Realizations.

•December 15, 2011 • 3 Comments

Last year, my best friend and my fiance abruptly cut me out of their lives and social networks, and began dating.

 

About a month ago I realized that I’m not upset that she stole my boyfriend, or whatever cliché one uses for that situation. I’m not upset that he left me for her.

 

I’m upset that I lost my best friend and she chose a man over me.

Madness

•October 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

First off, I want to tell you all something your doctors likely aren’t, the pharmaceutical companies definitely aren’t, and no one likely has.

Anti-psychotics (and many other mental health medications) cause serious and permanent side effects that seriously inhibit your ability to function in society.

No one told me that when I was on Aripiprizole (Abilify) or when I was on Lithium, or Saphris (asenapine), Risperidone, etc, all had serious side effects. Here is the list of side effects I have had while on medications:

Tardive dyskinesia (rocking or rhythmic movement), severe tremors, seizures, orthostatic syncope, unusual inappropriate urges, lack of coordination, dizzy spells, insomnia, night terrors, sleep paralysis, hyperprolactinaemia (spontaneous lactation and loss of menstruation), frequent urination, epigastric pyrosis (heartburn severe enough to cause scarring), restless leg syndrome, digestive difficulties, weight gain, blurred vision.

That’s not even a complete list.

Now, before you say, “That’s a lot of side effects, aren’t those supposed to be rare?” Go look up the rates. Seriously, go look up the percentage of people who gain weight on anti-psychotics or anti-depressive meds. Look up the percentage of people on Saphris who get orthostatic syncope. Look up how many get tardive dyskinesia.

They’re not side effects in the traditional sense of, “may cause some heart problems in people over 50 who smoke and have six strokes in their history”. Please understand that Amoxicillin has a rare (1.2%) chance to cause rash or vomiting, whereas Haldol at a high dosage has a nearly 15% rate of causing tardive dyskinesia.

This is the part that bothers me. It’s permanent. No one told me that. I still rock a little now and then, two years after going off my meds.

Anti-psychotics are not medicine. They are poison that silence the mad and make them apathetic enough that they won’t care that they now actually “look” crazy. The rocking side to side that happens in every movie narrative about a crazy person? Yeah. That’s caused by medication, not madness.

If you’re really lucky, you retain enough of your care for your self and your person through your illness that you’re able to fight to get off the drugs that are quite literally destroying your brain. Well advised or not, I no longer take pharmaceuticals for my mental health. I have a daily regimen of herbals and foods I eat instead. Is it ideal? No.

But taking that shit is madness.

Unconditional

•September 25, 2011 • 1 Comment

This year, I moved out of my home. I headed to another home with two people who have long supported me, and sought me out to ask me to move in with them. They stressed that they understood that I’m disabled, and that this isn’t a jumping off point. They understood that I wasn’t going to suddenly improve and become wildly successful, and I’m still very much in the hell of trying to deal with my head shit.

I spent some time watching a show with an adoptive child storyline in it. She dropped a plate and then ran away and hid, flinching under a table, and her two new parents were shocked and reassured her that she wouldn’t be punished for an accident.

My second month here, I went to cut something on a cutting board. It was bowed and flexed, from old water damage, and I thought it would just bend with me because it looked pretty well used. Instead it snapped clean in half just from the pressure of my hand on it (it was bowing upward.) I immediately called one of my new roommates and apologized in a panic, assuring her that I’d buy a replacement as soon as I had money to, and I was really sorry. She was confused, said it was no big deal, and those cutting boards were both old and a bit warped and annoying.

I realized that I wasn’t so different from the girl with the plate. I still flinch a lot.

My relationship with my family is very complicated. I don’t hate them, nor do I feel they’re necessarily bad for me all the time. I do feel they were bad for me growing up for a host of reasons. One of the foremost is that I didn’t know what unconditional love was like before I moved here.

I spent a lot of time defending my family and being told by everyone how great they were. What I didn’t realize was how little of that was really true at all. Love from my mother was and always has been conditional. I’ve based a lot of my mental health until my move on having her in my “corner” so to speak. I’ve come to realize she never really was, and how she talks about me and treats me in public sets me back. I’ve realized that there’s always been a threat of punishment, an assurance that I would suffer if I screwed up.

I can tell because I just keep flinching.

That fucking birthmark

•September 5, 2011 • 5 Comments

I have a birthmark on my neck that looks like a hickey in the very faded stages of healing. I hate hickeys. I hate them because I have had this birthmark all my life and I have been teased and picked on to the point where I won’t even acknowledge it. I would rather they think I’m being stubborn and crazy. So I say, “What hickey?” Over and over until they get bored.

The thing is, it’s not random strangers or friends. It’s always the same people. My uncle-by-marriage, my stepfather, and once upon a time, my mother’s ex-boyfriend. Yeah. The one who molested me. That’s a great association.

So now and then, when I’m at Thanksgiving or Christmas and it comes up, I want to reply, “What hickey?” a few times. Then I want to say,

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about because I don’t have a hickey. I have a birthmark which you have been inappropriately teasing me about all my life. Let me tell you a few things about that, Dad. First off, you know who else teased me about it, poked fun at me for it, and never let up about it? Yeah. Him, the guy who molested me when I was eleven. And you know what has always been true for me, Dad? When you look at me and joke and pick on me for having a hickey on my neck that has never been a hickey and will never be a hickey, all I can remember is being eleven years old.

I remember being eleven, and having that scum ex of my mother’s in my room. I remember him teasing me about it in public, and then in private I remember him telling me that it looked like I let boys suck my neck. I lay there scared and terrified thinking, ‘My dad says the same thing.’ And when he went on to tell me it proved I wanted it, it was really hard not to think my dad was telling me that too. It was one among many many thoughts that went through my fucked up little head as he was jerking off onto my thigh, Dad. All the same, I’d really appreciate it if you’d stop fucking referencing sexual acts at family gatherings for the sake of humiliating me and making me feel like either a whore, or a prude.

Because, Dad, you shouldn’t have a goddamn thing to say about if I’m a whore or a prude. And I’d like it if you’d stop fucking crossing that line.”

Does Not Follow Directions

•July 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment

That statement adorned at least a full 70% of my school papers, reviews, quarterly grades, etc. “OG is very bright, but rushes and doesn’t follow directions, jumps to conclusions on the assignment.” Later in college, “OG, your paper was great, but it’s arrogant to assume you can write whatever you want and pass with flying colors. See me for a redo.”

When I sew, I can’t follow patterns. They’re right there, and easy to follow, in theory, but I can’t. I can’t see how they go together. Someone shows me, and I understand, and the pattern becomes “safe”. When I knit, I have to visualize how every step will go, or I won’t even try to follow a pattern. I’ll just make up my own.

The thing that none of those teachers or tutors ever got was that i was reading the goddamned directions. They just didn’t make sense. A paragraph of directions flew into my head and I barely picked out a few words. Sometimes, if they put carriage returns between each step, I could figure out what they wanted. But more often than not, I just didn’t think the same way they did. If I couldn’t understand the application, the purpose, I had no way of fulfilling the task. Made worse when the purpose was just to waste my fucking time and make me repeat memorized facts.

Sometimes I would read directions, and they would say, “Find the square of the hypotenuse.” If I was very lucky and had paid attention, I could do that. But the moment they said, “You have a triangular yard, and you know that it is 12 by 18 feet, but you have no idea what the third measurement is…” I wouldn’t know what equation to plug in there. It got worse in Statistics, which I passed with a D, because there were entire problems where not only did you have to solve them using 3 pages of formulaic bullshit, but you had to determine which totally fucking obnoxious three page formula to use – and it was subjective. Which formula is best to determine how many students in an exam will do better than a percentile of students from another school? Answer: You are over thinking this please stop torturing your students.

I am not a stupid person. I can knit, sew, make lovely photocollages, I’ve been published three times, and I have led choir sections. I have all sorts of talents. What I can’t do is get from someone else’s bullshit reasoning example to what problem they want me to solve.

 

Love Is

•July 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’ve thought a lot lately about what love will have to be like for me, because it has become clear to me that I am not basic dating/marriage. I am poly because I require freedom and lack of obligation for me and my partner. I want my partner to go get sex elsewhere if I can’t for a month or two because my head shit has gotten too deep. I want them to want me to go to who I need for what I need when I need it, not require me to put them first in all things even if someone else would be better for me right then.

I’ve thought a lot about what love means, and what I’ve concluded is that love isn’t the happy times. Infatuation and giddy Cloud 9 love affairs are easy. The giving, adoring feeling when you’d walk through fire for a person and want nothing more than to spend every moment with them is easy.

The moments of truth are in the rough times. Love isn’t two weeks of clingy bliss. It’s the helplessness of sitting outside someone’s room as they lie in bed miserable with depression and don’t want to see you. It’s the raw terrible feeling after a knock down drag out argument and whether you can make it back from that.

Loving someone is easy. Staying when they need you or being able to tell them you need them is hard.

I’ve come to the realization that it’s not that I’m unlovable, or undesirable. It’s that I’m complicated, and I’m going to need a very special person to love forever. I’m going to need someone with a well of patience that is near bottomless. I’m going to need someone with a depth of compassion, a thick skin, an ability to take care of themselves and their needs without putting pressures on me, and I’m going to need someone who can catch me if I fall and tolerate being vulnerable enough to be caught if they fall.

This is good. I’ve found some guidelines. I know what won’t work. It’s a start. When I want to date again, at least I have some ideas of what will work.

Dying cat scream

•July 14, 2011 • 1 Comment

I had an evaluation with a psychotherapist recently. It was in-patient. They pushed me hard to try and see how unhinged I could get, because my future depended on it, as did getting the support and medical help I needed. She wrote in my file, “When OG is at a ‘breaking’ state, she screams. It is a terrible, unbridled sound like a dying cat or a person being sawed in half. It is a horrible, heartbreaking sound of grief and rage, and I am utterly convinced that if she were able to restrain it, she would.”

When I was sixteen, I screamed like that. I don’t remember all of the circumstances. I remember it was innocuous. I remember that the reasons I had for screaming should never have pushed me to that. I remember that something that didn’t really matter that much to me triggered some deep, abiding, primal cry in me that went on for hours until I was vomiting, and my mother almost brought me to the hospital with a nervous breakdown. In retrospect, I wish she had. I might’ve gotten help ten years sooner.

I remember a few years ago, we talked about that night, and my screaming, and my mother told me the first time she heard that scream.

When I was three, she remarried. I had never met my father, and it had been she and I and my grandparents, as long as I could remember. Then we moved in with Stepfather1, and he became “daddy” by force of will. If I didn’t call him dad, daddy, or father, I was disrespecting him. After a few months, he convinced my mother that she was far too soft with me and let me, “get away with murder”. Never minding the fact that I most definitely was the most well behaved child in many of our social circles. My mother wielded disappointment, not a belt. My “father” believed to spare the rod was to spoil the child.

Often, over some issue that I had transgressed, or some problem I had caused, he would corner me. He would confront me and demand I apologize. Then he would grab me and whip me with his wide leather belt as I tried to run away, walking me in a circle and dragging my arm. Sometimes I ran too much, and he would swing me into the arm of the couch and bend me over it to beat my ass with the belt, yelling that I was being disobedient again because I was trying to run away. I would cry and wail and beg my mother to come get me, help me, stop him. He had convinced her that any attempt at intervention, or even being where I could see her, would totally undermine his authority with his new daughter and forever mar our relationship as a family.

But, see, that’s not when she heard the scream.

The problem was that eventually, after letting him beat me for two years, she and he finally had a falling out and she finally found justification to leave him, because him beating her daughter wasn’t enough. It wasn’t enough that he put me down constantly, because I think at that point she was just glad she wasn’t the target. I was a necessary target, so she could be a good wife and mother for a while. She could dry my tears and be the good mother who soothed me after, and his wrath was always mine first.

When he left, though, suddenly she was stuck with a child who had become used to being beaten, and I would act out, and dart away when she tried to correct me even gently. I was no longer impressed by her disappointment because I had been beaten instead, and disappointment was nothing in the face of a two inch leather strap whaling on my ass twenty or thirty times. I no longer looked to her with the gaze of, “Oh no, did I do wrong?” Instead, if I suspected I had done wrong, I ran away, which made her angry – where was her tractable daughter? So she would spank me.

It didn’t matter that she never beat me. It didn’t matter that she didn’t beat me with a leather belt until my ass was so bruised it stayed that way for five days. No, all that mattered was that my one bastion, my savior, the one person I could run to after the beating, was now the one administering a wallop, no matter how much more gentle.

That was when she first heard the scream. She would paddle me and flinch and cry as I screamed for her over and over again, because I had no one at all else left to scream for. My horrible dying cat scream, crying mommy until it was clear I had no idea what I was even crying for anymore.

My dying cat scream has never left me. And on some mornings, when I am trying to sleep after dawn (because I cannot sleep at night) when I cannot sleep and something snaps deep in my head, I scream.