One year later…

This winter went on too long then, just when I thought I couldn’t stand another grey day, the trees burst forth in blossoms of lime green. I’d forgotten how soft they looked pressed against the sky. How brilliant the green contrasts against the blue. How the weeping willows look like they’re dancing with veils. How new leaves glisten in the sunshine.

This time last year I was convinced my life was over. There was nothing to live for… no one who cared. I was going to jump off my balcony and land in the dumpster seven floors below. My thoughts at the time was it would save my family money for a burial. Somehow I figured the truck would simply take my body away with the trash. Obviously I wasn’t in my right mind.

I wasn’t going to leave a letter, I didn’t think anyone cared enough to read it, but a former friend of mine convinced me to post a note on Facebook saying how I felt. I didn’t see the point and then he dared me to. If there wasn’t a point then it didn’t matter? Why didn’t I try?

So I did try. I posted and my sister almost immediately replied. So did my Mom and countless others. People did care. I did matter. I’d cried until my eyes swelled shut, I was a mess, and people still cared.

If life were a made for TV movie, everything would be perfect now. I’d be back to work, my relationship would have magically healed itself, and music would softly swell over a picturesque ending. But life doesn’t work that way.

I didn’t jump that day. Thankfully. But my soul… my self… shattered and it hasn’t magically fitted itself back together again. I’m still fragile. I take a handful of pills a day to function.

And yet…

Just like the softened new blossoms are distinct and real against a twilight sky, my thoughts coalesce and form into a whole. I might not be perfect but I’m me. And I’m glad to be here.

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Finding the shape of my days…

CN: suicidal thoughts

It was Friday, February 10th and my mental health worker had just arrived. I was… in not good shape. I’d gone to cut my pills the night before and found myself mere millimeters away from slashing the hell out of my arm with a ceramic knife. I managed not to but it was close and I wasn’t in a good mindset.

The worker asked how I was doing, I told her the truth and she called 911. Within minutes the police and paramedics were here. The paramedics left just as quickly as I didn’t need medical attention and the police promised to drive me in to emergency. Did you know they don’t have seat belts in the back seat of their cars? Also, being escorted in by a police officer garners a lot of attention.

Everything else was the same as the last two times. ER doctor, crisis nurse, and psychiatrist… all with copious amounts of waiting in between. Then the psychiatrist asked me if I wanted to go home or stay. If I stayed, I’d end up in the ER all weekend because there weren’t any beds. She left me alone to make up my mind and I burst into tears and called myself names. Then she came back in and walked me to the ER. I was upstairs in the psychiatric ward by 10pm.

The first thing I realized was that my intense homesickness last time was nothing of the sort. It was the same severe anxiety I always have. The second thing I realized was that anxiety faded away with Clonazepam.

I quickly found a routine for myself. A nap after breakfast, walking around the halls to get my 10,000 steps on my Fitbit, chatting with the other patients, a second nap after lunch, reading, more chatting, and cards after dinner. Ironically enough the game of choice was Crazy Eights.

Mood wise I’m doing a lot better. I’m on a handful of drugs now. Effexor, Abilify, Clonazepam, and Lithium. The lot act like tiny balloons, lifting up my feelings. Tiny sedating balloons. Right now I’m groggy from the Clonazepam but I’ve been assured that will lessen over the coming month.

I got released on Thursday and find myself struggling to fill the shape of my days. The hospital had a set routine and I’m finding I need something similar at home. A pattern… a routine.

My alarm is set for 8am daily and I’m going to walk at the local walking track every morning (starting tomorrow). Otherwise I haven’t come up with anything. I’m sure it won’t take me too long to fill in my days.

kathleen-at-the-hospital

Me on my hospital bed

Crumbling walls…

I was in my teens when I started having intrusive thoughts, although I didn’t have a name for it at the time. I’d get sudden urges to jump over the railing in our shopping centre, fall in front of moving vehicles, and climb the railing of the bridge over our local huge highway. I didn’t want to die so those weren’t my thoughts. It was that simple.

I turned 13 years old in 1983, right at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic. Back then the only choices for sexuality, as far as I knew, were gay, straight (aka normal), or confused/just make up your mind. I knew I was interested in boys, but had no concept of aesthetic attraction at the time. Everyone else must just be thinking he’s cute, right? People didn’t really want to have sex with a total stranger. I didn’t have a close friend to talk to about sex and relationships. I barely had any friends at all.

me in Yorkshire with County Town Singers

Me (in 80’s glasses) with the choir in Yorkshire England.

Things changed when I was 18 years old and the youngest member of an adult choir. We were having a concert and the director decided that one song needed a violin accompanist. The violinist was about my age and cute, in a vaguely anime sort of way. I was blown away by his talent and kept watching him. One of my fellow choir members noticed.

“She’s very good, isn’t she.”

She?

I looked more intently and realized that, yes, she was female… just very androgynous. And the feelings of interest hadn’t faded with this realization.

I didn’t want this. I deeply didn’t want this… in the same way I didn’t want random thoughts of suicide. This was the 80’s, when students and teachers alike talked about going to the gay community in Toronto to pelt passerby’s with stones and cans. It was considered a fun weekend activity. And I was bullied to an incredible extent. My assessment counsellor didn’t blink when I detailed my plans for suicide. She looked so horrified by my summation of bullying that I cut it short. I didn’t want more bullying. I couldn’t handle more bullying, so I pushed that thought deep and continued pushing.

On the rare occasion I had a thought like that girl is cute, I’d think of images of men I’d thought were cute to assure myself that I was indeed straight. I was completely, 100% straight. I had to be. Just like there was no way I could be suicidal. Those thoughts were all locked away as tight and hidden as I could possibly make them.

I grew up and had children and my collection of friends expanded. And the fleeting thoughts changed. Before it was just aesthetic attraction. Now, with close friends it was “I want to kiss her”. That’s the downside of demi-romantic. I have to be friends to have any interest in someone and I rarely have single and interested friends. Rarely meaning it’s happened exactly once. Again, I chalked romantic attraction to the same unknown issue that caused me to think of falling in front of cars. And, again, I pushed it as far away as possible. I was still 100% straight. Those thoughts weren’t mine.

It wasn’t until last summer that I looked up asexual and realized the description explained most of my feelings. And it wasn’t until I had working antidepressants that I realized the intrusive thoughts and the attractions were not from the same source. Depression does not cause romantic attraction. The walls started crumbling. I posted here about being asexual and hinted more and more blatantly on Facebook. And then a friend posted this in response to an article about an amusement park employee telling a gay couple they weren’t allowed to hug…

ShelleyAnn

She wasn’t an online friend. She’d been a coworker for two years and a friend for just as long. We did our Christmas shopping together and went out for lunch and a run to Michael’s Arts and Crafts last month. And she blocked me after I told her I wasn’t straight. The last of the walls crumbled with anger as I posted this on my Facebook wall…

This image is a post a former friend of mine made on a Toronto Star article about two men hugging (nothing more) in a line up at Canada’s Wonderland on Gay Day.

I messaged her privately, explaining I’m not straight (and as a demi-romantic asexual, I’m not), and asked if she still wanted to be friends. She assured me she did and that she’d posted that in defense of other people. Umm, not likely but I let it slide. We left on a good note (as far as I could tell).

Just now I went to tag her in a post about the new Ghostbuster’s movie and, whoops, she’s not there. I’ve been deleted and blocked.

I’m going to be blunt here. I’ve only been off suicide watch for two and a half weeks at this point and am still deemed too emotionally fragile to even attend full on group counselling. Please do not string me along, pretending to be friends and allowing yourself into my life, only to disappear because I *might* be romantically interested if we’re friends. This person was a real life friend who was going to attend my birthday and went out for lunch and shopping with me last month.

Right now I’m not romantically interested in anyone at all. The closest to anything romantic wise would be Andrea and this would be so not a surprise to her. And if you claim it is I’m blowing a raspberry at you pffft LOL. Even then it’s pretty much just joking around. At this point I’m pretty much ready just to say screw relationships and get another cat (but not for another year or two as Angel would have a coronary).

So, if you’re anti LGBTQ, please hit the unfriend button and shuffle yourself out of my life because, quite frankly, I can’t handle you right now.

As for the rest of you, thanks for staying *hugs*

The rest stayed and were overwhelmingly positive, which was a huge relief. Then I had my 46th birthday party yesterday and all my friends treated me exactly the same as before. Which is how it should be, because I really haven’t changed, but I know that isn’t always the case.

I don’t know what will happen in the future but my walls are down and someday I’ll start dating again.

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.