. So I agreed to stay.

Just over a half hour later, it was my turn to panic. Someone still needed to be there for internet guy but I had my emergency psychiatrist appointment to discuss the Mirtazapine along with my appointment with the Canadian Mental Health Association. Kait agreed to come back right then but they were 20 minutes away and the bus to get me to my appointment on time was in 10 minutes. But what could I do? I was still needed there.

And then it fell into chaos. My bus, which would take my right to my appointment didn’t show up. The one that arrived turned east about five blocks too early instead. Then I got to the downtown stop at the same time as my appointment was due to start… with my bus due in five more minutes. It arrived and three strollers had to get organized. Then the driver had to wait for two elderly people, one of which was across the street. I am very pro waiting for seniors but my flabber was ghasted that it all happened then. There’s usually a stroller or a senior.

I got to the hospital and the elevator door closed right in front me. Then there was a line at the receptionist desk. Finally I was able to go sit down and hope I’d get in.

I’d already called everyone so it was known I’d be late. I had my mental health appointment in the waiting room then explained, sheepishly, to my doctor that I’d been having quite severe suicidal ideation at the beginning of the week but they all stopped pretty much yesterday and I’m now back to my normal. My normal being a lot of anxiety and getting overwhelmed easily. But it’s a lot better than it was. He agreed that it was a good reason to make an emergency appointment and I’m keeping my regular appointment this month too.

crummy vegan jokeI lost two Facebook friends yesterday, neither of which interacted with me in any way, which makes their loss negligible. One posted a “joke” about vegans not being wanted at a barbecue and I replied. Instantly the OP responded wanting to know what I had against her. I’d disagreed with her political stance the day before and now didn’t like her joke. If I didn’t like her why was I her friend? Why was I trying to make her friends feel guilty for liking the joke? Some things there’s no coming back from. This ended up being one of them. Then a mutual friend took up the cause, defending her, and I ended up deleting them both.

One thing I find ironic is the “right” tends to claim the “left” is living in an echo chamber and only wants to hear from people who are like them. However, in my experience, the “right” tend to be the ones who get upset the easiest at the simplest of disagreements. They consider themselves strong and unflappable because they can laugh at controversial jokes, completely ignoring that the jokes in no way relate to them. I replied with a similar carnist joke in response to the one above and was immediately called a bully. Funny how that works.

Now Colin’s wandered into the bathroom for another three hour long bath. I swear this kid is going to turn into a prune! And he shared with me a time lapse video he made on his balcony this afternoon.

Don’t blink. Seriously. The video is maybe 4 seconds long. He’s thrilled with his new little camera though.

Withdrawal…

On April 10th, I stood on my scale and said, “Oh hell no!”

I had gained a lot of weight in 2016/17, going from the low 170’s to 225lbs. That fall I lost most of it, ending in the high 180’s. And then winter came. I didn’t want to go outside and all I wanted was carbs. Soon I was back at 202lbs.

busy dayI had 14 pounds to lose, it was definitely doable. Except, instead of losing, I’ve gained two pounds in the past month and a half(ish). That’s with walking at least 10 thousand steps a day and watching what I eat.

So I looked elsewhere, right at the last medication I started taking. Mirtazapine. And discovered it’s secondary use was as a weight gain drug. Trying to diet on this drug was similar to trying to dive while wearing water wings. You can try as hard as you want, you’re only going to bob back to the surface.

I saw my psychiatrist 10 days ago and he cut me down to a half dose then told me to stop taking them a week later. My last dose was on the 24th.

Since then I’ve been feeling worse than I have since 2016. The suicidal thoughts and ideation are back, although thankfully not with intent. I have to drag myself out to go for my walk and feel miserable for most of it. My anxiety has skyrocketed and I’m getting more panic attacks. Then I looked at the withdrawal symptoms and, what do you know, those are all side effects from withdrawal. Apparently the withdrawal is supposed to be slow and gradual, not a week. A gentle tapering of 10% at a time.

peonies.jpgMeanwhile I’m trying, I’m really trying. I went out for a family lunch today and a walk in the local botanical gardens. I’m going out for dinner tonight with our local UU congregation. There’s be line dancing, which I can tolerate, and likely country music, which I can’t. Please send ear plugs and Advil.

I’m still attending all three of my groups, although they come to an end in the next couple of weeks. And I’ll be helping Kait move.

And in the meantime I’m dealing with thoughts of just jumping off the balcony right now! How I feel is going to be forever. It doesn’t matter how many pictures I take or sunsets I see, my life will continue to feel horrible.

I tell myself that’s not true then I grit my teeth, post something positive on Facebook, and head out for a walk.

The pause…

I don’t know why I’m surprised each time it happens, but I am. I’ll be in a conversation with a stranger, like a cashier, and then it comes. The pause.

“… and is your… son vegan too?” the cashier asks as she scans my vegan margarine and packages of Gardein vegan “meat”, giving Colin a not so subtle second glance.

Colin smiling on his balconyThe pause is *just* long enough to be noticeable and happens often enough that I know it’s happening. And I can’t for the life of me figure out why. Colin’s been through puberty and now wears all his clothes from the mens section of clothing stores. He’s also horrible at shaving and usually has a tad more than a 5 o’clock shadow. I know he has long hair but so many men do these days, it shouldn’t warrant confusion. And, yet, people (multiple people) still pause and give him a second glance before choosing his pronoun. Some even start out referring to him as female, only to revert to male pronouns with no little amount of embarrassment.

These days everyone we know has settled back to Colin and him, as if he never was Emma and her. As if it’s not even been half a year since he detransitioned for fertility reasons. Everyone except for his doctor’s office, who he never informed otherwise. Maybe he just forgot? Maybe he gets some relief from hearing someone calling him by his real name? I don’t know. I haven’t asked.

Meanwhile, we’ll still continue to go out for walks and shopping and Colin will continue to get “the pause”.