Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Manic Mind

It’s 3:38 a.m. 3:38 a.m. 3:38 a.m.  I watch the clock and repeat what the fuck – what the fuck – what the fuck.  I just want to sleep, to rest, to lie beside my husband and find some peace.  Instead, my mind is restless and racing and the thoughts are neither logical nor productive, but they just keep coming, and coming, and coming – and I can’t stop them like trying to dodge bullets on some neon light video game screen. 3:39 a.m. and the concern that is currently keeping me awake is the fate of Tracy Morgan – Tracy fucking Morgan.  This is what is happening in my head:

Shit. Tracy Morgan was really fucking type-cast on 30 Rock.  Tracy Jordan; we all know he was basically playing himself.  And now the show is over, and what is that poor suffering bastard supposed to do with himself? What will he do? What will he do?  Well, I sure hope he made a shit ton of money from that Mio add that they first ran during the Super Bowl.  That ad wasn’t even funny, but he’s going to need some back-up bank.  And what the hell happened to 30 Rock? My beloved 30 Rock. What happened to that show?  It was so funny, so damn funny and so damn good.  Remember when she got that cat, Emily Dickinson, and she could fit Emily Dickinson inside of her mouth and that made everything okay or when we learned Jack’s very important advice of “never follow a hippie to a second location” when Princess Lea, whatever the fuck her name is, she’s fat now, oh yes Carrie Fisher, was on the show.  Oh yes. Oh yes. The good old Liz Lemon.  And this last season just sucked, sucked so miserably that it makes me down right mad.  Do you think there might have been a point to it all? Oh, yes, she was finally in a real, committed relationship and that’s when we lost good old Liz Lemon, so that’s her point – this is Tina Fey’s point, relationships kill creativity and personality.  They are bad for you, and they make everything suck.  Maybe. Maybe. She knew she wouldn’t have been with him – fucking hot dog vendor, c’mon.  Of course Jack didn’t approve, or maybe, maybe, as a way of letting TGS and 30 Rock end this was Tina Fey sending a cue to Lorne Michaels that it’s time to give up the ghost and let SNL go too because Lord knows that show has sucked ass for years and years and years.  Maybe she was mad at Jason Sudeikis. What, Angela, what? That doesn’t even make any sense. That makes no sense. No, why would she be mad at Jason Sudeikis? He’s funny, and likeable.  Olivia Wilde likes him and people think she’s hot.  Now, wait, here’s the greater concern. This is the part you think is crazy, this is the crazy part now, but worrying about the future acting career of Tracy Morgan is a perfectly normal thing to do at 3:40 a.m. Oh, fuck you brain. Shut off. Shut off. Shut off. Now you’re arguing with yourself.  Let’s just move on, okay. Okay. Jason Sudeikis is fine. Tina Fey is fine. You are not fine.  Your thoughts won’t stop. Make them stop.  How will you describe this feeling to others? Try to capture this moment of mania? Help them see how infuriating and frustrating it is. Oh, yes.  It’s like Carrie Underwood’s dress at the Grammys. Carrie Underwood’s dress at the Grammys this year when they were showing all those images on the canvas and then there was a butterfly and it erupted into a million other butterflies – all just images and they went racing across her dress and the screen. My thoughts are like those butterflies.  They’re floating everywhere and they can’t be caught or held onto, and I don’t know which butterflies to follow or chase.  Oh, what the fuck, Angela? C’mon now.  You can’t use Carrie Underwood’s dress at the 2013 Grammys as a metaphor for your mania.  That’s stupid.  That’s not a lasting pop culture reference.  It’s like that time when you made an allusion to Amy Lee and Evanescence lyrics and how you felt left alone and like you had lost yourself after your first marriage. Fucking Evanescence. You always hated them anyway. And Creed. Oh awful Creed. What’s this life for? Not groceries. No, not groceries.  And so it goes, so it goes. So it goes.

Ah, Kurt Vonnegut … and then my mind goes running in a new direction, but I remain restless and agitated, and in desperate need of rest and peace. Rest and peace.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Accept their Love, Eat their Casserole

When I am feeling well, I readily claim my illness. I own my bipolar disorder because I know it has shaped me into the person I am today – strong, considerate, and extremely empathetic. However, when I am feeling ill and the depression leaves me to suffer my defeat alone, anxious, and afraid, I suddenly become ashamed of my illness – embarrassed to be sick in a way that too many people misinterpret as a choice.

It is not a choice to feel like a total fuck-up. It is not a choice to tremble at the thought of leaving the home. It is not a choice to become irrationally and excessively irate.  It is not a choice to erupt into a waterfall of tears at the thought of truly exposing myself and seeking the help I desperately need. In my mind, to accept help, is to acknowledge and concede to the belief that I am burdensome.

It’s a sad irony that the periods in my life when I most need help are also those points when I am most reluctant to seek support. I shut down and seal out those individuals that are willing to help. I don’t grant them the opportunity to love me the way I deserve to be loved. Phone calls go unanswered and e-mails remain without reply. I don’t even entertain the questions of “Do you need anything?” or “Is there anything I can do to help?” The reply is an immediate and resolute negative, but I don’t ever mean what I’m saying. I do need help.

Right now, there’s a two week old e-mail message from my friend Angie asking if I need anything and letting me know that she loves me and is there for me always --- through thick and thin. I know she means it when she says this. It’s not just some kind of greeting card warm offer that she hopes I never take her up on. She would be there, and she indeed has been there in the past. However, I have not replied to her message, and probably won’t. It’s stupid and stubborn, but it’s true. It’s this same damn shame and stubbornness that has left my friend Kim still seeking an answer the week old question of “What can I do to help?”

I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know what I need, and that’s why I can’t answer you. If I knew what I needed, I wouldn’t still be feeling like this. I give my mother-in-law the generic answer of “prayer” when she presses about how she can be of comfort or service. I do indeed need prayer, but I also need understanding and anti-depressant medication without so many uncertainties. I need drug companies that care about creating cures – rather than increasing consumerism. I need to find a blend of medication that works so I can stop being a fucking pharmaceutical guinea pig.

Right now, there’s also a message on the answering machine from my pastor – stating that he intends to pray for our family that I get through this terrible depression. He also asked what our family needs – be it coming to the home for a blessing or congregation members to stop by with casseroles, easing some of the everyday responsibilities while battling this beast of an illness. His final words on that message were, “just let us know what you need.”

I wish it were so easy to give me all I need, because what I really need is a better mental health care system in my county and this country. I need a mental health care system that will accept me and provide me needed care as I am – feeling broken, but not bleeding. “Your insurance won’t cover your stay if you’re not cutting yourself or seriously contemplating suicide,” were the exact words my psychiatrist said upon discussing hospitalization today. I had visions of running for razor blades, slicing my wrists, and returning to her office with blood dripping off my fingertips and unto her beige, bland carpet: “Can I get the care I need now? Will someone, anyone, give a shit now?”

People do care, though -- friends, family, co-workers, and my church community. And what I really need is to learn to seek the help of these individuals who care because they love me and are deeply, genuinely concerned about my well-being. I need to answer phone calls and admit to my deep pain. I need to let go of pride and provide a reply when a friend or family member asks what they can do to help. I need to seek support and welcome warmth. I simply need to accept their love and eat their casserole.

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Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hating Her

I entered her office.  It was dull and dark in the tiny space, filled with a sable brown leather couch and sterile desk.  A bookshelf was filled with DSM IV manuals and other materials dedicated to mental illness and psychiatry.  I saw no happy family photos or inspirational quotes on the shelves or walls.  Her personality was just as dark and sterile as the room.  The only brightness in the room was her rich, red hair.  She may have been pretty if her face weren’t so cruel and void of compassion.

“Come on in,” she said, as I opened the door, escorted to her office by one of the staff members in the behavioral health unit.  She didn’t bother to get up from her seat to greet me.  There was no semblance of a smile or outreached hand to warmly receive me.  Rather, I was made to feel like an inconvenience as she sat still in her seat, her large limbs overarching the base of the desk chair, too obese for this standard seat.  She didn’t even move her hand to guide me toward the leather couch.  I just sat myself and remained awkwardly silent until she spoke, exhaustion and aggravation evident in her voice.

“Well, why are you here?” she inquired.  I was in the behavioral health unit talking to the on-site psychiatrist. Was it not relatively obvious why I was here? I was ill. 

“Well,” I began, “I’m bipolar.”

“Yes, yes,” she said, her aggravation seemed to be growing.  I didn’t know what I had done to apparently wrong this woman for the clear answer was that I had not erred or harmed her in any way.  Why was she so harsh to me as I sat in this cold space in a fragile state?  “But, what happened that you ended up here?”

“What do you mean?” I asked, sincere in my questioning. 

“Well, what event prompted your arrival here?  A death? A divorce? Some other trauma?”

“No, no trauma.  I’m bipolar.  I’ve just fallen into severe depression.  There need not be external factors.  I have a chemical imbalance.”

“Yes, yes,” she replied, with increasing exasperation. “I do understand manic-depression.  I’m a psychiatrist.  It’s just that typically some event triggers hospitalization.”

I sat there becoming progressively more incensed as well, I actually having a reason for such irritation given her callous treatment toward me in this moment.  I hated her.  I decided this right then. I fucking hated her.  The cunt.  What was she doing in this profession? I wanted to get up and leave her office, but I also knew I had to be on my best behavior if I wanted to be released.  I had not chosen this hospitalization. 

“Well, I’m here on a seventy-two hour hold,” I explained to her. 

“Okay, there,” she said, as though her belief about triggering events had been validated and she could feel superior to me without guilt.  But she should have felt guilty, the self-righteous bitch she was before me, as I sat there deeply suffering, pulling at my shirt sleeves to hide what lie beneath.

“So, why were you put on hold?”

“Self-injurious behavior,” I replied, with shame and embarrassment.

“Well, let me see,” she demanded, like she was an extremely disciplinary teacher and I was a bad student who had been caught passing a note and made to bring it to the front of the class to be read aloud.

I rolled up my sleeves and exposed the cuts on my arms, the ones I was made to show to the nurses in the emergency room the night before, and then the police officers and social service worker who had been called in to evaluate my condition.

“Why, those cuts aren’t bad at all!” she gasped.  I was wasting her time and I had enraged her with my pathetic cuts, only deep enough to bring forth blood, enough to make myself feel pain, just enough pain that I felt in control of my emotion, so that I felt anything other than empty and hollow.  “Those cuts don’t even require stiches,” she added in disgust.

“I know,” I replied, my voice now rapidly rising, trying to compete with her lunacy.  I was irritated and indignant and I hated her.  I fucking hated her.

“Are you even suicidal now?” she asked me, like only a patient who had a noose already tightened around her neck was worthy of this woman’s time. 

“No, I never claimed to be suicidal,” I said in defense of myself, as though I had to plead my case to this woman now, explain why I was worthy of psychiatric care.  “I wasn’t trying to kill myself with these cuts. It’s just sibbing.  I’m not suicidal.  I’m just really, really sad.  Isn’t that enough?”

“Isn’t that enough?” I had actually asked her, like I had even failed in my own depression.  I was failing at life, too anxious to work.  I was failing at marriage, afraid to leave but miserable every moment I stayed.  I was failing at my friendships, feeling too pathetic and miserable to burden others with my tiresome woes.  And this bitch, this awful bitch, was making me feel like I had failed at depression too.  Why didn’t I want to kill myself?  What was wrong with me? 

“You don’t need to be here,” she said, “They’re wasting my time.”  She had validated that I was indeed a burden. 

I had succeeded at one thing – at being burdensome and taxing.  I was difficult and problematic, and I didn’t belong anywhere, not even in the behavioral health unit.  Why wasn’t I suicidal?  Because I’m strong, I’m smart, I’m a survivor.  I was worthy, and she was a bitch, and I was better than that.  I hated her, and I hated myself in that moment too. 

Even though this damn depression can be tough and trying, the way that woman so wrongly treated me, I am going to try to love myself.   I am going to love myself.  I will love myself. I love myself.  I am worthy, and she was wrong.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Burdened by Bricks

I crawled into bed next to my husband, whose eyes were just starting to slowly glaze over with sleep. 

While certain he was exhausted and in need of rest, I leaned over to him and spoke, “We need to talk.”

“I know,” he languidly replied.

“I’m not okay,” I said, and then lie there staring into his eyes hoping to recognize sincere acknowledgment of my state of illness on his face, yet receiving only a semblance of emptiness and disregard for my state of affairs.

“I know,” he again replied with little enthusiasm, as though the response were one recorded on audio, like he just pressed a play button and let things sort themselves out however they should without his active intervention.  He was just going through motions with me.  I recognize it’s difficult to love someone who suffers from mental illness, but I wanted to scream or slap him across the face, tell him to wake the fuck up and start giving a shit if he didn’t want to keep pressing replay on these same tired scenes --- weeks of wellness and then a rapid, unexpected drop into deep depression. 

If he knew I wasn’t okay, as he had just muttered to me, why was it me, the one who was afraid to leave the house, afraid to live, afraid that she was nothing but a worthless fuck whom was a burden on everyone in her life, who had to initiate this conversation?  If he knew I wasn’t okay, why wasn’t he actively attempting to make things better? 

“Well, if you know I’m not okay,” I then replied, “you should also know that continuing to ignore my illness is not going to make it simply disappear.  Just because you don’t address my depression doesn’t mean it’s not there.  You can’t just leave me under the covers and go about your day believing that I’ll soon reemerge and be well again.” 

However, that’s how things happened.  I was fine, fine, fine for weeks – in fact I was even well and thriving during some of this time.  Then I would wake up one day with severe anxiety and depression and fall into this deep hole of self-hatred and horror for two days minimum to six days maximum and then reemerge again like I was whole and those ugly, dire days hadn’t even happened – like they were just a nightmare that passed over us in sleep.

“I can’t keep doing this.  I can’t not be a competent, reliable employee, I can’t not be a patient, loving mother, I can’t not be a kind, considerate lover for several days each month.  Something has to change.  I don’t know what to do.  I just don’t know what to do.”

“I don’t know what to do either, Angela,” he replied.  However, when I spoke, it was clear that I was running through possible strategies in my mind, while his reply seemed resigned like there simply was no answer and he had given in to the idea of losing me for days.  He didn’t seem to be aware that if we let this keep happening, where I wasn’t really myself for days at a time, the depression would continue to amplify to the point where he would lose me permanently to suicide. 

“It’s just …” I began, not knowing how to explain my situation, as I didn’t understand myself how much was external, how much of my depression could be directly linked to trauma, and how much was simply neurological – a genetic chemical imbalance that couldn’t be explained, and was simply confounding for non-sufferers to understand.  “It’s just I feel like there’s all these bricks, these bricks on my back.  I’m burdened by bricks, and I can’t move, I can’t breathe, I can’t get over it all and get better.”

He nodded, half in acknowledgment of my speech, and half a natural nodding of his head as it bobbed gently into sleep.

“I’m not over what that district did to me,” I said, “I’m just not. And I know you talk about how proud of me you are for writing – you acknowledge how cathartic and healing it can be.  But you know that I can’t talk fully about what they did yet, with the legal proceedings and what not.  And the lawyers, I’m so angry, I’m just so god-damn angry.  They’re not representing me properly.  This suit has taken too long and that district needs to be accountable for what they did to me.  They broke me, they fucking ruined me, you know?” 

He knew; he knew all too well.  He knew that I suffered so severely that I would lay awake at night thinking of ways to kill myself without also bringing harm to the child that was growing inside of me.  He knew that teaching was never just a job, that the word teacher is part of my identity and they were killing part of me.

“And every day this bullshit lingers on, every day that they continue to get away with it, and the proper action isn’t being taken, it’s another brick on my back.  It’s harder to breath because there’s no fucking justice in this world.”

He was struggling to keep his eyes open and pay attention to me.  His arm was wrapped around my back, rubbing up and down, again just a motion with no real feeling or attachment evident.

“And because I’m stuck, tied to that sadness and that torment, I keep thinking about all the other injustices in my life, and the bricks pile up and I feel crushed.  There are all the bricks from the dishonesty and discrimination from my former employer, and I hate, hate, hate that what they did to me is affecting my current job and I’m missing work.  I’m in a district I want to be in, and I can’t make it to work because these bricks from the past are holding me down.  It makes me so fucking angry, and this new district isn’t getting to see the wonderful, amazing educator and mentor that I am, that I know I can be, because the pieces aren’t all back together yet.  I’m still just hurting so damn much.”

There was a physical ache in the pit of my stomach as I spoke these words, and I knew I had to start being honest about how much I was hurting.  Being brave and trying to convince myself that I could go on wasn’t really working, not when I was missing two to four days of work every god-damn month. 

“And you know, I want to be hopeful, I want to believe in myself, but I can tell you right now, I know I can’t work tomorrow.  I can’t leave this home.”

He looked upset with me, but said he would call my employer, knowing that I couldn’t even communicate effectively when I was in such a depleted, dispirited state.

“And here’s the thing,” I continued.  “Then I feel every fucking sadness and injustice of the past.  So, here we go, load up the bricks.  Here’s a brick for every time my father told me I was worthless when I was growing up, how he joked that he wished I was never born.  Here’s a brick for the first time I was raped, violated by an individual that I believed I loved, the first person I ever loved. Here’s a brick for the second time I was raped, raped more violently by two men, made to feel like an awful, disgusting whore who deserved such appalling punishment for allowing myself to get so god-damn drunk.  Here’s a brick for all the nights I spent sleeping with a razorblade to my wrist, just praying for the fucking courage to kill myself because I didn’t know how else to get out of my abusive marriage, stuck with a man who threatened suicide whenever I mentioned leaving him.  Here’s a brick for the night he put his thick fingers around my neck and tried to choke me.  Here’s a brick for the young man who lays in a grave somewhere, only seventeen when our cars crashed into one another and his life ended, and my life changed forever.  Here’s a brick …”

I was crying now, sobbing and shaking.  I was overwhelmed with this depression, and wanted to discuss the next step.  Do we need to talk about hospitalization?  Do we change medication again?  What do we do?  It wasn’t simply a question of what I needed to do next, because my husband is my best friend, my partner, my lover, my support.  We are a team, and we needed to make this decision together. 

I had been talking so long, my eyes closed, as though somehow shutting my eyelids allowed me to shut out some of the pain that accompanied all of these memories I was mentioning, brick by brick until I felt like I could barely breathe.

I opened my eyes and looked over to him, to discuss where we go from here, how we begin to lessen the load and eliminate these days of despair and dejection, these days of misery and melancholy, these days where I am completely immobilized.

“So, you know,” I said, opening my eyes and just staring up at the ceiling.  I then turned to him to ask what he thought we should do, and I saw him there … asleep.  I was burdened by these bricks, and he had fallen into a restful sleep, freed by dreams from the hollowness that filled my heart.  My partner, my best friend, my teammate, left me alone to carry this load. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hey-Ho! NickMom has got to go!

Okay Mommy Bloggers! It’s time that we stand united and take a stand against a very important issue that is bringing unequivocal damage and great torment to our lives.  That’s right: NickMom!

If you have a child(ren) under age five, I assume you know what I’m talking about.  If not, I will quickly fill you in on this horrendous terror that has been nothing but pain and deep, deep irritation to my life.  NickMom is being marketed as “the place for all things funny, just for moms.”  In truth, NickMom is not even remotely funny.  It’s a bunch of screeching, whining, shitty-ass “comedians” (I bring attention to this word because it’s very generous to call these individuals comic) making jokes about raising kids. 

So, I was changing my baby’s diaper today, you know.  You all changed diapers before? Yeah, you know what I mean. (Audience applause expected here.)  Well, I was changing that diaper and that baby was wiggling all over the place just like a little worm, you know. (More laughter and applause expected.)  I wish he was a worm so I could just throw that kid out in the dirt instead of changing his diapers and making him bottles.  (Expectation of laughter.) Man, you know what I mean? (Chuckle, chuckle.) Being a mom is damn hard.  I hate my fucking kids. (Uproarious laughter. End of skit.)
Yeah, that shit ain’t funny, bitch.  And, hearing about how you hate your kids is not a relief at the end of my hard day of being a mom.  Yes, you’re right that being a mother is hard work, but I love it.  I don’t hate my kids.  But, sometimes my daughter is still awake when your awful NickMom programming comes on, and because I love her, but dealing with her can be difficult, I want fucking Dora the Explorer back to cool that toddler down.  You hear me?  Fuck you, NickMom!

Direct from NickMom’s site, they boast:” Really, where else are you going to laugh at last-minute diorama projects, sleep deprivation and what to say at the goldfish's funeral all in one place? (You're welcome.)”

Don’t tell me I’m welcome because I never said thank you.   I hate you, NickMom.  And where else am I going to laugh at sleep deprivation and the other funny moments of being a parent?  My own god-damn life. I’m able to find the funny in those situations and cherish them because they’re my own children.  I don’t need to hear it from some struggling, bitter “comedian.”  Your shows seriously give me a headache and they need to fucking go.  

Well, I did a little research on NickMom today because I’ve seriously had it with this god-awful programming.  It seems I am not alone.  You can join the “Cancel NickMom”facebook page, a petition created that states: “Nick Moms want a station their kids can enjoy anytime!”  I highly suggest you join me in this movement and head on over and add yourself to this petition.  Even if you are not a mother, trust me that this shit has got to go.
Furthermore, there is a CancelNickMom movement headquarters, and I highly applaud their efforts.  Not only is NickMom extremely annoying, it is highly inappropriate programming for what was designed to be a 24 hour pre-school channel.  The “comedy” is often foul and perverse, and does not belong on Nickelodeon.  I highly encourage you to visit the Cancel NickMom headquarters and learn more about what you can do.  It’s true that real moms don’t watch NickMom. Real moms suffer through hours of Bubble Guppies and Wonder Pets, and that’s what we want to keep on doing. 
Say it with me now: Hey-Ho! Hey-Ho! NickMom has got to go! Sign the petition today.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Frozen in Fear ... Warmed by Love

I groggily arose from the bed, and rubbed the tired edges of my eyes, having crusted over with cold symptoms.  As my eyes finally opened wide, I glanced out the bedroom window to see that thick layers of snow had accumulated, while I slept restlessly, upon the land and the tree branches.  The snow rested heavily upon the limbs of pine trees, weighing the branches lowly down, nearing the ground.  With this sight, I felt as though the weight of this heavy snow was weighing down upon my own body, crushing my heart, making me feel stuck and immobilized. 

I began to hyperventilate.  My mind began to race.  I don’t want to go out there. I can’t go out in that weather.  It could happen again.  It can’t happen to my children like it did to me.  I won’t go out there.  It’s today, the exact day. These racing thoughts flooded upon me; I was drowning in waves of anxiety and fear.  Flashbacks that had formerly been erased from my mind came back to me.  I saw the vehicle come crashing horizontally into me on this day, February 11th, over a decade ago.  Over a decade ago, but the event lingers with me in diagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  I tamped my hands over my ears believing I could hear the loud, crashing, grinding sound of metal automobile exteriors slamming rapidly into each other.  I could hear the sirens this morning, even though they existed only in a memory over a decade away.  I could hear the calming voice of the police officers explaining how I would be removed from my vehicle with the jaws of life, I not fully understanding their gentle intonations as I could only hear my own violent screaming and sobbing, staring forward at a spider webbed windshield, frozen and disoriented in that moment. These violent memories engulfed me. 
1988 Buick Electra after the accident - I truly believe this car saved my life

I managed to slow my breathing, call my husband to explain my fears, and then go to the medicine cabinet to find and consume my clonazepam – an anti-anxiety medication.  Yet, even as I write this, my legs are restless, my mind restless, my memory haunting and my mind bound up in irrational fears.  I was alone then, but I would have my children with me if I were to leave today.  No. Not on this day – not February 11th.  I can’t bring harm to them.  The seventeen year old boy in the passenger seat who was declared dead upon impact.  The seventeen year old boy in the driver seat in a coma for four months.  No, no, no.  My children will not meet such a fate, so I must stay home.  I must.
But, fuck, I don’t want to miss any more work.  What do I call and say?  I’m sorry I can’t come to work today, but I’m fucking crazy and I’m terrified that if I leave I will kill my own children in an automobile accident.  The weather is making me anxious, and I can’t form cohesive thoughts.  I’m not okay, okay? It’s embarrassing, but this is my reality. 

I hung up the phone with my husband, who was on his way home from work to make sure that I survived the day and that the children would have one competent parent home with them.  I felt foolish and embarrassed and why didn’t I just suck it up and straighten my shit out, get to work, and stop letting nightmares of past events corrupt my current life.

Another view of the Buick
Shortly after I hung up with my spouse, my mother called.  “Are you going to work today, Angela?” she asked.  I replied that I wasn’t, and, with great shame and self-judgment, I tried to explain the flashbacks and the terror– how I felt sick to my stomach and frozen in fear.  I thought she would judge me too, and tell me to get over it already, get the kids ready for day care, and get in the damn car so I don’t put strain on my employer, having to find a substitute with late notice.

She said none of this.  Rather she said, “I know what this day is, Angela.  I know that was a long time ago, but I know it still hurts you.  If the roads were clear, I would tell you to be brave and move forward.  But, Angela, I just went into town and the roads are awful.  I don’t want you to go to work today.  Let your employer deal with it however they need to.  You need to protect yourself and your children.  Your PTSD is real.  Did you take some of your clonazepam?  And will Sam be home?  Okay. Okay.  You’ll be okay.  Just relax and give those children all your love, knowing they are safe at home.  I want you and them safe at home.  It will be okay.”

It’s hard to believe it’s going to be okay now as I sit in tears watching more snow fall upon the roads.  It’s hard to believe it’s going to be okay given the guilt I feel over missing work, and also knowing my husband is losing wages by coming home to take care of me and the children.  It’s hard to believe it will be okay when I feel like such a god-damn burden to those that love me.  But the most important part of that statement is that I have so many people who love me.  My spouse, my children, my parents, my in-laws, they all love me and they all know that my illness is real --- this manic-depression, this seasonal affective disorder, this anxiety, this post-traumatic stress disorder. 

The best medicine for all of these, while I still rely on mood stabilizers and anti-depressants, is the love and support of my family.  I am choosing to believe my mother today.  I am missing work, and the memories that accompany this snow fall weigh heavily upon my heart, but it will be okay.   It will be okay.  I am loved.  I won’t suffer any loss today in the warmth of my home.  Maybe it’s irrational to need to stay here, to be brought to hyperventilation by the thought of traveling those roads, but the safety of my home and the support of my family is what I need today.  It’s my medicine. 

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Thursday, February 7, 2013


While sitting in the passenger seat of my vehicle, with my husband driving, I recently heard the local disc jockey share a story of a Michigan girl enamored with pop superstar, Bruno Mars.  This young high school girl reportedly posted a video of herself covering one of Mars’ songs in hopes of getting Mars to attend her junior prom as her date.  My first thought was that Bruno Mars is a grown-ass man, so while this would be a rush for the young girl, it also borders on criminal. 

After this very rapid thought, which I quickly dismissed as it wasn’t worth fretting over, I then became consumed with my own relatively related celebrity desire.  I then loudly yelled out, “What the fuck?!?”  My husband promptly turned to quizzically look at me.  What was my issue?  Was I angry about some situation I was internally obsessing over?  Did he do something to upset me before leaving the home?  What just happened?  Did I see some disturbing scene along the sides of the back road?  No, no, none of this, I assured him.  I was angered by the story on the radio, I explained.  “Bruno Mars is thinking about taking this girl to prom, and Justin Timberlake continues to ignore my requests.” 

He laughed at me, and then asked if I was talking about my short list and my insane New Year’s resolutions.  This was precisely what I was talking about.  “Angela,” he said, “How the hell is Justin Timberlake supposed to know you want to fuck him?”  I very calmly replied, assuming myself to be perfectly rational and sane, that I had shared my posts with Justin Timberlake via twitter.

“Really?” my husband asked, acting as though this may have been an odd thing to do. 

“Yeah, of course,” I continued. “And if Bruno Mars is going to take some seventeen year old to prom, why the hell won’t JT respond to my requests for fucking?”  I sounded seriously distraught over his lack of response. 

“I like to remind him every so often that he can be a celebrity hero and help me reach my resolutions,” I added, thinking of my tweet the previous night.

@jtimberlake: As I haven’t recently reminded you, please recall the offer to assist with my resolutions still stands.

“A hero?  What is wrong with you?  I don’t think helping someone with their short list makes a celebrity a hero.”

“Well, whatever.  It’s like my make a wish.”

“Why would you get a make a wish?  You’re not sick.”

“The fuck I’m not.  How come only physically ill kids get to make wishes?  What about the mentally ill?”

“The mentally ill make wishes to have celebrities fuck them and become best friends with dead authors, like your damn resolutions.  That’s why they don’t get wishes.”

“Whatever,” I said, and then dismissed my husband and began to write this post in my head.  I thought that I needed to come up with something grander than a blog post or a few creepy tweets to get JT to take notice of me.  

I started to envision making my own you tube video of myself performing “Bringing Sexy Back.”  This young girl was potentially getting a celebrity prom date because she sang one of the artist’s songs on you tube.  I could do that, but not well.  Although I’ma rock star in my own mind, I do also acknowledge how painful and embarrassing a you tube video performance of “Bringing Sexy Back” would be.  Train wreck. Total train wreck. 

People love watching wrecks though.  Admit it, your favorite part of American Idol, and similar shows, is all the early auditions of the bat shit-crazy delusional artists, like William Hung singing Ricky Martin.  So, I figured I would go ahead and do it – but only if you all help me out. I explained my ludicrous plan of action to my husband.  I said I can ask other bloggers and friends to help me out by tweeting Justin Timberlake and telling him to make my resolution a reality.   I said I would ask you all to use the hash tag #fuckmejt, and I would post the video if Justin Timberlake received at least 500 tweets demanding his hot little ass pay me some attention.

Sometimes I say such stupid shit that my husband just kind of gives up on me.  Therefore, after I had explained my plan to make a you tube video if I got enough people to tweet #fuckmejt, he simply replied, “Okay, whatever.  I’m going to go give the kids a bath.”  Without him around, I was then left alone and had to convince myself that I was crazy and had just concocted what was potentially the worst plan ever. 

All the same, I’m still left asking: “What the fuck, JT?” I’m willing to tone my request down a bit, if that’s what it takes.  I can work with “heavy petting” (a term my grandmother used).  At the very least, JT, can’t you just send me a penis pic?  That’s not weird or gross anymore; it’s standard fare for politicians and athletes.  I bet Bruno Mars would do it.
Bring your sexy to me, JT!

Monday, February 4, 2013

There's a Reason I Punched you in the Throat

I was sitting at a table by myself reading a book.  She approached me and I looked up as I heard her nearing.

“Well, what do you do now?” she questioned.

“Hmm?” I asked in return.  I had no idea what she was asking about.  No conversation had existed before this time as the impetus for this question.

“Well, this isn’t where you want to be, is it?” she asked.  She wasn’t talking about me being alone at that table or in that place at that exact moment.  I knew what she meant when she asked this because I felt it almost every minute of the day.  I’m not in the career I want to be in.  I don’t even believe you can call my current position a “career.” 

After being laid off from my full time teaching career, I am now a part time study hall supervisor.  No, it’s not exactly what I had imagined for myself.  I don’t think anyone tells their high school guidance counselor that they really want to become a study hall supervisor in the future. Yet, there is where I find myself now, and I’m determined to find blessings in this situation.

“So, do you just wait and hope something opens up?”  she continued.

I answered in the affirmative.  Yes. What more can I do?  I’m not interested in moving.  My family is here, and I want my children to grow up near their grandparents. My husband is employed here, we have a beautiful home, and I enjoy the natural beauty of the area.  I am also unwilling to commute more than a half hour with two small children at home.  That leaves me exactly two districts in which to work, and nine English positions, all of them currently filled. In the meantime, I am thankful that I’m working with secondary students in some capacity. 

I continued, “Well, while this isn’t ideal, there are also benefits.  I love having more time with my children.  My daughter is only two and my son will turn seven months this week.  When I was teaching and coaching, I was often gone from 7 am to 6 pm.  Even when I was home, my time wasn’t usually my own because I had lesson planning and essays to grade.  Now my time with my family is fully my time to enjoy.  My work stays at work, and this is such a low stress job.”

“Well, you know what they say …” she smiled.

I knew what they said.  I’ve heard it repeated time and time again over the past year.  Externally, I would nod and smile when I heard this anticipated expression. Internally, I was screaming and yelling that the ability to find good in an ugly situation didn’t make things suddenly okay.  It didn’t excuse the assholes, and it wasn’t part of some grander design.

And then she said it … “Everything happens for a reason.”
She’s a kind woman, a good woman, and I know she had the best intentions when she said this.  However, I still imagined the same fantasy I had every single time someone uttered this phrase to me.  “Everything happens for a reason,” some good intentioned individual would tell me, because it felt too harsh to simply say, “Yeah, you’re right, Angela.  That situation fucking sucks.”  People think the idea that everything happens for a reason brings some kind of solace to the grieving individual, some kind of hope.  In my fantasy, it just invoked a wild rage in me.  I jump out of my seat, and kick my chair out of the way like some bad ass Kill Bill shit where I take my vengeance out on any individual who attempts to offer me solace with this expression.  I kick the chair to the side, the object slamming against the wall in slow motion. A loud thud echoes through the room and then the scene focuses on me – suddenly, miraculously fit and leather clad, ready to throw a fierce right jab. My eyes focus in on the speaker’s mouth, the words coming out slowly, “Everything happens for a r-e-a-s-o-n.” The last syllable falls from the lips of this individual as my fist pummels right into her fucking throat.  The individual looks bewildered and pained and shakes her head back and forth in protest of my action, and then I look stoically onward and mutter: “Everything happens for a reason, bitch, and there’s a reason you just got punched in the throat.” 

Of course, this is not how the scene actually played out.  I nodded and went back to reading my book, but inside I was still screaming. Don’t fucking try to tell me that it was somehow acceptable that I got lied to, abused, discriminated against, bullied, and betrayed so that I could enjoy my children more.  Don’t tell me what happened was justified or predestined because I have less stress and I can be a better mother.  Shit didn’t need to go down like that for me to enjoy my life, my time, and my family. 

Ultimately, I don’t know if things happen for a reason or not.  I don’t have all the answers, but know this: I know it’s not your fault and you mean well if you tell me “everything happens for a reason,” but don’t be surprised if I punch you in the throat.  Sorry.  I know shit didn’t have to go down that way, but life isn’t fucking fair.

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Worst Case Scenarios

I drove up to my parent’s house to drop off the children with my mother before heading to work.  The minivan struggled to make it up the slick, icy driveway.  The wind whipped drifts of snow across the yard, making the chilling cold temperature visible from inside the warm van.  I saw a truck that I didn’t recognize in the driveway and wondered who might be at my parent’s home on a weekday morning. 

I put the vehicle in park and wrapped my scarf tighter around me before exiting into the freezing morning air.  I heard the dogs barking in the garage and wondered why they were locked up.  The dogs were typically only locked in the garage if my parents weren’t home. I assumed they were home because of the stranger’s truck in the driveway, so my next assumption was that something must be wrong.

Something is wrong. Something must be wrong. I went directly to worst case scenarios as I went around the rear doors to unbuckle the children from their safety seats and head into the house, now frightened of what I might find. It’s my father. Oh no, I just know it’s my father.  My father had his first heart attack at age fifty, followed by bypass surgery to replace five arteries.  Not even two years later, two of the bypasses had failed.  There were stents placed in his chest.  My father, also a diabetic, might be lying on the floor suffering from heart failure inside the home I was about to bring his two young grandchildren into.

I couldn’t leave the children in the car though, certainly not with wind chills in the negative.  I carried the two bundled up babes toward the porch.  I suddenly heard sirens approaching in the background.  Fuck. Those sirens are coming here. They’re coming to my parent’s house.  I felt certain beyond doubt that the nearing sirens belonged to an ambulance intended to escort my father to the hospital, hopefully still breathing with a chance of living. Oh shit. Oh shit. The sound of the sirens more rapidly approached.

As I tightly held my two tiny children, his beloved, precious grandbabies, in my arms, my mind became a nightmarish film of the worst possibilities.  As I walked slowly down the slippery sidewalk, each second seeming like a lifetime, mental images flashed before me of my father collapsed on the floor, clutching his chest, gasping for air, pain and terrible knowing present in the tight lines of his forehead.  He held an open palm out to me and the children as if to say goodbye.  I tried to calm myself and shake such awful images, but they kept coming to me, just like the snow kept falling down around us.

I was interrupted from such dreadful images when my mother opened the front door and came out upon the porch, holding the lapels of her coat tightly together with trembling, gloved hands.  “I tried calling you,” she called to me, as I approached the porch steps.  “I didn’t want you to bring the kids over right away.”  I felt that my worst fears had been confirmed when she spoke – that those sirens really were for my father.  “Well, get them in here anyway,” she continued, “it’s freezing out here, and a fire truck is coming.”

A fire truck. A fire truck, and not an ambulance.  There was relief at this, but it was quickly replaced by a new fear.  “What’s going on?” I asked. 

“I think we have a chimney fire,” she said.  “Your dad is downstairs with the fire chief.”  I figured out that stranger’s truck in the driveway must have belonged to this man.  I looked around the house, and everything seemed to still be in order.  There was, however, the odor of smoke hanging in the air. “Get your kids in the bedroom, okay?”

I followed her commands as the other firefighters arrived.  My daughter wanted to see the fire truck and the fire fighters, who were now up on the roof examining the situation.  My mother began describing her fears to me, how she thought there was a chimney fire as a great deal of smoke filled the home and she went outside and saw more smoke billowing from the chimney than was normal.  Ash had scattered onto the roof and fallen down into the snow along the side of the home. 

She then began to complain about the response services. “I wasn’t certain if there was a chimney fire or not though, you know,” she said, “so first I tried to call the fire station.  No one picked up there so I had to call god-damn 911.  The lady just told me to get outside right away if I though the roof might be on fire.  I told her I wasn’t going outside because it was way too fucking cold and it was just the roof, not the whole home.  It’s fucking freezing out there, Angela.”

She was right.  It was fucking freezing, but I tried to imagine being the emergency operator, who probably had a desire to respond, “Well, if you stay inside I guess you’ll at least stay warm because your house is on fucking fire.  Get out, you dumb bitch!”  However, now that I was now inside the house too, I recognized that the situation was not really serious and the threat of the fire spreading was minimal, so I understood my mother’s reluctance to get out of the house.  I’m sure she would have exited had flames been licking the walls. Well, maybe.  I mean, it was really, really fucking cold outside.  

When my father and the fire chief came back in the home, they informed my mother that there was no fire after all.  There had been smoke and ash because the chimney needed cleaning and it just expelled extra ash when she started and stoked the fire early this morning.

“Better to be safe than sorry,” they both said.  My mother nodded. The three of them all expressed relief, and the fire chief excused himself, wishing my parents a good day.  

As soon as he left, my father turned to my mother and said, “I told you to just let me check it out, Cindy. You don’t listen to me.  I could have done that shit.  I could have taken care of it.”

“Well, you thought there was a fire too,” she replied.  “I don’t want my damn house burning down in the middle of winter.”

“I could have gone up on the roof,” he answered, although he also nodded in agreement that the threat seemed real given the amount of smoke in the home.

“Dad, you don’t belong up there,” I added my own contribution to their discussion.  I sat feeding my six month old son a bottle while my daughter sat next to me eating a strawberry pop-tart and smiling at her grandparents, totally oblivious to the fright that had just occurred.

“No shit,” my mother seconded my concerns. “What would I do without you? That’s just what I need. My roof possibly on fire, and my husband climbing up there and falling on his dumb ass and killing himself.”

“Meh,” my father said, treating every serious situation with his strange air of brevity and dark humor. “You could have collected insurance then.  You would be just fine.”

“No I wouldn’t,” she said, looking at him with eyes that asked him to be serious without a word needing to be spoken.

“Dad, don’t talk like that,” I said.  I didn’t like him making jokes about death like this.  He had said these kinds of things as long as I can remember.  Whenever I would warn him about his bad eating habits given his diabetes, he would just brush off my gentle, loving discipline.  He would sneak sweets while my mother was at work, and I would say, “You can’t eat like that.  You’ll kill yourself.”  His response, without fail, was always, “Good. When?” 

“Yes, please don’t talk like that.”  My dad got up from his chair and approached my mother, letting her know he was just joking.  Yet, he continued on with his ridiculous jests.

“I think with our insurance, if it’s an accident, you can claim double,” he added, “You’ll be fine.”

My daughter picked up on this and excitedly threw her hands up in the air, screaming, “Double! Double!” with a great big smile spread across her face.

We all laughed, and then moved on from the excitement of the morning.  I was so damn glad that while my mind tends to run rapidly toward worst case scenarios, those scenarios rarely become a reality.  I still had my father next to me, beaming a smile at his silly, happy granddaughter in a house that was still intact.  We were all together, safe and warm.