Sunday, December 30, 2012

Why I Hate New Year's Eve

This is my most popular post. Nothing has changed in the time I've written it. Tomorrow is New Year's Eve, my least favorite night of the year.

The best way I know how to cope with it is to go to sleep around 9 pm so when I wake up around 3 am it's over.

In most ways, 2012 has been the worst year of my adult life. For once, I am glad to see a year go. I hope and wish a great 2013 for all who come by here.

Here is my post on why I hate New Years Eve, from last year. 


Monday, December 24, 2012

Trying not to be a Grinchette

I'm here. If I said the last few months, if not this last year has been horrible, I don't know if too many people would believe me. 
It has been impossible to write. I stay in bed most of the day because that is all I can do. I've wanted to write and I try, but I didn't. My brain seemed broken, and even worse, when I was able to write a few words, for my blog, they seemed hollow, empty and meaningless. I didn't want to upset anyone. 
This blog, which has always been my baby, the thing that got me out of bed and gave me a reason to live, was withering, I just couldn't function. I'm sorry. 
I have a new psychiatrist. I saw him earlier this month, and he did an evaluation. My axis V is a number between 10-15. I'm barely functioning right now. 
Thank you for the emails and comments. I can't tell you how much they mean to me, all the times where I was falling and drowning, they saved me. 
I'm still here and the blog is still active, even if I am not. Best wishes for a very happy holiday, and let's hope the new year is better. 
A video with love from me, and from Holly. Kittens make everything better. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Touching Base


I'm still here. Been battling a very bad depression, couldn't get out of the bed, couldn't write, didn't want to burden anyone with how bad it was going.

There was a lot of talk about hospitalization, and a medication that would not cause any more damage to my body but in the long run, I just totally cut the cord with the computer not wanting to upset anyone how bad things were going.

They are at the moment looking up and getting better. I had been working on a piece to post in the next day or two- it's taking longer to write now that I've lost my groove

and now I am dealing with the fact Hurricane Sandy is approaching so I don't know when I will be back on line.

This blog isn't dead. I'm not dead. The cat isn't dead.

I want to get back to blogging full time. Bare with me. I'll be back as soon as I can.


Monday, September 10, 2012

World Suicide Prevention Day, September 10, 2012

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Almost every site I have seen have places to call if you are feeling suicidal, and lots of history and statistics of suicide. Some bloggers are adamant that suicide can be prevented. Some aren't. A few sites, eager to show that the blogger has a very good education, spew out facts from Durkheim, and go into 21st century stats.

Here's the honest truth. Most suicides can be prevented. Most suicidal behavior, if taken over that hump when a person is suicidal, leads to the person being glad the next day they are still alive. I've met several people in real life who are grateful their attempt(s) failed. I've met people who as they were swallowing pills ended up calling 911 because they changed their mind.

Then I've met people, including myself, who were upset they failed. They can't figure out what went wrong, every detail was planned to the Nth degree, and something caused it to go wrong.

How do you prevent a suicide? The best method is to listen to the person and do not judge. President Abraham Lincoln went through such a bad, suicidal patch in his life, his friends didn't leave him alone. It obviously worked, and he went on to be one of the best American Presidents.

Four years ago I wrote about a friend of mine, Kevin Greim, who suicided on Sept 14, 2008 in a most gruesome manner that still gives me nightmares. Out of all the pieces I have ever written in my life, I am the most proud of this one. Kevin was more than a statistic of two suicides that died in Mercer County NJ that weekend. He was a real live person, with the most beautiful aura I've ever seen. A person who totally gave of himself, was always there if you needed to talk and meant so much to so many people at my old support group. Yet since his suicide, I've learned he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, dealing with several problems, that if only he had discussed with his friends, he might not have died. If only he opened up.....

I think about Kevin every day. Kevin loved cars and when I see something cool on the road, I want to pick up my phone, snap a picture of it and send it to him. Only I can't. His friends, still are haunted by his death. One of them never got over it and his life took a turn for the worse.

Then there's the guilt. We all have it. Everyone who was at his memorial service and funeral has it .If only he had talked to me. I remember several of us looking at the urn his ashes were in, crying so hard we had to leave the funeral parlor. Standing outside in the cool Indian Summer with snot rockets coming out of our noses from crying to hard ,and all thinking or saying "Why didn't he call me"?

Some have moved on, as you do with life. Some have on the outside but, like me, are haunted in dreams of what must have been the last milliseconds of his life.

Here's what I want someone who finds this piece to take away.

I get you are hurting.

I understand you feel it won't go away. 

I understand your life has gone to s**t because of drinking, drugging, job loss, or love. 

I understand how you feel helpless and feel that if you were dead you wouldn't be in pain.


Have you really thought about the people you would leave behind? Yes, in your convoluted thinking, you feel they would be better but they won't. They will feel like they had the hearts ripped out and will miss you every day of their lives. They will hate you sometimes for leaving them, and other times they will miss you so much it will feel like Atlas holding up the weight of all the world. Only instead of holding the earth, they are holding up a broken heart that will never heal. If your friends and family are lucky, they won't go through divorces, or drug use or other ways to make themselves feel better. Ways that don't work and only make things worse in the long run.

One of my favorite movies of all time is "It's A Wonderful Life". At my lowest, most suicidal, I've wondered where my Clarence angel is. One night in my early twenties I got down on my knees and prayed for the entire night until that feeling passed.

All I can tell you is this. Yes there are 7 billion people on the earth right now. There is a reason that you were created. Call it because of G-d, a Higher Power, or just two people having too much to drink on a Saturday night. There is a reason, a mission you have with your life. You don't know it. You probably won't until you are on your death bed.

As bad as things are right now, remember Suicide is not painless. You can take or leave it if you please. It's my hope for all who read this, to please leave it. The only time suicide is painless is in a theme song from one of the best television series ever.

My piece on Kevin is here. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

High Dives and un fluffy pillows

I'm deathly afraid of heights. One nightmare that keeps playing over and over in my head is a true account, yet I am dreaming about it almost nightly. Growing up my sister and I were very close to a neighbor, one of the nicest widows you would ever want to meet. She was considered family.

In the summertime she joined the local swim club and my sister and I would go with her for the afternoon. It was a treat. My sister was fearless. She was also athletic. She climbed up to the high dive and jumped. I preferred the low dive or even better, just reading a book under the shade of a tree. (And you want to know why the kids thought you were strange? Could that be it?)

One day I was double dog dared to jump off the high dive by my sister. So I did. Or tried to. I went up it, no problem. It wasn't until I was looking down, I suffered my first attack of vertigo. I turned around as if to climb back down, but there was a whole line of kids waiting to jump in that cool water. I had to. It was the scariest thing I have ever did with my life.

In a lot of ways it still is.

The last six years of my life, I have been paralyzed with fear as I look down on the pool. I can't jump, I can't go down. I'm just on the high dive scared as if death was near. Frozen. I'm not making any progress, but I am not failing. I just am stagnant. I just am breathing, but I am not living.

I am paralyzed.

Let's put it in another way. I'm stuck in my life. I'm not happy where I am right now. I know what to do to fix it but I can't take the first steps. Once again, I am cursed with a depression so severe I can barely get out of bed to do anything but use the toilet or feed the cat. I just don't see a point to get out of the bed.

Through my blinds I can see some of the children that live in the apartment complex playing a make-shift game of soccer in the parking lot. They are laughing and smiling as they chase the black and white ball, happy that school hasn't started, happy to be alive.

I lie in bed, surrounded by un-fluffed pillows and wish I was that eager. Wish I was that happy. I haven't been. Not in almost a decade. Let's face it. The last six years, I am not even living. I am existing. It's my heart that's beating because the primal brain is telling it to beat, my lungs are breathing because my brain is telling them to do that. Every day when I go to sleep I wish I could die in my sleep. Of course I don't. I don't have the energy to do anything other than stay in bed and sleep.

Was this the reason I developed agoraphobia? Did the depression transmogrify to something more serious?

I should know better. I'm too old for all this nonsense. Still I cannot move. I can't leave the apartment. I don't want to leave the bed.

I want nothing more to have the good fairy wave her wand and i will be cured. i can get out of bed, and go back to the land of the living.

Good fairies don't exist. I can't get better like that. I got to do the work. I have the tools, I know the steps.

I just can't get out of bed.

Today is my birthday. It's the birthday I've been dreading for the last month or so. All I know is I can't have another six years of existing not living. I need to start living, or if I can't get off the proverbial pot, I will start dying.

I just hope this birthday year things will get better. I'm sick and tired of waiting on the high dive to find the courage to jump. I have to find the courage or someone has to push me.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Rerun and update: Susan an Introduction

I apologize if I haven't been writing. The mind is willing, the flesh is weak. I found a piece I wanted to share again, and just add a few updates. It was originally written in  2002. I re wrote it again for the blog in 2009. In 2003 I went back on meds after being off them for most of 2002,due to a hospitalization and family pressure. I stayed on them until November 2010.  Since then, I have become med free, because of the kidney failure. Still and all it's one of my most favorite pieces and it gives insight to who I am.

I could feel my blue eyes opening, and the light was harsh. I shielded them with my palm, trying to wake. I gradually accustomed myself, and noticed, this was a twin size bed I was in, not my normal full size. My beloved cat was not nestling besides me, nor did I have the teddy that served as a sentinel since I was four. I thought for a moment, I was back in time, back in Graduate School, where life was good, and I shared a house in my state’s capital with four other young women. But as I tried to move, I noticed I couldn’t move. There was an IV attached to my arm, and one of those heart monitors like you would see on ER. And I was strapped down to the bed. It was the present, 1994, and I had been out of school for seven years. I could hear the doctors and nurses running by me, ignoring me. I had no idea where I was, I figured it was in the emergency room of Princeton Hospital. I asked the nurse what day it was as she ran by me. It was a Sunday morning, at four or five in the morning, and I wondered what the heck had I done again, since I took all those pills on Friday night? and why in Heaven’s name, couldn’t I succeed in killing myself?
I am a manic-depressive. I was one of those people, first misdiagnosed in my early twenties as depressive, then a month later diagnosed as bipolar. But this hospitalization in my early thirties, would evaluate me as bipolar, with a difference, I was an ultra rapid cycler with schizoaffective features. 
This was not my first suicide attempt. This was one of many, starting with all the sturm und drang of adolescence. This would be my second to last serious attempt. I cannot begin to count all the times I have wanted to "shuffle off this mortal coil", as Hamlet said. I have tried pills, more times waking up to be Exorcist sick. I tried to use a hose to my car’s exhaust, not realizing I had a catalytic converter, which went on before I could fall asleep. I have thought of throwing myself off the Empire State Building, but I am deathly afraid of heights and have vertigo. And I have tried to slit my wrists, but could not get the razor blade out of that pink plastic Gillette razor. (Curse you Gillette!)
And I have been blessed with the mania, suffering for three years straight without crashing to anything other than mild depression. I was gifted then, doing two masters degrees and holding down three part time jobs. I had poems professionally published. Looking back they were nothing but masterful Sylvia Plath imitations. I was the belle of the English department, their golden girl about to go on for a PhD. And I was correct for the longest time. And then, just like the all time perfect day, it ended. It had to. A person cannot be manic for three years without illegal drugs, one has to crash eventually.

Continues here 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

World Cat Day 8/8/2012

Today is World Cat Day. It's a holiday where you must spoil your cats rotten. Oh wait, that's every day.  Still and all they say "every dog has his day" and today is the day where dogs are pushed aside and it's all about the fabulous feline.

Sparkle the cat has some really good suggestions how to spoil your cat on her blog.

  • Begin the day by serving breakfast in bed to your cat. In your bed, of course. But don’t bring her plain, old kibble or canned cat food. Make it a gourmet feast — finely chopped chicken and chicken livers, served in a cut glass bowl, or poached salmon with a couple of crickets as a tasty garnish. Or how about brunch for the late-risers? Sardines neatly laid out on fine china would be a simple but classy choice.
  • We cats are not big on cards — really! — so if you can’t find one that truly expresses your sentiments, don’t worry about it. We would much prefer gifts. What’s important here is the wrapping paper. Make sure you get extra-crinkly paper. Also make sure your gift requires a lot of it. If the World Cat Day presents you choose are small (which is perfectly acceptable — even kitties realize that “good things sometimes come in small packages”), then put them in big boxes so you have sufficient wrapping paper for playing in — plus the box serves as a bonus toy! Here is a tip on the right amount of wrapping paper: if there is so much that you could possibly lose your cat inside it, that is sufficient.
  • But just because we cats love wrapping paper, don’t skimp on the gifts. Hopefully you have been paying attention and you know which kind of toys your cat likes best. Some cats prefer small catnip mice that can fly through the air; others prefer something bulkier that can be bunny kicked into oblivion. Still other cats enjoy flying toys like Da Bird, or turbo scratcher type toys. If in doubt, get your cat a bunch of options, just to make sure that you hit pay dirt with at least one. A cat tree would be great if you want to splurge… but you still have to wrap it up.
  • Since this is such a special day, if you are going to get your cat treats as a present, get really special treats — real, freeze-dried meat, or maybe even fresh chicken or grilled salmon. These treats have the benefit of not only being yummy, but also being good for you! We cats are smarter than humans — we like food that is nutritious. If the treats are fresh, you don’t have to wrap them, but if they come in a package, the wrapping paper is de rigueur. I would suggest that you go out and catch some field mice or trap some moths or beetles, but that is probably beyond most humans.
  • Most importantly, here is the one thing your cats really want from you on World Cat Day: your time. Take time to play with your cats today. Don’t just toss a toy around for a couple of minutes. Make it a quality play session, and let your cat decide when she has had enough. If your cat is more of a couch potato, then let her doze on top of you without fidgeting, talking on the phone, or moving her because some body part of yours has fallen asleep. This will show your cat how much she really means to you, and that you really understand her needs. The more respect and regard you have for your cat, the more you will get in return. Or maybe not, but what did you expect?


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

We're not the only ones who get depressed

This should come as no surprise, especially to those of us who have animals in our lives. According to a just published news article, monkeys are being treated for depression in Argentina.

The article states that , black howler monkeys at an Argentine ecological park have been suffering depression following the death of two of the oldest females in the group and had to be given medication because they refused to eat.

The article continues,

Two alpha females died 1 1/2 years ago from natural causes at the Rio Cuarto Urban Ecological Park some 650 kilometers (400 miles) west of Buenos Aires, and from that moment "their male companions began suffering depression and four let themselves die of sadness," park director Miriam Rodriguez told Clarin newspaper.
The black howler monkeys in this 12-hectare (30-acre) park "live in a group and are very close to one another," Rodriguez said. "When the females died, we noticed the others behaving oddly, but we thought it might have been something they ate."
Concerned about their lethargy and refusal to eat, park officials consulted specialists at the nearby Cordoba Zoo, who told them "the animals could be going through a phase of acute depression," Rodriguez said.
After several analyses, psychiatrist Sergio Castillo confirmed the diagnosis of depression and two months ago prescribed a treatment based on sertraline, "a mineral derived from the serotonin used in humans to reverse different symptoms originating from compulsive disorders or depression," veterinarian Ezequiel Carrizo told the newspaper.
There was initially some resistance to the treatment since it seemed "ridiculous to give them anti-depression medication even if it was only a minimum dose," Rodriguez told Radio 2, adding that "it has begun to raise the monkeys' spirits." 

Read more:

Unfortunately, the article does not state if the monkeys had any side effects and for how long they were given this serotonin based drug. I hope the monkeys are doing better and are now able live their lives without chemicals.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Major Problems with Blog right now

Hi. It appears someone or something has removed page elements and several things have been removed from my blog from posts to elements on the side .

I don't know what to do, I am having no such luck contacting Blogger, but I was able to contact the third party element that was compromised.
If you find something wonky please let me know, if anything else goes missing let me know. This is most upsetting.

ETA:  I heard from all parties. One element is just not loading on Safari, but it's there on Firefox. The latest version of Safari is making my computer wonky- I can't get on Twitter either with it, but Firefox works like a dream. I will be un-installing Safari and going to an earlier version.

The other element is upsetting. It seems that Friday night some code got erased, and I need to reinstall it from scratch. 

The good news is, I have been meaning to do a major  overhaul of the site, appearance wise. It hasn't been done since 08. This is the kick in the tush I needed to get things done. 

In other words, for the next couple of days, if you see something missing and then it's there a few minutes later, or the site changes colors and goes back in a few minutes to the original color, it's me playing with the template to make the blog more attractive. 
I've updated this piece and added two LOL's for your amusement. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday Wonders- Henri

If you're like me, you've hardly been on the computer the last few days. It's a good thing in my case, I've been getting out and doing things. Today was the first day since last Saturday where I did have a bout of agoraphobia.

I've been doing a little bit of writing for the blog, I wrote a piece yesterday but I'm not happy with it to post, it still needs tweaking. So I thought - let's post something fun for a change,

Let me introduce you to Henri the cat. Henri suffers from depression and even worse- existential angst and despair. In other words, If Camus was a cat, he would be Henri.

For all those who sat through Existentialism classes in University- (Me! Me) and for all of us who know what that angst and feeling is, I hope you enjoy Henri the French Feline. There's a little bit of Henri in all of us. Henri has a fan page on Facebook if you want to friend him. I did.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Crossroads. My life, ever so turbulent, takes another turn. I'm trying little things to ward off feelings of sadness, by using little tricks I've learned. Since I am not working, I get up every day at the same time. No hitting the alarm clock for extra ZZZZ's.

Every day has to have a routine. This is the hardest thing for newly retired people to learn, when you are use to working you have a routine. I get up, use the toilet, wash face, brush teeth. Have something for breakfast- usually cold cereal and milk. After breakfast, clean, dust, do the things I am supposed to.

Once a week go to the laundrymat. Once a week go grocery shopping at the big box store. Once a week go to the farmers market for local produce and what not. Help out the local farmers.

Set aside a time to write. I've been guilty of this in the past- I write when the mood strikes me. No discipline. I don't know how this is going to work.

I don't mind the Weight Watchers. I feel good about it, but in hindsight, I should have waited a week to start. I had the monthly 5 pound bloat when I started so when I step on the scale in two days it's going to look like I've lost more weight than I really did.

Two days after writing the last blog post, I fell into a kind of hypomania. I was full of energy, and actually wanted to be around people. I got a lot done, but as luck would have it the next day I couldn't get out of bed.

These are all good things, good goals. Yet I feel like I need to do something more. Something for me.

I've been (dare I say it) thinking of going back to school for another Masters.

There is a local university with a Masters degree in Applied Psychology. They would waive the GRE requirement for me because I won't be able to pass the tests at this point, even though the last time I took these tests was in the mid80s. The degree might be too much for me, so the school would allow me to take one course, non - matric  in the Fall, and if I pass that, matric in the program. What would it leave me with? Something I haven't done in years- a peer counselor.

Here's my thinking. I am about to enter the second half of my life. Some things are off the table that might have been on the table during the first part. Marriage is one. Yes,I am seeing a wonderful man, but I would not marry him at this point, because my marriage was annulled and it was not so good.  We had absolutely nothing in common, other than a label, and you can't make a relationship based on that. It wasn't anyone's fault it ended, yet it was both of ours, since we had, at the end of the day, nothing in common, and when it ended neither one of us even liked each other.  I like being single. It's a huge thing to admit, some people love being in couples, some don't. In hindsight, playing the Monday morning quarterback, I love being single, spending every other weekend with the boyfriend, and maybe one night a week. It's perfect.

It also helps that children are off the table. Don't get me wrong. My biggest regret in life will be that I didn't have children. I wanted to be a mommy. It didn't happen. I made mistakes with my career goals and forgot to date- or I did a lot of dating but nothing ever worked out.
I can still biologically have them, but at this stage of my life- it's not feasible. It's ok.

My career goals have been thwarted. You need a goal in your life to keep you going, and I am finally realizing that what worked for Susan when she was in her 30s isn't going to work now. The world has changed. Life has changed. The economy has changed. I need to be flexible and try to adapt to it, to become something new and wonderful from it.

One of the wonderful things about living in the USA is you can always reinvent yourself. Americans love people who fall and then rise up, only to become better than they were. Look at Tiger Woods for example. He's back and right now, doing as good, if not better than he was in the past.

I think with my usually calm nature, and big heart I can help listen to others. I like doing that. I really do. it would give me a reason to get up every day. I just don't know if my brain is up to the task of going back to school. It may not be. Thus, I think the idea of one class, is a good idea. If I can't do it, I can't. It's all good.

The other thing is I need to take my writing more seriously. It's the only thing I know how to do really really well and I need to find some freelance markets for it. I haven't been writing so much lately because I don't know what to say. My life is stagnant. I'm not drowning but I am not surviving. I just am.

This does not make good reading. It's good for me that I am on an even keel, it's bad for my writing, because it lends for boring reading. So I've been doing a lot of thinking, how I want to live the second part of my life.

The second part of my life. Wow. "Grow old with me, the best is yet to be", wrote Browning.

For the first time in my life, I am looking forward to the second chapter. It's wonderful to say that. It's scary but at the same time, optimistic.  Let's hope it's interesting.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Avoiding Triggers and Bad News

I don't want to write this piece, but I feel like it's mandatory.

Unless you've been off line the last day or so, once again the US had a fatal public shooting, this time during a midnight opening showing of the new "Batman" movie.

Once again, the media, doing what they do, run an interview the survivors. Hear the horrible tales. For the next few weeks, we will be assaulted by news of the burials, and learn more about the shooter. The shooter will get a fair trial and then when it's over, banished to the back pages, brought out only when the next one happens, where ever it happens, what country it happens in.

Here is some wisdom they don't teach you in Kindergarten. Life is hard. Some people are nice, some people are not nice. Mean people suck. Life isn't sunshine and rainbows, bad things will happen to you. Hopefully the worst things a human being goes through is loosing family members, sheerly by out living them. Your grandparents, your parents. Your beloved pets.

You will get your heart broken. It will hurt like hell. The amazing thing is the next time it happens the pain is a little less.

You will hear/see things you would not normally see in this world. That's because as Social Media makes us closer, it also gives us too much information. We know can read about the death of a despot, Social Media makes it possible for people to tweet, You Tube pictures of it happening.

So you are feeling fragile today. So am I. Here are a few tricks I've learned from working in a news environment, and just from living through some horrific things in my life.

You need to take care of you. Turn off the TV. Don't watch the news. Turn it off. If you must watch TV, watch something like a sporting event, or a cooking show. Even children's TV shows. (There are a few real good ones. I've just discovered Phinneas and Ferb).

Is it a nice day where you are? Get dressed and go for a walk. Have a dog? Take it for a walk, or a dog park. If you are single, this is the best thing you can do. Maybe you will meet the love of your life. Hey, it's happened for several people I know. (I've even met a guy once who was walking his cat).

Speaking of parks- wonderful places. Go to one with a small picnic lunch, or if you live in a city, buy a hot dog and a soda, find a bench and watch the people. Buy some bread and feed the pigeons, just getting happy seeing the pigeons enjoying the bread. Sounds silly? One of the smartest men ever, Tesla, loved feeding the pigeons every day in the park when he was in NYC during the last few years of his life. If it worked for Tesla, it might work for you.

I understand if you are afraid to go to the movies, - that's OK. Why not rent a movie? A lot of this year's Oscar winning films are now on DVD. Have a favorite TV show on DVD  you've been meaning to watch? Do it. (Yesterday I wasted six hours sitting on the couch watching old Red Dwarfs. It's my favorite TV show ever, and it always cheers me).

If you can get to the sea, a lake, or the ocean, that is very relaxing. Unfortunately, the traffic to these places really can give you agita, so it's a double edged sword.

A Library is a great to go, or if you would rather, go to a bookstore, and get a coffee. Go to a coffee shop.

Listen to music, or a book on tape.

When all else fails- take a nap. Hey, nothing wrong with a nap on the weekend. Just don't make it more than an hour or so. it's a NAP, you don't want to be awake all night because your nap was four hours.

Some other ways (children leave the room) if you have a partner, or are married- well, have some "alone time". Sex is a wonderful thing, it burns calories (yay!) releases endorphins (yay) and it makes you feel good and close to someone.  If you don't have a partner or are not in a relationship- well,  I understand, I'm in that boat too.  A nice long bubble bath works for me in this case.

Turn any instant news texts/alerts on your cell, if you get them. Turn off your computer. It will be there tomorrow. Pretend you live 100 years ago, before computers and phones were invented.

Take care of you. You are the most important person in the universe. If you are over a certain age, no one will take care of you, you have to take care of you. You can't be a friend to someone if you are in a bad patch. And the whole idea is to avoid bad patches, and triggers so you can stay in good shape, physically and mentally.

Now it's time for me to follow my advice. I'm logging off for the day, and I'm going to go out and go to a coffee shop. I'm the cute blonde wearing a black t shirt and denim clam diggers, with a green and blue scarf with flowers, drinking the mochachinno.

Monday, July 9, 2012

There but for the grace of you go I

It's been hotter than Hades here on the East Coast. Indeed, news reports are saying it's the warmest weather in over 100. Records are being smashed.

All I know, baby it's hot outside. So I stay inside, with a semi working air conditioner that is doing the best job to keep me cool. I can't complain. I have electricity. Parts of the East Coast are still without electricity, and other parts are suffering brown outs because the electric companies cannot keep up with demand.

It's all good.

I daydream a lot that I am in Antarctica. Or the North Pole. Someplace nice and cold. With penguins. And ice.  Can you imagine anything better for a daydream? (Hey folks, this is a G rated blog).

So I found myself at the local supermarket- a ginormous supermarket, getting a few things to eat and various important things like the dreaded toilet paper. Cottage cheese and fruit. It's too hot to eat anything heavy. Some cream for my coffee. Some brown sugar for my tea. A five pound bag of ice to stick in the bathtub and just try to cool off with.

Then I saw her when I was at the salad bar, making dinner for the night.  A woman in her sixties, Immaculately dressed, like she just came out of church, including the requisite church ladies hat in a lovely shade of fuchsia. Thinner than Kate Moss. And with a very strange look in her eye, she yelled at me "Who you staring at bitch"?

I didn't look at her, said a silent prayer that she would just move on. Again, she comes up to me, says a few words which I cannot repeat and spits at me.

I've never seen anyone spit on another human being, other than the now famous VH1 New York/Pumpkin spit episode. I thought it was something done in movies and soap operas, like slapping someone's face, or spilling a drink on someone at a bar.

I don't know what to say, I don't want to look up. The manager comes by. Again, she yells and curses out the manager. A stock clerk who knows this lady, comes over to her, and walks her away, her cursing out a group of people very loudly.

The manager hands me a tissue. Do you want to press charges? The police are on their way. Several other store patrons are pressing charges. I shake my head, no, and hand him my salad. I don't want it now. I don't want any of my groceries. I just want to go home and take a shower. I feel dirty.

"What will happen to her", I finally ask. He replies the cops will take her to the local ER. The ER will evaluate her- make sure she's not drunk or high. He thinks she is on something but doesn't know. "She's a regular", he states. "I've never seen her like this".

On the way out the the door, I see from the corner of my eye, a police car with the woman sitting in the back. I  can hear her cursing as I walk by, despite the windows being up.

Drunk or high. I hope for her case that is all it is. I'm afraid it might be worse- something wrong with her soul. Her eyes scared me when I took my brief glimpse in them. It was like her soul was missing. I've only seen that once before in my life.

I haven't slept since this encounter. It's not due to the heat- it's due to what I am afraid is happening to this woman. I'm hoping she was drunk or high, and released after 12 hours. I'm afraid she was taken to the ER, and is now in a mental hospital. I picture her sitting in a chair, doped up the gills on a drug cocktail like Thorazine,so she's restrained and not spitting. Staring catatonic at a TV screen. Lost in a universe of her own making, imprisoned in her mind.

I know what it's like to be cranky and miserable in this heat. It brings out the worst in me. Add to the mix, hot flashes, and I am beyond cranky. But not at a point where I will spit. Never there. How do I know this woman wasn't just over tired with the heat, hungry and feeling miserable. This might have lead her to a break where one brief moment she made some bad judgements and felt at the end of the rope? Couldn't they just give her a nice cold drink and calm her down.

I need to get dinner for tonight but it's too hot to eat. I'll have an iced tea and a pb and j sandwich. Perhaps tomorrow I will go to the store to get some fruit and since it's a small town, learn about what happened to this poor woman.

On the other hand, maybe I should go a few more miles down the road to the next closest grocery store. I'm afraid I don't want to know what really transpired.

See, how do I know that won't be me some day?

ETA: Big Thanks to Anthony at My Sick Mind for giving me the actual correct quote for the title. Anthony you rock!

Error Code

For some reason, some people, including me, have tried to access this blog today and are receiving an error code from Blogger.

I've notified Blogger and let them know. If this happens to you, keep hitting refresh button until the blog comes up on line. It should take two or three hits.

I am sorry for any problems this may have caused.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lazy, Hazy, Days of Summer

Confusion. Sometimes my brain is so confused I don't know if I am coming or going. So what else is new?

I've been tired. Tireder than anything. You know you are tired when you are sleeping more hours a day than a cat. It's not the sleep that comes from depression or boredom it's the kind that comes from being downright tired, worn out, feeling sick but you don't know why everything is hurting. You lie down on the bed and you can feel your insides moving around, you feel them working. There are sharp pains in the kidneys, and the female parts. I've been waking up in the middle of the night with flashes and the only way to feel cool again is to take an ice cold bath and dream I am in Antarctica.

I can't eat, which is not a bad thing. I cannot see well enough to read, so I listen to books on tape. I just stumble out of bed, like after a long ago two day drunk, with wobbly legs and make my way to the toilet. Then it's feed the kitty, water the kitty, change her box, back to bed. Maybe update Facebook or post a lone Tweet, so people know I am alive. Then back to bed. To sleep, perchance to dream. But dreams don't come- or if they do, and I am a very vivid dreamer, - I simply don't recall them.

It's a numbness. My hour of lead, so to speak.

I've been told to see a doctor. I'm scared to. Scared there may be something really truly wrong. Like with my kidneys again, or my white blood count. I know my bladder isn't working at the moment, it's either feast or famine with it.

All you can do is persevere, like Dilsey.

I see my psychiatrist for the last time tomorrow. She is leaving her practice. I have to find a new one. I still have weekly meetings with my state worker, who I think, is nice but I keep her on a short leash. (More about that later). Things with the family are status quo. They don't really ever change. It's like a weird dance where you want to change partners, but you can't. To make matters worse, the band keeps playing the same song. It's worse than Groundhog's Day.

The cat now has hyperthyroid and is on a special diet. She is doing better. I couldn't write about that because she was on pills and doing terribly, and I thought for a few horrible days I would loose her. She is doing much better now, though she's very mad at me she can't have a bit of chicken or some other yummy morsel with her dinner.

When I started this blog four and a half years ago, I never thought I would go a month without blogging. I needed the break. I needed the time off. When I blog, I read psychiatric news stories for hours a day and read all I can to keep my education current. It was getting too much, which I think had a lot to do with my tiredness. My body was tired, my soul is tired.

It still is, but I miss my readers, I miss the process of writing. This is the best therapy I know of- and it doesn't cost anything more than an Internet connection. It calms me down, makes me feel whole. Not many things in life can do that, that aren't illegal, immoral or fattening.

It's no longer a matter of surviving for me. It's a matter of persevering. One step beyond survival.


For your enjoyment, the latest Holly photo. You can see she's getting a bit older.

Million Dollar Big Pharma (infographic)

Thank you for a friend on Facebook for sending this to me. I think the graphic says it all.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Dead computer among other things

Hi. I just want to assure anyone reading this- I am ok... the reason I have not blogged in two weeks is this. I have been taking care of a sick family member, and the cat, for some reason unknown, actually peed on my computer. She has never gone outside her litter box, and the fact she took my two year Mac as an object...

I should be back in a few days once I can rustle up a computer.

The upside is I  have time now for reading!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Love, Labels and Lies

"Hi. My name is Susan and I have been diagnosed as Bipolar 1, ultra rapid cycler. I've been on over 50 different med cocktails, seen over 30 psychiatrists, and had ECT. On a scale of one to ten, I am feeling about a five tonight. Flat. Sleepy. I'm happy to be here tonight."

So the check in continues in my old support group. Name, diagnosis. Meds you are currently on. How you are feeling, how the meds are making you feel. And so on. Pass the card to the next person. 

First order of business. Make sure no one feels suicidal, makes sure everyone feels safe to share. And then talk of what is going on with our lives. Work issues. Family issues. Medication issues. Sex. Anything or everything.

Sounds good in theory. But here's the rub. As the group went on for years, and people grew comfortable with each other, something happened. A p-doc change because of a new job and a new insurance company. All of a sudden, the gal sitting next to me who has been "Bipolar 2" is now "Bipolar NOS". What is this? The guy who has been labeled "Schizophrenic" is now "Bipolar 1". The college student who was previously labeled "ADD/ADHD" is now "Schizoaffective, and OCD".

What gives?

Two things actually. One thing, the easier one to grasp, is what has happened to me. A medication on your cocktail gave you some funky side effects. You never felt paranoid before, but now you do. Once that medication stops and is out of your body, the paranoia is over. The label remains. In my case, a pharmaceutical made me hear voices. I mentioned this to my doctor and saw my Axis I definition changed from "Bipolar 1" to "Bipolar 1 with Schizoaffective disorder". It went away after I was weaned, but to this day, the permanent side effect is I need my iPod with me 24/7 to concentrate, listening to talk radio or books on tape. If I don't have something in my ears with this type of white noise, my brain will not function.

My label changed. Not a big deal. It's been changed in the past. Almost every p-doc I have ever seen has changed it.

Here's the truth. You go to a new p-doc. They spend the first meeting or first two meetings asking you a deluge of questions. Based on the way you answer, and the knowledge of the p-doc they give you a label based on your questions.

The first time I was evaluated my p-doc had the DSM III. I was evaluated by an overworked medical student following a suicide attempt in the ER department, right before I was sent inpatient. That label was "Depressed". I was also labeled "Suicidal" and spent two weeks on a 1-1 suicide watch, eventually graduating to a 1-15 and then finally joining the rest of the hospital. When I was deemed well enough to get off that 1-15 and join the rest of the hospital patients, I got a new p-doc. He spent close to three hours with me and gave me a new diagnosis. "Manic Depressive". I stayed with this doctor for six years. By the time I left him because of a new job and insurance, the DSM III-R had come out and my new diagnosis was "Bipolar". He assured me it was the same thing. I understood. I had many psych courses in college, both undergraduate and graduate. I remember Schizophrenia was called "Dementia Praecox" at one time.

That's all well and good, but my old support group was really hung up with labels. One girl came in hysterical one night that she was no longer straight OCD, she was now diagnosed as a Borderline on top of it. As soon as she said it, I saw her friends, who previously liked her, now distanced themselves from her. Indeed, I know a therapist in real life who refuses to see anyone with that label. EVER.

Here's what I think about labels. Unless you are shopping for consumer goods, labels don't matter. A label is something a doctor throws on you, whether it's psychiatric or other so he has a number to submit to the insurance company to get money from your visit. It shouldn't define you.

Here's my labels. Susan. SWF. Forty something. Educated. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Very zaftig. Short,( five feet tall). Flat feet.

Diagnosis- lost my way in the maze of life following a bad relationship, and currently unemployed, I feel lost, adrift. I am searching for something to give my life meaning.

Yes, I am different than most people. I have a creative brain, not a scientific one. I overthink things. I feel things differently because of the creativity. Yet, I am no different than anyone else. Yes, right now I am sorely depressed. Melancholy. What ever you want to call it. I've lost my way.

Those are my labels. I think they help me define me much better than the labels my p-doc has given to me over the years. Bipolar 1, Manic Depressive, Schizoaffective, Schizophrenia. I don't think of them and I don't let them get me upset .Because I won't let the illness define me. I let me define me.

That's the sad part about my former support group. Though it means well, people never got passed the labels, and they let them identify them as people. They shouldn't. Let the doctor and the insurance company sweat them. You are a vibrant, wonderful, unique person. Your label is your name. But owning that, is the first step to achieving wellness.

And that is what everyone wants at the end of the day. To be well again. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Depression-taking hostages

Holly on the fridge
They say depression can leak out to family members, much like the way it's noticed that female college roomates often synchronize periods.

It makes total sense, if you are around someone who is sad and depressed you try to cheer them up. You do everything you can in your bag of tricks. When nothing works, and your loved one/friend/family member is the same or worse, it wears you down.

Next thing you know you are falling into sadness/depression as well.

It's like a cold. Sneeze on me, and I get the sniffles too.

During the last bought I went through, I noticed something strange. My beloved cat, Holly, stopped eating. I would make myself get out of bed every morning, feed her, change her water bowl, clean her litter box. We would spend days together lying in bed, she being cuddled up against my tummy or my leg and I can hear her purr.

She never stopped purring. But on day two of not eating, I knew something was wrong. Holly is like the infamous Garfield- I have never known her not to pass up a meal. Especially if I can coax her to eat a can of Fancy Feast tuna or other fish flavor.

She wouldn't eat. She continued to drink, but wouldn't eat. And I in my malaise, didn't notice it as much as I should have til about day five. I went to pick her up and she felt lighter. I continued to coax her to eat, a bite here, a bit there. In my sadness, I thought she was OK.

Then came the meows and howls at 3 am. It was the worst case of caterwauling I've ever heard, short of a female cat in heat. I would pick her up, cuddle her, hold her, sing to her. The noise stopped but I noticed she was spending more and more time in bed with me, asleep, and less time doing the cat things that made up her daily routine.

To make a long story short, I finally took her to the vet. After some lengthy tests, it was determined that Holly has a hyperthyroid, and will have to be pilled for the rest of her life.

I felt like I had just been kicked in my stomach, and had the air knocked out of me. Did I cause her to get sick?

I know I didn't but I feel like I am responsible. If only I hadn't suffered from melancholy, I wouldn't have a sick kitty.

For those who have had the fortune to have an animal in their lives, these miracles on paws really creep into your heart. They become a member of your family. You love them more than some of your family members. They are your best friend. When they are feeling under the weather, you ache because you can't talk to them and ask them what is going on.

I've seen countless studies how owning a dog or a cat removes stress, creates happiness. Watching a tail thump is pure happiness. Having someone to come home to, especially if you live by yourself, is a wonderful thing. You don't feel lonely. And so on.

I know that pets sometimes take on their owners personalities. By this last depression, I created a depressed cat. I didn't mean to. I had to work extra hard to get out of that dark place, if not for myself, for the cat. I owed her that much when I adopted her and promised her a good life.

Wouldn't you do that for your best friend?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Occupy the APA- May 5, 2012

Occupy APA by Amy Smith

On Saturday, May 5, 2012, as thousands of psychiatrists congregate in Philadelphia for the American Psychiatric Association (APA) Annual Meeting, individuals with psychiatric labels and other supporters will converge in a global campaign to oppose the APA's proposed new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), scheduled for publication in May 2013. Occupy the APA will include distinguished speakers from 10 a.m. to noon at Friends Center (1515 Cherry Street, Philadelphia). A march at 1 p.m. from Friends Center will lead to the Pennsylvania Convention Center (12th and Arch Streets), where the group will protest beginning at 1:30 while the APA meets inside.
"This peaceful protest exposes the fact that the DSM-5 pushes the mental health industry to medicalize problems that aren't medical, inevitably leading to over-prescription of psychiatric drugs - including for people experiencing natural human emotions, such as grief and shyness," said David Oaks, founder and director of MindFreedom International (MFI), which has worked for 26 years as an independent voice of survivors of psychiatric human rights violations. "We call for better ways to help individuals in extreme emotional distress."
Other speakers criticizing the revised manual, considered the psychiatric industry's bible, include Brent Robbins, Ph.D., Secretary of the Society for Humanistic Psychology, which has gathered more than 8,000 signatures from mental health professionals calling for "developing an alternative approach" to the DSM.
Jim Gottstein, Esq., founder and president of the Alaska-based Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights), will cross the country to speak. "The public mental health system is creating a huge class of chronic mental patients through forcing them to take ineffective yet extremely harmful drugs. As the APA gets ready to do even more harm with its proposed expansion of what constitutes mental illness, I want to be there in person to participate in the protest."

Occupy the APA will begin at 10 a.m. at Friends Center (1515 Cherry Street, Philadelphia), where the speakers will also include Dr. Paula Caplan, a psychologist, playwright and activist from California; Dr. Al Galves, director of the International Society for Ethical Psychology & Psychiatry (ISEPP); Joseph Rogers, chief advocacy officer of the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Pennsylvania (MHASP); and Dr. Stefan P. Kruszewski, a whistleblower who was fired by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare after he reported the abuse and deaths of Pennsylvania children as a result of systemic physical and psychiatric malfeasance. His subsequent federal lawsuit was successfully settled in 2007.

The rally will be followed by a march to the Pennsylvania Convention Center at 12th and Arch Streets, where participants will hold a protest at 1:30 p.m.
"We will promote humane alternatives to the traditional mental health system, such as peer support, which evidence proves is effective in helping individuals recover from severe emotional distress," Oaks said. "Our protest is about choice, and everyone is welcome."
Contact: David Oaks, MFI, 541-345-9106,
SOURCE Mind Freedom International

Monday, April 30, 2012

Fear and loathing

I've been remiss in blogging for a bit. This bothers me, concerns me. It's not like me.

I can say things have gotten hectic in the Casa de Susan, but that's not entirely true. The truth - the whole truth and nothing but the truth- I'm not only too depressed to write-I am afraid to write.

I've been writing in my private journal, a nice leather bound book I've had for several years. But to write here- on line where the entire world can see- this scares me.

Here's the back story. Back in January I was assigned another social worker from the state. The old one, the one I really liked isn't working there anymore.  At about the same time I received a knock on my door, and two of my town's finest came by to make sure I was ok. and did I need to be escorted to the hospital?

I asked them what they were doing here and they replied words to the effect someone saw something I posted on line and contacted them.  Ok. I have a FB account, a Twitter feed. On FB i have it set so no one can see what I write. Twitter- I don't hardly use that account. So that leaves this blog, or Facebook. (Susan's note- I found in March who it was that called the police- it was neither from this blog or FB/Twitter).

I'm scared to write. I know about involuntary hospitalizations, I've never experienced one. Every time I've been hospitalized it's voluntary.

I met my new social worker a few days later, at the local Starbucks. I scrounged around the car and the sofa and found enough change to buy a plain cup of coffee, (1.85 with tax) and tip for the Barrista ( 50 cents). I've been a Barrista at my last bookstore job. Everyone is cross trained to run and make coffee when they get in the weeds if you aren't on the register. The tips are really nice but you pool them so it's not a lot of money.

She's a young woman, straight out of Graduate school with a MSW. She's thin, dark and exotic looking too me. Gorgeous thick black hair, and black eyes. An accent that does not sound like a NJ/NY accent. I smile. She sits down with me and starts to talk.

From here it goes downhill. I understand where she's coming from. She's brand spanking new, having been at the job for a fortnight. She's totally playing by the book. I've been there, with every job I had. It's only after you've been there long enough to get tenure, or pass your 3 month eval, can you relax and smile. I got that.

But she's twisting my words, trying to psychoanalyze everything. I'm not playing, not baiting her. I try to correct her, to tell her my education is as good if not better than hers. I've had the psych classes she has. I KNOW what she is trying to do. What she wants me to say. And she's not listening. She's already prejudiced towards me and refuses to listen.

I'm in trouble. Deep deep trouble. She asks me how old I was when I was first diagnosed. "23" I tell her without hesitation. I tell her the first doctor used the DSM III, the second doctor a week later had the DSM III R. How my diagnosis changed a few years later with the DSM IV, and why I think labels are ridiculous. How I've seen over 30 docs in my lifetime, I have all the Axis diagnoses in my head.

She mentions meds. I tell her I am not on meds, I have not been on any psych medication since November 2010 when my kidneys failed. She thinks I should be on them. I tell her I love my kidneys and don't want any drugs that can cause them to fail. I tell her my brain is starting to work again. I don't want to be on any psychiatric drugs.

Then why are you depressed?

I want to laugh. If I was to put myself on the couch, my depression is situational. It's hormonal. You deal with perimenopause and hot flashes and see how you feel! You see how you feel as your reproductive life is starting to end, how you are grieving for it. Making final closure how you will never feel life inside you for nine months. Getting your period twice in one month with such bad cramps you can't stand up, and then waiting ten weeks before it comes again, and the only good thing about it is you aren't sexually active anymore. All your weight goes to your tummy and your breasts are sagging and you look like the Venus of Willendorf. Like that will get you a boyfriend.

How would you like if you are getting mail and invites to your college/university reunion and you are afraid to go because everyone who knew you admired you? When I was an undergraduate I was on the school newspaper staff, editor of the literary magazine for two years, on the board of the SGA and SFB, worked in the writing lab, and was honored in my Junior and Senior years as an outstanding student, getting my photo in the local paper with the Governor. My weight was never more than 105 pounds, I was really really cute.

Look at me now. We all get old. We all are going to age, but some people do it better than other people, and I am not talking about those rich enough to get extra help from a plastic surgeon. I'm not aging well, I don't think. I'm scared of aging. My parents are aging and it's like they are no longer my mom and dad; they have evolved to my grandparents. They don't take care of me, I have to take care of them. I know it's the circle of life, but it feels strange knowing your mom isn't going to make things better, you have to help her be better.

I don't have anyone to make me better. Yes, I have the cat, but it's not the same. I have to depend solely on me. It gets lonely. In the last few years I have been collecting stuffed animals, I place them in bed with me like I did when I was four. I hold them as I go to sleep, it helps. But it's not another human being to hold. It's empty. It sucks.

I want to be able to work. I want to be well enough so I can l be around people for more than an hour or two at a time without being physically ill. I want to go back to the girl I was in my early twenties where I would grab life with both hands, never let it go. I miss that girl. I don't like the woman she became.

Oh hell. I'm stuck in a prison of my mind, or a prison with my body. I don't know what is worse. After writing this and letting it sit for a few weeks, I am pressing the "publish" button. I think a physical prison of my body can't be worse than a prison of my mind. I just want to get out of prison one way or another.

Present and accounted for

Has it been really almost two months since I blogged last? I'm so sorry. It was not my intention. Here's the scoop. After I posted my last piece, I came down with a very bad strep throat. I usually get one strep throat every winter, so it's not a big deal. This one was no different. I saw the doctor, got a dose of antibiotics, and just basically slept for a week straight, having the alarm clock wake me when it was time to take another dose. With every dose, I checked on the cat, fed, watered and changed her box. Then would go back to sleep.

 A week later, my antibiotics had expired and I was still the same. Back to the doctor. Some more tests, and more antibiotics. Same week as before. The antibiotics and the strep made me sleep. And when the antibiotics were finished, my throat was still the same. One more time to the doctor. One more dose of antibiotics, the doctor wondering why my body was so resistant to the medicine. One more week of extreme sleep. When the medicine had run it's course, I finally started to feel a bit better. A bit better.

By this time, it was April. Something happened. I physically started feeling better- then an issue with the family I cannot disclose at the moment, but will in future. I got slammed with a bout of depression that took me straight back to bed. I couldn't leave the bed, not even for the smallest things. I wasn't suicidal, just immobile. I had to make myself move. You can't stay in bed. That took about a week. Then a day or two to figure out what I was going to say on my blog. How is this. While you may love blogging/writing, it must be disciplined. If you don't do it one day, then the next day it's easier not to do it and next thing you know it's been almost two months since your last piece. Well, that is where I am. Brainstorming and jotting down ideas for tomorrow's entry, and the day after that.....
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