In case of Emergency….

imagesCAO5Z6TQMy girlfriend is going through a really sucky period right now. REALLY sucky. If the situation were reversed,  I would be curled up in a ball under my bed, which would be difficult since it’s on the floor. She posted this yesterday, and I had to share. Because she’s awesome, and is handling this with sense of humor intact. Plus her post has some really good advice. I hope that you never need it, but just in case you do….

Hello My Name is Eeyore

imageChuck Wendig reminded me that May is Mental Health awareness month. This year’s theme for Mental Health Month is – Life with a Mental Illness (yes, there’s a theme). If just one person benefits from my story,  I’ll be happy. TBH even if nobody reads it, I’ll be happy, because I’m writing again.

I have struggled with depression for most of my life. I have no doubt that my mother used alcohol to self-medicate for depression. It’s possible that her mother did as well – but, seeing that I rarely saw my grandmother express ANY emotion, I can’t be sure.

I consider myself fortunate, in that my personal demon is mostly situational. When life is going well, I sometimes get the blues, but I can cope. Unfortunately, Life is a BITCH and she likes to hammer us with repeated losses and then dump us, battered and bleeding, in the Pit of Despair without Wesley to keep us company.

18 months ago, I hit my low point. I wound up curled in a ball on the floor of my Honda, sobbing uncontrollably. I don’t do that anymore (and not just because I no longer have the Honda).  It’s not that Life has become kind. In the past 6 months, my husband almost died, my coworker did, one girlfriend was diagnosed with breast cancer, and my other friend ended up in ICU. No, these aren’t my personal problems (although I would have taken my husband’s death personally), but I have a soft heart, and tend to grieve with those I love, and (sometimes) with those I don’t.

My girlfriend is deep in the hole. She asked me how I cope. “You seem so happy, even when you go through a rough patch”.

I was trained from an early age that emotions are something best kept hidden (thanks Grandma!). We need to slap on some lipstick and hide our broken heart.

The bad news is that suppressing our emotions leads to a whole slew of issues, including (but not limited to) eating disorders, cutting, alcohol and drug dependence, increased depression (goody!) and physical illnesses (yes, stress CAN kill you). The good news is that the idea that you should “fake it ‘til you make it” actually carries some weight. When you get up, shower, put on makeup and clean clothes and pretend that you feel good, eventually you do.

I have learned to ask for, and accept, help. It’s the hardest lesson I’ve ever learned. I am very lucky, in that I have an amazing group of friends who let me vent when needed, and who are quick to provide a shoulder, chocolate, or wine when necessary. Even my husband has learned to “listen and nod” instead of trying to fix my “problems”.

I talked to a professional. Yes, I have a wonderful support team. Sometimes you get tired of complaining about the same old stuff to the same old people. Besides, these people are just sitting around waiting for someone to talk to. Keep them off the unemployment line!

I took a pill. No, not the pills that Stevie sells on the corner. I filled the prescription my doctor gave me. I am not a fan of “Better living through chemicals”, but I’m a huge proponent of using whatever tools you have available to dig your way out of the darkness.

I learned to go outside. Some people like to run, some people like to go to the beach. I have found that it doesn’t much matter. Depression wants us to lay in the dark, under a supersoft blanket, eating cookies and surfing through 300+ channels. Going outside is a teeny tiny step in the battle, but it’s an important one. Please note  – do NOT forget to put on pants before you go outside. My neighbors may never forgive me.

Lastly, I listen to music. Music speaks to my soul and makes me feel all the feels. Just this morning Johnny Cash reminded me that when you’ve got the blues, you need to Get Rhythm.

 

So tell me, what coping mechanisms do you use, when Life leaves you feeling overwhelmed?

Mentalpause

th6F8TN99ZMy New Year’s resolution to write 2-3x/week hasn’t lasted. Unlike most resolutions, it’s not because I don’t have the free time or willpower. It’s because I keep forgetting. I forget to find time, I forget to start, I forget to finish, and when I do write a complete piece,  I forget to post it.

That’s a lot of forgetting!

My friends and family will tell you that I’ve been very forgetful lately. I have to admit that it’s been going on for a while, but I forget when it started😉.

All I know for certain is that I lost my keys so often last year (I kept forgetting to put my keys on the hook by the door) that my husband got tired of playing WWTD* and bought me a keyfinder. It works like the remote for the car alarm, beep-beep-beeping from the dark hole in my Mombag, the bathroom counter and even the freezer. FYI, the “chirp chirp” of your car alarm is very useful when you’ve forgotten where you’ve parked.

My Sometimers has been getting worse. I’ve missed appointments, double booked myself and my daughter, misplaced my pants (not while I was wearing them) and have forgotten my friend’s name (flashback to my mom, who called me by every name she knew, including the dog’s). The high (or low) point came last Friday I forgot to take my change when I left the store. Well, that’s not exactly true – I remembered to pick up my 50 cents from the change dispenser, but left without my $18. I’ve become so scattered that my daughter actually channeled my mother –  “You’d forget your head if it weren’t attached to your shoulders.” Which makes me wonder – is that the real reason Dr. Frankenstein bolted his monster’s head to its body?

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The past few years have been eventful, and I assumed that stress had melted my brain. When things got better and my memory didn’t, I assumed that I had lost my mind, or that worms had eaten my brain.

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I was hoping that my doctor could help me find it. She smiled sadly and sighed. “I have some good news, and some bad news…..” Don’t you hate it when they do that?

Although I am relieved to report that I am not, in fact, losing my mind. I am sad to say that I am suffering from “brain fog”. My doctor told me that it’s not uncommon for women to develop memory issues during menopause. Not that I’m willing to admit that I’m old enough to be menopausal, but it’s nice to know that I’m not alone. I’m sure that someone warned me about brain fog, but I forgot.

I did some research today, and learned that the key to overcoming brain fog is eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep – which is ironic, seeing that disturbed sleep is another symptom of menopause. Seeing that I’ve been ignoring that piece of advice all of my life, I don’t see things changing just because I’m not 21 any more. Then again, there are only so many times that my family will agree to look for my keys, my glasses and my pants.

Dreaded E word, here I come. Or maybe I just need some Vitamin M**

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*What Would Tracey Do?

**Someone please tell me that “Vitamin M” is a secret code for margarita

 

 

 

The Problem With Aging

th1KQI53BFI’ve decided that the worst part of getting old isn’t the life lines near my eyes, or the laugh lines that bracket my mouth. It isn’t the little white hairs that pepper my hair (or would that be salt my hair?). It’s not even the fact that the snap crackle and pop I hear in the morning aren’t just sounds from my cereal bowl…it’s the fact that I’ve developed Sometimers Syndrome.

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I have a theory – I believe our brains are hard drives, and that by the time we reach “a certain age” they are full. We can’t defrag our brains to free up extra space, and we can’t download old memories/useless facts to an external hard drive, so new memories aren’t stored to a permanent file. What we really need is Professor Dumbledor’s pensieve. Although Dumbledore uses his to find patterns and habbits, I think it would be an excellent tool for freeing up space when our brains are full, or removing a painful memory

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Sometimes I forget little things, like why I came into the kitchen, my husband’s cell phone#, or where I put my car keys.*

Sometimes I forget bigger things, which is why I’m happy for the little voice in my head which reminds me of Important Things. She’s pretty good at reminding me that I have a doctor’s appointment, or that I need to pick up my daughter after school. Yesterday she reminded me that I needed to call my mother, so I picked up the phone, and then remembered that my mother is dead.

I mean, I didn’t forget she’s dead, exactly.

Ok, I did.

It’s odd. I mean, it’s not as if she JUST died. It will be 21 years this June. Which is surreal. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long ago. Then again, 16 of the past 21 years have been spent raising a kid, and, as Camille at Crunchy Parenting says, parenting time FLIES.

My mom was an amazing woman. She was funny, and smart, and had a huge heart. I’m not saying it just because I’m her daughter – I’ve had other people tell me the same thing. She volunteered with AYSO for years, kept a great house, called (and wrote to) her friends and family on a regular basis and was the first one to jump in to help when someone was in trouble. She was a true southern woman – meaning that she had strong shoulders and a soft heart; it also means that she ate weird foods, like okra and fried green tomatoes.

Maybe that’s why she was on my mind. I was hoping that 2016 was going to be a better year, but I have too many friends and family members who are struggling with loss. I may claim that I’m not a people person, but I’m a liar. I grieve with them for their losses – loss of employment, loss of health, loss of life. I may not keep a great house, or write or call as often as my mom did, but I’m proud to say that I have her soft heart.

I miss her. I am sad that she missed meeting Lauren and the rest of her grandchildren, but I’m still heartbroken that she’s more than a phone call away.

I would pay the surcharges, no matter how high, if only I could make that long distance call.

 

*special shout-out to my spouse, who bought me a key locator for Christmas. You push the remote, and your keys chirp like a car alarm…now if only I could find the remote…..

 

15 Shades of Grey* **

I had a busy, wonderful weekend, filled with rain, puppies, family and friends – so of course, today I am feeling sad and grey. I understand that it’s just Monday Moodiness, but it doesn’t make me feel any better. Yes, I am FINE, thanks for asking.🙂

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*Please note, there’s no sex in this post, just mild profanity. If you’re offended by profanity, you’ve come to the wrong blog (I swear like a sailor. In fact, sometimes I swear like a ship full of sailors). If you’re looking for graphic sex, you should look for the other Grey book…or the adult bookshop.

** This post was prompted by Robin’s Williams birthday. He would have been 64.

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 “Well, here we are, halfway through July, more than halfway through the year, and what do you have to show for it? You’re a little older, a little fatter and your house is still a mess…..”

And there you have it, the EIC is in fine form this morning. I’ve talked about him, more than once, but I don’t think I’ve talked about his girlfriend – she’s a soggy, wet, warm, mildew-y wool blanket. She’s heavy and smelly and ruins…

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The Foulest Four Letter Word I Know

thFOZVIT6EWednesday’s post quieted my muse, albeit briefly.

You should write.

I wrote Wednesday

Doesn’t count – you wrote about nothing.

Seinfeld was a show about nothing

You are not Jerry Seinfeld

I’m not an old Jewish man? Good to know. You are my muse. You’re supposed to give me ideas.

I do. You don’t listen.

…..

Write!Write!Writewritewrite!

O

M

G

Please shut up. I would write, if I could think of anything to write about, and if I could find the time.

Ah. There’s the rub. And the topic.

Time.

It’s a four letter word, and out of all of them, it’s the nastiest. It stretches and bends, twists and turns, slows down and speeds up at random.  It slows when you want it to move quickly (during the last hour of work on a Friday, the 5 minutes before the school bell rings, and any amount of time at any mandatory meeting) and flies by in the blink of an eye.

The speed of life gave me whiplash last week, when my baby girl had another birthday. Her birthdays affect me more than my own do. I am able to ignore the grey hairs and the “life lines” in the face in the mirror (mostly because I don’t look), but I can’t deny the fact that my girl is no longer a baby – or a toddler.

My life changed when I became an accidental mother. I had just started a career in the entertainment industry (no, not THAT one) when the girl came into our lives. I told my manager that I would take “maybe a year off” to spend time with the baby.

That was 16 years ago.

It doesn’t’ seem possible. The past 14 years have been a blur. It could be because I’ve been juggling work/school/household chores, because I’m sleep deprived*, or because I’m a character in a movie montage – but I’m pretty sure it’s because Momtime is different than real time. Mom years are inversed dog years. 1 mom year = 7 real years.

Or perhaps it’s because I’ve been wasting Time. I should have listened to the Mad Hatter when he warned Alice about the perils of pissing him off.

“Alice sighed wearily. ‘I think you might do something better with the time,’ she said, `than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.’ `If you knew Time as well as I do,’ said the Hatter, `you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.’ `I don’t know what you mean,’ said Alice. `Of course you don’t!’ the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously. `I dare say you never even spoke to Time!’ `Perhaps not,’ Alice cautiously replied: `but I know I have to beat time when I learn music.’ `Ah! that accounts for it,’ said the Hatter. `He won’t stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he’d do almost anything you liked with the clock. For instance, suppose it were nine o’clock in the morning, just time to begin lessons: you’d only have to whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a twinkling! Half-past one, time for dinner!”Lewis Carroll

My daughter’s birthday wasn’t my first reminder that time is fleeting. I have lost too many people in the past few years. Their deaths reminded me that we need to spend less time doing the “Have Tos” and more time doing the “Want Tos”. We need to spend less time making money and spend more time doing what we love. We need to waste less time visiting with acquaintances on social media, and make more time to see those we love “IRL.”

Life is short – eat dessert first.

And whatever you do, don’t blink (and not just because there are Weeping Angels)

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So – if you could spend the day doing whatever you’d like with whomever you want, how would you spend it?

*Despite what friends/family/doctors tell you, parenthood induced sleep deprivation does not disappear once your baby sleeps through the night. The sound of my daughter’s  cough, gasp, or moan of a nightmare rouses me from the deepest sleep

 

 

I Am Not aMused

th5HHDH7O9There’s a voice in my head. For once, it’s not the voice of the EIC, nor any of his BFFs (Doubt, Fear, and Insecurity). It’s a new voice, one that is meant to be helpful, but is proving to be just as annoying as the Fearsome Foursome. I’m pretty sure she’s my muse, but she must be new to this, because she’s not being helpful at all. Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure she means well. Maybe it’s me. I always assumed a muse would spark ideas. Mine seems to be poking at me instead.

She started last Tuesday.

“You should write.”

“I can’t right now – I need to visit my friend in the hospital.”

That stopped her for a couple of days.

“You should write.”

“I can’t right now – I’m busy celebrating the girl’s birthday.”

She was quiet for 3 days (I think the birthday celebration wore her out too).

“You should write.”

“I will – I need to drop the girl off, then I’m going to come home and clean, and after that, I’ll write, I promise.” I had the best of intentions, but instead of cleaning and writing, I came home, closed my eyes “for a minute” and woke up several hours later.

Evidently she took pity on me (or maybe she was pouting) because she took three days off. She’s back today, but instead of gently suggesting that I write, she’s been chanting.

“Write! Write! Write!”

“O.M.G. Can’t you see I’m busy?”

“Doing what? Write! Write! WRITE!

“I’m WORKING!”

“You should be writing instead. WRITE! WRITE! WRITEWRITEWRITE!

I’m not sure how muses are supposed to work, but I’m pretty sure they’re supposed to do more than just nag. Do you have to get kissed by a muse to light the spark of creativity? I kissed a girl, but it was a long time ago*, and she didn’t look anything like Olivia Newton John.

In my limited research on the muses, I learned that Clio is the muse of history and writing

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At first glance, Clio seems to fit, especially when you take into consideration the fact that I considered changing my name to Cleopatra when I married Marc Anthony (Yes, really. No, not that one). I would have changed my name, but didn’t want to make an asp out of myself (bwah hahahaha).

She’s a little too serious looking for me

Thalia is the muse of comedy and poetry. She’s more relaxed than Clio.

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She looks like a lot of fun, but I’m not very good at poetry, and the days of baring my boobs are behind me (not even for really, really nice beads). There’s also the fact that, when it comes to comedy, some people just don’t “get” me.

Then I came across Kuriositas’ post on The Modern Muses – and found a new pic of Thalia

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What’s this? A muse for stand-up comedians? Why didn’t anyone tell me? I would have kissed HER in a heartbeat🙂

*It was an on-stage kiss, way BM (Before Motherhood)

So tell me – who’s your muse? How does she talk to you? Does she whisper? Does she nag? Does she give you full fledged stories or glimmers of ideas?

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Help me help you

10310622_10202638688706120_4691273213818244861_n[1]One of my New Year’s resolutions was to write 2-3 times/week. As with most of my resolutions (diet, exercise regularly,  call my mother*), I have failed. I started out fairly strongly, but I’ve managed to get derailed by grief and writer’s block. Today’s daily prompt from The Daily Post “Help” didn’t knock the block down, but it tried.

When I saw today’s prompt, I thought “I can’t write, but at least I can re-blog one of my older posts. I know I just wrote about the importance of asking for and accepting help.”

“Cheater!” screamed the EIC (He’s gotten louder now that I’m not writing).

“STFU.” (He may be getting louder, but I’ve learned not to listen).

I was surprised  to find that the post I had in mind was written in 2015. I know that time is a big ball of wibbly wobbly..timey wimey stuff**, but I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since I wrote about hitting rock bottom and learning to ask for help.

I think the post is still relevant. We are taught that help is a four letter word. We think that we should be able to do it all, and do it all well, and that we should be able to get it all done yesterday, if not sooner. We need to learn that not all four letter words are dirty, and that asking for help is not a sign of weakness.

More importantly, we need to learn to offer to help before anyone asks. Don’t get me wrong – this doesn’t mean you should try to “help” when you think someone is doing something “wrong.”

“You’re folding the socks wrong, let me help” isn’t helpful in the least, and it usually results in nobody ever folding the socks again (and the socks get mad, and run away, usually in different directions. One of them ends up in the dryer and the other one in the bottom of the toy box). I’m saying that, when we see others struggling, we should offer to help – and not the way WE want to help. We need to be willing to give them the help they want.

Which is a really longwinded way of saying that telling someone “I’m here if you need anything” is the best way to offer help. Sometimes knowing that help is close is all that we need.

* In my defense, my mom died in 1995, so I can’t just pick up the phone and dial

** For the Doctor Who fans in the audience:

 

 

 

I Don’t Want to Talk About It

th[9]I spent Saturday morning at a memorial service – my second in less than a month. If you ask me, that’s two too many. I realize that nobody asked me, but it’s my blog, and I’m talking about it anyway (which is HUGE. In many circles, Death is a bigger taboo than sex).

People have different ideas about why we’re here. Some say we come out of dust, and to dust we return. Some say we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. I believe that we are here to learn something. It could be patience, it could be love, or it could be statistics and probabilities (ugh!). Once we’ve learned our lesson, it’s time for us to move on.

I refuse to learn, which means I’ll live forever.*

Here’s what I’ve learned about death and other losses:

Life may be a bitch, but Loss is a nasty, low down, evil snake in the grass (no disrespect to snakes. I like them – they’re like legless lizards). She fights dirty.

Sometimes she carries a sledgehammer – and she will beat you with it until you are nothing but a quivering mass of jelly. The good news is that broken bones heal, scar tissue is stronger than unscarred tissue, and laying around on the ground gives you a good excuse to rest. Plus you can spend the “downtime” observing the cosmos and figuring out why you’re here (see above).

Sometimes she morphs into a pack of howling, snarling fears which chase you through the darkness, snapping at your heels, and nipping your fingers and toes. The good news is that feardogs, like nightmares and vampires, disappear at first light.

Sometimes she whispers to you through the grey haze of despair, leading you gently to the precipice and then poking at you with the sharp pointy stick of self-doubt until you jump. The good news is that it gets better. Tired and cliché, but true. Trust me. I’ve been there. I went through a series of losses (one after another) that left me sobbing on the floor of my car, certain that things would be better if I just gave up and quit.

As strange as it sounds, I owe Loss a debt of gratitude. It’s taken a long time, but I’ve learned from Loss. I’ve learned:

  • to spend more time with loved ones, doing things that I want to do, rather than things that Need Doing. Life is too short to spend your time dusting.
  • to ask for (and accept) help. Asking for help does not mean that you are weak. It means you are smart enough to know that you can’t do it all yourself, all the time, every day.
  • the value of Mother’s Little Helpers. I’m not a huge fan of western medicine, but sometimes they get it right.
  • that talking to a professional can help. No, not just any professional. I don’t think telling the bank teller about your dead mother is very helpful. Talking to a professional therapist is like taking a pill. They don’t help everyone, and they may not help right away, but there are good ones out there.
  • that loss is a part of life, and that healing from any loss (whether the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a job) comes in stages
  • that it gets better, even when it seems like it won’t. Trust me.

Or don’t. Trust these people instead:

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

*JK – I’ve managed to learn a few things (including what “jk” means – yes, I have a teen).

P.S. You people need to stop dying. I know that Neil Gaiman makes Death look like a seductive little goth girl Death_(DC_Comics)[1]

 

 

 

and that Brad Pitt’s Joe Black  made death look tempting (hey, I’d die for him), but all these losses are making me cranky, and it’s all about me.

And for those of you who saw my blog title and were hoping to see a youtube video, here you go:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Loss and roses

Broken_heart.svg[1]I lost a coworker today. Well, I didn’t lose her. It’s not like she’s an extra sock or a misplaced set of housekeys, a little tchotchke that will show up when I least expect it (although she may come visit – we already have at least one ghost in the office). She was my coworker, but, more importantly, she was one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

Ugh. my lame attempts at humor are irritating me today (note to defensive mechanism – take a break). I was going to write on life and loss and grief and hope, but the words won’t come. Instead I will leave you with The Rose Beyond the Wall, by A.L. Frink. It gave me hope when my mother died. Hope that I’ll see her again, on the other side of the wall.

The Rose Beyond The Wall

The Rose Beyond The Wall – A. L. Frink

Near a shady wall a rose once grew,
Budded and blossomed in God’s free light,
Watered and fed by the morning dew,
Shedding it’s sweetness day and night.

As it grew and blossomed fair and tall,
Slowly rising to loftier height,
It came to a crevice in the wall
Through which there shone a beam of light.

Onward it crept with added strength
With never a thought of fear or pride,
It followed the light through the crevice’s length
And unfolded itself on the other side.

The light, the dew, the broadening view
Were found the same as they were before,
And it lost itself in beauties new,
Breathing it’s fragrance more and more.

Shall claim of death cause us to grieve
And make our courage faint and fall?
Nay! Let us faith and hope receive–
The rose still grows beyond the wall,

Scattering fragrance far and wide
Just as it did in days of yore,
Just as it did on the other side,
Just as it will forever-more.

A. L. Frink

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