Tag Archives: humor

Back to School, Therapy, and Dueling Shrinks

I’ve been in therapy many years, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s this: the best way to determine your sanity is by how well you tolerate your doctors.  I saw the Dallas doctors, and insisted repeatedly and to several people – including the nurses, the nurse practitioner, and finally the psychiatrist – about wanting to have a definite time for treatment to end.  By the way, you get to talk to the psychiatrist on the hospital bed while they are preparing to hook you up to a machine – not distracting at all!  Don’t worry, I was prepared to leap off the table and do karate-like chops had they decided to go ahead and treat me.  I might have ended up in the looney bin, but their looney bin is kinda like a hotel as compared to the one in my hometown where people are stacked like cord wood- I saw pictures.  Also my friend is a lawyer. So you know, I was prepared.

How could it possibly be awkward for you to talk to me this way?

As expected, he got “oh-no-doctor-frowny-face” and rambled on about how studies show something- something.  I said I want to know how many more treatments cause I’m ready to stop.  Again.  So he finally came around with spacing out two more treatments.  One two weeks away, and the next another couple weeks.  Well, he said two to three which to me means TWO.  So I got knocked out, and they did whatever they do while I’m asleep – supposedly the treatment but you know they could be animating me like in that movie Weekend at Bernie’s, I don’t know.  Then we did the long, long drive home but this time I was more sleepy than usual, so I don’t remember as much.

After getting home, life moved on.  My Things started school again – weeeee!  Thing Two is in 8th grade this year – one more year of dreaded junior high – and Thing One is . … . a junior in high school.  Because I am kinda old.  I was helping them fill out paperwork and remembering when I first filled out paperwork for Thing One at the pediatrician’s office.  Under “Mother’s Name” I wrote my mom’s name.  Now she’s 17 years old, and next year she can vote.  Thank God!  She and Thing Two should have been voting in elementary school.  I believe in something called “mental age voting” which means that younger people who use their brains can vote, but older people who don’t use brains can’t.  As I signed, Thing Two told me her teacher said most of us parents could be signing up for almost anything because we don’t look at what we’re signing.  I protest – had that been a PTA form, you can bet I would have avoided it.

That’s a watermark there, but I like to think of it as a black hole.

Later that day, I went to see my local shrink.  He wanted to know about my 10 to 12 treatments.  Funny.  When I told him it was slightly more than that, I got “confused-face”.  Lovely.  I explained how I got better, but then I didn’t, but then I DID,  but then kinda not and so many treatments later here I was.  Then I started to get rather angry.  Just how many treatments was I supposed to have?  This is rather important stuff here when you’re dealing with a human’s brain.  I happen to have one of the few remaining working ones, so I’d rather not change that, thanks.  This is why we have to be in charge of our own health care, cause you can bet they are not going to have a clue.  Their heads are filled with stuff they learned in school, which does not include interacting with people.  People like patients, or their own medical freaking colleagues, for instance.  I guess I should have checked back, but when during all the travel and such?  Got me!

My husband was there to hold me down.

On the plus side, everyone else thinks I am better.  And I am, I guess, now that I have time to sit and think a little.  It’s taking a bit to get back in the grove of things, but thank God for Google, which will look up anything I need.  Like when I couldn’t remember where the italics were for just a second only to find them again on the toolbar above the text box in WordPress.  I’m sure if I had actual Microsoft Word on here (my former computer guy used to get me bootleg Microsoft Word before he went to jail shhhh) I would know where that toolbar is as well.  I also finally figured out how to get into a program where I can talk to a counselor over the computer!  I think!

I should warn her there’s an article that says some patients were flashing doctors.  Because of course they were.

I haven’t made it back to work yet.  After this summer of FUN, not sure I’m ready for that yet.

 

~Alice

 

 

 

Maintenance

I think they’re trying to tell us something.

In case anyone was wondering why I haven’t been here in a month (I know I have), here’s an update.  Still having ECT.  Right now they say I am in maintenance treatments which is much like actual maintenance on highways and such- uncomfortable and lasts forever.  I have been at this since June 5th or in my estimate, the beginning of time.

Earlier I promised to give a review of this controversial mental health treatment.  Turns out it’s not really as cut and dry as medications.  With those you can say “Well I took the Zufrika but it made me gain 15 pounds in my elbows and start watching Fox News so I stopped.” or “Scaramouchi gave me diarrhea but really got rid of my depression and I hope they get it back in stock soon.”  It’s not either definitely successful or definitely a waste.  I might be able to make a better determination after it finally ends, but it’s almost mid-August, and they haven’t given me a hint about when this stops for good.

When you start treatments, you generally do three a week, then you start spacing out once you feel better.  I did feel better, enough that going back to work sounded good, but then as I mentioned I went back down again so I tried part-time, and then I tried no time.  I have been on no time for a while, and though this has been good for my relaxation it hasn’t been so hot on my pocketbook.  And it’s hard to tell just how much better you’ve gotten when you are still frequently driving six hours to a big city to spend the night, get shocked, and travel another six hours home again.  The people at the hospital are nice, but that is wearing thin.

I should also note it’s not just depression but anxiety chumming around with me.  And since the treatment meant stopping a medicine for that, I am Squirrel as often as Sad Pony.  Vroooooom.  Beep beep.  Oh, if only I could feel better as easily as little boys, or our President, with a big red truck.

Twice I have felt much, much better.  But each time I’ve gone back to – not so great.  While yes I am better than I was before any treatments, I can’t really tell you exactly how I’m feeling now, because therapy requires way too much naval gazing.  How are you now?  How about now?  Or now?  Or now – compared to yesterday?  Or last week?  Or before you started?  Here, fill out this sheet of questions about whether you are definitely sad, or kind of sad, or slightly less sad than that, or happy!  What do you mean you’re confused?

I’m starting to wonder if I have to start lying on the “happy sheet” in order to make them stop.  Tapering down on treatments is the best way to go – but this taper is not just slow it’s a crawl.  I went from three times a week, to two times a week, to once a week.  We might go back two weeks after my treatment tomorrow.  And then – I don’t know.  Three weeks apart?  A month? How about a never?  My brain may not be scrambled (completely – you have to remember the condition before) but I’m tired.  Each treatment, besides being away from my Things and requiring a trip to Dallas, requires fasting the night before, having anesthesia, getting disgusting goop stuck in my hair, and then the fun waking up where I stumble around and hope someone catches me.  It gets old.

I have many ideas for posts that I would like to write.  I’ve not been good about sitting down to do it.  Or at doing much else useful.  It has been nice to just breathe.  But I don’t quite know what’s next.  I do want to get back to it, though, because a lot is happening right now!  Maybe I will finish my treatment before North Korea blows up Guam!  Or us!  I definitely want to be there should justice actually happen and our dear presidente get taken to his next vacation home behind bars.

If I figure anything out, I’ll let you know!  Probably.  If you read this, feel free to leave me links to anything you wrote so I can have something to read.  It’s good to get out of my head.

~Alice

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Come baaaaaaaaaack!

I was reading this article about President Obama taking a selfie with an Alaskan woman and her baby.  It was super weird, see, cause he held this baby, took the picture, and never once told either her mother or her that they were too fat or had bad plastic surgery jobs.  And all I could think was of how sweet it was and how jealous I was of that baby.

That might have come out wrong.  Anyway, while I was reading my husband walked by and said, “Reading about Obama?”  I said yes and that I was sad that some people called him a “monkey” online.  He said, “I know you and the girls make fun of Trump.  But he should be given respect as the president.”  This surprised me, as he rarely talks about politics.  I said, “I wouldn’t be racist about him.”  Which is true – that is one thing I wouldn’t do.  Even orange people should have rights.

Now my husband is a good man.  If I’d known he was going to end up voting Republican, I highly doubt we’d have gotten past the second date.  He said he wasn’t into politics when I asked him about his.  My translation: I can convert him.  Young single people – don’t ever think this.  He votes Republican primarily because of gun rights.  He was raised in the country, where he was taught to respect guns and use them properly.  So he thinks other people do.  I don’t try to argue about this with him anymore.  In fact, we usually do not discuss politics with each other.  This is a good thing because we balance each others’ strengths quite well.  With politics he doesn’t care and I care way too much.  But his statement got me thinking.

Think like the POTUS!

Do we need to have respect for the president because of his office alone?  When Obama was president, I can remember being deeply bothered that people said such horrible things about him.  My Thing One was just eight when he was elected the first time, and it bothered her that people did not show respect for the president since she was taught to respect her elders.  I felt the same way.  Even if they didn’t care for his positions on issues, there was no reason to be so nasty about him as a person.  Then came Trump.

I tried to have basic respect for him at first, honestly I did.  But it wasn’t long, definitely by the time he somehow, inexplicably, became the Republican nominee for POTUS that I lost even a semblance of respect.  Was I biased about Obama?  Well, yes, of course I was.  I am a very passionate Democrat.  I stand with the views of that party.  But that wasn’t the only reason I liked Obama.  He also, in my opinion, earned respect.  He wasn’t perfect, no one is, but he made an effort.  You looked at him and you saw a decent human being.  At least I did.  I never could understand why some people had so much hatred for him.  The Democrat before him, Clinton, was a successful president, even if he had issues with keeping a basic item of clothing on around interns.  Obama, as far as anyone knows, had no issues with this.  I think it was the whole “Michelle was awesome and he was a good guy” bit.  But girl had muscle and could probably bench press him, so ultimately it was in his best interest.

The episode where Michelle put Elmo in a headlock was the best one EVER.

Moving onto Donald Trump.  What can I say?  I have not cared for the last few Republican presidents, especially George W. Bush, for very good reasons.  Yes, I have bias toward my party of choice.  I believe the government should take care of ALL people, not just the wealthy.  Everyone should have healthcare.  Everyone should be able to make choices about their own lives.  And so on.  Still, I would never have advocated for wild hyenas to chase after either Bush, or Reagan, or any of the other Republicans before them.  But Trump?  Oh, yes, yes I would.

I don’t dislike him.  I loathe him.  And I have reasons, so many reasons, all of which can be backed up with written, audio, or video proof.  Almost every time he opens his mouth, something hateful, offensive, sexist, racist, or just idiotic comes out. Or any time he types on a keyboard, which he does way too often for any office holder.  We need a new law barring people holding office from Twitter.  Unless you are a under 18 years old you really do not need to be spending that much time on a form of social media that spits out idiocy 140 characters at a time.  Good grief, my children do not spend that much time on Twitter.  They are smarter and have more important things to do with their time.

Even I write more intelligent tweets.

I do expect my kids to show basic respect for authority, even if they don’t like them.  But this is unlike anything I have ever experienced when it comes to authority.  George W. Bush was not the brightest light on the porch, but he did know how to listen to his advisors.  Trump is so arrogant he won’t even listen to his own staff.  And he needs to, because he knows nothing about his job.  You should understand your job and if you don’t, you darn sure better lean on someone who does get it.  This is true at a KFC, and it is certainly true in the highest office in the U.S.A.  Have your own views on the issues, views I detest, but at least do some basic things like:

A: Live in the White House – full time – with your wife.  Or

B: Prepare for meetings with presidents of other countries, especially if those presidents are extremely dangerous. Or

C: If you can’t say something nice, shut up.

Crazy ideas, I know, but come on!  It’s not just me, some crazy “libtard” as Internet Trump supporters like to say.  Other world leaders dislike him too.  Watch the Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel roll her eyes and imagine getting to spend the day sandwiched between Putin and Trump.

Or check out the former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox.

He is now one of my new heroes.

Unlike my president.  Yes, though I hate it, he is the president, but he is a lousy president and a pretty lousy human being.  He could change, but I highly doubt he will.  As Vicente says, he would be much happier back in his old life as jerk CEO.  There’s no pressure there, and best of all, no tempting buttons to push.  There was a time, back when he was first elected, when I thought people were going overboard with worry.  Surely he wasn’t going to be that bad.

I was wrong.  So wrong.  There are scary things happening out there.  Other countries with weapons that could destroy what is left of the promise of this great nation.  The United States and her people deserve more than this.  The world, of which the United States is one of the wealthiest, most influential nations, deserves more than this.

It deserves respect.

~Alice

Happy Birthday, Amuurica

Today is the day Americans, or North Americans anyway, celebrate independence from England.  I’ve said this before, but I don’t know if there’s ever been a year to my recollection when it’s been more true.  England has to be celebrating independence from us.

There goes the country . . .

Still, all I had to do was look at a newspaper yesterday to see that we still have reasons to celebrate, though we’ve done our best to bury them lately.  For one thing, we aren’t embroiled in a civil war.  No army has beaten down our houses, murdered us, and forced our children to fight.  That is real and happening in the Sudan right now.  I’m not just talking about teenagers here, but little children.

But there is no time for the Sudan – Trump tweeted again!  And it was a stinker, whew.  The latest was a video of him superimposed over a wrestler.  Because we all know he’s in shape.  And he’s beating the crap out of another wrestler, labeled CNN (fake news!)  Goody!  Nothing like literally showing violence toward the news media just days before we celebrate the fact that we have free press in this country.  We also have democratic elections with the exception of the Russian hacking that is becoming more apparent by the day, and the gerrymandering that politicians, especially Republican ones, use to their advantage.

Here’s a clip not just of the juvenile tweet (I’m so happy he has this kind of time on his hands to make videos like this) but also of the reaction of one of his advisors.  Yes, he applies suction fast enough, but as the video points out, he can’t hide his immediate reaction which is priceless.  Just imagine what the other countries think of us now!  By the way guys, I am not with him!

Our mighty president has finally gone far enough that even the Republicans, who up till now have been pretty spineless about disciplining him, have spoken up.  Trumpy again insulted a woman based on appearance, saying Mika Brzezinski, co-host of Morning Joe, was bleeding from plastic surgery.  She hasn’t had plastic surgery, but even if she had, who the hell says that?  I mean, besides someone used to bullying everyone around him to get his way?  Certainly not a president.  Several high ranking government officials from both parties have said essentially “For God’s sake, you’re killing us here, please grow up.”

The worst thing is that with Trump being such an imbecile, people are distracted from some very serious issues today, including healthcare.  Obama helped put the idea that healthcare is a RIGHT into peoples’ heads, as it should be.  Those people murdered in the Sudan?  That was during war.  Throwing people off of health insurance is effectively murder as well.  Poor children can die without medical care.  They can lose their parents or grandparents young.  And everyone needs health insurance because you never know when you could get hit with something out of the blue.  Cancer, Heart Disease, and Mental Illness, all of which require costly treatment, don’t send you warning letters years ahead of time.  And even if you are always healthy, you still need to pay into health insurance because that is how they pay for the truly sick people.  Just like how you pay into Social Security because elderly people who raised you need care now.  You might have heard it before – it’s called being a Christian, or simply a decent human being.

Food and medical care? But that baby’s poor! Get a job, Jesus!

My title isn’t an accidental typo.  I’m spelling phonetically, like the man in the commercial for red, white and blue pancakes who claims in a dramatic slur that they taste like “Amuuurica.” Credits to the nostalgia critic for finding this gem.  I am crying tears of patriotism.

I’m not sure what America tastes like, but these days it might have a slightly bitter taste.  Best drown it down with some beer.  The right kind of beer of course.

“Nothing says ‘America’ like an ice-cold can of mass-produced beer.” – USA Today

Drink while you try to figure out what the heck Google means with their 4th of July salute.

Are the animals trying to declare their independence from us too, or what?  Either way, have a good holiday even if you don’t celebrate.  My house celebrated Canada Day because it sounds nice up there, except for the cold.  We could cuddle with your Prime Minister.  Oh, wait, that’s not very patriotic . . . Happy 4th!

~Alice

 

 

Which road?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~Robert Frost

When you’re out of commission as long as I’ve been, things tend to pile up.  All those little things you didn’t feel like doing before are now in front of you.  This is true for me even though I have had people help me so much.  For instance, the church went in to help fix our air conditioner. While they were there, they figured, holy crap these people can’t find their floor – or their cabinets – or likely their sanity. So they cleaned also.

If you know someone who is ill either mentally, physically, or both, and you’re wondering what to do – that’s it.  Clean.  If they are at all open to the idea, it is a huge help to them, and they likely aren’t going to ask for it because it’s embarrassing.  So that and cooking – both great ideas. They might even go to your church if you do it.

Anyway, in spite of this, I still find myself overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that I’ve gotten behind on.  Since we had so many clothes, enough to make a new carpet and then some, they bagged many of them up in leaf bags for us to sort through ourselves.  Which we will . . . eventually.  But right now, the idea of even starting this project makes me itch.

Itch like my head, because now was a perfect time to come up with the little buggers.  Sometimes I even wonder if I’m really better, but my husband assures me I am.  I want to go out again, I want to do things again, I smile again.  The problem is that there is so much left over from when I could do squat that I don’t even know where to begin.  I was told I could skip my Friday treatment.  So I did, and I went back on Thursday after getting home on Wednesday.  I can’t even drive yet, but I’m back at work.

Or I was, until Friday around 10 AM when I had to go home.  I just couldn’t figure out what to do with myself. Not like there weren’t things to do, but there were too many things both at work and at home that I was thinking about, and I had no idea how to prioritize them.  Of course I know now that the head itching, which was distracting itself, was not psychological for once.  So I can treat that.  But there isn’t a shampoo for prioritizing.

I just can’t figure out how so much got away from me.  I’ve been in treatment for 3.5 weeks, but even before the ECT, I wasn’t getting anything done because of the depression.  Its much easier to say “Yes I should do laundry, but that bed looks comfy” etc., etc.  So now I have so many decisions to make that at times I will skip an official meal because I would have to decide what I was going to eat.  Overwhelmation is taking its toll.

June is a big month.  My Things turned 13 and 17 – yes, you heard right.  I can believe 13 for Thing Two – she’s been thirteen for the last three years at least.  But 17 for Thing One?  You realize how old that makes me, right?  If you know me on Facebook, you already know – I turned 41 three days ago.  I can’t figure out how so much has happened.  Turns out that the world goes on even when you don’t.

In some ways, I needed this depression to understand how much things meant to me.  Things like, well, my things – my children and the other people who care for me.  I feel I’ve gotten much closer to several people through this, including my parents.  They love me more than I realized, and have even told me so.  I’ve seen how good so many people can be, and I’ve been inspired to be that way myself.

But where to begin?  I don’t know.  When you are driving to a big city 6 hours away on Sunday, then driving home Friday afternoon, only to repeat all of this again the following Sunday, your regular life takes a back seat.  Normal everyday things like getting housework done or even remembering to fill my pills regularly, take a back seat.  There just isn’t any time.  And I cannot begin to describe the homesickness.  A hotel away from it all sounds nice, but only for a certain amount of time.  You start to miss your own town, your own house, your own bed, your children, on certain weeks your husband, and your old routine.  And you want to smack the ceiling with a stick to shut up those people upstairs.

I haven’t been able to drive since beginning treatment.  While I was in Dallas, driving was scary anyway, and on weeks with my father you could forget going anywhere.  He’s 75 and much more nervous than he used to be on the road.  I’ve always been nervous, so there’s not a lot of change there.  Yet that meant more isolation on days I was with him.  I could go out with my husband at least, but that traffic was still unreal.  I don’t know how people live like that on a normal basis.  No wonder so many in Dallas are getting ECT.

Driving represents a certain amount of freedom for me, and I never realized how I took it, like so many things, for granted.  Or how much I used the word “thing” to describe everything. Sorry about that.  I don’t have great memory loss, but I do get flustered easily.  So here I am, discovering how much I’ve missed, and wanting for once to catch up, but getting confused easily and wanting to go hide under my covers at times.  Getting a few zaps doesn’t fix things right away.  Recovery takes more time, and as usual, I have no patience.  Life doesn’t have much patience for you either.  Get on the train or get off, it seems.

I don’t know if I’m ready for work, or even if this is the job I should stay with forever.  I like my coworkers, especially my immediate boss.  I get decent pay and really good insurance and retirement.  It involves History and English, which are two subjects I’m good at.  I’m proud of my job, and worked hard to get it.  My daughter will be in college in a couple of years, and it would be nice to be around there.  However, it doesn’t have an exact job description, which sometimes leaves you floundering around, wondering what you’re supposed to be doing exactly.  I feel guilty when I’m not working hard enough, which seems to be most of the time.  Not only that, I have a hard time concentrating on job tasks I often find boring when so many other tasks need doing elsewhere.  That work / life balance idea is rather laughable.  Yet I’m not sure what else to do.  If I quit, then I need another job, but what?  I’m not sure I could bring myself to decide.  I can’t even figure out what clothes to keep.

So keep in mind how I really do want to get it in gear, which means catching up on both my own blog and the blogs of others. This used to be a big part of my life, and I think it would help me to make it so again.  But I am struggling right now to get my life put back together, to figure out what is most important and what should be first.  I’m not sure how to do that.  Old Bob Frost said “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by.  And that has made all the difference.”

I like that poem, but I have a question.  Which road is less traveled by, and how do you figure that out?

 

ECT: Day One

I wrote down some notes in a notebook on my first morning of ECT, since I figured I would not remember it later.  Though I just completed my 11th day of ECT today, I’ll go back to my notes on the very first day.

4:45 A.M. June 5th

Notes: Hey Alice, you remember these?  You wrote them!  No, really.  Weirdly you have not had as many freakout meltdowns the last couple of days.  I predict spaz out by 8 AM, but who knows?  You probably don’t!  My gosh, you are twisted, Alice.

Scared?  Yeah but it’s been such a long journey.  Like Han Solo said in reply to notice of his “Execution at dawn.”  “Oh good – I hate long waits.”  Been trying to remember the song “Memory”.  From a show about cats.  I have this.  “Mem-ory!  La la la la la la la laaaaaa!”

Great start, Alice.

In writing notes for another post I got nervous.  Paying for a seizure?  This sounds like a colossally bad idea.  What if I get pudding brains later?  I am vain about me brain.

Forgot to write down where the procedure will be done for sure.  Good one!

5:65 er 5:16 now.  O.K. I am scared.  Also hungry.  No food till after.

But – scared.

Road to Dallas:

You might be wondering what Dallas is like.  The city is big, and full of traffic, and six hours from my home town.  They made an entire prime time soap about it!

The real Dallas is exactly like the show.  My shrink was J.R.

Just kidding.  The shrink was actually nice.  All of them were nice from the psychiatrists to the nurses to the guys that wheeled me out when the treatment was over.  They don’t want you to fall on your face when you wake up, so you get taken out by chair.  You will be fairly out of it, but you won’t forget your name or birthday or the awful stuff that happened to you in first grade, so nice try.  They will ask you who you are before they even put you under.  Heck they even ask each other what they’re doing first, just to make sure.  “What procedure is this?  Oh, yeah. Right lateral ECT.”

They do care if you keep your memory or not.  I know because I got mine tested over and over, which was difficult since my memory kind of sucked to begin with and now I was purposely shooting up my brain.  Each time I came for another treatment I got another test.  Remember these three random words while I go on talking about other stuff.  After a while you can try to guess them because it’s often something like a fruit or a piece of furniture or a kind of currency.  It won’t hurt to try any of these things if you’re clueless like I usually am.

When you go into the procedure room, they give you oxygen and put sleep juice and whatever else you can convince them to add into your I.V.  After you’re out, they put goopy gel (back to the 80s!) in your hair to attach the electrode thingys.  The goop itches like Hades and will hang around until you bother to wash it out.  But at least you aren’t biting on a chew toy.  At least not that I remember anyway.  Nor did I wet my pants.  These were concerns of mine.

The first time I woke up I was confused and waiting for them to start the treatment before I realized they’d already done it.  I didn’t feel a difference immediately.  It took a few weeks before I could look back and realize that I was feeling better.  Why was I feeling better?  I have no idea.  But I’m grateful both for the help and for the people who stood by me while I got it.  I found new appreciation for these people in my life.  I can’t promise ECT will help anyone else, but I would certainly encourage them to try it.  Just watch for cars and rattlesnakes if you’re in Dallas.

 

 

Why I Am Trying ECT

“What if you get all the way up there and there’s nothing?”
“What if there’s everything?”

– from the movie Tomorrowland

 

Earlier Merry at Knocked Over By a Feather wrote about a friend who is preparing for ECT treatments.  That friend is me.  You may have noticed, if you read my blog much, that I haven’t exactly been posting a lot lately.  I’m sure the lack of informational posts about Trump, boogers, imaginary ponies, etc., have left you in a lurch.  I hope to get back to that at some point, but right now things aren’t going so well.  This is nice speak for “There is no need for Hell; I’m here guys!”

The reason I asked Merry to write about it first was because I was afraid of the responses.  I’ve researched ECT, (electroconvulsive therapy or “shock therapy”), for nearly two months now, and most of what I find are horrifying stories.  Yet ECT is often successful at treating depression, or at least raising you to a point where you can treat your depression.  The minority write the scary stuff, and shout down the ones who have positive experiences.  I’m not saying people do not have bad experiences, but what one finds positive and another finds positive can be very different.  If you are so depressed you can’t function, side effects, even serious ones, can take a back seat to even the possibility of getting well.

I don’t like to talk that much about my illnesses.  Alice is supposed to be funny – to a select group of people anyway.  (Hi, friends!)  Some might say it’s because I use humor as a defense mechanism.   Humor at least makes the awful go down a little easier.  These illnesses are not something to joke about, though, especially not to the new psychiatrist who is in charge of the ECT program.  He seemed to think my joke about the butcher knife was not funny.  Killjoy.

That’s not funny, Alice.

I feel like I should offer you my history, because I did not wake up one day feeling sad and decide to go get my brain shocked.  It doesn’t work that way.  ECT is, in general, a last ditch effort when other treatments have failed.  We have come a long way in mental health treatment just within the last few decades.  Now, thankfully, we have antidepressants that do work for many people.  They might even work for Scientologists, though I fear their problems mostly stem from being jerks.

And that’s another issue.  It’s hard enough to juggle a chronic illness like Depression without dealing with other stress.  Most people have to work.  You’d be amazed at the number of people who have worked for years with the black dog dragging them down.  Don’t tell the cute college students, but work kind of sucks at least part of the time, even if you like your job and your coworkers.  I have been in my job as a library assistant at a university library for over seven years now.  If it were not for the people I work with, especially my direct boss, I would not still be working.  Like far too many people, I would be forced onto disability.  Depression is the second greatest reason for people taking disability now.  Only heart disease has more people.

Depression: We got second place!

Yet even with my decent working conditions, I am struggling to keep afloat.  I already take antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication.  These help me if all conditions are going well, but stress is always present, and it doesn’t take much for my cup to runneth over.  When you are depressed, everything becomes difficult.  Bit by bit I’ve watched as I’m able to do less and less.  Reading back on old blog entries, I can see my downward trajectory.  For a well person, a stress would be your car breaking down.  For a depressed person any of the following will do:

  • Getting out of bed
  • Putting on clothes
  • Doing laundry so you have clothes to put on
  • After that shower you haven’t taken
  • Brushing and flossing your teeth
  • Putting on makeup – sorry I made myself laugh there
  • Getting your hair cut – I am now Rapunzel
  • Taking your children to school in traffic
  • Walking into work.  And the day has just started.

I should probably look into that haircut.

People who are well have a hard time understanding this.  Depressed people don’t understand it either, because often there is a disconnect between what part of your brain knows you should be able to do, and what the other part is willing to let you do.  This disease does not exist in a vacuum – it exists in an ever winding circle involving illnesses both mental and physical.  IBS, Asthma, auto-immune diseases, chronic pain, and even the heart disease that is winning the disability race all wind round and round.  Did the depression cause the illness, or did the illness cause the depression, or both?  Where does it start and where does it end?

I’ve always dealt with respiratory illnesses due to being allergic to all of creation.  But in 2012, I came down with a serious case of pneumonia.  This wasn’t your walking, take a pill, back in a few days kind of pneumonia.  By the time doctors put their tiny heads together and figured it out a week after symptoms started – a chest x-ray!  What a wild idea!  – the pneumonia had spread over my entire right lung.  It was a miserable experience.  If you want to hear about it with cartoons and jokes, just look up “pneumonia”  in the search box.  Anyway, I missed over a month of work, and even after I returned it took a couple more months to fully recover.  I never recovered my sick or vacation leave at work.  From that point on, I was always running behind, making up time for being sick or going to appointments because I could never keep any leave.  I almost never have a week with no absence.  For the last five years I have wondered when they would fire me.  At times, I hoped they would, because I was just so tired.

Pneumonia.  Surprisingly not fun.

The depression came next.  I’d been fairly well for the last several years on the meds I was on.  Yet each major stress would cause a pill combination to fail.  It didn’t help that my shrink was a psychotic idiot.  I thought I had no other choice because I lived in a small city.  He gave me meds, then if they didn’t work, he yanked them and threw others at me.  Often there was no way to know what, if any, of my new meds were working and which were not.  All these medications have side effects.  One, Abilify, made me feel great for about a month before I was taken off of it for a 10 pound weight gain.  I would be put on it another time at a lower dose, only to be taken off it once more after a few months because I was climbing the walls.  I also developed a tendency to shop online which, along with gambling and other risk taking, is another possible fun side effect.

By the time I finally found another psychiatrist, I had been hospitalized three times.  I fully believe that people should go to the hospital if they are suicidal or even just so desperate they can no longer cope.  But after the first visit at my hospital, the other two were lousy experiences.  I have a couple of these stories on the blog as well.  However, the one good thing about the hospital was that you did not have to cope with the outside.  They gave you meals. They gave you pills.  You went to group.  The other people could be kind of scary, yet you still felt a belonging with them.  And while you wanted to leave, it was hard to return to the outside.

Psychiatric Hosptial Revolving Door

My new shrink is not perfect, but at least he looks me in the eye and seems to care.  I encourage everyone, if possible, to shop for a good shrink.  This guy is messing with your brain and body.  It’s good to trust him if at all possible.  No, most shrinks are not going to have long talks with you.  They prescribe medicine because they have big brains filled with knowledge that does not always include common sense.  Common sense is for counselors.  Don’t be afraid to try talk therapy if you can, because it can be very helpful.  Some people are able to get by with it alone.  Some use it and medication.  But for some, both of these stop helping after a while.  I found myself on a cycle of new pills, everything okay, new stress, pills fail, rinse repeat.  Finally my doctor suggested ECT.

I know I haven’t discussed much about the actual ECT, but I plan to in the next posts.  My history is important though, because all of this weighed into my decision to try this treatment.  It is my hope to detail the process of getting ECT (it is NOT easy) and then the actual ECT itself.  Since I am told I will lose memory, I figure I should write down what I can when I can.  My hope is to help other people who are faced with such a decision with information and not just fear mongering.  ECT could fail.  I could be worse off than before, but then again, I could be better.  My family deserves for me to try this.  I deserve to try this.  I don’t want to spend a life in misery, and I’m willing to try whatever it takes.

I will officially start ECT on June 5th.

So here goes.  Geronimo.

 

~Alice

United Airlines Kills the Easter Bunny

Hide yo kids! Hide yo bunnies!  United is at it again.  I mean first they kicked tween girls off a plane for wearing inappropriate leggings (what else do these girls wear?), then they bashed the head of that kindly old doctor and dragged him off the plane, but now they have gone too far.  They killed a giant bunny.  A giant bunny bred by a former playboy bunny, who had surgery to look like Jessica Rabbit.

Here comes PETER FREAKING COTTONTAIL.

No, I’m not making any of this up.  This has to be the best news day of all time.

Er, um, except for the bunny.  RIP Simon.

When they say “giant bunny” they aren’t kidding here.  This rabbit weighed 33 pounds and was 3 feet long.  News sources say “That was one big freaking rabbit.”   It doesn’t help that United has the worst record again this year for animal deaths, including eight dogs and a little baby kitten.  (Have you no shame, United?) But the real stories come from the following dear friends of the giant rabbit, who express their condolences.

“Simon was a little weird, always hiding those eggs every year “for Jesus”, as he said, but he was a great guy.  I think the pilot must have been Mr. McGregor.” – Peter Rabbit.

“No one had a bad word for Simon.  He was just so real, ya know.  And huge.” – The Velveteen Rabbit

“Roger thinks this is a really messed up deal for Simon.  And he’s married to me.” – Jessica Rabbit

“Even the Mad Hatter won’t ride United now.  Oh, crap, I’m late for my flight!” – The White Rabbit

“Yeah, that’s all folks,” – Bugs Bunny

No one knows how to break the news to the kids.  What are they going to do without all those eggs and giant chocolate bunnies and, bizarrely, giant chocolate crosses?  Hyperglycemia does not cause itself.  One thing is for sure – I am not flying United Airlines anytime soon. Because you know they’re probably going to start shoving overbooked passengers, or doctors, or tweens (you know some people would cheer for this) into the cargo holds next, and even Simon didn’t make it out of that alive.   But don’t worry, United is “deeply saddened” by this, just like they were about the incident with the doctor.  I mean after first ignoring it, then smearing his name through the mud, then, after stocks plummeted, finally “apologizing” with all the sincerity of a politician.  They also plan to address this issue with their wronged party.  By Ouija board apparently.

Luckily all the news outlets are on this case.

“Now United’s Killing Fluffy Bunnies!” – The Daily Mail.

“United Airlines Investigates Giant Bunny Death” – Wazobia Journal

“World’s Biggest Rabbit Dies in Mysterious Circumstances on Flight in New PR Disaster United Airlines” – The Sun

I’m not sure what the weirdest thing about this case is – that there can be as much outcry over a bunny death as there is over a human getting beaten and dragged from a flight or that there is a bunny that is 33 POUNDS.  One things is for sure – bunnies get peoples’ attention.  Your raving reporter Alice promises to keep a close eye on any developing news.  What do you think will happen next with United?  What kind of settlement will Jessica Rabbit get?  What about the children?  Let me know in the comments below.

~Alice

Cover Songs or post I stole from another blogger!

Okay, so I haven’t been writing lately cause of the bloody pony and squirrel.  If you’re new, you may not have been introduced.  First there is Sad Pony.  He might look like a picture, but he’s very real.  He enjoys sitting on me and acting sarcastic to hide his deep, dark pain.

Deep dark pain.  Check it.

Next up is Squirrel.  He is also not just a picture, but a real anxiety attack in fuzzy form.

Oh woooowwww omg you haven’t used me in forever I’m here I’m still here what are you doing will you do something now omg I think the world is gonna end better take hold of my nuts wait did that sound bad hey where are you going?

So right, as Merbear, whose post I just stole, said, music can help tame these bad boys here, at least for a little while.  At the moment I am looking into new treatments for them because they’re cute and all but I want them kept at bay.  I want an actual life.  When you can look at your blog posts, giggle a little cause gosh you’re funny, but then realize that crap, you’ve sort of gone downhill over the years, it’s time to do something.  Anything.  But before I take up drunk hunting, I figured I’d try to write a few posts.  Just to say I did.  And why music?  Cause I can’t think of anything else right now!  Awesome!

So I had a record player when I was really little.  It was a Winnie the Pooh record player.  And I played it quite a bit.  I also used the record player in the living room.  Sometimes you had to put one of those little circular things inside the single disks, cause they had a bigger hole.  I don’t know why they had a bigger hole, they just did.  Also you had to play them on a higher speed.  This was also a fun thing to do to regular records, so they would song like Chipmunks.  Where was I?  Right, so I played records, like Ghostbusters.  I remember that one, especially on high speed.   Also “Bad Boys” by Miami Sound Machine now known as Gloria Estefan.  I am dating myself.  I’m a great date.

This brings back memories. I was so cool as a kid.

I also had cassette tapes (all you cute little millennials – google this stuff) and the first one I remember was Hall and Oates.  My brother gave it to me, because back then he gave me stuff he wanted.  Come to think of it, he still kind of does this.  I was around eight I think?  That was also when my parents gave me my first phone in my room (pink!), so they wouldn’t have to hear me yammer any longer.  My parents were progressive that way.   My brother and I both got Sony Walkmans, because my parents liked us also shutting up on trips.  I would often listen to my player, especially when I needed to cover up my father’s twang Country music.  I was pleased to find out that Thing Two was trying to drown out Hakuna Matata the other day while Thing One and I sang at the tops of our lungs.  Apparently Disney doesn’t go well with My Chemical Romance.  We felt sads about this – haha, no we didn’t.

I can remember thinking I was sooo much older listening to music.  I walked home one day and the speakers at the baseball field were playing Cyndi Lauper’s She-Bop and I danced and sang like the bad nine-year-old I was, having blissfully no idea what Cyndi was actually singing about (thank you Cracked for clearing up that mystery).  There are other songs that bring back memories of roller skating rinks (look it up) and amusement parks (ours was called Wonderland, for reals).  Now that I’m older, I listen to other music, but I still love the 80s.  They are the best.  I like some of today’s music – some of which I will embarrassingly admit to later, and the oldies too, though not as much as Merbear.  We still have this weird ability to finish songs the other one starts, no matter what the time or genre.  Sometimes we don’t both like a song and we have to take a breather and say, it’s okay, everyone has faults.  But mostly we enjoy the same stuff.  While there are songs that you love, there are also songs you hate with equal passion.  I’ll talk about that too, maybe.

For example, here is a song I hate. I HATE IT.

Music has a magical ability to change your mood. It doesn’t work on everyone – I had tone deaf English students.  I asked them how all different genres of music felt, what it made them think of, from classical to modern day, from fast to slow.  They said “your music sucks.”.  I was 22, they were at least 18.  I really don’t think four years should have made a difference.  But wow, it can.  For me, though, music is powerful.  I can feel my heart swell when I hear it, and my soul soar.  Like movies, music can take you places.  It can actually heal you, and slow down your anxiety (lots of youtube videos are good for this).  I even saw a video about this old man with Alzheimer’s who was non responsive – until they put headphones on him with his favorite music from his younger years.  He literally came alive.

So yeah, I think I’ll talk about music.  Here’s hoping, anyway.

~Alice

Ever just the same, ever a surprise: Review of the live action Beauty and the Beast

“Tale as old as time

Song as old as rhyme

Beauty and the Beast

– “Beauty and the Beast”

*Warning Spoiler: The beast turns into a prince at the end.  Sorry!  Seriously, no spoilers.

Tonight I went to the pre-showing of the new live-action Beauty and the Beast.  I bought my tickets early for the “Fan Event” which translated into your tickets cost more, mostly, though we got awesome drinks and popcorn buckets.  At first I was thinking I got gipped, because come on, other theaters in big cities got these really pretty pins, and I got a bucket.  But still, there were cushy recliners, assigned seating, and a design to the theater that ensured you would see the movie, no matter how tall or fat headed the person in front of you might be.

Bucket and drink. But also a fold out rose. But mostly it was a bucket. wooot.

My husband, who believe me showed his twu luv by coming with me after I bought him a ticket, was literally the legs of the operation.  He went back for the popcorn buckets and the drinks, then again back for the 3-D glasses (who knew it was 3-D?) that the stupidhead ticket guy didn’t tell us to take.  The special feature was an interview with the guys working on the score (which I’m sure will be on the DVD) and the Beauty and the Beast music video (which has already been on youtube.  Check it out, it’s trippin’.)

In case you are wondering about the Things, they were invited to the movie in the same theater at the same time by some friends whose mother actually shelled out for the tickets.  Vile betrayers.  Thing Two said she hoped that we weren’t close to each other, to which I responded “So do I.  Like I want to be near teen girls giggling.”  I mean, seriously, I didn’t.  I was however, beside an adorable little girl wearing a Belle dress and sparkly shoes.  More on her later.

Of course there was not one of these in 40 year old size. credit: Disney Store.

When the movie started, any complaints I might have had vanished.  Any other thoughts I had vanished as well.  No more political stupidity, no more stress, no more worries, for a little over an hour.  Just as I was during my Thing One’s starring role (she was a spoon) in the high school Beauty and the Beast musical, I was transfixed.  I was pretty sure my husband was over there, but I didn’t check to see.  I did not peel my eyes from the screen.

Was the movie good?  Well, I suppose part of it depends on whether you liked the original movie, or Disney period.  Though I feel I must point out that the guy playing Gaston is evil but extremely hot, and Emma Watson is obviously beautiful.  So you know, there’s something for everybody.  Well most people.  There were some who, for hateful reasons you can easily discover with a quick Google click, refused to take their unfortunate children to the movie.  (Hint: It’s seriously not a big deal and I doubt the kids will notice, parents.)  Disney is feeling the hurt, people, I mean with sold out theaters long before the movie began, gosh I’m not sure what they will do!

I was already obsessed long before the movie came out, thanks to them announcing it like ten years early.  When the merchandise came out, I completely restrained myself and did not buy a thing.  I bought several things.  Though not enough to break my budget, so no naysayers.  I’ve had my fill of naysayers, most of them found on Disney fan boards.  Go away, false fans.  Because this was not just a movie.  This was an incredible movie, with the ability to make me feel, at forty years old, the awe and wonder and beauty of the film I first watched at fourteen.

#notobsessed. BTW that’s a real working clock.

It’s a story that is – well not as old as time, I don’t think the dinosaurs did musicals.  But close.  It’s been retold millions of ways.  I love all of them.  The heart of the story is always the same – see beyond appearances, for beauty is found within.  It is a lesson many people need to take to heart, now more than ever, as they dismiss people based on the color of their skin, the place they grew up, the religion they believe, the people they love.  Belle does not fall in love with the Beast as soon as she sees him.  She thinks he’s a jerk, since he acts like a jerk.  But as she spends time with him, gets to know him, she sees beyond the outside, beyond her first impressions.  She finds he is not so different than herself.

Barely even friends

Then somebody bends

Unexpectedly”

This movie had a lot to live up to, as the original Disney cartoon of Beauty and the Beast is a beloved classic, the only animated feature to be nominated for an Academy Award.  I believe it lived up to the original, keeping close with the story, but with twists.  For one thing, it briefly mentions why no one realized there was a freaking castle and royalty nearby.  That had been bugging me for years!  There are also so many touching moments.  Like Belle and her father, and their love for each other, and ostracism from a town of people with no imagination, no vision into the future.  I know people like those in this “poor provincial town” and – I cannot imagine living that way, with no stories in your head, no new ideas.

Man, I hate this town.

They didn’t forget the talking furniture and appliances.  They are done in CGI, which some have complained is awful, because they probably come from Belle’s town and can’t see beyond pixels.  Though they are very different in appearance than the Disney version, they absolutely fascinated me.  Disney created an atmosphere much more conducive to 18th century France.  I work in archives, so I tend to like old stuff.  The costumes, the enchanted objects, the castle, the town, all of it is very true to the time period.  Now some complained that Belle’s dress is too modern, and that lousy feminist Emma Watson should have worn a proper corset.  First of all, Belle’s dress is more modern because she’s Belle, always looking to the future, never having to fit in, and also because Emma didn’t want the depiction of unrealistic figures.  I for one didn’t even notice, probably because Emma is naturally so thin she doesn’t even need a corset.

The Beast notices Belle is not wearing a corset. Does not care.

Yet with all the beauty, the incredible special effects and imaginative sets, none of it matters if you do not love the characters.  And you do love these characters.  There is Gaston, the handsome idiot, harmless enough until for the first time he doesn’t get what he wants.  The household objects are all lovable as well, which allow you to look past the fact that they aren’t actually on the screen.  Emma talked to nothing a lot.  There is the Beast, punished severely for his arrogance, filled with anger and despair, but who still has enough humanity to save Belle from a pack of wolves.  And there is Belle, who could have escaped when the Beast was attacked, but her morality, her inner goodness, compels her to help nurse the Beast back to health.  It starts with small acts of kindness, which lead to more of these acts, more closeness, and more understanding of both themselves and each other, for you cannot love without knowing who you are first.  And, as Belle points out, you cannot love unless you are free.

“It is sweet and strange

Finding you can change

Learning you were wrong.”

I’ll admit it.  I cried during this movie, with my hands up by my mouth.  I cried on the way home. But I wasn’t depressed. They were tears of absolute joy, for this is a story I have written myself, all my life, in books that are never quite good enough, that I have never dared show to any but one friend, that I have never tried to publish, that so often, I say I never have time to work on.  But the stories in my head never go away.  They are there, urging me on, even as I try to ignore them.  But tonight, in the little girl in the Belle dress, I saw not just my girls when they were younger, but I saw myself.  The whole world ahead, every day filled with magic, with possibility.  I watched as she tried to grab the flakes of gold that shot out of the screen at you.  And I delighted when the credits rolled, the song played, and she danced so passionately in the aisle.

Okay, she can keep the dress.

It’s time to remember that little girl, or boy, that’s inside you.  It’s time to listen to the voice that speaks to you, I mean, as long as it’s not an actual voice you understand.  It is simply time for us to find the beauty within ourselves and each other, to love instead of hate, to make the world a better place for the little girls dancing in the aisles, lost in dreamland.